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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Wicca And Witches In The West Of Scotland

At thirty-three, holistic therapist Pauline Reid feels her life has purpose.

But Reid's Glasgow clients - familiar with seeing a gentle, dark-haired woman without make-up and dressed in clinical white - might be hard put to recognize her after-hours.

Reid is a practising witch and, wearing her other "hat" as a Wiccan high-priestess, she runs a coven to instruct her sisters in the finer points of witchcraft. She also hosts monthly social gatherings for about 35 Wiccans in a south-side Glasgow pub. Full Story

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

'Code' And The Sacred Feminine

The plot of The Da Vinci Code turns on the revelation of a "sacred feminine" core to Christianity — a secret supposedly so shocking that it might overturn the Catholic Church.

The story line is well known: Jesus married Mary Magdalene and intended for her to succeed him as leader of his church; she was pregnant when he was crucified; their child, Sarah, was first in a bloodline that continues to this day. Powerful churchmen connive and kill to deny women their rightful place in the church.

And after a thriller-killer cross-continental chase, the heroine is declared "the last living descendant of Jesus Christ."

But how much punch does the Code's woman-power premise have? Full Story

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Monday, May 29, 2006

Earth Religions Gather

Pagans don't have a church, but now once a year they have a conference.

Witches, shamans, druids and others gathered in Halifax this past weekend to discuss their faith. It's the second time a national conference has been called - the one last year was in Edmonton and next year Winnipeg will play host.

A Haligonian witch, who goes by her craft name of Oceanna, put in a bid for Halifax to host the 2nd Canadian National Pagan Conference/ Gaia Gathering. About 100 pagans - who all share a connectivity with the Earth - attended the three-day event at Saint Mary's University.

Earth religions are huge in HRM and in the Maritimes, she said. Full Story

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Is 'The Da Vinci Code' Good for The Pagans?

"The Da Vinci Code" has ignited a worldwide controversy. The Vatican has denounced it, church leaders have condemned it, and audiences are flocking to see it. The book and the movie both take a sympathetic view of Paganism—or rather, a critical view of Christianity’s elimination of the female principle and roles of authority for women. (Although certainly Christianity was not the first or last religion to do so.)

Dan Brown, who wrote the "Da Vinci Code" novel, implies that many of the major splits and injustices of our world could be healed by restoring the Sacred Feminine to Christianity, and by acknowledging that Jesus was mortal, had children with Mary Magdalene, and intended for her to carry on as leader of the church.

But is "The Da Vinci Code" good for the Pagans? Full Story

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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Religion Row Rolls On

A non-religious group will consider taking the State Government to the Anti-Discrimination Commission after planned changes to religious education in state schools were shelved this week.

Humanist Society of Queensland president Zelda Bailey said she could not understand how the Government would avoid breaching its own anti-discrimination laws if it left the religious education rules unchanged when it passed revisions to the Education Act in State Parliament.

Critics of the proposal said the changes could lead to a dilution of religion in schools.

But it was claims of witchcraft and paganism which had angered many Christians.

Members of the Pagan Awareness Network, which represent about 500 Queensland followers including witches, druids and wiccans, said they wanted the same rights and religious freedoms as any other religion. Full Story

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Royal Blood, Holy Blood, Fairy Blood

You may have read The Da Vinci Code or seen the movie and are still puzzled by what is meant by Sangreal or royal blood. It has been written about by countless authors in many literary works.

Certain royal families, in the Celtic world, were said to carry the fairy blood, that is to say, the fate or destiny of the royal bloodline, while the elf princesses of romance and history were often called 'elf-maidens'. Certain royal families were said to carry the fairy blood, and it was their responsibility to safeguard the royal blood, but not only for their family but for mankind itself. Elf-maidens were the guardians of the earth, starlight and forest. It's for this reason that the elves have been called the 'Shining Ones", because they led the way.

Fairies are particularly associated with Ireland, where the ancient people of the Tuatha De Danann epitomize them. Full Story

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Pagans, Witches Gather For Potluck Picnic

Dozens of pagans and witches from all over San Diego and Orange counties gathered at Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Oceanside for a potluck picnic Sunday.

The event, organized jointly by the Networking North County Coastal Pagans and the Orange County Pagan and Witches Meet Up Group, was a chance for members of both groups to meet, mingle and get to know people with similar beliefs and interests.

Paganism essentially describes "any nature-oriented form of spirituality, with the exception of Native Americans," said Ryan Smith, 21, a Palomar College student who helped organize Sunday's picnic.

Pagans include Wiccans, Shamans and those who follow practices of ancient cultures that existed prior to Christianity, such as Druids and Celts. Pagans believe in multiple deities as opposed to one God, and celebrate eight holidays, or Sabbats, each year. Full Story

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Witchcraft and the 'Missing' Report

Last year, stories emerged that African preachers were sacrificing children in secret church ceremonies in the UK. Today, we still don't know the full truth behind those claims - and African churches say the government isn't doing more to help them root out child abusers posing as Christian leaders.

No one who last June heard the story of "Child B" would have failed to have been moved.

The eight-year-old child, brought to the UK from Angola, was beaten, cut and had chilli rubbed in her eyes after her aunt and two others believed she was a witch.

The girl's aunt, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and two others, Sita Kisanga and Sebastian Pinto, were jailed - but the case sparked widespread fears over whether a new form of child abuse centered on African "healing" customs had arrived in Britain.

Child B was not the first such child abuse case to emerge from African communities. The appalling death of Victoria Climbie in February 2000 included an element of belief in possession and witchcraft. Separately, police are still investigating the identity of "Adam", the torso of a Nigerian boy found in 2001. Full Story

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Update: Store Told To Pay In Discrimination Case

Boscov's has been fined $5,000 and ordered to pay $21,000 to two Christians, two Wiccans and a pagan who accused the department-store chain of religious discrimination at its Dover store.

The plaintiffs contended that Boscov's bowed to pressure from church people and illegally dropped classes they planned to teach last fall during the store's Campus of Classes. In its defense, Boscov's said the classes -- including sessions on tarot, talismans, candle magic and the pentagram that drew complaints from Pastor William Jeffcoat of Capitol Baptist Church -- were called off for lack of diversity.

The Delaware State Human Relations Commission rejected Boscov's defense, all but accusing the company's witnesses of lying during two days of hearings completed Feb. 13. Full Story

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Widow Threatens To Sue Over Memorial Plaque

The widow of a Wiccan soldier killed in Afghanistan last year says after months of waiting, she is ready to take the Department of Veterans Affairs to court to get a pentacle engraved on her husband’s memorial plaque.

“I’m getting sick from the stress of all of this,” said Roberta Stewart, whose husband, Patrick, served in the Nevada National Guard. “I’m spending six hours a day on this. I just want to put it to an end.”

Currently the National Cemetery Administration has 38 permitted religious symbols for headstones and plaques, but none for pagans or Wiccans.

After Patrick was killed in a helicopter attack last September, his wife asked for the encircled five-pointed star to be put on his plaque on the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Wall in Fernley. But since the pentacle is not currently approved by the department, his space on the wall has remained blank. Full Story

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Neo-Paganism Re-Captures Ancient Heresies

The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown has captivated millions of adults worldwide. One of its controversial ideas is that Christianity is founded on a fraud hidden by the church from the beginning.

But the worldview contained in Brown's book is part of a much wider impact. In the United Kingdom, Jedi is an official religion as listed by the government. Those are followers of the mysticism from the Star Wars film series.

A recent study shows that three out of four American teens have engaged in psychic activities or witchcraft.

Linda Harvey of Mission America tracks these very trends in the schools. She said, “We are in a crisis situation…kids are turning to Wicca, they're turning to witchcraft, they're turning to all kinds of pagan gods and goddesses of the past.” Full Story

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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Witch Becomes Chairman of District Council

She's a witch, an ex-Page Three girl and posed for Playboy. And Marina Pepper is now also the new chairman of Lewes District Council, representing a population of 93,000 people, from Newhaven to Newick.

The former journalist and author of Spells for Teenage Witches represents East Saltdean and Telscombe Cliffs on the council and makes no secret of her pagan upbringing.

Her mother Margaret Ayton is a witch.

It is her family's hippie existence and her formative years living on a travelers' site that have influenced her politics and her lifestyle. Full Story

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Inspired By Fairies, Helped By A Prince

Nothing gets wasted as far as 25-year-old green guru Jenna Gillott is concerned.

Old beads, buttons, vintage lace and garments that have been worn only a handful of times are not fit for the bin – they can be turned into a unique item of clothing fit for the catwalk.

On March 1 this year, Jenna set up Magickal Stitches, her own business which sees her keep one eye on fashion and the other on the environment.

If she buys anything for Magickal Stitches it is usually a charity shop item of clothing, or Fair Trade material – made by workers in emerging economies working in fair conditions and paid a fair wage.

Her business cards are printed on recycled paper, Jenna's High Street flat where her company is based is kitted out with energy-saving light bulbs, and she buys organic food from independent retailers.

Magickal Stitches is home to four sections; Gaia Designs, Stitch n Fix, Wiccan Wardrobe and Faerie Fantasie. Full Story

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Misconceptions Often Follow Wiccans

In ancient tradition, people who lived closely connected to the land recognized only two seasons: growing and non-growing. Modern-day Wiccans joke that it's pretty much the same in San Diego: Summer and not summer.

Under overcast skies, local Wiccans recently celebrated the changing of seasons during Beltane, one of their major holidays, which ushers in the arrival of a period of life, warmth and growth.

It was green robes against white robes, plastic flowers against icicles. The Army of Summer would win; everyone who had come to celebrate Beltane already knew the outcome. Still, around the circle, the audience laughed at the make-believe battle.

Wicca is a nature-based religion, a modern spinoff of the pre-Christian pagan traditions in Europe. There is a God and Goddess, though there is no Wiccan Bible, no central governing authority, and the religion claims no dogma. But Wiccans cite the Wiccan Rede, a poem from which is extracted their central aim: “If it harms none, do what you will.” Full Story

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Scout's Being Wiccan Leads To Turmoil

The camp is going well so far. Boy Scouts have gathered from around the area in khaki button-ups and red scarves, eager to earn their God and Country badge.

The leader in a room of about 20 Scouts decides to break the ice by showing how religiously diverse the gathering is.

By a showing of hands, he asks who belongs to the Baptist Church, the Catholic Church, the Methodist Church, continuing on until two boys are left who have not raised their hands.

One of the brothers is called out to tell the group what church he attends. He replies, "I'm Wiccan."

Little did 12-year-old Cody Brown realize how much that answer would affect his life. Full Story

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Update: Wiccan Emblem On Memorial Struggle

Local woman Roberta Stewart is bracing herself as Memorial Day approaches.

She is the wife of Nevada National Guard Sgt. Patrick, Stewart who was killed in combat Sept. 24, 2005 when a CH 47 Chinook helicopter he was in crashed on a support mission in Afghanistan.

Roberta has been waiting for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to approve a Wiccan emblem, which would be placed on her husband’s marker at the memorial wall at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

Although Roberta submitted an application to the Veterans Administration months ago, she had not heard back from officials even though that department indicated it would make a determination by Feb. 21. Full Story

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Pagan Handfasting Ceremony at Avebury

Sightseers visiting Avebury's famous stones were given an added visual treat as the popular tourist attraction played host to a pagan wedding ceremony.

Rebecca Phillips and Tony Wilkinson tied the knot on Saturday next to one of the site's smaller stones amid dozens of wellwishers in traditional pagan regalia.

And, after having their hands fastened together prior to jumping over a broomstick to close the unusual ceremony, the newly-married couple revealed the day couldn't have gone any better. Full Story

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Jharkhand Women Battle Witch Killing Scourge

Ramani Devi, 45, is leading a programme all over Jharkhand through 'Nukkad Nataks' (street plays) to raise awareness about the practice and thus save many others who might meet a fate worse than her own.

"I simply do not want repetition of what I had to face. It is all because of superstitious beliefs and nothing else," says Ramani.

Today Ramani is not alone in the fight.

Vaisakhi, another survivor, says: "It is a blot on our society. We have to face such inhuman torture even in this 21st century. It is a shame that when women have reached space, we are subjected to such horror."

Vaisakhi, in her 50s, had also been brutally beaten up by a villager, who branded her a witch.

There are scores of women who have been branded witch by villagers and tortured. Many were killed, sometimes by beheading or dismembering their limbs. Full Story

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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Witchcraft In Morocco

"Quli Taslim" (submit to the power of Jinns). I was asked to say so at the entrance of a fortuneteller's house, located in Temera on the outskirts of Rabat. The house of Fatima Zohra was full of people from all walks of life who came to ask about their future, their relationships and their work.

Fatima Zohra's house was very chic, though located near a shantytown in the area. There was a waiting room for guests, and an office with a telephone and a secretary. My colleague and I were so stirred by what we saw.

"Wow, it seems that she is richer than Bill Gates," I told my colleague laughing.

"Don't forget, you are my translator and I am Madam Lopez, beware of the slip of the tongue," I added.

In a taxi, before coming to see the fortuneteller (Shawafa in local dialect), we were searching for a lie to tell the Shawafa.

We couldn't tell her that we are journalists and coming to do an investigative reporting on witchcraft in Morocco. Full Story

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Friday, May 12, 2006

Playground Pentagram To Go

The new playground at Springfield's Washington Park is being altered because of complaints that a five-pointed star etched in concrete could be interpreted as a symbol of the occult.

The pentagram is on the circular stage of a small amphitheater at the rear of the playground. The design was intended to be a spoked wheel, but landscape architect Kent Massie said a mistake made when the concrete was poured late last summer rendered that design impossible. It was decided to go with the star.

Springfield resident Leland Rhodes said he found the design "distressing."

"There is a certain breed of individual out there who reveres such symbols, and in that context, it becomes a religious icon. In this day and age of general concern for children's welfare, especially in regard to predators, my main concern was for the crowd that it might draw," Rhodes said. Full Story

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

'American Haunting' Based on Witch Legend

"An American Haunting" is the latest in a box office frenzy of horror movies _ and maybe the most unusual.

It's based on a well-documented haunting of a family of settlers along Tennessee's Red River in the early 19th century. According to legend, a spirit haunted the Bell family between 1817 and 1821, taking particular delight in tormenting John Bell and daughter Betsy.

The entity identified itself as the "witch" of Kate Batts, a neighbor with whom John Bell had experienced bad business dealings. Full Story

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Kate Moss Hangs With A 'White Witch'

A new bizarre report has alleged that has employed the power of a white witch in order to rid her of Pete Doherty’s presence.

According to the Daily Star Moss has asked the ‘witch’, Zelda Reiss to banish all male negativity using spells, poems and color therapy. Full Story

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Maypole Mayhem

The 20th annual May Day celebration on the Green was the most successful ever, in terms of attendance and variety of events. It didn’t hurt that the weather was perfect and that it coincided with another massive immigrants’ rights rally, but for most of the afternoon other issues and pastimes held sway.

May Day celebrates two rather divergent holidays. One is International Workers’ Day, which was born out of the struggle in the U.S. for the eight-hour day, and which commemorates the Chicago Haymarket martyrs who were executed when the state cracked down on labor activity – activity that was conducted in large part by 19th century immigrants. The other is a pagan-y, crunchy granola-y celebration of spring, and every year on May 1st at 4 p.m., Bill Fischer and friends lead a maypole dance. Full Story

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Monday, May 08, 2006

Hand of Fate

Fur is flying in the tarot-card classroom.

It's left over from the pet-healing class, explains Nancy Floyd, astrologist and tarot-card-reading instructor at CenterPoint for Body, Mind and Spirit.

"I hope no one has allergies," she says.

Floyd wears a flowing, zebra-striped caftan ensemble, a tarot-card reader's version of a classic sweater set. Her long red hair tumbles down her back, adding an element of fire to her demeanor. Platform flip-flops complete the look, which is haute-mystic chic.

"I'm all earth with a little bit of fire," says Floyd, a Taurus, referring to her astrological chart. A 2003 graduate of the Houston Institute of Astrology, she's leading a beginner's class in tarot tonight, in which she's self-taught. Full Story

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Sunday, May 07, 2006

Wicca's Charm

Not long ago, mention of Wicca and modern witchcraft seemed ludicrous. Today, millions of Britons and Americans are involved in neopagan activities. Wicca's Charm is a delightfully readable look at this rapidly growing movement, written by a skilled Christian journalist who is remarkably open to other people and their religious beliefs. Sanders provides a broad overview of neopaganism from a missionary perspective intended to help Christians reach out to its adherents.

Sanders explains why Wicca and other forms of neopaganism attract people "as an alternative to other mainline religions, including Christianity." (One reason, as she notes, is this: "[E]ach practitioner can add and subtract beliefs at will.") Sanders goes to considerable lengths to accurately document the history and beliefs of the neopagan movement. Full Story

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Saturday, May 06, 2006

Witches Dispel Myths Of ‘Untraditional’ Religion

Sherrilyn Alden Bellavance saw it in the eyes of people who entered her downtown shop of “eccentricities and magick” in the days that followed Sept. 11, 2001.

Eddie Cyckowski felt it when he thrust aside the admonishments he heard inside himself, the product of decades of studying the Bible and listening to pulpit-pounding preachers, and crossed the threshold of Ancient Moon.

He became a follower of Wicca, an Earth-centered religion, and a practitioner of witchcraft, the “science,” as it’s described, of using spells and rituals for empowerment or to influence your life.

Kim Jacobs faced it when she began her two-year study of shamanism at a New Age downtown art gallery.

“It” was the journey on a path toward enlightenment, or at least the start of a search for spirituality beyond traditional, mainstream religions.

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Friday, May 05, 2006

Magic Screen

“Of course I am a feminist. Witches were the original feminists, though I am not the bra burning kind of feminist. A witch riding a broom is very symbolical. In ancient days women were tied to their homes and hearths and the broom signified their free spirit, a sign of freedom,” says Ipsita Roy Chakraverty, India’s best-known, self-professed witch. In Kolkata on Saturday to promote the Sahara-produced Sacred Evil, a film based on three of her real life experiences, she is eager to clear a lot of doubts on her favourite topic and talk about what prompted her to endorse the film.

Indians, she believes, have a natural tendency for Wicca, which is one of the oldest branches of paganism and goes back nearly 25,000 years. “Wiccans believe in the cult of mother Goddess and India is the land of Shakti.” And while organised religions like Christianity did spell the doom for the practice of this ancient religion, even modern day healers like ojhas are giving them a bad name. Wicca, she says, is all about women power as most women are wiccans. “The main reason why witches have been prosecuted is because they have always been powerful women who tried to break free from an established system.” Full Story

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

It'll Be A Beltane Belter!

Edinburgh's world-famous Beltane Fire Festival this weekend is set to be the biggest yet, with 10,000 people expected to attend the event.

The annual fire spectacular on Calton Hill has seen a boom in ticket sales, with a ten per cent increase on last year.

It is anticipated that 10,000 will attend the Beltane Fire Festival on Sunday night - more than any of the previous years since it became a ticketed event.

The festival has become a fixture of the Edinburgh events calendar since organizers struck a deal with the city council two years ago to lease Calton Hill for a night and charge an entry fee. Full Story

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Censorship Of Kids' Books On The Rise

Experts fear censorship of children's books is rising, with witchcraft themes, swear words and obscenities the main targets.

Censorship can operate at several levels — during talks between authors and publishers, or through parents and teachers.

"The most covert form of censorship is non-selection (by librarians)," Associate Professor Dillon said.

Concerns about perceived occult, satanic and anti-Christian themes drove many incidences of censorship, he said. "That issue is more prominent now than it was 12 years ago," he said. "We seem to be following a lot of American trends." Full Story

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Highway Sign Brews Up Controversy

Eyebrows are being raised because of a new sign along Highway 74 and a pagan group's promise to keep the road clean.

The Silvermoon Pagan Wicca Group, through the state’s Adopt-A-Highway program, recently sponsored the stretch of road in Gastonia. At the head of the group is Kym Miller, a self-proclaimed witch who owns the Witch’s Brew Café in Lincolnton.

"We want to be community-minded and active in the area, and we wanted to do something to help keep the area clean,” Miller said Thursday.

But many Gastonia residents have their objections. Full Story

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Monday, May 01, 2006

Teenage 'Sorceress' Practices In Woods

Have you ever come across a girl making spells and potions in the woods around Crawley?

If so, you've probably found 17-year-old Kim Seldwicke - one of the town's few practising Wiccans.

Kim loves to enter woodland around the town to cast spells and do pagan-style rituals.

But the teenager certainly doesn't appreciate being called a witch. Full Story

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