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Monday, April 30, 2007

Hanover Teen Sent Home For Pentagram On Cheek

The parents of a 16-year-old Hanover Central High School freshman say they expect an apology from school officials for sending their daughter home Tuesday for wearing a pagan symbol to celebrate a religious holiday.

Andy Pecenke, of Cedar Lake, said his daughter Sky Holeman has been a practicing pagan for three to four years.

The pentagram his daughter wore below her eye on her upper cheek is about the size of a quarter, Pecenke said. "They told her it was too distracting," he said.

"They don't send kids home on Ash Wednesday," Pecenke said. Full Story

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Joe Hennon - Neo-Celtic Pagan (Interview)

PM Neo-Celtic Pagan. Would it be fair to say that your music is Celtic in rhythm and pagan in spirit?

Hmm. Some of the rhythm is not necessarily Celtic, there's a Scandinavian feel to some of it, although we do consider ourselves Celts. It's not just a Scottish/Breton/Irish thing though. There were Celts all over Europe at one time from the Danube to the Tagus. The Belgae were a Celtic tribe and Friesland was also Celtic. The music is definitely Pagan in spirit though. We write 80% of it ourselves and it's usually related to nature or various gods or concepts like freedom. We also write dance tunes, usually in the style of European folk dances. When we do play traditional songs the lyrics have to be meaningful to us.

PM And, finally, is the face paint there to frighten off Christians?

Nah, it's something Omnia has always done (the origins of the band is in theatre) and we decided to keep. We would feel only partially dressed if we went on stage without it. (what do you mean we go partially dressed on stage anyway?! :-) ) We've no problem with Christians, Muslims or any other religious people provided they don't try to force their views on everyone else in the world. We just think there are a lot more gods than just one... Full Interview

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Beltane And The Greewood Marriages

It's May... It's May... the lusty month of May...

Beltane, also known as “May Day,” is the ancient Celtic fertility holiday that celebrated the rites of spring with much frolicking and fun. It begins tonight at sundown April 30th and lasts all day on May 1.

Beltane signals the beginning of the bright half of the year. It means “Bright Fires,” or “Brilliant Fires.”

In ancient times, two great fires were lit, and made with healing herbs. The light would guide the townspeople through the night, and some would jump skyclad over the flames and or rides their animals between the two fires to be blessed by the sacred smoke.

It is also the holiday of soulful love, a time when we feel called to open our hearts and or connect more deeply with others. It celebrates love, attraction and courtship – and “mating season.” Here, we call it “wedding season.” Full Story

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Witchcraft Fuels Legal Complaints In Chile

Chile’s southern island of Chiloé is more than just physically isolated from mainland Chile, and its residents continue to mix Catholic teachings with the pagan beliefs of their ancestors. Mothers on the island routinely tie red ribbons on their babies’ arms to avoid the “evil eye” of potential enemies, and these superstitious beliefs are now entering the island’s court system.

In the past three years, fifteen lawsuits have been filed in Chiloé against practitioners of “black magic,” most of them filed since Chile’s recent judicial reforms made it easier to file personal lawsuits.

Daniel Alvarado, the chief judge in the island’s capital city of Castro, said that the court does not take the lawsuits seriously, no matter how strong the beliefs of those who file them. “We don’t consider the lawsuits real,” he said. “Although we respect these peoples’ culture and beliefs, witchcraft is not a crime. Our court is based on scientific fact.” Full Story

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Pagan Ideas 'Infiltrating Our Society'

A Minister and religious commentator from Bath has published a hard-hitting book on the "dangers" posed by paganism.

The Rev Jonathan Skinner, who is a minister at Widcombe Baptist Church, has just published The Rise of Paganism.

The book claims that pagan practices are "infiltrating" mainstream society, including teenage books and yoga, and calls for Christians to be wary.

Wicca, astrology, Earth worship and other pagan practices are all discussed by Mr Skinner, who has previously published other works on religion. Full Story

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

These Are Some Proud Old Crones

Call Natalie Smith a crone and she'll thank you. To Smith, "crone" isn't a nasty barb but a title bestowed upon her 20 years ago by a group of younger women wishing to honor her wisdom and experience.

Now at 88, Smith is among the elders at the Concord Unitarian Universalist Church. With horned staff in hand, she leads the closing blessing at the annual winter solstice service and, as a retired federal budget officer, critiques the church's books. In between, she serves as a role model for younger women in a world that often values their beauty over their other skills. Full Story

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Pagans Want To Be Included Too

In the United Kingdom, or really anywhere else on planet earth, Paganism is not part of the school curriculum. However, a mother in the UK, Fiona Edden, wants it to be part of the learning process. Recently Edden submitted an online petition to the Downing Street website, asking for support in adding Paganism to the school curriculum.

Just as in the United States, Paganism is a recognized religion. The UK estimates approximately 40,000 followers of the religion. The reason for the petition is in fact to add the teaching of the religion, but it is also to show equal rights as well. The current school curriculum teaches of six other major religions and humanism as well.

Currently Pagan groups around the area backed the petition stating "there was unfounded 'fear and ignorance' about the religion and the nation's children should be informed." But on the other side of the coin, the people in charge of education said "there were no plans to introduce the religion into schools, although guidelines have recently been drawn up to look into the teaching of minor faiths." Full Story

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Mum Goes To No 10 With Paganism Plea

A mother is campaigning to have Paganism included on the curriculum in the UK's schools.

Part-time student Fiona Edden, who has raised her three children as Pagans, has submitted an online petition on the Downing Street website which last night had been signed by 79 people.

Paganism - a recognised religion - is followed by about 40,000 people in the UK, yet is not studied at schools where the six major religions are on the curriculum, as well as humanism.

Pagan groups last night backed the bid, saying there was unfounded "fear and ignorance" about the religion and the nation's children should be informed. Full Story

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Only Hope Of Saving Forest Now Lies In Witchcraft

Desperate situations, they say, call for desperate measures. And so it is with the Uganda’s public struggle to save Mabira forest from being cut down to make way for sugar cane plantations.

Once word got out that the Sugar Corporation of Uganda (Scoul) had applied to the government for 7,900 hectares of Mabira (7,100 ha for actual cane planting and 800 to cover places where cane cannot be physically planted like streams and hilltops), and that the company stood high chances of getting the land, activists started off with petitions, memoranda and newspaper commentaries. The company was even offered land by the Kabaka of Buganda, and then by the church, to abandon its bid for Mabira.

But one of the more interesting measures was resorting to the supernatural, what is usually contemptuously referred to as witchcraft. People pleaded with medicine men and women, whom they usually hold in low esteem, to do something. The national boss of these people, who prefer to call themselves “traditional healers,” finally listened to the people’s cries and went to Mabira. She is a middle-aged woman called Mama Fina (mother of Jospehine). She planted some stuff in the forest and assured the nation that all would be well since anybody who attempted to cut down the forest would never know what hit them. Full Story

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Witchcraft Mob Fears

Residents of a tiny rural Eastern Cape village are living in fear because, they say, local youths are accusing them of witchcraft and threatening to kill them.

They told of their fears after a mob killing in which three members of one family were murdered at Gora, near Lusikisiki.

Two more intended victims managed to escape.

Six people in their 20s, including a ward committee member, were arrested in connection with the deaths.

At the subsequent meeting at the local police station, elderly villagers told police that youths from the village were terrorising them, threatening that “they would be the next victims.” Full Story

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Friday, April 20, 2007

The Pendulum's Swing

In some circles, the pendulum and its swing have been accorded special, even occult powers. Many believe that the pendulum's mesmerizing motion induces hypnosis. Others say the steady sweep, followed by stillness, enables fortune telling.

Roch Preite operates Pendulum Hypnotic Solutions in Old Bethpage, N.Y. A slow arcing pendulum can be hypnotic for several reasons, he said.

"The thing that catches one's eye, I think, is the consistency and rhythmic nature of the swing," he said. "Its smoothness is alluring and it can be comforting. It harkens back to the beat of your own mother's heart while you were still in the womb." Full Story

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Who Knew? An Old Law Shuts Psychics

Philadelphia's fortune-tellers didn't see it coming.

Suddenly they're facing a very unhappy future.

Alerted to an obscure state law banning fortune-telling "for gain or lucre," the city's Department of Licenses and Inspections is closing storefront psychics, astrologers, phrenologists and tarot-card readers who charge money for their services.

Inspectors had closed 16 shops since Tuesday, Deputy L and I Commissioner Dominic E. Verdi said yesterday.

Fortune-telling for profit is a third-degree misdemeanor. The law has been on the books for more than 30 years. Full Story

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

'Witches Conference’ Alarm Costs Bechem

An alleged news item carried on a Kumasi FM station about two years ago to the effect that there was going to be a national conference of witches and wizards at Bechem Junction in the Tano South District of the Brong Ahafo Region, has considerably reduced the hitherto brisk business and the hustle and bustle in the area.

The news report was said to have been occasioned by a so-called pastor.

Even though the said conference never took place, travelers to Tepa, Goaso, Acherensua and other places who make transit at the' junction have refused to patronise food items and drinking spots as they used to do, for fear that they would be bewitched.

Consequently, the assembly has decided to institute legal action against any radio station or pastor who persists in tarnishing the image of the people of Bechem and its environs by holding on to the purported witches and wizards conference due to take place at the junction. Full Story

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I See 33s

I’ve been seeing 33s for a few years now. Looks strange to write it, even stranger to say it, but it is true. I see them when I’m driving on license plates, gas prices, road numbers, mile markers, hotel rates, produce prices, you name it, if there’s a 33 on it, I am going to notice it like a flashing beacon.

I see them on my tab when I’m shopping or having dinner at a restaurant. I also see them when I am buying gas, at the pharmacy, at a coffee shop or stopping at a convenience store. I see them on the television, in phone numbers, on sports jerseys and I wake at 33 past the hour several times a night. My husband began noticing the numbers around the same time I did and he once even found a box turtle with a marred shell and the result looked like the animal was covered in 3s. Full Story

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Meet The Witches Of Issaquah

One of the greatest advances of the Internet has been its ability to bring people of like minds together, whether via virtual chat rooms or through groups who meet in person regularly.

At the Web site meetup.com, a site for those seeking those with similar interests, toward the bottom of the list of popular topics lies a curious link - witches.

Sure enough, Issaquah is one of several locations the wiccan meetup group schedules get-togethers. But when this group gathers at the local Starbucks, the only thing brewing is the barista's coffee maker. Full Story

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Better To Be A Mortal Than A Greek God

Women's voices have not survived from the past as well as we might like, and this is more true in ancient history than in modern. In worlds where most of the writing was done by and for men, the few literate women whose writings were did not always survive. But there are a few wonderful exceptions, and one of these is Miss Praxilla of Sicyon, who flourished some time around 450 B.C.

She was an accomplished poet who wrote hymns to the Greek gods, wedding choruses and possibly some drinking songs. But, while sadly only fragments of her work survive, there is at least one sweet poem which comes down to us intact. Full Story

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Turning Up The Heat For Beltane

For some people, the Beltane Fire Festival is nothing more than a bunch of hippies getting drunk, getting naked and lighting hazardous fires on a hilltop. But there's a lot more to Edinburgh's festival of pagans and wiccans than that. This month Beltane celebrates its 20th anniversary, with a fortnight of activities, workshops and seminars leading up to the 30 April ceremony. Among the events is a photo exhibition at the Bongo Club and a geological tour of Arthur's Seat. The day itself will see the first ever Beltane green audit, to assess the event's impact on the environment.

The Beltane Fire Festival celebrates the heritage of Gaelic history, and marks the blossoming of spring and fertility. The name Beltane is thought to have derived from a Celtic word meaning "bright fire"; the fire represents the sun burning away the winter darkness, and the community pass through it to be purified and circle it for good luck. Full Story

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Witch School Closes

It's caused a stir since it first moved into town, now the Witch School in Downtown Hoopeston is saying goodbye.

Owners of the school said they have felt "discriminated against" since the school first opened in 2003 and that led to the decision to leave.

Ed Hubbard said when he opened the Witch School more than three years ago he thought it would be great for the city of Hoopeston.

He said bringing in tourists and money was never a problem. It was the way they and their visitors were received that led to their final decision to leave. Full Story

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Painters Find Inspiration In Sacred Feminine, Earth

Capturing the spiritual essence of the wild woman on canvas is a delicate art.

Using the power of myth, two local friends, artists and storytellers, have mastered the technique. Their styles differ, but their works share a similar purpose: to unveil the faces of the sacred feminine.

“I want women to feel more empowered about our talents, abilities and strengths,” Fort Wayne native Ilene Satala says.

Her “art of the goddess” features ethereal, incandescent women who burst with color and are adorned with flowers, jewels and butterflies.

Ann Beeching’s oil paintings, which depict women with their totems or “animal spirit companions,” tend to be a bit earthier. The often naked women are prone to prowling with animals in the darkness or are in the process of becoming one of the exotic creatures. Full Story

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Stonehenge Amulets Worn By Elite

Forget dressing for success: Clothing ornaments thought to confer supernatural power were all the rage among chiefs and other important people in England 4,000 years ago, say scholars.

A recent find indicates some of these fashion trends might have originally been designed by Stonehenge leaders.

While working two months ago in South Lowestoft, Suffolk, British archaeologist Clare Good excavated a four-sided object made of the mineral jet. It closely matches a geometrically designed gold object found far away at a burial site called Bush Barrow near Stonehenge in Wiltshire.

The match is so close that experts believe the black artifact is a skeuomorph, or a copy in a different material. Full Story

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Returning Holidays To Pagan Roots

Ever wonder what bunnies have to do with the Resurrection? Or what evergreens have to do with Christ’s birth? Or what drinking has to do with being Irish?

OK, bad example.

The first two examples reference modern Christian holidays that still retain vestiges of their pagan roots. The last alludes to a latter-day pagan bacchanalia with barely discernible Christian roots.

When the Emperor Constantine converted in the fourth century A.D., he not only redefined Rome as a Christian empire but also began refurbishing age-old holidays to coordinate with his new religion.

Thus what was once an observance of winter solstice became a celebration of Christ’s birth, even though many scholars now believe he was born in April. More conveniently, century-old spring fertility rites corresponded perfectly with Easter and its promise of new life. Full Story

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Paranormal Investigation: A Pagan’s Perspective

My name is Heather Drolet and I have been investigating the paranormal with TAPS for over 6 years now. I happen to be pagan and have been for all of my 35 years. As a multi-generational pagan, witnessing paranormal events seemed purely natural and was never a new experience for me. Upon discovering TAPS, I decided to learn the science behind the investigative group and their methods.

Through the expertise of Jason Hawes (Founder) and Grant Wilson (Co-Founder), I learned to investigate paranormal activity from a scientific point of view. I found it fascinating to see an actual electronic measurement of the unseen energies that we encountered. I continued to investigate and research the paranormal, in that manner, for years. However, my pagan instinct led me to begin experimenting, in the field, with tools that are largely associated with paganism and its practices. I relish the opportunity to introduce some of these tools to those who are not familiar. Full Story

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

In Easter's Goddess We Trust

Easter is the oldest and most important Christian festival, marking the end of the fasting season of Lent and Jesus Christ's death, on Good (derived from God's) Friday, and resurrection, on Easter Sunday.

There are many customs and traditions associated with Easter, which, like most other holiday and feast days, are derived from a combination of both Jewish lore and pre-Christian pagan practices. It is named after Eostre, the goddess of fertility and birth, worshipped by first-century pagans at the vernal equinox, who believed she would bless both their families and their crops.

Missionaries saw that this celebration took place around the time of the resurrection of Christ, so they adopted Easter as a Christian holiday to increase conversion. Full Story

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Outrage In Marin After 'Sacred Space' Is Leveled

For those who walked it regularly, the spiral labyrinth in the Loma Alta Open Space near Fairfax was a spiritual, magical place, but Marin County Open Space rangers who leveled it Monday regarded it as an eyesore despoiling the environment.

Karen LaPuma, an astrologist and hypnotherapist who lives near the entrance to the open space in Oak Manor, used small stones to outline the labyrinth in 2003. Over the years, people added stones, expanding the spiral's diameter to about 50 feet, and grass grew over the rocks.

Sharon McNamee, director and general manager of the Marin County Open Space District, said rangers routinely remove any man-made structures when they discover them on open space land.

"People shouldn't be changing the environment in the public land," McNamee said. Full Story

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Friday, April 06, 2007

The Female Face Of Divinity

The religious right claims that the bulk of South Africans are God-fearing, devout believers, with 85% belonging to some kind of organized religion. If this is true, what are we to make of our world-beating statistics for child abuse, domestic violence, rape and murder? If indeed the pious moral majority of whatever stripe takes themselves off to church/synagogue/mosque/temple on a regular basis, then who is committing all these heinous acts? The data tells us it’s not the women -- who make up less than 3% of the prison population -- and it would be stretching the bounds of credulity to believe that the unbelievers are wholly responsible.

Feminist scholars argue that the patriarchal nature of the world’s major monotheistic religions, in fact, creates a breeding ground for intolerance, human rights abuses, and violence against women and children.

Men of religion only relatively recently got around to recognizing women as fully human, with souls. Full Story

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Wiccans Say 'Craft' Is Oral Tradition, Not Cult

Contrary to popular belief, "Double, double, toil and trouble" is not the mantra for those who follow the Wiccan religion.

Jessica Page, sophomore from Hampton, Va., discovered Wicca in high school and is now a devout follower.

"I felt really connected to it and thought it would be a nice spiritual path," she said.

Wicca, sometimes referred to as "The Craft," is spiritually related to Native Americans, according to religioustolerance.org, a Web site devoted to promoting religious acceptance.

Although Wicca has its own books, the literature resembles more of a ritual manual as opposed to a handbook like the Bible, Page said. Full Story

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Bewitched Catholics

“I believe in one God, one Goddess, and in Jesus, who was a ‘great person.’”

Such might run a Catholic/Wiccan creed, if a six-year old boy, Sean’s, confession is representative.

Sean Nettleton of San Leandro is not entirely comfortable with his mother being a witch, said a March 28 East Bay Express article, though his younger sister, Lizzie, a “free thinker” and “wild girl” (according to their mother, Tina Nettleton, 37), is proud of her mother’s paganism. Sean, though, is apprehensive “to display his “Pagan side,” because of his father.

His father, Chris Nettleton, 38, is Catholic.

But Chris is supportive of his wife’s “religion.” Full Story

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Spoof Letter Sent By Wiccans To The Pope

Today the Pope was shocked to recieve a letter from the Wiccans who usually keep to themselves. He was even more shocked when he opened it. Inside was a single page with but one paragraph on it.

Dear Pope,

While we are flattered that you Christians liked some of our own symbols enough to use them for your holiday of Easter, we have to ask that you give them back. Now we don't want to be mean, or put you out, but we sorta would like our holiday back. I mean, Easter is good and all. It's calculated using that phases of the moon, again something you might have borrowed from us. It's just, well; you've kinda taken all of our symbols. Rabbits, eggs, baskets, all that stuff. We are sorta the one that started all that and you guys just kinda took it. Now we aren't accusing you guy of anything, just pointing out that maybe you'd like to come up with some of your own symbols and traditions. Don't worry though, we'll still let you guys come to our egg hunts!

Your Friends,
The Wiccans.

Full Story

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Monday, April 02, 2007

The Evolution Of Sex Roles

Could it be that Neanderthal females achieved an equality that is rare even by today's standards?

Some anthropologists make a case that our extinct female cousins hunted alongside the males during an epoch when our own ancestral women were gathering plants and doing other (essential) work. They argue that the appearance of gender roles was critical to humans' eventual domination of the globe - and that the importance of the women of the Pleistocene period has been vastly understated. Full Story

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Witches Of Lillhärdal

In the middle of the 17th century Härjedalen’s people were poor and had faced a harsh period of time. Härjedalen had recently separated from Norway and now the people were struggling to understand its place under the rule of the Swedish church. It was during this era that the 23 year old girl named Stor Märit faced hell on earth. Her family and the village of Lillhärdal turned against her due to rumours that she was a witch.

The village priest heard about the story and it became his mission to see Stor Märit sentenced to death for being in pact with the devil. But first Stor Märit had to make a confession. Swedish law prohibited execution before the accused confessed her crimes.

Surprisingly for the court Stor Märit did not confess, not even under torture or when her mother begged her to do so since she did not want her daughter to go to hell. The court even arranged a fake execution to bring out a confession. After four years the court of law got tired of the always returning case of Stor Märit and in 1673 she got beheaded and burned. This was the start of a hysteric witch hunt in Sweden where over 350 innocent people got executed in the name of God for being the devil’s helper. Full Story

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