My semi-regular round-up of articles, essays, and opinions of note for discerning Pagans and Heathens.
Cuba’s babalawos have gotten together once again to make predictions for the coming year. While warning against natural disasters and marital strife, they seem somewhat upbeat (if cautious) about economic matters.
“There is a favorable time for loans, an increase in certain powers from the financial point of view, but one has to be careful about using that increase,” [Victor Betancourt] said. The prediction also warns of the perils of drinking water being contaminated, family quarrels, wars and the threat of natural disasters, and calls for men to respect women in the home. He also recommends being careful when speaking to avoid interpersonal conflicts, not revealing secrets people trust us with, and guarding against marital infidelity.
The Ifa readings for 2009 say the year will be reigned over by Oggun, the loa of war, and by Oya, in charge of storms and gentle breezes. You can read what I think is the text of the 2009 readings, here. You can also look at last year’s readings to see how accurate they were.
Medusa Coils reviews a new book by Jeri Lyn Studebaker (aka Athana of Radical Goddess Thealogy fame) entitled “Switching to Goddess: Humanity’s Ticket to the Future”.
Studebaker (who blogs as Athana on Radical Goddess Thealogy) doesn’t mince words in her bold assessment of where “war-daddy god” worship has gotten us and why we need to return to the female divine, whose cultures have been associated with peace, equality, and risk-taking. She doesn’t tip toe around difficult issues, and isn’t afraid to directly and strongly criticize Christianity and the Bible, for example. Though she often writes in a slangy style, you’d be wise not to be taken in by the flip language: Studebaker is no intellectual lightweight. The offbeat language helps make the book more accessible and enjoyable, but behind it a strong intellect and Goddess interpreter is at work.
Studebaker’s book was released by O Books, who have been gaining a good reputation as a company unafraid to publish thoughtful, challenging, and provoking Pagan-oriented books (most notably recent works by Brendan “Cathbad” Myers and Emma Restall Orr). For those unfamiliar with Studebaker’s work, note that she is an unapologetic Goddess booster on a mission (not that there is anything wrong with that). Even her positive reviews typify her writing as “fierce”, “provoking”, “zealous”, “fiesty”, “hard-hitting”, and (naturally) “radical”. Personally, I’m glad to see more Pagan books unafraid to stir things up now and then.
Attention scholars, music lovers, metal-heads, and others interested in the links between spirituality and music. A massive new collection of (seemingly free) interviews with musicians entitled “The Spiritual Significance of Music” has been released. Of particular interest is the “Metal Edition” which covers the interest in Pagan, Satanic, occult, and esoteric practices by metal bands.
…an exciting exploration of how music powerfully impacts spirituality, and why spirituality influences music. Readers will discover sincere expressions of spiritual beliefs from the world of metal music. This portfolio includes an eclectic mix of musicians playing many forms of metal music; ambient metal, avant-garde death-metal, black metal, brutal metal, death metal, doom metal, experimental metal, funeral-doom, gothic metal, grindcore, heavy metal, industrial metal, melodic metal, power metal, progressive metal, psychedelic metal, Satanic metal, sludge metal, speed metal, symphonic metal, technical metal, thrash metal, and includes musicians from alternative-rock, avant-rock, and hardcore-punk bands. Metal Edition provides readers with an important introduction to metal music’s affinity with demonology, divination, magic, mysticism, Satanism, spiritualism, the occult, and witchcraft.
There are also “Christian”, “World” and “Authors” editions to peruse as well (though the “World” and “Authors” sections seem to be down at the moment, perhaps due to traffic problems). Just the metal section alone looks like a treasure-trove of information, and I can’t wait to start sifting through it all. Kudos to editor Justin St. Vincent for the yeoman’s work performed here.
More signs of the growth of alternative and minority faiths in prison? In a fairly standard profile of prison chaplains for a women’s prison in Idaho, they reveal the religious make-up of the institution.
Mostly, he refers the inmate to one of the numerous groups that routinely visit the prison as part of the ministries program. At initial intake into the prison population, each woman is asked her religious leaning. Forty-five percent of inmates identify their orientation as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 24 percent as non-Roman Catholic Christian, 10 percent as Catholic, 4 percent as Wiccan, Odinist, Rastafarian or other less-mainstream religion, and 1 percent as Jewish.
The high Mormon numbers seem about right for a state where around 23% of the population are LDS members, but I was surprised to see a prison in Idaho with such a high percentage of minority and Pagan faiths. Are more Pagans going to prison, or are we seeing an increasingly large number of people turing to Pagan faiths while incarcerated? If so, it certainly places extra importance on efforts to obtain equal and fair treatment of Pagan inmates across the country.
In a final note, the Reuters FaithWorld blog highlights the unveiling of Catholic Google (no official relation to actual Google) that removes (as much as possible) offensive sites and gives extra weight to pro-Catholic sites.
So now there’s Catholic Google, a search engine that calls itself “the best way for good Catholics to surf the web”, It claims that “it produces results from all over the internet with more weighting given to Catholic websites and eliminates the vast majority of unsavoury content, such as pornography”. When I heard this today, my first question was whether Google was getting into the religion business. Were there Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist or other versions of the search engine out there as well?
I truly hope that this isn’t something that takes hold. I would personally recoil at the thought of a “Pagan Google”. What is wonderful about Google is the lack of fences in search results. When religious faiths start acting like China when it comes to the Internet, the possible damage to ecumenicism, interfaith outreach, and dialogue is inestimatable.
That’s all I have for now, have a great day!