Posted by The Reader



Official Author Website
Pre-order the book HERE

OFFICIAL BLURB: Step into The City of Brass, the spellbinding debut from S. A. Chakraborty—an imaginative alchemy of The Golem and the Jinni, The Grace of Kings, and Uprooted, in which the future of a magical Middle Eastern kingdom rests in the hands of a clever and defiant young con artist with miraculous healing gifts.

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of eighteenth-century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles and a reliable way to survive.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to question all she believes. For the warrior tells her an extraordinary tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling birds of prey are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass—a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In Daevabad, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. A young prince dreams of rebellion. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say to be careful what you wish for . . .

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: It’s time to polish that special lamp gathering webs in the attic, put a fine edge on your bladed weaponry, remind yourself of ancient tribal insults and outrages, dust off that list of wishes that is around here somewhere and vacuum your magic carpet. You are about to be transported.

(“The Magic Carpet” (detail), 1880, by Apollinary Mikhaylovich Vasnetsov © State Art Museum, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia/Bridgeman Art Library)

Nahri, our Aladdin here, is a twenty-year-old thief and con artist, working marks in 18th Century French-occupied Cairo. She has a gift for discerning medical maladies and another for treating them. She is adept at languages and at parting the unwary from their money. When she is called in to help deal with a 12-year-old girl who is possessed, she rolls her eyes and opts to have a bit of fun trotting out an old spell that has never worked before. The difference here is that she tries it in a language she seems to have known forever, but which no one else has ever heard. Turns out the girl really was possessed, by a particularly nasty entity, and turns out that Nahri’s little experiment summoned a very scary djinn. In a flash, the evil possessor spirit and a large number of its dead minions are on her like decay on a corpse. Thankfully, the djinn is there to save the day, with extreme prejudice. This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.


The frustrated pursuers have made Cairo a no-go zone for Nahri, so she and the djinn, Dara (which is a small portion of his entire name) head for the place where people of his sort reside, the world capital of the magical races, Daevabad, the Brass City of the title.

To call Dara a hottie would be a bit of an understatement. Handsome? For sure. Incredibly powerful? Fierce in battle? Be afraid, be very afraid. Able to leap tall minarets in a single flying carpet? You betcha. As if that were not enough, he is literally a creature of fire, and emits actual smoke. You never had a friend like him.


Cairo may present imminent threats of death, but Daevabad is no prize either. Ancient tribal hatreds are kept at bay by a strong, and ruthless ruler. King Ghassan ibn Khader al Qahtani must contend not only with inter-tribal tensions, he must cope with a growing insurgency. (Think sundry Middle East rulers with tribally diverse populations.) There are many who feel that laws favoring purebloods are unjust, and want those of mixed Djinn-human blood, shafit, (think mudbloods) to be treated fairly. One of those happens to be the king’s number two son. Ali is a very devout young (18) man. As second in line, he is destined to help his older brother, Muntadhir, rule, as, basically, the head of security.

He is extremely adept at sword-fighting and has gained a good reputation among the other student-warriors at the Citadel, a military training school (not in South Carolina) where he has been living and training for some years. Dad would not be pleased were he to learn that junior was giving money to an organization that purports to offer civilian-only aid to shafit, but is also rumored to be involved in a more military form of activity. (Think Hamas). Revolutionary tensions are on the rise, palace intrigues as well, as trust is something one could only wish for. One key question is where Nahri really came from, who is she, really? It matters. And what happened to the ancient tribe that was chosen by Suleiman himself to rule, way back when.

There are magic rings, flaming swords, strange beings of diverse sorts, plots, battles, large scale and small, plenty of awful ways to die, without that being done too graphically. And there is even a bit of interpersonal attraction. Did I mention Dara being smokin’? There is also some romantic tension between Nahri and Ali. Add in a nifty core bit of history centered on Suleiman.

"One of the great strengths of City of Brass is the lode of historical knowledge the author brings to bear. It actually started not as a novel, but as sort of a passion project/exercise in world-building that I never intended to show a soul! I’m a big history buff and with The City of Brass I wanted to recreate some of the stunning worlds I’d read about while also exploring traditional beliefs about djinn. A bit contrary to Western lore, djinn are said to be intelligent beings similar to humans, created from smokeless fire and living unseen in our midst—a fascinating, albeit slightly frightening concept, this idea of creatures living silently among us, dispassionately watching the rise and fall of our various civilizations." - from the Twinning for Books interview

(Mahamoti Djinn - Magic:The Gathering)

Chakraborty, our Sheherezade here, fills us in on much of the history of how the djinn came to build their human-parallel world, offering not just what is, but how what isarose from what was:

"There’s a djinn version of Baghdad’s great library, filled with the ancient books humans have lost alongside powerful texts of magic; they battle with weapons from Achaemenid Persia (enhanced by fire of course); the medical traditions of famed scholars like Ibn Sina have been adapted to treat magical maladies; dancers conjure flowers while singing Mughal love songs; a court system based on the Zanzibar Sultanate deals justice to merchants who bewitch their competitors… not to mention a cityscape featuring everything from ziggurats and pyramids to minarets and stupas." - from the Twinning for Books interview

There are a lot of names to remember, words to learn, tribes to keep straight, and allegiances to keep track of. I found myself wishing there was a list somewhere that helped keep it all straight, and “Poof!” there it appeared at the back of the book, a glossary, rich with useful information. It could have been a bit larger though. I would have liked for it to include a list of the djinn tribes, with information about each, their geographical bases, proclivities, languages, you know, stuff. The information can be found in the book itself, but it would have been nice to have had a handy short reference.

CONCLUSION: The City of Brass is both very smart and very entertaining. The richness of the world we see here gives added heft to a wonderful story. The world Chakraborty has created hums with humanity, well, whatever the djinn equivalent might be for humanity (djinnity?). You will smell the incense, want to keep a damp cloth at hand to wipe the dust and sand from your face, and a cool drink nearby to help with the heat. It probably wouldn’t hurt to post a lookout in case someone decides to try spiking your drink or inserting a long blade into your back. This is a wonderful, engaging, and fun read. It will not take you a thousand and one nights to read, but you might prefer that it did. The only wish you will need when you finish reading The City of Brass is for Volume 2 of this trilogy, The Kingdom of Copper, to appear, NOW!!!

NOTE: This review was originally posted over here by Will Byrnes.

Posted by Dana Bolger

Happy solar eclipse from all of us at Feministing! 

After two decades, Phoenix’s infamous outdoor jail (which its supporters dubbed a “concentration camp”) is finally closing.

Calling white supremacists “Nazis” erases U.S.’s particular history of violence.

Also, a guide for journalists on how to write about white supremacists.

You probably didn’t learn it in school, but many women’s suffrage leaders left out Black women.

In honor of the 30th anniversary of Dirty Dancing, the scoop on the back-alley abortion scene that almost didn’t make it into the movie.

The LA Times Editorial Board tells Betsy DeVos to keep her hands off Title IX.

Posted by Barbara Sostaita

College turned me into an activist.

It’s not that I was unaware of or unaffected by social issues before then — quite the opposite, actually. As a poor, undocumented brown girl, for me the personal was always political (and vice versa). But in college, I met a community of women who taught me to translate my anger and frustrations into tangible action. My comrades showed me that college isn’t just about sitting in lectures or cramming for exams — it’s about learning to advocate for yourself, about recognizing oppression in its many forms. It’s about taking the theories we learn in the classroom and, as bell hooks argues, using it to advance feminist movements and liberatory struggles.

Here are four key struggles that are alive and well in schools right now.

Anti-racism. It’s no coincidence that last week’s “Unite the Right” rally took place on UVA’s campus. U.S. college campuses are wrapped up in histories of enslavement, legacies of violence, and struggles for racial justice. Many of our country’s oldest and most elite universities were built on the labor of enslaved persons and relied on a slave economy to function. Many colleges were named after slaveholders and although some universities have renamed buildings in recent years (see Yale University and Calhoun College), they continue to perpetuate racism and embolden white supremacy through their policies, actions, and underlying structures. Racism on college campuses doesn’t just look like Nazis marching with tiki torches; it’s also professors of color performing “invisible labor” and failing to get tenure and students of color experiencing racial microagressions that affect our emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing.

Sexual violence. Every female college student I know has either experienced sexual violence on campus herself or knows someone who has. In fact, a 2015 study reported that 23% of women report experiencing sexual assault in college. And, as Reina has written about before, when we look at who is most vulnerable, the numbers get even more depressing: queer college women, for instance, are almost twice as likely as their straight counterparts to experience intimate partner violence. International and undocumented students face additional immigration considerations when seeking justice. The civil rights law Title IX sets the floor for what universities must do under the law, but there’s no doubt that they can and should do more to prevent violence and support survivors. Check out Feministing fave, Know Your IX, to learn your rights. And don’t miss Know Your IX’s rad campus organizing toolkit!

Sanctuary campuses. Following 45’s election, students, faculty, and staff across the country called for the establishment of sanctuary campuses to protect immigrant students from an administration that vowed to rescind DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and escalate immigration enforcement. While there is no universal definition of “sanctuary,” college activists have called for variations of the following: prohibiting ICE officers from entering campus without a warrant, guaranteeing student privacy by refusing to release the immigration status of students and community members, providing tuition support (including in-state tuition rates) to students with DACA status, investing in resources to train undocuallies, and providing confidential and free legal support to noncitizen students. Some activists are calling for a more intersectional approach to sanctuary, arguing that all vulnerable students — including Black, Muslim, queer, and female students — must be protected. Considering that DACA could be taken away any day now, the need for sanctuary schools is more urgent than ever.

Worker’s rights. This spring, members of Yale’s newly-formed graduate workers union participated in a hunger strike to protest Yale’s refusal to engage in collective bargaining with them. Later that semester, 23 graduate teachers at Yale were arrested after they took to the streets to demand the administration address the sexual harassment they face as workers on campus. Across the country, graduate students are organizing for fair working conditions and labor protections — even in a Right-to-Work state like North Carolina, graduate student workers are unionizing to denounce unfair treatment and demand better treatment. As The Nation explains, there are 33 officially recognized graduate student unions in the U.S. and 23 are fighting for university recognition. And as Meghna argued earlier this year, “graduate students unions are linked to more support for students, better pay, less exploitative policies, and more power in the hands of students as opposed to administrators.”

Finally, this work isn’t just happening on college campuses! Middle and high school students are doing some of the raddest organizing around. Check out high school students staging walkouts against Trump and fighting sexual harassment at school.

So, what should you do?

First, it’s important that you know you already possess skills and talents that you need to join the fight. Over the years, I’ve met people who tell me they want to get involved but feel they have nothing to contribute. They were wrong. Successful movements require communities of people with different skill sets, interests, and passions. We need artists, teachers, writers, note-takers, social media and digital strategists, and so on. Plug into existing efforts on your campus; I promise you have something to offer.

Get creative. Activism doesn’t always look like taking to the streets, participating in a walk-out or a march, or hosting a protest. Sometimes, activism looks like practicing self-care or squad-care; it takes form through digital technologies that save lives or t-shirts that make bold statements. Activism takes shape in the ways we care and look out for each other, in our everyday practices and relational politics. Check out Know Your IX’s student organizing toolkit, which — while substantively focused on sexual violence — covers the nuts and bolts a campaigner on any issue needs to know about building a team, planning a campaign, and talking to the media.

Know that you don’t have to work alone. To borrow from Audre Lorde, remember that “there is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” Keep in mind that there are probably other organizations and networks of people who want to work with you. Partner with those groups on campus and build coalitions based on common concerns and shared interests.

Always center directly-affected folks in your activism. These people should be the ones doing the talking and setting the agenda. Allies, learn to listen and pass the mic.

Lastly, treating people right is a politics, too. I’ve met one too many “woke” organizers who get the ideas and issues but wound people through their actions. That’s not to say anger has no place in social movements — it does — but let’s be guided by love and care for one another, too. As we start a new school year, let’s root our activism in our commitment to building a better world.

Header image via Jade Jackman.

Posted by The Wild Hunt

BOSTON — The weekend’s scheduled “Free Speech Rally” was overshadowed by thousands of counter-protesters. According to reports, there were only a “few dozen” rally attendees, who were eventually escorted out of the area to the sound of the crowd cheering. The event’s organizers have claimed that the rally was not related to the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, but protesters were unconvinced and showed up in force.

Among the crowds were a number of people from the Pagan community. Specifically, members of the EarthSpirit Community, which is based in Massachusetts, were on hand with their own signs. Posting live, one member wrote, “Lots of passionate people on the Boston Common today. We are glad to be among them.”

Moira Ashleigh documented the march in photos, which are all posted on EarthSpirit’s Facebook page. After the rally attendees left, EarthSpirit members reported that “the counter-protest has become a celebration and ‘love-fest’ of 30,000. Gratitude to those who represented our community in Boston today and those of you acting elsewhere to demand justice for All Beings of the Earth. ”

There are reportedly a number of white nationalist rallies planned throughout the country over the coming month, including New York, Berkeley, San Francisco and beyond. With that will come more counter-protests and similar actions.

 *    *    *

ORLANDO — In a not completely unrelated story coming out of Florida, Augustus Sol Invictus, who was one of the “Unite the Right” organizers, has announced that he will make another run for the U.S. Senate in that state. This time around, he is running as a Republican. In 2015, Invictus ran for Senate as a Libertarian and lost. However, in July, Invictus left the party, which he has reportedly claimed is an “organization devoted to losing.”

Invictus has since joined the Republican party and, in an August video announcement, said that he will be making another run for the U.S. Senate from Florida. In that speech, he says that “new leadership is needed,” and he promises to “restore the republic […] if God wills it.” Along with organizing rallies, Invictus is also the publisher and founder of the Revolutionary Conservative, a reported member of the Proud Boys, and does identify as a practicing Pagan. He is also currently on the SPLC watch list.

The next U.S. Senate election in Florida will be held in November 2018.

 *    *    *

A solar eclipse occurs in the U.S. today. Pagans, Heathens, and polytheists around the country are preparing to witness this rare and spectacular event. In some cases, people will be engaging in rituals, spell work, and meditations.

As astrologer Diotima Mantineia told The Wild Hunt, “We’ll have plenty of inspiration to work with, but some of us may get carried away with enthusiasm — or anger. Both are very much in the air.” Mantineia sees fire and transformation. She offered, “it will help to keep in mind that sometimes, when you’re in the middle of a transformative event, things can get pretty scary.”

For those that are not able to get outside to experience the astronomical event, NASA will be live broadcasting beginning at noon EDT with a “pre-game” show followed by a second program that “will cover the path of totality the eclipse will take across the United States, from Oregon to South Carolina.”

In other news:

  • Many Pagan, Heathen, and polytheist organizations have published reactions and statements with regard to the violent events that occurred in Charlottesville. The Troth is no different. However, the organization also produced a video titled Inclusive Heathenry. After images and music demonstrating what happened in Virginia. a title card says that witnessing the weekend’s events “can leave anyone feeling helpless or alone. Especially those in the Heathen community. Seeing our symbols used for hate.” The video then goes on to showcase the Troth’s community, its people, its mission statements, and its work.
  • Solar Cross Temple is hosting an eclipse ritual event titled “A (Re)Statement of Faith” as presented by Jacki Chuculate. The ritual, as written, can be performed anywhere and is meant to be done in coordination with the eclipse, but can be done in the surrounding days. Chuculate writes as part of the ritual, “As the eclipse grows and peaks, we notice all the ways and means in which our essential work has been challenged. How we as people and people of the work have been challenged, depleted, struggled, and face a world and realms that are literally and figuratively, toxic.”
  • Sarah Kate Istra Winter, also known as Dver, has just released a new book. It is titled A City is a Labyrinth: a walking guide for urban animists. Winter writes in a blog post, “After many years of exploring my city on foot, visiting all the numinous places and finding spirits in every corner, performing rituals in urban environments, and using walking as a means of trance-induction, I decided to collect all my experience and ideas in a little (4×6 inches) pocket guide.”
  • CalderaFest Pagan music festival tickets will be subject to an eclipse sale. The announcement reads, “get your general admission tickets for $50 off Aug. 20-27.” CalderaFest, which was first held in May 2016, is a three-day camping event dedicated to Pagan music. Due to the weather, organizers moved the event to the fall. CalderaFest’s second year will be kicked off during October in the mountains of north Georgia.
  • Priestess Starr Ravenhawk has announced the lineup for 2018 WitchsFest USA. New for next summer’s event will be Queen Mother Imakhu, Elizabeth Ruth, Sharon Day, Austin Shippey, Gregg Sicarri, and Kenya Coviak. Returning presenters include Rev. Donald Lewis, Christopher Penczak, Lady Rhea, Rhonda Choudry, Lilith Dorsey and Krystal Madison. WitchsFest is held mid-July in New York City’s west village.

Posted by Sejal Singh

Hey Fox News — street harassment, and behavior like it, is neither “chivalry” nor “just a  compliment.”

Right-wing media is losing its collective shit this week because actor and feminist Ashley Judd spoke out about a sexist incident at the airport. Last week, Judd posted a Facebook live video from the airport, sharing an experience of what she calls “everyday sexism.” As she was going through security, Judd explained, an airport employee touched her unnecessarily — after she had already told him off for calling her “sweetheart.” Sure sounds a lot like sexist street harassment to me.

It’s the kind of demeaning, sexualized interaction that women face every day, when strangers feel free to shout at us and touch us simply because we exist in an airport or on the street. As Judd pointed out, incidents like this are so routine that it’s “easy not to speak up, particularly when it’s so easy for someone to say, oh, ‘I was just being polite.'” She shared the video to call attention to precisely this kind of normalized sexism.

Then she got on her plane — and right-wing media discovered her video. Anti-feminist media personalities were quick to jump on her, mock her, and trot out all the age-old defenses for gross sexist behavior. On Fox, right-wing radio personality Dana Loesch hit the “dismissing street harassment” trifecta, claiming: it’s a “compliment,” “chivalry is under attack by third-wave feminism,” and “there’s no sexism here… if she thinks she has it hard she should ask women in Saudi Arabia.” (A reminder: Loesch is best known for starring in that terrifying NRA ad urging viewers to buy guns to defend white supremacy).

Feminists have been refuting this garbage since the dawn of time, but apparently, it’s not sinking in for Loesch and friends. So for the folks in the back: Harassment is not a compliment. It’s not chivalrous. A total stranger walking up to you, touching your body, and calling you a romantic nickname, is not a compliment — it’s a belittling experience that reminds women that we’re often seen as sexual objects first, and people second. Wanna be chivalrous? Treat us with respect, not like we’re lesser beings you can talk down to. And don’t act like you’re entitled to touch our bodies simply because we’re women with the audacity to exist in public space.

Sure, any one, isolated incident catcall might not be that big a deal (maybe). But these incidents aren’t isolated: women experience everyday sexism, well, every day. And over time, being repeatedly treated as lesser-than by strangers can make anybody feel small.

Ironically, the Right-Wing Outrage Machine is proving Judd’s point that everyday sexism is routine, excused, and normalized. Catcalls and unwanted touches are so common that these Fox hosts don’t see what’s wrong with it, and can’t imagine a world in which men and women could interact without them. (Here’s a hint: do you touch random bros on the street? No? Great, then you should be able to extend that basic courtesy to women, too.)

That, after all, was Judd’s goal all along: to show what’s wrong with our normal. Kudos to her for speaking out.

Photo Credit: Jezebel.

13 AUG - 20 AUG

Aug. 21st, 2017 01:30 am[syndicated profile] femslash_today_feed

Posted by kidmarathon

{Carol (2015) Price of Salt}
{updates}
- Chapter 29-30 of Mind The GapMurmuration77 Carol Aird/There Belivet, Cate Blanchette/Rooney Mara **Off LJ Links**

{DC Universe}
{drabble}
- archaic kinds of fun by templefugate -Diana Prince/Kate Kane .

{Devil Wears Prada}
{fic}
- Fire In Her Eyes by theladyholl -Miranda/Andy .
{updates}
- Chapters 11-13 of All I Want Is You by pure_ecstasy6 -Miranda/Andy .
- Chapter 44 of For The BetterNaralanis Miranda/Andy **Off LJ Links**

{The Expendables}
{fic}
- The Sound of Silence by reinadefuego -Maggie Chan/Sandra Garza .

{Fast and the Furious/James Bond}
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- Girls Just Wanna To Have Fun by reinadefuego -Cipher/Valenka .

{Game of Thrones}
{drabble}
- After by bithgreene -Arya/Daenerys .

{Gotham}
{drabble}
- Fashion Show by swan_secrets -Barbara/Tabitha .

{Joss verse}
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Posted by Heather Greene

TWH –  The Times of India reports that “Shanti Devi, a resident of Thethai Andag village, was [killed Tuesday night] on suspicion of practising witchcraft.” 11 assailants reportedly beat her to death and later set her body on fire “to wipe out all evidences connecting them with the crime.”

Kalinga TV offers a similar report. “In yet another superstition-related crime, a man hacked his aunt to death suspecting her to be practicing sorcery before dumping her body on the banks of a river in Thakursahi village.”

The Ghana Web reports that a 63-year-old man has recently come forward to claim that his blindness was caused by his own mother selling his soul so that she could possess witchcraft abilities.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the U.N. reports that a militia, made up of mostly children, executed at least 79 people. Survivors of the attacks reportedly told journalists that this militia, called Kamuina Nsapu, has magical powers that make them invincible.

[Courtesy Under the Same Sun]

These witchcraft-related reports are published daily. They demonstrate not only the extreme level of violence attached to witchcraft-related abuse, but also the deeply-embedded cultural beliefs and fears surrounding magic, “sorcery,” and witchcraft.

While horrifying in their number and in their presented detail, the readily-available articles only share the stories making news. Experts agree that many witchcraft-related incidents go completely unnoticed and unreported. As a result, the statistics on witchcraft-related violence are unreliable. Nobody knows just has bad it is.

Although the published reports do regularly populate the international news media, this human rights crisis has gotten very little attention on the international political scene. To date, most of the work has been done by private organizations, such as the Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN) and Under the Same Sun.

Or it is being handled by local governments, such as in the creation and enforcement of anti-witchcraft accusation laws. Over the past ten years, an increasing number of countries have, in fact, instituted such laws, including Papua New Guinea, India, South Africa, Tanzania, and others.

In 2018, Liberia will play host to a new U.N. human rights office that will reportedly help the country’s government better address, in part, the “accusations of witchcraft and ritualistic killings.”

While these organizations, individuals, and governments appear to making some headway in an effort to stem the tide of abuse, the crisis has yet to be touched on the collective international level.

Until now.

The United Nations Human Rights Council will hold, for the very first time, a special two day workshop on witchcraft-related human rights violations.

As stated on the U.N. site, “[The workshop] will bring together U.N. experts, academics and members of civil society to discuss the violence associated with such beliefs and practices and groups that are particularly vulnerable. It will highlight the various manifestations of witchcraft beliefs and practice, including accusations, stigma, and ritual killings, before looking to identify good practice in combating such practices.”

Human Rights Council, Geneva 2013 [U.S. Mission Geneva/Eric Bridiers].

The “experts workshop” is being held in Geneva, Switzerland Sept. 21-22 in conjunction with International Peace Day. It has been organized by Mr. Ikponwosa Ero, the independent expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism; Ms. Ikponwosa Ero; Gary Foxcroft, Director of the Witchcraft and Human Rights Network (WHRIN); and Dr Charlotte Baker, Lancaster University.

In a concept note about the upcoming landmark event, the organizing committee statement explains, “Beliefs and practices related to witchcraft vary considerably between different countries and even within ethnicities in the same country. There is overall limited understanding of beliefs in witchcraft, how it may be practised in some cultures, and why.”

The first day includes two morning panel discussions on the overall concept and definition of witchcraft within various cultural settings. It also includes two afternoon panels on the harmful nature and scope of accusations around the globe and how this violence impacts daily lives in “civil society.”

The second day has three panels that focus specifically on the regions that are most affected by the problem: Africa, Asia and Pacific, and Europe. A second panel is devoted to examining witchcraft-related killings, including the discussion of government involvement and legal processes.

In the final panel of the second day, “faith-based organizations” take the stage to address this situation from their perspective. As of now, the panel includes members of the Catholic and Lutheran churches, several academics, and a humanist. Other panelists have yet to be announced.

As written, the upcoming two-day workshop makes little reference to modern Witchcraft as would be commonly understood by much of the Wild Hunt readership. While that point is notable, the Pagan world, as it relates to Witchcraft, was not ignored.

Damon Leff, director of the South African Pagan Rights Alliance, was invited personally by WHRIN’s Gary Foxcroft to be a civil society expert panel speaker. However, due to personal obligations, Leff was unable to accept.

“Although SAPRA regrets that it will not be able to accept an invitation” Leff told The Wild Hunt, “we trust that the discussions and collaborations between U.N. special rapporteurs, academics, and members of civil society organisations dealing with witchcraft accusations in various African countries, will produce not only a shared understanding of the belief systems and mechanisms that lead to violent witchcraft accusations in Africa and elsewhere, but also offer shared solutions to these.”

How the new two-day workshop will lead to global and local change or action with regard to the witchcraft-related human rights crisis is unknown, but both attendees and those watching are hopeful that with this new level of awareness will come stronger and lasting solutions.

Leff, who has been speaking out against such violence in his own country for years, said, “The Witchcraft and Human Rights Expert Workshop is indeed an historic event.”

“Well done to WHRIN for organising [it].”

 

Editorial Note: The term witchcraft is used with a lower-case in this article to refer to trending abuses and accusations that are typically and completely unrelated to any spiritual or Craft practice. It is capitalized only when referring to modern practice as a recognizable religion, spiritual path, identifier, and Craft.

Posted by Crystal Blanton

The turbulent nature of the current times have been weighing heavily on many people’s minds. Throughout our interconnected communities we have heard many people talk about struggling with the chaos and uncertainty present in our socio-political climate, and with the challenges of maintaining emotional and physical well-being. Social media sites are full of revolving comments about needing a mental health break as well as expressions of being overwhelmed.

The most recent reports from Charlottesville and North Korea seem to have increased what appears to be a sense of hopelessness, anger, frustration, fear, anxiety, and depressive symptoms associated with concern over the state of America and the world.

[Pixabay]

While frustration, anger, sadness, and fear are not new emotions experienced when there is a change in the socio-political climate, this now appears to be a trend associated with this distinct time in history and the increasing divisive nature of change happening in numerous arenas of our society.

Steven Stosney, PhD discusses the increase in stress experienced by people seeking mental health support in the Trump presidency era in his article “How to Cope With Trump Anxiety.” He states,”Our current environment, amplified by 24-hour news outlets and social media, has created a level of stress, nervousness, and resentment that has intruded into many people’s lives and intimate relationships, the likes of which I’ve not seen in nearly 30 years of clinical work.”

In his work, Stosney cites a Care Dash survey examining the anxiety in the age of Trump, which was first published in April 2017. Some of the key findings in the report, titled “Nervous Nation: An Inside Look at America’s Anxiety in the Age of Trump,” include:

  • Nearly three-fourths (71%) of people 18-44 are at least somewhat anxious because of the November election results.
  • Half (50%) of Americans are looking for ways to cope with the negative political environment.
  • Over one-third (39%) of Americans are avoiding social media to reduce their anxiety around the political comments.

I found some of the data to be very reflective of how many people are relating to the world today.

In analyzing my own experiences and insights around what I need this year, I have decided to take a step back from social media and community circles as a means of self preservation, and to seek asylum from the chaos of society. The intensity of everything has meant seeking solitude and trying to find some peace in my isolation.

I have found that others within the Pagan community have mentioned similar coping strategies to restore a sense of personal balance and serenity. Considering the discussions of burnout to expressions of being overwhelmed that result in a “social media” break, it is quite evident that the umbrella of Neo-Paganism and polytheists are individually and collectively feeling the stress of our current societal over-culture. And like with many spiritual or religious people, extreme stress can push people toward or away from routines, practices, and spiritual activities.

Best practices in mental health modalities reinforce the importance of protective factors to balance and maintain mental health wellness during times of increased stress. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) website define risk and protective factors in the following ways

Risk factors are characteristics at the biological, psychological, family, community, or cultural level that precede and are associated with a higher likelihood of negative outcomes. Protective factors are characteristics associated with a lower likelihood of negative outcomes or that reduce a risk factor’s impact. Protective factors may be seen as positive countering events.

While protective factors may vary in addressing different types and levels of stressors, we know that it is important to continue the discussions associated with supporting positive outcomes in our individual and collective approaches to managing our needs.

It is also important to note that protective factors for many people include professional, therapeutic support to address clinical needs surrounding mental health. No single discussion or introduction of protective factors negate the need for professional services.

Spirituality, community, and religious activity are some of the most used protective factors in society. We often hear people refer to the power of prayer in times of distress and using that as a means of divine connection toword hope, purpose, and support.

Within the modern Pagan and polytheist communities there are often shared sentiments that involve personal devotional work, ritual workings, ancestor reverence, and prayer-like activities. We have also seen many people inside and outside of the Pagan community engage in activism as a means to engage in solution focused actions, another common and useful protective factor.

The article”Spirituality and Stress Relief: Make the Connection,” found on the Mayo Clinic website, lists the following as potential benefits of spiritual connectivity as a means of “stress relief and overall mental health.”

  • Feel a sense of purpose. Cultivating your spirituality may help uncover what’s most meaningful in your life. By clarifying what’s most important, you can focus less on the unimportant things and eliminate stress.
  • Connect to the world. The more you feel you have a purpose in the world, the less solitary you may feel — even when you’re alone. This can lead to a valuable inner peace during difficult times.
  • Release control. When you feel part of a greater whole, you may realize that you aren’t responsible for everything that happens in life. You can share the burden of tough times as well as the joys of life’s blessings with those around you.
  • Expand your support network. Whether you find spirituality in a church, mosque or synagogue, in your family, or in nature walks with a friend, this sharing of spiritual expression can help build relationships.
  • Lead a healthier life. People who consider themselves spiritual may be better able to cope with stress and may experience health benefits.

The current climate and ongoing stress induced cycle of newsworthy events leads us to question what we are doing to increase our sense of well being. How are we engaging in activities that promote safe spaces and spiritual asylum from the continuous challenges of coping in today’s world?

Most of us are aware of some of the common techniques to support stress reduction and balance in one’s life. We commonly hear about mindfulness techniques, meditation, exercise, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and prayer. I spoke about some of these coping strategies in a previous Wild Hunt article on Coping with Community.

[Courtesy of Pixabay]

While many of those same techniques continue to be useful, what are some of the unique ways that we look for spiritual comfort in these times?

Because we are such a diverse collection of communities and of individual practitioners following many different paths, this particular conversation could expand into a myriad of directions and methods. I reached out to a three different people within our interconnected communities to engage them in a discussion regarding their own methods of addressing the need for comfort, balance and spiritual connection during these times.

Yvonne Conway, High Priestess and co-founder of United Pagans of Color, shared with me some of her own personal practice in connecting to a sense of comfort in these stressful times.

I will begin a mediation that starts with visualizing my own heart beating and sending forth radiating energy of love. I feel it surround me completely. From there I begin to visualize people in my most inner circle of connection such as my husband and family. The cats too! One at a time I visualize surrounding them in the same love that radiates from my heart.

Then I will expand my circle of individuals to others I’m friends with. One by one I will picture them surrounded in love. I’ll move further out to those I’m acquainted with. Then those I’ve just barely met in passing. Eventually I expand out to those I’ve never actually met, but perhaps passed on my way somewhere. Then further still to those I’ve never crossed paths with… essentially ensconcing every human in love. I continue with every animal, plant, insect, any and all living creatures. I do my best to visualize as much and as many being surrounded in my love. Once I feel I’ve expanded that radiating love to everyone I sit with it for a bit, or a while, depends on how I’m feeling, until I feel a deep resounding joy. Once I reach that point I begin the process to awaken.

This meditation can take me about half an hour to an hour depending on how I’m feeling as I’m going through it.

Courtney Weber, Author and Priestess, shared with me some of her most present thoughts about how she is working toward comfort despite most recent events that invoke anger, sadness and fear.

Today I felt angry. My hands shook all day even though I smiled. I hugged a seasoned warrior activist woman, herself exhausted. We both were, but she more than me. I snapped at the wrong people, even though for the right reasons. I distracted myself with stupid memes. I found myself more in my thoughts than in my world and I realized it when I saw I’d scanned and emailed myself a blank sheet of paper—absolutely nothing written on it, but I thought it was important.

I stopped. I closed my eyes. I asked myself, “What can I do right now?” I can’t undo the pain that’s been done to all others by the people in charge. I can’t re-freeze the glaciers or bring dead lions back to life or stop bullets shot at raised hands or wave my hands and watch Nazi evaporate. But there must be something I can do. I asked myself, “What can I do, right now?”

I can be kind to others…even when it would be easier to ignore them. I can read to a child…or take the time to thoroughly, thoughtfully, and honestly answer their questions. I can do something nice for a loved one…and expect nothing in return but respect. I can refuse to despair…just for today.

Today, I can do. And tomorrow, I will do tomorrow. But today, I will do today.

Shauna Aura Knight, Author and Artist, described her process of personal support by engaging herself in her art.

I paint to keep my mind-squirrels at bay. It reduces my anxiety. But what really inspires me is when someone uses one of my paintings for devotional work and tell me about how it helped them. I have one guy who bought one of my phoenix paintings, and he has fibro and often has flares where he can’t leave the house, but he uses one of my paintings to keep himself inspired when things get bad. The painting piece itself is a spiritual act for me, but then the person actually working with the art then circles back and is what brings me hope.

Utilizing methods of engagement that directly connect with our spiritual or religious core can be a useful strategy as we move into the what feels like an uncertain future of change and challenge. I have noticed that my own ability to connect with certain aspects of my practice have been hampered by my sincere lack of connection, resulting in a dusty justice altar and abandoned spiritual routines.

[Pixabay]

With the continued looming social and political unrest, it is a perfect time to re-evaluate what activities increase a sense of grounding and awareness. It is also an opportunity for each of us to really invest in our own health and wellness by focusing on decreasing stress and increasing activities that reinforce spiritual, religious, or magical practices.

Here are a couple of ideas to consider in moving forward with increasing spiritually enhanced, stress reducing protective factors.

  • Mindfulness activities have proven to be useful in increasing positive relief to current stress from internal and external triggers. The ability to participate in mindful breathing, nature walks, meditation, coloring, or painting can have great physical benefits of connecting with your body. It also supports positive connections with our inner core and increases personal insightfulness.
  • Daily routine that supports connection with spiritual or religious practices. Mantras, daily prayers, ceremonial candle lighting to release stress from the day, ancestral honoring, focused energy work or protection workings can all be ways that this can be a productive means of connectivity. As with many protective factors, this isn’t just about big rituals that take a lot of energy or planning but more about the small routines we incorporate that create consistent and ongoing connection.
  • Spend some extra time in nature. Schedule time to take walks, go for a hike, put your feet in the sand, and smell the fresh air. Time in the sun releases much needed pent up energy and increases much needed Vitamin D in our bodies. It is also an opportunity to ground and connect with the Gods while in the elements.

If there was ever a time in my generation where individual and societal pressure is at it’s highest, this might be it. It is a specific act of honoring the Gods or engaging our individual beliefs, when we take care of ourselves and care for our needs. I personally find that to be one of the most religiously important magical rituals we could perform.

* * *

The views and opinions expressed by our diverse panel of columnists and guest writers represent the many diverging perspectives held within the global Pagan, Heathen and polytheist communities, but do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wild Hunt Inc. or its management.

Posted by Heather Greene

UPDATE (Aug. 19, 2017 12:48 ET):  Andres Guerrero has been found. He is now in a local hospital’s ICU. Tanya Johnson is with him. No other information is being released. We will have a full report on the story as soon as we learn more.

*   *   *

MINNEAPOLIS —  Andres Guerrero, age 17, disappeared early Thursday morning in north Minneapolis. Guerrero was last seen on Broadway Ave. at 1 a.m. wearing a black shirt and black shorts. After news of his disappearance spread, the local Pagan community and beyond have quickly responded with support in an effort to find him.

Andres Guerrero [courtesy].

Guerrero was born Jan. 20, 2000 to Tanya Johnson, a local Minneapolis Pagan who is known well in this community, sometimes labeled “Paganistan,” and regularly attended Summerland Spirit Festival.

Johnson said that her son loved animals, designer clothes, music and comedy shows. He also attended several Pagan festivals with her.

The night of Aug. 16, Guerrero left his home alone, headed to reportedly his friend’s house. But he was last seen at 1 a.m Aug. 17.  Johnson said that she realized that he was missing around 7:30 a.m. the next morning.

The family is still unclear about other details regarding the time prior to his disappearance.  However, they did say that, without a doubt, this is “not a runaway case.”

What is being reported is that, at some point after 1 a.m., Guerrero’s debit card was stolen and possibly his phone as well. According to the family and local police, the debit card has been used twice by a person who is not Guerrero. ATM surveillance cameras have reportedly provided that information.

In the city of Minneapolis, missing child reports are handled by the special crimes division. The Wild Hunt did reach out to the department for any possible updates on the case, but officials did not respond in time for publication.

Along with the police investigation, the local community has been out canvassing the area where Guerrero was last seen. Led by Johnson’s close friends and members of the Pagan community, the searches began as early as 10 p.m. Aug. 17, less than two hours after Johnson made her public announcement.

The search parties have been passing out fliers to local businesses and talking with residents in order to gain information on his possible whereabouts. The searches have continued into Friday, but no information has been found.

For people who are unable help with the search, the family is asking for assistance with supplies to support that effort, including food items and water for search party members, and for money to help pay for gas and for printing flyers. Monetary donations can be sent to Johnson’s PayPal address. She has said that all “unused money will be returned.”

A new Facebook page, Find Andres, has been created to help the efforts, and the family is asking for users to share the page and the information widely in hopes of finding Andres.

When asked what else the collective Pagan community can do to help, Johnson said, “Say a prayer to your gods. Send light and love. Light a candle. Send Reiki. Talk to your ancestors. Every type of help is deeply appreciated. Raise up all the helpers and give them strength.”

We will continue to follow this story, and we will update you as news comes in.

[This article was updated from the original at 3:15 p.m with more details about the missing teen.]

Posted by Meg Sri

The murder of activist Heather Heyer at the hands of domestic terrorist James Alex Fields, Jr. at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville has demonstrated the increasing emboldening of racism and fascism under the Trump administration.

The rally, the violence, and the shock of the deaths and injuries that followed came during a week in which — before and after the incident — the fervor to equate the alt-right (read: Neo-Nazis) with the “alt-left” (read: people who believe universal healthcare is a human right) is at a peak.

While the term entered national conversation after Donald Trump condemned the “alt-left” and laid equal blame on them for Charlottesville’s violence, it has actually been in use for quite some time — and not just by right wing fanatics, either. The most devastating use of Trump’s new term has been by mainstream liberals to smear the progressive leftists who dare criticize the corporate darlings of the Democratic center.

Consider the New York Times Op-Ed published earlier this week, which opens with the words “I see both the social justice warrior alt-left and the white supremacist alt-right as two sides of the same coin.” Or consider veteran and ex-diplomat Robert Caruso blaming Heyer’s murder on the leftists “yammering about Goldman Sachs.” Or an editor at the Daily Kos blaming the alt-left for the rise of violence under Trump. Or CAP editor and prominent Hillary supporter Neera Tanden tweeting — bizarrely — about the “alt-left who want to join the fascists,” a demographic that simply doesn’t exist. Or political commentator Mieke Eoyang chiding the so-called Bernie Bros for remaining inactive in the face of the racist violence of Charlottesville. Or prominent liberal Twitter accounts drawing direct comparisons between the mobs at Charlottesville and Bernie Sanders supporters.  Aside from Putin and white ‘hillbillies‘, it seems that the center’s favorite scapegoat in response to the white supremacy of Charlottesville is the myth of the so called “alt-left.”

The “alt-left”, to be clear, does not exist. There is no unified, politicized body of young people who exist only to demonize politicians of color and enact left-wing oppression, violence, and fascism. The term compares people who celebrate the oppression and murder of people of color to those who want to end poverty and provide free healthcare. And notably, those marching in Charlottesville were the very “Bernie Bros” whose tactics white liberals and centrist Democrats have smeared since the 2016 campaign. Heather Heyer herself was a Bernie Sanders supporter. She was a member of the Industrial Workers of the World who was marching alongside the Democratic Socialists of America. Of the others injured — some critically — in the clashes, there were International Socialist Organization members and members of the DSA as well.

White liberals and centrists however, are eager to erase young POC and dismiss substantive leftist critique so that they can shield themselves from their complicity in the problem. It is profoundly absurd to call this group “Bernie Bros” — a term that has now come to mean anyone who doesn’t support the Wall Street funded, prosecutor- and mass-incarceration-loving Democrat center, and it is incredibly misogynistic to the swaths of leftist women and leftist women of colorAmerican socialism has a long tradition of pushing back against racism and fascism and allying with civil rights movements to push back against the alliance of white supremacy and capitalism. Many intellectuals of color see their politics more closely aligned with those of politicians like Bernie Sanders. To erase the existence of these vast and prominent swaths of people, especially after their turnout at Charlottesville, and their continuous activism in the aftermath — in favour of Kamala Harris’s “K-Hive” or “YAS QUEEN” Hillary Clinton (two politicians that have literally made careers out of the mass incarceration of people of color) is abhorrent.

There’s historical precedent to this. White liberalism has always lived in its own fantasy, where somehow closing your eyes and ears to violence gives one a superior position. It lives in a fantasy where asking for universal health care and free education is as bad as  asking for the genocide of entire ethnic groups; where it is only milquetoast centrist politicians like Chelsea Clinton and Kamala Harris that can deliver us from evil; where the only morally righteous position is so firmly lodged in the center you may as well not be taking a position at all. Not only is this an absurd fever dream, but it is actively harmful when a huge number of people in the country with ostensibly pure motives are encouraged to stuff their fingers in their ears and pretend that to take any position at all is as bad as to take a position of hate, racism, murder and bigotry. The liberal fetishization of centrism and non-violence emboldens the alt-right.

While the United States is founded on racism and has always been racist, there are turning points in the country’s history that have come about as a result of peaks in racist violence, and we are living in one of them now. During the civil rights era — another time of violent openly racist displays — lives were lost as white liberals equivocated, declared both sides as bad as the other, tried to situate themselves in a center that wasn’t there, and were content to find moral superiority in not joining either racist violence or the fight to survive against racist violence. It’s no surprise leaders from MLK to Malcolm X despised white liberals for their equivocation.

In the wake of Donald Trump’s idiotic and hurtful comments, it’s easy to fool oneself to believe it’s only the right wing that can do something as horrific as equating those termed the “alt-left” and the fascists of the alt-right. But as Sarah Jones explains in the New Republic, the popularization of the idea that leftists and progressives can be as toxic as Nazis came mostly from liberal and centrist commentators. When looking back at the racist history of the United States, the passive, centrist, ‘take-no-side’ bystanders were just as morally culpable as the slave owning, lynching, incarcerating, angry racists.

It is too critical a juncture to pretend that both sides are as bad as the other, to mistake the privilege of not needing to take a side as the moral superiority of not choosing to take one. We have lost countless people of color, activists, and white allies this year to not roll our sleeves up and shed the cowardice of the center for the courage of taking a stand. Let Charlottesville and Heather Heyer be a wake-up call to stop kidding yourself, to ditch the false allies of the white suburbs, J.K. Rowling, big businesses and clueless and immoral politicians, and join hands with your local grassroots leftist movement who speak truth to power.

Header image via.

Posted by Dodie Graham McKay

HOLSTEIN, Ont. – As the festival season starts to wind down for the year, organizers of the premiere edition of Occulticon are ramping up to deliver an event that is being billed as “a convention for all things curious, all things occult.”

This new addition to the festival and convention circuit will be held at the Pagan owned and operated Mythwood Campground and Private Retreat from September 8 – 10.

Mythwood Campground is located an hour north of Toronto in Southern Ontario, a region of Canada that already supports a multitude of Pagan, Heathen and Witchcraft related festivals and events. From May until September, the area sees at least one large public gathering and sometimes more each weekend.

Occulticon organizers are promising a unique event and are taking a distinctly different approach to how this new addition to the scene will be presented.

Adam Simpson, the Creative Director and webmaster for Occulticon, outlined the main difference.

“Occulticon isn’t a Pagan event. It will include Pagan elements, but we’re casting a much wider net. We’re hoping to attract visitors from many diverse belief systems, as well as those simply curious about experiences outside of the spectrum of the everyday. We’ve spread the word throughout Ontario, as well as New York and Michigan.”

A detailed schedule will be released closer to the date, but organizers are promising that visitors can expect presentations and lectures on a wide range of topics such as parapsychology, secret societies, ghosts, magick, Witchcraft, astrology, tarot, psychic training, a seance live music performances and more.

In addition to the programming, there will also be vending, a psychic expo and a chance to watch blacksmiths at work creating magical tools.

Rounding out the program will be opportunities to participate in ritual and ceremony.

Frater Archeus will host a High Magick Ceremony during which participants can experience the traditional rites of a practicing ceremonial lodge and initiatory society.

Witchdoctor Utu along with members of the Dragon Ritual Drummers and friends will be consecrating a new permanent altar on Mythwood land with a voodoo ceremony for Harriet “Mama Moses” Tubman and the spirits of the Underground Railroad.

A Sara Kali ceremony led by John Corvus, called “Taking the Cloth” will celebrate the continuation of one’s lifelong dedication to be the magical link of their community.

Addressing this diversity, Simpson said, “Although the convention is non-denominational, it will have an impact on the Ontario Pagan community. This is an opportunity for knowledgeable Pagans to share their thoughts and experiences with a much wider audience.”

“Occulticon will be a gateway for newcomers interested in Paganism, but not knowing where to start.”

The mandate of Occulticon is to support the pursuit of knowledge, history, and ancient religions, with an interest in exploring the mysteries of the universe in a way that supports diversity and respectful intellectual exchange. Courteous discussion of how differing philosophies can bring people together is encouraged.

Occulticon Executive Director Khaman Mythwood [Courtesy]

The original idea for Occulticon came from Khaman Mythwood, one of the owners of the campground. He now serves as the executive director of the event. His personal desire to share the mysteries and hidden aspects of occult practice motivated him to share his vision with the wider world:

“Our patrons at Occulticon can expect to experience something rare and usually unseen to the general public. Experts on the occult from around the world will be sharing their knowledge through lectures and presentations. They will take an academic approach to reveal secrets and hidden knowledge to those who truly seek to better understand the mysteries of life.”

The diverse lineup consists of more than two dozen guest speakers, not only from the local area, but from around the world as well.

Local talent such as Ecstatic Ritualist and the events Master of Ceremonies, Jim Findley, psychotherapist, storyteller and pagan chaplain, Brian Walsh, Romani Wayfairer and Divination practitioner, John Corvus and Witchdoctor Utu of the Dragon Ritual Drummers are but a few of the faces that have been long time contributors to the local communities and events in the area.

Master of Ceremonies and Ecstatic Ritualist, Jim Findley [Courtesy]

International guests include Ian Corrigan, former Archdruid of the ADF who will be traveling from the United States to speak about Archaic Goetia and the Grimoire Revival. Tata Manuel Congo, a well-known ethnologist, occultist and educator, will be making the long trip from Italy to speak about Italian Witchcraft.

The onsite talent coordinator Pamela Fletcher is a well-known and respected priestess and longtime organizer. She has been previously involved with Kaleidoscope Gathering and Gaia Gathering, as well as many other events.

Of this new endeavour, Fletcher remarked, “Occulticon, like some other larger Pagan events, is going to be extremely inclusionary and will have a very broad appeal across many spiritual paths and walks of life. The speakers will be presenting unique and diverse information that anyone, no matter how long they have been on their spiritual journey, will find interesting.”

In addition to the academic-style presentations, world-class entertainment is also being planned including traditional Celtic storyteller Brian Walsh, fiddler Ben Deschamps of the Heather Dale band, and and a special Scottish Bagpipe presentation. It will also include a psychic fair and vendors’ market.”

Mythwood added, “We are proud to host Witchdoctor Utu and the amazing Dragon Ritual Drummers, voted Canada’s number one Pagan hand drumming group.”

Occulticon 2018 is already being considered, and plans are in the works for the next edition.

“We are very excited for the future of Occulticon. It gives us the opportunity to learn and share our knowledge of the occult in a safe open environment with respected Elders and occult experts,” explained Mythwood.

“We already have some amazing things lined up for next year that we just couldn’t fit in the schedule for 2017.”

Simpson’s passion for showcasing his home community and public service is apparent. He said, “It’s time for the Ontario Pagan community to show the greater world what we have to offer. Occulticon is a step in that direction.”

“For newcomers who are interested in Paganism, we can help point them to any number of places where they may be able to find the answers they’re seeking. For veteran members of the Pagan community, Occulticon is an opportunity to learn outside of our traditional milieus. There will be new faces, and you’ll get to see a different side of those you already know and love.”

Posted by Heather Greene

Letter from the editor

There are times when journalists and editors have to tackle subjects that are difficult, complicated, and even deeply contrary to their own personal world view. We go in anyway, because that is our mission and our purpose. We go in anyway, because that is our personal and professional directive, similar to a doctor or nurse that cures the sick no matter who they might be.

It is what we do.

While The Wild Hunt was once a successful news blog, it has developed into a recognized news agency with a small team of dedicated and professional news writers who work by the ethical standards expected of objective journalism and who have a passion for their work as members of our collective communities.

We do our best within our resources to go the full distance, even if that means setting aside personal feelings or going into uncharted territory, in order to get as close to the center of a very difficult and even painful story.

Reporting on Charlottesville was one of these times. The process was not easy for both me as editor and for Cara Schulz as the writer.

Personally speaking as a woman of Jewish heritage, I found that the weekend events triggered my own family-based traumas, and I had a difficult time keeping my “ear to the ground,” so to speak, in order to support Cara in her work. Seeing the swastika and hearing the antisemitic rhetoric chanted over and over was terrifying, recalling the many warnings I had heard as a child.

To echo the words of Jonathan Korman, do I have time to let the bread rise?

But I am also a professional journalist and an editor. As such, it is my belief that in order to empower our readership, especially in times of crisis, and to serve a greater purpose in our collective communities and our world, I must set that aside my own fears to bring you the highest quality, ethically-based reporting as my news team can accomplish.

We will not waiver in this mission. For us, it is not only a job but a passion, a spiritual calling, a service, and a craft.

I want to personally thank every one of our readers for visiting us daily, for supporting our wholly independent efforts, and for sharing our articles.

May we find peace and unity in the beauty of our differences.

Heather Greene
Managing Editor
The Wild Hunt

Posted by Cara Schulz

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Vir. – It began with online organizing among nationalist groups to protest the removal of a Confederate statue from a local park. It ended with street battles, three people dead, and an unknown number injured.

While most Pagans watched the events on the news or through live streams, there were Pagans and Heathens present at the weekend riots.They were protesters who lined the streets around the park, and they also participated in the Unite the Right rally as members of the self-described “alt-right.” And one well-known Pagan even helped organize the rally and was scheduled to speak.

Augustus Invictus, who ran for U.S. Senate in 2015, was scheduled to speak at the rally. Mr. Invictus has been criticized in the past for seeming to openly advocate violence, eugenics, and for participating in animal sacrifice.

Although the planned rally itself was shut down before anyone could speak, Invictus claimed the event was a success.

Invictus and the other rally organizers say the purpose of the event had less to do with protesting the removal of a statue from a park and more to do with uniting various nationalist groups.

The Southern Poverty Law Center says normally groups such as 14/88, Traditionalist Workers Party, the National Socialist Movement, the KKK, Aryan Nation, and the League of the South are more apt to fight each other than to work together.

That changed with Unite the Right. The groups came together for the rally, and Invictus says the violence that they claim to have experienced as being directed toward them has united these rivals against a common enemy.

History teacher and adjunct professor Ryan Denison agrees with the SPLC that the goal was to bring these groups together. In an interview, Denison told The Wild Hunt, “[The organizers] definitely wanted to unite far-right groups that usually don’t mix or, at worse, fight each other. That was their stated goal. It also seems to be to create conflict and chaos in order to recruit.”

Denison, who is a member of the Troth, Heathens of Atlanta, and Red Earth Grove ADF, believes they chose Charlottesville because the rally leaders believe that the South is an area more sympathetic to their message than other regions.

However, Lonnie Murray, a Pagan elected official who works in Charlottesville, told The Wild Hunt that Charlottesville is not a typical southern city.

Murray says, “We have a long history of progressive politics; however, like many Southern cities we still haven’t fully come to terms with the lingering consequences of slavery and segregation.”

Firsthand accounts

Pagan Jennifer Lewis heard about the rally through social media and local television coverage. Lewis works in Charlottesville caring for persons with mental illness.

She decided to attend the rally as a protester because she “wanted to show [her] opposition to everything [the rallying groups] stand for.”

Lewis says, “I am an activist for the protection of our environment, women’s reproductive rights, and LGBTQ rights. There was no way I was not going to go and stand up against them targeting my friends, neighbors and loved ones.”

She believes the “alt-right” are a tiny segment of the population and believes it is important to show how little influence they have.

Freda Wood, a Wiccan from Richmond, says that she has become more politically active recently. She heard about the rally through a YouTube channel, and decided to attend the protest in order to “stand up for what’s right.”

Wood says the gods don’t discriminate and people shouldn’t either.

On the other side, Kevin C is a Heathen from southern New England who attended the rally as security for an “alt-right video crew.” He is also a member of the Traditionalist Workers Party and says it’s “great that Pagans and Heathens are supporting their people and traditions” through involvement in Unite the Right.

Rachel Summers, a Teutonic Heathen, traveled from Atlanta to participate in Unite the Right as a medic. She believes white history and culture are “being erased due to false crimes and an implanted but unearned white guilt.”

While they had different reasons for attending and were on different sides, the four people interviewed all agreed on one aspect of the event. They were all critical of the how the police handled the escalating violence.

As was the ACLU of Virginia.

It is not clear who gave the stand down order to police, but Kevin C says police stood right next to people who were being beaten, and they did nothing to intervene.

Lewis says, “I was shocked that the police were behind two barricades and some a block or more away. It was much different from the KKK rally in July where the police had the two sides barricaded from one another. This time, they barricaded us, the two sides, in and [the police] on the outside.”

Police initially set up barricades around the park, where the rally was to take place, to keep the “alt-right” and the protesters separated. However, the rally participants had to walk through the protesters to get into the park.

“As we left the parking garage we could see the road in front of us was blocked by protesters. They were throwing bleach bombs as we walked by,” describes Kevin C.

“Once we got into the park, the police had the entire area around the statue blocked off, so we had to walk all the way around to get to the area where the speakers would talk. While we were walking we were being maced and had things thrown at us.”

Lewis says she witnessed extreme, unprovoked violence from both sides.”I heard unimaginable slurs from the Nazi side, I was chanting Black Lives Matter and a older man got so mad and started yelling at me, calling me a whore and how my dad should have taught me better.”

She also noted that it was hard to tell who was on what side, and it made her suspicious of everyone around her.

“It was like walking into an Orwellian hate minute that lasted several hours,” relates Rachel Summer. She said rocks and other objects were thrown at them by the crowd while they were attempting to walking to the park. She also treated some of her group after they were sprayed with pepper spray.

Freda Wood says she was with protesters marching down Market Street alongside anarchists. “As we got closer to Emancipation Park, we were greeted by a roar and surrounded by heavily armed self-proclaimed militia on both sides of the street. They were stoic, staring straight ahead, holding their rifles. I felt exposed and vulnerable.”

Ms. Wood says she traded insults with rally participants in the park, but felt trapped in by the press of the crowd, so she moved back toward an intersection where she and her group met more rally attendees.

“They barreled through the barricades. There were fist fights. Pepper spray, mace, colored smoke bombs and paint balloons were deployed. The street medics were treating the injured.”

Lewis says it was a sad day for the city of Charlottesville and for America. “It was really difficult to see the various Nazi and white supremacy groups just march down the street and into the park, like they were invading our city.”

It was at this point that police declared the rally an unlawful assembly and shut it down. Then, the police formed a line on one side of the park and pushed the rally participants into the streets.

The two sides, which up until that point had only traded minor blows, were now forced into direct contact with one another. Local police, state troopers, and National Guard stood behind the barricades. That’s when fighting increased and was strung out over several miles surrounding the park.

Kevin C says when the order to clear the park came, he grabbed the person he was assigned to protect and headed out of the park.

“The police blocked the only safe exit out of the park and pushed us into the protesters. We saw 100 to 150 Red Block marching up the street toward us. Luckily I got my person out before the commies arrived.”

Wood, thinking she was now outside of the main action, unexpectedly found herself right back in the middle of it. “Suddenly, someone said ‘look!’ Hundreds of guys in their white polo shirts and khaki pants started walking down the street toward us. They were being paraded between two lines of counter protesters down the street to get them far away from the park.”

Kevin C says he was part of the group that exited with alt-right speaker Richard Spencer. Neither Kevin or Wood knew it, but they were about to confront one another.

Wood remembers that group walking by. “We taunted them. We saw Richard Spencer be rushed through the crowd by his people. He looked disheveled and frightened.”

Summers was with a different group, exiting the park. “We were marched back through hostile protesters for two miles or more and again, no police protection despite our permit. I have the uneasy feeling that the city’s leadership wanted things to escalate.”

Wood describes the scene as a “war zone” and “complete chaos.”

As ProPublica reported, state police and National Guardsmen mostly stood aside and watched as the violence get worse.

Summers looks back at events and is unhappy with the media portrayal of the rally as racist. “Allegations of white supremacy are everywhere, but there were very few people there who explicitly supported that. Most were trying to stop the erasure of history and the infringement on our Constitution and Bill of Rights. This was not about racism.”

Reflecting back, Wood says that she’s profoundly changed by her experiences in Charlottesville, “I have a more determined fierceness now. My state was invaded by terrorists, and attacked one of our tribe, left us with mental scars.”

“I may be extra grouchy or sullen, and I will not apologize for it,” she adds. “You hurt my family. I’m pissed!” She also says she is dealing with survivor’s guilt.

Minority Pagans react

While the events of the day deeply impacted those Pagans who live in the city and who attended the rally and protest, many other Pagans across the country were also deeply affected as news spread of Saturday’s events.

Pagans of color and Jewish Pagans listened to “alt-right” rally participants chanting  phrases like “White Lives Matter” and “Jews won’t replace me,” while KKK and Nazi symbols were openly displayed and celebrated.

Dianne Daniels, a Connecticut-based Witch and Unitarian Universalist Pagan said, “The events of Charlottesville hurt me to my very soul. The thought that someone could intentionally drive their car into another car to force the vehicles to injure and in this case kill another human being…the unrepentant anger and vitriol being aimed at those who were marching in support of their principles is unconscionable and unnecessary.”

Along with being a seminary student and member of the Temple of Witchcraft, Daniels is also the president of the NAACP Norwich chapter. She attended a rally Sunday to support “those fighting against hate in Charlottesville.”

“One of my favorite tenets of my [UU] faith is that everyone has worth and dignity. Though I find it very hard to imagine the worth and dignity of people who scream hateful slogans and threaten other beloved human beings with injury and death because they disagree with them on philosophy, I still try.”

Daniels went on to say that she does not “deign to speak for all African-Americans, all women, or all Unitarian Universalist Pagans,” but she encourages everyone to “raise their voices and speak their truth, especially if it is not denigrating others.”

When asked what she is doing to cope with the news, Daniels said, “I have been spending more time in prayer and sending healing, positive energy to the communities that are faced with these incidents and the rise of hate groups coming into their communities. I believe that energy can be directed, and I would encourage all who believe that energy has an effect to direct positive energy toward those who have to respond to these incidents. Keep those first responders and law enforcement officers who are doing their jobs safe and whole.”

Jonathan Korman, a Jewish Pagan from the Bay Area, said the events reminded him of a Jewish ritual story. It’s about the act of eating matzoh as a way to remind them that when it’s time to run, you shouldn’t wait long enough for the bread to rise.

“I think all American Jews, whether consciously or not, read the news asking themselves if it means that they don’t have time for the bread to rise.”

“Despite this I am letting the bread that will nourish me and my community rise, because several years ago I swore an oath to another god, the Morrígan, that I would fight fascism in my nation,” Korman added. “As is so often true of the important oaths, I did not know the implications of what I swore.”

He closed is comment with “Hold fast. Love the gods and each other. And fuck fascism.” His full statement can be found here.

Rippling effect

Pagans and Heathens around the country have been taking part in protests and demonstrations since the violence ended. Well-known Pagans, such as Starhawk, are writing about the event and Pagan organizations are putting out official statements. Here are a few: ADFCherry Hill SeminarySolar Cross Temple, Circle Sanctuary, and The Troth.

Author and speaker Bryan Wilton says that, due to Saturday’s rally and protest, his speaking events are now being targeted as “alt-right” events.

Mr. Wilton believes that individual activists and Heathens United Against Racism (HUAR) called the venue, demanding that his event be cancelled. Wilton says people are carelessly throwing around the label “alt-right.”

Wilton told The Wild Hunt that he doesn’t identify as “alt-right,” although he has friends who do and were at the rally.

“I’m not having an alt-right event, everyone is welcome at my event.” He says the event is not political and relates to material from his books.

When asked about Wilton’s claims, HUAR admin Ryan Smith says that the organization is responding in support of local activists who feel “the white nationalist group supporting, promoting, and attending the event are a clear and present danger to the safety of their communities.”

Smith adds, “Many, such as the Proud Boys, have a proven history of violence and local residents are fearful this will be used as a recruiting platform by such groups.” He noted that hate crimes can follow such events, as was the case in Charlottesville.

Wilton says that he does support the right of the “alt-right” to speak freely. However, he also spoke against the weekend’s violence, “We have three people dead and that is unacceptable.”

Going forward

The ripple effects stemming from the weekend’s violence in Charlottesville has not subsided. More rallies and demonstrations are planned on both sides, as the country comes to terms with what was just witnessed and where it will lead.

Looking forward, Dianne Daniels notes, “My NAACP members will be hearing from me specifically on this issue (beyond my postings on social media) on Thursday when we have our monthly meeting. I’m going to do a special statement before the meeting starts, and incorporate the situation into the prayer we normally do to open our meetings. I have a statement from our current national interim president/CEO regarding the events that I will read.

“I’m encouraging people to be careful of watching the news – so much triggering information,” she adds. “And I refuse to repost things (like the video of the car striking people) that could be triggering.”

Looking at Saturday’s event through a lens of history, Ryan Denison adds, “I always think that liberty and freedom are on a precipice and we must always be on guard. By being good citizens and good to each other. Hitler and the Nazis rose to power not in a night, but slowly over a number of years. Much like boiling live crabs, just turn the heat up slow.”

“My best advice is to stay vigilant and call out hate, call out lies, call it out to the light,” he says, “As I quoted Edmund Burke earlier today on social media, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’ “

Savage Love

Aug. 16th, 2017 04:00 am[syndicated profile] savagelove_feed

Posted by Dan Savage

Woman's husband did a political one-eighty and is now a Trump supporter. by Dan Savage

I've been wondering: Since there are lesbians out there who occasionally crave cock, does the reverse also happen? Are there gay men who occasionally crave pussy?

This Possible?

There are gay men who watch football—hell, I have it on good authority that some gay men play football, TP. So anything is possible. (Also, there are lots of lesbian-identified bisexual women out there, a smaller number of gay-identified bisexual men, and a tiny handful of bisexual-identified football fans.)


I've been seeing a lot of articles in the media about men "dropping out of the dating-and-marriage game," and the conclusions always point to porn as the culprit. This seems like a simplistic explanation. Do you have an opinion on the effect of porn on men?

Pondering Porn

I dropped out of the forming-opinions-about-porn game—far too busy consuming porn these days, PP. It's the only way to keep myself sane here in Trumpsylvania.


I'm a 26-year-old woman. I started dating a fantastic guy a month ago, blah blah blah, we've already talked about marriage. The problem is that his dick isn't up to par size-wise or staying-hard-wise. He was aware of this before I came along, and it made him an enthusiastic and skilled oral performer to make up for it. So for now everything's great, plenty of orgasms, and we're lovey-dovey. But eventually I'll need that filled-up feeling and I'll have to ask for some dildo/extender/strap-on action. The question is when to ask. He's a secure guy, and we've both been honest about our flaws. If I wait too long to ask, it might make him think I've been faking the whole time. And if I ask too soon, I could scare him off or make his performance anxiety worse! How do I know when the right time is?

Half Full

If you were talking about marriage after a month, HF, odds are good this relationship is doomed anyway. So go ahead and ask for dildo/extender/strap-on action now. Don't say, "Circling back to your subpar dick, darling, I'm gonna need some compensatory dildo action soon." Instead say, "I'm into penetration toys, and I'm looking forward to getting into them with you—getting them into me, getting them into you. Anything you want to put on the menu, darling?"


Two friends can hook up with a girl or two girls from a bar and have a threesome or a foursome. But can two brothers—with opposite sexual preferences—hook up with a girl and a guy from a bar? Would this be considered wrong? No touching between siblings would occur.

Basic Bros

It would be considered wrong by some—but those people aren't you, your brother, or the girl and guy you hope to pick up together. Personally, BB, I can barely get an erection if one of my siblings is in the same zip code; I can't imagine getting one with a sibling in the same room. But if you're comfortable doing opposite-sexual-preferencey things in close proximity to your brother, go for it.


I am a bisexual man and recently divorced my wife of 30 years. I am currently seeing a very beautiful lady. I satisfy my bisexual desires by going to sex clubs and I always practice safe sex. I don't have an issue, I just wanted to tell you I remember one time when you had a column about two guys performing fellatio on another man at the same time. I found it to be such a turn-on and even fantasized I was doing it to you. Hope that doesn't offend you.

Loving Life

Um, thanks for sharing?


I'm having an extremely difficult time getting intimate with my boyfriend of four years. I'm in recovery for an eating disorder, and part of my treatment is Prozac. It's working great and helping me make healthier choices. However, the Prozac is severely affecting my sex drive. I have little to no desire to have sex. And when we do have sex, I rarely orgasm. This is frustrating and, frankly, harmful to my recovery process. I'm already dealing with my shitty eating disorder telling me that I'm fat, ugly, and not good enough for anyone, anything, or even a decent meal. Now it's taking sex away from me, too? I also feel terrible for my boyfriend, who is endlessly patient and understanding but wants to have sex. I've suggested opening up the relationship for his sake, but he doesn't want to do that. I feel guilty and sad and frustrated. Any thoughts?

Prozac Lover/Healer

If the benefits of Prozac (helping you make better choices and aiding your recovery process) are canceled out by the side effects (leaving you so sexually frustrated, it's harming your recovery process), PLH, you should talk to your doctor about other options—other drugs you could try or a lower dose of Prozac. If you doctor dismisses your concerns about the sexual side effects of the drug they've got you on, get a new doctor.


I have only one concern about Donald Trump getting impeached: Do we get Mike Pence? Is he not just as bad? Or worse? On a more personal note: I don't think I've gotten a good night's sleep since Trump got elected. I wake up every morning next to an avid, Fox News–watching Trump supporter. I'm married long-term (35 years!) to a man who pulled a political one-eighty. This is about to make me crazy. Really. I'm not kidding. Do you have any suggestions for me? I don't want to DTMFA. Although after a most nauseating discussion over dinner, I did actually give it some thought.

Liberal Grandma

Mike Pence, as awful as he is, oscillates within a predictable band of Republican awfulness. The reason no one is getting any sleep these days—not even folks who don't wake up next to Trump supporters—is because no one can predict what Trump will do next. Not even Trump. That's what makes his presidency such an existential nightmare.

As for your husband, LG, your choices are binary and rather stark: Either you divorce his ass and spare yourself the grief of listening to his bullshit, or you stay put, learn to tune out his bullshit, and cancel out his vote in 2018 and 2020.


What's the best dating site for a slightly cynical, tattooed, fortysomething woman looking for a guy?

Tattooed Lady

It depends on the kind of guy you want. Closet case? ChristianMingle. Fuck boy? Tinder. Trump voter? Farmers Only. Compulsive masturbator? Craigslist. Unfuckable loser who is now and will always be a socially maladapted virgin? Return of Kings.


On the Lovecast, Dr. Samantha Joel on the psychology of ending relationships: savagelovecast.com.

mail@savagelove.net

@fakedansavage

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Posted by Juliana Britto Schwartz

A not-so-gentle reminder: white women, this moment is not about your brand.

After failing to condemn violent white nationalists, Trump is ‘seriously considering’ a pardon for Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

California’s AB 638 would criminalize immigration consultants who provide accessible immigration services for people filing their immigration papers. Learn more here.

CeCe McDonald and BCRW put together a video on Ky Peterson, “Survived and Punished.” Ky is asking people to join in a letter-writing campaign to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. Sign Ky’s petition, get information about the letter-writing campaign, and follow Ky’s case at freeingky.com.

Everything you need to know about Taylor Swift’s day in court: “Swift’s argument was that by countersuing Mueller, she was making it easier for other, less powerful women to punish the men who think they have a right to their bodies.”

 

 

 

 

Posted by Terence P Ward

TWH –An recently discovered case of the sharing copyrighted Pagan books via a Facebook group highlights the seriousness of this problem in the digital age. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Pagan-themed books were discovered to be hosted through The Wiccan Circle.

While the group’s owner is now removing those copies, he is not only unapologetic, but has made it clear that he will find other means to share the books. He believes that it his right, because he purchased them in the first place. In response, many group members are expressing outrage, not over the sharing, but over it been stopped.

The Wiccan Circle group is owned by Lord Thrullas, who also has at least two other Facebook profiles found here and here. When confronted by Elysia Gallo, senior acquisitions editor for Llewellyn Worldwide, Thrullas defended the uploads by comparing it to lending physical books to friends.

The long list of files, which also included spells, were largely uploaded by him personally. He confirmed with The Wild Hunt that his intention was to help the group’s members, and that he did purchase the items himself.

“A complete stranger on Facebook sent me a message about this group, as she was very concerned,” Gallo said when reached for comment. “When I told our copyright infringement person about the group, she said it was on her radar, as other people have reported it as well.”

Gallo joined the group herself, and was quite transparent about her reason by posting: “I am looking for illegal copies of books posted without permission of the publisher so they can all be reported to Facebook.”

There are protocols for getting illegal copies removed from a web site which are laid out in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, but the process is cumbersome, particularly on Facebook and other content platforms.

According to Gallo, “You have to submit a report to their DCMA agent, and you have to list each title individually, which can take hours if not days for a group that has well over 2,000 PDFs to scroll through (especially as you can’t do a regular scroll, but a ‘facebook scroll’ – where it only loads, I don’t know, 20-40 titles, and when you get to the bottom you have to hit ‘more’ to continue).”

Thrullas replied to Gallo, “Then stop downloading Copyrighted[sic] information and pics from the internet.”

In something of a victory lap, he removed Gallo from the group and deleted her post, but posted an announcement of what he’d done, and why. The comment thread which ensued was largely supportive.

However, several Pagan authors who had joined for that purpose tried to explain their point of view. They were also removed and the thread deleted, but screen shots document the exchange.

“There are a lot more groups doing it then just mind[sic],” Thrullas said, “so make sure you look at all the groups.”

It is clear that this activity is a widespread problem. “Think of it as a hydra,” Gallo said. “You chop off one head, another one springs up to take its place.”

“Just like illegal downloads of music and movies, it can never be fully eradicated from the internet, although as a society we can hope to get better at it,” Gallo continued. “Some people have no respect for creative work, despite having other free outlets to legally obtain this content,” such as public libraries.

Exactly how much money is denied authors by such activities is less clear because much of it is simply unknown.

Moon Books publicist Nimue Brown used the same simile to explain the problem. “I’ve had plenty of occasions of getting illegal copies taken down,” she wrote, “but it often feels like cutting heads off a hydra, in no small part because the Pagans doing it have some very odd attitudes. I’ve been told we should be glad people are bothering to read us, that they’re doing us a favour – it’s exposure (exposure is something people die of).”

Brown continued on, saying: “I’ve been told they are entitled to share books – some people can’t grasp that there’s a world of difference between passing a book round a few friends, and giving it to thousands of people. It’s really frustrating. Authors who challenge over this can expect abuse, harassment, and a total failure of understanding from the people involved in it.”

In this particular case, the group owner likened it to a lending library or trading books. Gallo addressed that in a blog post from 2012, in which she wrote:

Um, except for the fact that the library bought a copy of the book, or your friend bought a copy of the book. (Even libraries that now do digital lending.) And that they have a finite number of copies (physical or digital) that they are able to lend out at any given time – not a file that can be downloaded over and over again in the blink of an eye by complete strangers all over the world.

Some group members were less than full-throated in their support of illegal copies being available for sharing. One wrote, “I like to hope that people can have their own opinions, and as [Thrullas] said, don’t download if you don’t agree.”

Just as these violations are common online, the mindset that simply not breaking the relevant laws and international treaties is the ethical alternative is regularly used as a defense, together with “it’s all over the internet anyway,” which Gallo also addressing in 2012, saying:

There are tons of free resources on the internet – ones that are given freely by their creators. (Perhaps because they have ad revenue they can rely on. Perhaps they just do it out of the goodness of their heart.) So why do people even feel the need to download whole books in the first place? By wanting to download a book more than you want to read a website or blog . . . you are admitting that it has a certain value that is greater than what you can browse for free. The sum is greater than its parts. So please, pay for it.

Another sentiment expressed by some members of The Wiccan Circle is that if it were illegal, it would not be happening on Facebook.

Gallo said that their DCMA agent requires a link to a valid copy of the book and the illegal one on Facebook, and each file must be reportedly separately, an extremely time-consuming process that can only be undertaken by someone who is already a group member.

Author Kerri Hope chimed in on that point, saying to other members, “Facebook doesn’t enforce copyright law for this kind of stuff. The courts do. I just found this group, but seriously? Isn’t this a Wiccan group? Harm none? I’m floored.”

Hope later said to this reporter, “I don’t know how anyone could do that and call themselves Wiccan. If Pagans are willing to treat other Pagans that badly, well it’s just baffling. Doesn’t give me much hope.”

Thrullas commented during the exchange, saying: “Im[sic] the founder of this group, people can take [it or] leave it as is. I have enough going on from my recent post then[sic] pety stuff.”

This is certainly true. A post he shared to the group indicated that his mother is in her final days of life, and less than a year ago he and his partner lost their home to fire, which killed six cats and injured two dogs.

Despite the impression he makes in these copyright exchanges, Thrullas, who identifies as a Norse Wiccan, is an active volunteer and teacher in his local and online Pagan communities, and did sign the Pagan community environmental statement. His store, the Sage Emporium, does not presently have any books listed for sale on its site.

One group member characterized Thrullas as a “really good person” who “perhaps . . . didn’t know the particulars of the publishers’ and authors’ copyright laws” and might have reacted differently had he been approached privately.

Thrullas stuck to his position that purchasing the books gives him right to distribute them for free.

After the group owner began deleting the illegal copies, he simultaneously made clear that he would find another way to distribute his digital library, to the cheers of many group members.

“I cant[sic] put them back up on FB but Ido have the vast library and more posted somewhere trust me on that.”

To the end, he laid blame on those reporting the files, rather than ignorance of the law. At least one group member appeared ready to lay a curse on those doing the reporting.

Author Lupa published a post titled “When You Steal a Book From an Author,” in response to this particular issue. However, she is also well aware that it’s not at all rare:

They’re saying they are above the law. Sorry, but there is no way to legally justify sharing the entire book without permission. Fair use applies to a few hundred words, that’s it. ‘Educational use’ is only within certain educational establishments, and again is piece and part, not the whole damned thing. Sharing a bunch of PDFs to random strangers on Facebook? Sorry, your educational defense doesn’t work.

Lupa additionally suggested that the copyright notice in all books might have provided a clue, as it reserves the right to reproduce to those who have obtained permission to do so.

In her own blog post on the issue, Brown wrote:

I realise that most people don’t know copyright law, and it is easy to be persuaded that it’s ok to have something you want. There are a lot of people out there spouting all kinds of crap about why giving away other people’s ebooks is ok. It isn’t ok to give other people’s ebooks away, simply. However, anyone can make a mistake. Anyone can pick up a book because it sounded legit. . . . If you’ve made a mistake and taken something you shouldn’t have had, you can fix this by rebalancing things. Buy another book from the same author. Buy a hard copy for yourself. Stick something in their donations pot or Patreon.

One group member, upon learning that the group as a whole had been reported and the files were being removed, suggested it might be the result of anti-Pagan conspiracy.

It was not. It was the result of Pagan publishers and authors such as Gallo and others who reported the group.

“If we want to deal with the issue of Pagan books being pirated,” said Brown, “I think we have to tackle it as a cultural issue, not a practical one. And really, if you believe in any kind of magic, or energy, or power, or underpinning logic to the universe, why would you feel safe and comfortable learning your magic from a stolen book? How can that not have consequences? Whatever path you follow, whatever you believe, there are consequences.”

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