I hope you weren’t expecting any early Saturday morning blogging, faithful Hecate readers.
I’ve been having an interesting experience at work this past couple of months. A new hire joined the team and was put my office that I share with another person. Officially the office is supposed to be for three, but in reality it’s damn tiny and at least to this introvert, less private than a cubicle. G was born a year after I graduated from college. I’m friendly cheerfully showing her the ropes at work, but expect this lovely young women more interested in clubs and stuff that like rather than spending additional time with a quiet slightly eccentric 45 year old. I’m agreeably surprised when she keeps asking me to get lunch. When time permits join her rather than eating at my desk with my newspaper which had been by habit. She talks of boys, uncertainties, changes, moving to a new place, all the drama of being 22. I remember those times, and draw on those experiences.
I start feeling a call from the Goddess and my ancestresses in spirit telling me that she is unsettled and I can help. So I do, I think. I tell her stories of my wonderful circle, since I feel oddly comfortable telling her about that part of my life which I normally keep quiet. I do not tell her to recruit her to my circle since that isn’t our way but to tell her of the strong, accomplished, independent women I am fortunate to know since I know she is on her way to be one. I tell her of the careers, wild hobbies and adventures, loves, some choosing to be alone, others marrying and having children, trying balance out the responsibilities. I tell her about the circle rallying around a former sister stricken with breast cancer and even those not particularly acquainted providing aid and comfort because that what women do. We talk about relationships and when do you work on saving one and when do you decide to walk away. I’m amazed sometimes as the wisdom that comes within. I see in her eyes that while I haven’t given her the answers I give her a lot to think about.
Sadly she has decided to move back to more familiar ground, though I support her, since that’s strong women do. I wonder if the reason she came here was that so we could meet and connect. She talks of getting together this summer and maintaining our friendship, visiting. I certainly hope so since we are both the better from this friendship. So Mote It Be.
One of many things I love about Hecate is that for the past year, we get together with our friend R. on Wednesday night, and do an ecstatic dance DVD from Gabrielle Roth. No worries about looking bad or doing it wrong. You just close yours eyes and do what you can, shaking what you can.
Sometimes the energy is high and we collapse on the floor out of breath. Sometimes the energy is low and we sway gently as we talk in the spirit of something is better than nothing. Sometimes Miss Thing braves the scary basement to see what her crazy mom and friends are doing. We laugh and give her cat treats as part of the dance. We use the energy we raise to heal our bodies and minds and send the excess to the ground to add to the pool of energy and protection to Hecate's home.
After we finish the DVD, we go upstairs to do another type of dance in her kitchen, chatting and moving around each other as we put the finishing touches on our healthy potluck dinner, opening a bottle of wine, setting the table, firing up the blender to make smoothies. Once everything is ready, we sit, preferably on Hecate’s back porch when the weather is nice and look out on her backyard which is almost as beloved by R and I as it is to Hecate and watch as it changes through the year.
When we remember it, we start by reading the daily reading from Meal by Meal: 365 Daily Meditations for Finding Balance Through Mindful Eating And we talk about among other thing our lives, politics, our circles and practices, gardening, growing up, healing, magic, cooking, nutrition, sometimes serious, sometimes with laughter. We are mindful of work we need to do next day so try to leave at a reasonable hour but sometimes the conversation gets so intense we lose track and wind up our dragging our asses the next day.
As with the larger of women we belong to, when our little group gets together, I am honored and humbled to be part of this group. All the chick movies, and “Sex and City” knock offs are pale imitations of this sisterhood and I am grateful for my good fortune in finding these women.
I'm K. and I will be your guest blogger for today. I will admit though I do blink a bit in suprise when Hecate refers as being her "v. creative friend K." given the wonderfully crative women in our circle, but I strive to live up to the moniker.
Normally when Hecate is away, I'm in charge with making sure Miss Thing gets the attention due her. Since Hecate is sheltering in place she asked me to do this instead. I'm not sure whether it is a promotion or demotion.
This is actually my very first blog. It's odd though, even though my current work incarnation is as a technical editor/writer and I've been editing and creating television series for a online production company, I've never been into journaling even before advent of blogging, live journals. Actually most of my fun downtime writing has been slash as well as het fanfiction. I promise to keep it clean here, though. I don't want Hecate coming back to a mess.
Every morning when I awake I ask myself whether I should write or blow up a dam. I tell myself I should keep writing, though I'm not sure that's right. I've written books and done activism, but it is neither a lack of words nor activism that is killing salmon here in the Northwest. It's the dams.
Anyone who knows anything about salmon knows the dams must go. Anyone who knows anything about politics knows the dams will stay. Scientists study, politicians and business people lie and delay, bureaucrats hold sham public meetings, activists write letters and press releases, and still the salmon die.
Sadly enough, I'm not alone in my inability or unwillingness to take action. Members of the German resistance to Hitler from 1933 to 1945, for example, exhibited a striking blindness all too familiar: Despite knowing that Hitler had to be removed for a "decent" government to be installed, they spent more time creating paper versions of this theoretical government than attempting to remove him from power. It wasn't a lack of courage that caused this blindness but rather a misguided sense of morals. Karl Goerdeler, for instance, though tireless in attempting to create this new government, staunchly opposed assassinating Hitler, believing that if only the two of them could sit face to face, Hitler might relent.
We, too, suffer from this blindness and must learn to differentiate between real and false hopes. We must eliminate false hopes, which blind us to real possibilities and unlivable situations. Does anyone really believe our protests will cause Weyerhaeuser or other timber transnationals to stop destroying forests ? Does anyone really believe the same corporate administrators who say they "wish salmon would go extinct so we could just get on with living" (Randy Hardy of BPA) wiill act other than to fulfill their desires? Does anyone really believe a pattern of exploitation old as our civilization can be halted legislatively, judicially or through any means other than an absolute rejection of the mindset that engineers the exploitation, followed by actions based on that rejection? Does anybody really think those who are destroying the world will stop because we ask nicely or because we lock arms peacefully in front of their offices?
Additionally, there can be few who still believe the purpose of government is to protect citizens from those who would destroy them. The opposite is true: Political economist Adam Smith was correct in noting that the primary purpose of government is to protect those who run the economy from the outrage of injured citizens. To expect institutions created by our culture to do other than poison waters, denude hillsides, eliminate alternative ways of living and commit genocide is to engage in naive thinking.
Many German conspirators hesitated to remove Hitler from office because they'd sworn loyalty to him and his government. Their scruples caused more hesitation than their fear did. How many of us have yet to root out misguided remnants of a belief in the legitimacy of this government to which, as children, we pledged allegiance? How many of us fail to cross the line into violent resistance because we still believe that, somehow, the system can be reformed? And if we don't believe that, what are we waiting for? As Shakespeare so accurately put it, "Conscience doth make cowards of us all."
It could be argued that by comparing our government to Hitler's I'm overstating my case. I'm not sure salmon would agree, nor lynx, nor the people of Peru, Irian Jaya, Indonesia, or any other place where people pay with their lives for the activities of our culture.
If we're to survive, we must recognize that we kill by inaction as surely as by action. We must recognize that, as Hermann Hesse wrote, "We kill when we close our eyes to poverty, affliction or infamy. We kill when, because it is easier, we countenance, or pretend to approve of atrophied social, political, educational, and religious institutions, instead of resolutely combating them."
The central - and in many ways only - question of our time is this: What are sane, appropriate and effective responses to outrageously destructive behavior? So often, those working to slow the destruction can plainly describe the problems. Who couldn't? The problems are neither subtle nor cognitively challenging. Yet when faced with the emotionally daunting task of fashioning a response to these clearly insoluble problems, we generally suffer a failure of nerve and imagination. Gandhi wrote a letter to Hitler asking him to stop committing atrocities and was mystified that it didn't work. I continue writing letters to the editor of the local corporate newspaper pointing out mistruths and am continually surprised at the next absurdity.
. . .
The current system has already begun to collapse under the weight of its ecological excesses, and here's where we can help. Having transferred our loyalty away from our culture's illegitimate economic and governmental entities and given it to the land, our goal must be to protect, through whatever means possible, the human and nonhuman residents of our homelands. Our goal, like that of a demolition crew on a downtown building, must be to help our culture collapse in place, so that in its fall it takes out as little life as possible.
Discussion presupposes distance, and the fact that we're talking about whether violence is appropriate tells me we don't yet care enough. There's a kind of action that doesn't emerge from discussion, from theory, but instead from our bodies and from the land. This action is the honeybee stinging to defend her hive; it's the mother grizzly charging a train to defend her cubs; it's Zapatista spokesperson Cecelia Rodriguez saying, "I have a question of those men who raped me. Why did you not kill me? It was a mistake to spare my life. I will not shut up. ... This has not traumatized me to the point of paralysis." It's Ogoni activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, murdered by the Nigerian government at the urging of Shell, whose last words were, "Lord, take my soul, but the struggle continues!" It's those who participated in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. It's Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull and Geronimo. It's salmon battering themselves against concrete, using the only thing they have, their flesh, to try to break down that which keeps them from their homes.
I don't believe the question of whether to use violence is the right one. Instead, the question should be: Do you sufficiently feel the loss? So long as we discuss this in the abstract, we still have much to lose. If we begin to feel in our bodies the immensity and emptiness of what we lose daily - intact natural communities, hours sold for wages, childhoods lost to violence, women's capacity to walk unafraid - we'll know precisely what to do.
Derrick Jensen's most recent book is "A Language Older Than Words" published by Context Books. He also is a regular interviewer for The Sun magazine. His website is http://www.derrickjensen.org.
The illiterate woman was detained by religious police in 2005 and allegedly beaten and forced to fingerprint a confession that she could not read.
Among her accusers was a man who alleged she made him impotent.
Human Rights Watch said that Ms Falih had exhausted all her chances of appealing against her death sentence and she could only now be saved if King Abdullah intervened.
The US-based group is asking the Saudi ruler to void Ms Falih's conviction and to bring charges against the religious police who detained her and are alleged to have mistreated her.
Its letter to King Abdullah says the woman was tried for the undefined crime of witchcraft and that her conviction was on the basis of the written statements of witnesses who said that she had bewitched them.
Human Rights Watch says the trial failed to meet the safeguards in the Saudi justice system.
The confession which the defendant was forced to fingerprint was not even read out to her, the group says.
Also Ms Falih and her representatives were not allowed to attend most of the hearings.
When an appeal court decided she should not be executed, the law courts imposed the death sentence again, arguing that it would be in the public interest.
Contact information for the Saudi Embassy:
Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia 601 New Hampshire Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20037
Main Number: (202) 342-3800 Consulate/Visa Section: (202) 944-3126 Medical Office: (202) 342-7393 Commercial Office: (202) 337-4088
There, in the coppice, oak and pine And mystic yew and elm are found, Sweeping the skies, that grew divine With the dark wind's despairing sound, The wind that roars from the profound, And smites the mountain-tops, and calls Mute spirits to black festivals, And feasts in valleys iron-bound, Desolate crags, and barren ground;-- There in the strong storm-shaken grove Swings the pale censer-fire for love.
The foursquare altar, roughly hewn, And overlaid with beaten gold, Stands in the gloom; the stealthy tune Of singing maidens overbold Desires mad mysteries untold, With strange eyes kindling, as the fleet Implacable untiring feet Weave mystic figures manifold That draw down angels to behold The moving music, and the fire Of their intolerable desire.
For, maddening to fiercer thought, The fiery limbs requicken, wheel In formless furies, subtly wrought Of swifter melodies than steel That flashes in the fight: the peal Of amorous laughters choking sense, And madness kissing violence, Ring like dead horsemen; bodies reel Drunken with motion; spirits feel The strange constraint of gods that clip From Heaven to mingle lip and lip.
The gods descend to dance; the noise Of hungry kissings, as a swoon, Faints for excess of its own joys, And mystic beams assail the moon, With flames of their infernal noon; While the smooth incense, without breath, Spreads like some scented flower of death, Over the grove; the lover's boon Of sleep shall steal upon them soon, And lovers' lips, from lips withdrawn, Seek dimmer bosoms till the dawn.
Yet on the central altar lies The sacrament of kneaded bread, With blood made one, the sacrifice To those, the living, who are dead-- Strange gods and goddesses, that shed Monstrous desires of secret things Upon their worshippers, from wings One lucent web of light, from head One labyrinthine passion-fed Palace of love, from breathing rife With secrets of forbidden life.
But not the sunlight, nor the stars, Nor any light but theirs alone, Nor iron masteries of Mars, Nor Saturn's misconceiving zone, Nor any planet's may be shown, Within the circle of the grove, Where burn the sanctities of love: Nor may the foot of man be known, Nor evil eyes of mothers thrown On maidens that desire the kiss Only of maiden Artemis.
But horned and huntress from the skies, She bends her lips upon the breeze, And pure and perfect in her eyes, Burn magical virginity's Sweet intermittent sorceries. When the slow wind from her sweet word In all their conchéd ears is heard. And like the slumber of the seas, There murmur through the holy trees The kisses of the goddess keen, And sighs and laughters caught between.
For, swooning at the fervid lips Of Artemis, the maiden kisses Sobs and the languid body slips Down to enamelled wildernesses. Fallen and loose the shaken tresses; Fallen the sandal and girdling gold, Fallen the music manifold Of moving limbs and strange caresses, And deadly passion that possesses The magic ecstasy of these Mad maidens, tender as blue seas.
Night spreads her yearning pinions, The baffled day sinks blind to sleep; The evening breeze outswoons the sun's Dead kisses to the swooning deep. Upsoars the moon; the flashing steep Of Heaven is fragrant for her feet; The perfume of the grove is sweet As slumbering women furtive creep To bosoms where small kisses weep, And find in fervent dreams the kiss Most memoried of Artemis.
Impenetrable pleasure dies Beneath the madness of new dreams; The slow sweet breath is turned to sighs More musical than many streams Under the moving silver beams, Fretted with stars, thrice woven across. White limbs in amorous slumber toss, Like sleeping foam, whose silver gleams On motionless dark seas; it seems As if some gentle spirit stirred, Their lazy brows with some swift word.
So, in the secret of the shrine, Night keeps them nestled, so the gloom Laps them in waves as smooth as wine, As glowing as the fiery womb Of some young tigress, dark as doom, And swift as sunrise. Love's content Builds its own monument, And carves above its vaulted tomb The Phoenix on her fiery plume, To their own souls to testify Their kisses' immortality.
When we get out of the glass bottles of our ego, when we escape like squirrels turning in the cages of our personality and get into the forests again, we shall shiver with cold and fright but things will happen to us so that we do not know ourselves.
Cool, unlying life will rush in, passion will make our bodies taut with power, we shall stamp our feet with new power and old things will fall down, we shall laugh, and institutions will curl up like burnt paper.
I am so blessed! My partner and I started the day with a trip to the farmer's market. If there ever was an urban pagan place of worship, it's got to be the farmer's market. The Goddess appeared in the the baby lettuce and the chantrelle mushrooms on Saturday.
I'm blessed with two wonderful farmers' markets: the Dupont Circle market near my office (where, yeah, I'm often found on the weekend) and the Falls Church farmers' market near my home, where I collected signatures this Summer to get Hillary on the ballot here in Virginia, and where I bought squash and apples and organic cheese and swiss chard with a rainbow of stems this weekend.
Farmers' markets give you a chance to buy locally-grown, in-season food, often from small farms that use organic, sustainable practices. And, Sweet Goddess, the sensual pleasure of walking through, seeing the colors and shapes, tasting the samples of cheese and bread and jam, smelling the cider, and buying the v., v. first forsythias, lilacs, peonies, . . . .
Samson, who co-owns a boutique in Paris, isn't the lithe Frenchwoman of the American imagination. But she's wearing a stretchy black dress with a plunging neckline and flipping through pictures from her recent birthday party, in which her 52-year-old boyfriend gazes at her with obvious rapture. She describes this period of her life -- post-divorce, her three kids out of the house -- as her most uncomplicatedly sexy one. "Now there's just the seduction between a man and a woman," she says.
Older women in Paris don't actually look any better than the ones in New York. The difference is that the French typically don't see sex as a privilege for the young and beautiful. They see it as one of life's most basic pleasures -- something women or men would not give up without a fight . . . or in my case, perhaps a second passport.
Tomorrow morning at 6:30, I'm going to get in line at the little community center two blocks from my house and I'm going to to vote for a woman for president. I'm a few weeks shy of 52. Tomorrow will be the first time that I've gotten to do that. My mother never got to do that. When my grandmothers were born, women couldn't vote at all. Tomorrow, I'm voting for a woman. I don't expect to do it dry-eyed, but wild horses won't stop me from doing it.
Saturday afternoon, the warm weak tea sunshine was strong enough for me to sit on the back deck in shirtsleeves and read. Sunday morning, I spent with the women of my circle. We have a lovely tradition of having brunch together once a month. No ritual, no magical workings, just sitting in a circle of women who love you and talking about your life and talking with them about their lives. Sunday night, a strong and terrible wind blew up, sweeping away all the warmth and leaving bitter February cold in its wake. And, this morning, as I waited, and waited, and waited for a cab, I couldn't help but remember Teilhard de Chardin's benediction:
Blessed be you, harsh matter, barren soil, stubborn rock: you who yield only to violence, you who force us to work if we would eat.
'Blessed be you, perilous matter, violent sea, untameable passion: you who unless we fetter you will devour us.
'Blessed be you, mighty matter, irresistible march of evolution, reality ever new-born: you who, by constantly shattering our mental categories, force us to go ever further and further in our pursuit of the truth.
'Blessed be you, universal matter, immeasurable time, boundless ether, triple abyss of stars and atoms and generations: you who by overflowing and dissolving our narrow standards or measurement reveal to us the dimensions of God.
'Blessed be you, impenetrable matter: you who, interposed between our minds and the world of essences, cause us to languish with the desire to pierce through the seamless veil of phenomena.
'Blessed be you, mortal matter: you who one day will undergo the process of dissolution within us and will thereby take us forcibly into the very heart of that which exists.
'Without you, without your onslaughts, without your uprootings of us, we should remain all our lives inert, stagnant, puerile, ignorant both of ourselves and of God. You who batter us and then dress our wounds, you who resist us and yield to us, you who wreck and build, you who shackle and liberate, the sap of our souls, the hand of God, the flesh of Christ: it is you, matter, that I bless.
'I bless you, matter, and you I acclaim: not as the pontiffs of science or the moralizing preachers depict you, debased, disfigured - a mass of brute forces and base appetites - but as you reveal yourself to me today, in your totality and your true nature.
'You I acclaim as the inexhaustible potentiality for existence and transformation wherein the predestined substance germinates and grows.
'I acclaim you as the universal power which brings together and unites, through which the multitudinous monads are bound together and in which they all converge on the Way of the Spirit.
'I acclaim you as the melodieus fountain of water whence spring the souls of men and as the limpid crystal whereof is fashioned the new Jerusalem.
'I acclaim you as the divine Milieu, charged with creative power, as the ocean stirred by the Spirit, as the clay moulded and infused with life by the incarnate Word.
The top few inches of the soil are frozen hard; it will hurt you if you fall on it. Winter is still here. When the wind was blowing, just as when it rains v. hard, I had to go to bed, pull up the covers and: listen. Just, listen. There's so much to hear.
Blessed be thy feet, that have brought thee in these ways Blessed be thy knees, that shall kneel at the sacred altar Blessed be thy womb, without which we would not be Blessed be thy breasts, formed in beauty Blessed be thy lips, that shall utter the Sacred Names.
Yesterday, I read Firechild, Maxine Sanders' autobiography. It's a fascinating and v. readable book and, I thought, pretty brave in its discussions of her sexual abuse by her father, exploitation by her husband, Alex Sanders, and her own foibles and failures.
What I found really interesting was the contrast between the witchcraft she was teaching in the 60s and 70s and the witchcraft that I know today. I'll caveat this by saying that, of course, there are still many Alexandrians and Gardnerians who practice what I'll call 60s/70s style witchcraft, with an emphasis on male-female duality, nakedness, and "getting the ritual right," "right" being the way that Alex Sanders or Gerald Gardner said it should be, down to the correct chant, sigils, dance steps, etc. But the witchcraft that I practice is much more free form and, obviously, more feminist than the religion that she describes. I was also interested in the degree to which Maxine's witchcraft overlapped with what I think of as a general British fascination with the occult that I just don't see in the Wiccan circles in which I travel.
I also hadn't realized the degree to which Maxine continued to embrace other religions throughout her life, Liberal Catholicism and a group focused on Egyptian gods and goddesses and rather removed from Wicca, for example. She also did real work as a ceremonial magician, which she distinguished from her work as a witch.
One of her most interesting points, I thought, was her discussion of Wicca as both a religion and a magical system. She describes it as both, but seems to believe that one could accept one without the other. I'm still debating whether or not I think she's correct about that.
All in all, an interesting read and one that could easily be done in a day at the beach or on a long flight. We likely wouldn't be where we are today had it not been for Maxine and Alex Sanders and other of their era who put up with everything (in Maxine's case, from being stoned to having her house set on fire, to being fired from her job), for daring to be open about being witches.
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 . . . ."