Just over four years ago, I moved to this cozy cottage -- the home of my heart -- snugged squarely in the middle of an oak grove. The ancient oaks that give this spot its character, basis, and meaning grow in my yard, in the V.'s yard to my West, in the new renter's yard to the North, and, importantly, in my neighbor M's yard to the East. Immediately upon my moving here, the oak trees took charge of my magical practice, of my spiritual connection to the Earth, Life, and Everything. From the first morning that I set up my altar in the small room directly to the West of the Greatest Oak, I've danced in the presence of these oak trees, heard the music of the wind through their ancient branches, watched fireflies amongst their leaves, practiced witchcraft with my roots intertwined with theirs, invoked them in all my incantations, been blessed by the practice of photsynthesis within their leaves in the bright sun of early afteroon. They've informed every breath that I take, every spell that I cast, every dream that I dream, every breath that I take. Their acorns feed my familiar squirrels, create the ground in which I grow things, and decorate my altar. Their leaves fall every Autumn, forcing me into a physical spiritual practice that I resist as much as I need. In the spring the "oak fluffies" remind me every morning exactly how important sex is to my spiritual practice. Goddess, I wish that you could be here at Beltane to see what they drift across my gardens and my decks -- so much oak sex.
This morning, one of them fell. And I am bereft as I never imagined that I would be, and there is a huge hole in my heart and in my magical practice.
Last summer was v. dry. This summer, the drought was even more pronounced. M. and I noticed that several of our oaks were suffering. She, traveling all across the globe for peace, contacted several arborists (what a blessed profession!), found an organic arborist, scheduled his visit while she was in Japan and Russia, and arranged to have him feed the oaks and strengthen them against the opportunistic pest that attacked them when they were weakened by the drought. I was lucky enough to have a convocation of witches here in the heat of summer to do Reiki on my oaks on a hot Sunday afternoon. At the v. least, the oak tree in my woodland garden is still visibly strengthened by that.
But I'm delaying telling the sad part. I, the granddaughter of a woman who believed in pulling the band-aid off fast, and all at once, in order to minimize the pain. For shame.
The oak tree in M's front yard, to my northeast, didn't make it. That lovely oak tree that was a hundred years old when America was born, that lovely oak tree that watched the Civil War, that lovely oak tree that saw a neighborhood of bungalows and cottages spring up in the 1950s when GIs came home from the war and, after going to college, married and had families, that lovely oak tree that was growing when humans first walked on the moon, that lovely oak tree that shaded the hippies of the 1960s, and that cooled M's house and my house every early summer morning since they were built -- that oak tree is gone. Some nice men came early this morning -- you can start making loud noise in Arlington as early as 7:00 am -- and, within a few hours, cut that three-story oak tree down, ground its roots out of the ground, turned the small branches into mulch and the large parts of the tree into firewood, and left a scar on our street, in my heart, in the basis of my magical practice.
I went to my altar this evening and all that I could feel was a huge "absence" to my northeast. I think that I may understand how victims of amputation feel, what it's like to feel a "phantom limb." Shit. This is going to take me a long time to adjust to. I'm going to go over tomorrow when the sun rises and offer thyme and olive oil and wine to the now-ground-up stub of that ancient oak. I'm going to invoke that spirit whenever I sit at my altar, I'm going to ask forgiveness of the dryad. I guess that I'll eventually learn how to practice magic here without it. But, I'm going to miss that oak tree.
One of the enduring stories about the marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton is that it's a "political" marriage -- whatever that means. I've often tried to puzzle it out and, near as I can tell, it means that they don't "really" love each other, instead, they stay together in order to promote each other's political aspirations. One thing I do know: it's never said as a compliment. It's always meant to denigrate both of them, to imply that she's a cold shrew, that he's a slimy cad, and that they're, as a result, somehow "anti-family" (in spite of having stayed together through thick and thin and having raised a, by all accounts, amazingly well-adjusted and accomplished daughter.
My own notions are that (1) other people's marriages are none of my business, my own were so complicated that I'm still trying to puzzle them out and I was actually involved in them, instead of standing on the outside looking in; (2) most people that I know stay together for a variety of reasons and for different reasons at different times in the marriage; and (3) staying together "for the kids" or because you have a comfortable life together with mutual friends and a bank account that is greater than the sum of its post-divorce parts or because your religion frowns on divorce, or "for politcal reasons" is nobody's business but your own.
Theirs is a partnership of politics and ambition that formed a decade ago and grew into something more.
He was a powerful congressman. She was a fledgling state candidate with promise. A master politician with a national profile, he took her under his wing and found his life's love.
They both craved the game, and they both sought power. When he moved on to the Senate, she could run for his seat, or perhaps a statewide office in Virginia. Together, they made a life centered around these ambitions.
. . .
The story of how the Davises' success became interdependent is not hard to trace through those who have watched the political romance blossom over the years.
. . .
Most friends and associates of the Davises won't talk openly about when the romance began. Tom and his first wife, Peggy Davis, a Fairfax County gynecologist who, by most accounts, despised politics, were divorced in the fall of 2003, just a few months before the new couple declared their plans to wed.
"Jeannemarie is Tom's perfect soul mate," said Baise. "Peggy was not. I think everybody sort of sees that. They live, breathe and love the action."
John and Jeannemarie Devolites filed for divorce in 2000 but remained united as parents. They appeared together in court in 2002, when their daughter, Ashley, then 20, was sentenced to a nine-year prison term for her role in a series of armed robberies in Fairfax City.
After their wedding, the new Davises moved quickly to forge a marriage that seemed inseparable from their public life. They did joint speaking engagements and campaign events. They scheduled a vacation once with a return date timed so both could attend the Vienna Day Fourth of July Parade -- and later bragged about it to friends. During Virginia's winter legislative sessions, the Davises started a tradition of reserving Mondays for "date night." He would meet her at the Capitol in Richmond, say hello to their Republican colleagues, and have dinner alone with her before heading north for the busy week on Capitol Hill.
"They seem infatuated with each other," said Del. Thomas Davis Rust (R-Fairfax), also a Davis recruit to state politics. "He is the congressman, he is the more influential, powerful person. But" -- and Rust chuckled here -- "she treats him as her husband, if you know what I mean. It's an equal partnership."
Davis often seemed to defer to his wife in public. He hovered near her at the state Capitol. He even agreed to a joint photo session wearing matching light blue shirts and white slacks, his fair hair nearly as coiffed as hers, and their two white Maltese dogs on their laps.
After walking away from his own ambition, Davis used every page in his playbook to save his wife and, at the same time, the Republican majority in the state Senate. He brought in his own seasoned staff and arranged for New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to join Devolites Davis at a campaign event and praise her votes for gun control. As she flashed her white smile and flipped her always-perfect dark hair, her husband watched from the back of the room, his dual roles of doting husband and tactical genius in full effect.
It was a pure Davis move, helping his wife court Democrats in an increasingly left-leaning district and offering Bloomberg the prize of heavy media coverage.
But it wasn't enough.
Davis's investment in his wife's career clearly has come to be about more than politics.
. . .
Thompson believes that Davis chose to throw himself into his wife's reelection campaign not to salvage his own political career but out of love. Others believe it was a little bit of both.
How fascinating that it's apparently completely ok for these twice-married Republicans with problem children to base a marriage upon a love of politics, but it's somehow wrong for the Clintons to have done the same.
It's odd, I'd have thought that Brown would have several active and public Pagan groups.
And, I know that they're young, but it would be nice if these students didn't feel the need to say that witches don't eat babies and that Wiccans are their own worst enemies. Our own worst enemies would be the patriarchy. Just sayin.
International Energy Agency Forecasts Big Jump in GHG Emissions
The International Energy Agency's World Energy Outlook 2007 report shows that GHG emissions are expected to surge by 2030, potentially causing a rise in global temperatures of at least 5.4 degrees and bringing along with that flooding and disease, Bloomberg reported. To keep temperature increases below that mark would need "exceptionally vigorous policy action," the report said, adding: "A later peak and less-sharp reductions in emissions would lead to higher concentrations and bigger increases in temperature."
To limit the surge in GHG emissions, the report found that the cost of building new electricity generating capacity would be "very high," with cumulative investments through 2030 at least $1.8 trillion higher than a scenario in which emissions were allowed to rise significantly. The report said: "Early retirement of fossil-fuel generating capacity will comprise almost $1 trillion of the additional investment."
The IEA said China's emissions were likely to more than double to 11.4 billion tons by 2030, largely as a result of increased coal-based power generation. Wrote Bloomberg: "Carbon dioxide output from fuel combustion could peak around 2025, with China probably overtaking the U.S. this year as the world's biggest emitter." China and India together could account for 56 percent of emissions growth, Bloomberg reported. Bloomberg , Nov. 7.
Two days after the dinner, out of seemingly nowhere, Starhawk called and asked me for mediation. We met and were successful in talking thru an old issue that has festered for years. It’s been great to clear it out, and we talked at length about our pretty polarized positions on what she sees as confidentiality versus what I see as transparent process. I can’t say anything was really solved or we swayed each other to the other’s position, but it was a respectful and thoughtful conversation. We even talked about collaborating in the future in envisioning what could make for healthier community. A complete turn around from the energy between us for the last several years.
I’m choosing to believe at this moment that the dead we feasted with at the dinner are actively involved in trying to help us. And my goodness, the world and Reclaiming sure need help.
I am lucky enough to live on the East Coast. I am lucky enough to live within an eclectic circle of women, some of whom have had Reclaiming Training (I have), but many of whom have not. I light incense for Reclaiming; may the Goddess guard all of us.
Here, a reader in West Virginia responds to a recent article in the local paper about the new policy:
Cheers to Marshall University for protecting pagan students’ right to celebrate their holidays. Jeers to the Gazette for trying to create a furor where none is needed. Your headline “Marshall policy now observes pagan holidays” is misleading. Marshall University is not observing pagan holidays. It is merely recognizing that they exist, and are as important to some students as Christmas or Hanukkah are to other students.
This is the sort of really bad reporting about Pagans that drives me batshit insane. As near as I can tell, the fact that his new wife is a Pagan has nothing to do with this guy deciding to end his singing career. It sounds more as if she told him she'd only marry him if he got a real job -- something xian women have been known to proclaim, as well. But the headline implies that there's some relationship between her religion (which he appears to share, according, at least, to one quote) and his decision to retire.
Yesterday was a good day for the Old Dominion. Virginia Democrats seized control of the State Senate and made big gains in the House. Virginia now has its second Democratic governor in a row and one Democratic Senator. Next Fall, Virginia is almost certain to have two Democratic Senators, as Democrat Mark Warner is predicted to coast to victory over former (disasterous)Republican governor Jim Gilmore for the seat to be vacated by Republican John Warner. (The current set of Virginia's members of Congress includes 1 Independent, 7 Republicans, and 3 Democrats. That may take longer to change.)
Once considered a safely Republican state, Virginia has become quite blue in heavily-populated Northern Virginia (Arlington, Alexandria, and (now) Fairfax) and, interestingly, in Hampton Roads, which has a large military population. Virginia has 13 electoral votes -- enough to require the Republicans to spend time and money trying to defend it this coming Fall. That's good news in a year given that the Republicans have less money than the Democrats and would have preferred to have been able to count on a safe Virginia. Local Republican leaders appear to all be blaming the loss on the national party and the White House, and that may be true, as a number of the defeated Republican incumbents were, in fact, fairly moderate. Heck of a job, W.
It's going to be a fun twelve months to live in Virginia.
Dr. Wicklund, 53, said that at current rates almost 40 percent of American women have an abortion during their child-bearing years, a figure supported by the Guttmacher Institute, which researches reproductive health policy. Abortion is one of the most common operations in the United States, she said, more common than tonsillectomy or removal of wisdom teeth. “Because it is such a secret,” she said, “we lose sight of how common it is.”
. . .
Dr. Wicklund said she would put more credence in opponents of abortion rights if they did more to help women prevent unwanted pregnancies. Instead, she said, many of the protesters she encounters “are against birth control, period.” That is unfortunate, she said, because her clinic experience confirms studies showing that emphasizing abstinence rather than contraception may cause girls to delay their first sexual experience for a few months, but “when they do have intercourse they are much less likely to protect themselves with birth control or a condom.”
According to the Guttmacher Institute, about a quarter of pregnancies in the United States end in abortion. Dr. Wicklund says that is why she believes far more people favor abortion rights than are willing to admit it in polls. For example, she said in the interview, an abortion ban that seemed to have wide support in South Dakota was put to a vote and “when people got behind those curtains and nobody was watching it was overwhelmingly defeated. Unfortunately, people are not willing to say what they really think.”
If you live in Virginia, remember to go to the polls tomorrow and vote Democratic. It's time to turn Virginia blue.
Update: An email from the Clinton campaign reminds me that on Nov. 5, 1872 Susan B. Anthony [went] to the polls in Rochester, NY, and vote[d] in the presidential election. She [was] later arrested for voting and ordered to pay a $100 fine. If you won't go vote for any other reason, go vote in gratitude to Susan B.
Samhein is the beginning of the new year for me and I make resolutions, just as many other Americans do on January 1st. One of my resolutions this year was to work through a structured plan for spiritual growth, rather than to just commit, as I did last year, to simply spend time at my altar. In order to achieve that goal, I'm working through the final 8 chapters of Evolutionary Witchcraft by T. Thorn Coyle. That means that I'm beginning with Air. Thorn associates the wand with air and, good though her reasons are for doing so, I'm not going to undo 17 years of living as a witch; for me, the sword (or athame) is the tool of air, followed by the finger. I simply transpose what she says about tools. I'm old and I've built up a long magical practice in which Air=East=Athame.
Thorn says: A serious practitioner can develop emotional connections w/ her Gods [sic], intellectual rigor and honesty, and physical and psychic discipline, with no one thing cancelling out another. She quotes Doreen Valiente, who said, By developing their powers, the magician and the witch develop themselves. They aid their own evolution, their growth as a human being, and in so far as they truly do this, they aid the evolution of the human race. It reminds me of what I loved about the Bene Gesserits, who searched, and searched, and searched, confused as their search became.
It's a good reason to begin with Air, in the East, athame in hand.
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 . . . ."