TWH – Today the United States celebrates Memorial Day to honor those members of the U.S. Armed Forces who died in service to their country.
Originally known as Decoration Day due to people visiting the graves of fallen soldiers to pay their respects and “decorate” the gravesites by leaving flowers or other remembrances, Memorial Day traces its beginnings to shortly after the Civil War in 1868. It did not become a federal holiday until 1971, when Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act and officially established the last Monday in May as Memorial Day.
Circle Sanctuary maintains a list of Pagans who have died while in military service: Pagan War Dead. They are continually seeking to update their list of those who have died in service and request that anyone who has names that should be added to the list contact them.
Circle Sanctuary spearheaded the effort, Veteran Pentacle Quest, to have the pentacle recognized by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as a religious symbol so it could be included as an option for government-issued headstones, grave markers, and memorial plaques.
The Bush administration finally approved the use of the pentacle in 2007, after ten years of the concerted effort by Circle Sanctuary, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and other organizations. Over 200 memorial markers bearing the pentacle since then have been issued by the VA for use private and public cemeteries.
TWH honors those who have given their lives in service to their country.
What is remembered, lives.
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GLASTONBURY, England – Social media reports came last week that what remained of the Holy Thorn Tree on Wearyall Hill in southern Glastonbury had been vandalized again.
The tree, a type of hawthorn—Crataegus monogyna, known as biflora because it blooms twice a year—had previously been vandalized in December of 2010 by having all of its branches sheared off, effectively killing the tree.
Shortly after the vandalism, the tree developed new sprouts but none survived. Numerous attempts to propagate new trees have been unsuccessful. Since the vandalism in 2010, the trunk of the tree had been surrounded by barriers in an attempt to preserve what remained from any further damage.
Legend has it that the tree originated from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea, who traveled to Glastonbury after Jesus’ crucifixion then thrust his staff into Wearyall Hill which sprouted and began to grow. Despite its alleged and Christian origins, some Pagans also considered it sacred despite a different spiritual ideology. Many Pagans who have made pilgrimages to Glastonbury have visited the tree and surrounded it with prayer flags.
Sometime between 1642—1651 the tree was cut down by Cromwell’s soldiers during the English War as they considered it to be a relic of superstition. Cuttings from the original tree were said to have been taken and propagated, one Glastonbury Abbey and another at the Church of St. John the Baptist. The tree that was destroyed last week was planted in 1951 and believed to be descended from the original.
The most recent damage completely obliterated what was left of the tree, ripping off the bark and shattering the stump. There has been little media coverage but a brief statement on the Glastonbury Town Council website.
The attack on the tree comes just two days after the Glastonbury Town Council denied an application to build homes on Wearyall Hill.
No one has yet been prosecuted for the vandalism in 2010.
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TWH – Last Week, a few posts on Twitter appeared to be claiming that Sweden was considering banning runes. No media outlets including TWH could find had verification to the story. Nevertheless, Russia Today and some neo-nazi and white supremacist sites, promoted the story.
Asatru UK – AUK on their Facebook page denounced these stories:
This is untrue. The story originates from the Samhällsnytt media outlet, associated with the far-right Sverigedemokraterna political party. It has also been propagated by racially exclusive and Folkish pagan organisations in Sweden, such as Nordiska Asa-Samfundet.”
There is no blanket ban on runes being considered, contrary to what has been reported. The Kommitédirektiv (Committee Directive) in question is designed to prevent violent Neo-Nazi organisations like the Nordic Resistance Movement from using historical symbols as logos or for other political purposes.
The document also makes it perfectly clear that runes cannot be banned where freedoms are preserved by either Swedish legislation or the European Convention on Human Rights.
This directive is tailor-made to target the perversion of ancient symbols by dangerous far-right ethno-nationalists. AUK stands against prejudice, racism and the politicisation of heathen religious beliefs.
In other news:
- Last week, the Berkano Heathen Union (BHU) was dissolved. BHU co-founder Ryan Denison, offered TWH the following statement, “Berkano Heathen Union, an inclusive Heathenry group based in Atlanta, has has begun the process of dissolution this month of May 2019. After talks concerning the organization’s mission and vision, the co-founders felt the best course of action for its diverse membership and the local community was to disband the fledgling organization. The board members hope that this decision will foster greater opportunities for spiritual growth in the greater Atlanta Heathen community and they look forward to seeing what direction its members will take.” Their website, and Facebook pages are no longer up and no further details are currently available.
- Last week The Army Times reported on the U.S. Military’s ruling against Spc. John Hoskins’ request for a religious exemption to wear a beard. Hoskins is a Pastafarian (Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster) and claimed that, “It is my personally held belief that growing a beard will bring me closer to my God and bring me into his favor.” The Department of the Army denied his request citing that they believed it was “based on a lack of sincerely held belief ” and that decision was final with no recourse for appeal. Hoskins still holds out hope that at some point the military will reverse its decision since it allowed Sikhs (2017) and then Norse Heathens (2018) religious exemptions for beards.
- In an attempt to repeal the death penalty in New Hampshire, lawmaker, Susan Ticehurst, (D-Tamworth) cited the Salem witch trials and one of her ancestors who hanged as a witch. She noted that the trials that occurred during that period in history in Salem, Massachusetts were considered to be “fair” and yet today, we know they were based on superstition and falsehoods. She went on to note that many who had been placed on death row have since been exonerated by DNA testing and other advances in technology.
- Earlier this month Japan’s Emperor Naruhito after ascending to the throne paid homeage to the Goddess Amaterasu, by participating in Shinto ritual at the Kashikodokoro shrine. Amaterasu is considered by some to be the divine ancestress of Japan’s emperors. On May 1, Naruhito ascended to the Chrysanthemum Throne, one day after the abdication of his father, Akihito. There is planning for a large ascension ceremony in October that will include invitations to possibly thousands of guests from both within and outside of Japan and be followed by a religious harvest festival in November.
- A Kickstarter project, Symbols of Faith & Pride, to produce symbols of faith that includes the Pagan pentacle, and the Heathen mjölnir in Rainbow/Gay pride colors has exceeded their initial funding goal of $2,800 by over $9,000. The project also includes the symbols of the Universalist Unitarian chalice, Hindu aum, the Buddhist lotus, the star and crescent associated with Islam, the Star of David, the word “Atheist”, and the Christian cross.
Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte
Deck: White Sage Tarot by Theresa Hutch, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Card: Queen of Swords
The week ahead may be imbued with strong feminine energy and the call to speak truth to power. Be mindful that it is possible to call out someone’s behavior and still employ tact in ones language. Of equal importance, shining a light on anyone can find that same light extended to the lantern bearer themselves.
Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone