(Pagan) News of Note

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  June 8, 2007 — 2 Comments

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

A correctional officer accused of sexually abusing a girl for six years is in custody, and the police claims the man may have used the Wiccan religion to lure young girls.

“Loren Williamson, 33, was booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail on four counts of sexual conduct with a minor and three counts of child molestation. Police said the abuse started when the victim was 6-years-old and continued until authorities recently got a tip … Officers said Williamson was involved with the Wiccan religion and may have used its mystical traditions as a way to spark the interest of young girls.”

The police are currently trying to figure out if Williamson had any other victims, and are are looking to the public in the Phoenix, Arizona area for any information. You can find contact numbers at the link.

Is it still religious discrimination if you admit to illegal drug use as well? An Ohio custody case brought in as evidence the mother’s public MySpace postings that described a lifestyle of Paganism, S&M, and recreational drug-use.

“It had to happen sooner or later. Heedless of the consequences, a parent engaged in a hot custody dispute chatted away on MySpace, revealing her private life as a pagan, bisexual S&M enthusiast and drug-user. She even admitted that she had gone on a drug “hiatus” during her lawsuit, but planned to resume her old ways when the case was over … Based on the mother’s testimony and her MySpace revelations, the Common Pleas judge found her “lifestyle” unsettling for somebody raising a five-year-old, and the guardian ad litem appointed by the court to look after the child’s interests concurred, finding she had a better relationship with her father…”

The judge seems to have handled the information with care, saying the mother had every right to her lifestyle, but that the child was better off with the father. I agree that her religion and sexual practices should have no bearing on her perceived fitness as a parent, but admitting to illegal activities is no way to win a custody battle. Also worth noting is that the court ruled that anything you post on MySpace isn’t “private”, so if you’re in litigation be careful what you say to the world.

The Kalamazoo Gazette profiles the Paganstock festival in Bangor, Michigan. Unlike other Pagan summer festivals, Paganstock’s entertainment veers away from the traditional folk-and-drumming you’d find elsewhere.

“…a previous performer at Paganstock said: ‘This is the only place a pagan can be a pagan.’ The speaker was Roy Addams of Portland, Maine’s metal band 13 Winters, one of this year’s headliners … Most of the music will be hard rock or metal. ‘It seems a lot of pagan festivals in the past have had folk music, very mellow, a softer tone to it. … There are a lot of artists out there that have a heavier or different sound I’d like to showcase,’ Pulka said.”

Among the artists you can find at this years Paganstock include the rock/blues artist Dooley Noted, the metal bands 13 Winters, Urn, and With No Remorse, and the all-female rock band Burning Sage. You can find the Paganstock MySpace page, here. Could this be the beginning of Pagan festivals that attempt to appeal to an ever-growing younger Pagan audience?

A small-town newspaper looks at donations to library book sales, and what impressions the volunteers get from the different donations.

“A large number of books about cancer, books about healing, books about spirituality might imply that that book donor had gone through a troubling period in his or her life. “We got in a couple of boxes with tons of books on witchcraft and the Wicca movement,” said Ms Marshall. “We wondered if the person had become disillusioned with the whole Wicca thing, or had they just been doing research? The books were tossed in with a bunch of Dr Seuss books, and I thought, ‘I’d like to meet that person!'” she said.”

Personally, I have done a couple Pagan book-dumps to used book stores, usually stuff I feel I have outgrown, or to make room for even more books.

Disappointed that you didn’t get a chance to buy Witch School when it was up for sale? Well, Don Lewis, CEO of the online school, is now offering members the chance to buy stock in the company at only 25 cents per share.

“Shares represent a voice, and we are asking to be allowed to issue a total of ten million shares, though we do not necessarily plan to use all of them. But this allows us a high cap, so individuals who want to open their own licensed campuses, can easily become registered by Witch School International, Inc. … WSI is an entirely NEW COMPANY. WSI acquired the assets of the former company called Witch School. Now those assets are comprehensive. We are currently in our first round of requesting financing, and are looking for investors. You are receiving this letter because, having already purchased a Lifetime Membership we feel it is likely that you might be interested in investing in the school. During this first round the price will be 25 cents a share, plus a five dollar service charge. There will be no minimum, but there is a maximum of 1 million shares total sold in this first round.”

Alongside their Pagan penny stock scheme (for which they say they need to be extremely legit since they face discrimination “from within as well as without”), the school is also forming a relationship with The Grey School of Wizardry (co-founded by Oberon Zell-Ravenheart) and offering “Master Teacher Certifications”. Lest I be seen as “discriminating” against the school I’ll refrain from comment, though I think Caveat Emptor should apply.

In a final note, the BBC profiles the Spiritualist haven of Cassadaga, central Florida. The reporter finds that what you believe affects what you get out of a visit to the many performing psychics and mediums.

“The experience of Cassadaga seems very much to depend on the beliefs with which you arrive. The people I met who wanted and expected to contact their deceased family members did so and left with those beliefs reinforced. For the skeptical and curious little changed, but just about everybody enjoyed the peace and quiet of a place that feels a million miles away from the attractions of Florida’s theme parks.”

There seems to be a growing interest in the town, aside from the BBC’s report, the indie band Bright Eyes recently released an album that thematically centers around the Spiritualist camp. For more on Cassadaga, check out their web site.

That is all I have for now, have a great day!

Jason Pitzl-Waters