Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  September 7, 2013 — 17 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.

  • Moonhenge in Cambridgeshire was recently dedicated and blessed by local Pagans. Quote: “For Jo-Ann Childs, a druid from ­Huntingdon, the experience was ­particularly spiritual because she said she had dreamed about the henge during a trance three weeks before the artist Derek Massey’s design appeared in The Hunts Post. She said: ‘It was exactly what I saw in my dream – tonight is a dream come true.’ Ms Childs, 72, a retired anaesthetic technician, has been a druid for many years. She explained that by blessing the site, druids hope it will be a sacred place for everybody, no matter what their religion.” Moonhenge is a wooden replica of Stonehenge built in honor of the land owner’s late wife, and featuring 19 outer trees representing a lunar cycle. BBC News notes that there’s a bit of bother over planning permissions, though nothing too dire it seems.
  • The Christian obsession with witchcraft continues unabated, with spiritual warfare peddler Landon “The Rev” Schott‘s new book entitled “Jezebel: The Witch Is Back” that will “equip and empower you to wage spiritual warfare aggressively” against “Jezebel’s diabolical characteristics and behaviors.” Quote: “Her assault will continue until all of God’s people are dead or defeated. Jezebel’s bloodlust for death and destruction will only be stopped when met with spiritual violence.” This is hardly the first book about the “Jezebel spirit,” she’s practically a household name among certain Christians (see here, here, here, and here). So what happens when you explain away everything from depression to simple illness to witchcraft? Do you start looking for scapegoats when your “spiritual violence” isn’t enough anymore to keep things as Christian and stable as you would like? Make no mistake, we’re considered a “symptom” of Jezebel’s reign.
  • For some time now I’ve been covering the Phoenix Goddess Temple saga. Were the practitioners devout tantric healers, or was it merely a front for a prostitution ring? Now, two years after the temple was raided and shut down by police, founder Tracy Elise will be headed to trial in October, and will be representing herself. Quote: “According to court paperwork, Tracy Elise has fired her attorney and has chosen to represent herself in court. Two years ago, police raided Elise’s church, known as the Phoenix Goddess Temple. Investigators claimed it was a house of prostitution, but parishioners said they were just practicing their religion.” For the curious, Elise has a Youtube channel where she outlines some of her beliefs. We will be covering this story as it continues to develop.
  • The trial of psychic matriarch Rose Marks continues, with gripping testimony back and forth over how successful her services were, and whether she was merely conning people for lucrative pay-outs. Quote: “Walker said she became unhappy, though the psychics felt they’d had successes: Walker’s husband had returned to live with her before he died; no child had been born; and Walker’s legal team had negotiated an initial payment from the estate to Walker.” My previous reporting on this story can be found here, and here.
  • Bloomberg, Salon.com, and Discovery all write about the deteriorating water supply in Caracas, Venezuela. While Bloomberg largely focuses on the political and structural failures that are causing the unsafe water, the others seem to focus in on Santeria practitioners dumping dead animals into local reservoirs (which the processing plants are unable to filter toxins from). Quote: “Witch doctors regularly dump animal sacrifices into the reservoir meant to quench the thirst, clean the dishes and wash the clothes of 750,000 Venezuelans, reported Bloomberg. As a result, citizens of one of the most dangerous, crime-ridden cities in the world, Caracas, Venezuela, can’t even take a drink of water from the tap safely. The 60-year old water treatment plant at the reservoir lacks the ability to filter out the toxins from the putrefying carcasses.” None of these articles seem very balanced to me. The problem isn’t the dumping per-se, if it is indeed as pervasive as claimed, the problem is a decaying infrastructure, law enforcement, and a political system in turmoil. The bad water is a symptom of a problem far larger than dead animals.

  • Self-help “Secret”-peddler James Arthur Ray, currently free on parole after serving two years for negligent homicide in three 2009 sweat-lodge ceremony deaths, has decided to drop his conviction appeal. According to the Associated Press, Ray “wants to avoid the possibility of a retrial and resentencing.” Quote: “I wish to ensure the prompt, complete and definitive termination of these criminal proceedings by dismissing this appeal and allowing the conviction and sentence to stand undisturbed.” In other words, the appeal to his not-that-harsh sentence considering 3 people died was generating a lot of criticism, and he feared that being sent back to prison was a real possibility if a new trial went forward. So perhaps this is the end of the James Arthur Ray saga? Let’s hope he sinks into a quiet and isolated retirement.
  • BBC News Scotland has the tragic story of how one abused girl’s testimony was manipulated into what would be known as the South Ronaldsay child abuse scandal in 1991. Quote: “The tiny Orkney island of South Ronaldsay became the centre of a worldwide media storm in 1991 when nine children were removed from four families following allegations of satanic sexual abuse. Two decades on, Esther, who was the child at the centre of the scandal, believes none of it would have happened if she had spoken out at the time.” Esther has published a new book entitled “If Only I Had Told.”
  • Interfaith activist Andrew Luisi says that Indian culture teaches us plurality. Quote: “India has taught me that there are endless paths to reach the same destination. Hindus believe in many deities, but ultimately and regardless of the deity they choose to worship, they believe that they will be lead to the same truth. To this point, Hindus believe that they are worshipping the manifestation of the deity in the specific image that they are performing the puja, or religious ritual, to. It is not as if each Hindu believes that the image is the deity because most understand that divine power is greater than any one physical figure; divinity is present anywhere in the world and at any time.”
  • The Revealer interviews Ronald L. Grimes, ritual theorist, and author of “Deeply into the Bone: Re-Inventing Rites of Passage.” Quote: “His book “Deeply Into the Bone: Re-Inventing Rites of Passage“ (University of California Press, 2000), for example, mixes personal accounts of the ways people have performed rites of “hatching, matching, and dispatching” with theoretical approaches to those rites. Through his detailed explanations, Grimes also makes arguments for why rites of passage matter, not just as an academic discipline, but for our lived lives. These passages are difficult, when fully comprehended, and it takes performance, imagination, and community to work through them. Crucially, they have to be updated, changed, and “re-invented” to continue to have impact.”
  • Paganism is resurgent, and thus, people are throwing away babies. Modern Catholic thought in action folks.
  • Matt Hedstrom at the Christian Century admits that a “come-one, come-all” open prayer policy would unfairly favor Christianity, but can’t bring himself to endorse either “ceremonial deism” or complete elimination of opening invocations. Quote: “As Stephen Prothero recently reminded me, many evangelicals and fundamentalists actually supported—for this very reason—the landmark 1962 Supreme Court ruling in Engel v. Vitale, which banned school-sponsored prayer. Fundamentalist leader Carl McIntire made this point clearly: ‘Prayer itself without the name of Jesus Christ’—whom the prayer in question did not name—’was not non-denominational prayer—it was simply a pagan prayer.’ McIntire continued: ‘No Government agency or power in the United States can be used to establish a religion.’ Prayer without Jesus represented a religious orientation, one McIntire found objectionable.” Again, this is why the Supreme Court’s decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway is so important.

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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  • harmonyfb

    So what happens when you explain away everything from depression to simple illness to witchcraft?

    I once had a woman tell me – in all seriousness – that “Satan” made her overdraw her checking account.

    I mean, what do you say to someone who is so determined to duck out on taking responsibility for their actions? ::throws up hands::

  • Constant Reader

    A few years ago, I had all the symptoms Jennifer LeClaire mentions in her article about Witchcraft (and more, actually, but I’ll spare you the details). When I got the toxic, judgmental, holier-than-thou jerks out of my life, the symptoms cleared up in a couple of months. True story.

  • gary p golden jr

    the comments on the exposure article are just as funny as the article itself, maybe if he did a little research on exposure and the social and economic reasons behind it he wou…

    Ok I apologize, I know he doesn’t give a shit.

    • Boris

      Throwing babies into trash cans is probably a reaction of Christian girls who never had adequate sex education and who are at their wits’ end. That is not funny. Real pagans tend to have more information.

      • gary p golden jr

        “Throwing babies into trash cans is probably a reaction of Christian
        girls who never had adequate sex education and who are at their wits’
        end.”

        And whose fault is that? Only christian girls throw babies into the trash? Only christian girls do not get adequate sex education? What of the ones who toss their babies and go back to doing whatever it is they were doing?

        “That is not funny.”

        You ummm, you didn’t read the article or comments did you, your ignorance detector must need to be calibrated, both the article writer as well as some of the commenter’s are about as smart as a bag of hammers.

        “Real pagans tend to have more information.”

        what “real pagans” and “information” about what exactly?

  • thelettuceman

    “Ma’am, I’m a Pagan, AKA “Licensed Baby-In-The-Rubbish Tosser”. Call me if you ever need any help with yours.”

    • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

      Really glad I wasn’t drinking anything; I’d be getting my laptop fixed. ^_^

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    I’m glad you’re still covering the Phoenix Goddess Temple story, but I worry a bit that Tracy Elise is representing herself in court. There’s all sorts of ways that can turn out badly.

    • kenofken

      When people represent themselves in court in criminal cases, it’s a glaring sign that they’re A)Off their meds and manic, and think they’re just brilliant. B)An idiot and C) Going to prison for the maximum term associated with their charges.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        Or so poor they can’t afford representation.

        • Hecate_Demetersdatter

          Here, she fired her lawyer. And in criminal trials, people too poor to hire a lawyer have a right to a court-appointed lawyer. Lawyers accused of crimes won’t represent themselves because they understand the importance of having someone else involved. I hope that Ms. Elise reconsiders.

          • kenofken

            Invariably, people who do this are either nuts, or trying to take on some grand crusade of constitutional law to convince a court that income tax or drug laws, or perhaps prostitution laws are all null and void under some libertarian theory or another. The prosecutors run procedural rings around them, and they go to jail for a long, long time.

            It’s a slow-motion car crash, and it’s too bad. There seem to be some interesting legal issues to sort out and defend properly. There are clearly ways to have public sexual activities. It’s done all the time in swing and fetish clubs, and presumably it could be done on a religious basis too. The problem comes in when you link money to the certainty of a specific sex act. As soon as you do that, even obliquely and under the guise of “donations”, you’re screwed. So to speak.

  • Deborah Bender

    So when Jesus instructed his followers to pray, “Our Father Who art in heaven. . . ” he was giving them a pagan prayer?

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      I think the implication is fairly clear in that one.

      These, on the other hand, could quite easily count as Pagan:

      http://www.marypages.com/PrayerstoMary.htm

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Deborah, it’s logically consistent. Maybe Hedstrom and McIntire want to re-think this…

  • Charles Cosimano

    And not a single book about the spirituality of good king Manassas. I see a Biblical double standard here/

  • Signy

    Typical that they’d portray their idea of evil as female with this “Jezebel” concept.