(Pagan) News of Note

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  September 10, 2009 — 8 Comments

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

The city of Euless has had its request for a rehearing in federal appeals court over the matter of animal sacrifice rejected.

“A federal appeals court has rejected Euless’ request for a rehearing on a decision that paves the way for a Santeria priest to resume sacrificing animals in his home during religious ceremonies. Jose Merced sued Euless, saying his First Amendment religious freedoms were violated when the city banned him from slaughtering goats in 2006. The city contended that such sacrifices jeopardized public health and violated slaughterhouse and animal-cruelty ordinances.”

Short of an appeal to the Supreme Court, which Euless seems to be considering, this case is done. If it does go to the Supreme Court, and Merced wins again, it could affect animal slaughter laws across the country. Clearing the way for religions like Santeria to sacrifice animals at their rites largely free from the threat of arrest or harassment. To read all my coverage of this case, click here.

At The Nation Max Blumenthal publishes an excerpt from his forthcoming book that concerns the tragic case of Matthew Murray, a deeply disturbed young man who took a gun to a Youth With A Mission missionary training center and opened fire, killing four, then himself. Blumenthal tells how Murray grew up indoctrinated and abused by his charismatic Pentecostal parents, and how his attempts to break free of their programming led him first to the teachings of Aleister Crowley, then to drug abuse, and ultimately to a complete breakdown that led to the tragic shootings.

“Murray had been indoctrinated so thoroughly into charismatic Pentecostal culture, however, that even while he railed against his religious upbringing, he could not abandon his ingrained attraction to religiosity. So instead of fleeing hardcore Christian culture for secular humanism, a natural position for jaded skeptics like him, he traded his former faith for Crowley’s occultism. Crowley’s philosophy of sex “magick,” narcotic hallucination, and self-degradation (he allegedly ordered his followers to have oral sex with goats and drink the blood of cats) was forged in reaction to his parents’ Puritanism and, in fact, was first practiced in English boarding schools, where homosexual experimentation was practically de rigueur. Crowley became Murray’s new lodestar. Like Jesus, who was so impressed by the ardor of a pagan Roman centurion whom he met that he remarked, “I have not found such great faith, even in Israel,” Murray yearned for spiritual practice in its purest form. Now he practiced Crowley’s faux faith as fervently as his parents wished he had worshipped their neo-evangelical macho Christ. But the occult only led Murray into a confusing new world of cheap thrills.”

I find it interesting that Blumenthal, in damning extremist Christianity, feels the need to misrepresent Aleister Crowley, and by implication, to insult anyone who leaves Christianity for an occult practice instead of the “natural” choice of secular humanism. He ultimately blames an abusive Christian upbringing for Murray’s descent into madness, and rightfully criticizes attempts of Christian apologists to paint this as an “occult” or “Satanic” attack, but couldn’t avoid his own preconceived notions concerning what the O.T.O. and the philosophies of Aleister Crowley are truly about. In his failure to hide his disdain for an occult practice he doesn’t understand, to paint it as a sign of illness, he sounds more like the Christians he criticizes than he would most likely care to admit.

SF Gate’s In Marin blog profies Cerridwen Fallingstar on the publication of her new book “White as Bone Red as Blood, The Fox Sorceress”, a book that is “based” on Fallingstar’s past life in 12th century Japan.

“The first book, which was released in 1990, was based on Cerridwen’s past life as a Scottish witch in 16th-century Scotland.   It took a full fifteen years before she released her current book, White as Bone, a compelling read about a sorceress in the royal palace in Japan during the mid-1100s. Why so long? Cerridwen says it takes a long time to cultivate the memories and even longer to do the research.  She says she is able to enter a trance, summon the memories and put them to tape. After transcribing them, she’ll research them by conventional means; by reading as much as she can find on that particular time in history, and by visiting the locales.”

Will this new book find favor within the Pagan community? Are past-life accounts still popular, or have we grown more skeptical of such things in the twenty years since Fallingstar’s last book? I guess we’ll find out. In the meantime, if you want to find out more about Cerridwen Fallingstar and order a copy of the book, click here.

The Odinist group that was kicked out of a public park in Bakersfield, California say they are filing a lawsuit with the ACLU against the North of the River Parks and Recreation Department.

“Roger Perez, NOR public relations director, said, “I believe there was a claim that the religion was being disrespected, and we take those types of claims seriously. But in our internal investigation, that wasn’t believed to have been said, was not said, by our deputy. And unfortunately, I think it just got blown out of proportion.” But the Odinists were not satisfied. They began the process to file a civil lawsuit with the ACLU which is considering whether to take the case.”

So it looks like this one will most likely be going to court. The KERO 23 story also includes the two 911 calls from neighbors that brought the police to the scene, one of which sounds confused about what exactly is going on, and another that alleges they were shouting “white power” to non-white passerby. The Odinist group has denied that they are a racist organization.

In a final note, with Autumn on its way we are quickly approaching the Halloween/Samhain season, and that means reality television programs are skulking about Salem looking for a willing Witchy participant. This time the  snarky fashion show “What Not to Wear” (on the increasingly misnamed TLC network) has its sights set on Salem shop co-owner Leanne Marrama.

“TV fashion gurus Stacy London and Clinton Kelly were in Salem filming an episode of their show, in which they stage weekly style interventions on a victim of bad fashion. Leanne Marrama, a member of Salem’s witch community, was in their sights yesterday. Dressed in a black gown with wide lacy sleeves, a black corset, black combat boots and a black purse with a skull, Marrama is set for a complete fashion, hair and makeup makeover.”

Also in the program will be Marrama’s friend and business associate Christian Day. While I’m sure many Pagans in New England have at times wished the more flamboyant Salem Witches would get a makeover, I don’t think this is what they had in mind. Shows like this aren’t laughing with us, they are producing content so that people can laugh at us (not to mention imposing a more rigid idea of “normalcy” concerning dress and appearance).

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

Jason Pitzl-Waters