Signs & Portents

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Pagan News Beagle: Airy Monday, February 15

The occult influence of David Bowie's last album is examined. Wizards of the Coast opens up D&D publication to amateur designers and dungeon masters. And one of Antonin Scalia's stranger influences on popular culture is discussed. It's Airy Monday, our weekly segment on magic and religion in pop culture. All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

By now, David Bowie's association with mysticism and the occult is something of an established fact. But exactly how did his interest in such subjects play into his final magnum opus, the album Blackstar (stylized as )?

Whether it's Narnia, Westeros, or Middle-earth, you can expect just about any fantasy setting to feature a detailed map of its environs. But how does one go about creating such a map? And what purpose goes into its design? At Tim Paul goes into detail about his process in designing a map for the novel The Drowning Eyes.

If you're a gamemaster running a game of Dungeons & Dragons or most other roleplaying games you have one of two choices: purchase an official adventure or create one of your own. But the line between official and homebrew is now blurring, thanks to Wizards of the Coast's new Dungeonmaster's Guild, which lets fans submit and publish their own adventures for the Forgotten Realms fantasy setting.

Marvel Studios and Netflix's series Jessica Jones has attracted acclaim for its character writing and discussion of themes of abuse and mental trauma. It's also drawn attention for its villain, the sociopathic Kilgrave, who can persuade anyone to do anything he wants them to. The Mary Sue's Edeline Wright talks about how Kilgrave embodies some of the worst forms of toxic masculinity in our culture.

Antonin Scalia, United States Supreme Court Justice and controversial icon of conservatism, passed away over the weekend. While most of the debate about has legacy has focused on his opposition to abortion and LGBT rights or his support for the death penalty, he also played a vital role in one decision that rocked popular culture a few years ago: Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association. which ruled that video games (alongside other forms of entertainment) are protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Top image by Tyler Jacobson

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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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