Pagan Community Notes: Blood Tribe wins ruling, Witches prominent in mainstream media stories, and more!

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CALGARY, Canada – Last week a ruling from the Canadian Federal court in favor of the Southern Alberta Blood Tribe, was a major victory for indigenous peoples. Justice Russel Zinn ruled that the tribe was shortchanged in the way the boundaries were drawn under Treaty 7 signed in 1877. His ruling acknowledges that the land occupied by the Blood Tribe was 160 square miles less than what it should have been.

The Blood Tribe’s current reserve is 547.5 square miles. Zinn ruled Canada was in breach of Treaty 7, which he detailed in the 205-page written decision, and that the tribe was entitled to 710 square miles of land.

“Canada is liable to the Blood Tribe for this breach of treaty,” wrote Zinn.

The original territory would have extended from the St. Mary River in the east to the Waterton River in the west, and south to the U.S. border. Zinn rejected the claim that attorneys representing the Blood Tribe argued the town of Cardston and part of Waterton Lakes National Park should be included in its territory.

How the tribe will be compensated has yet to be determined, and will require another hearing that has yet to be scheduled.

There is a similar case pending in the U.S. that is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court this session, Murphy v. Royal.  On the surface, the murder case looks like anything but one that would end up being heard by the Supreme Court. However, due to where the crime was committed, and where the victim’s body was dumped, it has put the case front and center in a case that could have a dramatic impact on the boundaries for the Creek Nation (Muscogee Tribe) and for eastern Oklahoma.

The federal government signed a treaty with Muscogee Tribe in 1866 that dictated the boundaries of the tribe – some 3.25 million acres or 5078 square miles. Despite other declarations by the federal government and attempts to “reclaim” land (Dawes Commission) deeded to indigenous peoples, as well as the creation of the state of Oklahoma, the federal government never redrew or altered the boundaries nor was the 1866 treaty revised.

Murphy was tried and convicted of murder by the State of Oklahoma. However, Murphy committed his crime, as well as dumping the victim’s body, within the boundaries of that 1866 treaty. The resulting appeals eventually resulted in the U.S. 10th Circuit Court to rule that the case should’ve been tried by federal prosecutors rather than the State of Oklahoma due to the fact that the land legally still belongs to the Creek Nation. Should the Supreme Court uphold the previous ruling on jurisdiction, it would also cede the land in question back to the Creek (Muscogee).

A ruling in favor of the Creek in this fashion would also open the way for the rest of the Oklahoma tribes to potentially reclaim the 19 million acres that include the city of Tulsa.

TWH will continue to follow these stories.

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[Credit: Nyo/Wikicommons]

TWH – A recent article appearing in The American Interest titled, “The Rise of Progressive Occultism” by Tara Isabella Burton seems to have spurred a number of articles and responses, most notably an op-ed by The New York Times (NYT) columnist, and political commentator, David Brooks, “The Age of Aquarius, All over Again!” While both articles use astrology as their lead-in, the main focus is Witches, and occult practices becoming increasingly mainstream as the impact, or not, they are having with activists.

TWH published a letter yesterday from Phyllis Curott in response to Brooks’ column, in particular, taking him to task over his statement in the last paragraph, “I doubt that much of this will be sustainable. I doubt it’s possible to have tight community and also total autonomy, that it’s possible to detach spiritual practices from the larger narratives and cultures and still have something life-shaping.”

One day after Brooks’ column was published, the Los Angeles Times ran a story of The Oracle of Los Angeles, Amanda Yates Garcia, who makes her living as a professional Witch. The very same day, the Daily Star in the U.K. ran a story with the headline, “Witchcraft booming in UK as figures show 70,000 people practice ‘magic’.”

On June 14, The Toledo Blade published, “The Pagan way: The Broom Closet caters to the polytheistic” an article profiling a new business that focuses on selling to practicing Witches and Pagans. The reporter gets not only the terminology right, but also manages to clearly explain the umbrella of Paganism.

On day after that, Roadtripper Magazine published an article about the Bearded Lady’s Mystic Museum in Burbank, California. The museum according the the article not only has a variety of occult items like vintage Ouija boards, but also an ancient mummy skull among its displays. It also sells a variety of other oddities, offers psychic readings, is home to coven of Witches, and has an art gallery.

On June 16, the Liverpool Echo published an article about Gerald Gardner, his family’s ancestral connection to a Scottish woman, Grissell Gairdner, who was burnt at the stake for being a “witch” and him being the “father of modern witchcraft.” The article covers much of the basics of Gardner’s life, his travels, and magical practices.

The Highlands Current also reported about the Oddities and Curiosities Night Market event that will be happening on Friday evening, June 21 across the University Settlement in the small community of Beacon, located in the Hudson Valley in New York state, about 60 miles north of NYC. The event will feature unusual things that center around “magical and metaphysical” things and a celebration of the summer solstice.

The articles represent a shift in Witch-centered information connecting spiritual values to  activism.

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Crossings of the Veil

Nora Cedarwind Young (1958-2019) of Washington State died on Friday night, June 14. Her husband Bud and other family members were by her side.

Nora was known nationally and internationally for her work with Death Midwifery and Greening the End of Life.  Nora was a Circle Sanctuary Minister and was one of the first Pagans to work as a professional Hospice Chaplain. Nora assisted with the development of several Green Cemeteries in the USA, including  Circle Cemetery at Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve in Wisconsin, a national Pagan cemetery and one of the first Green Cemeteries in the USA.

Nora was a Pagan Elder as well as a teacher and ritualist within the Women’s Spirituality movement.  She also was among the founders of our Rite of Passage into Young Womanhood program that is part of Pagan Spirit Gathering every year. In addition, Nora was an environmentalist, a food coop organizer, and social justice activist.  She was a Lady Liberty League advisor and worked on a variety of Pagan civil rights and religious freedom cases, including the successful Veterans Pentacle Quest.

Circle Sanctuary celebrated Nora and her life and legacy as part of their Ceremony of Remembrance for their Beloved Dead on June 16, at the start of the Pagan Spirit Gathering in Ohio.  At a later time, they will be fulfilling her request of burying some of her ashes in the Pagan Elders section of Circle Cemetery.

What is remembered, lives.

In other news:

  • Christian missionaries in India are reportedly stirring controversy by planting crosses in the land across Panchalimedu, a sacred place for local Hindus named after Panchali/Draupadi,which is believed to be a place inhabited by Pandavas during the 12 years of exile and is a part of the sacred forest of Lord Ayyappa. The land is in dispute with the revenue department and local Hindus are trying to reclaim the land. The Travancore Devaswom Board president issued a statement that they were working to reclaim the land, and had submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister. St Mary’s Catholic Church, Kanayankavayal was directed to remove all the 14 crosses installed on revenue land by a village officer. A Hindu group that installed a trident (Trishul) in front of an illegal cross atop the Panchalimedu hills, in protest against the Church’s attempts to take over the land by displaying crosses, has had charges filed against them by the Kerala police.
  • Cambridge University is cataloging the variety crimes that occurred within the diocese of Ely and span over 200 years, the date range of 1557 to 1775. The cases being sorted by Librarian archivists for Cambridge University cover everything from witchcraft and murder to trespassing and vagrancy.  The case of Margaret Cotte, who was accused of using witchcraft to cause the death of  Martha Johnson by, “being seduced by diabolical instigation out of premeditated malice she did certain wickednesses and diabolical magical arts,” reflects the times. Cotte was acquitted in 1577. Archivist Sian Collins citing the importance of such records said, “Martha and Margaret may not appear in any other records. This is all we know about them. This project enables us to hear the voices of people from all backgrounds whose names come tumbling out of the records. Many of these people, long dead and forgotten, and for whom there is no other surviving record, will now have a small piece of their story told.”
  • The increase in funding and campaigns to raise awareness in countries on the African continent to protect those who are albinos seems to be slowing the amount of people who are frequently kidnapped and murdered. Their abductions happen because they are sought as sacrifices because it is believed their death in a ritual brings wealth to the person requesting the ritual and sometimes the practitioner.  Even their body parts are considered to be lucky and sold as charms. The fifth annual International Albinism Awareness Day was celebrated last week at a United Nations event. Peter Ash, founder of the Under the Same Sun charity cited that the numbers of deaths of albinos dropped from 20 to six last year in Tanzania. “(Before) there was nothing to celebrate,” said Isaac Mwaura, the first member of Kenya’s parliament with albinism.
  • Last month several pentacles were found as graffiti near a church and on the sides of several buildings in the downtown area of Sonora, California. One pentacle was found painted on the brick exterior of the University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisory office. Two more were discovered the same day. One was on the ground outside of the First Church of Christ, Scientist and another on the stone wall along the stairs at Coffill Park sprayed in white paint. Authorities have so far made no arrests nor have any leads who might be responsible.
  • Cherry Hill Seminary began its final push for the Spring Annual Appeal for funding this week.  The Havamal and Virtues Ethics course, which examines the wisdom poetry of the text, as well as exploring the virtue, and ethics and how they impact the living of modern Heathens and Pagans also began today.


Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte

Deck: Sun and Moon Tarot by Vanessa Decort, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Card: Two (2) of Swords

This week is liable to include the use of decisiveness when it comes to making choices. It would be a wise practice to make sure that any inner conflict is resolved before attempting to resolve other issues.

Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone