Pagan Community Notes: Week of August 1, 2022

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TWH – Today marks the first of the three harvest festivals in the Northern Hemisphere, celebrated as Lughnasadh, the feast of the Irish sun god, Lugh. Some refer to it as Lammas, the Christian name for the festival that is a contraction of the phrase ‘loaf mass’ celebrating the first harvest of grains.

Lughnasadh mark the halfway point and hold the liminal space between Summer Solstice and the Autumnal Equinox. Celebrations often center on the the bounty of grains, fruits and vegetables so prevalent during late summer. Freshly baked loaves of bread and other baked goods are generally included in ritual as reflection of gratitude for a bountiful harvest.

In the Southern Hemisphere, Imbolc is being celebrated as the wheel turns from Winter and begins the journey towards Spring.

This year, celestial activity adds an extra layer of potential complexity to celebrations. An astrological event deemed as rare, the conjunction of Mars, Uranus, and the North Node of the Moon occurring in Taurus is exact today.

It often said that when Uranus is in the mix “to expect the unexpected” adding Mars, the planet of action, and the North Node all in Taurus and the stage is set for some possibly earth-shattering shifts and changes.

Astrologer Jonathan Louis Dent summed up the potential impact of the conjunction in a thread on Twitter yesterday.

Astrologer Sam Belyea said in a post on Instagram yesterday, “As we move through the Mars/Uranus/North Node conjunction, it’s important to keep in mind that we are initiating a global refocusing.”

In the same post, he went on to say, “At 2:23pm today, Uranus conjoins the North Node in Taurus. Everything that we thought to be stable is up for debate. Uranus is the planet of unpredictability, natural disasters (in Taurus, think earthquakes), and lightning strikes of inspiration conjoining the ecliptic point that indicates our future trajectory. This transit actively disrupts our outdated path forward.”

Today, Belyea highlighted the challenges of the aspect in his daily post,

Day Two of changing the future. The Moon in Virgo was busy overnight mending the upheaval, helping to repave our idea of where our lives are going and how. Three trines occurred via the Moon to Mars (1:34am EST), the North Node (2:21am), and Uranus (2:28am), all in Taurus.

There is a problem if we try to put a newly uprooted life in a box. Yes, boundaries and barriers during upheaval can feel comforting and safe, but this is an impressionable time and we might conform to the comfort, instead of designing something more uniquely ourselves. Still, Mars is blazing ahead and helping to keep things moving by conjoining the North Node at 1:55pm.

Our vision for the future is still being brought to a boil today. We are also trying to eliminate the variables that would confuse, bring sleep, or distraction due to the Moon opposing Retrograde Neptune in Pisces at 2:50pm. Still, Mars continues the Hero’s Journey and conjoins Uranus in Taurus at 7:31pm to complete the conjunction and the active phase of this change. From there, we enter the cleanup and hopefully imprint on our memory how getting stuck in a rut is both helpful and hurtful.

The influence of this celestial trifecta has been building for several months and it seems particularly noteworthy that it is exact on a Pagan holiday that is centered around gratitude and harvests.

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TWH – Today the Women’s Task Force of the Parliament of the World’s Religions released a statement today condemning the majority ruling of the Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization which resulted in the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

Phyllis Curott, Wiccan priestess, and Trustee for the Parliament of the World’s Religions, and Chair of the Women’s Task Force, read the statement in a post to her Instagram account.

Image via Instagram

 

The full statement:

The Women’s Task Force of the Parliament of the World’s Religions condemns the majority ruling of the United States Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturning the constitutional freedom guaranteed to women under Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

The Women’s Task Force recognizes the global impact of this decision and stands resolutely with women and girls in this intolerable loss of freedom. We affirm that the dignity and human rights of women and girls begin with their bodily autonomy and their right to reproductive control and healthcare.

The Declaration for the Dignity and Human Rights of Women, unanimously adopted by the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 2015, states that: “Institutions in which women are given little or no voice impose constraints on women’s basic freedoms to control their own bodies…

This opinion is shared by the dissenting minority opinion drafted by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan: “Whatever the exact scope of the coming laws, one result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens….With sorrow—for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection—we dissent.” (Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Decision, 2022).

The effect of Dobbs is the imposition by the government of the beliefs of some religious groups on all those who do not share these beliefs, including members of other faiths. We agree with the Parliament’s July 3rd, 2022 statement on Dobbs that: “Among the world’s religions and also within individual traditions there are a wide range of views on when personhood begins and no general consensus exists.” Nor is there agreement within the scientific community as to when life begins.

The Parliament’s signature document The Declaration Towards a Global Ethic(1993) supports religious freedom, stating that: “guarantees of freedom of conscience and religion are necessary” and opposes the domination of one religion over another, while strongly holding that the world’s religions share “a common set of core values” including “the equal dignity and human rights of men and women.

Dobbs directly affects women who are no longer free to live in accord with their own traditional religious teachings and long-held moral values, including a fundamental, sacred principle held by religious and spiritual traditions that honor women’s sanctity and sovereignty over their own bodies.

As the Parliament’s Declaration for the Dignity and Human Rights of Women states: “…women continue to suffer disproportionately from …their systematic exclusion from decision-making within religious and other institutions that determine the quality of their lives… shameful violations of women’s dignity and human rights are based on the false premise that men and boys are superior to women and girls, an outdated view perpetuated by too many religious leaders and adherents who choose to misinterpret or use carefully selected scriptures, texts, and teachings to proclaim the inferiority of women and girls. These harmful and religiously justified beliefs permeate societies and contribute to the pervasive deprivations and abuse suffered by women and girls throughout the world.

As the Elders, esteemed Nobel Laureates, have advised: “The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable.

Under Dobbs, women, girls and people who can become pregnant, their bodies, and their reproductive choices will now be legislated by state laws reflecting patriarchal religious constituencies, regardless of women’s moral or religious beliefs. The cruel, dehumanizing and deadly impact of Dobbs on women’s health and well-being is already being experienced – by a 10 year old victim of rape and the doctor who provided her medical care, by women who are miscarrying, experiencing atopic pregnancies and other health issues, and by physicians.

We must mobilize to protect women and healthcare institutions in our communities. We must stand with religious communities affected by these restrictions. We must defend freedom and human rights for women and for all, in America and across the globe.

We call upon all religious leaders and adherents to embrace their moral responsibility and collectively commit to ensuring that women are fully and equally involved in decision-making within religions and in every sphere that involves their lives.

We call upon the world’s religions to honor and uphold the dignity, well-being, and human rights of women and girls.


Jinkx Monsoon, who practices Witchcraft as a philosophy, was crowned the winner of Ru Paul’s “All Stars 7” last week.


Announcements:

  • Last month it was announced that Professor Ronald Hutton had accepted the role of Patron with the Doreen Valiente Foundation. Professor Hutton, a noted English historian, has published a number of books on pre-Christian religion and Contemporary Paganism that are of particular interest to Pagans, like Triumph of the Moon (1999). He also serves as a Trustee of English Heritage. Formed in March 2011 as a charitable trust, the Doreen Valiente Foundation was established “to protect artefacts which are important to the past, present and future of pagan religions” and “to make the artefacts available for education and research.” Founder John Belham-Payne, Valiente’s last high priest, was the recipient of all of Valiente’s magical artifacts and donated them to the Foundation upon its creation.

In other news:

    • Last August TWH reported that teacher, middle school teacher, Carrie LaPierre had brought Elizabeth Johnson’s name to the attention of Massachusetts State Senator, Diana DiZoglio (D) as a result of her North Andover Middle School civics class students conducting the research into the history of Elizabeth Johnson Jr.’s conviction and discovering the fact that she had never had her charged reversed. Rep. DiZoglio introduced S.B. 1016 before the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, a bill that would add Johnson’s name to the list of dozens of people who were accused and convicted of practicing “witchcraft” in the state in 1692-1693. Those people listed as being convicted of practicing “witchcraft” had already been exonerated and had their charges reversed in three separate actions that dated to 1711, 1957, and 2001. And yet, Johnson’s charges were never reversed. That is until last week. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a budget bill that included an exoneration for Johnson last Thursday. And it was all put in motion by a history research project done by eighth graders.

  • Last month the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) officially designated the Monarch Butterfly as endangered. According to Scott Hoffman Black, Executive Director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, the populations of Monarchs in the west have seen over a 95% decline in overwintering sites in California, and in the east somewhere between 70% and 80% decline in numbers. While the endangered status issued by the IUCN will not directly affect U.S. policy regarding Monarch butterflies, it will help to raise awareness and hopefully inspire actions by both individuals and communities that can help insure not only the butterfly’s continued survival but all of the other animals and insects that share the same ecosystem. Public awareness and pressure can also lead to a shift in policy by local and federal governments.


Crossings of the Veil

Diana Lyncoiya Johnson – October 29, 1957 – July 21, 2022

Diana Johnson was a lifelong resident of Nashville, Tennessee, who lost her battle with cancer last month. While Johnson worked in many different jobs throughout her life, she had a passion for community building.

For many years one of her passions was serving on the kitchen staff for the Pagan Unity Festival. She was dedicated to contributing in any way she could to help the festival be a success each year. Even as her health began to decline she still managed to attend and contribute by volunteering.

She possessed a sharp wit and wicked sense of humor that was balanced by her big heart and generous spirit.

Johnson also had a great love for all animals and nature, but especially a love for the furry members of her family.

For anyone looking to her honor her memory, donations in her name can be made to Pawster of Nashville or the ASPCA.

What is remembered, Lives!



Positively Noteworthy

Officially declared extinct in 1941, a small herd of Wood Bison (Bison bison athabascae) also sometimes referred to as mountain bison, was discovered in Alberta, Canada in 1957. This discovery would eventually lead to a partnership between Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) and the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) and the beginning of the Wood Bison restoration program in 2003.

The goal of the program was to return this distinct subspecies of American bison to their native range in Central Alaska. The AWCC started with just 13 yearling Wood Bison transferred from Canada in 2006, and then in 2008, 60 more Wood Bison were brought to the center from Elk Island National Park in Alberta, Canada.

The Wood Bison is North America’s largest mammal. Until being hunted to near extinction, the Wood Bison was an integral part of the landscape, as well as being a major cultural and survival component for the Indigenous peoples of the region. Their loss had a significant and negative impact on Indigenous and First Nation communities in both Alaska and Canada.

By 2015 the first release of 130 bison back into the wild was made Shageluk’s Innoko Valley, 100 years after their last ancestors vanished from the area. An additional 28 bison were released just last week. As the number of Wood Bison in the breed program continues to increase, more releases of them back into the wild will be conducted.



Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte

Deck: Minoan Tarot, by Laura Perry, published Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.

Card: Eight (8) of Rhytons (Represents water/Cups)

The week ahead is likely to reflect the uncertainty and exhaustion of having let go of something that no longer served. The passage of time will help with recovery and assurance of having made the correct choice.

Conversely, the onus of accountability for hasty or ill-advised decisions lies with the decision-maker, and not the responsibility of others.

Decks generously provided by Asheville Pagan Supply.


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