Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  September 19, 2013 — 7 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.

Nina Davuluri

Nina Davuluri


  • Sometimes the tourist-attraction witch business is so good you decide to go solo, at least that seems to be the case with the latest Wookey Hole witch, Sunny Van der Pas, who wants to launch her own clothing line. Quote: “Actress Sunny Van der Pas is leaving her role after two years to launch her own clothing line based upon her costumes. But now directors at the popular tourist attraction need a little magic of their own to find a replacement witch in time for Halloween. […] The attraction employs a witch pro rata, largely over the summer holidays, Halloween and Christmas, They are expected to live in the site’s caves during busy periods and to teach witchcraft and magic. The role normally attracts thousands of applicants, who then compete in for the post X Factor style auditions.” For the uninitiated, the Wookey Hole cave system in the UK (about 20 miles from Bath) has become something like the British version of Salem here (except even more tourist-y).
  • NPR highlights Candomblé in Brazil, spurred by a recent survey that saw an uptick in adherents. Quote: “Sitting among the faithful here is Marcilio Costa, who is the commercial officer at a foreign consulate in Sao Paulo. He became an initiate a year and a half ago, and he says he’s open about it. ‘Among Brazilians, yes. People understand better now. … All my friends know my religion, every single one of them,’ Costa says. ‘I don’t hide from no one.'”
  • The Paris Review interviews poet Gregory Orr, who opines on the nature of myths. Quote: “The beautiful thing about myths is that you’re never telling a myth, you’re retelling it. People already know the story. You don’t have to create a narrative structure, and you don’t have to figure out where it ends. As a lyric poet, you can take the moments of greatest intensity in the myth, or the moments that interest you most, or the ways of looking at the story that you think would be most fun to rethink—you don’t have to do the whole story. You want to know what human mystery can be revealed by retelling it. D. H. Lawrence said that myths are symbols of inexhaustible human mysteries. You can tell them a hundred, a thousand times, and you’ll never exhaust the mystery that’s coded into that story. That may be a little hyperbolic, but I believe it.” 
  • The Secular Student Alliance has launched the “Secular Safe Zones” program at high schools and colleges. Quote: “The program enlists ‘allies’ like Schmidt among faculty, administrators, counselors and others on college and high school campuses who are trained in the needs of nonreligious — or ‘secular’ — students. So far, there are Secular Safe Zone allies at 26 college and high school campuses in 14 states, including California, Nevada, Ohio, Utah, Illinois, Florida and New York.” This is based off of similar LGBTQ efforts, and you have to wonder how long it will be before various religious groups launch their own “safe zone” programs.
  • Blah, blah, blah, Christian persecution in the United States, blah, blah, blah, Obama is a pagan, blah blah blah. Quote: “As Barber explained, the Obama administration is the “modern-day equivalent” of ancient Rome, demanding that citizens must worship Caesar in the form of progressiveism.”

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


  • Erynn Rowan Laurie

    I’ve got a couple of Gregory Orr’s books. He does some lovely stuff.

  • Courerdubois

    Meh. That nithling who shot up the Naval Yard may have gone to a Buddhist temple, but that doesnt make him Buddhist anymore than going to an Episcopal church makes me Episcopalian.

  • Charles Cosimano

    I would think the obvious answer to anyone bringing up Buddhism about the crazy shooter person would be, “Well, he may have been a Buddhist, but he was not a good Buddhist.”

    • thelettuceman

      Much better than saying, “No true (religion) would ever do that.”

  • Deborah Bender

    Most Rabbis had day jobs before the modern era. Rabbi Hillel (approximate contemporary of Jesus) said scathing things about people who taught the Torah for pay. When changing laws and mores in western Europe and America reduced the segregation of Jews, congregations started paying salaries to rabbis so the rabbis could spend more time on the congregation’s needs instead of being rabbis on the side while pursuing a demanding career in business or a profession. Rabbis are expected to marry and have children, and want to be able to support their families decently; otherwise, no one with talent and ambition will seek the rabbinate.

    In order to be able to afford to pay a salary comparable to what an educated Jew could earn elsewhere, congregations had to be large. With paid rabbis, you can’t have a bunch of small neighborhood shuls run by congregants who live within walking distance of the synagogue. You concentrate in one or two large temples per city, with an administrative staff and a full time cantor who are specialists in providing religious services. It makes for a very different religious experience and community. Things are shifting back toward the older way among non-orthodox religious Jews as well as mainline Protestants, for a similar mix of financial and cultural reasons.

    As our economic surplus declines, it is simply going to be impossible to get people to support more than a handful of full time religious professionals unless they are forced to, or scared into it, or the professionals are celibates living in true poverty who don’t cost much to feed, house and clothe.

    • cernowain greenman

      The active post-WW2 religious life in the US was an *aberration* from the norm, with high church attendance resulting from millions of veterans coming back from winning a war and their families being thankful for their loved ones who made it back alive. Congregations found an influx of people and money that American clergy had never dreamed of before or since that time. Many Christian mainline churches were able to hire “full-time” staff (not to mention organs, choirs, education buildings, etc). Before long a career clergy path emerged that included a Masters level divinity training. This was considered “normal” at the time.

      Then came their long slide down. Now few mainline churches can afford full-time staff. Seminarians graduate with at least $50,000 of student loans to pastor churches that can barely pay them a living wage. They still have the big buildings but this is a facade since they cannot afford to do the upkeep on them.

      The only ones who are doing well are mega-church senior pastors who make a good salary while the other ministers on their staff do not. Most of these are conservative churches. Even TV preachers and religious authors are not doing as well as they used to.

      So, like you say, Deborah, religious leaders in America are for the most part back to poverty, which means working a secular service job while trying to preach, pastor and evangelize as best they can. And THAT is “normal” for Christianity in America.

  • Raksha38

    It seems to me that the person who shot up the Naval Yard was a troubled person in search of some peace and Buddhism was one place he was looking for that. It just wasn’t enough by itself; he couldn’t do it alone and clearly needed more intensive psychiatric help.