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In December’s News

Posted by owner on January 5, 2010

This column picks up news items from a variety of sources that illustrate the way occult beliefs and neopagan religions are winning acceptance in our culture’s mainstream.

 

 

Civil Religion

 

Under the banner of “civil religion” the St Louis Post Dispatch ran what can only be called a “devotional” on the theme of the Sun’s return at Yule. Written by Kathy Nance. A “serious student of pagan thought” who spent three years in Diana’s Grove Mystery School in the Missouri Osarks. The “civil religion” blog is a feature sponsored by the paper that features “thoughtful” comments from people who are serious about their beliefs.

 

 

It’s Not Just About Christmas

 

The Green-Bay [Wisc] Post-Gazette wants to make sure everyone knows that December isn’t just for Christians. Jews have Hanukkah. Muslims celebrate the beginning of their religious year, African Americans have Kwanza. And pagans, as the Rev/ Selena Fox, senior minister of the Circle Sanctuary, a Wiccan church in nearby Barneveld reminded the paper, have Solstice. It seems only fair to recast the “Christmas season” as the “holiday season,” doesn’t it?

 

Tatoos, anyone?

 

In a December 27 article in the East Oregonian Sara Rose, a college student, defends those whose tattoos might hinder getting employment. “Say a teenager has a visible, beautiful Wiccan tattoo,” she writes. He or she applies for a job, and the manager says the tattoo must be covered while on the job. She thinks the same manager certainly wouldn’t ask people with Christian tattoos to cover theirs, even though Sara finds the Christian tattoos more offensive than a pentagram. To Sara, who’s hoping for a journalism career, it’s just plain unfair for employers to stifle self-expression [Want to place any bets on what led to this article?]

 

 

War on Wicca

 

That’s the headline of a December 26 article in the VA Daily Press. The author complains that so many symbols of Christmas were in fact pagan symbols long before “baptized” by the Catholic church in its effort to contextualize the Gospel. Everything from Christmas trees to wreaths, holly, and even Santa …to say nothing of the December 25th date . . . had significance to pre-Christian pagans. The historical facts sited in the article are basically correct. The notion that the co-opting of so many pagan symbols by the new faith constitutes a war on Wicca? That’s harder to justify. . . whatever you may think of the idea of painting a thin veneer of Christianity on pagan practices.

 

 

Tarot Reader Sues

 

Sophie King, a Tarot card reader, has sued Chesterfield County, VA,  in federal court alleging her business was misclassified, leading to denial of a business license. She claims that rather than being “engaged in the occupation of occult sciences” she’s really a “spiritual counselor,” and shouldn’t have to meet the zoning and licensing requirements for an occult based business. 

 

“Stuff” Works

 

About 20 members of the Pagan Society at the University of Central Lancashire (England) gathered to celebrate Yule [the winter solstice] a week early on December 17th. The ritual was described in an article in the online paper Lep.co.uk. Several testimonials were quoted in the article, including one by 20-year-old Rachael Frost, a Wiccan who claimed, “When I do stuff, it works.” The article provided the email address of the 9-year-old society.

 

Court Rules Against Sheriff

 

The Sheriff of Milwaukee County argued that since he had allowed groups such as the Alliance for Blacks in Law Enforcement and the National Latino Peace Officers Association to speak at department meetings, he was compelled to give the Fellowship of Christian Centurians the same access to these public forums. After all, how could he refuse them because of their religious viewpoint. However, the federal district court agreed with the two officers, one a Muslim and one a Catholic, who alleged the Sheriff was violating the establishment clause of the Constitution. The “religious content” of the Centurians’ presentation was simply too strong. One of the judges did, however caution that the court however was not indicating that “religiously affiliated groups are always constitutionally barred from working with or speaking to government employees.”    

 

Take Down that Tree!

 

Officials at an Ashland, Oregon elementary school have reached a compromise. When a family complained that a “giving tree,” decorated with wish lists from needy children, and officially called a ‘holiday tree,” smacked too much of Christmas, it was taken down. An outpouring of hundreds of emails led to a compromise. The tree was replaced with a “holiday display” that included three trees, snow, and gifts for needy children. As there were no more protests, apparently the trees were sans decorations. Sure don’t want anything Christian in our schools.

 

 

Shopping for Candles?

 

Where do you go to learn about the religious use of candles? Apparently not to a Jewish synagogue, despite the significance of the Menora in that faith. And you certainly don’t go to a Christian church to ask about Advent Candles. If you’re Carolin Vesely, writing for the Winnipeg Free Press, you hurry on down to the Shifting Sands Metaphysical Shop and consult with a longtime member of Winnipeg’s Wiccan community. There you’ll find all about the function of candles in magic, and how candles can help you bring a little New Age magic into your life as the Winter Solstice approaches.   

 

Prophet vs Witch

 

In Norristown, Pa, a woman on trail for stalking a Lower Pottsgrove woman claimed to be a prophet, claimed that her efforts to instruct the other woman’s husband that his wife is a witch were inspired by the Holy Spirit. The accused also wrote letters to the couple’s church, claiming there are 24 witches and two covens among the congregation. The judge ordered the modern day “prophet” to have no contact with the couple pending the outcome of the trial. If found guilty of misdemeanor stalking and harassment, the woman could be sentenced to 2½  to 5 years in prison.

  UPDATE.  A Montgomery County jury took just 10 minutes to convict her of misdemeanor stalking. Judge Steven T. O’Neill immediately revoked

Her bail and ordered a mental health evaluation.

 

Quebec Mandates “Religious” Education

 

In a biting article in the Canadian National Post on December 16th, Barbara Kay analyzes compulsory course in religious ethics and culture imposed by Quebec’s Ministry of Education. The ECR program is required for all students in public, private, and even homeschooling programs from age six through high school. An analysis of the courses stated objectives, content, and suggested activities makes it clear that the goal of the course is no so much education by indoctrination. According to ECR “every religious position” (including pagan animism, witchcraft, and Wicca) is to “treated with deference.” The author of the article suggests that “to bundle superstitions and cults together with authentic religions” is in fact to discourage respect for any. Among the activities in the curriculum is one which invites redesign of the Quebec flag by replacing the cross with some “more inclusive” symbol, and an activity that challenges students to design their own religion. In the process the curriculum ignores Quebec’s history and cultural heritage, and ignores teaching of objective knowledge of any faith tradition in favor of stressing cultural relativism. As the ECR curriculum states, teachers are not there to convey knowledge, but to “plan, organize activities, advise, accompany, encourage, support . . . make suggestions, but never impose.”
 

St Louis Artist Rattled

 

On December 5th, the first full day of the Parliament of World Religions, held in Melbourne, Australia, four clay rattles created by St. Louis artist Julie Higgenbothem we blessed by a group of pagans. The rattles, incorporating pagan and aborigine symbols incorporated a prayer for understanding and the coming together of religions around the planet. The article in the St Louis [Mo} Post Dispatch reported that the rattles represented “building bridges of tolerance between cultures and religions.”

 

 

Gargoyle Angels?

 

Dakota Hart charges his condo board in Calgary with religious discrimination for telling him to remove two gargoyle figures he’s placed in front of his residence. Hart’s partner, Scott Gatzuloe, says the pagan Hart’s gargoyles “are like angels to Christians. They are protection to the home. The watch over his spirit and watch out for our home.”

 

UI Senior Pages Pagans

 

32-year old senior Kirk Cheney is the president of the University of Iowa’s pagan student union, the Society of Pagans Interested in Reviving Ancient Lifrestyles. An activist, Cheney describes himself as “very out.” A pagan for 18 years, and influential in leading his parents to covert to paganism, Cheney met his wife at a pagan festival several years ago. In addition to being a full-time student and running the pagan group, Kirk organizes an annual Lamasfest, a pagan harvest festival. In addition to the Society Kirk heads at the University of Iowa, pagan groups exist at other Iowa schools, including Grinnell College and Iowa State University.

 

Commercial Strikes Ritualist

 

H. Byron Ballard of Ashville, N.C., who describes herself as a “ritualist,” writer and speaker, was surprised when she saw a TV commercial featuring “brightly clad young models”  advertising clothing with cheerleader like chants of “Go Christmas! Go Hanukkah! Go Kwanza! Go Solstice!”  She replayed the commercial. It was true. They actually finished the cheer with “Go Solstice,” a nod to the pagan festival of Samhain built around the winter solstice. The Romans called this festival the “Birth of the Unconquered Son,” something that Ballard describes as “a savior we can count on year after year.”

 

Solstice Celebration Honor’s Lost Loved Ones

 

An article in the Oakland {CA} Tribune covered a local celebration of Samhain styled as a “Celebration of Light.” The celebration is sponsored by Pathways Home Health & Hospice, The celebration, intended for all faith traditions, is intended to help those who have lost loved ones grieve, and includes lighting a candle and speaking the name of loved ones who have died. The spiritual director at the hospice pointed out that though the celebration is coordinated with the pagan festival, light serves as a positive symbol in all religions, from Christianity to Hinduism and Zoroastrianism.

 

Many Join Wiccan Suit

 

When a Wiccan Priest sued to overturn a California state policy that limited paid prison chaplaincies to the traditionally recognized religions, the courts rejected his claims of discrimination. Now the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, and the Americans United for Church and State all filed amicus briefs supporting the pagan’s request.  Each held that the courts were wrong in denying a taxpayer the right to challenge a use of government funds that supported one religion over another.

 

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In November’s News

Posted by owner on December 1, 2009

 

A Different Thanksgiving Service

 

The First Baptist Church of Austin, Texas, hosted the 25th annual interfaith Thanksgiving Service and Celebration November 22nd. The Sunday service  began with a Muslim chant and the blowing of a Ram’s horn [a Jewish symbol]. Then dancers wearing bright purple dress, Wiccan symbols, crosses, hijabs and yarmulkes proceeded down the sanctuary aisle. Some 900 people attended the service, which included Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, Baha’i, and Covenant of the Goddess religious groups.

 

Craig’s list of Spells

 

Is there a market for magick spells these days?  I checked out craigslist for witches and sorcerers offering to cast spells. The topic heading says “about 3,660 from craiglist for spells.” I checked out one offering of “real spells by a true witch.” Her name is Nora Winters, and she promises to use her abilities to “cast the right spell specifically for what your situation requires.” Among the spells offered [with a price list] are student spells, money spells, complete life-changing spells, beauty spells, karma revenge spells, etc. The most expensive spells are weight loss and restore health spells, at $200 each, and fertility spells at $375. Among the least expensive?  Spells promising to restore inner peace at only $45, and stop depression spells for $50. .  

 

 

Raleigh Witch Suggests, Choose a Domestic Deity

 

The Examiner.com suggests that “every domestic witch will eventually look into the subject of a household deity.” The article suggests a number of available deities, but warns that care be taken selecting a deity to hang around your house. “Different deities require different invitations, different care, and different offerings to keep them happy.” [The article doesn’t say so, but I gather no witch wants an unhappy deity hangfing around!]. 

 

 

Readers React to “Christian Wiccan” Story

 

An article in the Examiner.com asking “What the heck is a Christian Wiccan?” received some 219 responses. Typical is this letter by Naya, of Memphis, Tenn.

 

“There-is-no-such thing as a Christian Wiccan. Wicca is a specific set of practices and beliefs, and part of it involves the character called the God and this other character called the Goddess. They are not, never have been, nor ever will be associated with Christianity. Please, all you people throwing around terms like ‘Christian-Wiccan,’ STOP and think about what you are saying. That’s like saying you’re a ‘Christian-Muslim.’ It is confused, ignorant, and insulting to the precepts of BOTH religions.”

 

 

Witch Settles with University of Nebraska

 

A woman identified as “Jane Doe” hired by the University to direct a youth program claims she was fired when the university discovered she practices witchcraft as her religion. She settled her suit for $40,000. University attorneys say it made the offer without admitting to any of the allegations.

 

Easier to be a Witch

 

An article in the Riverside (CA) Press-Enterprise on Nov 2 announced that it’s easier to be a witch these days than three decades ago. Ivy Liberman, a member of the Murrietta Witches for the Goddess, a group of some 130 practicing witches, asserts that people in this traditionally conservative Christian regions “are more tolerant of their [Wiccan] beliefs than ever before.”  The article reports that “the growth of neo-paganism in southwest Riverside County mirrors that in the United States. Hartford, Connitcut’s Trinity College’s annual American Religious Identification Survey indicates that adherents of neo-pagan faiths grew from 1.2 million in 1990 to 2.8 million in 2006.

 

Psychic Police?

 

In Wales the police spent $20,000 following up “leads” in a murder case supplied by a group of psychics. But in Manchester, England, a police trainer claims he was fired for believing that mediums should be consulted in criminal investigations. The officer, Alan Power, is a long-time member of a spiritualist church. The judge in a preliminary hearing ruled that the case has merit because spiritist beliefs have sufficient cogency and importance to be covered by Great Britain’s Employment Equality Act. The judge wrote, “I am satisfied that the claimant’s belief that there is life after death and that the dead can be contacted through mediums are worthy of respect in a democratic society.”

 

Twilight in Australia

 

Australia’s Sunday Telegraph reported on November 16th that Vampire Clubs, Covens, and Werewolf Lairs are springing up all over Australia, stimulated by the Twilight books and TV shows like True Blood. The head of the Australian Booksellers Association pointed out that the fad doesn’t involve vampire worship. According to social analyst Neer Korn, “They’re just looking for something that feels like they’er breaking the rules. And this is an example of how they’re doing it—by entering a realm of fantasy.”

 

University Pagans Reach Out

 

Members of the Pagan Student Association in Champaign-Urbana hosted a Totem Animal Workshop at the Student Union. A speaker associated with a pagan group called A Druid Fellowship led a discussion of the concept of Totem Animals, animal spirit-guides. Sharing her personal experience. speaker Cindy Westfall told of meeting her own totem animal, the dog. Another participant in the event, intended to clear up misunderstandings of paganism,  explained that “we do worship a higher being. It’s not like how it is in Christianity . . . I personally worship my own god.”

 

Kenyan Pastor Attracts “Possessed”

 

On November 11th David McKenzie of CNN reported on the unusual ministry of Kenyan Pastor Lawrence Omambia. One Sunday each month is devoted to exorcising evil spirits and to release those who come from the powers of witchcraft. The belief in witchcraft runs deep in western Kenya, and Omambia’s direct confrontation of the occult meets a deeply sensed need for protection from evil spirits. That fear too often has led to the killing of women suspected of being witches. “Witches are there,” says the pastor, “But what we do here is more powerful than witchcraft.”

 

Councilman Apologizes

 

A Queens, NY, councilman who practices Theodism, a neopagan religion, apologized to the Greek Orthodox community for inadvertently offending them by comparing the animal sacrifice practiced in his religion to an Easter feast. In a prepared statement Dan Halloran stated, “I think it is vitally important that my constituents know I respect them and their faiths ands traditions, as they do mine.”

 

All A Misunderstanding

 

When Purvis High School in Mississippi suspected  Shaun Derusha his mother insisted it was all a misunderstanding. Yes, the family practiced witchcraft, something others in their town of 3,000 didn’t understand. But they didn’t worship the devil. And mom couldn’t understand how anyone would get the impression her son was planning on summoning demons to attack certain students at the school. Followers of Eclectic Paganism, as the family styles itself, just aren’t into demon summoning. Apparently mom was convincing. After taking a test to assess his mental stability Shaun was allowed back in school.

 

Pagans Respond to Fort Hood Tragedy

 

After the killings a Fort Hood pagan groups offered counseling to on the post. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that pagan chaplains and spiritual counselors are among those offering support to the For Hood community. A number of military on the post worship with the Fort Hood Open Circle, a pagan congregation. Circle Sanctuary, a Midwestern Pagan organization with an “active military ministries” arm, organized telephone counseling to support any Pagan, Wiccan, Druid, Heathen, Pantheist, or other nature religion practitioners.   The Military Pagan Network estimates that there are over 4,300 pagans in the military, of which about 2000 are Wiccans.

 

 

  

10 Days in October

Posted by owner on November 2, 2009

It’s that time of year again, and as we might expect, the media carry plenty of articles on Samhain, witches, and Wicca this time of year. There are in fact too many of them to include in this Ten Day Report. What I have included is a fair sample of the features which in general provide a favorable portrait of neo-pagan religions. They certainly reflect the growing interest in and acceptability of neo-pagan and occult religions in the United States and the West.

  

Tarot Reading Convinces Skeptic

 

On October 29th the St Petersburg (FL) Times featured an article on a shop in Tampa called Magical Happenings. It seems a “psychic witch” sat down next to Kelley Sattley in a mall. Kelley was feeling depressed, but the witch told her everything would be all right and told her to go to Magical Happenings. Kelley and her 10-year-old daughter followed the advice. According to the Times article, on entering the shop Kelley “immediately felt more peaceful.” After a Tarot reading from the owner of Magical Happenings, Kelley was convinced. Now she comes regularly for “meditation sessions, tarot readings, or just to talk.” Visiting the shop for just three months has “turned her life around,” giving her a new attitude and enabling her to loose 57 pounds. The owner of the shop is quoted in the article as affirming, “Wicca is a religion. Being a witch is a way of life.” According to Kelley going to Magical Happenings has “helped her feel the presence of God in her own life.” Naturally, the article provided the address of Magical Happenings for interested readers.

 

Black Hat Society

 

The Pittsburg Post-Gazette ran a feature on the local Black Hat Society, a group that offers support and friendship to local witches, pagans and neopagans who aren’t members of an organized coven. The Pittsburg group is affiliated with the Pennsylvania Black Hat Society Network. Like the Red Hat Society, the group is a “social thing,” for those who follow Wiccan, Shamanistic, Druid, Celtic, Norse, eclectic and other pagan paths.

 

Arts Council Presents Halloween as Samhain

 

The Staten Island (NY) Council on the Arts and Humanities is hosting an in-depth presentation of Halloween as Samhain, the witch’s New Year holy day. The presentation will begin at 7 PM with a candle-lit procession, a 30 minute presentation by the proprietor of Practical Magick, a New Age shop, followed by an “authentic ritual.” As coven members form an inner circle, non-members will be able to participate by watching from outside the inner circle. 

 

 

No “Devil-Worshipper” On My Team?

 

In Hartford, Conn., Gina Uberti claims she was fired from Bath and Body Works, where she has been employed for 8 years, for traveling to Salem, Mass, to celebrate Wiccan New Year. A new manager stated Uberti’s plan to take off October 31st to celebrate a “religious holiday” was “ridiculous” and fired her because “I’ll be damned if I’ll have a devil-worshipper on my team.” Uberti has challenged the firing in Federal Court as a case of religious discrimination.

 

Students Hard At Work

 

The Pagan Students Union at the University of Maryland are apparently hard at work seeking to “dispel myths” about pagan religion. A panel on witchcraft debunked the idea that wiccans offer animal sacrifices, but did confirm that pagans do curse people. But, insisted PSU president Casey Mason=Foley, “It takes a lot to get a pagan to curse somebody.”

 

 

Fresno Bee Features Wiccans

 

Noting that this is a busy time of year for neo-pagans, the newspaper ran an article on October 23 featuring various neo-pagan groups in Fresno County. Groups mentioned included Asatru, Golden Dawn, Druid and Chaos Magicians, and of course the oldest Wiccan coven in Fresno Country, which meets at the Temple of St Brigid’s Moon.  Among the activities reported is a Spirit Fusion Festival on a Sunday where neo-pagans will gather “to get the word out bout their beliefs and others.” Apparently there’s a strong neo-pagan presence in the valley, as Penny Verin-Shapero, who teaches an anthropology of religion course at Fresno State University, is planning to write a book about it.

 

Welcome to Wicca

 

In an article in an October 26th  publication of the Irvine, California, New University, Traci Goring Lee  tells of her childhood fascination with witchcraft, stimulated by the TV program Sabrina, the Teen Age Witch. Later the publication of the Harry Potter books opened “a new world of witchcraft and wizardry.” She “began to look for more books and more TV shows and films that had elements of magic to them,” a search that led directly to her present fascination with Wicca and neo-pagan belief.  [I found this article fascinating, as the writer traced her own spiritual journey down a path marked out by a media that today features some 66 TV series focusing on the occult!]

 

 Tolerance Theme of U Georgia Pagan Festival

 

“We want people to understand diversity,” explained Locele Foley of the Pagan Pride Festival held at the University of Georgia October 23rd . “One of the things that brings Pagan people together is tolerance.” Among the vendors present for the festival, where pagan beliefs were explained, were makers of Native American items and Jerry Miller, who uses crystal to communicate with “unseen forces” and makes his living as a spiritual consultant. 

 

British Bakery invites Witches to Bless the Cake

 

The opening of a new Greggs Bakery in Openshaw (UK) invited three witches from Stockport’s Crystal Pentacle Coven to “cast a blessing” on the baking of it’s Halloween treats. The three witches—known as Amethyst, Amber and Aquamarine—were delighted to comply. According to Amethyst, “the blessing we use brings protection and prosperity during an important and ancient British festival and it’s great to think we’re passing on some positivity to Greggs’ customers and at the same time dispelling some of the myths and stereotypes that surround our craft.” A spokesman for the bakery stated that it is “reverting to Britain’s Pagan roots” and “hoping we can pass a little bit of good luck to our customers.”   

 

 Utah Community Education Offers “Spooky Classes”

 

On October 19th the Deseret News reported that the Granite School District is offering several classes “on the supernatural, spirit seeking and witchcraft.” Beside a paranormal “Ghostbusters” class, the district offers a “Sixth Sense” psychic class on how to “open channels” taught by Laurel Lowe, a “psychic medium and spiritual counselor.”   Another class taught by a woman who been a practicing witch for 20 years is on “Paganism, witchcraft, and Wicca.” While the offerings have “raised a few eyebrows,” the district  defended the offerings, arguing that many people want to learn about these things, and stating that it wouldn’t be allowed if it had an “evangelical type approach to it rather than being informational.”

 

CU Student Launches Pagan Student Alliance

 

The Colorado daily reported on October 19th that when college junior transfer student Emma Lee realized that the state’s flagship college didn’t have a pagan student group she was “shocked and appalled that here in Boulder we didn’t have one.”  So the 27-year-old student started the club, which meets Monday’s at the University Memorial Center for “everyone from Wiccans to Satanists to atheists.”  Lee also founded a Pagan Student Alliance at Mesa State University three years ago.

 

 

Australian Christians Gather to Cancel Curse

 

About 50 Christians met the weekend of October 19th on a mountain in Canberra, Australia, to cancel a curse they believed several covens of witches had placed on the federal government. The Christian believed that the witches had cast spells on legislators so they would adopt more liberal laws on gays. The crowd of about 200 watching the exorcism was about 1/3rd gay, 1/3rd Wiccan and other neo-pagans and, according to the news report in the National Times, “1/3rd confused onlookers.”

 

 

Ten Days

Posted by owner on October 19, 2009

News of thr spread of neopagan and occult beliefs

NJ.COM Runs Article on Vampire Subculture

 

According to the article posted on October 15 there’s a New Jersey vampire subculture that “thrives on blood rituals, fangs.” The article follows Ra Libasti, a 27-year-old “real vampire” who takes part in blood rituals in a group of about fifty called the “court of Lazarus.” Members acknowledge the craving for blood is a “morbid impulse,” the argue that their practices ”mirror centuries of religion traditions.” While movies like “Twilight”and TV shows like “True Blood” have spawned vampire role players, the New Jersey group views itself as real vampires, and believe that drinking blood from consenting donors is a real need. The group members follow a code of ethics called “the Black Veil,” and Ra states that the majority in the community are “intelligent, professional people.” 

 

 

Figi Methodists Burn Witchcraft Tools

 

According to an article published in the Figi Times ONLINE, Villagers in Figi chose to end links with magic by burning a magic walking stick, cursed kava b owls, and other artifacts. The burning was preceded by fasting and 24-hour prayer sessions, One member of the prayer team stated that “dark spirits existed in Figi and within people who didn’t even know they had them,”   

 

 

Community College Course on Witches

 

Author and self-styled psychic Pauline Bartel is offering a course on Witches, Ghosts and Hauntings at Hudson Valley (NY) Community College,. The course gives an overview of “myths and realities” concerning the supernatural and then explores Pauline’s own experiences with spirits and witches. The course grew out of her own experiences writing a book on witchcraft called Spellcrafters, after a tarot card reading predicted she would write it.

 

Canadian Scholar Challenges Neo-pagan Beliefs

 

Phi9lip G. Davis, in Goddess Unmasked: The Rise of Neopangan Feminist Spirituality, published in 1998, asserts that “the present day ‘goddess’ cults have no detectable linkage with any ancient pagan beliefs, apart from being anti-Christian.” He debunks the notion that modern witchcraft cults are descendants of “the old religion” and claims such ideas are false and manufactured. The book traces many of the beliefs of practitioners of Wicca to surprising origins  According to a recent article in “The Spectator” magazine, “Where God the Father is supplemented by God the Mother, it seems the Mother Goddess is rarely far behind. In the larger denominations today, it is not only women in small groups who welcome her. Male theologians with international reputations have spoken up in her cause; including  Professor Harvey Cox, the erstwhile secular theologian of Harvard Divinity School.”

 

 

Witchapalooza

 

On October 12th the Sacramento {CA] Press published yet another article on Wicca. This article, one of a series developed by Paul Dale Roberts, provides a brief history and biography of the foundational writings of modern Wicca, which though scarcely 50 years old but has quickly morphed into a culture all its own. In his article, Roberts promises that “since I have been to Witchapalooze” and have met several witches who are willing to be interviewed, readers can “follow my path down the Wicca subculture and learn with me, how the Wicca culture works. See you soon!”  

 

Folk religion rituals in Venezuela

 

Thousands gathered for a weeklong religious festival in honor of the goddess Maria Lionza, worshipped near the town of Chivacoa. The tradition is hundreds of years old, mixing elements of Santeria, indigenous rituals, and Catholicism. Believers in the goddess appeal for healing and protection from witchcraft. The Catholic church disapproves, but has given up trying to suppress the folk religion.

 

Ouija board true tales

 

Ouija boards are big with young teens again. For a number of purportedly true takes about supernatural experiences with ouija boards, go to http://paranormal.about.com/od/ouijaboards/a/tales-ouij-9.HTM?NL=1.  

 

Invite the bishop

 

Magus Lynius Shadee, the “king of the witches” who stated that he conjured up a demon to prey on parishioners of Cambridge, England’s, largest Catholic church has now announced that he’s invited the local bishop to the opening of his occult center, along with pastors of other area churches. It’s hard to say  how skillful he is as a witch, but he’s top notch at garnering publicity.

 

New Age Deaths in Sedona

 

Sedona, Arizona is an acknowledged center of New Age occultism. The New York times recently described the town of some 11,500 residents in the starkly beautiful area as a “metaphysical center attracting seekers and followers of an assortment of spiritual pathways,” where “scores of self-proclaimed mystics, healers, channelers of past life experiences (and aliens), sacred touch massage therapists, wind whisperers and vision quest guides offer their services.”  But on Thursday the 8th of October two men died in a sweat lodge operated by Angel Valley, a New Age retreat near town, and three others were airlifted to Flagstaff Medical Center in critical condition. All were participants in a week long “spiritual warfare” experience, which for $9,000 “included seminars, a 36 hour fast and solo experiences in the forest.” And, of course, two hours in a sweat lodge packed with some 60 other people. A Mr. Ray, who conducted the ceremony, left the area after refusing to give the police a statement.

 

 

Goddess Workshops in Haversham, UK, celebrate women

 

Let by Vicky Brierly, Priestess of Avalon, a site linked to Arthurian legend and Druid religion, the workshops are intended to “bringing the identity of women as goddesses themselves into public consciousness, on a spiritual level.” The participants entering the “sacred site” removed their shoes and sat in a circle, in the center of which was an altar. The circle was divided into eight segments, each representing a goddess, marked with relevant “tokens and statues” relevant to each goddess. Vicki called out to each goddess, thanking her as participants placed tokens on the relevant segment of the circle. Group members then paired off for tarot readings. The shared insights from the readings, and then fashioned “dough talismans” to hang in their homes as charms. They then threaded rowanberries on red silk for protection against evil spirits. The concluded the ceremony by singing their thanks to each goddess

   Readers of the article, printed in the Bracknell Forest Standard, are offered a 10% discount to participate in the next “workshop,” to be held October 31sr from 10 to 4.

 

Festival Honors Earth-Based Faith

 

That was the headline in the Savannah (Ga) Ledger-Enquirer the 10th of October when the paper published an extended article on paganism. It seems that ‘modern pagans” want to change the image of paganism as something “evil.”  PaganPride.org defines pagan as “honoring, revering or worshipping a deity or deities found in pre-Christian, classical, aboriginal or tribal mythology. According to the article, paganism can include “shamanism, “earth-based spirituality,” or a focus on a feminine god,” and those who practice paganism “typically accept labels like Wicca, witchcraft, druid, neo-pagan, Native American spirituality, or Asatru.“ The sponsors expect some 300 participants to show up for the festival, to be held at Emmet Park on October 17th. The article reports that while it is difficult to estimate the number of pagans in the US, “forms of paganism seem to be moving into the mainstream.”

 

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Ten Days

Posted by owner on October 9, 2009

News Items from the last 1o days that indicate the spread of neopagan religions and occult beliefs in today’s society

 

Pagan Celebrants Summon “the God and Goddess”

 

Sunday, September 27th the Columbia. Missouri, Pagan Pride Day activities were launched with a ceremony “summoning the directions, and the god and goddess. The day long celebration was held on a 186-acre sanctuary in Boonville used by Pagans and Wiccans. Funds for the celebration were raised by The Center project, a group formed to raise tolerance for “the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning” community. Participants attended workshops on rituals, chanting techniques, pagan fiction, and paper pentagram making. Author of pagan literature Joyce Higginbotham commented, “The Paganism movement used to be underground, but I think the purpose of that has faded. There are now books abut Paganism in public libraries.”

 

Georgia Paper Publishes Feature Article on “The Wiccan Way.”

 

Augusta’s Metro Spirit featured Wicca on September 30th, and in the article promoted the first Pagan Pride Day to be held for the city on October 3rd. It was initiated by Jezibell Zuchowski, a Wiccan high priestess, who moved to August who moved there from New York in 2007. Activities on the local Pagan Pride day will include workshops on Wicca 101, Kitchen Witchery, and Ask the Wizard. The paper reported that there are Pagan Pride Days held in 41 of the 50 states as well as in many cities overseas.

 

Bush Speech Writer Criticizes Boss

 

Among the “spurious reasons” mentioned by former George W. Bush speech writer Matt Latimer for failing to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to those Latimer felt were deserving was the supposed reason for bypassing J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books. According to Latimer, Rowling was discussed, but Bush refused to grant her the honor “fearing that it would look like a tacit approval of witchcraft.” Bush isn’t the only one who has expressed reservations about the popular fantasy series. Some U.S. Catholic schools have banned the books, citing the witchcraft theme. And one Georgia parent has asked the court to ban Potter books on the grounds that they promote a religion–Wicca. [The courts refused.] Conservative Christian groups have spoken out against the books, saying that the threat from witchcraft is real and the books promote it.

 

Satanic Ritual Killings

 

Andrea Volpe, the leader of the Rock Band “Beasts of Satan” was sentenced to 30 years for killing the group’s singer and a teen-age girl in Satanic ritual murders. One of his companions was given 15 years for the cult killing. It is believed that there are at least 5,000 members of Satanic groups in Italy.

 

Similar ritual killings have occurred in Thailand, including the killing and mutilation of a 2 year old boy by a man seeking to use occult means to find a hidden treasure, and the killing of a 12-year-old girl by her mother, grandmother and two aunts in a ritual intended to drive away evil spirits.

 

In Hong Kong a 40-year-old man was charged with killing two girls, 10 and 11,  and sexually abusing their bodies in a black magick ritual intended to create ghosts to haunt his estranged wife.

 

 

CBS News Features Religion Poll

 

A CBS news report on October 4th indicates that “the religious landscape in America is changing. For instance, a Buddhist yoga center hosts 30,000 people a year on the site of a closed Catholic seminary. One “searcher” who came there tried Episcopalianism, then Catholacism, finally finding what he was looking for in yoga. Like most others who responded to the poll, he identified himself as “spiritual, but not religious.” While 7 of 10 say they believe in God, half “rarely, if ever” attend religious service. Randall Balmer, professor of religion at Barnard College, describes this composite  character as a good Presbyterian, say, “who does tai chi in the park on Sunday Morning, consults the astrological tables in the newspaper and does yoga when he comes home from work, and sees no contradiction between these activities.” Mitch Horowitz, author of a new book on the occult in the U.S., notes that “most people would never use the word [occult], yet occult practices … like meditation, or positing thinking philosophies, or some kinds of mindbody healing, that at one time was very esoteric, has today become very mainstream.”

 

Psychic Wins Battle

 

The Arizona Republic reported on Oct 4th that Psychic Paula Parns forced the city council of Gilbert, AZ, to rescind excessive fees the town charged to obtain and license and permit to tell fortunes. Now the three Gilbert businesses that are licensed as fortune tellers –Déjà vu Psychic, Santan Village Psychic, and Parn’s Gilbert Psychic consultant, are required only to pay the towns regular $36 fell plus a $100 license application and a @1,200 annual license fee, saving the businesses some $1,300 a year.

 

AP Article features Minnesota Pagans

 

On Oct 3 the Associated Press picked up an article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune headlines “Pagans Gather for a Weekend of Charms, Spells.  Events were to include “an opening ritual, a keynote discussion on ‘Pagans in the World,’ a workshop on charms and spells, an ‘Introduction to Slavic Heathenry,’ a discussion of Wiccan ethics, and children’s games and activities.”

 

August, Georgia, Chronicle publishes “Proud to be Pagan”

 

An article with this title by Kelly Jasper was published in the October 3rd edition of the paper. Kelly’s wife, Jezebell Anat, a Wiccan high priestess, said “We want to let people know there are pagans out there.”

 

Psychic Fair Participant Praised

 

It’s hard to interpret the article about Liane Langford in the October 1st Monterey County [CA] NOW as anything but praise. According an article profiling Langford and reviewing the local Psychic Fair, she’s “been hired for corporate events for big businesses like Macy’s to engineer icebreakers and group activities, and has made a living conducting private readings for searching souls. Her most recent project might be the most intriguing. It’s a one-of-a=kind ‘practical magick” spell candles that defend against everything from computer problems to deadbeat boyfriends.” The article continues, “she started out as a Tarot reader, and hasn’t lost touch with her clairvoyant roots.” The article goes on and on. But I won’t.

 

 

Witch King Conjures Demon

 

The Cambridge News (UK) of October 6th reported the claim of Magus Lynius Shadee, self-styled “King of the Witches” to have conjured up a demon in that city’s Catholic Church. He has instructed the demon to dwell in the church, and warns that the demon could possess parishioners and drive them to suicide. Shadee, in town to look for a site to set up an occult center like the one he has in Normandy, stated that the demon is “an element, a hunter that will attach itself to an individual, then try to take the person, either send them insane and make them depressed, and the worst is to cause them to take their physical life.’ The pastor of another nearby Catholic church believes the occultist is targeting university students. Shadee’s response was to threaten to perform a ritual for his parishioners. Police say that a potential crime could have been committed under the Public Order Act if anyone was in church, witnessed the ritual, and was alarmed or distressed by it.

 

New South Wales (UK) town Cancels Merlin Statue

 

It was the wizard’s “pagan links” that did Merlin’s statue in. Plans to erect a 7 foot statue of King Arthur’s sorcerer at a shopping center recently renamed “Merlin’s Walk” have been canceled.

 

Don’t Forget Samhain

 

The New Hampshire Seacostonline.com published this reminder submitted by the Reverend Michael J. Engelking, Jr, of the Universal Life Church, Wiccan. [Possibly a graduate of the Witch School, whose current enrollment is 128,000?] In a letter to the online paper published October 9, Engleking provided historical background to the pagan roots of Halloween in Samhain, an end-of-summer festival celebrated by the Celts. The letter ends with an invitation to “all you beautiful pagans of southern New Hampshire looking for a public Samhain circle to attend, I suggest Celebrate Samhain at the Unitarian-Universalist Church, October 24.”

In the September News

Posted by owner on September 29, 2009

New Items that indicate the spread of neopagan faiths and occult belief in today’s society.

 

 

 

University of Miami Religion Prof Saves Voodoo Doll

 

When a mysterious doll was discovered next to a crashed and “unfixable” computer, faculty and staff in the Art History deparment concluded it was a voodoo doll, and responsible for the disaster. When other faculty began having “bad luck,” they were sure. Out went a call to Mischell Maldonado of the religion department, who among other things teaches about Santeria and voodoo. The doll didn’t look like any voodoo doll she was acquainted with, and she found the idea of a bunch of PhD’s worrying about a doll and how to get rid of it ridiculous. So rather than take the traditional route — dig a hole, pour gunpowder and rum on the doll and bury it — Michelle propped the doll up between other artifacts of other “marginalized and often misinterpreted religious figures” in her office, pondering the “irrational superstition” of fellow faculty.

 

New Zeelander wins National Art Award

 

 

The L1anganui Chronicle honored art student Esther Topler for winning the first annual National Art Award for her creation, Glory. The work, “symbolically bringing all the religions of the world together to promote peace,” features Christian images, Buddhist images, and witches flying around in the background. Esther, a Wiccan, says that the witches express her own “spiritual belief.”

 

ABC15-TV in Phoenix Interviews Real Witches  

 

In a feature timed to promote ABC’s new prime time witchcraft show, Eastwick, channel 15′s Christinea Boomer interviewed Rosemary Szymanski, high priestess for the Sacred Spiral Pagan Church of Arizona and witch Nancy Allocca. The two tried to set to rest the many misconceptions about wicca and witchcraft. “We are not evil,” Allocca told the reporter. “We try to live our lives for the good because we believe whatever we put out comes back to us now, in this life, as we are now and we live with it and have to deal with the consequences pretty immediately. Instead of being if I am a bad person in this life I’m going to go to hell, if I’m a bad person in this life I’m going to have bad problems in this life. So we try to live for the good so that way good things happen to us.”  Both witches agree that they do spells, but just “as a way of raising and manipulating energy. Kind of like a prayer. It’s no different than going to church and lighting a candle and saying what your intent is and asking God to help you. Spell working is not all that different.”

 

The interview report concludes with the following. “If that works for you, then wonderful, then that’s your path whether it’s Christianity or whatever. For us, we just want to be able to follow our path without someone telling us you’re going to burn in hell. I don’t believe in hell, so I’m not going to burn in hell.”

 

Halloween’s a Coming

 

In the words of the Paranormal Guide, this is “all Hallow’s Eve, Hallow E’en, Halloween, Day of the Dead, Samhain: By whatever name it has been called, this special night preceding All Hallows day (November 1st) has been considered for centuries as one of the most magical nights of the year. A night of power, when the veil that separates our world from the Otherworld is at its thinnest.”

 

Neo-pagan Faith Threatens Candidacy

 

The Republican candidate for the Queens, NY, city council was well ahead of his democratic opponent until the Queens Tribune revealed that he is also the “First Atheling” of a local branch of the Theod religion, a neo-pagan religious group functioning in the greater New York City area. As First Atheling, or King, fellow pagans swear allegiance to him, an act which they believe allows “luck” from the Ancient Norse gods Odin, Tyr, and Freyr, to pass through the king to his kinsmen. According to the candidate, Dan Halloran, “We believe in and honor the gods and goddesses of the North, spirits of the land, and the memories of our ancestors.” The revelation of Halloran’s religion has stunned the local GOP leadership, who are reportedly debating whether to replace Halloran on the ticket with another candidate, or to stick with him. Some have suggested he be replaced om the ticket and be given a judgeship. Others say that Halloran should be kept on the ticket “regardless.” As for Halloran, who insists he is not ashamed of his religion, he simply says, “I’m not comfortable injecting my religion into politics.

 

Tax-payer Funded Investigation Clears Councillor

 

At first the the District Council’s standards committee in Suffolk, England, convicted Pat McCloud of accusing a fellow member of witchcraft. After an investigation that cost over three thousand pounds sterling, the Adjudication Panel for England reversed the verdict. McCloud’s comments were deemed “inadvisable,” but did not rise to the level of “personal abuse,” the Panel stated. The chairman of the Ipswich Pagan Community applauded the decision. “It’s not actually an insult to suggest that somebody has pagan beliefs,” Robin Heme commented. “It may be inaccurate, but it’s not like saying she’s a baby-eater.” He continued, “Most people just think we are a bit barmy. We’ve got a fair few Wiccans in Suffolk, the majority of whom are eccentric but completely harmless3. I think most of them would be quite bemused that she’s taken it as some horrendous insult. It’s a storm in a tea cup.”

 

There’s a New Store in Fox Lake, Illinois

 

On September 21st the Lake County Journal featured an article on the new Earth Elements, Metaphysical and Magickal Shoppe that’s come to Fox Lake. Jennie Miller sees her new venture as more than a place to buy pagan supplies. “Our main goal of what we’re trying to accomplish is to get people to understand other people’s spirituality,” she says. “And, rather than saying, ‘My god’s right, my religion is right, yours is wrong,’ find the similarity in all of them.” While the store “caters to all religions,”its specialty is metaphysical religions [neopagan]. The store sells books, candles, herbs, dolls, oil, candles, jewelery, and even bumper stickers. And each day of the week different classes are offered on such topics as Magick, Tarot, and Smudging. “We try to be family friendly,’ Miller says, “especially as I have kids.”

 

Salem‘s “Official Witch” Scammed

 

The daughter of Lauine Cabot, Salem, Mass’ “official witch” is wanted for forging one of her mother’s checks. The $3,750 check was cashed and the money spent before the forgery was discovered.

 

Sacramento Press Helps Promote Obi Divination

 

On September 18 the Sacramento Press ran an article [not an advertisement] by jacqueline Mathers on Obi Divination, a method for gaining yes/no answers to questions from the Onchas, viewed as gods in indigenous Nigeran religions. The author of the article, who bills herself as an “educator and author,” uses Obi divination to give readings to clients. She is also a “certified Rootworker” in “the Southern style of conjure.” She also produces a Holistic Healing Expo in Elk Grove, CA. Jacqueline claims “we know that Obi does not lie,” and that the Revelation of Truth that Obi gives for her, “as well as for over 70 million plus devotees of the African religion” do come true. How fortunate for readers of the Sacramento Press that Jacqueline’s phone number and her email address are provided in the article.

 

Texas Tech University Pagan Pride Day

 

September 19th an “eclectic group of Pagans” gathered at Clapp Park to celebrate Pagan religion at the university’s fourth annual Pagan Pride Day. According to coordinator of the Lubbock, Texas, Pagan Pride chapter, “Paganism is a blanket term. It’s pretty much everything that is not the major three religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The day’s celebration began with a ceremony provided by a local Wiccan group. A guest sponsored by the Tech Pagan Student Union spoke on Moroccan Magic. And there were “lots of children’s activities,” including a workshop on making dolls from corn husks that “symbolize the goddess.” Also during the day the group collected canned good for the South Plains Food Bank. Sophomore Katie Garlington noted that people from all over Lubbock turn out for Pagan Pride Day. She explained that “Paganism is having more than one deity. Choosing a god is all very personal. My personal god is probably Aphrodite, because I am a nurturing, caring person and I take on a motherly role. This is about celebrating the goddess within me.” Asron Broadhurt, the [faculty?] advisor for the Tech Pagan Student Union, noted that twice as many people attended this year as the year before. ” He continued, “There is only one entity I worship, and by the very broad definition of Paganism, that might actually make me a Pagan Sympathizer. I admire and respect the wonders of Nature and ‘worship’ the Sun every opportunity I get, from floating on the raft in the swimming pool to enjoying a sun drenched drive up US 1 to Santa Barbara in my convertible.”

 

Will It, or Won’t It?

 

Sponsors of the Lexington-Bluegrass Pagan Pride day, scheduled for Sept. 26, hoped that attendance would increase over last year’s 200 plus. As of this post, attendance isn’t in.

Still, sponsors planned a active celebration. According to event spokeswoman Susan Kalch, the festival will have food, music, kids’ games, a petting zoo, diviners giving personal readings, vendors, arts and crafts. Just right for anyone, “regardless of religious belief.” And, of course, there will be pagan rituals at the festival, held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Lexingon, Ky. As Jim Warren, who wrote the article, commented, “Pagans might not appear in Kentucy news very often, but pagan events are not rare anymore.”

 

Baltimoe Sun Blog Invites Neo-Pagan Input

 

The Baltimore Sun’s Blog, “In Good Faith,” issued an invitation on September 20th to “all Baha’i, Mormons, Sikhs, Wiccans . . . ” to send in any interesting news, developments, or trends in neo-pagan faiths” so they can be covered in the blog. Fortunately, a number of people did respond, letting the blog writer(s) find some of the many sources that are already available on line.

 

Witch vs Satanist

 

When Satanists in Scotland began recruiting new members through online classified ads, Kevin Carlyton, high priest of the White Witches, quickly responded. “Anyone who joins this group would seriously be in danger of being used as a sacrifice,” he warned. “Satanists believe that human or animal blood gives them power and they will stop at nothing to get that.” Leslie Matthew, who established Scotland’s Ritual Abuse network, insisted police keep a close eye on the group “to prevent anything illegal happening.” She stated, “We have counseled a lot of people — many more than you’d think –who have been affected by Satanic ritual.  

In the News September 21st

Posted by owner on September 22, 2009

Illustrating the penetration of our culture by neopagan faiths and witchcraft

 

It Must be the Drums

 

The Broward-Palm Beach (Fl) New Times launched its September 14th article on the area’s 11th annual Pagan Pride Day and Fall Equinox Party with this affirmation: “The time has come to unlearn everything you’ve ever believed about pagans, and perhaps more importantly, about pagan celebrations.” It seems the reporter was entranced by the news that the event, open to the public, will collect donations for the County Cooperative Feeding Program, and will feature a “drum circle” performance by Witch’s Mark. I guess its the drums that convinced the reporter to “unlearn everything [she] ever believed about pagans.”

 

Doors Closed to Pagans

 

Folks in Pennsylvania’s Stoudburg Village were upset when pagan’s announced plans to meet and Celebrate Earth Spiritually. Shops in the small town some 65 miles from Philadelphia planed to close Saturday while the pagans were in town. What really happened when the day came? See below!

 

 

Incident? What incident?

 

Controversy shook the Reading, PA area at the news pagans would gather in Adamstown last Saturday for “Celebrating Earth Spiritually.” According to Lancaster ONLINE.com the event, which had aroused Christian opposition and debates over religious freedom, went off without incident. The hosting group, “a non-profit organization focused on celebrating pagans and witches and other nature-based religions,” had not mentioned the planned celebration to city officials before announcing it. The paper gave significant space to Christians who commented on the event and its significance. Reportedly many Christians turned out to circle the area in prayer. The president of Reading Pagan and Witches said afterward that several church groups had “laid hands on us and prayed.” She called it “an amazing spiritual experience.”

 

Community Garden Blessed

 

The Harrisburg (PA) community garden was blessed recently during the Harrisburg Harvest celebration. Christians, Muslims and pagans joined to contribute an irrigation system. Wiccan High Priest Joe Zuchowski led songs and “provided a blessing over the garden” during the ceremony. Commenting later on his prayer, he said, “We wanted to bless this that it would continue to grow, and that all in this community would appreciate what has been done here.”

 

Voodoo Priest Heads for Wales

 

The 25-year-old priest, who compares voodoo to Catholicism and was linked to the death of a young woman, is off to Wales to preach his religion. Hector Salva performs secret “spiritual cleansing” ceremonies intended to remove curses and all “evil magic.” He is scheduled for secret meetings in Cardiff, Wales later this month. Back in New Jersey, where he now lives, the Puerto Rican-born Salva, is liked to the death of 20-year-old Lucie Hamilton, who died in his home. In Wales Sophia Fisher, who sells pagan and Wiccan supplies in her shop, Baron’s Magic, is promoting the secret meetings. She says, “Voodoo is s much-maligned and misunderstood but in fact very beautiful religion.”

 

 

Speaking of Voodoo

 

Did you know that for 99 cents you can get a voodoo application for your iPhone or iPod. It comes complete with a doll figure, pins to stick in it to curse enemies, end even a love potion to “concoct a wicked good romance.” The tongue-in-cheek copy promoting the voodoo app says, “Does your ex have it coming? Or the boss who makes you work all weekend? Or the barista who got snotty over your little order? With Voodoo Doll in your pocket, you have an easy way to get back at anyone.” All you do is snap a picture with your iPhone, download it onto the doll, and “start working your juju.” Care to check it out. Enter “Voodoo app” in any search engine. 

 

Getting Rid of “Witch” in South Africa

 

The South African Pagan Rights Alliance (SAPRA) is objecting to the use of the term “witch.” It seems both “witch” and “witchcraft” are offensive. (It’s also dangerous! People accused of witchcraft in South Africa have been murdered.) Member of Parliament Adrian Williams agrees. “I am a Wiccan and I belong to a coven, but I believe the word “witch” is highly offensive in this country. This is not Australia or the United States. Here, people known as witches get killed.”

 

Why Didn’t I Think of That?

 

Marin County California author Cerridwyn Fallingstar is an author. Like authors everywhere she wanted to promote her latest book, her second. So she rounded up three friends to help her. Sandra, Pat and Lauren were glad to help. Now, I’m an author, with a couple hundred plus non-fiction books and three of a six-book set of Invisible War novels just off the presses. I’d like to promote my books too. But I’m not sure what I can learn from Carridwyn. You see, Carridwyn is a witch. So she went to the editor of MoreMarin.com, an online newspaper, and not only got space but even pictures! It helped, I suppose, that Carridwyn is a very attractive blond. And that she was photographed casting a spell on her readers.

 

Ah well. Since I’m not a witch I guess I’m not newsworthy. I’m sure not a young, attractive blond. Just a 78-year-old sloppy dressing male Christian. No wonder the response of editors to my approaches is, Ho Hum. 

 

Speaking of Books

 

Alice Grist owes her new book, recently published in GB, to her white witch father. The vicar of St Anne’s Church in Royton in the 80’s, dad Tony divorced and then discovered Wicca. When he publicly announced he’d become a white witch, he was lionized by the media. Nowadays he lives quietly. But his daughter has capitalized on her unusual “spiritual upbringing” to tell the story in a book, The High Heeled Guide to Enlightenment.

 

By the way, “white” witches insist the never cast spells that harm or manipulate any person. The problem is they call on the same spiritual powers as black witches. And those spiritual powers are demons in disguise.

 

Poof! House Transformed into Wiccan Temple?

 

Neighbors of Robert de Mille von Schmidt objected at a meeting of the Shelton, Conn. Zoning board to his application to construct a front porch that is in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The neighbors suspect that Schmidt, who uses his property to host Wiccan rituals and ceremonies, intends to turn his house into a Wiccan temple. No decision was made by the Zoning commission.

 

Nothing to Fear, Pagans Promise

 

The local News Channel 3 featured a notice recently of the 8th annual Autumn Moon Festival, celebrating Pagan Pride day in Virginia Beach this coming Saturday. Deborah Foley, practicing witch and co-owner The Mystic Moon, which she calls a “working witch-craft store,” explained that “we believe in honoring nature, honoring of humanity, and respect for all life in the universe. We just have an alternate way, according to the norms of society, of celebrating our spirituality.”

 

Webster University (Mo) Witches “Come Out of the Closet”

 

There’s a new student club on campus. The Webster Pagan Grove invites all students who are interested in paganism, witchcraft and other religions to join forces. SPG was formed last spring by students who took a course on Wicca and Neo-Paganism. The group meets every Saturday in its magic herb garden. According to the student newspaper, WU students and faculty “have shown a strong curiosity and acceptance toward the WPG.” The group is using the $2000 provided by the Student Government Association to “buy a bunch of books about paganism to donate to the library,” in order to “help people figure out what’s right for them spiritually.”

 

 

 

In the News, Sept 10

Posted by owner on September 10, 2009

news items illustrating the rapid spread of neopagan religions in our culture

Sword Killer into Witchcraft

In South Africa Dr, Kubus Jonker testified Sept 2 at the pre-sentencing hear of Moma Harnse, who slashed students and killed one with a Ninja sword. Jonker, a retired police officer who established South Africa’s occult crimes unit, investigated hundreds of occult-related crimes between 1981-2000, and has testified in over 30 murder trials. Jonker testified that while the attack itself was not satanist, the young killer had experimented with satanism and witchcraft.

Kobus occult crimes unit was disbanded in 2000 after human rights groups complained that it was “not constitutional in a country that guaranteed religious freedom.”

Who pays religion teacher?

No, she’s not teaching Christianity. Each month Laurel Owen, of Arkansas, travels Texas and Arkansas where she’s paid to teach Odinism to prison inmates. While theoretically Odinism (also called Asatru), a fringe neo-pagan religion based on Norse myth), is a “benign” religion, it’s viewed by many prison wardens as the religious arm of white supremacist groups. How is this possible? In 2005 the Supreme Court ruled that prisons must accommodate unusual faiths such as Satanism, Wicca,Odinism, and other neo-pagan religions. This lead to a host of additional lawsuits, which have led more than 15 states to recruit non-inmate Odinists to to write scripts for rituals and to lead ceremonies behind bars. Despite the fact that the security threat coordinator of the Texas prison system estimates that 90% of imprisoned Odinist are white supremacists, and despite outbreaks of violence in several prisons directly linked to the religion, Odin worship remains a protected faith in our prison systems. Owen, the Odinism teacher, recognizes the dangers of ministering to this prison population. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which produced an extensive report on prison Odinism, Owen has written a guide for volunteer Odinists who go into prisons to conduct rituals that instructs them to monitor individuals for gang activity. The report fails to say just who it is that pays Owen for her monthly journeys.

In search of the “sacred feminine”

The Columbia (Mo) Daily Tribune asked the question after the appearance of a local exhibit on
“The Sacred Feminine: Prehistory to Postmodernism.” The question? Just what is “the sacred feminine.” On August 31st the paper published the thoughts of two women. One of them a member of a local Wiccan community, gave this lucid (?) definition. “It is a relationship with a mythic source that reveals itself withing the collective consciousness of humanity from the origins of womankind to moder day. To me, the sacred feminine is a divine source of knowing the feminine aspect of creation and existence.”

Federal Court Denies Re-hearing

Earlier I reported on the efforts of a Fort Worth Texas suburb’s efforts to stop a Santeria priest from sacrificing animals in his home. “Freedom of religion” won out in that case over safety [sanitary] concerns. Now a federal court has refused an appeal by the city to review the case, confirming the Santeria priest’s earlier court victory.

Odinists Sue City Parks Department

In Bakersfield California a group of Odinists [see Who Pays, above] gathered in a park to celebrate a ritual, leading to a confrontation with non-odinists who took the religious group as white supremacists. 911 was called, and words were exchanged. The result has been an apology from the Parks department, the filing of a lawsuit by the Odinists …with an assist from the ACLU. The Odnists who follow a Viking religion and whose members must be of German descent deny they are racist.

Positive Magic author dies

Marion Weinstein died July 1st of this year. She is honored by many Pagans for the role of her book Positive Magic in “awakening” men and women to religious Witchcraft. A memorial service will be held at the New York City Pagan Pride Day celebration on September 26th. The brief article reporting on the event closes, “May she rest in the arms of the Goddess and return to us again.

2-year Old’s Body Stolen

In Stamford N.J. the casket of Takara Whitley’s 2-year-old child was dug up and broken into, and the body stolen. it later turned up in a plastic garbage bad on a riverbank in Clifton N.J. Based on evidence of ritual remains near the body Police suspect the body was used in a ceremony by possibly conducted by Palo Mayombe or Santeria priests.

Mechanized Voodoo

From the ISDM conference I attended earlier this week: Teens and adults are now able to buy electronic voodoo apps for their cell phones and PDAs. The program allows the owner to design a figure representing an “enemy,” even modifying features and clothing colors. When the representation is as accurate as possible the victim is “cursed” by inserting electronic pins into the figure. One of the participants at the International Society of Deliverance Ministers reported that the application is popular with teens in her part of the country.
Voodoo kits advertised as “revenge therapy for the overstressed” are available on Amazon.com and are showing up in traditional stores. To see how easy it is to obtain voodoo dolls and spell books just google “voodoo kits.”

In the News August 31

Posted by owner on August 31, 2009

news showing the growth of neopagan faiths

A bargain at 25 Pounds!

Pagans gathered to burn the Wicker Man at Dolmen Grove in Dorset, England, the weekend of the 22nd. The 28-30th The Tribal Dreams Gathering was scheduled for the fields the Great Dorset Maize Maize. The hundreds of people attending these “spiritual gatherings” listened to the medieval rock band The Dolmen Saturday night after a busy day attending workships. Or perhaps eating the “best vegetarian chocolate cake ever” at The Dreamcatcher Chat Cafe, where healers, therapists, pychics and tarot readers were on site. Included in the price of the 25 Pounds Sterling tickets was also the Lammas Games [named for the pagan festival], with contests and games including the skull shie, wooky hole, and the more familiar relay and tug-o-war. Oh yes, there was also a “Christian speaker” included aming the druids and Buddhists.

Texas Isn’t England . . . Yet

A few weeks ago I reported on the rights granted pagans and pagans by the British Prison System. It seems that Texas is a little slower to respond to prisoners’ requests.  Charles Roberts of Brownsville. Texas. is suing the Texas prison system, claiming discrimination. It seems he’s asked several times for Wiccan books, pentagrams and a person to lead Wiccan Services at the Texas system’s Lopez Center, but the prison’s chaplain hasn’t responded. Roberts wants a federal court to give him $600,000 and force the Texas Department of Justice to grant his religious requests. [NOTE. The Texas system's rules require at least 3 practitioners of a religion and a person not in prison to lead worship.] But Roberts claims when he was imprisoned in 2004 the prison entered his religion as “non-denominational” although he told them he was Wiccan.

Pagan Festival Great Success

It seems that the Delmarva Pagan Pride Festival held near Dover, Delaware, was a great success. Full color photos in the Dover News Journal highlighted the various forms of entertained enjoyed by the hundreds who attended. Not everyone who came was a pagan. “It was an opportunity for people of many beliefs to be together and to learn something new,” one organizer said.

Divination Dinner Raises Funds

A dinner to raise funds for the Mid-Missouri Pagan Pride Day scheduled for September 27 was held July 31 in Columbia, Mo. The organizer explained that “the purpose of Pagan Pride Day is to promote education and religious tolerance. There will be jewelry makers, pottery booths, belly dancing and other vendors and non-profit organizations. Workshops are also a part of the festivities; chanting workshops, spiritual work and community building are expected to play a part in this year’s Pagan Pride day.” The dinner tickets ($18 for a single, $30 for a couple) included a meal and the buyers choice of three “divinations.” The divination choices included tarot cards, tea leaves, runes, astrology, charting and clairvoyants.

In the News August 26th

Posted by owner on August 26, 2009

Voodoo in Houston cemetery

 

When Pilar Martinez visited his father’s new grave in an East Houston

cemetery on August 21st he was shocked to find signs of a voodoo ceremony.

Hidden under the new sod were 21 jars. Some contained dolls with pins

stuck in them. Others had animal parts. Others had pictures of unidentified

women. “This isn’t unusual in our community,“ a local store owner commented.

  

Gang Investigators Alerted to Vampire Crime

 

On August 17th the Oklahoma Gang Investigators Association meeting

in Lawton, Oklahoma featured a three-hour seminar on occult crimes

committed by individuals and groups acting as vampires. The seminar

leader, a thirty-year law enforcement officer from Virginia, focused

on information as to how to combat occult crime. Oklahoma sheriff Ken

Stradley said some of the information was nothing new. “We’ve had

some of these incidents throughout the county where we knew Satanism

was involved,” Stradley stated. Lawton police gang investigator

Tiff Poff stated that “street gang and that kind of violence doesn’t

hold anything to what we’re learning how big these topics are becoming.”

  

 

Witching Ways?

 

The Central Illinois Herald and Review.com of August 21 reported on

the discovery by skeptic Tracy Logsdon that he has a “gift” for dowsing,

also called witching, divining, and rhabdomancy. [The practice usually

involves holding a forked stick or rod, which is supposed to react when

what is being sought is located.] After observing two friends attempt

to locate underground water by dowse Logsdon was urged to try. At first

he refused, but finally took the dowsing rods in his hands. He reports

feeling something like an “electric shock.” When they dug where he indicated,

they found water. These days Logsdon uses his “gift” to help people locate

lost graves.

  

Pagans in Delaware

 

Hundreds traveled to Dover Delaware the weekend of August 20th to participate

in the Delmarva Pagan Pride Festival. Organizer Ivo Dominguiz Jr calls it

an “open air spiritual festival” when “people of all magickal and spiritual backgrounds get together.” Ivo stated there’ll be music, vendors, and lots of activities for kids. When questioned about the level of interest in the

festival Dominguiz,who operates a shop for pagans called The Bell, Book and

Candle, pointed out that his store that offers spells, books on magick

and candles, could hardly survive if there wasn’t a significant population

of pagans “right here on Delmarva” to support it.

  

ACLU Joins Fight Against Fortunetelling Ban

 

According to a Washington Post article of August 17th the ACLU has

joined Gypsy Nick Nefredo in his fight against a Montgomery County,

Maryland, law making it illegal to make money from forecasting the

future. Although Nefredo lost a similar suit in 2008, he’s likely to

win this one. Similar bans in Louisiana and Nevada have been overturned

in state courts. In Livingston Parrish, Louisiana, such a law was

overturned when a Wiccan minister claimed that his passing along

messages from the other side was the same as a Christian minister

preaching a sermon from the Bible.

 

Husband Accused of Child Abuse, Witchcraft

 

In Williamston, SC, Christine Starnes accused her husband Scott

of being “deeply involved in witchcraft” and of “using her and their

children without their knowledge.” She provided police with a video

taken by Scott of their 4-year-old son. While the tape was not deemed

evidence of child abuse it did provide a basis or a search warrant.

Police found evidence on a computer of child-pornography, and that

the husband is enrolled in an Internet witchcraft school and seeking

information on how to “banish troublesome persons.”-