CHIANG MAI, Thailand — From the early 1600s to the mid-1800s, living African slaves would sometimes be thrown overboard from slave ships sailing the Middle Passage, as the transatlantic voyage of the slave trade was called. If the slave ships faced water shortages or any kidnapped Africans came down with a disease, slaves could be tossed overboard, sometimes chained together en masse. “So many bodies of dead or dying Africans were jettisoned into the ocean that sharks regularly followed the slave ships on their westward journey,” according to that encyclopedia entry. In the new film The Water Will Carry Us Home by multidisciplinary artist Gabrielle Tesfaye, those ships are followed by a very different entity: Yemaya, the Yoruba orisha of the sea and the mother of all life. “There are many stories within African spirituality of water spirits following the slave ships, Mami Wata, the presence of Yemaya,” Tesfaye said in an email interview from her home in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans and Heathens out there, more than our team can write about in depth in any given week. Therefore, the Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up.
Today marks the birthday of Doreen Valiente, who is largely considered to be the mother of modern Witchcraft and Wicca. Valiente was born in London in 1922, and eventually found her way into Witchcraft. Much of the written work used today in Gardnerian practice was written by Valiente. Upon her death in 1999, Valiente left her legacy to the care of John Belham Payne.
Welcome to the other side of the solstice: light is waning but abundant, still at its strongest and letting us stare deep and long into the world and into ourselves. This solstice is the triumph of life to its fullest, heralding the certainty of harvest in a moment of lavish light. In my family’s traditions, midsummer meant a bonfire: the Bonfires of St. John. But not just a fire anywhere, a bonfire at the beach.
Today has been declared World Goddess Day. As described by the organizers, it is a day for all Goddess-worshiping people worldwide to come together and openly celebrate or pay tribute to the Goddess in all her forms. The website says, “The purpose of the Project is [to] grant to the Goddess one day of visibility to share Her many myths, stories and worship diversity.” The World Goddess Day project was founded by Brazilian author Claudiney Prieto, who has written a number of popular books on Wicca and Witchcraft. Prieto is a priest of the Dianic Nemorensis tradition in Brazil and was recently acknowledged by Z. Budapest for his spiritual work within that tradition. As he writes on the project’s website:
Nowdays, in a staggered society impaired by centuries of patriarchy, heteronormativity and sexism, the Goddess is considered by many people the only way to reunite ourselves with the true Self, with our most inner Self.