To our readers: Please note that TWH will be only intermittently accessible on Friday, February, 1, 2018 as we transition to a new format.
We begin this weeks Pagan Community News with three witch-related stories.SALEM, Massachusetts – Founded on the 300th Anniversary of the Salem Witch Trials, Salem’s Voices Against Injustice (VAI), a nonprofit organization that promotes awareness, understanding and empathy in support of human rights, tolerance, and social justice, honored Ana Maria Archila with this year’s Salem Award for Human Rights and Social Justice. An unconnected and recent story related to the Salem Witch Trials is a new podcast titled “The Truth Behind the Salem Witch Trials, with Aaron Mahnke” on the site Stuff they don’t want you to Know”. The podcast provides background and new insights regarding the Salem Witch Trials.
KENT, United Kingdom – Two stories from Kent Online featured stories of Witches and Pagans last week. In one article, Deborah Samuels-Stuck claims she organized two circles of witches to help her reclaim her stolen scooter, which was returned two days after their joint ritual work. The following day the same publication ran a story citing statistics from 2011 with the headline “Hundred of witches, wizards, pagans and druids living in Kent.” The article goes on to give a brief explanation of various Pagan beliefs and concludes with the 2011 census numbers of various towns and villages in the area.
OTTOWA, Ontario – The change in law with the introduction of Bill C-51 in Canada concerning the practice of witchcraft was featured in a story that focuses on its legal significance and realities. The story interviewed Heather Logan, coordinator of the Pagans of Carleton at Carleton University, as well as Dale Dalessio, Wiccan high priestess of the Firestone Coven. TWH recently covered the law change in Canadian law here and here.
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PARK CITY, Utah – Award winning director, Penny Lane, premiered her new documentary, Hail Satan? at the Sundance Institute’s film festival last week. Early reviews of the film have been positive, and in some cases even effusive with praise, calling it everything from hilarious to thought provoking. The documentary focuses on The Satanic Temple’s (TST) rise in popularity and its ongoing legal efforts protecting religious freedom in United States. TST has made the news a number of times since their formation in 2013 by challenging policies that violate the US First Amendment and the separation of church and state, and more recently regarding a lawsuit against Netflix for copyright infringement because of the use of a Baphomet likeness in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
Hail Satan? is also scheduled to be screened at the Rotterdam International Film Festival that runs January 23 – February 3, 2019. Magnolia Pictures bought the worldwide rights to the film last Thursday, just ahead of its premiere at Sundance, and plans a 2019 spring release.
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ASHEVILLE (TWH) – There has been a spike in reports of “witch hunts” worldwide since the beginning of the year. Just last week, there were 4 major stories in the news. Last Saturday a woman and her four children, (ranging in age from 1- to 10-years-old) suspected of practicing witchcraft were murdered in Odisha’s Sundargarh District in India. Six people have been arrested in connection with the murders. Another murder in the Mayurbhanj district, also in Odisha, a man took an ax to his neighbor after accusing her of causing his son to fall ill. Police believe the man was using the accusation to settle an old score.
In Kakamega, Kenya a 36-year-old man was rescued by police from villagers who were beating him because they believed he has used sorcery to cause traffic accidents.
In Bulawayo, Zimbabwe a shop owner whose stores had been looted found his stolen property returned to police due to the looters believing him to be a sorcerer, and fearing his wrath. The shop owner has repeatedly said he is a Christian and does not “place juju” on his items.
TWH will continue to follow these witchcraft claims, attacks and murders in a forthcoming in-depth series of articles.
In other news:
- The ill-fated, and poorly organized Fyre Festival was back in the news recently after Netflix (Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened) and Hulu (Fyre Fraud) both released documentaries. The releases have spurred various articles quoting a 2017 interview with Matt Skiba, band member of Blink-182, stating “I had a bad feeling about that event. I consider myself a pagan and a witch. With every inch of my energy I wanted Fyre not to happen. I put all the electricity and energy in my body against that thing happening.”
- A recent study conducted by the University of Costa Rica found that 1 in 5, close to million Costa Ricans, believed they had been hexed at some point in their lives. The use of divination and magical services are common, with roughly half of those interviewed admitting to visiting a “brujo o hechiceros” (witch or sorcerer) for some sort help or advice.
- An American missionary, Steve Campbell, is under investigation by officials from FUNAI, the Brazilian government’s Indigenous Affairs Department for entering the territory of the Hi-Merimã tribe in northwestern Brazil. Mr Campbell allegedly defended his actions by maintaining that entering Hi-Merimã Indian territory was the only way to reach the Jamamadi, a neighboring but contacted tribe, that he claims wish to learn the use of the GPS system. Stephen Corry, Survival International Director, said today: “Fundamentalist Christian American missionaries must be stopped from this primitive urge to contact previously uncontacted tribes. It may lead to the martyrdom they seek, but it always ends up killing tribespeople.” Indigenous rights groups note that uncontacted tribes not only have the right to self-determination but are also susceptible to disease and exploitation.
- Greece has removed 2,330 monuments, museums, and archaeological sites from a development fund that could have potentially allowed them to end up in the hands of foreign buyers due to austerity measures and the country’s bailout terms. The Greek Minister of Culture announced that the cultural assets would be exempted from the fund. “We have 2,330 assets which are protected through a legal act. We can now rest assured.”
Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte
Deck: Tarot of the Cat People by Karen Kuykendall, published by US Games Systems, Inc
Card: Three (3) of Pentacles
This week will likely require the use of whatever extraordinary skills one possesses in order to be successful. There is no room for mediocrity, sloppiness, or being preoccupied unless failure is the goal.
Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone.