Last year at this time I wrote about being inside an ancient burial mound in Ireland for Winter Solstice. If anything, this essay is the shadow of that essay.
I write it for the obscured, the displaced, and the massacred at Wounded Knee, and elsewhere, as well as all the other First Nations people whose lives and sacred sites are not honoured by Americans, Pagan or otherwise. And this is also for Anthony. Mound and Mountain Laid Low
I woke into world the bastard child of a slaughtering Empire. I woke into world in an old Shawnee town, but I am not Shawnee, and the town is their ghost.
Heathen Robert Rudachyk has announced his candidacy for Canada’s Liberal Party of Saskatchewon. Rudachyk ran in 2014 and, in an interview with The Wild Hunt, talked about his goals and his work as an openly Heathen candidate. He said, “If I am able to become the candidate, I intend to run my campaign on the issues facing all Canadians, not on my faith. I will never hide who I am, but I will also not whip my hammer out in public and shove it into people’s faces.” This year, Rudachyk is running “to be elected as a Member of the Legislative Assembly ( MLA) for this seat or district as you might call it. It is for the provincial government of Saskatchewan It is essentially the provincial parliament.” The campaign was just announced, and we will have more from Rudachyk in the weeks to come.
If there was a dominant theme to the 2014 Sacred Space Conference in Laurel, Maryland, it would be Appalachian folk magic, and the teachers from that culture who have emerged within our community. Featured presenter Orion Foxwood, author of “The Candle and the Crossroads: A Book of Appalachian Conjure and Southern Root-Work” spoke to packed rooms that seemed reluctant for their experience with the charismatic teacher to end. Likewise, Byron Ballard, author of “Staubs and Ditchwater: a Friendly and Useful Introduction to Hillfolks’ Hoodoo” gave a rollicking overview of “the joy of hex” to a standing-room only crowd. So, it stands to reason that a panel featuring Foxwood, Ballard, and Linda Ours Rago, author of “Blackberry Cove Herbal: Healing With Common Herbs in the Appalachian Wise-Woman Tradition” (among other works) would come to seem like the capstone of the entire weekend. Moderated by Michael G. Smith, an Elder in The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, the resulting experience was one filled to the brim with stories, laughter, more stories, explanations of differences in geographic terminology for similar folk-magic practices, even more stories, and emotional evocations of their land and culture.
The Appalachian Mountains conjure up images of rustic living, long-distance hiking and banjos. The range formed back in the Paleozoic Era and now stretches from Newfoundland, Canada to Alabama. Wandering through its rough terrain is the famous 2,174 mile Appalachian Trail. Throughout time humans have been nurtured by these mountains, developing vibrant cultures within their shadows. While the northern Appalachian culture has lost much of its unique regional flavor, the communities nestled in the Blue Ridge and Smokey Mountains of southern Appalachia have clung to their rural roots. These areas are far more isolated and distant from growing urban centers.