Pagan Community Notes: National Guard boots two Asatru guardsmen with ties to white supremacy, another religious exception for service members, and more!

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ATLANTA – In an update to a story we reported on in April and again in June, the Alabama and Georgia National Guard has discharged Brandon Trent East, and Dalton Woodward, respectively, from service.

The dismissals came after an investigation into their possible ties to white supremacy. East and Woodward were leaders of the Heathen group, Ravensblood Kindred, and had attended a speech given by Richard Spencer in 2017, and posted pictures of themselves online carrying signs referencing “white genocide.”

The allegations were first brought to light by the activist group, Atlanta Antifascists, and then later reinforced by Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The ADL sought a formal investigation by the Harralson County officials since East worked for the Harralson County Sheriff’s office as a jailer. Eventually, Haralson County Sheriff, Eddie Mixon forced East to resign.

Earlier this month, the Alabama National Guard sent East papers of separation, effectively ending his service.

At the time of the original investigation, Woodward was still on active duty in Afghanistan and did not return to the U.S. until his deployment ended in June. The investigation by the Georgia National Guard into his activities concluded in sometime in October. Details of his discharge are unclear, but a spokesperson for Georgia National Guard said Woodward is no longer a member and would not reveal the details.

According to East in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Army recommended to the Alabama National Guard a “general discharge” which indicates unacceptable conduct that is not in accord with military standards, rather than an “honorable discharge.” East has 45 days to contest the findings of the investigation.

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

* Editorial correction – The Alabama guard member who was dismissed was Brandon Trent East. The first mention of his full name inadvertently left off his last name.  

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LAS VEGAS – Nevada Army National Guard service member, Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Hopper has been granted permission for a uniform religious exception to grow and wear a beard based upon his Norse Pagan beliefs.

While Sgt, Hopper is not the first military personnel to be granted a religious exemption based on his Heathen faith, he is the first National Guard member to appeal and obtain an exemption.

In May of 2018, TWH reported on a U.S. Army service member who was granted an exemption based on his Heathen path and beliefs. Unlike other faiths that make beards and the cutting of hair a core part of their religious practices, like the Sikhs, there is no real standard within Heathenry that mandates wearing a beard as a core tenet of the practice.

In July of this year,  Air Force airman, Staff Sgt. Garrett Sopchak had his request granted to maintain a beard as a symbol of his religion of Heathenry, provided he kept it short and neat and compiled with military guidelines on presenting a professional appearance befitting a service member.

Since 2017, service members have been able to submit requests for religious exemptions when it comes to faith-based dress and hair restrictions like those of the Sikhs and Muslims. Granting the same accord to those who practice Heathenry and feel that wearing a beard is an important symbol of their faith seems like a logical next step for the U.S. armed forces.

In other news:

  • Two recently excavated tombs in the ancient city of Pylos in Greece were excavated by an American team of archaeologists from the University of Cincinnati.  The team discovered a gold pendant depicting the Ancient Egyptian Goddess Hathor. Hathor is the goddess of the sky, women, fertility and love, and also, a protector of the dead. Among the artifacts found, a ring showing bulls with barley. Archaeologists believe these finds may help to establish and support the theory that trade existed between Pylos and Egypt at the time of Greece’s Mycenaean civilization.
  • Earlier this month Dutch researchers announced that they believe the building commonly known as the “Parthenon” in Greece is incorrectly identified. They believe the name “Parthenon” refers to an entirely different building, one that was actually a treasury that contained the offerings to Athena and is currently referred to as the Erechtheion. The researchers believe the massive stone temple that most would identify as the “Parthenon” should be known by its original Greek name of Hekatompedon. Considering the difficulty in pronunciation, researchers have suggested simply calling it, “The Great Temple of Athena.”
  • An Australian man, David Hole, recently discovered a rock he found several years ago and believed to be gold, was actually a fairly rare meteorite. Hole tried a variety of methods to crack open the rock–drilling, sledgehammer, and even a saw.  Eventually, he decided to take it to the Melbourne Museum to be identified. The rock weighing more than 37 pounds, is over a billion-years-old and has a composition that makes it an H5 ordinary chondrite, has been dubbed by researchers the Maryborough meteorite. It is one of only 17 meteorites found in the Australian state of Victoria and the second largest.
  • In a weird revelation, Antiques Roadshow glass specialist Andy McConnell found out he had ended up sampling the contents of a witch bottle when he extracted and drank what he believed to be a 150-year-old port. The contents of the bottle had been found buried under the threshold of a house in Cornwall. Fiona Bruce host of Antique Roadshow explained: “Inside were these brass pins, all of these dating from the late 1840s and the liquid – urine, a tiny bit of alcohol and one human hair. And a mysterious little creature called an ostracod, which is like a little cockle. So what this was was not a bottle of port or wine but a witches bottle. So buried in the threshold of the house as a talisman against witchcraft, against curses, against misfortune coming into the home. So you glad you tried it?

In “witch-hunt” news:

* Editorial Note: TWH incorrectly listed Leo Igwe merely as “director” instead of “campaign director” in an earlier version of publication. Gary Foxcroft is the Executive Director of WHRIN, and we apologize for any confusion our error may have caused. 


Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte


Deck: After Tarot by Pietro Alligo,  artwork by Guilia E. Massaglia, and published by Lo Scarabeo

Card: Page of Pentacles

The week ahead is a tad liminal since it marks the boundary between not just one year to the next, but also between decades.

A thoughtful re-evaluation of how resources are used and distributed, in addition to whether or not those uses reflect held values may be called for. Consideration of how to realign ideals with purpose in action could certainly be on the horizon.

Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone.