Unleash the Hounds! (link roundup)

The Wild Hunt —  August 28, 2016 — 8 Comments

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans and Heathens 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.

14054118_10154285527285664_1261186024541429019_nLEWES, Del. —  The Cape Gazette, a newspaper covering the cape region of Delaware, published an article titled “Sept. 24 AIDS Walk Delaware seeks walkers, sponsors and donors.” The article features the story of Pagans James C. Welch and Ivo Dominguez Jr, who are considered “pioneers in the history of HIV/AIDS” awareness and action in that state.

The article begins, “James C. Welch, Ivo Dominguez Jr. and their four large dogs live in a geodesic-dome house in southern Delaware. The house is an appropriate metaphor for how HIV/AIDS treatment, recognition, stigma, and outlook have come full circle – well, almost.”

The writer goes to talk about how Dominguez and Welch were involved with the creation of a number of advocacy groups, training and support programs, and educational organizations in the 1980s. This list includes Gay and Lesbian Alliance of Delaware with with a Health Issue Committee and hotline, the Delaware Lesbian and Gay Health Advocates, the Griffin Community Center, Christiana Care’s HIV Wellness Clinic, and CAMP Rehoboth. In addition, they were served as consultants to many larger agencies and government programs, many of which were just launching at the time.

The article ends with a call to action for the upcoming walk, saying, “Inasmuch as the AIDS Walk is a fundraiser, it is also a walk for awareness and a show of unity by the community – a community of support that Welch and Dominguez helped build.”

News of interest:

  • In July, Pew Forum released an article and report on human gene enhancement and the “Scientific and Ethical Dimensions of Striving for Perfection.” According to the report, Americans are very wary of such work, despite its promise of longer lives, less illness, and better performance. More specifically, in one article based on the Pew data is the remark, “Religious people tend to be more skeptical of embryonic gene editing than those who are less religious.” This debate is just one of the many in which ethics, religious belief, and science must engage in meaningful negotiations. As the Pew article ends, “For the first time in human history, the biggest material changes in our society may not be occurring outside of ourselves, in the fields, factories and universities that have shaped human civilization, but inside our bodies – in our brains and muscles and arteries, and even in our DNA.”
  • An English Imam was reportedly murdered by extremists for practicing what they described as ‘black magic.’ Jalal Uddin, age 71, was beaten to death and left in a playground last February after two Daesh supporters allegedly found him to be using Ruqya healing techniques. These traditional Islamic techniques consist of incantations and prayers to bring about healing and the removal of demons or black magic. However, they are not accepted across all sects of the religion. The two accused men were just recently brought to trial in the UK and, according to the report, that proceeding will likely be extended into September.
  • In 2015, Damien Echols spoke with Sensai T. Kenjitsu Nakagaki about being on death row. Echols was one of the West Memphis Three, a trio of young men were wrongly charged and convicted for child murders in the 1990s. The three were released in 2011. Echols’ and Nakagaki’s conversation about that prison experience were recently published on Tricycle in an article titled, “What Karma Means When You Spend Nearly 20 Years on Death Row.” Echols explains how he learned to turn his cell into a monastery: “The last ten years I was in prison, I was in solitary confinement. I had no contact with other people. It made it very, very easy to stay focused on the meditation techniques.”
[Photo Credit: Liz Daily, Courtesy AllTrails.com]

Fairy Forest of Utah [Photo Credit: Liz Daily, Courtesy AllTrails.com]

  • A local Utah Fox news affiliate reports that the state’s famous “Fairy Forest” is being cleaned up. Visitors to the area traditionally leave mementos, shrines, fairy gardens, and other small tokens behind, which over time has resulted in a buildup of what the park service has labeled as “trash.” In 2015, the service reportedly removed “five truckloads” of these left-behind “treasures.” According to the Fox article, Scott Hayes, one of the Fairy Forest founders, is now involved in the cleanup project. He told the news agency that he “realizes many people, particularly those who’ve deposited items in the Fairy Forest, are likely to be angered by his [cleanup] actions.” However, he states the stuff is now causing an environmental problem on the beloved trail system.
  • Connections.Mic published an article titled, “The Secret Lives of Teen Witches on Tumblr,” which is introduced with a ubiquitous still from the 1996 film The Craft. The Mic article begins, “Across the country, teens are turning to Tumblr to create their own online covens and anonymously study witchcraft.”

Art and Leisure

  • Blair Witch (2016), originally called The Woods, is due to be released to theaters Sept. 16. The original film, released in 1999, was an innovative project that inspired quite a following, as well as forcing a new way of understanding visual media. It has been 17 years since that film’s release and producers are hoping to capture a new audience. According to a recent review of the new film, the 2016 version is just more of the same. It states, “Helmed by Adam Wingard […] and written by his regular collaborator Simon Barrett, ‘Blair Witch’ is shot, constructed and executed just like the original. And the slow-build fright fest will please genre purists — perhaps enough to reinvigorate the potential franchise — even if it feels all too familiar to the rest of us.”
  • In other entertainment reboot news, Sabrina the Teenage Witch will be joining the cast of CW’s new television show Riverdale, an adaptation of the Archie comic books. “The show’s concept as ‘Archie Noir’ has often been compared in recent press to Twin Peaks with teenagers.” It is speculated that Sabrina will likely make her first appearance around Halloween. The trailer for the pilot is online.
  • Photographer Friso Spoelstras spent ten years experiencing and photographing unique folk rituals found throughout Europe’s small towns. It began with a trip to the island of Sardinia, where Spoelstras happened upon the annual Feste Pagane, celebrating “fertility, mysterious brotherhood, and struggle between the people and the spirits who freeze the land in the winter.” Shaggy costumed men walk around the village whipping people. After that experience, Spoelstras launched a book project and found similar festivals throughout the continent. In a recent article, he wrote, “I’ve been chased by devils through the mountains. I’ve run naked through fields in Latvia. I’ve been drenched in all kinds of stuff – sometimes I never found out what it was.” The resulting book is called, “Devils and Angels: Ritual Feasts in Europe.”
  • Lastly, for your enjoyment, below is a video showing a performance by Obini Bata, the first all-female Batá band in Cuba. The bata drum, with its origins in the Yoruba religion, has been traditionally used for sacred purposes. As a result, “women have historically been banned from playing the Bata.” This fact makes the group Obini Bata, founded in 1993, a rarity. The women have said that one of their goals in performing is to “put the religious world on stage as art.”

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  • Re: the “Secret Lives of Teen Witches on Tumblr” post:

    “ancient Wiccan practices”

    No.

    • Tauri1

      “Ancient Wiccan practices????” Gerald Gardner only invented witchcraft (later called Wicca to not annoy the christians) in the late 1940s, so that would make me (a 68-year old initiate) ancient. I’m insulted.

      • Wolfsbane

        Anyone who possesses the magic of being able to operate a rotary dial phone is indeed ancient. 😉

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    I commend the linked Pew report on human enhancement, primarily because it is not only informative but makes a clear distinction between therapy and improvement, and digs into both secular and religious reasons for supporting therapy but suspecting enhancement. This is such a relief from some bioethicist whinging about “the quest for the perfect baby” in the newspapers every time a technique is discovered with great potential for therapy.I am an “enhanced” human, in that I type at my computer while wearing glasses. Not just any glasses, but glasses to wear with my computer, forming an artificial interface between my eyes (thus brain) and a digital device. I’m no less human than I was before I got them (the glasses or the computer).I’m also diabetic, asthmatic and have incipient high blood pressure, for each of which I take medication. Had it been possible to tweak my genome to forestall these ills, it would have been no more than preventive medicine taken down to the germ-line level. Upping my IQ or giving me the ability to hold my breath as long as an otter would not be medicine at all but pre-planned enhancement. It seems to me that anyone can understand the distinction, but it apparently escapes some bioethicists.Of course we must proceed with care for side effects, and make sure that mere therapy does not create human cohorts of haves and have-nots. These are problems that exist today and that we are addressing today, not something that will be created de novo by new techniques, another point that seems elusive to bioethicists in the newspapers.I turn 75 today, imperfect and human as I am, and I hope to see some of these therapeutic projects come to fruition. Kudos to Pew for elevating public thinking about these matters.

    • Tauri1

      Do you remember the Star Trek episode “Space Seed” where “Khan Noonien Singh who, along with his people, are products of 20th-century selective breeding designed to create perfect humans. The genetic superhumans instead became warlords and conquered more than a third of the planet, sparking the Eugenics Wars, Earth’s last major global conflict. ” (from wikipedia.)
      Perhaps Gene Roddenberry was more prescient than we thought.
      As Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park stated, “Just because we have the ability to do something, doesn’t mean we should.”

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        I not only remember the show but the reaction of my late sister, a hardcore Trek fan then studying genetics. Given that the genetic superhumans were put into suspension around 2000, there would not have been time to evoke pure-bred superhumans; they would have manifested superhuman traits but still carry “normal” genes. Marooning them on a challenging planet, Kirk’s resolution of the problem, would have given them a horrific infant mortality rate but the survivors would have comprised pure-bred superhumans in the next generation. Smooth move, Captain.

  • Tauri1

    I’m fascinated with the female bata drum players. Personally, I don’t see this as disrespecting a specific religious tradition, but more as keeping, what could be considered, a “folk tradition” alive. Certainly if you look at Europe, most of the “folk traditions” were originally religious in nature. In fact, I would not be surprised that all “traditions” all over the world, were originally religious rituals that, for whatever reason, were lost, whether domination by another religion or just because they fell out of favor. So I give kudos to these women who are bringing this music, dance and singing out to a much larger audience.

  • Franklin_Evans

    I haven’t been to Jim and Ivo’s home in a long while, but the last I heard their home — very beautiful — is a “traditional” design, while the New Alexandrian Library is a geodesic dome. Just wondering about the reference in the original article.