What an amazingly perfect Autumn day it was here, today. May it be so for you.
Once a month, my amazing circle of amazing women gets together for what we call Stitch-n-Bitch. Over time, the membership in our circle (we live in DC, a transient town) has changed and there are fewer "stitchers." Our motto is: Stitching Is Optional. But Come Prepared To Bitch. I cannot underestimate the importance for a circle of women who plan to engage in magic of spending lazy time together "just" chatting. I think that it's key to effective magic.
And, of course we always do bitch. One woman works for a financial reporting service (how do you think HER week went?), one works w non-profits, one edits technical documents and just found a new job in this shitty economy because she has mad skillz, one teaches math to middle schoolers, one is retired from the White House, one is a disabled historian, and one is a lawyer in a white-shoe DC firm. And, we are aunts, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, wives, daughters, granddaughters, neighbors, women in the DC Pagan community. We have a lot to bitch about.
Today, we had potluck brunch, tea, coffee, etc. and caught up with each other. We sat out on the screen porch and carved pumpkins. We carved a jack-o-lantern face, bats, a goddess, O B A M A, and a witch on a broomstick. It was a lot of fun. N and K came early and helped me set up,and stayed late and helped me clean up. We talked politics and magic and family and career and made lists of who we would invite to our fantasy dinner parties.
I've lived my whole life surrounded by, uplifted by, supported by Grace. I've always thought that Volume One of my autobiography would be entitled: Receiving Assistance from Witnesses, and that Volume Two would be entitled: No One on the Ground Was Hurt -- both phrases from evening news programs. But one of the very best things that Grace ever arranged for me is this circle of amazing women, a life that includes them, lazy Autumn sunlight on my porch with them, mugs of coffee, pumpkins, and laughter. The laughter of sisters in the slanting Autumn light, lifting me up, helping me cope, listening to me bitch, making it all ok. My sisters, cleaning the pumpkin seeds for roasting, setting my table w/ cinnamon rolls and pumpkin bread, garlic spread, and fruit, my sisters helping me to clean up afterwards, assuring me that it's ok to plant wisteria on the shed, listening to my stories about the stories I read to G/Son last night on iChat.
I live such a wonderful life, a life so full of Grace, a life blessed by my sisters.
I did magic tonight w an old friend of mine, a woman who used to be in my circle and with whom I still get together once a week, along with others, to do ecstatic dance, eat a common meal, chat.
It felt so good to be standing in the cool air of an Autumn evening, underneath a few bright stars peaking through the clouds, grounding, centering, feeling the way that my animal body becomes, because it is an animal body, a vessel for magic.
I may be wrong; there may be women for whom this comes early and easy, but it seems to me that there is a feeling born only of years of magical practice, that teaches the lesson from the charge of the Goddess: "And you who seek to know Me, know that the seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery: for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without.
For behold, I have been with you from the beginning, and I am That which is attained at the end of desire."
You can't set out doing magic in order to obtain this feeling, this cellular and organic understanding that you are a vessel for, and an opening into the world of, magic. But at some point -- after half a lifetime of grounding and centering and casting circles and calling the quarters and speaking intentions and chanting and dancing and drumming and visualizing and raising cones and releasing cones and being frustrated and being enchanted and returning daily to your altar, happy, sad, frustrated, disbelieving, coming, as Rumi said, yet again, come, come, even though you have abandoned your vows a thousand times, come, yet again, come, come -- you find the mystery within yourself. And it seems to me, not that I would know, that it's just like what they said about those who experienced the Mysteries of Eleusis: ever after, they had no fear of death. Ever after, you know that you have found within yourself what you could never find without: that which has been with you from the beginning and which is attained at the end of all desire.
And, yet, and here's only one more lovely paradox, you have to get up the next morning and practice again, sit zazen again, ground again, connect again with the mist in the Autumn garden and the squirrels in the trees and the current in the air and the Fifth Sacred Thing. Because what I imagine, not that I would know, is that what they taught at Eleusis was that it's a process, not an end result.
I suppose that I stopped making sense several paragraphs ago. There's a Rumi poem about that, too.
Thank you, thank you, thank you historyman, hunter of da snark, for the lovely book: Landscape as Spirit, Creating a Contemplative Garden! I am savoring each picture, especially the ones of Autumn and Winter gardens! I'm going to savor this book for a long time, and it comes at a perfect time, as Landscape Guy and I begin to get serious about designing the backyard contemplative garden as a ritual space.
Ladies! Listen up! Detecting breast cancer early is the key to surviving it! Breast Self Exams (BSEs) can help you to detect breast cancer in its earlier stages. So, on the first of every month, give yourself a breast self-exam. It's easy to do. Here's how. If you prefer to do your BSE at a particular time in your cycle, calendar it now. But, don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
And, once a year, get yourself a mammogram. Mammograms cost between $150 and $300. If you have to take a temp job one weekend a year, if you have to sell something on e-Bay, if you have to go cash in all the change in various jars all over the house, if you have to work the holiday season wrapping gifts at Macy's, for the love of the Goddess, please go get a mammogram once a year.
Or: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pays all or some of the cost of breast cancer screening services through its National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. This program provides mammograms and breast exams by a health professional to low-income, underinsured, and underserved women in all 50 states, six U.S. territories, the District of Columbia, and 14 American Indian/Alaska Native organizations. For more information, contact your state health department or call the Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER.
Send me an email after you get your mammogram and I will do an annual free tarot reading for you. Just, please, examine your own breasts once a month and get your sweet, round ass to a mammogram once a year.
The new herb bed, which went in late, is going gangbusters, with basil and lavender and French tarragon and rosemary and pineapple sage (about to bloom!) and German mountain sage and French thyme and woad and sunflowers.
The morning glories, both Carnivale and Grandpa Otts, are all over the place and starting to make seeds for next year.
And, datura. I planted datura from last years' seed in a spot that we then tore up to put in the herb bed and I figured, no datura this year. But one determined soul showed up in late August and I just couldn't bear to mow her down. Last night, she bloomed. A scent between vanilla and lemon and such gorgeous flowers; it's one of my favorite plants.
It's wonderful how, even now, as we head towards the dark, the plants are still soaking up sunlight and turning it into: everything.
"He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999," said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. "It was on his mind. He said to me: 'One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.' And he said, 'My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.' He said, 'If I have a chance to invade·.if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency." Herskowitz said that Bush expressed frustration at a lifetime as an underachiever in the shadow of an accomplished father. In aggressive military action, he saw the opportunity to emerge from his father's shadow. The moment, Herskowitz said, came in the wake of the September 11 attacks. "Suddenly, he's at 91 percent in the polls, and he'd barely crawled out of the bunker."
And it's one of the wonderful -- it's like earning capital. You asked, do I feel free. Let me put it to you this way: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style. That's what happened in the -- after the 2000 election, I earned some capital. I've earned capital in this election -- and I'm going to spend it for what I told the people I'd spend it on, which is -- you've heard the agenda: Social Security and tax reform, moving this economy forward, education, fighting and winning the war on terror.
New details emerged over the weekend of a remarkably tumultuous White House meeting on the bailout Thursday. With the session breaking up in disarray, according to two participants, Bush issued an appeal, saying, "Can't we just all go out and say things are OK?" The group around the table, which included congressional leaders and the presidential nominees-Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama -spurned the request.
President George Bush expressed disappointment Monday after the House failed to approve the $700 billion plan to bail out the U.S. financial markets. "I was disappointed in the vote with the U.S. Congress on the economic rescue plan," Bush said during a joint media opportunity with the Ukranian president. "We put forth a plan that was big because we got a big problem."
The bipartisan plan meant to address the root of the financial crisis -- home mortgage-related assets that have lost value during the housing decline -- failed on a 205-228 vote, falling 13 votes shy of the 218 needed for passage.
Bush said he would be talking with his economic advisers and his administration would work with congressional leaders on the plan to stabilize U.S. financial systems.
"Our strategy is to continue to address this economic situation head-on," Bush said. "And we'll be working to develop a strategy that will enable us to continue to move forward."
It’s a mistake to look at Sarah Palin and analyze her actions and her place in this campaign in terms of the struggle against patriarchy. She doesn’t struggle against it, she endorses it. That she has found a way to rig the patriarchal system to HER benefit and through her to that of those closest to her is to be expected, that’s what conservatives do no matter what group they belong to. Looking at Palin as any kind of first for women (second, actually, as we are not supposed to remember) only leads away from reality. She is out for number one, not for women in general. Her nomination is as meaningful for progress for women struggling against patriarchy as Clarence Thomas has been for the equality of black people or the Log Cabin Republicans for gay people. In the struggle against patriarchy, she’s just a patriarch in disguise. The use of her daughter in this campaign is rapidly approaching the level of depravity that Thomas’ use of his sister was. It is a warning of just how bad a Palin administration could get.
I've generally avoided discussions of Palin's child-rearing. I think that, in this society, making negative judgments about whatever women decide to do about/for/with their children comes far, far too easily (and liberals are almost as infected with this problem as conservatives). (Whether we're calling them "helicopter moms" or complaining that some woman is "willing to put career ahead of her children," whatever women do, it's wrong.) One never hears that Joe Biden left his young, injured children with caretakers all day. No, one hears how heroically he trained back home from DC every evening to be with them. And all politicians "use" their families as props, some, obviously, more than others. I remember how adorable the two young Edwards children were, how lovely and composed the older daughter was as she kind of helped corral them, how often we heard the very sad tale of their deceased son. And I just think there are a whole host of reasons why Palin shouldn't get anywhere near the presidency that don't involve judging her family choices. So, as noted, I'm reluctant to get into the issue.
A man who walks in the black wind; the dry reeds rustle quietly Through the silence of the marshy pastures. In the grey skies A migration of wild birds move in ranks Catty-corner over dark waters. Insurgence. In the collapsing houses Decay is ﬂuttering out with black wings; Crippled-up birches breathe heavily in the wind. Evening in empty roadhouses. The longing for home settles about The delicate despair of the grazing ﬂocks, Vision of the night: toads plunge from silver waters.
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 . . . ."