Archives For Comics

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.

Dr. Patrick F. Fagan wants you to know about the current "pagan" sexy times going on.

Dr. Patrick F. Fagan wants you to know about the current “pagan” sexy times going on.

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.

If you are a Pagan or occult practitioner of a certain age, the word “Vertigo” brings up certain associations. A speciality line of comic books launched by DC Comics in 1993, Vertigo comics focused heavily on mythic, occult, psychedelic, and magical themes, introducing American audiences to rising talents like Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, and Dave McKean. Inspired by the earlier 1980s work of writers like Alan Moore and Jamie Delano, Vertigo created a new niche of “adult” comics that drew many people, myself included, back to reading comic books. I distinctly remember happening upon a write-up of Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman” in The Monthly Aspectarian of all places, which led me back to a comic book store for the first time in years. For me, and for many of my peers, Vertigo gave a needed dose of youth, experimentation, and anarchic cool to a Pagan/magical subculture that was still trying to adjust to a sudden boom in popularity. A lot of attention is paid The Craft and Charmed as things that brought young people to Paganism in the 1990s, but for a certain segment of Generation X, Vertigo was the pop-culture doorway of choice (they even released a tarot deck).

vertigo_logo

Now, 20 years later, and after many were questioning if the line’s time was over, DC Comics has announced six new Vertigo titles debuting this Fall, headlined by a new Neil Gaiman-penned Sandman story.

“Superheroes are the lifeblood of the comic book industry and have proved to be a big draw at the box office. But Vertigo, whose slate includes fantasy, horror and speculative fiction outside of the publisher’s mainstream lineup, has had difficulty building an audience and developing new properties. DC is hoping to change Vertigo’s fortune this fall with six new series premiering from October to December. The most anticipated project, “The Sandman: Overture,” a mini-series by Neil Gaiman, will begin on Oct. 30.”

witchinghour_NYTMost importantly for readers here, is that the bulk of the six new titles have mythic, Pagan, and occult themes. Most notably: “Hinterkind,” “Coffin Hill,” and the anthology one-shot “The Witching Hour.”

  • HINTERKIND – Decades after “The Blight” all but wiped out the human race, Mother Nature is taking back what’s hers and she’s not alone … all the creatures of myth and legend have returned and they’re not happy. After her grandfather disappears, Prosper Monday must leave the security and seclusion of her Central Park village to venture into the wilds to find him, unaware of how much the world has changed. An epic fantasy adventure set in a post-apocalyptic world, HINTERKIND is written by Ian Edginton and illustrated by Francesco Trifogli, and debuts this October.
  • COFFIN HILL – When she was 15, Eve Coffin summoned a darkness that had been buried since the Salem Witch Trials. Now Eve’s back to harness the evil that destroyed her friends and is slowly taking over the sleepy town of Coffin Hill. This is a series full of magic, madness and murder via a twisted family of New Englanders. Arriving in stores this October, COFFIN HILL combines the talents of artist Inaki Miranda (FAIREST: THE HIDDEN KINGDOM) with writer Caitlin Kittredge, a young, dark fantasy author whose writing includes the Nocturne City, the Black London, and the Iron Codex series of novels – which include the recently published titles Dark Days and The Mirrored Shard.
  • THE WITCHING HOUR – Just in time for Halloween, this anthology-style one-shot collects short stories exploring witchcraft written and drawn by some of the most talented veterans and newcomers in the business – including Kelly Sue DeConnick, Cliff Chiang, Lauren Beukes, Emily Carroll, Matthew Sturges, Shawn McManus, Tula Lotay and many more.
Sandman art by JH Williams III

Sandman art by JH Williams III

However, what will most likely draw most of us back to the shops (or the comiXology app I suppose) will be “The Sandman: Overture,” written by the now very famous Neil Gaiman, and drawn by the hugely talented J.H. Williams III, who created the amazing art for Alan Moore’s “Promethea.”

“The most peculiar thing for me about returning to ‘Sandman’ is how familiar it all feels,” Mr. Gaiman said. What is new, however, is the level of attention. “When I was writing ‘Sandman’ from 1987 to 1996, I never had the feeling at any point that approximately 50 million people were looking over my shoulder scrutinizing ever word.” (Mr. Gaiman has about two million followers on Twitter.)

For the six-issue “The Sandman: Overture,” Mr. Gaiman has been paired with J.H. Williams III, an illustrator known for his moody imagery and innovative page layouts. “They are the most beautiful pages I have ever seen in periodical comics,” Mr. Gaiman said. “I ask him to do the impossible, and he gives me back more than I asked for.”

This big new push for Vertigo comes at a time when comic book super-heroes are seen by many as blockbuster movie (and television) properties, and the innovation, strangeness, darkness, and fantasy tropes of Vertigo has been pushed to the margins. Often finding homes at smaller publishers who specialize in giving creators more control and ownership (Brian K. Vaughan’s excellent “Saga” being one notable example). However, perhaps with the new rise of adult-oriented fantasy breaking big with HBO cable television shows like “Game of Thrones,” “True Blood,” and the forthcoming Neil Gaiman-created “American Gods” series, DC Comics realizes that developing and nurturing dark, strange, and mythic fantasy might be good for their bottom line after all.

With this return of fantasy, of mythic beings and occult themes, of The Sandman himself, will it also oversee an influx of new fans? Or is this simply DC catering to a maturing fan-base? Whatever the impetus, I look forward to this new wave of Vertigo comics, and hope they can live up to that line’s past great heights.

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.

Captions from Young Avengers #2.

Captions from Young Avengers #2.

  • Last week, the comic book Young Avengers #2 had the conversation that many Pagan comic-book fans were awaiting: What’s up with Wiccan calling himself “Wiccan”? Here’s hoping it leads to a new code-name that isn’t also the name for a, well, Wiccan. The issue was written by Kieron Gillen with art by Jamie Mckelvie, the same team who did the criminally under-appreciated Phonogram miniseries (which should be required reading for anyone who loves the intersection of music and magic).
  • Some Charismatic Christians are worried that the practice of prophetic ministry might be crossing the line into “witchcraft” for some.  Quote: “When he released the words over me, it came with a spiritual force that made me feel as if I had been covered with goo. My eyes began burning. I felt like I was in a daze. It was spiritual witchcraft.” What’s interesting is that this piece gets close to admitting that a lot of charismatic practice is like magical energy work, and that it’s too easy to blur the boundaries. Now, if they’ll address spiritual warfare…
  • Are rooster heads found at a North Carolina cemetery “Voodoo”? No one knows for certain, but let’s wildly speculate anyway. Quote: “Brandy Nunn told Fox Charlotte, ‘God only knows what they’re really doing with cutting heads off. What are they really messing with over there?’” I’m sure that no one will jump to conclusions over this.
  • Bleeding Cool covers a new witchcraft-themed comic book, “The Westwood Witches,” complete with human sacrifice and appearance by Baphomet. It’s a “horror” book, so take that as you will. Quote: “It’s not just about witchcraft but about beliefs, too. What seems real to us sounds like nonsense to others, and that’s the power of literature… and quackery. But overall, The Westwood Witches is a tale about neighborhood and neighbors. In this book, they’re beautiful, they’re kind, and they’re demon worshippers. You could say it’s like Desperate Housewives with macabre murderings”.
  • Indie art-rockers Yeah Yeah Yeahs have a new album coming out in April, and their lead single “Sacrilege” is influenced by “the New Orleans vibe. Just the juju in the air.”
  • It’s the collapse of mainline Protestent political power, and I feel fine. 
  • Religion in American Historyponders the reactions to Hinduism by U.S. President John Adams. Quote: “Adams consistently compares Hindu religion to Roman Catholicism in the margins, writing ‘Oh Priestcraft!’ and labeling Hindu practices as ‘ridiculous observances.’ When Priestley writes, “But the Hindoos go far beyond the rest of mankind in voluntary restrictions and mortifications,” Adams asks ‘Far beyond the Romish Christians?’ in the margin.”

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.

Welcome to the working week! I hope you’re all having as good a Monday as possible. Let’s start off with an important update on a previously reported story, and then move on to some Pagan news of note.

Haitian Government Reassures Vodouisants in Wake of Constitutional Changes: Last week I reported on the newly-amended Haitian constitution, and an assertion from Euvonie Auguste, head of the National Confederation of Haitian Vodou (KNVA), that it removes legal protections for Vodou practitioners.

Haitian Vodou Ceremony (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty).

Haitian Vodou Ceremony (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty).

“Voodoo would be no longer protected by the Constitution amended. The Priestess Euvonie Auguste, Head of the National Confederation of voodoo in Haiti, deplores the abrogation of Article 297 of the Constitution which, accrding to her protected the sector voodoo against all forms of discrimination. Recall that Article 297 abrogated amongst other things the Decree-Law of 5 September 1935 on superstitious beliefs that restricted arbitrarily the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens. Given this new constitutional situation, the priestess Euvonie Augustus, stated that now, the vodoo practitioners will have to use their own means to protect themselves from any attacks against them.

At the time I cast some doubt on this assertion, noting that Haitian President Michel Martelly wants to build a tourism industry around Vodou, making a new crackdown on the faith unlikely. Now, Joël Turenne, Director of Legal Affairs of the Directorate General of Ministry of Religious Affairs, who apparently was stunned by these accusations, has released a statement denying that Vodou is in any way unprotected or endangered by the new constitution.

“…with stupefaction the apprehensions of Voodoo sector concerning the abrogation of Article 297 of the amended Constitution” brings to the attention of all concerned, that “the constitutional amendment is and can not be prejudicial in any way, nor to the functioning of voodoo, or the rights of its adherents”. Especially, he specifies that “the presidential decree of April 4, 2003 make of the Voodoo a religion recognized which should in no way be confused with a superstitious practice.”

The Director went on to claim that the infamous 1935 anti-Vodou law concerning superstitious practices is not applicable under the law as it has “never been promulgated.” This sentiment was echoed by American Haitian Vodou practioner Mambo Racine, who noted that the “definition of Vodou as a “superstitious practice” has gone out the window, that’s why the amendment regarding the prohibition of “superstitious practices” promoted during the long-ago regime of Haitian President Stenio Vincent is no longer needed.”  It remains to be seen if this clarification from the government will mollify the National Confederation of Haitian Vodou. I’ll keep you posted of any further developments.

Witchtalk Talks to A Witch Queen: Karagan Griffith’s Witchtalk interviewed Maxine Sanders on the most recent episode, and you can now listen to it on Youtube.

“Maxine was initiated into the Circle of Witchcraft in 1964. The High Priest of that Coven was Alex Sanders, known throughout the world as ‘King of the Witches’. Maxine and Alex were Handfasted in 1965, and legally married in 1968. The Sanders became household names during the sixties and seventies, dramatically bringing Witchcraft, its practices and reality into global consciousness.”

Sanders released a autobiography entitled “Fire Child: The Life & Magic of Maxine Sanders ‘Witch Queen’” back in 2007, and truly is an important figure in the history of modern Paganism. This interview is a must-listen, so share widely!

In Other News:

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

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.

  • Is the Chico Goddess Temple doomed? According to the Chico News and Review, noise complaints for an illegal festival held four years ago has led to a much larger struggle to survive and gain the permits needed to stay open. Owner Robert Seals thinks that hostility to Goddess religion might underlay the resistance he’s encountered in obtaining the permits he needs. Quote: “This is nothing new, worship of the Goddess, but it goes up against a lot of fundamental religions.” You can learn more about this struggle, and the upcoming appeal hearing, here.

That’s it for now! Happy Friday the 13th! 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.

With apologies to all the mothers (divine or otherwise) out there, I thought I’d take the opportunity this Sunday morning to look at reactions to the new Marvel Comics movie “Thor”. I’ve already mentioned Eric Scott‘s take on the film’s merchandising blitz (“Valhal-Mart”), but what do other Pagans (and film critics for that matter) think of this latest mythological tale?

Thor in the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.

At Patheos.com Pagan Portal manager Star Foster explains why “Thor” matters.

“I think we should look at this film as if we are a spiritually and culturally hungry person. As if we are a 16 year old young woman considering a military career and in need of a warrior ethic.  As if we are a homemaker taking her kids to an action-flick who is suddenly overwhelmed by Frigga. As if we are a man with a newborn who stumbled across Asatru looking up info on the film and is looking for a spiritual tradition for his family. Because those are the people who will be coming to us with questions. We shouldn’t dismiss them for referencing Thor like so many seekers were dismissed for coming to Wicca by way of The Craft. Maybe Thor will lead folks to their path, and maybe there will be folks who need to be gently dissuaded, but they all deserve positive, straightforward and enlightening answers.”

You can also read Star’s actual review of the movie. Meanwhile, Christopher Campbell at SPOUT is critical of how science and religion are mixed in the film.

“I never could get into the “Thor” comics as much as I wanted to, probably because in my youth I thought them a bastardization of the myths I loved. Now the movie goes a step further in stripping the spirit of those marvelous tales for something so scientifically precise—as in formulaically machinated to certain enjoyment by a mass audience—and so scientifically constructed—from the computer effects to the 3D presentation, a movie like “Thor” involves more technological input than creative. What was once considered movie magic seems now completely movie science.”

The Catholic News Service doesn’t seem to think “Thor” is very Pagan in its message.

“The potential blockbuster’s contributions to cinema, let alone to Western civilization, are negligible, yet it has enough positive qualities to constitute a commendable diversion. While no one will mistake the hammer-wielding protagonist for, say, Wagner’s Parsifal or Siegfried, the story’s Christian framework is readily discernable, even to moviegoers with less-than-Wagnerian attention spans. [...] The notion of a self-sacrificing hero who overcomes pride and takes redemptive action for others certainly registers. And because the narrative has many Christian echoes, “Thor” can’t be criticized for propagating a pagan worldview. Besides, the theological implications of the underlying myth are never seriously explored.”

This is echoed by World Magazine, a Christian publication that also has few theological problems with the movie.

Parents worried about the pagan source material can rest easy—this bastardization of ancient mythology is so silly that there’s little concern of anyone taking it any more seriously than Superman’s origin of falling from Krypton. In Marvel’s world, Thor, Odin, Loki, and the rest of the Norse deities are transformed into immortals. The movie explains that the Norsemen worshipped them as gods, but that they are really just supernatural beings from another realm. That’s not to say that anything here reflects a Christian understanding of the universe’s origins, but this is wink-and-nod fantasy with no overtures to anything more significant.”

The New York Times found nothing particularly magical about “Thor,” likening it to part of a Marvel-run Ponzi scheme.

“A howling turkey is at least something to laugh at, and maybe even something to see. But “Thor” is an example of the programmed triumph of commercial calculation over imagination. A postcredits teaser gives viewers who have lingered in the theater a taste of “The Avengers,” which at some future date will braid together the “Iron Man,” “Incredible Hulk” and “Thor” franchises under the eye-patched aegis of Samuel L. Jackson. Or something. This is franchise building of the kind that has long been practiced by comic book publishers to keep their long-running serials fresh and their readership hooked.”

That said, the movie did garner a “fresh” rating at Rotten Tomatoes, so some critics are enjoying it. As are some Pagans, like Laura at The Juggler.

“I thought the most Pagan part of the film actually happened about a quarter of a way through the film. I mean, who among us has not tailgated at a Pagan Festival, drinking beer and trying to pull Mjolnir from the rock where it was lodged? [...] If you are a Pagan Geek like I am, Thor has something for everyone.  It is worth the highly inflated price of admission for the pure entertainment value.”

Have you seen “Thor” yet? What did you think? Was it a religious experience? Two hours of popcorn-y fun? Not worth the price of admission? Feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts and impressions. Oh, and if you wanted to know the differences between the comic and mythological versions of Thor, Newsarama has you covered.

I gave this issue a glancing mention back in May, and thought that would be the end of it. But it seems I’m wrong, the issue of English actor Idris Elba, who happens to be black, playing Heimdall in the upcoming “Thor” movie has hit the newswires again. This time it is the Council of Conservative Citizens, an organization born from the segregationist White Citizens Council, making waves about this “attack [on] conservatives values,” and urging a boycott of the film.

“Norse mythology gets a multi-cultural remake in the upcoming movie titled “Thor,” by Marvel studios. It’s not enough that Marvel attacks conservative values and promotes the left-wing, now mythological Gods must be re-invented with black skin. It seems that Marvel Studios believes that white people should have nothing that is unique to themselves. An upcoming movie, based on the comic book Thor, will give Norse mythology an insulting multi-cultural make-over. One of the Gods will be played by Hip Hop DJ Idris Elba.”

First off “Hip Hop DJ” Idris Elba is actually a critically acclaimed British actor, not that such distinctions matter to groups like the CCC (they also think the Black Panther comic is “extremist”). Further, as I said the last time, this is an adaptation of a comic book, and not an adaptation of the Eddas. Anyone who actually paid attention to said comic book over the years would know that the pantheons of “gods” in the Marvel Universe aren’t racial/cultural manifestations of the divine but extra-dimensional aliens/beings who decided to take these forms.

“Yes, Marvel’s pantheon are ostensibly Norse gods. They have Nordic names, they’re fond of horned helmets and axes, and they love a night in the mead hall. But they are not ethnically Nordic or Scandinavian. Marvel has fudged them into a category of “extra-dimensional aliens” who possess technology so powerful and advanced that humans classify it as magic. One could get into a headache of an argument wondering why they favor the look of the early medieval, but hey, whatever rocks their world. They’re gods / extra -dimensional aliens. We may not even be perceiving them accurately, but in whatever way our feeble human brains can comprehend their awesomeness.”

Here’s Marvel Comic’s official take on these “gods”.

“Inhabiting the Nine Worlds in the other-dimensional Asgardian system are six races of humanoid life forms. Each race is different and intelligent, but the most powerful race is that of the Gods. The Gods are the most human looking and believed to have inhabited Earth at one time only to move to Asgard sometime later. Norsemen and Germanic tribes used to worship the Asgardians nearly a millennium ago and that is why some of the names differ slightly like Wotan instead of Odin. Even though certain Gods are still interested in humanity such as Thor, the Asgardians do not have any more active worshippers or seek to have any.”

Now, unless your personal pantheon also includes Ego the Living Planet and Galactus (portrayed as far stronger than any of the gods), these are not the gods of the Norse that were, and are, worshiped in the real not-comics world (in addition, the notion/assertion that gods couldn’t change the color of their skin if they wanted to seems like an insult to their power). Anyone going to the Thor movie, or reading the comic, hoping for a religio-cultural thrill, will ultimately be disappointed. These are Marvel’s toys to play with, not divine beings (unless your Norse gods talk to you in a faux-Shakespearean patois and team up with enhanced human beings to defeat evil).

This controversy over what will most likely be an extended cameo by a black actor in an overwhelmingly white cast is entirely manufactured to draw attention to the CCC. They seem to miss being called racists so much that they are baiting comic book fans into doing it. Sadly, though I searched and searched, I couldn’t find their boycott pages for when Christopher Lambert played Raiden, or Keanu Reeves the Buddha. It seems their quest for purity only goes in one direction.

I have a few, well, odder, odds-and-ends for you this Sunday. Starting with a seemingly improbable mystic super-hero, Wiccan author Raven Grimassi. Grimassi, along with his wife Stephanie, appear in the latest issue of the “empowering” (and not safe for work) soft-core comic “Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose”.


Raven & Stephanie in action.

“…it’s a battle between Raven Hex, Raven Grimassi, and his wife. That name may or may not mean anything to you, but Grimassi is a reknowned author of numerous books on Wicca and Witchcraft. Within the world of Tarot, he’s also the keeper of the Library of Magick and, alongside his wife, more than a match for Raven Hex.”

Raven Grimassi also conveys important life-lessons about ancient wisdom and seeking for knowledge, though I don’t know how effective “Tarot” is as a vehicle for such wisdom-teachings. Let’s just say that it is incredibly disconcerting to see Raven Grimassi talk about the “Library of Magick” when his head is placed right next to a gigantic, well, cameltoe (the above panel is, in fact, one of the few that is “work safe”). Will people, after reading this work, be unable to think of him without recalling that his cartoon stand-in was kicked in the face by a semi-nude woman with improbable (even by comic standards) breasts? One wonders which “Craft superstars” they will recruit to appear in the comic next. If you’d like to purchase this comic (soon, no doubt, to be a collectors item), it’s available at the Broadsword Comics web site.

Switching our pop-culture gears slightly, we turn from occult cheesecake comics to cheesy occult television. It seems that the most recent episode of the CW Network show “Supernatural” featured a shape-shifting “forest god” that needed killing.

“Turns out the monster is a washed-up forest god whose old stomping grounds were razed to make room for a Yugo factory. Her worshipers used to hand themselves over to her rapturously, allowing her to eat them for sustenance. But now that the whole “old school religion” sacrifice thing isn’t common anymore, the god has to take on the forms of celebrities to eat people. As long as it munches on people who adore it, the god is satisfied. Plus it gives Sam and Dean a little lecture on how celebrities are the new gods…”

It’s a plot-point that should warm the cockles of multi-media magicians everywhere. Naturally the final form the fallen god takes is that of Paris Hilton, who bemoans the fact that people have lost touch with “old-time religion” before having her head chopped off. You can watch the entirety of “Fallen Idol” at the CW Supernatural web site. I’m not sure exactly where this sits on my personal offended/amused scale of things, but you have to give them points for originality. It isn’t often a forest god takes the form of Gandhi and tries to eat someone.

In a final note that is sadly not fiction, a publicity-starved occultist, “Magus” Lynius Shadee, claims he has conjured a demon inside a Catholic church in Cambridge that could drive parishioners to suicide.

“Magus Lynius Shadee says the demon could possess parishioners and drive them to suicide. He claims to have instructed the evil spirit to “dwell” in the famous church to “cleanse it”. The occultist, who calls himself the King of All Witches, says he let loose the entity to prey on worshippers at the Church of Our Lady and the English Martyrs in Hills Road.”

This brazenly idiotic publicity stunt came in the wake of vocal concerns by local Christian church leaders over Shadee opening up an occult center near Cambridge University. Shadee is yet another sad, self-proclaimed, “king of all witches”, who needs to stir the pot in order to feed his no-doubt incessant need for attention. I hate to say it, but I’m rather rooting for the Catholic exorcists in this instance.

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

(Pagan) News of Note

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  August 20, 2009 — 4 Comments

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

Our top story concerns a messy divorce, accusations of abuse and child-porn, and the practice of “Wiccanism”. Scott Starnes is being accused by his wife Christine of “using her and the children without their knowledge or consent.” In addition, there seems to be allegations that this is all tied into the practice of Witchcraft somehow.

“Investigators said that Christine Starnes also reported that her husband was studying witchcraft. A Williamston police sergeant confirmed through investigating e-mails and Web sites that Scott Starnes had enrolled in school of witchcraft and had been looking up information on how to cast spells, do evil and “banish a troublesome person.” But there are no charges in connection to any of the witchcraft-related activities, and no immediate indication that any of Starnes’ witchcraft-related interests were in any way illegal.”

After a month-long investigation, child-porn images were found on his computer, though reports of abusive behavior were inconclusive. The police are currently examining the computer for further evidence. According to John Newkirk, Scott Starnes’ lawyer, he is innocent of all charges and this is merely fall-out from messy divorce proceedings. Then again, lawyers are paid very well to say things like that. I would have no trouble writing off Mr. Starnes completely as sick individual if it weren’t for the eagerness of Mrs. Starnes and the police (you can see the list of witchcraft-related items confiscated during the investigation) in dragging the Witchcraft element into this. I’ll be paying close attention to the trial, and the forensic investigation results of the computer, with great interest.

Wiccan comic-book artist Holly G participated in a recent panel at Chicago’s Comic-Con concerning religious themes in comic books. She was joined by two Christians and one agnostic who were also involved in the comics industry. It seems that everyone got along just fine despite the theological differences.

“Remarkably, there were no fights or bitter accusations flung across the table, but rather a unified sense of pride and communion as storytellers focus on spirituality in their work, whether it’s of a religious or metaphysical nature … The panelists were then challenged about their methods of handling faith in their own stories. While the witch talked of unwittingly (and unwillingly) gaining obedient converts through her pagan comics, the pro-life Christian Tennapel talked about the great fulfillment of winning over non-believers. He went on to talk about his most filthy comic, “Black Cherry”, a rated-R mafia, demon story that he billed as his “most religious” book and the most successful among non-believers. The non-Christian audience was drawn to it, he suggested, because of its richly dark, demonic story, but in the process of believing in the tale, were forced to believe in the Christian hierarchy of metaphysical beings. In a sense, this is Tennapel’s way of evangelizing.”

So Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose is gaining us converts? I’m not sure how I feel about that. To see why, you might want to check out some of my previous coverage concerning the intersections between well-known modern Pagans and this not-safe-for-work cheesecake comic.

As plastic “shamans” and various New Age seekers continue to abuse the trust of Native American spiritual leaders, more tribes decide that the best recourse is to shut out all outsiders. That is the case with the Hopi, who have decided to close their annual Hopi Snake Dance to outsiders due to illegal photography and a lack of respect.

“The traditional Hopi Snake Dance, part of an elaborate dayslong ceremony in which tribal members pray for rain, is closed to non-American Indians this year. Mishongnovi village administrator Robert Mahkewa Jr. says illegal photography and a lack of respect for the traditions and ceremonial practices led to the decision to bar non-Indians from this weekend’s event.”

In addition, an editorial from The Native Sun News urges all tribes to restrict access to their ceremonies, saying that the era of outsiders cashing in on their religious practices must come to an end. It truly is a shame that a small population of self-absorbed seekers and con-artists are so damaging relations between Natives and non-Native peoples.

The Washington Post looks at the efforts of Nick Nefedro and the ACLU to overturn a law barring fortune-telling in Montgomery County, Maryland. But unlike previous successful efforts to overturn such bans, Nefedro (a self-described gypsy) isn’t claiming a religious reason that the law should be overturned, a fact that is making local authorities confident they’ll withstand a lawsuit.

“I don’t think it’s strange for us to have laws that protect against fraud,” said Clifford Royalty, zoning division chief in the Montgomery County attorney’s office, adding that “religion has nothing to do with it. He’s not made that allegation in the lawsuit.” “The practice is fraudulent,” Royalty said, “because no one can forecast the future.”

While I wish Mr. Nefedro every success in getting this antiquated law stricken from the books, I think the ACLU should have explored getting a local Pagan involved so that they could bring the religious aspect of these laws into the proceedings. For all of my past coverage of anti-psychic/fortune-telling laws click, here.

In regards to my ongoing look at Pagan periodicals, you might be interested to read this report from the Philadelphia Inquirer on how several smaller religiously-oriented newspapers and newsletters are also falling on hard times.

“They land politely – in mailboxes, not driveways – and deliver their good news gently. “Relics blessed in advance of tour.” “Young Israelis at Medford Camps.” “Our Lady of Pompeii Church Celebrates 100 Years.” “Local Concert Raises $2,600 for Mitzvah Food Project.” But with advertising revenues in decline, these are challenging times for some local religious newspapers – and perhaps the end times for one.”

When pundits and anylists talk about the hard times falling on newspapers and magazines, smaller niche-oriented publications like these are often overlooked. But we shouldn’t underestimate the importance of these journalistic undergrounds for gestating and investigating the stories that eventually become “big news”.

In a final note, the snarky political blog Wonkette rightly mocks the absurd and un-sourced rumours among right-wing blogs that Michelle Obama’s mother participates in Santeria rituals.

“Apparently Marian Robinson, Michelle Obama’s mother, performs Satanic “Afro-Hispanic” witchcraft rituals, in the White House. Barack Obama is piping mad, because how would this affect his IMAGE? Poorly! This story and all of its quotes are true. Jane Mayer of the New Yorker is one helluva reporter and would never make up something this incendiary. Oh… what is that, Intern Riley?… It’s from Townhall, not Jane Mayer of the New Yorker?… THEN IT’S EVEN TRUER.”

I guess when all else fails, when being called a Nazi doesn’t hold water, you can always accuse the women of practicing witchcraft. Somehow I don’t think this is what right-wing thinkers mean when they talk of holding onto “traditional values”.

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