Pagan Community Notes: Statements on racial equality, Georgian co-founder crosses Veil, interfaith ritual in Chicago, and more!

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TWH – Over the past week, several more Pagan organizations released statements on George Floyd’s death and in support of Black Lives Matter. Their statements included commitments to equality and racial justice.

Circle Sanctuary released the following statement:

Circle Sanctuary is actively engaged in work for racial equality and social justice as part of our interfaith ministries. Since our founding in 1974, Circle Sanctuary ministers and community members have collaborated with many institutions, communities, and projects to support and manifest equality, liberty, and justice for all.

Circle Sanctuary recognizes and honors the divine nature and essential dignity of all humans, as detailed in our Inclusiveness Policy.

Circle Sanctuary mourns the death of George Floyd and others, and calls for justice and social change.  Circle Sanctuary supports the work being undertaken under the banner of Black Lives Matter, and continues our multiracial, multicultural and multilingual education and networking endeavors.  Circle Sanctuary is engaged in local, statewide, national, and global collaborations with many religious, spiritual, and freethinker communities, organizations, and initiatives across the USA and around the world to bring about racial equality and racial justice for humans of all colors, races, and ethnicities.

Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary also participated in an interfaith service, Together in Mourning and Hope: Faith in the Time of COVID-19, presented by the Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice and the Wisconsin Council of Churches last week.

Heathens Against Hate released the following statement:

In the last several weeks we have witnessed the events that unfolded from the tragic murder of George Floyd. Protests within all 50 states within the United States and the solidarity that has been shown through protests around the world had all declared that Black Lives Matter. Heathens Against Hate firmly stands against the systematic injustice and oppression of minority groups; specifically concerning the rights and liberties of the American People of Color. The senseless murder and killings of these (and many more) people shall not go unanswered, the voices of their kin and allies cry out for justice in their names; which are:

George Floyd

Ahmaud Arbery

Atatiana Jefferson

Breonna Taylor

Eric Garner

Kayla Moore

Philando Castile

Sandra Bland

Tony McDade

The anger that we feel is justified and right. It is with this passion that activism is born, and many of you have asked us what HAH is doing to address these past events. Each of us carries the drive to better the world around us, and when that world seems turned over on its side; from COVID-19 to discrimination, that drive strives to be expressed outwardly. Those of us who are Caucasian (white) must immediately start by acting upon that we Heathens, and indeed us here in HAH constantly reference in Havamal 127.

SPEAK OUT AGAINST EVIL. Stand up against the oppression of your fellow human beings. If you are especially living in the United States; speak against the mistreatment, violence, and unjustified oppressive behavior inflicted upon People of Color and other minorities. Stand with the understanding that you will not fully comprehend where a Person of Color might be feeling. You may even be spurned by whomever you stand in solidarity with, but stand nonetheless!

If you choose to attend protests, protest rightly and safely! We are still amidst a pandemic and COVID-19 infects indiscriminately. As of this writing, Heathens Against Hate is in attendance in a protest in Bristol, PA (USA). We are there amplifying and uplifting the voices of the oppressed! We encourage you all to do so; whether you go out in protest, speak in conferences or interviews, or just talk with your friends. Lend your voice and through action stand up to human rights, to end discrimination, to remind and remember its victims above and those who are unnamed. Some desire to do more, and do more you can! Although we at Heathens Against Hate are not set up to accept any donations, below are several resources and organizations that would gladly receive your support:

Official George Floyd Memorial Fund

Justice for Breonna Taylor

Memorial of Tony McDade

Official Ahmaud Arbery Fund

NAACP Legal Defense Fund

ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union)
National Police Accountability Project

By donating you are providing the resources you can to the cause, defense, and prosperity of a community that for too long has been suppressed and silenced.

WE ARE OUR DEEDS.

Through them may the world heal.

Through them may people know peace.

Through them may justice be seen.

Through them may we raise the fallen to a place of honor.

Hail to George Floyd

Hail to Ahmaud Arbery

Hail to Atatiana Jefferson

Hail to Breonna Taylor

Hail to Eric Garner

Hail to Kayla Moore

Hail to Philando Castile

Hail to Sandra Bland

Hail to Tony McDade

Hail the unnamed

Hail the Community! ————– Robert L. Schreiwer Ethan Stark Eric Thope-Moscon Managers, Heathens Against Hate

The Covenant of the Goddess released the following statement.

June 6, 2020

ANAHEIM, CA. The Covenant of the Goddess, an organization built upon the premise of harming none, promoting acts that uphold love, life, freedom, and the celebration of diversity in faith practices, is well aware of damages done when racism is permitted to grow and root itself in our culture and government.

We celebrate and guard the sacredness of diversity, therefore we stand opposed to racism in all its forms as well as any form of prejudice, discrimination, and inequality that seeks to harm or reduce the well-being of anyone on the basis of their diversity.

We grieve the death of George Floyd and all victims of systemic racism and offer our deepest sympathies to Mr. Floyd’s family and the many families who have suffered violence and loss.

We recognize your deep pain.

We live in a system that contains culturally ingrained racism that is maintained by white supremacy.

We stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and everyone who has mobilized to defeat these elements of our culture. We stand with you and we will support you personally and spiritually.

Tribe of the Oak released the following statement.

We at Tribe of the Oak send our deepest condolences to the family of George Floyd. Our Druidic Order is founded on the principle that all people are sacred and should be afforded the same rights, responsibilities, privileges and protections under the law. We as a Druid Tribe are devastated by the actions that have occurred in many places and in different forms, against a group of peoples guaranteed these rights under the Constitution that are still denied to many. We mourn the loss and injustice to all that have lost their security, liberty, and lives at the hands of racism.

We of the Tribe of the Oak understand the words of Martin Luther King Jr. when he said, “Riots are the language of the unheard.”  Our Tribe understands that those who ignore peaceful demonstrations must suffer the consequences of violent revolution. While we don’t condone violence, we understand it, because for some it is the only way to be heard. We stand with the protestors, even in their anger and even in their devastation, and raise our voices alongside theirs. We feel that Black Lives must matter for all lives to matter. We are committed to working for an equitable and just society for all, regardless of race or gender.

*    *    *

CHICAGO – The Interfaith Gathering for Black Lives was held on Sunday, June 7 in Humboldt Park. The event included practitioners from numerous spiritual traditions and faiths including Ifá, Lukumí, Native American, Mexica Azteca, a Lutheran congregation, and a POC Pagan coven.

Sandra Santiago/Iya Baba No Ke who led one of the many rituals conducted told TWH, “During this whole situation with Black Lives Matter and the killing of George Floyd, I’ve been in communication with many other Witches on several sites, and Pagan site,s and the one thing I think people don’t understand is that the way non-people of color use ritual is different from the way other people who are people of color use ritual.”

The focus of the event was to bring to people together “from all spiritual practices to share prayers, sacred ancestral songs and dance to be in solidarity with our Black relatives.” There was also the creation of a community altar to honor those within the Black community who had lost their lives to injustice.

Santiago went on to say, “The ceremony really hit home about how ritual is ingrained in indigenous practices. Mine is an indigenous practice, as is that of the Native Americans, as were that of many of the people we were working with. Mine is Ifá, traditional African practice and diasporic tradition which becomes Lukumí. So with Vodoun, Lukumí, with Native American practices, and ancestral practices, it’s about community and healing and so a lot of our workings aren’t just for money or love, it’s about healing, it’s about rebirth. It’s about taking back the power that was taken from us through colonization, and for protection.”

Santiago added “And so if you look at the Haitian revolution, and how Vodoun and how those spiritual practices were the foundation for the slave revolt. You know, modern-day we use these practices as an act/way of de-colonializing ourselves, our families, our paradigms. So we honor, we bless, we protect. I think it is very different from how some of the Wiccan or Pagan practices are used. And it is not that there isn’t protection spells or work, but I think our protection work is done for daily safety/security against oppressive forces of institutionalized racism and in daily life (people and spaces that perpetuate racism).”

With over 100 people attended the event, extra emphasis was placed on social distancing and the use of masks by participants. Those attending were also urged to be conscious of the potential impact on the park and environment and asked to remove and properly dispose of wrappings and packaging of items used as offerings.

 

Crossings of the Veil

Zanoni Silverknife (June 13, 1946-June 4, 2020)

Zanoni Silverknife, mundanely known as Jilaine Callison (nee Johns), was born in California and along with George Eliott (Pat) Patterson III, and Tanith, in 1970 formed a coven that would go on to become the Georgian tradition in Bakersfield, California.

In 1971 Patterson filed with the State of California to be recognized as an unincorporated church and obtained a charter through Universal Life, which provided ministerial credentials for himself and Silverknife.

The Georgian tradition drew teachings and inspiration from a variety of sources–Gwen Thompson (New England Covens of Traditional Witches), Leo Martello and Ed Buzinski (NY Welsh), Joe Wilson (1734) Fred and Martha Adler (Y Plant Bran), Ed Fitch (Gardnerian)–and incorporated many of those teachings to found the line.

Silverknife would go on later in her life to formally train and be initiated in all of those traditions with the exception of the Adler’s (Y Plant Bran), both of whom had crossed the veil before Silverknife began expanding her horizons of spiritual exploration. She was also Kingstone initiate and one of the signers on initial charter for Covenant of the Goddess.

In practice, Silverknife was an unapologetic pragmatist: If something worked, she kept it.  She took care to make sure that students knew who had taught her what, so they could honor those individuals who contributed to the collective learning and growth. She saw and honored the unique beauty in all the different forms of worship of the Goddess.

Silverknife is remembered by her friends and family as being a fiercely loving and loyal individual and demanded the same in return. She always went above and beyond for her family, friends, and students.

What is remembered, lives.

In other news:

  • Circle Sanctuary has released the schedule of events for the virtual Pagan Spirit Gathering which is slated for June 14 – 21. The event features a variety of rituals including the lighting of the sacred fire, musical performances, and workshops, as well as a number of community chat rooms on Facebook Live and on other platforms.
  • A 46,000-year-old archaeological site in Western Australian, the Juukan Gorge cave which is sacred to the indigenous aborigines, the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura People (PKKP), was destroyed by the mining company, Rin Tinto. Close to 7,000 artifacts were removed from the site by the mining company prior to the site being destroyed but have yet to be handed over to the PKKP. The PKKP had been opposing the mining operation in an attempt to preserve the site for the past seven years. Rin Tinto issued an apology taking full accountability but claimed there was a miscommunication over the importance of the cave to the PKKP. The claims of miscommunication have been disputed.
  • A traditional healer and medicine man, Domingo Choc Che, was lynched and burned to death by an angry mob accusing him of being a “witch,” in his hometown of Chimay, Guatemala. Choc Che was working on a pharmaceutical project in partnership with the University College London (UCL). The UCL project centers around the biodiversity use of Mayan medicine.  The UCL  project is a partnership that also includes Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, the Council of Maya Elders, government authorities, Indigene Biodiversity and the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species. Lead researcher on the project, Dr. Michael Heinrich said, “Losing a colleague or friend is always tragic, but losing Don Domingo, a great wise man and Mayan elder, with whom we collaborated on a project supported by the UK’s Darwin Initiative, is an incredible atrocity. We’re all speechless and words cannot express our sadness and fury. He was such an important facilitator, supporting the local development of resources and planning for ways to improve the local livelihood. What an incredible loss for his family and friends, the people of the Peten and all of us!” Both the Human Rights Ombudsman (PDH) in Guatemala and the Municipal Prosecutor’s Office in coordination with the Peten District Prosecutor under the Public Ministry in Chimay announced they have opened investigations into Choc Che’s murder.

Editorial note: TWH always uses lowercase letters and places within quotes the terms “witch” and “witchcraft” to denote that we cannot confirm that the person accused identifies as a Witch or with the practice of Witchcraft.

Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte

Deck: Sun and Moon Tarot by Vanessa Decort, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Card: Major arcana: The Chariot (VII)

Look this week for opportunities to make ideas into reality by way of action. There is liable to be marked focus on change and associated activity. Conversely, inaction and stagnation yield missed opportunities and unfulfilled dreams.

 

Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone.