Pagan Community Notes: Hate on Facebook, Pagans Against Fracking, Fire in the West, and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  August 20, 2013 — 28 Comments

Pagan Community Notes is a series focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. Reinforcing the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So let’s get started!

Witchesmustdie001jpg-2568309_p9Last week, several Pagans became aware of a Facebook page entitled “Witches Must Die By Fire,” and a group called “Those Witches And Wizards Must Die By Fire By Force.”  While hate speech complaints seemed to initially work, the page is back up, and Facebook is sending back an automated message saying it doesn’t violate hate speech guidelines. A number of Pagan responses have emerged from the controversy as growing numbers of our interconnected community discover the page and group. These responses include a petition, a group on Facebook dedicated to removing hate pages and groups, a call to involve Interpol, and an overview of the issue from South African Pagan Damon Leff, who notes that rhetoric about burning witches shouldn’t be taken lightly.  Quote: Throughout Africa women, men and children frequently become targets for witch-hunters. Incitement to burn Witches anywhere in Africa must be taken deadly seriously and response to such credible threats of violence against Witches on Facebook aught to be immediate and decisive.” As an Atlantic Magazine article published yesterday about Saudi Arabia’s ongoing and deadly hunt for witches and sorcerers illustrates, the global problem of witch-hunts and witch-killings are not merely idle talk, and rhetoric underlying these actions should not be simply dismissed. The Wild Hunt is currently in contact with several Pagan organizations about further responses and constructive paths forward.

The Warrior's CallA call has gone out to Pagans in the United Kingdom to participate in a public ritual at Glastonbury Tor designed to “protect Albion from Fracking.” Quote: “Albion is in peril. Her sacred sites threatened like never before. Chalice Well and the Goddess Sulis (Bath’s geothermal springs) are in danger of becoming toxic. The Great Mother’s flesh is to be cracked open and drained dry, uncaring for consequence to bird and beast, land and life. All those of good intent are summoned hither – regardless of age or gender, color or Creed – to gather at noon on Saturday the 28th of September atop Glastonbury Tor. There, we are to engage in group magickal working for the betterment and protection of this sacred landscape.” One of the co-sponsors of the ritual is Wiccan Marina Pepper, a politician and environmental activist, who has made the issue of fracking a key concern. Pepper’s concern seems well founded, as Heritage Daily has also sounded the alarm over potential damage to the famous wells of Aquae Sulis by hydraulic fracturing. As I mentioned last week, prominent UK Pagans like Damh the Bard and Philip Carr-Gomm have already been protesting fracking operations, and it seems like concern over this issue is only intensifying as Britain’s natural landscape is threatened by this process.

Peter Dybing

Peter Dybing

This past week Pagan activist Peter Dybing, a logistics specialist who works in disaster management, has been in Idaho helping to fight the wildfires raging through Sun Valley, the biggest fire in 25 years. Wildfires are currently spreading throughout the Northwest region of the United States, which has been plagued by drought and dry weather. In a missive posted to his blog, Dybing noted how his Pagan faith, and his work fighting these fires intertwine. Quote: “Today I am back from a fire, in Boise, resting, planning and preparing to respond again. As I reflect on my actions it is clear that the most profound influence my beliefs have had on me are my instinctive actions in crisis. When direct decisions are necessary NOW, they are laced with compassion, internal tears for the destruction Gaia faces in this firestorm and the need to be of service. The most profound expression of my Pagan beliefs and practice shine through most brightly when I have little time for piety.” Our prayers go out to Dybing, and all the brave first responders fighting these fires. May the rains return soon.

In Other Pagan Community News:

  • Modern Witch Magazine is now accepting submission for its fifth volume, entitled “Veils and Visions.” Quote: “The theme is centered on working with the other side, ancestors, energy work, and psychic development.” Deadline is September 25th, you can find guidelines and more information, here.
  • Water, the quarterly newsletter of the Pagan Educational Network, has just released its Lughnasadh edition. The publication is for members only, but you can get a membership subscription on a sliding scale.
  • September 27th through the 29th in Salem, Massachusetts will see the debut of “OCCULT,”“weekend long Esoteric Salon honoring, exploring and celebrating the intertwining vines which feed both Magick and Creative Art.” Co-produced by Aepril Schaile and Sarah “Jezebel” Wood the event promises to “recognize that, especially together, both Magick and Art are greater than the sum of their parts, and each in dwells the other; they are rooted together…To raise consciousness, challenging false perceptions of separation between these so-imagined opposed sorceries. With OCCULT, we seek to challenge old beliefs through the juxtaposition of beauty and magick, of art and ritual, blending the ingredients to make an event of highest harmony, a conjunctio of non-opposites.” You can see a lineup of OCCULT workshops and events, here. Artist line-up, here. Presenter bios, here. There will also be a masque.
  • This Saturday, August 24th, Friends of the Gualala River are starting a public action campaign to convince a winery to spare 154 acres of Gualala River’s redwood forest in California. Pagan author and activist Starhawk will be on hand to do a ritual that will (hopefully) turn “wine back into water.” Quote: “I’ve been working with Friends of the Gualala River and representatives from the Kashaya Pomo to help build a campaign to save an important Kashaya heritage site from being clearcut for vineyards.  Artesa, a Spanish company and the third largest wine corporation in the world, is planning this conversion.  It’s the last redwood-to-vineyard conversion planned in California, after the defeat of the huge Preservation Ranch proposal, which thankfully was defeated.”
  • Medusa Coils reports that the Lammas issue of Seasonal Salon, the online publication of the Re-formed Congregation of the Goddess International, has been released.
  • On September 22nd, the Stella Natura festival, held in Sierra Nevada’s Tahoe National Forest Desolation Wilderness will begin, and will include the Norwegian experimental runic band Wardruna in an exclusive American performance. Meanwhile, Circle Ansuz, a Heathen Anarchist collective, has begun a series of posts digging into the beliefs and past of influential Heathen Stephen McNallen, whose Asatru Folk Assembly is acting as co-sponsor for Stella Natura. I will be following this story in the coming weeks, and will update you on any responses or new information.
  • As I noted previously, the Gerald Gardner documentary “Britain’s Wicca Man,” renamed “A Very British Witchcraft,” was finally aired in the UK after being shown in a truncated version in Australia. You can see the 46-minute version of the documentary on Youtube, here (for as long as it lasts). Enjoy!

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

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  • http://www.bryonmorrigan.com/ Bryon Bragason von Ringer

    That “Who Makes the Nazis?” post is filled with a lot of debunked nonsense regarding alleged “Heathen” beliefs of Nazi officials, sourced to a 1998 SPLC article. The Nazi Party only ever promoted one religion, and one religion alone: Christianity. No serious historian still believes this nonsense about “Odinist Nazis” in the Third Reich.

    Sure, there were “occultist” Nazis, but they were almost always from an Esoteric-Christian mindset, while actual Heathens/Pagans were oppressed by the Nazis. (I wrote a longer post in response to the blog, but it has not been “approved” yet.)

    • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

      There isn’t a post waiting in my moderation, so it must have been very long indeed. If you’ve spent that much time debunking, perhaps you should start a blog for it and simply share a link?

      • Faoladh

        He’s talking about waiting in moderation at the Who Makes The Nazis? site. As an aside, it has been published there now.

      • http://www.bryonmorrigan.com/ Bryon Bragason von Ringer

        It’s there now on the other site, under “Bryon Morrigan”. (Faoladh is correct, above.) But really, the “debunking” was done by the historians already. The author of the post in question relied upon old data (the 1998 article), rather than looking at more current research.

        But here is some more information, in any case. Here’s what Hitler had to say about German Heathens:

        “The characteristic thing about these people [Germanic Pagans] is that they rave about old Germanic heroism, about dim prehistory, stone axes spear and shield,but in reality are the greatest cowards that can be imagined. For the same people who brandish scholarly imitations of old German tin swords, and wear a dressed bearskin with bull’s horns over their bearded heads, preach for the present nothing but struggle with spiritual weapons, and run away as fast as they can from every Communist blackjack. Posterity will have little occasion to glorify their own heroic existence in a new epic.” (Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Part 1, Chapter 12)

        All of the alleged “anti-Christian” quotes from Hitler have come from faked versions of Bormann’s “Hitler’s Table Talk,” or from Hermann Rauschning. His book, titled either “Conversations With Hitler” or “The Voice of Destruction,” has been debunked for DECADES, and no serious historian uses it as a source. The book was written (during the Nazi era) on the orders of American and French intelligence services as a deliberate propaganda tool to make Hitler seem anti-Christian, and therefore lose him the support of German and American Christians. Here’s an interesting article on some of the debunked fake quotes in regards to Hitler and Christianity:http://www.ffrf.org/legacy/fttoday/2002/nov02/carrier.php

        In fact, Hitler promoted Christianity, and had favorable relations with the Vatican. You can find many examples, all throughout “Mein Kampf” of Hitler identifying himself as a Christian, or saying pro-Christian things. They are collected here: http://nobeliefs.com/hitler.htm

        Here’s an example of Hitler’s pro-Christian weltanschauung:

        “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice… And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.”-Adolf Hitler, in a speech on 12 April 1922 (Norman H. Baynes, ed. The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, pp. 19-20, Oxford University Press, 1942)

        And here is Point 24 of the NSDAP (Nazi Party) Program:

        “24. We demand freedom of religion for all religious denominations within the state so long as they do not endanger its existence or oppose the moral senses of the Germanic race. The Party as such advocates the standpoint of a positive Christianity without binding itself confessionally to any one denomination. It combats the Jewish-materialistic spirit within and around us, and is convinced that a lasting recovery of our nation can only succeed from within on the framework: common utility precedes individual utility.”

        I also once had a list of the criteria for Nazi book burnings, and I remember that the list included any books which “defame the Christian religion”. I can’t find it right now, but I think you get the picture regarding how “Heathen” the Nazi Party really was… Using a few Heathen symbols doesn’t make them any more “Heathen” than the use of Native American symbols by the U.S. Army in certain units during WW2 constituted an “endorsement” of Native American Religion. Just sayin’.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Sadly, prior to 2000 SPLC became effectively an anti-Pagan organization as a result of its early encounters with racist Pagans and a superficial analysis of the roots of Paganism. I don’t know if they’ve cleaned up their act since then.

      • Deborah Bender

        I receive SPLC’s magazine as a contributor. I haven’t observed any anti-pagan attitudes; they are against violence and hate speech.

        I remember that they did a theme issue on Heathenism a few years ago (well after 2000) and I thought it was balanced. The writer examined listed a large number of Heathen and Asatru organizations, distinguished the ones which have racist ideologies from those that do not and the ones that advocate violence from the ones that do not, and made it clear that there is nothing inherently racist about religions derived from Germanic and Scandinavian cultures. The article also discussed the activities of prison groups with some nuance. I wish I had kept this issue of the magazine for reference.

        SPLC’s magazine publishes a list of American hate groups annually. It always contains a few Asatru/Odinist organizations (small non mainstream ones) and a much larger list of Christian Dominionist organizations. I don’t recall listing or coverage of any Pagan organizations other than Germanic/Norse flavored ones; there may have been mentions of such but if so, rare and minor instances.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          It sounds like they’ve cleaned up their act. Always good news.I was “out of it” from crippling migraines from 1998 until — well, I was in such bad shape I’m still not sure how long they lasted. So I didn’t follow this or any other development in the detail it deserved. Thanks for the update!

          • http://saffronrose.livejournal.com/ A. Marina Fournier

            As a much less affected migraineur, you have my utmost sympathy for your years of crippling pain. I’m sure you heard a lot of platitudes and “helpful misinformation” during that time, and for that you, you have my sympathy. Admiration is tendered for the fact that you hung on throughout that time, when many have killed themselves to make the pain end.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Thank you, Marina. I’ve been fortunate in the loving support of my wife and my Unitarian Universalist congregation. I’m better now, mostly by cautious living: I always wear a cap or visor with a bill, and slip on one of those filters the optometrist gives you after drops in your eyes when I go outdoors on a sunny day. (Light is my primary trigger.) The medicine Prodrin helps when all else fails. I hope you have found relief for your migraines.

    • Faoladh

      There’s so much wrong with that article, I just can’t believe it. I’m particularly amused (though not laughing) about their apparent hard-on for Tony Wakeford, who has repeatedly repudiated his flirtations with fascist ideology.

      • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

        I have decided to remove my link to that piece, since the information there is too haphazard to be taken at face value.

    • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

      I have removed the “Who Makes the Nazis” post from the entry, due to the errors and unreliability of its information.

    • Folcwald

      The people behind Who Makes the Nazis and similar ‘efforts’ remind me of nothing so much as the scared, ‘concerned,’ paranoid Christians I dealt with in the eighties who thought that if I listened to an Ozzy tape I’d end up sacrificing cats to Satan. In twenty years will we be talking about the Nazi panic like we talk about the Satanic panic today?
      I think I’ll go put some Blood Axis, Fire + Ice, and Changes in my CD player and reread one of my issues of Tyr. I sure hope my poor little mind will not be twisted by teh evil.

  • http://enondragonart.com/ Kelly NicDruegan

    With regards to hate speech policies on Facebook, there is a very well written petition that has just gone “live.” If you agree with the wording of the petition, please sign and share. If my posting the link here is in error or against policy, I apologize and fully understand if this post is removed.

    http://www.change.org/petitions/facebook-inc-change-community-standards-regarding-religious-hate

    • Tina Clark

      I guess all the reporting of the site and the petition did the trick. When I first reported the site I got a message back from Facebook that they weren’t going to remove the page, but I just received another message saying that they have reconsidered and removed it.

    • RevEllen

      I received the same message. Doing a happy dance. That was a sick page.

  • Pitch313

    Coastal Redwoods–Awesome trees. Leave them to grow. Or, rather, what’s left of them to grow.

    Sure, Northern California lands can–and do–produce grapes that are made into some superb wines and some wines that lots of folks drink. But I do not believe that Redwood groves should be clear cut to plant grape vines.

    Redwoods point to a rarer and more powerful sort of magic, IMHO.

    Native of the Northern California wine country…& Redwood magician…!

  • cernowain greenman

    As an active member of P.E.N., thank you for giving a shout out about the latest Lughnassadh edition of WATER. Many of WATER’s readers are Pagans who are incarcerated in the US who do not have Internet access, and so WATER is an important resource for them. But anyone can be a member of P.E.N. for $10 a year.

  • cernowain greenman

    I thoroughly enjoyed the “A Very British Witchcraft”. Thanks for posting the link. While the show doesn’t go real deep into the history, it definitely communicates the eccentricity of Gerald B. Gardner and his influence on spreading the Craft.

  • Dana

    Regarding hate speech on the Internet, I can recommend this informative and timely recorded webinar I tuned in to last week entitled “Learning To Stop Viral Hate The Social Internet and the Interfaith Response”

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_RNlKdRZ5dk&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D_RNlKdRZ5dk

    Freedom of expression does NOT trump personal dignity.

    • Charles Cosimano

      Yes it does. It has to because otherwise no one is free.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        No one is free.

    • Franklin Evans

      Dana, I believe your assertion deserves a respectful response, i.e. more than a sentence or two. :)
      The codification (and legislation) of personal dignity produced legalized murder from formal duelling (code duelo), it fueled Prohibition in the US and was famously denied by the ACLU in its defense of the Nazis’ demonstration march in Skokie, IL. We don’t denigrate personal dignity, but we also don’t use it as legal sanction.
      In my personal opinion, it is tantamount to supporting theocracy. :(

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        Just to get the history straight: The American Nazi Party never marched in Skokie and never wanted to. What they wanted was a parade permit for a rally in a Chicago park, and the city was giving them the bureaucratic slow-walk. So they cooked up a parade application where they could be certain of a crisp, litigable denial of their constitutional right of peaceable assembly. They applied to suburban Skokie, a city with a lot of Holocaust survivors. They got their denial, took Skokie to court (with the help of the ACLU) and the spotlight got the Chicago parks off the dime and the ANP got the permit they wanted. No march in Skokie.The take-away for Pagans is that the ACLU’s actions in the Skokie case make our rights more secure when we want a parade permit. I’ve been involved in enough public ritual in Cleveland to know that is not a trivial benefit.

        • Deborah Bender

          Thank you for that information. I knew that the ACLU successfully litigated for the Nazis in that case but I didn’t know the details.

        • Franklin Evans

          Thanks for providing clarification. My phrasing there was careless on my part.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    Hydraulic fracturing is a controversial topic at the moment. Good to see this ritual is happening. I just hope it gets some mainstream press.

    It isn’t the only problem the British Isles are facing, in environmental terms, unfortunately. Hopefully this will make people more environmentally aware in general.

  • Frankie Trice

    I guess since the Xtians are losing the battle against gays, they are returning to their old standard of persecuting the Heathen and Pagan population. What hateful people…