Tumblr image with many sources
As you all know i am Shawnus Merlin Belarion 3rd* High Priest of the Coven of the Catta. I started my path 33 years ago and about 7 years later attained this level of initiation. There are three others at the level of 3rd* HPTs and HPSs who are active in our coven.
I and others are also registered online as a minister in the Universal Life Church which does not mean much to Federal, State or County governments, but i still encourage everyone who is part of a “fringe religion” as society thinks we are to become a minister through them and to support their cause.
Our coven has a Handfasting ritual and i can Handfast anyone who asks. But that is a Witch ritual, not a legal marriage. There are two pagan friends of mine who May decide to get legally married some day and i have offered for me and Lady Alsace or Lady Ember to do this for them. In fact I Myself will be handfasted to Lady Ember by Lady Alsace hopefully on May Day. Yea!
But I also want the right to legally marry people in the Bible Belt state of Pennsylvania. But according to the ULC on the Pennsylvania Laws and you can search there for your state’s laws. A witch priest in Florida tells me that all one has to be is a Notary Public to perform legal marriages there. But alas PA’s laws are antiquarian. I am encouraged by Selena Fox at Circle and others who convinced the Veteran’s Administration to allow our witch fallen warriors be allowed to decorate their tombstones with the witch pentagram, so that is a kink in the door, at least on the Federal level.
Here in the great U S of A there is always a fight between Federal and States rights, which is a good thing regarding balance of power, but often many conservative states pass laws which are not quite like the writers of the Constitution dictates, especially in the separation of Church and State.
As you all know there has been a long fight throughout our history for the rights of various races, women’s voting and freedom of choice rights, the present fight for LGBT rights, and the rights for access to medical marijuana. Now there needs to be a fight for those of us in Witchcraft to fight for our religious freedom, and Many Many freedoms have been won over the last decade at least.
So i started at my County level and had voice and email exchanges for three days with a very nice, helpful and informative lady there in the right department. There is a notice posted on the Courthouse door, and i tried to paste it in here and then save this draft and WV completely wiped my post off their server. So i will just say it said, to quote, that legal marriages could be performed by Justices of the Peace or Judges or Ministers “of a regularly established church or congregation” which means from those three Religions of the Book. There is a license for Amish, Mennonites and Quakers, but i am not one of them. I am a Witch and we Do have Our Religion!
I am reminded of back in 1972 when there was still a draft for the Vietnam War and my lottery number was 26 so i was Definitely going to be drafted and sent as a piece of meat to that conflict. I told them i would go as a Medic but not kill human beings with a gun or knife. I applied for Contentious Objector status as a Buddhist but the sergeant at the draft board told me that only applied for the Amish, Mennonites or Quakers aka Christians.
So now i feel driven by righteous indignation to go to the State level. I am starting off posting this blog and will reblog it to my BSSS blog where a total of 250 a day will see it. Then i will contact Jason at The Wild Hunt to see if he will link my post. Then I will contact the good people at Witchvox to see if they will post it. Ultimately i need feedback from other witches in PA and even other states in the USA to see how to proceed. I will also contact the ACLU whom i used to belong to (even though i do not agree with Every fight they take up, but most) and have now reestablished my membership in, not that one needs to do that for them to help your cause. I will see if they want to file suit in court at the capital just down the road to see if we can make some progress. Yes We, Not Me. I mean All witches in this state and country.If this goes to court and there is a snowball’s chance in PA redneck Bible belt hell that it may come up to docket, you may in a year or so see us on TV with local news coverage and we will wave our Pentagram flag like the LGBT rainbow flag and have our five minutes of fame, not for me, but for us and our Religion and our Constitution and the Goddess Darned right for witches to be legal clergy in PA with all the other religions.
Hell in a town south of here the KKK are allowed to stage marches and the police protect their rights to do so. Read the USA Constitution and Bill of Rights.
If it takes the rest of my life i swear to the Goddess i will pursue this the best i can with my age and health and my fellow witches support. So Mote It Be.
I would appreciate any positive or negative feedback or ideas which are helpful but any witch baiting trolls will have their comments rejected.
Thank you all for listening to my rant, and may the Goddess Bless Us All. BB. SMB 3*
Addendum 1 February 2014 – Jason at TWH says he will post a link to this at his Community Notes the next time that comes out, and i have sent it to WV for review by them to see if it is worthy of a post there though they say they have hundreds of such notes to catch up with, so thanks to all of you.
Both images from multiple Tumblr blogs
Addendum 5 Feb 2014 I have been contacted by a Rev Ellen of the Hearthside Haven in Connecticut and she is offering us some advice, yea.
Addendum 6 Feb 2014 – Jason at TWH posted about our fight at http://wildhunt.org/2014/02/pagan-community-notes-pagan-tea-time-cherry-hill-seminary-handfastings-in-pa-and-more.html but instead of referring to the About page I have asked him to link it to this post.
Addendum 7 Feb 2014 I have been contacted by a Lady Emrys of the Covenant of the Goddess branch in nearby Philadelphia Pa who is offering some advice, Yea.
Addendum 7 Feb 2014 per Lady Emrys I have contacted the Lady Liberty League which is part of Selena Fox’s Circle Santuary.
Addendum – 19 Feb 2014 – filling out paperwork for recognition by COG but don’t have the money right now.
Addendum 19 Feb 2014 – meeting with all documents in hand with the registrar at the county courthouse tomorrow morning.
Addendum 21 Feb 2014 – i drove up to the county courthouse, wearing my pentagram minister’s ULC badge (LOL) and talked with WW whom i had emailed before and she gave me a copy of the notice on the courthouse door and the State laws she referred to that that archivist of the PA legislature could not find, go figure. Now i am back to pursuing this at the State level and have emailed and called my local ACLU and await their return call to see if we have a case of religious discrimination against the Cult, i mean Religion of Witchcraft. Tomorrow i will scan n manipulate those docs and post in the main page here.
Addendum 21 Feb 2014 here is what i got at the Perry County Courthouse. Still waiting for the ACLU to call me but as their email said they have a Lot of cases put before them.
Here is what is posted on the Perry County Courthouse door regarding who can and cannot marry in the state of PA, kindly photocopied for me by the Registrar there
Here is the poorly photocopied State law regarding who can legally marry in the state of PA, kindly photocopied for me by the Registrar there.
Note that the bottom line is “a minister, priest or rabbi from an established church or congregation aka a Protestant Christian, a Catholic Christian, of a Judaic Rabbi. Hell it does not even include an Imman of Islam. So it sure as hell is not going to recognize a Witch HPT/HPS. If the ACLU Ever returns my call i hope this clause will be cause for a case in the PA supreme court to give at least Moslems, Buddhists, Hindus and yes Witches the recognization that YES WE ARE PRIESTS AND PRIESTESSES OF A RELIGION OLDER THAN JUDAISM, CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM. So Mote It Be.
Addendum 22 February 2014 – A very nice lady from the ACLU contacted me by phone and I told her our story from beginning to now (and boy was she a fast typer) and she is going to put that before their legal team to see if we have a case. Then minutes later she said Anyone can marry someone in PA as long as the County Registrar of Deeds accepts it and if she does not then that is illegal. So like a tennis ball going from State to County to State to County over and over we are back to the County having an issue with witches marrying people. So the ACLU, knowing Who is watching, does not email they talk and fax and mail letters, so i am mailing her all these documents i have so far minus the personal emails between me and the Registrar. Anyone want me to marry them and we can test the waters and if rejected then bring suit? LOL.
Addendum 28 Feb 2014 – I went to a local attorney who i dealt with when buying the HH, to get my Will legally done (good news, what i have is fine as long as dated and signed and no witness or notarization needed in PA) and to combine two tracts of land to save on taxes. Now as he was going over my Will which says things like “my Wiccan BOS goes to so and so etc” I came out as a HPT and he was fine with it, no prejudice and very open and even interested. So i whipped out out new COC business cards and told him the story about my fight at the County Courthouse about a stone’s throw away and Lo and Behold He is The Attorney who handles such issues for the County and we talked and he said as long as i was a minister of an established religion that meets regularly, and i am, and we are, then he sees no problem with our clergy having the right to legally marry people in this County and even in the entire State!!! And he is going to go over there and explain all this to the Registrar of Deeds who as i said before has been Very nice and Very helpful but unsure of whether this is legal or not in the eyes of the State. And he is doing this Free of charge!!!
Addendum 6 March 2014 – To quote Charlton Heston from the 10 Commandments – “Victory is Mine Sayeth the (Horned) Lord” – The lawyer i went to to last week to do my Will (dont need a lawyer or notary or even witness in PA so free) and to combine my deeds on tracts of land to reduce my taxes, is also The Lawyer for this county. He told me last week, after explaining what Wicca is in my Will etc, and he was fascinated, think he is a Freemason but feels like it, honest, open minded, etc. Well he told me he sees no reason why a Witch Priest of Priestess should not have the right to legally marry and the county legally certify such marriages according to PA law. In the past week he talked to the Registrar of Deeds at the county, which BTW besides being a private lawyer is also The Lawyer for the county, so free of charge to me but paid by the taxpayers, and he had a “talk” with her and she now agrees that YES WITCH PRIESTS AND PRIESTESS OF AN ESTABLISHED CONGREGATION (COVEN) WHO MEET REGULARLY (SABBATS) DO HAVE THE LEGAL RIGHT TO MARRY PEOPLE NOT ONLY IN THIS COUNTY BUT ALL OVER PENNSYLVANIA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Amen and Hallelujah and Blessed Be and Thank the God/ess we live in a Democracy with the US Constitution which guarantees Freedom of Speech and Religion and Church is Separate from State. Another battle won….. I do this for you all my kitties, not for me, for you, so when i am dead u will have this. Next – Incorporation of the COC and tax-exempt non-profit status. Thank you Hannah. Thank you COG. Thank you ACLU who were ready to step in. Thank you our Gods who put the energy in me to fight this good fight. This is my gift to the witches of the third degree of the COC in PA.
Addendum 10 March 2014 – The nice lady who i had talked with at the ACLU called to say they did not need to take up this case because they have done so X3 already in PA and have won. So I told her the story of how it was worked out on the local County level, which is the way it should be anyway, and how the lawyer for the county had talked with the Registrar and the County has already changed their policy at least regarding HPTs and HPSs of “a congregation which meets regularly”. Then she said “well i hope you go on to marry many many people” and i said TY and what a great job they do there. FINIS.
Dr Santee kicking back after a long days work
Rev (LOL) Shawnus kicking back after a long 2 months work