(Pagan) News of Note

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  January 22, 2009 — 3 Comments

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

Helpful tips learned the hard way: When a journalist is coming over to cover your ritual, try to avoid setting off the fire alarms with a thick cloud of smoke  from your cauldron.

No one anticipated the smoke alarm would go off in the middle of the moon ritual. As more than 20 witches, pagans and “alternatively spiritual” beings toss a scoop of their bad karma powder into a boiling cauldron, a thick cloud of smoke fills the upstairs room of Essential Elements Apothecary on a Saturday night. “Sorry, we’re still experimenting with the powder mixtures and room ventilation,” owner and herbalist Carmella Cook politely giggles after escorting the smoldering pot out the door.

I also wouldn’t use Oreos as the ritual “cakes”, but that’s just a personal preference.

Northwest University in Missouri announces a new book by one of their faculty that may be on interest to some of my readers here: “Cinema of the Occult: New Age, Satanism, Wicca, and Spiritualism in Film”.

[Carrol Fry] wrote the book to inform people about the backgrounds of occult religions and how films adapt them. Fry said he first became interested in occult religions when he produced a five-part documentary, “Creeds in Conflict,” for KXCV-FM, the University’s public radio station. He was also a big fan of horror films, which increased his interest in occult religions and how people do not know how many are out there. “You just don’t know occult religions are there until you see their footprints,” Fry said.

Sounds like Fry’s book would be an excellent companion to Douglas Cowan’s “Sacred Terror: Religion and Horror on the Silver Screen”, though with a hefty hardcover price of $59.50 I may wait for a paperback edition.

The opening of a new Pagan/occult supply store is usually good for a write-up in the local paper, and two of them have just popped up. One in Milwaukee, and one in Invercargill, New Zealand.

Her shop is already capturing a lot of attention from passers-by most of it positive. “Lots of people are interested, people from all walks of life … they’ve said it’s about time (a witchcraft shop opened). “We had one lady say she would not step foot in the shop and that’s fine, that’s her choice,” she said. Items on sale include sandlewood wands, crystals, rune stones, tarot and oracle cards, spell books, ritual incense, powders, herbs and potions for spells, and even old-fashioned brooms.

These sorts of stories are pretty standard “cover the new shop” type of deal, right down to the ubiquitous list of stuff they carry.

The cozy space sells aroma therapy oils, powders, bath salts, herbs, books, candles, spirit boards, jewelry, incense, pendulums, meditation CDs, poppets (voodoo dolls), cloaks, calendars, tarot cards, crystal balls, vintage collectibles and more.

See? Still, good luck to both shops. A little newspaper coverage, no matter how cut-and-paste, never hurts.

I told you about the pre-inaugural Pagan-led cleansing ritual, but did you know there was also a ceremonial “smudging” of the White House as well?

On Monday, January 19th at 6:00 pm, hundreds gathered at Dupont Circle for this frivolous, yet remarkable, ceremony. A shaman was there to perform the ceremony. Rabbi Sharon Klein delivered the invocation. Together with organizer, Kate Clinton, they took on the gargantuan task of cleansing the White House of evil spirits.  “Our purpose here tonight is to celebrate the end of the Bush regime with the saging of the White House”, bellowed Kate Clinton, kicking off the event before a crowd of about 2000 people. Kate Clinton had explained on the Rachael Maddow show last week that the idea arose out of a trip Bush made to Machu Picchu two years ago. After Bush spent time dancing with the natives there, a shaman was called in to “sage” the area and, thereby, cleanse it of evil.

Which brings us to the question: Will this be enough? Or will we see more cleansing rituals performed to wipe away the previous eight years of bad vibes (who knows, maybe the White House has already arranged things privately).

The Times gives a snarky review to the documentary series “Around the World in 80 Faiths”, finding that it gives off a “slick cultural tourist” air, though the reviewer did like the Vodou practitioners in Benin.

For myself I was more taken with voodoo worshippers of Benin, who are at least honest enough to invent gods in the express hope that they will reward them with wealth, health, sexual potency and partners. “I just can’t believe mixing a female lizard’s intestines with a male’s is going to sort my love life out. It’s going to take a lot more than that,” said Owen Jones, not for the first time revealing more than we strictly needed to know about his personal life.

For more on this series, specifically its interactions with modern Pagans, check out my previous coverage.

In a final note, check out this blog post by regular Wild Hunt commenter Pax about invoking the Pagan dollar.

We are facing some of the worst economic times, certainly in my lifetime, and it just seems to me as if we, as a community, haven’t really been talking about this.  I say this as someone who is a self-confessed blog-a-holic, a member of multiple yahoo-groups, and an avid surfer of the Internet, and who is not all that hard to track down either in his local community or by friends nationwide.  I’ve seen some small mention of individual challenges and responses to the hard times we are in, but nowhere have I seen discussions of how we as a community can face and deal with these troubled times.  I think it’s about time we started talking about this folks, because the tough times are not going to go away overnight!

Check it out, and give him some feedback.

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

Jason Pitzl-Waters