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On September 26, 2015, an international group of Pagans banded together to perform a “rolling ritual.” As 8 pm arrived in every time zone, participants lit flames and encircled the Earth in a wave of fire, linking anti-fracking Pagan activists into one unified, global family.From single candles lit by solitary individuals, to mighty bonfires attended by groups of singing and drumming people, the initiative did indeed span the globe. Participants were encouraged to place a pin on a world map, and contributions were recorded throughout Great Britain, Belgium, Poland, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Canada and the USA. The event page on Facebook filled with photos throughout the evening of the 26th, as people posted and commented on how they contributed to the wave of positive energy and lit fires of their own.
This initiative, known as Beacons in the Dark, was organized by the UK based group The Warrior’s Call (TWC). This international network of Pagans campaigns against hydraulic fracturing and other forms of extreme mineral extraction.One of the many rituals held that night was organized by Derrick Burbidge, a Druid from Chester, England. The ritual was largely attended by non-Pagans and was held at the Upton Protection Camp, an anti-fracking protest site near Burbidge’s home. For this event, an effigy of “Mr. Fracking” was created as a representation of the industry. His pockets were stuffed with scraps of paper on which were written things that the crowd wanted to be rid of – money, greed, materialism and fear. Then, Mr. Fracking was beheaded, torn apart and committed to the fire. His head perched on a stake to witness his own destruction.
After watching this spectacle, Burbidge said, “This was not about love and light, nor was it about attack, it was about standing firm to defend your land and your family. Nothing was toned down to make it easily digestible, everything was turned up to 11, and the people who came – non pagans – really got it.”
Another UK Pagan activist, Janelle Rakow recorded her observations from the night of the Beacons in the Dark event:
In Canada, a Winnipeg-based group gathered together to lend its flame to the effort. They gathered together at a cabin in the Boreal forest outside of their hometown. Once there, the group cast a circle, calling on the elements, local land spirits and the gods to bear witness to their work. They renewed their commitment to protecting the land with magic and to continuing the environmental and community work done in their daily lives.
As I write this beacons are still being lit. Before I left this evening to go up upon the Sussex Downs I had a phone call from a Warrior in Oregon. They are eight hours behind us. I woke this morning to FB messages from the Bently Blockade Warrior, Linda White, in Australia, their beacons had already been lit. Being Druids Jules and I held the ceremony with the blessings of Spirits of place and the inspiration of Awen. Many had not visited this beautiful location and were deeply moved by the energy of the land, the almost full moon and gently flowing river. As we held our ceremony, drumming, chanting, poems and deep words of hope and wisdom were shared. We toasted the Gods, Goddess and Warriors and feasted upon the wonderful offerings that had been provided. I’m glowing and humbled by the love of those I have had the privileged to share my day with. This night was one that memories are made of.
At precisely 8 pm central time, they lit a bonfire and held that energy raising until 9 pm, when a torch was passed to the next time zone approaching 8 pm. Those attending said it was an exhilarating experience, and that everyone felt a connection to something much greater than themselves.
The spirit of The Warrior’s Call organization has a profound effect on the people who embrace it. The group’s motto is “Ritual as action. Action as ritual” and indeed, action is what is encouraged and supported. Beacons in the Dark is the fourth worldwide ritual event that the group has organized in the past two years, and most certainly will not be the last.
TWC is committed to empowering Pagans to get involved with anti-fracking groups in their own area and also to hold rituals and do magic for the cause. TWC sees no divide between body & spirit and finds it of vital importance that work is done on both the physical and spiritual realms to halt fracking, once and for all.The above sigil was created for the group’s first event, which was held on Glastonbury Tor in Somerset, England September 28, 2013. The sigil has been adopted by the worldwide movement as an international emblem of resistance against fracking. The abstract design is unique and speaks individually and intimately to each person who sees it.
Many “Fracktavists” have committed themselves by having the sigil tattooed onto their bodies, forever identifying them with the cause. The pointed shape resembles the head of a raven, or a spear point. However, according to activist Derrick Burbidge “The sigil is a shield, not a sword. It is not a weapon, but used to keep the peace and defend the land.”Protecting the land from the destruction caused by fracking is a manifestation of the Pagan beliefs shared by those answering to The Warrior’s Call. Most of the core organizational team in the UK are active members of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD) and the action they take is how they express their commitment to the sacred landscape around them.
As the TWC website proclaims: “This land is sacred and will be defended.” This sentiment is echoed by frackavists throughout the movement. Derrick Burbidge added: “It is important that pagans actually live Paganism, today, in the real world, rather than ‘do’ Paganism in their spare time. If you hold deep held beliefs that your landscape are sacred, you should actually mean that they are sacred, not just use the word as a throw away buzzword”
While fracking related issues in the UK are the basis of TWC’s work, they also support a range of related causes, which include standing with Indigenous peoples worldwide in their environmental struggles. TWC has also donated to the Mi’kmaq people of the Elsipogtog Nation in New Brunswick, Canada in their battle with the Southwestern Energy Co., a Houston TX based fracking company.
The Warrior’s Call message, that all action in the name of saving the planet is important and that only apathy and non-action in the face of impending ecocide is a crime, is a call-to-arms for all Pagans who wish to work together toward a healthier planet.
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