Unleash the Hounds! (link roundup)

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans and Heathens out there, more than our team can write about in depth in any given week. Therefore, the Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up. 

Today marks the birthday of Doreen Valiente, who is largely considered to be the mother of modern Witchcraft and Wicca. Valiente was born in London in 1922, and eventually found her way into Witchcraft. Much of the written work used today in Gardnerian practice was written by Valiente. Upon her death in 1999, Valiente left her legacy to the care of John Belham Payne.

A Brazil federal ruling states Candomblé and Umbanda are not religions

[Note: This article was updated to reflect changes in the case that were made public after publication. See below.]

BRAZIL — On April 28 a federal judge in Brazil stated as part of an official court ruling that “African-Brazilian cults are not religions” because their “religious events do not contain [the] necessary traits of a religion.” The ruling continues on to define these necessary traits as “a basic text (Quran, Bible, etc.), a hierarchical structure and a God to be worshiped.” (O Globo, 5-20-2014). In the opinion of Federal Judge Eugenio Rosa de Araujo, Candomblé and Umbanda do not meet that definition. The ruling was the outcome of a case filed by the Federal Public Ministry or Ministério Público Federa (MPF) in Rio Janiero. The MPF is the public prosecution office whose mission is “to promote … justice for the good of society and in defense of the democratic rule of law.”

The Unique New Year’s Festivals of Brazil and Cuba

Welcome, 2014! The calendar New Year may be the only holiday celebration that nearly the entire world experiences or collectively recognizes. Despite this universality, our New Year’s traditions are as diverse as our world cultures. Therefore this unique period of time offers the opportunity to witness and compare foreign practices that have a similar meaning and purpose to our own. This includes cultural traditions that are not normally in the global spotlight.

Religious Drug Wars and other Pagan News of Note

Top Story: Jon Lee Anderson of the Guardian brings us a riveting look at the massively violent drug wars raging in Rio’s favelas, where over 5000 people were murdered last year, and police-affiliated militias can be as deadly as the gangs. While exploring the question of if this situation can be reversed, and the culture of these gangs, Anderson focuses on Fernandinho, a gang-leader who converted to evangelical Christianity in 2007 and melds Christian morals with the violence of his trade. “On 20 August 2007, a banner headline of the Rio tabloid Meia Hora said: “Thug beheads those who don’t follow his rules”, and underneath, “Fernandinho Guarabu, Dendê’s boss, uses an axe to execute his victims. The evangelical trafficker forbids even macumba in the favela.” (Macumba refers to one of the country’s African-derived religions, along with Umbanda and Candomblé, which strict evangelicals see as little more than witchcraft.) That same day, in the broadsheet O Dia, this report appeared: “In spite of his violence, the ‘word of God’ must always be propagated, sometimes in a radical way. Guarabu has supposedly banned Umbanda and Candomblé rituals, as well as spiritualist séances.

Brazilian State Confiscates Anti-Candomble Book

The state of Bahia in Brazil has confiscated all copies of the book “Yes, Yes! No, No! Reflections on Healing and Liberation” on the grounds that it makes false and prejudicial statements about the Afro-Brazilian religions of Candomble and Umbanda, and incites readers to destroy their objects of worship.”A judge in the state of Bahia, Brazil, has ordered the confiscation of a book written by Catholic priest Jonas Abib, in which he condemns witchcraft as immoral. The book, “Yes, Yes! No, No!