Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Prison Pentacle Project - Live Oak Local Council

Back in August, prison chaplain James Rioux, from North Dartmouth, Massachusetts, contacted COG via the main website to request where he might find “all-white, plastic pentacles” for the Wiccan inmates of his institution, and the request was then sent out, via the AIR list, to all of us. Inspired by the Goddess, the Prison Pentacle Project began. When our First Officer read the message to us during our council meeting, I just couldn’t stand the idea of fellow Wiccans being denied the right to wear the pentacle. Even more, the thought of a white plastic pentacle was ridiculous! Like a child’s toy? That just didn’t seem right. I felt that we ought to be able to do something about it, and give them something to wear that they would be proud of.

First, I contacted James and told him of my idea for a pentacle. He told me to go ahead and make a prototype and send it to him for review. The prototype was made of a white plastic cafĂ© curtain ring covered with a white, satiny cloth, and then stitched with a silver metallic thread for the border. The star was done with silver metallic elastic cord. Then I sent it to James, and it was accepted by the Bristol County Sherriff’s Office for use by its Wiccan inmates. When I asked why it had to be all white, James told me that the main reason was to clearly identify it as Wiccan, and not a gang item. Thank the Gods they allowed the silver threads! The prototype is shown on our website, liveoakcog.org. Live Oak Local Council is setting this up online so all of us can utilize it as a resource. I created the design, with the assistance of fellow council member, Sharon Starrett, who also helped to source the materials. I listed all of the items needed to make these pentacles, along with the instructions, for our website. Josh Wechsler took the picture, and Tom Davis, our PIO, set up the web information for all thisThis is only the first of many prototypes possible. With my fellow council members in the Live Oak Local Council, we are looking at how many different kinds of pentacles we can come up with that are not made out of metal. So far, we are looking at a woodburned slice of oak branch, a clay or Sculpie model, and a needlepoint pentacle. As we develop each new type, we will add a new page to the online Pagan Pentacle Project section of our Live Oak Local Council website. Each one will have a sample picture and instructions for how to duplicate them, as well as credit for those who created and photographed them.

As James had told me, each institution has its own criteria for what is acceptable and what is not, but we can offer some examples and allow them to choose. Our goal is to keep the cost down, to allow us to donate them for free How many more incarcerated Wiccans are out there, unable to wear their metal pentacles? There are many prisons in which such a service could make a huge difference for a Wiccan. Make a list of your local prisons and contact the Chaplain for each to see if there are Wiccans there who might need pentacles, and what the criteria would be for an acceptable pentacle. Explain that you would like to donate the pentacles at no cost to the inmates. In this particular case, they wanted white plastic to make it very visible, obviously Wiccan and not gang-related, and it had to be non-metal, hence the plastic. Some prisons, as here in Texas, allow inmates to buy metal pentacles in their commissary for a cost of $25. With limited spending money that is a cost that many inmates cannot afford. Our pentacles can fill that need.

If you would like to add your own ideas to this project, develop a sample, take a picture of it, write down the instructions, and materials and send them to us. We will include your design in the Pagan Pentacle Project, with credit to the people who developed it and the council that you represent.

We can help all inmates who desire to have a pentacle to wear. This is our chance to make a wonderful difference in their lives by letting them know we’re thinking about them and we want to help. If you have the desire to help fellow Wiccans in prison, please visit Live Oak Local Council’s website, liveoakcog.org, for more information and the email link. We can also be reached by Googling “PrisonPentacleProject.org.”

In Service to the Goddess,

Lady Cliodhna (Rev. Susan Harr)

Live Oak Local Council, COG

Austin, Texas