Pagan Community Notes: Sanctuary closing in Bonita Springs, PSG theme announced, ACLU files suit in Va. and more!

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. – The Sanctuary in Bonita Springs, a small 2 acre private property that offered space for meditations, retreats, and other spiritual events is closing down. Pre-hurricane flooding, and devastating damage caused by Irma in September of 2017, has left the Sanctuary unable to recover despite concerted efforts of clean-up.

Hurricane Irma, a category five, became one of the strongest to ever develop in the Atlantic basin. Irma is listed as the fifth-costliest Atlantic hurricane, doing $64.8 billion in damages.

The Sanctuary was host to weekly Buddhist meditations and Sutta studies, as well as hosting women’s retreats, Reiki gatherings, and Medicine Wheel gatherings. They announced last week in a Facebook post they would be shutting down the page and, “We appreciate all outreaches for support and community resurrection. We have decided with heavy heart to release our beloved ‘Sanctuary’ back to Mother Nature and close a wonderful chapter in our journey.

“Know that this was a difficult decision, and our heartfelt thanks to all of you who have supported us and stood by and helped us through the blood, sweat and tears of our creation and birth. We have had wonderful ceremonies, concerts and events held and hope you continue to hold those memories in your hearts as we do.”

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BARNEVELD, Wis. – Circle Sanctuary announced the theme and logo for Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG) this year. The theme, “Rise Up!” was inspired in part by music created by musicians Cheryl Crow, Andras Dray, and Spiral Rhythm. On the Circle Sanctuary website, they list the lyrics as:

Dray: “All we need, all we need is hope. And for that we have each other. And for that we have each other. We will rise. We will rise.”

Crow: “Well the sun’s gonna rise, when it’s everything or nothing, and nothing seems all right, the sun’s gonna rise up with you.”

Spiral Rhythm: “love can change the world”, “fight enemies with words”, “lead by example”, and “Rise Up Pagan Children!”

The logo was designed by PSG Community member Colleen Koziara.

Circle Sanctuary also announced PSG will be on a new site this year, Hannon’s Camp America campground near Oxford, Ohio. Kristoffer Hughes of Wales, Lady Tamara Von Forslun of Australia, Jason Mankey, and Oberon Zell are among their featured presenters this year.

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RICHLANDS, Va. – Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against the Town of Richlands on behalf of Mark Mullins, owner of Mountain Magic & Tarot Reading. The ACLU alleges in its filing that the town is “violating the free speech and religious freedom rights of a local resident who is banned from reading tarot cards as part of his business.”

They identify Mullins and his partner, Jerome Van Dyke, in their suit as practicing Hermeticism, and that using the tarot is an integral part of their spirituality—much like the Bible is used in Christianity. Mullins is quoted as saying, “Tarot is our Bible. It means the world to me to be able to share my practice with others.”

Beginning in June of 2017, Mullins had been repeatedly denied a business license by the town with citing local zoning ordinances and requiring Mullin’s to modify the request. Mullins complied, as suggested, and the request was heard at a public town hearing in February of 2018. Local residents and clergy members in attendance at the hearing cited scripture, claimed the practice of reading tarot cards was “evil,” “witchcraft,” and would “open things up in this area to the demonic realm.” They also told town officials that if they allowed card readings to happen that they themselves would suffer spiritual consequences for doing so.

As TWH reported last year, the town’s own application for a business license actually lists “fortune teller” and “palmist” as options under the “nature of business” heading. The town manager suggested he open a book store, instead. Mullins changed his category to “bookstore giftshop” under the name “Mountain Magic.” Since Mullins could not charge for tarot readings, he did them for free—until the Richlands Chief of Police, Frank Dorton informed him that it was illegal for him to do card readings whether he charged for them or not.

The ACLU lists the Town Manager, Timothy Taylor, former Chief of Police, Frank Dorton, current Chief of Police, Jerry Gilbert, and Chairman of the Planning Commission, Randy Smith as defendants in the filing. TWH will continue to follow this story and report and any new developments.

In other news:

  • A new poll by Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released last week revealed that 57 percent of Americans said they oppose allowing small-business owners to refuse services to LGBTQ people if the owner believes it would violate his or her religious beliefs. Only 36 percent said they favor allowing businesses to discriminate. There were some interesting variations of those strongly opposed when examined by faith, race, and denomination: 83% of Unitarian Universalists; 68% of Jews; 66% of Black Protestants. Alternatively, 54% of white Protestants; 55% of white Catholics vs 52% of Hispanic Catholics. Evangelicals – 55%, and Mormons — 54%, were in support of businesses being able to discriminate based on beliefs. The survey also found that 62% of American support marriage equality, up nine percentage points since the Supreme Court ruling in 2015.
  • Last week, New Mexico became the fifth state to eliminate “Columbus Day” as a holiday. Instead New Mexico will celebrate “Indigenous Peoples Day” on the second Monday of every October. On Tuesday, April 2, 2019, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed House Bill 100 renaming the holiday. Minnesota, Alaska, Vermont, and South Dakota have passed similar legislation, though South Dakota calls their new holiday, “Native American Day.”
  • The National Archaeological Museum in Athens, Greece placed on display for the first time, the statue of Aphrodite, Greek Goddess of love. The marble statue is based on the Hellenistic version of the Aphrodite of Praxiteles. Prior it had been part of the Iolas collection of sculptures of Capitolian type and dates to the Roman era.
  • In a follow-up to last week’s article about a Polish church burning books and symbols of other faiths, The Guardian reports that the priest, Father Rafał Jarosiewicz, issued an apology on Facebook last Tuesday, “If anyone took my action this way, I would like to apologise,” he wrote, adding that he had removed the photos of the public burning, “so that it does not generate more emotions. I’m very sorry once again.” The actions of burning such items drew criticism from a variety of sources. Jarosiewicz was fined by city guards, and an anti-smog group contacting officials, about the illegally burning but it is not clear from the report if the fine was due to the anti-smog groups actions.
  • Selena Fox spoke at the University of Wisconsin in Madison as part of the Women in Interfaith Panel last Sunday. The panel was comprised of Janan Najeeb, President of the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition; Sister Toni Ann Palermo, Roman Catholic Sister of the School Sisters of St. Francis; Pastor Erica Liu, Co-Pastor of Pres House on campus; and Rabbi Andrea Steinberger of the Hillel Center in Madison. The panel came at the end of the weekend conference, Intersections of Interfaith. Late last month, the public talk Fox delivered on spirituality, environmental protection, and religious discrimination to more than 700 students, faculty, and community members at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia was covered by the school publication, The Flat Hat.
  • The Folklore Podcast aired episode 55 on Cunning Folk featuring Tabitha Stanmore, PhD, who has researched the role of Magicians in history from c. 1350 to c. 1650. Stanmore’s research encompasses how magic was practiced, by whom and what gender, and how the practices shifted over time.

In “witch-hunt” news:

On March 29 the South African Pagan Alliance Touchstone Advocacy kicked off its annual 30-day campaign to end “witch-hunts.” The campaign runs through April 27, 2019. The following stories highlight why this campaign, and others like it, are so important.

  • IFAKO-IJAIYE, LAGOS, Nigeria – Kehinde Salami, 25, and Yetunde Akinola, 42, who identify as prophet, and prophetess were charged with conspiracy, breach of the peace, false pretences and attempted murder after attempting to make their housemaid swallow an iron cross that they believed would protect her from “witchcraft.”
  • ASSIN FOSU, Ghana – Yaw Nuamah, who has epilepsy, attacked his sister with a large knife, believing she had used “witchcraft” causing him to develop the disorder, also claiming the medications he had been prescribed had no effect.
  • DEDZA, Malawi – People affect with ablinism, (a genetic trait that results in the body being unable to produce melanin so the skin appears colorless or white), are being hunted and murdered for their bones and other body parts to be used to influence elections and bring good luck. It is believed by some that criminal gangs are paid to kidnap those who have albinism and deliver them to witchdoctors who perform rituals for wealthy persons seeking more wealth and power. While formal of tracking of such crimes only began in 2014 by Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM), citing 122 cases of thwarted abductions, 25 murders, and 15 disappearances. Amnesty International began their awareness campaign in 2016.
  • MEWAR, RAJASTHAN, India – Women accused of being a “witch” or “bakan” find life extremely difficult and any sense of justice elusive. Just in this region of India in the past year over 15 incidents of women, usually elderly and living alone, have been recorded. If they have families close by, they are given the choice to either leave the area or have their families lock them away. Despite laws being enacted to protect those accused of “witchcraft” officials often turn a blind eye to the problem.

Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte

Deck: Mystic Faerie Tarot by Barbara Moore, artwork by Linda Ravenscroft, published by Llewellyn Publications

Card: Ace of Wands

This week the drive to begin or create something new may be in evidence. It’s a good time to take a serious look at where things stand–what is on hand, what is needed, and how those items can be obtained. A clear picture of the goal will help to determine what tools, skills and knowledge are needed.

 

Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone