Archives For MTV

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.

Herdswomen with beautiful floral cow. (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)

  • The altar of art: “The faithful who came to meditate on a fresco of Giotto’s or a painting by Caravaggio sought a personal experience of the divine, the feeling that they themselves were present, witnessing the mystery being represented, a miracle that was being enacted specially for them. At the MoMA show, the artist’s presence offered transcendence through communion and intimacy, in the privacy that Abramović was able to create in a crowded atrium. Watching the documentary, I thought: This is the moment in which we live. Alienated, unmoored, we seek our salvation, one by one, from the artist who brings us the comforting news: I see you. I weep when you weep. The mystery, and the miracle, is that you exist.”
  • This is awesome. So is this.

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.

The Cook County Crackdown: If you thought unconstitutional and redundant laws against fortune telling only happened down south, think again. The Cook County Illinois board of commissioners (that would be the county Chicago is located in) are proposing a new ordinance that would ban “fraud” under the guise of spiritual services for pay.

“The proposal, from Commissioners Edwin Reyes, Bridget Gainer and Gregg Goslin, includes a swath of spirituality. It would affect mediumship, palmistry, card reading, astrology, seership, “crafty science,” and fortune telling that might take place as gatherings, circles and seances. “This was something that was highlighted to say there is a variety of different things out there that could be covered by certain deceptive practices,” Gainer says. She says the measure was suggested by the sheriff’s department, and that more people dealing with a tough economy might be hoodwinked by frauds posing as spiritual leaders.”

First off, there are already laws against fraud and deceptive business practices in Illinois, and I can’t see how this new ordinance would have protected a recent high-profile Chicago-area victim of the old-as-the-hills “cursed money” scam. Further, how will this ordinance, if passed, be enforced, and who gets to decide what’s fraud? If you pay for a reading at a party, can you call the cops the next day? If you drop $20 when the local Pagan group passes the hat and you later have buyers remorse, can you press charges? The language is so broad (“circles”, “gatherings”), that it easily includes any Pagan ritual where any sort of money changes hands. Since this proposed ordinance doesn’t seem to ban charging for “spiritual services” per-se, how will it actually prevent the most outrageous instances of blatant grifting?

Another Interview with Alex Mar: “American Mystic” director Alex Mar is interviewed by MTV Tr3s about her documentary, which features Pagan priestess Morpheus Ravenna, and discusses gaining the trust of her subjects, her own background, and resources for folks interested in modern Paganism.

“That’s an interesting question. First off, let me say that I’m not advocating any one spiritual path over another. But that said, I know WitchVox to be a useful site for pagans or people who are pagan-curious to connect locally. I was told over and over again how much easier it’s become for people who are curious about different forms of witchcraft to find mentors now that the Internet exists. The Wild Hunt is a widely read pagan blog about the latest politics and culture that’s relevant to the pagan community. And there are major conventions a few times a year where young witches, warlocks, Druids, you name it, get together and mix and network and learn new techniques and dance to gothic metal bands.”

I’d like to thank Alex for the plug, and note that the “gothic metal band” she’s most likely referring to is Pandemonaeon, who played at this year’s Pantheacon. “American Mystic” is currently playing at the The Tribeca Film Festival, and is one of twelve entries in the festival’s World Documentary Feature Competition for 2010.

Guess Who Else Didn’t Like That Episode of  Supernatural: It wasn’t just Pagans who were a bit annoyed by the Supernatural episode “Hammer of the Gods”, where various non-Christian deities were portrayed as shallow flesh-eaters getting worked over by Satan, Hindu activist Rajan Zed (you may remember him as the Hindu priest who got heckled by Christians on the Senate floor) blasts the show for its portrayal of Ganesha and Kali.

“Acclaimed Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that Lord Ganesh and Goddess Kali were highly revered in Hinduism and such absurd depiction of them with no scriptural backing was hurtful to the devotees. Ganesh and Kali were meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be thrown around loosely in reimagined versions for dramatic effects in TV series.”

Even Annalee Newitz at io9, a fan of the show, slammed the episode, saying it should never have been made.

“My point is just that this episode, in attempting to answer that “what about other gods?” question, made things infinitely worse than if we’d just been left wondering. Now we’re left thinking that somehow Christian deities are more powerful than any other deities in the world. Dean goes so far as to call them “just monsters.” Which A) doesn’t really fit the show’s premise, which is that Christianity is one mythological system among many; and B) makes it seem that Supernatural buys into the idea that Christianity is somehow the “best” or “most powerful” mythological system out there. Thumbs down on that one.”

Many have defended Supernatural as an “equal opportunity offender”, but I’m not sure that’s true. While Christian themes are treated lightly and irreverently at times, it still acknowledges and reinforces the inherent supreme power of the Christian mythos. It has also been careful to steer clear of the third rail of secular pop-culture fantasy portrayals of Christianity by not making Jesus (or even God for that matter) a character. Supernatural, in other words, doesn’t mind being flip about Hinduism, Taoism, Vodou, or Paganism, but won’t court real controversy by having Jesus (or the Virgin Mary) show up and throw down.

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

I think I have been more than clear concerning my views on reality television. Far too often naive (or greedy) Pagans have been exploited in this sensationalist and bottom-feeding genre, providing snarky laughs to a growingly cynical audience. However, I’m not blind to nuance, and realize there is some difference between horrid shows like “Wife Swap” and generally harmless fare like “The Amazing Race”. So having said that, I’d like to pass along information (that was passed along to me from Peg Aloi)  that the MTV documentary series True Life is looking for Wiccan teens and young adults (aged 14-25) for an upcoming episode.

…we are casting for an upcoming episode of the award-winning series True Life. For this episode, we are looking for people who are in the process of converting to Wicca, or who have recently converted.  We are focusing on how parents deal with these changes, and how it affects relationships. People should email their situations to Parents@mtvnmix.com with their name, age, location, phone number, and recent photo of themselves I would really appreciate it.

If you are selected it looks like you’ll be worked into an upcoming episode entitled “I’m Clashing With My Parents”.

Are you clashing with your parents? Going against their wishes? Defying them even? Are you an Americanized teen growing up in a household with immigrant parents whose conservative cultural values are at odds with your modern viewpoints and lifestyle? Perhaps your religious beliefs are setting you and your parents at odds. Are you abandoning the beliefs they instilled in you as a child? Or is your deepening passion for faith and religion concerning your more secular-leaning parents? Maybe the conflict between you and your parents is a classic old disagreement over the guy or girl you’re dating. If you’re personally living through any of these scenarios, or an equally compelling conflict with your mother & father, we’d like to hear from you. MTV is working on a new episode of “True Life” that will explore the impact on young adults, and their families, when grown children challenge their upbringing and defy their parents.

If that sounds like a program you’d like to be a part of, be my guest. But caveat emptor: while True Life has tackled serious subject matters and won some awards for their work, they also have a suspiciously high number of programs that deal with nudity, partying, the sex industry, porn, people wanting more sex, and people who’ll do anything for money. So this isn’t a serious sit-down with PBS, don’t be surprised if things get edited to be more dramatic than they really are.

Taking a break from filming reality-television programs, MTV (the network formerly know as “music television”) profiles the Wiccan faith and interviews “Goth Craft” author Raven Digitalis.

“Raven has been a Pagan priest for four years, practicing witchcraft and hosting rituals for local Pagans at his house, which is just 10 minutes from the downtown strip. “The Craft is one of the most empowering religions or spiritual lifestyles that exists,” he explained.”

As for the article itself, it is your basic Wiccans/Pagans don’t worship Satan, don’t cast malicious spells, don’t eat babies material. What makes the article interesting is its exclusive focus on teens and younger twenty-somethings (Digitalis is 24), instead of seeking the normal assortment of “elders” and “experts”. A result of this focus is that we get a peek into what shaped their religious development.

“A surprising number of young witches MTV News spoke with also said that they became curious about their faith through misguiding pop-culture fare like the camp Neve Campbell vehicle “The Craft” and the “Harry Potter” series. (Guess a few conservative Christian groups were right about that one) … many young people enter the Craft in reaction to a very conservative religious upbringing – Southern Baptist, perhaps, or Catholic.”

The article also name-checks teen-friendly groups and organizations like the Tempest Smith Foundation, and Copper Moon E-Zine, in addition to a selection of teen-friendly books on magic.

At this point it would be fair to say that MTV are hardly cultural innovators, so teen interest in Wicca and Paganism must be growing to a point where it’s practically a mainstream phenomenon. The sympathetic coverage given here may very well be the harbinger of a new surge of interest in teen Paganism that will rival the late-90s boom (remember, “The Craft” and Silver Ravenwolf’s “Teen Witch” both came out in the late 90s). In the meantime, congrats to Raven Digitalis on the start of his fifteen minutes.