Pagan Community Notes: Week of June 28, 2021

Cowessess First Nation Seal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Canada – Last Thursday, Cowessess Chief Cadmus Delorme made announced the discovery of 751 unmarked burial sites on land that now belongs to the Cowessess First Nation but was originally the site of the Marieval Indian Residential School.

The Marieval Indian Residential School located roughly 140 kilometers (87 miles) from the city of Regina, operated for nearly 100 years – from 1899 to 1997. Indigenous children from the regions of southwestern Manitoba and southeastern Saskatchewan, as well as other parts of the country, were sent to the school.

While the school buildings have since been demolished, the church, the cemetery, and the rectory still remain. The Cowessess First Nation acquired the land from the Catholic church in 1970.  Last month, the Nation began using ground-penetrating radar to examine the cemetery.

This latest discovery comes on the heels of the announcement four weeks ago by the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc First Nation regarding the find of the remains of 215 children at the Kamloops residential school which were also buried in unmarked graves.

Chief Cadmus Delorme of the Cowessess First Nation said in a press conference, “This is not a mass gravesite. These are unmarked graves.”

He said that it was unclear if there were previously markers for the graves, or if the Catholic church had possibly removed them in the 1960s.

Delorme also pointed out that it is equally unclear whether the unmarked graves hold the remains of children or adults, and that some of the remains could be those of people who attended the church or were from nearby communities.

The size of the search area consisted of 44,000 square meters (52,624 square feet or nearly 11 acres), and while the team from Saskatchewan Polytechnic who conducted the search received 751 “hits” of possible remains, there is no way to tell if each “hit” consists of just one set of remains. Also, the process of using ground-penetrating radar has an error rate of between 10% and 15%.

Delorme also said that the community would be treating the site like a “crime scene.” The community’s intent and desire is to see a name put to each person found on the site. He also hopes to eventually install a memorial on the site bearing the names of everyone who can be identified.

Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Chief Bobby Cameron said Thursday that what happened was a “crime against humanity.”

As part of a prepared statement Cameron said:

“There will be hundreds more unmarked graves and burial sites located across our First Nations land at the sites of former Indian Residential Schools.”

“There are thousands of families across our Treaty territories that have been waiting for their children to come home. Saskatchewan had the highest number of residential schools and highest number of survivors.”

Cameron also stated that the FSIN intends to get every residential school site searched for unmarked burials and to identify any remains found.

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BRITISH COLUMBIA, Canada – Several Catholic churches have been set on fire since the first announcement about the Kamloop unmarked graves.

The first two church burnings came just a couple of weeks ago after the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc First Nation announced their findings. The Sacred Heart Church, which was located on First Nation land was set ablaze on June 21, which was also National Indigenous Day in Canada.

Just about two hours later, St. Gregory’s Church on the Osoyoos Indian Band reserve was also reported as being on fire. Both churches were over 100 years old and constructed primarily of wood.

Yesterday, Native News Online reported that two more Catholic churches, St. Ann’s Church and Chopaka Church, were set on fire.

Chief Keith Crow of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band said the Chopaka Church which was on Lower Similkameen land, said the building was completely engulfed within 10 minutes.

Chief Crow said, “There is a lot of anger here now against the Catholic church. There is a lot of blame for what happened to the children.”

He also pointed out the community impact of the fire, “The church burning is devastating to our community. Some of our members attended church. Memories were made at the church. There have been weddings in the good times and funerals held there in the bad times. Whoever did it should know it was just wrong.”

While authorities are investigating all of the fires and treating them as suspicious and possible arson cases, they have as of yet made no arrests.

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PHILADELPHIA – The Troth announced the new members of the Rede on June 27.

Ky Greene will be joining the governing board for the organization. Robert L. Schreiwer will be returning as Steer (President & CEO), and Carl Bonebright will be accepting the position of Associate Steer (Vice-President).The new members will join Thomas De Mayo, Lauren Crow, Prior Lokason, Eric Kendron and Ethan Stark who are already serving on the Rede.

The Troth also announced Mary Antonelli as the winner of the Wayne Morris Volunteer of the Year award for 2021.

The Troth said that “The Wayne Morris Volunteer of the Year Award was created by the High Rede of The Troth in 2017 to honor long-time Troth volunteer Wayne Morris. Eligible candidates will have served in a volunteer role for The Troth for more than one year in any position other than Rede, Executive Officer, or Volunteer Coordinator.”

The press release went on to say, “Mary [Antonelli] has held the position of Reckoner for The Troth and in doing so has gone above in beyond in a number of ways that aren’t always visible on the public front but without, the organization would not be able to function. Due to her assistance, skill and service in this position the Rede has chosen to honor Mary with this year’s award.


Crossings of the Veil

via Facebook

 George Knowles – July 24, 1954 – June 25, 2021

The crossing of George Knowles, aka The Man in Black’s death, was announced over the weekend. Knowles is perhaps best known for his site, and the Email Witches Yahoo group, which later also branched out with a private Facebook group, Email Witches.

Born in Oldham, Lancashire, into an unstable family situation, Knowles ended up in residential care along with his half-brother Stephen for most of his formative years but was separated from two of his other siblings in the process. In 2010, he was able to reestablish contact with sister Linda and brother Philip.

In 1974, he joined the Army, and the Regimental Band of the 14th/20th King’s Hussars as a musician playing Cornet, Trumpet, and Euphonium. The majority of the time he served he was stationed in Germany and toured all over Europe and even several trips to Canada with the band. He left the service in 1985 and prospered until the recession hit in 1993.

During the 1993 recession, Knowles lost much of his personal wealth keeping only a few belongings, and his best friend, a dog named Ben, that he traveled about, living in a tent.  But the experience also ignited his interest in magical practices was ignited.

Knowles stated in a 2013 interview with Christopher Blackwell that while he always had an interest in magic, and especially folklore, it was not until the early 1990s that he first began to explore Freemasonry and then eventually in the late 1990s began examining Paganism and Witchcraft.

His exploration of Paganism and Witchcraft led Knowles to create his famous website, Controverscial. Of the site and its incorrect spelling Knowles said, “Religion down through the ages has always caused controversy, and no less so in this day and age, so it seemed like an appropriate name. You will notice the incorrect spelling, well that is no mistake, quite simply somebody was already using the correct spelling, so I added the letter ‘c’ after the ‘s’ to make it sound a like.”

Knowles identified as a solitary and eclectic practitioner, but did not necessarily consider himself a Witch, though he freely admitted to using some of the elements of the Craft that he felt benefitted his “beliefs and personal circumstances.”

His creation of a safe digital place for Pagans and those who were Pagan-friendly or merely curious to discuss topics of a magical nature had an impact on the growing number of people joining the ranks of Paganism worldwide.

Knowles was well-respected and much-loved within the community, as is evidenced by any number of public posts that recounted wonderful conversations with him, his kindness, and his eagerness to follow the trail of wisdom – which he believed was “only gained through trial, error and experience.”

What is remembered, Lives!

In other news:

    • Three men have been arrested in Thessaloniki, Greece in connection with the attempted illegal sale of a rare Roman-era statue of the Greek goddess Hecate, and dates to the second or third century C.E. The statue of Hecate recovered is composed of marble and depicts the Goddess in tri-form with three similar figures standing back to back and facing outward in three separate directions. According to Michalis Tiverios, emeritus professor of classical archaeology at Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University, statues done in this style were often used at crossroads and to mark boundaries. It measures roughly 33 centimeters (13 inches) in height, 16 centimeters (six inches) in width, and weighs about 10 kilograms (22 pounds). Two 56-year-old men were taken into custody after a month-long negotiation when they attempted to sell the statue for €40,000 (about $48,000) to a buyer who was an undercover police officer. Also arrested was a 35-year-old farmer who discovered the statue on his property and allegedly gave it to the two men to sell. The men are scheduled to appear before a magistrate tomorrow, and face charges of illicit trade in antiquities.

    • In other Native American news, it was announced by the U.S. Department of the Interior that over 18,000 acres of land, known as the National Bison Range, would be restored and returned to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) of Montana. Congress had already signed off on the transfer late last year, on Dec 27. The National Bison Range was established in 1908 in an attempt to preserve the American Bison which had been nearly hunted to extinction, and one of the first wildlife preservation attempts within the U.S. The land also already was within the CSKT tribal boundaries.

    • Late-night host, James Corden has found himself in the middle of a controversy over a neolithic stone structure, the Mont de la Ville dolmen, that is on the estate he owns in Wokingham Borough near  Berkshire. The structure, also known as the Druid’s Temple was originally moved to the property from St. Helier, Jersey in 1788 and given as a gift by Jersey to Field Marshall Henry Seymour Conway for helping to construct towers on the island to protect against French invasion. Corden recently purchased the property which includes the 3,000 sq ft Templecombe House, a two-bedroom gate lodge, a summerhouse, staff lodgings, and a tennis court that are all set within a “parkland splendour” according to brochures. Jersey officials have yet to directly contact Corden and his wife, and even if they agreed to give the Mont de la Ville dolmen back, the Wokingham Borough Council would have to approve the matter and likely oversee the removal and transport of the stones.

    • This morning the U.S. Supreme Court declined, without comment, to hear a case on whether schools must allow students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identities. The case in question focused on Gavin Grimm, a transgender boy in Virginia who has been fighting for the right to use the bathroom of the gender he identifies with. Today’s action by the court is seen as a big win for transgender activists since lower courts have ruled in Grimm’s favor.

    Positively Noteworthy

    As the Pacific Northwest continues to see record temperatures, these bears are chillin’ out with frozen treats.

    Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte

    Deck: Starman Tarot, by Davide & Esther De Angelis, published by Lo Scarabeo.

    Card: Two of Swords

    The week ahead may seem dizzying with the number of options presented, but distilled down will likely present a very definite fork in the road, as it were. A heart-centered decision may offer the best eventual outcome.

    Conversely, the potential of an overwhelming number of possible choices can lead to confusion and a lack of discernment, which can result in following a familiar path that leads to repeating past failures.

    Decks generously provided by Asheville Pagan Supply.

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