Monday, 12 October 2020


Being the load-bearing day it already is with the celebration of indigenous cultures and identity, the Feast for Life (birthday in 1875) of occultist and Thelema founder Aleister Crowley, the start of the first Oktoberfest in 1890—plus Thanksgiving / Action de grรขce for our Canadian friends this year, this date also is observed as Freethought Day, held on the anniversary when colonial governor of Massachusetts Bay William Phips (*1651 – †1695) was moved to recant and contact the privy council of William and Mary to recommend that they disband the witch tribunal that Phips himself had established in order bring legitimacy to a process that was widely seen for the petty court of retributions that it was by finding “spectral evidence” inadmissible.

Despite his good intentions, Phips’ reforms came up short and the witch trials were effectively ended in North America where they had lingered longer than in Europe. Humanist, secularists and freethinkers eschew heterodoxy and prescriptive rather than descriptive world-views and organisers hope to portray atheists and the non-aligned as just the same as everyone else (a concept that is glaring absent in politics) and induct honorary figures as examples of those that embody autonomy and reason, whose ranks include Thomas Paine, Clarence Darrow, Mark Twain, Mary Wollstonecraft, Hypatia, Fredrick Douglas and George Orwell.