Guest Post: The Slender Man, Fakelore, and Moral Panic

[The following is a guest post from author and journalist Beth Winegarner. Winegarner’s latest book is “The Columbine Effect: How Five Teen Pastimes Got Caught in The Crossfire and Why Teens Are Taking Them Back.”]

On May 31, news broke that two 12-year-old Milwaukee girls, Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser, had stabbed a classmate 19 times and left her in the woods to die. Although those facts are startling enough on their own, much of the coverage has focused on the girls’ purported reason for the attack: they said they did it to appease the Slender Man, a fictional Internet character originally created by Eric Knudsen in 2009 during a Something Awful challenge. The Slender Man — or Slenderman, as he’s sometimes called — later joined the ranks on Creepypasta’s wiki catalog of fictional characters. Here’s what the site says about him:

Much of the fascination with Slender Man is rooted in the overall aura of mystery that he is wrapped in. Despite the fact that it is rumored he kills children almost exclusively, it is difficult to say whether or not his only objective is slaughter.

Guest Post: Teens, Alternative Faiths, and Misperceptions

Modern shaman and best-selling author S. Kelley Harrell’s new book, “Teen Spirit Guide to Modern Shamanism,” out May 30 from Soul Rocks Books, is a light-hearted and informative handbook introducing shamanism to today’s young adults and beginning seekers. Author and journalist Beth Winegarner’s latest book, “The Columbine Effect: How Five Teen Pastimes Got Caught in The Crossfire and Why Teens Are Taking Them Back,” addresses how certain interests — including alternative spiritualities like shamanism, neopaganism and others — have been unfairly blamed for teen violence. Kelley and Beth got together for a chat about alternative faiths, cultural misperceptions and the importance of trusting youth as they find their own paths. Beth: I know practitioners within Santeria and Palo Mayombe who say that those paths are gaining in popularity among teens. Are you seeing anything similar with shamanism?

Smart Voices on Satanic Stories

Satanism has been in the news recently, or more accurately, the ghost of Satanic hysteria has reared its head as two different murder inquiries offer journalists details that are sure to generate page-views. First, there’s the alleged murder of Corriann Cervantes by two teenage boys, with intimations of drug-use and the alleged intention to sell a soul to the Christian Devil. “Assistant Harris County District Attorney John Jordan disclosed details of the occult killing Tuesday but provided no explanation for what may have motivated the two boys or where their interest in devil worship had come from. ‘They discussed the fact that Mr. Reyes had sold his soul to the devil,’ said Jordan. ‘And if they ended up killing this teenager, it would allow the 16-year-old to also sell his soul to the devil.'”
Trials are currently ongoing in that case, with one of the accused being tried as an adult, and the other being held in a juvenile facility.

Pagan Community Notes: Heathen Census, Randy David Jeffers, PantheaCon Blood Drive, and More!

Pagan Community Notes is a series focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. Reinforcing the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So let’s get started! Results from the 2013 Worldwide Heathen Census have been posted at The Norse Mythology Blog. According to Dr. Karl Seigfried, who initiated the project, “the results will give at least an approximate answer to a question on the minds of many heathens: ‘How many of us are there?'” So what is the estimated number of Heathens worldwide based on the results?

Pagan Community Notes: The Columbine Effect, Alchemeet, Apolinario Chile Pixtun, and More!

Pagan Community Notes is a series focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. Reinforcing the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. Pagan Community Notes is just one of the many regular features The Wild Hunt brings you to help keep you informed about what’s going on in our interconnected communities. If you appreciate this reporting, please consider donating to our Fall Funding Drive (and thank you to the nearly 200 supporters who have already donated). Now, on to the news…

Journalist Beth Winegarner, who moderated a panel on Pagans and the press at the 2013 PantheaCon in San Jose, has a new book coming out in December that explores how different teen pastimes got “caught in the crossfire” after the 1999 Columbine High School massacre.