A Few Quick Notes

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Just a few items to start off your week, beginning with a rather tragic update on the James A. Ray sweat-lodge death controversy. Chas Clifton alerts us that a third victim has succumbed to injuries sustained while in the sweat-lodge.

“An Arizona homicide investigation now includes three deaths after a woman died more than a week after participating in a sweat lodge ceremony that hospitalized nearly two dozen people. Liz Neuman of Minnesota died Saturday at a Flagstaff hospital, Yavapai County sheriff’s spokesman Dwight D’Evelyn said. The 49-year-old suffered multiple organ damage during the Oct. 8 ceremony at a resort near Sedona, a resort town 115 miles north of Phoenix that draws many in the New Age spiritual movement. Authorities were treating all three deaths as homicides, but no charges have been filed.”

According to the report, Neuman was a true-believer in Ray’s teachings, attending several of his workshops and leading a local Ray-centric discussion group. One wonders how long before Ray’s time gallivanting to speaking engagements and describing these deaths as a “test” for him will come to an end, and he’s brought in for questioning.

Turning to something a bit more pleasant the Pagans for Archeology blog interviews scholar Susan Greenwood concerning her upcoming book “The Anthropology of Magic”.

“When Berg first invited me to write a book on anthropology and magic I didn’t initially think much about it as a project, but after a while I realized that as an undergraduate, and as a postgraduate doctoral student, I’d really struggled to find anything that tackled the issue of the experience of magic. Since childhood, I had always felt a sense of magic – the thrill of a thunderstorm, the fascination with being in nature, and the ‘make-believe’ of creating stories in my head. When I was older I had explored witchcraft and went to university as a mature student to find out more about my magical experiences. During a final year anthropology and sociology project on women’s spirituality I realized that I wanted to explore magic through PhD research (this ended up as Magic, Witchcraft and the Otherworld). During my time of studying I found books that were helpful in some ways but nothing that really dealt with the issues of studying the experience of magic. I wrote The Anthropology of Magic in the hope that it might help students and others to think about magic as an aspect of consciousness – it was the book that I’d wanted when I first started studying anthropology.”

The whole interview is well worth a read, and you may also want to check out Greenwood’s previous works “The Nature of Magic: An Anthropology of Consciousness“, and “Magic, Witchcraft and the Otherworld: An Anthropology“.

In a final note, we have yet more crazy from our favorite Australian crazy, Danny Nalliah, head of Catch the Fire ministries. I’ve indirectly mentioned him a couple times recently, but this one deserves full credit.

“Media reports of this “prayer offensive” have become the darling of the off-beat section, ridiculing the event and its prayer vs. black spells premise. But this being the age where you can be believe in spells and be totally in touch with media and the interwebs, Catch the Fire has cottoned on to the rest of Australia’s mocking pretty quickly (see here).  In response, Pastor Danny went on radio to explain this act of “spiritual warfare”. He said witches have cast spells on our politicians to make more liberal laws about homosexuals and abortions and if we don’t do something soon (like a mass prayer to ask God to get back on our side) we’re going to have more natural disasters, including bush fires.”

As for his spiritual warfare? Don’t worry, his fifty-member team was vastly outnumbered by protesters sporting slogans like “I am what you are afraid of”, easily counter-acting his malfeasance (though they claim to have The Holy Spirit accomplished “great and mighty things”). So the liberal laws (and brush fires I suppose) will no doubt continue!

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