Halloween Hangover (Link Roundup)

Halloween just happened, and if you’re Pagan know what that means: a flood of “meet the Witches/Pagans” articles from a variety of media outlets. I would normally unleash the hounds, but they had a long night, so I’ll do my best to personally catch you up on the busiest media season for our family of faiths. Let’s start off with the fact that CNN’s Belief Blog featured a story on Pagans, complete with quotes from Clare Slaney-Davis, Michael “Pagan Theology” York, Holli Emore of Cherry Hill Seminary, Jenny “Researching Paganisms” Blain, and yours truly. Quote: Another key pagan belief is the freedom for each person to determine his or her own way to and view of the divine. “Paganism doesn’t put restrictions on what you can and cannot believe,” says Jason Pitzl-Waters, co-founder of the Pagan Newswire Collective and the pagan blog The Wild Hunt.

A Summer of Psychics

CNN got a bit of flak for doing a puff piece this past Thursday on psychic prognosticators making predictions about the American (and global) economy. Roger Ebert helpfully clarified that, “no, this is not an Onion news report” (a point reiterated by Sheril Kirshenbaum at Wired). Nicole Belle at Crooks and Liars calls the report “more insidious than stupid,” while Josh Feldman at Mediaite called the segment “the most mind-bogglingly idiotic thing I have ever seen on cable news.”
I’m not sure why this particular piece of filler should be the breaking point that makes critics groan and shake their heads ruefully. CNN has long dabbled in what I affectionately call “the woo.”

Catskill Appeals in Maetreum Ruling and other Pagan News of Note

Top Story: The Maetreum of Cybele, Magna Mater, who recently scored a major judicial win in their ongoing tax battle with the Town of Catskill, New York, is seeing the fight extended further as Catskill appeals the decision to let the case go forward. “As we reported in February, Judge Pulver’s decision was a big victory for the self-described witches of the Maetreum, who argue that the town treated them differently from other religious groups when it placed their Palenville property on the tax rolls […] Despite the appeal, Judge Pulver, who held a preliminary conference in the case yesterday, has set a date for a bench trial. Pulver will hear evidence in the case and rule on it himself on July 20.” Here’s a statement from the Maetreum of Cybele on the town’s appeal. “We learned this past weekend that the Town of Catskill appealed the Judge’s decision to the New York Appellate Court.

Quick Note: James Arthur Ray Trial Begins

Yesterday opening arguments were heard in the trial of New Age self-help guru James Arthur Ray, who’s charged with manslaughter after three people died during a sweat lodge ceremony led by Ray in late 2009.

Prosecutors claim Ray, 53, was reckless and that the lodge — made of willow trees and branches, and covered with tarpaulins and blankets — was heated to a perilously high temperature, causing the participants to suffer dehydration and heat stroke. […] “Three vibrant, healthy adults … entered a sweat lodge at a retreat center in Sedona,” prosecutor Sheila Polk said during her opening statement. “Each one was eager to gain knowledge and each was looking for wisdom and personal insight.

Vodou Killings, and Haiti One Year Later

CNN posted a special report yesterday on the anti-Vodou cholera murders, interviewing Haitian Vodou leader Max Beauvoir in the process. While this isn’t a new story for CNN, it’s important that Haitian Vodou voices are being heard one year after the initial quake almost completely destroyed the capital city of Port-au-Prince, killing over 200,000 people. For more video from Haiti, check out “Haiti: One Day, One Destiny” from the National Black Programming Consortium. The section dealing with Vodou, “Vodou and Haiti’s Recovery,” can be seen at The Root. “Haitian-American filmmaker Michele Stephenson traveled to Haiti on behalf of the National Black Programming Consortium to capture the struggles of Haitians a year after the devastating Jan.