Pagan Community Notes: Nathan Smith, AFA, Niagara Cannabis Club, and more

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The Temple of Witchcraft lost one of its members this weekend. Nathan Smith (1990-2017) died suddenly and unexpectedly of causes that have not yet been made public. Smith was originally from Raymond, New Hampshire, and attended Great Bay Community College. He was most recently working as the manager at a local retail store, Rue21.

Nathan was Wiccan, and a regular member of templeevents and classes. According to reports, Nathan was “a third of the way through Witchcraft IV and making plans for earning a degree, completing the mystery school, and starting an exciting new job.”

Temple teacher Alix Wright wrote, “I cannot find the words to describe what a beautiful person this man was, but I can attempt to show you a little of how I saw him. His humor, sassiness[sic], his intelligence and his drive were always present. In classes, his wit and his wisdom combined, showing a man of true compassion […] My mind hurts to think of the loss of his light in this world, my heart mourns the loss of an incredible student and friend, and my soul is filled with hope that he passed peacefully into the arms of his mother.”

Those thoughts are being echoed by other temple members in social media and beyond. The Temple of Witchcraft is hosting a memorial ritual May 23 at 7 p.m. for anyone, regardless of location, who would like to honor Nathan’s memory. The organization will also host an informal in-person gathering in Salem, N.H. What is remembered, lives.

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The original Ásatrú Folk Assembly (AFA) Facebook fan page was taken down, after the group posted a controversial Mother’s Day statement from Alsherjargothi Matt Flavel. The statement read, in part, “The Ásatrú Folk Assembly would like to wish a very Happy Mother’s Day to all our mothers. You ladies literally birth our future, with every Aryan child you secure our existence and you bring light and hope into the world.”

Shortly after that posting, the page was taken down by Facebook. According to member Clifford Erickson, the organization did request reconsideration, however that request was denied. The page has been permanently removed.

Undeterred, leaders of the group have since launched a new fan page, saying that they will “diversify [their] social media presence so that we can keep getting our message out. We didn’t do anything wrong and we’re just going to keep doing that.”

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In a follow-up to a story we brought to you in December, the Niagara Cannabis Club has been permanently shut down, and its owners were arrested. The Canadian-based cannabis club was to host a Yuletide Dragon Ritual Drummers event, complete with ritual and music. When manager and owner Kelly Kush discovered Witchdoctor Utu’s private Voodoo practice, she shut the event down only hours before it was scheduled to start.

Since that point, local police had reportedly received multiple complaints about the club, forcing them to launch an investigation. According to the official statements, the owners were “not licenced by Health Canada to sell these products,” which is therefore considered drug trafficking. The police reports note that the Niagara Cannibis Club was the fourth to be closed in the past month. Owners and founders Kush and Timothy Robitaille were charged with “2 counts of Possession of a Schedule 2 Controlled Substance, 2 counts of Unlawful Production of a Controlled Substance, and 1 count of Possession of Proceeds of Crime.”

A police spokesperson told local reporters that until the laws are changed to allow anyone to sell marijuana, the department will continue to enforce the current regulations.

In other news

  • AFA was not the only one with Facebook issues this past week. Artist and polytheist Markos Gage was banned from the social media for three days after posting a link to the TWH interview article. At first Gage wasn’t sure why he had his posting rights taken away. Although the imagery used in the article link did contain nudity, no other Facebook shares had been removed or caused user problems. Gage has since concluded that the temporary ban was caused by local protesters who, in recent weeks, have been harassing him. Gage is now back on social media.
  • Heathens United Against Racism has issued a public statement denouncing the Sweden-based organization Ásatrú Nordiska Asa-Samfundet. According to the statement, HUAR and other investigations have provided “incontrovertible evidence” of the groups embracing of fascist ideals. “We, the members of Heathens United Against Racism, denounce them for what they are. We oppose them.” The entire statement is posted on the organization’s website.
  • The Atlanta-based Mystic South conference is gearing up for its inaugural event in July, only two months away. The new indoor conference is now sharing the names of the many workshops, entertainment, and presenters, who will be filling the time and space over its three days. Mystic South will be hosted at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia in Atlanta from July 21-23.
  • Wild Hunt columnist Karl E. H. Seigfried reached a milestone this week, becoming the first Heathen to publish a work in Sightings, an online journal for the Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School. The article is titled, “Denouncing Discrimination, Enforcing Inequality.”
  • The U.S. will be commemorating Memorial Day this coming weekend. Not only does this secular holiday mark the beginning of the non-seasonally-based summer period, but it also is a time when people get together together with family, cook-out, and honor the many fallen soldiers. On May 16, Circle Talk hosted a special radio program called, “Warrior Rites for Military Pagans.” The two hour program was aimed at “supporting Pagans serving and who have served in the US Military and their loved ones with Warrior blessings, honoring, & healing rituals. This show included Armed Forces week audio presentations of the Pagan Military Service Ribbon by some of Circle Sanctuary’s Military Ministers.” It can be streamed on the Blog Talk Radio site.