Halloween just happened, and if you’re Pagan know what that means: a flood of “meet the Witches/Pagans” articles from a variety of media outlets. I would normally unleash the hounds, but they had a long night, so I’ll do my best to personally catch you up on the busiest media season for our family of faiths.
- Let’s start off with the fact that CNN’s Belief Blog featured a story on Pagans, complete with quotes from Clare Slaney-Davis, Michael “Pagan Theology” York, Holli Emore of Cherry Hill Seminary, Jenny “Researching Paganisms” Blain, and yours truly. Quote: Another key pagan belief is the freedom for each person to determine his or her own way to and view of the divine. “Paganism doesn’t put restrictions on what you can and cannot believe,” says Jason Pitzl-Waters, co-founder of the Pagan Newswire Collective and the pagan blog The Wild Hunt. “It grows out of an ethos that there isn’t just one sacred way to understand the world.” This is one of the better “Pagans on Halloween” articles I’ve seen, and I’m not just saying that because I was interviewed (though that certainly helps).
- The Chicago Tribune examines green burials through the lens of the Wiccan religious organization Circle Sanctuary. Quote: “The Rev. Ana Blechschmidt, a resident of Sycamore, Ill., and an ordained minister at Circle Sanctuary, said natural burials are important in paganism and other nature-based religions because it’s difficult to fully honor a loved one who has passed on when that person is not buried in a way that preserves the land.“ The Chicago Tribune definitely gets points for coming up with a different angle, one that discusses a serious issue. Video of a green burial for a cat can be seen, here.
- Huffington Post blogger Grove Harris, UN representative for the Temple of Understanding, weighs in on Samhain as a time to confront our mortality and honor our ancestors. Quote: “We are all going to die. Death is a transition into mystery, into spiritual realms, perhaps to feed ongoing life on earth, perhaps to journey further in spirit, perhaps both. Perhaps neither. It’s a mystery. The question is how can we most deeply listen this year, when the veils between the spirit and earthly realms are most thin, to receive guidance, courage and clarity for the days to come?”
- TNT Magazine goes two-for-one and interviews Witches and Vampires! “Think witches and vampires are just for Halloween? Prepare to meet the people who embrace occultism full-time.” Still, a surprisingly tame article after that lead-in.
- An Eastchester NY paper may have the best quote on Witchcraft: “I only know two kinds of witches, and I know many, many witches,” [Suzanne] Whittle said. “There are good witches and stupid witches.”
- The International Business Times declares that “Halloween comprises an unlikely (and unholy) mixture of Paganism, crass commercialism and Hollywood.” They also interview Baylor University religion professor Rosalie Beck, who says that “the real influence for the creation of Halloween comes from a broader-based agricultural cycle shared by all rural peoples in ancient Europe.”
- At The Guardian Liz Williams, who runs a Witchcraft shop in Glastonbury, tackles the issue of reburial within the UK Pagan community. Her view? “Any attempt to second-guess what ancient people would have wanted is just that: a guess at worst, a hypothesis at best. There is no secure cultural affinity between ancient pagans and modern ones, and the language game issue promoted by Wittgenstein holds: entering someone else’s world view, especially across such a span of time is next to impossible.”
- A Pagan group at Ball State University in Indiana gives their take on Samhain: “It’s a time to both take on everything you’ve been able to gain this past year, as well as reflecting on problems that have been bad and accepting them as a part of yourself and moving past it.”
- Irish Central: “It’s easy with hindsight, to see how that ethereal crossover between the pagan Gods and the Spirit world got woven into a Christian tradition, which the emigrant Irish carried with them when they left these shores during famine times for America. What’s harder to reconcile is the huge crass, commercial event it has morphed into all over the world, but then look what they did to Christmas?”
- The Indian Country Today Media Network has a special three-part series on Day of the Dead that’s worth checking out.
- The Stir presents: How Samhain is celebrated in a Pagan family. Quote: “I think that’s one of my favorite things about the holiday. Every single thing that’s commonly practicedalso has historical roots based in old beliefs. Whether or not we still believe there’s going to be evil spirits scared off by glowing carved faces is irrelevant — it’s just fun! But I do so love having an answer to explain why we do each thing (I don’t really like doing most things without reason), and it’s also a time to talk with my kids about their grandmother and great grandfather who passed before they were born, and pay special respect to them that night.”
That’s all I have for now, if there was a favorite Samhain/Halloween/Day of the Dead article you think I missed, please share it in the comments section. Tomorrow we unpack some non-Halloween related news!