Pentacle Quest

Pentacle Quest A nearly 10-year effort by Witchcraft and Pagan organizations and families to require the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to allow Pentacles to be placed on the grave markers of military veterans.

The VA, which recognized 38 religious symbols, had repeatedly denied recognition of the pentacle, the religious symbol of Witchcraft and Wicca. The VA was sued in U.S. District Court by the Washington, D.C., based American United for Separation of Church and State, representing Circle Sanctuary, the AquArIAn TAbernACle Church, the CovenAnt oF the Goddess, other Wiccan and Pagan organizations and families of veterans.

A verdict in favour of the plaintiffs was rendered on April 23, 2007. The VA also was ordered to pay $225,000 in legal costs to the plaintiffs.

During his first campaign for president, George W. Bush stated that he was opposed to Wiccan soldiers practicing their faith at Fort Hood, Texas. “I don’t think witchcraft is a religion, and I wish the military would take another look at this and decide against it,” he said. It is believed that his remarks influenced the VA.

One of the first pentacle-inscribed headstones was dedicated on December 1, 2007, on the grave of PFC Stephen P. Snowberger III, who was killed in action in Iraq on may 11, 2006. Snowberger was buried in a family cemetery near Lexington, North Carolina. SelenaFox, founder of Circle Sanctuary, was among the Wiccan clergy leading the interfaith ceremony.

Among other Wiccan and Pagan churches and organizations participating were the House of Akasha (North Carolina), Clann Caladvlwch (North Carolina), Path of the moon Collective (North Carolina), Sylvan Hearth Pagan Temple (South Carolina) and Gaia’s rising Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (South Carolina).

FURTHER READING:

  • Cooperman, Alan. “Administration Yields on Wiccan Symbol.” Available online. UrL: https://www.washingtonpost.com/ wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/23/Ar2007042302073. html. Downloaded December 8, 2007.
  • “National Dedication & memorial of North Carolina’s first VA-issued Pentacle Gravestone honors Wiccan Soldier killed in Iraq.” Available online. UrL: https://bbsnews.net/ article.php/20071130180218617. Downloaded December 8, 2007.

SOURCE:

The Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft and Wicca – written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley – Copyright © 1989, 1999, 2008 by Visionary Living, Inc.

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