Pagan Community Notes: ToW building approved, Christian charity reported to UK authorities, Ochani Lele passes, and more!

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Logo of ToW

SALEM, N.H. – The Temple of Witchcraft’s (ToW) plan to build a 5,700-square-foot community center was unanimously approved by the Salem Planning Board last week.

Planning Board member, Beverly Donovan, did raise the question of why a retaining wall that is currently being built on ToW’s property was not included in the plan submitted to the board.

ToW Board President, Alix Wright explained that the construction of the retaining wall was in response to concerns raised by the Planning Board in August over the height of vegetation and motorist line of sight, and would be included in the final plans before they are signed.

ToW sent the following notice of the ruling out to its members:

Approval of Community Center Site Plans


Hello Everyone,

I wanted to let everyone know that we have approval of our community center site plans witthe Town of Salem, NH. Represented by our Board President, Alix Wright, on Nov 26, 2019, and despite our variance request to not include three additional parking spots to the north side of the house (to fulfill parking requirements for the maximum occupancy) being denied, we gained unanimous vote of approval for the planning board. Now we begin the process of taking bids to get estimates of the budget needed and begin fundraising in earnest. As we know more, we will update the community with our plans and how you can participate in these efforts magically, financially and socially. Thank you all for your support as we build the resources for our future community together.

Blessed be,

Christopher Penczak

The New Hampshire Union Leader reported on the decision and Penczak was quoted as saying, “The Temple of Witchcraft community is very pleased with our site plan approval for our community center and appreciate the support we have received from the town of Salem. Now we begin the process of obtaining bids from construction companies and coordinating our fundraising efforts based upon those estimates.”

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LONDON – The National Secular Society (NSS) has reported 10 religious charity organizations over their promotion of intolerance to the Charity Commission, which oversees and regulates charities in England and Wales.

The charity organizations are part of the Christian sect, Christadelphianism, a non-Trinitarian, millennial Christian group whose fellowship is linked by a shared and orthodox understanding of the Bible and Christianity.

Christadelphians number around 50,000 worldwide followers. The belief system itself is relatively modern, dating to the mid-to-late 1800s, and centered on the teachings of John Thomas.

NSS found the following Christadelphian content particularly concerning:

  • Implicitly condoned the death penalty for homosexuals and Wiccans
  • Associated being LGBT with child abuse, rape, bestiality, disease, and Nazis
  • Advocated physical punishment of children
  • Stated that women should be subservient to men
  • Demonstrated intolerance of people with Asperger’s Syndrome

The Charity Commission responded that it “will now look to open cases” on the Christadelphian charities that the NSS listed.

According to the Charity Commission’s rules:

All charities must comply with UK law and so must not support terrorism or other illegal conduct, such as hatred on the grounds of race, religion or sexual orientation. In addition, a charity’s name, premises or money must not be used to promote extremist or other activities that are inappropriate under charity law, for example because they are in breach of equalities legislation.

Under UK law, recognized charities must provide a public benefit. Unfortunately, among the list of public benefits identified by the Christadelphian charities is relieving poverty, promoting good health, saving lives, and protecting the environment, as well as “the advancement of religion”. The NSS has been working to have “the advancement of religion” removed from the list of public benefits as it believes that promoting religion can also cause harm.

Crossings of the Veil

It was reported by Baba Funke Olo Obatala on Facebook that Ewi Lade Ochani Lele, known secularly as Stuart Myers, was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer on November 22, 2019, and was received by Obatalá to pass to the realms of Olodumare and become Ará Orún on November 27.

Ochani Lele was a well-known author of almost a dozen books on Lukumí, often colloquially referred to as Santeria, including Teachings of the Santeria Gods, Osogbo: Speaking to the Spirits of Misfortune, and The Secrets of Afro-Cuban Divination: How to Cast the Diloggún, the Oracle of the Orishas.

Final funeral rites, called itutu, will be performed and members of his religious community have created a campaign for those who wish to offer donations to help with the final expenses.

 Ibae bayen tonu.

What is remembered, lives!


In other news:

  • TWH – Today is the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that more than 40 million people worldwide are victims of modern-day slavery. They use the term “slavery” to cover practices that include forced labor, debt bondage, and forced marriage, as well as human trafficking. Children make up roughly ofa quarter of the victims of modern slavery. Women and adolescent females make up 99% of the estimated 4.8 million people subjected to sexual exploitation, especially by the commercial sex industry.
  • Yesterday marked the 31st World AIDS Day, which is recognized on December 1 each year. The theme for this year was “ROCK THE RIBBON TOGETHER” and continues the mission to unite people worldwide in the fight against HIV, and generate support for those affected with the disease, as well as commemorating those who have died from AIDS and AIDS-related illnesses. 
  • Three Pagans who had been convicted of violating heritage laws and Stonehenge regulations, lost their appeal to have the charges overturned by the crown court last week. The three Pagan women, Lisa Mead, Maryam Halcrow, and Angela Grace crossed the rope that cordoned off the area immediately surrounding the standing stones at Stonehenge during a protest last May against English Heritage’s management of the site. Their appeal was based on the idea “that they had a reasonable excuse for their actions under the European Convention on Human Rights,” and that “Stonehenge regulations contravened their rights to freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and freedom to protest.” While Judge Peter Crabtree acknowledged restricting access to the sacred stones impacted the women’s human rights, he also said, “The restriction serves to protect the very essence of the monument for current and future generations by strictly controlling access into the stone circle.”
  •  Today Russian scientists displayed an amazingly well-preserved puppy they believe to be approximately 18,000 years old. The puppy was discovered near the city of Yakutsk in frozen mud last year. Its fur, teeth, whiskers and even eyelashes were intact. A sample of bone sent for radiocarbon dating provided the age of the find, but two rounds of testings have left scientists with more questions than answers. “We have now generated a nearly complete genome sequence from it and normally when you have a two-fold coverage genome, which is what we have, you should be able to relatively easily say whether it’s a dog or a wolf, but we still can’t say and that makes it even more interesting,” Dalén said. Researchers hope that a planned third round of genome testing offers up more information and provides more answers.
  • Entries are currently being accepted for the 8th annual international Midwinter Art Contest, themed “Odin at midwinter,” by The Norse Mythology Blog. Artwork entries must somehow relate to the character and legends of the god Odin and the celebration of midwinter. Categories are divided into three groups: Kids, (aged 12 and under) Teens (aged 13-19), and Adults (aged 20 and up). Judging the contest are Liam Sharp, and Ragnhildur Jónsdóttir. Sharp recently illustrated a DC Comics series featuring Batman and Wonder Woman entering the world of Celtic mythology and another including Green Lantern arresting the god of the Bible. Jónsdóttir is Iceland’s “elf whisperer” and is the subject of a new documentary film on her role as negotiator between the country’s elves and government. Contest rules and details can be found on The Norse Mythology Blog site.
  • Cherry Hill Seminary announced that Karen Andersen (Gwen) had been awarded a Master of Divinity degree on November 24, 2019. Anderson is the minister of New Bedford Unitarian Congregation, and the fifth CHS student to graduate with an M.Div., following recent graduates, Sandra Harris, Carol Kirk, Joan Ouimette, and Holli Emore. Anderson’s graduation ceremony was held at the end of the regular Sunday service at New Bedford, by video call with the Board of Directors and Academic Dean, on retreat together in South Carolina. Congratulations!

Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte

Deck:  Tarots Egyptien, by M. d’Odoucet, student of  Etteilla (circa 1875), instructions by Andrea Vitali, images: public domain, digitally remastered, Lo Scarabeo, Italy

Card: les dix épées (10 of Swords)

The potential for unavoidable calamity or an end to brutal conflict(s) likely rests more with the whimsy of fate this week. The ability to mitigate damage, knowing when to put down the sword and walk away, and taking relief wherever it can be found, are the best to hope one might hope for.

Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone.

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