Unleash the (Holiday) Hounds! (Link Roundup)

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up. This week, I unleash the special yuletide holiday hounds (they’re like the regular hounds, but with festive accessories) and bring you a collection of links that leans towards matters seasonal.

The Christian Post interviews Pagan scholar Chas Clifton about the pagan roots of many holiday traditions, noting that “all celebrations having to do with light and the sun have a pre-Christian origin.” Over at his personal blog, Chas further meditates on the Christmas holiday, saying he feels sorry for the Christian clergy who have to battle the real threat to folks celebrating the incarnation of Jesus, consumerism.

Alters Your Mind, Causes Cancer

Just months after a team of neuroscientists found that frankincense biochemically relieves anxiety, a new team of researchers have come forward to say that there is a link between heavy incense use and respiratory cancers.Frankincense resin.”In a study of more than 61,000 ethnic Chinese living in Singapore who were followed for up to 12 years, the investigators found a link between heavy incense use and various respiratory cancers. The findings are published in the medical journal Cancer.”So just how much incense burning constitutes “heavy” usage? “Study participants who used incense in their homes all day or throughout the day and night were 80 percent more likely than non-users to develop squamous cell carcinoma of the entire respiratory tract. The link between incense use and increased cancer risk held when the researchers weighed other factors, including cigarette smoking, diet and drinking habits.”In other words, the occasional stick of incense at home or at a ritual probably won’t give you cancer, but if you live in a constant haze of sweet smelling smoke, you might want to cut back a bit (especially if you have other increased risk factors). The study also said that incense posed no overall effect on lung cancer risk, but increased risks of upper respiratory cancers.

(Pagan) News of Note

My semi-regular round-up of articles, essays, and opinions of note for discerning Pagans and Heathens.The Pagan-friendly Gaea Retreat Center in Kansas, host of the annual Heartland Pagan Festival, is branching out and allowing a music festival to take place on its grounds for the first time.”…after enduring several board meetings, Yager and his staff finally convinced the proprietors to embrace the Gaea Retreat and Music Festival, which begins at noon today. “We’ve spawned into this weird festival where it’s a mesh of cultures. We have introduced education through imagery by focusing on things like the environment, free energy, energy conservation alternatives, performing arts,” he says.”Earth Rising, Inc., the legal entity that runs Camp Gaea, is trying to move past its infamous local past (which involved a legal battle over its permit), and reputation as a haven for Pagans and nudists. Though it remains to be seen if Camp Gaea can transform a music festival into a place to “find that realm of evenness and spiritual soundness.” While I fully attest to the spiritual power of live music, I’m not sure “evenness” and “spiritual soundness” is what you aim for.