Pagan Community Notes: U.S. “witch” murder on tribal lands, launch of new Witches’ Sabbat event, and more!

Image credit: Daniel Mayer – WikiCommons

BRISTOW, Okla. – Last Friday, Adam Raymond Mason, 29, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder by the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma for the brutal murder of his five-year-old daughter.

Mason and his daughter are both members of the Muskogee (Creek) Nation, and since the murder was committed on tribal lands, federal authorities have jurisdiction.

According to the press release by the Department of Justice(DOJ), Mason told investigators from the FBI  and Muscogee (Creek) Nation Lighthorse Police that he believed his daughter “was controlled by witchcraft*.” In the affidavit, Mason also “told investigators that he punched the victim, drowned her, then took her to a creek bed where he set her body on fire.”

It is unclear from the DOJ and news reports exactly what was responsible for Mason’s beliefs about “witchcraft” or what behavior by his daughter he was referring to in his statements to investigators.

The manner of her murder is similar to the “witch-hunts” and murders that have occurred in Asian and African countries. While the incidence of “witch” killings is relatively rare within the U.S., this latest murder demonstrates the beliefs that drive such violence are present.

TWH hunt will continue to follow this story and report on any developments.

*Please note that any time TWH places the terms “witch,” “witch-hunt,” or “witchcraft” within quotation marks it denotes the victim of the violence was not known to be a Witch or a practitioner of any modern Pagan religion. 

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TWH – Pagan Community Notes is our feature to offer information and news made by us, the Pagan community TWH serves.

We scour hundreds of feeds and news sites, but the most important information source is the community. We are happy to receive press releases about happenings, organizational changes, and news-making Pagan work and successes. We also appreciate news tips when one of our readers sees something occurring online or in person, that is newsworthy.

If you have events or information, we welcome your input.  As a community resource, TWH exists solely to provide the most accurate news that impacts our diverse and varied readership. Your tips help us ensure we are providing the coverage our readers need.

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In other news:

  • Last week The Official Witches’ Sabbat announced its first bi-annual event would be taking place on November 6 – 8, 2020. The online event is being produced in partnership with Owlkeyme Arts and The Mystic Dream Academy, and Modern Witch™, and described as, “a biannual assembly of contemporary witches and occultists that features a wide range of workshops, rituals, traditions, and artistry. Each gathering sources the best teachers, presenters, and content creators to provide attendees with a thoroughly modern experience that caters to their growing interest in the fields of witchcraft, occultism, psychic development, the paranormal, and the mystical.” The programming for the event is scheduled to be released on September 15, and speakers include, Judika Illes, Najah Lightfoot, Mat Auryn, Storm Faerywolf, Misha Magdalene, Temperance Alden, and organizers Laura Tempest Zakroff and Devin Hunter.
  • Some of the first visitors to the reopening of The British Museum were protesters who want to see the museum’s collection of statuary from the Parthenon returned to Greece. The museum has faced serious criticism from a number of countries over their possession of a variety of artifacts in its collection that were taken from countries that were once British colonies, often by those who were involved in the slave trade. Greece has been attempting to gain the return of the marble statues for decades. The majority of the marble sculptures were taken from Athens by Lord Elgin in the 19th century.
  • The Chaplaincy Innovation Lab in conjunction with Boston University School of Theology, and Hartford Seminary with their publication, The Journal of Interreligious Studies, has issued out a special call for papers for a special journal issue entitled, Interreligious Perspectives on Contemporary US Politics: (Inter)Religion in Social Movements, Political Organizing, and the Ballot Box. According to the description listed in the call: “This special issue seeks to engage various religious and interreligious perspectives on the United States electoral politics, social movements for political change, and domestic and international policy that have taken center stage over the past few years.”


In “witch-hunt” news:

  • It has been a little over a month since the murder of Akua Denteh made headlines around the world. While the government has responded in pursuing justice for Dentah, activist and human rights groups are demanding more action and a comprehensive plan for addressing beliefs and cultural superstitions that drive “witch-hunts.” Last week, the Ghanaian Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Cynthia Morrison and other members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Gender, Children and Social Protection visited some of the “witch camps” in an effort to collect more information in order to develop a comprehensive plan for policy to address the “witchcraft” accusations that have created the need for the camps in order to protect those who are vulnerable to such accusations and attacks. Morrison also stated that the Ministry was planning to extend the program, Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty ( LEAP) for inhabitants of the camps, and to provide assistance for farming within the camps. There have been calls to shut down the camps, but the majority of women who seek the safety the camps offer would likely not go back to their villages until they had some solid assurance that they could do so safely. A proposed Witchcraft Bill is being crafted by Ghanaian Parliament, but it is unclear exactly how it would be enacted or enforced if it is made into law.
  • On Tuesday, Sarah Togbe, of Grand Gedeh County in Liberia died after she ingested a toxic drink made from the bark of the Erythrophleum tree. The E. suaveolens tree is often referred to as the “ordeal tree” since the drink made from its bark, and used in the ordeal ritual called “Sassywood.” The toxic drink is administered to those accused of being “witches” and if they do not die from consuming it, they are considered innocent of being “witches.” According to reports Togbe had been accused of practicing “witchcraft” on several occasions and had been subject to harassment and abuse, so reluctantly agreed to consume the toxic potion in hopes of exonerating herself. Liberia made it illegal to conduct the Sassywood ordeal ritual and banned the practice in 2009, but efforts to enforce the law are difficult in areas where there are limited police forces.
  • In the Sumpini village in West Gonja District in Ghana on Saturday, August 29, Meri Ibrahim, 60, was attacked by men with machetes and sustain serious injuries. She was admitted to Damongo hospital in critical condition. She told attendants at the hospital that she was at home when members of the community came and accused her of being responsible for a young man falling ill within the community. Despite her denial of the accusations, the group attacked her with machetes and beat her with sticks and other objects, and ransacked and completely destroying her home. Two other women were accused but managed to escape. Five people, including the Dagomba Chief of Sumpini, have been arrested in connection with her assault.
  • In the Arka village, in Gumla District of the Jharkhand State in India, Nanda Oraon, 60, who was out grazing his goat, was attacked by Somra Minz wielding an axe. Oraon did not survive the attack. Minz believed that Oraon was responsible for using “witchcraft” to kill Minz’s son who died from a snake bite several months prior. Minz has been arrested for the murder.


Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte

Deck: Tarot Grand Luxe by Ciro Marchetti, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Card: Two (2) Coins

The coming week is liable to be full of reminders to maintain a steady balance between work and play. A methodical approach of “one step at a time” is more likely to yield the desired results. This may call for a certain amount of flexibility and the ability to navigate around obstacles and shifts in schedules.

Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone.

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