Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  May 28, 2013 — 10 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.

(Credit: Wikimedia/DarkGeometryStudios via Shutterstock/Salon)

(Credit: Wikimedia/DarkGeometryStudios via Shutterstock/Salon)

  • Let’s start off with Salon.com’s follow-up to the outing of rogue Wikipedia editor “Qworty,” which focuses on his strange vendetta against Pagan, esoteric, and occult pages. In the piece Andrew Leonard links to my run-down of the story, and manages to dig up some new information as well. Quote: “Every page deleted or altered by Young on grounds of self-promotion or conflict-of-interest clearly deserves a second look. And that great effort is already well under way. The Neo-Pagans are clamoring for the return of some of their deleted pages and scouring those that survived the purge to see which of Young’s cuts will be reverted. But Young didn’t confine himself to questions of notability or conflict-of-interest when tangling with the Pagans; he also challenged the basic tenets of Pagan spirituality. Wikipedia, he argued, should be debunking such things as Wiccan rituals or the exploration of drug-induced conciousness-raising, rather than reporting them.” This experience has left some Pagan Wikipedia editors disillusioned, to put it lightly. It will be interesting to see how things progress from this point. 
  • The branding of children as “witches” by pastors in places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues. The BBC has a new documentary where a British citizen who was born in the DRC finds out her cousin has been accused of witchcraft and races to find her. Quote: “Journeying from her home in London to her birthplace in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kevani tries to discover how ancient traditions have been hijacked in the name of Jesus, why families are singling out vulnerable children and hurting them and why toddlers are having to endure excruciating rituals in order to ‘rid them of demons’.” It should be noted that branding children as witches is illegal in the Congo now, but the pastors seem unconcerned.
  • The book “Ritual” by David Pinner, which inspired the 1973 film “The Wicker Man” is going to be getting a sequel. Pinner told Rue Morgue Magazine that he’s written a book set 30 years later entitled “The Wicca Woman.” Quote: “I’ve just completed the sequel to Ritual, after all these years, called The Wicca Womanthe children who are in Ritual are grown up in this. It’s set 30 years later just before the millennium. Wicker Man obsessives will no doubt want to keep an eye out for this one. Meanwhile, StudioCanal continues its hunt for lost footage from the 1973 film’s original cut in hopes of releasing a complete anniversary edition. 
  • Christianity in Britain could be declining faster than originally thought according to a new analysis of the 2011 UK census data. Quote: “A new analysis of the 2011 census shows that a decade of mass immigration helped mask the scale of decline in Christian affiliation among the British-born population – while driving a dramatic increase in Islam, particularly among the young. It suggests that only a minority of people will describe themselves as Christians within the next decade, for first time.” We may see a truly post-Christian Britain in our lifetimes. That new analysis is from the UK’s Office for National Statistics, by the way. 
  • John Macintyre, former president of the Scottish Pagan Federation, is interviewed by Patheos.com about the importance of Pagan involvement in interfaith. Quote: “Interfaith is not a threat, it doesn’t aim to change what Paganism is, still less to merge it into some kind of ‘one size fits all’ universal religion. It allows us to educate other faith groups and the wider society about the reality of modern Paganism, to challenge prejudice and negative stereotyping close to its sources, and to make a positive contribution as one of the many faith communities that make up our society.”
Santa Muerte

Santa Muerte

  • Dr. R. Andrew Chesnut, author of “Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint,” writes about the Vatican’s ongoing battle with the cult of Santa Muerte. Quote: “In addition to theological objections, the current religious economy of Mexico and Latin America provides a compelling explanation not only for the condemnation of narco-saints but also for other dynamic religious competitors. For the past three decades both national bishops’ conferences and the Vatican have inveighed against the “invasion of the sects” in Latin America. Of course, Pentecostals, the most vibrant of the Church’s competitors, have been the primary object of condemnation, but Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, New Age groups and Spiritists have also been singled out.” 
  • PNC-Minnesota has an update on Pagan-initiated tornado relief efforts in Oklahoma. Quote: “As of Saturday, Solar Cross has collected $545 in donations and was able to send 400 N95 rated respirators, 58 pairs of work gloves, 50 safety goggles, 20 tarps, and 10 shovels. Tillison said, ‘Thank you thank you thank you! Your donations will be distributed within 24 hours of the time they arrive and sent out to Little Axe, Newcastle and the outlying areas that are not receiving the outpouring the greater area of Moore is.'” You can read my initial report on this, here.
  • When talking about legal protections, “who’s a journalist” is the wrong question. Quote: “When considering whether to grant legal protection for the gathering and dissemination of information, the question should not be the person performing those acts, i.e., “who is a journalist?,” but “is this an act of journalism?” Before the user-generated content revolution, focusing on journalists (i.e., people defined by their institutional affiliations) served as a functional if rough approximation of the true interests at stake (i.e., debate on issues of public concern). That is no longer the case.” This issue is an important one for all us Pagan media types who are not affiliated with a recognized institution. 
  • Paul Louis Metzger argues that sometimes Christians create the “idols” for modern Pagans out of ignorance of our actual beliefs and practices. Quote: “We Christians need to be on guard in our understanding of such movements as contemporary Paganism. We tend to lump all of modern Paganism into one general and distorted category. We often fail to account for the vast complexity within the movement and articulate Paganism accurately. For all our concern about pagan idolatry, we may be guilty at times of making their idols for them. We need to develop the practice of respect for understanding their practices, rituals, and beliefs.”
  • Wiccan love spells: sometimes they (kinda) work (at least for awhile). Quote: “Yes, I shed a few tears, but not because I was in love with him. I cried because the spell hadn’t worked, at least not all the way, and I was now forced to revert to being a Party of One after having had a brief, haunting reminder of the cozier aspects of being in a relationship.”

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.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Katharine Hawk

    Hmm, it doesn’t appear that the BBC documentary “Branded a Witch” is available to be played outside of the UK. At least that’s the message I’m getting when I try to play it. Is that happening to anyone else? I’d really love to watch that — the witchcraft accusations happening to children and women in Africa and other places are so disturbing and scary; I’m trying to stay as educated as I can about these situations..

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

      I tried it and got the same result as you.

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      BBC is paid for by the British public, via the TV license. As such, when they rolled out iPlayer, the decision was made to not make it universal. (So as not to annoy those of us who pay the license fee.)

      It is pretty frustrating, but I would be surprised if it doesn’t get onto Youtube pretty soon. Even if the fans don’t put it online, the Beeb maintains a Youtube presence.

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

        It is on youtube now. I posted a link in a separate thread of its own.

    • Robin

      Check out the Tunnel Bear application. Just Google Tunnel Bear and you will find it. It is a work around for this problem (says me, the wife of an Englishman who likes his British tv :-) -and so do I!) Hope this helps.

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

    Media coverage of Witchcraft related stories coming out of Africa, and/or out of the African diaspora, has been consistently problematic, and that is putting it nicely. This is due largely to a perfect storm of three unquestioned assumptions resting on 1. racist stereotypes of primitive Africans and their savage “superstitions”, 2. Christian-privilege, according to which things only go wrong with Christianity when it gets “mixed” with other religions, and 3. “progressive” secularism, according to which irrational “superstitions” and “magical thinking” are in and of themselves causes of violent behavior.

    Critical reading and thinking are absolutely necessary when dealing with these kinds of stories. Always look very closely at the sources and the evidence that is presented. Is anyone in the story actually quoted? If so are the people quoted identified? If they are identified, are they Christians who are hostile to African Traditional Religions? Is any effort made to present a neutral or even positive view of indigenous African traditions? Its also a very good idea to try to find out more about the journalists involved, and also to try to find out what kind of information is available from non-media sources. A number of in depth reports on the phenomenon of “child witches” have been published by UNICEF, Save the Children, Human Rights Watch, and other international organizations.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    I think that, all technicalities aside, the UK already is Post Christian.

    The vast majority of people are certainly not active Christians. It is a very secular country. (Which is why I get so annoyed by the fact that, technically, it isn’t.)

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

    There is a youtube video up now from the BBC documentary “Branded A Witch”:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvQxecpjlMQ

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

      For those who don’t know, the indigenous Lingala word “kindoki” is intrinsically neutral and can be used to refer to healing powers and other forms of beneficial magic. It is only when that term is used by Christians that it becomes synonymous with harmful magic.

      And as everyone knows, Christians don’t need to “adopt” ideas from Africa, or anywhere else, to get it into their heads to start accusing people of Witchcraft. This is especially true of Pentecostalist Christianity, a form of that religion that is thoroughly modern and western (having originated in Los Angeles, California in the 20th century). An especially virulent form of Pentecostalism was introduced into the DRC back in the 1990s by none other than Pat Robertson himself.

  • Anfistophanes

    Fascinating!

    Keep it up.