By Kenny Smith…..
In the case of both Jediism and Dudeism, entirely new religious traditions have been created wholesale from the cloth of popular culture. In other cases, key elements are borrowed from popular culture and grafted onto pre-existing religious traditions, resulting in equally innovative and to some degree “new” versions of these traditions, which their critics typically regard as humorous or horrifying.
A number of new religious movements have come to see the ritual use of cannabis products as central the religious quest. The Church of the Universe, founded in Ontario, Canada in the late 1960’s, teaches that marijuana provides a vital “calming influence,” helps to focus and “direct [one’s] thoughts without interference from negative forces,” allows for an experience of communion with the natural world, and overall “makes life worth living.”
Sky News…..Some 3,500 identically-dressed couples from 70 countries have tied the knot in a so-called “Moonie” mass wedding in South Korea. The couples were members of the Unification Church and many were of mixed nationality who had met just days earlier and did not speak the same language. The wedding was the first since their “messiah” and controversial church founder Sun Myung Moon died five months ago aged 92, of complications from pneumonia.
By Mark Chalifoux, Man Cave Daily…
This Friday (May 4) is the official day for Star Wars fans to celebrate the franchise in all of its glory. The reasoning, much like everything associated with Star Wars in the past 15 years, is fairly contrived. It’s likely because of a translation error of a George Lucas interview on a German TV station (“May the Force be with you” was translated into “May 4 be with you”). Regardless, it gives nerds a chance to geek-out and walk around the office saying “May the Fourth be with you!” all day. Star Wars Day has a different meaning to me, though, because I saw the dark side of fandom and obsession during a brief period in the last decade in which I was accidentally voted to the International Council of the Church of the Jedi.
By Kenny Smith….
The ancient roots of the Easter holiday as grounded in Germanic goddess-figures alternately known as Eostre or Ostara. Some have also begun to suggest that we “not forget the REAL reason for the season!,” and work to “Keep the Eostre in Easter.”
By Gregory L. Reece….An intriguing excerpt from his upcoming book: “Creatures of the Night: In Search of Ghosts, Vampires, Werewolves and Demons.” The sound began down deep in his chest, rose to a growl in his throat, and then forced its way between his lips as a snarl. The coarse silver hair on his neck bristled. His ears, covered with the same silver fur, twitched. There was a burst of air from his nostrils, a snort of warning and territorial claim. The muscles in his arm began to twitch. His head snapped quickly to the left, then to the right. Thrown back against my seat by a sudden change in direction and speed, I instinctively clutched at the door handle of the mini-van, my eyes darting between the oncoming traffic and the hairy form in the driver’s seat. His reactions to the traffic were quick and aggressive – canine reactions, lupine reactions. For just a moment I was terrorized, speeding down the highway with a werewolf at the wheel.
Religion Lately: Jedi Saints, Oprah as Anti-Christ Enabler, a Scientology Musical? & Hindu-Pagan Dialogue
By Kenny Smith…..
Recent Star Wars artwork may well resonate with new religious movements that understand and live Star Wars mythology as spiritual truth. Thank you St.Vader? In a recent CNN interview, Bill Maher explains his own philosophy of “Apatheism,” which blends religious apathy and atheism: “I don’t know what happens when you die and I don’t care.” In another instance of blending, the idea of UFOs as extraterrestrial spacecraft seems to have been explicitly combined with the new religious movement known as ECKANKAR (“The Light and Sound of God”). After vandalism to a local church implicated The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (or FSM, whose members are often known as Pastafarians), local FSM members raised $2,600 to repair the damage.
By Dan Beckett….
When people first hear about firewalking they often think of strange, ancient rituals performed by people with weird costumes and painted faces who talk funny and lived a long time ago. While it’s true that firewalking has been practiced for centuries, even millennia, in many cultures around the world, what people often don’t realize is that firewalking is alive and well today in the United States, with more people practicing it each year than at possibly any other time in history! Many have found it, as I have, to be a profoundly moving spiritual experience. I am a firewalker who first encountered the practice in a spiritual growth workshop hosted by Edwene Gaines in Valley Head, Alabama. To date I’ve attended five firewalks, and want to share my experience and understanding of the practice to those who may be interested in learning more about it.
By Joseph Rosenthal, Georgia State University…..
“Man shall not live by bread alone,” responds Jesus defiantly in the Gospel of Matthew (4:4) to Satan’s entreaty to break his forty-day fast. This phrase has been used variously by Christians throughout history as a tribute to the virtues of moderation and as a justification for some of the most extreme forms of asceticism. Dietary practice is the second most popular domain of religiously motivated self-denial, surpassed only by matters of sex and human intimacy. The diversity of rituals, laws, and red tape surrounding the consumption of food ranges from prohibitions of basic food types (e.g. shellfish, pork, alcohol, etc.) to extended periods of fasting. The religious preoccupation with what goes into the body goes well beyond hatred of gluttony, sometimes verging on total caloric restriction.
By Kenny Smith…..
The similarities linking Camping and Boylan are likewise intriguing. Both offer dramatic, magical worldviews envisioning a new and improved human condition, whether in heaven (far from the screams of the damned) or upon a renewed earth and a galactic civilization. As such, both instantiate a stream of millennial thinking with a long history in American culture and by no means limited to institutional religion. Americans have been eager to export their styles of government, economics, science, technology, language, philosophy, medicine, entertainment, and social customs of all kinds, as well as religion, in an effort to lead the world into a new and better age. More personally, both Camping and Boylan are highly educated and experienced professionals, and their skill sets have helped to constitute their worldviews. Camping, a Berkeley-trained civil engineer, has spent decades studying the Bible and crunching the biblical numbers to arrive at his various predictions.
By Lady Arsinoe….
Beltane is the time of year when Wiccans celebrate the union of the God and the Goddess within the metaphor of a wedding. We celebrate the Masculine Activating Principle coming together with the Feminine Generating Principle, bonded together to bring forth life. Plus, we are a fun-loving bunch, and what can be more fun than frolicking in the woods all night a’ conjuring summer in? When boiled down to its basic components, Beltane is all about fertility and the blessings fertility brings. The obvious fact is fertility is all about sex. It’s difficult to bring about the next generation without it! Plant sex drifts on the breeze and fills the gutters and clogs our noses. Plant sex becomes the fruits and vegetables we eat as the summer progresses. The birds and bunnies are at it, too.
A lot of people think magic and witchcraft is for hippies, crazies, or those who have been kidnapped by aliens. I would say to them, a lot of “normal” people are running around with some pretty cognitive dissonant ideas of their own (Birthers, for example. Or any politician. And Fundamentalists of every stripe). The problem for these people is I have facts and science to back up my beliefs, not just wishful thinking. Beliefs I am more than willing to change if contrary evidence and fact is provided.
A Walk on the Wild Side: Introduction to a Goddess-honoring Tradition Where the Witch and the Tantrick Meet
By Chandra Alexandre….
Today, a robust and dynamic complexity of religious thought and engagement is being achieved through new traditions in which symbols, deities, and rituals (some only recently constructed) inform by connecting to passions, devotion and a desire for engaged spirituality not contained by country of origin—practitioner’s or deity’s. Add to this a confluence of feminism, goddess-focused spiritualities, and access to various forms of Hinduism, as well as a growing Indian-American population with Hindu diasporic roots and bi-cultural sensibilities, and we find a Western Shakta Hindu perspective and related forms of worship and practice emerging that assert both authenticity and independence from the Hindu source. One such emergence is the countercultural religious tradition known as Sha’can, what I fondly call a (R)evolutionary Shakta Tantra
By Lady Arsinoe
Can you feel the change? There is a fresh sparkle in the air. The world is being reborn! Life is returning! Flowers are popping up everywhere. Animals are nesting and preparing for the next generation. You may even have a tickle in your tummy that you can’t really explain, that leaves you excited for the new day. Everywhere, signs of rebirth and renewal can be found. Trees are putting on new leaves. Birds are singing. Life is Good!