Pagan Community Notes: Week of February 8, 2021

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Logo via Consejo Nacional Indígena Facebook Page

MEXICO CITY, Mexico  – On January 31, Daniel Furlong and Jesús Magaña received the bastón de mando indígena (the Indigenous staff of authority) and were recognized as ambassadors of peace of the 68 indigenous languages and the Afro-Mexican groups, in a ceremony organized by Mexiutopic, the Consejo Nacional Indígena (National Indigenous Council), and Egbe Inmolorogun, a Mexican Indigenous-Yoruba clan.

Daniel Furlong is a Mexican androgynous fashion model and stylist and was given the staff to represent the work against cultural appropriation and for the respect and value of icons, symbols, and techniques of indigenous crafts and textiles.

Jesús Magaña, also known as Driel Molmont, is a Mexican spiritual leader in Traditional Witchcraft and was given the staff because of his work against the commodification of spiritual traditions and the ritual practices of the Indigenous and Afro-Mexican peoples.

Juan Ronzón, the national coordinator of the Consejo Nacional Indígena, explained in the event there are two types of bastón de mando, which represent responsibility for the communityone is held by representatives of the community, the other is given as ambassadors of peace.

Daniel Furlong and Jesús Magaña receiving the bastón de mando indígena – Image credit: J. Gironés

During the ceremony, the wooden staffs were consecrated and the colors and the symbols of the staffs that were handed over were explained: the white ribbon represents peace, the green ribbon represents hope, and the dove made of clay represents peace and, at the same time, the clay represents the fragility that this commitment and responsibility entails.

Editorial note: TWH contributor Jaime Gironés wrote the segment on the bastón de mando indígena.

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Image credit: Navajohistory – CC BY-SA 4.0

NAVAJO NATION – Indigenous populations have been hit particularly hard with COVID-19, and this is especially true for the Navajo Nation in the U.S. southwest. To date out of a population of 173,000 there have been just under 29,000 recorded cases, and over 1,000 deaths.

Easy access to healthcare for many tribal members is just one of the obstacles to addressing the pandemic and slowing the spread. Multi-generational households, that are often situated far from towns and cities, and lack of access to sources of water continue to be contributing factors to the high percentage of infections and deaths.

Last week, Navajo Nation president, Jonathan Nez requested and received a disaster declaration from the Biden administration. Nez also requested an increase in the number of vaccines allocated to the Navajo Nation. The declaration will allow federal funds to be used to help the Navajo Nation to slow the spread, as well as administer more vaccines.

Nez’s request came just days after the former Navajo Nation president, Albert Hale, 70, died from COVID-19 on February 2. Hale, who was remembered as a “compassionate and visionary” guiding force of the tribe, and was only the second person to serve as president for the Navajo Nation, had continued to serve in public life despite the danger posed by the pandemic.

As of February 4, the Navajo Times reports that roughly 32.5% of tribal members have received their first shot of vaccine. The Navajo Nation plans to coordinate with FEMA, and seeks to get healthcare workers to administer the vaccine to tribal members that live outside the boundaries of tribal land.

In other news:

  • The new moon on February 11 marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year, though in China the new moon occurs on February 12 due to the time difference. 2021 as recognized in Chinese Astrology as the Metal year of the Ox. According to Susan Levitt, Chinese Astrology separates each year into five Taoist elements: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood. The element of Metal in Traditional Chinese Medicine relates to the lungs, and in Feng Shui translates to maintaining a clean and orderly environment. The year of the Ox offers “the ability to transform the negative challenges of the previous year (Rat 2020) into positive outcomes.”
  • Members of the Asatru Folk Assembly (AFA) that stirred controversy when they bought a building that once was the home of a Lutheran church in Murdock, Minnesota, were in the news again last week after they moved into another church building they purchased in the town of Linden, North Carolina. The building had housed the Parkers Grove Methodist Church for more than 145 years before closing in 2015.  According to a report by WRAL, some residents of the town were unconcerned by the AFA moving into town.  However, but others from Linden, like Reginald Bannerman said, “I am very concerned, being this close to a meeting place of a group that practices such things as what they believe in.” While the mayor of Linden, Frances Collier said she had received a number of calls from citizens, there was little the town could do about AFA moving in.
  • Queens Counsel, Claire Mitchell continues to seek a pardon, an official apology, and a memorial for the nearly 4,000 people who accused and executed for practicing “witchcraft” in Scotland between 1563 and 1736 under the Witchcraft Act. Mitchell has lodged a petition and formally asked Scottish Parliament to act. According to Scottish Legal News Mitchell said, “Not only is history not properly recording what positive things women do, but their history is also erased by not properly recording their story.” Approximately 85% of those accused were women. She is also quoted as saying, “I have a particular interest in Scottish legal history and the people who were caught up in accusations of witchcraft so I decided to start a campaign to restore these people, mostly women, to their correct place in history as women and men, not witches.”
  • In related news, Claire Mitchell, QC, via her organization Witches of Scotland, commissioned Scottish ‘warrior poet’, Len Pennie to create a poem In Memorium for those who suffered and died:

In “witch-hunt” news:

  • A 48-year-old woman, N Bujji of Gandhi Nagar Thanda, was murdered in the Nalgonda district, of the southern state of Telangana in India. Bujjii was on a bike with her husband and on their way to an event in the nearby Rangareddy district, when they were intercepted by a car driven by members of the Narsimha family. Occupants of the car got out and beat both Bujji and her husband before abducting her. They took her into the hills and killed her by strangling her with her the sari she was wearing. According to reports, Bujji’s family and members of the Narsimha family had some type of minor dispute late last year. Soon after one of the Narsimha sons was involved in an electrical accident on the Narsimha’s poultry farm that resulted in his death. The Narsimha’s believed that Bujji had used “witchcraft” to cause the accident and death. Seven people have been detained in connection with the murder of Bujji.
  • In Buni Kisimani in Kilifi in the country of Kenya, Dzuya Chisubi was brutally murdered by people who he believed he was guilty of practicing “witchcraft” a little over a year ago. His widow, Chirindo Chisubi, was questioned by police as to whether her husband was a “sorcerer.” Chirindo Chisubi has stated publicly that her husband’s murder had nothing to do with “witchcraft” but a dispute over land that he and his brother inherited. The brother and another man he hired to help him murder Dzuya Chisubi were both arrested and at least one confessed, though later would both deny they had anything to do the murder. Chisubi’s brother was eventually released since he never confessed to the crime. Brutal murders like Chisubi’s are sadly all too common in the region. Unlike in other African countries and parts of South East Asia, elderly men are more likely to be the target of such crimes. While the police have made at least 28 arrests in connection to similar cases of murder in the region, killings continue and many of the elderly who own property are fearful of being killed for their land.  Fred Abuga, the Rabai police commander said the result of their investigations all point to land disputes and greed as the primary cause of the killings in the area. “The root of all these issues has to do with land. You find that many elderly men own titles to the land. It is the younger people who are not involved in land matters, own no land, and have no decent means of earning their daily livelihoods who are involved in the crimes,” Abuga said.
  • Two men, Anord Sichilima, 49, and Demus Simpemba, 57, both of Mutono village in Mpulungu, Zambia were found burned to death on January 31. According to statements issued by police, the men were forcibly taken from the home of the village headman, Living Simpemba, where they had gone to seek refuge due to accusations that they were “wizards” who caused the death of another man in the village, Justice Musukuma, a month prior. Sichilima and Simpemba were taken to a nearby stream and set on fire with an accelerant. The police have stressed that anyone who was involved will be charged with the crime, but they are also asking for anyone who has knowledge of the crime to come forward.

Positively Noteworthy

In Chonburi, Thailand stray dogs that have lost the use of their hind legs have been outfitted with wheels by a shelter.

Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte

Deck: African American Tarot by Jamal R., artwork by Thomas Davis, published by Lo Scarabeo.

Card: Major arcana, III (3) The Empress – Mother

This week offers fertile ground for imagination and creative endeavors to take root for those who are willing to stay focused and do the work. Conversely, the potential for distraction and avoidance could manifest in destructive behaviors and “meddling in the affairs of others.”


Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone.