Tag Archives: Santeria

Satanism, Santeria, or Sensationalism?

Is a torched chicken Satanic? Photo by Flickr user adactio.

Step 1: Patrol the local cemetery at night.

Step 2: Find a patch of burned ground.

Step 3: Find a dead, burned chicken.

Step 4: Find an empty bottle of cologne nearby.

Step 5: Conclude Satanism is involved.

Wow. Do they teach this stuff in the police academy?

Honestly, I’m still trying to wrap my head around this particular bit of deductive reasoning. Maybe the fact that this incident took place near Halloween is what set the police officer’s Satan-radar off; I’m not sure. The article is much less about the actual incident in question and more about a string of supposedly Santeria-related activities involving everything from dead animals to human skulls and, er, coconuts.

Because, of course, a bunch of police guesswork is the same thing as proof of an “upswing of occult activity in Bridgeport, much of it related to voodoo or Santeria.”

Unfortunately, one thing it doesn’t include is any information from actual Santeria practitioners, or Satanists for that matter, to discuss such things as a) their actual religious/spiritual practices, b) whether those practices routinely involve harming animals, and c) how these groups feel being mistaken for each other. (Try calling a Catholic a Mormon sometime, or vice versa. After all, they both believe in Jesus, right? Just try. See what happens.)

As I’ve said here before, Satanists rarely, if ever, practice animal sacrifice. Those who do harm animals under the banner of Satanism probably aren’t dedicated practitioners, but dabblers who don’t know what they’re doing, and are following horror movies or misguided web sites or books — they aren’t the real deal.

Santeria does, at times, involve animal sacrifice — and, by the way, it’s protected under the Constitution after a 1993 Supreme Court vote. It’s part of the religion, practiced rarely and carefully, and shouldn’t be touted as ooky-spooky “occult” ritual and certainly not “Satanic.” However, it’s hard to say whether these particular incidences in Connecticut were the work of a devoted Santerian, since I’ve been told that just leaving animals lying around — or, in this case, leaving one of them alive and half-burned, isn’t considered a respectful part of their religious practice.

In other words, it’s wrong to peg such acts on a particular faith without a much deeper knowledge of the incident in question, and who perpetrated it. Right now, all they’re doing is making Satanists and Santerians look bad, and that’s not right.

Must be the singing of the witch

Is Glee going to the witches? Or will the show’s writers raise hackles among Wiccans as they did in the disabled community?

What’s that funny pentagram that has been popping up on posters recently on Glee? Some sharp-eyed viewers say it’s an ad for a “Wicca Club” at the fictional McKinley High School, where those golden-throated kiddos give their diaphragms a workout.

We’ve seen plenty of representations of “Wicca” in television and film before, from the witchy wedding in The Doors to the girl-power-gone-wrong in The Craft. Both Charmed and Buffy The Vampire Slayer put witches front and center. These were definitely stylized Wiccans though, many of them with fantasy-style magic powers that make for good fiction, but don’t exactly represent the Wiccans you might bump into at the corner market.

So, how will Glee represent this minority faith, if the show’s writers decide to run with the idea of a “Wicca club” on campus? Will they tackle it in the same way they’ve handled a number of controversial topics? Will Wiccans come out feeling misrepresented, as some in the disability community have done? And, if they’re the stars of an episode, what will they sing? “Witchy Woman?” “Santeria?”

Glee has millions of viewers, giving the show a chance to change minds by showing Wicca in a fair, positive, and even fun light. Whether the writers will manage it remains to be seen. After all, starting out with an upside-down pentagram — typically associated with the Left-Hand Path, not Wicca — doesn’t bode well.

Why Those Apparent Animal Sacrifices Probably Aren’t the Work of Real Satanists

Regular readers of this blog know that I have strong feelings about mischaracterizing the appearance of dead animals as the work of Satanists or of African and Caribbean faiths. Today, a piece I published on two recent incidents in San Francisco is published online at the SF Weekly’s Web site: Why Those Apparent Animal Sacrifices Probably Aren’t the Work of Real Satanists.