TWH – Now that the season has turned and we are nearing the end of the 2016, we look back, one last time, to review this extraordinary year. What happened? What didn’t happen? What events shaped our thoughts and guided our actions? In our collective worlds, both big and small, what were the major discussions?
ONTARIO – On the evening of Sunday, Oct. 16, Ontario’s Pagan community lost a much-loved and cherished friend. Carole Kitchenwitch, a force of nature and energetic volunteer at festivals, died peacefully at her home with her family and partner Mike by her side. Carole had served on the kitchen staff at Wic-Can Fest for about 25 years. She will be fondly remembered for heartily encouraging all those who attended the dining hall to bless the meals by shouting, “Thank the gods for food!” This custom has now become part of the fabric of the festival.
ABERDEEN, Scotland — A recent archaeological dig at a church in Scotland has helped bring the public perception of Witches and the history of their persecution into sharp focus. A team of scientists in Aberdeen uncovered up to 2,000 bodies and a cache of medieval archives showing that the Kirk of St Nicholas Uniting was used in the 1500s as a “Witches’ prison.”
One relic that has gripped the imagination of the public is an iron ring mounted on one of the walls (pictured below). It is believed to be where the accused were kept before going to trial. This, along with the rest of the finds, are a result of a 10-year project at the church, known locally as Mither Kirk, which is Scottish dialect for Mother Church. St Nicholas Uniting is the name of the Mother Church and Administrative Head Church of the city. Through this find, on one level, a very vivid image of the persecution of Witches has emerged. The records that were unearthed demonstrate that details of the witch trials were painstakingly recorded by Church officials. Archivist Martin Hall said that those tried for witchcraft were “very frequently accused of healing diseases, usually using unusual methods”.
Over the week, there have been online rumblings that the American Council of Witches is trying, once again, to form. A Facebook page was opened on Sept. 11 and has remained fairly quiet until the past two months. And, it wasn’t until two weeks ago that the page began to receive significant attention, both for and against the council. The American Council of Witches (ACOW) was originally created in 1973 by an eclectic group of practitioners, many of whom are no longer living.
It was announced last week that blues musician and activist JD Taylor has died. Taylor was known to the Bay Area Pagan community, performing at the Berkeley Pagan Festival, PantheaCon, and Elderflower. Although she wasn’t Pagan herself, Taylor was heavily involved in regional “women’s and LGBT activist communities.” As noted by the Bay Area Reporter, “some would remember Ms. Taylor as the small woman who was the subject of a photo showing her being beaten by a very large SFPD officer during the Castro Sweep police retaliation in the Castro on October 6, 1989.” Taylor was born in New Jersey in 1946, moving to San Francisco in 1975.