Signs & Portents

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Pagan News Beagle: Airy Monday, August 29

The spiritual side of Pokémon is explored. We take a look at a few books that feature a classical "adventuring party." And the significance of the "Jedi Mecca" is explained by the director of Star Wars: Rogue One. It's Airy Monday, our weekly segment on magic and religion in pop culture! All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

With the release of the mobile game / augmented reality (AR) app Pokémon Go, Pokémon is back on people's minds. When it comes to Pokémon and religion most of the conversation is focused on conservative churches' concerns that the game is connected to Satanism. But could the Pokémon franchise share some thematic elements with Paganism? Allison Ehrman thinks it does.

Polytheism's coming up big time in popular culture. First there was the success of Vikings, which prominently features historical heathenry as part of its setting. Now American Gods, the popular novel by author Neil Gaiman about gods of the old world making a living in the Americas, is getting an adaptation from Starz. But some of the gods are newer, like Technical Boy, which the showrunners were able to define on their own terms.

If you're familiar with sword and sorcery fiction or really just popular fantasy in general, you're probably familiar with the concept of the "adventuring party:" a group of disparate, rag-tag heroes who band together to save the day. At Tor.com, Adrian Tchaikovsky assembles a list of some of the best-regarded examples of the trope in action.

The multiplayer shooter Overwatch has been one of this year's most popular video games, inspiring a devoted fandom even before it was released. But it is not without its controversies. Recently, a Hindu leader decried developer Blizzard's decision to release a skin for one of the characters that the religious activist thought mocked or trivialized the goddess Kali.

It's rather well-established within the Star Wars universe that the Jedi (as well as their adversaries, the Sith) are a religious order. But despite their overt monastic affectations, remarkably little has been explored of Jedi theology or indeed how the rest of the world practices their beliefs. That may change in Star Wars: Rogue One, which will feature among its settings the planet Jedha, the "Mecca or Jerusalem" of the Star Wars galaxy.

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Aryós Héngwis (or the more modest Héngwis for short) is a native of the Pontic-Caspian steppe, born some 5000 years ago, near the village of Dereivka. In his youth he stood out from the other snakes for his love of learning and culture, eventually coming into the service of the local reǵs before moving westward toward Europe. Most recently, Aryós Héngwis left his home to pursue a new life in America, where he has come under the employ of BBI Media as an internet watchdog (or watchsnake, if you will), ever poised to strike the unwary troll.

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