PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti. – The Port-au-Prince-based Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights has warned that the increasing gang violence in Haiti is resulting in the national religious sector being targeted. Current estimates suggest that up to 80% of Port-au-Prince is under gang control. While the violence, including kidnappings and attacks, initially affected the Christian community serving the people of Haiti, the violence has now spread such that practitioners of Vodou are targets.
The Vodou temple in the Martissant district in the southwestern corner of Port-au-Prince on the edge of Carrefour was recently attacked. The area fell under gang control in late 2021. The temple space offered shelter for worshippers, homeless individuals, and those suffering from covid-19.
“What we are observing today in terms of attacks on [the] religious is unprecedented,” said Laënnec Hurbon, a Haitian sociologist who studies religion in the Caribbean, in an interview with The Washington Post. “There’s a desacralization of almost everything in Haiti. Everything that could bind the society … is nonexistent.”
Last month, reports from Canaan, a suburb of Croix-des-Bouquets and Thomazeau in northern Port-au-Prince said that gangs attacked worshipers participating in a Vodou ceremony.
“This space was so important to me,” Erol Josué, a houngan, or Vodou priest, told The Washington Post. “The gang members lost their humanity. Nothing is important to them anymore. … The sacred spaces are no longer important.”
Recently, an armed civilian vigilante movement called Operation “Bwa Kale,” Haitian Creole for “peeled wood” has emerged and gained popularity, leading to more extra-judicial forms of justice including killings. The group is in response to the continuing severity of the insecurity in Port-au-Prince.
This is a developing story and The Wild Hunt will provide updates as they are available.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – On Monday, May 18, Dr. Maud Mandel, president of Williams College, circulated a message to the campus community stating that “Just after Saturday midnight a Campus Safety officer, responding to a report, found that the Haystack Monument in Mission Park had been defaced with spray-painted graffiti. The graffiti included an obscenity along with the words and phrases ‘Pagan Rule,’ ‘Blood,’ ‘Ouch,’ and ‘Hail Satan.’” She requested assistance from anyone with information to report it to the local authorities.
The Haystack Monument, also known as the Haystack Prayer Monument, is a significant landmark that commemorates a historic event in the history of American Protestant missions. It symbolizes the birth of the modern foreign missions movement in North America. The monument is located in Williamstown, Massachusetts, on the grounds of Williams College.
The history of the Haystack Monument dates back to 1806 when a group of five Williams College students, Samuel Mills, James Richards, Francis Robbins, Harvey Loomis, and Byram Green, sought refuge from a sudden thunderstorm in a haystack near the college campus. As they huddled together, they engaged in an intense discussion about the spiritual state of the world and the need for Christian evangelism beyond American borders. The granite monument is intended as a remembrance of those students’ dedication to spreading the Christian faith globally and their impact on the development of American foreign missions.
The students’ work ultimately led to the creation of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) in 1812, an organization that worked on Christianizing Indigenous people, particularly in North America and Hawaii, but also had notable evangelical missions to Africa and China. The organization ultimately merged into the Congregationalist movement and became part of the United Church of Christ by the 1950s ultimately as the United Board for World Ministries in 1981.
The vandalism is being treated as a “bias-motivated incident” according to the Williamstown Police Department.
Disney has announced the development of Hocus Pocus 3 following the success of last year’s release and in time for the original film’s 30th anniversary.
The new film will continue to star Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker as the famous trio of fictional Salem witches. Sean Bailey, President of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production, confirmed the news in an interview with The New York Times.
Midler has previously hoped for the third Hocus Pocus. “I don’t know. I’m envious of other actors who have franchises, and I was hoping for a sequel to First Wives Club, but we never got that,” Midler said in an interview with EW last year. “After 30 years with no sequel to Hocus Pocus, I’ve always been envious of people who get to do their favorite character more than once. The fact that we got to do this finally, after 30 years of promoting the idea, I’m glad we got to do it. I’d love to have a franchise — especially a character I love playing.”
“If there was a third one, of course I’d sign on, but I don’t know how. I can’t imagine what the story would be, but I love Winifred, Sarah, Mary, and our relationship. It’s good for women. We stick together through hell and high water, but we do cause mayhem, and not many women cause that much mayhem!” Midler continued.
While not originally successful at the box office, Hocus Pocus and the Sanderson Sisters have achieved cult status among Disney fans. The Nielsen rating service said that the release of Hocus Pocus 2 witnessed 2.7 billion minutes of viewing from September 26 to October 2 last year.
The Earth-based Spirituality Action Team (ESBAT) is for anyone who keeps the sacred Earth at the center of their practice. We see action on climate change as an urgent moral imperative. We aim to reach out to our global communities and recruit volunteers for the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. We recognize and honor the spiritual nature of climate work.
The monthly meeting of the Earth-based Spirituality Action Team will take place on Monday, June 12th at 8:00 PM Eastern Time (5 PM Pacific) via Zoom. The next month will feature Rev. Debbie Philp, an inter-spiritual minister, a Shamanic Reiki Master Teacher, and a state-licensed wildlife rehabilitator who specializes in injured freshwater turtles. Her ceremonies and teachings are centered on spiritual ecology and reflect her commitment to deep interconnection with the Earth’s wild beings.
You can find out more about Debbie’s non-profit, Dancing Turtle Rescue on their website. You can also locate a nearby wildlife rehabilitator via US – Animal Help Now.
Information about ESBAT is available on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. The meeting will be hosted on Zoom and facilitated by a member of our Action Team. Additional information is available on the ESBAT sites above.
- Summer Magick Fest has an updated schedule of events for its second year of the event, coming up June 8-11, 2023. Jason Mankey has been added to the list of headliners which also includes Yeshe Matthews of the Mt Shasta Goddess Temple, Stacey Williams-Ng creator of the Southern Gothic Oracle, Coby Michael author of The Poison Path Herbal, and This Old Witch podcasters, Alexander Cabot and Melas Karan. Musical guests include Alexian and S. J. Tucker. Registration is still open and rooms are available in the Doubletree Orlando Airport conference hotel. Information about Summer Magick Fest and registration is available on their website.
- Circle Sanctuary announced that registration for Pagan Spirit Gathering is now open. The annual event includes a variety of vendors, workshops, music, and rituals.
- GATHER IS AN ANNUAL EVENT HOSTED BY HOUSE KHEPERU from June 23 – 25, 2023 in Cleveland, Ohio. After hiatus from being in person for a few years due to the state of the world, House Kheperu’s Annual Gather is returning to an in-person event this year, which a twist – It is going to be a hybrid in-person AND online event! Part of our mission is to bring together diverse voices to discuss energy work, spirituality, psychic development, and personal growth. We promote understanding and tolerance to strengthen our communities. We have weathered the pandemic and have learned valuable lessons when it comes to accessibility for our community. House Kheperu’s Gather for 2023 is back and better than ever! We have a new home at the Four Points by Sheraton Cleveland Airport hotel and a range of tickets with exclusive perks and access than ever before. HK has worked hard to make this celebratory return to in-person the best Gather yet and we look forward to seeing you there! Can’t make it to Gather this year? Don’t worry! House Kheperu is proud to announce our first-ever hybrid event! Virtual tickets are now available. Get access to some of our Saturday classes, live from Cleveland, OH. Virtual ticket holders also get exclusive classes, including a ritual by our founder, M. Belanger! House Kheperu strives to broaden accessibility to our events to help our community. There will also be “Tea With Kheprians”; a first-time-ever event where folks can join members of House Kheperu for a casual evening before the fun and business of Gather begins on Friday! Those with questions can join their open Discord. The team writes: “We invite you to join us and experience Gather!”
- The fifth annual Mystic South Conference (MSC) will be held in Atlanta, Georgia, and will take place on July 14-16, 2023. The conference notes that it is a magickal event with a Southern flair. It is “filled with workshops, educational abstract presentations, rituals, community building, and much more.” Conference registration is now available as it is hotel registration. In addition, the MSC is accepting applications for volunteers who will be offered a discount on registration. Details about volunteer registration are available in the MSC volunteer section. Cherry Hill Seminary (CHS) has also announced it would be holding its Summer Intensive at Mystic South Conference. More details can be found on the CHS website.
- Editorial Note: Several members of the MSC team are writers for The Wild Hunt. They were not involved in this week’s Pagan Community Notes of these mentions.
- The Texas Local Council of Covenant of the Goddess announced that they will be hosting Merry Meet.