Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Real Hogwarts to open

Wiccan lottery winner plans to open witch school

Bunky is keeping his promise to the Lady and Lord! You know it's a good Sabbat when we have a comet in the sky and someone figures how to piss-off the Xtain Right even more:

...Wiccan high priest Elwood "Bunky" Bartlett, who won an estimated $49 million in the Maryland lottery last month, intends to use his money to set up a school for witches -- a real-life Hogwarts...Bartlett has already contributed to a Special Olympics event, to Mystickal Voyage, a New Age shop where he currently teaches, and to a Stonehenge preservation group in England...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Goblin Comet for Samhain

We have a naked-eye visible comet gracing our skies for Samhain! Some have dubbed it the 'Goblin Comet'. Last night, the comet was an easy target through binoculars, and looked spectacular in my Astroscan. It's easy to spot in the constellation Perseus (in the early evening, this is in the North Eastern sky):


...Last week, Comet 17P/Holmes shocked sky watchers around the world with a sudden million-fold increase in brightness. It literally exploded into view, rapidly becoming a naked eye "star" in the constellation Perseus. Since then the comet has expanded dramatically. It is now physically larger than the planet Jupiter and subtends an angle in the night sky similar to the Moon's Sea of Tranquility, the right eye of the "Man in the Moon." Photographers, this amazing comet is an excellent target for off-the-shelf digital cameras and backyard telescopes. It grows visibly from night to night and no one knows how large it will become...

See for skymaps and all the latest info.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Greek and Roman Gods were best!

Bring back the Greek gods: Mere mortals had a better life when more than one ruler presided from on high.

Excellent opinion piece by Mary Lefkowitz, author of ""Greek Gods, Human Lives".:

...Prominent secular and atheist commentators have argued lately that religion "poisons" human life and causes endless violence and suffering. But the poison isn't religion; it's monotheism...

I could not agree more! It's great that a respected historian with a PhD after her name is finally saying it.

...The polytheistic Greeks didn't advocate killing those who worshiped different gods, and they did not pretend that their religion provided the right answers. Their religion made the ancient Greeks aware of their ignorance and weakness, letting them recognize multiple points of view...

...The world, as the Greek philosopher Thales wrote, is full of gods, and all deserve respect and honor. Such a generous understanding of the nature of divinity allowed the ancient Greeks and Romans to accept and respect other people's gods and to admire (rather than despise) other nations for their own notions of piety. If the Greeks were in close contact with a particular nation, they gave the foreign gods names of their own gods: the Egyptian goddess Isis was Demeter, Horus was Apollo, and so on. Thus they incorporated other people's gods into their pantheon...

Lefkowitz rightfully points out the the Romans certainly persecuted the early Christians. But they were perceived more as insurgents and terrorists, working to undermine social order, than just members of some obscure religious cult.

...Ancient Greek religion gives an account of the world that in many respects is more plausible than that offered by the monotheistic traditions. Greek theology openly discourages blind confidence based on unrealistic hopes that everything will work out in the end. Such healthy skepticism about human intelligence and achievements has never been needed more than it is today...

That hits the nail on the head. When one finally abandons the paternalistic concept of godhead, many of the philosophical contradictions inherent in monotheism simply melt away.

It's such a relief to be done with monotheism.

(Image from the great Benny Hill tribute site Benny's Place.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Damien Dempsey

As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm a new fan of Damien Dempsey. There's a good review of his album "To Hell or Barbados" at Celtic Lounge News. I want to point out some comments about the song 'Maasai':

...When I die/I want to die not in a home for the unknown/when I love I want to love not like a swine with no spine but love like a flower loves sunshine,” he wails about the ancient tribe that “co-existed with Mother Nature;” Damo says it’s also a song about the old warrior spirit of the Celtic people in the liner notes.

This song gets my vote for the new Pagan National Anthem, heh! Here's a thunderous version, recently recorded on the Sinead O'Connor tour, featuring members of Sinead's band as backup:

Monday, October 22, 2007

I saw Sinead O'Connor

Yes, I finally saw Sinead O'Connor. I saw her at the Bardavon in Poughkeepsie, NY. What a great show. For a great review and comments on her current tour, see Cale's page:

...A setlist that includes gems she hasn't performed in over a decade ('Never Get Old,' 'Three Babies') are mingled with spine-tingling renditions from 'Theology,' ('Something Beautiful' and 'If You Had a Vineyard'). Her glorious 'Universal Mother' and 'Faith & Courage' albums are wonderfully represented by moving performances of fan favorites like 'In This Heart' and 'Lamb's Book of Life.' An extra treat is provided by the introduction of 'Back Where You Belong,' a stunning, elegiac ballad Sinead wrote and performed for the upcoming major motion-picture, 'The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep.'...The theater was charged with an almost messianic atmosphere as fans screamed approval, wept, sang-along with songs that had been life-defining, and even complimented the petite dynamo on her agelessly haunting beauty....

How true! The opening act for Sinead was the great Irish folksinger Damien Dempsey. His song "Maasai" from the CD "To Hell or Barbados" was one of the most rousing Pagan anthems I have ever heard--I thought the audience was going to start pulling up the seats!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Harry Potter's Dumbledore outed!

J.K. Rowling outs Hogwarts character

Ah, yet another reason for the Religious Right Wingnut-o-sphere to hate the Potter series:

...Rowling, finishing a brief "Open Book Tour"...said that she regarded her Potter books as a "prolonged argument for tolerance" and urged her fans to "question authority"...

It's days like this that make me proud to be a Wiccan. :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Another hearty for Capt'n Dyke?

Woman fired after stopping robbery

Walmart is at it again, this time in my neighborhood:

...In the corporate world, the customer is always right. But what if the customer steals handbags and belts and then punches you in the face? What if you, the customer service manager, raise your arm to protect yourself or strike back and then get fired for touching the customer?...

Yup, that's what happened to Victoria Smith. It will be a cold day in Hell (which is weird, because I don't believe in Hell) before I walk into a Walmart. Note that there is a poll at the link above, asking whether people think Smith should be given her job back. I see that, so far, 7% don't think so. What assholes!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Of Atheists and forskins

Man and God (and God’s Sick Punch Lines)

Shalam Auslander's new book "Forskin's Lament" details his flight from orthodox religion:

“...The people who raised me will say I am not religious,” he writes. “They are mistaken.” He adds: “I am painfully, cripplingly, incurably, miserably religious, and I have watched lately, dumbfounded and distraught, as around the world, more and more people seem to be finding Gods, each more hateful and bloody than the next, as I’m doing my best to lose Him. I’m failing miserably...”

In the above article, he revisits the orthodox Jewish community he grew up in, noting the disapproving stares of people who pass him by:

"I try sometimes to see myself through their eyes — as someone who has made a huge mistake. On the other hand, what if the big joke is that God has nothing to do with any of this, and doesn’t care about it at all?...It all feels very ‘Twilight Zone’ to me,” he said. “It seems more and more odd and more and more familiar at the same time.”

From the first chapter of his book:

...The people of Monsey were terrified of God, and they taught me to be terrified of Him, too—they taught me about a woman named Sarah who would giggle, so He made her barren; about a man named Job who was sad and asked, —Why?, so God came down to the Earth, grabbed Job by the collar, and howled, —Who the fuck do you think you are?; about a man named Moses, who escaped from Egypt, and who roamed through the desert for forty years in search of a Promised Land, and whom God killed just before he reached it—face-plant on the one-yard line—because Moses had sinned, once, forty years earlier. His crime? Hitting a rock. And so, in early autumn, when the leaves choked, turned colors, and fell to their deaths, the people of Monsey gathered together in synagogues across the town and wondered, aloud and in unison, how God was going to kill them: —Who will live and who will die, they prayed, —who at his predestined time and who before his time, who by water and who by fire, who by sword, who by beast, who by famine, who by thirst, who by storm, who by plague, who by strangulation, and who by stoning...