This has taken us a while to write; how do you wrap words around what is happening around Australia at the moment? The land we love, that we are connected to, is burning. Thousands of people have lost their homes, some in our community. At last estimate over one and a quarter billion animals have died, many thousands more are injured, and the survivors face homelessness and starvation in a blackened land.
For so many of us as Pagans, our connection to nature is a huge part of our life and our practice. So many of us have lost sacred spaces as well as homes and livelihoods. The grief for the land is ever present now, and it will be with us for a long time.
Our hearts go out to those affected; both within the Pagan community and without, for we are a country united by the horror of this now. Our hearts go out to the First Nations people who have lost so much, and whose connection to Country runs many thousands of years deep, for whom this land is home to culture, history, spirits and family and language. Especially now, we acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands that have burned and are burning. They managed this land using fire guided by ancestral knowledge for millennia, and now watch it in agony.
Our hearts go out to the animals and birds, reptiles, insects, plants, fish, fungi, and all of the non-human creatures who share the varied and beautiful environments of this country, who have died or been injured, or who survive to face new challenges in a land without food, shelter, or water.
Our hearts go out to the spirits of the land.
It is easy to feel helpless in the face of a catastrophe so enormous. Perhaps we all do, to some extent. The numbers we hear are almost hard to comprehend; millions of hectares destroyed, hundreds of homes burned, over a billion animals dead. It’s a tidal wave of information, and it is overwhelming, especially when you feel the loss so deeply.
So what can we do? Below is a list of reputable charities to which we can donate. Even a dollar here and there, the price of a cup of coffee, a little small change, adds up. It all helps. There are some well-known charities we have left off this list because of their attitudes to the LGBTQ+ community, with whom the PCV always stands in support. Try to give to the organisations that view us all as equally human and equally worthy of help.
While the PCV does not usually get involved in secular politics, believing as we do in the separation of church and state, we now urge you to step up for the sake of the land. Lobby for better environmental policies, lobby to cease native animal culls in the aftermath of the fires, be the voice of the land, for all of those who cannot speak, but whose presence we have been enriched by, and whose country we share. Be a strong voice, a loving and compassionate voice, an angry voice if you must. Speak up for the land. Give help as you are able.
And at this time, when it is easy to feel shattered, overwhelmed, grieving and helpless, remember your community is here. You’re not alone, and the company of fellow Pagans is a good place to share your feelings about what’s going on, to work out how to help, to find support and care; practical and emotional and spiritual. Get in touch, come to a meet, come to a ritual, and connect. There is beauty and comfort to be found among like minds.
We hope, and pray for an end to the fires, for rain where it is needed, and for regrowth and rebirth from all these ashes. We stand with those who have lost what is precious, and those who are grieving, and those who are fighting to save what is left. There is not enough gratitude and admiration in the world for our incredible firefighters (professional and volunteer, and those who have come from overseas to help), and the first responders, animal rescuers, and all involved in saving lives and keeping survivors safe.
From all of us at the Pagan Collective of Victoria, may you and your loved ones stay safe, may we all work to heal the land and those who live on it. Blessed be.
FIRE RELIEF FOR FIRST NATIONS PEOPLE:
Animals Australia is helping distribute funding to rescue organisations around Australia as needed and funding vets to travel to fire affected areas.
The Rescue Collective is a group of rescue organisations, banding together to work wonders with bushfire survivors in Qld and NSW. They’ve done incredible work so far!
Wildlife Victoria is helping animal victims of the Victorian bushfires.
WIRES is helping animal victims of the NSW bushfires.
SAVEM is a group of SA vets working to save the animal populations of devastated Kangaroo Island. They do not have external funding and are relying on donations to help save these threatened populations.
To help people affected by the fires across Australia:
GIVIT facilitates the donations of items to people who need them, for those who wish to donate goods instead of cash: