(Pagan) News of Note

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  June 30, 2008 — 6 Comments

My semi-regular round-up of articles, essays, and opinions of note for discerning Pagans and Heathens.

Getting excited about Hellboy II yet? I sure am! The film, directed and co-written by “Pan’s Labyrinth” director Guillermo del Toro, is chock-full of pagan-friendly elements. To whet your appetite for the July 11th release date, an animated comic prologue has been released.

For more pre-release fun, check out the multiple trailers at the Apple site. You might also want to read some advance reviews from Variety, Hollywood Reporter, and Cinematical.

While I’m on the subject of movie news, a recent Virgin Media survey places “The Wicker Man” in the top ten best British films of all time.

“Four Weddings And A Funeral has been named best British film of all time in a survey out yesterday. The 1994 romantic comedy just beat Monty Python’s Life Of Brian, and made a star of Hugh Grant, who comes fourth in the Best Actor poll. Trainspotting, Casino Royale, starring Daniel Craig as James Bond, Guy Ritchie’s Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, Lawrence Of Arabia, Withnail And I, Atonement, The Wicker Man and Get Carter completed the top 10 in the Virgin Media survey.”

Speaking of “The Wicker Man”, star Christopher Lee has lashed out in the press about ageism in the film industry after his role in the Scottish movie “Stone of Destiny” was edited out.

Presidential candidate Barack Obama seems to embody the religious hopes and fears of America. He’s been called a secret Muslim, spurred claims that he might be the messiah, or a perhaps a “light worker”, pissed off James Dobson, gained the support of a Pagan delegate (and had supposed Pagan ties used against him), and was formally adopted into the Crow Indian Nation. Now Hindus think he might be one of them.


Spot the Monkey God!

“If charges of being a “secret Muslim” weren’t enough, Barack Obama may now need to prove he’s not a secret Hindu as well. According to the Times of India, a group of supporters in New Delhi have sent Obama a two-foot, gold-plated statue of the monkey god Hanuman. According to Indian politician Brijmohan Bhama, “Obama has deep faith in Lord Hanuman and that is why we are presenting an idol of Hanuman to him.” The apparent source of this pronouncement of Obama’s newly-discovered faith is this photo from Time magazine, which shows a collection of lucky charms Obama carries with him, including a small Hanuman charm.”

What better way to debunk “secret Muslim” smears than to have the Hindus claim you! Of course Obama is actually a liberal Christian, but this swirl of activity proves just how far America has moved from its “Christian” identity.

The Miami Herald has put out a very nice story about the shrine of la Ermita de La Caridad, a place where Cuban refugees come for solace and to pray. Though technically a Catholic shrine, it also attracts followers of Santeria who see la Caridad as a manifestation of Ochun.

“At the northern end of the seawall, where historic Vizcaya serves as a foreground to the glossy towers of Brickell Avenue, a stone Eleggua (the Santeria god known as the opener of paths) with cowrie-shell eyes gazes up toward the water’s surface. At the southern end, near Mercy Hospital, someone’s Santeria necklaces cling to a rock, a school of little silver fish brushing by the yellow and amber beads for Ochun, the blue and white ones for Yemaya … As Catholic as the shrine is, many of the devoted who come here are also followers of Santeria. In the religious syncretism of Cuba, la Caridad, an apparition of the Virgin Mary, is also called Ochun, one of the orishas, the Santeria gods. “A sanctuary is precisely a place where the Catholic religion makes contact with el pueblo,” Roman says. “We know there are people who perform rituals out there by the seawall. But they do it very respectfully. They don’t let us see it.”

A touching and balanced story about how culture and shared experience can sometimes overcome the barriers erected by religion.

In a final note, Religion Clause links to a story about how legal peyote used for religious purposes by Native Americans is becoming increasingly scarce due to local land being leased to oil speculators.

“South Texas property owners have realized there is profit in leasing their land as oil or hunting preserves. Suddenly, the small pittances peyoteros could pay for access didn’t seem worth it. “Now, it’s getting to where the ranchers don’t want to give permission for us to look on their land,” he said. “You have to keep going back to the same patches and waiting for it to grow again.” This presents a conundrum. If Morales and his colleagues keep revisiting the same patches, the cactus doesn’t have enough time to re-grow. Repeated overharvesting also affects the potency of the plant, said Martin Terry, an assistant professor of biology at Sul Ross University in Alpine. “If the demand continues to increase – even slowly – and the supply continues to decrease, then the amount available to the church will just keep continuing to decrease,” he said.”

Religious prohibitions prevent greenhouse-grown peyote, and trips to Mexico, where the cactus is still plentiful, is wrought with legal entanglements. With only a few legal peyoteros left, and available land dwindling, it remains to be seen if the Native American Church can find a way to solve this problem.

That is all I have for now, have a great day!

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Joe Max

    Well, get ready for this one of note:http://www.ncwanted.com/ncwanted_home/story/3128703/“A Durham couple charged with kidnapping, rape and assault was involved with a satanic cult, a prosecutor said Monday.”I’m still trying to find out exactly what the prosecutor meant by “satanic cult”, but in North Carolina, I tend to expect the worst.

  • Robin Edgar

    It would appear that a conservative American pundit is trying to use Barack Obama’s Unitarian-Communist ties against him on the American Thinker blog. ;-)

  • Caturo

    Even not having seen the movie yet, but having a general idea of the story, isn’t there any possibility that «Hellboy II» is in fact an anti-pagan film? The «bad guy» is a God (or, at least, He haves the name of one of the main Celtic Irish Gods, Nuada) Who wants to rule again, i.e., Who wants to RETURN, which is, symbolically or not, to be worshiped again. Doesn’t that ring a bell in all of you people?When the «bad guy» haves essentially the same intention that we have, what does this tells about the message that the film might be trying to send to peoples’ minds? Most probably, that message is not on our side.

  • Jason Pitzl-Waters

    Caturo,I refute your take on the subject with the following true facts: 1. Guillermo del Toro is awesome, and produced an awesome film dealing with Pagan themes called “Pan’s Labyrinth”. 2. The movie has good fairies and bad fairies. 3. Guillermo del Toro is no stalking horse for Christian propaganda.4. Helllboy is a great comic, and isn’t “anti-Pagan” in any real sense. 5. See point number one.

  • Caturo

    Jason Pitzl-Waters, my take on the subjective is to be taken cum grano salis while I did not see the movie yet. However,1 – «Pan’s Labyrinth» final message looks more atheistic than pagan-friendly;2 – The «Good faries» of «Hellboy II» are, apparently, those Who DO NOT WANT to return, or, symbolically speaking, those who «know their right place», those who know that their time in this world is gone and are happy for being just a good theme for amusing stories and NOTHING MORE than that.Curiously, the «Good God» is the Horned One, i.e., the telluric, worshiped specially by hippies and alike, while Nuadu, being somehow more Uranic, celestial and warlike, reminds people of the European martial sacred tradition.3 – I have no access to the thoughts of Guillermo del Toro, and so, I do not know what does he thinks about the return of Paganism (not all anti-Pagans are Christian);4 – The «Hellboy» comics don’t have to be anti-Pagan in any sense at all, but that does not mean that they are necessarily pro-Pagan; and Guillermo del Toro can do whatever he wants with he story, as long as it sells and does not upset the owners of Hellboy’s trade mark.5 – See all the points above.

  • Morning Angel

    “…this swirl of activity proves just how far America has moved from its “Christian” identity.”Sadly, not even close to the truth.Obama announced this week he would expand on Bush’s “faith”-based initiatives, which has left his supporters feeling betrayed. And we have this from McCain, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9izhjnaLa3MWatch and weep.-Morning Angel