(Pagan) News of Note

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

Two different Thelema-related publications hit the Internet this week, the first is the August 2007 issue of Agape (pdf), the official newsletter of the U. S. Grand Lodge of Ordo Templi Orientis. The second is the brand new Journal of Thelemic Studies, a publication dedicated to fostering “the most modern, current thought in the Thelemic community”. You can download the current issue, here. Of particular interest is an exploration of Thelema & Buddhism by “IAO 131”.

“Essentially, we can see the profound influence Buddhism had on Crowley, especially in the years immediately preceding the reception of Liber AL vel Legis. For this reason the importance of understanding the similarities between Buddhism and Thelema, which is based around Liber AL vel Legis, becomes particularly apparent. An understanding of Buddhism will complement our understanding of Thelema and, likewise, an understanding of Thelema will complement our understanding of Buddhism.”

The entire journal issue is certainly worth a read for insights into current thought within the Thelema community.

Another recent online publication of note is the Fall Equinox 2007 issue of the Global Goddess Oracle. This Goddess-centric e-zine features poetry, botanical lore, a moon schedule, and a brief rumination on “The Wicker Man” by Dianic Priestess H. Byron Ballard.

“I love that old cult film “The Wicker Man”. The beautiful children dancing the ring, the lovely chocolate hares (“not silly old rabbits”), the singing, the sheer screaming sensuality. There was also great appeal in a place, even though fictional, where Pagans and Pagan practices were in the majority, where school children learned the lore that modern Pagans teach their children at the quiet places at their own hearths. There are remnants of English folk religion in the traditional May Day characters–the May Queen, the Guiser, and the Old ‘Oss–that are appealing to my amateur historian side. And now there’s a new version, transported to America’s Puget Sound and tweaking the story to feature a matriarchal colony of beekeepers, whose culture is based on the workings of a hive.”

I love that old cult film too, but I would advice her to steer clear of the remake. For more Goddess-oriented essays and articles, you can check out the Lammas 2007 issue of MatriFocus Web Magazine.

The worlds of Paganism and fine art converge in the UK as Lithuanian artist Arturas Raila maps the “geo-energy flows” discovered by a group of Lithuanian Pagan dowsers in Allenheads. This is the final stop in his “The Power of the Earth” project which has traveled to Frankfurt, Berlin, Vilnius, and now Allenheads. The opening of each stop in the exhibition is inducted by a Pagan priest or priestess.

“A Pagan ceremony was performed high on the fell top overlooking Allendale at the weekend – all in the name of art. Lithuanian Jonas Trinkunas had been invited to Tynedale by his fellow countryman, artist Arturas Raila, whose work is currently on show at Allenheads Contemporary Arts. The ceremony he performed, helped by his wife and daughters, marked the opening of Raila’s exhibition.”

Now that is an art opening I wouldn’t want to miss. The exhibition will run through October 21st at Allenheads Contemporary Arts. In other fine-art news, the Philapelphia exhibition “Monsters from Under the Bed”, featuring Pagan-friendly artist Kimberlee Traub, has been expanded and extended till November 3rd.

Showing that every system has limits, an Odinist inmate’s appeal to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court to allow him a fire-pit in prison was turned down. Tony Lee Smith claimed that his Constitutional rights has been violated when the prison gave him a candle instead of allowing him a pine-wood fire pit.

“Smith, 38, said in the suit that state prison officials said he couldn’t have certain items connected with the pagan religion of Odinism, namely a pinewood fire in a small pit to observe certain rites, and use of a certain area of the prison for worship. According to the suit, prison officials instead gave him a candle. He was denied access to a worship area St. Clair Correctional Facility out of security concerns about potential violence against other inmates and because officials said the religion was a popular front for hate groups, according to the court opinion.”

Smith denies any involvement in hate groups, but despite this the courts ruled that the prison did not stifle his religious freedom by denying him the fire. Another recent case involving an Asatru inmate ruled that he could have access to runes. So it looks like somewhere in between runes and a fire-pit the balance is struck.

Finally, now that it is October the “silly season” of outrage over Halloween celebrations begins. Chas Clifton blogs about about a school administrator who has banned Halloween festivities and replaced it with a bland “harvest” rite.

“Cindy Kaie, self-righteous principal of Kohl Elementary School in Broomfield, Colorado, has decreed “no Halloween party” … The article was not exactly clear about the cause of the ban. Does “not leaving anyone out” mean “not offending rabid Christians”? Or what?”

Sadly this isn’t the only “silly” story about the forthcoming holiday, in the UK two retail giants have agreed to “tone down” their Halloween merchandise after they came under criticism from a Church of England Bishop.

“Bolton David Gillett claimed success Thursday in his efforts to bring a more positive spirit to Halloween. Gillett launched a campaign last year to persuade retailers to display products that sent a more positive message to children over concerns Halloween placed too much emphasis on the occult. English retailers Sainsbury’s and Asda told Gillett that they will be offering lighter fair this season.

Gillett is now turning his attention to the practice of trick-or-treating in an attempt to eradicate all fun from Halloween. Expect more “War on Halloween” from Christian crusaders on the right, and excessively sensitive folks on the left, in the weeks to come.

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