(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.

Police in San Diego are investigating the possible homicide of great-grandmother and Wiccan priestess Mimi Rohwer.

“San Diego County sheriff’s deputies found 75-year-old Mimi Rohwer dead in her mobile home early Wednesday morning … She “appeared to have some injuries” that could have been caused by either violence or an accidental fall, according to Homicide Lt. Dennis Brugos. Brugos mentioned no specific leads, but neighbors and friends told of recent feuds she had with a neighbor and a migrant worker who lived with her.”

Friend and fellow adherent to Wicca, Bill Eade, told the press that while he was sad, he knew her spirit would return in another body.

A case of grave-site disturbance during Halloween in New Hampshire, once theorized to be the work of some sort of occult practitioner, has instead turned out to be a trio of prankster teens.

“Police have arrested three teenagers in connection with the disturbance of a nearly two-century-old gravesite at the remote Bible Hill Cemetery around Halloween … At the time, Police Chief Brian Brown said he did not believe teenagers were involved. “If it was teenagers, they’d be talking.” That led investigators to study up on magic and witchcraft, hoping they’d find some link or motive in the case. But the suggestion that the body of a woman who died more than 180 years ago might be desirable to practitioners of witchcraft prompted a flurry of angry telephone calls from all over the country and Canada.”

One wonders if a “mea culpa” will be forthcoming from Hillsborough Police Chief Brian Brown for smearing Pagans and occult practitioners.

Thinking of banning fortune telling in your town? You better listen to the lawyer for Livingstone Parish in Louisiana first.

“Livingston Parish officials have been advised by their lawyer that they would likely lose a lawsuit over the parish ordinance against soothsaying. A Wiccan minister, Cliff Eakin, has sued the parish over the ordinance … Blayne Honeycutt, the council’s attorney, has advised council members to repeal the ordinance, a move that was to be considered Thursday night. He recently told the council it would probably lose if it attempted to defend the suit.”

Looks like Wiccans and other fortune-tellers will be able to play their trade very soon in Livingston Parish. Will this result in other towns withdrawing bans to avoid lawsuits? As I have stated before, look for the “psychic wars” to continue to rage as religious minorities who lean on income from divination to get along grow in size. For more on this specific story check out my previous post on the subject.

Over at the On Faith blog, Starhawk points out the problems of amending America’s Constitution to be more in line with “God’s law” (as Mike Huckabee recently claimed he wanted to do).

“It’s all very well to propose amending the Constitution to be in line with ‘God’s standards’ – the question is always, which God? What set of standards? And who gets to decide? I’m a Pagan. We have many Gods, with widely varying sets of standards. Are we going to amend the Constitution in favor of Hera, Goddess of marriage, or Aphrodite, Goddess of unbridled love? Do we mandate the wild, ecstatic worship of the goat-god Pan, or the more sedate contemplation of Sophia, Goddess of wisdom?”

Our founders knew that having a State religion could lead to State-sponsored oppression of minority faiths (at the time, it meant tensions between different Christian sects), its a shame that so many of our current politicians seem to have thrown away that wisdom.

In a final note, for those of you keeping track of religious freedom cases within our court system, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has given a definition of “religious exercise” within the constrains of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

“The Court of Appeals held that “religious exercise” means a particular practice within a religion – here attending group services – and not merely the general practice of one’s religion. So a substantial burden on that practice is enough to create a RLUIPA problem.”

In other words, prisons would have to provide proof that bans on group practice constitute the “least restrictive” method of providing adequate security. Expect several cases to develop from this new ruling, including litigation from incarcerated Pagans.

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