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.

Robin Hood's Grave. Photo: Nigel Homer, CC

Robin Hood’s Grave. Photo: Nigel Homer, CC

  • What’s it like being a Pagan in Wyoming? Pretty hard, apparently, as locals attending a Pagan Pride Day event in Laramie discuss being closeted and how “people are not so nice here.” Quote: “They’re closeted,” said Jo-Ann Aelfwine of Laramie, who has been practicing paganism for 50 years. Wyoming is a conservative state, and people aren’t always open to differences, Aelfwine said. “We have to worry about things like losing your job, having your kids taken away from you,” she said.”
  • The Kirklees estate in West Yorkshire, believed to be the final resting place of the legendary Robin Hood, is up for sale and the British Psychic and Occult Society want to turn it into a tourist destination. Quote: [David Farrant, president of the British Psychic and Occult Society said] “The special place the tomb holds in the hearts of many local people is heartened by tales of ghostly sightings and chilling experiences from those who have made the pilgrimage to the grave, defying the vicious brambles, dense canopies of twisted trees, and watchful gamekeepers and guard dogs.” Personally, I think the legend of Robin Hood deserves more dignity than to be turned into some sort of ghost-walk, but what do I know? Maybe this will be a positive thing.
  • The Senate heard testimony on domestic hate crimes this week, a move that comes in the wake of the Wisconsin Sikh temple massacre from August. Testimony focused on how violence and hate crimes committed against Sikhs have gone unnoticed and un-tracked by the government. Quote:  “I have filmed, chronicled, combated hate crimes against this community for 11 years,” Valerie Kaur, a Sikh filmmaker and community activist, said in testimony at the hearing. “In the aftermath of Oak Creek, reporters came up to me and asked me, ‘How many hate crimes have there been? How many hate murders have there been?’ ” Kaur said. “And I couldn’t tell them … because the government currently does not track hate crimes against Sikhs at all.” You can read more about the inciting incident, and Pagan reactions to it, here.
  • Will Witches replace vampires and zombies? Maybe!
  • South African Pagans are challenging plans by the South African Police Service to start training specialists in “occult-related crimes” saying they could lead to religious minorities to be targeted by those looking for a scapegoat. Quote from the South African Pagan Rights Alliance (SAPRA):  “This newly envisioned scope of investigation must be viewed with suspicion and be of concern to anyone engaged in the practice of Witchcraft, Traditional African religion, and other Occult spiritualities (including Satanism). Given the already evident bias expressed by ex-members of ORC and new members of provincial Religious Crimes Units against Witchcraft, SAPRA believes the new mandate potentially threatens religious minorities who may be scapegoated on the basis of belief alone.” Considering how “occult experts” have been used to smear occult and Pagan traditions in other countries, I think their skepticism and worry are well founded.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Czj7SyPNRto

  • Check out a new Pagan-y (and human-sacrifice-y) video from Swedish folk act First Aid Kit. “Wolf” is off of their new album The Lion’s Roar.
  • Fashion house Paul Frank shows you how to respond after you’ve been accused of offensively appropriating Native and indigenous imagery. Quote: “It is embarrassing to reveal that, say, you don’t employ anyone who might have the perspective to point out to you that a “pow-wow” is not an okay thing to do, or that a news organization airs information it found on Google without verifying it. But cauterizing those wounds and explaining how you’ve worked backwards to make sure you don’t make the errors again is a short-term pain it’s worth enduring.”
  • The Gary Johnson campaign seemed to have enjoyed my piece about them yesterday. Quote: “Thanks to Cara Schulz for help organizing and promoting tomorrow’s event. This isn’t the first time Ms. Schulz has helped the campaign. Last year she help put together a press conference with the governor and lesser-known religionists and non-religionists. She truly is the type of individual thinker for which the campaign wishes to provide a Big Tent. Here’s the story of the “pagan” vote.” 
  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry: Satan’s nemesis!
  • John Morehead deconstructs hater Janet Mefferd. Quote: “…we live in a post-Christendom America. Surveys indicate that while Evangelicalism is still numerically large and influential, it has lost ground, both in terms of membership, and in terms of credibility within among young people, and on the outside as well, where both groups see it as judgmental and oppressive. Engaging others in a post-Christendom environment means that we can no longer assume either a monoculture, or a pluralistic culture with non-Christians who will sit quietly on the sidelines while hope to exclude them and describe them as a toxic fume creeping under the door of America’s political process.” More on Mefferd, here.
  • Hey, it’s September 21st, where’s Jason post about the Fall Equinox? Check your nearest observatory, it’s not till tomorrow!

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
  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    Concerning Robin Hood… The grave is likely about as authentic as Arthur’s grave in Glastonbury Abbey. Robin Hood was probably a composite figure, so the odds of any grave for him being genuine is slim. That said, I quite like the idea of the walk. Ghost walks are fairly popular in the UK and many are pretty well run. If it teaches people about the local folklore, then that can only be a good thing (unlike that gods-awful movie by Ridley Scott.)

    • Wolfe Erin Dream

      Robin Hoods Grave; that lot of commercial developers have handed David Farrant a fistful of money to advise them on how best to present the paranormal aspect of the site to the public: i.e. how to bilk more tourists!

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        Everything has to make a profit nowadays, apparently. You seen the entry fee to Stonehenge recently?

      • Pendrago

        He is a Wiccan according to his site. Better him than some right wing Church of England type.

    • Pendrago

      Looks as if Kirklees will go the way of Derby, which has recently utilised ghosts in a number of ways to
      re-brand itself as a “haunted” heritage destination for
      tourists.

  • Charles Cosimano

    Well Frank Paul sure got that wrong. The proper response is to laugh it off and know that all the folks who will be upset are not your customers and your customers really hate the folks who will be upset and like you all the more for upsetting them.

    • http://www.facebook.com/nyktipolos.nightwanderer Nyktipolos Night-wanderer

      So sorry we can’t take the cultural appropriation of our traditions as flippantly as you can. Frank Paul did the right thing by responding in a mature manner, reaching out to the community, and changing his attitude for the better.

      I wish more pagan stores and communities acted like him. It’s amazing how trying to do the right thing is decried more than people acting in a prejudiced and borderline racist manner.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        I’ve never got the ‘cultural appropriation’ abhorrence of the First Nations people. It seems a whole lot like racism, to me.

        I mean, I am a firm believer in cultural assimilation – you move to a new place, you assimilate into the existing culture (which belongs more to the land than the people). As such, I would have thought that people becoming more in tune with the local culture would have been a good thing.

        Unless, of course, I am missing the obvious bit – that people are picking and choosing what they want from every culture (with little regard for actual context) to create their own personal chimera-culture. Which, it seems, is the ‘norm’ for the modern Pagan.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          I think their complaint is that we stole the whole continent from them, and now we’re coming after their culture.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I can get the ‘stealing our land’ claim. It’s true.

            Can you really steal culture, though?

          • http://www.facebook.com/nyktipolos.nightwanderer Nyktipolos Night-wanderer

            Yes indeed you can! Look at all the fake, dollar-store bought feathered headdresses, the peace pipes-turned-pot pipes, people proclaiming themselves Indian shamans to make a quick buck, sweat lodges where people are killed because the owner has no idea what he’s doing, and plenty of other examples. Look at the Canadian gov’t using totem poles from the West Coat for their advertising for BC while it was *illegal* for Native people to carve them. Look at the Indian Head logo commonly used by sports teams.

            Cultural appropriation is NOT cultural borrowing or cultural assimilation. You (general you) want to be invited to a Sun Dance, or have the honour of holding sacred, special items to us? Ask first, learn the rules, and stop demanding that you have right of access to everything.

            We don’t really care if this sort of thing is the “norm” for neo-Paganism. It honestly does not make it any less offensive or rude.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            That is not stealing culture, though. That is taking bits from a culture, removing all context and then not understanding why it loses all meaning.

            I completely agree with you that, if someone has a genuine interest in a tradition (be it of the First Nations People or of Anglo-Saxon England or of any other culture), then they should show so respect and seek to properly understand it. Which means that, yes, these people should be asking and learning the rules.

            My point about it being the ‘norm’ was that it isn’t just your traditions they are crapping on. Don’t be offended by them, just seek to either educate them or dissuade them from doing something so ignorant.

          • Mia

            Taking without permission and proper credit is stealing. Taking in such a fashion, and also making money off of what was appropriated is also blatant stealing, as that money is not going back to the original communities.

            On top of that, it’s stealing from underprivileged societies that already had to deal with Europe’s refuse, emigrants and diasporians (especially those from the UK) taking over, trying to kill them off and steal material things necessary for survival.

            Education has already been tried and is still going on. That doesn’t stop people from continuing to ignore it.

            Might want to look up “privilege” from a non-white perspective while you’re at it. If educating the ignorant is something you advocate, then you should be open to it as well.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I am not denying that it was stealing. Just that what they were stealing was actually a whole culture.

            Hel, I am of the opinion that most of the land should be returned to those that were there first. But what’d I know, I’m English.

            “Might want to look up “privilege” from a non-white perspective while you’re at it.”
            Yeah, that’d be that racism I was on about.

      • Al Moonlight

        Then there was the commenter on the original post who wrote, “Offensive indeed…LOOK AT THOSE UGLY SHOES.”

  • Faoladh

    That First Aid Kit song was very pleasant to my ears, and the video was evocative. Thanks, Jason!

  • MissLynx

    Really impressed with the Paul Frank story! I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a big company being as awesomely responsive as that to — well, anyone’s concerns about anything, really. The only sad part is that it should be so astonishing for a company to actually do the right thing and own up to having made a mistake.

  • Pitch313

    Movies about witches! Movies starring witches. Movies celebrating witches! Awful, evil, meanie witches! Wonderful, good, loving witches! Witches battling vampires! Witches battling werewolves! Witches battling occult lodges of Nazis! Be-cloaked witches skittering from shadow to shadow, magically clouding men’s minds and women’s. Sky-clad witches shimmying from spotlight to spotlight, magically harvesting crops of bills into their spellcast garters! Witches with knives & powers & O so wicked ways! Boffo box office witches! My newest fanboy and most traddy trad!!!


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