Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  August 15, 2013 — 14 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.

1892 Lithograph depicting a somewhat exaggerated presentation of the Salem Witch Trials.

1892 Lithograph depicting a somewhat exaggerated presentation of the Salem Witch Trials.

Image of Ann Tuitt and Cornelius Jarvis. Part of a larger photograph of people serving prison sentences for obeah in the Antigua prison, 1905. TNA CO 152/287. Courtesy of The National Archives, UK

Image of Ann Tuitt and Cornelius Jarvis. Part of a larger photograph of people serving prison sentences for obeah in the Antigua prison, 1905. TNA CO 152/287. Courtesy of The National Archives, UK

  • The BBC reports on the abolishment of punishments for the practice of Obeah in Jamaica, and whether this development will lead to a resurgence of the practice. Quote: “Until recently, the practice of Obeah was punishable by flogging or imprisonment, among other penalties. The government recently abolished such colonial-era punishments, prompting calls for a decriminalisation of Obeah to follow. But Jamaica is a highly religious country. Christianity dominates nearly every aspect of life; and it is practiced everywhere from small, wooden meeting halls through to mega-churches with congregations that number in the thousands.” More on Obeah’s history, here.
  • Is Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker, a favorite to win a Senate seat for the Democratic Party, a stealth Religious Right candidate? Quote: “Cory Booker is very, very tight with the religious right wing — but he’s also very careful about what he says, since he hopes to run for president one day and cultivates strong LGBT support. The problem is, he hangs with the Dominionists […] So here’s the question: Does Cory Booker simply cultivate useful relationships with a lot of un-American, unsavory, pro-corporatist, right-wing religious extremists — or is he one of them? I can’t read his mind, but I’ve had enough of giving so-called Democrats the benefit of the doubt on this stuff.” Is this all mere speculation? Talk2Action has some more background. All I know is that the New Apostolic Reformation is bad news, and some deeper questions should be asked of Booker if he’s truly allied with them.
  • Welsh, one of the surviving Celtic languages, is in trouble. Quote: “Only half of 16 to 24-year-olds consider themselves fluent, compared with two-thirds of over 60s, and only a third of the younger generation use Welsh with their friends In the language’s stronghold of Carmarthenshire there were five electoral areas where more than 70% of the people spoke Welsh in 2001, now there are none. The statistics have led to calls to protect the language, and 84 per cent of people indicated that they would welcome the chance to use it more.” The article notes that living next to a “language superpower” makes preservation difficult. Let’s hope things don’t get as bleak as it once did for Cornish
  • Practicing Witchcraft isn’t actually legal grounds to have your children taken away, no matter how much some would wish it to be so. Quote: “‘Nobody was able to articulate specific crimes associated with the ideology,’ wrote one officer. ‘Nobody on scene was able to articulate specific reasons (to remove the daughter) besides the religious views of the (boyfriend). All parties were advised that religion was constitutionally protected.'” 
  • The Pew Forum asked various religious leaders about the morality of life extension, and while they didn’t talk to any Pagans, they do interview Unitarian-Universalist, Hindu, and Buddhist leaders. Quote: “According to Michael Hogue, associate professor of theology at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, a Statement of Conscience on life extension ‘would probably come down [against it].’ Opposition would likely stem from ‘ecological concerns as well as concerns about economic justice,’ he says, referring to the environmental impact of faster population growth and the possibility that only the wealthy would be able to afford life-extension therapies.” Hindus, on the other hand, maybe be OK with life extension. Quote: “According to Arvind Sharma, a professor of comparative religion at McGill University in Montreal who has written about Hinduism and life extension. ‘The normal blessing in Hinduism is ‘Live long.’ So why not live longer?’ he says.” 

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


  • cernowain greenman

    Perhaps the move to “horror” witchcraft in movies/TV is a pendulum swing away from the days when Charmed, Buffy, The Craft and positive images of witches dominated entertainment media. If this is so, then we Wiccans need to recognize that we are losing ground in our culture that we gained back in the ’90’s.

    • kenofken

      A better barometer of how we’re doing in the culture probably goes beyond looking at whether the current media images of witchcraft are “positive” or “negative.” The key is whether and how much the culture’s understanding of us has improved to keep it all in a healthy perspective. In the 80s, negative portrayals were damn dangerous in the context of “satanic panic.”

      Now, I think for the most part, people have a more realistic understanding of who and what we are and can also draw the crucial distinctions between real-life witches and pagans and occult-themed TV heroes and villains. I think we will have truly arrived where we need to be when we become grist for GOOD plot writers and directors who can authentically portray modern witches in all their complexity – hero, villain, regular schmo, love interest, alcoholic country star who finds redemption, you name it.

      • cernowain greenman

        Since a good part of the change towards acceptance of Wicca came from young people watching positive roles of Wiccans in the media, no doubt a new generation of haters will arise with the negative portrayals that are coming out now. Public opinion changes rapidly and we can be in the place we were years ago very quickly. I advise that we not grow complacent.

        • Genexs

          I think you should give ‘young people’ more credit.

  • cernowain greenman

    Kudos to the law officer who rightly stated: “All parties were advised that religion was constitutionally protected”!

    Here in Indianapolis we had a judge that tried to keep a child from his divorced parents (who were both Pagan), but he learned the truth that the practice of the Wiccan faith is not a legitimate reason to remove a child.

  • Karen Schumann

    Thank you for mentioning the passing of the beloved Barbara Merta (Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters). I believe that her books on Egyptology were the first I’d ever read that included the humor of the civilization. And, of course, I read her novels. “Ammie, Come Home” was my first adult ‘ghost’ story. She will be missed greatly.

    • Anna H.

      “Ammie, Come Home” and the TV movie developed from it were just the best. All of her material was in a class by itself.

  • Charles Cosimano

    As one gets older, the opinions of others on the morality of life extension are as important as the opinions of insects.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      One thing to remember is that this seminary professor does not direct other Unitarian Universalists’ opinions on the same subject.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    Life extension is not a good thing. There are too many humans already.

  • temperatelogic

    The writings of Barbara Mertz, both fiction and non, were what sparked my interest in Egyptology; and those studies in turn led to me becoming a Kemetic pagan. Safe journey to the West, Dr. Mertz!

  • Allright already! If there’s that much of a sex culture in neo-paganism, why am I not enjoying some of it? Dunno, these conservatives, always harping on things that don’t exist.

    However, I do admit to discomfort that an otherwise admirable candidate is being that close with the Religious Right.

    Just hit me that I might refer to that group as the Religious? Right!, given their behavior in the political arena.

  • Genexs

    It was good to see the article in the Humanist by N. Arora making the connection between factory farming, animal cruelty, and Christianity.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    Here’s a nice link I found whilst trawling the news this morning:

    Exchanging the Truth of God for a Lie: Rejecting Marriage and Gender are Connected

    “Western culture needs conversion, from the inside out. We need a
    Christian revolution of the heart. Christians need to once again take
    the eternal and timeless values of the classical and orthodox Christian
    worldview and knead them again into the loaf of western culture.”

    Spiritual war is upon us whether we like it or not.

    The Catholic Church is the single largest religious charitable organisation on the planet. It refuses to even acknowledge Paganism as anything other than a pejorative term and a heresy.

    How, then, are we to respond to this when interfaith is not an option and ignoring them will simply not be sensible?