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A quick note about tonight’s program … my marvelous co-host Heather isn’t going to be here tonight. Work took her away, and she’s been driving around the country. I’ve grown quite used to having her here, and feel a bit strange tonight. But you can rest assured that she fully intends to be here next week.

 

For those of you who were around in the 1960’s, there was this television program called The Prisoner. Today, it’s somewhat of a cult favorite, and quite forgotten by many. The plot involves a man, known as Number 6, who is imprisoned on an island. His repeated attempts at escape are thwarted by a mysterious group of people who have the entire island under surveillance, and strange non-lethal, but effective weapons.

 

Much like George Orwell’s 1984, and sadly, much like the world today, it’s impossible to do much on this island without being watched or influenced by powers greater than the individual.

 

There were only 17 episodes of The Prisoner, with the final episode creating a great deal of controversy, but it made a major impact and is still discussed today.

 

The Prisoner was in part the creation of Patrick McGoohan, who was also the lead actor.

 

Patrick McGoohan died this week, at the age of 80. Prior to taking up acting, he studied to be a Roman Catholic priest, he studied mathematics at Ratcliffe College, and was a very good boxer. While in some circles he is best known for his work in The Prisoner, he was a very well-respected actor, and played in Secret Agent Man, and had a part in Ice Station Zebra, where he starred along with Rock Hudson and others.

 

If you get a chance, watch some episodes of The Prisoner, and see if they strike you as much as they did me.

 

On another note, one of my favorite television programs has been The Mentalist. I like the idea of a person who excels at observation, who doesn’t take things for granted, and who actually uses his brain as something more than stuffing. In general, I’ve thought that the writing was well-done, and well-researched. That is, until this week’s episode, Red Rum.

 

The trouble with the program this week began when the writers used what they thought was Wicca, seemingly without having consulted anyone who knows anything at all about it.

 

At the beginning of the program, a body is found, with candles and a pentagram around it. The investigators jump to the now tiresomely obvious conclusion that witchcraft or some occult group is involved. The trail leads them to a witch named Tamzin Dove, who claims to be a Wiccan, and having put a “killing spell” on Cody, the young man who had died.

 

As in other episodes of The Mentalist, this one is full of twists and turns, and in that sense, is quite interesting.

 

What’s disturbing about this episode is that it is absolutely devoid of any realistic or accurate information about Wicca, and portrays Wiccans as simply social misfits delving into the occult for some sort of fulfillment.

 

Patrick Jane’s continual insistence that “There aren’t any witches”, coupled with the sad folks who are part of the coven completely disregards what is the 7th largest religious group in the United States, and the millions of Wiccan Witches throughout the world.

 

The references to a “killing spell”,  and a scene with a male blindfolded upon an altar, with a woman seemingly prepared to run him through with an athame further reveal the writer’s and producer’s lack of sufficient research on the subject, and more to the point, a complete disdain for an accepted and legitimate religion.

 

When Patrick Stewart, a decorated soldier died a few years ago, it took the pagan community some 18 months of writing to our senators and the Veteran’s Administration.

 

In 1999, George Bush said on Good Morning America, "I don't think witchcraft is a religion. I would hope the military officials would take a second look at the decision they made."

 

Wiccan soldiers, fighting in Iraq, while holding ritual had bottles and other objects thrown at them, experiencing the scorn of those who believe as our current (but soon to be replaced) president does.

 

Wicca has fought hard for the small acceptance we have in this country. To trivialize this religion, as CBS has done isn’t acceptable. Had the program treated a more mainstream religion, such as Christianity or Islam with similar disdain, they would have been severely called to task by leaders in these groups.

 

I suppose that it’s fortunate for CBS that there aren’t as many Wiccans as there are Christians. They didn’t feel that much heat from this incident. But in a little while, I’m going to be talking about the responsibility of knowledge. I hope that after you listen to this podcast, you might think about contacting CBS. If you can, find a replay of the episode and watch it first. You might disagree with me. If you do, please let me know. But if you think that this episode of this program does a disservice to Wicca, and a disservice to neo-paganism in general, please let them know.

 

I’m not going to get all up in arms like the American “Family” Association and tell you to boycott CBS until they issue an apology. CBS does some really wonderful stuff, they have some great programs, and do touch upon important issues. The point isn’t to punish CBS. The point is to let them know that Wicca is a real religion, practiced by many, and that they should do the proper research before they air something like what they did. It’s about taking responsibility for what you air, and insuring that your writers and producers really understand what it is that they are writing about.

 

On another note, One “News” Now sent published an interesting article today. In their culture section is a piece titled “Military Bows to ACLU demand against preaching”. What happened was that our military was permitting The Gideons to preach to new recruits. Picture this: You are 18, just finished high school, and have enlisted in the military. You go to the processing center where you sign a number of years away, and vow to follow the orders of the military you have just given these years of your life to. You’re led to a room where someone hands you a Bible and starts preaching to you.

 

Does a reasonable person consider this to be a government endorsement of a particular religion? As a new recruit, would you or would you not expect that your leaders are telling you that Christianity  is the proper choice?

 

So, what happened is that our government – our military, got called to task for promoting a specific religion, and they stopped. I think that’s good news. I was in the military, and I got my little Bible. I don’t suspect that there is anything wrong with that, though I would like to know that our military is open to permitting the distribution of literature from other faiths.

 

For those of you in Amarillo Texas, I found a marvelous resource. It’s the web site of Repent Amarillo. This is a Christian organization whose apparent purpose is to point out all the evil in the area. On their web site, they’ve got a marvelous feature: It’s a map of all of the places they feel are in need of repentance. It lists on a map, the occult shops and hang-outs, gay and lesbian organizations and more. You can find it at www.repentamarillo.com. I was hoping to find an email link to thank them for their resource, but alas, as most far-right organizations, they have no way to contact them on their web site, but it’s a great resource. They’re a bit confused … they consider Islam to be a pagan religion, and Buddhists to be idolators, but nobody is perfect.

 

Tonight’s program will be a bit different. Mostly because I’m here alone. I do have some new music though. John McNair sent me his album, Tears for Lucifer. I also got some new music from a gentleman who goes by the name Sede. We’ll hear a bit from him as well. His work ranges from the soothing celtic influnced to Metal.

 

We’ll still have our PaganFM! almanac, Julia’s Mystic Moment, our Pagan Primer and we’ll have a review of a movie I just found and enjoyed very much.

 

It’s been really cold out lately, so why not curl up with a nice cup of hot chocolate, get comfortable, and spend a while with me. I’ll play some great music and you can relax.

 

© 2009, Deirdre A. Hebert