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There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up.
- According to a Gallup poll, confidence in organized religion has reached an all-time low in the United States. Only 44% of those polled had a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in “the church or organized religion” today. Quote: “Two major findings apparent in Gallup’s confidence in the church and organized religion trend are, first, the long-term decline in Americans’ confidence in this societal institution since 1973, and second, the suppressed confidence among Catholics relative to Protestants starting in 1981, and becoming more pronounced by 2002.” What does this mean for adherents to the “unorganized” religious movements like modern Paganism? Will this cause our numbers to grow, or will it simply mean the continued ballooning of the “nones” (and will the UUA succeed in reaching out to them)?
- One of the individuals charged in Arizona’s crack-down on Phoenix Goddess Temple has plead guilty to “facilitation to commit illegal control of an enterprise.” Whether the temple was legitimate, or simply a smokescreen for a prostitution ring, has been hotly debated. A good exploration of the question can be found, here. PGT site, here.
- NPR correspondent Margot Adler, author of “Drawing Down the Moon,” reviews the newest installment of Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy, entitled “Shadow of Night,” follow-up to the hugely successful “A Discovery of Witches” (currently being adapted for the big screen). Quote: “Since Matthew is a Catholic in Protestant England, and Diana is a witch at the same time that witches are being executed in Scotland, both are on perilous, constantly shifting ground […] the few things Matthew and Diana learn are so deeply disturbing and unexpected that my own wavering over this sequel ended. I am now eager to read the last installment.” The Witches in the All Souls world are a mish-mash of religious Witchcraft/Wicca and folkloric/fantasy tropes. It should be interesting to see how that gets adapted to the big screen.
- The San Diego Comic-Con International is underway, as is lots of speculation over what new projects will be announced. Popular comic rumors and news site Bleeding Cool predicted that a new “Sandman” series written by Neil Gaiman and drawn by JH Williams III (of “Promethea” fame) was being finalized. This has since been confirmed by Gaiman himself, check out some advance artwork, above. For anyone who loves occult and myth-drenched comic books, this is a mind-blowing development, sure to spark an intense reaction from fans. Expect more from me on this topic in the weeks to come.
- Last year I linked to a news story about a brawl that took place between Laurie “Lorelei” Stathopoulos of Crow Haven Corner and Joanna Thomas of New England Magic in Salem, Massachusetts. Now, court proceedings for that case have finally happened, with Stathopoulos admitting to the assault, and given a fine and unsupervised probation for two years. Quote: “The judge ordered her not to have any contact with Thomas and her store, whether face-to-face or through social media, and added a specific warning about indirect contact through third parties, including the dozen or so witches who filled three rows in the courtroom yesterday.” Stathopoulos had “the support of the Wiccan community” according to her lawyer, Scott Dullea.
- The owner of a botánica (shop that sells folk medicine and ritual supplies, often for practitioners of Santeria and related faiths) in Inwood, New York, has been accused of hiring a hitman to kill a teenager he allegedly sexually abused in order to prevent him from testifying. Instead, the allegedy hitman informed on the owner, and he’ll no doubt be spending a long, long, time in prison if convicted on all counts.
- UK-based Druid Priest Cat Treadwell, a Trustee of The Druid Network, recently released a book entitled “A Druid’s Tale” and is setting off on a European promotional tour for it. Quote: “Having just returned from the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge, as well as being a professional ritual celebrant she aims to dispel myths and the “old men in white robes” stereotypes that still surround druidry.” You can learn more about the book, here.
- FrontPage Magazine recently published an article claiming that a prominent Saudi Muslim cleric is pushing to have the Great Pyramids destroyed as “symbols of paganism.” The inference is that with the new Muslim Brotherhood president, this will now become a reality. However, it was quickly established that the quoted invective against the pyramids was a hoax (more here), and there are no signs that the pyramids are in any danger. Kemetic reconstructionist Rev. Tamara L. Siuda pointed out that “if millennia of nature, dynamite, and armies can’t remove the Pyramids, I doubt they are going to be moved by a few people trying to stir up political controversy.” There are real tensions over Egypt’s spiritual and archaeological tourism industry, but the Muslim Brotherhood has actually been one of the factions that is trying to strike a balance between Islamic hardliners and a populace that is generally proud of their culture, history, and heritage. Plus, no country, especially one as fragile as Egypt is now, willingly throws away a multi-billion dollar industry.
- UNO’s Journal of Religion and Film’s latest edition includes a paper by Richard Lindsay on the film “Pan’s Labyrinth, “ suggesting that it “follows the narrative outline of Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey as experienced through the biological process of onset of menstruation in its young protagonist.” You can download the entire paper for free, here. (Hat-tip TheoFantastique)
- I give you Dan Halloran and his “twin cups of freedom” (you’re welcome).
- Taiwan holds its first same-sex Buddhist wedding. Quote: “A local Buddhist master supported Huang’s decision not only to wed, but to have the wedding as per traditional Buddhist standards. Buddhist master Shih Chao-hwei, professor at Hsuan Chuang University, said homosexuality is not prohibited in Buddhist teachings. “It’s difficult enough to maintain a relationship … how could you be so stingy as to begrudge a couple for wanting to get married, regardless of their sexual orientation,” the professor said in a telephone interview with Taipei Times.” Meanwhile, certain religions still think they can force their interpretation of morality and religion on the rest of us.
- Is the Chico Goddess Temple doomed? According to the Chico News and Review, noise complaints for an illegal festival held four years ago has led to a much larger struggle to survive and gain the permits needed to stay open. Owner Robert Seals thinks that hostility to Goddess religion might underlay the resistance he’s encountered in obtaining the permits he needs. Quote: “This is nothing new, worship of the Goddess, but it goes up against a lot of fundamental religions.” You can learn more about this struggle, and the upcoming appeal hearing, here.
That’s it for now! Happy Friday the 13th! Feel free to discuss any of these links in the comments, some of these I may expand into longer posts as needed.