NATHALIE BEULAH. In the darkness of the night the angry mob had come. They shouted their poisonous accusations, chanting into the night “Witch! Witch! Witch!” The more she had tried to protest her innocence, the less they seemed to hear her. Only one thing would appease the rage of the crowd… her death. Now trapped within her own home by the murderous mob, a cold, hard fear seemed to grip her very soul. The black smoke began to fill the room and she watched as the orange flames licked the walls. Her family was still asleep in their beds. She wouldn’t wake them to face this death. Her final act would be to say a prayer that they would not feel pain as they burned in their beds. She knew no help would be coming. You might think by reading this that I was writing about something that would have happened sometime between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries, a time many of us know as “The Burning Times”. You would be wrong, may I suggest you think more recently, say 2012.
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MICHAEL BERMAN. One of the most effective ways of coming to terms with questions that trouble us and we can find no answer to is sometimes to laugh about them. Mulla Nasruddin, the Sufi visionary who lived during the 13th century, was an expert at helping people to do this through his stories. In our conditioning, we see things as either right or wrong, black or white. Linear thinking does not allow one to think holistically. Our minds wrestle in the dark dens of logic and lose the gist of life. However, the Sufi teaching tales, like koans of the Zen tradition, reveal the paradoxes of conditioned living and they do so with humour as the following examples show. Mulla Nasrudin, celebrating his 95th birthday was asked by a friend “Don’t you hate growing old, Mulla?” “Definitely not.” said Nasrudin. “If I wasn’t growing old, I’d be dead.”
MORGAUSE FONTELEVE. Nerine Dorman is the founding member and co-ordinator for the Adamastor Writer’s Guild and edits the Egyptian Society’s newsletter, SHEMU. Cape Town editor and multi-published author, Nerine Dorman has been involved in the media industry for over a decade, with a background in magazine and newspaper publishing, commercial fiction, and print production management. Her book reviews, travel, entertainment and lifestyle editorial regularly appear in national newspapers. Her current literary release “INKARNA” is the subject of this interview.
DAMON LEFF. The ANC has repeatedly stated that the painting has divided the nation along racial lines. Truth be told, the painting has done no such thing! On the contrary, it has been used by the ANC to further divide our nation, black against white. The artist Brett Murray has repeatedly been called a racist, despite his emphatic denial. It doesn’t matter if he isn’t really a racist. Repeatedly stereotyping Murray as a racist, simply because his painting of Jacob Zuma offended conservative sensabilities, has bolstered both Mthembu and Mantashe’s campaign of intimidation and threat against the City Press and the Goodman Gallery. Both continue to capitalise on the responding outrage expressed by ANC cadres willing to defend Jacob Zuma’s dignity against a perceived act of hatred against black people in this country. The real debate is not about defending the dignity of the President at all. The ANC government, under Jacob Zuma’s Presidency, has repeatedly failed to resolve the systemic causes of massive service delivery protests, unemployment, crime and corruption within the civil service.
CHRISTINA ENGELA. A few years back, before the 2009 elections, I engaged with a lot of ChristianISTS on local Facebook groups for political parties on matters such as their policies on human rights, separation of church and state etc. It was revealing and disturbing to say the least – but it was useful to show what we are facing when it comes to right wing extremist religion in South Africa, and I turned these debates into a book. It was sickening to see not just how little these people knew about other people – or how little they cared for the suffering of other people – but how much hatred they displayed proudly and openly towards others whom they did not consider equals at all – and in the name of their religion.
BRONWYN KATZKE. One of my favourite songs by Bob Dylan is probably one of his most famous, the times, they are a-changing. And now, as I listen to that song its title takes on a new significance. I have been on my Pagan path for roughly a decade now, and that path has been a solitary one. For me, being solitary has worked, it’s been my ‘thing’ and I’ve been happy experiencing my faith my way. It’s always been about ‘me, me, me’, but sometimes ‘me’ just isn’t enough anymore. Last week Saturday I did something for the first time – I held a ritual with another Pagan. What ritual you may ask? A dedication ritual. I took the plunge; I listened to my heart and soul. I decided that while the solitary path has fitted me well the past ten or so years, I am ready to be a part of a spiritual family.
HELEN RIDING. The words “witch” and “witchcraft” are loaded words and should not be used lightly. As a result of historical negative stereotyping, the use of these words to describe another person who does not identify themselves as a witch is potentially offensive and it is potentially also prejudicial to persons who do identify themselves as witches via negative stereotyping. The best way to avoid offence is to adopt the word used by an individual to describe themselves, which approach most people would appreciate if they were the person being described.
HEARTH TO HEART. Swedish Pea Soup: Ärtsoppa – Contributed by Arias Fåglar. Share your favourite recipe (with photo) with Penton’s readers? Contact email@example.com for submission details.