So today was the day when my wonderful, amazing, incredible circle of women got together for our annual retreat (aka, the day when we kick our own magical asses). It was wonderful, amazing, incredible. I can't imagine that I ever, in all the reincarnations that I may have had, have, ever, done anything to deserve to be in a circle with such amazing women. So, it's not deserved. It's a gift. It's, in the truest sense of the word, grace. It's a blessing from the Goddess, from the ancestors, from the Universe.
Each year, we choose a Goddess to work with. Today, we bid farewell to Hygeia (although I, along with some others, will continue to work with her individually) and welcomed in Lilith.
This week, I believe that I can state unequivocably, is my favorite week on the wheel of the year. This is the last week during which the days grown longer. Next week, we come to the Summer Solstice and, immediately thereafter, the days begin to grow shorter and shorter again, leading inexorably to the freezing dawn when I will stand with the wonderful women of my circle, bang pots, shake tamborines, yell, and generally make as much noise as possible to wake the Yule-time Sun. We drink schnappes or whiskey or some other throat-burning booze from glasses made of ice and then we throw the glasses on the frozen ground to shatter into a million diamond shards before heading off to a greasy-spoon on Capitol Hill or a pancake house in Arlington for a v. hearty breakfast.
But, for now, the sunlight pays the world the great compliment of lingering until almost nine o'clock in the evening, the flowers bloom, the grass grows, and the lightening bugs remind me, if I ever forget, that I live in an enchanted forest, full of mysteriously-blinking lights, leading me into shadowy and deep mysteries. The herb bed swells with herbs, the farmers' market bulges with riches from blueberries to tomatoes to cucumbers, the birds flit and float about, and, and, and, there's lots and lots of daylight!!!!
This weekend, my amazing circle of witchy women will hold our annual retreat (aka, the day when we kick our own magical asses) and, next Wednesday, my v. creative circle sister K. will lead us in our Summer Solstice ritual. By Thursday morning, I guaran-damn-tee that I will be magicked out. And, happy. And, a bit sad. I know that I should be equally happy to see the beginning of Fall and Winter, and, yet, I cannot help but to rage, rage (a bit) against the dying of the light.
Happy Summer. Happy sunlight. Happy long days of summer. Enjoy. It's everthing. It's all real. It's all metaphor. There's always more.
I don't know about you, but I remember my first Nancy Drew mystery as if it were yesterday. I was seven. My best friend, Bonnie Ayers, and I were playing in her big sister's bedroom and I pulled The Mystery at Lilac Inn off the shelf and started reading. A half an hour later, I came up for air, went home, and made my mom drive me to the library.
This movie may be cute as all get out, but it's not about Nancy Drew. Nancy Drew was old enough to drive a "roadster". She had a tomboy friend named George. She gave instructions to the Drews' housekeeper. She was independent and smart and brave and someone I'd have died to become when I was seven.
I've read a lot of books since that afternoon in Bonnie's big sister's bedroom. I'm not sure that any of them have reached out and grabbed me and transported me as effectively. I'll probably skip this movie.
Happy birthday, William Butler Yeats Wiki says that: Recalling his childhood, he described his "one unshakable belief" as "whatever of philosophy has been made poetry is alone permanent... I thought... that if a powerful and benevolent spirit has shaped the destiny of this world, we can better discover that destiny from the words that have gathered up the heart's desire of the world."
Wiki also reminds us that: Yeats was admitted into the "Golden Dawn" in March 1890, taking the magical motto Daemon est Deus inversus translated as Devil is God inverted or A demon is a god reflected. He was an active recruiter for the Golden Dawn's Isis-Urania temple, and brought in his uncle George Pollexfen, Maud Gonne, and Florence Farr. He became involved in the Order's power-struggles both with Farr on one hand, and with Macgregor Mathers on the other, most notably when Mathers sent Aleister Crowley to repossess Golden Dawn paraphernalia in "the Battle of Blythe Road". After the Golden Dawn ceased to be and splintered into various offshoots, he remained with the Stella Matutina until 1921.
I love his poem, "Unworthy Praise":
O HEART, be at peace, because Nor knave nor dolt can break What’s not for their applause, Being for a woman’s sake. Enough if the work has seemed, So did she your strength renew, A dream that a lion had dreamed Till the wilderness cried aloud, A secret between you two, Between the proud and the proud. What, still you would have their praise! But here’s a haughtier text, The labyrinth of her days That her own strangeness perplexed; And how what her dreaming gave Earned slander, ingratitude, From self-same dolt and knave; Aye, and worse wrong than these. Yet she, singing upon her road, Half lion, half child, is at peace.
And, one has to love a man who loved a woman named Maud, one of my all-time favorite names, and her a revolutionary, besides. With a daughter named Iseulet.
Reading Necropolis Now, which is fast becoming the most talked-about blog in Pagandom, I came across this snippet:
The Book of Going Forth By Day (a.k.a. The Egyptian Book of the Dead). I
I did not know that. I did not know that the Egyptian Book of the Dead was also knows as the Book of Going Forth by Day. But I love that. I love the idea that that's what death is or can be. (Were the Tibetans and the Egyptians the only ones to write Books of the Dead? If so, why is that? I was raised xian and I can't remember any instruction at all on how to conduct myself once dead nor upon what to expect.)
Wicca honors both death and life, both the dark and the light, both the winter and the summer. That's why my compost heap is as important a center of my religious practice as is my altar.
You should check out Necropolis Now's posts on decorative skulls, as well.
All I have is a voice To undo the folded lie, The romantic lie in the brain Of the sensual man-in-the-street And the lie of Authority Whose buildings grope the sky: There is no such thing as the State And no one exists alone; Hunger allows no choice To the citizen or the police; We must love one another or die.
Defenseless under the night Our world in stupor lies; Yet, dotted everywhere, Ironic points of light Flash out wherever the Just Exchange their messages: May I, composed like them Of Eros and of dust, Beleaguered by the same Negation and despair, Show an affirming flame.
reminds me of one of my favorite folk songs by Shwana Carrol called "I Can Be Peace." She's no Auden, but the message of her song -- that in the face of all the horror of war and insanity, the one thing that each of us can do is to work to embody peace, to manifest and create peace in our own lives and for those around us -- makes the same point Auden makes when he prays to "show an affirming flame." I sometimes sing the song to myself when I let the asshole in the Jaguar cut in front of me during rush hour. Really. I do.
Plug-in Hybrids, Electric Vehicles Gaining in Popularity
Soaring gasoline prices have spurred enthusiasm for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and a new all-electric import from China is selling well, Chicago Tribune Automotive columnist Jon Hilkevitch reported. The Xebra-PK (pronounced "Zebra"), is offered by U.S. firm ZAP, or Zero Air Pollution. At a cost of about $10,000, an estimated 250 have been sold since last October. Wrote Hilkevitch: "The ZAP line is considered a neighborhood electric vehicle, marketed as a second car to travel short distances pollution-free and gas-free."
The columnist noted that GM has developed a plug-in hybrid concept car, the five-passenger Chevrolet Volt, and the market also features the ZENN (Zero Emission No Noise) and Dynasty, both made in Canada, along with the U.S.-made Tiger Truck, and the Kurrent, produced by American Electric Vehicle.
Al Hallaj, a research associate professor of chemical engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology, was quoted as saying: "Electric cars are no longer just a novelty for hobbyists or tree-huggers. Oil consumption is a national security issue and we should move to electric-based transportation, as well as improving wind, solar and hydrogen fuel cell energy." Chicago Tribune , June 11.
Star-Tribune Examines How Many Homes are Increasing Energy Hogs
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune examined how the average U.S. household, while attuned to energy efficiency, is less energy efficient, and more of a power-drain on the electricity grid, than ever before. Wrote the newspaper: "Many household appliances have become more efficient, using less electricity than ever to cool rooms, wash clothes and chill food. But the increasingly wired American home, where outlets are charging cell phones and iPods and powering multiple computers and big-screen TVs, is creating higher demand for power than was the case even a few years ago. At last count, six of every 10 homes had a computer. In 1992, the number was one in five. Households that once had one TV now have two or three, some with screens four times as large as the typical television twenty years ago, and some requiring a lot of juice."
EEI spokesman Jim Owen was quoted as pointing out: "Plasma screens use eight to 10 times as much electricity as the TVs they replace." Wrote the Star-Tribune: "Owen … said utilities can count on office buildings and factories lowering electricity use in the summer because business owners don't want to pay higher costs. But residential users 'are less price-sensitive,' Owen said. In fact, hot weather tends to increase power demand from homeowners, as they pump up their air conditioning and stay home watching TV, playing video games or cruising the Web on their computers."
The newspaper said that the North American Electric Reliability Corp. has stated that the power grid is still susceptible to being affected by a wave of hot, humid weather. Wrote the Star-Tribune: "NERC officials said they are hoping to avoid a repeat of last summer, when extreme weather forced some utilities to issue emergency alerts and public pleas for people and businesses to use less power." Minneapolis Star-Tribune , June 9.
I am a priestess. I work with the many layers of creation as I perceive it, with the gods and guides with whom I have a relationship, with those of the spirit world who would share and teach me. Essentially, my spirituality is entirely individual and exists outside any specific tradition or doctrine. It is the same with most people. Mystical spirituality exists beneath the level of community and the framework of religion.
Yet I am known to be a Druid. It is a label that I'm happy to give myself and be given, though it only describes the language, the robes, the colours and tools which I use when I work with others or in public. Wearing that label gives me the responsibility of holding an edge of the big white sheet which is the public reputation of Druidry, bringing with it the threat of politics and conformity, which is in itself a disincentive. If a I a priestess of my dogs and my grove, working my nemeton in private and in public, why do I use the word "Druid" at all? What does it give me?
Druidry holds within it an exceptional archetype, one which offers me just that inspiration of courage I need in order to express myself outwardly, to put my inspiration into action.
~Emma Restall Orr in Druid Priestess: An Intimate Journey Through The Pagan Year.
I'll start off by admitting my bias: I am a huge believer in education, especially, but certainly not only, a liberal arts education. My great grandparents on my mother's side emigrated from Sweden to the United States; my great grandfather was a waiter. For immigrant families, education was both a tremendous part of the promise of America: free public education! It was also still, to some extent, out of reach. Thus, when times got tough and someone had to drop out of school and go to work, it was often the young women in the family who were pulled out of high school and sent to the mill, or factory, or to the hotel where maids were needed.
My maternal grandmother met that fate, leaving school to help support the family by making hotel beds while her brothers continued on through high school. I think that when my mother told me that story I was maybe five or six. It truly was one of my first intimations that I had landed on a planet with a patriarchial problem. As a little girl, all I could say was, "But that's not fair!"
My mom, orphaned at an early age, made it her goal to get through high school. The youngest of three sisters, she didn't have to quit school in order to support anyone else. As a result, she got an office job instead of a job at the hotel, the office job where she met my dad.
My dad actually had that elusive thing, a college degree. He was the first in his family of Western beet farmers and horse trainers to get a college degree, although his mother had gotten a few years at a ladies musical conservatory before she left to marry my horse-trainer granddad. My dad got that college degree as a gift from a grateful country; he like many other young men of his generation survived World War II to come home to the GI Bill. The GI Bill paid my dad's college tuition. He worked while he was in college, cooking breakfast in one of the women's dorms at the University of Colorado -- something he considered less than taxing, according to his stories.
If I ever got any message at all from my parents, it was: You Will Go To College. College was, in their minds, the key to being able to participate in the world of ideas and to living a better material life, a more worry-free life, than that enjoyed by waiters, hotel maids, and horse trainers. And, oldest child that I was, I absorbed the lesson, earning bachelors, masters, and law degrees. As a percentage of my income, I paid far more for Son's Montessori schooling than for his degree at Princeton, mostly because the Montessori paid dividends and Son got great scholarships and financial aid. He also took out some student loans and took out more when he went to law school.
All of which is a long wind up for saying that I think it is fucking criminal that kids today can't afford a college education without taking out huge private loans in addition to their student loans. We're the richest country on Earth. We can piss billions of dollars a month down the hole of the boyking's vanity war. We can absorb the externalities caused by millions of fools driving Hummers and SUVs and we can pay athletes millions of dollars a year. We can afford tax cuts for Paris Hilton. It is a crying fucking shame that we can't send our bright young people to college.
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 . . . ."