DETROIT – While a Witch Ball is not uncommon in October, it is uncommon to find one dedicated to children. Members of Michigan’s Pagan community are doing just that. The Detroit Conjure Folk Magic Festival, together with the Michigan Witches Ball, will be hosting a Halloween party just for kids. Little Witches Ball Hocus-Pocus, as it is called, will be held in Roseville, Michigan, on October 12 at the American Legion East Detroit. Organizers write, “Merry meet, Little Witches and Pagans of all faiths, this is going to be a blast for the children this Halloween Season.” They also note that they will be serving soft drinks and pizza, and have music for the kids to enjoy.
TWH – The Troth announced Tuesday that Freya Aswynn, a longtime member and elder, violated its inclusiveness policies and was removed from the organization. In a public statement, the High Rede explains: “Aswynn was observed making remarks on social media which belie the spirit of inclusiveness the Troth strives to foster.” The board said that it tried to intervene privately but Aswynn’s posts allegedly continued with “increased islamaphobic rhetoric,” as described in statement, which is available on the Troth site. “The High Rede of the Troth must honor our oaths and condemn this behavior,” the board writes, “[We have] determined that our relationship with Freya as an elder is no longer appropriate, and we have rescinded her status as elder and have terminated her lifetime membership.” The decision has led to intense social media debates.
For three days beginning on July 13, Atlanta hosted Mystic South: Theory, Practice, and Play. According to the convention’s Facebook page, the Pagan event “highlights the Southern flair and mystic spirit of our own part of the country.”
Headliners this year included John Beckett, Ivo Dominguez, Yaya Nsasi Vence Guerra, Sangoma Oludoye, Mama Gina, and the Night Travelers. The conference schedule included rituals, workshops, papers, panels, presentations, and a live podcast. Several events centered on Norse material and Heathen religions. To get a sense of the conference from a Heathen perspective, I spoke with Ryan Denison of the Mystic South organizing committee.
TWH – Some people believe that religious beliefs necessarily transform people and eliminate bad qualities such as prejudice. However, prejudice forms one of the core beliefs of white supremacist Odinism. Mass incarceration has provided white supremacists a place to recruit alienated white prisoners, which has created a toxic mix. Recently, The Wild Hunt interviewed Rory Bowman about white supremacist Odinism in prison. Bowman is the chaplain liaison for Heathen Prison In-Reach Services of the Troth, an international organization that promotes inclusivist Heathen traditions, or those that do not endorse such prejudice or similar beliefs. What is white supremacist Odinism?
The Ásatrú religion can offer new perspectives on climate change ethics via examination of the modern practice of historically grounded ritual known as blót – a rite that foregrounds reciprocity with the earth, inherent value in the natural world, transtemporal human relationships, global connectedness, and the consequences of human action. In addition to discussing Ásatrú textual sources and examples of ritual, this column offers a new ethical model for responding to issues of climate change. Ásatrú is a religion with a life that already relates to reality in a way that addresses major issues raised by climate change ethicists. Practitioners are both certain and competent in a life-practice that directly engages relationships within the transtemporal human community and with the wider world. Through study of lore and celebration of ritual, the practice of Ásatrú reinforces understanding of reciprocal relationships with the natural world, inherent value of living things, connections to past and future peoples, interrelatedness of all human actors, and consequences of human actions.