A few quick news notes for you on this Saturday morning.
Grant Morrison Awarded MBE: It isn’t every day that an avowed ritual magician is made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Comics writer Grant Morrison, famous for works like “The Invisibles,” and the recent “Supergods,” was recognized “for services to film and literature” on the Queen’s annual birthday honors list. Morrison has long advocated the use of magic(k), sigil magick in particular.
“All you need to begin the practice of magic is concentration, imagination and the ability to laugh at yourself and learn from mistakes. Some people like to dress up as Egyptians or monks to get themselves in the mood; others wear animal masks or Barbarella costumes. The use of ritual paraphernalia functions as an aid to the imagination only. Anything you can imagine, anything you can symbolize, can be made to produce magical changes in your environment.”
One has to wonder if Morrison did magic to become a part of chivalric order, and if so, what he plans to use his new status for. I have no doubt that it has something to do with bringing about global enlightenment in time for December. Alan Moore could not be reached for comment.
Klee Benally Found Guilty of Trespassing and Disorderly Conduct: Klee Benally, lead singer of the Navajo punk band Blackfire, was convicted of trespassing and disorderly conduct for chaining himself to excavator in protest of construction, the expansion of a ski resort, and the pumping of treated wastewater snow onto the San Francisco Peaks in Arizona. A coalition of local indigenous groups and Tribal Nations see this “development” as a desecration that would be “like putting death on the mountain.”
“How can I be ‘trespassing’ on this site that is so sacred to me? This is my church. It is the Forest Service and Snowbowl who are violating human rights and religious freedom by desecrating this holy Mountain [...] Their actions are far beyond ‘disorderly’. [...] The Forest Service, the City of Flagstaff, & the courts have proven that they do not understand or respect our spiritual ceremonies and practices and our spiritual relationship to the Earth [...] We have no guaranteed protection for our religious freedom as Indigenous Peoples in the United States.”
I’ve covered this story in depth, and it is a stark example of how arbitrary “religious freedom” can be in the United States, particularly if your ancestral sacred lands are getting in the way of marginally increased revenue for a ski resort. The protection of Native sacred lands is an ongoing issue in Indian country, encroachments and construction on sacred lands often done in the arbitrary name of economic development, or sometimes just for simple convenience (to non-Native folks of course). For some politicians it seems very plain there is no such thing as sacred land at all. However, we know there are consequences and a price to the eradication or desecration of sacred ground, whether it is Tara in Ireland or the peaks in Arizona.
A Pardon for Britain’s Last Witch? In 1944 Spiritualist Helen Duncan was convicted under the Witchcraft Act, and was the last individual to be imprisoned for the crime of witchcraft before its repeal in 1951. Since then, there been an ongoing campaign to clear Duncan’s name, and win her a pardon. The BBC reports on the ongoing efforts, speculating that they may seek judicial review after a 2008 petition to the Scottish Parliament was rejected.
Graham Hewitt, who is fighting the case on behalf of her grandchildren, said: “She was tried under an old piece of legislation that shouldn’t have been used at the time and advice had been issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions that alternatives were available.”
The conviction and imprisonment of Duncan looms large in the history of Wicca and religious Witchcraft. Gerald Gardner’s novel “High Magic’s Aid,” which contained elements of the soon-to-be-made public faith, was published in 1949, before the repeal. It was only in 1954, after the Witchcraft Act’s repeal, that his non-fiction work “Witchcraft Today” was released, sparking what would become an international religious phenomenon. Pardons for individuals like Duncan, or the Pendle Witches, or the witches of Salem, are seen as a corrective to the historical record, that the conviction and punishment for witchcraft is mistake that must be remedied so that it cannot happen again. Considering the grim reality of witch-hunts, witch-arrests, and witch-killings in many parts of the world today, such actions could help send a strong signal.
That’s all I have for now, have a great day!