Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  October 10, 2013 — 15 Comments

Unleash the Hounds is one of my longest running, and popular, features at The Wild Hunt. It is, in essence, a link roundup. A place where I find stories in the mainstream media concerning Paganism, occult practices, indigenous religions, and other topics of interest to our interconnected communities. The birth of this series came out of necessity, as more stuff is being written now than I could possible write about in-depth week-to-week. If you enjoy this feature, please take some time to make a donation to our Fall Funding Drive, so we can continue to bring you this, and other features, for another year. Thank you to everyone who helped us raise over $4000 dollars in the first few days of our drive, let’s keep the momentum going, and be sure to spread the word! Now, on to the links!

  •  A House Oversight Committee hearing this Wednesday got so intense, that Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA) decided to inject a little levity by asking Affordable Care Act Office Director Sarah Hall Ingram if she was a witch. Quote: “A Democratic Congressman mocked the GOP’s effort to demonize an IRS official during a House Oversight Committee hearing on Wednesday by asking her if she was a witch consorting with the devil. The official, Affordable Care Act Office Director Sarah Hall Ingram, said in response to questioning from Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA) that she has never worked with the devil, could not fly, and was not responsible for perverting the youth ‘in Salem or anywhere else.’” One can only imagine what would have happened had the answer been: “yes, I am a Witch, one of the many New England traditional covens.“ Whatever the case, satire is a tricky thing these days.
  • Speaking of witches and witchcraft, they are so very, very, hot right now (in pop-culture). Just ask CNN“So, maybe they’re a kind of gendered response to the suave, seductive male vampire figure. Or maybe it’s just cyclical, and all of the childhood fans of ‘Hocus Pocus,’ ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’ and ‘Charmed’ are writing for TV now! [...] The featured supernatural characters on those shows are usually men, too (not exclusively, but overwhelmingly). These new witch characters are giving women more power and agency to control their destinies, instead of just being objects of desire in need of saving, which is a nice change.” The article notes that “Hollywood now can’t seem to get enough of witches.”
  • Did Roman aristocrats fabricate the story of Jesus? Probably not. But here’s a documentary claiming exactly that! Quote: “On October 19 Atwill will present some provocative new findings in London. Atwill’s thesis is that the New Testament was written by first-century Roman aristocrats who fabricated the entire story of Jesus Christ. Per Atwill: ‘The Caesars committed a crime against consciousness. They reached into the minds of their subjects and planted false concepts to make them easier to control.’ Atwill claims to have iron-clad proof of his claims.” Hey, remember all those religions that disappeared after various individuals debunked them? Yeah, me neither.
  • Fox News reports on the witchcraft tourist trade in Nicaragua. Quote: “Americans get dressed up for Halloween, take kids trick or treating, and tell tales about ghosts and witches. But in Nicaragua, some locals and curious tourists seek out real, live witches—or brujos, who claim to be able to cast spells on people and cure all sorts of ailments, including impotency, male pattern baldness and more.” The reporter spends a lot of time trying to see if the local witches will reveal secrets or do malefic magic for him. They seem, understandably, hesitant to indulge him.
  • Hammer Films has purchased the film rights to Jeanette Winterson’s novella “The Daylight Gate”, about one of England’s most infamous witch-trials. Quote: “I was interested to take the Hammer novella commission to write a good story around the notorious Pendle witch trials of 1612. Now I am intrigued and excited to see what new form these ghosts can inhabit. Stories from the past are always present; it is our imaginations that make it so.” The pop-culture witch trend continues…
A promotional still from American Horror Story: Coven.

A promotional still from American Horror Story: Coven.

  • A Flavorwire, Michele Dean can’t wait for pop-culture to embrace witchcraft once more. Quote: “In the 1990s, when I was a teenager, witches were everywhere. Today people often reference the Fairuza Balk/Neve Campbell movie The Craft as though it were the driver of that trend in the culture. But it actually came awfully late in my experience of fellow young-nerd-women who retreated into Wicca and Paganism as a way of coping with social ostracization. They weren’t the ordinary-looking witches of Charmed or even Buffy, but people who enjoyed wearing velvet chokers and thanking the Goddess and drawing Celtic runes. It was very often very silly, I agree, and there were certainly paths that even my extremely socially disenfranchised self declined to follow them down. But while their actual powers were a matter of dispute, just the practice and ritual seemed to be enough to give them a measure of much-needed self-respect.” A message to my fellow Witches out there, prepare for a new deluge. Seriously.
  • The Huffington Post interviews Incan Shaman Elena Radford. Quote: “That’s what a shaman does — tune into the energy of the environment: mountains, animals, plants, people in the past, and energies from other worlds. These skills that come through the heart allow a shaman to communicate with these different realities.” 
  • Oh, and did I mention that the New York Times has also chimed in about the pop-culture resurgence of the witch? Quote: “There’s something very beautiful about witch stories — the full moon, the mystery, the chants — but it’s also a way to explore female power [...] To me, witch stories are really female versions of superhero stories. They’re fantasies. And there’s something very potent about those fantasies. On one level, this is a fun yarn about women learning to use these supernatural gifts, but it’s also a metaphor for things that we all need to do in our lives, in our adulthood, to own who we really are and feel comfortable with it. To not be afraid to use our gifts.” Also, Glamour is totally on board with the return of witches.
  • Dangerous Minds (almost) attends a Gnostic Mass. They do not eat the Cakes of Light. Quote: “This is a special, invitational Gnostic Mass, and a couple, like me, are invitees (though presumably bona fide neophytes rather than tremulous hacks). At least one seems a little nervous, while the OTO initiates—mostly middle aged men with either long hair or none, each with unusually pale blue eyes—inspect us with that slightly salacious curiosity with which people on one side of an experience examine those at its verge. In the pub Adrian had referred to magick as ‘psychological transgression.’ I can see what he means! The atmosphere is a distinct mixture of the religious and the illicit—as if we were all here for an afternoon of metaphysical dogging.”
  • There’s a new edition of Robert Graves’ “The White Goddess” out, you can read an excerpt at Tor.com. Quote: “This labyrinthine and extraordinary book, first published more than sixty years ago, was the outcome of Robert Graves’ vast reading and curious research into strange territories of folklore, mythology, religion, and magic. Erudite and impassioned, it is a scholar-poet’s quest for the meaning of European myths, a polemic about the relations between man and woman, and also an intensely personal document in which Graves explored the sources of his own inspiration and, as he believed, all true poetry. This new edition has been prepared by Grevel Lindop, who has written an illuminating introduction. The text of the book incorporates all of Graves’s final revisions, his replies to two of the original reviewers, and a long essay in which he describes the months of inspiration in which The White Goddess was written.”

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. Don’t forget, make a donation to our Fall Funding Drive so The Wild Hunt can run for another year!

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Vastarien202

    On one hand, I’m glad to see Witchcraft coming back into the public eye. On the other, I think that we need to have a serious conversation about where we go from here. I believe that a clear distinction must be made between witchcraft as a religion, and Witchcraft as a pure Art. I also would like to see a lot less pandering to those who would pull our teeth in the name of social acceptance. Make no mistake, another culture war is coming, and with this current economic crisis we are not only easy targets, we are much more visible than ever before. The day is coming fast when we will have to stand against the rising
    tide of evangelical hysteria, and if we have traded our knives for fairy
    dust, we will be driven under once more.

    • Merlyn7

      You want us to stab them?

  • Jason Hatter
  • http://www.walkofthefallen.com Labrys

    Ah, yes, the television witch….Fox has “Sleepy Hollow” now revolving around an occult war WITHIN the Revolutionary war, the fight being carried on by two opposing covens of witches, one good and one evil. Of course, libel and slander must ensue…the “evil” being headed up by one “Romany Greek” witch —hey, yeah, blame those evil Gypsies AND the Greeks. (How DOES that work, btw?) And oh, lest we forget, the Germans are evil, too….the Hessian mercenaries were actually working to bring DEMONS in to kick Geo. Washington’s butt.

    I have to say, I can’t be happy about it at all…the portrayals are so frothingly stupid, hysterical and anti-historical.

  • cernowain greenman

    I think Atwill’s theory on a “Roman inspired Jesus has clearly switched the cart and horse. It’s much more likely that the Roman fingerprints found on the gospels were put there later, in the fourth century, after Constantine co-opted the faith and when the New Testament was finally compiled. To take the obviously later Roman layer and put it at the beginning and claim it to be the original kernel doesn’t explain how the Jewish and Greek influence got there in the texts. But, hey, controversy sells books and I’m sure Atwill will profit from this.

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

    That Christianity existed well before Constantine is not a matter of serious debate. And it is also quite clear that the form that Christianity took once it had the power of the Roman state in it’s hands is completely consistent with the totalitarian ideology already being espoused by those who declared themselves as “orthodox” long before 325.

    But history is hard and people prefer fairy tales. Actually I like fairy tales a lot myself, it’s just that it is important to realize that there is a difference.

  • TadhgMor

    “Celtic Runes”.

    Ugh. Maybe others are excited about this rise in “witch” associated stuff, but I’m not. It seems like it will be associated with a rise in ignorant cultural appropriation as well.

  • MarkTemporis

    Of the pop-culture references, “American Horror Story” started out strong even if there was a reference to American witch-burnings (ugh). Given how one girl’s super-power is to have mind-blowing sex (literally), it may not be to everyone’s taste.
    So far the best portrayal IMO is the vampire drama “The Originals” where the witches are a distinct faction, somewhat oppressed by the series villain but definitely out after their own goals.

  • Charles Cosimano

    An IRS official may or may not be a witch, but no one would object to burning her at the stake for working for the IRS.

  • Isabel

    As far as personal development goes, I’d say the more young people interested in witchcraft the better. I had a forum discussion recently in which someone stated that more and more shamans are being called now that the Earth is at such a tipping point. I guess that popular culture could be an instrument in this process, just as the internet has been.

    I do feel some concern though. On Tumblr alone there are so many aspiring teenage witches, discussing astral travel, goetia and black magic as if it’s nothing! They pick their own patron or matron (sic) gods and goddesses as if it’s a new pair of jeans, and speak of ‘using’ faeries and other spirits instead of ‘working with’. None of them seems to know not to go where you haven’t been invited. If that’s the influence of pop culture as well, it’s not all good news. There are some very good and indeed inspiring exceptions though.

    • thelettuceman

      That has been the American experience for the last 20 years. It is nothing new.

    • Northern_Light_27

      Tumblr is teenage fantasyland, for the most part, and for many of them the only learning they do is modeling what they see other people on Tumblr doing. Some of them will come through it and feel as abashed as any who read bad crescent-moon books in the ’90s and stayed Pagan eventually did. For the rest, it’s role-playing, trying on spiritual masks to see which fit. *Mostly* harmless, although a few things do concern me.

  • thelettuceman

    A cursory Google search today brought nothing up about so-called Biblical Scholar At well’s credentials. I am interested in his background and curriculum vitae, specifically.

    It seems like sloppy pseudo scholarship is still all the rage.

    • kenofken

      It pays a hell of a lot better than the real thing.

  • Virginia Carper

    Ackward…, Connolly is MY REP. Cringe worthyness. He decorates his house Halloween and does that stuff. I guess I will have to go over and introduce myself – Witch here, witch voted for you, witch may not next year….