Wednesday, May 30, 2007

NY Post insults Wiccan Veterans

How does a right-wing propagandist rag--that passes itself off as a newspaper--mark the veteran's victory in the Pentacle Quest? With typical right-wing idiocy, that's how. I could just imagine what would happen if they pulled such a stunt on a mainstream religion! It's a sobering reminder that intolerance is alive and well and we still have a long way to go.

It goes without saying I don't read the NY Post, so I sure won't link to it. But the article that accompanies the insulting picture is just the straight-up AP article. I want to thank Democratic Underground. They have some good comments on it there.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Laura Mallory sentenced to dunking!

Judge Upholds Harry Potter Books

A dunking? Wishful thinking on my part, but it would have been poetic justice. Loopy Dominionist Laura Mallory lost her fight against Harry Potter:

...For an hour, Laura Mallory tried to convince a judge that the Harry Potter books should not be allowed in the public schools because the books promote a religion. What's worse, she said, when the books are read in class, they often convert school children to that religion -- to witchcraft -- Wicca. Judge Ronnie Batchelor ruled right away, saying that Gwinnett County's decision to allow the books into the schools was made properly...

I wonder if there will ever come a day when I'll cross paths with that mythical person who actually became interested in Wicca through the Potter books. Btw, it may be news to critters of Mallory's ilk, but converting, evangelizing, and proselytizing is not something Wiccans do.

Monday, May 28, 2007

A Wiccan Memorial Day

Wiccan pentacle will finally mark fallen soldiers' graves

Our victory in the Pentacle Quest is marked on this Memorial Day. CNN is covering the event:

...Since Korean War veteran Jerome Birnbaum died in 2005, his grave in a pagan cemetery had been marked with only a pile of stones and U.S. flags. On Memorial Day, Birnbaum's grave and those of other military veterans will be dedicated with government-issued markers etched with a symbol of their religion -- the Wiccan pentacle...

"...I like to see our success literally etched in stone, because it will be," said Birnbaum's wife, Karen DePolito. She said winning the fight is vindication for all Wiccans...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

SUNY-New Paltz offers Evolution

College to offer new minor in evolutionary studies

I am so proud of my Alma Mater:

...The State University of New York at New Paltz is pleased to announce the approval of an 18-credit interdisciplinary evolutionary studies minor. According to Glenn Geher, chair of the Evolutionary Studies Program Development Committee, the new program includes classes from many departments and will provide students with an education regarding evolution that is both deep and broad in scope. "In addition to requiring multiple courses that focus on the essentials of evolutionary theory,” said Geher, “the curriculum includes courses that apply evolutionary principles in varied areas – such as anthropology, literature, and psychology – as well as courses that address gross misapplications of mischaracterized evolutionary ideas, including a course from the history department, titled ‘Crime and Punishment in American History’..."

Bravo New Paltz! New Paltz is the town that garnered a bit of fame when Mayor West officiated over a plethora of gay and lesbian marriages. Not only that, New Paltz is where my coven meets (Witches of the Crossroads), and near where my whip club has it's crack fests. (Yup, I'm addicted to crack!)

The chair of Evolutionary Studies adds:

“...Ours is the second such program in the nation,” said Geher....For more information about the evolutionary studies minor, which begins this fall..."

New Paltz is a cool place. I majored in Anthropology. Cut my eye teeth in the Archeology Field School. From the bathroom wall in the Anthro House:

I dedicate these flatulent mists
to all you Anthropologists
And if you don't dig it George
kiss my Olduvia Gorge

(Thanx to Green Ghost for rubbing my nose in this link)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Mythic Beasts, alive and well

Exploring the Nature of the Unnatural
A great exhibit at the AMNH in NYC, “Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids” will open tomorrow and run through Jan. 6 at the American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West and 79th Street; (212) 769-5100 or From the NYTimes article by Edward Rothstein: was a brilliant curatorial idea to devote an exhibition to them. One of the remarkable things about this the end you are convinced that these creatures should find permanent dwelling places in such halls, not because they are real but because they allow us to glean something about how humanity struggles to make sense of the natural world. Adrienne Mayor, a visiting scholar in the history of science at Stanford University, explains in an accompanying video how she studied maps where the Greeks claimed to have found the remains of fallen giants and discovered that they coincided with maps of major paleontological finds...The Greeks might have found bones belonging to ancient mastodons and mammoths, which were clearly far larger than human remains but also bore a close resemblance to them...As for the cyclops, such one-eyed giants were said to live in Sicily, where the fossilized remains of ancient elephants have been found. The cast of one Sicilian skull is on display; it contains an enormous central hole where the elephant’s trunk was attached. For the Greeks, more than two millenniums ago, that might have been an imagined creature’s single eye socket. What is left unmentioned here, but still haunts, is the human persistence in creating such creatures. Out of the unknown, out of worlds barely understood, out of glimpses of flesh or bone, in one culture after another, humanity has imagined beings whose bodies are mutant composites of incompatible animals...who violate every taboo and disrupt every sense of natural order. They arise out of our imaginings, offering seductive promises and irresistible dangers, as if they were resurrected fossils from a primal human past demanding tribute — which this fascinating exhibition begins to provide...

How true! Mythical creatures have a great deal to teach us, as this exhibit well demonstrates. After the exhibit closes in January, it moves to other museums: the Field Museum in Chicago, the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney and the Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta.

Rachel Carlson's Revenge!

Bird Poops on President Bush

...As President Bush took a question Thursday in the White House Rose Garden about scandals involving his Attorney General, he remarked, "I've got confidence in Al Gonzales doin' the job." Simultaneously, a sparrow flew overhead and left a splash on the President's sleeve, which Bush tried several times to wipe off...

Damn, if it weren't for that uppity Rachel Carlson, all those pesky birds would be dead from pesticides by now!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Silent Spring for Rachel Carlson

Republican environmental critic blocks honors for Rachel Carson

Rachel Carlson, who's groundbreaking book "Silent Spring" helped launch the environmental movement, was up for a Congressional honor until a Republican Senator got wind of it. From Raw Story:

...A Republican Senator known for his criticism of various environmental causes is single-handedly holding up two bills in the US Senate that would honor the life of Rachel Carson, author of the well-known book Silent Spring...

Just another exercise in earth-hating, brought to you by the Republican party.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Liberty U, RA! RA! RA!

Bomb Plot Thwarted at Falwell's Funeral

Liberty University must be so proud! Dominionist Monica Goodling is testifying before Congress today on how she tried to stifle decent by ripping up the Constitution. Now, another Xtian University student is in the news:

...Campbell County authorities arrested a Liberty University student for having several homemade bombs in his car....The student, 19-year-old Mark D. Uhl of Amissville, Va., reportedly told authorities that he was making the bombs to stop protesters from disrupting the funeral service...

Oh Liberty, your alumni must be so proud! Is this enterprising student going to get their own tribute page, like Monica got! I blogged about Monica before. I received one noteworthy comment, defending Messiah and politely asking me not to be so quick to judge. Well, I'm judging now. As CrooksandLiars points out, the thought that our government institutions are now peopled with over a 100 officials schooled in such institutions is truly frightening.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Teen Witches, at last!

Witchcraft casts spell on young: It's the feminist-friendly religion, claim its growing number of adherents.

I've known a number Xtain gays and lesbians who have struggled madly to keep faith with a religion that seems to despise them. Usually this involves spending a huge amount of spiritual energy cultivating immense levels of faith. I suppose an overdose of faith makes hanging out with homophobes, Dominionists, earth-haters, and misogynists, a lot less painful. Then again, searching for guidance in a spiritual text so out of step with modern life that it's in danger of fossilization, would try the patience of Job.

Why bother? Why not at least marginally entertain a belief system that's reflective of your life. The article above is from the Independent, and it points up the rise of Wicca, Witchcraft, and Neo-Paganism among teens:

...According to Professor Cush's report, based on interviews with witches aged 18 to 24, it is the attitude to women that most attracts them: "Paganism and witchcraft appealed because of their clear feminist credentials and absence of homophobia. A main attraction is the positive valuation of women in comparison with other religions..."

Over at WildHunt, there's an excellent post concerning this article, along with discussion of others noting the growing rise of Neo-Pagan religions. About our growing numbers, a good point is made:

...These newcomers aren't merely overzealous "Buffy" fans (as some claim), but are making serious considerations about their religious path. This seems to back up claims that Wicca, and modern Paganism in general, will continue to grow at a healthy rate and will soon become a faith category impossible to ignore within the mainstream...

Darn! I liked being a weird minority!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Dominionist Dead

As to my thoughts of Jerry Fawell, no one says it best than the late Moms Mabley:

"I thought he never would die. I shouldn't talk like that about him though. He dead. They say you shouldn't say nothing about the dead unless you can say something good. He dead. GOOD!"

Lest we ever forget, here's some of the wisdom of Falwell:

"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen."

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Wicca Undercover

Wiccans Keep the Faith With a Religion Under Wraps

Great NYTimes article about Wiccans who practice in secret, fearful of exposure. We've gotten some very good press lately:

...Above the woman’s fireplace hangs her wedding picture, taken in a Lutheran church years ago. Below it, on the mantelpiece, is a small Wiccan altar: two candles, a tiny cauldron, four stones to represent the elements of nature and a small amethyst representing her spirit...A pagan family’s altar. Wicca, a form of paganism, celebrates the divine in nature. But its symbols and practices elicit suspicion from outsiders. The wedding portrait is always there. But whenever someone comes to visit, the woman sweeps the altar away. Raised Southern Baptist in Virginia and now a stay-at-home mother of two in this Washington suburb, she has told almost no one — not her relatives, her friends or the other mothers in her children’s playgroups — that she is Wiccan...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Webb Telescope

Nasa unveils Hubble's successor

...The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is intended to replace the ageing Hubble telescope. It will be larger than its predecessor, sit farther from Earth and have a giant mirror to enable it to see more...

Monday, May 14, 2007

In Salem: A gathering of Christians, Wiccans, and Atheists

Christians and atheists start a calmer dialogue

I've blogged about Phil Wyman before (1,2). I really like his focus on outreach:

..."I've never understood treating a people group as [the enemy] because their belief system is different," says Phil Wyman, pastor of The Gathering, a Salem church that sponsored the conference...

More and more people are seeing the value of a 'can't we all just get along' attitude:

...a few people on both sides are finding calmer ways to engage, seeking to build bridges and even learn from one another...So both are willing to sit down together in different venues, discuss their divergent perspectives, and, in some cases, jointly visit church services across the United States. As a result, they are sparking a growing Christian-atheist dialogue on the Web...At a conference in Salem, Mass., last Saturday, for example, Christians from several states listened to atheists and neopagans talk about who they are, the origin of their ethics and beliefs, and what challenges they encounter in a society that is predominantly Christian...

The Druids, by Ronald Hutton

Ronald Hutton - Wicca and other invented traditions

Great article about Ronald Hutton's new book "The Druids":

...Hutton's kind of pagan or Druid is very up to date, online, "showing respect for the individual and responsibility to the environment", and not fearful of the modern. Paganism today, he says, is "a way of trying to get the best out of modernity, while discarding the bits that most of us hate". And while he wouldn't call himself "a spokesperson for paganism" - which, it's been said, is the "only religion England gave to the world" - he acknowledges his debt to it. "I could never have managed to write the books that I have without the welcome and the support I've received from pagans and Druids." Given that the West has been reinventing its identity since the Renaissance, that we should continue to do so today shouldn't come as a surprise. "It's part of our reclaiming ourselves as modern," Hutton says. "Of getting a sense of who we are and what we're doing here, where we've come from , and why we are who we are. It's simply thrilling..."

Friday, May 11, 2007

Hammer Films rises from the grave

Hammer horror films set to return

At a Horror con, I remember hearing Clive Barker talking about the problems he encountered trying to interest a studio in producing his film "Hellraiser". One producer who declined (but appreciated Clive's script) lamented that the story was just the sort of thing a little studio like Hammer would produce. Unfortunately, Hammer had folded tent years earlier, and there were no longer any studios interested in ensemble piece horror.

Horror fans everywhere are rejoicing in the news that the Studio may soon be making movies again. From BBC News:

...Cult Hammer horror films will return to the big screen after the company behind the movies was sold to a group headed by Big Brother creator John de Mol."...Hammer horror films will return to the big screen after the company behind the movies was sold to a group headed by Big Brother creator John de Mol...At least $50m (£25m) will be spent on new horror films after British company Hammer Film Productions was sold to Dutch consortium Cyrte Investments...

Hammer left an indelible mark in the horror genre, and made Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing into international stars. The history of the studio has best been covered by Scarlet Street magazine (the site maintains a forum dedicated to Hammer.) True, one can take some swipes at Hammer. Some people feel Hammer films to be somewhat conservative/reactionary. (However, I feel that analysis is a bit severe; a fan of SciFi and Horror is at least giving a partial nod to anarchy and alternative lifestyles.) On the other hand, Hammer's brand of movie making had a characteristic charm, featured good acting and direction, and the studio made a significant contributed to the evolution of genre film. Hammer's Dracula and Frankenstein movies were the bread and butter of late-night TV in the 1970's, cultivating a fan base which thrives today.

If you are new to Hammer and would like some great additions to your DVD collection, here's some suggestions:

"The Abominable Snowman". Peter Cushing plays a British scientist, Forest Tucker an American showman, on a surreal hunt for the Yeti. This film features a good dose of Tibetan mysticism. What's particularly to Hammer's credit is the sympathetic treatment of the scientist. Although obviously intelligent and highly educated, Cushing portrays the character as gentle, selfless, tolerant, and even handed. It's nice to see a scientist as 'the good guy'. Tucker, as the publicity seeking showman, is manipulative, racist, and willing to do anything for a buck.

"Kiss of the Vampire". This film features the first vampire party! There's also some interesting spirituality, as the vampires follow some form of Paganism. Not only that, but the vampire hunter in the "Van Helsing" role actually casts a circle and uses high magic to battle the vampires.

"The Curse of the Werewolf". Perhaps one of the best werewolf films, staring the always impressive Oliver Reed. What sets this film apart is that it tries to offer an explanation for lycanthropy.

Both "Kiss..." and "The Curse..." are now available together in a box set called 'The Hammer Horror Series". This collection is a great introduction to the Hammer films.

(Pic: Peter Cushing demonstrates the scientific method in "Frankenstein Created Woman")

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Monster food?

Toad found deep down in Loch Ness

...US researchers carrying out a sonar survey of Loch Ness have been amazed to find a common toad crawling in the mud 324ft (98m) down...

Although mostly air breathers, there's a few species of frogs that can absorb oxygen directly through their skins. However, this sort of behavior from a European toad is rather bizarre.

Great bedside manner!

A Crusade and a Holy War in the US Military

Great Truthout article via CrooksandLiars. David Miller, a disabled vet, was in for a surprise when he checked in to the VA for a medical evaluation:

...An Orthodox Jew and former petty officer in the US Navy said his civil rights were violated after a chaplain and officials at a Veterans Administration hospital in Iowa City, Iowa, tried to convert him to Christianity while he was under the VA's care..."My doctor said that since I am a religious Jew, I should try prayer or meditation to deal with the pain," Miller said. "I was shocked that a medical doctor would make such a suggestion. I immediately raised hell and was assigned a new physician...The first two visits by the Protestant (Assembly of God) chaplain were all about trying to convert me, trying to convince me that I needed Jesus, that Jesus was the Messiah of the Jews too," Miller said...

Imagine being in a hospital, sick and in need of care. Then someone comes in and gives you the idea you'd get better care if you believed in God the way they did! Kinda reminds me of the Inquisition, where Jews were given the option of conversion or death. My, how things have changed!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Wiccan and Pagan Courage

Goddess Bless

Over at "My Navy Wife Chronicles", we have a good example of why the Pentacle Quest is so important:

...For those of you who are not aware…I am Wiccan (or I practice Wicca). I do not wish to offend any of my readers…and please, please, please do not email me, leave comments or tags with messages about how I may or may not be a devil worshiper or what not or how God is Great and I will never get into Heaven because I’ve not accepted God as my personal savior...I was happy to see on one of my blogging bud’s sites that she had an News Article from CNN about the debate of the religious emblem on tombstones of soldiers (or any military for that matter) being berried in the cemeteries allowing the Pentacle (The Wicca Star) to be placed on those soldiers (or any military member) who’s military record recorded them as being Wiccan. I’m sooo excited. This was done recently. Previously the Army was prominently responsible for the Wiccan or Pagan religion being recognized in the Military...

When people like this feel they can come out of the broom closet, we have definitive proof of the significance of this campaign.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Beltane and the Pentacle

Success in the Veteran Pentacle Quest!

Over at Witchvox, there's a fascinating article by Selena Fox documenting her successful lawsuit against the Veterans Admin. This article is a must-read for anyone interested in church/state issues. The VA's foot dragging turns out to be motivated by bold-faced religious discrimination:

...As part of discovery, the VA was required to turn over additional internal emails, memos, and other documents which it had failed to release to us through our Freedom of Information Act request.

Hmm, interesting that the VA held back documents, but it gets worse:

...The VA turned over more than 30, 000 documents to our AU attorneys...Buried in the "blizzard" of paperwork, our AU attorneys found several documents that were additional evidence that VA officials had blocked Pentacle approval because of prejudice against the Wiccan religion.With this additional evidence of discrimination, our preparations for court intensified...our attorneys...issued a subpoena for the internal documents that the VA still had not turned over to us...

Soon, the VA had to deal with three separate lawsuits! Here's the happy ending:

...Then, in early April, our attorneys drafted an amended complaint that we planned to file in the Federal District Court of Western Wisconsin on Good Friday, April 6. As part of this process, our attorneys sent a draft to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys representing the VA. Shortly after DOJ attorneys saw this amended complaint draft, they quickly began negotiating a settlement of our lawsuit with us through our AU attorneys...

So, the the actions of the VA were even deemed unconstitutional by the Dominionist bible thumpers over at the DOJ! The entire "Pentacle Quest" episode demonstrates what's best in Wiccans and Pagans: people coming together to correct ignorance and intolerance.

Selena makes a request:

...Please join us and other Wiccans, Witches, and Pagans of many paths around the world in a special day of Quest remembrance and celebration on Tuesday, May 1. Place offerings of flowers on your home altars, at Pagan shrines, and community ritual sites in sacred thanksgiving and joy for this victory, and in remembrance of living and deceased Pagan veterans and their families. Please let the Lady Liberty League know about your victory celebrations you have held and/or will be holding at Beltane, Memorial Day, and other times. Email: with Quest Victory in the subject line.