My semi-regular round-up of articles, essays, and opinions of note for discerning Pagans and Heathens.
The Baltimore Sun runs a touching obituary for Disney employee and Wiccan Heather Hurd, who died tragically in a car accident on January 3rd.
“In 2006, she entered an intern program at Walt Disney World, where she was an employment assistant for two years. This year, she was promoted to the diversity team. Last year, Miss Hurd received the Mousecar Award, presented by Walt Disney Studios, for her work. “She loved everything about Disney,” said her father, W. Russell Hurd III of Abingdon. Miss Hurd, who was a Wiccan, enjoyed attending the theater and was interested in Celtic music and culture. “Her dream was to go to Ireland and visit Cork, where our family came from,” Mr. Hurd said.”
The family is starting a fund in her name to support other Disney interns who are having trouble making ends meet.
Today is National Vodun (aka “Voodoo”) Day in Benin, the commonly acknowledged birthplace of the syncretic faith, where the country’s 4.5 million practitioners, in addition to pilgrims from around the world, converge to honor their faith and remember the legacy of the slave trade.
“After Benin lifted a previous ban on the practice of Voodoo, it was declared an official religion in the former French colony in the mid-1990s and Jan. 10 is celebrated as National Voodoo Day, a public holiday ranking with Christmas and the Muslim Eid … Such celebrations draw thousands of tourists each year to Benin, especially to the coastal city of Ouidah, from which hundreds of thousands of African slaves were shipped by European traders in past centuries to the Americas and the Caribbean … Voodoo has a strong popular presence in Haiti and similar African-origin rituals are celebrated in Cuba under the name of “Santeria” and in Brazil as “Candomble”.”
The Reuters article linked above also looks at concerns about the spread of “bird flu” virus (H5N1) through chicken blood used in traditional ceremonies, an issue I have discussed previously on this blog.
The Hallmark Channel is airing a new original movie entitled “The Good Witch”, starring Catherine Bell (an adherent of Scientology, btw) as a mysterious woman who moves to small town and attempts to open a metaphysical store.
“Cassie is an enchanting beauty with a gentle spirit, an outrageous sense of fashion and a “wicked” sense of humor. She also seems to be something of an enchantress. She has a magic touch with men (although Jake is slow to respond, as he hasn’t quite gotten over his wife’s death several years ago); she has a magic touch with children (Jake’s kids, Brandon and Lori, are drawn to her, maybe because she smells “like gingerbread”); she even has a magic touch with savage beasts (Cassie rescues the children from an attacking dog, then “tames” it with a few choice words). It seems that Cassie has the ability to charm everyone she meets, with the exception of Martha Tinsdale the mayor’s busybody wife who also is the tsk-tsking head of the local Citizen’s League. In fact, when Cassie opens a shop called Bell, Book and Candle – a “new-age” shop that carries Celtic, metaphysical and Wiccan items – Mrs. Tinsdale immediately launches a protest.”
I wonder if they will actually make the character a Wiccan. Some of these movies end up with the character vindicated of all strangeness, and shown to be far more “normal” than the antagonists originally suspected. Maybe instead of a Witch, they will all discover she is really a Scientologist, and there will be free stress-tests for everyone!
In a final note, Religion Clause brings word of a court ruling that could have broad ramifications for Wiccans and other Pagans who wish to file as conscientious objectors.
“In Hanna v. Secretary of the Army, (1st Cir., Jan. 9, 2008), the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision held that the Army’s Conscientious Objector Review Board had no basis in fact for denying conscientious objector status to Army doctor, Captain Mary Hanna. It rejected the Army’s reliance on the timing of Hanna’s claim and its argument that Hanna’s beliefs were not gained through rigorous training, study or contemplation. Chief Judge Boudin, dissenting, argued that pacifism is not a belief of Hanna’s Coptic Church, that her position could not easily be described as reflecting rigorous study, and that the timing of her application could be considered as a factor. The majority’s decision affirmed last year’s decision by a Massachusetts federal district court.”
This ruling would help address the problem of philosophic and moral diversity concerning objectors to military participation (or participation in wars believed to be unjust) for religions that aren’t explicitly pacifist like Wicca (or Catholicism, for that matter). If this decision stands, it could make it far easier for pacifist Pagans to register for Conscientious Objector status in the case of a draft.
That is all I have for now, have a great day!