Archives For The Dolmen

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.

tow new home

The Temple of Witchcraft’s new Salem home.

  • The Temple of Witchcraft, a religious organization co-founded by author Christopher Penczak, is still encountering difficulties in getting their new building in Salem, New Hampshire the proper zoning so that they can build a parking lot and make improvements. Neighbors say it isn’t about the Witchcraft, just traffic, but at least one neighbor disagrees with the notion of them identifying as a “church” even though no Christian denomination would receive such a challenge. Meanwhile, a new Hindu temple in the same area has been approved, while the Temple of Witchcraft is still having their essential “church”-ness questioned. Make no mistake, the Temple is in the legal right here, and I hope this is resolved before lawyers have to file litigation, costing Salem quite a bit of money.
  • Remember my analysis of last week’s elections here in the United States? I noted that religious demographics were shifting, and this may have been the first post-Christian election. To add more data to my assertions, Discover Magazine notes that Asian Americans, who voted heavily Democratic this cycle, have also become far less Christian, influencing how they vote. Quote: “Barry Kosmin has documented that between 1990 and 2010 Asian Americans have become far less Christian, on average. Meanwhile, the Republican party has become far more Christian in terms of its identity. Do you really require more than two sentences to infer from this what the outcome will be in terms of how Asian Americans will vote?” In short, the more some Republicans want to become “God’s Own Party,” the more a growing number of votes will simply evade them.
  • Over at HuffPost Religion Deepak Sarma addresses the question of white Hindu converts, and whether this growing group, sincere or not, are engaging in a unintentional mockery of that which they profess to honor.  Quote: “So, no matter their sincerity, or self-proclaimed authenticity, their mimicry seems more like mockery. And, unlike the forced mimicry of the Diaspora Hindu, which may have subversive undertones and may destabilize the dominant ideology, reverse mimicry, ironically, merely reinforces existing hierarchies and paradigms. In fact, some claim to be more “authentic” than Diaspora Hindus and, in so doing, deny the voice of those they mimic/ mock.” Sarma goes on to posit that perhaps white converts can never understand the experience of the Hindu diaspora and wonders if welcoming Western Hindu temples and homes suffer from “post-traumatic, post-colonial, servile disorder” by accepting these converts. It should be interesting to see the debate and discussion this post incites.
Sandra L. Harris, M.Div., Pagan Pastoral Counseling

Sandra L. Harris, M.Div., Pagan Pastoral Counseling

  • Pagan learning institution Cherry Hill Seminary has passed another important hurdle on their road to becoming an established, recognized, seminary. After awarding its first Master of Divinity in Pagan Pastoral Counseling, graduate, Sandra Lee Harris has had her credentials examined and accepted by the Board of Chaplaincy Certification, Inc., the credentials-examining body for the Association of Professional Chaplains. This frees her to complete the process of becoming a board-certified chaplain. Quote: “David Oringderff, Ph.D., Harris’s department chair and adviser at Cherry Hill Seminary, congratulated her on her achievement, “This is indeed a milestone, both for your professional aspirations and for Cherry Hill Seminary.”  Oringderff noted the precedent set by the BCCI/APC decision, which could strengthen the case for future acceptance of Cherry Hill Seminary degrees by other institutions, the U.S. Department of Defense, for example.” We’ll have more on this story, and its implications, in the near future.
  • Check out this interview with West Memphis 3 member Damien Echols, conducted by Henry Rollins, who talks to Echols about “his life before and after his trial, including his spiritual and intellectual journey in prison as well as his wife, Lorri Davis, whom he met and married while on death row.”
  • Back in 2010 I announced that long-running web magazine Heathen Harvest, which covered post-Industrial and neofolk music, was closing down. Now, the site has returned at a new address, with new owners, and with the blessing of the original founder. Quote: “Heathen Harvest’s second major incarnation came into being on 4th July 2011, learning from the past by chiefly reviewing digitial promos and concentrating only on the most stimulating music received. The new site has been respectfully named The Heathen Harvest Periodical to distinguish it from the old website, which still remains archived at www.heathenharvest.com. We continue to cover all material from the darker musical underground and to serve the needs and works of musicians, artists, authors and journalists alike all across the post-industrial spectrum.” The new site can be found at: www.heathenharvest.org.
  • In other Pagan-friendly music news,  UK Pagan band The Dolmen have just released a new album entitled “Wytchlord,” while fellow UK Pagan artist Damh the Bard (a most excellent human being) is coming out with a new album, “Antlered Crown and Standing Stone,” on November 17th.
  • At the New Yorker, Michelle Dean wonders if the folkloric witch has been tamed to its own detriment. Quote: “But the witch is no longer terribly wild to us; she’s domesticated, normal, prone perhaps to a spell of madness but one from which she’ll emerge sunny and whole. She no longer signals a liberating spirit. Culturally, we have replicated witch-figures like Samantha of “Bewitched,” whose powers aid her in serving her husband. Our emblematic witch is Hermione Granger, who performs all the magic and takes none of the credit from Harry Potter. She is self-effacing and noble and never in any real danger of contamination by the dark. There are bad witches in Harry Potter, indeed, bad witches in many stories. But their cartoonish one-dimensionality cancels out any real portent. The internal conflicts go to Snape, while Bellatrix is irretrievable.” Dean feels we need the uncontrollable and unpredictable witch in order to do battle with those who seek to control women.
  • The Fourth Circuit Federal Appeals Court ruled that a prison does not have to provide an outdoor worship space for Asatru in prison, noting that there’s no authority requiring it. Quote: “A federal trial judge concluded that Krieger failed to show how the practice of his religion, which is called Asatru, was harmed by the lack of a worship circle outdoors. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the decision.
  • In a final note, tomorrow I’ll be heading to the American Academy of Religion’s Annual Meeting in Chicago. and I’m hoping to post updates during my time there, and bring back some interviews as well. You’ll also have regular updates from Wild Hunt columnists and reporters to read while I’m away. I’d like to thank everyone who funded this coverage trip back in April, and will do my best to transmit what’s happening in Pagan Studies and Pagan scholarship to you.

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.

A Few Pagan Music Notes

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  December 29, 2009 — 3 Comments

I’ve got some Pagan music news tidbits I thought I’d share, starting with a new album by UK Pagan folk-rock band The Dolmen (MySpace page). The album, “The Crabchurch Conspiracy”, deals with the battles of 1645 in Weymouth during the English Civil War, and features narration by historian Professor Ronald Hutton (author of “Triumph of the Moon”).

“Prof Hutton said: “This is a spectacular subject for a musical album, and one rarely treated in that form. “The Dolmen make the result work really well, alternating bulletins of real history with electric folk, from high-energy dance to lament, which the band has always played to perfection. “I felt both entertained and moved. “It seemed at times as though a real voice was being given to the dead.” The CD is released following efforts to breathe fresh life into the old town hall, where some of the battle took place.”

The lyrics for the album were written by historian Mark Vine, who authored a book on the subject. You can download the spoken forward by Ronald Hutton, here. There are also several music samples on that page as well. You can order the CD from their web site through PayPal.

Turning from England to my former home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, we find a profile of a new band called Cackle that are bringing a unique brand of self-described “pagan pop punk” to local stages.

“If you attend a live show, you might get asked to pull a tarot card from the deck, followed by a personal reading. You might notice a litany of lit candles twinkling about. You might even witness one of the members casting a circle of salt around the stage area to “keep all the good within and all the bad without,” says drummer Renee Bebeau. “We have to get the sacred space ready for rocking.” If you’re thinking it sounds like a witch’s coven, you’re not too far off base. These pagan performance elements aren’t random, they’re completely by design for a band that defines its genre as “pagan pop punk.” And while Cackle isn’t exactly chipper bubble gum pop, the music is far from the soundtrack to a dark, God-less existence.”

You can see a live video of their song “Nancy Reagan Was a Pagan” at their Facebook fan-page, their debut album is due out on New Year’s Eve. Details on how to pick up or download that album are no doubt forthcoming.

Netherlands Pagan goth-rock band The Dreamside released a new album on December 4th entitled “Lunar Nature”, available now from CD Baby, or for pre-order from Amazon.

“The music of “Lunar Nature” can be described as atmospherical gothic rock with a good mixture of heavy guitars, electronical elements and a proper shot of alternative rock. All this interwoven with Kemi Vita’s remarkable voice and her unique way to express emotions in very personal lyrics. “Lunar Nature” continues were the predecessor “Spin Moon Magic” ended. The album is full of diversity and therefore once more a typical output from The Dreamside.”

This is their first full-length of original material since 2005’s “Spin Moon Magic”, so fans of the band take note!

In a final quick music-related note, Pagan music scholar Alfred Surenyan is fielding a survey about Pagan music for a talk and eventual book on the subject.

“I am currently working on a paper on the Sustainability of Music in Paganism. This project is part of my work in Pagan Music that I have been doing for the past five years. I will be presenting this paper at the Pagan Conference in Claremont at the end of January 2010, and perhaps part of a future book on Pagan Music. In order to understand more on Pagan Music it is the community that would have answers and input. For this reason I reach out and ask members of the Pagan Community for some answers. I have put together a small survey of 10 questions, mostly short answers. If you have some time would you be able to take my survey on Pagan Music. It will not take more than ten minuates of your time and the answers will help me further my research on the ever evolving and growing of the music of our community. The link to the questions is just below this paragraph.”

The link to the survey can be found, here. I encourage all of my Pagan-music loving readers to fill it out.