Archives For archetypes

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.

  • Jeet-Kei Leung, a researcher into ”transformational festival culture,” heads up a new web documentary series entitled “The Bloom” about these events. The first episode is due in February, but you can watch this 9-minute preview video now, featuring some familiar faces (and places) and plenty of Pagan-friendly themes. Quote: “Amidst the global crisis of a dysfunctional old paradigm, a new renaissance of human culture is underway […] THE BLOOM tells the vibrant, compelling and colorful story of a cultural renaissance in progress with the artistic sensibility and inspired creativity from which the culture has been birthed.”
  • Art dealer and museum curator Carine Fabius writes about Baron Samedi, Haiti’s Lord of Death and Sexuality, and why the Haitian people love him. Quote: “I also reminded people that the Baron isn’t just the Spirit of Death. As many of the numerous works featuring larger-than-life phalli imply, he is also the Spirit of Sexuality, the extension of which is life. The Baron is death in charge of life; he is a guide and source of comfort during difficult times, and the one who takes life away. He may be unpredictable but he is God’s ultimate helper.”
  • Yesterday was a unique calendrical event: 12-12-12, which of course means that someone had to do something stupid, like carve a pentagram into his 6-year-old-son’s back. Quote: “According to CBS DFW, Brent Troy Bartel of Richland Hills, Texas, told a 911 dispatcher early Wednesday that he had carved the religious symbol — often used as a symbol of faith by Neopagans — on his 6-year-old child because ‘it’s a holy day.'” The star, or pentagram, is a symbol used by many faiths, philosophies, and traditions, and this has nothing to do with modern Paganism. Bartel is now in custody, the boy is in stable condition, and with his mother.
  • The Cornwall “Paganism Sex Case” (as dubbed by the BBC), which I’ve covered here previously, has now been turned over to a jury for a verdict. Quote: “Prosecutor Jason Beal said the duo had “used the cloak of paganism” to commit the offences. He said Mr Kemp had “put up a number of explanations” for him being linked with the case, but they were nothing more than “diversions” or “red herrings”.” During the course of the hearing, murdered occultist and parish councillor Peter Solheim was also accused of being part of their group (Solheim was murdered by a former lover).
  • The male lead in Bollywood film Ek Thi Daayan, Emraan Khan, is apparently talking to real-live Wiccans to better research for the supernatural witchcraft-themed film. Quote: “The actor didn’t know that many practitioners of the Wiccan craft reside in Mumbai, in fact, he didn’t even know that certain forms of witchcraft are practiced till today […] the actor is making the rounds of the plush residences in Mumbai where Wiccans stay and practise their craft. Emraan visits them diligently, to find out more about their customs and philosophies. Friends of the actor say his research has made quite an impression on him.” So now you know where Wiccans live in India, the “plush residences” of Mumbai!
  • With a new film treatment of “On the Road” on its way, Scott Staton at the New Yorker considers Neal Cassady as a sort of American “muse and demigod,” a holy fool, “the consummate hipster-savant.” Quote: “He presented an extreme embodiment of American freedom to close friends who were determined to become writers, and in being thus grafted onto their work, he became an unlikely literary legend.”

  • Singer, songwriter, and visual artist Phildel sent me a link to her new video “Storm Song,” saying that it’s “a celebration of the natural world,” and that she has “always enjoyed a strong spiritual connection to nature.”I think many folks here will enjoy the song, and the imagery in the video. Her debut album “The Disappearance of the Girl” is set for release in January 2013.
  • “Hobbit” director Peter Jackson says that “West of Memphis,” the documentary on the West Memphis 3 that he produced with partner Fran Walsh, was one he “never intended to make,” but that “it turned out to be the most important one they’ve ever made.” Quote: “Their support turned into funding of scientific research and, when they felt they needed to present the evidence to the public, they eventually decided to make a documentary on their findings. They asked Amy Berg (“Deliver Us From Evil”) to direct.” For all of my coverage of the West Memphis 3, click here.
  • The Baltic Crusades were pretty terrible it turns out: “The Baltic Crusades left major ecological and cultural scars on medieval pagan villages, and new archaeological evidence shows the campaign caused deforestation, pushed species to extinction and may have even ended a pagan practice of eating dogs.” I guess it was good for the wild dogs, but still. Pretty bad.
  • More and more people are starting to notice that the “religiously unaffiliated” are becoming an important voting demographic. Quote: “The religiously unaffiliated voters are almost as strongly Democratic as white evangelicals are Republican, polls show. Their overwhelming support of Obama proved crucial in a number of swing states where the president lost both the Catholic and Protestant vote by single and low-double digits, but won the “nones” by capturing 70-plus percent of their votes.” Maybe it’s time to tone down the Christian culture war stuff?

That’s it for now! My best wishes to everyone heading to Between The Worlds! Feel free to discuss any of these links in the comments, some of them I may expand into longer posts as needed.

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Time Magazine’s 2011 Person of the Year is “The Protester.”

“Everywhere this year, people have complained about the failure of traditional leadership and the fecklessness of institutions. Politicians cannot look beyond the next election, and they refuse to make hard choices. That’s one reason we did not select an individual this year. But leadership has come from the bottom of the pyramid, not the top. For capturing and highlighting a global sense of restless promise, for upending governments and conventional wisdom, for combining the oldest of techniques with the newest of technologies to shine a light on human dignity and, finally, for steering the planet on a more democratic though sometimes more dangerous path for the 21st century, the Protester is TIME’s 2011 Person of the Year.”

For me, this brings up all sorts of reactions. There’s the Pagan community’s own role in Occupy movement, of course, but there’s also a certain sense of creation in Time’s decision. The invocation of an archetype, The Protester, or perhaps the formation of a new power (or powers), the animating spirit of protest itself.  Or maybe this is simply the new face of a god or goddess you already know? Whatever the case, this does seem a victory of sorts for embodied principals and concepts. Let’s see if altars to “The Protester” start popping up, and what it means when The Protester is invoked.

This brings me to an opinion piece over at Religion Dispatches, where Sarah Morice-Brubaker engages in a bit of “nerdy parlor-game fun” and ponders which religious figures would support (or not support) the Occupy movement.

“But what about other religious figures? Surely we can also hypothesize about whether they’d have supported the Occupy movement? In a spirit of nerdy parlor-game fun more than serious analysis, I’ve compiled my own hypotheses, sticking within my own tradition of Christianity since it’s the one I know best and since I don’t like plundering other people’s belief systems for levity. But I’m eager to hear suggestions.”

So I would personally love to hear my readers responses to this question. Which Pagan/pagan thinkers (or powers/gods) do you think would be for the Occupy movement? Which ones do you think would have steered clear, or criticized it? Let’s keep this civil and fun, try to be creative! I’d also love to hear any thoughts on The Protester as an archetype or power, best responses from each of these questions will get featured in a future post here at The Wild Hunt.

Top Story: Wiccan chaplain Patrick McCollum’s ongoing fight to overturn the California prison system’s “five faiths policy”, which limits the hiring of paid chaplains to Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and Native American adherents, has gained some new allies. Though a judge recently ruled against McCollum in February (twice), saying he had no standing to challenge the policy , his federal-court appeal is gaining support from groups like the Anti-Defamation League (PDF) and Americans United (PDF).

“The court said a legal challenge to the prison’s chaplain policy can only be brought by an inmate, not someone seeking to be hired. In addition, the court denied McCollum’s claim because he could not prove he would be hired even if the state policy was changed. The court also denied McCollum’s standing as a taxpayer. AU’s brief disputes these arguments, stating that the Constitution and civil rights law demand that McCollum have his day in court.”

Other groups filing amicus briefs in support of McCollum’s appeal were The Interfaith Alliance, the Hindu American Foundation, and Pagan organizations like Cherry Hill Seminary (among others, I’m working on getting a full list). McCollum has been struggling for years to see that Pagan chaplains and inmates receive fair and equal treatment within the American prison system. In his 2008 testimony before the US Commission on Civil Rights McCollum described an “endemic” level of discrimination against Pagan inmates, and the chaplains who try to serve them, in our prisons.

“I’d like to start with a few true examples of discrimination to illustrate the severity of the problem: A Wiccan inmate has cancer and the prison guards refuse to transport him to his chemotherapy treatments unless he removes his religious pentacle medallion which they have objections to. He chooses to forgo his chemotherapy and keep his pentacle. A Wiccan inmate has been trying to go to Wiccan services for months, but the guard at her dorm refuses to give her a pass. The guard says it is for the good of the Wiccan inmate’s soul. Another dying Wiccan writes his volunteer chaplain that he needs to see him before he crosses over. The chaplain makes numerous attempts to reach prison staff to receive the necessary clearances, but no one responds. But worse, prison mailroom staff refuse to forward the chaplain’s mail, so that the inmate knows why his chaplain isn’t coming. Over more than a decade, I’ve had the opportunity to interact nationally with both administrators and inmates on religious accommodation issues. While practices differ from state to state, I found discrimination against minority faiths everywhere.”

The mistreatment of minority faiths in prison is an ongoing crisis, and I hope that these amicus briefs from prominent religious and civil rights groups help sway the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals into allowing the case to be heard, and McCollum’s evidence presented. More on this story as I have it. If you want to send Patrick McCollum magical healing and support, Circle Sanctuary has set up a special page for that purpose.

In Other News: Two weeks ago I told you about a controversy brewing over the Pagan and atheist-blocking web-access policy of the Indianapolis Public School system that  resulted in the Freedom From Religion Foundation threatening a lawsuit. Since then, Indianapolis Pagan Issues Examiner Andrah Wyrdfire has been doing journalism proud by going after some answers from local officials.  First she got a statement from Dr. Eugene White, Superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools, who claimed the software blocked all religions, not just the Pagans, then she got a hold of Dorothy Crinshaw, CIO of the Indianapolis Public Schools, who said Pagan sites weren’t blocked at all!

“When asked if she could verify whether or not IPS was censoring Pagan/Wiccan (alternative spirituality) websites, Dorothy stated that she was unaware of that being the case and asked for an example of a website so that she could look for herself.  Upon searching for Wicca on her IPS computer, she found that she was able to not only obtain results but click on any of the results and open the pages … Dorothy emphasized that, as far as she knows, no religious web content is being censored from the schools’ computers based on any specific religion; it would only be censored if it had a blog or social networking option.”

Crinshaw seemed to imply that the offending document that started this was simply standard boilerplate and didn’t actually reflect day-to-day policy at the schools. However, considering how many religious organizations now use blogs, I’m not exactly reassured about what content students actually have access to. Wyrdfire is now pursuing Education Networks of America to find out where their content-blocking categories and lists come from, and I can’t wait to find out the answer. No update yet on if FFRF is going to actually pursue litigation or not, so this story is still ongoing.

Speaking of Examiner.com, many Pagans (including Z. Budapest) have turned to the service in hopes of pursuing local issues while making some money, but what they may not know is that the individual holding the purse-strings of the enterprise is ultra-conservative Christian billionaire activist Philip Anschutz. AlterNet features an article from Jamison Foser of Media Matters for America that wonders if Anshutz is laying the ground-work to own a big chunk of locally-focused journalism’s future.

“Anschutz launched Examiner.com about a year and a half ago as an Internet-only local news portal; it currently reaches 129 markets and its traffic ranks 21st among U.S. news sites — with the fastest traffic growth of any site from August of 2008 to August of 2009. And just a few weeks ago,Examiner.com bought NowPublic, a Canadian citizen-journalism site with reporters in more than 140 countries Given the newspaper industry’s struggles, it isn’t inconceivable that Examiner.com could quickly become a key source of news and information for many Americans. At which point, based on Anschutz’s history, it’ll be like having a local version of Fox News Channel in every city in America.”

So what’s the big deal? Well, besides the insinuation that Anshutz may one day do an ideological/theological purge of his local news new-media empire, there’s the fact that many unassuming progressive-leaning Pagans are driving traffic and revenue towards Anshutz’s goals for the promise of a small cut of the action. What, exactly, are his goals? Denying gays the right to marry, working against discrimination laws that include sexual orientation, promoting “intelligent design”, stopping medical marijuana, and working to elect politicians like George W. Bush. Obviously some Pagans may have no trouble with many of these goals, but I wonder how many Pagan Examiners know who they are working for?

In Loudoun County, Virgina, residents of Leesburg  are wrestling with the issue of religious Winter holiday displays on public lands. After a local committee’s attempts to (I assume) avoid legal trouble led to total ban, a local uproar started that has led to petitions and a defiant assertion that some may later regret.

“At Monday night’s meeting, Loudoun residents — some in holiday garb and carrying signs that read “Keep Christ in Christmas” — argued that the new rule would curtail religious speech. “We don’t care if the courthouse lawn looks like a cafeteria of different religious symbols. We don’t want to lose our holiday,” said Barbara Curtis, 61, of Bluemont, who runs a parenting blog, Mommy Life.”

Since then the ban has been overturned and Curtis waxes triumphant at her blog, but I know from history that this loving embrace of an open public square by certain Christians has quickly faded once tested. Shall we remember the Green Bay Wiccan wreath that was vandalized and never replaced? How about the ran-over holiday pentacle display in Olean? What about the South Carolina politician who welcoming “any” religion, so long as it wasn’t Wiccan. Dare we even go into the “open” public invocations that didn’t want to include Pagans? While I certainly welcome a truly open public square, too often “religious freedom” means “freedom for our religon”, not freedom for every religion. I’ll try to give the pro-Christmas folks the benefit of the doubt, but I’d also like know if any local Pagans would like to put a display up in Leesburg?

In a final note, Hellenic polytheist Kate Winter has launched a fascinating new site entitled Girls Underground that explores a rather unique yet pervasive archetype.

“In which a young girl travels to an otherworldly place, far from home, where she is surrounded by strange creatures ~ some helpful and others very dangerous indeed ~ and must navigate her way past obstacles in time to defeat her adversary and reach her goal… gaining wisdom, power, and perhaps even love, along the way.”

The site has a regularly updated blog, and the whole project winds it way through pop-culture, literature, and mythology. You don’t see too many in-depth topic-focused Pagan blogs like this, so it’s always refreshing when a new one comes along. I encourage my readers to check it out.

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

The Washington Post’s “On Faith” blog asks its panelists to weigh in on if presidential candidate Barack Obama elicits “religious fervor” among his followers. Pagan author and activist Starhawk’s response is that Obama is casting a “good and needed spell”.

“If politicians hired Witches or magicians as consultants, we’d tell them that your deep mind responds to positive words and images, and doesn’t get ‘no’ … Magically speaking, then, Obama is casting a good spell. Whether he wins or loses, he’s filling the psychic and emotional atmosphere with words like ‘healing’ and ‘hope’. The effect is like a clean breeze blowing through a morass of stinking, noxious fumes. People want to believe, because they like the way he makes them feel about themselves … Obama evokes some powerfully appealing archetypes. Think of all those myths and fairy tales about the humble-seeming outsider who turns out to be the true king, throwing out the corrupt rulers and restoring health and healing. We’re a contradictory people – we love underdogs, while we despise losers – but there’s nothing we love more than the little guy who comes from behind and beats all the odds to win the pennant.”

Starhawk also takes some time to advise Hillary Clinton to drop the experienced “responsible mom” meme she has been spreading as part of her campaign, stop attacking Obama on issues of “faith and trust”, and go the route of the visionary instead.

“In the contest of archetypes, women are at a disadvantage, facing a deep, unconscious sexism that limits our collective imagination … if I were Hillary Clinton’s campaign advisor, I’d tell her, stay away from that archetype. Responsible Mom is not going to win over Aragorn the Exiled King. Instead, I would urge, be Joan of Arc. Find your vision, and be so passionately driven by it that you would stand forth and challenge kings and armies. Show us your courage, which we know you have. Tell us ‘I stood forth and went into realms where few women dared to go, because I care so deeply about the welfare of all of us.'”

As the March 4th primaries approach, it remains to be seen if Obama’s “magic spell” will hold out, or if Clinton will be able to break through with her own visionary message. But win or lose, it seems apparent that Obama’s “good and needed spell” will continue to resonate, and like all primal archetypal magic, may change the Democratic party, and America, more deeply than we may realize now.

My semi-regular round-up of articles, essays, and opinions of note for discerning Pagans and Heathens.

The National Post discusses the “trouble with Mary” (specifically her virgin birth), and archetypes of belief that collectively influence us.

“Christ is born at the darkest time of the year. That’s not an accident. There are a lot of extremely complex ideas behind that. So here’s one: the redeeming hero emerges when the need is greatest. The hero is born not only when things are darkest but also when tyranny has reached new heights. There are dozens of examples like that which underlie the way these stories are constructed; they are stunningly profound and people relive them all the time.”

That quote, from psychologist Prof. Jordan Peterson, ties into his theory that belief is as “necessary as air and water” (and also echoes a point Pagans have been making during this time of year for ages). That everyone, no matter their philosophic orientation, holds onto core beliefs (because the universe “is far more complicated than we are smart”) to steer them through life.

American Indian columnist Dorreen Yellow Bird weighs in on the recent “Lakota Freedom” movement, and admits it is a good idea, but a good idea come too late.

“Means and his group have some points – perhaps 200 years too late, but they do have some points … We have, however, gone beyond those years. We have taken on the federal government as our government, too. That means the government also provides us funding and supplies for programs such as Head Start, housing, social services and so on – just like it does for the rest of the country … Finally, there the treaties. For the Three Affiliated Tribes, the Fort Laramie treaties of 1851 and 1886 provided land. True, the U.S. government took some of that land rather surreptitiously, but we were able to hold the line because of that legal document – a treaty. Those documents are important, shouldn’t be abrogated and should be taken seriously. Means and his group are seemingly out of step, but they remind us of our tragic history.”

The Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel has printed an editorial from Jason Leopold that paints a chilling picture of Christian indoctrination at basic training camps.

“The Christian right has been successful in spreading its fundamentalist agenda at US military installations around the world for decades. But the movement’s meteoric rise in the US military came in large part after 9/11 and immediately after the US invaded Iraq in March of 2003. At a time when the United States is encouraging greater religious freedom in Muslim nations, soldiers on the battlefield have told disturbing stories of being force-fed fundamentalist Christianity by highly controversial, apocalyptic “End Times” evangelists, who have infiltrated US military installations throughout the world with the blessing of high-level officials at the Pentagon. Proselytizing among military personnel has been conducted openly, in violation of the basic tenets of the United States Constitution.”

Leopold says that much of the military evangelism is carried out by Military Ministry, who have gained unprecedented access to places like Fort Jackson Army base in Columbia, South Carolina. The question remains on how safe our Pagan solidiers (and other religious minorities) will be if this increasingly Christian military is left unchecked.

Coming back to the Green Bay Pentacle wreath controversy, Muskego Mayor John Johnson explains why his city won’t be dealing with the problems Green Bay now has.

“You have to be respectful of all religions and if you start putting one display up, you have to put up displays for everybody,” Muskego Mayor John Johnson said. “If you put up a Nativity scene and then a group asks you to put up a Hanukkah display or a display for the Muslim holiday, do you tell them no? You can’t.”

Always refreshing to hear from someone in Wisconsin who understands how to manage a Constitutional holiday display. In related news, you can now download the NPR program Here On Earth featuring interviews with Circle Sanctuary’s Selena Fox (who put up the Pentacle wreath in Green Bay) and Graham Harvey, professor of Religious Studies at the Open University, UK, discussing the Winter Solstice.

“This hour on Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders, Lori Skelton and her guests celebrate winter solstice, the longest night of a year with stories from different religions and cultures around the world.”

You can download the show, here (mp3 link).

That is all I have for now, may your celebrations of the returning sun be festive tomorrow.

It seem that Bjork isn’t the only popular artist to tap into Pagan-friendly themes lately. According to MTV News, Tori Amos is utilizing goddess archetypes for her new CD “American Doll Posse” (due out May 1st) to help get her message across.

“…in order to make her political statement, Amos called on “Isabel,” one of the four archetypes she developed for the disc. Each of these archetypes symbolizes a particular side of her musical personality, and each is based on one of the female constituents of the Greek pantheon. Isabel, Amos explained, is a photographer and a reflection of Artemis, the goddess of the hunt. Clyde, who was inspired by Persephone, the goddess of the underworld, embodies the singer’s emotional and idealistic side. There’s also Pip, the confrontational “warrior woman” based on Athena, and Santa, the sensual side of the artist, who was inspired by Aphrodite.”

Amos is planning to manifest these aspects on her new tour, where she will begin each show as one of the archetypes before becoming “Tori” again part-way through. But this isn’t just creative dress-up for the singer-songwriter.

“It’s not just, ‘I’m going to wake up and play dress-up today,’ ” she said. “I think it’s fair to say that all women are a different percentage of these archetypes, and each culture has different versions of these if you’re a rich culture. And if you were around before the monotheistic authority, [when] God came and then suppressed the power of the mother gods, these women at one time were powerful and autonomous and part of the pantheon as well as the male gods. Now, of course, there’s just one guy, and the women are subservient to him. I find this incredibly myopic. We have access to this rich culture as women, and we need to open ourselves up.”

This isn’t the first time Amos has exhibited pagan-influenced ideas, her autobiographical “Piece by Piece” (co-authored with Ann Powers) also dipped heavily into goddess archetypes, and her album “Boys for Pele” was partially influenced by the aforementioned volcano goddess. It should be interesting to see what arises at these concerts, though many of her fans already count them as a religious experience.