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. Former Canadian Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, who oversaw Canada’s penitentiaries during a period when they eliminated all paid part-time chaplain services (starting with the Wiccans), effectively making government prison chaplaincy a Christian-only affair, has announced his retirement from politics. Quote: “Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has announced that he is retiring from politics and will resign as a cabinet minister and as member of Parliament for Provencher effective Tuesday, ahead of what is expected to be a major cabinet shuffle this summer.” I think it’s fair to say that Toews was a polarizing figure in Canadian politics, with his actions overseeing Canadian prison chaplaincy playing just one small part (for the record some of the changes for minority-faith chaplains were walked back after a lawsuit was filed).
Here are some updates on previously reported stories here at The Wild Hunt. “Secret”-peddler and New Age guru James Arthur Ray, currently in prison after being convicted of negligent homicide in three 2009 sweat-lodge ceremony deaths, won’t be in jail for much longer. While he could conceivably stay in prison until October, an email to supporters from Ray’s brother reveals that he’ll be released on parole on July 12th. Claiming destitution, Ray is seeking a home in Arizona to avoid living in a halfway house, as he cannot leave the state until his parole ends. Suffice to say, Ray’s critics are not happy about his early release.
We just a have a few quick (Pagan) news notes for you today, enjoy! Sarah Pike on Studying Religion, Paganism, and Spiritual Festivals: The always-excellent Religion in American History blog interviews religion scholar Sarah Pike, perhaps best known to modern Pagans as the author of “Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves: Contemporary Pagans and the Search for Community” and “New Age and Neopagan Religions in America.” In a fascinating interview, Pike talks about how she got into studying religion, the “internal revolutions” of young people, and the current state of Paganism in the mainstream media (among other things). In a chapter I wrote recently on “Wicca in the News” about changing representations of Witches in American news media since the 1960s (Oxford Handbook of Religion and the American News Media, 2012), I argue that reporters today rarely depict Witches as evil or satanic, even though stereotypes from the 1960s and 1970s of sexy young female Witches or cuddly cookie-baking elderly Witches-next-door still remain. In the past 25 years since I entered my first occult shop and started asking questions, the boundaries between categories like religion and magic and the differences between “folk,” “popular,” and “institutional” religion are treated with more nuance. And scholars of American religions are more likely to take traditions like Wicca seriously than they did when I was a graduate student, because Neopaganism has become firmly established across North America and formally recognized in government branches and institutions such as the military and prisons.”
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. Fields Book Store in San Francisco, California, a haven for spiritual and esoteric books since the 1930s, has announced that it’s closing their physical location and moving to online sales only. Current owner David Wiegleb says that “the bottom line comes down to the bottom line — revenues did not meet expenses for quite a number of years, even after cutting back wherever we could.” They have set up an email address at ThankYou@FieldsBooks.com where patrons can send photos and remembrances which they hope to collect into a gallery to be shared. I’m proud to say I’ve visited (and bought books) at Fields, and that David Wiegleb is a gentleman and a scholar, I wish Fields well as it makes the transition to being an Internet-only business.
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. I’d like to start by saying that my thoughts and prayers go out to those injured, and the families of those killed, in a senseless theater murder-spree that occurred in Aurora, Colorado on July 20th at a Midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. I’d like to appeal to the divine within us all, that we avoid conspiracy theories, or using this tragedy to win an argument, and instead focus, at least for now, on those who are existing in a world of pain, fear, doubt, and uncertainty. As someone who believes in magick, I believe in the power of symbols, and Batman is a powerful symbol of overcoming great personal tragedy to become a force for peace and justice.