Pagan Community Notes: Pandemic fears fuel discrimination, hate-crimes and “witch-hunts,” SAPRA relief statement, and more!

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TWH – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread around the globe, incidents of hate crimes, discrimination, and “witch-hunts” have been on the rise.

A number of organizations including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have warned that there is likely to be an increase in hate crimes directed towards Asian populations in the U.S.

Elsewhere around the globe, especially in areas where “witch-hunts” are more prone to occur, the spread of COVID-19 is fueling tragic and illegal activities. Regions of India and countries in Africa have seen a rise in fears and violent incidents in the last few years, now some may be connected to new cases of COVID-19.

Yesterday also marked the beginning of the annual 30 days of Advocacy AGAINST witch-hunts by South African Pagan Rights Alliance (SAPRA) which runs yearly from March 29th through April 27th to raise global awareness about witch-hunts.

The Advocacy for Alleged Witches (AFAW) founded by Leo Igwe has continued to draw attention to the prevalence and promotion of “witch-hunts” and has recently called on the government of Nigeria to take action. The Guardian (Nigeria) published an opinion piece by Igwe that examines the cultural problems of “witchcraft” in Nigeria.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) through its Hatewatch section has been monitoring far-right extremist and white supremacy groups who are using the pandemic to both help spread their messages of hate and recruit more members. A number of groups on the Hatewatch list have Heathen or Pagan affiliations which organizations like Heathens Against Hate have been fighting to combat.

While the majority of Pagans in the Western world are less likely to experience the kind of persecution elsewhere in the world, they can still potentially experience discrimination or be targeted. Evangelicals have also attempted to capitalize on pandemic by ramping up messaging with media and print ads, and flyers urging people to “return to Jesus.” Some televangelists, like Kenneth Copeland, have even made claims of being able to “heal” people via their broadcasts.

Copeland later stated that “…God had told him the pandemic would soon be over, as Christians praying all over the country had ‘overwhelmed it.’ While Christians would save the country,” he said, “it was the president’s critics who ‘opened the door’ to the pandemic with their ‘displays of hate’ that had interfered with ‘divine protection.'”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has also noted that there has been a rise in anti-semitic rhetoric in addition to xenophobic activity directed towards those of Asian origin or descent in connection with the spread of the coronavirus.


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Flag of South Africa [Public Domain]

WESTERN CAPE, South Africa – Lawrence Waugh, executive member and treasurer of  the South African Pagan Rights Alliance (SAPRA) issued a statement on help his firm, Waugh Associates, is offering to South African Pagans affected by the pandemic:

Morning, I will be offering the following assistance to the Pagan community, regardless of pagan faith.

Our firm is ready to assist with all the following applications. Give us a call today so we can give you a quote.

We are also available to help those who are small sole traders and small businesses who cannot afford someone to help them, we can help those who need help for free as we want to help our community get stronger and closer.

There are a range of support measures available that our firm can help you get access to:

1. Funding through the Department of Small Business Development

2. Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA) Funding

3. Accessing UIF benefits for employees

4. The TERS programme (Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme) will be expanded and expedited – funded by the UIF to assist distressed companies in the form of subsidies to fund directly workers’ wages.

5. Solidarity Fund

6. Compensation commissioner

Any employee contracting the Covid-19 virus while employed by you (and not while at home) can apply for compensation under the Compensation Act.

As your accountant, we can help with the administration behind these applications. We can assist you in accessing these funds. This is an add-on service to the usual accounting services we provide.

7. Register as a company that provides essential services.

The regulations issued by the Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs provide for a form or certificate to be issued by companies who provide essential services to their workers, to be carried when travelling to and from work. We can assist your company to obtain this certificate.

This will require fast work, so anyone seeking to access these funds must indicate so immediately. Understand also that there will be an avalanche of requests for funding, so the sooner you act, the better.

In other news:

  • The Bristol History Podcast aired an episode, Witches and Witchcraft in the West Country last week that explored the history of Witchcraft and cunning people and interviewed West-Country Occult Historian and author, Mike Slater.
  • Western Australian media source, WAToday, interviewed Danae Thorp, owner of the Spellbox, a shop that sells magical supplies. Thorp discussed some of the ways that magic is enmeshed in society and why magical practices are not only popular but still relevant. “I feel with witchcraft that it’s a new type of feminism. That applies to men and women; it’s not defined by gender. Witchcraft was defined as women being crazy, and because witchcraft was demeaned, women were demeaned, too,” Thorpe said. She went on to point out that science and magic are not mutually exclusive, “Science is so important with climate change at the moment. But you can have both. One doesn’t wipe out the other. Many things that are considered science now were once considered magic.”
  • Taylor Hickson who plays the character, Raelle in the new sci-fi/fantasy series MotherLand: Fort Salem gave an interview to MEA WorldWide about the show and her role as a Witch. The show features a matriarchal society where Witches practice combat magic and are seen as heroes. When asked how well the show portrayed the actual themes and values of Wiccans, Hickson had this to say, “We’re so proud of our portrayal and the homage paid to Wiccan culture. It’s such a widely misunderstood community. So we’re working diligently to break that image of the cackling green witch and share the truth about what they stand for. So it’s very much about community growth, healing, coming together, self-care, love, and empowerment. I think the idea of the witch has been so demonized in folklore and media. Even today, in all the shows out there, it’s a much more far-fetched approach. We want to take a much more grounded road to witchcraft and its portrayal. So, there’s a lot more of incantation, chanting and vocalizations and healing rather than us shooting sparkles out of our fingertips and having green skin and a hooked nose. We wanted it to feel a lot more authentic and believable and also pay tribute to a misunderstood community.”
  • Mashpee Wampanoag tribe issued a press release on Friday regarding their notification by the Bureau of Indian Affairs of the Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s decision to order the disestablish their reservation and have it taken it out of trust. Mashpee Wampanoag tribe has been in a legal battle to have their status as a tribe eligible for the benefits of the Indian Reorganization Act upheld and two recent rulings against them in federal court fueled the Secretary’s decision. While tribe representatives vow to continue their fight to maintain the possession of their ancestral lands, there has been controversy in the past over former tribal leaders who had acted inappropriately and illegally in connection with the proposed building of a casino on tribal lands and employed lobbyists who were later convicted on charges of corruption. The land slated for the construction of casino has been contested by some of the residents of the city of Taunton in Massachusetts, and another casino developer, Neil Bluhm, has helped finance lawsuits against the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe. The tribe, in conjunction with the mayor of Taunton and with the backing of another major casino developer, broke ground on the project in 2016, though the casino is still not complete.
  • A new survey looking at Religious Minorities in Libraries is seeking participation from the Pagan community. The 15 question survey seeks to understand how well public libraries serve modern Pagans, Witches, Druids, Heathens, polytheists, and other related affiliations.


Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte

Deck: Everyday Witch Tarot, by Deborah Blake, artwork by Elisabeth Alba, published by Llewellyn Publications.

Card: Five of Wands (5)

The week ahead is liable to have a certain element of discord and disagreement, especially as it applies to small groups, be it friends, family, or co-workers. Be mindful of the role ego might play, and that some situations have no clear resolution. Sometimes the best choice is to simply walk away.

Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone.