Pagan Community News: Twin Cities man charged with child exploitation, SCOTUS decision, and more!

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MINNEAPOLIS – Last week, the Board of Directors of Twin Cities Pagan Pride issued a formal statement regarding the arrest of Josiah Mosqueda, 27, who was charged with eight counts involving child exploitation and producing, receiving and distributing child pornography.

The statement acknowledges that Mosqueda had attended Twin Cities Pagan Pride, and Paganicon and even presented a workshop and facilitated an adult-only ritual as a volunteer, he was not a member, nor in the past of their organization. They also emphasized that he was never involved in any planning or decision making for any of their events. The statement includes a link to their safety policy and states in light of the charges against Mosqueda, he will not be welcome at future events.

The statement goes on to say, “Twin Cities Pagan Pride is committed to providing safe and enriching opportunities to bring the community together. The safety of our attendees is one of our foremost concerns. We stand in support of the victims and their families. Please join us in our prayers for support, healing and justice for them. We are unaware of any harm that has ever been perpetrated at our events. We encourage anyone who has been victimized, now or in the future, to reach out to law enforcement and our Board members for support.”

Mosqueda is due in court today for arraignment. At the time of publication, no report on the outcome has been filed. TWH will report on this as more news becomes available.

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Justice – Pixabay

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) stayed the execution of Buddhist inmate, Patrick H. Murphy, in Texas last Thursday on the grounds that his First Amendment constitutional rights would be violated by not allowing his spiritual adviser to be present in the execution chamber with him.

The Fifth Circuit of Court of Appeals ruled that Murphy had waited too long to make his request, similar to the earlier ruling by the SCOTUS, stating that, “The prison policy was long established and public, the panel said in an unsigned opinion, making delays in challenging it ‘unacceptable under the circumstances.’ ” Texas state officials also cited security concerns similar to those of officials in Alabama in the Ray execution.

Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh wrote in the decision, “The government may not discriminate against religion generally or against particular religious denominations.” He further wrote, “In this case, the relevant Texas policy allows a Christian or Muslim inmate to have a state-employed Christian or Muslim religious adviser present either in the execution room or in the adjacent viewing room. But inmates of other religious denominations—for example, Buddhist inmates such as Murphy—who want their religious adviser to be present can have the religious adviser present only in the viewing room and not in the execution room itself for their executions. In my view, the Constitution prohibits such denominational discrimination.”

Two other justices, Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil M. Gorsuch, would have allowed the execution to move forward.

This is a slight reversal of the decision handed down in early February that denied a Muslim inmate, Domineque Ray, the right to have his imam present in the death chamber in Alabama. The SCOTUS ruled 5-4, against Ray’s appeal writing in their decision that he waited too late in the process to make his request. Representatives of Ray said the prison officials never made any mention of any rules prohibiting his imam from being present until Ray made the request, a week prior to his scheduled execution.

In that dissenting opinion Justice Elena Kagan wrote: “The clearest command of the Establishment Clause[of the First Amendment]” is that “one religious denomination cannot be officially preferred over another.” This was largely in response to the prison’s allowance of Christian clergy, but not clergy of any other faith. The prison cited security concerns as the reason for the policy.

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USA – Representatives from the US Catholic Church have expressed concern about folk magic, Witchcraft and Wicca given the rise in interest in them.

In Santa Fe, New Mexico, Archbishop John Wester denounced the practice of honoring Santa Muerte. He is concerned that people consider Santa Muerte to be a Catholic-sanctioned saint, “It’s really wrong,” Wester said. The popularity of Santa Muerte, a folk saint connected to safe passage, protection, and even healing, has grown in recent years. Originating in Latin American culture, Her influence and depictions have spread to much of the U.S. over the past two decades, and candles with Her likeness can be found in many shops that catering to Latino-based clientele and other Witch stores.

Wester attributes the trend to, “I think in part, it’s [because] people are looking and searching. It’s a symptom of a search looking for answers.” Two other U.S. members of the Catholic faith, El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz and San Angelo Bishop Michael Sis both of Texas, have also spoken out against the honouring of Santa Muerte.

In a blog post for the National Catholic Reporter, Patti Armstrong writes about the dangers of Wicca, and mistakenly equates the religion with devil worship. She quotes a man she identifies only as “Father Michael” (making it clear the name is a pseudonym) who she reports is a “designated exorcist for his diocese” but does not identify his diocesan association. According to the blog post, any and all practices that honor or call upon Nature, use any form divination, or are for the purpose of healing that do not call on the Christian God, are evil and the power comes from the devil.

GDANSK, Poland –  A Catholic evangelical church group in Poland, SMS From Heaven Foundation, set ablaze books, as well as symbols from other religious faiths last week. Many of the books burned were those featuring Harry Potter, which the groups feels is dangerous to children and will encourage them to explore the practices of Witchcraft.

In other news:

  • In an update to a story TWH reported on last November, Canadian Tiffany “Nina” Butch had all charges against her dropped by the court. Butch was the last person to be charged under Witchcraft laws, two days before the law was removed from the Canadian Criminal Code. When the Witchcraft law was removed, the court then charged Butch with fraud. Last week, it was reported that the fraud charge was also dropped.
  • Last week, Facebook announced it would no longer allow pages that promote, endorse, or proclaim white nationalist or white separatist views. This follows its decision last year to ban any pages that were connected to white supremacy. Brian Fishman, policy director of counter-terrorism at Facebook, said in a story by MotherBoard about the new policy, “…that users who search for or try to post white nationalism, white separatism, or white supremacist content will begin getting a popup that will redirect to the website for Life After Hate, a nonprofit founded by ex-white supremacists that is dedicated to getting people to leave hate groups.”
  • University of Buffalo anthropologist Phillips Stevens Jr. gave a lecture, “Magical Thinking, Inherently Human,” last week at the Center for Inquiry (CFI) Western New York in Amherst. A second lecture, “Classical Witchcraft, Inherently Human,” is scheduled for this for this Friday at the same location. The two lectures focus on the idea that beliefs in magical practices and thoughts are embedded in human evolution biology, and that as a result “magical thinking” is natural. He does not address modern religions, like Wicca, but instead examines the 14 attributes of the ethnological/historical witch, which reflect universal human fears and fantasies.
  • The Joyner Library in Greenville, NC held a Human Library event last week that included the story of one actual witch. The event uses people to tell stories of their life experiences, and featured a diverse selection of “story tellers.” The purpose of the event is to promote social change by encouraging dialogue that challenges stereotypes. Participants included a vegan, a police officer, a member of the Mormon church, a drag queen, a person with bipolar disorder, and yes, even a witch. This is the sixth year for the event to be held.
  • An art installation “A Coven A Grove A Stand” by London-based artist Susan Pui San Lok has the history of witchcraft at its core. On display at Firstsite art gallery and cultural center in Colchester, Essex, the exhibit focuses on witchcraft, folklore, and the history of the witch persecutions during the 16th and 17th centuries. The exhibition in which the artist will continue to add to, incorporates sound, sculptures, and moving images, and runs through April 22, 2019.
  • The U.S. Postal Service announced last week it will release the Spooky Silhouette series for Halloween 2019. The four stamps, designed Art Director Greg Breeding, and created by artist Tyler Lang, feature ghosts, a spider in a web, bats, and a cat with a crow in the tree behind it. The images are silhouetted in black on vivid, solid-color backgrounds. A date for their release has not yet been announced

Recent Veil Crossing

The Wild Hunt is saddened to hear that Jock MacGregor was crossed the veil.  His friends and family forwarded this memorial.

Jock MacGregor

“Don’t light a candle,
Light a Bonfire!
He was a Blazing Star.
His heart was so big …He gave pieces of it away…until there was… nothing… left.”

On March 9th, in his 68th year, our dear friend Jock MacGregor quietly left us. It was not in his nature. Our friend passed away from heart surgery complications, suddenly and peacefully, at home …

Larger than life, boisterous, with a wink in his eye, he was the one who would make you feel like everything would work out. He had a fatherly presence, comforting to our whole community. Jock (Chris Benson in his other life) was the best MC of many Bardic competitions. An actor by trade (check out Goosebumps Camp Nightmare, The Santa Clause, The Cutting Edge…) and later a personal support worker for vulnerable adults, he was the force that harnessed all our young volunteers (Jock’s crew) at Wic -Can Fest and Harvest Fest. He loved Nature, Humans, Fire and Drums.

A Director of Wic-Can Fest and Harvest Fest, Jock was the one who would, behind the scenes, ensure that we had wood, water, toilets, fire and torches while at other times, he could be found in humorous or deep conversation at the elder’s fire. He was the vibrant leader of our Corn King ritual!

He was also a well known and loved elder to those at Kaleidoscope Gathering, Starwood Festival and Hearthfire to name but a few. We are all so lucky to have counted him as a friend and a member of our greater Pagan community since the early 80’s . His loss is deeply felt by all his family.

We all will never see a kilt, or a bowler hat, or a chair with horns, ever the same. We will never enjoy a bardic circle or a rousing conversation by the fire, or the journey of the Corn King, with his champion by his side, ever the same again.

Jock MacGregor, may the Goddess hold you close as you journey through the Summerlands. May you join your ancestors in celebration of your life with rousing tales, great joy and heartfelt laughter. May the Goddess also offer much comfort, love and peace to your beautiful family, and all who are left here on this plane that love you and feel the massive gap in their lives, left by your crossing the veil.

There will be no funeral, but please set up Celebration of Life gatherings wherever you gather…He would love that. He hated funerals and loved life. We, at Wic-Can Fest, will come together and plant seeds to grow until Harvest where, this year, our King will take some of our friend away on his journey.

We hope that you will all join in

“…The fire beckons us.

Will you answer the call?
Will you come forth and climb the witch hill,
To dance and feast with our King?

Will you, who have supped with him,
Who have carried him through the seasons,
Brave the fire and look into his eyes?

You cannot unsee what you see there.
The Wild God calls us forth.
His power grows within us

We are the cunning ones.
We will set the world aflame.”

“Abu” (So Mote It Be)


Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte

Deck: Smith-Waite Tarot, Centennial Edition by Arthur Edward Waite, artwork By Pamela Coleman Smith published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Card: Three (3) of Cups

This week may offer a conclusion to something that has been pending or ongoing, and may very well offer the opportunity to celebrate or relax. Conversely, shared information or even shared travel to create a desired outcome may be indicated.


Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone