My semi-regular round-up of articles, essays, and opinions of note for discerning Pagans and Heathens.
“Ernie Rea and guests discuss the beliefs underpinning witchcraft. Do modern witches have anything in common with their forebears? And, have the Harry Potter books and films inspired greater interest in the craft?”
Among those interviewed are Christina Oakley Harrington of Treadwell’s bookshop in London, who handled the rather salacious questions of Ernie Rea quite well. You can listen to the program online, here.
Over at the Washington Post’s “On Faith” blog, Pagan panelist Starhawk weighs in on Jimmy Carter’s recent stand against the religious justifications for discrimination against women, pointing out a basic assumption prevalent through much of modern Pagan thought.
“Why does it matter if women can hold positions of responsibility and leadership in spiritual and religious life and communities? Many years ago, Mary Daly wrote: “If God is male, then the male is god.” That which is sacred to us is what we most deeply value and care about. It sets the pattern for what we value, all down the line. So if our only images of the sacred are male, and all positions of spiritual authority are held by men only, inevitably women will be devalued.”
One of the great disconnects between women (and men) attracted to various forms of Paganisms and the patriarchal monotheisms is the role of women. Despite our many flaws, feminine conceptions of the divine aren’t placed into a subordinate (or non-existant) role, and women are given full access to positions of spiritual leadership. This assures us that while we may take an occasional misstep, the institutional discrimination and devaluing of women won’t be among them.
“Authorities are awaiting results of a toxicology test to determine the cause and manner of Hamilton’s death, which has not been deemed suspicious. No charges have been filed, and Salva, who goes by “Houngan Hector,” said he is “100 percent confident” there was no wrongdoing on his part. Salva, soft-spoken and polite with a constant smile, said that no drugs were involved in the spiritual cleansing called the Lave Tet, but that small amounts of rum sometimes are consumed. “Maybe a sip,” he said, but he added that Hamilton had “passed on the rum.” … “She was happy, very positive,” he said. “She seemed very fine as far as everyone knew.” What happened about 11 p.m., Salva said, is the same scenario he told dispatchers during a frantic 9-1-1 call. “She was taking a nap and we woke her up to see if she was hungry, and she was nonresponsive,” he reiterated yesterday. “We kept calling her name and she wouldn’t respond.” The other participants in the ritual could not be reached for comment. Salva declined to provide their names.”
The report also says that Hector Salva did contact Lucie Marie Hamilton’s mother (something friends of Lucie criticized him for not doing), and sent flowers to her funeral. Due to the firestorm of press, and negative speculation from neighbors, Salva is moving out of his current home to a new location.
In the end, the judges opted for 40-year-old estate agent Carole Bohanan, of Shepton Mallet, Somerset. She will resign from her job and go by the name of Carla Calamity. Carole – or Carla – said: “I am going to be a great witch. All it takes is a little bit of magic and a little pizzazz. It’s a natural progression from my old job as an estate agent. I have been using my witching skills to sell houses for a long time.”
Bohanan apparently won over judges with a song about Wookey Hole and throwing candy snakes to the audience. While many “real” Witches seemingly applied for the job (you can see some pictures, here), there is no official word on if “Carla Calamity” is “one of us” as it were.
In a final note, Louis A. Ruprecht at Religion Dispatches ponders the Christian roots of the New Age movement, specifically “The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ” by Levi H. Dowling. This 1908 publication set the stage for numerous trance-induced gospels to come and helped spark interest in the new idea of an “Age of Aquarius” to come.
“Among the papers Levi Dowling left at his death was one explaining his conviction that the Earth and our Sun were entering the Dispensation of Aquarius, a literal New Age. Aquarius is an air sign, he noted, and the triumphs of the twentieth century were destined to be aerial rather than watery. Think of the Wright Brothers; think of humanity’s first tentative steps into outer space.”
While the “New Age” is often thought to be something that smacks of Paganism (or Eastern mysticism), it’s good to remember that Christianity had a key role in the formation of the “New Thought”.
That’s all I have for now, have a great day!