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The Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) does not allow Pagan worship. The criteria in the ADC Religious Services Policy and Procedure Manual favor religions based on belief in a single deity.

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In practice, these criteria privilege the Abrahamic religions that worship the Hebrew God. Before the pandemic, Catholic worshipers were allowed to meet once a week, and Christian and Muslim worshipers were allowed to meet several times a week.

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The chapel in which they meet is decorated with Christian crosses, and all the chaplains are Christians. The only literature distributed in the prison is Christian, and each unit has a program called Principles and Applications for Life, (PAL), a Bible-based curriculum that requires participants to go to church.

Let me explain. I am an Eclectic Pagan, and I practice Wicca, Shamanism, Qabala, Hinduism and Alchemy. My religion is based on nature, and my patron deities include Gaia and the Green Man, although I follow others as well.

Before I started my journey, I was raised Southern Baptist. At 15, I was introduced to Wicca, and the more I learned, the more Wicca made sense. I have evolved since then, as have my beliefs.

But ADC policies keep myself and other Pagans from practicing our beliefs. In order to meet for group worship, we need to find a volunteer in the free world to come in and lead the ritual, but ADC only pays someone to lead Christian services.

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I am forbidden to keep objects necessary to perform rituals, such as sea shells, salt, feathers or small pebbles. Pagans also cannot keep their own tarot cards or runestones. Arkansas rules say that if we have them, they must be kept by the priest when not in use.

We are being overwhelmed by our worship. It is as if we are only given access to the Hebrew God in the hope of converting us. These ADC policies remind me of how the United States tried to forcefully convert Native Americans to Christianity in the 1800s.

The ADC Religious Services mission statement states that its goal is to “provide spiritual and moral guidance to any incarcerated person who desires assistance” on their spiritual path, but religious accommodations are not allowed.

ADC took me off my spiritual path and blocked me from returning. Pagan religions are not welcome in prison. But why?

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I have the potential to light up all the lives around me, but ADC wants to keep me in this box. The stars only last for so long before they burn out and get dark. How long will I continue to suffer without the right to practice my religion? Will I still be able to grow the life around me? Or are they going to make sure I’m dark before they open the box?

Wicca speaks to me. I feel it is my path. I will shine as long as I can and light up the lives of all that I can.

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Why Pagans Deserve Religious Accommodations in Prison

The Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) does not allow Pagan worship. Criteria in the ADC Religious Services Policy and Procedure Manual favor religions based on belief in a single deity.

In practice, these criteria privilege the Abrahamic religions that worship the Hebrew God. Before the pandemic, Catholic worshipers were allowed to meet once a week, and Christian and Muslim worshipers were allowed to meet several times a week.

The chapel in which they meet is decorated with Christian crosses, and all the chaplains are Christians. The only literature distributed in the prison is Christian, and each unit has a program called Principles and Applications for Life, (PAL), a Bible-based curriculum that requires participants to go to church.

I don’t have a problem with Abrahamic religions or the Hebrew God, but I am a Pagan.

Let me explain. I am an Eclectic Pagan, and I practice Wicca, Shamanism, Qabala, Hinduism and Alchemy. My religion is based on nature, and my patron deities include Gaia and the Green Man, although I follow others as well.

Before I started my journey, I was raised Southern Baptist. At 15, I was introduced to Wicca, and the more I learned, the more Wicca made sense. I have evolved since then, and so have my beliefs.

But ADC policies keep myself and other Pagans from practicing our beliefs. In order to meet for group worship, we need to find a volunteer in the free world to come in and lead the ritual, but ADC only pays someone to lead Christian services.

I am forbidden to keep objects necessary to perform rituals, such as sea shells, salt, feathers or small pebbles. Pagans also cannot keep their own tarot cards or runestones. The state of the rules of -Arkansas which if we have them, must be kept by the priest when not in use.

We are being overwhelmed by our worship. It is as if we are only given access to the Hebrew God in the hope of converting us. These ADC policies remind me of how the US tried to forcefully converted Native Americans to Christianity in the 1800.

The ADC Religious Services mission statement states that its goal is to “provide spiritual and moral guidance to any person in prison who desires help” on their spiritual path, but I am not allowed religious accommodations.

ADC took me off my spiritual path and prevented me from returning. Pagan religions are not welcome in prison. But why?

I have the potential to light up all the lives around me, but ADC wants to keep me in this box. The stars only last for so long before they burn out and get dark. How long will I continue to suffer without the right to practice my religion? Will I still be able to grow the life around me? Or are they going to make sure I’m dark before they open the box?

Wicca speaks to me. I feel it is my path. I’m going to shine as long as I can and brighten the lives of everyone I can.

This article first appeared on Prison Journalism Project and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.<img id=" republication-tracker-tool-source" src=" https:///?republication-pixel=true&post=20101&ga=" style="width:1px;height:1px;"Wicca is a modern pagan religion, based on nature. Although rituals and practices vary among people who identify as Wiccan, most observances include festival celebrations of solstices and equinoxes, honoring a male god and female goddess, and the incorporation of herbal and other natural objects into the ritual. Wiccans practice their religion according to an ethical code, and many believe in reincarnation.

Why Pagans Deserve Religious Accommodation In Prison — Prison Journalism Project

Wicca is considered a modern interpretation of pre-Christian traditions, although some involved claim a direct line to ancient practices. It can be practiced by individuals or members of groups (sometimes known as covens).

Wicca also has some things in common with Druidism in its environmental component, and is seen as the inspiration of the goddess movement in spirituality.

There is great diversity among individuals and groups who practice Wiccan religion, but many are duotheistic, worshiping both a female goddess and a male god (sometimes called the Mother Goddess and the Horned God).

Other Wiccan practices are atheistic, pantheistic, polytheistic or respect gods and goddesses as archetypal symbols rather than as actual or supernatural beings. Rituals in Wicca often include holidays centered around phases of the moon; solar equinoxes and solstices; elements such as fire, water, earth and air; and initiation ceremonies.

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The rituals of modern Wiccan practice can be traced to the well-known first-wave feminist, Egyptologist, anthropologist and folklorist Margaret Murray.

She wrote several books on medieval religion centered on witch cults in medieval Europe which inspired British seekers to create their own covens and structure worship around her descriptions, beginning in 1921 .

, in which he announced it as “wica,” the addition “c” was added in the 1960s. According to Gardner, the word came from Scots-English and meant “wise people.”

Gardner, considered the founder of Wicca, was born in 1884, north of Liverpool in England. A world traveler with an interest in the occult, Gardner first heard the word “Wica” used in the 1930s when he

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