Oshun, according to Amy Sophia Marashinsky in The Goddess Oracle is a Brazilian water Goddess, known for her love of beauty.
She loves to adorn herself, especially in yellows and golds. Her rites at watery places include honoring her with honey and pennies (copper). Her necklace of cowrie shells symbolizes her knowledge and power in divination. . . . Oshun appears seductively in your life and cajoles you into remembering and honoring your sensuality. Wholeness is nourished by focusing your attention and time on your body, respecting and giving play to your senses and your sensuality.
Wikipedia traces her roots back to Africa, stating that in Yoruba mythology, [She] is a spirit-goddess (Orisha) who reigns over love, intimacy, beauty, wealth, and diplomacy. She is worshipped also in Brazilian Candombla Ketu, with the name spelled "Oxum."
She is beneficent, generous, and very kind. She does, however, have a horrific temper, though it is difficult to anger her. She is married to Ang, the sky god, and is his favorite wife because of her excellent cooking skills. One of his other wives, Oba, was her rival. They are the goddesses of the Aun and Oba rivers, which meet in a turbulent place with difficult rapids.
In Cuban Santeria, she is represented by Our Lady of Charity (La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre), Cuba's patron saint.
Encyclopedia Mythica tells a story about her that has hints of the Demeter myth-- or perhaps it is the story of Demeter that carriess hints of Oshun:
Her life was fraught with difficulties: at one point she had to become a prostitute to feed her children. When other Orishas heard of this, They removed her children from her home and Ochun went insane. She had only one white dress during this period of her life and, because of her self-respect, went to the river to wash it everyday. Her dress, from the many washings and its age, had turned yellow. Another Orisha, Aje'-Shaluga, who lived in the river, saw her and fell in love with her. Once when she came to the river to wash, Aje' sprang out of the water and presented her with cowries and gold and jewels which he had collected for her from the bottom of the river. This act of love allowed her to get her children back and live a more acceptable life.
What can you do to help women who lose their children due to poverty? What river are you willing to protect? How is your sensuality magic? What one piece of your self-respect do you cling to even when everything else in your world falls apart?
Via, Witchvox, from the Times of Northwest Indiana comes another reasonably well-done article on Pagan Pride activities. My one complaint, and it may well be with the interviewee as much as it is with the reporter, is this:
Ivey said members of the group don't live up to the pagan stereotype. They don't all wear flowing skirts, have silver necklaces with large pentagrams[,] and go by unique names, she said [(Although a witch named Ivey . . . Hmmmm)].
Now no one enjoys Pagan stereotypes more than I (she said stroking her cat, drinking herb tea, burning incense, and wearing purple), but I can't think of a single other religion that would have this sort of sentence written about them nor that would want to make sure that the reporter was told that they don't really act like members of their religion.
Can you imagine every reading that:
Berkowitz said that members of the group don't live up to the the Jewish stereotype. They don't all wear yamakules, eat matzo, and want to be doctors, he said.
Miller said that members of the group don't live up to the Lutheran stereotype. They don't all eat jello, listen to NPR, and spend their days setting up and taking down metal chairs in the church basement, she said.
De Giovannolio said that members of the group don't live up the Catholic stereotype. They don't all have ten million children, wear barbed wire garters, and see the Virgin Mary in every grilled cheese sandwich or waterstain, he said.
OTOH, I think that the point that Ivey may have been trying to make is a valid one. There are lots of witches who don't, in fact, live up to the stereotype, just as there are many Hindus, Baptists, and Moslems, for example, who don't live up to the stereotypes associated with their religion. Wiccans are notoriously difficult to census, in part because of our lack of centralized hierarchies, church buildings, and other indicia of "established" religion and, in part because many of us are still in the broom closet because we want to keep our jobs, children, homes, etc. But what we do know is that there are Wiccan doctors, lawyers, CEOs, teachers, nurses, firemen, scientists, farmers, and electric linemen, just as there re Wiccan herbalists, tarot readers, massage therapists, RenFaire artists, and pet psychics. There are straight and gay Wiccans, male, female, and transgendered Wiccans, Wiccans who eke by on a small amount of money and live out in the mountains and Wiccans who earn 7 figures and live in large cities. There are Wiccans who dress in purple broomstick skirts and Wiccans who dress in Moschino suits.
And, as the Times of Northwest Indiana tells us, there are witches who get together to party at the American Legion Post 485 in Schererville, on Burr Street, north of U.S. 30. If that's not a stereotype-buster, then I don't know what is!
WaPo finally gets around to noticing something we've all known for some time: Democrats are sexier, more fit, better looking, and smell better than Republicans.
AUBURN, N.Y. -- Maybe Democratic candidate Michael Arcuri is running strong in this Republican House district because he pledges to expand health coverage, balance the budget and raise the minimum wage.
Or maybe it's his piercing Italian eyes and runner's physique.
"He is pretty good-looking," observed Paula Ferrin with admiration, as the 47-year-old district attorney worked the crowd at a local senior center.
"What we want is brains, honey," scolded her friend Rose Oliver.
The research is unambiguous that Ferrin is right: Attractive politicians have an edge over not-so-attractive ones. The phenomenon is resonating especially this year. By a combination of luck and design, Democrats seem to be fielding an uncommonly high number of uncommonly good-looking candidates.
Beauty may be only skin-deep, but ugly, see, e.g., Jean Schmidt, Dick Cheney, Dennis Hastert, and George Bush, goes all the way to the bone.
WaPo has an article concerning the increasing frequency with which the boyking has been peppering his speeches and impromptu speechifications with the word "unacceptable: Bush Confounded by the 'Unacceptable' President Wields Word More Freely as His Frustration Rises and His Influence Ebbs. President Bush finds the world around him increasingly "unacceptable. . . . [A] survey of transcripts from Bush's public remarks over the past seven years shows the president's worsening political predicament has actually stoked, rather than diminished, his desire to proclaim what he cannot abide. Some presidential scholars and psychologists describe the trend as a signpost of Bush's rising frustration with his declining influence. . . . Using such a categorical term is not that surprising after a policy setback, according to Steven Kull, a political psychologist who directs the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes. Some people deal with failures, Kull said, "by intensifying an authoritarian posture and insisting that their preferences are equivalent to a moral imperative." . . . Mois Nam, the editor in chief of Foreign Policy magazine, said there is a relationship between "how strident and extreme" the language of many leaders is and how limited their options are. For Bush, Nam said, "this comes at a time when the world is convinced he is weaker than ever."
Many foreigners think the United States is losing Iraq and are no longer in awe of U.S. military might, Nam said, and at home, Bush is so weak that Republican candidates are wary of appearing with him. "The world has noticed," Nam said. "What is happening is that a lot that was deemed unacceptable [by Bush] now has become normal and tolerable."
Bush's proclamations are not the only rhetorical evidence of his mounting frustrations. One of his favorite verbal tics has long been to instruct audiences bluntly to "listen" to what he is about to say, as in "Listen, America is respected" (Aug. 30) or "Listen, this economy is good" (May 24). This year, he made that request more often than he did in a comparable portion of 2005, a sign that he hasn't given up hope it might work.
Dear President Fuckwit,
You want "unacceptable"? Really? You like that word? Good; let me give you a list of things that are really fucking unacceptable;
Stealing elections Subverting the Constitution Imagining that the president is a king Coming to debates wired because you're too fucking stupid to handle it on your own Using the deaths of 3,000 people on September 11, 2001 to hype up fear for your own political purposes Ignoring all the warning signs that led up to September 11, 2001 Allowing New Orleans to be destroyed and doing nothing to fix it Your choices for SCOTUS -- mega "unacceptable" Ignoring global climate change and global warming Stealing habeas corpus Torture Lying about torture So-called faith-based initiatives Using the Schiavo tragedy for your own political gain Spending most of your time in office on vacation Embarrassingssing us every time you go abroad or have a foreign leader here to visit Grabbing Prime Minister Merkel Preventing NASA from collecting information on global climate change Emptying our treasury into Haliburton's get-away car Your choice for UN representative Your choice for VP Your choices for Secretary of State The corruption that has been the hallmark of your administration Signing statements Lying us into a war you couldn't even begin to hope to prosecute Your ties to Enron What you did to California No Child Left Behind Abstinence "education" Tax cuts for the Paris Hilton's of the world Trying to steal Social Security checks from little old ladies Betraying the oath that you've taken twice to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America You. You are fucking unacceptable. So if you want to give speeches about whunacceptableptble, I suggest that you take Saddam's pistol and go stand in front of the fucking mirror.
Invective can be a wonderful tool. Especially when it's wielded as brilliantly as the verbal gunslingers brandish it in this play, which contains some of the funniest ridicule of a president and his policies I've ever heard on a stage. The five performers from Rude Mechs, an Austin-based theater gang, have other weapons in their arsenal: contempt. Fearlessness. A hilarious grasp of absurdity. And perhaps most important, a nifty array of targets, from the dubious authenticity of some of the CIA's intelligence-gathering to the intelligence of the president himself. Based on David Rees's popular Internet comic strip, the foul-mouthed production lampoons the administration's war on terrorism. The personable, conservatively attired actors are all swell, each schooled in a machine-gun-style delivery that compels an audience to stay on its toes.
I have a friend who, via his wife, is a complete Opus Dei. I keep asking him when they are going to look in the mirror and start to feel like the biggest chumps in the world.
The GOP isn't going to ban gay marriage, nor are they going to outlaw abortion. They desperately want to keep those issues alive as a way to induce the chumps to, every single fucking election, show up, donate, and vote. It's due for an acronym: SUDV.
The book focuses on one of the Bush junta's earliest, and most deadly, coups: faith-based initiatives. FBIs basically took tax dollars from people like me and gave them to xian fundie ministers -- something that would have made, for example, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson roll over in their graves. Oh, sure, the money supposedly wasn't to fund churches, it was to fund faith-based "programs." Except, as any fool knows, cash is fungible. So if the govt. steps in and starts "funding" the church's food pantry, well, then, all of a sudden, there's that much more money available to buy the minister a new Cadillac or to fix the plumbing in the parsonage. And, gee, big surprise, the fundie xians (what, you don't really think that the Wiccans have been cashing in on this giveaway, do you?) have been providing the Republicans with dollars, votes, and "moral" cover, ever since.
Do I expect the Opus Dei and other fundie xian whack-jobs to wake up any time soon? Hell, no. These rubes have been the natural feeding ground for every type of snake oil salesman, pederast, and con job since Jebuz chased the apparently comparatively honest money changers out of the temple, thereby creating the one thing that nature abhors above all else - a vacuum.
What of yours would last the longest? Your home? Your silicon computer? Your bones? The jewelery that you wear? The art that you make? The embroidery that you create? Your crystal champagne flute or your child's toy? Dust in the wind. All we are is dust in the wind.
JON STEWART AS SUBSTANTIVE AS NETWORK NEWS [SOURCE: Indiana University press release]
Which would you think has more substantive news coverage -- traditional broadcast network newscasts or The Daily Show with Jon Stewart? Would you believe the answer is neither? Julia R. Fox, assistant professor of telecommunications at Indiana University isn't joking when she says the popular "fake news" program, which last week featured Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf as a guest, is just as substantive as network coverage. While much has been written in the media about The Daily Show's impact, Fox's study is the first scholarly effort to systematically examine how the comedy program compares to traditional television news as sources of political information. The study, "No Joke: A Comparison of Substance in The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Broadcast Network Television Coverage of the 2004 Presidential Election Campaign," will be published next summer by the Journal of Broadcast and Electronic Media, published by the Broadcast Education Association. http://newsinfo.iu.edu/news/page/normal/4159.html
I'm not sure that this is true. After all, I don't think Stewart covers important news topics such as whether the Runaway Bride was right to sue her ex-fiance, how thin Nichole Richie has gotten, and whether or not Tom Cruise is crazy. So how can he expect to be taken seriously?
Wow. Here's a fascinating article from the NYT on research that, if borne out by further studies, would explain so much about how magic "really" works.
The article begins by discussing fairly well-known research that shows that people with "social connections" often fare better when ill than do those who are lonely. Then, it offers a biophysical explanation:
The most significant finding was the discovery of "mirror neurons," a widely dispersed class of brain cells that operate like neural WiFi. Mirror neurons track the emotional flow, movement[,] and even intentions of the person we are with, and replicate this sensed state in our own brain by stirring in our brain the same areas active in the other person.
Mirror neurons offer a neural mechanism that explains emotional contagion, the tendency of one person to catch the feelings of another, particularly if strongly expressed. This brain-to-brain link may also account for feelings of rapport, which research finds depend in part on extremely rapid synchronization of people'’s posture, vocal pacing[,] and movements as they interact. In short, these brain cells seem to allow the interpersonal orchestration of shifts in physiology.
Such coordination of emotions, cardiovascular reactions[,] or brain states between two people has been studied in mothers with their infants, marital partners arguing[,] and even among people in meetings. Reviewing decades of such data, Lisa M. Diamond and Lisa G. Aspinwall, psychologists at the University of Utah, offer the infelicitous term "a mutually regulating psychobiological unit" to describe the merging of two discrete physiologies into a connected circuit. To the degree that this occurs, Dr. Diamond and Dr. Aspinwall argue, emotional closeness allows the biology of one person to influence that of the other.
About a year ago, I read The Earth Path by Starhawk. In spite, as my brilliant friend Elizabeth noted, of a tendency to imply that urban pagans are somehow not quite "real" pagans, the book is a fascinating discussion of many topics, one of which is the ability of trees to communicate through underground fungal nets that have only recently been discovered. Reading the NYT article that describes groups of people as a "psychobiological unit," I couldn't help shouting, "Eureka! People are trees! A crowd is a forest!"
More importantly, however, I think that the physical presence of mirror neurons, "a widely dispersed class of brain cells . . . [that] track the emotional flow, movement[,] and even intentions of the person we are with, and replicate this sensed state in our own brain by stirring in our brain the same areas active in the other person," explains how a great deal of what we call magic and "energy work," works. Of course, Clake's third law is that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Clarke forgot to add that any previously-undetected biological element is similarly indistinguishable from magic.
I can affect the people that I'm with if I'm able to moderate my own physical and emotional state. I can impact the way that a meeting works if I'm able to project my state of consciousness to others and, at the same time, be aware of and know how to ground the impact that others have on me. (And, of course, this helps to explain why the so-called Rule of Three works, as well.) I, like many witches, have been to Reclaiming classes that teach us that being able to ground (a specific magical practice described, inter alia, in Starhawk's The Spiral Dance) is the most important part of working magic and the most important part of our spiritual practice. Now, we know, on a physical basis, why this is so. If magic is the ability to change consciousness at will, the person who can control her own consciousness and then deliberately project it to the mirror neurons of others is the person who can work magic.
How does magic work at a distance? Not clear yet. But it does, and I've little doubt that someday someone will figure it out. Meanwhile, there's something that I love about studies like this.
A second interesting, and deeply practical, point in the NYT article is this one: [A]s all too many people with severe chronic diseases know, loved ones can disappear, leaving them to bear their difficulties in lonely isolation. Social rejection activates the very zones of the brain that generate, among other things, the sting of physical pain. Matthew D. Lieberman and Naomi Eisenberg of U.C.L.A. (writing in a chapter in "“Social Neuroscience: People Thinking About People," M.I.T. Press, 2005) have proposed that the brain'’s pain centers may have taken on a hypersensitivity to social banishment because exclusion was a death sentence in human prehistory. They note that in many languages the words that describe a "“broken heart" from rejection borrow the lexicon of physical hurt.
So when the people who care about a patient fail to show up, it may be a double blow: the pain of rejection and the deprivation of the benefits of loving contact. Sheldon Cohen, a psychologist at Carnegie-Mellon University who studies the effects of personal connections on health, emphasizes that a hospital patient'’s family and friends help just by visiting, whether or not they quite know what to say.
This part of the article hit home with me in a pretty hard way. I was diagnosed with breast cancer just two years after making a major career change, picking up my life, and moving to a new area and a less-that-warm-and-fuzzy new job. I'd been working way, way, way too hard proving myself at the new career to make any new friends. I'd long since broken off contact with my dysfunctional and abusive family. My old friends were hours away. My commitment to my job hadn't yet allowed me to link up with the coven that, today, provides me with so much emotional support. My lover left me immediately upon my diagnosis, well before I began the rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, not to mention before I was healed from the surgery. I was, except for my wonderful Son, abandoned.
And I took the chemotherapy and radiation very, very hard. My doctors kept saying that they couldn't understand why an otherwise healthy young woman couldn't tolerate the treatments any better than I did. I doubted my own abilities, as I suffered so severely through the aftermath of surgery, chemo, and radition. But one afternoon, a group of my "old" friends from the life that I'd left behind, drove hours up to D.C. to be with me and dragged me to tea at the Willard. Sitting there, surrounded by love and gossip and warmth, I ate more than I'd eaten in months and went home to sleep better than I'd slept in a very long time. Was it magic? Yes. Was it biology? Yes. Did it save my life? I believe that it did.
As I've blogged before, Isaac Bonewitz, Druid extraordinaire, has a great group called Spells for Democracy that works every Tuesday evening to promote democracy in America.
Here's the plan for this evening's working, particularly appropriate, I think, on the heels of revelations of everything from Republican pedophilia to unreported stock.
According to our original list, tonight’s spell is, “Call on the Founders, Lady Liberty, Columbia, Justice and the other spirits of America for help.”
After a few weeks, I’m a-thinking this is a little vague. So let’s say we combine those invocations with one of the previously done revelation spells.
As I suggested in Pittsburg this weekend: take a photo of your local sleazebag candidate [you can cut it out of the paper or print it off the candidate's website] and put it on your altar with some images of the Goddesses and founders and some candles at a distance. Light the candles and meditate on their light burning away all shadows that may hide their dirty secrets.
Move the candles closer and meditate again. Add more candles, closer, yes, closer, more, yes, closer, yes, yes, yes!!!!!
Uh-hem. Actually the feminine wave orgasm/spell casting method is probably more appropriate than the masculine explosion style.
You can do this spell over the course of a long night or every night for a week. All our work should be getting more intense as we get closer (!) to the elections.
I particularly like the idea of calling to the Founders now, as the veil between our world and theirs gets thinner and thinner as we approach Samhein. Pappa Isaac also urges everyone to work on the mundane plane, doing GOTV and other work.
Swear to Boedicca, if Helen Mirren doesn't get an Oscar for this, I'm going to take a hostage. There is no "one" amazing scene in this movie (although the Stag of England comforting the Queen of England comes very close), it just builds and builds into an amazing movie. Helen Mirren eats the screen. By the end of it, I was sobbing like a baby.
Atiros has a post up about how President Pissypants, who is pissed at former aides who helped Watergate journalist Bob Woodward paint a lurid portrait of a dysfunctional, chaotic administration in his new book, "State of Denial."
In the obsessively private Bush clan, talking out of school is the ultimate act of disloyalty, and Bush feels betrayed from within.
"He's ticked off big-time," said a well-informed source, "even if what they said was the truth."
Let's set aside for a moment the irony of a junta that leaked the identity of a covert CIA agent in order to punish her husband for daring to disagree with them getting their panties in a wad over -- well -- leaking. I think this incident provides a great deal of insight into a deeper problem with the Bush junta than their mere immunity to irony.
We've heard over and over that Bush surrounds himself only with yes-men and yes-women, with people who tell him only what he wants to hear. That's a deadly management strategy. No matter how much these clowns wish that they could create reality, they can't. Reality, that unforgiving Bitch Queen, will always out in the end. A manager who won't let his own people tell him when he's wrong is none the less wrong. He's simply destined to learn that he's wrong through, well, often through leaks. What your subordinate can't tell you to your face, s/he can leak to a reporter who will make sure that you read that you are wrong in the morning paper. That's what's going on here and that's what we see going on with increasing frequency.
Consider how the Baker Commission is now leaking like a sieve, even though the Bush consigliere (and I don't mean Mr. Botts) insists that it won't make a report until after the elections. Jimmy's talking to the press, warning Bush that the intervention is coming, because, apparently, he can't pick up the freaking phone and talk mano-a-mano with the man whose (s)election he ensured. Consider how career military men and life-long Republicans have to talk to Democratic committees in order to get in front of the cameras and say that it's past time for Rumsfeld to be sent off to cheat at squash at the old folks' home and as far away from the Pentagon as it's possible for him to be sent. Consider how neither Denny Hastert nor anyone else on the Hill even considered for a moment warning Bush that he had a rove Congressman, about to screw his one remaining constituency, the batshit crazy God-Hates-Fags fundies. Most managers, except for the completely insecure ones, would rather get bad news from their own people and in private rather than read about it in the news.
But his inability to hear bad news isn't Bush's only managerial flaw. Closely related to this flaw is his inability to ever admit that he's not omnipotent, that a course correction might be needed. He just can't do it. I guess it brings up traumatic memories of an over-martinied Barbara Bush whacking him with a belt and making him say over and over, "I was wrong; I was wrong; I was wrong." And, you know, if you're never going to admit that those tax cuts were a mistake, that Rumsfeld needs to go, that the planet really is dying from greenhouse gases, why should some underling risk his/her career by giving you news you don't want to hear? Instead, Bush just heads out and keeps catapulting the propaganda: Saddam was involved in the attacks of September 11th, we're safer now than we were before, there's no such thing as global climate change, abstinence education works, anyone who gives me bad news hates me, etc., etc.
It would be funny, if this now-enraged dingbat didn't have his finger on the nuclear button.
Via Witchvox, here's another reasonably accurate and respectful article on Pagan Pride week. One of the main reasons to hold a Pagan Pride week, other than to give Pagans a chance to get together is to help the rest of the world to realize what Pagans are -- and aren't. It's pretty fucking disgusting, though, to hear about food banks that would prefer to have their clients go hungry than to accept food from Pagans. I'd love to know if some of those food banks were run with faith-based tax dollars.
It's an ill wind that blows no good and the downside of Mastrugate has been that it's forced G. Felix Allen, Jr. off the front page. Now, there's news that
For the past five years, Sen. George Allen (news, bio, voting record), has failed to tell Congress about stock options he got for his work as a director of a high-tech company. The Virginia Republican also asked the Army to help another business that gave him similar options.
Congressional rules require senators to disclose to the Senate all deferred compensation, such as stock options. The rules also urge senators to avoid taking any official action that could benefit them financially or appear to do so.
Those requirements exist so the public can police lawmakers for possible conflicts of interest, especially involving companies with government business that lawmakers can influence.
Allen's stock options date to the period from January 1998 to January 2001 when Allen was between political jobs and had plunged into the corporate world.
An Associated Press review of Allen's financial dealings from that era found that the senator:
_Did not have to look far to find corporate suitors, joining three Virginia high-tech companies he assisted as governor. Allen served on boards of directors for Xybernaut and Commonwealth Biotechnologies and advised a third company called Com-Net Ericsson, all government contractors.
. . . .
_Twice failed to promptly alert the Securities and Exchange Commission of insider stock transactions as a Xybernaut and Commonwealth director. The SEC requires timely notification and can fine those who file late.
_Kept stock options provided to him for serving as a director of Xybernaut and Commonwealth, but steered other compensation from his board service to his law firm.
In interviews, Allen and his staff sought to play down his corporate dealings, saying they were a good learning experience but did not lead to extraordinary riches — except for a quarter-million-dollar windfall from Com-Net Ericsson stock.
Allen's office said he sold his Xybernaut stock at a loss and has not cashed in his Commonwealth options because they cost more than the stock is now worth. The senator also said he saw no conflict going to work for companies shortly after assisting them as governor.
"I actually got no money out of Xybernaut. I got paid in stock options which were worthless. Commonwealth Biotech asked me to be on their board. Glad to do it. I learned a lot on their board and enjoyed working with 'em, and they seem to be doing all right, I guess," Allen said.
Apparently, theres a double standard. Dem deals are fair game whether or not they make any money. Republicans don't have to follow the rules as long as there's "only" a quarter of a million dollars profit involved.
For the love of Persephone! Would the national Dems PLEASE get down here to the Old Dominion and help Jim Webb win? This state could make the difference between a Senate where Darth Cheney casts the deciding vote and one where he's irrelevant.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."