Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  January 24, 2013 — 9 Comments

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.

An invocation is offered by Indra Neelameggham of Utah's Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple at the beginning of the Jan. 7 inauguration ceremonies for Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert and Lt. Gov. Greg Bell inside the rotunda of the Utah Capitol. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

An invocation is offered by Indra Neelameggham of Utah’s Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple at the beginning of the Jan. 7 inauguration ceremonies for Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert and Lt. Gov. Greg Bell inside the rotunda of the Utah Capitol. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

  • Deseret News reports on Indra Neelameggham, the first Hindu (and first woman) to ever give an opening invocation at a Utah governor’s inauguration. Quote:  “It is a prayer for peace, happiness, harmony and contentment, Sen. (Orrin) Hatch and (former) Gov. (Jon M.) Huntsman both told me after the ceremony that they thought my prayer was inspiring, so I guess it went pretty well […]  So many people believe that in Utah we are just a Mormon community,” she said. “Certainly that is the predominant religion, but we are so much more than just that. And I think they wanted someone to represent that diversity.” Neelameggham is a member of the Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple of Utah, and a pivotal figure in Utah’s Hindu community.
  • So remember last week when I reported on a theistic Satanic group in Florida (The Satanic Temple) that’s planning to hold a rally on January 25th in solidarity with Gov. Rick Scott’s support of a school “inspirational messages” law? At the time I said that “I have no idea if this is serious, or if someone is engaging in some next-level trolling.”Well, it turns out it was the latter:  “[Lucien] Greaves is listed as the casting director of a feature film called …wait for it…The Satanic Temple. […] The casting call said the movie was a mockumentary about the “nicest Satanic Cult in the world.” It was seeking actors for eight speaking roles “to play minions” and 10 featured extras.” So there you go.  It’s a would-be mockumentary.
  • The U.S. Forest Service has found a relationship between the loss of trees and a downturn in human health and life expectancy.  Quote: “The “relationship between trees and human health,” as they put it, is convincingly strong. They controlled for as many other demographic factors as possible. And yet, they are unable to satisfactorily explain why this might be so […] there is something fascinatingly mysterious about the entanglement of our health with that of nature. The suspicion that this may be so, of course, is seen well outside of the scientific literature on the topic […] Henry David Thoreau, writing in The Atlantic in June 1862, said, ‘I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least — and it is commonly more than that — sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.'”
  • John Beckett, a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD) and Vice President of CUUPS National, has joined the Patheos Pagan Portal as a blogger. Quote: “This blog is part of my spiritual journey. Sometimes I write about what’s going on in my life. Sometimes I write about what’s in the news or what’s abuzz on the Pagan internet. There are some recurring themes: the nature of the Universe, the origins of religion, developing relationships with the spirits of nature, with our ancestors, and with our gods and goddesses. Spiritual growth. Magic. Building vibrant religious communities. And perhaps most importantly, how to combine all that into a spiritual practice that builds a better world here and now.” Congratulations to John, Patheos is lucky to have you.
  • Radio Netherlands profiles 18-year-old Adrien Adandé of Benin, a High School student by day, and a Vodun priest by night. Quote:  “As soon as he gets home from school, 18-year-old Adrien Adandé slips out of his high school uniform and into his voodoo priest robes. A large crowd is already queuing outside for consultations. Adandé took over the practice from his father, who initiated him into the Voodoo rites before his death. ‘As a child, I was my father’s only son who was interested in what he was doing at the convent,’ the teenager recalls. ‘Along the way, he taught me things and showed me the secrets.'” It’s an interesting piece, featuring several perspectives on Vodun in Benin.
  • The Telegraph in India check in with  Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, India’s most famous Wiccan. Quote: “Draped in a black cloak, Chakraverti put 70-odd students of the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, under a spell on January 9 as she spoke about ghosts and planchettes and decoded Wiccan symbols. “Black is a witch’s favourite colour. It stands for enigma and dignity in Wicca. The broom signifies a woman being liberated from household activities and flying away in search of identity. The conical hat is a symbol of concentration and free-flowing thought,” she explained.”
  • Think Africa Press notes that blaming traditional African belief systems for witchcraft-related crimes and persecutions ignores that most of these harmful and violent manifestations are modern inventions, and that Pentecostal and evangelical churches have had a large influence in their development. Quote: “Today’s witchcraft beliefs and practices are as much products of modern dynamics as they are informed by long-standing tradition. Witchcraft beliefs are not remnants of ‘pre-modern’ cultures but contemporary phenomena embedded in, and partly constituted by, specific and current cultural and socio-economic contexts.”
Seen on Wednesday is all that remains of the controversial Santa Muerte statue located at the San Benito Municipal Cemetery. (Photo: San Benito News)

The remains of a controversial Santa Muerte statue located at the San Benito Municipal Cemetery. (Photo: San Benito News)

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.

Jason Pitzl-Waters


  • It’s really good to see the beginnings of a push-back against the attempts to use the horrific “child-Witch” phenomenon as yet another way to slander traditional religious beliefs in Africa.

    This new phenomenon (the torture and murder of children accused of “Witchcraft” on a mass scale) is not the result of “mixing” traditional African beliefs with Christianity. That kind of mixing has been going on for centuries.

    What is new in recent decades is the meteoric rise of Pentecostalism in Africa. And Pentecostalism is a form of Christianity that originates in the modern West (in Los Angeles California in the early 20th century, to be precise).

    Unfortunately, the BBC piece linked to by Jason above doesn’t do a particular good job of setting the record straight. For example, it uncritically passes along a sensationalizing news story about “possibly voodoo-linked” grave desecrations in Benin. Of course there is no evidence whatsoever that actually links the desecration to practitioners of Vodun!

    Worse yet, the same BBC article uncritically passes along another more serious bit of journalism-cum-blood-libel, that one being an openly racist report by Al-Jazeera on supposed “infanticide” in Benin, again of course, “linked to voodoo”.

    By now, Pagans in the West usually know how to treat hysterical news stories in our own countries that try to demonize Santeros, or Wiccans, etc. But we should be even more skeptical about the same kinds of stories when they originate from Africa, where there is not even a pretense of treating traditional religions as legitimate.

  • Jason, thank you for the warm
    welcome to CIRCLE Magazine! Just as a quick correction, the magazine has
    not been on hiatus since 2010. Issue 111 came out in the spring of 2012.
    But we’re back, and like you noted, are already working on getting
    content for the next several issues!

    Thanks so much, we’re all big Wild
    Hunt Fans over here!

    Florence Edwards-Miller
    Editor, CIRCLE Magazine

    • cernowain greenman

      I just re-subscribed a few weeks ago when I heard about the reboot. I am eagerly looking forward to the next issue coming out in a week on Urban Pagans. Circle magazine always has interesting articles and is a great resource. I always like reading the poetry in it as well.

      • I’m so delighted to hear that Cernowain! We just received our shipment at the office today (!) and the subscriptions have gone to USPS. Expect yours to show up in 1-2 weeks (occasionally longer if something like a blizzard gums up the mail).

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    The “occult expert” story was a flashback to the Eighties with none of the nostalgia.

  • Thanks for the notice and the link, Jason.

  • Paul Valentine, of the Worldwide Church of Satanic Liberation, actually *did* endorse a political candidate about twenty years ago, someone running for city council or somesuch. Apparently he did it hoping for a backlash against the politician in question.

  • from a 2012 survey: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Russia#Neopaganism_and_Tengrism 1.2%, third largest religion in Russia with 29% in Northern Ossetia