Column: Loki in the White House

Pagan Perspectives

A Note from the Editors Regarding Loki in the White House

December 2nd, 2018

Dear Readers of The Wild Hunt:

Since the publication of Loki in the White House, the column has been discussed at length across the Pagan internet. To say that its portrayal of Loki, and its comparison of Loki to Donald Trump, has been regarded as controversial would be an understatement. The Lokean community in particular has strongly criticized the column, with many feeling that it was tantamount to a call for Heathens to cut ties with Lokeans altogether. (A group of Lokeans sent a letter to The Wild Hunt calling for amendments or a retraction to the column; that letter can be read here.)

At The Wild Hunt, we are proud to have writers from many different backgrounds represented in our roster of regular columnists, including multiple writers of color, writers from outside the Anglosphere, and writers of queer identities – not to mention writers from many different approaches to Paganism. We see our commentary section as a place for these voices to have the freedom to analyze, critique, and debate issues of interest to Pagans in deep and challenging ways.

The Witchcraft-Obsessed Bush Administration

As George W. Bush’s administration fades away into history more details about its character are starting to see the light of day, perhaps some of the most revealing so-far come from former Bush speech-writer Matt Latimer’s new book “Speech-less: Tales of a White House Survivor”. Filled with embarrassing quips from George W. Bush and other top administration officials, it also seems to confirm a sneaking suspicion among modern Pagans that Bush and his administration had a unique obsession with Witchcraft and the occult.
Latimer writes that administration officials objected to giving author J.K. Rowling the Presidential Medal of Freedom because her writing “encouraged witchcraft” (p. 201): “This was the same sort of narrow thinking that led people in the White House to actually object to giving the author J.K. Rowling a presidential medal because the Harry Potter books encouraged withcraft.” This newly-revealed “Harry Potter encourages witchcraft” attitude, along with Jim Towey’s misguided comments, the VA interpreting old anti-Wicca Bush quotes in order to make policy, and the snubbing of a Wiccan military widow (that Bush later apologized for) seems to confirm at the very least that Bush’s people (like the VA) either broadly interpreted his past anti-Witchcraft comments, or that conservative Christian attitudes towards minority faiths were pervasive. Considering the newly hyper-partisan anger among conservative “values voters”, it could certainly be read as a movement in turmoil over being removed from the access to the executive power they felt was their right.

(Pagan) News of Note

My semi-regular round-up of articles, essays, and opinions of note for discerning Pagans and Heathens.At Canada’s National Post, commentator Barbara Kay learns the downsides to introducing compulsory religious education into public schools.”Since September all Quebec students from primary school entry to high school graduation, whether enrolled in public or non-funded private schools, must attend Quebec’s new Ethics and Religious Culture course (ERC). And teachers, regardless of their beliefs, must teach it … Paganism and cults are offered equal status with Christianity. Witches “are women like any other in daily life;” … And considering that of the 80,000 ethnic aboriginals in Quebec only 700 self-identify with aboriginal spirituality (the vast majority of ethnic aboriginals are Christian), aboriginal spirituality (falsely equated with environmentalism) is accorded hugely disproportionate space and reverence.”Consider this a warning to those in America who keep insisting that the Bible and “Christian thought” be given equal time in schools.

How Bush Helped the Pagans

The San Francisco Gate reports on the annual conference of the North American Interfaith Network, and in the process gets a somewhat surprising quote from Wiccan chaplain Patrick McCollum. “A landmark survey released in June found that 70 percent of Americans believe that multiple faiths can lead to salvation. It’s a striking deviation from religious dogma. Some believe it’s the result of a post-9/11 world. The Rev. Patrick McCollum, a Wiccan priest who is also director of the National Correctional Chaplaincy Directors Association, believes that it all started with President Bush.”What McCollum means is that shortly after 9-11, Bush made a speech where he said “Islam is peace,” and in his opinion, this sparked a “dramatic shift” towards religious pluralism in America.”There was a giant push for everyone to get along with everyone else and to acknowledge religions that weren’t mainstream,”Of course if George W. Bush did indeed help foster a new religious pluralism benefiting religious minorities, it was in spite of the way his administration insulted and discriminated against Pagans (not to mention Bush’s personal views regarding Pagans).

(Pagan) News of Note

My semi-regular round-up of articles, essays, and opinions of note for discerning Pagans and Heathens.Yesterday was the Chinese New Year (the year of the Rat), and April Rabkin of Slate.com details how China’s Communist government has worked over the years to eliminate Taoist and indigenous religious traditions associated with the holiday.”Perhaps the most significant blow to Chinese New Year was the government’s decision to forbid the annual burning of the Kitchen God, whose paper effigy hung above the stove … for more than 50 years, the Kitchen God’s effigy has been censored material. While low-ranking gods like the Lords of the Door, who guard courtyard gates and inner doorways, were more tolerated, the Kitchen God was not. In the more traditional countryside, peasants evaded censors by printing the Kitchen God at home on crude wooden blocks. But many young Beijingers I recently asked had never heard of the Kitchen God.