Quick Notes: Ritual Killing, Burning Man, and Dominionist Debates

Just a few quick notes for you on this Tuesday. Animal Sacrifice, Factory Farming, and Palo Mayombe: Religion Dispatches has an excellent essay up by Meera Subramanian, senior editor of Killing the Buddha, on the recent case of William Camacho, a practitioner of Palo Mayombe whose barber shop was shut down after sacrificial chickens were found in the basement. Subramanian compares the actions of religions that engage in animal sacrifice to the factory farming industry, and suspects that public discomfort with one and not the other is all down to issues of visibility. “Last year alone, about eight billion chickens were slaughtered in the U.S., according to the USDA. So why does the idea of animal sacrifice so easily fall into the realm of heebie jeebies?

Quick Note: It’s More Than A Party

Reminder: We are in the midst of our second annual Winter Pledge Drive! If you value this blog, its mission, and its content, please consider making a donation to keep The Wild Hunt open, ad-free, and updated daily. Spread the word, and thanks to all who have donated so far! The Washington Post has feature up about the growing body of academic literature on the counter-cultural art and performance gathering known as Burning Man. “[Wendy] Clupper [is] among a growing list of sociologists, business professors, theologists and other scholars who view the event’s mix of hipsters, artisans, zany theme camps and outdoor art gallery as more than a party.

Burning Man, Paganism, and the Study of Religion

Greetings Wildhunt readers and thank you, Jason, for sharing this forum with me for a day. I’ve just published a book called Theater in a Crowded Fire that sets out to examine what people say, do, and think around questions of religion, ritual, and spirituality at the Burning Man festival. I could pepper readers here with dozens of lively stories about ecstatic bonfires, dusty temples, and wild propane hunts (and some of these tales are told in the book). (If by chance you’re not familiar with Burning Man, this is as a good place as any to start.) But instead, I hope you’ll bear with me while I put on my professor’s hat for a spell and wax academic about the links between Burning Man and Paganism, and in turn what I think this teaches us about the nature of religion and culture. No one I’ve ever spoken to (and I’ve been attending and researching this event since 1996) has ever come right out and called Burning Man a religion–Pagan or otherwise–and the event’s organizers have repeatedly stated as much for years.

Is Soup Good (Spiritual) Food?

New York Times travel writer Rachel Levin talks about her experiences at the “Soup” gathering in northern California. This pagan-ish Deadhead retreat is apparently becoming the latest thing in exclusive (invite-only) intentional community experiments.”What began in 1994 as a hippie-pagan outgrowth of the Grateful Dead tour has evolved into a family-friendly feel-good festival of eco-entrepreneurs and nonprofit executives, lawyers and doctors, Pilates teachers, politicos – and, at last count, 45 kids, happy to be dragged along to their parents’ party. Eighty-dollar passes are as hard to score as Willy Wonka’s golden tickets, and all proceeds are donated to a local charity. Last year, two recycled-paper tickets depicting smiley pink Buddhas arrived in the mail, inviting my boyfriend and me to “Lucky Soup 13.” As a buttoned-up Boston native, I’d always decided Soup was not my thing; but, for a second, I felt as if I’d won the lottery.”Based off the story of “stone soup”, guests are required to bring organic vegetables for a communal soup-feast, and the multi-day event culminates with a ritual.”THE true meat of every Soup is the Ritual.