Pagan Community Notes: UK Witchcraft accusations & child abuse, and more!

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LONDON – Leonora Joseph, 76, and her son, Mark Joseph, 56, appeared before a magistrate in  Wimbledon for harassment of their neighbor, Samantha Ginsburg. The two claim Ginsburg and her daughter are “witches” and that Ginsburg put a spell on Leonora that paralyzed her and required her to be hospitalized.

During their appearance before the magistrate, Ms Joseph in addition to quoting the bible verse, “thou shall not suffer a witch to live” added,  “It is witchcraft, in past times they were burned at the stake. Witches have been in this country with people unaware of it.”

Reported by MetroMs. Joseph “complained that ‘witches’ are able to cast spells in secret while Christians have to pray aloud and are accused of harassment, claiming ‘we pray openly. But in witchcraft they don’t because the devil is the deceiver, so he does everything in secret. Mumbling and muttering is all part of witchcraft.”

Ginsburg told the court the two defendants chanted death threats at her such as “Death by fire, death to Samantha” in addition to playing their television too loudly.

The district judge admonished the Josephs that the law was what mattered in a court of secular laws and they would be required to face a summary trial scheduled for March 28, 2019.  There is no evidence that Ginsburg is an actual Witch or practitioner of Witchcraft.

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[E.W. Nye,  Public domain]

BOLTON, Lancashire, United Kingdom – Since 2016 there have been 31 possible cases of child abuse recorded by social services where the children were abused because they were believed to be “witches” or possessed by demons.

The possible causes of children being targeted reads like a list from the middle ages: Belief in evil spirits by their guardians, being seen as the source of misfortune that has occurred within the family, misbehaving or being rebellious, having some type of disability, or even being unusually gifted in some way.

Dr Samantha Spence, who is based at the University of Bolton and specializes in human rights, joined with a number of organizations and groups that are working to get the UN to pass a Human Rights Special Resolution.  In 2017, the first UN Expert Workshop on Witchcraft and Human Rights was held at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. The workshop was organized by Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN), the UN Independent Expert on Albinism, and Lancaster University.

In addition to attending the workshop, Dr. Spence helped organize “Witchcraft and Human Rights: Past, Present, Future” a conference held in Lancaster. She also a 2018 winner of one of the Jenkinson Awards in the category of law for her research project, “Witchcraft and Human Rights: From Horror to Hope”.  The goal of these various groups and individuals working together is to achieve the special resolution the UN within the next 12 months to help end the deaths and abuse of children related to antiquated claims of witchcraft.

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In other news:

  • The Chicago Tribune printed a “lifestyles” story titled, 5 ways to transform your home inspired by witchcraftThe article features Erica Feldmann, a Chicago native who runs the HausWitch Home + Healing shop in Salem, Mass.,  and promotes her new book “HausMagick: Transform Your Home With Witchcraft,” which came out earlier this month. While the practices recommended in the article might be better described as New Age, it is another example of the cultural impact Witches and Witchcraft in the mainstream.
  • Heritage Daily reported that Finn-Kirsten Iversdatterl, a Sami woman, was the last person to be accused, tried, and executed for being a witch in Central Norway in 1677. Ellen Alm, researcher and librarian at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), reportedly uncovered the details of Iverdatterl’s trial.  Iversdatterl had been forgotten in Norwegian history.  According to Alm, it was a common belief that the Sami were great witch masters, and infamous in their deeds. Alm released a book  The Last Burning of a Witch in Trondheim: The Witch-Trial Against Finn-Kirsten detailing the case in 2014.
  • Images of Sheela na gig appear on may churches throughout the United Kingdom. Most Pagans and Witches would recognize her image as a goddess associated with fertility, and childbirth. In article reportedly containing graphic imagery, the BBC reported the work of an investigator who is exploring the many possible reasons for the images being provocatively placed on so many churches. Over 60 exist in Ireland, and many more all over Britain.
  • Wendy Rule’s latest release Persephone was launched on February 23, at the Thornberry Threatre in Melborne, Australia. The new album while still having some her signature sound it is said to be unlike anything she has recorded to date and is the culmination of over 12 years of work, as reported by Neos Kosmos.

Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte

Deck: Rackham Tarot by Arthur Rackham, published by Lo Scarabeo

Card: Ace of Cups

The week ahead may hold opportunities for feeding the spiritual aspect of ourselves, in addition to offerings for other, more physical, and emotional needs. A wise reminder: just because the cup is full, it does not mean you must consume its entirety in one gulp.

Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone.