Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  September 12, 2013 — 19 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.

Evo Morales receiving the blessing of the Aymara priests.

Evo Morales receiving the blessing of the Aymara priests.

  • Is Bolivia imposing an animist/indigenous worldview on Christians? That’s the charge some Christian groups are making in the wake of a new law which oversees the recognition of religious groups in the country. Quote: “They want to control the activities of the evangelical churches,” Agustín Aguilera, president of ANDEB, told the Santa Cruz newspaper El Deber. “Article 15 (of the law) would force all religious organizations to carry out our activities within the parameters of the ‘horizon of good living,’ which is based on the [ethnic] Aymara worldview. This is an imposition of a cultural and spiritual worldview totally foreign to ours.” It should be noted that the ethos of “Living Well,” while originating in indigenous thought, does not force a particular theology. Since Christianity Today is so concerned with people being forced to conform to religious philosophies not of their choosing, I’m sure they’ll speak out against a monarch in Nigeria who converted to Christianity and is now jettisoning traditional practices beloved by the locals. Right? Any day now…
  • Sociologist Robert Bartholomew says there’s a “sudden upsurge” in cases of mass psychogenic illness, better known in the common parlance as “mass hysteria” Worse, Bartholomew says that it can now spread via social media, which is bad news for those trying to prevent another “Satanic Panic,” or plain-old witch-hunt for that matter. Quote: “In a paper titled “Mass Psychogenic Illness and the Social Network: is it changing the pattern of outbreaks?” Bartholomew writes, ‘Local priests, who were inevitably summoned to exorcise the ‘demons’, faced a daunting task given the widespread belief in witchcraft, but they were fortunate in one regard: they did not have to contend with mobile phones, Twitter and Facebook.’ However, the old and the new are more intertwined than one might expect. Two separate strangers messaged Thera through Facebook saying she needed an exorcism.”
  • Greek Jews live in fear of the Golden Dawn, an extremist political party that’s been on the rise in the wake of austerity and fiscal crisis. Their words and actions are getting increasingly reminiscent of another European political party that arose during a time of fiscal crisis.  Quote: “In Athens on July 24, another song was heard — a Greek version of a Horst Wessel song, a Nazi anthem. The Golden Dawn Party blasted it outside its headquarters while handing out free food to “Greeks only.” Golden Dawn says it wants to “clean” Greece of foreigners. Its black-shirted supporters attack poor South Asian and African migrants, claiming they’re all in Greece illegally. The violence scares Orietta Treveza, a Greek-Jewish educator who has three young daughters. ‘It’s very scary because we think that we are next,’ she says. ‘It’s not going to end with the immigrants.'” For those wondering, the party did/does embrace nationalistic pseudo-pagan trappings, but has also realized the populist potential of catering to Greek Orthodoxy. Like most fascists, belief and tradition are simply avenues to power.
  • Satanic Panic bottom-feeder Bob Larson and his troupe of teenage exorcists have hit London, and the results are pretty much exactly what you’d expect. Quote: “Savannah seriously weighed in on why London is full of dark forces, explaining, ‘I think it’s been centuries in the making, but I believe it all kind of came to a pinnacle, a peak, with the Harry Potter books that have come out, and the Harry Potter rage that swept across England.’ Her sister Tess agreed, commenting, ‘The spells and things that you’re reading in the Harry Potter books? Those aren’t just something that are made up– those are actual spells. Those are things that came from witchcraft books.'” There’s the fruit of reality television for you, anything so long as it draws attention. Oh, and there’s going to be new Harry Potter soon, so I guess Satan wins again?
  • A United Nations housing expert has criticized a new “bedroom tax” in the UK, so naturally the Daily Fail accuses her of being a Marxist Witch. Quote: “Her lengthy CV lists countless qualifications, civic achievements, books and publications – but Raquel Rolnik makes no mention of dabbling in witchcraft. Yet the architect and urban planner appears to be an avid follower of Candomble, an African-Brazilian religion that originated during the slave trade. The academic, brought up a Marxist, actually offered an animal sacrifice to Karl Marx…” This is yet another reason why Pagans should not support or link to this tabloid.
An image from the "Abused Goddesses" campaign against domestic violence.

An image from the “Abused Goddesses” campaign against domestic violence.

  • A lot of attention has been paid recently to the “Abused Goddesses” awareness campaign against domestic violence, which features representations of Hindu goddesses that carry bruises and cuts from beatings. However, reactions from Hindus have been somewhat mixed. Praneta Jha of the Hindustan Times says that “trapping women into images of a supposed ideal is one of the oldest strategies of patriarchy – and if we do not fit the image, it is deemed alright to ‘punish’ and violate us.” Sayantani DasGupta at The Feminist Wire notes that “these images of Hindu goddesses looking sorrowful and downtrodden undermine culturally located sources of female power – however ‘contradictory’.” Lakshmi Chaudhry calls it a “giant step backward for womankind,” and USF professor Vamsee Juluri adds that “there has been such a great deal of misrepresentation, if not outright malicious propaganda, about Hinduism, that the campaign already seems to many Hindus to be a perpetuation of that, rather than a sincere attempt to address the real problem of domestic violence.” Finally, Suhag A. Shukla says that “what will be the ultimate test of the success of this campaign, however, is if it is able to stop the first of many abusers from letting his raised hand meet its intended target.”
  • Does philosophy have a problem with women? Katy Waldman at Slate.com ponders: “Taken one by one, the various explanations for philosophy’s woman problem are like Zeno’s arrow, inching ever closer to a target they can’t quite hit.”
  • In Israel, the tradition of participating in the kaparot ritual using a live chicken has caused debate after MK Rabbi Dov Lipman of Yesh Atid called the practice “deplorable” and “pagan.” Quote: “The ritual involves circling a live chicken over one’s head three times and symbolically transferring one’s sins to the animal. The chicken is then slaughtered and eaten. Many have the practice of donating the chicken’s meat to the poor […] Lipman urged Jews to perform the kaparot ritual with money or with flowers instead, as many currently do.”
  • Mitch Horowitz writes about how the occult brought cremation to America. Quote: “Cremation was introduced to America in the 1870s by a retired Civil War colonel, Henry Steel Olcott. As a Union Army staff colonel and military investigator, Olcott had amassed a distinguished record, which included routing out fraud among defense contractors and making some of the first arrests in the Lincoln assassination. In his post-military life as a lawyer and journalist, Olcott developed a deep interest in the esoteric and paranormal — which drove his fascination with the then-exotic rite of burning the dead.”
  • Definition of a slow news day: these leaves and overgrowth on power lines look somewhat like a witch! Wow! Really? Let’s get that spread around as quickly as possible.

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


  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    The Harry Potter Menace surfaces again…BTW I saw a report that JK Rowling is scripting a movie series set in the Harry Potter universe but not involving HP himself.

    • cernowain greenman

      If Frank Herbert can make an Encyclopedia of Dune, then JK can certainly come out with her own reference book on Potterworld. Hell, maybe they’ll make a movie out it .

      • Faoladh

        Other than contributing a short preface, Herbert had nothing to do with The Dune Encyclopedia. Herbert’s comment on it was, “I must confess that I found it fascinating to re-enter here some of the sources on which the Chronicles are built. As the first ‘Dune fan,’ I give this encyclopedia my delighted approval, though I hold my own counsel on some of the issues still to be explored as the Chronicles unfold.”

        • kenofken

          I had to get that book way back when to figure out what the hell I was reading about and watching. It made so much sense after that. Herbert had created a universe with a very detailed back story covering thousands of years, and fans were sort of plunged into the middle of one epoch in that. I remember when the movie came out, it was considered so bizarre and esoteric that the local video store included a little homemade booklet that tried to lay out the basic story line and characters.

  • T Thorn Coyle

    There is a great book on bringing cremation to the US and the Pagan rituals involved in early US cremation. It is called Purified by Fire. Fields Books carries it: http://www.fieldsbooks.com/cgi-bin/fields/9780520236882.html

  • DaBroad

    My first thought when I saw the ivy picture? Rodan. With all the radioactivity pouring into the ocean from Japan, Gojira won’t be far behind…

    • Crystal Hope Kendrick

      Lol! Me too. Glad to hear I wasn’t the only one. “Rodan-like Ivy terrorizes East Sussex” would have made a much sexier headline, in my opinion.

  • Charles Cosimano

    In all of the often hilarious history of Theosophy (one of the things about it that has always appealed to me), the story of Col. Olcott and the first cremation in the US is one of the funniest because no one had the foggiest idea what they were doing.

  • Wyrd Wiles

    Why does everybody seem to be more interested in the cremation story, then the Golden Dawn (pseudo neo-nazi) group?! Am I the only one who’s bothered by this? We’ve gotta speak out about that.

    • Faoladh

      You are not the only one bothered by it. Many of us have been speaking out about the rise of the detestable Golden Dawn for some time now.

    • thelettuceman

      To be completely honest, this isn’t news to a lot of people.
      And, honestly, there’s little that many of us (at least those of us in America) can do, other than hope that the people of Greece will come to their senses and stem the tide of this ultra-Nationalism. Either that, or have the European Union grow some nards and withhold aid to Greece until they disestablish the political party, or something along those lines.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        Every country has groups like it. There are enough reasons to despise the EU without them being even more tyrannical.

        • thelettuceman

          What I love about the EU is that they love to pretend they’re so advanced, in a societal sense, but as soon as shit hits the fan and places like Greece start going autocratic/nationalist, they turn their backs on those morals and values and continue to prop up policies which are encouraging that kind of growth. They’d rather lose their standing as proper humans and decent people than lose their failing pet project for European federalization.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            What I love about the EU is… nothing.

  • Constant Reader

    ‘The spells and things that you’re reading in the Harry Potter books? Those aren’t just something that are made up– those are actual spells. Those are things that came from witchcraft books.’”

    Excellent. That will cut down the time it takes me to get out of the house. “Accio keys!”

    • Crystal Hope Kendrick

      These girls should really be embarrassed. I’m embarrassed for them. I hate that feeling.

  • Sarah

    Has YSEE or any other Greek polytheist group commented on the Golden Dawn? It seems like they would be in a position similar to that of Heathen groups relative to neo-Nazis in the United States.

    • I don’t know if there is an official response, but I’ve spoken with a couple of Greek Pagans, and they are very concerned about the Golden Dawn, and very angry at how they’ve appropriated occult and Pagan elements.

  • Anne Hatzakis

    I am part of the Boule for Hellenion — A Hellenic Polytheist group in the US (and other countries) and this is is what is going to be on our website in the very near future.

    “Hellenion is a Hellenic polytheist organization that began online with the intent of drawing together the classical Pagan community to promote fellowship, free exchange of ideas, scholarship, and spirituality. In May, 2001 we incorporated as a religious nonprofit in the state of California, and by the end of the year had established three local congregations. We attained 501(c)(3) status in September 2002.

    We are named for a Greek temple set in a foreign land; as most of us are not natives of Hellas, we are still as committed as any born there to the ancient Greek gods. We do not feel that heritage is necessary to be involved in Hellenic spirituality; our gods choose as they will and we are Hellenes in spirit.

    Hellenion categorically rejects the use of Hellenic Polytheism or any expression of veneration to the Theoi as a means for furthering anti-Semitism, neo-Nazi sympathies, or any form of racism, sexism, homophobia or other hatred. There is no place for that in our worship of the Theoi.” (emphasis mine)