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, more than our team can write about in depth in any given week. Therefore, the Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up.

  • Today marks the 25th anniversary of the death of Scott Cunningham, one of Wicca and Witchcraft’s most prominent figures. Over his career, Cunningham authored more than 30 books of which the most well known is Wicca: a Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. Through that work alone, he made solitary Wiccan practice more visible, more credible, and more accessible. Cunningham died in 1993 of an AIDS-related illness. His legacy has not diminished, being carried along through his writing.
Scott Cunningham

Scott Cunningham.

  • This coming weekend marks several seasonal celebrations, including the Christian holiday of Easter and the Jewish Passover. Sunday is April Fool’s Day, and Saturday March 31 marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s last Sunday church sermon. In an article for Religion News Service, Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith reflects on King’s speech and how it still remains relevant today. He writes, “When King preached at Washington National Cathedral on March 31, 1968, nobody knew it would be the last Sunday sermon he would ever give. His “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution” sermon has taken on even more significance because of that. In fact, his words delivered that Sunday morning are as alive and relevant today as they were a half-century ago.”
  • Speaking of Easter, another RNS writer, Jonathan Merritt, wonders: why isn’t there a war on Easter? Merritt writes, “In a moment when breathing air seems to stir controversy, Easter has somehow avoided it. Which is especially interesting once  you recall that Christmas — the only Christian holy day more popular than Easter — has somehow become a recurring scandal.” He speaks with Dr. Gerry Bowler, a historian who specializes in religion and popular culture.
  • Moving outside the U.S. to Lithuania, which is sometimes dubbed in the media as the last Pagan country, there seems to be, as reported in the BBC, a cultural obsession with bees. Journalist Will Mawhood writes, “Lithuanians don’t speak about bees grouping together in a colony like English-speakers do. Instead, the word for a human family (šeimas) is used. . . . and if you want to show a new-found Lithuanian pal what a good friend they are, you might please them by calling them bičiulis, a word roughly equivalent to ‘mate,’ which has its root in bitė – bee. In Lithuania, it seems, a bee is like a good friend and a good friend is like a bee.” Mawhood goes on to discuss the roots of this cultural nuance and the countries well-known Pagan traditions.
  • While indigenous, folk, and magical traditions are openly practiced in some parts of the world, other regions see complications and problems. That is continues to be the case in sub-Saharan Africa. According to recent reports, 23 Ugandan radio stations were shut down for “promoting Witchcraft.”  According to news reports, the airwaves commission said in a statement that “despite these several warnings, [the stations] have continued to advertise and promote witchcraft in contravention of section 2 of the witchcraft act,” despite warnings. Similar to other countries in the region, the Ugandan government has strict anti-Witchcraft laws to curb abuse, fraud, and violence. Ghana is reportedly having similar problems with television stations.
  • Africa is not the only region in which Witchcraft abuse continues to make headlines. In Nepal, provincial government officials have stepped in to provide support for Radha Chaudhary, an 18-year-old girl who was beaten after being accused of Witchcraft. According to the reports, she was beaten for six hours by a local shaman in the region of Kailali. Not only has the regional government stepped in to pay medical expenses for her care, but officials have also launched an investigation into the city’s involvement. According to reports, the mayor has been charged with protecting the attackers. The provincial government’s actions mark a shift in handling Witchcraft-related abuses against women and girls.
  • By contract, in Australia, Fleassy Malay, a poet and performer, has been gathering attention after producing a short video performance of her poem “Witches.” The inspirational piece begins: “In the past, they burned us, because they thought we were witches. Just because we knew what to do with herbs outside of the kitchen.” The performance runs three minutes, 45 seconds and can be viewed on YouTube. Look for our upcoming interview with Malay next week.

  • The New York Times dove into the debate on the use of mythology and esoteric symbols in an article titled, “Who owns the Vikings? Pagans, Neo-Nazis, and Advertisers Tussle Over Symbols.” Here’s a quote: “Amid a boom in Viking-inspired TV shows and films — and a corresponding surge in Viking-inspired tourism and advertising campaigns — there is increasing tension and social unease over the use of various runes, gods, and rituals from the Viking era.”
  • World Religion News just simple says, “Stop Making Fun of Wiccans.”