The message of Drawing Down the Moon has always been that the spiritual world is like the natural world - only diversity will save it. Just as the health of a forest or fragrant meadow can be measured by the number of different insects and plants and creatures that successfully make it their home, so only by an extraordinary abundance of disparate spiritual and philosophic paths will human beings navigate a pathway through the dark and swirling storms that mark our current era. "Not by one avenue alone," wrote Symmachus sixteen centuries ago, "can we arrive at so tremendous a secret." - Margot Adler, from her Preface to the New Edition
I'm still thinking about a point that T. Thorn Coyle raised several months ago: that Pagans need to do better thealogy. I think that Paganism needs a thorough and well-written exploration of this incredible mystery at the heart of Paganism and certainly at the heart of Wicca. It goes to the movement of our religion beyond duality, to the reason why witches celebrate "creepy" things such as spiders, snakes, bats, worms, darkness, etc. It goes to why we celebrate the Wheel of the Year and to why Samhein, for example, is as wonderful and important to us as is Beltane.
Slind Flor writes about her compost heap, a form of magic that I, too, practice almost daily and which I find always amazing.
My altar to Kali Ma is the yard-square, black-plastic compost bin that takes up one corner of my garden. Every morning I walk out into my garden, lift the bin's lid, and look into the heart of my Dark Mother. Then I pick up a spading fork and turn the compost, chanting "Jai Ma" all the while. I could easily say that turning the compost is the single most important part of my personal spiritual practice.
The compost seethes with heat from the microbial breakdown of the organic material, and fuchsia-colored worms writhe in the mixture. New life is coming from old. Kali Ma eats death and grants us the possibility of rebirth and renewal.
I feed my compost bin the usual kitchen scraps, garden trimmings, shredded junk mail, and coffee grounds. . . .
Whenever I lift the lid, I get a reminder of my own personal mortality. No matter how carefully I tend it, someday my body will be food for worms. The same thing happens in my garden.
I became a serious gardener [when] surrounded by death and loss, I felt Hokusai's great wave was about to swamp my boat.
The only possible antidote was trying to bring something to life. And what I chose was my garden. . . .
The irony of my seeking life in my garden is that every day I also was forced to encounter death. The tulips dropped their white petals, the poppies dried to hay, and the delphinium went dormant and died down to the soil level. Try as I could, there was no way I could defeat the natural cycle of the plants' lives. I had no choice but to trim away what was dead and desiccated and toss it into my compost bin.
I empty out the bin every year around the vernal equinox. I have a full cubic yard of compost and it takes me several days to spread the wealth around. I carry compost by the bucket, and take a trowel to lift and deposit a good-sized mound around each plant. Then I water carefully, and step back to watch the compost work its magic.
At Beltane everything explodes into bloom and life. The pansies are the size of teacups. The sunflowers — this year I am growing 11 different kinds — are growing so fast that I can almost hear their joints creak. Lacy blue lobelia spills from all the pots, and the air is scented heavily with jasmine and lemon blossoms. All the plants' flowering parts sing out their siren Beltane song: "I'm here, come and fertilize me." If I were a prudish Victorian, I'd be tempted to veil some of the flowers because they are so luscious, sensual, in fact, downright erotic-looking.
But they bring me back to Kali Ma. All the plants, fed with Ma's good compost, are rushing onward to their destiny: fertilization, seed-bearing, then death and destruction. This morning I watched as a scarlet and white Danebrog poppy unfolded its wrinkled petals. Tomorrow those petals will fall to the ground, and I'll gather them up to place in Kali Ma's gaping mouth.
Kali Ma and my compost bin teach me the futility of dualism. I can't divide the world into light and dark, death and life. Everything cycles around again. No matter how brilliant the color, how enticing the fragrance, how silky the petals' texture, the plants all have the compost bin in their future.
And so, in a somewhat different way, do I. I place a wreath of flowers on my old gray head and dance with my sisters in a verdant meadow on Beltane morn. But I must remember that my dark mother waits for me. Jai ma!
How would our culture look if we acknowledged the role of death, if we celebrated it, if we looked forward to it, if we didn't try to pretend that it doesn't exist? What would it be like to have a well-written Pagan thealogy based upon death and darkness? Would our shadows maybe cease causing us to create so much death all the time in order to hide from ourselves our own fear of death?
How would your own life be different? What would you do differently this very weekend if you acknowledged the role of death in your life and in our world? Do you have a compost bin? Have you ever used it for magic? My own circle is getting ready to do magic for the dying honeybees. Death magic is all around us. I think that there is no magic w/o death. Do you agree?
Mr. MORAN of Virginia. Madam Chairwoman, I first want to thank the chairman of the Armed Services Committee and his superb staff for helping redraft portions of this language so that it might be considered. The final language represents a common-sense agreement that I think we should all reach consensus on.
The amendment's purpose is to shed some light on what has become an increasingly invisible world down at Guantanamo Bay.
The first detainees were brought to Guantanamo in 2002 to bypass the U.S. legal system and avoid international conventions and public scrutiny. Since that time the detainment facility has become a blight on American ideals and principles.
We have captured, tortured and interminably held men that we call enemy combatants, some of whom are guilty of crimes against our Nation and should be punished. Others, however, are only guilty of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
We have created closed military tribunals that offer the false impression of justice, but they fall woefully short of what we should expect from our American system of justice.
Like Abu Ghraib, we've created an unnecessary rallying cry and recruitment tool for al Qaeda and militant Islamists throughout the world. I strongly believe that the continued operation of Guantanamo Bay puts Americans in harm's way and threatens the safety of any of our captured military and civilians abroad.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Rice have agreed that Guantanamo Bay represents a serious problem if we are to prevail in the global war on terror. They both advocated shuttering Guantanamo Bay's detention facilities. Even President Bush expressed a desire to see Guantanamo Bay closed.
This amendment offers a first step in giving the President, the Congress and the Department of Defense policy alternatives to Guantanamo Bay. This amendment will require the Department to develop a plan to transfer detainees from Guantanamo Bay.
The report must estimate how many detainees the Department will charge with a crime, how many will be subject to release or transfer, or how many will be held without being charged with a crime, but whom the Department feels that it must detain.
Lastly, the report would include a description of actions required by the Secretary and Congress to ensure that detainees who are scheduled for release are, in fact, released.
This last piece is particularly important, as the Department of Defense has scheduled release of 82 detainees. DOD and the State Department, however, face obstacles releasing these men to their home countries, and in some instances their home nations won't accept their return. In other instances, the State Department won't return detainees to their home nations for appropriate reasons. But we need to know what policy tools Congress can provide to expedite the release of innocent detainees.
All of this information is absolutely necessary for Congress and the administration to make informed decisions about what to do about Guantanamo Bay.
Whether you like it or not, whether you believe that Guantanamo Bay is a blight on our international standing, or whether or not you believe that these detainees should be held and tried in the United States, we should all agree that the policy options before the President and Congress should not be limited by a lack of information.
To opponents of shutting down Guantanamo Bay and my colleagues who believe its closure is a sign of weakness, I suggest that upholding our American principles of justice are not incongruent with our war against terror.
And in a speech before the Republican National Convention in 1992, I would remind my colleagues President Reagan emphasized that our greatest strength as a Nation comes not from our wealth or our power, but from our ideals.
I ask all of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this common-sense amendment, to move forward in our battle against anti-American sentiment, and to provide the President and Congress with real policy options for shutting down Guantanamo Bay.
IT DOESN'T much matter whether President Bush was the one who phoned Attorney General John D. Ashcroft's hospital room before the Wednesday Night Ambush in 2004. It matters enormously, however, whether the president was willing to have his White House aides try to strong-arm the gravely ill attorney general into overruling the Justice Department's legal views. It matters enormously whether the president, once that mission failed, was willing nonetheless to proceed with a program whose legality had been called into question by the Justice Department. That is why Mr. Bush's response to questions about the program yesterday was so inadequate.
"I'm not going to talk about it," Mr. Bush told reporters at a news conference with departing British Prime Minister Tony Blair. "It's a very sensitive program. I will tell you that, one, the program is necessary to protect the American people, and it's still necessary because there's still an enemy that wants to do us harm."
. . .
These are important topics for public discussion, and if anyone doubts that they can safely be discussed in public, they need look no further than Mr. Comey's testimony. Instead of doing so, Mr. Bush wants to short-circuit that discussion by invoking the continuing danger of al-Qaeda.
. . .
The administration, it appears from Mr. Comey's testimony, was willing to go forward, against legal advice, with a program that the Justice Department had concluded did not "honor the civil liberties of our people." Nor is it clear that Congress was adequately informed. The president would like to make this unpleasant controversy disappear behind the national security curtain. That cannot be allowed to happen.
High crimes and misdemeanors. That's what we impeach presidents for in America: high crimes and misdemeanors. I wish a giant fist would pop out of the sky and bash this tinpot torturer in the mouth every time he tries to misuse the deaths of 3,000 people to justify his high crimes and misdemeanors.
McKinsey Global Study Says Efficiency Steps Can Result in Major Savings A study by the McKinsey Global Institute has concluded that new product-standard mandates will be needed to achieve significant energy savings, the New York Times reported today. The study found that use of compact fluorescent light bulbs and other high-efficiency measures in residential buildings could cut electricity consumption in the U.S. by more than a third by 2020. Other measures cited included more efficient water heaters, kitchen appliances, and room-insulation materials, in addition to the use of standby power. The study suggests forcing these products to become more efficient through more stringent product standards.
Diana Farrell, director of the institute, was quoted by the newspaper as saying: "The study makes a strong case for what economists tend to shy away from — market intervention. But this would be market intervention to correct market distortions that exist." Robert N. Stavins, an environmental economist at Harvard University, doubted the size of the energy savings that the study predicted. The newspaper quoted Stavins as saying: "Often, the reason energy-efficient improvements have not been widely adopted is that there are real costs to many sets of individuals and they are making personally rational choices."
Separately, a plan has been launched by the William J. Clinton Foundation that would provide billions of dollars to improve energy efficiency in urban buildings around the world, the Times reported today. Under the plan, five banks would provide up to $1 billion each in loans to cities or private landlords to upgrade the efficiency of heating, cooling and lighting systems in older buildings. The loans would be repaid with the energy savings realized. The first group to benefit from the plan will be municipal buildings in the cities of Bangkok; Berlin; Chicago; Houston; Johannesburg; Karachi, Pakistan; London; Melbourne, Australia; Mexico City; Mumbai, India; New York; Rome; São Paulo, Brazil; Seoul, South Korea; Tokyo; and Toronto. New York Times (Energy standards) ; New York Times (Building energy-efficiency) , May 17.
What is this dark hum among the roses? The bees have gone simple, sipping, that's all. What did you expect? Sophistication? They're small creatures and they are filling their bodies with sweetness, how could they not moan in happiness? The little worker bee lives, I have read, about three weeks. Is that long? Long enough, I suppose, to understand that life is a blessing. I have found them — haven't you? — stopped in the very cups of the flowers, their wings a little tattered — so much flying about, to the hive, then out into the world, then back, and perhaps dancing, should the task be to be a scout-sweet, dancing bee. I think there isn't anything in this world I don't admire. If there is, I don't know what it is. I haven't met it yet. Nor expect to. The bee is small, and since I wear glasses, so I can see the traffic and read books, I have to take them off and bend close to study and understand what is happening. It's not hard, it's in fact as instructive as anything I have ever studied. Plus, too, it's love almost too fierce to endure, the bee nuzzling like that into the blouse of the rose. And the fragrance, and the honey, and of course the sun, the purely pure sun, shining, all the while, over all of us.
~Mary Oliver ************************************
I love Oliver's paean to bees and find it especially poignant now that the bees appear to be leaving us, disappearing, abandoning their hives in a horror called Colony Collapse Syndrome. It's as if all this time they paid the world the honor of being reluctant to leave it, but now they've just had all that they can take.
There's a Blue Moon on Thursday, May 31st, a powerful time to do magic. Several Pagan groups that I know of (including my own amazing circle of wonderful women)are planning to do magic for the bees around this upcoming Blue Moon. Join your magic to ours, will you? Join us because, as Oliver points out, "[I]t's love almost too fierce to endure, the bee/nuzzling like that into the blouse /of the rose."
"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.’” - 9/13/01, on The 700 Club
What Twisty Said about breast cancer "survivors." And, I'lll just note that I have yet to read an article about a prostate cancer "survivor" who was forced to gush on and on about what a "blessing" prostate cancer was and how "grateful" he is. Just sayin' (We sure are scared of mad women in this patriarchy, aren't we? With good reason. Just sayin.)
Both Anne and Aquilla have up fascinating posts about efforts underway to save the Cape Griffon Vulture. There are only a few thousand known Cape Griffon Vultures left in the world. The population in Namibia is down to a mere eleven birds. The species is on the knife-edge of extinction due, primarily, to being poisoned (often as a result of eating the carcasses of animals that were poisoned), disturbance of its, breeding colonies, and electrocution. Which is to say, human overpopulation is killing off the birds much faster than they can breed.
Aquila explains that the birds mate for life and that each pair: lay and nurture a single egg, and the chick-adult bonding is strong . . . . But if this chick doesn't make it into a healthy, rickets-free adult, there are Going To Be Consequences.
The Rare and Endangered Species Trust (REST) is doing amazing work to try and save these gorgeous and ecologically-important birds. I don't run an annual request for funds, as do some other blogs. Blogging is a hobby for me and, knock on wood, there's enough money in the piggy bank at the end of the month to buy kitty treats for Miss Thing and olives for my martini. But if you read and enjoy this blog, and if you have a few dollars to spare, I would like to ask you to make a donation to REST to support their efforts to save the Cape Griffon Vultures. Let me know in comments that you made a donation and I'll gladly give you a two-card tarot reading in thanks.
And, as it's going, often at love's breaking, The ghost of first days came again to us, The willow through the window stretched in, The silver beauty of her gentle branches. The bird began to sing the song of light and pleasure To us, who fear to lift our eyes up from the earth, We who are so lofty, bitter, and intense, About the days when we were saved together.
Translated by Yevgeny Bonver, Desember, 2000 Edited by Dmitry Karshtedt, February, 2001 Edited by Hecate, May 2007
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 . . . ."