(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.

Jane Baker, from the Australian paper The Yass Tribue, holds up Hypatia of Alexandria as a beacon of inspiration when confronting various fundamentalisms and maintaining independent thought.

“In a time darker than ours, a time when reason was held hostage to fundamentalism, when only one form of thought and belief was permitted, when scholars were denounced and their works destroyed, Hypatia kept teaching and standing up for reason. “Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all,” she told her students. Those words should stay with us when we read the papers, listen to the news, hear the latest demagogue spruiking his zealotry. We have to think. We have to question. We cannot accept what we are told without thought and consideration. That is what stands between us and the darkness of ignorance and fanaticism.”

Now that Hypatia’s story is being adapted into a film, one wonders if the famous Neoplatonist will indeed become a sort of Pagan saint, invoked against intolerance and religious extremism by a variety of groups.

Students from Pagan/Wiccan club and Native American club at Joliet Junior College, inspired by one of their teachers, joined forces to create a Relay for Life team and raise money for Cancer research.

“Students from the Native American Club and the Pagan Wiccan Club joined together to create the JJC Thunderbirds team for the All-College Relay for Life being held this weekend at Lewis University in Romeoville. In a final push to raise funds for the walk, they created an event – ‘Clips for a Cure’ – on the JJC bridge Thursday afternoon. Anyone donating a foot of hair to Locks of Love was eligible for a free hair cut; others were given a hair cut with a donation as small as $5. Hairstylists from J&M Hair Salon in Joliet donated their time and talent to the cause, cutting both men’s and women’s hair.”

Thanks in part to the efforts of these clubs, Joliet Junior College has raised over $25,000 for cancer research in the past two years. This is a wonderful example of young Pagans involved in making the world a better place, and showing that the future of our religious movement is in good hands.

The Florida Sun-Sentinel re-tells the myth of Eos and Tithonus.

“Naturally Tithonus loved Eos. Who could resist the love of such a beautiful goddess? Just as she does today, in those years long ago, Eos woke the world each morning with curling rings of light, and every morning she mystically brought the world out of darkness. Whenever Tithonus looked at her, he felt a glow, the way so many people feel at dawn – as buoyant as an April morning on those days when the first buds begin to bloom.”

Just the myth. No commentary, no moral lesson, just the story. If re-printing the great stories and myths in newspapers is a new trend, I approve! Perhaps they can run a serial of the Trojan War?

A Druid from Portsmouth has turned in his ritual sword to the police in order to make a statement on the recent growth of stabbing incidents in the UK.

“A Druid who had to fight a legal battle to get his sword back after police confiscated it has now handed the weapon in to promote world peace. Merlin Williams used his blunt sword, Taliesin, to create a circle of safety around members of the druid order at ceremonies … He said: ‘The thought to hand the sword in to police came to me when I was meditating and thinking about world peace and the stabbings you read about in the papers all the time. ‘I wanted to show that druids are peace-loving and although the sword was never used for violence, I thought handing it in to the police station where it was confiscated would be a good way of doing this. I also want to discourage others from carrying knives as it can lead to violence and people being hurt.'”

Williams is a member and chief bard of the The Insular Order of Druids, an organization that has had more than one run-in with the law over confiscated ritual blades.

The Oshawa Public Library in Ontario has generated a bit of scandal over providing a tarot workshop to local teens.

“It’s not often that a school librarian takes issue with a library program. But Oshawa’s Susan Packer said she was driven to act last week, after learning Oshawa’s public library will be offering tarot card workshops for teens later this month. “I believe that tarot reading is a dangerous practice. Teenagers who might attend the program offered at the library will be dabbling in the occult,” said Ms. Packer, who is the parent of three teenagers and a teacher-librarian at an Oshawa elementary school … Ms. Packer shared her concerns with the Durham District School Board and sent a letter to the library board and local politicians last week, asking that the program be dropped.”

While such a controversy might have played out differently in America, it seems that Canada has little tolerance for religious hysteria. A librarian at OPL said that “we don’t let small groups of people dictate what large groups of people can see or do or learn”, and they plan to go ahead with the workshop. The workshops are being held on April 19th and 26th, and will feature Zsuzsana, author of “The Now Age”.

In a final note, a couple people passed along a link to a story from late last year that I missed. It concerns an ongoing rivalry between two Baltimore candle stores on the same street “Grandma’s Candle Shop” and “Lucky Star Candles: Home of Old Grandpa.”

“Grandma’s and Grandpa’s have both been caring for the spiritual health of downtown Baltimore for three decades, squabbling like an old married couple the whole time. The feud isn’t as hot as it was when Old Grandpa ran his store, but despite their similarities, there’s no love lost between the candle merchants.”

This story has it all: drama, allegations of intellectual property theft, bad blood, and different religious backgrounds (Grandma’s is Pagan-friendly, Grandpa’s is decidedly Christian in tone). Both uneasily co-exist while selling mojo and magical supplies to the locals. A must-read!

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