Unleash the Hounds! (No Fooling Edition)

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  April 1, 2014 — 13 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. I know it’s April 1st, and thus, April Fools day in the land of journalism, but I promise we’ll keep the fooling to an absolute minimum.

Rev. Kevin Kisler prays prior to the start of a Greece, N.Y., Town Board meeting in 2008. Photo: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Rev. Kevin Kisler prays prior to the start of a Greece, N.Y., Town Board meeting in 2008. Photo: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

  • Let’s start with the religious origins of April Fool’s Day traditions, which the Religion News Service explores. Quote: “Some argue that April Fools’ Day is a remnant of early ‘renewal festivals,’ which typically marked the end of winter and the start of spring. These festivals, according to the Museum of Hoaxes, typically involved ‘ritualized forms of mayhem and misrule.’ Participants donned disguises, played tricks on friends as well as strangers, and inverted the social order.” 
  • The Associated Press checks in with the town of Greece in New York, as the nation awaits the Supreme Court’s decision regarding prayer at government meetings. Quote: “After the complaints, the town, in 2008, had a Wiccan priestess, the chairman of the local Baha’i congregation and a lay Jewish man deliver four of the prayers. But from January 2009 through June 2010, the prayer-givers were again invited Christian clergy, according to court documents.” I’ve written extensively on this case, and the outcome could have far-reaching affects on religion in our public square. When the decision comes down, you can be sure we’ll cover it.
  • An LAPD police officer who identifies as Buddhist and Wiccan has filed suit claiming sexual and religious harassment in her workplace. Quote: “DeBellis told Tenney that she no longer practices Catholicism and was now a Buddhist-Wiccan and a priestess, the suit states. ‘Tenney was visibly upset and appeared disgusted by plaintiff’s comment and told (her), ‘Women cannot be priests,”  according to the complaint. Tenney later told DeBellis she ‘cannot switch religions’ and that she ‘will burn in hell,’ the suit states.”
  • The New York Times Magazine interviews Barbara Ehrenreich about her new book “Living With A Wild God” which documents her exploration of an intense mystical experience she had when young. Quote: “I didn’t see any creatures or hear any voices, but the whole world came to life, and the difference between myself and everything else dissolved — but not in a sweet, loving, New Agey way. That was a world flamed into life, is how I would put it.”
  • Metro has a story on Pagans and Witches serving in the British military. Quote: “Prof Ronald Hutton said pagan worship is ‘pretty well’ suited to being in the military. ‘There is no pacifism necessarily embedded in modern pagan or Wiccan religious attitudes, and ancient pagans could make formidable soldiers,’ he said.”

  • The Miami Herald has an interesting piece on Santeria, and the challenges it faces as it grows and changes in an increasingly interconnected world. Quote: “The growth of the back-to-roots movement has kindled infighting, widening rifts between the Yoruba faiths’ spreading branches. It’s a friction particularly felt in Miami, where Lukumi has become more mainstream since the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the religion in a landmark 1993 case. Highly visible Miami priest Ernesto Pichardo considers many so-called traditionalists nothing more than ‘religious tourists,’ being fleeced by Nigerians, who return with strident views that their faith is somehow more authentic.”
  • The Wiccan Family Temple in New York won’t be able to hold a Summer Solstice festival at Astor Place because the group couldn’t prove they were “indigenous” to the neighborhood. Quote: “But the chairman of Community Board 2′s Sidewalks and Street Activity Committee Maury Schott told DNAinfo that the organization had to prove that the proposed street fair was ‘indigenous’ to the street between Broadway and Lafayette, although he could not explain what that meant.” There’s still a chance they could get approved though, so I guess we’ll see how “indigenous” to that part of Manhattan they really are.
  • Sorry Reiki healers, but Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales is not on your side. Quote: “Wikipedia’s policies around this kind of thing are exactly spot-on and correct. If you can get your work published in respectable scientific journals—that is to say, if you can produce evidence through replicable scientific experiments, then Wikipedia will cover it appropriately. What we won’t do is pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans is the equivalent of ‘true scientific discourse.’ It isn’t.”
  • At HuffPo, Tom Carpenter endorses a military chaplaincy for “all the troops.” Quote: “Emergent faith communities in the military are properly seeking recognition. Many of these communities not only include but celebrate gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender service members. Humanists and Wiccans seek to join Buddhists, Hindus and other minority groups seeking recognition and representation in our military [...] The Forum on the Military Chaplaincy strongly supports the recruitment and retention of highly qualified, clinically trained chaplains who are representative of and committed to a chaplaincy reflecting a broad and inclusive range of interfaith, multicultural and diverse life experiences.”
  • There’s worry over proposed military housing that could potentially block the solstice sunrise at world-famous Stonehenge. Quote: “A plan to build thousands of new homes for soldiers returning from Germany could have to be changed – because they will be built on the horizon where the sun rises on summer solstice at Stonehenge. The Ministry of Defence said they were ‘aware of the issues’ and were organising a meeting with experts on the stones.” In other news, the nearly-as-famous Nine Ladies Stone Circle was recently vandalized. This is why we can’t have nice things, folks.

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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  • Crystal Hope Kendrick

    I don’t understand Wales’ response to the Reiki edit. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not some medical journal. Looks like Wikipedia is being run by a bunch censorship bullies. “Reiki isn’t provable!” So what? It exists as a concept and should therefore be included.

    • Franklin_Evans

      That one is my second choice for the Foolery article. I agree about the bully label, but not the censorship qualifier.

    • TadhgMor

      It is included. What they want is not to have their claims challenged. The pages on non-traditional medicine exist, but they come with numerous disclaimers about the accuracy of claims made.

      Those groups are whining about that. Personally I have no sympathy. If they have data they can present it, otherwise they should be treated skeptically.

    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94rcOVJBMYQ Winston Blake

      Ben Dragon Sipariş duyuyorum…

      People don’t believe in free speech anymore or freedom of religion.

      They all believe their weenies come from heaven and that this gives them some sanctified right to be divine pricks passing their collection plates at gunpoint for the gods of communism (themselves).

  • Franklin_Evans

    My first choice for the Foolery article is the military barracks. Kinda fishy, if ya ask me.

    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94rcOVJBMYQ Winston Blake

      Ben Dragon Sipariş duyuyorum…

      Nature is a perpetual state of war, with every man against another.

      Fear of death is the only way to keep the peace, so man is civilized by the threat of violence against him for transgressions upon his neighbor.

      Nature does not need human permission… All men are born of a woman… Nature kills everything.

    • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

      Actually, that has been talked about over here for some weeks now. It’s local news, for me.

      Here’s an article from my local media outlet, date-stamped the 17th of March:

      http://www.thisiswiltshire.co.uk/news/11082808._New_barracks_for_troops_must_not_block_summer_equinox_sun_from_Stonehenge_/

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

    I think the real problem with wikipedia is that people mistakenly see it as a source of reliable, objective information. It is not.

    Case in point: do a google search on “wikipedian of the year” and try to get to the bottom of that whole fiasco.

    • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

      It’s not a bad starting point, as is usually about as reliable as the online version of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Not much use as a sole (or academic) source, I’ll grant you.

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

        It is definitely less reliable than any published source, such as an Encyclopedia.

        Wikipedia can never, under any circumstances, be cited as a source, while an Encyclopedia can be cited unproblematically.

        • Northern_Light_27

          I strongly take issue with both those sentences. I haven’t looked at Britannica in a while, so i took a look at their Theistic Satanism page. Oh, wait, they don’t have one. Their Satanism entry is short and completely riddled with errors. Okay, I thought, let’s look at something more objective, their entry on Satan, and compare it to Wikipedia’s– take a look, because Wikipedia’s is miles better and more thorough. But that’s not being fair, Apuleius is Pagan, so let’s take a look at their Neo-Paganism entry. Looks like that’s as much of a mess as the Satanism one. We’re all neo-Wiccans with dramatic and colorful rituals.

          Compare with Wikipedia, where you walk away with a much clearer view of the diversity of both Paganism and Satanism. You have references to follow up with, and the “talk” page is all the controversy about the entry– for holism, reading both the entry and the discussion on the entry is a very good starting place. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but it beats Encyclopaedia Britannica hands down– if citing the latter is “unproblematic”, that worries me.

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

            Wikipedia is extremely useful for at least one thing. It’s always useful to know when someone values it as a reliable source of information.

        • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

          You will notice I compared it to the online EB, not the print edition?

          Wikipedia can be cited as a source, in certain contexts.

          Generally, I find the most useful part of any Wiki article is the bibliography or source list.

          As for any published source, I think that is a bit of a hyperbolic statement. There are a lot of terrible books out there.