The Psychic Wars Continue

The ongoing enforcement of outdated, constitutionally unsound, and religiously biased laws against performing psychic or fortune-telling services for money continue. This year alone The Wild Hunt has covered incidents in Otsego, Michigan, and  Chesterfield County, Virginia, and now we can add Centerville, Georgia to that list. “A healing and wellness store is on the verge of being shut down because it violates a Houston County ordinance. But the store owner says the ordinance violates her freedom to practice religion. Courtney Bibb opened Energy Among Us in Centerville three months ago.

The Weird History of the Ouija Board

The Baltimore Sun profiles Robert Murch, a man obsessed with the history of the Ouija board, and the two brothers who helped manufacture and popularize the parlor game/spiritual tool around the turn of the 20th century.The Ouija Board”On the phone, through e-mail and in repeated visits to Baltimore, he pestered newspaper librarians for access to yellowing clip files and century-old articles on microfilm, pushed caretakers for access to their cemeteries and directions to gravesites, and prodded curators of historical societies and museums for any pieces they might have to the puzzle. Much of Murch’s time, though, has been spent researching family trees, seeking descendants of the men who first manufactured the Ouija Board – chief among them, William and Isaac Fuld, the two brothers whose falling out would lead to a 100-year silence between the two sides of the family.”In addition to Murch’s in-depth research into William Fuld and his estranged brother Isaac (who, for a time, manufactured competing “Oriole Boards”), he has also raised money for a Ouija-themed gravestone for Elijah Bond, the Baltimore attorney who first patented the board, and is planning a “coffee-table-type book” compiling his research. In short, his own life and history have become intertwined with the history of this “oracle”.”…he’s still immersed in his quest to document the history of “The Mystifying Oracle” – that diviner of the future, that gateway to the spirit world, that simple lettered board, born in Baltimore, that went on to become an icon of both pop culture and occult subculture.”Today, while not as popular as it once was, the Ouija board retains its place in pop-culture. The original Ouija board rights were bought by Parker Bros./Hasbro and they (quietly) manufacture a glow-in-the-dark version. Meanwhile, smaller “spirit board” manufacturers have emerged to cater to those with more “occult” tastes.

Updates on Recent Stories

I’ve got quick updates on two recent stories. We’ll start off in Salem…Mainstream Acceptance in Salem: The panel discussion in Salem featuring Margot Adler and Jerrie Hildebrand is continuing to get coverage from the local papers. This time, Lisa Guerriero from the Salem Gazette reports back from the “No Place for Hate” panel, and pairs it with a recent satellite television appearance by two Salem Witches.”What is life like for a person who considers himself or herself a witch? How do Hollywood images of witches stack up to their real-life counterparts? These are some of the questions addressed by a No Place for Hate panel in Salem last Saturday [see story, Page 1].

First Shot Fired in British Psychic Wars

America isn’t the only place dealing with laws banning or unfairly regulating psychic practitioners. Britain is set to pass a new set of regulations concerning divination, spiritual healing, and psychic practices in line with EU recommendations.”…a whole list of disclaimers must be added to the spiritualists’ spiel if they are to avoid an avalanche of writs following the repeal next month of the Fraudulent Mediums Act, to be replaced by the new Consumer Protection Regulations. Promises to raise the dead, secure good fortune or heal through the laying on of hands are all at risk of legal action from disgruntled customers. Spiritualists say they will be forced to issue disclaimers, such as ‘this is a scientific experiment, the results of which cannot be guaranteed’. They claim the new regulations will leave them open to malicious civil action by skeptics.”The new Consumer Protection Regulations also places the burden of proof on the psychic or practitioner in accusations of fraud.

(Pagan) News of Note

My semi-regular round-up of articles, essays, and opinions of note for discerning Pagans and Heathens. A correctional officer accused of sexually abusing a girl for six years is in custody, and the police claims the man may have used the Wiccan religion to lure young girls.”Loren Williamson, 33, was booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail on four counts of sexual conduct with a minor and three counts of child molestation. Police said the abuse started when the victim was 6-years-old and continued until authorities recently got a tip … Officers said Williamson was involved with the Wiccan religion and may have used its mystical traditions as a way to spark the interest of young girls.”The police are currently trying to figure out if Williamson had any other victims, and are are looking to the public in the Phoenix, Arizona area for any information. You can find contact numbers at the link.Is it still religious discrimination if you admit to illegal drug use as well?