Pagan Community Notes: Earth Day 2019, Va. officers fired, update on Okla. child abuse case, and more!

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ASHEVILLE (TWH) – Today marks the 49th anniversary of Earth Day, first celebrated on April 22, 1970 in the U.S. A number of Pagan and polytheist groups hold annual celebrations and public rituals all over the U.S. and around the world. Earth Day became a global event 20 years ago. Over 190 countries have signed on to the celebration as being committed to promoting conservation and raising awareness focused on environmental issues.

This year’s theme from the Earth Day Network is “Protect Our Species.” In a typical year, between one to five species become extinct annually. In recent years, however, those numbers have jumped astronomically and are currently estimated to be magnified by 1,000 to 10,000 times that rate. A study released in 2017 reports a decrease in flying insects that ranges between 76% and 82% over the past two decades. This is important because plant life largely depends on bees and other flying insects for pollination. The decline of species across the board has accelerated and some species, like lizards, could be completely extinct by 2080.

The North Face, Inc started a petition on Change.org to make Earth Day a national holiday around the globe. A number of other companies and organizations like Girl Scouts, National Geographic, CLIF, The Trust For Public Land, and Smartwool are just a few who have signed on to help support the mission and promote the petition. At time of publication, over 120,000 people have signed the petition which has a goal of 150,000

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Image credit: Va. State Parks – WikiCommons

RICHMOND, Va. – Last week, it was reported that two officers with alleged ties to white supremacy and a Heathen group, Ealdrice Theodish Fellowship, were relieved of their positions following an investigation by the separate law enforcement departments where they were employed.

TWH reported in February, Sgt. Robert A. Stamm of the Virginia Capitol Police was placed on administrative leave after social media posts featuring symbols of white supremacy and possible connections to Asatru Folk Assembly, were made public by Antifa Seven Hills. On Tuesday Stamm’s attorney, Brent Jackson, said that Stamm had submitted his resignation, a police spokesperson described the situation as Stamm being “separated” from the Va. Capitol Police.

In March TWH reported, Chesterfield, Va. School Resource Officer, Dan Morley was removed from his position and suspended after Unicorn Riot exposed his connection to a white nationalist group by publishing over 77,000 leaked chat room messages from the group Identity Evropa. The Unicorn riot article revealed that that both Stamm and Morley were involved with Identity Evropa and the Heathen group, Ealdrice Theodish Fellowship. It was reported Morley was fired on Thursday.

One of the founders of Identity Evropa, Nathan Damigo, is reportedly connected with helping organize members outside of the immediate area for the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va. The rally turned deadly, killing protestor Heather Heyer who was rundown by a car driven by James Alex Fields, Jr. Fields was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in March of this year. Identity Evropa has sought to distance itself from the murder and attempted to rebrand by announcing in early March the group is now calling itself the American Identity Movement.

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Image credit: Daniel Mayer – WikiCommons

MEEDER, Okla. – There is update to a case TWH reported on in August 2018, involving alleged child abuse and neglect of Jones Sr.’s in Oklahoma linked the father, Jimmy L. Jones Sr., 34, and stepmother, Amy A. Jones, 46, as identifying as Pagan or Wiccan. Both had liked or were following a variety of Pagan pages on Facebook, and the stepmother had posted about “majik” and Wicca on her personal page at the time. The victim of the alleged child abuse and neglect was only identified as “JJ” and listed to be 15-years-old, and appearing emaciated–weighing only 80 pounds.

Initially, Jones Sr. was charged with one count of child abuse, and his wife was charged with enabling child abuse by injury, in addition to child neglect. Their two sons, 20-year-old Johnathan Plank, and 24-year-old Tyler Adkins, were also charged with child neglect.

Last Friday, after a preliminary hearing to determine probable cause for the defendants to be bound over for trial on the charges, the State of Oklahoma brought child neglect against both of the Joneses and Adkins instead of charges of child abuse. Plank is accused of failing to report. If convicted the defendants could face a sentence ranging from one month to life in prison. Oklahoma has laws in place that require those convicted of serving 85% of their sentence before being paroled or earning credits towards early release. The Jones family has one other child, who is four-years-old and was not mentioned in updated reports. None of the current reporting makes any mention of the family’s religious practices.

In other news:

  • A corrections officer in  Haralson County, Georgia, Trent East, has reportedly been suspended with pay pending an investigation of his ties with a Norse group, Ravensblood Kindred and posts he made on social media that reflect white supremacy ideology. Initially, Haralson County Sheriff, Eddie Mixon determined East presented no threat and he was left on the job until pressure from the Anti-Defamation League got the attention of county officials for a more formal investigation. East and a friend, Dalton Woodward traveled to Auburn University together in 2017 to hear white supremacist, Richard Spencer speak and later posted pictures online of the signs they had made and carried referencing “white genocide.” Both East and Woodward are National Guard members, and are being investigated by the military to see if their actions are are in violation of regulations which prohibit having any ties to extremist or supremacy groups.
  • Last Friday, Reuters reported Northern Ireland journalist, Lyra McKee was gunned down by a member of a militant Irish nationalist group that was firing at police while she was covering a riot in Londonderry. Mckee was an advocate for the LGBTQ community, and had been contributor to many publications including The Independent, The Atlantic, and Buzzfeed, and was awarded the Sky News Young Journalist of the Year in 2006. Ironically, it was 21 years ago that the Good Friday Agreement that ended several decades of sectarian violence in Ireland.
  • A petition on the Care2 site titled, “Denounce Hatred Done in Name of Odin” so far has garnered 166 signatures. It is unclear what group or individual started the petition on the site. TWH will report any new information as it becomes available.
  • A woman called the Beaufort County Sheriff in North Carolina to report what she referred to as a “witchcraft hex” near the front door of her residence. The report says the woman’s initials were written in sugar, and had a fresh egg cracked on top. The reporting on this story does not give the name of the victim but does specify that a police report was filed with the Beaufort County Sheriff and that the woman had received several texts threatening her and her husband prior to the discovery of the egg hex.
  • A New Zealand man, Reg Ozanne, who is part Maori and identifies as practicing some Pagan-identified beliefs is a suspect in the death of a miniature horse that was attacked and stabbed 41 times on February 19. Police searched Ozanne’s home and car in the Waitati community looking for weapons, bloody clothing, and any writings on Pagan or Satanic rituals. They removed several knives, a crossbow Ozanne says he uses for hunting and several pairs of shoes. Ozanne strongly denied having anything to do with what happened to the horse or being connected to any beliefs that espouse such actions.
  • Early this month, The Miami Herald reported that joggers and hikers who regularly utilize Tropical Park were encountering an increasing amount of ritual offerings. Everything from dead fowl to goats and pigs, as well a variety of animal organs and parts including cow tongues litter the rocky outcropping at the top of a constructed small hill. These types of ritual offerings are common to Santeria, and other types of African Traditional Religions (ATR). While the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1993 that bans against practicing Santeria were religious discrimination and unconstitutional, regular visitors to the park hope that city officials will increase the regularity of clean-up crews and remove carcasses and animal parts before they begin to rot.

Of note:

  • A new survey by Pagan priestess and scholar, Gwendolyn Reece, of American University in Washington, D.C, is part of a study that seeks to explore the relationship between how the metaphysical and theological beliefs held by Pagans/Witches/Heathens relate to each other and to ethical reasoning. She is also exploring how these topics relate to certain personal issues, like a sense of self-efficacy and the centrality of your spiritual path to your personal identity. In her survey, she asks certain questions that are designed specifically for the Pagan/Witch/Heathen community and others that were previously used in other academic studies with the general population and allow for comparisons. The online survey takes about 25 minutes. All answers are anonymous and open to anyone age eighteen or older who identifies as part of the overall community. The survey will close after Summer Solstice.

 

Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte

Deck: Tarot of the Bones by Lupa

Card: Three (3) of Wands

This week may be a good time to indulge in a little wanderlust or set off an adventure or pursue a new creative endeavor. Be mindful of not becoming overly confident or trying to cover too much ground too fast.

 

Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone