Pagan Community Notes: Sonoma Wildfires, Mexico City, Puerto Rico, and more

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CALIF. — “The scope. The scope of everything is …purely devastating,” said Tracy McClendon, after wildfires destroyed her family home.  Early Monday morning, before most people were awake, multiple wildfires raged throughout Sonoma Valley. According to local news, “The blazes, which caused power outages and blanketed much of the Bay Area in smoke, were fanned by dry northeast winds that gusted up to 50 mph in the valleys and 70 mph on mountaintops.”

McClendon, who is an active member of the local Pagan community, is one of the reported 20,000 people forced to evacuate due to the fires, and she is also one of those whose home has been completely destroyed. In a tearful video, McClendon said that she has yet to wrap her mind around what happened: “My son’s baby pictures. His baby teeth. My clothes. My belly dance costumes. … everything that is me is gone.”

But then she added “no,” noting that she and her family were all safe. It is scary to think that ten minutes is the difference between us being alive and us not being alive.”

When they left the home, McClendon reportedly went to an emergency shelter, and then drove to Oakland where she has family. She will stay there until it is safe to return to Kenwood and see “what is left.”

The causes of the wildfires are reportedly under investigation. While the winds are expected to die down Monday afternoon, officials have not made any predictions as to when the threat will be completely over, or when families can get back to their homes or what is left of them. We will update this story and Tracy McClendon’s situation as needed.

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The funding campaign to help residents of Mexico City is ongoing. The city experienced a devastating 7.1 magnitude earthquake in late September causing mass destruction throughout the region. The Wild Hunt‘s own columnist Jaime Gironés reported back to us after he experienced the tremors.

Laura Gonzalez, radio personality at Pagans Tonight Radio Network, has been helping to raise money to assist the rebuilding of the city. Gonzalez says, “Donations for #CDMX Cofradia Wicca Luna Azul (Blue Moon Wicca Brotherhood) and Fraternidad de la Diosa / Santuario de la Diosa (Goddess Fraternity) #PaganSpirit invite you to donate to the CDMX collection center.

Gonzalez says that “funds received will be donated in full for medical supplies, rescue tools and community support. We also exhort congregations, temples, covens, etc. to send their support or donations.” While there are institutions in place to help, grass roots organizations and individuals are boosting the efforts.

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Last week TWH reported on the ongoing efforts to help the people of Puerto Rico. Since that writing, we have learned that the Hellenion Proto-Demos of Hera Akreia, located in Denver, has also been raising money for disaster relief. This group is the “newest Proto-Demos” of the national Hellenion organization. All the money raised by the group was reportedly” sent to Puerto Rico. 

Similarly, after our article ran, a Pagan living in Puerto Rico wrote in and said, “It is very sad to see all the destruction, tho in the tropics, the vegetation does leaf out pretty quickly. I have been really distressed to see all the beautiful really old trees laying on the ground, being dismembered by chainsaws. Hope some of you will remember those fine old beings in your prayers.”

The reader added, “This island needs help and those of us here perhaps need a little reminder to share what we have with others who have lost it all. I went to the local shelter with a stalk of ripe bananas from my yard and toys for the children. They looked very surprised to see me.” As she reported, the communities are having trouble helping each other.

In other news

  • Ilsa Plaisance was featured in The Shreveport Times‘ Louisiana Purpose Project. The project is “a video series in which people share what gives their lives purpose and meaning. We hope their stories enlighten, inspire, and empower others.” Plaisance, age 41, told the Times reporter that her purpose was to “to serve my family and my goddess and to write.” Plaisance mentions how she found and embraced Paganism, and how she volunteers for a local ADF grove. “I recently published my first book, titled We Are All a Little Broken, which is set here in northwest Louisiana. One of the sisters, Mary Jane, is a Pagan.” She also said that she is currently working on a second book.
  • Treasure Coast Pagan Pride Day is coming up Oct. 14 in Fort Pierce, Florida. This year is its second event and it it will be hosting a special Red Tent event. Pagan Denise Renaud wanted to expand the women’s red tent experience beyond the singular festivals. She set out to raise money and was successful. She will be hosting the Treasure Coast Red Tent at TCPPD Oct. 14. PPD organizer Kasha said, “We don’t have a lot of Pagan resources or activity around here, so this is a really big deal for the ladies in the community.”
  • Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans just had their by-laws vote, amending some of the rules and regulations that govern the organization.  Members, for example, can now use Skype or similar programs to access the annual meeting and vote in elections. Within the next few days, the organization will have elections for its Board.
  • The Bay Area’s Reclaiming community is getting ready for its biggest ritual of the year: the annual spiral sance. Organizers wrote, “Our intention is ‘Riding the knife’s edge of history, we face the great challenge of this present moment; to step off the old path and weave futures of strength and joy with the dead and the generations to come.’ The event will happen Oct. 28 at the Richmond Convention Center.
  • Midwest Witches’ Ball will be held Saturday Oct. 14 in Michigan. This year will mark the event’s 21st anniversary. Hosted by the Universal Society of Ancient Ministry, the event was given the 2017 theme of “Fellows and Frills, A Fantastical Masqued Fete.”

Tarot of the week with Star Bustamonte

Deck: Cat’s Eye Tarot by Debra M. Givin, DVM, U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Card: The Magician

The card of the Magician represents power that is only limited by the imagination of the wielder. While power has moral ambiguity, the wielder does not. This cards suggests that this week anything is possible but how you choose to use your power, be it for good or ill, carries consequences.