Monday, July 30, 2007

Barnabas Collins no longer chained in his coffin!

Depp lights up 'Dark Shadows'

I use to love the horror soap opera "Dark Shadows" as a kid. I'd race home from school to see it. Frid's portrayal of the vampire Barnabas Collins rates up there with Lugosi and Lee. Now, it looks like it's Johnny Depp's turn:

...Warner Bros. is teaming with Depp's Infinitum-Nihil and Graham King's GK Films to develop a feature based on the '60s daytime supernatural sudser "Dark Shadows...Depp has said in interviews that he has always been obsessed with "Dark Shadows" and had, as a child, wanted to be Barnabas Collins, the vampire patriarch of the series...

...Over 1,225 episodes, "Dark Shadows" was a highly atmospheric, spooky soap that featured gothic horror staples like vampires, monsters, witches, werewolves, ghosts and zombies. The show has a continuing rabid fan base that populates Dark Shadows Festival conventions...

Yup, one of my childhood influences.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Thank you, Harry

My Debt to J.K. Rowling

I know many of us have been saturated with the media machine that is Harry Potter. But Byron Ballard's post at DeafPagan hit's the nail on the head. The books have been an incredible boon to tolerance and understanding of Wicca and NeoPaganism, even if not an accurate portrayal:

...As a Wiccan, I have watched with interest the attempts to ban the Potter books from school libraries...I’ve listened to the pronouncements from several religious leaders in this country and abroad who are concerned about the effects of Rowling’s work on the more impressionable members of their flocks. This foray into young adult literature has distressed people who haven’t even read them but certainly have an opinion of what witchcraft is, what Wicca is and how Rowling conflated the two to create the world of Muggles and Hogwarts that have taken the reading world by storm...

What really impresses me, is how this wonderful storm has completely drowned out the book burners such as Laura Mallory, making them look silly and ridiculous. But most importantly (emphasis mine):

...Rowling’s work has allowed an important dialogue to begin. When I am asked if witchcraft Hogwarts-style is what Wiccans and Pagans do, it is a starting point for genuine discussion...Adults who have either read the books or seen the movies now have a language in which they can talk about one of the fastest-growing and least understood religions. It has been easy to talk about the obvious differences between what we do and what Rowling has written and a challenge for Pagan leaders to dig into the aspects of Harry’s world that do reflect the work we do as Earth religionists. Though the series is ending, the conversation will continue, to the advantage of all concerned...

Now, I have to get going on planning that wand making workshop with my coven! :)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Happy Lammas

For Lammas/Midsummer, here's a stunning shot of the Moon:

Moon Pic

The photo was taken by amateur astronomer Bart Declercq, using a "...mosaic of 20 movies using a DMK31AF, C9.25, ATIK, 0.5x focal reducer and IR-pass filter...The moon was a mere 11° above the horizon at the time, just above the rooftops." Awesome!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

We need more like this!


Here's an excellent article, by Steve Matrazzo for the Dundalk Eagle, in Dundalk, Md. You don't expect fair and open-minded articles like this, coming from small home town papers. This is certainly is a refreshing change from the "Something Wicca this way comes..." pieces we see spun from the school of bad writing. It helps that the writer focused on a High Priestess, Rev. Pami Griffith, who is funny and plain-spoken. When speaking about going skyclade in rituals:

“...Sexual morality is man-made. We celebrate our bodies,” she says. Still, she doesn’t practice what Wiccans call “sky-clad,” or nude, worship. “Trust me, you don’t want to see me naked!” jokes the zaftig 50-ish priestess...

When explaining how spells are utilized:

“...It’s not turning stuff into other stuff or putting curses on people. It’s influencing the universe to bring about things we hope for,” she says. “It’s just prayer.” She says people cast spells without knowing. “Ever sing, ‘Rain, rain, go away,’ or make a wish when blowing out candles?” she asks. “Know it or not, you’re casting a spell, or trying to....”

Wow! I'm putting that "Rain, Rain..." spell in my Mirror Book! Heh!

We also get a brief walk-through of a Wiccan ritual, which will be good for those who are curious. This piece is well rounded, brief, humorous and informative. It's a great read for anyone wondering what Wicca is about. Why not write the editor, and let him or her know that you liked the article:

You can also address 'letters to the editor' at that addy.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pope: We must listen to the voice of the Earth

Pope: Creation vs. evolution clash an ‘absurdity’

Pope Benedict XVI has pointed up the obvious:

...Pope Benedict XVI said the debate raging in some countries — particularly the United States and his native Germany — between creationism and evolution was an “absurdity,” saying that evolution can coexist with faith...“They are presented as alternatives that exclude each other,” the pope said. “This clash is an absurdity because on one hand there is much scientific proof in favor of evolution, which appears as a reality that we must see and which enriches our understanding of life and being as such...

He goes on to state, however, that science and evolution do not answer all life's challenges, and religion and philosophy can fill that void. But most remarkably, he makes a number of very environmentally positive statements, some them sounding very Wiccan! He states that we should listen to the voice of the Earth:

“...We must respect the interior laws of creation, of this Earth, to learn these laws and obey them if we want to survive...This obedience to the voice of the Earth is more important for our future happiness ... than the desires of the moment. Our Earth is talking to us and we must listen to it and decipher its message if we want to survive,” he said...

Some rather remarkable statements. Against my better judgement, I like some things about this Pope.

Monkey Girl: The Movie

NOVA to air show on ID trial

The PBS science show NOVA has produced a two hour special on the Dover ruling on ID:

...In November, members of the public will be able to see what went on in the courtroom - or at least a detailed re-enactment of it. On Nov. 13, the PBS science program NOVA will air a two-hour special devoted to the topic called "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial...

The show will feature interviews with people who participated, as well as actors re-enacting events of the trial.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Hatshepsut on TV!

Secrets of Egypt's Lost Queen

The discovery of Hatshepsut's mummy has been widely reported.
The Discovery Channel is presenting a special on this--check you local listings.

From the Discovery Channel's website:

...More powerful than Cleopatra or Nefertiti, Hatshepsut was Egypt's greatest female ruler. And then she disappeared. Egypt's preeminent archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, investigates several mummies that may well be the remains of this powerful queen...

It seems poor Hatshepsut was rather sickly toward the end of her life. It also appears she may have struck a rather Goth-like figure, with black & white fingernail polish, a receding hairline, with long red hair streaming down her.

(mummy pic: BBC)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Garta: Weapon of Mythic Destruction

Rumors of Strange Creatures Abound in Basrah: Sightings Spread Horror, Conpiracy Theories Among Locals

...The animal is known locally as the Garta or ‘the muncher,’ and mothers in Basrah used to tell scary stories about the Garta to their children so they would not wander out alone at night. Old families in Basrah believe the animal brings bad luck because it is mostly found in cemeteries at night. The unusual phenomenon, however, is their sudden appearance in large numbers near the city and their increasingly aggressive behavior...

Since US and British forces have pretty much destroyed their country, it's no leap of logic who is getting the blame:

...The rumors led people to indulge in conspiracy theories, speculating that U.S. or British forces have dropped large numbers of this animal, or its “eggs,” around Basrah in order to spread chaos and instability, while others say the animal crossed over from neighboring Iran through the marshes...

Great! Maybe the Mythic creatures can fight the mythic terrorists.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Get out your Telescopes

Fun for backyard observers:

Jupiter is Changing its Stripes Right in Front of Our Eyes

It always pays to keep an eye on Jupiter. According to posters at astronomy forums, these disruptions are visible in medium size telescope. My back is still a bit too tender to risk lugging my SCT (a C-8, made in Celestron's 'PowerStar' era) into the back yard, but I should be able to do so in a few days.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Day at the Museum

We (Zelda, Green Ghost, and yours truly) visited "Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids" last week! The AMNH did a great job. The importance of studying, preserving, and even internalizing beliefs in these creatures was driven home.

I really enjoyed all the interpretations of Mermaids--it's remarkable how they are a nearly universal concept. The West Indian and African depiction's were the most interesting. One frequent interpretation of her has her Westernized (even with straight hair), holding a hand mirror and sporting a wrist watch! Hence, she was foreign (which meant she was well traveled and well to do, possessing knowledge of far-off places) and liked and coveted fine things. A person could encourage favor in the form of luck or material gain by presenting a gift to the Mermaid. One would wrap a comb or mirror in a fine bit of cloth, make a wish, then pitch this offering into the sea. If your gift was accepted, the Mermaid would send fortune your way. What a beautiful custom!

I also was impressed with the story of the 'Roc' (or Rukh), the giant mythical bird. The exhibit featured a snippet of text from Sir Richard Burton's translation of the epic "Tales from A Thousand and one Nights". I'm a big Burton fan, and picked up a copy of the book from the Museum Shop. Who would consider any other translation but Burton's! :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Little Goddess no match for Bush

'Goddess' sacked for visiting US
I previously posted about the Little Goddess. Seems that while 'pardoning' treasonous traders such as Scooter Libby, president Shrub enjoys desecrating Gods and Goddesses. From the BBC News:

...A 10-year-old girl who is worshipped as a living goddess in Nepal has been stripped of her title for defying tradition and visiting the US...

(Thanx to Green Ghost for calling my attention to this.)