Pagan Community Notes: Pagan solidarity statement Indigenous Peoples, work on Temple of Diana Nemorensis to resume, and more!

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Solidarity with Unist’ot’en  [Image credit: Tony Webster CC BY-SA 2.0]

ONTARIO, Canada – A Pagan statement of solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en lands (British Columbia) and Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawks) of Tyendinaga (Ontario) was published last week.

We the undersigned believe that the colonial occupation and exploitation of Wet’suwet’en lands, and all other unceded lands, is illegal.

We acknowledge:

– That in North America (Turtle Island), we are on the traditional territories of Indigenous Peoples, many of them unceded.

– That Indigenous Peoples frequently did not receive payments or restitution for lands covered by treaties, and that treaties have frequently been reneged upon by colonial governments.

– That the destructive exploitation of Indigenous lands by corporations and governments, and the prevalence of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people, is perpetuated by projects like the Coastal Gas Link and Trans Mountain pipelines.

– That the painful history of the RCMP’s role in the destruction of Indigenous cultures makes them particularly unsuited to any policing activities on Indigenous lands.

– That whilst many development projects have promised jobs and other economic benefits to Indigenous Peoples who have consented to them, the promised benefits frequently did not materialize.

We affirm:

– That Indigenous Peoples have been in North America (Turtle Island) for thousands and thousands of years, and have unique and sacred relationships with the land, and the waters, and with Mother Earth. Lands managed by Indigenous Peoples have 80% of the biodiversity on Earth.

– That the Wet’suwet’en traditional chiefs have jurisdiction over their traditional lands (Yintah).

– That the aim of protests, blockades, and strikes is to disrupt business-as-usual. That is what makes them effective. The small inconvenience caused by the blockades is negligible compared to the genocidal policies inflicted on Indigenous Peoples over the last 400 years.

– That other First Nations, environmental groups, land defenders, and other protesters have a right to protest in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en.

As Pagans, Heathens, and Polytheists, we know that our polytheist ancestors in Europe and other parts of the world were displaced, forcibly converted, and massacred, and that the genocidal colonial policies inflicted on Indigenous Peoples are a continuation of that persecution, and of the pernicious doctrine of Terra Nullius, which we utterly repudiate.

We repudiate any organisations claiming to be Pagan or Heathen which espouse white supremacist views.

Therefore we stand in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en chiefs, Unist’ot’en Camp, and the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) protests at Tyendinaga.
We urge the government of Canada to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the Wet’suwet’en chiefs over their lands (in accordance with the Delgamuukw decision of 1997 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples).
And we urge the government of Canada to make meaningful restitution (i.e. returning lands to the control of Indigenous Peoples, or making restitution where that is not possible) instead of symbolic gestures of reconciliation.
And we demand that all development projects engage in meaningful consultation with Indigenous Peoples, which means with traditional leadership of First Nations, and a guaranteed right for First Nations to veto projects.

The statement was crafted by Wiccan author, Yvonne Aburrow.  When asked why she felt a statement was warranted Aburrow said, “It’s important to me because the Wet’suwet’en are the true title-holders of their land, and the traditional chiefs are the standing up for the environment and the Earth and their rights in a time of climate emergency.”

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have been fighting to be recognized as having title and rights when it comes to the controversial pipeline. Despite the 1997 Canadian Supreme Court Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa decision that recognized the Wet’suwet’en and their neighbors the Gitxsan as having title and rights to the land.

Additionally, environmental impact reports submitted on February 21 by Coastal GasLink for approval to the British Columbia ministry that oversees construction like that of the pipeline, rejected the reports. The rejection of the reports has halted all but pre-construction work.

In response to the pipeline being approved to run through Wet’suwet’en territory without their express consent, the Wet’suwet’en set up a boundary checkpoint camp Unist’ot’en Healing Centre to prevent authorized access to their land by construction crews and others. Another concern is the continuous presence of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on tribal land.

There have been other reports involving assault and criminal activities, which Aburrow pointed out, “The pipeline-building camps are associated with a higher incidence of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.”

The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have also submitted a request for judicial review of the decision the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office made regarding the extension of the environmental certificate. The request cites more than 50 non-compliance incidents under the conditions of the Coastal GasLink permits, and findings of the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, which lists “substantial evidence” that natural resource projects increase violence against Indigenous women and children and two-spirit individuals, as reported by The Narwhal.

There have also reportedly been threats issued towards indigenous protesters by white supremacist groups. Aburrow pointed this out as yet another reason for creating the solidarity statement, “I also noticed that the so-called ‘Sons of Odin’ were harassing Indigenous protesters and allies. So I think it’s important for Pagans and Heathens and polytheists who care about the Earth and Indigenous land rights to stand up and be counted.”

The statement is still open for people to add their name in support of the Wet’suwet’en.

Editor’s note: The story has been updated to correct the name of Yvonne Aburrow which was incorrected written as Burrows, and to clarify that Tyendinaga is the ancestral lands of the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawks).

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Nemi Excavation [Image credit: S. Ciotti]

NEMI, ITALY – The town of Nemi announced that archeological work will resume on the famed Temple of Diana Nemorensis this coming summer.

The town noted that there exists considerable public interest in the temple site  The project has secured €250,000 (about US$ 280,000) in funding from a variety of sources The European Union vis-à-vis the Province of Lazio and a local group called Gal Castelli Romani e Monti Prenestini.

The funds will go to support an excavation on the temple that began in 2013. The current plan is to expand the project excavation to 10 hectares (about 25 acres) surrounding the current work that is focused on about 20,000 square meters (about 5 acres)  of the site. To achieve the goal, Nemi plans to eventually purchase property surrounding the Temple of Diana Nemorensis and continue developing the area to allow for visitors.

Research from 2017 suggested that the site may be older and dating before the establishment of the cult of Diana.  This helped renew interest in the location.

The newspaper il Messaggero reports that archeologists from the University of Perugia and the University of Munich suggested the site was a religious center in the Latin League, dating to the Fifth Century BCE.  The site was mentioned by the Roman soldier, senator and historian Cato, the Elder in his writings in the Second Century BCE.  The major of Nemi, Alberto Bertucci welcomed the news and noted that funding hastens the opening of the site to visitors.

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CHICAGO – The first cancellation of an event because of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)  concerns that may impact some in the U.S. Pagan community has been announced.

Yoga and wellness group, Wanderlust has opted to cancel its planned events in U.S. Wanderlust is a certified B-corporation, that lists its mission as “to help you find your true north — to cultivate your best self.”

Wanderlust organizes wellness events and conferences that focus on yoga, meditation, mindfulness, fitness, and awareness. They produce dozens of events annually and work globally with 20 international host countries.

Last week, our partners in Asia were forced to cancel planned events in China, Singapore and several other Asian countries due to coronavirus. Those cancellations have had a significant impact on the financial position of our parent company here in the US, and raise the question of whether it would be prudent to put our three planned US events on sale in the coming weeks. After careful consideration of our options, and weighing the real possibility of future corona-related disruptions here, we have come to the very difficult decision that we will not continue with our 2020 events in the United States.

While Wanderlust has been forced to cancel some events due to concerns over COVID-19, they still plan to host events scheduled in South Korea, Germany, Austria, and the United Kingdom.

 

In other news:

    • Stanford University is offering a course in its summer session titled, Witches, Witchcraft, and Witch-Hunting in Early AmericaThe course is described as having a focus on religious persecution and exploring witch-hunting in New England: “The early modern era witnessed a dramatic surge in the religious and legal persecution of women and men suspected of and executed for witchcraft. While witch-hunting was a global phenomenon, this class shall focus on the early American religious experience. This course will explore the history of witchcraft in early America, with a particular focus on Puritan New England.”
    • The Witch’s Yew Tree in Ireland is the running for the 2020 European Tree of the Year contest. The Witch’s Yew is located on the grounds of  Blarney Castle Estate in County Cork and estimated to be around 600 years old. The tree grows out of the limestone outcropping in the Rock Close, above the Witch’s Kitchen, a folly built by the Jeffreyes family in 1750, and said to be the home of the Blarney Witch. In myth and folklore, it was the Blarney Witch who told humans of the magic of the famed Blarney Stone. The winner of the European Tree of the Year will be announced on March 17.
    • Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG) has announced its line up of featured presenters and musical guests. 2020 marks the 40th anniversary of the event. PSG’s featured presenters include Belladonna Leveau, Dusty Dionne, Bright Hawk, Hollis Taylor, and Selena Fox. Featured musicians include Arthur Hinds, Celia Farran, SJ Tucker, Spiral Rhythm, Thundersirens, Beltana Spellsinger, Krista Chapman Green, Louis Garou, Maevyn Stone, Meren King, and Picti. PSG will be held in a new location this year near Waynesville, Missouri, and runs from June 14 to the 21. According to a press release, early bird prices are available until March 14.
    • Three books to be published in the Ojibwe-language, titled Akawe Niwii-tibaajimAnooj Inaajimod and Nishiimeyinaanig, are the result of a joint project between the Mille Lacs Band and Minnesota Historical Society Press. The books will feature the stories of Ojibwe elders that reflect the Ojibwe culture and include original fiction for children. Unlike previous books published in the Ojibwe-language, these three books will not include an English translation. The books are expected to be available sometime in the summer or fall of this year.
    • The anti-fascist monitoring group HOPE not Hate has issued a new report that calls for immediate action from the U.K. government against the group, The Order of Nine Angles (O9A), which it identifies as a terrorist organization that “combines Satanism, Paganism, and Nazism” and is still operating with the U.K. O9A advocates extreme violence, sexual assault, and human sacrifice with their stated goal as ending Jewish influence and destabilizing the government. O9A also seeks to recruit younger members, the youngest so far that has been charged is 16-years-old and was arrested for planning a terror attack. The report also cites that religious hate crimes incidents have risen 593% since the Christchurch terrorist attack and that 12% of all reported hate crimes involved both race and religion.

 

Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte

Deck: Tarot of Sacred Feminine, by Floreana Nativo, published by Lo Scarabeo.

Card: Six (6) of Swords

The week ahead is liable to have a focus on identifying what is true while working within the flow of everyday life. There may also be a focus on literary works, and how much words matter in conveying complex thoughts and ideas.

Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone.