Recently there have been some events in the Pagan community in South Africa which appear to have some unsettling effects also on other alternative subcultures and communities as well. Just two days ago, Lady Morgause Fonteleve, the Convenor of the SAPC, announced the possible impending disbanding of the South African Pagan Council. Below is the public statement from the SAVA on the issue:
To clarify SAVA’s position regarding current events in the Pagan community:
We have noted with interest the current events unfolding within the SA Pagan community, and decided that a clarifying statement is required on these matters.
The SAVA is not a religious organization, although many of our members and also participants in the VC are Pagans by religious affiliation, so we understand that this must be a distressing time for those among us who are of Pagan faith.
These events are, however, an internal matter within the SA Pagan community and are not specifically the business of the SAVA as a body representing the interests of the SA Vampyre community, although they definitely do have an effect on the relations between the SAVA and these bodies and also in relation to the Pagan community.
Therefore we appeal to all our members and participants in the SA Vampyre Community to remain calm and to not be drawn into any needless conflict over the issue.
The Pagan community of South Africa, consisting of our neighbors and friends, is a conglomerate of diverse groups and individuals drawn together by their common beliefs and identification as Pagans. Very few of these are formal and registered groups which work to represent the interests of the Pagan religions and associated community both internally and to the outside world, these being the SA Pagan Council and the SA Pagan Rights Alliance.
There has been talk of the formation of various new “Councils” within the Pagan community, ostensibly to rival the influence of the SAPC and SAPRA within the Pagan community in this country.
We view the formation of such “ad-hoc” councils within the Pagan community, and potentially malicious statements against Damon Leff and the SAPRA and SAPC as a hysteria-driven reaction by some within that community, possibly in the haste to recruit support, who have not yet understood the true purpose of the dissolution of the SA Pagan Council.
According to the understanding we have been given, the SAPC is disbanding (but only technically, due to the way in which it is currently registered with regard to the country’s taxation laws, and in keeping with provisions built in to the body’s constitution) but it will be immediately reforming. Its “disbanding” is therefore only a technicality and does not mean that it will no longer fulfill the role it has until now, or cease to be a representative or convening body within the Pagan community. Therefore, the status quo within the Pagan community in terms of representation and leadership is fully and realistically expected to continue unchanged.
The SA Pagan Rights Alliance and its Director, Damon Leff, have together as an entity worked for almost 2 decades as human rights advocates to advance and protect the interests of Pagan (and general) religious freedoms in South Africa. The combined record of their efforts, together with the contributions of other SAPRA members are quantifiable and measurable and are visible in digital and print format in publications of all kinds in South Africa and around the world.
Both the SAPRA and the SAPC have always demonstrated a keen sense of justice and fair-play towards the SAVA and the SA Vampyre community, and have argued that participants in the Vampyre subculture who are also participants in the Pagan community should not be treated with hostility or suspicion, and neither of these entities have argued that Pagans who identify as Vampyres should not be welcomed into Pagan groups etc. In fact, SAPRA and Damon Leff have since before the regrettable Pagan Vampyre Dispute and Conflict of August-September 2011, maintained very cordial and supportive relations with the SAVA and worked to bring about understanding, tolerance and friendship between our communities.
Currently the SAVA and SAPRA are joint partners in a project which addresses the matter of propaganda present in media and in law enforcement manuals which aggravates misconceptions of occult and Pagan religions to name but a few, up to and including a lack of understanding about the Vampyre community – and furthermore, threatens the general Constitutional right to freedom of religion in South Africa.
Channels of communication and formal ties of friendship and co-operation between our community via the SAVA and the Pagan community via SAPC and SAPRA, remain open.
Regent of the SAVA