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.
- Ready for another television show about witches and witchcraft? How about a revisionist one set in Salem during the 17th century? Enter: “Salem,” a new cable television show in production for WGN America. Quote: “Set in the volatile world of 17th century Massachusetts, Salem digs deep into the dark, supernatural truth hiding behind the town’s infamous witch trials — separating the real witches from who they are perceived to be. The drama also centers on an epic romance wrapped around this explosive revelation.” The dark supernatural truth? Would that be that the victims were innocent? This show joins a rash of witch-hunting themed entertainments, including “The Conjuring,” and the forthcoming American Horror Story: Coven series.
- Philip Hoare at The Independent looks at the ancient history of the modern boutique fesitvals. Quote: “Festivals are nothing new, despite their contemporary popularity. In their own way, they’re race memories of remote pagan rituals, or of more recent gatherings. In 19th-century America, from the Appalachians to New England’s Cape Cod – the now rarified festival retreat for wealthy New Yorkers – there were extraordinary eruptions of outdoor religious revival gatherings during which huge camp sites were set up for six-day festivals of preaching and singing, day and night.” Hoare seems somewhat saddened by the “current bourgeois appeal of festivals” and looks back to the more anarchic festivals of decades past.
- Last week Barbara Mertz, an Egyptologist and author of several mystery novels under the pen names of Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels, passed away at the age of 85. Mertz’s book “Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs,” though a bit dated today, is still much beloved by many within the field of Egyptology. Dominick Abel, Mertz’s literary agent, said she was “a skilled novelist with an acute sense of character and humor, Barbara prized honesty above all, in life as well as literature. Barbara was passionate about many things — Egypt, literature, gardening, cats, politics, family, gin. She was one of the most interesting people I have ever known. I will miss her.”
- Pasedena City College professor Hugo Schwyzer, who had an very public meltdown on Twitter last week, is drawing comment from conservative Christians who say his behavior is the result of a, wait for it, “neopagan” sexual culture. Quote: “Patrick Fagan, a researcher on pornography and director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) at the Family Research Council, told The Christian Post on Tuesday that the actions of Hugo Schwyzer, gender studies professor at Pasadena City College, demonstrate ‘the collapse of civilization and the abrogation of reason.’ ‘I’d call it Neo-Pagan,’ he explained, referring to the prevalent sexual culture. The scholar compared the present age with the era of an early persecuted Christianity in Pagan Rome.” This is not the first time Fagan has rung this bell. Just another opportunity to use “pagan” as a slur, as a umbrella term for the enemy “other.”
- In an article for The Humanist,Namit Arora ties the West’s attitudes towards animals with the dominant monotheisms. Quote: “Depending on whom you ask, Western monotheistic religions, while seeing humankind as God’s special creation, ranged in attitude from passive disaffection to active malice towards animals [...] Western monotheisms have long seen animals as dispensable for human interests, desires, and whims.”
- The BBC reports on the abolishment of punishments for the practice of Obeah in Jamaica, and whether this development will lead to a resurgence of the practice. Quote: “Until recently, the practice of Obeah was punishable by flogging or imprisonment, among other penalties. The government recently abolished such colonial-era punishments, prompting calls for a decriminalisation of Obeah to follow. But Jamaica is a highly religious country. Christianity dominates nearly every aspect of life; and it is practiced everywhere from small, wooden meeting halls through to mega-churches with congregations that number in the thousands.” More on Obeah’s history, here.
- Is Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker, a favorite to win a Senate seat for the Democratic Party, a stealth Religious Right candidate? Quote: “Cory Booker is very, very tight with the religious right wing — but he’s also very careful about what he says, since he hopes to run for president one day and cultivates strong LGBT support. The problem is, he hangs with the Dominionists [...] So here’s the question: Does Cory Booker simply cultivate useful relationships with a lot of un-American, unsavory, pro-corporatist, right-wing religious extremists — or is he one of them? I can’t read his mind, but I’ve had enough of giving so-called Democrats the benefit of the doubt on this stuff.” Is this all mere speculation? Talk2Action has some more background. All I know is that the New Apostolic Reformation is bad news, and some deeper questions should be asked of Booker if he’s truly allied with them.
- Welsh, one of the surviving Celtic languages, is in trouble. Quote: “Only half of 16 to 24-year-olds consider themselves fluent, compared with two-thirds of over 60s, and only a third of the younger generation use Welsh with their friends In the language’s stronghold of Carmarthenshire there were five electoral areas where more than 70% of the people spoke Welsh in 2001, now there are none. The statistics have led to calls to protect the language, and 84 per cent of people indicated that they would welcome the chance to use it more.” The article notes that living next to a “language superpower” makes preservation difficult. Let’s hope things don’t get as bleak as it once did for Cornish.
- Practicing Witchcraft isn’t actually legal grounds to have your children taken away, no matter how much some would wish it to be so. Quote: “‘Nobody was able to articulate specific crimes associated with the ideology,’ wrote one officer. ‘Nobody on scene was able to articulate specific reasons (to remove the daughter) besides the religious views of the (boyfriend). All parties were advised that religion was constitutionally protected.’”
- The Pew Forum asked various religious leaders about the morality of life extension, and while they didn’t talk to any Pagans, they do interview Unitarian-Universalist, Hindu, and Buddhist leaders. Quote: “According to Michael Hogue, associate professor of theology at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, a Statement of Conscience on life extension ‘would probably come down [against it].’ Opposition would likely stem from ‘ecological concerns as well as concerns about economic justice,’ he says, referring to the environmental impact of faster population growth and the possibility that only the wealthy would be able to afford life-extension therapies.” Hindus, on the other hand, maybe be OK with life extension. Quote: “According to Arvind Sharma, a professor of comparative religion at McGill University in Montreal who has written about Hinduism and life extension. ‘The normal blessing in Hinduism is ‘Live long.’ So why not live longer?’ he says.”
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.