Quick Notes: Subcultural Red Light Districts, Vodou, and the Wicker Man Library

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  December 4, 2010 — 74 Comments

Just a few quick news notes for you this Saturday.

Subcultural Red Light Districts: The aptly-named city of Banning, California is looking to adopt changes to its zoning codes, targeting certain kinds of businesses.

“Under the proposed development standards, tattoo and body-piercing parlors, hookah and smoking lounges and businesses that specialize in fortunetelling or occult arts would be kept away from schools and parks, residential neighborhoods and businesses that sell alcohol and adult merchandise. Their hours of operation would be limited. Someone who wants to open this type of business in Banning would have to obtain a conditional use permit from the city. Such permits cost $4,779 and have to be approved by the Planning Commission.”

They are, in essence, working to make sure no-one opens a tattoo parlor, occult shop, or smoking parlor in any place where people might congregate. They can’t even open near an “adult” book shop! This is how you ban certain kinds of businesses without actually banning them, make the barriers so high few can surmount them. It remains to be seen if singling out such businesses like this is legal, or will hold up to litigation. The city council is scheduled to take up the matter on Jan. 25, 2011.

Teaching Vodou: The Lexington Herald-Leader interviews history professor Jeremy Popkin about his class “Haiti in the Modern World”, which includes a section on the religion of Vodou. According to Popkin, the class was a way for the campus to discuss and explore Haiti after it came to international attention during the January earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince. The paper also interviews Vodou scholar Leslie Brice about the oft-misunderstood faith.

There is a movement to create a centralized way to share information about voodoo. There is now a federation of voodoo practitioners in Haiti. But efforts to alter what for hundreds of years has been a religion passed down as an oral tradition have encountered resistance, said independent voodoo scholar Leslie Brice, who spoke at UK earlier this fall. Some of the resistance is because people fear the religion will be mocked by those who don’t really understand it, Brice said. Voodoo is often portrayed in popular culture, especially movies, as a singularly dark force, said Brice, who is studying to be a voodoo priestess. But, she said, it really is a religion centered on healing. When slaves were first brought to Haiti they came with “nothing except for what was in their minds and hearts,” she said. The religious traditions they brought with them were crucial to their survival, she said.

In a culture that often depicts Vodou as a detriment to Haiti’s future, and often only reports on it when something horrific happens, classes like these are vitally needed to educate people as to Vodou’s true nature and legacy. Classes like these, along with an emerging “Vodou voice”, may be essential to preserving this faith at a time when Haiti is in serious crisis.

Saving the Wicker Man Library: The Whithorn Library, the front of which was featured in 1973 cult classic film The Wicker Man, is in danger of being closed down due to government austerity measures. Jan Cole, and other campaigners, are trying to rally support to stop the historic library from being shut down.

The "Wicker Man" Library

“The library is part of the famous Wickerman Trail which popular with tourist fans as well as, surprisingly, stag parties who have been known to turn up in fancy dress. Occasionally fans will be seen to re-enact the film, or take a rubbing of the plaque outside.”

A sit-in protest was held last week, and there already seems to be some response from local government. Hopefully this site will be spared, not only because it was in a cult film that many of us love, but because libraries are wonderful things that should be honored and protected! You can keep track of the campaign at their official Facebook group.

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

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • http://meadowsweet-myrrh.blogspot.com/ Ali

    Regarding business banning: I'm finding it hard to feel worked up about this. I live in a neighborhood that has a tacit "ban" on chain stores and instead strives to support and promote small businesses owned and run by local people. I have to say, I quite like that. If these folks in California were talking about banning non-Christian worship centers, that'd be different. But when it comes to businesses, it seems to me that a given community certainly should have the freedom to cooperatively decide how they want to organize that community, as long as they do not violate any human rights or fundamental freedoms. I'm not sure running a tattoo parlor or a smoking lounge or even a fortune-telling business counts as a fundamental human right.

    Now, you could make a case that classifying occult stores along with these other non-essential businesses is a form of religious discrimination. That's probably a more fruitful tact than one that places the "rights" of businesses above the rights of people to exercise cooperative decision-making over the nature of their community.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      I agree that religious discrimination is the path to take in fighting the occult-store ban. The problem is that a lot of readers don't regard their craft as part of their religion.

      As to the general question, my experience with this sort of control goes back to a time when commercial land-use zoning was a way to enforce social conformity and stigmatize businesses not within the supposed majority taste (and their customers). I say "supposed" because the process could be influenced by local-level lobbyists with strong moral agendas. It could also be used by a "square" majority to suppress a "hip" part of town, if I may use vernacular terms. Thus I am highly skeptical of the "community freedom" you espouse, despite your posaitive experience with a contemporary application.

    • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

      Ali, If I was forced to guess, I'd say that your deep-seated pro-christian sympathies are the main reason you can't get too worked up about this. Your particular tendencies as far as thinking on these topics has always been, in every forum you've displayed them, leaned towards the mainstream, protective of the monotheistic cultural patterning and agenda, and the morality derived from it. What Jason is mentioning here IS a direct strike against people marked "occult" and their businesses- which, to the mainstream, means all of us here, and "pagans" anywhere.

      • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

        Yep, that's Ali all over. The most totally mainstream anarchist pacifist you'll ever meet. (I wish. That would be a different mainstream than the one I'm familiar with…)

        And… dude? "Monotheistic Agenda"? Where is that shelved–next to the Homosexual Agenda, or the next aisle over?

        • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

          Cat, I know so many so-called "anarchists" that are absolutely mainstreamers in their deep minds and hearts, it isn't even funny. If I had a dime for each one I knew, I'd be independently wealthy.

          The term "anarchist" has been used by every assclown I know in an attempt to describe their own utopian anti-state ideal, or (for some, the younger, dumber male ones) to vent the same rage that other kids just join the military to deal with… or they satisfy that hot-tempered urge by hurrying into one of the other two socially-acceptable routes to aggression (sports or marriage).

          Ali is without a doubt one of the hippy "Starbucks" chicks that talks about the wonders of life free from the corruption and interference of states and state-sanctioned violence, and considers herself an enlightened and philosophical "anarchist", along with the expected pacifism, and even though you didn't say it, she's almost certainly a vegan or a vegetarian. These people are all made from the same cookie-cutter, Cat. And I've been around that block so many times I want to smash my face against the monitor right now just thinking about it.

          The Monotheistic Agenda is shelved in your mind, Cat. And in Ali's, and nearly everyone else at this discussion board, and practically everyone alive you see around you every day in the western world, and a good few people in the eastern world, too. Most help that agenda unconsciously (and for you, a Quaker who believes in the lie of jesus, quite consciously) by doing nothing to address the crimes of monotheism, doing nothing to make the truth about monotheism's true impact on history and the present day known, and finally, by hindering those who would, by calling them names and fighting tooth and nail with them, all for the glory of your kingdom of heaven.

          We heathens don't look for a kingdom of heaven. The realms of the Gods are here, before you. It's dark green and blood-red, not heavenly pink and white. It isn't angels singing: it's the low, dark chants of the seid-folk and the galdormen, the simple songs of people whose traditional stories were learned in a time when men could understand the language of birds. It isn't sin and salvation, it's peace with the fact that these bodies and our own human natures aren't fallen in any manner- nothing's wrong with us. At all. The lack of wisdom that causes the unprecedented and unbalanced violence and horror you see COMES FROM people believing that there's something wrong with us.

          It isn't being humble, or forgiving, or self-effacing, or any of that other slave morality bullcrap- it's learning to be proud to be a human being who has the undying spirit of the Gods pulsing through every cell and hair of your body, and not getting so worked up over the Fateful and unavoidable fact that the human flesh must die one day. What I'm talking about is not clean- it's dirty. It's smeared with mud and blood and sweat. It's not majestic and lofty; it's ground-level and familiar.

          It's not laced with ancient semitic cultural nonsense and stories of "messiahs"- the weakest, most degraded myths ever conceived by the weakest, most degraded human minds in history- it's laced with the clean insight that comes when one sheds foreign stupidity that was foisted onto us by a corrupt and conquering organization of anti-human, anti-nature, and anti-wisdom fanatics.

          Your soul is asleep. I wish I could say you were alone. The lights are on in your house, but no one's home. When are you going to get over it, shed the fear that keeps you shackled to Jesus and super-liberal Christianity, and bathe in the blood of real sacrifices, and be one with your Ancestors again?

          • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

            Robin. Dear Robin, I will keep this short. I believe this is the forth or fifth time I have told you I am not a Christian. I have NO relationship with Jesus. No Messiah or Messiah complex. No belief in hell or damnation. No rejection of death, the body, sex, nature, or the old Gods. I'm a Pagan.

            I'm also a Quaker. A liberal Quaker. Many liberal Quakers are liberal Christians, which is one of the reasons I recognize that your understanding of Christianity and monotheism is a caricature. However, I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Christian.

            P-A-G-A-N.

            NOT C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N. (I'm also–as a point of reference–not single, not a dentist, not a pianist, and not especially fond of Elvis Presley. Not that I despise those who are… they're just not me.)

            I find I am unable to state that basic fact any more clearly than this. I don't know any smaller words in which to break it down to you.

            But I do have to wonder, if you can't take in even this straightforward a fact after repeated declarations, how much else of reality are you having trouble processing?

          • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

            Forgive me, Cat, I was under the impression that Quakers were Christians. Studying their history, I'm surprised that you don't notice how… umm… CHRISTIAN they were and are. Super-liberal Christians who reject churches and even the bible are still Christian, you know.

          • tomb23

            Am I Asatru if I worship Thor? Am I Buddhist if I worship the Buddha? Am I Christian if I Worship Jesus and God? No, No, and No.

            Are you a Infidel? Are you a Heretic? Are you a Witch (useing in the negative connotation, not that all 'witches' are evil)?

          • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

            You're a new-ager if you worship Thor without being Heathen. No one "worships" Buddha; he is not a God, and not thought a God by the people of this world who are followers of his Dharma. If you "worship" jesus and jehova, you most certainly are Christian, or you're a pathetic excuse for a confused person who doesn't know what he or she is doing.

            I am an infidel to Muslims, a heretic to Catholics, and a Witch in the negative connotation of the word on most days of my life. And it isn't about "good" or "evil".

            The world of religion isn't the laissez-faire world you think it is, new ager.

          • tomb23

            Heh do you think you make the rules just because you published a book or something? Its not like people ask you to define them on their beliefs. You seem to hve a narrow view of things it seems (which fits conservativism actually).

            Man, we already know you don't like people mixing.

            Though here is the thing, for my own personal veneration of the Greek-Egyptian gods is it only 'right' if there was a historical group of people practicing it? In your view that is. If so then I point you to the Ptolemy era of Egypt. If you have a problem with my veneration of the Buddha I can point you to the same time period of the Greco-Buddhist era of the Seleucids and the Kushans.

            Its about not accepting those labels and their negative meanings in my book (just because I wrote one doesn't mean you have to prescribe to it). Its about rejection of the negative connotatin and acceptance of being actually positive.

            Tsk, conservatives (with use of negative connontation).

          • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

            Graeco-Egyptian polytheism is well attested to historically. And why would I have a problem with you venerating the Buddha? He was one of the greatest human beings who ever lived, and certainly an awakened being. I can think of few more worthy of veneration.

            I make the rules pretty much because I just gave myself the power to do that. People hate power in these days of slave morality, but you'd be shocked what you can do with just a bit of courage and audacity.

          • tomb23

            If its not unoriginal don't do it.

            Wouldn't you say standing up for one's own beliefs takes courage and audacity? So therefore I do not see how this slave morality exsists, at least not in me. Oh sure in others, like certain people who hold a narrow view or become wrapped up in their own self importance but thats what I believe polytheism is against. Our own choice to go and believe these awesome gods and goddesses, some do it out of wishing to get down to their culture, some wish to go against social norms, while others do it out of pure belief or a combination. The reasons I am sure are myriad as there are gods, people, and life.

          • MertvayaRuka

            Funny how anybody who doesn't agree wholeheartedly with him probably falls into that "slave morality" category.

          • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

            See the FAQ at Quaker Finder, Question #4.

            And note: this is from a website sponsored by Friends General Conference, the largest body of Quakers in the United States–though not the only one. (The other branches are, in fact Christian.)

            Or see my own essay, What Do You Mean, Quaker Pagan?, or any of the many times I have informed you here of the fact that not all Quakers are Christians.

            Incidentally, based on my nine years of association with my Quaker meeting, I'm fairly confident that fewer than a third of its members would consider themselves to be Christian. While that is unusual for an American meeting, in Britain the percentage of non-Christians would typically be even higher.

            If I were to gather together all the Quaker Pagans I know from my own Quaker meeting, we would be a larger group than most Wiccan covens.

            Perhaps it is time to let go of the assumption that you know more about other people's religious ideas and practices than they do themselves?

          • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

            You can try to make the Quakers seem cool and non-christian all you want. You are a quaker; they were founded by Christian pseudo-mystics and heretics; everything ends where it began. Your founder and the people that followed in rapid succession, believed in Jesus, were radical liberal mystical Christians. The Quakers worked to destroy the non-Christian religions of the native peoples of North America.

            They are, despite what you want to present, monotheists. They are universalists, which is somehow even more pernicious than Christianity. YOU and some of the other lost souls that wander the halls of this laughable sneeze of a "mystical" movement of universalist hippiedom from several centuries ago may consider quakerism to be compatible with anything and everything you want it to be compatible with, but in the end, it reeks of jesus, reeks of "godism", reeks of universalist condescension to the uniqueness of this world's spiritual traditions, and reeks most strongly of the ridiculous, soul-numbing and hypocritically unrealistic (and boring) teachings of universal love, peace, and respect- which are the most savage ways slave morality and actual moral weakness is inculcated into people (especially new-agers) today.

            Now that I think about it, I'd rather you be Christian than a member of this universalist nonsense. At least christians take a stand for identity, mostly, as opposed to swimming in the "anything goes" river.

            Don't lecture me about thinking I know more about you than you. You've sat here and talked like you knew me from the inside out in the past, based on things I've said. You've revealed a lot more than I have about the insidious creed that you base your religious life on. I know who and what the Quakers are, and you should have left them on oatmeal boxes. Universalism and crypto-christianity is just your way of holding on to your christian past while you play at pagan.

          • Pagan Puff Pieces

            I have to admit, one thing that's always confused me is frustration over someone being wrong the wrong way, and insisting that person be wrong the right way.

          • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

            I guess I'm kind of proud of belonging to something that "reeks most strongly of the ridiculous, soul-numbing and hypocritically unrealistic (and boring) teachings of universal love, peace, and respect."

            It's just my kind of "insidious creed."

          • MertvayaRuka

            But there are rules, don't you understand? Serious rules enumerated by very serious people! Paganism isn't a game! You can't just go around doing what you want! If what you're doing doesn't have a huge helping of dark and serious and foreboding and deepness troweled over it, it's not worth anything and it's just not RIGHT! Oh and tradition. And heritage. And staying with your own kind.

            And get off my lawn!
            :)

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Robin, I assume that you want to be taken seriously. This posture that blog comments have given you deep insight into others, but that you have not similarly disclosed yourself, is not conducive to this end.

          • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

            I've disclosed what I chose to disclose. I know a lot about disclosures. My business and livelihood is other people's secrets- and the art of getting close to them without them knowing much about me.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Be that as it may, when you take that posture here you make it a chore to take you seriously. This might not be the case were you not so full of flinty opinions about so many things.

          • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

            Baurch, this is the umpteenth time I've told you I don't come here to seek acceptance, gain validation, or be taken seriously. Rest assured that the people I want and need to take me seriously (and they're on a short list) take me seriously.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            You post so prolifically and learnedly your claimed disinterest is dubious.

          • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

            I'm a prolific, learned person. What else can I do when I've got some time on Ye Olde Internet? What's really dubious to me, however, is your rather over-blown insistence that I'm so very massively invested or interested or concerned about this message board or the people on it, just because you see me posting here sometimes.

            If I spent 24 hours of every day here- or even 12- or even 6- or even 3 hours per day here, you might have a case. But I spend (on weekends) maybe a grand total of an hour between here and a few of my other hot spots around Internetia. The rest of the time, I'm writing, seeing clients, raising kids, raising hell, taking care of family business, plotting to murder princess Buttercup, and preparing to frame Guilder for it. I'm swamped, truly.

            Get perspective, "Baurch".

          • Bookhousegal

            The Quakers are an interesting lot, in that sense: the fact is, like most Pagans, they don't by practice or theology consider themselves to be in the business of denying any Gods or faces thereof. Accordingly, they rather started off with the Christian deities, (And in those times, who *was* really out as non-Christian if they even wanted to be, especially if they also happened to broadcast their pacifism. It's probably *still* too Christian for my own comfort, but I think the world's the better for them being around, and I see no benefit in pronouncing them 'enemies,' particularly on the grounds they aren't 'pure' enough of 'semitic' influences.'

            I don't think *that* kind of thing is a very Pagan worldview, or Heathen, if you like. In fact, I think it inherits certain notions (from where?) that everyone's supposed to be *the same* or that the world's really some 'conversion' contest. To put that as mildly as possible.

            There's a real question, even if you *do* label Quakers as 'super-liberal' and 'church-and-Bible-rejecting,' (not to mention the pacifist bit and the growing environmental consciousness,) well, if they're all that, what's left of those historical and current oppressors for us to worry about?

            I say they're pretty natural, err, friends. Gods know we've got enough 'enemies' out there. I'm not in a hurry to make the list any longer than I have to.

          • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

            Thank you.

            I wouldn't recommend people who are allergic to Christian history or language run right out and find themselves a Quaker meeting, incidentally. There is no room for doubt that Quaker history is deeply rooted in Biblical language and a certain sort of Biblical understandings. That can, at times, make it very challenging for those of us who were taught by the media and the wider culture that all Christianity is evangelical or imperialistic Christianity.

            Candidly, what Friends make of their Bible seems pretty out of touch with how I've ever read the thing myself. But since I have no relationship with their Jesus or their book (the ones who are Christian, I mean) I don't feel it's really my business to tell them they are doing their religion "wrong"–especially when they come out where I do, as a longtime Pagan.

            *Shrug*

            What I will say is that decades of Wiccan practice made it very easy to learn the new, related Quaker skills of silent worship and deep listening. (I've written about that, too.)

          • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

            Oh, and now the admission comes down-

            "I wouldn't recommend people who are allergic to Christian history or language run right out and find themselves a Quaker meeting, incidentally. There is no room for doubt that Quaker history is deeply rooted in Biblical language and a certain sort of Biblical understandings."

            Thanks for admitting that it's a frackin CHURCH.

            Wicca… my Gods… I must depart now.

          • Bookhousegal

            *a sad laugh.*

            My Gods, man, nobody's OK in your book, are they? :)

            No, Cat's never said there aren't a lot of Christian Quakers and the like. Certainly, for me, …I wouldn't necessarily say 'Allergic,' but because of my own experiences, the Christian stuff really isn't something I'd ever be 'at home' with, in any personal practice: that doesn't mean 'Quakerism' (Term? Would they use one that way?) necessarily *means* it all that way, or that I've ever seen much of the kind of nasty results that come of other kinds of Christianity.

          • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

            I think that you, more than most, will appreciate my coming work entitled "I'm objectively okay, your degeneracy is not okay from any perspective." Look for it to be announced on my website.

          • Bookhousegal

            I think I, more than most, ought to be able to tell you there can be a fine line between being in awareness of certain troubles in the world, ..between drawing attention to them and making them worse.

            Actually, we do seem to have a lot in common, actually: I just haven't been in such a hurry to put on a Magneto helmet. Might want to allow for some head-swelling next time you're being fit for yours.

          • Riverbend

            Oh good–could you maybe *stay* departed for a little while? Please? Just so the rest of us could have a civil conversation in peace….??

          • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

            I was actually going to stay gone, until I noticed this comment. Now I think I'll come back and offer more insights for you all.

          • appleisle3

            Never feed the Gremlins, Riverbend. ;)

          • Riverbend

            LOL–sorry, couldn't help it. They go back to their original owners eventually anyway, right? ;)

          • MertvayaRuka

            It must be such a trial for you to have to keep trying to educate your lessers. I know I speak for everyone when I say how glad I am that you don't let the futility of it get you down.

          • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

            It's taken me years to build up the kind of heart doesn't get crushed under the weight of the effort of educating and helping others, Mertvaya. I'm glad that you can spot the struggle, and the strength of character it takes to not let it get me down.

          • Bookhousegal

            With years, hopefully comes the understanding that being older means it's a different matter to be Hel-for-leather about fights you won't be around to finish.

            That maybe sometimes you get more use out of a repeatedly-broken heart than one filled with concrete. No one needs a healer more than a fighter, and we're both fighters in our own ways. But they don't heal so we can fight, we fight so they can heal. Picked up a few things about that end of things, myself, along the way.

            I think what you're 'fighting' *for* has turned into just the fight itself, and anger and ….Arrogance, demands that the world be all about your own absolutes and using all that as a justification for itself.

            You're hardly alone, there. It's actually a pretty common dynamic.

            I 'humbly' submit that it's in fact *too* common a dynamic for someone like you.

            One thing that *I* can read into you from what you've posted over time is that you've taken the 'I'm too bad— and righteous or martyred to need a healer's attention' to astounding levels of some kind of global war… against everyone, in your head.

            Or even being, 'Oh, no, no, my big burden's too dark and heavy to subject gentler souls to,' ….Hey, maybe some of it is, but if you think the only solution is to build up some kind of 'boundaries' through making *everything* about conflict, you're both going to feel suffocated 'in there' and be snapping at Quakers a *long* time, if you know what I mean.

            I know the signs of some of that, myself: nothing like a lesson learned the hard way.

            So, when was the last time someone worked on *you?* There's more to heart than it being 'that which is not 'crushed.' ' There's the life and all.

            We all have our roles to play, perhaps, but here's more than enough forces and voices of division and fear out there, trying to goad a pretty expensive civilization into kicking over the traces, in hopes of collecting enough of the apple cart's contents before some hoped-for Ragnarok.

            But that sort of thing can happen any old day.

            It's common. Too common.

            Maybe the real challenge ain't so tidy or absolute. Maybe the *real* challenge for some is the reality there are other kinds of people in the world, and even if a lot of 'others' have some pretty fierce objections to that reality, we don't have to join them in that mentality.

            I'm not sure what your vision for the world is, or how you connect the dots between here, what you say, and what you seem to want. I suspect you have some ideas of a wholesale return to 'the past,' and may not have enough facts about what happens if what we call 'civilization' really does rip itself apart.

            Either that or some myopic idea that we've had the time for people to try 'converting' each other to one view or religion or another for a very long time. That notion was really doomed before it started, but it seems quite often that you'd rather have a glorious headlong tilt at windmills that may often be the *last* things that need a horse-lance in the works. Maybe it's just the 'easy targets' or everything looking like a nail. (Or that the purpose of hearts is a crushing competition. :) )

            Don't forget the bright. :)

            So, what we're left with is.

          • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

            Don't tell me what's Heathen and what isn't. I've already forgotten more about Heathenry, historical and modern, than you'll ever know.

          • Bookhousegal

            This may well be the case.

            There's a comforting way to look at that, you know. :)

            It seems you're quite willing to tell everyone *else* who's Heathen, Pagan, Christian, or what-have you, regardless, though.

          • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

            Who is or is not Heathen is simple and finite. "Pagan", not so much. Christian, again, is simple and finite to see. It doesn't take a learned doctor of occult matters such as myself to point it out.

    • freemanpresson

      "I'm not sure running a tattoo parlor or a smoking lounge or even a fortune-telling business counts as a fundamental human right. "

      I'm sure enough for both of us. Buying and selling legitimately-gained property *is* a fundamental right.

    • Ian

      I would suggest that there is a difference between a community that has managed a 'tacit ban' on chain stores and a community that is seeking to create a tacit ban on certain activities and products. First and foremost, the regulations being discussed in Banning almost certainly target local business run by local people. There are few (any?) occult and fortunetelling chains.

      Which means they are undermining the ability of local people to make money (i.e. the capacity to make a living) with skills and products that people in the area are interested in paying them for. If the community as a whole has no interest in such things, the absence of profits fairly neatly 'regulates' community interest. Especially when those local people are likely to take their local money to support their local religious expression, it becomes a fairly significant issue.

      As an aside, I would just like to note how disappointing it is to open up a thread supposedly responding to Ali and the Banning story generally only to discover a thread (with two exceptions) about Robin and Cat's tired back and forth. Does there need to be 40 some odd posts about this? If so, maybe the topic deserves its own blog where it can be comfortably ignored by those of us who care about the actual news. A lot less cult of personality and even a little more substantive engagement of the news would be nice; just saying.

      These sorts of back and forths, divorced from any discussion of actual events, fosters unpleasant ideological jingoism, because it puts ideas about the world above the actual world. Instead of productive discussion, you get rallying cheers and affirmations of allegiance to these ideas. One of the ways you get a productive and meaningful 'pagan' discourse is not by making everything reduce to paganism or 'pagan concerns' but by letting everything enrich paganism.

      I.e. not being concerned about the Banning ban does not need to suddenly become an argument about whether it's a sign of crypto-Christianity or supra-paganism. It can just be a position influenced by various ideas held by a person who also happens to pagan to which other pagans (or, gasp, even non-pagans) can meaningfully respond without necessarily having to name check their pagan cred.

      It sounds so basic to me when I say it, but it sure doesn't seem to be obvious when I look at threads like this.

  • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

    On the subject of Vodou, Al Jazeera has just released a "documentary" that claims that Vodou in Benin promotes the murder of children. According to this 24 minute long work of propaganda that offers of perfect balance of racism and anti-Pagan bigotry, the murder of children in Africa "is cultural. It is tradition. It is deeply rooted in the mentality of the people.”

    I have watched this thing through twice now. Not once during the "documentary" is there reference to a single specific case of a child being killed. It is a rather slick bit of evil disinformation.

    If you have the stomach for it, it's called "Magic and Murder".

    • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

      Because representatives of Muslim culture really have room to be talking about the murder of children. Unlike the teachings of Vodouisant cultures, Islamic ideology has been directly responsible for the murder of children, in an organized and vast manner- and continues to be so, every time the daughter of a muslim family is "honor killed", or a suicide bomber targets a crowd of people indiscriminately.

      • tomb23

        Suicide Bombers: Oh dear me, I didn't know the Tamil Tigers and Japanese and the Dutch were Muslims!

        • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

          I hate to have to spell things out, but I was referring to muslim suicide bombers. But you knew that, didn't you?

          • tomb23

            Just pointing out that your attempts to target Islam while forgetting other large parts of history is fail.

            Every culture and every religion has had something on its hands (humans can be idealists or good people or cynics or they can be *******s). Yet not everyone who have been apart of a culture has has something on their hands…funny how that is, right (what is this something you may ask? It could be joy, it could be bloodshed, it could be theft or charity)?

            For example, when I participated in the MSA or Muslim Student Association out of interest, told them I was a pagan, and went out with members several times (had good times) they did not murder me in some back alley while screaming suras from the Quran. The same thing happened when I told my family and several times various people I have met.

          • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

            Also, is there any other religion that anyone knows of where the best thing you can say about it is that you met some of it's followers once and they didn't kill you?

          • Bookhousegal

            I kind of grew up in one.

            At least a lot of days are like that. There are other days, though.

            At least I like to think I got a charmingly-offbeat sort of Hawkeye Pierce attitude out of it? :)

          • http://witchesandscientists.blogspot.com Gene

            Heh, the eternal search for common ground: "They did not murder me, so that's a start".

          • tomb23

            Whose "They" :P. Heh,

            though really I am against the "They" attitude, its not like culture and ideas are great big hive minds that go about thinking and doing the same thing. If one has killed someone then they all have killed someone etc.

          • Pagan Puff Pieces

            I kissed a Muslim and I liked it.

  • jaundicedi

    Since typically the adult product shops are limited to 500 feet from schools, etc., This is a de facto outright ban.

  • Kim

    Re: the Red Light entry. It's not surprising. The City of Rancho Cordova (in Sacramento County) CA already did this. It's also working to ban home businesses as well. You'd think they had an agenda? Ohh yes they do. They classify card readers in the same classification as massage parlors and prostitution which they have also banned.

  • Pitch313

    Wikipedia tells us that Banning, CA, and its close-by twin, Beaumont, CA, are small cities (20 odd K population) are undergoing rapid growth. Ordinances and regulations to limit what kinds of businesses and organizations can locate and operate where are typical responses to such growth. By folks who don't like all the coming changes.

    But the changes keep on coming.

    Sure, there are legal constraints on various sorts of discriminatory zoning. But I'm betting more on entrepreneurial ingenuity in siting "dangerous" businesses just outside the city limits or something like that. Besides, with LA so close, why seek for occultural secrets in Banning?

    P.S. Just crossed my mind–How "occult" do we consider a "paranormal" business like, say, an outfitter for high-tech ghost hunting a la TV shows? As compared with a palmist or a magical-focused bookstore?

  • http://badassbard.blogspot.com Thomas

    If I were looking to open a Pagan book shop in Banning, I would sue the local government for failing to hold Churches to those same restrictions.

    Don't know how legally sound such a case would be but it'd probably be worth a shot.

    • Bookhousegal

      Frankly, it'd be an interesting test case in terms of where lawmakers propose to draw the line between Pagan religion and 'occult' practices.

      Anything arguably 'occult' about me, I'd be generally be inclined to keep it 'occulted,' and I really resent people using to term to say my *religion* isn't *religion.*

  • kenneth

    I hope the ACLU eats their lunch.

  • Lori F – MN

    I suppose I can understand the ban, except for the part where they are kept away from business that sell adult merchandise and alcohol. For heavens sake, keep them together! Easier for the police to patrol them, since you know the city will demand that. But the fee, $4800? How realistic is that? How does it compare to fees for other businesses?

  • kauko

    "It's dark green and blood-red"

    OMG so its totally like Christmas!!

    • Bookhousegal

      Crimson and clover, over and over? :) There's actually a reason or three why those colors were associated with the Christian versions of the Yule, holidays, actually.

      I'd say it's one thing to paint with a color scheme, another thing to *let* others claim ownership of the brighter colors in your palette, too. To stretch the painting metaphor, that's a great way to lose perspective.

      Or, more simply put, *that's* a way of being 'colonized,' too. Monotheists may deny the dark and earthy, that doesn't mean they own our skies. To concede those, as sometimes happens in these times, is often to our own detriment.

  • http://www.tigerseyetemple.org/ DanMiller

    Banning huh? Guess the city lives up to it's name.

  • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

    Being wrong the right way is better than being wrong the wrong way. Double negatives are always bad, remember?

    • Pagan Puff Pieces

      Well, a double negative cancels itself out, technically speaking. Only bad if you're writing papers.

      English is unusual in considering a double negative a negation. A lot of languages use double negatives in proper grammar.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1008131810 Chelsea Rose

    – warning: unpopular opinion —

    "Under the proposed development standards, tattoo and body-piercing parlors, hookah and smoking lounges and businesses that specialize in fortunetelling or occult arts would be kept away from schools and parks, residential neighborhoods and businesses that sell alcohol and adult merchandise."

    There's a lot of wisdom in this proposition for a couple of reasons. Consider these scenarios:

    1. Child/misinformed teen rebel stops at "occult art" store, purchase (or steals) some material, mistakes it as "Satanic" and "rebellious" and proceeds to vandalize school, residential or park property. We all know it happens. Who hasn't seen 666 or pentagrams spray painted on some building or carved into their school restroom stall walls? Having them further away from other establishments makes this more difficult.

    2. Drunk person from alcohol-selling establishment proceeds to hookah establishment or "occult art'" store and starts trouble. Or goes to a piercing place with an attempt to get a tattoo or piercing or whatever that they may regret later, or if they're denied like most tattoo parlors will do if you seem under the influence, attempt to start trouble. And some drunks can be quite violent.

    3. Underaged minor/possibly young adult living with strict parents sees "occult arts" store or hookah lounge, or any other such business her parents forbid and sneaks out at late at night to this nearby establishment, maybe to meet with friends and be rebellious. May use a fake ID (they're not hard to get), do contraband drugs (I'm not talking about pot), participate in "Satanic" animal sacrifices in a park or anything else misconstrued as Wiccan. I don't think I need to spell out all the possible things that could go wrong with this one.

    From my own experience these three scenarios are fairly common, and it would be very naive to try to say it doesn't happen. It's not that they're trying to remove these businesses from areas where -people- congregate, but -children-. There's a difference. IMO children SHOULD be shielded from these businesses (yes, I firmly believe from occult things too unless the parent is involved and stable-minded enough to guide him/her). Adults can easily (and often willingly) travel from one place or another to seek the services they want. Kids, not so much.

    I don't know the demographics of Banning, it's also possible that they have had trouble with misinformed individuals (maybe youth) making scenes that we merely don't know about and that this is a reaction to something larger, as small towns can have such reactions particularly if they are a quiet town with a relatively low crime rate. A quick search on Google maps told me that, for 30,000 people in this city, there isn't an overwhelming amount of christian churches here, which is somewhat unlike most towns its size. (I often see as many as 50 churches in a town as small as 5,000). I would be really hesitant to call this Christians cracking down on pagans.

    The emphasis with this regulation is probably public safety. That might sound ludicrous to the sane people on here, but the sad truth is there are far more misguided, misinformed, unscrupulous and downright crazy people than there are normal people in this world. The world isn't fair, folks, but it's our responsibility to deal with it, not whine.

    And on the subject of the permit. It's not completely out of line. In Oregon, I checked for tattoo artists, a permit is as much as $3,600, plus additional fees for tests, licensure and registration and the like. And Cali is definitely more expensive than Oregon. This is why they say that businesses often cost $20,000+ to get running and the average startup is in the red the first 6 months. It's not like you can really start a business with little or no investment.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1008131810 Chelsea Rose

      -sits back and waits for someone to tell her she has deep-seated christian sympathies-

      XD

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        *chortle*

        No, but you do reveal deep-seated faith in the ability of a community to protect its children by controlling retail geography. "Hip" places are a kid magnet, to the point that "square" retail neighbors within the "hip" zone may want the cops to come in periodically and scrape out the kids who aren't buying anything.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1008131810 Chelsea Rose

          Well if something's more difficult to get to than a 10 minute walk from the house it's far less likely to become a "hip" kid magnet. I never said it was a foolproof plan, but you've gotta give them points for trying.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            I lived in a "hip" zone for a decade and a half, and saw that magnet in action. I remain skeptical.

    • blah

      "1. Child/misinformed teen rebel stops at "occult art" store, purchase (or steals) some material, mistakes it as "Satanic" and "rebellious" and proceeds to vandalize school, residential or park property."
      most such teens don't even research occult, they listen to some black metal/goth whatever music whose musicians use few symbols to seem dark and edgy, go on the net to read few paragraphs about those symbols, and then start spraying them on walls. this happens with or without occult stores.
      "It's not that they're trying to remove these businesses from areas where -people- congregate, but -children-."
      your second point contradicts that. also, you blame the victim in that point. should women also wear burkas so they don't provoke rapists?
      3. point- if these teens are so intent on being rebellious they'll go to these stores regardless how far they are from their home.

    • Bookhousegal

      My primary issue there is in fact consigning anything that might be Pagan *to* the 'dirty' or 'not safe for children' zone , or in fact the 'occult' zone.

      There may be places where it's wise or unwise, tasteful or maybe a bit obnoxious to open a shop, particularly depending on emphasis, but the term 'occult' itself is often mis-defined, and I think this can be a real issue in terms of what's actually available to to the community:

      Really, how many times are the only presence in Pagan retail either amid a sort of fluffy New Age shop model, *or* a real dark-occult-creepy-stuff model?

      I think there are enough restrictions, (And dificulties when it even comes to opening 'Pagan retail,' or retail of any kind, particularly ones that can be used to discriminate against other religions or impose the anti-divination tabooes of some religions, (even if a lot of the actual fortune-telling businesses out there I could certainly take or leave, it's used against us and others, regardless of ethics or competence or sincerity.)

      The way I see it, the 'occult' label and the difficulties of having a viable business that doesn't at least in part cater to some images that may not be the best for us or for kids to grow up thinking we're about are one way we can get sort of squeezed out of business potential entirely before we even talk discrimination or have yet another way that 'zoning' can be used to try and 'oppose' our lives and practices.

      Even without such complications, (and burdensome and vague labels) it's hard enough to have a presence out there in local business community as it is: Pagan religion tends to be tucked into, of course, the 'occult/paranormal' section of big bookstores or be mixed in with all the trappings of perhaps friendly-but-fluffy New Age metaphysical shops, both of which tend to reinforce the idea we're about mass-market fluff, tending to sell just what's 'already known to sell' in quantity. …And generally, for varying reasons it's hard to carry a more 'serious' selection because of the overhead. The pretty friendly New Ager running the metaphysical shop might have only so much inventory she can carry and not really know what's quality stuff, or carry much of it, then wonder why the Pagan community doesn't come in to scan the shelf of Silver Ravenwolf books very often.

      It can go similarly if a place is Goth/metal/head-shop themed and they get the kookiest funkiest creepiest stuff they can find, cause that's what they think 'people want,' etc.

      It's hard, too, to open a mainstream-centered 'Pagan stuff' store in part because our mainstream actually isn't all that consumerist, (Or as stuff-intensive as practices that can support the botanicas) and *that* ends up meaning that such businesses really need to offer divination and the like just to stay solvent.

      All pretty well-known factors, but heaping stigma into the zoning codes (Even making the zoning codes themselves start off assuming there's something indecent about non-monotheist belief and practice,) sure doesn't help matters there.

      I've sometimes wondered what I might do if I were to open any kind of storefront business. One model I've considered, for instance, would be to actually try and bring back something of the 'General Store' to some denuded-by-big-boxes area, and combine it with a tea-room/local art-and-artisanry gallery, some such (Don't ask me for business advice, but in some locales I get these ideas: the general idea is cross-pollenation by foot traffic.)

      Now, suppose I do something like that and books get involved one way or another. I imagine it'd be pretty wholesome stuff, anyway, but do I become an 'occult' shop if I offer any Pagan religious materials? Am I suddenly too close to the package store Is local zoning code providing a platform for Christian supremacists to get in front of town councils and press 'debating' how 'indecent' a business owned by someone like me might be?

      These are some of the worries.

      Fraudsters are one thing, of course, and I'm pretty unlikely to be offering divinatory services, myself, (Assuredly, when I do that, it's not 'for entertainment purposes only,') but suppose I did. Is the whole venture now so unsavory that it's a free pass to say drunks and children need protecting from me when someone says 'Occult?'

    • freemanpresson

      Items 1,2, and 3 are already illegal, though, no matter what the zoning.

  • http://witchesandscientists.blogspot.com Gene

    What's next? Town boards deciding if a biz belongs in the "hip" or "square" zone? Suppose you get sentenced to the "mutie zone"?

  • A.C. Fisher Aldag

    Re: The Library — This point should be obvious, but… The library requires money to pay the bills. Their government is low on money. Sit-ins, hippy-dippy protests, waving placards do not raise money. The library requires money to operate. Rather than wasting time on silly protests, like spoiled teenagers begging for money their parents do not have, why don’t the people doing a sit-in instead get jobs, earn money, and donate money to the library? Or do a fundraiser for the library? Our local library would not exist either, without the “Friends of the Library” organizing book sales, bake sales, yard sales to raise the money required to pay the bills. Donations from working people are required for operating expenses. I could easily segue into my “Pagans are impractical” speech or my “Liberals rely too much on taxes” speech, but I believe I’ve already made my point.