(Pagan) News of Note

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  September 30, 2006 — 2 Comments

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

This week Roberta Stewart and Americans United have threatened litigation against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for stonewalling approval for the pentacle to be placed on Pagan veterans’ grave markers. Now the Rev. Pete Pathfinder Davis, head of the The Aquarian Tabernacle Church (along with the ACLU) has gone ahead and filed suit yesterday against the VA.

“ATC was the first federally recognized Wiccan church organization to request the U. S. Veterans Administration include the Wiccan pentacle emblem among the nearly 40 faith symbols that may be requested on the headstone or markers of deceased U.S. military veterans. The litigation in the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in Washington, D.C. will be in the rare and unusual form of a request for the issuance of a Writ of Mandamus, an order of the court directing the VA to act on the nine year old pending request and summarily approve the symbol. Mandamus relief has only been used three times in the history of the court. The petition requests the court direct the VA to do its duty by granting this petition without further delays. The Aquarian Tabernacle Church is also joined in this action by the Correllian Nativist Church of Albany, N.Y., another large Wiccan denomination and applicant, together with Scott Stearns, an ATC member and retired disabled Navy veteran, and the survivors of deceased veterans Abraham Kooiman and James W. Price.”

It remains to be seen how successful this tactic will be, or how this will affect the plans of Roberta Stewart, Circle Sanctuary, and Americans United.

The Toronto Star seizes on the journalistic perfect storm of interviewing a Witch, in Salem, on the eve of the city’s month-long October celebrations.

“…there weren’t any real witches in Salem in 1692, but there sure are plenty of them now – the local tourism bureau claims that 10 per cent of the population are “practising witches” (that would be about 4,000)…The town calls itself ‘The Witch City’. That would be Salem’s modern witch hysteria, and it escalates to scary proportions around Halloween, which coincides with Samhain, the Wiccan new year festival. People from all over the world – witches and non-witches – converge on the town for Haunted Happenings, a month-long celebration that includes parties, parades and other special events.”

Could Salem with its high density of Witches be the first town where modern Paganism really influences local politics? How long before we see a Witch becoming the Mayor?

While Salem gears up for Halloween (and Samhain), Fox Meadow Elementary School is experiencing controversy for canceling Halloween celebrations and replacing it with a “fall celebration” instead.

“Students, dressed in Halloween costumes, made signs with frowning ghosts and jack-o-lanterns. The signs read, “Save Halloween” and “We want Halloween.” When a television news camera began filming, the students began chanting, “Save Halloween.” Principal Jacqueline Hazen, in her first year as principal at the South Elgin school, said she canceled the Halloween festivities because they excluded children of certain religions and cultures…Some religious organizations frown on Halloween, as the holiday’s origins come from pagan rituals, symbolized by witches, devils and creatures of the night.”

The funny thing is that a “fall celebration” would most likely be just as “pagan” as a Halloween party. Then again, public schools have become expert at sucking the fun out of things kids enjoy.

While he was a committed atheist, Sigmund Freud also had a deep love for pagan antiquities.

“Freud was not alone when he entered the sea of dreams; his companions were the gods of Egypt, Greece and Rome. In the late 1890s, while writing The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud became an art collector, developing an obsession with antiquity, beauty, myth and archaeology that led him to amass a brilliant private museum of more than 2000 statues, vases, reliefs, busts, fragments of papyrus, rings, precious stones and prints. In Freud’s study at Berggasse 19, Vienna, every available surface was so crowded with antiquities that he barely had room to move.”

You have to wonder if things were a bit different, if he was born in a different time or place, would Freud have approved of the modern Paganism movement?

Denise Noe at MensNewsDaily peddles the old myths about black cats being sacrificed around Halloween.

“Unfortunately, for some of the small, furry, four-footed creatures that share our world, this season is one that threatens in a way that is all-too-real. The long association of witches and the occult with black cats means that not only are their paper likenesses harmlessly hung on walls but that some emotionally disturbed people ‘sacrifice’ them around this time. David DeWitt, Public Relations Director for Fulton County Animal Services in Georgia, explains, ‘I know that around the country, there are more cases of animal abuse involving black cats around Halloween.'”

Snopes.com reports that evidence was “inconclusive” that any sort of widespread danger to cats around Halloween existed. The Witches Voice spent years debunking this myth by publishing photographic proof that modern Pagans love their cats.

Finally, for those of you still “in the broom closet”, if the boss (or family member) hears the word “Wicca” and wonders what it means you can tell them its an acronym!

“Behind two strong efforts in the season’s first two events, the Valpo women??s cross country team is ranked eighth in the Women’s Intercollegiate Cross Country Coaches Association (WICCA) Great Lakes Regional Poll, the first ever ranking for the program.”

I wonder if there are any Wiccan members of WICCA? In any event, that is all I have for now, have a good day!

Jason Pitzl-Waters