Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  February 24, 2014 — 5 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.

The Voynich manuscript.

The Voynich manuscript.

  • A professor from the University of Bedfordshire claims to have made significant progress in translating the mysterious Voynich manuscript. Quote: “An award-winning professor from the University has followed in the footsteps of Indiana Jones by cracking the code of a 600 year old manuscript, deemed as ‘the most mysterious’ document in the world. Stephen Bax, Professor of Applied Linguistics, has just become the first professional linguist to crack the code of the Voynich manuscript using an analytical approach. The world-renowned manuscript is full of illustrations of exotic plants, stars, and mysterious human figures, as well as many pages written in an unknown text. 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.” So what’s it about? Bax says it “is probably a treatise on nature.” More on the manuscript here.
  • The Houston Chronicle profiles its local Santeria community. Quote: “Disciples fill Faizah Perry’s sunny suburban Houston home for a day of worship as chanting emanates from a sheet-curtained side room in which she divines the future and enacts other secret rituals. Perry, a priestess, feels a deep spiritual connection to a saint-like “patron” called Ogun and predicts events channeling other spirits using sacred seashells. Her faith is called Santeria, a religion grounded in African beliefs that were transported to the New World aboard slave ships and melded with Christian beliefs in Cuba. By at least one survey now a decade old, there were about 22,000 Santeria practitioners active in the United States.”
  • Catholic magazine America wrings its hands over secularization in the United States and what that means for religious liberty. Quote: “To be blunt: Religious people who hold traditional values are in the way of what many powerful people want. We are in the way of widespread acceptance of abortion, unrestricted embryonic stem cell research and experimentation with fetal tissue. We are in the way of doctor-assisted suicide, euthanasia and the mercy-killing of genetically defective infants. We are in the way of new reproductive technologies, which will become more important as our society makes sex more sterile. We are in the way of gay rights and the redefinition of marriage. We are in the way of the nones and the engaged progressives and their larger goal of deconstructing traditional moral limits so that they can be reconstructed in accord with their vision of the future.” Will someone get me my smelling salts? I think I might swoon with worry.
  • A woman has filed suit against the hotel chain W Hotels, claiming she was dismissed after employee rumors emerged that she practiced Vodou and witchcraft. Quote: “The plaintiff claims shortly before her termination, employees spread rumors about Hall being much older than she looks and that she is a practitioner of evil witchcraft. Hall is of Haitian descent and believes these rumors linked her to discriminatory narratives of Voodoo. Hall accuses the W of denying her equal opportunity based on age and national origin.”
  • The Christian “singer” Carman, who famously penned a song slandering Pagan leader Isaac Bonewits, says that his terminal cancer is cured. Quote: “Less than a year after announcing his diagnosis with myeloma, an incurable form of cancer, Carman Licciardello now says he’s cancer-free. ‘They took tests (and there will be more) P.E.T., MRI, Bone biopsies ect [sic] and could find NO trace of Cancer,’ the former CCM star wrote on his Facebook page.” No doubt Carman will use this extension of life to make amends towards those he has wronged.

  • Philebrity showcases a short clip from a longer forthcoming documentary on Harry’s Occult Shop. Quote: “The clip above, which according to the Vimeo page is part of a longer (though still short) documentary on the legendary South Street shop, might be the first and likely last look inside the shop for many of you. And on this day-off for some and unproductive day for others, it’s just what you’ll need to kick-start your daydreaming at your desk.” The shop itself, sadly, seems to have gone online only (I think this is how it exists now).
  • Here’s another profile of New Age star Marrianne Williamson’s run for Congress, this time in the Weekly Standard. Quote: “In fact, at the moment, there is only one candidate running anything approaching a real campaign. Well, maybe “campaign” is the wrong word. It’s more a vision quest. If you live in Waxman’s district, Marianne Williamson doesn’t just want to represent you. She wants to save your soul.”
  • Meanwhile, Diane Winston at Religion Dispatches defends her congressional run, saying there’s nothing “woo” about her. Quote: “Williamson’s appeal is not based on what she wants to do but on why she is doing it. Since the 1970s, she said, the American left has abandoned the spiritual impulse that fueled movements for abolition, labor reform, women’s rights, civil rights and pacifism. For Williamson the spiritual impulse, the “self-actualization of the individual,” leads to a life of love and a beloved community embodied by a society that seeks the best for its citizens and their planet.”
  • The occult history of the television set. Quote: “The origin of the television set was heavily shrouded in both spiritualism and the occult, writes author Stefan Andriopoulos in his new book Ghostly Apparitions. In fact, as its very name implies, the television was first conceived as a technical device for seeing at a distance: like thetelephone (speaking at a distance) and telescope (viewing at a distance), the television was intended as an almost magical box through which we could watch distant events unfold, a kind of technological crystal ball.”
  • The Phoenix Business Journal looks at the rise and fall of New Age guru James Arthur Ray, who was recently released from prison for negligent homicide in a deadly sweat lodge ceremony gone wrong. Quote: “I lost everything tangible, and ended up millions of dollars in debt,” he wrote. “I never thought I would be in this position. In the blink of an eye I lost my life savings, my business that took 20 years to build, my home, and my reputation. All gone in one fatal swoop. Four banks dropped me like a bad habit; they wouldn’t even allow me to have a checking account with them post the accident. My book publishers wouldn’t return my call.” You can read all of my coverage of Ray, here.

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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  • Franklin_Evans

    I’ve lived in or near Philadelphia nearly all of my life, and as my awareness of my path grew I became increasingly aware of what Harry’s Occult Shop represented: the dark side of honesty.

    That’s my personal opinion. Others may disagree. I’ve been in the shop only a couple of times, and I’ve never met Harry in person.

    I met a young man who was Harry’s cashier for a while. He related the following story from firsthand witness, or so he claimed. I’m paraphrasing from memory. The context of the story is around the mid 1970s.

    A regular customer comes in one day, clearly depressed about something. Harry greets him, and the customer says, “Harry! I’m feeling terrible! Can you help me?”

    Harry pulls out (I’m not exaggerating about this part) a stethoscope and proceeds to examine the customer. Harry looks into his eyes, clucks and mutters, and finally declares “Bill (I don’t recall the name used), I’m sorry to tell you, but you have a transverse spyro-gyro.” That last part is verbatim.

    Bill is crestfallen. “Harry,” he says dejectedly, “what can I do?”

    Harry putters around the shop. “Burn these candles as instructed, burn this incense before and after meals, put these herbs in your food. Come back in a few weeks and we’ll see.” I don’t recall the amount in the original story, but it was in excess of $50.

    Bill returns a few weeks later. He practically struts into the store, a big smile on his face. Harry comes out, and the customer exclaims, “Harry! You’re a genius! I feel like a new man!”

    Harry holds up a finger and silences him. Out comes the stethoscope, more clucking and muttering ensues, and Harry says, “You still have a transverse spyro-gyro.”

    Another $100 or so, another few weeks. Bill returns, very cautious in his demeanor. Harry declares him cured.

    As my friend related the story, he quit his job shortly thereafter.

  • http://www.cernowain.com/ cernowain greenman

    I’ve always been fascinated by the Voynich manuscript. There have been several claims over the years of people saying they’ve figured it out, but they hadn’t. I think it to either be an elaborate hoax or written in a language that someone invented and took it to their grave. My well wishes are with this Bedferdshire prof, and I hope he really has figured it out. But, I’ll be skeptical until I read the translation.

  • http://www.cernowain.com/ cernowain greenman

    As for Carman being “cured”, if he has multiple myeloma, then he is probably in remission for now. However, this can come back at any time, and he may need to be on chemo the rest of his life. Which may cut back on his concert appearances.

    • http://saffronrose.livejournal.com/ A. Marina Fournier

      I wouldn’t be a registered (but thus far uncalled) marrow donor if it hadn’t been for too many people I knew having to deal with multiple myelomas. As for this Carman person, well…

  • http://blausternschlonge.wordpress.com/ Lee Shawnus

    I used to make a yearly pilgrimage to South Street in Philly to visit
    the many wonderful diverse stores and our first stop was always Harry’s.
    It was a strange place full of strange people. As a witch i noticed as
    you went in the door to the right near the floor in a case was a
    mirrored globe in front of a mirror and i thought, hmmm, that is to
    reflect negativity off of people coming in. There was this little kiosk
    that connected to the main counter where someone like an occult
    pharmacist would stand and people would go there for a consult about
    what formula they needed for what and they would go back and bring out
    the herbs and mix it for them right there, kinda like the pharmacist
    window at your modern pharmacy. I remember one tall black man customer
    who had the aire of Ghede. Strange but fascinating place for sure….

    Also a fascinating story on the occult history of the television set. I am going to reblog links to here and to these stories. Thanks Jason. BB