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.Noted children's and young adult author Margaret Mahy passed away last week due to complications resulting from cancer. The New Zealand author wrote several acclaimed titles, and was beloved in her home country, my personal favorite was “The Changeover,” a story about Witchcraft, initiation, and growing up. That title won the annual Carnegie Medal in Literature from the Library Association, and is worth seeking out, as are many of her works. What is remembered lives! Wit … [Read more...]

Minority Religions and Esoteric Practices as Courtroom Evidence

On Friday, the Contra Costa Times reported that an appeal to overturn a 2010 fraud conviction was denied. California's 2nd District Court of Appeal decided that prosecutors did not unfairly prejudice the case by bringing up a "voodoo" (though more likely Palo Mayombe, according to one expert) shrine that belonged to Ruben Hernandez, saying the evidence was "highly probative" of his "consciousness of guilt."In a 35-page ruling, the appellate court justices noted that Hernandez testified during the trial about the "benevolent purposes served by the dolls." "He characterized the dolls as an element of his Catholic faith in which the pins stuck in the dolls were a form of 'spiritual acup … [Read more...]

Will Santa Muerte Spark a New Moral Panic?

Joseph Laycock, scholar and author of "Vampires Today: The Truth about Modern Vampirism," examines media coverage of the killing of two boys and one woman over the span of four years in Mexico, allegedly the work of Santa Muerte cultists. Laycock's Religion Dispatches piece argues that "these murders will likely have lasting consequences for alternative religion in North America," that they are a "Manson moment" that will have potentially harmful reverberations in the years to come."It goes without saying these murders are unconscionable, and a tragedy. But attempting to find a grand pattern, or a reason, in a connection to so-called ritualistic violence brings authorities no closer … [Read more...]

Questions Not Asked in Santeria Ritual Cutting Story

Local and national news outlets are reporting on the case of a 4-year-old girl whose parents are being investigated by police after a daycare employee found lacerations on the girl's chest. The parents, and a neighbor who witnessed the event, claim it is a Santeria ritual of health and protection for the child, not abuse."The girl's parents told police that the cuts were part of a religious ritual. Channel 2's Mike Petchenik went to the girl's apartment off Greenhouse Drive and talked to a woman who said she actually witnessed the ritual that she contends is part of the Santeria religion. "This religion is to help people, to help people get better, to protect people," said Nadeshda … [Read more...]