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The 6 craziest Pagan news stories this summer (so far)

Michelle Gruben

Stonehenge at sunrise

It's heating up outside, and Pagan topics have been equally hot in the news this summer of 2016. From buzzkills at Stonehenge to the high-profile sentencing of an Arizona priestess, we've been scrolling through our news feed with a slack jaw. In case you missed 'em, here's the most noteworthy recent news stories relating to modern Paganism:

Witch Trials: There Is Nothing Magical About Being a Pagan in Prison

by Gabby Bess (VICE, July 8, 2016)

A heart-wrenching article about one California inmate's struggle to be able to practice Wicca while incarcerated. Includes an interview with Witch and author Starhawk, who has led rituals for Pagans serving time in prison.

Researchers May Have Found an Ancient Sanctuary to the Pagan God Pan

by Antonia Blumberg (The Huffington Post, June 29, 2016)

Roman temples are scattered all over the European continent, but archaeologists in present-day Israel have uncovered something especially cool: A large ritual compound located outside the city center. It supports the idea that followers worshiped rustic deities (like Pan and Dionysus) in outdoor rites. Artifacts include an amazing bronze mask of Pan and excavation continues at the site.

The Ancient Occult Texts That Dan Brown Is Paying to Digitize

by Thu-Huong Ha (Quartz, June 22, 2016)

Thanks to a grant from DaVinci Code author Dan Brown, thousands of ancient texts will be digitized for conservation and research. (Maybe he's just doing penance for that movie with Tom Hanks, but it's really swell of him.) Students and researchers will be able to digitally peruse the mystical, occult, and alchemical works in Amsterdam's Ritman Library for free. (They include the Corpus Hermeticum and the first known drawing of the Qabalistic Tree of Life.) There's lots of beautiful alchemical drawings in the collection--expect to see them on T-shirts within the year.

Tarot Reader Pushes for Repeal of Anti-Divination Law

by Terence P Ward (The Wild Hunt, June 30, 2016)

Many communities still have laws on the books blocking psychic readers. While they're rarely enforced, they can be used by local authorities to discriminate against Pagan businesses. In West Virginia, one Tarot reader is urging the city council to repeal the law and allow her to practice her craft for customers.

Phoenix Goddess Temple Priestess Tracy Elise Heads to Prison

by Ray Stern (Phoenix New Times, May 20, 2016)

What founder Tracy Elise called a sacred temple, authorities called a brothel. This complex and long-running case attracted the attention of many Pagans interested in issues of religious freedom and sacred sexuality. Even more interesting than the case against Phoenix Goddess Temple was the way the mainstream media reported on it--usually placing words like "temple," "priestess," and "energy healing" in dismissive quotation marks. The saga ended in May when Elise was sentenced to 4.5 years for various charges. (She plans to appeal, so it may not be over just yet.)

Stonehenge Solstice Attendance Down This Summer After Alcohol Ban, Parking Fee

by Kelly Faircloth (Jezebel, June 21, 2016)

You can't blame Pagans for wanting to party like...well, Pagans. Especially on Solstice when they're lucky enough to be at Stonehenge. Unfortunately, rowdy behavior and littering at the neolithic site has its trustees looking for ways to clamp down. Local Pagan leaders are pushing back. Even with the new restrictions trimming the crowds, 12,000 people showed up to watch the sun rise between the stones.

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