Pagan Community Notes: Week of February 6, 2023

EDINBURGH, Scotland – The Museum of Magic, Fortune-telling & Witchcraft is set to open on February 18 at 19:30 (GMT) with a special event that will feature an opening ceremony featuring a special guest that has yet to be revealed. The evening event will also feature “talks and performances, art displays, and free entry to the museum space. Light refreshments will be available for all.”

The opening event was limited to 30 attendees and tickets sold out in a matter of hours of being available. However, anyone who is a member of the museum’s Patreon account will be able to view the event live online.

The museum will be the first of its kind, combining the three elements of fortune-telling, magic, and Witchcraft.

Museum founder, Ash Mills, said in an interview, “[Scotland] was one of the countries within Europe that witnessed persecutions in mass numbers during the 17th-century witch craze. Often it was their magical specialists once known as wise men and women, or ‘Spae-folks’ [fortune tellers] that would be caught up in the witch trials. After over three hundred years later, both the Scottish Parliament and the Church of Scotland made apologies for those executed for being witches.”

Mills studied Scottish Ethnology and history at Edinburgh University and has penned several books that include, The Black Book of Isobel Gowdie: And other Scottish Spells & Charms, and The Visions of the Spaewife: The History and Practice of Fortune-telling, and Modern Practitioners in Scotland & The Spaewife’s Book.

The museum will have a number of artifacts on display that include a 200-year-old mummified cat that was extracted from a house in France and was part of a rather gruesome protection charm where the live cat was allegedly sealed within the walls of the home.

The museum also acquired a 19th-century ram horn that has been mounted in an archway as protection for the building and all of the items housed within it.

Another item that will be on display is a book on Witchcraft and divination that was published in 1662. The museum will also host a variety of events that according to Edinburgh Live will include “tarot readings, magic-themed gifts, and witchcraft-related foods and drinks.”

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A depiction of Yemaya on an altar – Image credit: Toluaye – Public Domain 

SALVADOR, Brazil – As Black History month kicked off in the U.S., two women who head the Museum of Afro-Brazilian Culture (MUNCAB) in Salvador, Brazil are working towards reversing the whitewashing of the Yoruba orisha of Iemanjá. Despite the origin of Iemanjá being Nigeria, she is routinely depicted as being light-skinned or white.

Every February 2, a festival honoring Iemanjá takes place, celebrating the orisha as a deity of the sea and motherhood, who is one of the most recognized and worshipped within the country. The celebration dates to 1923 when several men in the fishermen’s colony of Rio Vermelho, began making offerings to Iemanjá for bountiful fishing harvests. Over the ensuing decades, the celebration gained more popularity.

This year marked the 100th anniversary of Iemanjá Day which while celebrated across Brazil, the city of Salvador draws over a million people each year. Cintia Maria and her work partner, Jamile Coelho, oversaw the creation of a Black Iemanjá sculpture by artist Rodrigo Siqueira and through MUNCAB, and gifted it to the colony of Rio Vermelho where the main altar to Iemanjá is set for the celebration.

As a result of the dominance of the Catholic church under the Portuguese colonization of Brazil, traditional West African religious practices were banned. When West African Traditional religious practices became more open, the most common depictions of Iemanjá in Brazil continued to reflect a more European countenance said the artists.

Maria and Coelho hope that providing a publicly accessible image of orisha that is Black and correctly reflects her African origin may be the first step in helping to shift the depictions away from the more common and Eurocentric versions so prevalent in Brazil today.

“The fact that Iemanjá is Black should be redundant. But the cruelty of racism makes people question it,” Maria says. “When people start accepting that an African goddess is Black, we will have taken a big step toward racial equality.”


  • A call for abstracts to be published in the Theology, Religion, and Popular Culture book series on the subjects of “Theology, Religion, and Dungeons & Dragons.” but not limited to, the topics below for a volume on the intersections of academic disciplines of theology, religious studies, and the creative world of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). The deadline for submissions is February 15.

  • Mystic South Conference has issued a “Call For Papers for 2023.” The annual event is held in Atlanta, Georgia, and will take place on July 14-16, 2023. Mystic South is a polytheistic conference and the call is for papers of a polytheistic spiritual nature. Blocks of the allotted time for those submissions that are accepted will be one hour. Presenters receive free access to the entire conference in exchange for their presentation of their paper. Papers may be either written and read or read and audio/visual in format. Those interested can submit a 400 +/- word abstract via the event’s website, deadline for submitting abstracts is February 28, 2023. The event states, “This is a perfect place for those that are not used to presenting academic papers; such as students, junior faculty, or those that are looking for tenure or promotion credits.” Questions pertaining to papers may be emailed to the Papers Coordinator, Gypsey Elaine Teague.

  • The Journal of Academic Freedom is seeking original articles that investigate the links between landscapes of social power and the historical development and contemporary status of academic freedom for its 2023 issue. From The Journal, “We invite consideration of how academic freedom serves as a touchstone for democracy and the ways that the death of academic freedom signals the atrophy of more inclusive and democratized landscapes of power. What is the relationship between democratic societies and the flourishing of academia and academic freedom within them? What kind of society would powerful forces working against academia and academic freedom usher forth if they had their way?” The deadline for submissions is March 20.

Upcoming Events:

  • ConVocation Logo

    After a multi-year absence from the pandemic precautions, ConVocation 2023 will take place on February 23 through February 26 in Detroit, Michigan. The four-day event which was started in 1995, will offer over 100 classes and rituals, a merchant room, an art show, and what the event identifies as “the largest indoor drum circle in the Midwest.” The theme for 2023 is “Finding our Balance, Maintaining our Center.” This year’s guests of honor include Jason Mankey, Tess Whitehurst, Mary K. Greer, and Oberon Zell, with featured presenters: Clifford Hartleigh Low, Elizabeth Hazel, Ivo Dominguez, Jr., Diana Rajchel, Baba Teddy, and Lady Kate.

  • Earth-based Spirituality Action Team (ESBAT) will hold its next meeting on February 13, 2023, from 5:00 pm – 5:30 pm (PDT). The meeting will feature John Beckett presenting, “Animism: A Foundation for Connecting to Nature.” A description of the presentation: “Unlike what some of us were taught in school, animism is not a ‘primitive religion.’ It’s a worldview: a way of understanding the universe, our place in it, and how we can relate to it all.” Beckett is a Druid in the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD), a member of Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF), a member of the Denton Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans, and a former Vice President of CUUPS Continental. He’s been writing, speaking, teaching, and leading public rituals since 2003. His books The Path of Paganism (2017) and Paganism In Depth (2019) are published by Llewellyn Worldwide. The meeting will be held via Zoom.

  • An online presentation titled, “Dion Fortune’s Literary Initiations” given by Dr. Georgia van Raalte, on Tuesday, February 7 at 3:00 – 4:30 pm (EST) will “explore the fictional and magical work of Dion Fortune (1890-1946), one of the most prolific British occult authors of the interwar period.” The lecture will be based on van Raalte’s doctoral research and will focus on “Fortune’s radical initiatory project in the context of interwar Britain. Highlighting Fortune’s innovative use of literary eroticism, this talk will reveal the ways that Fortune’s occult novels both describe changes in consciousness and have the potential to cause them in the reader, through their skillful weaving of polarity, desire, and the imaginal world. This talk will further show the potent influence Fortune’s work has had upon modern occultism, interrogating the connections between fiction-based religion, fantasy, and the rise of witchcraft in the contemporary occultural moment.” The cost for the event is £5-10 and is sponsored by The Last Tuesday Society & The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities.

  • On Saturday, February 25, in Athens, Greece, the Falliforias parade will be held for the first time since 2019 and the pandemic forced many events to be postponed or canceled. The event boasts that this year will offer “even more fun, new events, and plenty of wine from the grapes of Dionysus! Come and celebrate the coming of spring together, dance and sing together in the Fallis procession!” The parade is scheduled to begin at 18:30 (local time) at the entrance to the Acropolis Museum.

  • Circle Sanctuary announced last week that registration for Pagan Spirit Gathering is now open. The annual event includes a variety of vendors, workshops, music, and rituals.

In other news:

  • A massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake and the powerful aftershocks that followed have left at least 3,400 people dead and caused the collapse of over 2,800 buildings in the region. The quake hit at 4:17 a.m. (local time) this morning in Turkey’s Gaziantep province, impacting southeastern Turkey and northern Syria. The numbers of those who have been killed is expected to rise, and the weather conditions have made rescue efforts more complicated. In addition to the tragic loss of life, the quake has also caused irreparable damage to a 2,000-year-old castle. The quake caused parts of Gaziantep Castle to entirely collapse. The castle dates back to the Hittite empire and was considered a major military outpost until it was captured by the Ottoman empire in 1516. While it was no longer used for military purposes it has significant cultural and historical value and was more recently housed the Gaziantep Defense and Heroism Panoramic Museum. Şirvani Mosque, which is nearby and dates to the 17th century also incurred major damage to its dome and eastern wall of the nearby.

  • Two building firms, Tarmac and Lightwater Holdings have donated the Thornborough Henges complex, which lies near Ripon, to Historic England. The site of the henges dates to around 3500 to 2500 BCE and consists of three 656ft (200m) wide circular earthworks. Historic England chief executive Duncan Wilson said the henges were probably the most important single ancient site between Stonehenge and the Orkney Islands in Scotland. “They are a link to our ancient ancestors, through thousands of years, inspiring a sense of wonder and mystery,” Wilson said. “We are thrilled to have acquired this highly significant site for the nation, ensuring these magnificent monuments are safe and will be preserved for generations to come.” According to Historic England, the archaeological finds in the area suggest that the henges were probably built as ceremonial or ritual centers, but also may also have served as places to trade goods and as well as meeting places. There is also evidence that the area henges may have been covered in a mineral called gypsum, which would have caused the sites to glow white and would have been visible for miles around. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, whose constituency includes the site, said he welcomed its “safeguarding and preservation for the nation. Comparatively few people are aware of its significance – both locally and nationally. I hope many more will come to appreciate this little-known gem of our history and while doing so provide a welcome boost to the local visitor economy.”

Positively Noteworthy

Between February 1 and 2, the Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) made its closest pass to the earth – within roughly 42 million kilometers (26 million miles). Nicknamed “the green comet” in the media, NASA estimates the comet has not visited our solar system in over 50,000 years. Its green color is a result of gases contained within the comet being vaporized as the comet passed near the sun and was affected by the heat.

According to NASA, “Comet ZTF has a distinctive shape. The now bright comet visiting the inner Solar System has been showing not only a common dust tail, ion tail, and green gas coma, but also an uncommonly distinctive anti-tail. The anti-tail does not actually lead the comet — it is just that the head of the comet is seen superposed on part of the fanned-out and trailing dust tail.”

Astronomers and amateur stargazers alike in the northern hemisphere turned out to try to view the comet last week. In the coming weeks, it will be visible from the southern hemisphere before continues its journey and leaves the view of the earth.

Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte

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

Card: Ace (1) of Wands (Omunborombonga – Tree of Life – Nambia)

This week may offer opportunities and inspiration for new beginnings. A sparking of the inner fires of creation could lead to new projects, and the potential for confirmation of how viable an idea or project might be.

Conversely, not all ideas are good ones! Researching proposed plans and projects, and proceeding with patience and restraint is advised.

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