Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  April 7, 2014 — 11 Comments

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than our team can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up.

Peter Matthiessen

Peter Matthiessen

  • Noted naturalist and author Peter Matthiessen died on Saturday after battling leukemia. Mattheiseen, a Zen Buddhist, wrote over 30 novels, was an environmental activist, co-founded the Paris Review, and famously wrote “In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,” which chronicled the story of Leonard Peltier. Quote: “Matthiessen is held in such high regard as a nonfiction writer by nonfiction writers that they sometimes say, ‘How is it possible that this guy can be such a virtuoso fiction writer, and give his equally substantial body of nonfiction work such short shrift?’ Because all the rest of us are trying to do what we can to mimic his nonfiction work.” What is remembered, lives.
  • Two people in Western Kentucky have been arrested on charges of committing sexual offenses against children. One of them, Jessica M. Smith, allegedly described herself as a Witch and threatened the children with her powers. Quote: “Prosecutors say the two threatened the children with ‘hexes and curses’ […] Police said Smith described herself as a witch and told the kids ‘she was going to put a spell on them’ and that ‘if they told anyone, something bad would happen to them.'”
  • A federal appeals panel has ruled that New York City has the right to block religious services in public schools. Quote: “The decision does not mean that the city must force religious groups out of the schools, but merely that a city prohibition on religious worship services in schools would comply with the Constitution.” Appeals are expected.
  • It seems that “real housewife” Carlton Gebbia isn’t the only reality television star who has practiced Wicca. It seems that Millionaire Matchmaker star Patti Stanger was a “real Wiccan” for six years. Quote: “I’ve studied Kabbalah, I’ve studied Wicca, so you can’t be like that. You can’t throw stones at people, because karmically it’s going to come back to you even worse then you threw it at them.”
  • Is the Internet destroying religion? A new study makes the case that the rise of the Internet has been an important factor in individuals abandoning traditional forms of religious practice. Quote: “Today, we get a possible answer thanks to the work of Allen Downey, a computer scientist at the Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts, who has analyzed the data in detail. He says that the demise is the result of several factors but the most controversial of these is the rise of the Internet. He concludes that the increase in Internet use in the last two decades has caused a significant drop in religious affiliation.” Of course, correlation is not causation, but Downey says that “correlation does provide evidence in favor of causation, especially when we can eliminate alternative explanations or have reason to believe that they are less likely.”
Terence Spencer—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Terence Spencer—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

That’s it for now! Feel free to discuss any of these links in the comments, some of these we may expand into longer posts as needed.

Jason Pitzl-Waters


  • I think Downy’s research is spot on about the Internet. People have been drifting toward rugged individualism in their spirituality/religion for years now and the Internet is a powerful tool for these folks, which include Pagans. For as much as we talk about the Internet connecting us, it is also true that the Internet enables many Pagans to practice individually with little to no in-person relationships to other Pagans.

    • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

      I’d agree with that. The internet does a really good job at dividing people. A couple of years ago, now, there was a study showing that people spend so much time on social networking sites that they start not having enough time to go out and actually socialise.

      Whilst it is useful for people like myself, who do not have a physical faith-community, I do sometimes wonder if I would have one, if I just got out.

      Meeting people from all over the world, from the safety of my own armchair is simple. I don’t have a clue how I’d meet people of like mind in my actual area.

  • About the access to the Net being linked to rejection of religion, that same access can lead to the realization that while Atheism and Agnosticism are fine choices but they are not the only alternatives. That means Rationalism vs. Religion can be yet another false dilemma and yet another idiotic expression of The Forces of Good™ vs. The Forces of Evil™ dualism…complete with all the tired trappings of ego and belief-based identity clashes.

  • ChristopherBlackwell

    It is the internet that allow our far scattered Pagan population to find those that share interests. I live out in the middle of the desert and no longer drive and use a walker. So how else can I learn about Pagans all over the world and what issues are important where? How else would I be able to run a e-zine Action and have readers and people to interview countries on the five continents.

    How would we have The Wild Hunt to read? or Witches’ Voice and many other ones around the world?

    How would we find out about the new developing Pagan religions of only a few members that might prove interesting to us to know about. Can you imagine trying to start a new religion without the Internet?

    One aspect of the Internet for anyone religious is finding out how much more is out there than you would have ever suspected.

    Remember we Pagans were among the first to make heavy use of the Internet. Without the Internet we would not be as active or as informed as is possible in our day an age.

    • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

      But, at the same time, people need to use it as a stepping stone to real community, rather than a destination, if they want to see their religion(s) thrive in the world.

      • ChristopherBlackwell

        Ultimately, I would agree. But that is also only for those that have Pagans willing to be active near by. There are a lot of us in areas where most Pagans are at a distance and still in the broom closet. I was interviewed in my local newspaper early in my being Wiccan and that being open pretty much cut me off from the remaining local local Pagens who were still very much in the closet. So with only very few exceptions, all my contact with other Pagans boh in the country ad around the orld has been first by mail, then by forums and e-mail. for the last thirty years. There are stil a lot of places where a person may be the only Pagan in his or her area. This is even more true in many other countries in the world where the numbers are smaller. This I know from those that I interview and other Pagan groups that I monitor. It is even dangerous to b Pagan in a few Eastern European countries such as Hungary, Ukraine, Russia in some areas, most of the Muslim countries. In most country they are not recognized as religions yet. So for a great many the Internet is the only way to communicate with other Pagans and to learn what is happening to them.

        • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

          Maybe learning from other religious cultures could be worthwhile – people of shared religion have shown a long tendency of congregating – of moving into proximity with others. Thus they establish physical communities.

    • Deborah Bender

      “Can you imagine trying to start a new religion without the Internet?”

      I presume that was meant ironically, since every new religion that human beings invented before 1980 or so was started without benefit of the Internet.

      Wicca was started in the middle of the last century. The means of communication for it and other new pagan religions of the era were small press magazines, newsletters, letter-writing, networking through occult bookstores, and direct personal contact. The letters section of the Green Egg in the 1960s was famous. Email destroyed personal correspondence and the Internet destroyed the viability of the hundreds of grassroots newsletters and small magazines that pagans formerly used to connect with each other.

      Mid-twentieth century America was a heyday of new religion and sect formation. Some of those sects are still around and into their second or third generations of members. From what I can see, the spread of Internet communication has undercut the formation of new religions, because religions are by definition group activities. If the followers of your new religion are too widely scattered, housebound or unsocial to get together, your religious ideas are never going to get grounded in an actual group, or field tested for appeal to a broader following.

      I wrote the above before reading your response to Leoht. I’ll add that if the Internet did not exist, you could be in contact with other pagans by mail and small circulation periodicals such as we produced before the Internet. I used to write for a few of those and edited two of them. Print media and snail mail entail more of a response time lag and more filtering, but the opportunity to be connected to a wider world of people and information would essentially be the same.

      • Deborah Bender

        Oh yeah, and the Internet in the form of Amazon put most of those occult bookstores out of business. We used to find out about religions and ideas we hadn’t heard of by browsing metaphysical bookstores and reading the notices on their bulletin boards, what a quaint idea. It’s true that you have to live within traveling distance of a specialty bookstore to do this, which excludes people who live in rural areas and can’t travel at all. Such people could still order by mail the books mentioned in the newsletters they subscribed to.

      • ChristopherBlackwell


        I am well aware of the middle twentieth century as I turned 18 in 1963. Yes I did my share of letter writing in the 1980s and the 1990s before there was a lot of inter As for those newsletters, they were quarterly and came and disappeared in a surprising speed. I lived through the rise and fall of a great many of them. As for Green Egg I did rather enjoy it in its second print edition and the letter pages was it appear mainly where people argued with each other and told each other how right they were and how wrong the other person was.

        Now the flip side of that time. One I would not even know there was a Pagan scene until 1983 as most everyone was hiding in the closet. Remember the Satanic Child Abuse scare that actually sent dozens of people to prison here in the United States,there Canada, and in the UK.

        Remember going to the early gatherings where you had to know someone going to the festival in order to find out about it and no signs to direct you to them on the road but instructions on what kind of colored ribbons to look for. The largest festival in went to back then here in New Mexico as about 200 people 90% of the playgans that is people who wen to party with the Pagans who would disappear if any work was required or the weather wasn’t perfect and 90 % who were perhaps serious about being Pagan and could be depended o if it got difficult or a problem popped up. I remember being warned to t stop in an of the near by tows and don’t mention what kid of gathering I was going to. Horrors we actually had a Catholic Monastery down the road what f they found out.

        When i was being trained I remember my high priestess’ library. I think she actually had maybe twenty books. It seems vast as any books were hard to find in 1984-5.

        I remember my first Pagan protest event trying to keep Senator Jesse Helms bill to not allow nonprofit organizations that were either Satanic, or Witches to get the group mass mailing rate at the post office. Yes that was done with letters and post cards and cost what was then a fortune for Circle Sanctuary. I also remember how we had to fight the zoning laws that would not let Circle set up zoning for a Church. Ah yes the good old days when zoning laws could b used to keep minority religions from setting up in the area.

        As for before the Internet, we were pretty cut off from other Pagans back then finding a group, to be part of, was difficult. We did not have the Witches Voice back then to help or provide us with news articles about the community. Yes another one of those Internet creations.

        Now as to the letter writing dying off and the many small news letters, that was a choice made by the Pagans themselves, as the internet finally got us the ability to find out what was happening all over the place with up to date news. The huge festivals that we have now are mainly a by product of the internet. The loss of the newsletters was mostly because most of them were not that good, and were often late due to Pagan standard time.

        Note how fast we can get information out now. A bad situation threatening one of our festivals, or a Pagan being harassed, and we can do something about it in mere hours now.

        I still have one of my letter friends fro thirty years ago. Small compared to the forty letter friends I wrote to back then, even two or three in other countries. I remember my early articles to Pagan Africa. It took two weeks for mail to get there as I could not afford air mail and it took two weeks for me to find out if it was accepted. . Once I got E-mail I could send it if seconds, though I admit sometimes the formatting wasn’t so good, but it improved rapidly. But in time we could even send photos a well

        However now I am in touch with people around the world now and I have had my interview published i Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, Dutch, and German. My own E-zine has 3,000 and more readers around the world, and it goes out 8 times a year, not quarterly which is only possible because it is done on the internet. I interview people around the world. My web guy is in Florida and the cost is far less then in the days of the quarterly. To survive now you have to actually put out quality, mediocre does not survive, strictly because you were the only newsletter people in your area knew about. Remember the Green Egg of old was the exception, not the rule in Pagan publications.

        You ca talk of the good old days but having lived through it i would say as an Alexandrian Wiccan we are living in the best of ties for Pagans so far and w we can help Pagan s get thing set up in other countries and encourage them when they feel lost in their small numbers. Now they can speak to the rest of the community around the world giving us more of the community than we had before.

        No the internet has not spoiled anything. If there is a problem it is a people problem. of far too many Pagans sitting on the side lines making excuses for not taking part. That is why my E-zine is named ACTION. If a greater number of Pagans take part, regardless of their skills and position, we will have a stronger community more people to spread the work out among so that a few will no longer have to over work and burn out. I don’t preach at them I show them what other people, well known and unknown, are doing by letting those people tell their own story completely in their own words not a page or two but with four to six or even more pages to go into some detail.

        Now I am a handicapped Vietnam War Veteran diabetic, using a walker and no longer able to drive. Take away the internet and i would not be able to take park in the Pagan comment, and you and I would not b e writing here on The Wild Hunt, another media made possible by the Internet. But I do not talk about the good old days I look ahead to what we can do with the present and the future.

        All we Pagans have to do, is do, not just talk about it. Explore, reach out, and connect and the make something happen. The good old days is a the sign of a dying community making excuses for what they are not doing now. Even being alone, in the middle of nowhere, even disabled, is no longer an excuse to vegetate.

  • The Life magazine pictures are a hoot. I particularly like the one of a couple jumping the fire with him… wearing a tie! Seriously, though, these pics give me a sense of connection to activities that we do now which these pioneers of the path were doing 50 years ago.