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NY (Hearts) WV. Plus, What to Do When Bad Things Happen

A chemical spill in West Virginia contaminated the water source used by over 300,000 people.  On February 8, 2014, a bunch of Witches gathered in Brooklyn at Catland Books to honor the Imbolc Sabbat. The NYC Witches had this message for West Virginia:

The "Who"s and "What"s and stuff.
The Sabbat was held by the NY/CT/NJ facet of Novices of the Old Ways, a national Progressive Pagan and Wiccan community. The ritual was led by Votary-Priestess Elizabeth LaBarca. The group raised $150 for Manna Meal, a non-denominational group in Charleston, WV that provides two hot meals a day to anyone in need. Donations to help the disaster relief can also be made via Paypal to, subject line: WV Disaster. Those donations will go to the local Unitarian Church, aiding in the efforts.


Yes. Our Human-Kin (and animal kin!) in West Virginia are going through a very bad time right now. For information on the current disaster situation, please see Rachel Maddow Interview with Ken Ward of the Charleston Gazette.

How is a video-message going to help?
One of the worst side-effects of a disaster situation is feeling alone or forgotten. As the media moves on, naturally so does attention to the region. Not so long ago, we in NY/NJ/CT were facing a disaster situation of our own. The national news moved on as the election started, but we were still going through The Sh*ts. It's rough on the psyche and soul. In many ways, the situation is WV is worse. So many people came to help the Sandy relief efforts. Unfortunately, we can't get in cars with garbage bags, sledge hammers, and shovels and clean up the mess done by the chemical leak. We, being remote civilians, are not able to clean the water of our WV Humankin, ourselves. But we can send a message that will hopefully lift some spirits.

We also could use the opportunity to let others know where to send money to help.

What do we do when bad things happen???
We have options! Crying helps, initially. It lets the pain and anger out so we can set it aside--or better yet, let it fuel us--to help. Raising and sending energy helps, too. But this is going to hurt to write/read: The raising and sending of energy to a large-scale, rambling problem does good, but very often, it's doing more good for those who cast it than those meant to receive it. We feel we've done something by remembering those suffering in our intentions. But a small group raising energy for a local problem has the effect of a watering can on a dry area of the backyard--directed and effective. That same group raising energy for a major problem is going to have the effect of that same watering can on a forest fire: Reading--not much. Now, get together with 10,000 other watering cans and you may indeed have something to aid the problem. But unless you're planning on coordinating or collaborating with 10,000 other groups, don't let your efforts stop at the Circle.

I want to help, but I don't want to send money.
Okay--please listen. SEND. MONEY. Don't send canned goods, used clothing, or even bottled water in this case. This brilliant article demonstrates the problems well-intentioned donations can cause in disaster areas. Needs change daily and often what is most in need cannot be supplied by a common consumer, such as antibiotics or water purification tablets. I can directly attest to changing needs. During Occupy Wall Street, bright-eyed and eager supporters would rush up to me with bags of rain-slickers, or peace-charms, or shoe-laces. And while I thanked them for their kindness, the weather that day might be cold and dry and the slickers were of no help. There would be nowhere to store the peace-charms or shoe-laces, as all the donation areas were clogged with other things given in love, but without much use. I was left with lots of well-intentioned goods and spent a lot of important time trying to find places to put them. Had these people handed me the cash they used to buy the supplies, I could have run out and gotten what we needed that night--sweatshirts, socks, sanitary napkins, gas for the generators. It was a similar situation a after Sandy, where the needs changed daily. One day, paper-towels were the valued commodity. The day after, face-masks. By the weekend, people would have sold souls for duct tape. By donating cash directly to a region, you are able to help the people aid their most dire needs, immediately. If you aren't sure where to donate your funds and aren't a fan of large organizations, look up Churches or food pantries local to the region. They will most certainly be busy. Also, regional chapters of the Red Cross or Red Crescent will be more directly involved with aid than national or international chapters. Your $5 will be a very valuable watering can, indeed.

West Virginia--you are not forgotten.
I want to bundle up the whole state and serve you all tea in my living room, where you can pet my cats. They're very healing. Unfortunately, that's rather impossible. So please accept my and my community's offering of love. We're not alone in the love we send, either.

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Courtney Weber is a Priestess, writer, Tarot Advisor, performer and activist originally from Portland, OR living in New York City. Her writings on Witchcraft have been published in numerous publications, including Spiral Nature and the Huffington Post. She is the author of "Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess" and "Tarot for One: The Art of Reading For Yourself", both through Weiser Books. She is the producer and designer of "Tarot of the Boroughs" a contemporary Tarot deck composed of original photography set in NYC. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and cats.


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