Superstition and Other Silliness: January 2003 Archives

January 23, 2003

Arsonist worried about voodoo.

A man has been jailed for two-and-a-half years by Cardiff Crown Court after he admitted setting fire to his own home because he thought it had been cursed with voodoo. Arson man had voodoo fears - BBC News, 22nd January 2003.

January 22, 2003

Stand up for Jesus

A Dutch parish council is convinced it is the victim of a deliberate trick after it distributed a hardcore porn video believing it to be a tape of a local church choir. A mix-up seems more likely. Church choir video turns out to be porn - Ananova, 22nd January 2003. (Note: I found the story below while looking for more on this one. It hasn't appeared in any of the Dutch papers as far as I can tell.)

January 18, 2003

Satan gets everywhere these days

A small Bible college in Kentucky wants its phone number changing because the 666 prefix is putting off potential students. So far, it's taken the phone company six months to get around to it. Bible college shuns beastly 666 phone number - Ananova, 18th January 2003.

January 17, 2003

Not hermetically sealed

Public health workers have become increasingly concerned about the use of mercury in rituals associated with Santeria, a syncretic magical religion of Caribbean origin.

There had been much talk in the public health world of practitioners of Santeria, Vodun and other underground religions of Caribbean origin contaminating their homes and vehicles by sprinkling mercury. But so far, no one had been able to document just how far-reaching this practice might be.

Unfortunately, the only person who would speak to researchers was a rather confused owner of a New Age shop, who misheard them and thought they said "salt water":

In fact, the only merchant who would even admit to knowing anything about mercury was the owner of a New Age store in New Hope, Pennsylvania, who told them mercury is part of some pagan rituals of European origin.

The mostly 'Latino' practitioners are naturally concerned about being scapegoated if they co-operate with the investigation.

But these large-scale federal investigations are being greeted with some misgivings by practitioners of Santeria and Vodun as well as community groups working in Latino communities in the region--even among some of the people who will actually be working on the new efforts to educate and inform the public on mercury's hazards. They are concerned not only that any findings will be ripe for more sensationalistic headlines, but that the focus on household poisoning singles out an exotic-seeming practice--and a single, relatively powerless group of people. Why, they ask, are other contributors of mercury to the environment, which may be just as devastating to human health, not getting the same attention?
It has been shown by the EPA and other people that the biggest source of mercury is from coal-burning power plants. How many articles do you see about that? asks Marian Feinberg, health plan coordinator for the South Bronx Clean Air Coalition, an environmental justice group that is participating in the NIH project. It is very easy to lay blame on an individual--much harder to consider the larger physical environment that people live in.

Mercury Rising - City Limits, February 2003.

Magical scams in Malaysia

Malaysia is suffering a spate of fraud by people pretending to be shamans, mediums and sorcerers, and several gullible people have lost their life savings as a result.

[ State police chief Senior Asst Comm I Datuk Ahmad Fuaad Mohd Sidek] said in most cases the sorcerers approached the victims and convinced them that their money could increase two or three fold with the help of supernatural beings.

SAC Ahmad Fuaad said the victims would undergo ritual ceremonies where they would be asked to place their savings in black clothes while the shamans chanted magical spells.

He said the wrapped black clothes, which seemed heavier after the ceremony, would be returned to the victims with instructions that they should only be unwrapped after the shamans had left.

Later when the victims unwrap the black clothes they find only ashes inside.

Other scams involved claims made to elderly people that their illnesses could be cured through witchcraft.

Cops: More cases of people being conned by 'sorcerers'The Star (Malaysia), 17th January 2003.

Dry spell

A Romanian witch has agreed to pay a refund to a customer who threatened to sue after spells he bought to cure his sick wife and make his 40-year-old son marry failed to work within the time specified by the witch. Witch sued after spell doesn't work - Ananova, 17th January 2003.

January 16, 2003

And rip that antenna from your radio

Egyptian spiritual leaders have called for a boycott of Ariel washing powder because they believe it is named after Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon. As proof, they have found a Star of David on the packet. Arabs Think that Ariel Washing Powder Is Named After Ariel Sharon, Russia Makes it Funny (Pravda), 16th January 2003.

Police blame witchcraft for their incompetence

Police have captured a former Zambian cabinet minister wanted on charges of embezzling millions of dollars from government funds. It took them three months - the police claim he used witchcraft to make himself invisible to them.

When police finally found Kalumba, he was wearing traditional charms from his waist, neck and arms that were intended to make him invisible, police spokeswoman Brenda Mutemba said.
Kalumba also had attached a charmed string with beads to his laptop computer so he could use the machine in the unelectrified village where he was hiding to monitor what was happening in Lusaka and to see anybody entering the village, Mutemba said.
Mutemba maintained police had difficulty arresting Kalumba because he used the charms to disappear whenever they approached. He eventually gave himself up after someone told police he was lying invisible under a shrub, she said.

Cops nab ex-cabinet official - News24, 16th January 2003.

January 15, 2003

Know your market

A Minnesota sex shop has put up a notice offering a discount to clergy. Pure Pleasure is located next door Midwest Baptist Church in Stewartville:

To people driving towards the church, the sign reads: And God said go out into the world and have great sex. God's gift to women. Amen and amen.
People leaving the church see: No need to mail order. Gay videos in stock. Clergy discount. Have good sex. Hallelujah!

Sex shop beside church under fire for 'clergy discount' sign - Ananova, 15th January 2003.

It's the demons, honest.

United States: A woman displaying the classic symptoms of schizophrenia, and side-effects of drugs used to treat it, plans to protest outside a church HQ over what she sees as the unpardonable neglect of people who are possessed by a demon.
The symptoms started in 1993. I heard hateful voices, I had an involuntary blurb here or there. I had involuntary motions. For example, if I had been cutting a vegetable, the knife would move. My eyes would move without my permission, she said at an interview in her home Tuesday.
A priest in Connecticut convinced her she was posessed by 19 different demons including Masonic spirits from her mother's father, a spirit of ‘voodoo’ associated with occult dabbling by ancestors and a seaman involved in the African slave trade, but other priests were more sceptical. She claims she travelled from state to state seeking an exorcism, but had difficulty getting one. Sprague woman plans exorcism protestNorwich Bulletin, 15th January 2003.

January 12, 2003

Sleazy Listening

365 days is a year-long project which makes available some unusual piece of music or spoken word as an MP3 download. Today's offering is Michael Mills - Hidden & Satanic Messages In Rock Music:

This 1981 Christian radio show (with host Michael Mills) exposes the threat of secret messages in your Rock and Roll! During the 45 minute radio show he covers a ton of artists... I'm playing 4 of my favorite segments on... Led Zeppelin, Kiss, The Beatles and Queen. Burn your records! Repent!

When today ends, there will be a link at the bottom of the archives page, where all the previous excerpts live too. Don't miss Janeen Brady & The Brite Singers - I'm A Mormon".

January 9, 2003

'witch-doctoring and other mumbo-jumbo'

Greenland's new coalition government is experiencing an unusual political scandal after a senior civil servant employed an Inuit traditional healer to perform a cleansing ritual in his office.

Shortly after taking the job, Mr Lyberth also urged nearly 600 civil servants to use similar spiritual healing methods in an attempt to promote better harmony between Greenlanders and Danes.

Greenland caught up in 'exorcism' row - BBC News, 9th January 2003.

Wasting police time

South African police are using dogs to search for human remains after candles and women's underwear were found in a cave. They seem to think this indicates some sort of occult ritual took place, though a surreptitious shag seems far more likely. No symbols of any kind were found. A representative of the Pagan Federation of South Africa noted that Wiccans would never use a cave for rituals, presumably because a suburban living room is much preferable to liminal space in that tradition. Cave 'graves' to be inspected - News24, 8th January 2002.

January 6, 2003

Sacred trash clogs river

Authorities in Delhi have problems with plastic-wrapped offerings chocking the Yamuna. Railings have been built along all the bridges, but the river is still a mess. A similar problem exists in London. Choking the river in God's name - Times of India, 6th January 2003.

Welcome return

Holy Weblog is back after a long hiatus and providing links to interesting stories about religion such as this discussion of the interpretation of Genesis 6 (the one about the elohim) by orthodox Jewish scholars and 'fringe' religious groups, with particular reference to the oh-so-topical Raelians: Parsing the Bible for space aliens - Philadephia Inquirer, 5th January 2003. In a weird case of synchronicity, according to her other blog, Joyce Garcia is also suffering from nerves over forthcoming nuptuals, the death of a well-loved cat, a crappy festive season and following a hopelessly losing sports team.

January 1, 2003

Annual end-of-the-world post 2003

Another year has passed and most of us have recovered from our Hogmanay excesses, so now is the time to see what 2003 has in store.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the Superstition and Other Silliness category from January 2003.

Superstition and Other Silliness: December 2002 is the previous archive.

Superstition and Other Silliness: February 2003 is the next archive.

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