Archives For M. Macha NightMare

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.

Design by Jeff Leiboff.

Design by Jeff Leiboff.

Actors portraying Angela Sanford and Joel Levya.

Actors portraying Angela Sanford and Joel Levya.

  • Angela Sanford, a Wiccan who killed Joel Leyva in what some media described as a ritualistic sacrifice, has had a request for a reduced sentence denied. Sanford has been sentenced to 20 years under a plea agreement, her story was recently dramatized on the show Fatal Encounters.
  • The Pagan community has been in the process of having a debate/discussion over the issue of obesity. It started with a post by Peter Dybing, and has been raging ever since. Notable responses have come from Star Foster,  Iris Firemoon, and  Kitsune Yokai at the Fat Pagan blog, with Margot Adler, Crystal Blanton, and Shauna Aura adding their voices in the comments of Peter’s blog. The most recent commentary on the question of health and obesity comes from T. Thorn Coyle: “There is some real dialogue, some hurt feelings, some anger, and some derision. Bottom line is this: we all have ways in which we do not walk our talk. Bottom line is this: we cannot know what another’s life looks like on the inside, by observing it from the outside.” As this conversation  no doubt continues, I hope we can steer clear of judging bodies, and instead focus on building a more supportive community for everyone.
  • At The Revealer, Alex Thurston writes about syncretism in Islam within the context of Mali and the destruction of Sufi shrines. Quote: “The alternative – and the greatest challenge to Ansar al Din’s program – is not to assert Islamists’ hidden love for the things they say they hate, but to assert the reality, the desirability, and the possibility that there is more than one way to be a real Muslim. Timbuktu in 2012 is not Mecca in 630. African Muslims are Muslims, full stop. And the loss of shrines in Timbuktu is a loss not only for world civilization and for locals, but also for Islam.”
  • PNC-Minnesota recently published two interviews, one with M. Macha NightMare, and one with Lady Yeshe Rabbit, who will be appearing at Sacred Harvest Fest. Quote: “I am bringing an open mind. I am interested in learning and sampling from you all the regional flavors of your community. I am bringing my own classes and rituals that I will be leading. One is a project that has been dear to my consciousness, called American Sabbats. It is looking at the secular, bank holidays of this country and their history, and the amount of energy that is generated within them. How the energy of those holidays, which many of us celebrate in addition to our Pagan holidays,  might be channeled toward the greater good of our country. There are many changes needed in our country in order to be healthy. I am curious to go and sample what the opinions and thoughts are of all of you who have a unique experience of America from your vantage point in the Midwest.”
  •  The US Dept. of Justice is supporting Native American inmates in their quest to have a South Dakota ban on using tobacco in religious ceremonies lifted. You can read the DOJ’s supporting brief, here.
  • Nicholas Campion, author of “Astrology and Cosmology in the World’s Religions,” shares an excerpt of his book at HuffPo’s religion section. Quote: “The ancient zodiac signs survive in the modern West because, uniquely, in an age of aggressive consumerism, media-overload and scientific materialism, they encourage people to reflect on themselves and their inner worlds; their hopes, fears and secret motivations. In mass culture, astrology replaces the remote scientific language of relativity and light-years with stories of love and luck. In an era when we are now aware that we live on an insignificant planet on the edge of a minor galaxy, astrology restores each individual to the center of their own cosmos. According to its practitioners it provides a sense of personal meaning and purpose and, sometimes, a guide to action. Both astrology’s advocates and its critics find rare agreement on this point. This has nothing to do with the truth of astrology’s claims, but it does explain its survival in the 21st century.”

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.

Top Story: On Saturday, I wrote about the impending enaction of a bill in Tennessee that could require schools to “teach the controversy” of evolution and global warming. Opposed by the ACLU, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute of Biological Sciences, and the Tennessee Science Teachers Association, it nonetheless was allowed to become law without the governor’s signature on Tuesday.

http://controversy.wearscience.com/

http://controversy.wearscience.com/

“Republican Gov. Bill Haslam allowed the controversial measure to become law without his signature and, in a statement, expressed misgivings about it. Nevertheless, he ignored pleas from educators, parents and civil libertarians to veto the bill. The law does not require the teaching of alternatives to scientific theories of evolution, climate change and “the chemical origins of life.” Instead, it aims to prevent school administrators from reining in teachers who expound on alternative hypotheses to those topics. The measure’s primary sponsor, Republican state Sen. Bo Watson, said it was meant to give teachers the clarity and security to discuss alternative ideas to evolution and climate change that students may have picked up at home and want to explore in class.”

Doesn’t require teaching alternatives? Lets go to the actual language.

“The state board of education, public elementary and secondary school governing authorities, directors of schools, school system administrators, and public elementary and secondary school principals and administrators shall endeavor to create an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues.” [...] The state board of education, public elementary and secondary school governing authorities, directors of schools, school system administrators, and public elementary and secondary school principals and administrators shall endeavor to assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies.  Toward this end, teachers shall be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.

I guess a lot hinges on the scope of “shall endeavor to,” and what qualifies as a “scientific controversy.” David Fowler, President of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, believes it will allow the teaching of Intelligent Design in science classes. Wesley H. Roberts, a high school biology teacher in Tennessee, says it will harm students going to college and taking Advanced Placement exams. How this “teach the controversy” law will actually affect curriculum decisions in Tennessee schools is a very open question, and will no doubt depend on how each school district interprets the language of the law. At best, it provides cover to rogue science teachers who want to insert non-scientific ideas into science classes, at worst, it will force teachers to add “controversial” theories to their curriculum.

As I said when I initially wrote about this proposed law, it’s doubly bad for followers of Pagan, indigenous, and earth-centered religions. It could very well insert explicitly Christian notions of creation and the origins of life into science classes, exposing non-Christian children to misinformation on the government’s dime, in addition to undermining basic knowledge of increasingly dire issues like global warming. I can only imagine that legal challenges are being prepared as we speak, I’ll keep you updated on this story as it progresses.

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.

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.

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.

Pagan Community Notes is a companion to my usual Pagan News of Note, a series more focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. I want to reinforce the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So lets get started!

On Faith Adds Another Pagan Voice: I’m pleased to announce that The Washington Post’s On Faith site has added me to their panel of religious specialists and generalists. My first response, on the issue of religion within debates over homosexuality, is up now.

“It’s no secret that religion shapes our lives, our morality, our politics, and our society, so it should surprise no one that religion also shapes our reactions to homosexuality. How could it be denied? When we talk about the “traditional family” or “traditional marriage” we are, at the end of the day, talking about specific religious ideas about those topics. Indeed, when we talk about opposition to same-sex marriage, or ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, or the culture of bullying that has sparked so many high-profile suicides, the arguments come down to the perceived moral “correctness” of same-sex love and attraction.”

I join fellow Pagan panelist Starhawk, doubling the Pagan presence at that site.  I look forward to weighing in at On Faith, and being able to share a Pagan perspective with the readers there. I’ll try to be mindful of the voice and reach this gives me, and do my best to represent our diverse views while also sharing my personal opinions. I hope you’ll follow my posts there, and show WaPo that there’s an engaged modern Paganism that wants to see its voice(s) heard.

PCP Launches Pagan People: The popular Pagan podcast PCP (Pagan Centered Podcast) has launched a new series entitled “Pagan People” that aims to become the “CSPAN of Paganism”.

“Pagan Centered Podcast has launched its forth podcast series: Pagan People.  Pagan People is a podcast to document and broadcast the history of contemporary Paganism as it happens.  No commentary beyond what is necessary to understand the clip, it’s intended to be the CSPAN of Paganism.  Who knows, it may become an unbiased CNN of sorts for breaking Pagan news that has audio content.”

Their first installment is the oral arguments from Patrick McCollum’s 9th Circuit Court of Appeals appearance. PCP: Pagan People, as a member of the Pagan Newswire Collective’s partner organization Proud Pagan Podcasters, hopes to be medium “for ensuring the awesome audio content recorded by the PNC is properly attributed to the PNC and distributed to a wide audience.” You can subscribe to Pagan People via iTunes, or reach them at PaganPeople.info.

Prison System Turns to Pagan Chaplain: The newly-launched Patrick McCollum Foundation (Facebook) reports that the Washington Department of Corrections has turned to Pagan chaplain Patrick McCollum for feedback on Pagan practices.

“The Washington department of Corrections contacted Patrick for clarification of what the normal religious practices are for Wiccans and Pagans. After talking with Patrick they will be expanding accommodations for the inmates and the ability to practice their religion!”

The Washington Department of Corrections made headlines back in 2008 for altering its policy regarding a prisoner’s adherence to multiple faiths. That move caused some controversy, but was ultimately seen as a positive step for the lives of prisoners. The prison system in Washington actually has a large Pagan population, so it’s nice to see them reaching out and trying to meet the needs of Pagan prisoners.

More Pagan Surveys: Chas Clifton reminds me that Aline O’Brien (aka Macha NightMare), president of the Cherry Hill Seminary board of directors, has released a new survey “exploring the concept of eldership in contemporary Paganism.”

“I have prepared a brief 10-question informal survey for a paper I’m writing exploring the concept of eldership in contemporary Paganism. I invite you to help in my research by participating in the survey. Use of the word “elder” in this survey means elder in the sense of a formal role within a group, organization or religious community. Feel free to circulate this request to your communities. Responses will be collected until January 15, 2011. Thanks to all who help by responding.”

This survey joins the political surveys by Maelstrom from The Political Pagan, and the Pagan Health Survey conducted by Kimberly Hedrick of the TriWinds Institute. Here’s hoping all this data collection ultimately benefits our community! Also, while I’m on the subject of surveys and data collection, let’s not forget that the American Academy of Religion conference starts October 30th in Atlanta, Georgia. A whole host of Pagan Studies folks will be there, and I’m hoping to bring you some coverage and reflections from that event.

Capture the Flag? In a final note, COG First Officer-elect Peter Dybing, writing as a private citizen, and not as a representative of COG, wonders if Pagan organizations are too invested in playing “capture the flag” in our quest for Pagan rights.

“So here is the question; are we as a community even half as effectively organized to gain or defend rights for Pagans? It is tempting to provide a long list of organizations and individuals doing great work for Pagan rights in response to this question. Each of these deserves our respect for all they have accomplished. Instead, lets address if this plethora of activities is keeping us from acting with unanimity? Is our approach analogous to a group of organizations playing Capture the Flag, where there are wins, but only by small groups and not the community as a whole? Does our duplication of effort squander resources and reflect that Paganism still needs to mature into an effective movement?”

Dybing calls for “a discussion on how to unify our approach to Pagan rights.” Is this a preview of what’s to come when his term starts as First Officer of the Covenant of the Goddess? Will we see more coordination, or at least more discussion about coordination, when it comes to Pagan organizations working towards the same goal? I invite you to weigh in on this subject. What would better coordination look like? How would it be managed without compromising the autonomy of each group?

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

Welcome to the last week of May! Due to vacation-oriented circumstances beyond my control, I will be unable to perform my regular blogging duties here at The Wild Hunt. However, just because I’m off to run and play doesn’t mean I’ll be depriving you of your daily fix of great Pagan-oriented content. I have somehow managed to assemble an all-star line-up of guest posters for while I’m away. Allow me to introduce you…

May 26th – Cat Chapin-Bishop

Wiccan since the late ’80s, Cat Chapin-Bishop has also been Quaker since 2001. Cat’s essays have appeared in Laura Wildman’s “Celebrating the Pagan Soul”, “The Pomegranate: The Journal of Pagan Studies”, the Covenant of the Goddess newsletter, and “Enchante: The Journal for the Urbane Pagan”. In addition to her work as a Wiccan HPs, Cat is the former Chair of Cherry Hill Seminary’s Pastoral Counseling Department, and she currently serves on the Ministry and Worship Committee of Mt. Toby Quaker meeting.

Cat and her husband maintain Quaker Pagan Reflections, a blog dedicated to exploring the connections between Pagan spirituality and Quaker practice. They reside in Northampton, Massachusetts, where they attempt to live peacefully in the midst of chaos.

May 27th – Anne Hill

A skilled facilitator, author and teacher, Anne is on the faculty of Cherry Hill Seminary, hosts a weekly dream radio show, and writes an award-winning blog on dreams and spirituality. In addition to speaking at businesses and organizations, she has a private dream practice and is currently writing a book on dreams.

May 28th – T. Thorn Coyle

T. Thorn Coyle is a magic worker, mystic, musician, and author of “Evolutionary Witchcraft” and the forthcoming “Kissing the Limitless.” She teaches internationally. Her blog can be found at yezida.livejournal.com or www.thorncoyle.com/musings.htm

May 29th – M. Macha NightMare

M. Macha NightMare, Priestess & Witch, is an author, teacher and ritualist, with a penchant for collaboration. She is an initiate of two traditions of Witchcraft: Reclaiming and Faery/Feri, Reclaiming’s root tradition. Macha has authored, co-created, or contributed to, several books. Most notably “The Pagan Book of Living and Dying” (with Starhawk and Reclaiming), and “Witchcraft and the Web”. In addition, she currently chairs the Public Ministry Department at Cherry Hill Seminary, and serves on the Board of Directors at the Foundation for the Advancement of Women in Religion.

For a full biography, click here.

May 30th – Chas S. Clifton

Chas S. Clifton has been blogging since 2003, when he converted his Pagan magazine column, “Letter from Hardscrabble Creek,” into a blog. A widely published Pagan writer, he is the author of “Her Hidden Children: The Rise of Wicca and Paganism in America”. He also edits “The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies”

May 31st – Deborah Oak

Deborah Oak is a psychotherapist, artist, gardener, aromancer, mother and earth-worshiping Pagan. She writes the popular Pagan blog Branches Up, Roots Down, maintains the Temple of Elvis, and teaches at Reclaiming Witchcamps all over the world. Oak was also featured, along with Thorn and Anne Hill, in the RE/Search Publications book “Modern Pagans”.

I hope you will enjoy their contributions to The Wild Hunt, and check out their respective blogs and published works. My deepest appreciation goes out to all of them for stepping in for me. I will return on June 1st with my usual daily dose of news, commentary, and links.

Around the Blogosphere

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  September 25, 2007 — 1 Comment

Some great Pagan and Pagan-friendly content has been popping up lately in the blogosphere, so I thought I would take some time to highlight some posts that I found particularly interesting.

Feorag, of the venerable Pagan Prattle, dissects a recent article on a English Vicar who wants to debate the Church of England’s use of Harry Potter to attract younger members. It turns out that the press-hungry Vicar has a notorious “Satanic Panic” past.

“Anyone old enough to have been involved in neopaganism in the UK in the 1980s will remember the Rev. Kevin Logan (a.k.a.Kev. the Rev.). The Anglican vicar spent a lot of time and effort promoting the Satanic Abuse Myth, and propagating outrageous lies about neopaganism. He fell from grace after a seriously disturbed woman, Caroline Marchant, committed suicide while in his care. Well, he obviously thinks no-one can remember him after 17 years, and is back having a go at Harry Potter. Nor does he seem to have spent the time learning anything about neopaganism, as he strangely seems to think that Rowling’s books have something to do with it.”

Logan is looking to forge a comeback in the anti-occult market (reinvigorated by all the fuss over Harry Potter) by releasing a new edition of his Satanic Panic-supporting book “Paganism and the Occult: A manifesto for Christian Action”, a work that Feorag describes as “a load of complete bollocks.”

Perhaps gearing up for Halloween festivities, the mega-popular Boing Boing has featured quite a few Witchy and occult-oriented posts recently. There was the post on making “witches’ jars”, a look at a flying witch arcade game, and most recently a post on the organization “English Heretics”, who are commemorating the “psychohistorical environment of England”.

“England’s buildings are littered with blue plaques placed by English Heritage, commemorating the birthplaces of important people, famous architecture and so on. English Heretics put Black Plaques up to commemorate an entirely different kind of heritage: ‘The Black Plaque scheme was instigated in October 2003. Its purpose is to commemorate and draw public attention to historical figures in such diverse fields as sorcery, the Royal Art, left hand path occultism and witchcraft, as well as the mentally infirm: tortured poets, psychopaths and village idiots.’”

With a little funding “English Heretics” could really become something interesting (not to mention, fun).

Over at the TheoFantastique blog, John Morehead interviews Bill Ellis (author of “Lucifer Ascending: The Occult in Folklore and Popular Culture”) about religious and occult themes in Japanese animation.

“Much of anime can be appreciated purely as story-telling, and as the studios know that their productions will be viewed all over the world, they do make an effort to stress universally engaging plots and characters and minimize the purely esoteric details. Still, myth and religion always lie very close to the surface, and many plot twists that seem odd to the Western eye are ‘just right’ for an Eastern audience. Likewise, many of the plot details are the sorts of folk beliefs that the Japanese accept as part of everyday life, such as the belief that the number four is unlucky (it’s pronounced ‘shi,’ which can also mean ‘death.’) So if something happens three times, then the audience is set up to expect that the fourth time will involve some kind of danger or misfortune. Also, butterflies are cute in Western decorations but signal some uncanny and possibly scary twist when they appear in anime, because this creature is associated with magic and a pathway into another world.”

Also discussed are the works of Hayao Miyazaki, and how Buddhist and Shinto themes manifest within anime features.

M. Macha NightMare, at her blog Broomstick Chronicles, discusses a recent interfaith meeting on the topic of serving the senior community. In the post she discusses who is considered “clergy”, and what the responsibilities of Pagan clergy are when tending to the elderly.

“If there is one thing I want Pagans to take away from this is the knowledge that if we encounter anything resembling elder abuse, we are mandated reporters. Most of you probably know we are mandated reporters for suspected child abuse, but the law requiring ‘clergy’ to report suspected elder abuse is recent. So now you know. May you never have to do it.”

If you need to report a case of elder abuse, the Elder Abuse Center gives you quick links to the State Adult Protective Services.

Finally, there are two new blogs of note I wanted to pass along. Witchvox staff member, movie reviewer, and author, Peg Aloi formally enters the Pagan blogosphere with the well-written “Orchards Forever”. Meanwhile, Lupa, author of “Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic”, has started a new blog entitled “Therioshamanism” which aims to document her journey towards creating her own Neo-Shamanic path.