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.
- A number of news outlets have focused on the story of Daniel LaPlante, a convicted murderer serving a life sentence in Massachusetts, who is suing the state for not allowing him items and foods he claims are necessary to practice his Wiccan faith. Quote: “In addition to oils, herbs, teas, and medallions, the lawsuit states Wiccan followers also need a certain type of cake each month. The cake is needed to “excite the senses.” In January, carrot cake with frosting is required, and in February, chocolate cake with frosting is a must; however, LaPlante is asking the defendants to use a less liberal interpretation of the term “cake.” [...] LaPlante also requested 10 different types of fruits and nuts, baking soda, black salt, flour, honey, molasses, oatmeal, sea salt, and sugar. He is also requesting outdoor space versus the prison basement in order to perform certain Wiccan rituals, as well as a communal meal on feast days.” I had no idea about this cake business. Have I been practicing Wicca wrong all this time? This is an issue I’ve touched on before, and a clear example of why Pagan organizations and clergy need to be more involved with prison chaplaincy.
- Religion News Service (RNS) interviews Candida Moss, a New Testament scholar at the University of Notre Dame, and author of “The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom.” Quote: “I want to understand what, from the ancient Roman perspective, was the problem with Christians. The Romans tolerated lots of religious groups. They only really acted in situations where they thought the group was dangerous, and Christians talk about their new emperor Christ. They talk about how they cannot respect the Roman government. A lot of them say they won’t join the military. They’re very subversive. But this is a world where religious freedom isn’t a right; it just doesn’t exist as a concept yet.” I’ve been reading this book, and so far it has been fascinating. An accessible counter-narrative to the mythologizing of Christian history.
- The UK is thinking of allowing humanist weddings, which would eliminate the need for a separate legally binding civil ceremony. Already legal and popular in Scotland, some worried that it will open the door to, gasp, legal Pagan ceremonies. Quote: “We have a fundamentally different marriage system to the one in Scotland, whilst they may be open to pagans, spiritualists and Jedi conducting marriages, we are not.” However, considering the rise of Paganism in the UK, it no longer seems so far-fetched a notion.
- If you’re a Witch, don’t treat the interns poorly. Quote: “I ended up interning for a witch at an artist’s nonprofit in an itty bitty town. She was actually a rat bone collecting, herb swirling, lighting sh** on fire demonness… AND a hot hot headed psychotic dick. Anyway, she took me to a beach one day, on company time, to tell me that she was in love with me but that I wasn’t allowed to fuck her because it would be an abuse of power on her behalf.”It gets worse.
- North Miami mayoral candidate Anna Pierre, an alleged former victim of Vodou-related threats, was apparently endorsed by Jesus Christ himself in the election (what a “get”). Sadly, she came in dead last. So either that Vodou was working, or Jesus didn’t really want her to win. I guess she could always take up singing again?
- A new documentary, The Art of Disappearing, tells the story of Haitian Voodoo priest Amon Fremon, who visited the People’s Republic of Poland in 1980. Quote: “What I did learn from the brief research I did on him, is that he believed that he was a descendant of Polish soldiers who were abandoned in Haiti, after the Haitian Revolution. They intermarried with Haitians, and may have established themselves at a settlement in Casales. And although they probably practiced Catholicism in the early days, some would later become practioners of Voodoo.” Sounds interesting!
- The definition of who’s an Indian in the United States is causing some heartache (and fiscal strain) as the implementation of the Affordable Care Act rolls out. Quote: “The definition of “Indian” in the section of the law that deals with the insurance exemption appears to be the same as the one in 25 USC § 450b. That means only members of federally recognized tribes and shareholders in Alaska Native regional or village corporations are considered “Indian.” But that definition is narrower than the one found in the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which was made permanent by the ACA. For example, California Indians with allotments have long been considered eligible for IHS care.” A hearing is scheduled to address these concerns.
- Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll is becoming this generation’s Pat Robertson. Quote: “He’s been heavily criticized by Christian voices across the spectrum, and according to reports, several attendees at the Catalyst Conference in Dallaswalked out during his talk. He’s even being marginalized by some Reformed Christians (i.e. Calvinists) who precipitated his rise to prominence. “I’m not a Mark Driscoll kind of Calvinist,” some have remarked to me.” There’s good money in being a divisive lightning rod if you can withstand the weather.
- StudioCanal has initiated a worldwide search for long-missing footage from the 1973 cult-classic film “The Wicker Man.” Quote: “Director Robin Hardy has endorsed a worldwide appeal launched by StudioCanal to locate original film materials relating to cult horror classic The Wicker Man. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the film about a policeman (Edward Woodward) sent to a remote island village in search of a missing girl, whom the townsfolk claim never existed. It also stars Christopher Lee. StudioCanal intends to mark the occasion by releasing the ‘most complete version of the film possible’.” There’s a special Facebook page created for the hunt. There have been a number of attempts to get at the “original” directors cut, with an “extended” version released in 2001 (and later packed in a deluxe box set). I’d love to see a high-quality restored director’s cut.
- “Evil spiritual entities” is not a real diagnosis. There’s no evidence base.
- Druid leader King Arthur Pendragon (no, not that Arthur Pendragon) is protesting plans to display human remains at the Stonehenge visitors center in England. Quote: “This is out of step with the feelings of many of the people and groups I represent, who would rather the ancient dead were reburied and left to rest in peace and, where appropriate, samples kept for research and copies put on display [...] We shall not take this development lightly and will oppose any such intention by English Heritage at Stonehenge. I cannot rule out non-violent direct action against the proposals.” As I’ve noted before on this site, there is no consensus among British Pagans on this issue, with many, most notably Pagans for Archeology, opposed to the reburial of ancient human remains. Read more about King Arthur, here.
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.