UNITED STATES – On May 22, Huginn’s Heathen Hof (HHH) published a post suggesting that the Department of Defense (DoD) would be placing the Asatru Folk Assembly (AFA) on a hate group list. According to the original report, the NCIS was investigating the group after its Facebook page was taken down. However, on June 10, HHH removed the story from the website. In its place is a statement saying that, due to new evidence, “the story has been temporarily pulled until further notice.”
What happened? The HHH story was based on a Facebook post from Bonnie Hoppa, a retired first class petty officer of the U.S. Navy. In a May 17 Facebook post, Hoppa wrote, “[AFA] is in process of being added to NCIS’ list of white supremacist organizations, subsequent to their public page being flagged as belonging to a hate group.” Hoppa also stated that she was “actively working with NCIS to address the military-related issues with AFA.”
After Hoppa’s post and the HHH report were published, AFA fired back from its new Facebook page: “After contacting NCIS headquarters and those departments tasked with the investigation of hate groups and white supremacist organizations, it was concluded that the Asatru Folk Assembly is neither listed as currently being investigated for such offenses nor has it been investigated for such offenses to date.” Since that point there have been questions regarding the viability of Hoppa’s original claims, with people coming down on both sides; some believing her story and others not.
A spokesperson at the NCIS Public Affairs Office told The Wild Hunt directly that it “does not maintain a list of hate groups.” The spokesperson added: “Before your email, we’ve never heard of the Asatru group and there is no ongoing investigation.” Several other unrelated military contacts corroborated the point that NCIS does not maintain such a list. However, NCIS declined to answer any other questions, and the DoD pubic affairs department did not respond to any TWH inquiries.
HHH writer Xander Folmer confirmed that he himself has since received a similar response from NCIS, and will continue looking into the situation. We also reached out to Hoppa, but she did not respond to questions in time for publication. We will continue to watch this story, and update with any more conclusive evidence as it is discovered.
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INDEX, Wash. — A statement released last week from the Aquarian Tabernacle Church condemns the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. It reads in part, “Wicca is a religion of knowledge. We embrace science as well as faith, and as such we honor education. We do not honor the path of the willfully uneducated as a sign of faith, or of dedication. As we see humanity as a part of the earth, instead of apart from the earth, we consider the actions today as an affront to the very core of our beliefs.
“We cannot sit by and allow the current course of climate science to be derailed without comment. The actions of current administration in reference to the Paris climate agreement are abysmal. Partisanship aside, this is the move of an ignorant and greedy government looking to exploit the planet while ignoring the best interests of the world in the pursuit of the personal interests of the few.”
Other Pagan groups, and groups with Pagan ties, have also made opinions about this decision known. The environmental issues statement approved by members of Covenant of the Goddess in 2014 was reissued as a response. It reads in part, “We know that climate change presents an imminent threat to humanity and other life on Earth. Since this imbalance is caused by human activity, we humans must accept responsibility for our actions and seek to reverse the damage and restore the balance.
“We support local, regional, national, and global efforts to conserve natural resources, to seek clean, sustainable sources of energy, and to rebalance our world.”
Similarly, a statement put out on the website of the Parliament of the World’s Religions begins, “The 21st century presents no greater moral challenge than addressing the threat of human-caused climate change. President Donald Trump has utterly failed that test.”
We will continue to update this story as it develops.
In other news:
- In the wake of the Portland MAX stabbing attack, musician Victor Johnson was moved to write a song dedicated to Rick Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, who were killed trying to protect two teen Muslim girls. The song’s title is “Tell Everyone on this Train I Love Them,” after the last words Meche reportedly spoke before being loaded on an ambulance. He later died at a hospital. Johnson, who was in Portland the night of the attack, writes: “It was a couple of days later, back in Bend, I read the story of Taliesin’s last words. I was already consumed by everything that had happened and I felt this was the most powerful expression of love I had ever heard. It really stuck with me and spent much time in meditation and deep thought on them.”
- Users of Android phones now have a new, free resource: the Witch Digest app. Created by Summer Song, who has been practicing Witchcraft for some 20 years, the app includes information on sabbats and esbats, moon phases, magical correspondences, and a number of Song’s articles on related subjects. On her website, Song writes: “This Witch Digest is intended to be helpful to those who are exploring the possibilities of Witchcraft, new to the craft, alone as a solitary practitioner and who already know the very basics of witchcraft such as what magick actually is and how it works. I hope to answer questions about using spells and performing rituals. It is not fun sometimes as a solitary walking the path alone, not having anyone to talk to about a spell you did or someone to get advice from when it comes to magick.” The app can be downloaded from this link.
- A scholarship is being offered through Land Sea Sky Travel for a Beltaine pilgrimage to Ireland, which will take place Apr. 28-May 6, 2018. According to owner Vyviane Armstrong, the scholarship fund was created after a successful Morrigan-focused trip last year. Applicants must be unable to afford a similar trip in the next three years, have at least two recommendations from others in the community, and explain why such a pilgrimage would be personally significant. The application period closes Oct. 1, and the winner will be announced Oct. 15. Some meals, as well as appropriate insurance, must be paid for by the recipient.
- Chicago’s Witch community is getting a new ball. To be held Oct 7, Chicago’s First Annual Witches Ball will be hosted by the owners of Spiritual Vibes & Soul Sisters. According to the event page, they have “rented a castle” and will be hosting a DJ, open bar, raffle, food, and games. The organizers also noted that they can only sell 100 tickets. The ball will be held at Royalty West Banquets in Willow Springs.
- Mystic South conference has released its programming for upcoming summer conference. For those attending in July, several Wild Hunt writers and administrators will be presenting during the three day event, and will be on hand to chat about Pagan media. Additionally, The Wild Hunt will also be hosting a Thursday evening pre-conference meet-and-greet for all attendees. Mystic South will be held July 21-23 at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia in Atlanta, Ga.