Pagan Community Notes: Plans for a “witch” memorial in Scotland, Siberian shaman detained by Russian security, and more!

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FIFE, Scotland – Councillors from west Fife have proposed the creation of a memorial for the victims of who persecuted as “witches” in Scotland. The proposal includes installing the Beamer Rock navigation beacon at The Ness in Torryburn in Fife which was removed from the Firth of Forth in 2011 to make way for the Queensferry Crossing.

The idea has received support from a variety of community councils who wished to honor the memory of Lillias Adie, who was charged with being practicing “witchcraft” but died in 1704 while awaiting trial. The Wild Hunt reported earlier this month on the search to recover her remains, which has garnered national attention.

A joint statement issued by councilors Kate Stewart, Mino Manekshaw and Bobby Clelland said:

We’d love to see the creation of a memorial at Torryburn, dedicated to the memory of Lillias Adie and more generally to the many thousands of (mainly women) persecuted as witches in early modern Scotland.

It would help to re-positioning them away from the misguided modern ‘Halloween-style’ perception of fun they have become. They were the innocent victims of an unimaginable injustice.

The council has a potentially ready-made piece of monumental architecture in the form of the 1840s Beamer navigation beacon which has it’s own ties to Torryburn.

It was designed by Stevenson, whose nanny for 20 years, Alison Cunningham, was born in Torryburn.

We’re keen to gauge public opinion on its possible re-positioning and use for such an iconic role.

It is impossible to know exactly how many people were accused of practicing “witchcraft” or how many of those were executed in Scotland. Researchers and historians, using what partial records remain from 1500 through the 1700s, can document around 3,300 cases where “witchcraft” charges were filed. Of those 3,300 charges, at least 1,400 people were executed.

The University of Edinburgh has new interactive document created by data experts that includes a map of Scotland showing where many people accused of being of “witches” lived, as well as where they were detained, tried, and even executed.

Surviving records in Fife county only list 280 accounts of “witchcraft” charges being filed, but the number is likely much higher. County Haddingtonshire (East Lothian Council) which sits next to Edinburgh and across the Firth of Forth, has records showing 520 cases from that time period. Haddingtonshire’s historical records are less fragmented than those in Fife, which supports the numbers in Fife being larger than what is currently verifiable.

The Fife Council’s archaeologist, Douglas Speirs also supports the idea of creating a memorial to those who were persecuted as “witches.” Speir’s said, “Fife, and specifically Torryburn, the site of Lilias’ unique revenant grave, is a particularly good place for such a memorial given the sad fact that in Fife possibly more witches than any other county in Scotland were accused and executed.”


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Image credit: Vulpachjinu – WikiCommons

VYDRINO, Russia – A Siberian shaman, Alexander Gabyshev, who made international news in March by announcing that he was going to travel the nearly 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) from the far east republic of Sakha to Moscow to “expel” President Vladimir Putin from power, was initially reported as kidnapped by security forces last week.

Gabyshev has attracted people who support his mission and have helped him in his journey by supplying him with food and money.

Witnesses reported that last Wednesday the camp where Gabyshev was staying, near the village of Vydrino on the border between the Buryatia and Irkutsk regions, was approached by several vehicles, and then masked individuals surrounded the shaman’s tent and took him, the aluminum cart he uses to transport his supplies, and his yurt away.

Radio Free Europe reported that a witness to the incident said, “The track was blocked by special services with weapons, they quickly surrounded our camp, and right to the shaman’s tent … There were maybe several dozen of them.”

There are also reports of cell signals being blocked and the armed men refusing to show any identification or answer questions about who they were or what agency they were from. Anyone who questioned them or asked for an explanation of what was happening was made to lie facedown on the ground. Several activists who were present were also detained.

On Friday, The Moscow Times reported that the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Sakha announced that Gabyshev had been admitted to Yakutsk neuropsychiatric clinic for evaluation.

Reports by officials seem to conflict, as the statement issued by police said they had detained a man on a highway for unspecified crimes who was taken to the psychiatric facility, while the facility to where he was allegedly taken said, “no one brought any shamans here either last night or today.”

Amnesty International is now involved and considers Gabyshev to be a political prisoner. Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Russian director, said, “The shaman’s actions may be eccentric, but the Russian authorities’ response is grotesque. Are they afraid of his shamanic powers?”

When journalists asked questions concerning Gabyshev’s detainment, Russian presidential press secretary, Dmitry Pesko said the Kremlin did not have any information on the matter, and could not be expected to know about all criminal prosecutions.

Later reports according to Viktor Yegorov, one of Gabyshev’s supporters, said Gabyshev was released for one night only on September 2o to visit with relatives but had to return the next day. Gabyshev will reportedly be kept in custody while the investigation into his alleged actions of calling for extremist activity.

TWH will continue to follow this story and report any new developments.


In other news:

  • A ruling in by the Alaska State Supreme Court last October paved the way for the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster Pastafarian pastor, Barrett Fletcher to deliver the invocation at a governmental meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly (KPBA) in Homer. The American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska brought suit against the KPBA in 2016 after a policy was approved that said: “people who wanted to give the invocations at the government body’s meetings had to belong to official organizations with an established presence on the Kenai Peninsula.” After the KPBA policy was found to be unconstitutional by the court, it was changed to allow anyone to offer invocations, with no regard to what their religion might be.
  • In an update to story TWH covered earlier this month, a man has been charged with murders of family of five, Nirmal Kumar, 63, his wife Usha Devi, 54, along with their daughter Nileshni Kajal, 34, and Kajal’s two daughters, Sana, 11 and Samara, eight, who were all found dead atop a cliff in Fiji. A one-year-old baby, the niece of Kajal was found alive with the bodies of the victims. Initial reports claimed the family was involved in “witchcraft” but police suspected they had been poisoned. The man arrested, Muhammad Raheesh, 62, has been identified in news reports as a “healer” though some officials in law enforcement have referred to him as a “witch doctor.” Raheesh and his wife were acquainted with the victims, and Kumar’s brother claimed Raheesh had been treating Kumar’s wife, Devi for severe abdominal pain for several years. While the authorities filed for and received a “stop departure order” and claimed the case against Raheesh was very strong, an attorney representing Raheesh said the evidence was largely circumstantial. Raheesh will remain in custody until his next court date on September 25.
  • Global Climate Strike Week continues with a variety of demonstrations and protests across the U.S. and around the globe. Circle Sanctuary Chaplains Charlotte Bear, a Climate Reality Leader, and Andrew Bear will both be participating in a day of action in Santa Cruz, Calif. Both are connected with Extinction Rebellion, which identifies itself as “an international movement that uses non-violent civil disobedience in an attempt to halt mass extinction and minimise the risk of social collapse.” Charlotte Bear has created a Climate Reality Handout that outlines actions and resources. Andrew Bear will also be giving the sermon at a Methodist Church in San Jose on September 29 and will be talking about Earth Spirituality and the events of Climate Week.
  • Several upcoming Pagan Pride events have been featured in local media reports. The Charleston Gazette-Mail featured an article about the Charleston Area Pagan Pride that will take place Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Ordnance Park, in St. Albans, West Virginia. The event is organized by Culann Lecher, a retired journeyman construction worker with the Boilermakers Union. “We’re saying, ‘Here we are! Come take a look at us,’” Lecher said. “They’ll find out that we’re just normal people like they are, and not devil worshipers or involved in all this other stuff we’re supposedly doing. And we’re not out to change the way other people think about religion or spirituality. We just want to be left alone to be ourselves. We’re big proponents of co-existence.” Lecher said the event will feature a variety of workshops including a “Pagan 101” class that will explain exactly what Paganism is and is not. The event is free, but non-perishable food donations are requested and will be given to a local food pantry.
  • Out and About in Nashville published a feature on the 17th annual Nashville Pagan Pride will be held in Two Rivers Park in Donelson, Tenn. on Saturday, September 28 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The event will feature three different Pagan groups offering public rituals, over 60 vendors and a number of community information booths reflecting different Pagan paths. Featured guest is Tish Owen and musical guest, Rowena of the Glen. Admission is free, but non-perishable food donations for Second Harvest food bank, and nonperishable pet food and other pet supplies for Middle Tennessee Pet Food Bank.


Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte


Deck: Ancestral Path Tarot by Julie Cuccia-Watts, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Card: Seven (7) of Staves


This week may offer the opportunity to cross thresholds into new endeavors, be it spiritual, magical, or mundane. In some cases, re-visiting past initiations, especially those that seemed to be trial by fire, may play a key role in moving forward with specific goals.



Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone.

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