Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up.

Damien Echols, showing off his Theban tattoo.

Damien Echols, showing off his Theban tattoo.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Danrb5rP9Tw

  • South Korea, one of the most Christian countries in Asia, is witnessing a revival of interest in its indigenous shamanistic practices, with local mudangs (priests or priestesses) being consulted by politicians and featuring on popular television shows. Sociology professor Shin Kwang-yeong thinks the popularity is due to Koreans dealing with the “strong uncertainties” of their modern existence, with many crediting shamanism with bringing healing and piece of mind to their lives. Quote:  “I felt something from my heart. This ritual has everything in there – happiness, sadness, anger and fun [...] Sometimes tears pour out from my heart. Sometimes it’s just fun when everyone is dancing and bowing. And, it’s healing.”
  • Father Thomas Euteneuer, a star in the Catholic pro-life activist ranks, and vehement anti-Pagan exorcist, admitted to having inappropriate sexual relations with at least one woman back in 2011. Now, a Jane Doe is filing suit against Euteneuer, alleging that the priest sexually abused and assaulted her, using his position as an exorcist as a means to force sexual contact. This spiritual/physical rape of the Jane Doe has caused the Catholic church to recall him for counselling and remove his “priestly faculties,” meaning he can no longer perform mass or other sacred rites.
  • There’s a deep connection between synthesizer music and the occult, Klint Finley explores it for Boing Boing. Quote: “You can find traces of the occult throughout the history of electronic music. The occult obsessed Italian Futurist Luigi Russolo built his own mechanical instruments around 1917. The famous Moog synthesizer made an early appearance in Mick Jagger’s soundtrack to Kenneth Anger’s occult film Invocation of My Demon Brother in 1969. And in the late 1970s Throbbing Gristle built their own electronic instruments for their occult sound experiments, setting the stage for many of the occult themed industrial bands who followed. The witch house genre keeps this tradition alive today.”
  • The Border House looks at the controversy surrounding the upcoming game SMITE, and the protests from Hindu activist Rajan Zed over the depiction and ability to control their gods and goddesses, most notably Kali, in the game. The Border House also calls out the “pornification” of Kali. Quote: “This is truly disgusting. Not only is a faith appropriated, but it is done so in a way which turns a widely revered deity into a male sexual fantasy. A goddess in non-sexual nudity is somehow less preferable to a caricature in which she is put in a costume for the male gaze. Whether you agree with Rajan Zed or not about controlling Hindu deities as combat tools is not the issue. The cultural imperialistic mindset which allows a westerner to pornify symbols of Hinduism and yet think he has the right to lecture a Hindu about the religion, this is the issue.”
  • Associated Press reporter Christopher Torchia says that ancient Greek myths lend valuable context to the country’s current fiscal and political crisis. Quote: “Greek mythology is full of examples of how mortals should find the middle way in order to live a happy life, or as it said on the walls of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, ‘Nothing in Excess,’” Peter Meineck, associate professor of classics at New York University, wrote in an email. He noted that, according to the Greek poet Hesiod, “the first divine agent that caused creation was Eros — the spirit of erotic drive or the impulse to create anything.”
  • Tammy Trotter-Bazzle, a Pagan priestess living in South Carolina, shares her experience advising the pastoral staff at AnMed Health after a Pagan patience was admitted. Quote: “I feel blessed and honored to have had that opportunity. At the end of a day, good was done for the greater good. Pagan patients will be better understood at AnMed. And that was, after all, the reason for this class; to help the patient. I, along with many of the local Pagan community, are happy to see this step forward.”
  • A majority percentage of Jews, Catholics, Mainline Protestants, non-Christian faiths, and unaffiliated religious believers favor same-sex marriage rights. Yet we are told that we must “protect” the conservative Christian viewpoint on marriage by denying all other faiths and traditions the ability to perform legal same-sex rites. How is this about religious freedom again?
  • Is polyamory ready for its close-up? A Showtime reality program is on its way, featuring neo-tantra practitioner and “bliss coach” Kamala Devi. Will Paganism make an appearance? Are we ready for the questions if and when it does?

That’s it for now! Feel free to discuss any of these links in the comments, some of these I may expand into longer posts as needed.

About Jason Pitzl-Waters
  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    “How is this about religious freedom again?”

    You posted a few weeks back about how we are enduring the existential mid-life crisis of Christianity as it ceases to be the backbone of Western society. This is part of it.

    Over at GetReligion — a conservative-Christian-dominated blog on the (in)competence of press coverage of religion — it’s become apparent that conservative Christians are panicked at the application of hate-speech laws in other liberal democracies against homophobic expression. They have no real confidence in the First Amendment as an adequate bulwark against churches in the US eventually being barred from preaching homosexuality as a sin, and being forced to perform gay marriages, whatever their religious doctrine. They see themselves fighting a war of increments that they are winning whenever a popular vote is taken but losing whenever a court speaks.

    The current controversy over contaception in health care plans, while not directly related, is turning the screw even tighter because in their eyes it is a religious freedom, rather than a contraceptive rights, issue.

    So, no, to you and me it’s not a religious freedom issue, but those folks are having their emotional heartstrings twanged on a daily basis.

  • LeohtSceadusawol

    I am always wary of census results concerning religion. Possibly because, in 2001, I was legally recognised as a Jedi, according to the Census in the UK. (I was young.)

    I think that Rajan Zed has a good point about the (mis)appropriation of religion for entertainment, but it happens to many religions a lot of the time. It appears that most people care more about entertainment than they do about religion.

    Polyamory is one of the few sexual preferences that you don’t see pride marches for. You don’t see people campaigning for poly marriages. I have to wonder why not. I don’t see it as linked to Paganism in any meaningful way, since I am unaware that any of the Pagans I know are polyamorists.

    • PhaedraHPS

       There is a very meaningful link between Paganism and polyamory — the very word was coined by Morning Glory Zell and popularized through her article, “A Bouquet of Lovers,” was originally published in Green Egg magazine. Of the polys I know personally (more than a few) a significant percentage are Pagan.

      • Shakti_Luna

        Not all of us are polyamorous though.

    • Deborah Bender

       A fair number of Church of All Worlds adherents are polyamorous. I know some polyamorous Wiccans. Wicca permits, but does not prescribe, polyamory.

    • Em

      Regarding polyamory, in a survey done by Loving More magazine, they found  that 30% of respondents identified as Pagan.  Plus, Morning Glory Zell is credited  for coining the term polyamory, and is High Priestess and married to one of the key founders of the Church of All Worlds, which was one of the first religious groups to use the term Pagan to describe themselves.

      As to why there are no pride marches and such, I think the main thing polyamorists are concerned about right now is decriminalization.  In states with common law marriage, if you live as married with more than one person, you can be charged with bigamy, even if you do not apply for multiple marriage licenses.  And in Canada, depending on how one interprets their anti-polygamy law, anyone present at a non-legal polyamorous marriage ceremony could potentially face up to 5 years in prison.  In terms of rights and acceptance, polyamory is at least a couple decades behind the gay rights movement.

    • Hotstreak12

       I think Raja Zed needs to lighten up. I for one would love to play Kali or Agni, or Odin, Zeus, or Thor. As a pagan I think the game helps religious diversity by introducing (young) people to these gods, and the “Pornofication of Kali is a matter of opinion”. What I don’t like is the halfassed response about adding figures from the abrahamic religions. there is an entire pantheon (sic) of angels you can bring in to this game.

      • LeohtSceadusawol

         I have enough trouble arguing with people about Þórr as it is.

        There are people, that I know, who maintain that the Thor of the Marvel movies is the absolute correct version and that any other version (including the Þórr of Germanic mythology) is wrong.I will warrant that the majority of people that play the ‘God of War’ series of computer games do not, afterwards get a sudden urge to investigate Romano-Hellenistic mythology. Unless you call watching the (remake) Clash of the Titans movie research.

        • Thelettuceman

           A ton of American youth get into the Northern myths because of heavy metal and the overly romanticised Viking “sub”culture.  I truly believe that and hearsay about the mythos help to promote a great deal of misrepresentation and angst.

          • LeohtSceadusawol

             Agreed.

            There is some of that in the UK, as well, but I think our proximity to ‘the source’ helps avoid too much of that.

            (That and metal of any kind just isn’t that popular here.)

      • Charles Cosimano

         I think the makers of SMITE should just release a video of Raja Zed with a very loud laugh track over him.  It would be the perfect response.

        • LeohtSceadusawol

          Why? So they continue showing a complete lack of respect?

          • Thelettuceman

             Of course.  It’s a serious faux-pas to show consideration and respect for anything in society, especially the gaming one. 

    • kenneth

      There’s a definite contingent of poly folk within paganism. You’ll find a decent number at any large festival or even regional gathering. I don’t think it’s part and parcel of being pagan, but I think most of our paths are an attractive option for people who are wired a bit differently and perhaps are drawn to spiritualities and religions which acknowledge love in a variety of forms. 

      • LeohtSceadusawol

        I am not denying that there is a significant number of polyamorists within Paganism (I am one, myself, albeit not a ‘practising’ one.)

        I just think that it needs to be stated that polyamory is not intrinsic to Paganism.

        It is much like LGBT is very much accepted within (most) Pagan circles, yet is not a criterion for being Pagan.

        I just get concerned that sexuality (and sex itself) keeps being elevated as a major part of what it is to be Pagan (notably by those who are not, themselves, Pagan.)

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          To many, many Pagans sex is sacred, howsoever it is acted upon. That is different enough from our Abrahamic neighbors that, in their minds, this is indeed “a major part of what it is to be Pagan.”

          It’s not even taken lightly by non-Pagan UUs. I had to thread this needle at a UU Beltane service, when a Sunday School mom asked, “What does this holiday mean to the mother of a 12-year-old daughter?” The young man giving the service was caught flat-footed but asked for input from the congregation. I said that if I were asked to explain Beltane to a 12-year-old girl I’d tell her, “It means your sexuality is sacred. It’s not a bargaining chip or something to exchange for popularity.” That satisfied her.

          • LeohtSceadusawol

             I didn’t say that sex was not sacred. I just said that it should not be elevated to be a major part of what it is to be Pagan.

            This is not a rejection of sex, simply that it is just another of many facts of nature.

        • Em

          Actually, what I’ve heard often is not an argument for polyamory based on any sexual elements in Paganism, but on polytheism.  I’ve heard many people say, “If I can have many gods, why not many lovers?”

          • LeohtSceadusawol

             What a surreal argument.

        • Shakti_Luna

          Thank you. That’s all I’ve been trying to say for years.

  • Zan Fraser

    If Damien Echols is in SoHo doing simple “X” tattoos, I am going to SoHo to get a simple “X” tattoo by Damien Echols!

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

       Had I the money, I would be right there in line with you!

      • Tara

        Me too.

    • http://syncreticmystic.wordpress.com/ Soli

       It is pretty tempting I have to say. Just hope he’s not getting pestered too much by people who now know how to find him.

  • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

    Korean Shamanism is one of the Best Things In The World!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Antonella-Ercolani/665406976 Antonella Ercolani

    there is a part of a documentary here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0fy_HuZso0 this part  is about polyamory and although paganism wasn’t mentioned at all you can see from many things in the video that they are pagan

  • Malaz

    Smite is another combat style game where one chooses a character (in this case…the deity of ones choice) to battle monsters and other bad-gyz.

    If you’re with the Hindu community in being offended, you may want to be offended regarding your own pantheon as well!

     http://mmorpgarea.com/smite-online-characters-gods/

    These aren’t the only gods one can use either. Like some other games, as you reach higher levels, it unlocks hidden gods with which one can fight.

    The image of Sri-Kali-Ma is not so different from the yantra images or folk art of Her.
    As She is a destroyer Goddess…it’s likely She is pleased with this particular incarnation of Her image.

    Personally, I feel the game (at very least) grows awareness of the various pantheons with which we practice.

    • LeohtSceadusawol

       I spend way too much time being irritated (if not actually offended) by the misappropriation of folklore and mythology.

  • http://syncreticmystic.wordpress.com/ Soli

    I studied a bit of Korean history about a decade ago, and some of the academic work did include talk of the mudang/mansin (I’ve heard that mudang can be a derogatory word so am not sure about using it). Very, very pleased to see the indigenous tradition reviving.
    Incidentally, if anyone is interested in the topic, Laurell Kendall has a few good books out about it, and if you can find it, a video of an attempted initiation.

    • LeohtSceadusawol

       I have no idea about Korean history, but do you think that ‘mudang’ could be derogatory in the same way that ‘Witch’, ‘Pagan’ and ‘Heathen’ can be derogatory’?

      • http://syncreticmystic.wordpress.com/ Soli

         From what I recall (and again, long time ago), mudang was not a term the practitioners would use for themselves.

        • LeohtSceadusawol

           That answers that one nicely. Thanks.

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

      According to David Mason (one of the few reliable English speaking experts on traditional Korean religious beliefs and practices), Manshin is the “polite” term, whereas Mudang is a “vulgar” term (source).

      Shin/sin is a word of Chinese origin which simultaneously means God/spirit/soul/mind. “Man” is a korean word meaning literally “thousand”, so a “Manshin” is someone in whom “a thousand Spirits” live, or something like that.

      Lauren Kendall’s book The Life and Hard Times of a Korean Shaman is an excellent resource. Also check out David Mason’s extensive website (san-shin.org) devoted to Sahn Shin, the Mountain God, the most revered of the deities inhabiting the Korean polytheistic pantheon.

  • Shakti_Luna

    What worries me about the Showtime polyamorous special is if this show presents this lifestyle as one and the same with Paganism.  Sure, some Pagans may be polyamorous but there are those of us (myself included) who are happy being monogamous.  To say all Pagans must be/are polyamorous is like saying all Pagans must like pumpkin pie, just doesn’t have any logic.  I suppose this is a concern of mine since there are some teachers in our own community stating that Paganism and polyamory are not mutually exclusive, thus misleading others and sometimes using these teachings to lure students in for sexual relationships.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Our teachers say Paganism and polyamorism are not mutually exclusive because they’re not. They don’t say all Pagans are or must be polyamorous because they aren’t.

      Whether this show portrays polyamorism as part & parcel with Paganism is beyond our control. I would point out that we have worried about other TV shows in the past and in general needn’t have worried. They were generally so bad even by today’s depressed standards that they bombed. I think this will too. If they are appealing to the male demographic they’ll focus on the action and skimp on the relationship aspects; vice versa if they’re aiming at women. I don’t think TV scriptwriting these days is capable of covering both, so they’ll lose half the hoped-for audience.

      I appreciate your discomfort with this topic — nobody wants to be bunched with something controversial they don’t share — but these are the facts on the ground.

      • LeohtSceadusawol

         The concern is a basic one. It would be seriously misleading to state that all polyamourous people are Pagan or that all Pagans are polyamourous.

        Or, indeed, that sex/sexuality is a major part of all Paganism.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          Nobody’s making the first statement. I find it astonishing that anyone suggests the contrary.

          Sex/sexuality is a major part of all religions. It’s too poweful a force to ignore. Christianity demonizes it unless it’s in the context of heteronormative marital coitus, preferably unprotected. Paganism sacralizes it, and that makes it a standout.

  • http://entdinglichung.wordpress.com Entdinglichung

    Voodoo support for the Spanish football (real football which some people call soccer)  team: http://www.spiegel.de/video/mit-voodoo-ins-em-finale-spanische-fussball-fans-verhexen-gegner-video-1206674.html

  • Gareth

    IIrc didn’t Westerners have a hand in creating modern Hinduism?  I think it’s an issue of double standards and racism. The problem isn’t they way the gods are being used it’s that non-Indians using them. The Hindu gods are used in entertainment and branding (Lakshmi rice anyone?) in India and that’s OK, but if it’s in the West then it’s Evil and imperialistic. 

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

      Modern Hinduism isn’t a “creation”, it is a continuation.

      But your point about inconsistency has a lot of merit.

  • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

    I think that Hi-Rez CEO Todd Harris has a good response to the crticism’s of Rajan Zed, et al:

    “the inclusion of Hindu gods such as Kali, Vamana and Agni was a move to make the game more diverse. He also added that SMITE will go further and include even more deities than previously announced.” According to Svend Joscelyne writing for spong.com (link).

    In the same article, Harris is quoted as follows:

    SMITE includes deities inspired from a diverse and ever expanding set of
    pantheons including Greek, Chinese, Egyptian, and Norse,” Harris said.
    “Hinduism, being one of the world’s oldest, largest and most diverse
    traditions, also provides inspiration toward deities in our game.

    “In fact, given Hinduism’s concept of a single truth with multiple physical
    manifestations one could validly interpret ALL the gods within SMITE to be Hindu. And all gods outside of SMITE as well. Ponder that for a minute.

    “Anyway, going forward SMITE will include even more deities, not fewer.”

    • LeohtSceadusawol

       So they intend to make mockery of ALL faiths, then? Well, at least they are not just targeting one.

  • Tara

    Thanks for the synth article.


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