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.
- The New York Times profiles Baba Heru Semahj, a New York police officer turned Kemetic priest. Quote: “He performs weddings, funeral services and Kemetic cosmological holiday services. He has bestowed his blessings and jewelry on the likes of the jazz bandleader Sun Ra, the controversial Judge Bruce Wright and celebrity clients like Wesley Snipes, Erykah Badu and Ben Vereen, he said. Mr. Semahj had five children with his first wife. His second wife, Queen Afua, is a priestess, healer and midwife who runs a Kemetic-themed wellness consultancy and writes books.” You can find Baba Heru Semahj’s jewelry studio, here.
- In Iraq, young men and women who are considered “emo” are being targeted and killed by conservative militias. The Western subcultural style is perceived as a marker for homosexuality and devil worship, and local authorities tasked with protecting social minorities are completely ill-equipped to handle the problem. The New York Times correctly points out that it was the Iraqi government that first labeled emo kids as a Satanic menace that should be eliminated. Activists claim that up to 90 people have been killed so far in this purge, usually beaten to death with cinder blocks.
- The Houston Chronicle covers the controversy over Nigerian witch-hunter Helen Ukpabio’s impending visit to Texas. The local churches hosting Ukpabio deny any abusive behavior or child exorcisms within their congregations, and Ukpabio won’t respond to requests for comment. The Chronicle notes that Ukpabio’s website claims “there is hardly any family without witchcraft, “ and Harvard scholar of indigenous African religions Jacob Olupona calls Ukpabio’s teachings “completely unacceptable.” You can read more about Ukpabio and her visit to America, here.
- Chas Clifton notes that the latest issue of The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies went to press last month, and its contents are now available online. PDFs of book reviews and of Caroline Tully’s article, “Researching the Past is a Foreign Country: Cognitive Dissonance as a Response by Practitioner Pagans to Academic Research on the History of Pagan Religions,” may be downloaded free. I’m particularly looking forward to reading “John Michell, Radical Traditionalism and the Emerging Politics of the Pagan New Right” by Amy Hale. I got previews of both aforementioned papers at the recent AAR Annual Meeting in San Francisco, and they each should do an excellent job in sparking needed discussions within modern Paganism.
- OC Weekly profiles Lon Milo DuQuette on the release of his new solo CD “I’m Baba Lon.” DuQuette, has written several texts on magick and the occult, and recently released a novel entitled “Aleister Crowley – Revolt of the Magicians” (for which I interviewed him). You can hear a live preview of the album, here.
- Kirk Cameron finds himself a defender against “totalitarian” gays in David Krayden of the Canadian Centre for Policy Studies. Krayden notes that “promotion of homosexual behaviour is in itself a throwback to the attitudes and opinions of ancient pagan civilizations.” It’s a lucky thing that Cameron is an expert in infiltrating open-to-the-public Pagan rituals!
- In November, Minnesota votes on a state constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage. Local religion professor Anant Rambachan, a Hindu, points out that Christianity isn’t the only religion that has opinions about divisive social issues. Quote: “Our state is home also to significant numbers of people of other world religions, including my own Hindu tradition. It is important that our voices also be offered in the public square. This amendment threatens to enshrine in law the perspective of particular religions and marginalize others.“ Once you start enshrining Christian morality into law, you inherently limit the religious freedoms of non-Christian faiths.
- Local media here in Eugene, Oregon have been documenting the work of Alley Valkyrie, a Pagan and part of Occupy Eugene, who has been fighting Eugene’s “exclusion zone,” saying it unfairly targets the homeless population. Valkyrie herself was recently ticketed for violating the restrictive guidelines, which include sitting and leaning on planters and other structures. Police have backed off that ticket, no doubt trying to avoid further negative publicity. For more on Valkyrie’s work, check out this story on the Eugene Occupy movement.
PNC-Minnesota has an interview up with Paganicon guest-of-honor Christopher Penczak. Quote: “Our great challenge will be how to join the world as an adult religion. I believe in the new age, the new eon, a new era of consciousness. Paganism has so much to offer the world’s religions. To do that we need to speak a similar language and understand each other. We need some similar institutions, whatever they turn out to be. The challenge is how to do all that in a public venue and still maintain ourselves as having mystery teachings.”
- Phil Hine weighs in on Queer Pagans, Queering Paganism, and how all that relates to the current dialog over gender in the Pagan community. Quote: “In America, there are signs that the constroversy sparked by the exclusion of transgendered Pagans at Pantheacon this year and in 2011 is also provoking a closer critique of Pagan discourses around sexuality, gender – and despite the surface rhetoric of being “inclusive” – how Pagan praxis actually works against this, producing seperations and boundaries. I see these projects as the beginnings of conversations that I hope will spiral outwards into wider areas…”
- BBC radio program “Heart and Soul” looks at the aftermath of last year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which in part explores how the disaster has affected practitioners of Shinto. Quote: “Mass graves have meant the impossibility of carrying out Buddhist or Shinto rituals and ‘a spirit of an ancestor who’s not properly memorialised can cause problems for the living because the spirit is unhappy and not looked after properly’.” You can read more about this at The Wild Hunt, here.
That’s it for now! Feel free to discuss any of these links in the comments, some of them I may expand into longer posts as needed.