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.
- Former Canadian Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, who oversaw Canada’s penitentiaries during a period when they eliminated all paid part-time chaplain services (starting with the Wiccans), effectively making government prison chaplaincy a Christian-only affair, has announced his retirement from politics. Quote: “Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has announced that he is retiring from politics and will resign as a cabinet minister and as member of Parliament for Provencher effective Tuesday, ahead of what is expected to be a major cabinet shuffle this summer.” I think it’s fair to say that Toews was a polarizing figure in Canadian politics, with his actions overseeing Canadian prison chaplaincy playing just one small part (for the record some of the changes for minority-faith chaplains were walked back after a lawsuit was filed). I can’t imagine minority-faith prison chaplains are crying any tears at his retirement, though actual policy probably won’t change much.
- Metal musician Kristian “Varg” Vikernes, a figure who personally fulfills all the hysterical negative Christian stereotypes about what modern Pagans/Heathens are, has been arrested in France over allegations that he was planning a “terrorist act.” Quote: “Black metal musician and neo-Nazi sympathiser Kristian “Varg” Vikernes was arrested in southwestern France on Tuesday after investigators decided he might stage a large “terrorist act”, Interior Minister Manuel Valls said. The police suspect the Norwegian national of planning a “massacre” and searched his house for weapons and explosives.” It is unclear if Vikernes is actually guilty of plotting a terrorist act, though it is clear that he’s a racist anti-Semite who plays the intellectual to give his noxious views a thin veneer of respectability. It’s sad that the term “pagan” even comes up in the context of his life.
- In December of last year I interviewed Feri initiate, activist, and now Wild Hunt columnist, Alley Valkyrie after she was arrested protesting for the rights of the homeless in Eugene, Oregon. Some of the issues Valkyrie and other activists were fighting for won, as chronicled here, but the trial over citations handed out last December is only now getting underway. Quote: “Protesters who were kicked out of a county-owned plaza got the first of what could be several days in court Monday as they sought the dismissal of trespassing charges that they believe violate free speech rights. No ruling was issued Monday, and the case will resume Thursday with attorneys delivering arguments on a defense motion to dismiss the charges. It is unknown how soon Municipal Judge Karen Stenard will rule on the motion.” A lot of the case hinges on alleged feces left in the plaza, something activists strongly deny, and the casus beli for their eviction. You’ll no doubt be hearing more about this in the future.
- As mentioned here recently, New Age guru James Arthur Ray is now free from jail, and CNN reports that watch-dogs are going to be monitoring Ray to make sure he doesn’t engage in the same reckless behavior that resulted in three deaths back in a 2009 “sweat lodge” ceremony. Quote: “They planned to confront Ray as he left prison and ask him to sign a “promise” to adhere to certain ethical practices. It was not immediately known whether they were able to do so or whether he signed. The promise also was sent this week to 160 other self-help practitioners — including well-known personalities such as Deepak Chopra, Ram Dass, Tony Robbins, Suze Orman, Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Phil McGraw.” The promise mentioned by CNN, and those who have agreed to it, can be found here. You can read all of my James Arthur Ray coverage, here.
- The Philly Post is still trying to figure out what Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput meant when he said that “many self-described Christians” are “in fact pagan.” Indeed, many people have been trying to grapple with the renewed interest in labeling things one doesn’t like as “pagan” (your humble hounds-unleasher included). As for the Philly Post, they’re pretty sure the Archbishop “wasn’t complimenting his fellow Christians.”
- Back in April, the sale of sacred Hopi objects in France went ahead despite protests from the Hopi tribe of northeastern Arizona, Survival International, and the actor Robert Redford, who called the sale “a sacrilege, a criminal gesture that contains grave moral repercussions.” Now, Survival International reports that at least one sacred katsina was returned by a buyer who participated in the auction to retrieve it for the Hopi. Quote: “M. Servan-Schreiber then bought one katsina at the auction to return it to the Hopi. He said, ‘It is my way of telling the Hopi that we only lost a battle and not the war. I am convinced that in the future, those who believe that not everything should be up for sale will prevail. In the meantime, the Hopi will not have lost everything since two of these sacred objects have been saved from being sold.’” A second katsina acquired at the auction by another buyer will be returned to the Hopi later this year.
- Are prisoners in the UK claiming to be Pagan to get extra benefits? Possibly! Though, this is a tabloid so no real data is given other than that self-described Pagans behind bars has nearly doubled to 602 since 2009. Quote: “The surge in paganism behind bars has sparked fears some may be converting for an easier life.” A Prison Service spokesperson noted that Pagan prisoners receive 4 days off per year, and no more.
- The New York Times profiles the Living Interfaith Church in Washington, a religion that embraces all religions, even Pagans. Quote: “Some of the congregants began arriving to help. There was Steve Crawford, who had spent his youth in Campus Crusade for Christ, and Gloria Parker, raised Lutheran and married to a Catholic, and Patrick McKenna, who had been brought up as a Jehovah’s Witness and now called himself a pagan.” One wonders if the local Unitarian-Universalist congregation wasn’t theologically inclusive enough? Religion scholar Stephen Prothero notes that “one reason we have different religions is that we have different rituals and different beliefs. Those are not insignificant.”
- Is 2013 the year of the Witch? Pam Grossman at the Huffington Post seems to think so. Quote: “As the year progresses I predict we will all more fully channel the spirit of the witch. Honoring the earth and our bodies; shifting away from mass-market medicines and agri-business toward natural healing and whole foods; sharing our resources rather than focusing on mere accumulation of goods; collaborating and communicating more openly; helping to elevate women and girls to equality all over the world: these are all grand workings of feminine magic that we are manifesting together.” Pardon me while I pick up every stitch.
- Lisa Derrick at La Figa isn’t fond of Rick Perry voodoo dolls, saying “they perpetuate dangerous, off-base stereotypes and do nothing to help either pro-choice factions or non-Christians.”
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.