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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.

Coilhouse Issue #6

Coilhouse Issue #6

  • Excellent alternative culture magazine and blog Coilhouse is shutting down, though the creators are promising that this is a mere hiatus and that Coilhouse will return in some form in the future. Quote: “We can’t tell you what exactly is coming next, or when; we just know we have no intention of quitting. Potential directions that Coilhouse may move in somewhere down the line: books, apps, limited edition print/art objects, video, fashion collaborations. Smaller, more manageable one-shot projects that don’t break our backs. But first, we will have to re-strategize our business and production plans. Nothing is set in stone at the moment because, simply put, we need a break. We need to rest.” For now, they’ve made the six print issues of Coilhouse magazine available as free PDF downloads, a token of affection to fans and supporters. I highly recommend checking them out. 
  • Is the famous Celtic warrior-queen Boudicca buried beneath a McDonalds restaurant? It is rumored to be so. Quote: “Dr Mike Heyworth, the director of the Council for British Archaeology (CBA), said that experts are on the hunt for her burial place, at one point rumoured to be near what is now a McDonald’s restaurant in Birmingham, and he wouldn’t be surprised if she was unearthed in the next few years. There are contradictory but persistent tales (with “no element of truth”, according to the Museum of London) that she lies beneath either platform eight, nine or 10 at King’s Cross Station.” The big question is: what happens to her resting place once the bones are found? 
  • No, Easter was not originally the celebration of Ishtar. Let’s all be more critical of Facebook image memes, OK? 
  • At the Huffington Post Grove Harris discusses composting as a Springtime spiritual exercise. Quote: “Composting is in many ways one of the most spiritual of practices. It is the process that will feed the next cycle of life, which will take endings and serve new beginnings. It is powerfully renewing on many levels, and offers deep metaphoric guidance.”
  • Enforced celibacy doesn’t really work all that often, no matter what the religion/ideology is. The country of Bhutan is distributing condoms to Buddhist monasteries to stem the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Quote: “Warning signs of risky behavior among monks first appeared in 2009, when a report on risks and vulnerabilities of adolescents revealed that monks were engaging in “thigh sex” (in which a man uses another man’s clenched thighs for intercourse), according to the state-owned Kuensel daily.” So remember, use protection, make it available, no matter what the official rules are. 
The Joy of Sexus by Vicki León.

The Joy of Sexus by Vicki León.

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.

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.

The Elmira Star-Gazette takes a look local residents and their tattoos. After spending some time with brothers getting memorial tattoos and a cancer survivor (and her friend) getting inked, the article turns to a local Wiccan woman and her forehead tattoo. Unsurprisingly, this has caused her a variety of problems.

Camilla Nhamercedes

“Along with the attention, Camilla said her tattoo brought another thing: discrimination. She said that it’s difficult to get through the entire job interview process without her tattoo becoming a hindrance … She said that her teachers at her adult education program even insisted that she find makeup to completely cover her tattoo so she could prepare for the work force. Camilla recalls one time where she completed an interview fairly successfully, only to have the interviewer notice her tattoo as she was shaking his hand. He stared at her and then drew his hand back as if it had been burned, she said. Camilla said she has never judged people based on their physical appearance, so she finds the treatment she has received hard to understand. She added that the manner in which potential employers have reacted to her tattoo has been frustrating. ‘They just kind of look at me weird and then I hear later from word-of-mouth that that was the reason they didn’t hire me,’ she said.”

The crescent-moon forehead tattoo isn’t entirely uncommon among modern Pagans, and was apparently first inspired by the tattoos given to priestesses of the Goddess in the cult-classic book “The Mists of Avalon”. A work so pervasively popular in some Pagan circles that it has been acknowledged as a primary source of spiritual inspiration in The Paganism Reader. However, despite this popularity, and despite the ongoing growth of modern Pagan religions, it will no doubt be several years before visible religiously-motivated facial tattoos are accepted in the more conservative regions of our country.

But conservative or not, small unobtrusive tattoos that express a religious belief shouldn’t preclude someone from being hired for a job they are qualified for. If Ms. Nhamercedes can provide proof that a job passed her over due to her tattoo, she may very well have grounds for legal action.

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

For those keeping track of the July 4th Pagan Religious Rights Rally that took place in Washington DC, one of the participants: Caroline Kenner, has posted a write-up of the event at the Witches Voice web site.

“Finally after all these months, we were listening to brave speeches about freedom of religion, and the need for a Pagan chaplain in the military, the need for Thor’s Hammer and the Druid Awen symbol to be recognized by the VA as the Pentacle has been. We had a diverse roster of speakers representing many national Pagan organizations: The Troth, Asatru Folk Assembly, Military Pagan Network, Sacred Well Congregation, Ar nDraoicht Fein and Circle Sanctuary. It was inspiring to see so many diverse Pagans working together, people with very different beliefs, practices and deities sharing a common purpose.”

You can read all my coverage of the rally and related news articles, here.

Having exhausted all other angles, Christianity Today asks the question: what would Jonathan Edwards (the prominent colonial-era fire-and-brimstone preacher) do about Harry Potter?

“So there we have it. The most engrossing imaginative world created at the start of the 21st century is essentially pagan. Don’t get me wrong – I like the Harry Potter series. I’ve read all of the books. And I’m sure Jonathan Edwards would have done so, too … That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t read it. Nor does it mean that Edwards would disapprove of us learning from it (light from wherever it comes), but (borrowing from more recent intellectual heroes like Lewis or Tolkien) it does mean that if the world’s imagination is captured by Potter-esque versions of the afterlife and the transcendent – a less-than-Christian way of looking at the world – we have work to do. The imagination is a hairbreadth away from the soul.”

The article seems to call for a “Christian” Harry Potter to “rescue” the souls imperiled by their runaway imaginations, but the next C.S. Lewis seems less likely than ever in our ever more polarized society. In other Harry Potter news, James Dobson does not approve!

A new shopping center in Britain has seemingly changed its proposed name after a coven of Witches, unhappy with the proposed Witchy-sounding name of Highcross Quarter, registered the domain names first and refused to sell.

“A coven of elderly witches has claimed victory in a battle to change the name of a £350-million (about R4,9-billion) shopping centre. They objected after developer Hammerson announced a huge addition to Leicester’s Shires mall would be called Highcross Quarter. That’s the name given by witches to the four most important periods in the “wicca” calendar … Once the name was announced, the witches immediately registered several Internet domain names using the term. Morrigan Wisecraft, a witch from Loughborough, said she was contacted by Hammerson within days of registering the domain names last year. She claimed the group was offered large amounts of money to part with the titles, before Hammerson took the matter to the United Nations’ World Intellectual Property Organisation. Now the company has appeared to have given up on the fight but would not comment on whether pressure from the local “alternative faith group” was behind a decision to change the name.”

I’m not sure if I would claim this as a “victory” for Pagans, it isn’t as if “highcross quarter” is a term used solely by Pagan groups. The case seems to come very close to “cybersquatting” under the protection of religion. It brings up a larger question, do modern Pagans “own” or have rights to things we label as sacred, even if those things have other uses or contexts?

Xtra profiles the spiritual and emotional reasons behind GLBT folks’ tattoos, revealing some very “pagan” ideas in the ink. [Warning: a couple of the photos may be NSFW]

“My tattoos are dedicated to my spiritual development … [The goddess] is a higher power, the beginning of life and death, and of knowledge. I got that the same year I had my first relationship with a girl. Coming here from the Ukraine I was pretty repressed. There was no such thing as gay or lesbian, or drug use, none that was open. I wasn’t exposed to any of that growing up. [The goddess] represents woman, with mothering and birth. She has two horns and goat feet so she can be perceived as Pan, a male god. That is my take on two sides.”

In a final note, part two of a the three-part podcast interview with author/Witch/activist Thorn Coyle has been posted. You can find part one, here.

That is all I have for now, have a good day!