NEW YORK – Last Tuesday, Garrett Kelsey, 31, was charged in the federal Southern District of New York court for making anti-Semitic threats against a Jewish organization.
He was arrested and arraigned in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on charges of one count of interstate transmission of threats to injure a person. While at this time it is unclear what, if any, affiliation Kelsey may have with Asatru or any Heathen groups, in some of the threats he made, Ásatrú was mentioned.
A Facebook profile allegedly connected to him, in the name of “Garrett Odinschild” was also the same name he used when he called in threats to a Jewish organization in New York, identified only as a “Victim Organization” in the court filings. A screenshot of the Facebook profile showing a picture of Jewish residents in Warsaw, Poland presumably being rounded up during World War II, and an icon of “Pepe the Frog” that has become a symbol of white supremacists, was entered as evidence as part of the FBI complaint.
The profile and cover photo have since been changed, though the page remains up and active and the pictures still appear in the recently posted pictures of the page. The page also contains posts advocating far-right and white supremacy ideology.
TWH will have a full story on this later in the week.
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CAPE TOWN, South Africa – Last Thursday the Masonwabe Primary School in Delft, Cape Town had a number of students collapse and at least half a dozen were taken to clinics for medical care. The students reported feeling Dizzy or light-headed, nauseated, and unable to breathe.
In most places, such symptoms would immediately bring to mind a possible gas leak or some other toxin being accidentally released. Unfortunately, some of the locals immediately began saying the cause was “witchcraft.” These viewpoints only seemed to harden after several media outlets said that the children examined turned up “no medical reason” for their collapse.
Whatever the cause of the fainting, whether due to some physical issue, or stress-induced, mass-hysteria events similar to this in the past have happen in South Africa.
One well-documented case of mass hysteria happened in 1999 in a high school in Umtata, Eastern Cape of South Africa. A report issued by the Malawi Medical Journal and published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health cites a number of related cases in the region from roughly the same time period.
While the incidence of “witch-hunts” have been fairly low in South Africa in recent years, there has been a pronounced spike, mostly in India, in the number of people accused of, and murdered due to the belief they were practicing “witchcraft.”
An opinion article by Leo Igwe appearing last week in the publication Modern Ghana, calls on the United Nations to issue an international response to the “witch hunts.” Igwe also notes that number of “witch-related” violence is on the rise in many countries in Africa.
Below, TWH has compiled the most recent news reports of attacks and killings.
In “witch-hunt” news:
- Four people, Suna Oraon, 65, Champa Oraine, 79, Faguni Devi, 60, and Piri Oraine, 74, accused of practicing “witchcraft” were pulled from their homes and beaten to death in the Nagar-Siskari village in the Jharkhand state district of Gumla in India. Authorities initially detained 16 people, and ended up arresting eight people in connecting with the slayings. Two of those arrested were identified as village priests, who in some reports were named as the main co-conspirators. Recovered from the village were blood-soaked sticks believed to have been used in the beatings. The rumors and accusations of “witchcraft” arose after a young man died from an unspecified aliment and villagers met with the village priests. These latest killing brings the death toll from “witch-hunts” in Jharkhand to 88 since 2017.
- In the town of Giridih in Jharkhand, four people were arrested after forcing three people, two women and one man to consume human excrement because it was believed they were practicing “witchcraft” and “casting spells” that caused others to fall ill. The victims were also beaten, and police are searching for one other person connected with the crime. This attack coming just a few days after the murder of four elderly in the Gumla village of Nagar-Siskari.
- On July 23, 2019 in the Marangburu village in Jharkhand, a woman identified only as Somvari, 30, was found brutally murdered by a man listed only as Tenga. The man, Tenga, believed Somvari was responsible for the death of his 5-year-old son. He hid her body in the forest, and is still at-large, managing to evade police.
- On the same day, another woman, 50, was found near the well she had gone to that morning to collect water, lying in a pool of blood and severely beaten. Villagers stood nearby voicing accusations of “witchcraft”against her. The assault occurred in Koyaligarh village of the Bihar state in the district of Nawada in India. The woman was taken to the police station and then to medical center but was pronounced “dead upon arrival.” Her husband named 12 people in a filed complaint, and four have been arrested. This attack comes less than a week after three people were murdered for suspicion of stealing a buffalo in the Saran district of the Bihar state, though it is unclear if there were allegations of “witchcraft” in those murders.
Crossings of the Veil
Susan Curewitz-Arthen, born on October 1, 1951, crossed the Veil on Friday, July 26, 2019. Sue was at the heart of the EarthSpirit Community, an international Pagan organization – serving on its board as an officer for 35 years.
She was known as a teacher, a priestess, a wedding officiant, a wise woman and a generous spirit who welcomed all. She laughed easily and “gave great hugs”. She spoke with humor and truth, accepting people as they came, while never hesitating to offer an honest reflection when asked (or not).
Through the Facebook group, “Sunflowers for Sue” , there are many memories and blessings that community members offered for her, both during her illness and after her death.
Sue taught classes and workshops at EarthSpirit events as well as through Cherry Hill Seminary and Covenant of the Goddess. She participated and represented EarthSpirit at the Parliament of the World’s Religions meetings many times from from 1993-2018.
Sue was employed as the Business Manager and Human Resource Director at the International Language Institute in Northampton, MA for a decade and was currently serving as Treasurer for the Worthington Library. She wrote about Rites of Passage and was published numerous times. She had recently joined the Greenfield chapter of Toastmasters International and enjoyed making connections and offering talks there.
Susan is survived by her partners Eric Leventhal-Arthen and Sarah Stockwell-Arthen, her children, Buffie Cafarella, Merlin Cafarella, her brother Richard Curewitz and his wife, Barbara Vanderbilt, as well as her chosen family: Deirdre Pulgram-Arthen, Andras Corban-Arthen, Leona Stonebridge-Arthen, Donovan Arthen and his wife, Anya Arthen, Isobel Arthen and her fiancé, Samuel Long, Alex Arthen-Cheyne and his partners Ember Arthen-Cheyne, Dana Duval, and Desmond Duval along with their children Amari and Keaton.
All of the EarthSpirit Community mourns her passing. Sue lived a life of service and integrity and will be greatly missed by many.
Donations in Sue’s memory may be made to The EarthSpirit Community through their website.
What is remembered, lives!
In other news:
- A popular southern California cafe with two locations, in Costa Mesa and Santa Ana, has changed its name from the “Gypsy Den” to simply “The Den” out of respect for the Romani people. The term “gypsy” is considered a slur by the Romani and has many negative connotations. The Romani have long been persecuted throughout Europe including by Hitler during the holocaust.
- An article in Forbes Magazine by Robert Glazer had an interesting headline: Did Steve Jobs ‘Cast Spells?’ Bill Gates Thinks So—Here’s Why. While Bill Gates is, in fact, quoted as calling Jobs a “wizard” who “cast spells on people” and even saying, “I was like a minor wizard because he would be casting spells, and I would see people mesmerized, but because I’m a minor wizard, the spells don’t work on me,” the buzz-worthy headline falls short of the mark. As far as TWH has been able to determine, Jobs practiced no magic other than using his driven nature and charisma to motivate people with his ideas.
- While Witches have been a hot topic for television and film entertainment lately, it seems that Heathens will soon get to experience the misrepresentation that Witches have been enjoying in media. Last week Constantin Film and Prime Universe Films announced “Twilight” director Catherine Hardwicke will direct and also be the executive producer of “Heathen,” a Viking fantasy-adventure based on Vault Comic’s series by Natasha Alterici. According to an article in Variety, “The stories center on the warrior Aydis, an outcast gay woman born into a time of warfare, suffering, and subjugation of women. She is on a mission to end the oppressive reign of the god-king Odin.”
Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte
Deck: Tarot Grand Luxe by Ciro Marchetti, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Card: Ace of Wands
This week holds the potential for igniting one’s creative potential. Whether it is reflected through unbridled enthusiasm for a project, or through self-expression, look for opportunities that allow for the reclaiming of one’s own passion and personal power.
Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone.