Lee Thompson Young, tabloid reporters, and traditional religions

On August 19th, Lee Thompson Young, a television actor who starred in the police procedural Rizzoli & Isles, was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. “We are beyond heartbroken at the loss of this sweet, gentle, good-hearted, intelligent man. He was truly a member of our family. Lee will be cherished and remembered by all who knew and loved him, both on- and offscreen, for his positive energy, infectious smile and soulful grace. We send our deepest condolences and thoughts to his family, to his friends and, most especially, to his beloved mother.”

Unleash the 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.

Do you want your hair to done up like a Vestal Virgin? Hairdresser Janet Stephens has been reconstructing ancient Roman hairstyles, including the “sini crenes” of the Vestals, recently unveiled at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in Seattle. Quote: “Working alone on a live model with only tools ancient Romans would have had, the process takes about 35 to 40 minutes, Stephens said.

2012 Predictions: The Year of Oya

The beginning of a new calendar year usually means a flurry of predictions. These prognostications can be educated guesses, fervent hopes, pessimistic fears, or, in some cases, spiritual messages via divination, omens, or other supernatural methods. One widely reported instance of a yearly divination tradition is the Ifá predictions from Cuba’s Santeria priests, who’ve been gathering for 26 years to make predictions and recommendations. Last year they were eerily accurate in their readings, predicting “abrupt changes in political systems”, intense drought, and “dangers of war and conflicts.” This year the reigning deity is Oya, and they are predicting a year of “war and confrontation, social, political, and economic change, and a dangerous increase in temperature.” However, the mainstream press seems to have positioned this as a Babalawos vs Mayas prophesy-off thanks to the ubiquity of New Age “Mayan Prophesy” books that predict a great ending/beginning in 2012.

What do the Babalawos See in 2011?

Each year there is a gathering of Santeria priests in Cuba where they perform Ifa readings for the coming year. While these readings usually try to avoid blatant political statements, that’s been starting to change in recent years. This year, the priests “predict coups d’etat and sudden political changes,” alongside a general theme of reorganization and “economic openness.” “We are sure that there will be changes” in 2011, said the one of the group’s top priests, Lazaro Cuesta. “We’re certain that good moments are coming.”

Quick Note: The Illegal Snail-Drinking Ritual

I like to think I’m a rather tolerant guy when it comes to religious freedom. I have no trouble with religions that practice humane animal sacrifice, I could care less what consenting adults want to get up to in the privacy of their own homes, and I tend to range from permissive to supportive on the issue of entheogens. All that said, this sicked me out more than a little. “Authorities are investigating a Hialeah man who allegedly smuggled illegal Giant African Snails into Florida and convinced his followers to drink their juices as part of a religious healing ritual. State and federal authorities in January raided the home of Charles L. Stewart after learning he had a large box full of the snails — which grow to be up to 10 inches long — according to a search warrant filed recently in Miami-Dade Circuit Court …