Pagan Community Notes: Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche’s killer convicted, man finds weird “doll” on beach, and more!

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Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche on a cliff [courtesy]

PORTLAND, Ore. –  Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and Rick Best were stabbed to death because they protected two black teenage girls who were being subjected to a racist and hate-filled rant by Jeremy Christian on a Portland MAX light-rail train in May of 2017.

Namkai-Meche, Best, and Micah David-Cole Fletcher attempted to intervene to de-escalate the resulting tension from Christian’s racist rant and shield the two teenage girls from his aggressive and ultimately violent behavior. Christian slashed all three men across their necks in an attack that was blindingly fast, then immediately fled from the train as the doors to the Hollywood station opened.

Best died at the scene, and Namkai-Meche died later at the hospital he was transported to. Fletcher, survived his neck wound, one that ran from his ear to down below his chin

After over 12 hours of deliberation and a trial that lasted four weeks, the jury in the case against Christian has found him guilty on all 12 counts. The charges included two counts of first-degree murder, three counts of intimidation, two counts of unlawful use of a weapon, two counts of menacing, and one count each of attempted murder, assault in the first degree and assault in the second degree.

According to Namkai-Meche’s grandmother Freyja (Dr. Ginny Anderson), he “essentially considered himself Pagan.” She said that his multiple names reflected the different parts of his spiritual journey. For example, the hyphenated name, “Namkai-Meche,” was bestowed upon him as part of his Tibetan Lineage.

In 2018, a mural bearing the theme, “We Choose Love” was unveiled at the Hollywood Transit station to honor the victims of the attack. Namkai-Meche’s grandmother Freyja also created a digital memorial book, Taliesin’s Rainbow: a Bard’s Story about her grandson and his life.

Some of the other charges Christian was convicted of were from a similar incident that happened the night before the stabbing which resulted in his assault of Demetria Hester by throwing a  bottle that hit her. Christian also reportedly said that we he wanted to stab and kill people.

No date has yet been set for his sentencing. He could receive a life sentence for his crimes.

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Last week, what was initially described as a “voodoo doll”, was found by Bruce Robertson as he walked along the beach in Cherie Down Park.

The “doll” or “fetish” was constructed from coconuts, had what appeared to be human teeth, incorporated snakeskin, and had limbs with feathers attached. Robertson took pictures of the doll before depositing it back into the ocean. Other people on the beach at the time he found the figure felt it was a bad thing and convinced him he should dispose of it rather than keep it.

Robertson contacted the local TV station, WKMG in Orlando. News reporter, James Sparvero checked out the pictures Robertson took of the idol and spoke with Michelle Davis who owns and operates an African bookstore in Cocoa Beach called Essence of Knowledge, Urban Bookstore. After showing her the pictures, Davis said she believed it also contained human skin and was evil and probably from a Voodoo ritual.

Robertson, after doing some research online, now believes the idol was meant to be a representation of the West African Spider God, Anansi. Anansi or Ananse is considered to be a trickster god and appears to have originated in the culture of Ghana.

Anansi has recently become more well-known as the is mentioned in Neil Gaiman’s  American Gods series.  Whether the doll is some type fetish representing Anansi or someone’s odd take on a voodoo doll, is not clear, but the odds of it being some type of magico-religious object seem high.

TWH reached out to Tony Kail, cultural anthropologist and author of Stories of Rootworkers and Hoodoo in the Mid-South from History Press who has spent a lot of time studying a variety of Afro-Caribbean cultures and practices to get his thoughts on what it might be.

“The figure that was discovered does not look like anything I have seen before. It does have some materials connected to it that have been used before in some spiritual traditions and it could very well have been used in a magico-religious context,” Kail said.

He also expressed concern over how it has been reported. “My greatest concern is two-fold: The first being that the discovery of this item should not cause any sort of local panic. If this was created for a magical purpose it is not an indicator that locals should fear any practitioners of any religious culture that might use the similar or exact materials or objects.”

Kail went on to point out the way it was being sensationalized, “Secondly the manner in which it was discussed in the media brings about several issues. The headlines immediately go to ‘Voodoo.’ The inference that anything that is unfamiliar is related to ‘Voodoo’ or ‘Vodou’ re-enforces the stereotypical propaganda that practitioners of ATRs [African Traditional Religions] should be feared and the Hollywood depictions of dolls as being used for evil.”

He also sees a parallel between the way Voodoo is used today in news stories and how Hoodoo was demonized in 1930s by the media, as well as how some commenters on the story used it as an opportunity to express their own racist values. Referring to one comment, Kail added, “Likewise the comments that typically follow these stories such as those seen under at least one media report are opportunities for racist and bigoted language.” He said, “This is the same kind of media reports that you would see starting back in the Thirties that would demonize any materials or practices related to Hoodoo.”

Kail said, “The same thing has occurred in relation to Vodou. I am currently working on a book focusing on how media reports and Hollywood depictions of African traditional religion has had a lasting effect on the public’s view toward these spiritual traditions. At the least, it has created horrible stereotypes that have affected how many practitioners have been treated in society and at the worst, it has served as propaganda that has fueled the fires of violence toward practitioners.”

 

In other news:

  • Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF), announced last week the elevation of Amber Doty to the role of Senior Priest. Doty has been a member of ADF since 2008, and began her formal journey as a dedicant in 2013. Doty is currently listed as the Central Regional Druid and Chief of the Council of Regional Druids, the Scribe for the Artisan’s Guild and Welsh Kin, and acts as the Clergy Advisor and Preceptor of the Demeter & Eleusinian Order and Preceptor for the Naturalists Guild. Doty is also a Dedicant mentor and reviewer for the Dedicant Path, Generalist Study Program, Clergy Training Program, and Initiates Program.
  • In a Facebook post, Resident Priestess, Candace Ross reported that the Temple of Sekhmet in Cactus Springs, Nevada has again been accosted by trespassers. According to her post, and her response in the comments, people frequently violate the rules and the Temple by trespassing after hours. In this most recent incident, they built a large bonfire, using firewood laid in for future ritual use. Permission for after-hours access is generally granted by the Resident Priestess upon request, unless the party making the request has had previous violations. Permission for after-hours use is also extended to anyone who is staying in the guest house on site.
  • The exhibition, “WITCHES: An exhibition of the photographs by William Mortensen” which debuted  last year at the Raymond Buckland’s Museum of Witchcraft and Magick in Cleveland, Ohio will be part of the SCOPE Art Show New York at the Metropolitan Pavilion March 5 – 8 2020. The exhibition will be on display at the Stephen Romano Gallery. TWH reported on the Mortenson exhibition when it debuted last August.
  • Renovations to Earlham Hall in Norfolk revealed a brick in place above a first-floor window that has been somewhat crudely inscribed with a pentacle and the number “6” in triplicate to form a circle beneath the pentacle. The use of the pentacle as a symbol of protection predates the Earlham Hall that was first constructed in 1580 with additions completed in 1642. However, the use of three sixes or 666 is more recent and possibly dates to the Victorian era. Earlham Hall sits just west of the city of Norwich in England and is said to be haunted by various ghosts, most notably, Catherine Gurney, sister of Elizabeth Fry. The Hall has served as a library, nursery school, and a hospital for soldiers during WWII. In 1963 it became the administrative office of the University of East Anglia and currently houses the law school.
  • University of Chicago graduate student, Kristal Parke, has created a survey to further a research project about environmentalism within Pagan rituals. The survey is focused on and limited to Pagans who reside and practice with the U.S. According to Parke, the survey takes approximately 5-20 minutes to complete and all information collected is secure and anonymous.

 

Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte

Deck: CaTTarot, by Carole-Anne Eschenazi, artwork by  Diana Cammarano, Published by Lo Scarabeo.

Card: Major arcana XVII (17), The Star: Brigitte Barcatdot

The coming week may offer opportunities to allow the inner self and its beauty to shine. Choosing to do so could underscore one’s personal path and destiny, and open the door for other causes to celebrate.

 

Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone.