- Wired’s Geekmom blog had a nice crafty piece featuring the Green Man for Equinox. And they linked to a blog full of similar ideas.
- The Grey Lady spotted some witchy trends in the most recent NY fashion week.
- A card game about the Bacchanalia? Yes, please.
- Kuriositas had two photo essays of note: the Meenakshi Amman Temple and the Manupupuner Rock Formations.
- If you missed it, archeologists have located a historically referenced temple known as the Gates of Hell in Turkey.
- One of my local alt-weekly’s had a review of the Pagan-adjacent music of Metal Mother.
- Here’s a story of an extreme mountain runner whose connection to the earth you might find resonant.
- And, finally, it’s not Pagan at all, but its probably the best story you will ever read about a baseball bat.
Pies and Prejudice is the first in a new series of witchy murder mysteries by Ellery Adams. Like Brownies and Broomsticks which was published two months earlier, it features a young woman who moves to Georgia and whose dreams of opening a bakery are complicated by a murder. However, Pies and Prejudice distinguishes itself from the witchy mystery genre in particular and from paranormal, wish-fulfillment fantasy more generally in a couple of ways.
The trope of most protagonist-unexpectedly-discovers-that-they-are-a-really-truly-real-witch books is that the protagonist discovers that he or she is a witch in the first few chapters, and the books are generally about how the characters learn about and use their new found powers. In Pies and Prejudice the heroine, Ella Mae LaFaye, does not learn that she is a witch until the final chapter. There is definitely magic happening earlier than that, and the reader is in the know long before Ella Mae is, but the structure allows the magic which occurs to take on more of the resonance of the magical realism of Marquez, Allende or Block. In fact, for the hardy Pagans who work their way through the comparatively pedestrian murder mystery involving thoroughbreds and a Machiavellian nail-salon mogul, there’s absolutely delightful scene of Ella Mays initiation at the end.
- Here’s BoingBoing’s brief review of a new YA novel about an African witch, Akata Witch.
- The etymology of “temple” goes back towards words meaning a forest clearing.
- Speaking of trees, here’s a nice, short slideshow on Pando.
- The Van Allen belt is far more dynamic than previously known.
- Tickets are now available for the second annual Hexenfest. I attended and enjoyed last year’s event. Enjoy some Pagan bands, amazing ritual dancing, and a fashion show in Alameda, CA on April 27. Come and fly your Pagan freak flag.
- PVP went all Abbott and Constello as it introduced a Wiccan character for its current story arc today.
Katie Lightfoot’s adventures continue in this second book of Cates’ Magical Bakery Mystery series. Six months have passed since the events of Brownies and Broomsticks, and it is almost Samhain. Katie is still successfully fending off her two suitors, the handsome but normal Declan, and a fellow witch Steve. The book opens with Katie and Declan having morning picnic in Savannah’s Johnson Square when Katie spots a body under a rhododendron.
Katie soon learns that the dead man is a member of a small, extremely secretive group of what Bonewits called Mesopagan Druids who have lived in Savannah since the 18th century. The Dragoh Society is led by Steve’s father, Heinrich Dawes, and always consists of six members with membership being passed from father to son among six families. (I always wonder if any author really understands how unstable such structures are. It is certainly a common trope which would seem to be utterly impossible to maintain beyond a few generations.) The Dragohs are probably the least Nature-oriented Druids you will ever encounter in literature, but they are supposedly powerful magical practitioners (a claim which is fairly hard to support since at least two of them are murdered in fairly short succession despite their apparent ability to cast broadly indiscriminate protection spells fully capable of telekinetically flinging pumpkins off of tall buildings). They are also extremely patriarchal in addition to being patrilineal which adds additional stress to Katie’s relationship to Steve even though he openly disagrees with his father’s views. In fact, the members of the society are oath-bound not reveal the existence of the society to their wives and daughters.
Brownies and Broomsticks is the first book in a new series in the ever growing sub-genre of light, fem-friendly murder mysteries. Here Katie Lightfoot serves as our plucky sleuth. She’s moving on from a broken engagement in Akron to a new life in Savannah as a partner with her aunt Lucy and uncle-in-law Ben who are opening a new bakery called the Honeybee. Unfortunately, the new bakery attracts the attention of a powerful local harridan, Mavis Templeton, who strongarms the not yet opened bakery into hosting and catering a meeting of Savannah’s Downtown Business Association.
The nascent bakery scrambles to meet Mrs. Templeton’s demands, and the event is brought off without a hitch. Unfortunately, Mrs. Templeton provides a check for half the agreed upon price, and Ben loudly confronts her about her reneging on the bill in front of the rest of the DBA. Templeton leaves for her car and Ben goes out back to cool off. And so when Mavis is discovered with a broken neck in her car, and witnesses place a similar looking man in the vicinity of the car, the suspicion falls on Ben. Thus, Katie must solve the crime to clear Ben’s name.
Debora Geary considers issues of neurodiversity in the fifth book of her A Modern Witch series. As in all the previous books in the series, a witch is brought into the friendly chaos of Witch Central in Berkeley. However, since the protagonist in this case has Asperger syndrome, she does not welcome the noise and rich social interactions that the nexus offers, and, in fact, Beth struggles throughout the book against her desire to flee back to Chicago and the comforts and routines of her life there.
Beth appeared in a single scene back in the first book of the series, A Modern Witch. She was leading a coven in an occult shop in Chicago, and Jamie came to a meeting and told them essentially that they were doing everything wrong, demonstrated his superior powers and then left. Needless to say, Beth and rest of the coven resented his cavalier intervention, but it was hard to argue with the results. At the start of A Different Witch, a couple of years have passed, Beth and her coven’s wounds have healed, and Beth feels its time to seek out the training that Witch Central offers.
- Spiral Rhythm has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund their next CD, and so head on over there if you’d like to support Pagan music. The campaign has 25 days to go, and they’re over a third of the way to their goal, and so hop on the bandwagon.
- The BBC is replacing Merlin next fall with a series based on Greek mythology called Atlantis. I’ll definitely be checking it out if it’s shown on BBC America.
- Table Titans is a fairly new online comic about playing D&D (since that’s all we Pagans do, apparently) by the guy who does PvP. In today’s strip the newest character states that he is half-Wiccan.
- Not Pagan at all, but here’s an unexpectedly funny blog by a lexicographer who works at Merriam-Webster.
A track came up on Pandora, and I thought, “Huh, that’s interesting. Spare acoustic arrangement. Two women’s voices in a folk duet. Lovely lyrics with a New Agey perhaps, Pagan tinge. Probably one verse too many. A bit down-tempo. Who the heck is this?” MaMuse is a crunchy granola folk duo from Chico California who have seemingly grown right out of (and beyond) Christian shape note hymnody. If the form and structure of the music trigger personal memories of any conservative Christian oppression, it may not be for you. But consider the lyrics:
And oh, this crystal chalice
So full and heavy with pain
And oh, she preferred the simplicity
Of livin’ alone and sippin’ straight from the rain
Sippin’ straight from the rain
And sleepless nights knew her well
And the fireflies could tell a story or two
About how how how how how this girl
Called down the moon
At night she followed the moon
And call called her down
At night she followed the moon
And call called her down
To sleep with her when she is full and round
-from Moon Song
- I don’t know why, but new theatrical productions based on the Salem witch trials are seemingly quite popular here in San Francisco. Unfortunately, by the time I learned of the latest one, it had already sold out its run.
- For those of you on the artsy side of things, here’s a delightful examination of the peculiar form of English used to talk about art.
- Speaking of language, how about a steamy etymological exploration of the ancient Greek words for longing, desire and lust? You’ll need to register for free to read the full .pdf, but, if you’re interested in Eros at all as a deity it’s worth it.
- Shoot, I guess I’ll have watch Big Bang Theory next month: Kate Micucci of Garfunkle and Oates will have an arc.
- And, lastly, pilot season is at full steam, and there are more shows that we might be interested in than last year’s dearth. There’s a possible Robin Hood, an Alice in Wonderland sequel along the lines of Once Upon a Time rather than the Burton film, a Smallville-like pre-superhero series for Wonder Woman called Amazon, and Dracula features in two different potential dramas: Dracula and Gothica.
King of the Nerds is a new competitive reality series on TBS, and if you identify as a nerd, you might be surprised to learn that it’s largely self-aware, mostly kind, and pretty fun to watch. The format is pretty stock for the genre and is a minor variation on that of Survivor: there’s one immunity challenge each episode to determine which of two teams will lose a contestant, but instead of voting directly for who will be eliminated the losing team picks one of its members for a nerd face-off, and the other team chooses another member of the losing team for the face-off, and the loser of the face-off is eliminated. The contestants are generally given some preparation time before each challenge, and, frequently, the challenges require them to study (!) or be creative. The very first challenge was brilliant, and proved fairly thoroughly that the production gets nerds and cares for them. I will discuss the challenges below but be aware that the first episode works best if you are not spoiled.
Any reality series hinges on the casting of its contestants, and the production has done an excellent job of recruitment. The cast are all in their early twenties, and in the midst of grad-school or their first job. Their areas of nerd-cred span the nooks of narrow academic fields (Neuroscience, Astrophysics) through to the disreputable crannies of Pop-Cultural bloggery. Some of them are awkward, some are intense, all of them are passionate about their interests, and they are generally self-aware and happy to be playing the game as who they are. Indeed, this is my tribe. Oh, and, btw, any “fake geek girl” controversy is entirely absent from the show: half the cast is women, and it is really hard to argue with the nerd cred of someone whose already landed a job at NASA. Well done, casting company!
The show is hosted by Curtis Armstrong and Robert Carradine who were both key parts of the ensemble in Revenge of the Nerds and its sequels. Armstrong largely takes the lead in the hosting, but it is utterly hilarious that Carradine gleefully inhabits his old nerd persona after having crafted an acting carrier that has demonstrably blown apart that particular pigeonhole. The show is also pretty savvy about its special guests like having not only George Takei (who everyone would know) but Yaya Han who is an active, well-regarded cosplayer judge the cosplay contest in episode two.