Deborah Oak has a lovely idea for celebrating Imbolc, the Pagan holiday on February 2nd that honors Brigid, patron goddess of blacksmiths and poets:
Second Annual Brigid in Cyberspace Poetry Reading
WHAT: A Bloggers (Silent) Poetry Reading
WHEN: Anytime February 2, 2007
WHERE: Your blog
WHY: To celebrate the Feast of Brigid, aka Groundhog Day
HOW: Select a poem you like - by a favorite poet or one of your own - to post February 2nd.
RSVP: If you plan to publish, feel free to leave a comment and link on this post. Last year Reya put out the call and there was more poetry in cyberspace than she could keep track of. So, link to whoever you hear about this from and a mighty web of poetry will be spun.
Feel free to pass this invitation on to any and all bloggers.
Thank you, Reya, for beginning what I hope is now an annual event.
Back from the march to end the war, where one of the best speakers I heard was Tim Robbins who said, "We're here today for the same reason that you're here. It's our job. We're Americans."
He then told a story that I can hardly credit, but it must be true. He said that on the train this morning he'd talked with a young woman whose 20-year-old brother had just been sent to Iraq. In order to implement Bush's escalation, however, he'd received not the standard 12 weeks of training but A MERE TWO WEEKS. Are we really sending American soldiers into harm's way with a mere two weeks of training? Apparently. That makes no sense to me. That's the sort of thing that you do when the enemy is two or three weeks from your border; you round up the farmers and the teen-age boys and you show them how to aim and fire and you send them off to defend their homes. That's not what you do when you're the United States of America engaged in a war of choice millions of miles from home. There can't be a single serious general who thinks this is good practice.
How do you even learn how to fire a gun in a mere two weeks? Surely there's NO time for training concerning the Iraqi culture so that you can understand the people you're supposedly going to be simultaneously "liberating" and fighting. Why should we be surprised if green, untried soldiers sent into a horrific war with only fourteen days' worth of training crack under the pressure, massacre Iraqis, torture, rape, and generally act the way any scared teenager with no training would act in such a situation?
Shame on the Bush junta and shame on every Congressperson who doesn't vote immediately to cut off funding for this exercise in insanity. Bring our troops home now. Stop the escalation immediately. Clearly, we don't have the (trained) troops for it.
Look, Wolf, this is not that difficult. When Cheney says: "You're out of line with that question," you say: "Was Focus on the Family out of line with their statement?" You don't blubber about how much you like Cheney's daugher or try to justify yourself. For the love of Loki. Did you go to journalism school? Make him either shit on Focus on the Family or accept their premise. How difficult is that? It's what a real newman would do.
I've posted before about the amazing farmers' market here at Dupont Circle. Now, they're in need of an LCD projector.
FRESHFARM Marketsneeds an LCD projector for our FoodPrints program. FoodPrints is our local foods program in the DC schools; it is a collaborative project with DC Ag in the Classroom, American Institute of Wine & Food's 'Days of Taste' program, Warner-Hanson Productions and the National Youth Garden. This year, FoodPrints is atRudolph Elementary School. We have scheduled some of our farmers to come into the classroom and talk to students about what is happening on the farm. We also have chefs who share their passion for local foods. Once spring arrives, we will start planting the school gardens. If you have a projector that you don't need, we'd love to have it for our school program. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks so much!
It's Burns' Night in Scotland, and in the heart of everyone who loves a good poem or song. Robbie Burns wrote quite a few. Here's one that i like:
My Heart's In The Highlands
1789 Type: Song Tune: Failte na Miosg.
Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North, The birth-place of Valour, the country of Worth; Wherever I wander, wherever I rove, The hills of the Highlands for ever I love.
Chorus.-My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here, My heart's in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer; Chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe, My heart's in the Highlands, wherever I go.
Farewell to the mountains, high-cover'd with snow, Farewell to the straths and green vallies below; Farewell to the forests and wild-hanging woods, Farewell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods. My heart's in the Highlands, &c.
And, here's some spoken Robbie Burns, which is really the best way to enjoy him. He'd write a poem about anything. About a mouse or a weed he'd turned over with a plow. Or about his "illegitimate" daughter.
So raise a glass to Robbie and to poets in general. You may want to pass on the haggis, Burns' Night tradition though it may be.
What a delightful DC blog I've just discovered! With wonderful pictures, too!
I'll add as an aside, given the lead post on Reclaiming, that I've taken all four of the basic Reclaiming classes, but I completely don't understand the witch-war that seems to always be raging around Reclaiming. That's kind of by choice. My wonderful Circle does a fanstastic job of mostly flying below the radar of most of the rest of the Pagan community.
The witch wars just seem so -- odd -- to me. Is that what you became a witch for? Hive off a coven if you don't like what's going on. This is a completely eclectic religion, for Goddess' sake; that's a huge part of its charm. However, chacon son gout; if you want to have witch wars, at least enjoy them as Reya seems to have done.
Via the Wild Hunt, here's disgusting xian propaganda against witches.* I won't even start trying to refute the lies and inaccuracies I'll just note that I've never seen any similar Wiccan propaganda against xians.
*Obligatory acknowledgement that not all xians believe this crap.
Chuck Hagel (R-Conscience) is talking and Sinfonian has the story.
Hagel sounded to me, yesterday, very much like a man who really doesn't care whether he stays in the Senate or not. The junta better look out because freedom really is just another word for nothing left to lose. Meaning, once someone decides that they don't care what they lose, they're free and Hagel could be the one to draft articles of impeachment. I think he's angry enough to do it.
Here's a bit more Hagel from yesterday:
These young men and women that we put in Anbar province, in Iraq, in Baghdad are not beans. They're real lives. And we better be damn sure we know what we're doing, all of us, before we put 22,000 more Americans into that grinder. We better be as sure as you can be.
And I want every one of you, every one of us, 100 senators to look in that camera, and you tell your people back home what you think. Don't hide anymore; none of us.
That is the essence of our responsibility. And if we're not willing to do it, we're not worthy to be seated right here. We fail our country. If we don't debate this, if we don't debate this, we are not worthy of our country. We fail our country.
Hagel's quite a bit more conservative than I like on domestic issues, but credit where credit is due.
I've been a witch for more than twenty years, so you young'uns will have to excuse me for recounting some ancient history, but there was a time (strangely enough, about twenty-some years ago) when it was difficult as heck to learn much of anything about Wicca. This was back before the internet made access to information not only easy but anonymous and during a time when asking your local librarian to search the inter-library loan system for books on Wicca would have resulted in a call from the librarian to your boss in the school system pretty darn fast.
So, and especially because I lived at the time in a fairly rural, isolated area, I would find a book, read it, write down all the books in the bibliography, wait for my next trip to the bookstore in the big city, find a book, read it, write down all the books in the bibliography . . . . I managed, in this manner to read a number of fairly meaty books: everything from "When God Was a Woman," to "The White Goddess," to "Drawing Down the Moon," to "Aradia," to lots of Bachofen.
Eventually, however, Llewellyn began to publish lots of books on Wicca and I'd buy whatever I could get my hands on. I've recently spent some time going back through many of those early Lewellyn-type books, some of which I can remember pouring over for hours and hours and months and months and - wow. There's so little "there" there. Now, I realize that I'm not saying anything new here. It's become almost cliche in the Pagan community to talk about the dearth of books that go beyond "Wicca 101."
But what really got me thinking was the fact that, at the time, I really did build a serious, active spiritual life on those books and, remember, this was during a time when, for years and years, I'd never met another Pagan (that I knew of). And that wasn't as unusual as it must sound today. So what WAS in those books that fulfilled my spiritual hunger, that kept me coming back for more and more?
I think two things: the pictures and the general leitmotif of a life lived in ecstatic harmony with nature. I never cared very much for tables of correspondences or for pre-determined generic words to say on given Sabbats. But I adored the line drawings of women as priestesses (and the few photographs of "real" witches, generally British Gardnerians and skyclad) and the intimation behind all the cookie-cutter spells and silly, archaic ritual incantations of a life lived in communion with an animate world.
Today, I think, things have changed. The internet allows an interested teen-ager to pull up more information on Wicca than I could have accessed in a year. Witchox, ten years old and may the Goddess grant them many happy returns, allows even someone living in a conservative rural area to find out where Pagans are gathering and to head off to a festival or witchcamp. Amazon.com will deliver the entire Llewellyn library to your door, and all the Llewellyn-wanna-bees, as well. And you're far less likely to get fired if anyone "finds out" that you're a witch (although, it still happens).
But I think that many Pagans still at least start their quest reading whatever they can find on the shelves of their local Borders or B. Dalton's and that's more likely to be "Celtic Magic" or "Wheel of the Year" than anything else. And I think that's ok. Those books have pictures and those pictures are worth a thousand words.
Picture by Joanna Colbert. More of her lovely work is available here.
Amazingly enough, the NYT gets it just exactly right:
Neither broken promises nor failed policies changed Mr. Bush’s mind. So the nation has been saddled with tax cuts that have turned a budget surplus into a big deficit, education reform that has been badly managed and underfinanced, far-right judges with scant qualifications, the dismantling of regulations in order to benefit corporations at the expense of workers, and a triumph of ideology over science in policy making on the environment and medical research. All along, Americans’ civil liberties and the constitutional balance have been trampled by a president determined to assert ever more power.
Still lie the sheltering snows, undimmed and white; And reigns the winter's pregnant silence still; No sign of spring, save that the catkins fill, And willow stems grow daily red and bright. These are days when ancients held a rite Of expiation for the old year's ill, And prayer to purify the new year's will.
- Helen Hunt Jackson, A Calendar of Sonnets: February
Ken McLeod has some interesting things to say about the Bush junta's desperation for war with Iran:
I'm not saying that doesn't add up to a lot of things that could go wrong, any one of which could flip the world on its back, but hey. It could work. The Islamic Republic could fall, or fold, and the US bestride the Middle East like a colossus.
That victory would be the moment we'd some day look back on, and say, 'And that was when our troubles began.' Fortunately for America and its allies, such a victory is unlikely. What is far more likely is an ever-widening catastrophe across the Middle East if not beyond. But if a US victory does come about, the rest of the world would find itself facing a lone superpower that had successfully carried out an attack, perhaps even a nuclear attack, on a country that had no nuclear weapons and that had not attacked or threatened it. From then on we would all be living in interesting times; and on borrowed time. The time to do what we can to stop this is now.
The Wild Hunt has the story about Greek Pagans who have been fighting for the right to worship at ancient Greek temples. (The story has recieved a fair amount of attention, but the reporting suffers from some of the usual flaws. For example, one widely-quoted AP story says that: A woman who called herself the high priestess said, "We are Greeks and we demand from the government the right to use our temples." Yes. And every xmas, a man who calls himself the pope gives a blessing from the balcony of St. Peter's.)
Many Pagans claim that we are the heirs to various ancient Pagan traditions. To what extent do the places of worship attached to those traditions belong to modern Pagans? And, even if ownership isn't in question, to what extent can the government deny Pagans access to such sites? What if I want to do ritual at Lascaux? Perhaps more interesting, what if i want to do ritual at many of the sites that were originally sacred places of Pagan worship that were stolen by the xians? Can I make them take down their church so that the sacred spring of my foremothers can once more bubble free, surrounded by a grove of trees? I imagine Native American readers can provide plenty of examples of losing control over their sacred sites and their fights with the American government for the right to worship where their ancestors worshipped.
England has allowed Druidic and other Pagan groups limited access to Stonehenge for some time now. But my understanding is that British Druids and other Pagans would like much more access than they have, while the government worries that the site will be damaged by continued use.
Xians have skated around some of the more difficult questions that face Greece and the Greek Pagans. Notre Dame de Paris, an important French tourist and cultural site, for example, is open to tourists (and the catholicchurch profits from that - perhaps Greek Pagans are entitled to the entrance fees to their temples, as well?) but also used for religious ceremonies.
To make clear: my sympathies here are with the Pagans. And there can be tremendous power in worshiping the old Gods and Goddesses at the old sites. Governments are going to have to adjust. We're here and we're not going away. It would be wonderful to see a world where sites sacred to various religions were shared and enjoyed by all. (Seems as if there are one or two places in the ME sacred to several Abrahamic cults that could be better shared, as well.)
On another note, not everyone is adjusting well at all. I admit that I take the most perverse pleasure from this quote over at the Wild Hunt:
Obviously, officials from the Greek Orthodox Church were apoplectic.
"They are a handful of miserable resuscitators of a degenerate dead religion who wish to return to the monstrous dark delusions of the past" - Father Efstathios Kollas, the President of Greek Clergymen.
So may things fail to interest us, simply because they don't find in us enough surfaces on which to live, and what we have to do is to increase the number of planes in our mind, so that a much larger number of themes can find a plane in it at the same time.
~Ortega y Gasset
Whenever we refuse to be knocked off our feet (either violently or gently) by some telling new conception precipitated from the depths of our imagination by the impact of an ageless symbol, we are cheating ourselves of the fruit of an encounter with the wisdom of the millenniums.
The more complex a structure, the more energy it must dissipate to maintain all that complexity. This flux of energy makes the system highly unstable, subject to internal fluctuations -- and sudden change. If these fluctuations or perturbations reach a critical size, they are amplified by the system's many connections and can drive the system into a new state -- even more ordered, coherent, and connected. The new state occurs as a sudden shift.
from Brain/Mind Bulletin, May 21, 1979, as quuoted in The Possible Human by Jean Houston
Once an unwanted pregnancy happens, there are basically three choices:
1. Have an abortion.
2. Bring the pregnancy to term and arrange for an adoption.
3. Bring the pregnancy to term and raise the child.
The only person who can decide which of those options is the best is the woman involved.
Might she later regret her choice?*
It's easy to regret a previous choice and to forget that the alternatives might well have caused as much, if not more, regret. Giving a child up for adoption can lead to a lifetime of regret and longing. Raising a child is far from easy even under good circumstances and it's easy for the single, teenaged mother to regret not going to the prom, not having a social life, not being able to give her child the benefits that she could have given if she'd been older and more financially secure before giving birth.
But we don't have an industry and a movement devoted to making women feel guilty about adoption or motherhood.
It would be wonderful if we lived in a society where every pregnancy was planned and no woman ever had to experience even a moment's regret over an unplanned pregnancy. Modern birth control, sex education, health care, and equality for women could get us very close to such a world. The same creeps push the abortion-trauma-bullshit do everything that they can to keep us from achieving such a world.
So, abortion trauma people, please, bite me.
*Obligatory notice that most women don't regret their abortions at all. However, even assuming arguendo that a given woman might later regret that choice, it's important to understand that this doesn't mean that, had she chosen differently she would never have had any regrets. That's way too easy to assume when you haven't lived through the other choices.
We know what trembles on the scales, and what we must steel ourselves to face. The bravest hour strikes on our clocks: may courage not abandon us! Let bullets kill us -- we are not afraid, nor are we bitter, though our housetops fall. We will serve you, Russian speech, from servitude in foreign chains, keep you alive, great Russian word, fir for the songs of our children's children, pure on their tongues, and free.
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 . . . ."