Archives For EU

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.

spirits

 

That’s it for now! Feel free to discuss any of these links in the comments, some of them I may expand into longer posts as needed.

I was just going to let this one slide at first, but so many of my readers have tipped me off to this story that I now feel compelled to mention it. It seems that Lithuania’s most famous witch, Vilija Lobaciuviene, has been hired by a collections firm to call delinquent customers unwilling to part with their cash during this global economic downturn. Lobaciuviene will help these individuals “understand the situation” so that they pay up.

“Our new employee will help them to understand the situation, reconsider what is right and wrong and act accordingly,” he said. “We will also help those who are in real trouble, suffering from psychological impact of bankruptcy and depression.” Lobaciuviene, who describes herself as “Lithuania’s leading witch,” is renowned in the former Soviet republic of 3.4 million people for providing such “magical” services as predicting the future and casting spells. She claims to use hypnosis, herbal medicines and “the bio-energy field” when helping her “patients.” Asked to comment on her new job, Lobaciuviene, 53, told The Associated Press on Thursday that she is happy to be of assistance. “I am free citizen and can do whatever I like. I am glad someone needs my help and I will do whatever I can to help people,” she said.

You have to wonder what the carrot/stick ratio is for these friendly phone calls from the famous witch. I can’t imagine there isn’t a least an undertone of “or else” is such attempts to get people to “reconsider”. As for Vilija Lobaciuviene, I can only imagine she’s pleased with the power and prestige such international publicity brings her. Let’s just hope this trend doesn’t spread to America, the last thing I need is a call from Laurie Cabot inquiring about my outstanding loans.

Are you a Pagan who has a spare 700,000 Euro burning a hole in your pocket? Then why not head to Bulgaria where Boris Kushlev is selling a 680-square-meter plot in downtown Balchik, home to a recently-discovered temple to the goddess Cybele.


Statue of Cybele from Balchik.

“The ancient temple of the Hittite, Phrygian, and Greek goddess Cybele, which was discovered by accident in Bulgaria’s Black Sea town of Balchik in May 2007 has been declared for sale, the Varna daily Pozvanete reported … The temple of the goddess Cybele is preserved really well, and according to archeologists, is the only one of its type in Europe. The temple is also the best-preserved building from the Hellenic Age in the Balkans. It includes a number of statutes of Cybele, coins from the time of the Roman Emperor Valens, and other ancient artifacts.”

The Director of the Balchik History Museum is calling the proposed sale a “sacrilege”, and is disappointed both with Kushlev’s asking price (too expensive for the city, who have already paid 100,000 BGN to secure and cover the site), and the lack of movement by the Bulgarian state to nationalize the site. Unless the state makes a move, anyone can now swoop in an claim this former temple, and the statues and artifacts within it, for themselves. Potentially robbing Bulgaria of a unique archaeological find.

“The temple of the goddess Cybele is preserved really well, and according to archeologists, is the only one of its type in Europe. The temple is also the best-preserved building from the Hellenic Age in the Balkans. It includes a number of statutes of Cybele, coins from the time of the Roman Emperor Valens, and other ancient artifacts.”

Scientists believe that this temple, unlike other finds from the Hellenic era, can be completely restored and opened to the public. It would truly be a shame if it were dismantled and spread around to museums and private collections across the globe. Will the goddess show her hand and stop the destruction of her temple, preserved for so long beneath the earth? Only time (and an influx of money or political will) will tell if this temple is destroyed, or turned into a place of pilgrimage and learning.

(Pagan) News of Note

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  September 10, 2008 — 2 Comments

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

Politics! Litigation! Evangelism! Looks like we need to take a break and explore that heady intersection of fashion and the occult. British lingerie brand Agent Provocateur has unleased its newest collection: “Season of the Witch” (just in time for the Samhain season).

“The “Season of the Witch” ad shows a flame-haired high priestess presiding over a disrobed virgin in a sacrificial ceremonial scene. Her raven-haired witches crowd around while semi-disrobed soldiers lie helplessly at their feet.”

The photo shoots seem to nod towards a Hellfire Club/Secret Society sort of diabolic decadence. The roll-out of the new collection has gained a remarkable amount of press due to the inclusion of Bob “Live Aid” Geldof’s daughter Peaches. You can explore the (Not Safe For Work) collection at the Agent Provocateur web site.

BBC News profiles the life of Susanne Wenger, a 94-year-old Austrian artist who became a convert to the Yoruba faith. Arriving in Nigeria in 1950, Wenger went on to help preserve the Osun sacred grove in Osogbo town, and fight attempts by Muslim and Christian missionaries to wipe out Nigeria’s pre-Christian religion.

“When she arrived here, she found traditional culture in abeyance, all but destroyed by missionaries who branded it “black magic” or “juju”, a word Mrs Wenger reviles. Friends paint a picture of a dedicated, tough and far-sighted leader who has helped revive a culture thought destroyed by Christian and Muslim evangelists, and secured protection for one of the Yoruba tradition’s most sacred sites. But she is very humble about her achievements. “Osogbo is a creative place, it is that by itself, it didn’t need me,” she says.”

Locals hold her in high regard, and believe the goddess Oshun has channeled into her body, granting her wisdom and knowledge of their ways far beyond that of any other European. This is an inspiring story, be sure to read the whole thing and check out the video of an Oshun offering. Thanks to Dave Haxton for pointing it out.

The South African Pagan Council shares an official media statement by South Africa’s (re-re-established) National Party regarding Paganism. This comes in the wake of the party promising to “suppress” Satanism and witchcraft should they come into power.

“We would like to state it unequivocally that the National Party does not hold any ill feeling against the pagan community. On the contrary, the National Party would endeavour upon election to protect the rights of the Pagan community. We understand the response from the Pagan community regarding our policy towards Satanism. It is well known that paganism has wrongly, and to the great detriment of the Pagans, been associated with Satanism by ill-informed officials. However, the National Party wishes to advise that we fully support freedom of religion and that there would be no witch-hunt of any practitioners of Wicca, Odinic Rite or any of the other Pagan practices.”

SAPC representative Luke Martin greeted the NP’s statement warmly, though forcefully reiterated that the South African constitution guarantees religious freedom for all, even Satanists, or other faiths they may find distasteful. This is another example of how South African Pagans have gotten active in local politics in order to protect their rights and freedoms.

BBC Europe editor Mark Mardell shares the news that Pagan-folk band Omnia member Joe Hennon is assistant to EU official Margot Wallstrom, Vice President of the European Commission in charge of Institutional Relations and Communication.

“I am of course ever on the alert for any signs of witches and warlocks haunting the corridors of power. So what do you make of the fact that Commissioner Margot Walstrom’s spokesperson is a leading exponent of Pagan Rock?”

Mardell confides that the post was made so he could link to Omnia’s latest promotional video, and we should hope so, because Hennon’s job in politics was extensively reported on nearly a year ago by Expatica.

In a final note, French composer and record producer Hector Zazou passed away on Monday at the age of 60.

“Algerian-born French composer/producer Hector Zazou had a surprise waiting with each new record: twisted rock, neo-classical compositions, world music (from Africa to Central Asia), string quartets, pieces for wind instruments, voices or synthesizers, he’s been using a wide variety of genres to create the most unexpected and subtle blends…”

His ambient and neo-classical works found a wide assortment of willing collaborators, from Siouxsie Sioux and Bjork to indigenous shamans. Zazou’s most famous release in America is probably 1992’s “Sahara Blue”, a tribute to Arthur Rimbaud that featured the talents of Dead Can Dance, David Sylvian, and Gérard Depardieu. His creative vision will certainly be missed.

That is all I have for now. Have a great day!

While small (sometimes nationalist) Pagan groups have existed in Poland for some time, it looks like Wicca is starting to make some headway into the overwhelmingly Catholic country.

“Witches are among us, says the weekly Polityka. Marion calls herself the first stationary witch in Poland. She was initiated in Great Britain in the Wicca cult, a pagan, nature-based religion popularized in 1954 by a retired British civil servant. This petite 30 year old works in a marketing department of a big firm and doesn’t want to reveal her real name. One never knows how her colleagues and bosses would react. It is impossible to say how many Wiccans there are in Poland. They fear intolerance in the predominantly Roman Catholic society. Often even their families don’t know about it. On the other hand, job migration to the British Isles facilitates their contacts with British Wiccans and books on the Wicca cult have sold in 10 thousand copies here.”

You can find a link to the weekly, and downloadable table of contents (featuring a picture of Laurie Cabot), here. As the synopsis mentions, most Polish Wiccans live “in the broom closet”, and often have a hard time coping with the need to remain anonymous.

“A very interesting element is also the relation between the catholic church and polish Wiccans – on one hand in catholic doctrine Wiccans are identified as Satanists; on the other hand Wiccans became discouraged by anonymous rituals and external religiousity of Catholic believers. It seems to be a very important element of Wiccans identity.”

But perhaps as religious freedom continues to grow, and Pagan advocacy groups become more entrenched, the Polish Pagans and Witches there will finally find it safe to live a more public life. In what could be seen by some as a positive sign for redefining the role of “witches” in Poland, government officials recently put a stop to the ceremonial burning of witches in the village of Zielona Gora.

“Polish women’s rights groups and government ministers have banned the display after protests that the stake-burning drama was anti-feminist. “Making peoples’ tragic deaths into a tourist attraction is reprehensible and regrettable,” said Monika Platek, head of Poland’s Association for Legal Education. “The stakes where women were burned were the result of profound misogyny, discrimination against women and ignorance.” Poland’s women’s ministry boss Berenika Anders told the town council it had to scrap the witch sessions.”

Stories like these help to reinforce the fact that the modern Pagan movement isn’t isolated to the UK, America, or Australia, but is a truly global phenomenon spreading from India, to Brazil, to South Africa, and Russia. Paganism isn’t a decadent sign of a post-modern world (as some critics would see it), but a revitalized religious impulse finding its voice once more. So good luck to the Polish Pagans, whether they are Wiccan, follow a revived Slavic tradition, or engage some other path.

In Other News

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  August 28, 2008 — Leave a comment

While Starhawk’s meditation on McCain gets top billing from The Wild Hunt today, it isn’t the only story of interest to our communities happening right now. Here are some links to other stories of note.

New Jersey’s Packet Online looks at the careers of Darlene Prestbo and Hazel Staats-Westover, elders within the women’s spirituality movement, who contribute a chapter to the recently released work “WomanSoul: The Inner Life of Women’s Spirituality”.

“Because of their longtime involvement in women’s spirituality, their professional reputations and friendships, Ms. Prestbo and Ms. Staats-Westover were invited by Carole A. Rayburn, a noted research psychologist who had visited the women’s spirituality groups and been touched by the experience, to contribute a chapter to Womansoul: The Inner Life of Women’s Spirituality. Ms. Rayburn co-authored the book with Lillian Comas-Diaz, also a respected psychologist and educator. The icing on the cake for the two local women was an invitation to the 116th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association in Boston, where they spoke Aug. 15. The book explores and advances the concept of “womansoul” — a gender specific way of embracing spirituality. It discusses the personal and professional impact of spirituality in the lives of women from a variety of ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds — Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Native American and more.”

Prestbo and Staats-Westover also co-founded (in 1987), and help run, a Princeton area women’s spirituality group called the Daughters of Gaia.

If you happen to be institutionalized, you have a right to write letters in “Atlantean” undisturbed, so long as it is integral to your belief system.

“DeSimone v. Bartow is a lawsuit by plaintiff who has been civilly committed to a mental health facility operated in part by the Department of Corrections. A Wisconsin federal district court permitted him to proceed with a claim that his 1st amendment and RLUIPA free exercise rights were violated when he was prohibited from writing in his Atlantean language, a practice plaintiff said was central to his religious belief. Officials said it took too long to translate the writings, and untranslated writings posed security risks, even though they did not impose the same restrictions on others who wrote in different foreign languages.”

I can only assume that letters written in Enochian, Theban, Angelic, and Malachim scripts would be similarly protected. I wonder, is the “Atlantean” alphabet he is using the one invented by Disney?

In a final note, Switzerland has exonerated Europe’s last beheaded witch.

“Swiss officials have granted a pardon to Europe’s last beheaded witch – more than 220 years after she was executed. The parliament of the Swiss canton (state) of Glarus decided unanimously today to exonerate Anna Goeldi as a victim of “judicial murder,” said Josef Schwitter, a government spokesman. Goeldi was executed in 1782 for an alleged case of poisoning.”

Goeldi, who is something of a (in)famous figure in Swiss history, had a museum opened in her honor, and the Swiss government is donating $118,000 towards the creation of a play about her life.

Expatica (a news and information source for expatriates in Europe) has two features up concerning the Pagan band Omnia. First, Paul Morris, the editor for Expatica Belgium, writes about his experiences at an Omnia show with his daughter.

“Omnia do perform some gentle songs that could charm the birds from the branches but others could rock the entire forest herself. Sik (aka Steve) leaps around at times like some excitable Pan unleashed from the woods and transplanted to this other world. From the dizzy heights of his flute to the probing depths of Luka’s assorted aboriginal Slideridoos, punctuated by the gentle insistence of Jenny’s harp and driven by Joe’s rhythmic guitar, it’s a fine sound altogether. And for me it just gets better when Jenny takes up the hurdy-gurdy, a wheel fiddle which adds a Gallic quality to certain songs.”

Then Morris interviews guitarist Joe Hennon about Omnia and his day-job as an assistant to Margot Wallstrom, Vice President of the European Commission (the executive body of the European Union).

“I’m the only member of Omnia who has another job. I work for the European Commission, in particular for the Vice-President, Margot Wallstrom, who is responsible for communication strategy among other things.”

Hennon also shares his views on the dominant monotheisms.

“We’ve no problem with Christians, Muslims or any other religious people provided they don’t try to force their views on everyone else in the world. We just think there are a lot more gods than just one…”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

For more about Omnia, I suggest checking out their MySpace page, or tune into my weekly podcast where Omnia songs often turn up.