In a speech posted on the internet and delivered in the northern Indian hilltown of Dharamasala, the veteran Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader said that he would ask the Tibetan parliament in exile to make the necessary constitutional changes to relieve him of his “formal authority” as head of the Tibetan community outside China.
The assembly, which meets early next week, is expected to approve his request. Though long-anticipated, the move away from the limelight by one of the world’s best known political figures signals a dramatic change. Read full story from guardian.co.uk
Chillicothe looks to add diversity to invocations
CHILLICOTHE — Chillicothe City Council has no intention of removing prayer from its formal meetings, but it likely will draft formal plans to make prayers more diverse and keep them separate from official business.
At a community affairs committee meeting Wednesday, council members met with Columbus attorney Matthew Burkhart, a member of the Alliance Defense Fund, a group that has helped communities across the country adopt policies to keep invocations as part of their meetings.
“This policy would see those invocations continuing and formalizing the procedures,” Burkhart said. Read fulls story from chillicothgazette.com
Pagan holidays in modern Ukraine
For the most flavourful celebration of pagan rituals, visit Ukraine in the summer for the Ivana Kupala festival of making wreaths, jumping over bonfires and peeking into the future. In December, Saint Andrew’s Day is another chance for some quality palm reading while saying goodbye to the sun for the winter. Epiphany, celebrated in January, helps wash sins away – in icy rivers and lakes – but not before another healthy dose of fortunetelling. And when decadent parades sweep European and American streets for Mardi Gras, Ukrainians stand by their forefathers munching on pancakes during the Pancake Week celebrations.
The easiest way to experience the supernatural is booking a trip to Kiev in July. Celebrated after the summer solstice on 6 July, Ivana Kupala refers to the god of the fruits of the earth. Legend has it that if you venture into the forest and find a fern in bloom – although it is nearly a botanical impossibility – start digging. This magic fern allegedly indicates a hidden treasure. The rite has found its way into films, cartoons and children’s books, all contributing to its mass popularity across the country. Read fulls tory from bbc.com
The deity by any other name: Army resilience program gets a thumbs down from atheists
The best thing about writing a story as a journalist is that you get to interact with astute readers who are never reticient about telling you what you missed in your reporting. My story, “The Neuroscience of True Grit,” the cover in the current issue, talks about what we know, and what we’re still trying to find out, about psychological resilience: the thing that allows you to slog through when S**T happens.
Even though there’s a lot that we still don’t know, the U.S. Army has launched a gargantuan program to teach resilience to soldiers and their families, an effort that encompasses more than one million people. There is a software training module in one segment of the program to teach “spiritual” fitness. The Army is smart and they emphasize that the program is oriented toward the “human” side of spirituality. Translation: we are not violating separation of church and state. Secular, secular, secularissimo.
Here’s where it gets interesting, though. The atheists don’t really buy the official interpretation as handed down by the Army. “Spiritual,” to them, can’t be construed as anything but the sotto voce mouthing of the letters “G-O-D.” I got several e-mails about my uncritical mention of the spiritual fitness module, one of which contained a press release from The Freedom From Religion Foundation , the nation’s largest atheist organization (actually, they call themselves ‘nontheists’ because they also have agnostic members) that stated: Read full story from scientificamerican.com
The True Language of a Pow Wow Drum
The pow wow season is under way, and the sound of drums—the universal “heartbeat of the nation”—will reverberate in dance arenas around the country.
But in Denver, a major crossroads in Indian country, surprisingly few pow wow-goers may actually understand the words that accompany some drum songs—veterans’ songs, for example– rather than just hearing the vocables, or syllabic sounds, that accompany others. The same gap is likely true at other pow wows.
Doug Goodfeather, Lakota, leads a drum group that carries his grandfather’s drum’s name, Rock Creek Drum, from the South Dakota side of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. His name, Goodfeather (“Wiyaka Waste’”), was derived from both who he is as a Hunkpapa Lakota and also from who he is in terms of his personal character. It was given him as a small boy in ceremony by his grandmother after an eagle flew at him in attack mode and then shot skyward, leaving a feather behind.
The values of his Hunkpapa band are embodied in Sitting Bull, to whom Goodfeather’s grandmother always referred to as “Grandpa Sitting Bull” not “Chief Sitting Bull,” he said, adding he has not done the genealogy that might describe lineal descent.
He estimates that only a very small percentage of the 40,000-some Native residents along the Rocky Mountains’ Front Range are regular pow wow attendees or participants who really know and understand the songs. Read full story from indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com
Human remains found in Bronze Age pots
wo Bronze Age burial pots containing human remains have been found at the base of a standing stone in Angus.
Archaeologists excavated the ground around the Carlinwell Stone at Airlie, near Kirriemuir, after it fell over earlier in the winter.
Both pots – known as collared urns – could be up to 4,000 years old and were typically used in early Bronze age cremation burials.
The 7ft (2.1m) high monolith will be re-erected on Friday.
One of the pots is about 4in (10cm) in diameter, and the other is about 8in, the archaeologists said.
Melanie Johnson, from CFA Archaeology of Musselburgh, said: “The pots are typical of early Bronze Age cremation burials. Read full story from bbc.co.uk
Satanic sex cult paedophile guilty
AN “EVIL” paedophile and three women are facing years in jail today for establishing a satanic sex cult to abuse children and young adults in a quiet Welsh town.
Former Tesco security guard Colin Batley, 48, presided over the depraved “quasi-religious” sect which indulged in occult Egyptology-inspired rites from his home in Kidwelly.
A jury at Swansea Crown Court found him guilty of carrying out a series of perverted sexual acts on children and adults, including 11 rapes. Read full story from walesonline.co.uk
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