My sump pump is working and it fills my rain barrel whenever the temp is above freezing. It waters my oaks and it makes me happy.
I walked along the lovely Potomac River today and it was covered in an amazing not-quite-mist-more-a-quality-of-light-kind-of-aura that was so lovely that it made me cry. I watched dryads from the Federalist period and dryads from the time before Columbus and dryads from today swimming just below the surface. I love that body of water. I do. I love it.
I had brunch w/ my brilliant, tall, strong, kind, witty, Son, who has turned out to be, who knew?, an amazing father, who buys jeans w/ his son upon his shoulders, graceful as an African woman with a basket of tarot upon her head, and with my shiningly beautiful DiL, who puts bad people away to make the world safe, and with my brilliant and good and kind G/Son, whom I adore even more than I adore the Potomac, and who gives new meaning to the word "sweet."
I saw "The Golden Compass" with my wonderful, lovely, unique, dear friend R., aka the best cook in the world. I thought that it was excellent. Nicole Kidman played, I thought, the best role of her life. The daemons were exactly right. The armoured polar bears were wonderful. Once, just once in my life, I want to ride a bear like that across the arctic full-moon night. The flying witches with their bows and arrows were archetypically spot on. I am naming my next cat Serafina:
Witches own nothing, and so have no means of exchange save mutual aid. They have no notions of honor, so insults mean nothing to them. Temperature extremes appear not to harm witches. Although they feel the cold, wrapping up against it would prevent them from experiencing other things that the humans of the text may not feel, such as "the bright tingle of the stars, or the music of the Aurora". Witches fly on branches of Cloud-Pine, and equate flying to living, as Serafina states: "A witch would no sooner give up flying than give up breathing. To fly is to be perfectly ourselves." Witches see themselves as subject to fate, yet they feel they must act as if they are not, or "die of despair". They believe that when they die Yambe-Akka, the goddess of the dead, comes kindly to collect them.
You know, Robin, what's true for you may not be true for others. I realize this is a revolutionary concept for zealots and fundies. You sound as stupid as Mitt Romney. Really, you do.
It all goes back to belief. The emotional center of a person's life is anchored to belief- mythical and religious iconography and mythical themes have always been pregnant with human emotions. We express our deepest longings through these things. This is why atheists tend to be such miserable people, even those atheists who have mastered the appearance of "well-adjusted and happy" people.
They aren't happy; they're just good at acting happy. What they are is desperate to anchor their emotional life anywhere else they can, but no house outside of the halls of the Gods or the power of engaged myth is a truly restful place- they try physical comforts and delights, secular movements like secular humanism, family life, political life, raving public lunacy (think of Richard Dawkins) or just basic degeneration into extremes of indulgence, always looking for that home for their souls-in-denial. And it's no surprise that so many of them convert later to some religion, or burn out to suicide, depression, or intoxication.
In my own life, every atheist I've known has either converted to something, or simply remained as they were when I met them: unhappy, issue-ridden people, bitter people, hollow, empty people.
Give me a fucking break. Jason has a much more thoughtful discussion here.
I've been frustrated for some time at the Pagan community's inability to use YouTube for more than silly stuff and well-meant, but inadequate, slide shows of tacky Pagan art set to Pagan chants. Here's a great You'Tube that brings an important recent Pagan convention to people who couldn't attend. More like this.
Lately, Atrios has been blogging quite a bit about a phenomenon that he calls "Big Shitpile." Big Shitpile is a name for the clusterfuck created when financial institutions sell crappy loans, including adjustable rate mortgagtes (ARMs) and other subprime loans, to consumers and then sell the debt to various other entities that bundle the debt into huge packages. Now that consumers are finding themselves unable to pay the rapidly-increasing ARMs and home prices aren't increasing by ridiculous amounts every month, our economy has become, in Atrios' apt analogy, a pile of jenga pegs.
If you own a home, you've been inundated over the past few years with offers for loans that will allow you to "extract the equity" that you've "built up" (nice catchpharse, isn't it?) in your home and use it to pay for -- well, to pay for anything. Plasma screen tvs, vacations, SUVs, "debt consolidation," etc. Many Americans have used these loans to keep themselves living a middle class lifestyle, in spite of the fact that, even with two salaries, they weren't really earning enough to cover things such as savings, health care, retirement, their kids' education, their housing, etc.
And it occurs to me that home equity loans, offered during a period when home prices were rising faster than tulip futures in Holland, have allowed America's wealthy to skate by the impending revolution for some time. By that, I mean that as long as Americans could ignore the fact that they honestly no longer could afford a middle-class lifestyle, they could afford not to be upset at the actual decline in wages, at CEOs making salaries many, many, many multiples higher than the wages of their employees, at tax breaks that benefit the the Paris Hiltons and Jenna Bush's of our country at the expense of waitresses and UPS truck drivers, at the fact that our country, alone of industrialized nations, fails to provide health care for its citizens, etc.
That safety net for the uber-wealthy is drying up. If you're not in the top two percent, it's no longer ok to assume that you don't need savings to cover emergencies because you can always tap a home equity line of credit. You now need savings. So cut back on expenditures. It's no longer ok to assume that you can always replace outdated electronics by tapping into home equity. So get used to yesterday's technology. You can't afford a vacation this year and, in fact, you'll be hard-pressed to pay your heating bills. Welcome to the lower middle class. You've been living there for some time, but you were able to ignore that fact due to home equity loans. And some people benefitted quite a bit by your ignor-ance.
I expect people to begin to wonder why they don't belong to a union. To look a bit more intensely at claims that our health care system is "the best in the world." To wonder why the CEO at their company should make hundreds of millions while their own wages stagnate. To begin to demand that the uber-wealthy pay their fair share of taxes. To ask why corporations are allowed to control our media.
It was a nice ride while it lasted, corporatists. But nothing, including the housing bubble, lasts forever.
What a surprise. Abstinence "education" isn't working. Births to teen mothers are increasing, now that we've spent 7 years throwing millions of dollars at telling teens not to have sex (oh, and if you could hold off on the eating, drinking, breathing, and other natural body functions, we'd appreciate that, too!) instead of teaching them how to use contraception.
Of course, the fundie whackjobs just lie and pretend that we still have real sex education in this country. That's a lie; the fundies took over and eviscerated real sex education and replaced it with bullshit abstinence "education."
[P]roponents of abstinence education defended the programs, blaming the rise on the ineffectiveness of conventional sex-education programs that focus on condom use and other contraceptives, as well as the pervasive depiction of sexuality in the culture.
"This shows that the contraceptive message that kids are getting is failing," said Leslee Unruh of the Abstinence Clearinghouse. "The contraceptive-only message is treating the symptom, not the cause. You need to teach about relationships. If you look at what kids have to digest on a daily basis, you have adults teaching kids about the pleasures of sex but not about the responsibilities that go with it."
That lie conveniently ignores the fact that in other countries, where they actually do teach real sex education, and where there are, as here, "pervasive depiction of sexuality in the culture" the rate of babies born to teens is far lower. [D]espite the [prior] 14-year decline, U.S. teens are still far more likely to get pregnant and have children than those in other developed countries, and teenage mothers and their children [in the U.S.] are far more likely to live in poverty.
Can we please stop this fundie bullshit? Let's teach real sex ed to kids, starting early, and making sure that they understand how to use birth control and why they should. Can we please make free, safe, effective birth control easily available to teens? I'm sick and tired of letting the fundies ruin my country.
One thing that you realize walking, this time of year, in the woods, is that it's simply not true that the woods are "dead" in winter. Everywhere you look, there are tightly-wrapped, tiny bundles of new growth, all of next Summer's luxuriance, packaged neat and tight and ready to spring forth in the sort of sexual display that would make teenagers and rock stars blush a deep red. And, really, that's what this dark time of year is like for us, or, at least, it seems to me, it should be. The DNA of what we're going to do and accomplish and achieve and become in the Spring, and Summer, and Fall is there, at the tip of our branch, wrapped within leaves, biding its time during the ice storms and dark days and long icy nights.
Lately, I'm thinking more and more about the need for two somewhat contradictory things. First, I'm thinking a lot about actual practical steps that I can take to try and create the world that I want for myself, my sisters, my Son and DiL, my G/Son. Electoral politics, supporting abortion clinics, planting trees. But, second, I'm thinking more and more that what we need is to step completely outside the dominant paradigm, to consider completely new ways of doing things. Because what we've been doing, isn't working. And, if you keep on doing what you've been doing, you're going to keep on getting what you've been getting.
And, likely the answer is: yes.
Blessings to you as you move ever deeper into the dark.
Hoboken snowtime and the big slushy mounds are the laundry of the future, with next-door’s mortician rating my clumsy shoveling by shouting: “You’d never make it as a grave digger!”
Time pulse quickens with walkers and curb lackeys merged in the quadrille of symbiosis. In local shop windows they sell devices capable of reordering speech. I pass. I have that exile’s sense of recreation & believe rebirth is possible from the wreck of our common misery & that songs are clear when sung
by heroes, but not in this epoch. Niggling winter dreams fueled by the rhythms of the world’s desire. This is my version. I know the dimensions. I live by a river.
It may be only me, but I think that a huge part of being a witch is confronting, meeting, teasing out, having conversations with, engaging, dancing with, negotiating with, and making love to your Shadows. Reading Jung is, for me, reading religion. My brilliant friend S., before she moved (reluctantly, Goddess, how reluctantly) to California, used to really help me to confront my Shadow. But this time of year is, I think, perfect for -- this time of year demands! -- confronting, engaging, meeting, staring at your Shadow. Right now, the winds are so strong here in Northern Virginia, that they are literally sucking at and pulling at my windows, trying to open them, trying to get inside and make me face what the cold and dark mean to me.
Well, the cold and dark mean to me precisely what I imagine they meant to my Swedish many-times-great Grandmothers: wildness, ecstasy, purity, and, death. I know in my bones that more than a few of my foremothers died due to cold, died trying to fend cold-hunger-crazed wolves from the cave, died coughing and hungry in the long starlit nights, died asleep and bleeding in the deep, dark cold of winter. But I also know in my bones how many of my grandmothers thrilled to those incredibly clear stars on these bone-chilling evenings, how many of my grandmothers laughed wildly skiing, skating, sledding over the frozen snow (solidified emotion), found ecstasy in the Aurora Borealis, danced under the light of the full moon on snow, made love under the long dark skies, conceived brave sons and daughters in the ice cold. That second group of grandmothers came to my aid when I was doing chemo; nothing made me feel better that winter than ice cold air, gulped as if it were, as it, indeed was, a restorative. I gulped it in like a life-giving elixir, the colder, the better.
And, as my v. brilliant friend E. recently remarked to me, "Well, this is the time of year for dying." S.'s beloved father died a few days ago, causing her to re-confront some of her own Shadows. My wonderful friend, R., aka the best cook in the world, called me last night to talk about a mutual friend, a witch, who is facing Death, that Shadow of all Shadows, and worrying herself beyond reason over its possible arrival. Then, we talked about the Day of the Dead ritual that she led this Fall. Thorn is confronting the death of a dearly-beloved cat. And, today, I was confronted at work with a colleague whose parents are dying, will he or nill he.
There are two things that we witches could do a better job of: helping young witches to access their religion and helping old witches to die. Odd, how we've got the middle part more or less figured out, but, the beginnings and the endings, not so much. Vague notions of the Summerlands. Vague notions of reincarnation. Occasionally, a real attempt to help a beloved elder cross over. This is not how a real religion deals with death. Here, in the long winter nights, I am calling for us to do a better job.
In many traditions of witchcraft, water symbolizes emotions, the West, flow and change, intuition, Cups, feelings, mutability. I've always also associated water with power and joy. I think this picture, from the koi pond at the National Arboretum, shows those two aspects of water. I love fountains the way that some other people love owls or horses or a particular herb. When the fountains are running, all's right with the world.
DOE Says Conventional Christmas Lights Add to GHG Emissions
DOE has estimated that using conventional Christmas lights produces significant amounts of CO2, the Columbus Dispatch reported. "The fact of the matter is, you're generating a fair amount of pollution to run your incandescent lights," said an energy specialist with the EnergyIdeas Clearinghouse at the Washington State University Extension Energy Program. The Electric Power Research Institute estimated that consumers could eliminate 400,000 tons of CO2 and reduce energy bills $250 million by switching to LED Christmas lights. Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch , Dec. 1.
The National Arboretum has miles of wooded walks, a lovely herb garden, a collection of bonsai, and, on a high clear hill, the columns that once graced the nation's Capitol building. I'd love to do a midsummer's full moon ritual there sometime. As I was leaving yesterday, there was a little kid, maybe 8 or 9, with his parents coming up the walk. He'd obviously been there before, but his mom hadn't so he was telling her all about it. He kept saying, "It looks like a Greek temple. When I first saw it, I thought it was a Greek temple. Doesn't it look like a Greek temple?" I wanted to tell him, "Yes. Yes, it does."
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 . . . ."