[ Sharon Knight is a musician and artist exploring the fantastical, mythic, epic, and archetypal. She is passionate about the arts as a vehicle to bring us into ever deepening awareness of the mystery and magick all around us. She is fond of preserving folk traditions and bringing new life to them with modern interpretations. She performs as a solo artist/duet with partner Winter, and as a front person for gothic-tribal-folk-metal band Pandemonaeon. She can be found at http://www.sharonknight.net and http://www.pandemonaeon.net.]
The other day I was part of a discussion online regarding the further marginalization of Halloween.
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. Beliefnet News runs a story on an upcoming Washington DC Pagan event, “a protest to the New Apostolic Reformation’s 51-day prayer campaign targeting Pagans, Wiccans, Witches, Druids, Heathens, and other Goddess-worshipers nationwide.” The press release from event organizer Caroline Kenner probably got picked up thanks to a pull-quote provided by the Reverend Barry Lynn of Americans United. You can read more about the nation-wide Hail Columbia campaign, here.
Amity Shlaes is worried. She’s worried about what the ever-growing popularity of Halloween might mean. “…as much as we’d like it to be, Halloween isn’t secular. It is pagan. There’s nothing else to call a set of ceremonies in which people utter magical phrases, flirt with the night and evoke the dead.
We all had a good laugh about “Jesus Ween,” didn’t we? That misguided attempt to sanctify a day that had already been sanctified by the Catholic church way back in 609 CE, rightly mocked by Christians and Pagans alike. But the impulse to cleanse Halloween of its (perceived) Pagan/occult atmosphere has a darker side. If the “Ween-ers” are the Ned Flanders of anti-Halloween sentiments, then the followers of “spiritual warrior”/survivalist/conspiracy theorist Thomas R. Horn are a Jack T. Chick comic come to life. Just in time for Halloween they are plugging a new book entitled “God’s Ghostbusters” (buy it before the world ends!) that ramps up the fear of Pagans.
I have a few stories of interest before we dive head-first into our Samhain celebrations, starting with an Omaha World-Herald story about a Wiccan inmate who had his request granted to change his legal “Christian” name to his chosen “Witch name”. // //
“Just in time for Halloween, former Fremont resident Billy Joe McDonald has received a judge’s permission to change his “Christian” name to his “witch” name: Hayden Autumn Blackthorne. In requesting the change for religious reasons, McDonald — er, Blackthorne — wrote that he is “a lifetime member of Witch School,” a “recognized Wiccan Priest” and a person who has “successfully completed Correllian Wicca — First Degree.” And, oh yeah, McDonald also noted that he is a sex offender who has been successfully convicted of sexual assault — first degree.” While the Wiccan angle makes it newsworthy, the event itself isn’t all that uncommon. Prison inmates request to change their names, often for religious reasons, quite often.