Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  March 13, 2014 — 25 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.

Tutankhamun

Tutankhamun (aka King Tut)

  • There’s an excellent long-form journalism piece at Medium on the controversial issue of King Tut’s DNA. Quote: “The possibility that Mormon researchers were trying to convert the ancients was a particular, peculiar threat to Egypt’s sense of self, but it soon became apparent that it wasn’t just the Mormons that the Egyptians were worried about: it was all foreigners.”
  • Everyone knows that World Net Daily (aka World Nut Daily) is your prototypical “Obama is the Antichrist” conspiracy site, I don’t think anyone disputes that. So keep that in mind when you read about how Canada is going to force Catholics to teach their students about how awesome Wicca is. Quote: “A dispute over whether government can require Catholic schools to teach Wiccan and pagan rites as equal to the Ten Commandments and the resurrection of Jesus is heading to Canada’s highest court. […] The battle is over a government program adopted in Quebec in 2008 called “Ethics and Religious Culture” that is mandatory for all public and private schools. It presents all religions, from Christianity to Wiccan, “as equally valid” and requires schools to teach the beliefs in that fashion.” Here’s some non-dramatic information on the program. Here’s a non-hysterical new story from 2012 on the challenges to the curriculum. Christians sure love the idea of religious education in public schools until you subtract the triumphalism.
  • A goat’s head was recently found in a park in New York and Joseph Laycock at Religion Dispatches is unimpressed. Quote: “Much of our horror and fascination concerning severed goat heads may be due to the fact that we’re almost entirely alienated from our food supply. Many Americans are unaware that goat heads can be acquired from a butcher without any illegal or violent activity involved (and there are numerous recipes available should anyone be interested). Maybe if we stopped getting so excited every time someone left a goat head where it doesn’t belong, the problem would go away by itself.”
  • Can you do group-based spiritual work (like meditation) on a smart phone application? Sue Thomas at The Conversation investigates. Quote: “So how does it feel to meditate alongside invisible people? Well if, like me, you’ve spent a lot of time in virtual worlds, gaming online, or even just chatting in Facebook, you’ll know that there can often be a strong sense of co-presence. During research for my book on technobiophilia, our love of nature in cyberspace, I found that as early as 1995 the Californian magazine Shambhala Sun described the internet as an esoteric place for meditation which provided ‘a feeling of complete and total immersion, in which the individual’s observer-self has thoroughly and effortlessly integrated’.”
  • The Tasmania Examiner has a “meet the Pagans” article up. Quote: “University of Tasmania sociology associate professor Douglas Ezzy said ritual was central to all pagans. He said paganism, like Christianity, was separated into various denominations according to their traditions and beliefs, for example witches, wiccans, druids, heathens, and Greek or Roman reconstructionists who follow the corresponding gods and goddesses.”

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  • So how’s the Gaia Hypothesis holding up? According to a new critical book on the subject, not as well as some would hope. Quote: “Tyrrell concludes that the balance of the available evidence does not tip in favor of the Gaia Hypothesis. He adds, however, ‘While rejecting Gaia, we can at the same time appreciate Lovelock’s originality and breadth of vision, and recognize that his audacious concept has helped to stimulate many new ideas about the Earth, and to champion a holistic approach to studying it.'” There’s a website for the book, if you want to explore this more.
  • Can Jews reincarnate? Apparently they can! Quote: “For the person, however, who has graduated from Chumash to Mishnah to Talmud, and then to the Zohar, he will find, among countless other topics, a very detailed discussion about reincarnation, particularly in the Zohar’s commentary on Parashas Mishpatim, what reincarnation is, how it works, and why it is necessary in the first place.”
  • The concept of Christians trying to raise other Christians from the dead confuses me. Aren’t they, in essence, grabbing a soul that’s in heaven and bringing them back to earth? Wouldn’t that, you know, kind of suck? Quote: “Tyler Johnson runs a ministry called the Dead Raising Team in the US. He claims to have brought several people back to life. He says he even persuaded the authorities in his state to issue him with an official photocard which lets him through police lines at car accident sites. Johnson appears in a new documentary film called Deadraisers, which follows enthusiasts as they trail round hospitals and mortuaries trying to bring people back to life. Sadly, those they pray for in the film remain resolutely dead.” I think there was a whole Buffy the Vampire Slayer subplot about this very issue.
  • Indian Country Today features an editorial advocating for Native youth to reclaim tradition. Quote: “Give tradition a second chance and see the miracle for yourself. When we follow tradition, the spirits of our ancestors smile down on us. Tradition helps. Tradition soothes. Tradition heals. Tradition cures. Tradition certainly does not mean rejecting modernization and scientific progress. But it does mean recognizing that traditional Indian values are vastly different from the values of the shallow and materialistic society presented to us by the colonizers. Indians have admirable traditions. Family-orientedness, courage, loyalty, sacrifice, generosity, honoring elders, being respectful to women, never interrupting, being tolerant of all people whether they are gay or of some other race, not focusing on material values, forgiving others, helping our fellow humans, being gentle with children, giving thanks to the Creator every day, being kind to animals, treating the Earth and the environment with utmost respect – these and more are all part of our sacred traditions.”
  • Be careful with how you market those mythological flood narratives, people get picky about them.  Quote: “Aronofsky said recently that he had won a battle with executives to screen his own version of Noah in cinemas after around half a dozen alternate cuts failed to find traction with evangelical filmgoers. Now a new profile of the film-maker in The New Yorker details the desperate lengths to which Paramount went to court religious audiences in the US, who had earlier turned their noses up at a test screening of Aronofksy’s edit. ‘In December, Paramount tested its fifth, and ‘least Aronofskian’, version of Noah: an 86-minute beatitude that began with a montage of religious imagery and ended with a Christian rock song,’ reveals the profile.”

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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  • Hecate_Demetersdatter

    “University of Tasmania sociology associate professor Douglas Ezzy said ritual was central to all pagans. He said paganism, like Christianity, was separated into various denominations according to their traditions and beliefs, for example witches, wiccans, druids, heathens, and Greek or Roman reconstructionists who follow the corresponding gods and goddesses.”

    I think it’s time to start using “[sic]” when people capitalize “Christianity” but don’t capitalize “Pagan.” The above quote makes the discrimination even more clear than is often the case. Would the professor discuss various Christian denominations using small letters: “for example catholics, baptists, lutherans, methoists, and Greek orthodox . . . .”? And to capitalize “Christianity” but not capitalize “Paganism” when they are in the same sentence and being compared to each other is discriminatory and rude.

    • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

      I picked up on the same paragraph. However, I find something even more insulting than misuse of capital letters:

      Is
      Christianity a denomination of Judaism? If not, then how is Heathenry,
      Druidry or Wicca a “denomination of Paganism”? Comparing Christianity to
      the entirety of Paganism (and friends) is a false equivalence.

      There is more diversity under the Pagan Umbrella than under the Abrahamic one.

      • AnantaAndroscoggin

        I always thought that Christianity was a Jewish Heresy.

      • Crystal Hope Kendrick

        A friend of mine gave one of the most apt comparisons when asked if Paganism was like Christianity with different denominations. She replied, “No, they’re more like letters of the alphabet.” I thought that was a great answer.

        • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

          Paganism is more a collection of religions with (sometimes) similar priorities an denominations within a single religion.

          • Crystal Hope Kendrick

            Right. That’s what she was trying to imply.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            I sometimes struggle to see what, really, holds the different “Pagan” religions together, beyond a vague desire to hang out.

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

      Yet another problem with Ezzy’s redaction of Paganism is that sectarianism in Christianity is completely unlike the diversity one finds in Paganism. For one thing, Pagan traditions do not (as a general rule) make exclusive claims to be the One True form of Paganism, but this is the general rule for Christian denominations. Also, it is extremely common for practicing Pagans to simultaneously adhere to multiple Pagan traditions at the same time, whereas the norm for Christianity is clearly summed up by the old chestnut “attend the Church of your choice”.

      In fact, the whole way that Pagans (both in ancient times and today) view religious differences is completely different from the approach of Christianity. This is one of the reasons why one struggles to find any word in any ancient tongue that corresponds to what we generally mean by the word “religion” today.

      • Deborah Bender

        The denominational differences between mainline Protestant denominations in the U.S. have not mattered much to churchgoers for a couple of generations. Denominations have merged. Denominations that formerly had national or ethnic associations lose the importance of those associations by the third post-immigrant generation. People choose a congregation for convenience or a liking for the people, activities and the minister. They are indifferent to doctrinal differences, and so, in many cases, are their ministers.

        The same has happened to Jewish denominations in the U.S. There are four non-Orthodox denominations, and those denominations serve an important function by operating seminaries in which rabbis and cantors are trained. However, there is a trend among new congregations formed by the non-Orthodox to describe themselves as having no denominational affiliation. In part, this is a response to demographic pressure, because the number of religiously affiliated Jews who aren’t Orthodox is dropping and their numbers in most places can’t support a lot of competing synagogues.

        One social factor that contributes to the breakdown of denominational and even inter-religious boundaries is the rise in mixed marriages in parts of the country.

        Belonging to a Christian or Jewish congregation and simultaneously practicing Buddhism or Hinduism or Wicca, etc. isn’t as common or accepted in Abrahamic communities as belonging to more than one sect is among Pagans, though it’s increasingly tolerated. To that extent, I agree with you.

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

          “The denominational differences between mainline Protestant denominations in the U.S. have not mattered much to churchgoers for a couple of generations…..”

          In the first place, those last “couple of generations” amount to about 2.5% of the history of Christianity. In the second place mainline Protestantism is rapidly vanishing and already essentially irrelevant. In the third place, denominational differences are of great significance to Catholics and evangelical Protestants, which is where all the real action is. In the fourth place, the theological basis for Christian fratricidal sectarianism is still solidly in place, and will continue to be in place until Protestants have anathematized Luther and Calvin and Catholics have renounced the entire history of their Church. This last point deserves special emphasis. Various Christians sects are not actively murdering each other today not because they have seriously examined their past and their core theology and have consciously and explicitly improved, and until they have gone through that process, the leopard has not changed its spots.

          • Deborah Bender

            With reference to your “third place”, a Pew survey of the religious beliefs of Americans last year included a question along the lines of “If someone is a good person, but does not believe in God, will that person go to heaven?” A surprisingly large minority (something like forty percent) of evangelical Protestants answered “Yes”.

            The idea that good works without faith in Jesus will be rewarded in the afterlife is of course heretical for evangelical Protestants. People who don’t accept Christ are bound for hell. These particular evangelicals don’t believe that, and it doesn’t stop them from attending evangelical churches.

            Other Christian denominations and other religions returned a higher percentage of yes answers to this question than the evangelicals (no surprise there).

            I’m not going to argue that Christianity is an inherently tolerant religion, but most historical instances of religious violence are caused by competition over resources. Right now the Buddhist majority in Burma is doing extremely nasty things to the Muslim minority in that country, and it’s pretty clear that the motivation is a land grab.

    • Deborah Bender

      The inconsistent capitalization may have been the fault of an editor following a stylebook. Some of the Pagan and witchen organizations in the U.S. are mounting letter-writing campaigns to get journalistic stylebooks changed. Similar campaigns in the past were successful in updating dictionary definitions of “witch”.

  • AnantaAndroscoggin

    The last time I re-read any of their book, it was 1 and 2 Kings. Doesn’t their new testament include (somewhere near the batch of miracles surrounding the time of the raising of Lazarus) where Yeshua was supposed gto have said something like, “those who are truly my believers will do all these things and more” ? I suppose that

    certain personality types are bound to try stunts to one-up all the other Christians by “successfully raising” someone to be a new Lazarus.

    • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

      It’d certainly be interesting if they manage it.

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

    The role of reincarnation in Judaism is discussed at great length by Brian Ogren in his book “Renaissance and Rebirth: Reincarnation in Early Modern Italian Kabbalah”. More information about that book, including extensive excerpts and background on the author, can be found at this old blog post of mine: http://egregores.blogspot.com/2011/01/renaissance-and-rebirth-reincarnation.html

    From Ogren’s book:
    “The fourteenth century Italian kabbalist Menahem Recanati based himself
    heavily on Zoharic literature and profusely expounded upon the idea of
    metempsychosis on his own accord …. [Recanati] offers a type of summary of the idea as it appears within prior kabbalistic sources, basing himself mainly upon the Bahir and upon the Zohar; in regard to the latter, he basis himself especially, though not exclusively, upon the Midrash ha-Ne’elam l’Ruth. Recanati proved to have had a profound effect upon the subsequent course of Italian kabbalah, which relied heavily upon his theories and his citations of the Zohar. Indeed, his works were a main source of Zoharic literature for those within the Italian milieu. Recanati also influenced the likes of David
    ibn Avi Zimra concerning transmigration, a figure who was the purported
    teacher of Isaac Luria. Without a doubt, Recanati’s reach was
    wide-ranging, both as a transmitter of previous texts and ideas and as
    an interpreter in his own right.”

  • kenofken

    A link about Christian necromancers. You just made my day! :)

  • Ember

    > The concept of Christians trying to raise other Christians from the dead confuses me. Aren’t they, in essence, grabbing a soul that’s in heaven and bringing them back to earth? Wouldn’t that, you know, kind of suck?

    Heh, it depends which Christian afterlife theology they hold to. Many Christians believe that the dead stay dead until the End Times, when they’re all raised. That’s what the imagery on the Judgement Tarot card refers to.

    –Ember–

    The
    concept of Christians trying to raise other Christians from the dead
    confuses me. Aren’t they, in essence, grabbing a soul that’s in heaven
    and bringing them back to earth? Wouldn’t that, you know, kind of suck?
    – See more at:
    http://wildhunt.org/2014/03/unleash-the-hounds-link-roundup-124.html#sthash.hERKEJBi.nLPAMdMN.dpuf
    The
    concept of Christians trying to raise other Christians from the dead
    confuses me. Aren’t they, in essence, grabbing a soul that’s in heaven
    and bringing them back to earth? Wouldn’t that, you know, kind of suck?
    – See more at:
    http://wildhunt.org/2014/03/unleash-the-hounds-link-roundup-124.html#sthash.hERKEJBi.nLPAMdMN.dpuf
    The
    concept of Christians trying to raise other Christians from the dead
    confuses me. Aren’t they, in essence, grabbing a soul that’s in heaven
    and bringing them back to earth? Wouldn’t that, you know, kind of suck?
    – See more at:
    http://wildhunt.org/2014/03/unleash-the-hounds-link-roundup-124.html#sthash.hERKEJBi.nLPAMdMN.dpuf
    The
    concept of Christians trying to raise other Christians from the dead
    confuses me. Aren’t they, in essence, grabbing a soul that’s in heaven
    and bringing them back to earth? Wouldn’t that, you know, kind of suck?
    – See more at:
    http://wildhunt.org/2014/03/unleash-the-hounds-link-roundup-124.html#sthash.hERKEJBi.nLPAMdMN.dpuf

    • Ember

      The heck? I have no idea where that stack of duplicate quotes came from, I’m sorry! -E-

      • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

        It’s something I’ve noticed with Disqus and certain blogs. Shouldn’t worry about it, too much.

    • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

      The whole “dead staying dead” thing is reminiscent of the Jewish concept of Sheol. The way I was taught (Church of England brand), Christ gave his life for mankind so that they could skip the holding pen and get in early, but only if they are going through him.

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

    “Aren’t they, in essence, grabbing a soul that’s in heaven and bringing them back to earth? Wouldn’t that, you know, kind of suck?”


    Jason says:
    I think there was a whole Buffy the Vampire Slayer subplot about this very issue.

    The words you seek might be these:

    “There was no pain
    No fear, no doubt
    Till they pulled me out
    Of Heaven
    So that’s my refrain
    I live in Hell
    ‘Cuz I’ve been expelled
    From Heaven
    I think I was
    In Heaven”

    I should think people who died, having been in pain for quite a while, would really resent being pulled back to this plane, back to all that “fun”.

    • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

      I don’t suppose you could say that, once more, with feeling? ;)

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

        I don’t know how many months I had that soundtrack running in my car. On one of the lists I’m on, we discussed seasons 6 & 7 a lot–many of us are depressives or have Bad Family Behavior to contend with. Those seasons were great for processing.

        • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

          I love Spike’s song “Rest In Peace”!

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

            Oh, my, yes. Then again, I’m an insomniac.