Archives For Sioux

logo trothTWHAs we reported last week, the Asatru Folk Assembly made public statements on its Facebook page that ignited an immediate backlash from users, which then spilled out across Heathen communities, the blogsophere and beyond. In reaction to those Facebook statements, a number of Heathen organizations and individuals publicly responded to the AFA posting.

On its website, The Troth published “An Official Statement from The Troth.” It reads, in part: “The Troth stands against the AFA’s vision of what Asatru should be, and we do not recognize their beliefs as representative of a majority of American Asatru (Heathenry). There are no arbiters of who can and cannot worship our deities, but the Gods themselves.”  The Troth, founded in 1987, is one of the biggest international, non-profit Heathen organizations.

Similarly, Heathens United Against Racism posted its own statement, saying “We wholeheartedly condemn the recent statements made by the Asatru Folk Assembly […] There are no words to express how strongly we are revolted by their clear, unquestionable embrace of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and pure bigotry.” Other groups and bloggers, Heathen and Pagan alike, published discussions on the topic throughout the week. We highlighted two different viewpoints, Jön Upsal’s Gardener and Josh at Heathen Talk, in yesterday’s edition of Pagan Voices.

To date, AFA’s only public reaction to any of these statements was to thank the general online community for bringing attention to the group’s Facebook page, and its own community for rallying behind its statements. Marc MacLeod ended the response by saying: “We will be clear and stand by our values, but we don’t need to change anyone’s minds, we just have to provide a place for our folk, that have the same world view, to go. That is our mission and that’s what we will continue to do.”

We will continue to watch this story and report as needed.

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logoCANNON BALL, N.D. — The elders of the Seven Council Fires, members of the Great Sioux Nation, have come together to protest the building of the $3.7 billion dollar Dakota pipeline near Standing Rock. As reported by Indian Country in May, private construction had already begun despite protests at the time. Since that point, there has been an outpouring of support for the local community and that support continues to grow daily. Not only has the Great Sioux Nation itself has come together, but other tribes from around the country have brought support as well.

Members of Pagan and Heathen communities have also been joining the protests to stop the pipeline and keep the local land and waterways clean. Some individuals went directly to the North Dakota sites to aide activists at Sacred Stone Camp and elsewhere. Others have been raising awareness locally or online, and shipping funds and supplies to the area.

Solar Cross founder T. Thorn Coyle said, in part, “Solar Cross supports native sovereignty. Genocide, cultural oppression, theft, and broken promises have been hallmarks of white occupation of this continent. The Sioux and other nations who gather in defense of their land and water, in defense of the sacred earth, and of their own autonomy, have called on us all to help.” Solar Cross has been raising funds to purchase supplies for the activists at Sacred Stone Camp, including tents, tables, canopies, tarps, blankets and more. The group is also involved in an effort to send a delegation to Washington DC.

The federal judge is due to rule on the case Sept. 9. We will have the complete story with interviews and more in the coming days. 

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AUSTIN, Tex. — Over the weekend, a Phoenix Rising event was held at the Elysium nightclub in Austin, Texas. It served as a benefit function for the non-profit Council of the Magickal Arts (CMA). Organized by Candyce Eskew and John Elysium, the evening event featured musical guests, Darwin Prophet, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead and the Flametrick Subs. There was also a raffle, a number of vendors and readers. 

Why a benefit? Elysium and Eskew explained that, “Earlier this year, CMA suffered the misfortune of having several thousand dollars, about half our operating budget, embezzled by a former officer. This benefit is a fundraiser to recoup some of this loss; all proceeds will go directly to CMA’s operating fund.” As of Saturday’s report, Eskew said that the function was a success and they have already raised at least $1,600 toward rebuilding the organization. TWH has reached out to the organization to learn more.

CMA itself will be hosting an upcoming Samhain festival October 20-23. The featured guest speaker will be Aline O’Brien, also known as M. Macha Nightmare, and the musical guest is Goodnight Charlie. All CMA festivals are held on Spirit Haven, a 100+ acre private wooded property in Cistern, Texas.

In Other News:

  • Radio show host Michael Greywolf will be launching a new program on the Pagans Tonight Radio Network (PTRN) called Walking the Unnamed Path. He will be joined by co-host Matthew Sydney. Greywolf said, “Our show will be talking about and discussing topics and ideas pertaining to the Unnamed Path, an emerging shamanic tradition for men who love men. We will be featuring music, guests, and covering general topics pertaining to queer Pagan men.” The new show will first air Sept.10 at 3:00 pm CST, and air the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month.
  • Solar Cross Temple has just launched a new devotionals program. As the group explains, “Every month we will call upon different people to offer a meditation for us all to focus on together. […] We ask … that you follow up with one action-in-the-world to help bolster your connection to the month’s meditation. This can take many forms. Use your creativity, and share it with us on our Facebook page.” The program kicked off Aug. 21 with a prayer called, “To Our Ancestors of Spirit, Body, and Mind” written by founder T. Thorn Coyle. The next one will be Sept. 18 and every 3rd Sunday following. Additionally, the Temple will be continuing its popular “Solar Cross Presents” program with the next class being held Sept. 21.
  • Cherry Gilchrist has released a new book on the tarot. Published by Red Wheel/Weiser, Gilgrist’s new book Tarot Triumphs: Using the Tarot Trumps for Divination and Inspiration is said to “focus on the major arcana, or trumps, of the Marseilles Tarot” with the “aim of encouraging the reader to experience the tarot in a direct, fresh, and uncluttered way.” Gilchrist is a teacher, lecturer, and author or more than 30 fiction and non-fictions books.
  • Speaking of books, TWH’s own writer and assistant editor Terence P. Ward has released his own book Depth of Praise. In 2015, Ward was working to raise money in order to build and complete this devotional work to the god Poseidon. He finally finished the project, with the help of many donors, procuring work from artist Grace Palmer for the book’s cover, and contracting Richard Goulart for the interior illustrations. The completed devotional is now available through CreateSpace.
  • Andras Corban Arthen, co-founder of EarthSpirit Community, recently stated, “I have just learned, and am delighted to report, that I have been condemned yet again by another Christian extremist.” What is he talking about? In the book, World Empire and the return of Jesus Christ, Pastor Simon Downing included, “I find it deeply disturbing to read of Reverend Desmond Tutu’s involvement with [the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions], not to mention the Board of Trustees and its huge religious diversity.” (pp. 272) Downing lists a number of parliament board members including Corban Arthen and Rev. Angie Buchanan. Corban-Arthen has taken this in stride, saying “Back in the mid-1990s, Pat Robertson […] held up a photo of me wearing Pagan ceremonial garments and accused me of being ‘a bad role model for the youth of America.’ Though I could not sue Mr. Robertson […] I chose to do the next best thing, which was to use his indictment of me as a badge of honor.” He added that Robertson’s “very personal condemnation” ended up opening doors for him in the many years since.
  • Are you going to be attending DragonCon in Atlanta, Georgia? The Wild Hunt will be there covering the event, talking to Pagans, Heathens and polytheists about their experience at the world’s largest pop culture convention. We’d like to hear from you, say hello, and see your costume.

Got a news tip or story? Reach out to us via our contact page with information, press releases, statements and other news tidbits. We want to hear from you.

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There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up.

  • Noted early-music performer Owain Phyfe, a long-time fixture on the Renaissance Faire circuit, science fiction conventions, and Pagan festivals like Pagan Spirit Gathering, passed away this week from pancreatic cancer. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary, who knew Owain, had this to say about the musician: “Thank you, Owain, for good times, friendship, & carrying on the bardic tradition with old & new songs & stories! Thank you for being part of the Pagan Spirit Gathering & Green Spirit Festival! Blessings of our Welsh ancestor Owain Glyndwr, upon you as you make your way in Annwn, the Otherworld!” You can find out more about Owain at his Wikipedia page, or this article from Renaissance Magazine. What is remembered lives.
  • How do you stop a witch-hunt from happening? In rural India, groups of women who met through micro-loan programs are banding together in solidarity to resist the hysteria that can come with an accusation of witchcraft, and have met with some success. Quote: “In one case, a woman was accused of causing disease in livestock and an attack was planned. Members of the self-help groups gathered in a vigil around the woman’s home and surrounded the accuser’s home as well, stating their case to the accuser’s wife. Eventually the wife intervened and her husband recanted and ‘begged for forgiveness.'” So how do stop witch-hunts? Empowering women seems an important first step.
  • Brian Pulliam, a racist skinhead who has been arrested in connection with a double homicide, is receiving scrutiny for his Asatru faith, which he believes requires him to drink alcohol. The story has prompted a representative of the local Asatru community in the Albuquerque, New Mexico area to speak up and clarify their beliefs, distancing themselves from Pulliam. Quote: “…his claims that Asatru requires him to consume mead for various holidays during the year are baseless. While many of us choose to drink mead or other alcoholic beverages during our celebrations, there is absolutely no requirement to do so. People whose medications won’t allow them to drink alcohol, those who are underage, and active service members in the Middle East, to name just a few examples, are capable of fully celebrating without mead.” The author, Sorn Skald, also noted that Pulliam’s racism would not be welcome in the group with which he worships.
  • The Vancouver Sun has more on the unfolding controversy over Public Safety Minister Vic Toews’ move to stop the issuing of new contracts for minority-faith chaplains, including a Wiccan chaplain, because he’s “not convinced” that it is needed. Quote: “For the past six years, Wiccan priestess Kate Hansen has been visiting federal inmates across British Columbia who follow the pagan religion, guiding them in meditation and leading them in prayerful chants […] “If they choose to scrap this, they’re denying the rights of all of these people – their access to spiritual advisement of the religion of their choice,” Hansen told Postmedia News.” For more on this situation, read my post from yesterday, and be sure to check out the comments section, which features input from a Canadian Pagan prison chaplain.

That’s it for now! Feel free to discuss any of these links in the comments, some of these I may expand into longer posts as needed.

What happens when sacred lands go up for sale? That is the situation faced by the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people as Pe’ Sla, an area in the Black Hills of South Dakota, is being sold by its owners. Though long in private hands, tribes had been allowed access to perform necessary ceremonies, and this is now in question with the sale. In addition, the government of South Dakota is planning on paving a road right through the middle of the site, a move that is seen as sacrilegious. In response, a last-minute campaign to raise funds to purchase the land has been launched, but with only a few days to go they are still far short of their million-dollar goal.

“The Rosebud Sioux Tribe has designated $50,000 for the purpose of purchasing Pe’ Sla land.  By contributing to the effort of all the Sioux Tribes, we aim to purchase at least some of the tracts, if not all.  Many of the Sioux Tribes continue to exist in poverty and do not have a thriving casino-based economy as the media may have portrayed.  Yet we continue to fight for what is sacred, because it matters!”

Ruth Hopkins, writing for Indian Country Today, puts the importance of this land in context.

“Like many other Indigenous groups, our ceremonies are tied directly to the Universe and the natural cycles of Ina Maka (Mother Earth). Therefore, it only serves that Pe’ Sla, a location in the heart of the Black Hills that serves as a basis for our star maps, is also a sacred site where ceremonies must be observed each year. According to our beliefs, these rituals must be performed to keep the Universe in harmony and preserve the well being of all, Native and non-Native alike. You see, to the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota, Pe’ Sla is not merely prairie. Its grounds are holy. It is our Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It is our Mecca. Pe’ Sla is our wailing wall, where we are meant to pray. The danger of the Oceti Sakowin losing Pe’ Sla is real, and imminent. Should Pe’ Sla pass into the hands of someone other than us, it’s highly likely that it will be developed. The State of South Dakota has expressed that it wants to use eminent domain to build a road right through the heart of Pe’ Sla. Development of Pe’ Sla would effectively cut off our access to it, and spell its destruction as a sacred site.”

Point of fact, this land was illegally taken from the Great Sioux Nation, and they have refused a settlement award (currently nearly 600 million dollars) for it because that would legally terminate demands for that land’s return. Native tribes across the country have been working for years to reclaim land that was taken from them in the name of greed or “integration,” and even when lands are “safely” in the hands of the federal government, that is no guarantee that the wishes of American Indian tribes will be respected.

Pe'Sla in the Black Hills (Photo:South Dakota Magazine/Bernie Hunhoff)

Pe’Sla in the Black Hills (Photo: South Dakota Magazine/Bernie Hunhoff)

The protection of Native sacred lands is an ongoing issue in Indian country, encroachments and construction on sacred lands often done in the arbitrary name of economic development, or sometimes just for simple convenience (to non-Native folks of course). For some politicians it seems very plain there is no such thing as sacred land at all. However, we know there are consequences and a price to the eradication or desecration of sacred ground, whether it is Tara in Ireland or the peaks in Arizona. We can only hope that some sort of reprieve emerges, and this holy site isn’t developed and destroyed. We have to ask ourselves what sort of nation, culture, are we, that blithely moves forward in destroying indigenous holy sites in the name of commerce while screaming about “religious freedom” on somewhat flimsy (and politically motivated) pretexts. When you sell a people’s sacred ground, what dignity or honor is left, what claim do we have to be human beings?

For updates on this issue, see the site Last Real Indians.