Why should I even bother to express my awe at Nature in a ritual way? Because it is boring to go around not taking notice of this wonderous place in which we find ourselves and ritual is a pleasing artistic expresion of the relationship between ourselves and the orders of existence with which we live. I think I'll go do all that now. Happy Winter Solstice.
Having been tagged by Aquila ka Hecate, whom I adore, I hereby list eight random facts about myself:
1. I crave caviar. Once, in my entire 51 years, I got enough caviar to satisfy myself. My borg opened a new office in LA and I got flown out for the party. There was a seafood station and a buddy from the borg came and dragged me over there as cover so he could eat crab legs all night long. I ate so much caviar that the nice man in the waiter's jacket went back twice for refills. My brilliant D-i-L shares this appetite w/ me, as we established at brunch on New Year's day 2001. If they ever give sufficient warning that the world is going to end, I'll spend my final hours eating caviar, drinking frozen Stoli, and reading the world's great poems. I'm going to start w/ Rumi.
2. I love to swim. My sun is in Pisces, so this isn't too surprising.
3. I own almost 200 Hermes scarves and am, likely, one of the world's 100 best-educated experts on Hermes scarves.
4. My cat is a Chartreux, a French breed of excellent mousers. She's nine years old and is my dearest love. When my ankle was broken, she perched on top of the break and purred me back into life. She will only let you see her if she likes your aura.
5. I'm a huge fan of Leonard Cohen, Wynton Marsallis, bagpipes played in dappled sun and shade. and Joan Baez. I am a ballet-o-phil. I am fed by both the black swan portion of Swan Lake and by George Harrison-based ballets. In the life that I was supposed to live this time around, I went from concert to ballet to salon. I'm going to find out who is to blame for the mix-up and I am going to hurt them.
6. My as-yet-unrealized ambitions are to learn to fence and to play the harp. My heart splits its time between the marble monuments of Washington, D.C. and the mountains of Berkley, West Virginia.
7. The books in my house are orgainzed thus: Poetry in the kitchen, by author; fiction in the living-room bookshelves by author, including the porn; non-fiction in the ritual room by Library of Congress numbers, with Wiccan books in a separate shelf, organized by Library of Congress numbers. I loan books willingly, but I do remember. Many of the happiest moments of my life have been spent reading. If I were forced to choose, I'd take Madeline L'Engle to the desert island, but I'd try to sneak in some Rumi.
8. The residual heirs in my will are Derrick Jensen, NOW, and Greenpeace. The poems designated in my will are "When Death Comes" and "Little Summer Poem" by Mary Oliver and "Charge of the Goddess" by Doreen Valiente. The songs are "Rise Up" by Shawna Carroll and "I Am a Patriot" by Jackson Browne. After that, I expect a mad party to ensue.
I tag Thorn, Angela, Reya, Katrina, Molly, watertiger, innana, Necropolis Now, Deborah Oak, and Anne Johnson.
Last year, my circle of amazing women worked with the Goddess Hygeia. Although once worshiped in temples with a set of rituals that were written down and well-known, today, there is little known about Hygeia and her worship. For my circle, she was the Goddess of Healthy Growth, causing some of us to focus on our physical health (~raises hand~) and helping our circle itself to grow. Some of us (~raises hand~) will continue to work with her at our individual altars and in our daily practice. Yet we were stymied by the lack of information about Hygeia.
This year, my circle is going to be working with Lilith and there's simply an embarassment of riches concerning information about this Goddess. Lilith may have first been associated with the wind in ancient Mesopotamia. It's a serious thing for American witches to invoke an Iraqi Goddess in these times. But we did lots of divination, both before and during our annual retreat and Lilith and her owls kept coming up. She's new to me, and I may focus on her for several sessions of Saturday Goddess Blogging.
According to Wiki: It is said that every mirror is a passage into the Otherworld and leads to Lilith's cave. The cave that Lilith went to after she had abandoned Adam and Eden for all time and the same cave that Lilith took up demon lovers in. From these unholy unions, Lilith birthed multitudes of demons, who flocked from that cave and infested the world. When these demons want to return they simply enter the nearest mirror, that is why Lilith makes her home in every mirror.
I'm going to try this week to remember to acknowledge Lilith every time that I look into a mirror, to honor her feminine energy, her spirit that would not be submissive to Adam. This old folk-practice of the Jews holds within itself, of course, a large message: anytime that a woman looks into a mirror, it's another opportunity for her to see that she is Lilith, that a large part of her being has been forced to flee underground and that there is safety for her from the patriarchy in hiding, especially in hiding her loves and her productions.
Here's a Hymn to Lilith:
I call unto the Lady of the Night The Succubus, the Queen of Hell's Delight Night-Mare of Eden, Lamia, First Eve Lilith, in whom I trust and believe. Oh, Wise Woman of the Wilderness
Oh, Maiden who disobeys to redress, Witch-Queen of Midnight in sensual dress, Who rules over man and his carnal flesh. She who deserted the Garden of Light,
Who ran into Darkness and found her own Sight Her power to become more than she was made, To become a Nightspirited Nymph of the Shade. Great Lover of men in the full moon light,
Who conceals herself gently within the night Who inspires the daughters of Eve to rebel To overcome obstacles, and to excel. She who found love in the Fallen Angel,
Azazel the Prince, the Commander of Hell She who revolts against all convention And whose wisdom is beyond mortal mention. Oh Lilith, to Thee I give solemn praise
Great Goddess who kills and destroys my malaise My life and my blood for the Demoness Whose soul is a night-cloaked, loving caress!
Is it true that the grass grows again after rain? Is it true that the flowers will rise up again in the Spring? Is it true that birds will migrate home again? Is it true that the salmon swim back up their streams? It is true. This is true. These are all miracles. But is it true that one day we’ll leave Guantanamo Bay? Is it true that one day we’ll go back to our homes? I sail in my dreams. I am dreaming of home." —Osama Abu Kadir, a Jordanian truck driver now imprisoned in Guantánamo Bay
"We must shift America from a needs to desires culture," Mazur said. "People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old have been entirely consumed. We must shape a new mentality. Man's [sic] desires must overshadow his [sic] needs."
~FromThe Assault on Reason by Al Gore
So many Wiccans have "financial issues" -- huge credit card debt, an inability to live within their means, problems with resources.
Why? To how many ads have you fallen victim? What kind of circle could you cast in order to protect yourself?
Now the Swan it floated on the English river Ah the Rose of High Romance it opened wide A sun tanned woman yearned me through the summer and the judges watched us from the other side.
I told my mother "Mother I must leave you preserve my room but do not shed a tear Should rumour of a shabby ending reach you it was half my fault and half the atmosphere"
But the Rose I sickened with a scarlet fever and the Swan I tempted with a sense of shame She said at last I was her finest lover and if she withered I would be to blame
The judges said you missed it by a fraction rise up and brace your troops for the attack Ah the dreamers ride against the men of action Oh see the men of action falling back
But I lingered on her thighs a fatal moment I kissed her lips as though I thirsted still My falsity had stung me like a hornet The poison sank and it paralysed my will
I could not move to warn all the younger soldiers that they had been deserted from above So on battlefields from here to Barcelona I'm listed with the enemies of love
And long ago she said "I must be leaving, Ah but keep my body here to lie upon You can move it up and down and when I'm sleeping Run some wire through that Rose and wind the Swan"
So daily I renew my idle duty I touch her here and there -- I know my place I kiss her open mouth and I praise her beauty and people call me traitor to my face
***************************************************** Cohen says that this song is about the feeling that we have of betryaing some mission that we were mandated to fulfill, not fulfilling it, and then coming to understand that the real mandate was not to fulfill it and that the deeper courage was to stand guiltlesss in the situation in which you find yourself.
There's really little reason for me to link to Sinfonian's transcript of Digby's fantastic speech; it's been linked to by blogs far more well-read than mine. But I'm linking to it because what Digby says is, as is so often the case, absolutely spot on.
Here's just a taste:
But all of us who blog in the progressive blogosphere have a common goal. It’s the same goal of virtually everyone in this room tonight. We want to begin a new era of progressive politics and take back America. We may argue about tactics and strategy, or the extent to which we are partisans versus ideologues (and believe me, we do), but there is no disagreement among us that the modern conservative movement of Newt and Grover and Karl and Rush has proven to be a dangerous cultural and political cancer on the body politic. You will not find anyone amongst us who believes that the Bush Administration’s executive power grab and flagrant partisan use of the federal government is anything less than an assault on the Constitution. We stand together against the dissolution of habeas corpus and the atrocities of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, and we all agree that Islamic terrorism is a threat, but one which we cannot meet with military power alone. And yes, a vast majority of us were against this mindless invasion of Iraq from the beginning, or at least saw the writing on the wall long before Peggy Noonan discovered that George W. Bush wasn’t the second coming of Winston Churchill.
Sadly, we also all agree that the mainstream media is part of the problem. Democracy suffers when not being held accountable by a vigorous press. During the last decade, there have been three catalyzing events that drove people like me to the Internet, to research, investigate, and write about assaults on democracy itself. In 1998, the political media lost all perspective, and aggressively helped the Republicans pursue a partisan witch-hunt against a democratically-elected president and against the will of the people. The coverage of the presidential election of 2000 was legendary for its bias and sophomoric personality journalism. The press actually joined the Republicans in telling the majority who had voted for Al Gore to get over it. I don’t know about you, but I never got over it. And the third event (I don’t need to tell anyone in this room) was the almost gleeful support of the invasion of Iraq, a journalistic failure of epic proportions. If you had not been sufficiently aroused from your complacency by this time, you never would be.
The blogosphere was the natural place for many of us to turn when the institutions we counted upon seemed to be daring us to believe them, or believe our own eyes. And that coming-together set the table for the seminal candidacy of Howard Dean and all that has come since.
As it turned out, we didn’t just raise money for progressive Democrats, although many of my fellow bloggers raised a whole big pile of it from our readers all over the country. We began to push back the prevailing manufactured narratives, produced in bulk by various Republican PR shops and distributed to their talking heads in radio and television. We talked back to the media, and yes, to our own party, some of whom understood that while we were opinionated thorns in their side, we were also opinion makers, read by influentials in the everyday world of water coolers and dinner tables all over the country. We were a part of the base that could move other parts of the base, and a counter to the prevailing political stories and narratives of the day. And they know we could potentially help create a new modern political movement.
And so here we are – the famously vituperative, angry bloggers, standing before you today politely accepting this award as proud, full-fledged inheritors of the great liberal and progressive political traditions of America. On behalf of all of them and netroots activists, and especially on behalf of our dear friend, Steve Gilliard, a fighting liberal of both the old the new schools, I thank you again for inviting us to your party. Our party rages on, 24/7, all over the blogosphere, and we’d love it if all of you would stop by frequently.
Just finished one of the most wonderful Summer Solstice rituals of my life, led by my v. creative circle sister, K. I want to say that I practice the kind of magic that I long dreamed of practicing with the kind of women with whom I long dreamed that I'd do magic. I say that because there were years and years when, a solitary in a rural community, all I could do was long for that and there were years and years when every Pagan group that I contacted was, somehow, just not right for me. And if that's true for you, right now, my Solstice wish for you is for you to find a circle of women even half as magically-committed to the Earth, as kind, as smart, as accomplished, as creative, as gorgeous, and as kick-ass as the women in my circle. So mote it be.
Here's my absolute, all-time favorite Summer Solstice poem, from, of course, Mary Oliver.
Little Summer Poem Touching the Subject of Faith
Every summer I listen and look under the sun's brass and even into the moonlight, but I can't hear
anything, I can't see anything -- not the pale roots digging down, nor the green stalks muscling up, nor the leaves deepening their damp pleats,
nor the tassels making, nor the shucks, nor the cobs. And still, every day,
the leafy fields grow taller and thicker -- green gowns lofting up in the night, showered with silk.
And so, every summer, I fail as a witness, seeing nothing -- I am deaf too to the tick of the leaves,
the tapping of downwardness from the banyan feet -- all of it happening beyond any seeable proof, or hearable hum.
And, therefore, let the immeasurable come. Let the unknowable touch the buckle of my spine. Let the wind turn in the trees, and the mystery hidden in the dirt
swing through the air. How could I look at anything in this world and tremble, and grip my hands over my heart? What should I fear?
One morning in the leafy green ocean the honeycomb of the corn's beautiful body is sure to be there.
From West Wind: Poems and Prose Poems, by Mary Oliver. Published by Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. Copyright 1997 by Mary Oliver.
And, almost exactly on time, there it was. At 1:45 today, standing at the corner of Connecticut Avenue and N Street, I watched a strong breeze push a swirl of dead leaves around everyone's feet. True, they were magnolia leaves, which fall all year; nonetheless, I could hear the whisper: Autumn's coming, Autumn's coming.
Today will be a little bit longer than tomorrow and tomorrow will be a little bit longer than today, but Friday will be a little bit shorter than tomorrow. And round and round the wheel does turn.
Barbara Ehrenreich has some fascinating things to say in her book about communal ecstasy: Dancing in the Streets. Discussing the fact that, in the wake of colonial destruction of native religious practices, many native groups, rather than becoming good Puritans or Catholics or whatever, developed "new and often defiant ecstatic religious cults," including African Independent Churches, Native American Dream Dance and Ghost Dance, Maori Hau-hau, etc. Ehrenreich notes that Europeans and Americans viewed "such rites with impatience, if not disgust. Dancing in circles does not, after all, as was claimed in some cases, make men immune to bullets or cause colonizers to depart in their ships. . . . But it is this smug Western vantage point, rather than the rituals of 'simpler peoples' that cries out for psychological interpretation." She continues:
The historian Michale Walzer has argued that modern revolution was a task for the kind of ascetic, single-minded, self-denying personality that Calvinism sought to inculcate, and certainly some of the successful revolutionaries of the West would seem to fill the bill. [T]he English revolutionary leader Oliver Cromwell, a Calvinist himself, railed perpetually against the festive inclinations of his troops. The Jacobin leader Robespierre despised disorderly gatherings, including 'any group in which there is a tumult' -- a hard thing to avoid during the French Revolution, one might think. . . . Lenin inveighed against 'slovenliness . . . carelessness, untidiness, unpunctuality' as well as 'dissoluteness in sexual life,' seeing himself as a 'manager' and 'controller' as well as a leader. For men like Robespierre and Lenin, the central revolutionary rite was the meeting -- experienced in a sitting position, requiring no form of participation other than an occasional speech, and conducted according to strict rules of procedure. Dancing, singing, trances -- these could only be distractions from the weighty business at hand.
Yet, as Ehrenreich points out: What is achieved through such rituals, in a purely functional sense, is an intense feeling of solidarity among the participants -- at least all accounts suggest as much -- and solidarity is the basis of effective political action from below. Even the 'fantasies' entertained by participants, or apprehended in trance, surely have an empowering effect. The filed hand who achieves unity with a [G]od through a Vodou possession trance, and the market woman who leads a second life as a priestess -- these are formidable adversaries.
I'd argue, of course, that dancing in a circle can indeed produce dramatic results, but Ehrenreich is right. We err when we only consider the value of a practice from our own Calvinistic view. I think that may be an error that today's peace movement makes. We need to reevaluate what a revolution would look like from views other than our own. Audre Lord may not have been completely correct when she opined that the master's tools will never destroy the master's house, but that's no reason not to explore other tools, as well.
Prepaid Electricity Latest Trend in Utility Service Marketing
A growing number of utilities have begun experimenting with prepaid electricity accounts, the Wall Street Journal reported today. Proponents said prepaid accounts help customers keep track of their usage and encourage conservation.
Salt River Project, which runs the largest prepaid program in the country, said its prepaid customers have seen a 12-percent reduction in average bills from conservation. Some critics said the accounts could lead to abrupt shutoffs if the account runs out of money. Currently six utilities are experimenting with prepaid programs, but that could increase quickly if Texas utility regulators move this summer to allow it there.
Wrote the newspaper: "Experimentation with prepaid-service meters is part of a broader trend that is changing the electric meter from a dumb recorder of kilowatt hours consumed into a conservation tool capable of helping people monitor their use and which will allow utilities to talk directly to customers. Billions of dollars are being spent by utilities to install advanced meters that track the amount of energy consumed at different times of the day, a capability that is expected to lead to rate plans that include higher prices when wholesale energy costs are higher and cheaper prices at times of slack demand." Wall Street Journal , June 19.
Anything that helps conserve energy sounds like a good idea to me these days.
New Book, 'Lights Out,' Predicts More Blackouts if Grid Not Bolstered
Reuters produced a book review of "Lights Out" by Jason Makansi, which contends that the nation's power grids require a prompt upgrade to avert potential blackouts. The review cites Makansi as saying deregulation is the main culprit, because by splitting the ownership of power plants from the owners of grids, the latter became a "neglected stepchild."
Makansi sees the rise of financial engineering – with results such as the California power crisis six years ago – as displacing systems engineering, and said no matter how technologically and environmentally sound new power plants are they still will have to transmit that power on antiquated grids. As a comparison, he writes: "Imagine driving a Maserati over a road littered with potholes."
Makansi suggests increasing nuclear generation from about one fifth of domestic power supply to 50 percent, and he found good news in the spread of "smart meters," writing: "It should be the consumer who decides how competition should unfold, and not the regulator." Reuters via the Boston Globe, book review , June 17.
Apparently, ever since the Brits left Afghanistan in the incapable hands of the Bush junta, things have been going from bad to worse. Today's >WaPo reports that:
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, June 18 -- U.S.-led coalition forces killed seven children in an airstrike against a suspected al-Qaeda hideout in Afghanistan on Sunday, adding to a civilian death toll that has become an increasing source of tension between the coalition and the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. . . .
Coalition troops had "surveillance on the compound all day and saw no indications there were children inside the building," Belcher said. "This is another example of al-Qaeda using the protective status of a mosque, as well as innocent civilians, to shield themselves . . . We are saddened by the innocent lives that were lost as a result of militants' cowardice."
"If we knew that there were children inside the building, there was no way that that airstrike would have occurred," said Sgt. 1st Class Dean Welch, another coalition spokesman.
Winning hearts and minds. Is there anything this junta can't fuck up?
My genius friend, B., sent me the information on this great event happening Monday, June 25th, on the National Mall. If you're in or around D.C., it looks like an amazing thing to do. A few women from my circle may be attending with their children and grandchildren.
Drum, Dance, and Dream for Peace: The Largest Drumming Circle Ever Created on the Planet
June 25th Noon
THE CEREMONY FOR THE CHILDREN'S FUTURE:
16 CHILDREN OF THE COLORS OF MANKIND WILL GATHER TOGETHER.
FOUR EACH WILL STAND IN THE FOUR DIRECTIONS WEST, NORTH, EAST AND SOUTH. A REPRESENTATION OF THE EARTH ( A LARGE POSTER PAINTING OF THE MOTHER EARTH) WILL BE IN THE CENTER. THE CHILDREN WILL DANCE IN A CIRCLE FACING THE MOTHER EARTH. AFTER ENCIRCLING FOUR TIMES (DANCING FOR MOTHER EARTH, BAREFOOT) THEY WILL STOP.
THEY WILL SAY A SIMPLE PRAYER IN THEIR LANGUAGE:FOR THE FUTURE OF MOTHER EARTH AND ALL HER INHABITANTS.
FOUR GRANDMOTHERS OF FOUR RACES WILL BRING THEM BOWLS, PAINTED RED, WHITE, YELLOW AND BLUE. SIXTEEN BOWLS IN ALL. (LATER THE BOWLS WILL BE PRESENTED TO THE NATIONAL SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTE, IN REMEMBRANCE OF THE GREAT DAY)
THE GRANDMOTHERS WILL FILL THE BOWLS WITH WHAT THE CHILDREN OF THE FUTURE WILL NEED SUCH AS:
*HERITAGE SEEDS FROM ALL CORNERS OF THE EARTH
*INCENSE FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD
AT THE END OF THE CEREMONY THEY WILL AGAIN TURN FACING OUTWARD TOWARD A NEW PATH OF CONTINUING LIFE. THE LARGE BOWLS OF FLOWERS WILL BE TOSSED IN THE AIR SO THAT THE CHILDREN MAY DANCE WITH FLOWERS PETALS AT THEIR FEET.
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 . . . ."