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Monday, July 31, 2006

Novel Idea Brings Old Custom To Life

One of Edinburgh's most ancient customs has inspired a new murder mystery novel.

Hundreds of locals and visitors turn out every year in South Queensferry for the bizarre sight of the Burry Man, which is said to date back more than 900 years.

A local man always has the honor of being covered in thousands of burrs, spiky seed-cases of the burdock plant, before being paraded through the town to help ward off evil spirits.

Now the pagan ritual is at the centre of an acclaimed crime writer's new book, which promises to trigger renewed interest in the tradition. Full Story

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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Two Arabs Nabbed Practicing Witchcraft

Two Arab nationals have been arrested on charges of duping people by promising them promotion in their work place through witchcraft.

The arrests were made by the Crime Prevention Unit of the Ministry of Interior headed by Major Mannahi Khalid Al Hajri.

Acting on a tip-off, detectives from the unit laid a trap and caught the man and his aide red-handed. They were nabbed with the paraphernalia like talisman and oil, among other things, they used to perpetrate their crime. Full Story

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Blue Sky For Green Man

Bright blue skies cascaded onto a street of green at the weekend as Pilton broke out the colour and paid special homage to its own Green Man.

Saturday’s festival – awash with market stalls, street performers, games, sideshows, crafts demonstrations and music – once again provided the perfect stage to celebrate the Green Man - an ancient pagan symbol of nature and fertility. Full Story

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Witches Hope For Spell Of Success

Two witches are to open a shop selling witchcraft equipment.

Items such as tarot cards and ouija boards will be available when MSTORY opens in the next fortnight.

Helene Mobius, a witch and qualified herbalist, said she was expecting opposition to the shop, but urged residents to be tolerant and to respect their views.

She said: "I could have called it a New Age shop, but I call a spade a spade. End of story. "If I am not wanted, people do not have to come in." Full Story

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Much Of Modern Faith Has Roots In Superstitions

Last month, in a restaurant in Athens, an elderly gypsy woman persistently tried to sell me some tissues. Finally, she asked for a handout, but I refused even that. So she cursed me with inaudible mutterings and a left hand motion over my head. In the best Ozarks tradition, I immediately cursed her back with similar hand motions.

I don't think curses work — at least I was sure mine would not. And I was relatively sure hers would not, since I had been cursed, magnificently so, by a beggar some years earlier in a German restaurant with no ill effects. But since gypsy crones may be more effective than German beggars, I admit to being a bit concerned. Full Story

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Voodoo Faithful Pray For Miracles

Bearing offerings of rum and freshly slaughtered goats, thousands of Voodoo faithful bathe in sacred waterfalls, praying for a better life and an end to the spiraling violence that threatens to destabilize Haiti's new government.

In an annual ritual that ended Monday, worshippers from across the Caribbean nation arrived for the weeklong Saut d'Eau pilgrimage.

The ritual, among Haitian Voodoo's holiest, comes amid a surge of violence in Haiti's capital that U.N. officials say is an attempt to destabilize the new government of President Rene Preval. Full Story

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Wiccans Say First Amendment Rights Violated

The Wiccan organization Circle Sanctuary claims that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has violated the First Amendment by refusing to approve the Wiccan Pentacle for use as an emblem of belief on the burial headstones and markers of servicemen and women.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution stipulates that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof "

Circle Sanctuary states that it and other Wiccan organizations have requested the use of the Pentacle since 1997, but that the VA has either ignored the groups or lied to them while other emblems were being approved. Full Story

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Haunting Secrets Of Rollright Stones Are Revealed

The haunt of witches for centuries, and a site shrouded in mystery, the Rollright Stones near Long Compton may have some secrets revealed this weekend and next weekend as part of National Archaeology Week.

Visitors on both weekends will enjoy free admission and guided tours by archaeologists including the chairman of the Rollright Trust, George Lambick, formerly director of the Council of British Archaeology, and Dr Gill Hey of Oxford Archaeology.

The stones, including a stone circle, a group of stones and a solitary rock, are said to date back to 3,800BC, making them older than Stonehenge. Full Story

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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Witch Hunts: Public Hysteria Leads To Murder

In an unusual “informal pardon” last week, Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine restored the good name of Commonwealth resident Grace Sherwood — known 300 years ago as the Witch of Pungo.

Sherwood was Virginia’s only convicted witch tried by water — meaning she floated after being tied cross-bound, thumbs to toes, and dropped into the Lynnhaven River. Although floating may have saved Sherwood’s life, it was, at the time, considered proof of her nefarious crime — the belief being pure water cast out her evil spirit.

By today’s standards, Sherwood’s lifestyle would not be out of the mainstream. But in the early 1700s, she lived a hard life. Full Story

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Witches Lead A Charming Life

It is 10.30am on a sunny Saturday morning and in a darkened vault below Glasgow Central station, out of view of the unsuspecting shoppers above, two men and three women in flowing cloaks and dresses of black, white, and green take to the stage carrying elaborately carved staffs and a huge animal horn.

After sipping mead from the horn and invoking the gods of the earth, moon, sun and the waves, an audience of several hundred people join them chanting: “Hail Clutha! Hail Clutha! Hail Clutha!” Holding it aloft, a former doctor — a hulking bearded man known as DC — implores the crowd to “enjoy your day and honour your gods as you do so”.

So begins Witchfest Scotland, the country’s biggest festival of witchcraft, sorcery, magic and all manner of new age mystery. Full Story

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Good Artwork Is Supposed To Make You Think

The mother of all controversies? Hardly. The quarrel over a statue in front of the Ogle County Judicial Center is nothing new. Public art is always contentious.

On behalf of a local artists group, sculptor David Seagraves donated a statue to Ogle County to honor its agricultural roots. He originally called the statue, which will be cast in bronze, “Demeter Over Illinois.”

The Ogle County Board, fearing offense to citizens, changed the name to “Agriculture, Mother of Civilization.” Some board members worried the reference to Greek mythology and its worship of many gods might offend Christians. Full Story

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Wiccans Are Soldiers Too

When it comes to soldiers' gravestones, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hardly follows a strict separation of church and state.

Officially sanctioned memorials for service members are decorated with various Christian crosses, the Star of David, a Muslim crescent, the Buddhist wheel, the Mormon angel, the nine-pointed star of Bahai and even a symbol for atheism.

So what's the explanation for the VA's refusal to authorize a religious symbol for Sgt. Patrick D. Stewart? It may have something to do with Satan. Full Story

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Beware Of The Witches Of Hollywood

Got magick? At Panpipes Magickal Marketplace in Hollywood, factions from every sector of the occult underworld can find what they need for paranormal or supernatural magic — black or white — witchcraft and sorcery, wizardry, astrology, alchemy, practical mysticism, voodoo, divination and fortune-telling.

“We cater to all traditions,” says owner Vicky Adams, 38, dressed a la Elvira at the shop’s Cahuenga Boulevard location. “Everyone has a right to practice what they feel, what’s right for them.”

Pagan symbology dominates throughout the store and is joined by that of Nordic and Celtic rites denoting the confluence of wide-ranging influences at what is known as the world’s oldest occult shop, first opened in 1961. Full Story

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Woman Accused Of Witchcraft In 1706 Cleared

It took 300 years, but Virginia's only convicted witch has finally been pardoned.

State Gov. Timothy M. Kaine was asked to exonerate Grace Sherwood, who was tried by water and accused of using her powers to cause a woman to miscarry. On Monday, the 300th anniversary of Sherwood's "ducking" trial, Kaine obliged.

"I am pleased to officially restore the good name of Grace Sherwood," Kaine said in a letter that was read aloud by Virginia Beach Mayor Meyera Oberndorf before a local re-enactment of the ducking.

"With 300 years of hindsight, we all certainly can agree that trial by water is an injustice," Kaine wrote. Full Story

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Stella Has The Magic Touch... Warts And All

From time to time, you come across something that simply cannot be explained. The gift that 61-year-old Stella Lee of Sims, Ill., possesses is one of those things.

For more than 25 years, Stella has been a "wart toucher" and "fire blower."

Somehow, she can simply touch a wart, and it falls off, she says.

And by blowing on a burn, she can make it stop hurting and keep it from blistering. She also claims to hold the ability to stop bleeding.

Stella is not a doctor, and does not practice witchcraft. Her strange talent, she says, came from her grandmother, Stella Brown, who passed the secret gift to a relative who passed it along to her. Full Story

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Vicar Gets Into The Grove

It’s only natural for one Dukinfield vicar.

The Rev Dr Vernon Marshall explores his wild side by moonlighting in his spare time as a druid.

Eight times a year he dons a red robe, takes on the druid name sionnach or ‘silver fox’, and joins 12 other members of his ‘grove’ to celebrate the ancient rituals of our ancestors.

Dr Marshall sees no clash between his role as a Unitarian vicar at Old Chapel and druidry. In fact he points out that many Christian festivals are based on age-old ceremonies. Full Story

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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Opinions Vary On Impact Of Pagan Group

When Don Lewis and Ed Hubbard first tried to open a Wiccan school in Hoopeston, they encountered fierce opposition from some area residents.

The resistance was so spirited that Lewis and Hubbard put the school on hold and settled for a bookstore and online education program.

“We’ve been here three years, and there’s been nothing bad,” Lewis said.

“We don’t hurt anybody, (and) we employ people who are not Wiccan.”

Building on these sentiments, Witch School expanded its services this month to include the onsite classes it shied away from three years ago.

Local reaction to the move is mixed. Full Story

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Wiccan Symbol Far From Getting VA's Approval

The widow of a Nevada Army National Guard member killed last year in Afghanistan met with a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs official Wednesday to try to get her husband's Wiccan symbol of faith approved for his memorial plaque.

Roberta Stewart, wife of Sgt. Patrick Stewart, met with William Tuerk, undersecretary for memorial affairs within the veterans department, but was told no action on approving the Wiccan pentacle, a five-pointed star, for use in veterans cemeteries would be taken anytime soon.

Tuerk would not offer a timeline, and Stewart said her only option now is to file a lawsuit on First Amendment grounds. Full Story

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Woman Says Firm Fired Her For Being Wiccan

A Schaumburg company allegedly fired a woman, and one employee is accused of calling her a "devil worshipper" after she disclosed she practiced Wicca -- a pagan religion viewed by some as witchcraft.

Now, the woman is suing.

Rebecca Sommers said the company fired her in 2004, citing poor job performance. She had worked with the firm since 2002.

But Sommers insists in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday that Crawford and Company Inc. fired her because supervisors there didn't like her religion. Full Story

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Witching Hour Coming To Town

Authors Dorothy Morrison and M.R. Sellars will sweep into Selene’s Universal Healing Center in Sanford on July 18.

The pair is well known in certain circles. The two are on tour promoting their collection of works, as well as recent or upcoming releases. But this will be no ordinary book signing.

Morrison and Sellars, who are both practicing witches, are sorcerers of the written and spoken word. Interactions between the two are like spell casting battles of who can be funnier, who can come up with the best insult and who can take the other to task. If one makes a mistake or misspeaks, the other is immediately on top of it with a correction that probably includes a demeaning name. Full Story

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Honoring the Divine Feminine

Why are we mesmerized by a woman who lived 2,000 years ago? And especially a woman who, until recently, was generally vilified as a prostitute, only of note because Jesus cleansed her of seven devils? Even though Mary Magdalene is mentioned more than any other woman in the New Testament, she has been accorded little importance in mainstream Christian tradition.

Magdalene’s mysteries weave through the Jesus mythos and on through the Grail legends; her sea voyage to Glastonbury and to the South of France; and her possible connections with the Black Madonnas of Europe.

The groundswell of interest about the Magdalene, fueled by books and films such as The DaVinci Code, comes at a most opportune time. It taps into a deep hungering for knowledge about the feminine force that has been so long eclipsed in Western religion. Full Story

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Woman Tries To Clear Witch Convicted 300 Years Ago

Grace Sherwood was a healer, a midwife and a widowed mother of three sons.

Her neighbors thought she also was a witch who ruined crops, killed livestock and conjured storms.

On July 10, 1706, the 46-year-old woman was tied up and "ducked" — dropped into a river — in what is now Virginia Beach. The theory behind the test was that if she sank, she was innocent, although she'd also likely drown.

She floated — proof she was guilty because the pure water cast out her evil spirit.

Three hundred years later, a modern-day resident of this resort city has asked the governor to exonerate Sherwood, Virginia's only convicted witch tried by water. Full Story

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Witchcraft Ban Ends In Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe has lifted a ban on the practice of witchcraft, repealing legislation dating back to colonial rule.

From July the government acknowledges that supernatural powers exist - but prohibits the use of magic to cause someone harm.

In 1899, colonial settlers made it a crime to accuse someone of being a witch or wizard - wary of the witch hunts in Europe a few centuries earlier which saw many people burned at the stake after such accusations.

But to most Zimbabweans, especially those who grew up in the rural areas, it has been absurd to say that the supernatural does not exist. Full Story

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

Regulations on Professional Psychics In Salem

On an evening more fitting for hunting an ocean breeze than packing into stuffy City Council chambers, many of the town’s magic-shop owners and psychics turned up, Tuesday night, to discuss regulating the business of psychic readings.

The council’s subcommittee on ordinances and licenses listened to two hours of testimony from black-clad psychics, concerning the "fortune tellers" ordinance that was passed in 1998.

Owners of brand-new shops and those in town since the ’70s turned up to discuss the issue, along with readers from the Magic Parlor, Pyramid Books and The Oracle Chamber.

Only four shops in the city currently have the $25 license, with permission granted to each to license five readers. Full Story

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Nature-Friendly Methods To Probe Sacred Ground

In a lonely field a few feet from the shade of a towering Indian mound, a graying medicine man charts the progress of the crew probing his ancestral stomping grounds for ruins.

Tim Thompson, the soft-spoken spiritual leader for the ceremonial Hickory Ground, scribbles measurements on a crisp white tablet as a ground-penetrating radar system rolls across the grassy pasture, yielding a series of blips and dips on a colorless computer screen.

In a few days, the data they painstakingly record will be used to jot a map of ancient structures and relics buried deep in the sacred soil of the Etowah Indian Mounds site in northwest Georgia. Yet even if the data can pinpoint exactly where Native American artifacts are buried, Thompson would rather leave them alone.

Adam King has dedicated his career to unearthing the ruins locked beneath the site in hopes of shedding more light on how the land's first settlers lived. Word that he might not be able to excavate parts of the site is, to say the least, discouraging.

King is on the vanguard of a group of conscientious archaeologists, a class of excavators dedicated to studying ruins but also seeking to cooperate with the natives who want to keep the land unscathed. Full Story

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Spiritualists Look Within For Growth

Question: What are the core tenets of your spiritual beliefs?

Answer: Spiritualism is the science, philosophy and religion of continuous life, based upon the demonstrated fact of communication, by means of mediumship, with those who live in the spirit world.

We believe in God and that God is spirit, and that spirit pervades and controls all creation, is without shape or form and is omnipresent.

We believe in and accept the truths that are contained in the Bible and other holy texts and assert that prophecy and mediumship are not unique nor of recent occurrence alone, but they are universal, everlasting and have been witnessed and observed in all ages of the world.

Everyone has the right to find his or her own way to the divine. There is no single "right" path to enlightenment. Full Story

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Witch School Opens Doors In Midwestern Town

In the "Harry Potter" series, the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry sits in a mystical Scotland location, shrouded by magic that hides it from unknowing humans.

Starting next week, in the unlikeliest of places, a real witch school will open its doors to the public in a place known as the Sweet Corn Capital of the World.

After almost five years of existence on the Internet, Witch School is expected to operate under normal business hours in the town of Hoopeston, Ill., about 100 miles south of Chicago.

The school is dedicated to educating the public in Wicca, a neo-Pagan religion that incorporates nature and magic into its theology. Until now the school has existed almost entirely on the Internet.

Ed Hubbard, the school's CEO and director, was lured to Hoopeston by what have been considered to be some of the lowest real estate prices in the country.

The town is known primarily for its annual Sweet Corn Festival; its high school mascot known as the Cornjerker; and the National Sweetheart Pageant, which has produced eight Miss America winners.

The town could soon be known as a Pagan colony, after Witch School starts letting visitors utilize its ritual space, view the studio where it produces videos for the Internet, and peruse its library of religious, metaphysical and historical texts. Full Story

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Druids Vow To Defend Sword Ban To The Hilt

A pagan carrying her sacred knife has been arrested for possessing an offensive weapon.

Debbie King, Arch Druidess of the Insular Order of Druids in Portsmouth was arrested at Fareham Magistrates Court for carrying a five-inch blade.

Miss King was dressed in her regular clothes but handed security officers a bag containing all her Druid accessories, including the sheathed knife known as an athame.

When she went to collect the bag later she was kept waiting for an hour before two police officers arrived and arrested her. Full Story

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Monday, July 03, 2006

Exercising Their Rites

Standing barefoot underneath a leafy tree on fire with the setting June sun, nearly two dozen witches quietly prepare themselves to celebrate the longest day of the year, the summer solstice, or to these Wiccan faithful, Litha.

For this evening's Sabbat, one of eight religious rituals held on Wicca's sacred days, the worshippers are dressed in everything from their solstice best - flowing robes of varying colors - to the more casual jeans, T-shirts and wraparound skirts.

"We come into the light half of the year, the hope of a new day and a new sunrise. We take all the negative things of the past and put it behind us," says Loye Pourner, the lay leader of this Wiccan circle based at Travis Air Force Base, addressing the group on Litha's significance. "The sun's up. We're alive. We're together. It doesn't get much better than this." Full Story

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Sunday, July 02, 2006

‘Witch Child’ Abuse Spreads In Britain

An official inquiry into the abuse of African children branded as witches is expected to conclude that there have been at least 50 such cases over five years in London alone.
The investigation is expected to find that cases of sorcery-related abuse are now spreading outside the capital to areas such as Liverpool, Newcastle and parts of Yorkshire — although they remain confined to only a minority of Africans in Britain.

The abuse of the children has ranged from shouting to beating, starving, slashing with knives and razors and, in at least one case, murder.

Lord Adonis, the education minister, announced in the House of Lords last week that the report, which he said addressed “very grave” issues, was likely to be published by next month.

The education department maintains that publication of the findings, which were delivered to Whitehall in January, has been delayed because they are being “studied by ministers”. Full Story

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Voodoo's Holiest Day Celebrated In New Orleans

June 24 is St. John's Day, named for St. John the Baptist, cousin of Jesus. It's also the holiest day of year for voodoo practitioners.

Voodoo has long been accepted as part of New Orleans' culture, while in the rest of the country it remains misunderstood and often disparaged.

St. John's Day, which falls every year around the summer solstice, is a celebration of growing and moving forward. Practitioners and curiosity-seekers alike gather and participate in various ceremonies. Full Story

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