Witchcraft in India: A Conversation with Ipsita Roy Chakraverti

When reporting on witchcraft in India, journalists must invariably tell the tragic tale of accusations, persecution and extreme violence. However, there is another side to the practice of Witchcraft, more specifically Wicca, in the country. While most of the victims of witchcraft-related crimes are not actual practitioners, there are Witches and Wiccans thriving in India’s unique and rich culture. The Wild Hunt spoke with Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, arguably India’s most well-known and public Witch. She answered questions about her own journey and about living in a society that struggles with real witchcraft violence.

Updates: Florida Freemasonry, Papua New Guinea, and India’s Wiccan Brigade

Here are some updates on previously reported stories here at The Wild Hunt. Florida Freemasons Reverse Anti-Pagan Edict: On November 28th, 2012, Jorge L. Aladro, Grand Master of Florida’s Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, issued a ruling stating that Paganism, Wicca, Odinism, and Gnosticism were not compatible with Freemasonry. Further, any Freemason who “professes to be a member of one of the groups mentioned above shall tender his resignation or suffer himself to a Trial Commission whose final outcome will be expulsion since there is no provision to allow anything contrary to the Ancient Landmarks.” This ruling caused quite a bit of consternation among both Pagans and Freemasons, two communities that have long and interlocking histories. Now, Christopher L. Hodapp at the Freemasons For Dummies blog reports that the edict has been overturned. “The passed resolution reverses the Ruling in its entirety, and concludes by affirming ‘that Florida Masonry hereby declares its eternal devotion to the religious toleration that is one of the immovable and Ancient Landmarks of Freemasonry, never to be changed by any man or group of men.’ The Jurisprudence Committee had recommended rejection.” As one commenter aptly put it: “I am very proud of my brethren in Florida for defending religious tolerance and having the courage to undo a mistake that did damage to our fraternity.”

Witch-Hunts, Moral Panics, and Modern Pagans

In North America and the UK the “Satanic” moral panics of the 1980s and 1990s are seen as an unfortunate rement of the recent past. A time when fear of secret “occult” and “Satanic” forces led innocent men and women to be accused of, and sometimes imprisoned for, imagined ghastly crimes against children. Sadly, these panics are not a remnant of the past, they continue to flare up across the world, and now that modern Pagan religions are truly global in scope, we are increasingly involved in, or endangered by, these panics. In South Africa, a country with a small but thriving Pagan community, religious organizations and government education officials are teaming up to combat “the growing problem of Satanism and occult practices.” Quote: “The MEC also said that Satanism and occultism were being dealt with “when they arise and get reported.” The department said the MoU will also help in tackling issues such as school discipline, teenage pregnancy and spiritual disturbances including Satanism at schools.” This comes after the death of Keamogetswe Sefularo, who allegedly was killed in a “Satanist” attack. 
Witch-hunts and witch-killings have been an ongoing issue in parts of India, and Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, India’s most famous Wiccan adherent, believes the religion can be a beneficial influence in these cases. Chakraverti also believes that Wicca can have an affect on the treatment of women in India, especially after a violent gang-rape that gained international attention. Quote: “The Delhi gang-rape was a turning point.

Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up. A barbershop in Massachusetts has been closed down after city inspectors found a Palo Mayombe altar and six chickens (one dead) in the basement of the establishment. Health officials have shut down the business due to unsanitary conditions in the basement. The owner claims he never did sacrifice in the basement of his business and that the animals were only there temporarily while he moved.

Using a Wiccan to Call a Bluff and other Pagan News of Note

Top Story: In Marion, Illinois, the city council is weighing the decision of whether to allow a local group to erect a Ten Commandments monument on the city’s Town Square. Enter atheist activist Rob Sherman, who says he’ll bring a lawsuit against the city if they erect the Ten Commandments monument without also allowing a display by a local Wiccan. “If a Ten Commandments monument is placed on Marion’s Tower Square, resident Robert Donelson wants equal access to share the views of his Wiccan religion … “If Christians are going to have their viewpoint up here, let them at least put up ours,” he said. Donelson, who said he has been a Wiccan for five or six years, was introduced at the news conference by Rob Sherman, the atheist from northern Illinois who has warned city leaders they could be in for a legal battle if the Ten Commandments go up on public property …