(Pagan) News of Note

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  September 10, 2008 — 2 Comments

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

Politics! Litigation! Evangelism! Looks like we need to take a break and explore that heady intersection of fashion and the occult. British lingerie brand Agent Provocateur has unleased its newest collection: “Season of the Witch” (just in time for the Samhain season).

“The “Season of the Witch” ad shows a flame-haired high priestess presiding over a disrobed virgin in a sacrificial ceremonial scene. Her raven-haired witches crowd around while semi-disrobed soldiers lie helplessly at their feet.”

The photo shoots seem to nod towards a Hellfire Club/Secret Society sort of diabolic decadence. The roll-out of the new collection has gained a remarkable amount of press due to the inclusion of Bob “Live Aid” Geldof’s daughter Peaches. You can explore the (Not Safe For Work) collection at the Agent Provocateur web site.

BBC News profiles the life of Susanne Wenger, a 94-year-old Austrian artist who became a convert to the Yoruba faith. Arriving in Nigeria in 1950, Wenger went on to help preserve the Osun sacred grove in Osogbo town, and fight attempts by Muslim and Christian missionaries to wipe out Nigeria’s pre-Christian religion.

“When she arrived here, she found traditional culture in abeyance, all but destroyed by missionaries who branded it “black magic” or “juju”, a word Mrs Wenger reviles. Friends paint a picture of a dedicated, tough and far-sighted leader who has helped revive a culture thought destroyed by Christian and Muslim evangelists, and secured protection for one of the Yoruba tradition’s most sacred sites. But she is very humble about her achievements. “Osogbo is a creative place, it is that by itself, it didn’t need me,” she says.”

Locals hold her in high regard, and believe the goddess Oshun has channeled into her body, granting her wisdom and knowledge of their ways far beyond that of any other European. This is an inspiring story, be sure to read the whole thing and check out the video of an Oshun offering. Thanks to Dave Haxton for pointing it out.

The South African Pagan Council shares an official media statement by South Africa’s (re-re-established) National Party regarding Paganism. This comes in the wake of the party promising to “suppress” Satanism and witchcraft should they come into power.

“We would like to state it unequivocally that the National Party does not hold any ill feeling against the pagan community. On the contrary, the National Party would endeavour upon election to protect the rights of the Pagan community. We understand the response from the Pagan community regarding our policy towards Satanism. It is well known that paganism has wrongly, and to the great detriment of the Pagans, been associated with Satanism by ill-informed officials. However, the National Party wishes to advise that we fully support freedom of religion and that there would be no witch-hunt of any practitioners of Wicca, Odinic Rite or any of the other Pagan practices.”

SAPC representative Luke Martin greeted the NP’s statement warmly, though forcefully reiterated that the South African constitution guarantees religious freedom for all, even Satanists, or other faiths they may find distasteful. This is another example of how South African Pagans have gotten active in local politics in order to protect their rights and freedoms.

BBC Europe editor Mark Mardell shares the news that Pagan-folk band Omnia member Joe Hennon is assistant to EU official Margot Wallstrom, Vice President of the European Commission in charge of Institutional Relations and Communication.

“I am of course ever on the alert for any signs of witches and warlocks haunting the corridors of power. So what do you make of the fact that Commissioner Margot Walstrom’s spokesperson is a leading exponent of Pagan Rock?”

Mardell confides that the post was made so he could link to Omnia’s latest promotional video, and we should hope so, because Hennon’s job in politics was extensively reported on nearly a year ago by Expatica.

In a final note, French composer and record producer Hector Zazou passed away on Monday at the age of 60.

“Algerian-born French composer/producer Hector Zazou had a surprise waiting with each new record: twisted rock, neo-classical compositions, world music (from Africa to Central Asia), string quartets, pieces for wind instruments, voices or synthesizers, he’s been using a wide variety of genres to create the most unexpected and subtle blends…”

His ambient and neo-classical works found a wide assortment of willing collaborators, from Siouxsie Sioux and Bjork to indigenous shamans. Zazou’s most famous release in America is probably 1992′s “Sahara Blue”, a tribute to Arthur Rimbaud that featured the talents of Dead Can Dance, David Sylvian, and Gérard Depardieu. His creative vision will certainly be missed.

That is all I have for now. Have a great day!

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