49 Degrees: Canadian Pagan Perspectives
Canadian Paganism has a style all its own. Have a look at events, issues, celebrations, people, trends and events north of the border from the eyes of a Canadian Wiccan and Witch.
Pagan Author Interview: Kerr Cuhulain
Kerr Cuhulain is an influential Canadian Pagan author. The first openly-Pagan cop in North America, Kerr’s work with the Vancouver Police Department, and his regular column at Witchvox, “Witch Hunts,” along with his book, “The Law Enforcement’s Guide to Wicca,” probably did more to help eliminate the systematic persecution of Pagans from the Satanic Panic than any other source. Recently retired from his involvement with the law enforcement to the Sunshine Coast, Kerr has retreated into a quiet life of writing and contemplation. I caught up with Kerr when discussing Vancouver Pagan Pride Day:
Question: Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! Tell us a little about yourself. Who is the man behind the story?
Answer: I am a retired police officer/dispatcher who has been a Wiccan for 45 years who was involved in anti-defamation activism and hate crimes investigation for the Pagan community for decades. I was awarded the Shield of Valor by the Witches League for Public Awareness.
I retired from the Vancouver Police Department in November 2005 after serving 28 years with them. I was awarded the Governor General’s Exemplary Service Medal. My past job assignments within the VPD include the Emergency Response Team, Hostage Negotiator, Child Abuse Investigator, Gang Crime Unit, and the Mental Health Emergency Services Unit. I went on to be a police dispatcher and trainer for ECOMM for Southwestern BC from 2005 to 2013. A year ago I finally retired from law enforcement work.
Question: What first drew you to Paganism? Did you find a group? Have a conversion experience? Wander until you found something that fit?
Answer: I was a seeker as a child, though I had no idea at the time what I was really looking for. Then as a teen I came across Sybil Leek’s book Diary of a Witch. That was that: I’d found it. I’ve been on the Wiccan path ever since.
Question: What inspired you to write your first book, and how was it received?
Answer: I wrote my first book, the Law Enforcement Guide to Wicca, when I first came out about being a Wiccan to my police department. I very quickly realized that I needed to educate a lot of people in a hurry. It exceeded my expectations, becoming a handbook for police agencies and correctional institutions across North American. The book has recently been revised and renamed to become the book Pagan Religions: A Handbook for Diversity Training. The new book now includes not only Wicca, but Druidism and Ásatrú as well.
Question: How did you get started in writing for Witchvox?
Answer: I saw it as a good place to disseminate information on hate crimes and combat misinformation.
Question: I know you’ve also written articles for Witches & Pagans Magazine in the past. Have you done much work with other Pagan periodicals or media, and where can we find them?
Here’s the list, which I recently attempted to update (I’d been too busy to attend to the list for a while):
Question: Holy cow, that’s quite the list! I’m impressed!
You were also involved with a Pagan organization called the Officers of Avalon, and as I recall they were significant in relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina. Can you tell us a little bit about that? What was the group all about? What is your most vivid memory of that time? What was your most rewarding experience?
Answer: Officers of Avalon was an organization formed in 1999 to represent Pagan first responders (police, firefighters, and paramedics). It started as a Yahoo group formed by Cpl. Tricia Mullensky of the U of Massachusetts police department. I joined in 2001 and eventually became their preceptor general. Officers of Avalon was incorporated in 2003 in Nevada. I retired from Officers of Avalon in 2005 when I retired from the Vancouver Police Department.
Hurricane Katrina motivated Officers of Avalon to create Avalon Cares, the charity branch which raised money to send supplies which were the first to reach Mississippi following the hurricane and to pay for the shipment of replacement uniforms for the New Orleans police department. Avalon Cares has gone on to do earthquake and orphanage relief work in Haiti and China, tsunami relief in Indonesia, Midwest flood relief, California wildfire suppression support, and relief efforts arising from Hurricane Sandy.
Question: In recent years, you started a group called the Order of Scáthach. What is that all about? Is that group still active and how can somebody find you if they’re interested in becoming a part of it?
Answer: In 2007 I founded the Order of Scáthach, which went on to become a registered religious society in British Columbia. It is still active, but I am no longer associated to it. In November 2013 I left the Order of Scáthach to continue my work on modern knighthood with a new order of knighthood: the Order of Paladins. The Order of Paladins embraces the Warrior philosophies, precepts and code of chivalry outlined in my books Wiccan Warrior, Full Contact Magick, Magickal Self Defence, How to be Glorious, and Modern Knighthood. Knights of the Order of Paladins live the precepts and code of chivalry of the Order to set an example to the world and chose a quest to serve the community. The Order of Paladins focuses on empowerment, creative expression and effective magick. All members are expected to participate, contribute, and serve the community and live with integrity. The training focuses on the effective use of magickal energy and developing psychic skills. The Order of Paladins is constantly developing new rituals, and magick and studying our Warrior philosophy. Our members are spread across the globe and connect through local preceptories and online.
These are “The Rule”, the 13 Precepts followed by the knights of the Order of Paladins:
- Know thyself.
- Nurture the ability to perceive the truth in all matters.
- You create your own reality.
- Develop a sense of Right Action.
- Do not be negligent, even in trifling matters.
- Your body is your temple: Care for it!
- Minimal appearance, maximum content.
- Perceive that which cannot be seen with the eye.
- Power with.
- Who dares wins.
- The Gods cannot help those who will not help themselves.
- Be creative!
- Do not engage in useless activity.
Code of Chivalry:
These are the 13 principles of the Code of Chivalry that guides the lives of our knights:
Question: What sorts of Paganism have you practiced in the past, and where does your current path lie?
Answer: I self initiated myself into Wicca 45 years ago. Eventually I was initiated into the NROOGD and Georgian traditions of Wicca. My work eventually led me to found a Wiccan order of knighthood, the Order of Paladins.
Question: The Law Enforcement Guide to Wicca has been reprinted several times, and that’s by no means your only book. Can you tell us a bit about the other books you have written and where we can find them? I believe you just released a new one, didn’t you?
Answer: I am the author of the Law Enforcement Guide to Wicca, Witch Hunts, Wiccan Warrior, Full Contact Magick, Magickal Self Defense, Pagan Religions: A Handbook for Diversity Training, Modern Knighthood, How to Be Glorious: Step by Step Empowerment, and The Wizard: The Story of the First Wiccan Cop to go Public About His Pagan Beliefs. I wrote a column with 182 articles on anti-defamation issues and hate crimes on The Witches’ Voice web site called Witch Hunts, which is now a book by the same name published by Dark Moon Press. As Charles Ennis I am the co author of a safety book for social workers and nurses: Safe Approach. I am also the author of Ancient Recipes for Modern Kitchens, a cookbook of ancient recipes.
Question: That’s a prolific list! What are you currently working on in your writing, and when might we see that published, do you think?
Answer: I’ve just finished a book on energy work called Stand Like a Tree: Mastering the Movement of Energy, which I just submitted to a publisher. I also write sword and sorcery fantasy fiction as C.A. Ennis: I’m just working on the third book of the Purification Trilogy, Cathal’s Seer, which I hope to finish this fall. The first two books in that series are Fionúir’s Mural and Ailchú’s Prophecy. I also wrote a paranormal romance trilogy, the Dark Man Trilogy, as Carrie Bryce.
C.A. Ennis Fantasy blog: http://caennis.wordpress.com/
Carrie Bryce Paranormal Romance blog: http:/carriebrycewriting.wordpress.com/
Question: What events and festivals do you regularly attend? Which ones do you recommend?
Answer: Due to my law enforcement profession and other responsibilities I found it difficult to attend as many festivals and events as I would like. Now that I’m retired finding the time off from work is no longer an issue, so I’m starting to go to more gatherings to teach. I’m looking forward to attending Panfest for the first time this August: The last time I was in Edmonton was in 1990, when I taught a course on Pagan religion to the Edmonton Integrated Intelligence Unit. Other festivals and gatherings I’ve been to include:
· Hecate’s Sickle Festival, Millersylvania State Park, Washington, and Spring Mysteries, a modern revival of the Eleusian mysteries of ancient Greece, Fort Flagler, Washington, both put on by the Aquarian Tabernacle Church.
· Dragonfest Festival, Denver, Colorado. I attended this with my wife (who I met there) for many years from 1991. I’ve seen some excellent large rituals there.
- Heartland Festival, Leavenworth, Kansas. I first attended this festival at the first time they used what is now their permanent location in May 1992 to teach local police about Pagans. I had an opportunity to re-attend in May 2013. This has turned into a very well run festival with many wonderful features, especially their “Trash Pirates”, which I think should be adopted by all of the other large festivals out there.
· Blessed Be and Meet Me in DC, Washington, D.C. I attended in October 2000 and it was a wonderful experience but unfortunately I don’t think this is being offered any more.
· Shadowmas Festival, Ohio. I attended this festival with my wife in October 2000. Great energy, good people.
· Convocation, Detroit. I first attended this festival in 2002, and I’ve been invited back many times since. In fact I’m going back to the 2015 Convocation. Very well run festival in a hotel. They take over the entire hotel and the one next door! Great classes, fabulous rituals, well organized. This one you’ve got to see.
- Ancient Ways, Chicago, IL. I attended this in November, 2004. Good festival. Met people there who I still stay in contact with. Haven’t had the opportunity to get back since then.
- Florida Pagan Gathering and Temple of the Earth Gathering, St. Petersburg, FL. I first attended FPG in May, 2005, and have returned since for Temple of the Earth Gathering. Very well run by the ATC. I taught them a haka class and I see that they’ve now incorporated it into their opening ritual.
- Green Spirit, Circle Sanctuary, WI. I first attended this festival at Circle Sanctuary in July 2005. What a wonderful place full of wonderful people.
- Pagan Pride: I’ve run Vancouver Pagan Pride and taught at Nanaimo Pagan Pride Day, Central Puget Sound Pagan Pride Day, Hamilton (Ontario) Pagan Pride Day, and Iowa Pagan Pride Day. These events are well worth attending.
- InFest, Ottawa. I attended this festival in August 2011.
- Sacred Well Congregation Convention, San Antonio, August 2011. This was a wonderful gathering of military pagans.
- ATC May Day, Memphis, April 2013. Great gathering run by the local ATC.
Question: Do you offer classes, readings, or other services, and where can somebody find you if they’re interested?
Answer: You can check out my teaching at the Order of Paladins web site: http:/www.orderofpaladins.com and I post training videos on my YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/goibhniu13?feature=mhum
I post daily affirmations on major social networking sites:
News on my latest metaphysical books can be found on my blog: http://kerrcuhulain.blogspot.com/
You can also find me on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/4695872-kerr-cuhulain
Question: What advice would you like to offer new Pagans just starting on the path?
Answer: First rule of magick: You create your own reality. Take a fearless look inwards, discover yourself in order to figure out what you’ve got to work with, then turn outwards and start using what you’ve got to take charge of your life and create the reality you want.
Question: What would you like to see happen in the Canadian Pagan community specifically, and in the North American Pagan community in general, over the next few years?
Answer: The North American Pagan community now has the eyes of the world. We no longer have to tell the world who we are or get the greater community to pay attention to our existence. We’ve done that. Now we have the opportunity to stand up and by our example show the rest of the world how the world could be.
Question: What do you see yourself doing say, five years from now?
Answer: I am now the media director for the Sunshine Coast Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Astronomy is a passion I acquired as a child and am now have the time to more fully pursue.
I will continue to develop the Order of Paladins and will continue to teach at gatherings at various places in North America.
Kerr Cuhulain is scheduled to be the guest of honour at PanFest, Alberta’s premier Pagan festival, at the end of July, if you’d like to meet him in person.
Speaking of writing, I am excited to tell you all that my first book is coming out on September 1! Now is the time to order it because there's a great pre-order discount on Amazon!
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