Archives For Boing Boing

As I’ve been reminding folks here near-daily, The Wild Hunt’s Fall Funding Drive is currently underway. I’m very happy with the way things have gone so far, and thanks to 245 funders we’ve raised $8,888 dollars of our $10,000 dollar goal. That means we are very, very, close to hitting our official goal, and funding this site for another year. I have every confidence that we’ll hit our goal, and one Pagan media site, Humanistic Paganism, has even launched their own fund-drive so that they can donate enough to become an advertiser. However, you don’t have to raise a lot of money to help us finish this campaign, at this point all it will take is a small number of regular readers to just give a little to push us past the finish line. For $5 dollars you can join our new exclusive content e-list, and for $15 dollars you will receive an exclusive blogroll link. Once the campaign is finished the old links will come down on their one-year anniversary, and the new year’s donor’s links will go up, so don’t miss out on your chance to show your support (and possibly get some link-traffic).

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I also want to note that this money isn’t simply lining our coffers, we pay our columnists and contributors, and we’ve already spent a significant chunk of the money raised so far to pay for web hosting (as our traffic continues to grow, so to does the money needed to keep our site running smoothly, our current traffic load would crash a typical shared server setup). When we hit October of this year, our account was bare, because all the money went back into making sure The Wild Hunt was running. This is as it should be, but I’m hoping we can continue to grow, and establish The Wild Hunt as a media institution that lives beyond the tenure of any writer or editor, becoming a flagship publication for our interconnected movement. So my deepest thanks to everyone who has donated so far, and I hope it will be my privilege to thank even more of you. I think 2014 will be an important year in our growth, and only your support can make that possible, no matter what level that support may be.

Now, since I know that reading Funding Drive pitches probably aren’t everyone’s idea of a great time, here are some recent news links of note that I’ve come across this week. Thanks again, and please help this site reach its goal! Now then… UNLEASH THE HOUNDS!

  • Boing Boing profiles Mitch Horowitz’s forthcoming book, “One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life,” detailing the history of “positive thinking.” Quote: “The roots and impact of ‘Positive Thinking,’ from its 19th century occult core all the way to Dale Carnegie’s confidence building books and Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign, will surprise you.”
  • Sometimes, there are practices from our past that we don’t want to revive, like necropants. Quote: “In the 17th Century, Icelandic mystics believed an endless supply of money could be had by flaying a corpse from the waist down and wearing its skin like pants. They called the skin-slacks nábrók, or ‘necropants.'” Look, I don’t need to raise money that bad.
  • Palo Mayombe practitioner Angel Silva, whose story I’ve linked to before, has lost the case over whether he needed a vendor’s license to sell crystals in Union Square. Quote: “Judge Diana Boyar ruled Silva was guilty of a single count of acting as an unlicensed vendor. The verdict came within minutes of hearing final arguments and she did not explain her finding but sentenced Silva to the time her served while being processed during his arrest. Another judge previously ruled Silva’s goods are akin to selling jewelry under the law. Both would require vendor’s licenses.” An appeal has been promised.
  • So, sometimes when you find a tool shed with bones in it, a local media outlet will call an ‘expert’ to give their take. Sadly, most occult experts have some rather prejudicial views about people who engage in occult practices. Quote: “‘Usually somebody will turn to that when they are an outcast from society – that they already don’t fit in – maybe they’re actively trying to not fit in, so they’re trying to do something shocking to push other people away,’ Dr. Wachtel said. ‘Other times, maybe in their childhood – they’ve been pushed away, and this is their way of reconciling that in their mind.’ Dr. Wachtel says believers in the occult often have a background of abuse, ranging from verbal to physical, to neglect.” Perhaps they should note that Dr. Wachtel’s specialty is forensic psychology.
  • Religion Clause has news regarding a case involving religious minorities in Washington state. Quote: “The Washington state Supreme Court yesterday heard oral arguments (summary and video of full arguments) in Kumar v. Gate Gourmet, Inc. At issue is whether the Washington Law Against Discrimination requires employers to accommodate employees’ religious practices. The suit was brought by four employees of a company that prepares meals for airline passengers. Plaintiffs, including a Hindu, Muslim and Orthodox Christian, claim that the lunch options served to them violate their religious beliefs because the company sometimes puts meat products in the vegetarian dish or pork in the meat dish offered to workers.  Employees for security reasons cannot bring their own lunches or go off-site for food.”
  • The (infamous) Warrens are still at it. Quote: “A long, narrow passageway connects the basement of Lorraine Warren’s home to a small room filled with dozens of occult items said to be evil in nature. ‘This is perhaps the most haunted place, I would say in the United States, because of all the objects that are housed here,’ said Tony Spera, director of New England Center for Psychic Research (NESPR). ‘These [objects] are the opposite of holy and blessed.'” More on the Warrens, here. I’ve since seen “The Conjuring,” and while a well-constructed thriller-chiller, it’s obvious when the clunky demon-haunted belief system of the Warrens is being inserted into the narrative.

That’s all I have for now, don’t forget to make a donation to our Fall Funding Drive so The Wild Hunt can run for another year!

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.

Chico Goddess Temple entrance.

Chico Goddess Temple entrance.

  • The Quietus interviews Hexvessel’s Matthew McNerney, who talks about his band’s unique mix of metal, jazz and psychedelic folk, and also opens about Paganism, the natural world, and practicing magick. Quote: “I was brought up a Catholic, so I know about organised religion. I’ve always been interested in the occult and magick. I don’t know how much you can say about practising magick, because I think it’s something that’s very personal and very subjective and I think this album is about that. It’s about “When does magick become objective? When does religion become an objective thing? What does it mean to be holy?” It’s all connected with nature and how we see ourselves in relation to the world around us. It’s definitely the theme of the album, and I believe that we’re creating and practising magick all the time.”
  • Gina Athena Ulysse, Professor of Anthropology & African American Studies at Wesleyan University, writes about defending Vodou in Haiti at The Huffington Post. Quote: “In recent years, defensive tactics have included the formation of umbrella organizations (such as Zantrayand Bode Nasyonal) that brought practitioners together to address common concerns. It must be noted that these groupings are not necessarily representative of all Vodouists and are not without controversy. Nonetheless, with the persistent presence of protestant missions and increasingly aggressive spiritual cleansings and other attacks especially since the 2010 earthquake, Vodouists have become increasingly vulnerable and have to be on the offensive.” Ulysse also notes the recent controversy over the amended Haitian constitution, and the fear that it may have removed protections for Vodou practitioners.
  • Boing Boing’s Gweek podcast interviews Lisa Morton, author of “Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween,” about, well, the history of Halloween. Quote: “Have you ever wondered about the origins of Halloween? Where does the word Halloween come from? What is the origin of the term trick or treat? Why do we carve jack-o’-lanterns? And how did costumes come into play?”
  • Tourist-trade witch, living in cave, seeks potential suitors. Seeks someone less “goody-goody” than Merlin, but not as evil as Voldemort.

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.

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.

Damien Echols, showing off his Theban tattoo.

Damien Echols, showing off his Theban tattoo.

  • South Korea, one of the most Christian countries in Asia, is witnessing a revival of interest in its indigenous shamanistic practices, with local mudangs (priests or priestesses) being consulted by politicians and featuring on popular television shows. Sociology professor Shin Kwang-yeong thinks the popularity is due to Koreans dealing with the “strong uncertainties” of their modern existence, with many crediting shamanism with bringing healing and piece of mind to their lives. Quote:  “I felt something from my heart. This ritual has everything in there – happiness, sadness, anger and fun […] Sometimes tears pour out from my heart. Sometimes it’s just fun when everyone is dancing and bowing. And, it’s healing.”
  • Father Thomas Euteneuer, a star in the Catholic pro-life activist ranks, and vehement anti-Pagan exorcist, admitted to having inappropriate sexual relations with at least one woman back in 2011. Now, a Jane Doe is filing suit against Euteneuer, alleging that the priest sexually abused and assaulted her, using his position as an exorcist as a means to force sexual contact. This spiritual/physical rape of the Jane Doe has caused the Catholic church to recall him for counselling and remove his “priestly faculties,” meaning he can no longer perform mass or other sacred rites.
  • There’s a deep connection between synthesizer music and the occult, Klint Finley explores it for Boing Boing. Quote: “You can find traces of the occult throughout the history of electronic music. The occult obsessed Italian Futurist Luigi Russolo built his own mechanical instruments around 1917. The famous Moog synthesizer made an early appearance in Mick Jagger’s soundtrack to Kenneth Anger’s occult film Invocation of My Demon Brother in 1969. And in the late 1970s Throbbing Gristle built their own electronic instruments for their occult sound experiments, setting the stage for many of the occult themed industrial bands who followed. The witch house genre keeps this tradition alive today.”
  • The Border House looks at the controversy surrounding the upcoming game SMITE, and the protests from Hindu activist Rajan Zed over the depiction and ability to control their gods and goddesses, most notably Kali, in the game. The Border House also calls out the “pornification” of Kali. Quote: “This is truly disgusting. Not only is a faith appropriated, but it is done so in a way which turns a widely revered deity into a male sexual fantasy. A goddess in non-sexual nudity is somehow less preferable to a caricature in which she is put in a costume for the male gaze. Whether you agree with Rajan Zed or not about controlling Hindu deities as combat tools is not the issue. The cultural imperialistic mindset which allows a westerner to pornify symbols of Hinduism and yet think he has the right to lecture a Hindu about the religion, this is the issue.”
  • Associated Press reporter Christopher Torchia says that ancient Greek myths lend valuable context to the country’s current fiscal and political crisis. Quote: “Greek mythology is full of examples of how mortals should find the middle way in order to live a happy life, or as it said on the walls of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, ‘Nothing in Excess,’” Peter Meineck, associate professor of classics at New York University, wrote in an email. He noted that, according to the Greek poet Hesiod, “the first divine agent that caused creation was Eros — the spirit of erotic drive or the impulse to create anything.”
  • Tammy Trotter-Bazzle, a Pagan priestess living in South Carolina, shares her experience advising the pastoral staff at AnMed Health after a Pagan patience was admitted. Quote: “I feel blessed and honored to have had that opportunity. At the end of a day, good was done for the greater good. Pagan patients will be better understood at AnMed. And that was, after all, the reason for this class; to help the patient. I, along with many of the local Pagan community, are happy to see this step forward.”
  • A majority percentage of Jews, Catholics, Mainline Protestants, non-Christian faiths, and unaffiliated religious believers favor same-sex marriage rights. Yet we are told that we must “protect” the conservative Christian viewpoint on marriage by denying all other faiths and traditions the ability to perform legal same-sex rites. How is this about religious freedom again?
  • Is polyamory ready for its close-up? A Showtime reality program is on its way, featuring neo-tantra practitioner and “bliss coach” Kamala Devi. Will Paganism make an appearance? Are we ready for the questions if and when it does?

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.

I’m out of town today, attending a doctor’s appointment in Ashland, Oregon, so I don’t have the time to do my usual exploration and analysis of news of interest to the Pagan community. Instead, I’d like to offer some links from across the Pagan media world that have drawn my attention. So enjoy, I’m hoping to hit the Oregon vortex on my way home!

That’s all I have for now, have a great day, I’ll be back tomorrow.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

I have some updates on previously reported stories here at The Wild Hunt.

Witch-Burning Beer Controversy Comes to A Close? As I reported exactly one week ago, Motherpeace Tarot co-creator Vicki Noble had started a campaign against The Lost Abbey brewery for their decision to feature a woman being burned at the stake for their “Witch’s Wit” wheat ale. While the brewery eventually released a statement defending their artistic choices, saying their intent was misunderstood, an intense debate over the matter raged within the Pagan community. Now it looks like the brewery will be changing the label thanks to the unlikely combined efforts of Noble and religion professor Cynthia Eller, author of “The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory”.

In his e-mail to Ms. Eller, Mr. Marsaglia also wrote, contritely, that he and his colleagues “would really like to have some kind of contest for a great label.” Mr. Arthur said the board would meet after Halloween to determine exactly how to decide on that new label. But whatever the means, the incident has made allies of Ms. Eller, often derided as an enemy of modern paganism, and Ms. Noble, its defender. Ms. Noble looks forward to a time when she can, with clear conscience, sample a Witch’s Wit. “I think that would be fun,” she says. “Maybe we can make a ceremony out of it.”

Reaction to news of the impending label-change has been mixed. While Noble, Eller, and their supporters, are no doubt pleased, others like media critic Peg Aloi thought the whole matter was a  “ludicrous campaign of whiny nonsense”, while Chas Clifton notes that “when it comes to the word “witch,” we want it both ways—safe and edgy.” As for why the New York Times would cover this little tempest between Pagans, Goddess-worshipers, and a small brewery in California, you only need to look at the byline. Author/journalist Mark Oppenheimer rarely misses an opportunity to point out the historical exaggerations or revisions of the Pagan community, so I doubt he could resist reporting on the confluence of Noble, Eller, and a controversy involving a beer label.

More Attention For Pagans at the Air Force Academy: Pagans at the Air Force Academy got a lot of attention at the beginning of 2010, with the news of a Pagan worship area being installed, and the subsequent vandalism of said site. Now it looks like the AFA is ready for round two in its attempts to paint a picture of improved interfaith relations and tolerance at the Academy. The AFA released a feature news story on Tuesday about a meeting between Pagans and freethinkers at the Academy, which then got picked up by Wired’s Danger Room blog (as “Air Force Academy Now Welcomes Spell-Casters”).

“Just a few years ago, the Air Force Academy was considered such an evangelical hothouse that the place got sued for its alleged discrimination against non-Christians. Today, the Academy is boasting of its thriving pagan community — and its friendliness towards spell-casters.”

This got the notice of Xeni Jardin at Boing Boing, who praised Wired’s choice of headline, zeroed in on the silliest quote they could find in the article, and set the stage for lulz in the comments, with various Goat-staring and “magic-user” comments. While I’m sure that smirking coverage from Wired and Boing Boing isn’t exactly what they wanted with this latest press release, I’m sure the AFA prefers it over reminders of their controversial recent past, and accusations that the climate at the AFA isn’t as improved as they would like to portray. Still, the fact that the AFA is willing to accommodate the religious lives of modern Pagans is a vast improvement within a military culture that still privileges Christian forms of religious expression.

Canadian Polyamory Case: For the past few months I’ve been covering an upcoming case in the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Canada that will decide if the practice of polygamy should be considered a criminal act (as it currently is). While the case is being led by the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA) (and supported by several Canadian Pagansincluding one who filed an affidavit in support), coverage (and the government’s case) has hinged on the practice of polygamy by Mormons and Muslims. Members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a controversial polygamist group that has around 500 members living in British Columbia, has been filing anonymous affidavits that paint a rosy picture of polygamy, which hasn’t pleased anti-polygamist voices who want to see the laws against it stay intact.

“But what is clear is that fundamentalist Mormons members believe that a win in court would clear the way for them to set up a distinct society – a theocracy within our secular, liberal democracy.”

The fact that one of the hottest new reality television shows is also about a polygamist family hasn’t done much to spark reasoned or civil discourse on the issue of if the practice should be illegal. Meanwhile, polyamorists, who share little in common culturally with most polygamists, are stuck somewhere in the middle. Attempts to have the government reveal if they think polyamory falls under their definition polygamy have been rejected by Chief Justice Robert Bauman, meaning that if the attempt to decriminalize polygamy fails, we’ll have no way of knowing if polyamorists would be targeted by law enforcement along with members of FLDS. The trial starts on November 22nd, and no doubt all (Canadian) eyes will be on the result. For more on this case see the CPAA’s web site. You can be sure I’ll be covering this as things progress.

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

Recently Boing Boing pointed to a blog post at Mediactive concerning a story in the Arizona Republic about people turning to psychic practitioners in hard economic times.

“When the going gets tough, Valley residents apparently go in search of the metaphysical. Local psychics and astrologers say that while they’re seeing some decline in business as longtime clients cut back on discretionary spending, the recession is bringing them many new customers.”

According to Dan Gillmor at Mediactive,  this puff-piece commits many journalistic sins.

“Consider the way the story starts. The word “apparently” is a tip-off that the piece is based on no actual data. Who’s the source for this alleged mini-flood of new customers? Why, the people selling the product. Makes sense to me: In I-can-see-into-the-future territory, we can just take their word for it. Not a single customer is quoted. We hear only from the people who are claiming to be getting this influx of new customers. Can’t the newspaper find even one client?”

He’s also not very happy that not a note of skepticism concerning their future-seeing abilities was to be found, indeed, the paper instead ran a side-bar of definitions that clearly favored a “believers” perspective. However, if he thinks that’s bad, he’s in for something of a shock.

“No newspaper, as far as I know, gives its pages over to self-described psychics. Yet the Republic’s story quotes several, along with the astrologers, with a straight face.”

No newspaper? It’s a veritable trend! The “psychics do well in hard times” news-meme has been spotted in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the New Jersey Star-Ledger, WSBT22 in Indiana, the Palm Beach Post, and CNN. Those are just the ones I bothered to blog about, I’m sure there are many more. I agree that these articles are usually instances of badly-researched and written journalism, but whose fault is that? Certainly not the psychics, who are merely eager to get more publicity and press for their business, the fault instead lies with a lazy, underfunded, and ideologically insecure press. Constantly afraid of offending anyone, reporters nowadays either search out opposing views when none are needed, or take uncritical dictation when they should be seeking out hard data and doing follow-up. Journalism isn’t ailing because they are giving psychics a pass, it is ailing because the entire enterprise of news-gathering has lost its way. Filler-stories like “psychics do well in hard times” are just a symptom of a press incapable, or unwilling, of tackling the bigger stories.

For the three or four of you who don’t read Boing Boing, that compendium of wonderful things is currently in the midst of hosting guest-blogger Mitch Horowitz author of “Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation” (which I mentioned recently here). So far he’s blogged about what the occult is exactly, classic esoteric texts, the American spirit, and the popularity of Saint Expedite.

“One of the most interesting aspects of folk religion in America is the enduring figure of Saint Expedite … Simply put, Saint Expedite is the patron of those who need help in a hurry: with jobs, relationships, money, etc. In Brazil, he is the venerated helper of people looking for work; in America, so says Wired magazine, he is the “patron saint of the nerds,” i.e., a figure who can help untangle internet connections and the keep communications networks flowing; to church authorities he is merely an icon of “popular religiosity” who never historically existed.”

While this certainly isn’t Boing Boing’s first foray into all things occult, it does seem to be the first time they’ve approached the topic in such a enthusiastic and sympathetic manner, so kudos to them. To keep track of Horowitz’s posts, you can follow Boing Boing’s guest-blogger tag. As for Mitch Horowitz himself, he’s been just about everywhere promoting his new book, from The Washington Post to NPR. I guess releasing your book about America’s occult roots right around the same time a mega-popular fiction writer is tackling some of the same subjects does pay off.

(Pagan) News of Note

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  September 23, 2009 — 3 Comments

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

Looks like all is not happy in the land of the Cabot Witches, it seems that Laurie “Official Witch of Salem” Cabot accused her daughter Jody Cabot (also a Witch) of forging a check in her name two years ago. A restitution agreement was made, but due to non-compliance and failing to appear in court, a bench warrant was issued for her arrest.

“Last year, Jody Cabot was granted a general continuance in the case on the condition that she pay restitution of $1,328 to her elderly mother. Had she done that, the charges would have been dismissed. But earlier this year, Jody Cabot defaulted on the agreement and the case was put back on the court’s docket, where it was heading for trial. Attorney Steve Reardon tried to convince Judge Richard Mori not to issue a warrant for his client, saying she had stayed home because she had a severe headache that was a result of a past head injury.”

However, this tale doesn’t end in tragedy, Jody Cabot went to court the next day and thanks to her mother’s current reluctance to testify against her daughter a new plea agreement was made. According to reports Jody, as her mother has in the past, appeared in “traditional witch garb” for the hearing. Now that this unpleasantness is done with for the moment, lets remember Jody from (seemingly) happier times when she posed for pictures with sister Penny (taken by photographer Stephen Muskie).

Two teenage female ringleaders of a racist gang accused of orchestrating a spate of brutal attacks against non-Slavic foreigners were sentenced to jail terms of up to ten years. The gang is believed to be an offshoot of a Slavic Pagan group called “Native Belief”, a group accused of bombing a McDonalds and murdering several people.

“The verdicts were the latest convictions of young people for racist attacks in Russia and come amid growing concern over the frequency of attacks on non-Slavic foreigners in the country. The presumed ringleaders, Yevgenia Zhikhareva – a 17-year-old girl linked to pagan sects that worshipped ancient Slavic gods – and Ilya Shutko, 19, were jailed for eight and 10 years respectively, Russian news agencies reported … Zhikhareva is also suspected of involvement in a series of blasts in Moscow between 2008-09, including at a branch of US fast food chain McDonalds, carried out by a pagan group calling itself ‘Native Belief.’ The gang members were accused of carrying out up to four attempted murders and one actual murder of citizens of China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan between February 12 and March 7, 2008.”

Sadly there is a strong undercurrent of racism and antisemitism within some Slavic Pagans groups, though that isn’t  universally true. However, it seems that the groups who do espouse racism are becoming increasingly strident and violent. No doubt economic hardship and social upheaval have much to do with this development, but these excuses don’t justify distorting pre-Christian beliefs for racist political causes.

Religion Dispatches brings us two interesting articles on African diasporic faiths, starting with an interview with sociologist Salvador Vidal-Ortiz concerning the recent animal sacrifice court victory for Santero Jose Merced, the place made for gays and lesbians within Santeria, and how perceptions of Santeria are (slowly) evolving in America.

“Generally speaking, when we are talking about racial and ethnic minorities, the United States’ racial (and racist) system tends to find much of what is non-white “suspicious.” That’s why Santería continues to be categorized as a cult by some, and why the media usually frame practitioners as somehow “criminal” in the coverage we see in the news. That tendency is mirrored in entertainment media. For at least the past two decades, portrayals of Santería practitioners in movies and television shows have resisted the opportunity to represent them as religious people and focused instead on Santería as a hypersexual space, recalling earlier representations of Africans as savages. That does seem to be changing, at least incrementally.”

Then, religion scholar Michelle Gonzalez Maldonado takes possession of a Vodou doll/poppet that had several seemingly rational faculty members at her university seriously spooked.

“The doll who sits in my office is not the type of doll you stick needles in. I am not even sure he is a Vodou doll. And yet, his black cloth skin and his scarf evoked feelings of fear and mistrust among a group of university professors. The mythology of evil surrounding Vodou, surrounding black religion, remains. I have nestled him between an image of the Mayan god Maximon and an image of the Yoruban orisha Bablú Ayé. I decided he would feel at home with other marginalized and often misinterpreted religious figures. He has been with me now for twenty-four hours. I am happy to say, as a type this reflection, that my computer is working fine.”

A simple rule to remember is that most mysterious dolls aren’t actually magical poppets, and even if they were, not every poppet is aimed at you. If it were simply some child’s toy I’m glad it ended up on her shelf, where it could be reclaimed some day, and not buried in a hole with rum and gunpowder as on faculty member suggested.

The Taliban are now targeting the Kalash in Pakistan, Indo-European pagans believed by some to be descended from a commingling of Alexander the Great’s army and local peoples, who have survived in prominently Muslim areas thanks to living in remote valleys. Now, an outsider who had been raising money for the Kalash has been kidnapped.

“While Sikhs, Hindus, and Christians were slowly driven out of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province by Muslim militants, the Kalash were free to drink their own distilled spirits and smoke cannabis. But the militant maulanas of the Taliban have finally caught up with them and declared war on their culture and heritage by kidnapping their most devoted supporter. Taliban commanders have taken Professor Athanasion Larounis, a Greek aid worker who has generated £2.5 million in donations to build schools, clinics, clean water projects and a museum. They are now demanding £1.25 million and the release of three militant leaders in exchange for his safe return.”

I don’t know if this is a sign of desperation on the part of the Taliban in Pakistan, or simply an escalation in their fervor to eliminate any group that theologically deviates from their extremist form of monotheism (or maybe both). Kalash leaders are attempting to negotiate a release, and it remains to be seen what the government of Pakistan can really do to help, especially amidst recent accusations that the government’s spy organization can’t disentangle itself from the Taliban and that US aid money has been going towards anti-Indian defenses.

In a final note, Boing Boing reports on a legal ruling that may make some Pagan festival/event organizers rest easier.

“The California Supreme Court has denied the appeal of Anthony Beninati, the Los Angeles real estate manager who unsuccessfully sued Burning Man organizers for failing to restrain him from walking into a fire.”

So if some idiot waltzes, jumps, or walks into a fire-pit, you aren’t liable for their stupidity concerning “obvious dangers”.

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