Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

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There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans and Heathens out there, sometimes more than our team can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up. 

In Religious Freedom News...

The Satanic Temple logo

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Announced in late January, The Satanic Temple was given the go-ahead to prepare an invocation to be read before the Feb. 17 Phoenix city council meeting. After that announcement was made, there was immediate backlash. On Fri Jan 29, council members Sal DiCiccio, Jim Waring, Bill Gates, and Michael Nowakowski proposed legislation to prevent TST from being able to deliver an invocation. DiCiccio tweeted, “Political correct PHX pushing satanist to speak at city invocation about to get pushed out. This is not about “diversity”but about stupidity.” They issued a request for “emergency measures” to block the TST invocation.

However, according to local news sources, the Mayor and other council members do support TST’s inclusion. The other council members are quoted as saying, “every religious group has the right to take a turn delivering the invocation.” Mayor Greg Stanton stated that, although he disagrees with the group’s message, “the Constitution demands equal treatment under the law,” and the city attorney agrees. In response, DiCiccio tweeted, “Given City Atty ruling next step by politicians supporting satanist prayer is to BAN all prayers giving satanist win.”

The Satanic Temple itself has not remained quiet during this weekend’s scrambling. On Feb 2, the organization tweeted, “[The Satanic Temple] will sue if not allowed to deliver the #Phoenix city council invocation.” However, TST is ultimately expecting a positive outcome from the vote on DiCiccio’s emergency proposal. TST explained that it will be pleased with two of the three outcomes – a full ban on religious prayer before meetings or with the right to deliver the scheduled Feb. 17 invocation.

The council is due to vote on the emergency measure today, Feb. 3.

In Other News:

  • Turkey is hoping to increase tourism by preserving the “oldest temple in the world.” The ancient site at Göbekli Tepe is believed to be more than 12,000 years old. Led by German archaeologists, initial excavations began in 1995 and, according to National Geographic, “changed the way archaeologists think about the origins of civilization.” Since that point, better roads, a gift shop and a parking lot have been added to the area so tourists can easily visit the ancient site. Now, there are new plans to encourage more tourism and protect the site itself. According to the article, plans include “building a new, larger visitor’s center and protective canopies for the structures that have already been uncovered, along with walkways and fencing to help manage tourism’s impact on the ancient enclosures.” This all comes during at a time when Turkey has been struggling with the Syrian refugee crisis.
  • Fires have been raging across Tasmania’s central plateau, an area recorded as a World Heritage Site. The fires have completely devastated 1,000 hectares to date which have impacted local animal life as well as “unique alpine flora including pencil pines, king billy pines and cushion plants, some more than 1,000 years old.” According to the local news, many of these plants do not come back after fire. They are simply gone. Ecologist Jamie Kirkpatrick is quoted as saying, “We need for people to understand that this is not a natural event.” At this point in time, the full extent of the damage is not yet known, but experts are calling this a possible “system collapse,” and are saying that this incident is a “sign of a changing climate.”
  • Speaking of forests, The New York Times recently interviewed Peter Wohlleben, a German forest ranger, who believes that “trees are social beings.” Wohlleban wrote a book about his observations called, The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate — Discoveries from a Secret World. Written in a casual and simple tone, the book shares Wohlleban’s experience and notes on tree behavior gathered from his many years of being a forest ranger. At the beginning of the Times article, Wohlleban is quoted as saying, “These two trees are friends.” And then he explains, “You see how the thick branches point away from each other? That’s so they don’t block their buddy’s light.” To date, his book has sold over 320,000 copies worldwide.
  • In other international news, the Chiefs of Cameroon’s East Region have asked President Paul Biya for permission to use Witchcraft against the extremist group Boko Haram. According to a regional news source, a regional Governor Miyazawa from the North has also publicly called for the use of Witchcraft to stop the violence. In recent years, Boko Haram’s grip has tightened on the region, which is now causing heightened alarm among the local chiefs in the country. Cameroon is one of several countries in a coalition, led by Nigeria, to stop the extremist terror.
  • On Sunday, we reported on three women who are using Witchcraft to stop predatory housing practices in Chicago, Illinois. Interestingly, WITCH, as they are called, is not the only activist group capitalizing on the spirit embedded in the ‘witch’ to inspire social justice actions. In New York City, a group of young women have named themselves the Brujas, or Skate Witches. In an article in Dazed, this all-women’s skateboarding collective formed in order to support “friendship, and the radical potential of sisterhood to foster real support systems, outside the mainstream social norms. They see the preventative and healing power of friendship as a source of collective empowerment, especially in the context of Western medicine and philosophy, where it’s discouraged to tap into extra-spiritual realms.” According to the report, the skate crew is working to open doors for “Latino and POC skaters” as well as protesting “aggressive gentrification” in the Bronx.
  • The state of South Carolina has a long history of “Voodoo” practice, more specifically the Gullah Tradition. Last week, The State featured an article on its history and its place in modern South Carolina’s culture. The article concludes that, while there aren’t many rootworkers left in the state, the belief remains with many of those people living in low country. As quoted in the article, Dr. Elijah Washington, who is both a conventional doctor and a rootworker, said, “It’s not going away. It will never go away.” During this time of year, there are a number of Gullah Tradition festivals and events going on throughout the coastal regions of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.
  • An article posted on the blog ZenGardner.com explores “The Occult Universe of David Bowie and the Meaning of “Blackstar.” The singer and artist died of cancer on Jan. 10, leaving behind a legacy of 28 albums, film credits and more. In that blog post, Bowie’s work is explored with an eye for the occult including photographs and quotes. The ZenGardner writes, “While many of Bowie’s eccentricities could be attributed to drugs and rock and roll, one cannot paint a complete picture of this artist without mentioning his most enduring obsession: Western occultism.”
  • For those that follow the Pope’s activity, he’s due to star in a feature film. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film will be the “first-ever big screen role for the Bishop of Rome.” Pope Francis will play himself in the AMBI film Beyond the Sun, which will begin production this year. The article also notes that “all profits from the film will be donated to two Argentinean charities, El Alemendro and Los Hogares de Cristo, which aid at-risk children and young adults.”
  • On Feb 19, the latest Witch-related horror film will be released.  Rogers Eggers’ The Witch received accolades at the Sundance film festival and is being called “2016’s scariest film.” The Satanic Temple (TST) is also touting the film and will be offering advanced screenings on Feb. 10 in four cities. Why? In a press release, TST spokesperson Jex Blackmore said, “The Satanic Temple believes the movie will signal the call-to-arms for a Satanic uprising against the tyrannical vestiges of bigoted superstitions, and will harken [sic] a new era of liberation and unfettered inquiry.”  Here is the film’s trailer: