Austėja was a Lithuanian household goddess of bees. Later hypothetical reconstructions say that people were sanctifying grasslands for her. Austėja sometimes goes with Žemyna. They both are goddesses of fecundity, brides, and growing families.
In The Living Goddess, Marija Gimbutas and Mirian Robbins say that Austeja "mentioned in the sixteenth century, is both woman and bee; she promotes fertility in humans and bees. Her name is connected with the verb austi, [meaning]"to weave," and also "to dart" and "to fly." Offerings were made to her by jumping while tossing the oblations upward to the ceiling or air.
Austeja appears as the idealized bee mother, a responsible homemaker figure. She ensures that the families (as every beehive community is commonly called) under her guardianship multiply and increase. Apiculture can be understood in these beliefs as a metaphor for the human family where the mother/housekeeper has the most prominent role.
H/T to my brilliant friend, E, for piquing my interest in bee Goddesses with her amazing ritual last night.
On the May 29 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, host Bill O'Reilly asserted that the proposed immigration reform bill is supported by "people who hate America, and they hate it because it's run primarily by white, Christian men. Let me repeat that. America is run primarily by white, Christian men, and there is a segment of our population who hates that, despises that power structure." He continued: "So they, under the guise of being compassionate, want to flood the country with foreign nationals, unlimited, unlimited, to change the complexion -- pardon the pun -- of America. Now, that's hatred, too."
I don't think it bodes well for those of us who are rather emphatically not white xian males that they now feel free to be so blunt.
It's the first of the month. Now's a good time to do a breast self-exam (BSE). BSEs are easy to do; here's a video that shows you how. By examining your breasts every month, you'll become familiar with how they feel and that makes it easier to recognize a lump if you ever have one. Finding a lump early and getting it checked out can mean identifying cancer in its early stages, when it's easier to cure.
Women, take some time today to do a BSE, even if it means telling everyone in your life to go pound sand for 15 minutes or so. Men, what can you do to make it easier for the women in your life to do a BSE?
There's a Blue Moon -- the second full moon of this month -- tonight. All across America, groups and individuals will be raising energy, praying for, and doing magic to save the honeybees. The response to this rather ad hoc effort, organized by my madcap friend R., has been amazing. Reiki workers will be sending reiki to the bees. Solotaries will be dancing for the bees. Druids will be druiding and witches will be casting spells. R. will lead a varied group of Pagans tonight at a ritual and my own circle of amazing women will be doing magic tomorrow night.
You don't have to know how to do magic. You don't have to be a master ceremonial magician. All you need to do is to spend some time tonight imagining a world in which the honeybees can thrive and then send those images out into the universe "for the good of all and to the harm of none." Mary Oliver, as is so often the case, said it best: <
I don't know exactly what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day. Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
What else were you going to do tonight that's more important?
Wow. Sara Sutterfield Winn, who writes juicy thealogy, nominated me for a Thinking Blogger Award. Since I adore her blog, I feel very honored. That's the easy part. The difficult part about being nominated for this award is that you're supposed to list five blogs that make you think. Of course, there are way, way, way more than five blogs that I read every day and all of them make me think, laugh, appreciate beauty, feel connected. So picking just five of them is v. difficult for me. Here, however, are five blogs that I find thought-provocative. (And being provocative is, IMHO, a good thing.)
1. Robin Artisson. Robin writes posts that are way too long for the medium of a blog. He's sexist and he tends to see the world in dualistic terms of right (him) and wrong (others). He's a big comment-deleting baby when I disagree with him and, as noted above and as the king explained to Mozart, his posts are too long. However, his writing is the best and most serious writing that I've found anywhere on the web concerning Heathenry, shamanism, and Pagan theology in general. His world-view is coherent and he's not just pulling stuff out of his ass, especially when he talks about shamanism. He's must-reading if you want to think about the important intellectual questions facing modern Pagans.
2. Hullabaloo. Digby is an amazingly thoughtful writer. She's one of those writers who, after you read something she's written, you're sure that you'd been thinking the same thing all along because it's so obvious -- after she's done the research and laid it all out like that for you. She's passionate, too, in a wonderful way and she has a way with words that I love. If you read nothing besides Digby and Glenn Greenwald every day, you'd be pretty well-informed and you'd have enough to chew on thought-wise for the rest of the day. (Yeah, that was cheating. I'm a witch, did you think I was going to play by the rules? I may cheat again before I'm through. Watch for it.)
3. Derrick Jensen. OK, technically this is not a blog; it's Jensen's MySpace page, but I'm listing it anway. (See above re: witches, rules, and watching for it). Jensen is not a fun person to read; that's because he tells the truth about our culture and what it does to people, animals, plants, the planet. He also doesn't update very frequently, but what he does have to say, well, it has to be said. There are a few writers in everyone's life, I hope, who completely change the way that you look at the universe, who, actually, completely change who you are. Charlene Spretnack did that for me when I was in my thirties. Jensen did that for me at the tail end of my forties. If you don't want to check his blog all the time, order and read his books.
4. Aquila ka Hecate. Lately, I find myself thinking quite a bit about some of Aquila's posts. A South African witch, she's celebrating Samhein when I'm celebrating Beltane, but she has an amazing ability to cut straight to the core of every topic that she tackles. Her discussions of her spiritual practice are meaty and inspiring and common-sense all at the same time. She reminds me of another of my favorite Pagan writers, Druid Anne Johnson.
5. Twisty. Because she's in a class all by herself, because she's gutsy, because she never pulls any punches, and because, even when she's irritating and you don't want to agree with her, even when admitting that she's right will make it more difficult for you to go on living in this world, well, even then, you know that she's right. Twisty isn't saying what everyone else is saying, she isn't trying to make it pretty or nice, and she isn't going to "just give it a rest, for Pete's sake". I love her for that. She's a national treasure. Long may she blame.
According to Sara, If you’ve been tagged, here’s how you play:
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think;
2. List to this post at The Thinking Blog so that people can find the exact origin of the meme;
3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’.
I got an e-mail yesterday from The Freeway Blogger concerning Cindy Sheehan's retirement from the peace movement. I was feeling pretty sad for our country. In the e-mail, The Freeway Blogger said to me, "Hi Hecate, thought you might appreciate some of my thoughts on a post-Cindy peace movement, and I know you'll get a laugh out of what my resignation letter would look like...
(don't worry, I won't be quitting anytime soon...)"
That made me feel better. I'm not quitting anytime soon, either. I'm bitterly disappointed in the Democrats for caving, but I'm not going to cave. I'm going to keep on working for peace, for the planet, for the bees, for the mystery and magic and whirling opportunity that I know as Goddess.
Cindy Sheehan was a mother who lost her son and wanted to know why. Her initial trip to Crawford inspired a flashmob of thousands to join her in the ditches outside Bush's ranch and gave, as they say, a "face" to the anti-war movement. Unlike the other faces we see on our TVs, hers wasn't all pretty and polished like the professional pundits - the ones that are paid to tell us what to think. Her features showed quite plainly the sadness of her loss. Nevertheless, Cindy looked better on camera than the real faces of the antiwar movement - the ones that had been shot away or melted off inside a burning Humvee.
To be perfectly honest with you, I've felt like writing a letter like Cindy's damn near every day. Of course, being the Freewayblogger I'd have to keep it short. When I started doing this, I didn't think it'd take more than a couple hundred signs, at most, for people to "get it": the simple, obvious and irrefutable fact that when you put a sign on a freeway, a HELL of a lot of people read it. With 200,000 people seeing the same sign, day after day for weeks, it seemed reasonable that at least one of them would say to themselves, "Hey! I could do that!" and that the ball would just start rolling from there. Didn't Happen. Which is kind of amazing when you think about it, and frankly still confounds me.
Before I became the Freewayblogger I used to bring clothing to villages in the Sierra Madre mountains in Mexico. I did this because it seemed that the most useful thing I could do with the resources I had was to collect warm clothes, put them in my truck, and then go find the coldest, poorest people I could. Like freewayblogging, it was a simple idea, easily executed, that practically anyone could do, provided they were willing to break a few small rules in defense of a greater one. (Bringing used clothing into Mexico is illegal, even for charity, if you don't have a bunch of impossible-to-get permits. I'd usually get through customs by explaining who the clothes were for and hoping they'd let me through. If that didn't work, leaving a couple of twenties on the drivers seat usually did the trick. On the rare occasions they sent me back, I just went to a different crossing, or waited a bit and tried again at the same one. I always got through.) It took about three years and a hundred thousand miles of driving, but I managed to clothe damn near everybody living in the northwest Sierra Madres. And believe me, compared to that, sticking signs up on freeways is a piece of cake.
The reason I’m bringing this up is to emphasize the power that one person can have when they decide on a plan of action and then just Do It. Don’t get together with friends, don’t form a group, and for God’s sakes, don’t hold another meeting. Figure out the most useful thing you can do with the resources you have and then Just Do It.
I know most of you out there are afraid to put up signs because you think it might be illegal. Stop and think about that for a moment. Think about it and then think about everything this country is supposed to stand for and you’ll realize what utter bullshit that excuse is.
Here’s a picture of a sign that says “Impeach” with an American flag placed next to a freeway on what is indisputably Public Property. If you honestly think this is illegal, or should be, then I honestly think you should find yourself a new country, because this one’s just being wasted on you.
Last week I got questioned by a motorcycle cop while I was taking pictures of one of my signs. He asked me if I’d put it there and I said yes. Then he asked me to take it down, so I said, “Okay” and did. End of Story.
I suppose if he’d wanted to he could’ve arrested me, or given me a ticket or a fine. On the other hand he could’ve just as easily given me a Citizenship award: America is funny that way. Apart from some awful sort of Rodney King scenario, the worst thing that can happen to you for public signposting is that you’ll have to go to court and explain your actions: that you felt it was your civic responsibility to speak out to as many of your fellow citizens as possible, and that this was not only your right, but your patriotic duty. I’d consider it an honor to be the defendant in such a case, and you should too. In any event, it’s certainly not something any of us should be afraid of. (And let's face it - how illegal could it be if I've done it over 4,000 times?)
Free Speech is an amazing thing: probably the greatest blessing Democracy has to offer, and we’ve got to start using it more effectively. . . .
Cardboard and paint people… cardboard, paint and a little bit of nerve. That’s all it takes.
He's definitely not my first, second, or even third choice to be the Democratic nominee (hint: Worst.Secretary.of.Energy.Ever), but I got a letter from Bill Richardson seeking donations today and, on the envelope, it says: The war in Iraq is not the disease. Iraq is a symptom. The disease is arrogance.
I think that's almost right. The difference is that I think arrogance, as well, is a symptom. It's a symptom of patriarchy.
Study Says Cutting Non-CO2 Emissions Would Buy Time for CO2 Cuts
A study by an international team of climate scientists found that a short-term focus on efforts to cut non-CO2 emissions would provide a larger window for cutting CO2 emissions in time to restrain the impact of climate change, the Christian Science Monitor reported today.
Lead study author James Hansen warned that CO2 emissions should be cut from their projected levels over the next 10 years by such measures as building fewer fossil fuel-based plants in order to achieve "the alternative scenario" proposed by the study. The study stated that the 10-year window represents a period in which companies need to adjust their spending plans to reflect the goal of cutting CO2 emissions. It cautioned that failing to prevent a 1 degree Celsius rise in global temperatures from their 2000 levels would cause "dangerous" impacts to the global climate.
Team member Gavin Schmidt was quoted as saying: "This is good news. There is scope for effective action, even though it will fall short of stopping human-caused climate change completely." Christian Science Monitor , May 30.
: "The abortion rate among women living below the federal poverty level is more than four times that of women living above 300% of the poverty level." Not surprisingly, there is a similar gap in access to contraception, leading the Institute to speak of "Two Americas" for American women with respect to the ability to control their reproductive lives.
One day of god drinking coffee in my patio nothing is normal— not the calla with its penis of gold nor the iris like purple lava a volcano spills. I find in the depths of the cup chasubles embroidered with black moths & red stains— the sun fires a scintillation of silver bullets & of candles drowned— there is blood in its shine. I place the cup on its saucer with a most tender care as if it were a chalice & say the litany: Guatemala Nicaragua El Salvador & one side of my heart tastes white & sweet like cane sugar & the other, like coffee, bitter & black.
So, my circle of brilliant women is preparing for, in just a few weeks, our next big annual retreat. This will be tres interresant, because, as you may remember, last year my wonderful circle way, way, way overdid it and got our magical (and physical) asses kicked, big time.
E, the brilliant founder of our circle, developed a series of questions last year that we all ponder, consider, meditate upon, do divination for, and generally live with for a few weeks prior to our annual retreat, held Chez Hecate, although this year the basement is still in une state dishabille. This retreat comes almost directly in the middle of my preparation of a cert. petition for SCOTUS and in the middle of a trip that Son and D-i-L had planned for Ireland just before D-i-L's wonderful mother became ill. So it will be interesting.
My favorite form of divination, when I can find time for it, is to do a Celtic Cross spread with all nine of my active decks, most of which are Tarot decks, but some of which are not Tarot decks, at all. One of the best things about doing a Celtic Cross with several decks is that if, for example, the message really is Two of Cups, as it was for the question about my own personal spiritual developlment over the next five years, well, then you can just pull one form of the Two of Cups after another after another after another. It's a lovely way to let the universe talk to you, if you're willng to let it smack you in the face over and over and over.
Do you ever do this, do a Celtic cross w/ more than one deck? Does your circle ever set aside a day to do magic concerning your circle? Have you ever done so much magic in one day that you could hardly drag your sorry ass out of bed the next?
Here, with R's permission, is the ritual that she'll be leading in Arlington, Virginia on the Blue Moon:
Intention: Seeking the wisdom of the Mighty Dead and of the Bee Devas, we then raise our energies and send this out for healing of the bee hives.
*FYI- Bees have been carved into temples in Greece, Egypt, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Brazil and Mexico. Numerous historians tell us that Priestesses, and sometimes Priests, imbibed special honey mixtures and then gave prophetic and/or healing messages to people and tribes. Historical accounts also tell of bees and their gifts being used to confer powers on to leaders. Many temples in India and Thailand still keep bees as sacred temple residents.
Also, many cultures believe that insect spirits generally process information in communal ways versus individual perspectives. Devas are commonly thought of as the oversoul of those in the insect kingdoms, with each insect type having a specific Deva. Devas are said to speak the One Truth from the community voice. Most people think of Devas as another form of the Faeries, although semantics usually cloud the discussion.
Ritual for the bees: Ground/Center Purify the area/each other Cast the circle Call to the energetics of the directions Call to the Devas Call to Deity State the intention Read a poem for the bees.
Ask participants to imagine they are standing outside of an ancient temple. On the entry pillars they see bee forms have been etched into the stone. Beside the pillars are vats of honey. They feel encouraged to lift the wooden spoon from the vat and take the sweetness into their body. Then the most intense bee hum ever heard starts coming from inside the temple. A connection has been made between now and the time when bees were worshipped as deity. You are in a time that is not a time and a place that is not a place. You stand before the Mighty Dead that worshipped bees. *Actually pass around a bowl of honey and wooden spoon if possible.
Call to the Priestesses and Priests of old ask them to send us a message on how to work with, protect and heal the bees of our world. Close your eyes and see/hear/smell, sense.
Now your vision shifts and you are in a lush green field with flowers and plants all around. You see numerous bee hives in various forms.
Call to the devic power that work with the bees. Ask the Deva to ask the bees some questions for us and to help us hear their responses. Have participants each call out one question. Wait for an answer between each. Sit in silence and integrate any vision/message/symbol/color/sound, etc. received.
After a few minutes of silence each participant should call out what they received. Someone should scribe.
Call to the bees, let them know our gratitude for their many gifts and that we wish to help in ways that we can. Let them know our humbleness and other feelings that participants have. Tell them we will listen intently throughout this moon cycle for their messages and that we will share those with others. Tell them that for their gifts, we now give them back a gift…what energy we can raise.
Participants then stand close together, hold hands and while moving quickly as a circle start to hum the BZZZZZ sound. Raise a cone of power while envisioning a bee hive. When the energy has reached its peak each person calls out to a specific place (i.e. to the hives in the area of Falls Church, VA, etc.) to where they are sending this energy. Let the energy flow out….
Sing a song or say another poem for the bees.
Reverse the basics: Thank all the beings that have aided our work Thank Deity Thank the Devas Thank the energetics of the directions Uncast the circle
As I walked through prosperous farmland I saw them everywhere visiting crop flowers, buzzing through the air. They came from nearby woodlands seeking nectar on which to feed and when they pollinated crops, they set the flowers to seed.
The seeds were sold by farmers to pay their many bills to send their kids to college, to enjoy life's many thrills. Merchants that received their payments prospered well too, they bought vacation homes in Honolulu.
Pollinated food crops feed many a human mouth not just in the north, but also in the south. Most are pollinated by various wild bees, but some rely on other animals or a windy breeze.
Managed honeybees, we know, pollinate crops too, but not nearly as many as wild bees do. With countless honeybees now diseased or Africanized, their colonies are fewer and their keepers terrorized.
The next day I passed other farms, those of ignorant men, who had developed all their lands, even hill and glen. To maximize profits, they'd plowed all they had acquired, and so destroyed the habitats that wild bees required.
Still others had sprayed their crops with too many insecticides and so killed not only insect pests but pollinators besides. They'd even used strong herbicides to kill every little weed and so destroyed wild flowers that in other months bees need.
The crop yields of these other farms were consequently diminished for now they hadn't enough bees to get pollination finished. This resulted in less production, less bottom line for all less money for them to spend at the brand new shopping mall.
Its amazing to think how our farm economies are so much dependent on hardworking bees. These industrious little insects are more than flimsy props they're absolutely essential to produce great bumper crops.
In March and in April I voted for emergency spending legislation that would have fully funded our troops in Iraq, but also changed their mission to a sound one. That mission would have taken our troops out of the middle of a civil war, and put them into a support role, training Iraqi soldiers and police, fighting al Qaeda, and protecting our troops.
The President will not agree to that.
As a matter of fact, the President won't agree to any change in strategy in Iraq, and that is more than a shame for the American people; it is a tragedy.
It doesn't seem to matter how many Americans die in Iraq, how many funerals we have here at home, or what the American people think. The President won't budge.
This new bill on Iraq keeps the status quo. With a few frills around the outside, a few reports, a few words about benchmarks. While our troops die.
I understand why this particular legislation is before us today. It's because this President wants to continue his one man show in Iraq. The President doesn't respect this Congress or the American people when it comes to Iraq. He wants to brush us all off like some annoying spot on his jacket.
We have lost 3,427 American soldiers in Iraq. Of those, 731 (21%) have been from California or based in California. There are 25,549 American soldiers wounded.
And today, after several days of worrying and praying, we received the tragic news of the death of Private Joseph J. Anzack JR., 20 years old, of Torrance, California, who was abducted during a deadly ambush south of Baghdad almost two weeks ago.
One member of his platoon, Spc. Daniel Seitz, summed it up this way to the Associated Press: "It just angers me that it's just another friend I've got to lose and deal with, because I've already lost 13 friends since I've been here, and I don't know if I can take any more of this."
And he shouldn't have to. But with this bill, he will.
The first half of this year has already been deadlier than any six-month period since the war began more than four years ago.
In this month alone, 83 U.S. Service members have already been killed in Iraq.
Let me be clear, there are many things in this bill that I strongly support--many provisions that I actually fought for, for our troops, for our veterans, for our farmers, and for the victims of Hurricane Katrina--but I must take a stand against this Iraq war, and therefore I will vote no on this emergency spending bill
Anne Newkirk Niven has a great interview with Starhawk. The whole thing is worth a read. Here are some excerpts:
For me, being a Witch is about understanding that the earth is sacred and that every human being is an embodiment of Goddess. If you really get that and [then] you look around and see that every life support system on the planet is under assault, then you can't just sit back and let that unfold, you have to do something to change it.
A verse [that] I wrote for a Spiral Dance ritual expresses the kind of energy [that] I feel we need:
I am the change, I am the tide that's turning, Your love and your rage, Passion for justice burning. And when you take a stand, I'm the courage that guides you, I'm in the streets, I take your hand, I'm marching beside you.
Do you like the "W" word? Are you glad [that]we used it? Are you still happy with it?
I think it's important that we use it and I still do. Whenever people take a word [like "Witch"] and use it to say "here are these areas that your are not allowed to think about and not allowed to identify with," then, to me, that says [that] it's important to USE that word, because if you use that word, you take away their power to control you with it. With the word "Witch" what they are saying is "don't identify with this whole constellation: everything from magic and the power of the mind and the power of intention, to the whole idea of women being strong and being empowered in our own right." They are saying, "stay in your place, don't be uppity!" By using the word "Witch" for the last twenty or thirty years, we have helped to take away some of its power to control us."
Describing a political action in Cancun, Mexico against the World Trade Organization:
[W]e dressed up as tourists.
In what, Hawaiian shirts?
Yeah, Hawaiian shirts or just tacky clothes, with cameras or whatever it took to look harmless. We went out in small groups infiltrating throughout the day. . . . But at the end of the day, we all converged and took over the street right in front of the conference center. We blockaded the street and shit it down for two or three hours, and we did a Spiral Dance out there right under the conference center. Our Green Block friends came in carrying tres in poets and put them in the center of the spiral. I asked one, "how did you get those trees in there?" He replied, "Security doesn't expect you to be carrying trees."
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 . . . ."