Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  February 6, 2014 — 11 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.


  • Climate Progress reports on efforts by an alliance of Native American nations, activists, and environmental groups, to stop the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline through Lakota land. Quote: “In the wake of the State Department’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statementfor the Keystone XL pipeline which sparked nearly 300 protest vigils across the country, a group of Native American communities have added their voices to the calls to reject Keystone XL. In a joint statement — No Keystone XL pipeline will cross Lakota lands — Honor the Earth, the Oglala Sioux Nation, Owe Aku, and Protect the Sacred announced their intention to peacefully resist the construction of the pipeline slated to cut through Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska.” You can read the full statement, here.
  • Amnesty International has released a statement saying “after 38 years time to release indigenous leader Leonard Peltier.” Quote: “It is time for the USA authorities to release Leonard Peltier, an Anishinabe-Lakota Native American and leading member of the American Indian Movement (AIM), who has been imprisoned for 38 years despite serious concerns about the fairness of proceedings leading to his conviction. Leonard Peltier was arrested 38 years ago today in connection with the murders of two FBI agents, Jack Coler and Ronald Williams, during a confrontation involving AIM members on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota in June 1975. While he admits to having been present during the incident, Leonard Peltier, who in 1977 was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences for the murders, has always denied killing the agents as alleged by the prosecution at his trial.”
  • A woman charged with the sexual abuse of children allegedly tried to silence victims by saying she was a witch, and that she would utilize spells against them if they talked. Quote: “Shocking is perhaps the best word to describe the allegations against Jessica Smith. But perhaps it also best describes her self-proclaimed job title. “Ms. Smith led the children to believe that she was a witch, a practicing witch. [She]would place hexes or spells on the children if they revealed any of the facts that had happened,” Richmond said. “Of course, these children are young and they believed her. As if what [the victims] witnessed at that point wasn’t enough, now they think someone is going to cast a spell on them.” There’s no confirmation of whether she actually adhered to some form of religious witchcraft, or if it was merely a ruse.
  • “Conscience” laws are redundant, and largely politically motivated, and even lawmakers in South Dakota realize that. Quote: “As Americans United has pointed out several times, the First Amendment already protects members of clergy from being compelled to officiate at marriage ceremonies. Why can’t a same-sex couple demand a church wedding? For the same reason that a Protestant couple can’t just walk into a Roman Catholic church and demand that the priest marry them. Members of the clergy have an absolute right to determine the parameters for the sacraments they offer. If a couple doesn’t meet those criteria, the pastor is free to show them the door.”
  • Religion Clause reports that a Hawaii Supreme Court ruling in State v. Armitage says Native Hawaiians are not infringed on by making them obtain a permit to enter an island reserve. Quote: “The Hawaii Supreme Court held that the rights of Native Hawaiians are not infringed by a statute limiting entry into the Kaho’olawe Island Reserve only to those who obtain authorization to do so through a written application process.  Defendants claim they were traveling to the island to proclaim the right of the “Reinstated Kingdom of Hawaii” to the island. The court rejected defendants’ arguments that their entry was protected by the Art. XII, Sec. 7 of the Hawaii Constitution which protects the right to engage in traditional and customary Native Hawaiian subsistence, cultural and religious practices.”
A young man wears a blindfold in an initiation ritual. (Jan Sochor – GlobalPost)

A young man wears a blindfold in an initiation ritual. (Jan Sochor – GlobalPost)

  • Global Post has a photoset up focusing on Palo in Cuba. Quote: “The cultures of Cuba’s many African descendants run deep across the island. They blend with the country’s traditional Roman Catholic practices to create vibrant mixtures. Photographer Jan Sochor captures the ritual scenes here in Santiago de Cuba and Havana, in particular capturing Palo rituals. A religious practice often confused with Yoruba religion (Santeria), but distinguished by more underground practices and initiations.”
  • Is cultural Christianity dead? That’s what  R. Albert Mohler Jr., President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary asserts. Quote: “There was in the center of the country — and I don’t mean that geographically, but culturally — a cultural religiosity that was, in the main, a cultural Christianity that trended in one direction for the better part of 60 to 70 years, and it had a kind of moral authority that is disappearing before our eyes.” 
  • Don’t be a jerk, don’t deface ancient rock formations. Quote: “Prosecutors have filed charges against two former Boy Scout leaders accused of toppling one of the ancient rock formations at Utah’s Goblin Valley State Park. State Parks officials say Glenn Taylor is charged with criminal mischief. David Hall is charged with aiding criminal mischief, another felony.”
  • Early Americans really didn’t like the Quakers much. Quote: “Known today for their pacifist and quietist ways, Quakers had an altogether different reputation in the seventeenth century: belligerent and boisterous rabble-rousers. Fueled by evangelical zeal, and asserting radical ideas for the time, the Quakers were aggressive proselytizers. As a result, they faced violent persecution in England and, to a lesser extent, in the Netherlands, where many migrated. News of their beliefs (e.g. equality for women, refusal to swear oaths, etc.) and their tactics (e.g. preaching loudly and publicly, disrupting worship services, etc.) reached the colonies before the Quakers did. Connecticut, in fact, banned Quakers in October 1656—prior to any Quakers having ever reached the colony.”
  • What’s it like being a Pagan at Penn? Pretty lonely, it seems. Quote: “Deidre Marsh, a College senior, founded Penn Wheel a semester ago in order to build a community for earth-based religions and paganism. But even in a school of over 10,000 undergraduates, Marsh has been unable to find anyone else who shares her religious beliefs.”

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


  • TadhgMor

    It’s also worth remembering that some Quakers were party to Cromwell’s massacres before they officially adopted non-violence.

    • Also let us recall that Quakers have played a very prominent role in aggressive proselytization, and worse, against Native Americans. It was Quaker missionaries who succeeded in having Native dances criminalized in Alaska back in the early 20th century, and Quakers played a leading role in the shameful institution of “indian boarding schools”, and many of those boarding schools continued to operate into the 1950s.

      • TadhgMor

        I will say, having spent some time studying that time period, that the Quakers were hardly the worst on that matter. It’s faint praise certainly, but they did do some good for Native Americans and often tried to protect their congregations against harm.

        But yes, you’re point is right on the mark. I think they deserve both credit and blame. Like most people, they as a group have done good and bad.

        • I am not convinced that there is any particular reason for letting the Quakers off the hook so easily, even to the extent of characterizing them as “hardly the worst”. Their leading role in the truly Orwellian “Indian Peace Policy” after the Civil War, and their enthusiastic and central role in the “boarding school” phenomenon, makes it rather difficult to exonerate them in any way.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    So-called conscience laws are not only redundant but a red herring. At no point in the ongoing history of the BGLT rights movement has there been a demand for gay church weddings. It’s an issue wholly concocted by the anti-marriage-equity opposition to feed the Christian persecution complex. And any BGLT couple that wants a church wedding need only look up the nearest Unitarian Universalist congregation. There is indeed a religious-freedom dilemma in marriage equity, but it concerns homophobic wedding planners, photographers and venues who fall back on religious arguments to defend their homophobia. I put them in the same moral category as tradespeople who wanted to go on racially segregating their premises after state laws demanding that practice were voided.

    • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

      Technically, there has been demand for same-sex church weddings. These demands are not from any groups, but individuals and are few and far between (generally).

      It is a bit like how, a couple of years ago, a Muslim couple asked to get married in an CofE church. They did not want it to be a religious ceremony, they just liked the building.

      One couple does not make a trend, but they did make the news. Sensationalism is a constant problem for minority groups.

  • thelettuceman

    Student groups are hardly indicative of personal views. They are almost universally stupid, in my experience. And by stupid I mean “universally saturated with drama”. We had a Pagan Student Union at my undergraduate university and we pulled maybe fifteen or so members in the few time I went. But they did nothing to keep me going.

    Ultimately it’s not a “if you build it, they will come” thing that everyone seems to want it to be. The groups themselves need to be promoted. I go to SUNY Albany for graduate studies, with a not insignificant population of students, and I have yet to see a flier for Pagan-themed anything. But I do not believe I am “alone”.

  • Franklin_Evans

    I see that my friend Caity Wallace at Drexel was quoted. I’ll prompt her to contact Deidre about the several Pagan groups near and around the Penn campus.

  • Anne Johnson

    We Philadelphia-area Pagans are notoriously disorganized. We have a Pride day in Clark Park, which is just a few blocks from the Penn campus, but doggone if I can tell you when it is, even which season it’s in … I think summer.

  • Re: Jessica Smith and her threats
    I can’t remember how old my son (12?) was when I realized that “good” secrets usually have an end-date and something nice at the end (presents, surprise parties), but “bad” secrets threaten you, and the silence about them supposed to be eternal.

    You have a literal child, you see, who doesn’t always get the layers of nuance below the top-level meaning of a statement (or of many social interactions) and you try to find ways you can explain that not all secrets are bad (nor good), and how to tell.

    Now between school and his parents, he’d been told that his body was his, and that no one had the right to touch his privates or make him touch theirs. The rest of his body–well, parents get to do a certain amount of unwelcome touching for practical reasons. We also told him that if anyone who came to our house socially or professionally made him uncomfortable, even without touch, he was to tell one of us immediately, and we would handle the situation.

    We told him that if anyone did, or tried to do, something he was supposed to keep to himself, or someone they love would be badly harmed, that’s the time you come to us for help, because that other person is a nogoodnik.

    The site of PantheaCon used to be the site for BayCon, a regional SF/F/H con on a different weekend. When our son was about 10, he had a certain amount of freedom–with limits that loosened as he got older and showed more sense–while there because there were a lot of families and other child-watchful types and not many places where you could do anything with a child without reaction from them. He was introduced to the “con mommas”, so that he would know they could help him.

    Last year, I think it was, I dropped him off at PCon, and noticed that he wasn’t walking schlumped over, and when I’d see him around, he spoke with more confidence and less diffidence than I was used to seeing. He said, I belong here, even if I’m not going to seek initiation. I feel secure here. Hmmm cultural pagans, anyone?