Pagan Community Notes: Week of October 25, 2021

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BUCKINGHAM, England – A new research project being undertaken seeks to explore and examine the experiences of Pagans who have served in the United Kingdom military.

The project is being conducted by Dr. Charmaine Sonnex, whose current research at the University of Buckingham is focused on exploring the relationship between religious belief, nature connectedness, and happiness.

Sonnex outlined the particulars and parameters of the survey:

Anyone who agrees will be fully informed of the aims and nature of the research, given an information sheet, and a consent form to complete. I will also provide contact details should participants want any further information.

Interviews will be recorded with the participant’s permission. Identities of the interview participants will be anonymised and where quotes are used, all identifying details will be removed or anonymised. Interview participants will be informed that they will not be asked to discuss anything they do not wish to.

Data from the interviews (e.g. recordings, transcripts and analysis etc) will be stored securely in compliance with GDPR. Participants will be shown a copy of the transcripts/analysis from their own interviews and asked to give feedback on its accuracy.

All participants will be given the opportunity to receive feedback on the findings of the study
Participants will be made aware that they can withdraw their data within one week from it being obtained, without specific reason, and their information will be destroyed.

Participating in research and surveys like Sonnex’s can help better define the Pagan and Witch communities and provide a more comprehensive view of the members who make up the diverse sphere of Paganism.

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GLASGOW, Scotland – The 26th Conference of Parties or COP26 is set to begin this Sunday, October 31st to discuss climate change and what still needs to be done to curb the effects. A number of world leaders from nations around the globe are expected to attend.

The Conference has been held every year or so since 1992 when various nations signed a treaty regarding the increase in greenhouse gases and the steps that need to be taken to prevent dangerous impacts to the climate and the planet.

COP26’s main goal is to get the nations that signed the Paris Agreement at COP21 six years ago to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by enough to prevent the heating of the planet by more than 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius). Climate scientists have warned that an increase in temperature of more than that would have a devastating effect for millions of people by causing polar ice to melt, leaving many places completely underwater; creating an even more volatile severe weather pattern, and ultimately severely impacting the world economy and food resources.

The plan to reduce emissions is multi-pronged and consists of increasing the use of renewable energy sources, speeding up the phasing out of coal-fueled power, slowing down and stopping deforestation, and bringing more electric vehicles online much more rapidly. All rather ambitious goals were designed to bring us to a net-zero increase by the mid-21st century.

Other goals include protecting vulnerable communities that are most likely to see heavy impacts of climate change first, and protecting and renewing endangered ecosystems. Some of the world’s most vulnerable populations are almost amongst the least wealthy and least able to strengthen their communities against natural disasters.

In order to take the steps needed to achieve these goals, nations will need to collectively contribute at least $100 billion each year, and trillions of dollars in financing will need to come from financial institutions for the private and public sectors.

According to the recent U.N. climate report, a major shift in the climate and weather patterns will affect everyone and everything on the planet eventually. If a severe disaster is to be averted to any meaningful degree, it will require all nations to work together which is another objective of COP26.

Some of the nations vital to the process of establishing policy and making progress will not be in attendance in person this year. Japan has its national elections on October 31, so it is unlikely that Fumio Kishida will attend. The Kremlin announced last week that Russian President Vladimir Putin would not attend either COP26 or the G-20 Summit scheduled to be held in Rome the same weekend.

Other leaders who have not RSVP’d are Xi Jinping of China, Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, and Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico. While over 100 nations and their leaders plan to attend, for some nations the ongoing pandemic has prevented them from traveling.

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TWH – Climate news has figured prominently this year and so it was little surprise that the changing climate was also a major focus of the Parliament of World Religions last week. While the climate crisis programming featured mainstream and well-known names like Jane Goodall, who delivered remarks during the opening ceremony, there were a number of members from the Pagan community who presented.

As reported by Religion News Service, Circle Sanctuary chaplain, Rev. Charlotte Bear presented on the impacts of climate change, specifically on women and girls in vulnerable communities.

“These usually marginalized voices need to be prioritized by intentionally putting them front and center at the solutions table to ensure their voices and wisdom are heard, understood and respected at all levels,” Bear said. “That’s what climate feminism suggests strongly for the 21st century.”

The power of events like the Parliament to bring together members of the diverse global faith communities may seem at first glance to be inconsequential, but often those in leadership in spiritual communities have the ability to influence opinion and effect change. They are also often on the front lines when comes to providing help and resources to those impacted by climate disasters.

In other news:

    • TWH contributor and columnist, Jaime Gironés will be featured on Circle Sanctuary’s blog talk broadcast, “Lunatic Mondays” to talk about his new book, Llewellyn’s Little Book of the Day of the Dead. The book was released this month by Llewellyn Publishing and is the 15th book to be released in the series. Lunatic Mondays, “where anything can happen!” is hosted by Laura Gonzalez and airs live tonight at 8 PM EDT, or downloaded as a podcast after the show airs.

    • A pair of hikers who found themselves in need of assistance were rescued by a group of young men who were Sikhs and used their turbans to create a rope and help the stranded hikers to safety. The rescued hikers were trapped near the extremely dangerous and fast rushing water of a river near the Lower Falls Trail at Golden Ears Provincial Park in Vancouver. The group of young men could not get a signal on their cellphones so they did the only thing they could think of — unwound their turbans and tie them together with other pieces of apparel to create a length of fabric rope to reach the stranded hikers. Kuljinder Singh told reporters, “In my Sikh culture, the turban is for that, to help save the life of people who need the help.” Singh said that while their Sikh community is very proud of them and others are calling them heroes, “In Sikh culture, you have to save their lives, it’s not a matter of (being a) hero.”

    • Circle Sanctuary is hosting several upcoming celebrations for Samhain. On Saturday, October 30, the group will host a virtual event, “Honoring our Ancestors, Virtual Samhain Festival,” that will feature working with Ancestors, and other seasonal-related content, as well as a Samhain ritual. The event runs from 2:00 – 6:30 PM (EDT). Circle is also hosting an in-person, “Samhain Day Sacred Journey Retreat” On Sunday, October 31, that requires advance registration.

    Positively Noteworthy

    Yesterday marked the beginning of the annual international Bat Week, a celebration that is designed to help promote conservation and increase awareness about the important role bats play in the health of our ecosphere.

    Bats make up almost 20 percent of the population of mammal species on the planet and span over 1400 different species of bats. Bats species are diverse and found in almost every ecosystem, ranging in size from the giant fruit bat known as the flying fox which has a wingspan that ranges from four to six feet to the tiny bumblebee bat with a wingspan of six to seven inches and weighing just two grams on average.

    The contributions of bats to the health of the planet are much larger than many realize. Bats eat a tremendous amount of insects each night–on average about half their weight. It is estimated by researchers that bats save U.S. farmers roughly $23 million a year in pest control.

    Fruit bats also play a vital role in reforesting areas of the rainforest that have been clear-cut for logging, farming, and other uses by depositing feeds from the fruit they have consumed. The seeds they drop can account for as much as 95% of new growth.

    The bats that feed on the nectar of flowering plants help with pollination and are key players when it comes to the cultivation of a variety of commercial products that include balsa wood, carob, cloves, and durian fruit.

    Currently, over 100 species of bats are considered endangered, with 23 of those species listed as critically endangered and facing imminent risk of extinction. Another 109 species are considered vulnerable, and 242 are listed as being “data deficient” an indicator for more conservation efforts and attention to their populations.


    Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte

    Deck: The Halloween Tarot, by Karin Lee, art by Kipling West, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

    Card: Major arcana (VII), The Chariot

    The week ahead is likely to feature issues that center on self-discipline, being in control, and questions of character. Potential for success and forward momentum is good for those ready and able to take charge.

    Conversely, failure to lead or denial of responsibilities can lead to unchecked growth, out-of-control movement, or stagnation.

    Decks generously provided by Asheville Pagan Supply.