Category : Wicca / paganism

Justyn Terry–Secularism: Staging-Post on the Road Back to Paganism

Over the last hundred years or so, however,…[the] hopeful vision [that secularism promises a neutral public and peaceful space] has not materialized. Rather than seeing greater harmony in secular societies, we have witnessed more community breakdown. We also notice that the greatest losses of life in the twentieth century (Mao Tse-tung: 70 million deaths; Stalin: 20-40 million deaths; Hitler: 11-12 million deaths; Pol Pot: 1-2 million deaths”¦) have been inspired by secular ideologies, not religious ones. The atrocities that human beings commit against each other continue apace, and secularism is at a loss to know what to say about them. “It is the work of a few rogues” sounds less plausible every time we hear it. The incoherence of secularism also means that it cannot withstand determined pressure groups or totalitarian ideologies.

I believe secularism in the West is really a combination of Christianity and paganism, with the proportions shifting over the years from the former to the latter. Secularism does not supply values of its own but borrows them from Christianity (human rights, care for minorities, freedom of speech, toleration of differences, etc.) or paganism (fascination with astrology and ever more extreme forms of entertainment, lower views of marriage, higher views of other relationships, openness to abortion/infanticide, euthanasia, etc.). Credit is rarely given to these sources, and it is only as the proportion of paganism has increased that the true nature of secularism is becoming more apparent.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Theology, Wicca / paganism

(Follow on from the preceding post) British Police Given Guidelines for Handling Pagan Rituals

Paganism, a centuries-old faith, has just been officially established as a religion in England. Dating back to pre-Christian times, followers worship the land, animals, spirits and ancient gods and it’s been growing in popularity in recent years.

Its estimated that around 250,000 Brits now claim to be Pagans.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism

ABC Nightline: Pagan Policeman

Watch it all (a UK based report).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism

(Watershed Post) Judge: Town's treatment of pagans may be discrimination

A judge has found that a group of self-described witches may have gotten special treatment from the town of Catskill ”“ and not in a good way.

In a strongly-worded decision issued on Tuesday, Judge George J. Pulver, Jr. of the Greene County Supreme County ruled that the town’s denial of a property tax exemption for the Maetreum of Cybele smacks of discrimination.

“Consistent with [the Matreum’s] claim that it is being discriminated against, respondents’ counsel attempts to hold petitioner to a higher standard than other religious organizations,” Pulver wrote in the decision, a copy of which was obtained by the Watershed Post.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism

Daily Mail–How to cure a witch: Catholic Church issues guide in Britain

A guide on how to convert witches to Christianity has been published by the Roman Catholic Church in Britain.

The move comes in response to fears that growing numbers of teenagers are being lured into Wicca, occult practices and paganism by the heroic depiction of witches in entertainment including the Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice films, and TV.

The booklet, called Wicca and Witchcraft: Understanding the Dangers, offers parents advice on what to do if one of their children takes an interest in witchcraft.

Read it all and you can read a description of the actual booklet here.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology, Wicca / paganism

David Hart: New Year’s Titanic Gods

I have really nothing much to say about New Year’s Day. But I thought I might offer a little in the way of New Year’s trivia, just to make my small contribution to the day’s festivities, for those disposed to observe them. And, since it is essentially a rather pagan sort of celebration, I thought I would confine my remarks to things pagan.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Faiths, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Wicca / paganism

In Pennsylvania a Former Episcopal priest starts new ministry

The Rev. William Melnyk, former rector of St. James Episcopal Church in Downingtown, resigned from the church in late 2004 amid investigations that he and his wife, the Rev. Glyn Ruppe-Melnyk, wrote two druidic ceremonies as suggestions for women’s liturgies. The druids were a Celtic sect that predates Christianity.

At the conclusion of the investigation, Bishop Charles E. Bennison declined to suspend the two priests from the church.

Ruppe-Melnyk still serves as the rector of St. Francis-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church in Willistown.

Melnyk said recently that Bishop Bennision agreed to reinstate him if Melnyk could agree to not write or speak about Celtic spirituality. Melnyk said he could not agree to those terms and that it became evident earlier this year that his reinstatement was not going to happen.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops, TEC Parishes, Wicca / paganism

AP: New Agers, neo-pagans see Stonehenge solstice

Thousands of New Agers and neo-pagans danced and whooped in delight Monday as a bright early morning sun rose above the ancient stone circle Stonehenge, marking the summer solstice.

About 20,000 people crowded the prehistoric site on Salisbury Plain, southern England, to see the sunrise at 4:52 A.M. (1152EST), after an annual all-night party.

The event typically draws thousands of alternative-minded revelers to the monument, as they wait for dawn at the Heel Stone, a pockmarked pillar just outside the circle proper, which aligns with the rising sun.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism

Penelope Fleming-Fido (Church Times): Christians and Pagans should reconsider the similarities

In a world where differences between religious groups are often stressed, too few of us realise how many similarities there are between Christian beliefs and Paganism. Though many of us are aware of the pagan roots of some Christian tradi­tions, such as the Yule log and holly, there are deeper rooted similarities than these Christmas trimmings. History has too many examples of conflicts over real or imagined reli­gious differences; so a greater under­standing of each other’s religion might bring a heightened sympathy between us.

The Neo-Pagan religions have many names, including Paganism, Asatru, Wicca, Witchcraft, and Druid­ism. While Paganism stresses a bond with nature and an acknow­ledgement of the natural cycle of life in the world, there is no one tenet of faith that all followers acknowledge as central to their religion.

The word “pagan” has a long and confused history. In the first centuries Anno Domini (also known as the Common Era), a Pagan was someone who did not believe in the Abrahamic religions. The Latin word “paganus” means countryman, and it is easy to see the link between this and the Pagan religion, which is often de-scribed as being that of country-folk.

Paganism celebrates the cycle of the year, and there is no central reli­gious text; so it would have been accessible to peasants who could not read. Its emphasis on the changes that ordinary people could see around them in the trees and earth would have made sense to them.

Read the whole reflection.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Inter-Faith Relations, Other Faiths, Wicca / paganism

AP: Wiccans, pagans gain stone circle spot at Air Force Academy

The Air Force Academy has set aside an outdoor worship area for Pagans, Wiccans, Druids and other Earth-centered believers, school officials said Monday.

A double circle of stones atop a hill on the campus near Colorado Springs has been designated for the group, which previously met indoors.

“Being with nature and connecting with it is kind of the whole point,” said Tech. Sgt. Brandon Longcrier, who sponsors the group and describes himself as a Pagan. “It will dramatically improve that atmosphere, the mindset and the actual connection.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism

Jeff Walton: Are Pagan practices finding an increasingly receptive audience in the Episcopal Church?

The monthly meditation had a playful air about it.

“A crone is an old woman. A crone is a witch. A crone is a wise woman. Which one will you be, my friend? Which one I?”

Wrapped around a rite for “croning”, the meditation embraced a history of mystical women and offered prayers to “Mothering God” and “Eternal Wisdom.” But the article was not in a new age publication or Wiccan blog: it was on the pages of the September newsletter of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.

Entitled “Crone Power”, the meditation innocuously sat opposite a story about choosing a children’s Bible and next to a column on St. Jerome. The newsletter quickly drew the attention of Anglican bloggers, many of whom found the placement of what appeared to be a Wiccan ritual to be jarring in an official church publication. But intentionally or not, the publication and placement of the rite were reflective of a new reality: one in which practices drawn from or inspired by pagan belief, including witchcraft, are increasingly finding acceptance within the ranks of the Episcopal Church.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes, Theology, Wicca / paganism

Paganism, Just Another Religion for Military and Academia

In both guises, as an individual practitioner and a credentialed expert, Mr. [Michael] York embodies the increasing mainstream acceptance of Pagan religion. From academia to the military, in the person of chaplains and professors, through successful litigation and online networking, Paganism has done much in the last generation to overcome its perception as either Satanism or silliness.

“Academically, it’s much more open and accepted and respected,” said Mr. York, 70, who retired five years ago from the faculty of Bath Spa University in England. “And on a more personal level, we don’t proselytize or anything like that, but most of my friends know that I’m Pagan and most of them are not, and we can discuss it. They understand that there is a Pagan spirituality, and the misconceptions about it have diminished.”

Because the federal census does not ask about religious affiliation, and because ridicule or discrimination tended to keep Pagans closeted in the past, statistics on the number of adherents in the United States are imprecise and probably too low. Still, the recent growth is evident in surveys done in 1990 and 2001 by the City University of New York.

Over the course of those 11 years, the survey went from tabulating 8,000 Wiccans nationally ”” that branch of Paganism was the only one to turn up ”” to 134,000 Wiccans, 33,000 Druids and 140,000 Pagans.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism

Interest in Wicca Going up

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism

From Time Magazine: Letting Witches Be Witches in Salem

Should you find your way up to Salem, Mass., this Halloween season, your chances of encountering a psychic are up ”” and the odds that that he or she has a felony record are down. That, for those of you who were too drowned in multimedia Harry Potter to notice, is the news from the real town where some estimate every tenth person is a witch.

In June, the Salem town council eased its rules on fortune tellers ”” or, to be more specific, those locals who are engaged in “the telling of fortunes, forecasting of futures, or reading the past, by means of any occult, psychic power, faculty, force, clairvoyance, cartomancy, psychometry, phrenology, spirits, tea leaves, tarot cards, scrying, coins, sticks, dice, coffee grounds, crystal gazing or other such reading, or through mediumship, seership, prophecy, augury, astrology, palmistry, necromancy, mind-reading, telepathy or other craft, art, science, talisman, charm, potion, magnetism, magnetized article or substance, or by any such similar thing or act.”

Salem may have been where witches were once tried and executed by puritans, but ”” thanks to the magic of branding ”” it has since become a mecca for witches and others involved in the occult arts, as well as for tourists. Around a hundred thousand tourists descend on the town every Halloween season.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Faiths, Wicca / paganism

All hell breaks out as pagans given go-ahead for university gathering in Scotland

SOME would call it the Devil’s work. Two ancient religions have locked horns in a bizarre “freedom of speech” row that is echoing around the corridors of one of Scotland’s oldest academic institutions.

The University of Edinburgh has granted permission to the Pagan Society to hold its annual conference – involving talks on witchcraft, pagan weddings and tribal dancing – on campus next month. Druids, heathens, shamans and witches are expected to attend what is a major event in the pagan calendar.

But the move has enraged the Christian Union, which accuses the university of double standards after banning one of its events on the “dangers” of homosexuality.

Matthew Tindale, an Edinburgh-based Christian Union staff worker, claimed some faiths and beliefs appeared to be more equal than others on campus.

“This seems to be a clear case of discrimination,” he said. “It’s okay for other religions, such as the pagans, to have their say at the university, but there appears to be a reluctance to allow Christians to do the same. All we are asking for is the tolerance that is afforded to other faiths and organisations.”

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Other Faiths, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Wicca / paganism