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?
Though my people are Methodists on one side and Baptists on the other, I was not raised in either church. I got formal religious training from a parochial Lutheran elementary school and my own intellectual curiosity. Friends and neighbors invited me to visit their churches with them and I sometimes did--giving me an interesting smattering of all kinds of ceremonies and observances. My grandmother sang in the choir of a small Methodist church and I sometimes went to church with her and my grandfather. I sat in the second row between him and a former mayor of our little town and I was very well-behaved. Of course.
I have never been christened or baptized because I grew up "unchurched," as we say in the South. One of the best parts of that sort of upbringing is that I don't carry around a load of anger or fear or resentment for my treatment at the hands of a monolithic institution like The Church. And I got to make macaroni picture frames in vacation bible school and I was a sure winner at the Sword Drill.
In 2011, I launched the Pagan Pathfinders' Podcast, which got some attention at places like the Wild Hunt Blog and the Canadian National Pagan Conference. My vision was one of a panel of knowledgeable Pagans of various traditions and locations, discussing a topic online as panelists do at conferences. As I say in the preview video, people were really quite accommodating and friendly and open to the possibilities.
On the July 1st long weekend, I celebrated Canada Day by driving 10 hours to Drayton Valley, Alberta, to pitch a tent in a mosquito-infested field. I left late, of course; I never seem to get out on time. I didn't want to be late because even though the Sun Wheel Pagan Arts Festival didn't officially begin until the following day, on the Friday evening there was a firewalk scheduled and I had never done such a thing. I came with my husband Erin and my young boyfriend Chad McLeary, also scheduled to perform on the stage. I was quite honoured to be part of such a prestigious line-up; the roster included Vanessa Cardui, current bardic champion of the Kingdom of AnTir, an up-and-coming artist who also does medieval music like me; my friends from the Edmonton Pagan Choir and Chalice and Blade; the legendary Sharon Knight; and the indomitable Heather Dale.
But I shouldn't have worried. Pagan Standard Time being what it is, things were running about the two hours late that I had left the house by, so I had just enough time to set up camp before hurrying off to the ritual.
A lot of people have been reading and circulating the recent articles that were written by my fellow Patheos.com blogger, Jason Mankey, about the “25 Most Influential People in the Birth of Modern Paganism”. He wrote an “American Wing” article and a “European Wing” article, and I thought they were excellent, but the sum total of his mention of those of us north of the 49th Parallel was “sorry, Canada!” Well, naturally that got my dander up a little. It gives the impression that what goes on up here is an appendix to the greater American scene. But in the founding of modern Paganism, in many cases it was the other way around. Here’s my list of 25 Canadians who helped mold the modern Pagan world; without whom, nothing would be as it is. If you ranked them along with the members of the other two lists to create a list of “The 25 Most Influential People in the Birth of Modern Paganism (All-Time Champions,)” some wouldn’t make the cut . . . but many of them would. Just as Mankey did, I’ll list them in alphabetical order, since prioritizing is very difficult. Mankey said that the American list was harder than the European one because everyone was “second generation”; I find that my list consists of either proto-Pagan contributors, or people who are doing very interesting things right now; perhaps a third generation, still active.