My first encounter with the figure of a witch in popular culture—apart from those in kids’ movies like Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” and M-G-M’s “The Wizard of Oz,” or in books like Tomie dePaola’s “Strega Nona” and Roald Dahl’s “The Witches”—was in a campy scene from Oliver Stone’s 1991 bio-pic, “The Doors,” depicting Jim Morrison (played by Val Kilmer) and one of his lovers, a Wiccan witch (a character played by Kathleen Quinlan, and based on the rock journalist Patricia Kennealy, who reportedly married the singer in a Celtic handfasting ceremony, in 1970).
The witch is often understood as a mishmash of sometimes contradictory clichés: sexually forthright but psychologically mysterious; threatening and haggish but irresistibly seductive; a kooky believer in cultish mumbo-jumbo and a canny she-devil; a sophisticated holder of arcane spiritual knowledge and a corporeal being who is no thought and all instinct.
Source: The Many Faces of Women Who Identify As Witches | The New Yorker
Honouring the spirits of our ancestors is a practice ingrained in many of the world’s cultures.
Celebrations or commemorations for the dead are as widespread as they are ancient, and they form part of a societal coping mechanism for dealing with an unpleasant but unavoidable consequence of life — death.
Source: 7 Day of the Dead Festivals from around the World – DCODE | Discovery
Every January, in parts of rural England, people still gather to celebrate Wassailing, a tradition with distinctly Pagan origins intended to bless the coming year’s apple crops and protect orchards from evil spirits. It’s an intriguing part of the ongoing connection between the present day and folklore but the roots of Wassailing stretch back even further. Back to the time when the Roman Empire’s hold on their province of Britannia was collapsing and how, in the years before King Arthur, a Saxon princess seduced a British king and opened the way to an invasion that changed the country forever!
Source: From Saxon Sirens to Sacred Orchards: The Modern Traditions and Pagan Origins of Wassailing
Dr Tim Blakemore, a former senior law lecturer at the University of Northampton, finds some magic in the air and water of modern-day France where he now lives
There are some mysterious goings-on in France. In an article in July’s Connexion it was reported that the number of exorcisms in France has tripled over the past 10 years. The title to the piece (‘Booming number of exorcisms in France’) seems to suggest this is some sort of economic miracle rather than a religious issue, but a priest is quoted as expressing the concern of the Catholic church: “There’s a growing paganism so the Devil is more at home”.
Your acceptance of that explanation will depend upon your personal beliefs, but it is also possible that people are becoming more interested in such ancient mystical practices.
Certainly in rural France there seems to be a stock of traditions which at first sight appear to be in conflict with the entrenched Catholic Christianity, but with which the people themselves seem quite at ease. Perhaps it is offensive to describe these as “pagan”, but they certainly seem to be outside the framework of the established Christian church.
Source: Take Santa, Christian Christmas and add pagan ritual
Caution: this is behind a paywall.
John Drane finds it worth doing outside our church walls
PAGANISM is probably the fastest growing spiritual movement in Britain today, and Paul Cudby explores its appeal from his perspective as a Christian priest. The book begins with an account of his own faith journey, and a sabbatical that took him the length and breadth of the British Isles to meet self-described pagans.
Source: The Shaken Path: A Christian priest’s exploration of modern pagan belief and practice, by Paul Cudby
Roll up your yoga mats, hide the virgins, grab your sleeping bags. It is the summer solstice and time to get in touch with your pagan soul.
And some Anglican Church parishes in Australia have gone still further, denouncing the practice of yoga as linked with Satanic worship and “confusion” about which God is being prayed to.
Someone always wants to spoil the party. But on a midsummer night? Dream on.
Source: The Summer Solstice Brings Out the Pagan in All of Us—and Some Christian Leaders Don’t Like It
At the stroke of midnight on Wednesday, some 13,000 people will connect via internet in yet another attempt to cast a curse on President Donald Trump, this time on the summer solstice. Though spell-casting may seem too absurd to be taken seriously, a rabbinic authority maintains that the ‘witches’ are tapping into Satanism, a disturbing theology making a strong comeback today in the guise of atheism.
Source: Are Witches Against Trump Bad Joke or Sign of Global Plague of Satanism? – Breaking Israel News | Latest News. Biblical Perspective.
Once upon a time I thought insanity was a particularly American thing. Good to see it’s common everywhere.
I remember the precise moment I stopped believing in hell.
Over a decade ago I was at a Christmas dinner party in the home of a gay couple. From the outside it looked like any holiday gathering: a warm, beautifully decorated room filled with people laughing and telling stories in the glow of the tree, while the silky voice of Johnny Mathis wafted through the air along with the heavenly smells from a well-used kitchen.
Most of the guests that night happened to identify as LGBTQ, which hadn’t really occurred to me, until as I smiled and surveyed the room a sickening thought rudely interrupted: “Many Christians believe that these beautiful people are all going to hell. For no other reason than their sexual orientation, every one of them are doomed to spend eternity beyond this life in perpetual torment at the hands of a God who apparently made and loves them.” And as a Christian and a pastor, I was supposed to believe and preach this too. It simply no longer rang true for me. I couldn’t reconcile this with the character of a loving Creator.
If you’re a woman reading this, chances are you’ve been called a bitch in your life. Worse (or better, depending on your alchemic life choices), you’ve been called a witch.
For females in the public eye, the chances are infinitely higher. And for female politicians, well, you’d need an eye-wateringly strong potion to avoid either label.
Where there is criticism aimed at a female political figure, more often than not, the insults – and memes – spread to her hair, clothes, age and chance of witchcraft. Hillary Clinton, Theresa May, Angela Merkel, Diane Abbot, Melania Trump and more recently Kellyanne Conway have all been the subject of misogynistic political commentary en masse. They’re not the first, and I doubt they’ll be the last.
Source: Witches & Bitches: How Political Discourse Demonizes Women
In a debate class you learn that when your opponent resorts to ad hominem attacks it means they’ve lost and know it.
The first Friday of March…and I flew off to Catermaco. A sight not to be missed, whether you believe in magic or not.
It was the first Friday of March and I was restless. The winter cold still hung in the air and I wanted something that would shake out the chills from within me. It was then I heard about the Noche de Brujas. It sounded like a delicious snack but, no, it was not…in fact, it translated as Night of the Witches. It sounded exciting enough, so I made further enquiries and found that this festival happens in Catemaco, a city south of the Mexican state of Veracruz and is located on Lake Catemaco.
Source: Night of the witches – The Hindu