Quick Notes: Julia Roberts, Wyclef Jean, and the Abbey of Thelema

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  August 7, 2010 — 2 Comments

A few quick notes (with videos) for you this Saturday.

Eat, Love, and Pray to a Hindu God: News has been popping up all over the place concerning actress Julia Robert’s interview in Elle Magazine, where she says that she and her family are practicing Hindus.

“Roberts, 42, tells the fashion magazine that she and husband Danny Moder and their three children, 5-year-old twins Phinnaeus and Hazel and 3-year-old Henry, all go to temple to “chant and pray and celebrate.” “I’m definitely a practicing Hindu,” says Roberts, who grew up with a Catholic mother and Baptist father. That seems to make her the most famous convert since the late George Harrison, a member of the Beatles who embraced Indian mysticism in the 1960s.”

As the Politics Daily article points out, Roberts is hardly the first famous person to convert to Hinduism. But those converts weren’t about to release what is expected to be a major blockbuster picture, that grew from an already popular Oprah-approved memoir, that features praying at an Indian Ashram (and later studying with an Indonesian medicine man) as a central focus of the book. Bali has already seen a tourism boom, and I can imagine India has as well. The real question at this point is will this film, and the high-profile conversion of its star, create a new Western Hindu “boom” in America? It isn’t the first time such a thing has happened, and the reverberations of such a resurgence could have interesting effects on trends within modern Paganism. Will we see a more robust Indo-Paganism rise from all the eating, praying, and loving?

He Wants to Be President: So it’s official. Hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean is going to run for the presidency of Haiti. Time Magazine says that Jean could be the factor that engages the Haitian diaspora and creates a new relationship between Haiti and the United States.

His presidential run, win or lose, could build a long-awaited bridge between Haiti and its diaspora: a legion of expatriates and their progeny, successful in myriad fields, who number more than a million in the U.S. alone. International aid managers agree that Haiti can’t recover unless it taps into the education, capital, entrepreneurial drive and love for the mother country that Jean epitomizes — even if his French (one of Haiti’s official languages) is poor and his Creole (the other) is rusty. “A lot of Haitians are excited about this,” says Marvel Dandin, a popular Port-au-Prince radio broadcaster. “Given the awful situation in Haiti right now,” he says, “most people don’t care if the President speaks fluent Creole.”

This decision has come with criticism, including from his longtime friend and band-mate Pras, who is backing Jean’s opponent, Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly (also a musician), in the November elections. What isn’t clear is where various candidates stand on the question of religion in that country, and how their win would affect Haiti’s Vodou community. Jean’s grandfather was a Vodou priest, but that isn’t necessarily an indication that he’ll concern himself with maintaining the fragile balance between Catholic, Protestant, and Vodou factions within the country. We’ll keep you updated as this election season approaches, and I’ll be looking into finding informed sources on religion and politics in Haiti.

Abbey For Sale: Have around 2 million dollars lying around? Want to buy Aleister Crowley’s Abbey of Thelema?

“The dilapidated, whitewashed Italian villa, set amid the hills of Sicily, was owned in the 1920s by Aleister Crowley, whose outrageous drug-taking, keen sexual appetite and interest in mysticism later made him a cult figure for the Beatles, David Bowie, Ozzie Osbourne and Iron Maiden. The cottage, near the town of Cefalu in Sicily, contains explicit, erotic frescoes of men and women entwined together, painted by Cambridge-educated Crowley when he lived there in the early 1920s.”

The property is in disrepair, and the locals are afraid of it, but estate agents are hoping it could be turned into a museum dedicated to Crowley (and thus attract tourists). Could a high-profile Crowley fan buy it and restore the murals? If not, there’s a very good chance this piece of occult/magickal history could be lost forever.

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

Jason Pitzl-Waters