Guest Post: Teens, Alternative Faiths, and Misperceptions

Modern shaman and best-selling author S. Kelley Harrell’s new book, “Teen Spirit Guide to Modern Shamanism,” out May 30 from Soul Rocks Books, is a light-hearted and informative handbook introducing shamanism to today’s young adults and beginning seekers. Author and journalist Beth Winegarner’s latest book, “The Columbine Effect: How Five Teen Pastimes Got Caught in The Crossfire and Why Teens Are Taking Them Back,” addresses how certain interests — including alternative spiritualities like shamanism, neopaganism and others — have been unfairly blamed for teen violence. Kelley and Beth got together for a chat about alternative faiths, cultural misperceptions and the importance of trusting youth as they find their own paths. Beth: I know practitioners within Santeria and Palo Mayombe who say that those paths are gaining in popularity among teens. Are you seeing anything similar with shamanism?

Quick Notes: Protecting Sacred Lands, The Interfaith Observer, and Teenage Clergy

A few quick news notes for you on this Sunday morning. Protecting Sacred Lands: The Environmental News Network reports that the Biodiversity Institute at the University of Oxford, in partnership with the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) and World Database on Sacred Natural Sites (SANASI), is creating a world map that will display sacred and holy places, including forests in an attempt to raise awareness for biodiversity conservation. A team of scientists from the University of Oxford are working on a world map which shows all the land owned or revered by various world religions. This “holy map” will display all the sacred sites from Jerusalem’s Western Wall, to Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, to St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

One Of These Things is Not Like the Others…

Reviews for a new book by Christian author Jeffrey Dean, “The Fight of Your Life: Why Your Teen Is at Risk and What Only You Can Do About It”, have started to pop up, and it seems that Wicca is one of the “risks” teens face. Even as he speaks bluntly about what’s really going on out there—from the new “cool homosexuality” and the rise of Wicca to the far-reaching effects of teen drug and alcohol use—Dean’s tone remains hopeful and encouraging, and for good reason. Trying to figure out what exactly Dean says about Wicca in the book, I went to an excerpt on the publisher’s web site. There, Dean puts the dangers of Wicca into context for you. This fight is about a tsunami of information, communication, anything- goes ethics, and the inevitable moral experimentation that results.

(Pagan) News of Note

My semi-regular round-up of articles, essays, and opinions of note for discerning Pagans and Heathens.Donna “Darkwolf” Vos will be meeting the South African Air Force in court over claims that they unfairly dismissed her from chaplaincy work due to her religion.”I applied (for the SAAF job), got it and worked for two weeks. My focus was to be on HIV and Aids, the problem of Satanism among the youth, and drugs and sex among the youth,” Vos said. She was due to undergo training in military routines in Pretoria, but was first called to a meeting with the official, a colonel. “I was told the meeting with this guy was a formality.” He was initially impressed by her qualifications, Vos said.

(Pagan) News of Note

My semi-regular round-up of articles, essays, and opinions of note for discerning Pagans and Heathens.Author and ceremonial magician Donald Michael Kraig sings the praises of Silver Raven Wolf for the Llewellyn Journal.”I was very impressed with what she was doing. Silver and I wrote to each other several times. It was clear to me that she knew more than most people about Paganism, writing, publishing, and marketing. It was inevitable that I would ask her the following question: “So when are you going to write a book?” She was too busy and had never written anything in such a long format, she replied, but I have to admit that I recognized a writer and knew that just as my question and encouragement was inevitable, there would be an inevitable result.”Kraig, while heartily endorsing RavenWolf’s new book, also discusses how he met her through the (seemingly) now-defunct Wiccan/Pagan Press Alliance. Perhaps, in the age of blogs, e-zines, and podcasts, a new and revitalized press alliance is needed?Side-Line Magazine interviews Olaf Parusel, the mastermind behind the classic darkwave band sToa, about his band’s new album “Silmand”, stoic philosophy, and working with famed “faerie” musician Louisa John-Krol.”Louisa and [I] know each other from the old times on [the] Hyperium-Label.