Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Curse Of Stonehenge Will Remain

West of Amesbury on the A303, the road dips and rises towards a meadow in the distance. In the meadow stands a clump of grey stones, looking like dominoes rearranged by a shell from the neighbouring artillery range. The clump is Britain's greatest stone-age monument.

Nobody can touch it. Stonehenge is cursed. I have bet every chairman of English Heritage - Lord Montagu, Sir Jocelyn Stevens and Sir Neil Cossons - that no plan of theirs to meddle with the stones will ever work. This week the latest tunnel proposal collapsed, following last year's rejection of a new visitor centre. The fate of the site is consigned to that Blairite neverland called "consultation", joining St Bart's and Crossrail among the living dead, projects which move only because they are maggot-ridden with costs.

I have attended many Stonehenge consultations. They are raving madhouses. The sanest people present are the pendragons, druids, warlocks, Harry Potters, sons of the sun and daughters of the moon. They have a clear use for the stones and speak English. Full Story

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Monday, January 30, 2006

Coffee, Tea, A Touch Of Witchcraft

You've probably met a witch before and didn't know it.

They don't wear pointy hats or ride broomsticks. They look pretty ordinary and don't talk about their religious beliefs to everybody they meet.

I don't go around telling people I'm a Presbyterian unless somebody asks.

It's the same way with witches.

There's a fair number of them in Gaston and Lincoln counties, Kym Miller said this week as we talked in her Witches' Brew Cafe on the courthouse square in Lincolnton.

She should know. She's a witch herself. (A cafe sign reads: "Yes, I'm a witch. Deal with it.") Full Story

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Church To Tackle Child Abuse And Witchcraft

A Brent Cross church is calling world church leaders and speakers to address the issue of witchcraft within Britain's African evangelical churches.

In a move to distance itself from media coverage of a small section of Britain's African churches which participate in bizarre and illegal practices, Jesus House, Brent Terrace, Brent Cross, is preparing to hold a top-level symposium on African religion and Christianity around May. Full Story

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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Teens and the Supernatural World

George Barna’s research group interviewed more than 4,000 teens about their exposure, through the media and otherwise, to the “supernatural world” — and the findings should be enough to send shivers down Christian parents’ spines.

Three nationwide studies conducted by The Barna Group indicate, for example, that three of four teens (73 percent) have “engaged in at least one type of psychic or witchcraft-related activity” beyond that contained in the media; only a minority of teens believes that horoscopes are not accurate and should be avoided; and only 28 percent of churched teens recall receiving any teaching at their church over the last year that affected their views on the supernatural world.

David Kinnaman, author of the report and vice president at The Barna Group, says churches need to do more to help teens become wiser consumers of media — and to train them how to integrate scriptural perspectives into their decision-making. Teens’ comfort and familiarity with today’s technology and media-driven tools, says Kinnaman, enable them to accomplish their choice of spiritual goals — “But millions of teens,” he says, “are precariously close to simply shelving the Christian faith as irrelevant, uninspiring, and ‘just a phase.’” He adds: “The supernatural world represents the epicenter of the spiritual struggle for their hearts and minds.” Full Story

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Friday, January 27, 2006

The Roma People of Europe, Also Called Gypsies

"I feel a kinship with the Roma people," said Indira Ghandi on Oct. 29, 1983 during the second International Romani Festival in Chandigarh, India.

"Do not call us Gypsies. We are the Roma people! Thousands of us lost their lives during the World War II Holocaust, but we were not recompensed! We are treated as second-class citizens in most of Europe's countries and are constantly battling discrimination," said Janos, a Roma, during a conversation in a Vienna restaurant. "Our people have been persecuted for centuries. Our people were held as slaves between 1385 and 1865, when slavery was abolished. We were imprisoned in Spain in the 1700s, suffered during Europe's witch hunt, and the genocide of our people is forgotten history."

On Dec. 13, 2005, the European Court of Human Rights found the Greek government guilty of "inhuman and degrading treatment of two Romani man at the hands of Greek police … The Court awarded each 10,000 Euros for non-pecuniary damages." Full Story

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Lore of the Land (Book Review)

The Lore of the Land: A Guide to England's Legends, from Spring-heeled Jack to the Witches of Warboys by Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson

"The earth hath bubbles as the water has / And these are of them," Banquo observes of the witches at the beginning of the Scottish Play. There is usually something very earthy about the local habitations of the airy nothings of the English imagination. As a student I was taught by a South African who said she could not get used to the fact that the English landscape - all of it - had been trampled by thousands upon thousands of feet since the beginning of history. There is nothing vast, nothing empty. Our creeks and bogs and potholes and standing stones and ponds are inhabited by hosts of invisible creatures and wraiths and stories. Our language is formed by them, from the Boggle Hole in Yorkshire which housed a boggart, to Purchase Wood in Sussex, which has nothing to do with money, but is named for an infestation of mischievous fairies - puccels or little Pucks.

Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson's new guide to English legends is a wonderfully satisfactory book. It is arranged county by county, each with an elegant map followed by entries for individual villages, castles, lakes or moors. The maps have neat symbols - pointy-hatted witches, dragons, skulls, wolves, standing stones - and the text is plentifully illustrated with photographs of atmospheric places, chalk giants, carved Lincolnshire imps and so on.

There are elegant essays, on apple-green paper, on grouped themes - dragons, fairies, witches, bottomless pools, cunning men and (separately) high magicians - but also on individuals such as the murderers of Thomas Becket, on Shakespeare, Boadicea and Oliver Cromwell. Full Story

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Craft of the Witch in School

[Editor's Note: An article that shows the disturbing view towards witchcraft in Africa]

Witchcraft is the craft of the witch: satanic, demoniac, negative, malicious. It is making its way and bed in many schools today. But it not start today. Not even yesterday. School has always been a surprisingly good room in the house of witches. Actually a nursery.

Witchcraft in school is a good case of delinquency when the youths are - sometimes innocently - initiated into cults, sects, deviant beliefs, anti-social attitudesâ-oe by the adults they respect and who blackmail them.

Apart from the "four-eyed" children known from village set-ups, parents nowadays are most likely to lose their beloved children more to witchcraft than to dropping out or failure in academics. Full Story

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Witches Fight For Symbols On Gravestones

There are witches in foxholes. But unlike their peers in more mainstream religions, when Wiccan veterans die, they cannot get the symbol of their religion, the pentacle, inscribed on their government-funded headstones.

Now, witches, including some on Massachusetts' North Shore, are trying to change that. Two separate groups have asked the federal government to approve their star-in-circle symbol for use on deceased veterans’ grave markers.

“We have a fair number of people who’ve served in the U.S. military, too, and given their lives for this country or served it,” said Jerrie Hildebrand, a Salem resident and Wiccan priest. “They have just as much right to have their symbology on their headstone as anyone else does.” Full Story

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Avalon Moon Reflects Owner's Taste And Beliefs

It is not by chance that Avalon Moon feels as much like a sanctuary as a shop or that its proprietress, Hazel Dunlin, looks as if she were plucked from central casting to stand behind the counter of this atmospheric space.

With her long tresses, flowing shawl and large green eyes, Dunlin's person and presence set the mood for her first shop, an "enchanted emporium" of lovely and intriguing objects that include pendants, charms, essential oils and off-beat books, such as The Witch's Spell a Day Almanac for 2006.

Located in a carefully renovated 19th-century building on Main Street in Delhi, Avalon Moon is not only an expression of not only Dunlin's taste, but also an extension of her worldview. Dunlin is a practitioner of Wicca or witchcraft, a pagan, or pre-Christian, earth-based religion that honors nature and animals. Dunlin said she likes her husband, Chris Harper's, definition of a pagan: "a naturalist who takes nature to a spiritual level." Full Story

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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Magic School Casts Spell On Adults

Canadian children are about to see one of their greatest fantasies come true: The opening of a real-life Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But in a cruel twist of fate, they'll have to wait until high school graduation to attend.

Advertised as an "adult version of Hogwarts," the Northern Star College of Mystical Studies is now taking applications for its inaugural certification program. Just like Harry Potter's fictional alma mater, the unique Edmonton-based school will teach herbology, potions, astrology and divination, among other magical subjects. Full Story

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Pagans Make New Dates With 2006

Pagans in Kingston are over the moon because all the important dates in their religious calendar are included for the first time in this year's multi-faith calendar published by Kingston Council for Racial Equality, (KRE).

John Azah, director of KRE, had previously agreed to include only three pagan dates in the calendar but said important progress has been made since 2005. It will now include summer and winter solstices on June 21 and December 21 and the spring and autumn equinoxes on March 21 and September 21. Full Story

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Friday, January 20, 2006

Pastor Is Arrested Over 'Child Witch' Cruelty Claims

The pastor of a London-based African church has been arrested on suspicion of child cruelty after claims that he had been branding children as witches and ordering that they be sent back to Africa where he would pray for them to die.

Pastor Dieudonné Tukala, 40, was held after a raid on his South London home. Mr Tukala, who is married with two children, heads a Congolese church with a congregation of about 400 in Tottenham, North London. Immigration officials are also investigating Mr Tukala, who arrived in Britain in 1999 with an Angolan passport and was granted exceptional leave to remain.

The children of up to ten families are alleged to have been affected at the church, one of more than a hundred Congolese churches in and around the capital. In one example, the BBC reported, a father branded his nine-year-old son with a steam iron. A former church elder told Stickler that he was present when the boy was said to be possessed with evil spirits and alleged that Mr Tukala told the parents to beat him until he confessed to being a witch. Full Story

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

'Impaler' Sinks His Teeth Into Governor's Race

Looking for something really, really different in a political candidate this year?

Take a gander at Jonathon (The Impaler) Sharkey, who will launch his gubernatorial campaign in Princeton, Minn., on Friday the 13th as a "satanic dark priest" and the leader of the "Vampyres, Witches and Pagans Party."

Since there's nothing but a $300 filing fee to stop anyone from running for statewide office, campaigns in Minnesota typically attract colorful and eccentric characters looking for attention. And of course, former Gov. Jesse Ventura broke the mold and got elected.

But Minnesota may never have seen a more outside-the-box politician than the Impaler, also a former pro wrestler. Full Story

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Voodoo Day Celebrated in Benin

Thousands of followers have gathered in Benin in the seaside town of Ouidah to celebrate National Voodoo Day.
They met at a beach called the point of no return, where slaves left on ships for the Americas centuries ago, taking their religion with them.

Followers of the once-banned religion have been dancing, drumming, praying as animals are slaughtered in ceremonies.

Of Benin's seven million citizens, 65% believe in Voodoo. The day has been a national holiday for a decade. Full Story

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Judge Seeks End of Witchcraft Restrictions

A senior High Court judge urged Zimbabwe's government to ease colonial era restrictions on the practice of witchcraft, state-run radio reported Tuesday.

Many here retain strong beliefs in the healing power of spirit mediums -- known as n'angas, or witch doctors -- along with the role of ancestral rites in the nation's cultural life, Judge Maphios Cheda said Monday at the opening of a new judicial year in the second city of Bulawayo.

"The strongly held conviction of belief in witchcraft and traditional healers ... cannot be wished away," Cheda said in the speech quoted on state radio.

He urged amendments to the century-old Witchcraft Suppression Act "in keeping with the popular thinking and beliefs of the majority in this country." Full Story

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Ancient Artists Made Their Mark on Our Landscape

Whether their intricate designs are maps, religious symbols or simply an early form of graffiti, Stone Age rock carvings are seen as invaluable to unlocking secrets of civilisations dating back 4,000 years.

Archaeologists have become fascinated with the work of prehistoric sculptors, studying the mysterious carvings created with flint tools which have survived the passage of time throughout the intervening centuries.

And the North York Moors has emerged as a hidden gem for the phenomenon of rock art after a painstaking investigation spanning a decade has unearthed hundreds of examples buried under heather and gorse across the bleak landscape. Full Story

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Occult Tradition by David S Katz

THE OCCULT TRADITION: From the Renaissance to the Present Day by David S Katz

The critic Theodor Adorno once wrote that the defining characteristic of occultism was “the readiness to relate the unrelated”, rather like drawing a line of your own invention through several dots on a puzzle rather than following the numbers to draw a face. That is almost the mission statement of David Katz’s concise, erudite and often comic book: to restore a vast and coherent body of occult knowledge from the condescension of modern science or the demotic residue epitomised by the astrologer Russell Grant.

Katz covers much more than the past 500 years that he announces as his chosen period. His story begins with ancient Greece and ends with American Protestant fundamentalists planning their lives around the “Rapture”, when they will be beamed elsewhere for seven years, while the Beast busies himself with the unregenerate many. Plato believed that the universe was alive and that the world is a shadow of an ideal reality. Full Story

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

India Digitizes Age-Old Wisdom

In a drafty government institute, Nighat Anjum reads from a dog-eared textbook on traditional Indian medicine and acquaints herself with the miracle fruit known as aamla, which is said to be useful in treating heart palpitations, immune disorders, bed-wetting and memory lapses.

Tapping on a computer keyboard, the 27-year-old physician enters its properties in a database that eventually will contain more than 100,000 such traditional remedies -- the collective wisdom of the ancient healing arts known as ayurveda , unani and siddha , the latter based on the teachings of the Hindu god Shiva.

Other entries include powdered nightingale droppings (a skin lightener and laxative), nightingale flesh (an aphrodisiac), ostrich fat (for aches and pains), ostrich blood (for inflammation), charred sea crab (constipation, ulcers, cataracts and dental stains), honey (for improving vision), tumeric (for treating wounds and rashes) and coconut milk (urinary tract infections). Full Story

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Friday, January 13, 2006

We Should Lower Our Guns on Creation Issue

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." Ten English words. Six in Hebrew. The basics of creation.

No gauntlet thrown down to science. No polemic against anyone who dares to challenge current thinking on life's development. (The original challenge of Genesis 1 was to other ancient religions.)

The words form a statement of faith, not a scientific theorem or principle.

Yet, here we are, three millennia since the words were put on papyrus, and "enlightened generations" are engaged in political and judicial warfare.

Two weeks ago (Dec. 20), a federal judge ruled that a Pennsylvania public-school district could not teach intelligent design - a belief that the origins of life are better explained by an intelligent cause than by natural selection - in a biology class.

In November, the State Board of Education in Kansas adopted new science standards for public schools that treat evolution as a flawed theory.

Neither ruling has quelled the debate over the origins of life. It's just as nasty and confrontational as ever.

So, who's at fault? Full Story

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

New Cat Family Tree Revealed

Modern cats have their roots in Asia 11 million years ago, according to a DNA study of wild and domestic cats.

The ancient ancestors of the 37 species alive today migrated across the globe, eventually settling in all continents except Antarctica, say scientists.

Eight major lineages emerged, including lions, ocelots and domestic cats.

The moggy is most closely related to the African and European wild cat and the Chinese desert cat, an international team reports in Science. Full Story

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Appeals Court Revives Dispute Over Goddess Statue

An activist's criticism of the University of North Dakota's legal aid clinic was not a proper reason for its refusal to help him challenge a "pagan" statue atop a county courthouse, a federal appeals court says.

"We have said flatly, in light of fifty years of Supreme Court precedents, that denial of participation in a state-sponsored program based on the (person's) beliefs or advocacy is unconstitutional," the court said in an opinion Thursday.

Martin Wishnatsky had sought assistance from the UND law school's Clinical Education Program to prepare a lawsuit against Grand Forks County for displaying a statue of Themis, the Greek goddess of justice and order, atop the county courthouse. The statue has been there for decades. Full Story

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Santeria Priests See Bad Omens in Coming Year

Priests of the Afro-Cuban religion Santería called on islanders Monday to be wary of diseases, broken agreements and corruption as they issued their much-anticipated predictions for the New Year.

Although the annual "Letter of the Year" is vague enough to be interpreted in a variety of ways, Cubans anxiously look forward to it each January.

Several competing groups of Santería priests, or babalaos, gather every New Year's Eve for religious ceremonies that include chanting and animal sacrifices. Predictions are announced in the first days of the New Year. Full Story

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Monday, January 09, 2006

Spell to Communicate With Animals

The animal kingdom is very important to those who immerse themselves in natural magick. Sometimes you may want to communicate with animals or simply see the world through their eyes. A simple spell for merging your mind with animals is as follows:

Center yourself by sitting or lying upon the ground, closing your eyes, and imagine a whirlpool of energy surrounding you, travelling in clockwise motion from your head down to your feet, back up to your head, and back down to your feet. Continue this imagery until you feel grounded and centered, oblivious to daily distractions and cares. Once centered, allow your mind to wander to the animal you wish to merge with. Don't force the imagery, rather allow it to happen.

Picture the animal clearly in your mind. Watch it, empathize with it, feel yourself merging with it. Imagine what it is like to be the animal. Imagine the sights it sees, the smells it senses, the motivations and ways of thinking it may have. Become those thoughts. Merge with the animal by disolving the distinctions that make it separate.

Once you have fully merged with the animal, you can communicate with it. Ask it what you want to know. Tell it what you want it to know.

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Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Majestic Standing Stones of Callanish

Stone circles are evocative places and the stones at Callanish on the Isle of Lewis must be one of the most haunting. Not only is there the imposing physical presence of the stones and their spectacular landscape setting, there is also the atmosphere of mystery.

Callanish (or Calanais) is one of the larger stone settings of Britain. The stones tower to a height of nearly four metres and the main monument covers an area of some 5,000 square metres. The circle itself is relatively modest and comprises 13 upright stones with a huge megalith at the centre marking a later burial cairn. Callanish is set apart, however, by two things: The stone settings that run away from the circle in the form of a cross and the presence of at least six other stone circles in the vicinity.

The main monument at Callanish dates back to around 3,000 BC. Full Story

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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Reverence for Nature is Central to Wicca

Each spiritual path brings beauty and truth to the manifestation of life. As a new religious movement grounded in traditional wisdom, Wicca is continuously evolving along with the rest of our society in a time of much change. While we use some of the methods our ancestors employed, our beliefs, principles and values are also influenced by the modern age in which we live.

Like other nature-based religious paths, Wiccans believe that all beings are interdependent. The divine is immanent or indwelling within everything. Spirit pervades all life. Hence, reverence of nature is a central facet of our belief. Nature is sacred in every respect, and our core mysteries are the experiences of birth, life, death and rebirth. We deeply accept diversity and foster empathy for individuals no matter where they are in life. Full Story

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Friday, January 06, 2006

India Rationalists to Campaign Against Witchcraft

Villagers in Sundergarh district of Orissa break into peels of laughter as Narendra Naik, a rationalist, asks them to applaud the "mother", an 11-year-old when her "supernatural" strength ignites the contents of a vessel on its own. The rationalists explain how the "link" is achieved.

Naik, the President of Federation of All India Rationalists Association, is presently on a 13-day campaign in the villages of Orissa to spread awareness against witchcraft, a practice rarely heard of even in any other part of India.

The campaign was started from Sundergarh, district which is reported to be accounting for nearly 60 percent of these cases.

The Government of Orissa has a law, which prohibits anybody practicing witchcraft and includes a fine and even imprisonment. Interestingly, the majority of practitioners and victims of witchcraft are women. Full Story

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Environmentalist Buys Land to Save Oaks

A stand of white oaks that may be older than the state will be preserved after an environmental activist struck a deal to buy the rural property and save the trees from a lumber mill.

Between 50 and 100 oaks are on the land, which was a mineral springs resort during the 1800s. Foresters estimate the trees are between 200 and 400 years old.

"You can almost hear those trees talk," said John Noel, the activist and businessman who stepped in to save the property. "You can feel it, the history. When John Hancock, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were signing the Declaration of Independence, this forest was already growing." Full Story

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Pagan Scouting Group Takes Root

Five-year-old Jade Rainsong jumps out of his mother's car, looking sharp in his green pressed shirt, tan pants and brown hiking boots. "I've got on my SpiralScout uniform and mud-whompers!" he boasts.

Jade, new to the whole scouting experience, races to the door of his 4-year-old buddy, Joey. Inside, the two boys and five other youngsters - three of them girls - prepare for a Saturday afternoon of crafts, snacks and fun.

But this is not their parents' Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts - immediately evident when these kids gather around a coffee table and light candles in solemn tribute to earth, water, fire and air. Full Story

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Magic in Ancient Egypt: Video File (22 Minutes)

As expressed in monuments that retain their impact still today, magic and the supernatural filled the lives of ancient Egyptians. In this made-for-TAC video, television personality Fred Lewis and Field Museum Egyptologist Thomas Mudloff visit sacred and secret sites of ancient Egypt and reveal the mystery and magic of temples, pyramids, and tombs. Learn secrets of ancient magic, some still practiced today. See the tomb of the god Osiris, the entrance to the underworld, secret tunnels under the floor, and the magic of the stones themselves. Watch the Video

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Monday, January 02, 2006

Former Coke Executive Seeks to Brand Peace

As a Coca-Cola executive, Jeff Dunn spent two decades working for one of the best-known brands in the world.

His new project: "branding peace."

Dunn has put his life on a different path since leaving the soft drink giant two years ago. Dunn, whose most recent job at Coke was president of its North American operation, now works out of a quiet, funky office in King Plow Arts Center in Atlanta.

He's largely given up the MBA-speak one hears at Coke's headquarters on North Avenue and talks instead in New Age jargon, mentioning his "authentic self," discussing "the recognition of one-ness" and "the expansion of consciousness," and referring often to books about spirituality and service.

Dunn, already working with a number of causes, had lunch in May with metaphysical guru Deepak Chopra and was immediately impressed. Now the two are working on a project that essentially is, Dunn says, branding peace. Full Story

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Sunday, January 01, 2006

Edmonton Witch Perfect Fit for the Greens

The Green party candidate for Edmonton East is a witch.

Trey Capnerhurst reveals this somewhat reluctantly. She has already lost two jobs because of her religious beliefs, she says.

However, she believes Edmonton's electorate is open-minded enough to accept her faith and concentrate on her ambitions for the riding she lives in.

Capnerhurst talks about her campaign while seated in a small, sunlit kitchen filled with the fragrant scent of the chai she is brewing from scratch. She is a herbal and nutritive healer, perhaps the perfect occupation for someone who also professes to be a "green" or "kitchen" witch. Full Story

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