C.O.G.’s got a Blog and other Pagan News of Note

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Top Story: The Covenant of the Goddess (aka C.O.G.), an international organization of autonomous Wiccan groups and solitaries, has started its first official blog in order to spotlight its extensive interfaith work.

“I am happy to anounce that The Covenant of the Goddess has started a new National Interfaith Representative’s Blog. Four of our Representatives – Don Frew, Rachael Watcher, Rowan Fairgrove, and  youth representative Michelle Mueller will all be attending the Parliament of World Religions next week and reporting back on this blog.  Rachael has already made a perliminary post.”

As stated in the above excerpted press release, COG Interfaith Reports will feature coverage of their participation in the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Its first post, by Rachael Watcher, recounts how C.O.G. sponsored and facilitated the attendance of an Argentinian indigenous practitioner to the Melbourne gathering. In addition, Watcher is also coordinating with the Pagan Newswire Campaign’s Pagans at the Parliament project, and will be web-casting from the Parliament. I urge all of you interested in Pagan interfaith efforts and coverage of the Pagan presence at the Parliament of the World’s Religions to subscribe to their feed, link to the blog, and give them some feedback.

On a personal note, I’m extremely pleased to see C.O.G. take a big step forward in facilitating regular communication with the wider Pagan community. Even though C.O.G. has received attention in several published works over the years, many younger Pagans don’t know the great work this organization does in areas like interfaith, and fighting for equal treatment under the law. I hope this “big step” is just the beginning and that they’ll soon join other Pagan groups and businesses who are utilizing new media opportunities to make contact with our movement’s future.

In Other News: Influential fantasy author Robert Holdstock, best known for his Mythago Wood Cycle novels, passed away yesterday due to complications from an E. Coli infection. Holdstock, along with authors like Ursala Le Guin and Marion Zimmer Bradley helped break fantasy out of Tolkien mimicry, and pushed the genre in new directions.

“His Merlin Codex books are well regarded, but his most significant and lasting work is his Ryhope Wood fantasy series, beginning with the World Fantasy Award-winning Mythago Wood, (1984). This was one of the first post-Tolkien adult fantasy novels to have a contemporary setting. It was, like all Holdstock’s fantasy, deeply rooted in the traditions and botany of his native England, mixing Jungian archetypes with local folklore and a sprinkling of Lovecraft. It’s hard to overstate what a significant book it was—many people in Britain felt as if Mythago Wood was as revolutionary and groundbreaking in fantasy as Neuromancer was in science fiction that same year.”

It almost goes without saying that with the mythic themes Holdstock explored he drew a devoted Pagan audience, and that he also helped shape the “urban fantasy” genre that so readily mixes pagan themes into fictional settings. Our thoughts go out to his partner Sarah, his family, friends, and the many fans who are no doubt shaken by the news.

A story coming out of Uganda proves why laws against “witchcraft” (or any belief) are flawed. While the Pagans in South Africa are concerned that broad applications of such laws may curtail their religious freedoms, traditional indigenous practitioners in Uganda are concerned that malefic magic-workers are using a clause in the 1957 Witchcraft Act to escape prosecution.

“A group of children and traditional healers have petitioned Parliament to amend the Witchcraft Act 1957 to separate witchcraft from genuine traditional medicine. “We request the Government to amend the Witchcraft Act because witchcraft today is being practiced in the name of traditional medicine, which is widely acceptable to some Ugandans,” the petition read. The Act bans all witchcraft-related activities by imposing a life sentence or imprisonment of up to 10 years on anybody who threatens or causes harm, disease or death to others by practicing witchcraft.”

The current Witchcraft Act does not include bona fide spirit worship or the bona fide manufacture, supply or sale of native medicines”, so protesters are asking for a special court to try witchcraft-related cases in order, I infer, to root out the guilty and protect the innocent. However, the minute you set up special “witchcraft courts” to determine who is a “witch” and who is a “traditional practitioner”, you run into all sort of problems. Who will get to decide such things? Won’t such a process be politicized? A emphasis on education and law enforcement (not to mention stabilizing the economy) would seem better bets in addressing this problem, rather than swimming deeper into the murky waters of legislating belief.

In a ceremony on Friday the Collegiate Church, one of the oldest Protestant denominations in America, held a joint ceremony with Lenape tribal representatives to acknowledge and apologize for their part in the massacre and displacement of the tribe.

“We consumed your resources, dehumanized your people and disregarded your culture, along with your dreams, hopes and great love for this land,” the Rev. Robert Chase told descendants from both sides. “With pain, we the Collegiate Church, remember our part in these events.”

While some Natives were a bit skeptical of a reconciliation, both parties ultimately viewed this as a positive step forward in healing a painful joint history. To find out more, there is a web site dedicated to this process called Healing Turtle Island.

In a final note, it seems Heather Graham’s witchy practices, which I mentioned here before, are hitting the news-wires yet again (must be a slow news day). This time the money-quote seems to be her group’s pro-Obama workings.

“We sent Barack Obama positive energies, so that he would become the next president. I always liked magic. Now when I see Obama’s picture in the paper, I feel good.”

I really don’t understand why this is making the celebrity gossip-rounds again. Do people really think Heather Graham’s coven had anything to do with Obama’s victory? Or that Obama personally welcomed Graham’s magical help? Would this story be news-worthy if it was a small Christian prayer group? Maybe there are some folks mad at her pro-public-option television ad?

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