Pagan Community Notes: The Druid Network celebrates 10th anniversary as recognized charity, possible religious discrimination by sex offenders program, “Witchies” nominees announced

The Druid Network

DARWEN, Lancashire, England – Today marks the 10th anniversary of The Druid Network (TDN) achieving recognized status as a charity within the United Kingdom by the Charity Commission of England and Wales.

In a statement sent to TWH by Neil Pitchford, a trustee for TDN noted, “This anniversary is, in many ways, as significant as the original groundbreaking day in that the idea of divinity being expressed within and through nature is gaining traction.”

Pitchford also pointed out how attaining their charity status has helped to legitimize Druidry across the United Kingdom.

“Legally, as is stated in the piece, in the UK a religion was defined by the central requirement of an anthropomorphic figurehead and this definition was also a common understanding amongst various interfaith groups as well,” Pitchford stated.

Last year, Pitchford was the first Druid to ever be appointed as one of nine moderators for the Faith Communities Forum (FCF) of the Inter Faith Network for the United Kingdom (IFN-UK).

Pitchford cited their recognition as a charity as paving the way for his appointment, “It is a good sign that this precedent resulted in those Interfaith organisations accepting that the idea of divinity experienced through nature is a valid religious viewpoint. This acceptance lead to TDN becoming fully involved at the UK level in Interfaith with the resultant appointment last year creating another precedent.”

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MINNEAPOLIS – A court is set for October to hear the federal complaint filed on behalf of 15 men incarcerated within the Moose Lake Sex Offender Program in Minnesota. The complainants named in the suit include some who practice Wicca,  Asatru, and Native American beliefs.

The federal lawsuit filed against the Minnesota Department of Human Services alleges that the Moose Lake facility has violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act by continuing to ban religious gatherings despite Governor Tim Waltz’s executive order in June allowing places of worship to resume services at 50% capacity.

Attorney Erick Kaardal, who filed the lawsuit and is representing the 15 men said in an interview with television station KSTP, “If our spiritual practices were banned through September, we’d say that’s outrageous. Now we need to say that’s outrageous that MSOP doesn’t give spiritual practices to these clients.”

The suit also alleges in affidavits submitted that the men have experienced “emotional anguish” and “a lack of support and interaction” over the last six months.

“They are relying on their different faith traditions to get through a difficult time,” Kaardal said. “They’re institutionalized, but they have a federal right to have the same practices that we have.”

A statement issued by Nancy Johnson, the executive director for the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP), points out that the restrictions are still in place due to the increased risk of spread within congregate living situations.

Johnson went on to say, “Restrictions on gatherings and outside visitors in place at MSOP facilities are intended to prevent and control infection and are in large part responsible for the fact that there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 among MSOP clients in Moose Lake or St. Peter.”

Participants in the program are civilly committed by the state to the program after serving sentences in jail or prison.

The MSOP has been under fire in the past and the subject of a lawsuit in 2011 and again 2015 for issues that were largely seen as being unconstitutional due to the program being undefined in the process of offenders moving through the various phases of the program with no clear system for them to complete and be released from MSOP.

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


In other news:

  • Several media articles in various publications have again drawn the focus to Indigenous populations and the lack of supplies and resources for treating COVID-19 cases of tribal members across the U.S. While most facilities run by the Indian Health Service seem to at least have the supplies they need like protective gear, the entire system is severely unfunded and many facilities are simply not equipped to handle many of those who became infected with SARS-CoV-2. The Navajo Nation alone reports 10,441 cases with 559 deaths as of October 4. With infection rates among Indigenous populations being four times as much as that of white populations, there have been calls among legislators to address the inequity in healthcare for people of color. Abigail Echo-Hawk, director of the Urban Indian Health Institute (UIHI) and the chief research officer for the Seattle Indian Health Board, has repeatedly fought to get the data on Indigenous populations included in analyses and to be properly categorized. Too often intake forms offer the only option of “other” for Indigenous peoples, which causes their statistics to be lumped into a catchall category. Echo-Hawk also noted the problem of the CDC not sharing critical data with tribal epidemiology centers by citing HIPPA and privacy concerns, yet the same data was shared with the states affected. Echo-Hawk said, “I see being eliminated in the data as an ongoing part of the continuing genocide of American Indians and Alaska Natives. If you eliminate us in the data, we no longer exist.” She also pointed out, “The system of colonialism in the United States has created, and continues to increase risk factors for, poor health outcomes in Native communities.”
  • The excavation at the Zominthos mountain palace site, on Crete’s Mount Psiloritis in Greece, continues to yield new discoveries. Archaeologists reported new finds that include a ritual pestle, a seal with an animal depiction, and a burnt wooden object that they believe was some type of gold-leaf decorated statuette due to the flakes of gold found around it, which could bear a similarity to ivory statuary from other sites that was also adorned with gold. Researchers believe these items support the site as having significance as a political, religious, and economic center. Additional areas that date to use as far back as 2000 B.C.E., and include an older sanctuary have bee identified. Newer areas that were expanded into some time after 1700 B.C.E. feature the remains of rooms with flagstone floors, drainage systems, and a series of piping that extend to other areas.
  • A bronze statue of the god, Nefertum, was discovered in an excavation at the Saqqara necropolis, along with a number of wooden coffins. The statue measures 35 centimeters (13.7 inches), and has lapis lazuli, turquoise, and red agate inlays, with the name of “Badi Amun” engraved on its base. Badi Amun dates to the 26th Dynasty. Last month the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry announced the find of 14 wooden coffins in another burial shaft of the same site, which brought the total at that time to 27 coffins. The coffins have been noted as retaining some of their original colors, and have been dated to be around 2,500-years-old.
  • A new “Pass the Brush” video created by professional body artist, Greeny Camberos and was written about on the site,  recently. Camberos collaborated with other Mexican artists in Los Angeles during the quarantine to create the video as a way to celebrate Dìa de los Muertos — the Day of the Dead. Camberos told In The Know, “My life revolves around Mexican culture and representing our people. [We’re] sharing the art, sharing our talents as Mexicans, as Indigenous people. They are already in our ancestral DNA, it’s not just a costume.” Traditionally, Dìa de los Muertos is celebrated in Mexico on November 1 – 2 and is focused on honoring and remembering ancestors, and loved ones who have passed. “We need to represent our people and our culture in better ways [so] that we can be seen in better ways for who we really are,” Camberos said. “Maybe this will touch that part of your heart where you remember where you come from, where your roots are from.”
  • A new awards program, “The Witchies”, recognizes and celebrates “outstanding achievements in Witchcraft and occult media,” announced their nominees on October 1, 2020. The Witchies was developed by the producers of the new bi-annual, online event, The Official Witches’ Sabbat. The event is presented by Modern Witch in partnership with Owlkeyme Arts: The Work of Laura Tempest Zakroff and The Mystic Dream Academy. This year will the first for the online event which is scheduled to run November 6 – 8. The awards program covers nineteen categories covering outstanding books and authors, musical albums, blogs, vlogs, and new voices in the Pagan sphere that were published between August 22, 2019 and August 21, 2020. Voting ends on October 15. The winners will be announced live on November 7, 2020, during The Official Witches’ Sabbat.
  • The annual Witch Paddle was held Sunday in the Town Cove in Orleans on Cape Cod and was attended by paddleboarders dressed as “witches” both to participate as paddlers and as observers. TWH doesn’t know if any of them are actual Witches, but the pictures are charming.


Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte

Deck: Tarot of the Witches, artwork by Fergus Hall, instructions by Stuart R. Kaplan, published by U.S. Games Systems.

Card: Major arcana III (3), The Empress

This week the keyword is “abundance” whether it relates to the positive or negative aspect. Either way, expect a lot of… well, everything. There is a  strong but subtle underlying feminine energy that will be evident for those who are paying attention. Conversely, the potential for subterfuge, financial overindulgence, and even harassment may be factors.


Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone.

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