There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up.
- While we still await to see what the sentence will be for New Age prosperity guru James Arthur Ray, convicted in June of negligent homicide in the deaths of three participants in a 2009 sweat lodge ceremony he led at a retreat in Sedona, we have learned that he promises to never lead a sweat again, at least according to a probation officer’s presentencing report. Quote: “Ray said that he won’t hold another sweat lodge ceremony or any other potentially dangerous activity, but he should be held responsible for his actions, the probation officer wrote.” So I suppose there’s some modicum of solace here for the victim’s families, and the Native American spiritual leaders who’ve long called for such appropriations to stop. As for Ray, he’s totally into numerology now.
- In Indonesia the ancestor-worshipping religion of Borneo’s indigenous forest people, the Dayak, is being cannily re-branded as Hinduism in order to stave off Christian missionaries and cultural eradication. “The Hindus have helped us,” said Mr. Udatn.“They’re like our umbrella.”
- The mother of an accused drug trafficker traveled to Africa in order to have a curse placed on federal prosecutors. Quote: “Alleyne later admitted . . . that she had traveled to Africa to pay an individual to place a ‘hex’ in the form of a witch doctor’s curse on the assistant US attorneys.” Federal agents initially thought she was trying to place a hit on the attorneys, but it turned out to be a more spiritual matter (though not one that bodes well for the hexed individuals if the curse proves effective). The coverage from the New York Post is, naturally, quite tabloid in its content. Words like “witch doctor,” “voodoo,” and “shaman” get thrown around as if they were interchangeable. Does this look like a job for Get Religion?
- Should we be concerned when the Lt. Governor of Florida says things like this? “Ladies and gentlemen, these are very sad times when we allow the minority to poison the minds of the majority. This is exactly what dictators and socialist rulers did [...] Ladies and gentlemen, Christianity is in a fight and it is one of the greatest trials we have seen in modern times. Without a doubt, America and her people are in grave need of prayer, divine guidance, protection, to have good, solid Christians to step up and lead this country on a proper moral path. I firmly believe that if we magnify God, our problems will be minimized.” She does know we live in a secular country, right? Right? Associated Press video of this speech, here.
- Faced with reports of dead animal parts, a local Tampa, Florida television stations asks that favorite questions of mine: “Is it Santeria?” Luckily, they don’t turn to an “occult expert,” but to Dr. Mozella Mitchell from the religious studies department at the University of South Florida. Mitchell is author of “Crucial Issues in Caribbean Religions” and says the incidents cited by the station “are not associated with Santeria” (but could be some form of freelance “black magic”).
- Judith Laura at Medusa Coils announces the publication of her new book “Goddess Matters: the mystical, practical, & controversial”. According to Laura, the book “presents an in-depth look at today’s global trends in Goddess spirituality and emerging Goddess religions.” You can find out more, here.
- The 800-year-old remains of women unearthed in Italy are part of what archaeologist Alfonso Forgione claims is a “witches graveyard” due to the ritualistic aspects found near and in the bodies (nails, dice).
- Does belief in the antichrist matter in politics? Yes, according to historian Matthew Avery Sutton. More here, and here.
- Haitian President Michel Martelly wants to “rebrand” Haiti, and Vodou tourism is part of that vision. Quote: “Do you know how many people would like to come to Haiti and try to understand what Voodoo is?” President Martelly seems very friendly to, and supportive of, the Vodou community in Haiti. Early on Haitian-American musician Pras noted that Martelly had the support of the “voodoo guys” in Haiti, and one of Martelly’s closest advisors and supporters in Haiti has been Richard Auguste Morse, a former musician and businessman who was initiated as a Vodou Houngan (priest) in 2002. What Vodou tourism would look like remains to be seen, though forms of it have been happening for years.
- Kenyan environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai died from cancer at the age of 71 on Sunday. Founder of the Green Belt Movement, Maathai was a practicing Catholic, but often drew on the tenets of the indigenous faiths of her home. She was a feminist, human rights, and environmental trail-blazer in her home country, across Africa, and the world. May her spirit find rest.
- At Patheos, Gus diZerega analyzes fascist Paganism, comparing it with today modern Pagan movement, saying “we need a new historical understanding of Paganism’s recent past.”
That’s it for now! Feel free to discuss any of these links in the comments, some of these I may expand into longer posts as needed.