PARKERSBURG, W.Va.- The city council has “voted to uphold a ban on fortune-telling this week, despite a formal request from a local entrepreneur to do away with the decades-old law,” as reported by Riverside City News. In June we published the story of Heather Cooper, who had opened up a local shop called Hawthorn. Her intent was to offer Tarot readings as well as a place for local artists to display their work. However, she was denied a business license due to an old fortune-telling law, and she pledged to fight to have it removed. After her first attempt, it was announced that the Council opted to keep the law, with a vote of 5-3.
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. Michael Lloyd’s (excellent) new book “Bull of Heaven: The Mythic Life of Eddie Buczynski and the Rise of the New York Pagan” recently celebrated its publication in Manhattan, and the New York Times covered it for their City Room blog. Quote: “So many friends and followers of Mr. Buczynski turned out, that the evening became one of the largest Wiccan summits in New York in years. “It’s a blessing of the gods,” said Michael Lloyd […] His was just one of many invocations of the Wiccan gods, which quickly turned into a giant prayer circle, with chanting and singing of Wiccan prayer and song in veneration of Mr. Buczynski, an openly gay Wiccan priest who died in 1989 from AIDS.” Kudos to Lloyd for his book, and for enabling such positive coverage of Pagans in New York (despite the “Eyes Wide Shut” crack from reporter Corey Kilgannon).
Just a few quick news notes to start off your Friday. The Day the Lights Stayed on at Atlantis: London’s oldest occult bookseller, The Atlantis Bookshop, was apparently the only business unaffected when an explosion caused a blackout on their street. Could it be magic? Geraldine Beskin, whose family has run the shop for the past 50 years, said: “The lights flickered, and in the streets I could see everyone else’s go out. But we were left intact. It must have been magic!” Staff at the street’s boutiques and cafés turned to Atlantis, a Mecca for mysticists worldwide, for candles to keep their shop-fronts lit. Atlantis Bookshop is (in)famous for being a place that occultist Aleister Crowley would visit regularly, though the paper points out he died in 1947, precluding any role for Britain’s “wickedest man” in the blackout.
Today is the release date of “Daughters of the Witching Hill”, a new historical novel by author Mary Sharratt. Sharratt, an American transplant to England, has written a deeply affecting novel based on the true story of the Pendle witches, one of the most (in)famous witch-trial cases in Britain’s history. My family and I were so impressed with our advance copy of “Daughters” that I felt a simple review was insufficient, and instead decided to interview Sharratt about the book, the history behind it, and how her Pagan faith informed the process.
As an American who has relocated to England, specifically the Pendle region of Lancashire, the location of your current novel, what drove you to write about this historical tragedy? Do you feel you might have a different perspective of the history than someone native-born to the area?