Friday, August 31, 2007

Do You Feel The Magic?

At Sunday's opening ceremony for Pagan Pride Day, Ivo Dominguez Jr. will offer a blessing and consecrate Legislative Mall as an open-air temple.

An elder in the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, Dominguez helped create the Wiccan community 25 years ago. Today it's composed of seven covens or small worship groups.

At 49, he knows that many Americans are drawn to the openness of pagan traditions, which trace their lineage to pre-Celtic cultures and celebrate the cycles of nature and the hidden mysteries of life.

There are many reasons that pagan traditions are among the fastest-growing religions, including a desire to live in harmony with the earth, an interest in teachings not focused on sin and a frustration with patriarchal religions. Full Story

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Wiccans Support Troops Abroad

Wiccans and Pagans often struggle to dispel misconceptions about their beliefs and practices. Continuing and widespread efforts to educate the community at large that Wiccans to not worship the devil or engage in immoral acts have done much to alleviate this predicament. Recognizing that deeds speak more loudly than words, many Pagan and Wiccan groups have chosen the path of activism and community service. The Highland, IN based Wiccan Interfaith Council International is one such organization.

The Rev. Paulette Reynolds co-founded the 85 volunteer strong organization a year and a half ago.

With members scattered over the United States and in Canada, the Wiccan Interfaith Council International "strives to promote greater understanding and appreciation of Wicca through interfaith/intrafaith services, educational forums, and social activism."

Rev. Reynolds explained that the council's social activism focuses on three main venues: supporting US troops deployed overseas, enaging in prison ministry outreach, and honoring Wiccan and Pagan community elders.

Project We Care is a volunteer-driven program to send care packages to Wiccan and Pagan Troops sationed overseas, especially in combat areas, such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Full Story

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Watch The Lawsuits Start Pouring In

As if they weren't busy enough at this time of year, local schools across Texas are struggling through a legal minefield laid by legislators in Austin last spring. A new state mandate creating that minefield should have come with a package warning: "Following this law will probably get you sued."

The mandate comes in HB 3678, which supporters claimed would protect the right of students to express their religious views in public schools. Sadly, the law is a lesson in what happens when elected officials play politics with the religious faith of families and their children. Full Story

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wiccans Celebrate Eclipse

A total lunar eclipse early Tuesday morning was a "special event" for Nanaimo's Wiccan community.

Daniel Van Koughnett, a minister in the city's Temple of the Green Cauldron, said eclipses are not routine cosmic occurrences like full moons and solar solstices, events regularly celebrated at communal temple festivities. Full Story

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Rare Total Lunar Eclipse On Tuesday

The Earth is all set to witness a rare total lunar eclipse this Tuesday when the Earth's shadow will fully cover the moon early morning. This eclipse is rare because it is due to occur just before daybreak.

Weather permitting the eclipse will be fully visible in North and South America. Additionally East Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands will also be able to see the total eclipse provided the sky is clear just before dawn. Full Story

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Bad Luck For Black Cats In Italy

A leading animal rights group has estimated that 60,000 black cats are killed every year by Italians who believe that they bring bad luck.

The Italian Association for the Protection of Animals and the Environment claims that some are also killed as part of black magic rituals.

While black cats are seen as being lucky in the UK, many people in Italy believe that if a black cat crosses their path it indicates the devil is present. The association calculated its figure from observations of the stray cat population and from monitoring of animal ownership registers. The group said it had evidence that thousands of black cats vanished or were found dead each year.

Across large parts of Europe, black cats have been associated with witchcraft since the Middle Ages and were said to be the favourite companions for witches. Full Story

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Return Of The Old Gods: A Challenge To Green Evangelicals

"And the Lord spoke all these words:
I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Thou shalt not have strange gods before me.
(Exodus 20: 1-3)

Their names are Legion, for they are many; the Romans knew them as Juno, or Diana, or Ops. Freyr, Gerd, Idun, and Jord ruled the Norse, Dziewona and Mokosh were their names to the Slavs. The Hawaiians had Papa, the Aztecs Coatlicue, the Egyptians had Geb and Nut. The Celts had many: Cerunno, Cyhiraet, Druantia, Maeva. The ancient Canaanites had their Baal, who would cause so much trouble for the Israelites.

They are all gods and goddesses of the earth, of nature, the old rulers of the ancient world. Far older than Christianity, older even than Hinduism, worship of nature gods is a cultural element shared by every race and tribe of Man since before recorded history. They are the gods of the worldly, the gods of the Fall. Full Story

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Pagan Pride Day On Saturday Shows City's Cultural Diversity

Nanaimo's cultural diversity will be celebrated on Saturday at the city's third annual Pagan Pride Day. Celebrations will be held at Departure Bay's Kin Hut starting at 11 a.m.

Organizer Sally Kimber said the primary purpose of Pagan Pride Day is to help eliminate prejudice and discrimination based on religious beliefs. Full Story

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Mother Pulls Kid From School After Seeing Reading Material

A book in Catoosa County has one parent raising a ruckus.

Cher Ridenhour says her son brought home a book that was riddled with references to demons and witchcraft.

Joshua is in the Horizon program for advanced students. Full Story

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Letting Witches Be Witches In Salem

Should you find your way up to Salem, Mass., this Halloween season, your chances of encountering a psychic are up — and the odds that that he or she has a felony record are down. That, for those of you who were too drowned in multimedia Harry Potter to notice, is the news from the real town where some estimate every tenth person is a witch.

In June, the Salem town council eased its rules on fortune tellers — or, to be more specific, those locals who are engaged in "the telling of fortunes, forecasting of futures, or reading the past, by means of any occult, psychic power, faculty, force, clairvoyance, cartomancy, psychometry, phrenology, spirits, tea leaves, tarot cards, scrying, coins, sticks, dice, coffee grounds, crystal gazing or other such reading, or through mediumship, seership, prophecy, augury, astrology, palmistry, necromancy, mind-reading, telepathy or other craft, art, science, talisman, charm, potion, magnetism, magnetized article or substance, or by any such similar thing or act."

Salem may have been where witches were once tried and executed by puritans, but — thanks to the magic of branding — it has since become a mecca for witches and others involved in the occult arts, as well as for tourists. Full Story

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Minnesota Mystery: The Kensington Runestone

It's one of Minnesota's greatest mysteries. It's something that puts settlers in America well before Columbus. A Minnesota geologist thinks the controversial Kensington Runestone is the real thing and there is evidence that he says backs up the theory.

The Kensington Runestone is a rock found near Alexandria a century ago. It's inscription speaking of Norwegians here in 1362. It begs the question. Were Vikings exploring our land more than 100 years before Columbus? Or is it just an elaborate hoax?

New research shows that the stone is genuine and there's hidden code that may prove it. It contains carved words that have haunted these hills and the Ohman family for more than 100 years, yet their faith has never wavered. Full Story

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Zeitgeist Magic

Albus Dumbledore is the first denizen of the magical world that J K Rowling properly describes, down to his “high-heeled, buckled boots”, at the beginning of book one of the Harry Potter series.

Nothing unusual about this fellow, a reader in 1997, when it was published, might have said. He sounds like the standard wizard of Western literature, Merlin perhaps. The appearance of McGonagall in the form of a cat, a few lines later, is no great surprise either. The only novelty so far, in 1997, would have been the matter-of-fact treatment.

The first real surprise is Hagrid, a very large man on a flying motorbike. He’s not quite a giant, and he’s not a familiar figure from the existing cultural cast of magical figures. Cue the sights and sensations of Harry’s first visit to Diagon Alley, and very soon Rowling’s magic has become fundamentally incongruent with the familiar tropes of Western magic.

Superficially, there are beards and pointy hats, broomsticks, owls, goblins, trolls, wands, cats, snakes, dragons, elves. Virtually every ingredient of the post-medieval picture of magic is thrown into the mix. Yet nothing seems quite familiar — which is one reason why Rowling was initially so exciting. She made magic everyday.

It’s positively bourgeois, and her work is brilliantly suited, as fiction, to our modern global, middle-class zeitgeist. Full Story

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Woman Arrested After Yelling Chants

A Waukesha woman was arrested just after midnight this morning after she was accused of disturbing neighbors by yelling witch chants around a bonfire she built 10-feet from her home, Capt. Mike Babe said.

Brenna K. Barney, 42, told police that they were infringing on her religious beliefs since she is a Wiccan and she was performing a ritual because of a new moon, Babe said. She said her name is Brenna Raven Moonfire.

Criminal charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct were filed against Barney today in Waukesha County Circuit Court. Full Story

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

New Religions Are As Stifling As The Old

Modern man has shucked off most of the restraints of traditional religion. While a majority of people still say they believe in God, or at least in some form of higher being, they have rationalized their belief system so as to owe no real tribute to their ill-defined deity.

No longer are they bound by the sanctions and rules dictated by the old-time religions.
But instead of enjoying their liberation, their freedom from the inconvenient "thou shall nots," they're embracing a different sort of puritanism and welcoming equally suffocating restrictions in deference to the new gods of health and the environment.

These new faiths, in practice, are amazingly similar to the old.

They have their own schedule of sins and vices and are just as intolerant and judgmental of those who stray from the path of righteousness. Full Story

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Hope For Peace, Love, Understanding

I am constantly surprised at how many people visit the various pagan and Wiccan rituals and religious observances in Olympia expecting something from a Brothers Grimm tale. I guess I shouldn't be surprised when they leave disappointed and I never see them again.

Having chosen this belief nearly 20 years ago, I have faced prejudice, discrimination and outright hatred in a time and a culture that prides itself on being civilized. It's painful and frustrating trying to explain for the third time in a given day that Wicca is a peaceful and civilized religious choice just like any other and we are not to be feared. But it's something that needs to be done, because even in a beautiful place such as Olympia, peace, love and understanding must to be worked at, not assumed. Full Story

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

City repeals fortune-telling prohibition

The art of palm reading passed from grandmother to mother to daughter in Nella Forest's family.

Tarot cards first came into Forest's hands as a 4-year-old when she watched her mother spread them out on the kitchen table.

Her mother taught her about the Major Arcana or the subjects of the tarot deck and the Minor Arcana or the adjectives.

Forest, who describes herself as a Wiccan high priestess, has been reading tarot cards, palms and ruins in Casper since arriving in 1995.

Until Tuesday night, Forest was violating a city ordinance.

Filed under Consumer Protection, part of a municipal code prohibited anyone from receiving payment for telling, revealing or reading the past, present or future.

Forest charges clients $6 for 20 minutes of reading in her shop, Pan's Grove, on Walnut Street or at fairs around Wyoming.

"I never guessed that could be illegal," said Forest, who learned of the rule after the Star-Tribune published an article about it in 2006. "I was shocked." Full Story

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Rosemary Leaves A Lasting Memory

Many years ago, we vacationed in Tuscany with friends. We rented a farm cottage surrounded by olive trees. I brought back all the usual memories -- walled towns perched on small hills, cypresses perfectly grouped along the skyline -- but my strongest memory is of a bush.

Our companions had a deep gnawing hunger for real estate, and we joined them as they looked for bargains. No complaints, since one of these expeditions led me to my bush. In fact, we were there to look at yet another denatured and overpriced farm cottage. My husband and I were not in the market for the house, but the bush -- I would have cashed in my RRSPs to own it. It stood to one side of the front door, and had been lovingly trimmed over the years, or perhaps centuries, into a perfect bush shape, six feet at least in height. The bush was more than fragrant, it was aromatic. We felt its aroma from 20 feet away.

Up close, I saw myriad short, narrow, shiny leaves, dark green above, a lighter green below. Then I realized what it was, though previously I had only seen leaves like these in small glass jars. It was a rosemary bush, and I wanted it. Full Story

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Witchcraft Not Wicked

Forget Harry Potter's brainiac Hermione or Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Willow: Australian teenage witches are not busy fighting demons like their fictional counterparts.

Two researchers have interviewed 90 teenage witches in Australia, England and the US to find out whether they have a broom in the cupboard, a cloak upstairs or any spells on the boil.

They found that teenage witches, including both girls and boys, use witchcraft positively to help deal with issues that young people face every day while growing up.

Witches who were interviewed used spells, pagan rituals and meditation to pass exams, boost their self-confidence and help get over relationship break-ups.

But love spells for the modern witch were out of bounds. Full Story

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Catholic Church Wages Campaign Against Witchcraft In Mexican Town

From across the nation and beyond, visitors come to this picturesque, lagoonside town in southern Mexico, seeking money, love, health and revenge.

To make these wishes come true, they seek out the area's famous "brujos," as they are called in Spanish. For a fee, these shamans and healers perform rituals and call on spirits from the netherworld to influence their clients' fate.

Thanks to this bustling trade in mysticism, Catemaco is Mexico's unofficial capital of all things occult. It also presents a unique challenge for and competition to the Catholic Church.

For decades, the church has waged a campaign against "brujeria," or witchcraft, in Veracruz, a state along the Gulf of Mexico. In recent years the church has issued declarations and even put a cross on the top of White Monkey Peak, a nearby hilltop used by shamans as a ceremonial center. Full Story

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Let's Face It Guys; Civilization Is In Dire Need Of The Goddess

Let's face it guys; the historically destructive social structures of institutional religion and traditional politics were chiefly invented by MEN.

Said, differently, the Middle East is a sewer of conflict among the world's three most patriarchal religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Sure, lots of small exceptions in each of these religions, but these are the exceptions which prove the rule. All those councils, for example, in the history of Catholicism were basically tumultuous aggregations of old men.

Mythologically speaking, what the Earth needs now is the Goddess, e.g., less violence and more communication. Full Story

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Autumn Festival To Be Celebrated Sunday

Lughnassad or Lammas, the first of three autumn harvest festivals, will be celebrated at 2 p.m. Sunday at North Mesa Park in Los Alamos.

Before our ancestors had the conveniences of refrigeration and transportation, they depended on the local fields to supply enough grain, fruits and meat to feed a village. Not surprisingly, many townspeople and villagers worked together to harvest vast quantities of grain in late summer and into the fall. Although the bulk of the grain produced this year is not yet ready to be harvested, we do begin to see fresh corn, and plenty of it, in farmers markets, gardens and supermarkets. Full Story

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Friday, August 10, 2007

The Green Fervour

In his new book Apollo's Arrow, ambitiously subtitled The Science of Prediction and the Future of Everything, Vancouver-based author and mathematician David Orrell set out to explain why the mathematical models scientists use to predict the weather, the climate and the economy are not getting any better, just more refined in their uncertainty.

What he discovered, in trying to sketch the first principles of prophecy, was the religious nature of modern environmentalism.

This is not to say that fearing for the future of the planet is irrational in the way supernatural belief arguably is, just that - in its myths of the Fall and the Apocalypse, its saints and heretics, its iconography and tithing, its reliance on prophecy, even its schisms - the green movement now exhibits the same psychology of compliance as religion.

Dr. Orrell is no climate-change denier. He calls himself green. But he understands the unjustified faith that arises from the psychological need to make predictions. Full Story

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

5 Questions For Dan Liss, Practicing Pagan

Tuesday is the Celtic Pagan celebration Lughnasadh (pronounced LOO-nas-sah), the first of three ancient Celtic Pagan harvest celebrations. Dan Liss, a practicing Pagan, explains Lughnasadh and other Celtic Pagan traditions surrounding autumn and the harvest.

1. What is Lughnasadh?

Lughnasadh is the celebration of the Celtic Pagan god Lugh, the god of the sun and agriculture. It's the first of three Celtic harvest festivals. When you think about the harvest, this is the grain festival.

The second harvest festival is fall equinox. In the U.S., it would be apples, pumpkins, nuts, grapes. Full Story

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Wiccans’ ‘Barbarous Words’ Meant To Save A Magnolia

Reaction to the potential loss of a single magnolia tree has left developer Stewart Coleman baffled.

“It’s one tree,” he said Monday after hearing a group of Wiccans plan to cast spells to save it. “More than 40 trees — including six flowering cherries — have been destroyed for the park construction.”

The tree is on a parcel of city parkland downtown that was sold to developer Stewart Coleman. He plans to build retail space and 40 condominiums on the site.

But Wiccan priestess Dixie Deerman of Coven Oldenwilde in Asheville says the line has to be drawn somewhere, and this is it. Full Story

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