March came in cold and snowy, and it threatens to go out the same way. Though I want Spring–blue skies, warmer temperatures, a return to my garden–I dread the end of March, too. March 29 marked the beginning of 30 Days of Advocacy Against Witch-hunts. This is my fourth year of participating. I’ve been dreading it all month, but I can’t look away.
30 Days of Advocacy deals specifically with witch-hunts in Africa, but horrific reports of crimes against accused witches come in from India and Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. Last year I tried to end the campaign with an up-beat post: the family of an African teenager living in Great Britain had been convicted of his brutal murder, and police across the country were being trained to recognize and respond to “abuse resulting from ritualistic or faith-based beliefs.”
Friday, April 27, 2012, The Independent newspaper reported: “Police officers in London will receive extra instructions on helping children accused of witchcraft and sorcery with plans to expand the training nationwide if it proves effective.”
In the same post I reported that Rev. Don Lewis, First Priest and Chancellor of the Correllian Tradition–a branch of Wicca with members in the U.S., Europe, and South Africa, intended to bring the issue of witch-hunts to the World Parliament of Religions in Brussels in 2014. The Parliament for 2014, however, has been cancelled due to ongoing economic woes in Europe. And now the organization itself is in financial peril. Pagan leader Phyllis Curott, recently elected to serve as the Vice-Chair for the Parliament, posted an appeal for assistance on Facebook:
The Parliament incurred a large and burdensome debt as the consequence of an unexpected drop in the attendance of the 2004 Barcelona Parliament due to a terrorist attack in Madrid weeks earlier. As a result, there was insufficient income to cover the expenses of the event. While we have been paying it off slowly, a Spanish arbitrator ruled against the Parliament and despite our efforts to challenge the award, a US Court has now ruled that the Spanish arbitration award is binding and the balance of the debt is due immediately. In anticipation that we might lose, we started raising funds last Fall, and have raised about half the amount needed. We expected to have several more months to raise the rest, but the remaining balance is now due immediately. We need to raise $150,000 and have until April 12th to do so.
Miraculously–magically?–$32,000 has been donated in 2 days, and a number of Pagan leaders and ordinary folk have contributed. That’s my good news for today
Bad news? Witch-hunts are not restricted to faraway places. In Tampa Bay, Florida, Kyrja Withers, the author of a popular series of Pagan-themed children’s books, has been the subject of escalating harassment. On Thursday she reported on her Facebook page:
Someone shot at me tonight – and though they missed, The Glitter Dome is a bit more …. holey … tonight. We’ve had intermittent problems with someone honking their horn outside our house at very late hours and screaming obsenities. Once, they threw a firecracker in our front house. Last night, they screamed “F’ing WITCH” – quite clearly. No mistake. Today, we received several telephone calls where the caller said something unintelligible and then hung up, as well as an inappropriate post on one of my Rupert videos. This is obviously personal. And now, they have crossed the line and have caused property damage. And yes – the first window they hit is where I sit. It is time to deal with this. And so we shall. We ask for your assistance in calling for swift justice.
So the Advocacy must go on! I will be reporting on the campaign in Africa and following up on fundraising for the Parliament of the the World’s Religions and spitefulness on our home shores. On, Spring!
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Filed under: Parliament of World Religions, Witch Hunts