Quick Notes: Salem Psychics, No Unsacred Place, and Camelot

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  April 10, 2011 — 14 Comments

Just a few quick news notes for you on this Sunday morning.

The Issue of Salem Psychics: While I’ve been covering the back-and-forth over the issue of licensing psychics in Salem, Massachusetts, this Atlantic Wire does a darn good job of encapsulating the issue to date.

What the Fight Is Really About: Government regulation vs. the free market. The Boston Globe’sRob Anderson puts it into context. “While it may not be the most conventional of examples, the dispute is not all that different from the dilemmas cities have dealt with licensing other businesses like taxicabs,” he notes. “In fact, the episode makes for what University of Michigan economics professor Mark Perry calls ‘a good case study of occupational licensing, with economic lessons in barriers to entry, contestable markets, and government regulation vs. market competition.'”

Barring some major political or cultural shift I can’t see Salem returning to its far stricter licensing policies. The last battle over regulations in Salem back in 2007 got truly strange, and what we have now is a compromise solution. For more on this issue, see my Psychic Services and the Law series.

Checking In with No Unsacred Place: This past Monday I introduced the latest Pagan Newswire Collective topic-focused group blog No Unsacred Place. Now that we are a solid week in, I wanted to check back in as it “explores the relationships between religion and science, nature and civilization from a diversity of modern Pagan perspectives.”

This is a very impressive set of opening posts, and I look forward to many more. I hope that you’ll head over and check out No Unsacred Place, participate in conversation, and subscribe to their feed (or like them on Facebook).

Morgan, Merlin, Paganism: I feel somewhat silly writing about a show I’ve only seen brief clips of, but until the witch-heavy season of True Blood starts in June, Starz new series “Camelot” is the most pagan-y television show going at the moment. Anyway, the A.V. Club has a wrap-up of the latest episode (beware, spoilers!) and touches on themes of paganism, magic, and proto-feminism.

“I can’t help but wonder how this series would be had it gone the same route (perspective-wise, if not in execution) as Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon. Avalon made Morgan a distinctively more heroic figure than Camelot does, but there’s an argument to be made that this iteration of Morgan could have, and perhaps should have, been the entry point for the series. […] The show’s conflation of paganism and proto-feminism could be potentially problematic, but it recognizes that the mix of the two is a sociological product, not something to be admired or emulated. Morgan’s time in a nunnery, away from Uther, fostered a desire to both connect with and overcome her father’s place on the throne.”

I’m fully supportive of making Morgan the focal character. So much has been made of the Arthur-Lancelot-Guinevere theme in modern Arthuriana that more outside perspectives would be a breath of fresh air. In fact, a creative writer or director has dozens of viewpoints to choose from, and some of the more successful recent takes (like Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord Chronicles) took advantage of that possibility. In any case, I know this series has plenty of cheese, but I can’t help but anticipate when it’ll finally hit Netflix and I can watch it for myself.

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

Jason Pitzl-Waters