Editorial Warning: This issue of Pagan Community Notes describes the harassment of an animal and contains graphic images.
TWH – The violence at the capitol last week resulted in a number of statements being released by Pagan groups and organizations.
The Mother Grove of Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship made the following statement on Facebook:
Interfaith Partners of South Carolina released a statement last week denouncing the violence and calling “on all South Carolinians to join in upholding peace and order during this transition period.”
The statement went on to say:
While open elections in many countries engender fear, conflict and even violence, here in America we are accustomed to an orderly and civil process. During this season of polarization and tension, we are called to proactively build peace to support democracy. Disruptive and/or violent actions against our fellow Americans will not accomplish our shared values and goals.
If we want to continue to live in the America we love, we must remember who we are – a group of individuals with differing ideas, and a democracy that provides us with a way to live together in peace. America is not perfect, but we should always strive to achieve our ideals of peace, harmony, opportunity and respect for all. Many wish to express their feelings about the events of today, and public protest is a cherished American practice. Understanding, however, that in-person confrontation may provide a flashpoint for unwanted violence, IPSC urges everyone to avoid protests and counterprotests.
It also included a statement from former Vice-Chair of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, Andras Corban-Arthen, “As interreligious representatives, it behooves us to address these events. The interfaith movement openly embraces all the religious and spiritual communities throughout the world. We urge those involved in today’s actions in Washington to seek understanding and resolution through peaceful means, rather than violence.”
You can read the full statement on their website.
Tribe of the Oak Druid Order shared a statement on the violence as well.
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials began investigating the possible mutilation of a threatened Florida manatee that was discovered in Blue Hole headwaters of Florida’s Homosassa River about 80 miles north of Tampa. “TRUMP” was carved into the body of the manatee.
Editorial update (1/15/20): Subsequent reports suggest that name “Trump” was scraped on the algae growing on the manatees back. The manatee was not mutilated and is unharmed. The act is still harassment of the animal.
Video posted on Facebook by film director Billy Corben clearly shows the attack on the animal.
The Center for Biological Diversity today announced a $5,000 reward for information leading to a conviction.
“It’s heartbreaking that this manatee was subjected to this vile, criminal act,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s clear that whoever harmed this defenseless, gentle giant is capable of doing grave violence and needs to be apprehended immediately.”
Harassment of a manatee is a federal crime and punishable by a $50,000 fine and up to one year in prison.
The USFWS is encouraging anyone with any knowledge of the incident to call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission hotline at 888-404-3922.
* * *EDINBURGH, Scotland – A new cultural project, titled Heal & Harrow, will feature a storytelling book, CD, podcast, visual art, and a live touring live production in memory of the women unjustly persecuted for “witchcraft” in Scotland. The project is being spearheaded by singer and harpist Rachel Newton and fiddler Lauren MacColl and will include the work of photographer, designer and artist Elly Lucas.
The focus of the project will be to remember and honor the memory of the over 3,800 women who were prosecuted under the Witchcraft Act of 1563 during the 16th and 17th centuries in Scotland.
This latest project comes on the heels of several different projects that have brought more attention to the injustices that women in Scotland suffered under the guise of persecution for “witchcraft.”
In March of 2019, a memorial for those persecuted as “witches” was erected in Kirkwall in the Orkney Isles to honor the 72 people who were executed there.
University of Edinburgh student intern Emma Carroll working in collaboration with Wikimedian in Residence Ewan McAndrew in 2019 created the Interactive Witchcraft Map shows where 3000 of the women accused of being “witches” lived, were detained, tried, and executed.
Last fall Queen’s Council Claire Mitchell launched a campaign for justice and the Witches of Scotland website that seeks pardons for those convicted of witchcraft, an apology for all those accused and convicted of witchcraft, and a national memorial that recognizes those who were accused.
Last year ten artists in the town of Dalkeith commemorated the six women executed as “witches” there with a permanent art installation of ten panels depicting the women and historical references. Their work was done during the national lockdown from the pandemic.
Newton and MacColl’s multi-media project intends to draw a parallel between the treatment of women today and their past treatment, as well as how the stories of the witch trials are relevant to Scotland in the 21st century.
Key figures drawn from history will be represented by an installation of new music, art, and a short story. While they intend to also include and explore some influences of Scottish mythology and legend Newton told The Scotsman, “Although we’re very interested in the mythological stories in our culture, we want to make sure our project recognises the fact that real people were persecuted on a massive scale.”
She went on to say, “We felt it was important to include women who suffered in the trials and imagine what their experience must have been like. We have a brilliant writer collaborating with us to bring these stories to life.
We’ve seen so many parallels with the modern day in the themes that have arisen while doing research into the witch trials, such as misogyny and fear of the ‘other.'”
“We’ve been inspired by the brilliant work being done to raise awareness of the Scottish witch trials,” MacColl added, and continued with, “We’re both fans of the Witches of Scotland podcast and the campaign for a legal pardon, an apology and national monument for those convicted of witchcraft and executed in Scotland.”
Note: TWH encloses the terms witch and witchcraft in quotations to distinguish the accused from modern practitioners of Witchcraft or any modern Pagan practice.
In other news:
- Last week Cherry Hill Seminary (CHS) announced a new 24-month program, the Spiritual Direction Certificate. The program is listed as being for seekers and described as “[for] those who are discerning a call to spiritual direction ministry and who wish to explore that call, engage in personal spiritual growth, and enhance the knowledge and skills needed to be a supportive presence for others seeking their own spiritual direction and a meaningful relationship with the divine (however they understand it).” CHS lists it as “the first of its kind, as currently there are no programs grounded in earth-relating/deities-honoring spiritualities.”
- Two men were arrested last week in connection to a cemetery outside of Orlando in Mount Dora, Florida that was desecrated in early December. The heads of four corpses were removed, and the vaults and coffins severely damaged in the theft. According to the Lake County Sheriff’s office Brian Montalvo Tolentino, 43, of Davenport, was identified using DNA taken from the scene which was run through a DNA database. Tolentino was served with a warrant to submit for a DNA swab for direct comparison which was determined to be a match. During an interview with police Tolentino admitted to going to the cemetery and removing items from the graves for religious practices. Tolentino named Juan Burgos Lopez, 39, of Lake Wales as participating in the theft. A search warrant was executed for Lopez’s residence where investigators found some of the items removed from the graves being used as part of a religious shrine. The religious practice remains unidentified. Both men have been charged with disturbing the contents of a grave and abuse of a dead body.
- The municipality of Lier in Antwerp province in Belgium plans to issue a formal apology for the burning at the stake of the ‘last witch of Lier,‘ Cathelyne Van den Bulcke, on 20 January 1590. Van den Bulcke lived between Lier and Herentals in the small town of Nijlen. Her mother had been accused and put to death for being a “witch.” Van den Bulcke left Nijlen and moved to Lier, but soon found herself being accused of “witchcraft” by two neighbors that allegedly were trying to avoid “witchcraft accusations themselves. Rumors surrounding her involvement with her mother, allegations of being unable to remember her prayers, a sick horse, and a house fire were described as her crimes. She was tortured and eventually confessed, and then put to death by fire. In addition to the formal apology, a new memorial stone will be placed in the town square that will include an acknowledgment of the injustice of her death.
- According to Smithsonian Magazine, a temple to the goddess Aphrodite has been discovered on Urla-Çeşme peninsula in western Turkey. The site is near the city of Izmir and was first brought to the attention of researchers in 2016 when they were studying the site and the indications of its many human settlements that occurred in the area for many millennia. The temple dates to the 6th century BCE. They recently uncovered a statue of a woman, a terra cotta sculpture of a female head, plus an inscription that reads, “This is the sacred area.” Since 2006 researchers have identified a total of 35 prehistoric settlements within the approximately 17,220-square-foot archaeological site, with 16 of them dating to the Late Neolithic period.
Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte
Deck: The Fountain Tarot
Card: Eight (8) Swords
This week is likely to be underscored by a fear that has the potential to prevent seeing reality and truth, causing paralyzation, and a sense of insurmountable obstacles. Conversely, having the ability to see a situation for what it truly is, and mustering the courage to move forward and past any fear provides its own release and freedom.
Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone.