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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Witch's Bottle Spellbinds Expert

A 17th Century bottle, said to have the power to break a witch's spell, is being examined in Leicestershire.

The Bellamine Witch Bottle, believed to be the first of its kind to be found unopened, is thought to contain urine, human hair and metal pins.

The find, uncovered in Greenwich, south east London, will be displayed at the Old Royal Naval College. Full Story

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Witchcraft Company Awarded

The company Strandagaldur (“Witchcraft of Strandir”) was awarded with the Eyrarrós award at a special ceremony at the presidential residency at Bessastadir outside Reykjavík yesterday.

Strandagaldur runs several museums in the Strandir area in the Westfjords, including the Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft in Hólmavík, and an exhibition in Bjarnafjördur fjord called the Sorcerer’s Cottage. Full Story

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Army Boots Wiccan Chaplain

Don Larsen was, by all reports, an excellent Army Chaplain. When he was a Pentecostal Christian, that is. His superior while he was in Iraq, Chaplain Kevin L. McGhee, called Larsen "the best" out of the 26 chaplains he supervised. But then Larsen applied to change his religious affiliation to Wicca, and the Army railroaded him out of Iraq and out of the Army.

The whole sordid story is extensively detailed in a recent article in the Washington Post which (though long) is well worth reading for anyone interested in the subject.

Here are some excerpts from the article:

On July 6, he applied to become the first Wiccan chaplain in the U.S. armed forces, setting off an extraordinary chain of events. By year's end, his superiors not only denied his request but also withdrew him from Iraq and removed him from the chaplain corps, despite an unblemished service record.

Adherents of Wicca, one of the nation's fastest-growing religions, contend that Larsen is a victim of unconstitutional discrimination. They say that Wicca, though recognized as a religion by federal courts and the Internal Revenue Service, is often falsely equated with devil worship. Full Story

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Romanian Judge Demoted For Witchcraft

Judge Elena Simionescu was accused of being a witch and of creating an atmosphere of conflict during her term as a president of the court in Vatra Dornei, a small town in eastern Romania.

She was alleged to have performed rituals involving splashing water, mud and "other liquids", as well as salt and pepper, on fellow judges' desks in what some saw as an attempt to bewitch them. The case raises unsettling questions about the outlook of some within the judicial system of one of the newest members of the European Union. Full Story

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Wizards And Diviners Abound In Britain

Britain's image as the home of sensible and practical types takes a knock today, with the publication of data showing just how many of us think we are wizards, time-travelers or able to divine water. Norse and Celtic influences moving down the centuries have led almost 10% of people in some areas to believe they can teleport their neighbors as well as read minds, crystal balls and tarot cards.

The findings also reveal that Essex is the home of almost one in 10 of all people in Britain affiliated to a recognized pagan association, while Kent has three times the national average of people claiming to be psychic healers. Full Story

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Army Chaplain Not Allowed To Switch To Wicca

The night wind pushes Don Larsen's green robe against his lanky frame. A circle of torches lights his face.

"The old gods are standing near!" calls a retired Army intelligence officer.

"To watch the turning of the year!" replies the wife of a soldier wounded in Iraq.

"What night is this?" calls a former fighter pilot.

"It is the night of Imbolc," responds Larsen, a former Army chaplain.

Of the 16 self-described witches who have gathered on this Texas plain to celebrate a late-winter pagan festival with dancing, chanting, chili and beer, all but two are current or former military personnel. Each has a story. None can compete with Larsen's.

A year ago, he was a Pentecostal Christian minister at Camp Anaconda, the largest U.S. support base in Iraq. He sent home reports on the number of "decisions" -- soldiers committing their lives to Christ -- that he inspired in the base's Freedom Chapel.

But inwardly, he says, he was torn between Christianity's exclusive claims about salvation and a "universalist streak" in his thinking.

Larsen's private crisis of faith might have remained just that, but for one other fateful choice. He decided the religion that best matched his universalist vision was Wicca, a blend of witchcraft, feminism and nature worship that has ancient pagan roots. Full Story

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Romanian Judge Demoted For Witchcraft

Judge Elena Simionescu was accused of being a witch and of creating an atmosphere of conflict during her term as a president of the court in Vatra Dornei, a small town in eastern Romania.

She was alleged to have performed rituals involving splashing water, mud and "other liquids", as well as salt and pepper, on fellow judges' desks in what some saw as an attempt to bewitch them. The case raises unsettling questions about the outlook of some within the judicial system of one of the newest members of the European Union. Full Story

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Uncommon Scents

What does a lothario or a femme fatale smell like? Would you say gluttony smells thick, sugared and bloated with sweetness — maybe a blend of dark chocolate, vanilla, butter cream and hops with pralines, hazelnut, toffee and caramel? What about places? Do you imagine that Dublin smells of misty forests, damp alder leaves and the gentlest touch of white rose?

Beth Moriarty does. At the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab that she runs with her partner, Brian Constantine, Moriarty sets out to solve scent puzzles triggered by memories of emotions, desires, the mood of a specific place or even literary characters.

Moriarty’s curiosity and insatiable need to find answers to her many scent riddles have led to more than 300 Black Phoenix perfume-oil blends, inspired, she says, by magickal (more mystical than magic), pagan, mythological, Renaissance, medieval and Victorian formulas. When Moriarty was 12, she met the master perfumer and master Freemason Hiram Derby, who had learned his trade in the 1940s, in part from New Orleans’ Madame Marie Guischard, a perfumer and voodooienne. Moriarty completed a six-year apprenticeship with Derby and a year with Madame Guischard. She studied Afro-Caribbean root work, perfumery, natural magick, homeopathy, aromatherapy and conceptual theories of hermetic alchemy, all of which she uses to create her historic, artistic and possibly magical fragrances.

Perfumery was maligned during the early days of Christianity because it was associated with pagan cultures that used it for homeopathic remedies and spells, but by the 16th century, perfumery had reached art-form status in Italy. Full Story

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Church ‘Ruined Pagan Fest’

[Better late than never : )]

The mere mention of Valentine’s Day is enough to send some reluctant romantics into a cold sweat.

Heart-shaped chocolate boxes, expensive jewellery, roses and romantic poetry simply weren’t designed for those lacking in romantic sensibilities — or full wallets.

But those considering vetoing Valentine’s Day may find it more palatable if they consider its pagan traditions, according to author and self-proclaimed modern witch Stacey Demarco.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Mom Files Suit Over Teachers' Witch Garb

A mother has sued the Madison County School District for $1.75 million over allegations that teachers at Luther Branson Elementary in Canton dressed as witches to scare her child.

The lawsuit was filed by Teresa Walker in Madison County Circuit Court, documents show.

Her child, Malcolm Mashad Walker, was a kindergartner at the time of the incident last April.

In the suit, which tells one side of a legal argument, Walker alleges teachers at the elementary school dressed in witch costumes "in an effort to punish the children."

The lawsuit filed Jan. 25 also alleges that teachers locked the child in a closet with one of the "witches." Full Story

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Wiccan Family Lands On TLC

At first, the Rev. Kendra Vaughan Hovey did not believe the messages she found waiting for her in her e-mail inbox.

"I was skeptical at first. At the end of each e-mail was contact information. So instead of e-mailing back, I called and it was legit," Hovey, of Summer Street, said last week.

Last fall, the leader of the First Church of Wicca was approached about penning a book on pagan weddings and appearing on The Learning Channel's new series My Unique Family. Flash forward to February and Hovey has since sent her manuscript to the publisher, Adams Media, with a November release date, and next Monday, Feb. 19 at 10 p.m. her episode of My Unique Family, The Witches Next Door, will air.

"It was such an incredible experience. I didn't expect the awareness of who we are would go national," Hovey said. "I wanted to promote religious tolerance. I have no other motive. It will be frustrating if that point doesn't get across." Full Story

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Pagans Push Peace, Not Politics

In a region that has held its fair share of politically charged antiwar protests in the past few years, 15 people representing a Pagan group huddled on the Cambridge Common on Friday night to promote peace in what they called an apolitical, agenda-free event.

Local members of the Pagan group Earth Spirit sang chants about peace, aiming to create an antiwar protest less confrontational than recent rallies at the Boston Common and in other major U.S. cities.

"This is not a political event -- there will be no speeches," the group's website stated. Full Story

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Witchcraft Brings Murder To Pacific Paradise

Once hailed as an untouched Shangri-La, the mist-shrouded highlands of Papua New Guinea are undergoing a dramatic resurgence in sorcery and witchcraft.

Age-old beliefs in black magic and evil curses are back with a vengeance in jungle-clad mountain valleys which were unknown to the outside world until the 1930s.

Suspected witches – mostly women but including some men and even children – have been subjected to horrific torture before being hanged or thrown off cliffs.

A growing Aids crisis and the collapse of health services have sapped villagers' faith in Western medicine and prompted a return to ancestral beliefs. Full Story

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Wiccans' Respect For Mother Earth

When it is the earth that created you, care of the environment becomes a central religious tenet. But believers who use the Hebrew Bible and Christian Scriptures as the basis for their concern about the environment have a bigger mountain to climb than witches.

While there is much that separates me from the Wiccans, as they rightly prefer to be called, I have learned to admire their passion to find the divine life principle in Mother Earth. Full Story

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Fear of Bias Keeps U.S. Muslims Out of Military

Desperately short of soldiers who speak Arabic and understand Islam, the U.S. military is quietly courting American Muslims. But they show little enthusiasm for an institution many say is prejudiced against them.

"The military have the same problem as civilian government agencies, such as the FBI," said Ibrahim Hooper of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an advocacy group. "There is a general reluctance to join because Muslims think there is bias against them and career prospects are limited."

Pentagon statistics show there are more Jews and Buddhists than Muslims serving in the 1.4 million strong, overwhelmingly Christian armed forces.

In the Marine Corps, there are only slightly more Muslims than Wiccans, who practice witchcraft. And in the Air Force, Wiccans outnumber Muslims by more than two to one. Full Story

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ordained Offer Alternatives To Traditional Weddings

Five years ago, the Rev. Tammy Morgan was faced with a challenge: She was asked to perform the wedding ceremony for a devout Catholic woman and a man who considered himself spiritual, but not religious.

The result was a simple outdoor ceremony, according to Morgan, who is now affiliated with Mystic See in Englewood.

The Rev. Patricia Charnley of The Angel Ministries in Venice has also performed a lot of nondenominational weddings.

Nondenominational is one thing, but at one wedding Charnley performed, many of the guests were dressed as vampires.

Maybe it's the spirit of the palm trees calling, but if the availability of people to perform such an unusual union is any indication, there may be more unconventional weddings in our area soon.

The Rev. Paul Valois, a North Port resident recently transplanted from Rhode Island, is hoping the practice catches on here. Valois hasn't just performed an offbeat wedding here and there; he's made alternative-style weddings the focus of his practice since becoming an ordained minister over the Internet five years ago with the Universal Life Church. Full Story

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Marsden's Fiery Heat

Never mind the freezing temperatures - spring has sprung in Marsden.

Hundreds of people in the village celebrated Imbolc, the festival marking the end of winter.

But an organizer warned that this year's celebration could be the last.

Saturday evening's events kicked off with a torchlit procession through the village, spiced up by Huddersfield University's Slick Stick Bombastic samba band. Full Story

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Pagans Call For Return Of Bones

Pagans in Britain are calling for the return of human remains and artifacts excavated from pre-Christian graves in the UK.

Treasures from a number of countries, such as the Parthenon marbles at the British Museum, are under dispute and the Natural History Museum and Manchester Museum recently agreed to return the remains of Australian Aborigines to their place of origin.

Museums are reluctant to let precious artefacts and relics go and often oppose calls for repatriation or religious protection for items in their collections, arguing that they are of cultural and historical importance for the UK. Full Story

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Priestess Who Put Public Face On Paganism

The former burlesque dancer who founded what may be the nation's most public house of witchcraft 32 years ago in Atlanta is nearing age 70, seriously ailing and living quietly out of state.

But as Lady Sintana, Candace Huntsman Lehrman, who started the Ravenwood Church and Seminary of Wicca at her home near Little Five Points in 1975, remains a revered figure in her Atlanta witches' coven. The church and seminary was the first tax-exempt pagan religious institution in Georgia.

"She is our elder priestess and my spiritual guide and teacher in the craft," said Lady Larina, also known as Deniz Zoeller. Zoeller, a Sandy Springs mother of four boys, was chosen by Lehrman seven years ago to lead Ravenwood. Full Story

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Alternative Approach

David Thompson grew up in a small town, went to a private school and earned his degree from a Baptist college, where he considered becoming a preacher.

It's not exactly the background one might expect from the owner of two stores that sell, among other things, supplies for witches, voodoo practitioners and root doctors.

Thompson is owner of Colors on Cherry Street in Macon and Touch of Magick in Warner Robins. He started Colors on Cherry Street at about the same time that a friend started Touch of Magick 15 years ago. Thompson bought the Warner Robins store five years later.

He describes the shops as "metaphysics and new age" stores. They offer an eclectic mix of items, including stones, tarot cards, specialty tobacco, T-shirts and books on witchcraft and other "alternative religions." Full Story

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

23: How Weird Is That?

woke up today at 10:13. Ten plus 13 is 23. This article is being published on Feb. 3 -- the second month and third day of the year, or 2/3. Forty-eight years ago on this day, a plane crash killed three legends of rock and roll: Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper. Other culture heroes like William Shakespeare, Johnny Carson and River Phoenix each had their birth and death on the 23rd day of a month. Kurt Cobain died in the year 1994 (1 + 9 + 9 +4 = 23!). You see where this kind of thinking takes you?

Jim Carrey stars in a supernatural thriller titled The Number 23, which opens on Feb. 23. In it, his character receives a book titled, yes, The Number 23, and as a result becomes aware of a lot of occurrences of 23 in his life. The more he looks, the more he sees. Soon he is obsessed, soon after, unhinged. The film is inspired by an actual occult belief in the number 23, called the 23 Enigma. The more you learn about it, the weirder it becomes.

This is a primer on the number 23, itself a prime number, a number divisible without a remainder by only itself and the number 1. The earth's axis is on a 23-degree tilt. Two divided by three gives you .666 repeating, which rounded off early gives you the Number of the Beast. Three divided by two gives you 1.5 which gives you ? nothing exactly. But wait, there's more! Full Story

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Judge Allows Wiccan Lawsuit To Proceed

A federal lawsuit filed by Wiccans against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will proceed despite a request by the VA that it be put on hold for perhaps as much as a year.

The lawsuit, filed in November, accuses the VA of coming up with "excuse after excuse" for more than nine years to deny the Wiccan symbol on grave markers of veterans who were members of that religion. The department does not allow its religious symbols on veterans' headstones in national cemeteries.

The VA argued in a motion filed Jan. 19 with the U.S. District Court in Madison that the lawsuit should be put on hold until after the department finalized its new rules related to accepting new grave marker symbols. That process could take up to 12 months but the VA would make a decision on the Wiccan request within a month after the process ended, the government's motion said. Full Story

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Druids Call For Burial

Druids are demanding the re-burial of a child's skeleton displayed in the stone circle museum in Avebury.

On Tuesday the Council of British Druids backed up their request with a small ceremony at the Alexander Keiller Museum.

The child's skeleton was discovered during excavations at the North Ditch at Windmill Hill in 1929. Dubbed Charlie or Charlotte, is one of the most popular exhibits in the museum.

Now the Order of Druids, the group that celebrates mother earth and holds solstice ceremonies at Avebury, wants the skeleton reinterred. Full Story

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Potter's Morals vs. Bible's Magic

Christians have it backward. If you're worried about your child obsessing over magic, it's not Harry Potter you should guard against; it's the Bible.

Author J.K. Rowling doesn't bill her writing as anything other than fiction. Youngsters are thrilled as the courageous and incorruptible Potter overcomes seemingly insurmountable obstacles and achieves his goals. The fantastical realm of magic is merely the world Rowling devised in which to depict her ideal of good triumphing over evil, just as Melville used a high-seas setting to depict the self-destructive nature of an irrational lust for revenge.

A child who reads Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (or views the record-breaking movie) is no more likely to dabble in witchcraft than one who reads Moby Dick is to dabble in whaling.

But Christians tell their kids that the Bible, which is packed with more swords and sorcery than ever sprang from Rowling's active imagination, is not a work of fanciful fiction, but divinely inspired truth.

For instance, scene one of the Judeo-Christian Book of Magic treats readers to an omnipotent Being uttering the universe-sparking incantation, "Let there be light." (For such an entity, "Abracadabra" or a nose-wiggle would have worked as well.) Full Story

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Pagans Banish Bad Spirits

Pill pagans turned out in force on Saturday evening to try their hands a'wassailing.

Around 200 people, many carrying lanterns and torches, joined the procession from Victoria Park to the Ham Green orchard to dedicate next year's apple crop.

Local folk group The Pill Whalers led the singing of the Apple Tree Blessing before the trees were nourished with cider and toast. Full Story

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Witch Way To Monroe Clinic?

It seems Monroe Clinic treated a witch in early December. No, she didn't fly in on her broom and, no, she didn't have spiders and bats in her hair.

According to the Wisconsin Pagan Trader Newsletter on the Web, "Mama Cat" came to Monroe Clinic Dec. 5 for the second part of a total knee replacement surgery.

Mama Cat's daughter, "Daughter of the Moon," posted the blog entry in the newsletter.

Daughter of the Moon has studied Wicca for around 20 years. Mama Cat is the high priestess of Four Winds Sanctuary in northwest Illinois, according to the sanctuary's Web site.

The site describes Four Winds as "comprised of solitaries of many paths, we came together as a community to share stories, drum dreams and teach each other the lessons we have learned on our path."

Mama Cat's husband is "DragonSeeker." The sanctuary consists of herb beds with small shrines tucked away in almost every one, hidden behind the large three-and-a-half staff garage "which in turn hides the sanctuary from prying eyes," the site says. Full Story

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Spell May Comprise Oldest Semitic Text

A magic spell to keep snakes away from the tombs of Egyptian kings, adopted from the Canaanites almost 5,000 years ago, could be the oldest Semitic text yet discovered, experts said Tuesday.

The phrases, interspersed throughout religious texts in Egyptian characters in the underground chambers of a pyramid south of Cairo, stumped Egyptian experts for about a century, until the Semitic connection was found.

In 2002 one of the Egyptologists e-mailed the undeciphered part of the inscription to Richard Steiner, a professor of Semitic languages at Yeshiva University in New York. Steiner discovered that the phrases are the transcription of a language used by Canaanites at some point in the period from 25th to the 30th centuries B.C.

"This is the oldest connected text that we have in any Semitic language," Steiner said in a telephone interview while visiting Israel to present his findings in a lecture sponsored by the Academy of the Hebrew Language. Full Story

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Call To Tackle 'Witchcraft Pastors'

Campaigners are calling for a change in the law to make it a criminal offence to demonise a child, it is reported.

The move comes after police told the BBC that they were unable to charge an African pastor who accused children of witchcraft in this country.

A BBC investigation broadcast last year connected Pastor Dieudonne Tukala to a case where a father branded his son with an iron because he believed the child was a witch.

The Metropolitan Police launched an inquiry, but after 10 months of investigation no charges have been brought. It is not against the law to accuse a child of witchcraft or to pray for a child to die. Full Story

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