Before we head into the holiday weekend, here are a few quick news items I’d like to share with you, starting off with a very sympathetic (with some slight inaccuracies) article from the Charleston City Paper about being Pagan in South Carolina.
“…one of the problems with being a spiritual minority in America, especially in a culturally conservative state like South Carolina, is that you and your religion are frequently misunderstood by the population at large. Pagans and Wiccans, one of the many groups in this broad religious category, have long been associated with casting spells, riding broomsticks, and otherwise committing godless mischief. From Macbeth to Bewitched to Charmed, they have been the source of terror and spoof — as well as the object of ridicule and persecution. For that reason, many local Pagans remain undercover, or — to use the Wiccan vernacular — they choose to stay in the broom closet.”
They go on to interview several local Pagans, the chair of the Lowcountry Council of Alternative Spiritual Traditions, and even touch on the saga of South Carolina resident Darla Wynne, who successfully sued the town of Great Falls over the matter of sectarian invocations (and garnered 32 votes in her bid for a seat on the Town Council in 2008). Nice to see a journalist go to several sources and local groups to get a broader journalistic picture of modern Paganism.
Meanwhile, in New York, park rangers and the head of a local watchdog group are freaking out about animal sacrifices in Queens. Filled with your usual cult-hysteria sensationalism, the topper is the inclusion of an incident that seems to have nothing at all to do with Vodou, Santeria, Satanism, or the occult.
“Geoffrey Croft, who runs the watchdog group New York City Park Advocates, said he has stumbled upon gruesome examples of animal sacrifice in at least five city parks … “It’s a public-health issue, it’s disgusting, and it freaks people out with the whole voodoo thing,” said Croft … In another grisly discovery, Croft said he once found the dead carcass of a dog that was shot and eaten by a man.”
What does that have to do with animal sacrifice? Seemingly nothing, but why should that stop “journalists” James Fanelli and Rich Calder from throwing it in there anyway. Why let things like context and responsible journalism get in the way of a good guy-eating-a-dead-dog story? It goes without saying that no-one who knows anything about African diasporic religion or the occult were quoted or consulted for the story.
In a final, and more positive, note, today is the start of the massive three-day Faerieworlds festival right in my back-yard of Eugene, Oregon. Expected to draw thousands, it is a celebrations of all things mythic and magical.
“In just seven years, Faerieworlds has become the premiere mythic music festival on the West Coast. Featuring world renowned fantasy artists, Grammy-award winning musicians, spectacular performances and entertainers, an amazing arts and crafts vending village, thousands of fans from around the globe travel each year to Eugene, Oregon to experience the magic of Faerieworlds. We believe that the revitalizing, healing and transforming spirit of faerie is alive and moving actively in our lives: faerie inspires and provokes, heals and reveals, illuminates and transcends. At Faerieworlds, we invite you to enter the Realm as your magical self and release the beautiful, magical faerie spirit that’s inside you!”