(Pagan) News of Note

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  October 18, 2008 — 1 Comment

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

We start off with an update on an ongoing “Satanic Panic” case in North Carolina. A judge has lowered the bail of Joseph Craig, who is accused, along with his wife Joy Johnson, of raping and “kidnapping” another couple (during supposed “Satanic” rites) that lived with them.

“Judge Orlando Hudson lowered bail to $50,000 for Joseph Craig, who has been in the Durham County Jail since late June … Craig, 25, has been charged with second-degree rape, second-degree forcible sexual offense, three counts of second-degree kidnapping and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. His wife, Joy Johnson, 30, faces aiding and abetting charges in a case that has created financial hardships for the couple, defense lawyers say. The accusers in the bizarre case are a 44-year-old woman and 19-year-old man who moved in with the couple more than 10 months ago to study the occult.”

The defense team has argued that both couples were engaging in consensual sadomasochism, and that their accusers are mentally unstable. While any examination of the facts proves they aren’t Satanists, both accusers raised the specter of Satanism and “demons” in their testimony (the female accuser claims she was raped while channeling spirits). Both accusers continued to live with the accused months after the alleged incidents, despite having access to money, cell-phones, and transportation. Of course, as the article points out, even if Joseph Craig and Joy Johnson are cleared of the charges leveled against them, their lives have been ruined by this experience.

While one couple struggles against what may be false accusations, another man is being released from prison after recent DNA testing failed to link him to the scene of the crime. Joseph White, who spent 19 years in prison for the alleged rape-slaying of a 68 year old woman, claims that his Wiccan faith and shamanistic practice helped him persevere in prison.

“As White sipped on hot Darjeeling tea Thursday at a north Lincoln coffee shop, he calmly explained that faith helped him endure nearly two decades behind bars for a crime that he and the evidence say he didn’t commit. He said he was the leader of a Wiccan group at the penitentiary. His beliefs also include a mixture of Buddhism and shamanism.”

White, who is now 45, is trying to rebuild his life, and is saddened that he missed out on raising his son, now 20. According to state law, if a new case isn’t brought against White in six months (prosecutors now admit they have no evidence linking him to the crime), he’ll be exonerated of the charges.

A note to the East Valley Tribune, it always helps to be a specific as possible when applying religious labels. For instance, in what way is Dan “Dr. Dan” Bartlett a “pagan movement clergyman”?

“Organizational rules most define religion, says a pagan movement clergyman from Scottsdale, Dan “Dr. Dan” Bartlett, a certified holistic life path adviser. “Spirituality, on the other hand, comes from an individual belief and approach to a connection with what that person might see as God, or see as a connection with the super-consciousness of the universe,” he said.”

Dr. Dan’s site in no way mentions any form of modern Paganism. It does mention him being a “holistic life path advisor” and a “metaphysician”, but neither of those professions necessarily mean he’s a Pagan. However, I do give you kudos for referring to modern Paganism as a “movement” instead of a singular religion with “denominations”.

If you enjoyed the religiously non-specific and occult-avoiding Hallmark channel movie “The Good Witch” you’re in luck! They are rolling out a sequel to their “second-highest-rated original movie”.

“Witch’s Catherine Bell and Chris Potter will start shooting (thank goodness it’s a working title) The Good Witch 2 later this month in Toronto for a 2009 premiere. The sequel will revolve around Cassie Nightingale’s (Bell) relationship with Police Chief Jake Russell (Potter), which will be threatened when a new man enters her life, says The Hollywood Reporter.”

Marvel at a “witch” who runs a metaphysical store, and yet seems to have no religious or philosophical interest in the stuff she sells! Makes you wonder, did they tame down the occult elements because lead actress Catherine Bell is a Scientologist, or is it just a Hallmark thing?

Over at the On Faith site, Starhawk wants us to reject the politics of hate.

“Those of us who lay claim to some form of spiritual leadership should absolutely condemn the tactics of personal attack. We should call our politicians and our communities to think, speak and act from our best selves, not our worst, from respect and compassion, not from stoked-up rage and hate.”

One would hope that our “spiritual leadership” gets moving soon, because things are getting progressively meaner as we head into the final stretch of our presidential election.

According to Utah journalist Kelly Ashkettle, today the Utah Black Hat Society is holding their third annual Witches High Tea, sporting their conical caps with pride.

“On Oct. 18, the group will host its third annual Witches High Tea. According to their press release, “over 50 men and women will be wearing their finest robes, gowns, capes, jewels, staffs, wands, pentacles and, of course, tall, pointy hats. Warts, toads and pointed noses are optional.” So if you want to meet some real, yet light-hearted witches this Halloween season, get thee to the Lobby Lounge of the Grand America Hotel at 555 S. Main Street at 2 p.m. this Saturday.”

Since this is in Utah, I wonder how many Morwics will be in attendance? No matter what persuasion of Witch they may be, here’s hoping they all have a great time.

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

Jason Pitzl-Waters