Pagan Community Notes: Transgender Day of Remembrance, Update on Grand Forks case, and more!

The annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is this Wednesday. TDOR was established in 1999, as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998.

Transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith is the founder, and created the vigil to honor not only the memory of Hester, but all of those who have been lost to transgender violence from October 1 to September 30th of each year.

National and international organizations sponsor and hold events for TDOR, like Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

Within the Pagan community, Circle Sanctuary is one of many groups offering a public observance on Wednesday, November 20. According to their media release, the observance is scheduled for 11 am – 1 pm and will be held in the Temple at Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve near Barneveld, Wisconsin. At noon, Brianne Raven Wolf, a Circle Sanctuary Community Member, transwoman, and Pagan blogger together with Senior Minister Selena Fox, will facilitate a candle lighting memorial ceremony.

Fox will also be hosting, “Celebrating Nature’s Diversities,” a special episode of her new podcast, Nature Spirituality, on Circle Sanctuary internet radio network, CSNP on blogtalk radio.

A public event in the DC area, sponsored by the Diversity/Anti-Racism Transformation Team of Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, will include Circle Sanctuary minister and LGBTQ rights activist Eric Eldritch of Maryland assisting in their TDOR ceremony at 7 pm on Wednesday evening.

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GRAND FORKS, ND – In an update to a story the TWH reported on in October, Akmal Rashidovich Azizov was sentenced to six years in the North Dakota Department of Corrections on Tuesday, November 12th by North Dakota District Judge Donald Hager.

Azizov, 21, pleaded guilty to attempted murder, criminal mischief and stalking last month. The charges stemmed from his belief that the woman he attacked was a “witch.” As part of his plea agreement, an additional charge of terrorizing was dropped.

Despite Azizov having been examined and diagnosed with psychiatric disorders while incarcerated and awaiting trial, the state’s attorney, Carmell Mattison, said there was no indication his symptoms negated his responsibility for his actions.

Hager recommended Azizov receive a mental health evaluation when he reports prison. Even though Azizov has lived in the U.S. since he was in first grade, Hagar also recommended that he be slated for potential deportation to Uzbekistan upon completion of his sentence. Hagar said in the sentencing, “If it were up to me, I wouldn’t deport you, but that’s up to the federal government.”

The factors Hagar weighed in deciding Azizov’s sentence including Azizov’s attitude throughout the proceedings, that he was cooperative with investigators and came forward immediately, plus his lack of a criminal record and the victim’s agreement with the plea agreement.

Additionally, he added that Azizov is intelligent and well-educated, has a supportive family, and did not seem anti-social. Due to all of these factors, Hager said he believes that with mental health treatment Azizov will respond positively to probation and will be able to rejoin society as a law-abiding citizen after his sentence.

“You’ve got a lot of good things going for you,” Hager said. “I don’t normally say this to attempted murder defendants, but I wish you luck.”

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TWH – November 18 is Occult Day, and aptly named as its origin is hidden and remains a mystery.

The word “occult” is Latin in origin, from “occultus” which means, hidden from sight, secret, or esoteric. The first known use as a verb, “occulted” is noted by Merriam-Webster as dating to the 15th century. Modern usage connects it with all manner of supernatural phenomena and magical arts.

Prior to 2007, there are no online references to Occult Day being recognized or observed and none of the sites TWH uncovered listed its origin.

It is perhaps an auspicious day, as authors Margaret Atwood, Alan Moore, and Wyndham Lewis were born on this day, as was American astronaut, Alan B. Shepard Jr. Sadly, the Jonestown’s cult mass suicide-massacre occurred on this day in 1978 in Guyana. And in 1903, the Hay–Bunau-Varilla Treaty was signed, giving the United States the exclusive rights for Isthmus of Panama allowing for the construction of the Panama Canal, which was completed in 1914.

For magical historians and practitioners, it is also the day that Aleister Crowley is said to have been initiated into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn as a Neophyte in 1898.

Whatever the origin of Occult Day, it might be a good day to dive deep and seek information or answers, whether spiritual in nature or not, of things hidden and secret.


In other news:

  • Two Texas women, Jaclyn Cirra Feagin, 24, and her mother, Kristina Ferguson, 46, have been charged with stalking after they left a variety of items connected to baneful magical work on the victim’s property and vehicle. The victim and target of the harassment were involved with Feagin’s ex-husband. Among the items Feagin and Ferguson placed on the victim’s property were: a picture of the victim with a red pentagram drawn on the face, a mason jar covered in sigils and containing a poppet that had multiple pins pushed into it, and a scroll made of black leather that contained a curse written in Latin intimating pestilence, bloodshed, fire and death to the recipient. Both women were captured on home surveillance video leaving the items on the victim’s property. Stalking is a third-degree felony if it is the first offense, and can carry a sentence of up to ten years, and $10,000 in fines in the state of Texas. Repeat offenses can be upgraded to second-degree felony and carry up to 20 years in prison.
  • An unidentified man was detained by police in Mozambique on suspicion of illegally exhuming the bones of his parents and other family members. According to news reports, the man was offered a motorbike and over $300 in cash by a man he referred to as his “boss” and a “businessman” if he could produce the bones of persons who had not died of a disease. According to the authorities in the region, this is the fifth such incident in the past year. Many bones and body parts offer power and are lucky for those in business. It is one of the factors that has contributed to the murder of albinos in certain countries on the continent of Africa
  • A 37-year-old man, Gerard Lavery, of Brownlow Terrace in Lurgan, County Armagh in Northern Ireland, has been charged with  criminal damage, threats to damage property endangering life, threats to kill and breaching a restraining order, after threatening his neighbor with shouting, “I’m going to burn you out” and chanting, “the wicked witch is dead.” In addition to shouting threats and harassment, Lavery also poured some type of liquid over the victim’s window. He was found lying in a doorway near the scene of the complaint in the early hours of the morning. The unnamed woman who filed the complaint had previously requested and received a restraining order against Lavery, and as a result of that order, the judge declined bail in the case.
  • New data shows an alarming rise of 34% in the number of child abuse cases in the United Kingdom among immigrant parents and guardians due to their beliefs in “witchcraft” and “possession.” Often the children are blamed for instances of bad health or if some other ill-fortune befalls a family. Too often the children who are most often accused are disabled in some way or what might be perceived as “difficult.” Despite campaigns focused on stopping “witch-hunt” type practices around the globe, and through education, these beliefs continue to be exposed. Female genital mutilation (FGM) cases are also up by 6%. While not necessarily connected, there can often be an overlap between FGM and those who believe in “witchcraft” and come out of cultures that promote “witch-hunts.”
  • The University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) is set to host a conference on with the theme “Witchcraft: Meaning, factors and practices” on November 26 and November 27 at Professor B.I.C Ijomah Centre for Policy and Research. The keynote speaker is David Ker, former vice-chancellor of Benue State University, and Charles Igwe, a UNN vice-chancellor, is the chief host, and Egodi Uchendu, director, B.I.C Ijomah Centre, is the host. There is hope that the event could help to demystify some of the ideology that has promoted “witch-hunts” and bring greater focus to education and understanding. Some deeply religious leaders have openly called for prayers to prevent the conference from taking place.


Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte

Deck: Mystical Cats Tarot,  by Lunaea Weatherstone, artwork by Mickie Mueller, and published by Llewellyn Publications.

Card: The Chariot, Major arcana VII (seven)

The week ahead has the potential for success, but will likely require engagement and action to be fully realized. Conversely, be mindful of the origin of obstacles blocking the way forward, and resolve those core issues to assure forward momentum.

Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone.

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