Pagan Community Notes: Indigenous Peoples Day, Fiona Horne, and uptick in numbers of Pagans in Iceland

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Courtesy: NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center

TWH – In numerous jurisdictions across the USA, today is Indigenous Peoples Day. While Columbus Day was first declared a holiday by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934, many states over the past few decades have issued proclamations that celebrate and recognize Native peoples.

In 1971 Columbus Day, designated as the second Monday in October, became a legal, federal holiday, which allows federal offices, and banks to be closed in the states that observe it. It is perhaps one of the most inconsistent American holidays when it comes to observance according to the Pew Research Center.

South Dakota was the first to officially change the name of Columbus Day to Native American Day in 1990. In 1992, Berkeley, California was the first city to officially recognize and celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day.

Since then, a number of states have followed suit. Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, New Mexico, Oregon, and Vermont all officially recognize Indigenous Peoples Day in place of Columbus Day.

Seven states, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin, and Washington D.C. have issued proclamations honoring Indigenous Peoples Day. Two states, Alabama and Oklahoma, celebrate both Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day.

As a variety of Indigenous rights organizations continue to push back on holidays like Columbus Day, over 130 cities and municipalities now recognize Indigenous Peoples Day.

In 2007, The United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) which is largely considered one of the most comprehensive international instruments for Indigenous rights. The declaration’s 46 articles clearly outline “a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world and it elaborates on existing human rights standards and fundamental freedoms as they apply to the specific situation of indigenous peoples.

A number of demonstrations around the country were held over the weekend.

In Boston, hundreds of people turned out for a march to denounce Columbus and in support of Indigenous rights.

On Sunday in Pueblo, Colorado, the Four Directions March sponsored by the Pueblo Abolish Columbus Day Committee, El Movimiento Sigue and the American Indian Movement of Colorado was held to celebrate the removal of Columbus Day as a holiday by the state, and to renew calls for equality. Prior to the march either late Saturday night or in the early morning hours of Sunday, a statue of Columbus was vandalized with red paint and tomatoes.

In Sante Fe, New Mexico, activists chained themselves to an obelisk monument that bears the inscription, “To the heroes who have fallen in the various battles with the savage Indians in the territory of New Mexico.” The word savage was scratched out by an unknown person posing as a city employee in 1974. While the mayor, Alan Webber, has pledged to remove the obelisk, the city has yet to take any actions towards doing so.

While the majority of demonstrations were peaceful, overnight in Portland, Oregon, protesters in an event dubbed “Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage” pulled down statues of Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Protesters then shattered the windows of the Oregon Historical Society, and continued into downtown smashing windows of store fronts. According to news reports, police deemed the event a riot and moved in, arresting a few people but most scattered and disappeared when law enforcement arrived. It is unclear from media reports exactly which group organized the event.

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859px australia stub svgPERTH, Australia – In an interview with Perth Now promoting her latest book, The Art of Witch, Australian Witch Fiona Horne offered up her perspective on how magical practice provides ways to move through crises.

“Modern witchcraft has rituals and tools of divination like oracle and tarot … these are practical tools to attempt to live our best lives possible,” Horne said.

Horne is often labeled as Australia’s “most famous Witch” and has authored a number of books on Witchcraft. In the 90s, she was the lead singer for the rock band, Def FX. Horne is also a commercial pilot and involved in coordinating humanitarian missions.

She highlighted her belief that Witches are an essential aspect to moving forward.

“The world needs witches right now. We are living in really socially, culturally and environmentally challenging times and we were all put in isolation, we all had to look at ourselves and go ‘OK there is no distractions, what is my life?’

Horne continued, “So many people were confronted with a fear of death and illness, and thinking ‘well, if I was to go, am I happy with the life I have had? Am I proud of it? Do I feel fulfilled through all the easy times and the hard times? So modern witchcraft would address that.”

In other news:

  • The National Register of Iceland showed a marked increase in the number of those who identify and follow the practices of the Ásatrú Society, the largest non-Christian church which is described as “a Pagan faith that centres the pre-Christian Norse pantheon.” The current number of Ásatrú Society adherents is 5,031 which is an increase of 308. The next largest non-Christian faith organization is Siðmennt, the Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association with  3,916 members, up by 446. However, by comparison, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland has 230,146 of Iceland’s 364,134 population as members, though their numbers have declined by 1008 since last year.
  • Assistant Professor Timothy Landry of Anthropology and Religious Studies at Trinity College in Harford, Connecticut will be offering a Signature Seminar at the University of Arkansas Honors College that will explore the meaning and history of terms associated with Witchcraft. In an interesting interview with NPR affiliate KUAF’s Kyle Kellams, Landry outlines the course and how magic is found in everyday mainstream life in a way that will likely resonate with many Witches and Pagans.
  • Fragments of artifacts taken from the Archaeological Park in Pompeii by a Canadian tourist 15 years ago were returned by the woman who took them to a travel agent in Pompeii, Italy. The woman included pieces of a mosaic tile, part of an Amphora (Greek/Roman jar), and another piece of ceramic and a letter explaining the return. The package also held several stones taken from the site in Pompeii by another Canadian couple and a letter from them expressing their regret and apology for removing the items. Both letters expressed the believe that taking the items from the site had caused ill-fortune and bad luck.

In environmental news:

  • As the planet warms from climate change, melting ice sheets around the globe are revealing new finds for researchers. At Cape Irizar in Antarctica researchers discovered what they thought were the fresh carcasses of  Adélie penguins. Researchers were also puzzled by the presence of bones of penguin chicks and signs of a nesting site since none had been noted in those areas since 1900. Subsequent testing using radiocarbon dating placed the age of what had initially appeared to be fresh remains to actually be around 800 years old. Some of the other bones and remains tested dated as much 5,000 years old. All of the remains had been exposed by the melting ice.
  • Engineers in Belgium have built what amounts to a giant vacuum to help rid the environment of bits of plastic that are too small to be collected by hand. Port authorities in Antwerp devised a competition to find a solution for the mudflats and salt marshes of Galgeschoor reserve which is an important site for endangered bird species. The area had become littered with the remnants of industrial and residential waste. The winner of the competition was the project dubbed, “Nul-o-Plastic” designed by Envisan, the environment division of maritime infrastructure company Jan De Nul Group. The goal of the device is to remove the 7.5 tons of plastic from the reserve without damaging the plant life or greatly disturbing the soil. The device has a special suction device that will spare plant life and rubber tires to negate major soil impact.

In news of the weird:

  • Apparently, former President Obama has a secret “witch doctor army,” and it apparently deploys flies to spy on people like Mike Pence during a nationally televised debate. TWH contacted various sources who confirmed they were not part of this secret army nor had been invited to join.


The Wild Hunt is conducting an informal non-statistical survey of our readers on the voting plans of Pagans for the US November election for an upcoming article. The survey will be open until October 26, 2020.  We encourage you to share your thoughts and plans using the link above.


Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte

Deck: Dark Angels Tarot, by Luca Russo, published by Lo Scarabeo.

Card: Five (5) of Wands

The week ahead is likely to require serious effort to not be lulled into inaction and complacency. A fresh perspective can help to focus energies on a new goal. By contrast, lack of awareness and motivation can easily lead to despair and feelings of failure.


Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone.