Feòrag: August 2003 Archives

August 31, 2003

Yay for Auntie Sue...

Canada: The Hugo award for best fan artist went to well-known pagan craftswoman Sue Mason. The award was accepted on her behalf by Mary Kay Kare at a ceremony in Toronto last night. Hugo Award Winners - Locus, 30th August 2003.

August 25, 2003

Bargain of the Day: lucky Irish oil

Today's special product is extra-lucky if you happen to believe cultural stereotypes - BLESSED OIL MADE BY THE IRISH:

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LOVE OF YOUR LIFE

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GETTING MONEY IN THE MAIL

IT HAS THE SMELL OF THE ROSES

COMES WITH A IRISH BLESSING

Needless to say, spelling and grammar are not included in the blessing it can bring.

Well that cured it.

United States: A man is in custody after an eight-year-old autistic boy died during a religious ceremony to try and heal him.

During the hourlong session, the boy's feet and hands were restrained by his mother and other church members who prayed intensely for his violent tendencies to cease, the pastor's wife said.
He just passed away, Pastor David Hemphill said of the boy. God is a mysterious person, and if he wants to call a life back, he does.

But the police aren't buying that:

Circumstances are suspicious because most 8-year-olds don't just die. Unless there's a medical condition -- which we're unaware of at this time.
Haynes added that the boy did not die of natural causes.

The same church, Faith Temple Church of Apostolic Faith in Miwaukee, was investigated in 1998 after a 12-year-old girl suffered cuts and bruises after being hit with a stick by her mother during a service. No charges were brought in that case. Leaders were trying to heal boy who died during prayer, pastor says - CNN (US), 24th August 2003.

Messing with the blogroll

Pharyngula is the weblog of Paul Z. Myers, an associate professor of Biology, created to support his teaching and describe his research. What interests the Prattle is his commentary on religious interference in science teaching, like this on Alternative hypotheses for the origin of life.

Unfortunately, none of this is what teach the controversy means to the Discovery Institute or the Texas Board. What they mean is that we ought to give half-assed, metaphysical speculation about deities or aliens from outer space guiding the history of life on earth all the weight we would give to the RNA World hypothesis or endosymbiosis. Intelligent design has not earned that kind of respect. If I were compelled to address the issue of Intelligent Design in a one hour lecture, it could be nothing but a scathing deconstruction that highlighted the lack of evidence, the lack of research prospects, and the abysmally poor scholarship and misguided sociopolitical motivations of its proponents. It would be a disservice to my students, however, who are presumably in class to learn some real science, rather than hear about the superstitious delusions of a group of politically astute clowns.

In God we insist

Gary Younge has an interesting article in today's Grauniad discussing the role of religion in US politics, the contradictions between the constitution and the beliefs of the fundamentalists and the problems it has caused in international relations:

America's religiosity is not something it shares with even its few western allies, let alone the many countries that oppose its current path. Yet another poll shows that among countries where people believe religion to be very important, America's views are closer to Pakistan's and Nigeria's than to France's or Germany's.

He concludes:

Bush speaks in the name of the founding fathers but believes he is doing the work of the holy father. He cannot do both and condemn fundamentalism. But if he feels he must try, he might start with the sixth commandment: Thou shalt not kill.

God help America - The Guardian, 25th August 2003.

August 22, 2003

Keeping the children of the stupid stupid.

Namibia: Parents are threatening to remove their children from a primary school because they are convinced that witches are behind the deaths of three children last year.

It is now believed that the alleged culprits are accused of harnessing the power of an invisible blood-sucking zombie which can cause a sudden death whenever it craves for more blood.

This information was provided by witchdoctors. The appropriate ministry has pointed out its policy that nothing other than educational matters should be brought on the school ground and noted that it did not recognise witchdoctors as any sort of authority. Witchcraft fears at Katutura school - The Namibian, 22nd August 2003.

Explaining where to kick the ball

Uganda: Günter Zittel, the German technical director, is organising a seminar on witchcraft for Uganda's football coaches. The move comes after the Ugandan national side blamed witchcraft for their recent defeat at the feet of Rwanda.

Zittel is currently negotiating the plan with National Council of Sports.
I realised there was need to teach coaches at all levels about tactics and soccer strategy. It is sad Cranes gave away the Nations Cup campaign to Rwanda, Zittel said, in reference to the game Uganda lost 1-0 at home against Rwanda after a fight over juju.

Express-Top Tv Nssl Soccer Match Washed Out At Nakivubo Stadium - New Vision (via allAfrica.com), 21st August 2003.

Incensed politician

Ireland: Altar boys and girls are being exposed to danger, according to an Irish government minister, and it isn't the usual problem.

Jim McDade, who is a former family doctor, said the children were at risk because they inhaled the carcinogenic smoke produced when incense is burnt close by.
Here you have quite a thick billowing type of smoke. Sometimes you see the children with this instrument which is down normally around their ankles, and the smoke just keeps coming up, Dr McDade said.
And sometimes I cringe when I see them literally inhaling this, because sometimes there is an aroma of it and all I was trying to do was making people aware.

Which should worry Wiccans, and other incense-prone groups too. Irish minister links incense to cancer - BBC News, 22nd August 2003.

Missed one!

United States: Forget deregulation and the neglect of the grid by private companies who don't want to spend money on expensive infrastructure. Forget faulty transformers, or the rank stupidity of using a Windows-based set-up to run nuclear pwoer stations. No, the massive blackouts in the US last week were caused by the US government storing electricity for some unspecified nefarious purpose. According to whom? Self-appointed witch king Kevin Carlyon, of course. White Witch Claims US Government Sapped ElectricityNC Buy News, 18th August 2003. (noticed by Gullibility isn't in the dictionary.)

An unusual insight into mediæval beliefs

An unusual late-mediæval ring has been found in Waltham on the Wolds. Of particular interest is the iron setting:

It could have belonged to somebody who'd made their money from iron and wished to demonstrate that, or there is something more ritualistic about it, said Peter [Liddle, Keeper of Archæology at Leicestershire County Council]. It could be that it's to do with witchcraft, maybe a sort of magic, ritual significance to ward off evil spirits.

2000 YEARS LATE! LOST ROMAN EARRING FOUND IN LEICESTERSHIRE - 24 Hour Museum News, 21st August 2003.

Pride

Sam writes (to my dear beloved):

The Pagan Prattle is number 1 in Google for the word entryism.
You must be so proud.

Indeed.

August 21, 2003

I'm disappointed.

The Gematriculator is a service that uses the infallible methods of Gematria developed by Mr. Ivan Panin to determine how good or evil a web site or a text passage is. So I put it to the test:

This site is certified 29% EVIL by the Gematriculator

So how did it work that out?

Basically, Gematria is searching for different patterns through the text, such as the amount of words beginning with a vowel. If the amount of these matches is divisible by a certain number, such as 7 (which is said to be God's number), there is an incontestable argument that the Spirit of God is ever present in the text. Another important aspect in gematria are the numerical values of letters: A=1, B=2 ... I=9, J=10, K=20 and so on. The Gematriculator uses Finnish alphabet, in which Y is a vowel.

And don't forget, Experts consider the mathematical patterns in the text of the Holy Bible as God's watermark of authenticity. Thus, the Gematriculator provides only results that are absolutely correct. So there.

Something to read

The issue of the Journal of Consciousness Studies mentioned in the article Astrology is bunk is a special double issue on PSI WARS: Getting to Grips with the Paranormal. As well as the full text (PDF) of Geoffrey Dean and Ivan W. Kelly's article Is Astrology Relevant to Consciousness and Psi?, the abstracts make interesting reading with articles about false memories, the problems of investigating 'magic' phenomena scientifically and We Ask, Does Psi Exist? But Is This the Right Question and Do We Really Want an Answer Anyway?. (via The Ten Thousand Year Blog).

Witch beliefs in Ghana

Ghana: The Ghanaian Chronicle has published an interesting article about witch beliefs in Ghana, including a interview with a soothsayer and witch-hunter.

Maku stands confidently and elegantly. She is tall and dark, with a piercing pair of eyes and a powerful voice. She covers her body with hundreds of beads, chains, trinkets, bracelets, rings and other heavy ornaments. She wears her hair in natural dreadlocks, either dangling around her waist or wrapped in headgear. Instead of drinking water from pipes, she drinks rain or stream water, which she calls holy water.
My powers were given to me from God. I don't spill human blood. I only cleanse society of evil, she stresses.
A licensed practitioner and government-accredited soothsayer, Maku says she has been practising for over 40 years. She also insists that she is a Christian. To prove it, she recites the Apostles' Creed.

Not everyone in authority approves.

Many people strongly object to Maku's suggestions. They argue that witchcraft is a state of the mind. Ebenezer S.K. Agorvor, who has been a social worker with the Department of Social Welfare and Community Development for 38 years, says soothsayers are a nuisance to society and should be jailed for stigmatizing people.
I have worked in 11 local government areas across the country, and I think it is high time the rights of witches were protected, he says. He contends that many of these soothsayers must be stopped before they cause more havoc. When it comes to soothsayers, he says, the watchman also needs to be closely watched.

A profile of a soothsayer - The Ghanaian Chronicle, 20th August 2003.

This charming man

Australia: A local councillor has declared that a Satanic cult is trying to take over the city of Casey. His evidence? A single Wiccan lives in the area. Rob Wilson read out a statement on local radio urging vigilance, saying the presence of a witch a matter of concern for all Casey residents. When challenged, he told Victorian Premier Steve Bracks in a letter:

If people want me to represent paedophiles or Satanists or drug dealers, I'm sorry, but I want to represent the best interests of the whole community

The woman he has targetted, naturopath Olivia Watts, has filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission of Victoria. She says she is not looking for sympathy, but stress from the harassment has had a detrimental effect on her health.

I'm just looking for people in authority to realise the personal effect these allegations have, she said. These are real people's lives that they're playing God with.

Cult claims 'torment' - Cranbourne News, 21st August 2003.

August 17, 2003

Bargain of the Day: pagan cookie cutter

Bored with the traditional crescent-moon cakes in your rituals? What you need is this Pentagram Cookie Stamp:

This is new & made of Solid Pewter. This includes instructions & recipes for cookies. Fast becoming a popular way to decorate home-made baked goods, this cookie stamp is sure to lend a unique touch to any of your ritual goodies. Handcrafted of lead-free pewter, hand wash & dry. Handcrafted items are unique; allow for slight variations. approx. 1 3/8" dia.

A Mars a day

The close proximity of the planet Mars continues to provide entertainment. Neil Lark, a retired professor of physics and astronomy at University of the Pacific, told a local newspaper in Stockton, California:

Misguided wonderment over Mars isn't relegated to the history books, Lark said. During a recent sighting, a resident called Lark convinced the bright orb hovering over Stockton was an alien space ship. Lark did his best to calm the worried caller, saying the space ship was actually Mars.
He was sure this was a UFO, Lark said.

Later in the article, astrologer MerriAnn Messenger warns:

The Earth's proximity to Mars -- the God of War -- is raising testosterone levels and stirring the blood in everybody from terrorists to sharks, she said. She charges Mars with leading President Bush and U.S. troops into another war-torn country, Liberia.
And Mars is entering the constellation of Pisces, which symbolizes water, health and institutions such as hospitals. The aggression of Mars combined with Pisces explains the recent strikes at San Joaquin General Hospital, Messenger said.

Closer, brighter, always fascinating - RecordNET, 17th August 2003.

Astrology is bunk

After forty years of study, researchers have concluded that astrology is a load of rubbish.

Researchers looked at more than 100 different characteristics, including occupation, anxiety levels, marital status, aggressiveness, sociability, IQ levels and ability in art, sport, mathematics and reading - all of which astrologers claim can be gauged from birth charts.

The research was conducted on over 2000 people born within minutes of each other in 1958, in test conditions which could hardly have been more conducive to success... but the results are uniformly negative:

(Geoffrey Dean, a scientist and former astrologer ) said that the consistency of the findings weighed heavily against astrology.
It has no acceptable mechanism, its principles are invalid and it has failed hundreds of tests. But no hint of these problems will be found in astrology books which, in effect, are exercises in deception, he said.

Astrology is rubbish, says new research - The Times of India, 17th August 2003.

Shut up or get out

The Observer newspaper has obtained a Vatican document from 1962, instructing bishops to cover up allegations of sexual abuse by clergy or face excommunication.

The 69-page Latin document bearing the seal of Pope John XXIII was sent to every bishop in the world. The instructions outline a policy of 'strictest' secrecy in dealing with allegations of sexual abuse and threatens those who speak out with excommunication.
They also call for the victim to take an oath of secrecy at the time of making a complaint to Church officials. It states that the instructions are to 'be diligently stored in the secret archives of the Curia [Vatican] as strictly confidential. Nor is it to be published nor added to with any commentaries.'

The document was discovered by a Texan lawyer acting on behalf of people abused by Catholic priests, and has been handed over to the US authorities. He said It proves there was an international conspiracy by the Church to hush up sexual abuse issues. It is a devious attempt to conceal criminal conduct and is a blueprint for deception and concealment. Vatican told bishops to cover up sex abuse - The Observer, 17th August 2003.

August 12, 2003

No mention of aliens...

Iraq: A man claiming to be Saddam Hussein's personal sorcerer has come out of the woodwork and announced that the former leader is still alive, but will be found dead in Dhuluaiyah, a village 55 miles north of Baghdad. He also has some other interesting revelations:

According to the magician and several others interviewed in Baghdad, Saddam was a firm believer in magic, and even applied himself, with modest success, to studying the sands and summoning genies.
He consulted frequently with two magicians from Iraq, one from Turkey, one from India, a French Arab and a beautiful Jewish witch from Morocco, the wizard says.
Saddam is still protected, he says, by a pair of golden statues imbued with magic. The deposed president speaks daily with the king and queen of genies - the same ones who provided the information on his whereabouts.

Saddam will be found dead, says 'personal wizard' - Ireland Online, 12th August 2003.

It's the end of the world as we know it

India: On 27th August, Mars will be the closest it has been to Earth in human history, and people with an interest in astronomy are naturally excited. But some Indian astrologers are worried that it might cause big natural or manmade disasters, even the death of top leaders.

However, scientific curiosity has not got the better of Indian astrologers and priests who are preparing for catastrophe.

We are performing the Mahamrityunjaya Jap - prayers prescribed to ward against sudden death - and the Mangal Jap against the fear of fire, Shastri of the Lakshmi Narayan temple said.

But he fatalistically added that spreading panic would not help. What is the use of panicking? What will happen will happen, and no power on Earth can stop it. Death is the final truth.

Astrologer Lachchman Das Madan too has sounded the death knell.

Planetary configurations are likely to become quite hostile to the world from July 29. Earthquakes and other phenomena are likely to cause heavy loss of life, he says, warning that a large number of countries would be affected.

Astronomers excited, seers turn to god as Mars comes closer to earthnewindpress.com, 12th August 2003.

The original blue screen of death

Jesus explains his father's smiting tendencies in this parody of an Apple 'Switch' ad (Quicktime; via Holy Weblog).

August 11, 2003

Flagellation brought up to date.

Japan: Police have raided the Panawave Laboratory's headquarters as part of their investigation into the death of a member. Bruises were found on the back of Satoshi Chigusa, a 40-year-old professor who did on Thursday, and an autopsy concluded that he had died of a combination of heat exhaustion and traumatic shock.

Police said they suspect stick beating was a cause of Chigusa's death. According to the police, one of the group's customs was to hit each other mainly with wooden sticks with the intention of protecting their leader, Yuko Chino, and themselves from electromagnetic waves.

Police raid Pana Wave HQ over member's death - Japan Today, 11th August 2003.

Watching too much anime.

Japan: Reports of alien abduction are increasing in Japan, with the same levels of faultless logic we've seen in the United States:

My bedroom was pitch black. Then, all of a sudden, I felt something pushing up through my nostrils. It was hard. And cold, like some sort of metal. It squirmed all the way through to the end of my nose. It didn't hurt at all. I told myself that I was only dreaming, but it didn't stop. It still fills like some foreign object is trapped up my nose. That's why I get these headaches that won't stop. My head hurts so much, it feels like it's going to split in two. That metallic object was bound to be some sort of magnetic signal device. Only aliens could do that sort of thing, he says.

That's not all.

When I open my eyes, my body is floating in a room so bright it almost stings when I look. Next thing I know, I've fallen back onto the bed in my apartment. I betcha that bright room is the inside of a UFO, the white-collar worker says.

The report also notes recent UFO sightings around Mount Fuji and Hokkaido.

Can't sleep? Blame it on the UFO Abduction SyndromeMainichi Daily News WaiWai, 11th August 2003.

'Witch' hacked to death in India.

India: A man has handed himself into police in Orissa after a 60-year-old man was tied to a tree and hacked to death by people who believed he had caused diarrhœa by witchcraft. Suspected 'witch' hacked to death - Sify News, 11th August 2003.

August 10, 2003

Bargain of the Day: Bendy guys

These 12 God Loves You ~ Bendable Happy Guys ~Smile really put the 'E' in Jesus!

God Bless Us All! Bendable Happy Guy! Imprinted with God Loves You. Each Bendable Happy Guy Is About 2 7/8" Tall! Perfect as gifts, package topper & prizes!

August 9, 2003

Bargain of the Day: lures for the stupid

Someone I know once opined anyone who would willingly engage in a battle of wits with a fish is, at best, evenly-matched. With that in mind, it's no surprise to discover these Jesus Is God's Son (JIGS) Fishing lures:

I have for sale 10 packages of 1/32 oz.-1 1/2" sassyshad jigs (50ct). They come in the colors shown in the picture. They are unique in that they are packaged as a spiritual tract to hand out while your fishing. Whoever turned down free fishing tackle, especially if you are holding a stringer of fish. I've handed out hundreds of these for free in the last ten years. It's great way to plant seeds for the kingdom. Besides, they are the best jigs I have ever used. Not saying they have spiritual power, but they really catch fish,( I once caught 69 bass in 1 hour) and people's interest. On the front the package reads,Jesus Is God's Son, SALVATION FOR FREE, JOHN3:16. On the back it reads, COME, FOLLOW ME AND I WILL MAKE YOU FISHERS Of MEN MATTHEW 4:19. So, come on and bid, plant some seeds, catch alot of fish(in the water and out), and fill the Great Comission all at once. Cost is about $.20 a jig before shipping, so they are well worth it, even if you do nothing but give them away. Come win this bid,and be

And there it ends.

August 8, 2003

Decent exposure

Spatula has posted a delightful essay, Timeless Words: How to Disarm a Fundamentalist Hate Group over at morons.org, because

Once you rip away the facade of legitimacy and reveal that these organizations really are what we say they are-- rabid anti-gay hate groups-- their arguments lose their potency. Considering the motivation of the source, an objective listener armed with this information knows that anti-gay hate group reasoning is nothing more than a set of excuses for their hatred. Then their raving can be easily dismissed.

I leave it to you to find out what that information might be.

August 6, 2003

Saying sorry

Japan: Last week, a student at Kwansei Gakuin University allegedly burned 14,000 paper cranes destined for the memorial to those killed in the nuclear annihilation of Hiroshima 58 years ago. As an apology, staff, graduates and students at the university have made and donated 91,000 cranes. Univ. in Hiroshima crane-burning vandalism sends replacements - Japan Today, 6th August 2003.

Details of vigils in Scotland; Details of vigils in England and Wales; How to make an origami crane

August 5, 2003

Mensa candiates at it again

United States: Three men attacked a Sikh family outside their New York home after shouting Go back to your country, bin Laden. Police think it might be a hate crime. 3 men beat NYC Sikh family - Washington Times, 5th August 2003.

Shameless self-promotion

I have redesigned my personal web site, where you can read about holy wells, download Macintosh fonts and look at my illustrations and photos of plush Cthulhus up to no good. It's less embarrasing than it was.

Bargain of the Day: Bible bingo

With theGRACEgame Bible bingo game, you can gamble with a clear conscience.

It is a Christian game played like traditional bingo with a Biblical theme. It incorporates words from both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Make it fun by using your own markers such as dry macaroni, beans, pennies, buttons, etc., and learn more about the Bible as you enjoy playing with family and friends.

Comes in its own bag with 15 game cards along with the instruction card and call cards.

August 2, 2003

Thoughts for the day

Here are a few interesting items that have caught my attention lately:

August 1, 2003

Vagomancy

Japan: An unnamed Buddhist priest has been arrested in connection with his unusual form of divination—which involves examining women's genitals:

Whenever a woman asked the priest for a reading, he'd escorted them to a dingy room in the back of his temple that was decorated with dozens of candles. He'd make them change into white robes and then kneel before him as they told him of their troubles, a police source tells Gatsun! He would sit and silently listen to the women. When they finished, he would pull out one of his cards with a picture of a vagina on it and tell the woman, 'You have problems very similar to the person who made this card. Let me examine you to see if you are built the same way.' Upon which, he would demand a peep at their pudendum, frequently fondling it if he had the inkling to do so.

When the counselling sessions were finished, the priest would lather the woman's genital area with black ink, then compress rice paper over the top of it to create a new image he would add to his card collections.

Lip reading priest finds fortune in holiest of holesMainichi Daily News Wai Wai, 1st August 2003.

Bargain of the day: blessed holy rock

How can you possibly go on without a pet rock, or more precisely A blessed Holy Rock!!!!?

This is a rock blessed by a Tibetan Holy Man, one of the things my friend acquired on his trip to Tibet. This is said to have magical powers, and will bless those who touch it. This is meant to be used for the forces of good, but legend has it that is can be used for evil.
The rock can be used in séances, (I used it quite often for séances around my cat), it can be a nice decoration, and can be used to bless things.
And for those of you who enjoy bureaucratic boasters, you can politely announce to your guests and say I have recently acquired an American rock that was blessed by a Tibetan Holy Man, and when you say that you will fill your guests with envy.

It is a very pretty little beach pebble, and must be utterly authentic - just look at the deep financial knowledge of the valuer:

According to my expert in pricing strange items or antiques, he informed a rock of this magnitude is worth 1,000 British Pounds, roughly 4,000 American dollars. To be generous, I think it will be more leveled to price it at 2,500 American dollars to start. You may bid all you like, so happy bidding.

Note: As of today, £1,000 is worth $1,609; $4,000 is £2,486.01

Using superstition to fight superstition

India: Many parts of India have problems with murders related to witchcraft accusations. Many states are dealing with it through awareness programmes, and improving access to medical services, but in Maharashtra they are different. Instead, they have decided to give credence to the murderers' beliefs and have made witchcraft illegal - instantly declaring that it really is possible to make someone ill through magic - and have banned the informal medicine which is the only sort most people have access to. The bill is being promoted as a measure against superstition, which would be funny if it didn't give official status to the prime excuse used by those who murder women. Ban on black magic in Maharashtra - Sify, 1st August 2003.

Gin-nie in a bottle

Cameroon: Odontol is a spirit which is widely consumed in Cameroon, even though it was declared illegal in 1998 after 45 people died drinking it. But relatives of the ten mourners who died after drinking it at a wake are in denial:

Some locals who attended the wake believed witchcraft might be to blame. We have been consuming this drink for centuries and there have never been any deaths. Why only now? said one.

Gin, witchcraft blamed for deaths at Cameroon wake - Reuters (via CNN), 30th July 2003.

Bits and pieces

The Nielsen Haydens have been busy. First Patrick has a brief rant about the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church and its stance on gay relationships:

Yes, you read that right--letting children be raised by gay couples who love them would actually mean doing violence to them. Unlike, you know, raping them and covering it up. Definitely, these guys are just brimming with authority on the subject of doing violence to kids.

Teresa has discovered an interesting take on the book of Mormon.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries written by Feòrag in August 2003.

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