Tonight is -- perfect. Windy and cold and only the tiniest cold sliver of a moon-white moon in the indigo-chakra-dark Autumn sky. You can feel ideas and change and odd bits of oddness blowing around, unseen, in the air and, every now and then, an acorn hits you hard on the head or an oak leaf catches itself in your hair or the unknowable touches the buckle of your spine.
My patroness is the Goddess Hecate, goddess of the crossroads on cold, windy nights when things go suddenly liminal and change is already flowing across the boundary between what couldn't be and what might become. She comes with her several-headed dogs, who look in all directions and She shows up, unafraid, I like to think, but afraid or unafraid, She shows up, and She midwifes both what's being born and what's dying. She stands there, where you have to choose, or where you have to admit that the choice has been made for you, and where two roads diverge in the wood and you, you'll take either the smooth one or the one less traveled by -- and that will make all the difference.
And so, tonight, when the veil's so thin it seems like a lacy membrane, when anyone can walk outside and sense the holes between HERE and WHERE HERE'S HEADED, when sugar skulls are for sale in Mexican markets and jack-o-lanterns light the way of the beloved dead all over America, I am almost drunk with my love of liminal spaces: childbirth, death, the Moon, which Hecate Soteria presided over as a land where souls went after death, elections, sea changes, emerging leitmotifs, the turning point on the Wheel of the Year where it stops being THIS YEAR and, in a moment, becomes NEXT YEAR.
Thirty-five years ago today, my hormones went FLUSH, I was overcome with tears, and 48 hours later, I gave birth to my wonderful Son. The road branched. And all unaware, with nothing but my catholic school background and grounding in the BVM and the saints, I felt Her then, my patroness, Goddess of childbirth (that liminal time when women turn their bodies into a portal for Life to come into the world and do so only by risking death, which may have been one of my very first experiences of using my body in order to do magic) wrapping me in Her cape and setting my feet upon the loveliest and steepest branch of the crossroads. And for many years, that was all that I knew: that I'd gotten the tiniest, vaguest glimpse of something and that, if I could ever track it down, I'd follow it all my life.
Today, both Son and DiL had major professional victories. Today, G/Son is preparing to trick-or-treat for the first time outside his Nonna's back porch. Tonight, I am preparing my home for the witches who will fly in tomorrow, sailing their broomsticks on the wild Autumn wind, to dance and sup and burn things and do magic here in my odd little cottage in the oak grove. Thirty-five years ago, I had no idea. And that's what makes it fun.
May your beloved dead visit you in love and may the coming year beckon warmly to you across the Swiss-cheese veil. Once more, once more, once more, into the breech.
One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice -- though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles. "Mend my life!" each voice cried. But you didn't stop. You knew what you had to do, though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations, though their melancholy was terrible. It was already late enough, and a wild night, and the road full of fallen branches and stones. But little by little, as you left their voices behind, the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds, and there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own, that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you could do -- determined to save the only life you could save.
There was, however, when you look back at it, a few months out, an absolutely AMAZING amount of hatred -- all out of proportion to reality -- directed towards "that woman" (and anyone foolish enough to speak up and support her or even suggest that perhaps the sexism was not too becoming for supposed liberals) and regular and v shrill demands, starting quite early, that she STEP DOWN RIGHT NOW in favor of the "more deserving" man. You couldn't go 15 minutes on some blogs without hearing that, by insisting that everyone get to vote in a primary and that every state mattered, Hillary Clinton was "destroying" not only Obama's only chance to beat McCain, but also the entire future of the Democratic Party. And all "for her own ego."
I said at the time, and I believe today, that any guy who'd done exactly what Hillary did would be celebrated for "having heart," being "a real fighter," having "what it took" to "stay in it to the end," for "never giving up, even in the final quarter," for "staying focused through the ninth inning, " [insert your sports metaphor here]. He'd also be the VP nominee for the Democratic Party. Cf., e.g., John Edwards.
Now, with 20/20 hindsight, it's pretty clear that, by forcing Obama to develop a ground game in all 50 states, by creating a situation where voters were seeing Obama ads months and months before McCain (who was doing his victory lap around the other Republican primary candidates and ignoring many states since they "no longer mattered,") Clinton did not only Obama, but also the entire party a favor. When you look at it, you can see it as a logical outcome of Howard Dean's 50 State Strategy. If Democrats show up in every state, spend money in every state, contest every state, not only can they win states that they never dreamed before that they could win, they can exhaust the Republicans by making them spend money, time, and energy defending what should have been "safe" states, even if, in the end, those states stay red.
So was there a lot of sexism behind the out-of-proportion hatred? Yes. Yes, there was. There certainly was. And many of the proponents believe to this day that they, of course, aren't sexist, at all. Some of their best friends are women and they would, of course, support the "right woman" -- if she ever came along. And paid her dues. And was "more qualified" than the man.
It's odd how many unintended good things often result from doing the right thing. Hillary Clinton was right to fight the primary out to the very end, even if it made that "more deserving" man fight harder for his job than he "should" have had to if only she'd been "gracious" and given up, as girls are taught to do. It was the right thing for her, for her supporters, for women, for Democrats. And it was the right thing for Obama.
Her voice is almost gone. She's exhausted. And she's boosting the guy who beat her. Her fifty-state fight is what boosted him over the edge, making him run ads months ago in states he never dreamed that he'd win, months before McCain even thought of those states. And she, and her supporters, got raked over the fucking coals on every thirty-something male's liberal blog in left blogistan.
Gather a group of witches and ask them where our religion is going and, within minutes, you'll hear the longing for material -- books, blogs, YouTubes, DVDs -- that goes beyond what's come to be called "Wicca 101." Not too many cradle Pagans among us -- yet -- and, so, many of us "came to Wicca" via some form of Wicca 101: A book by Llewellyn. A course at the local Unitarian church. A feminist studies course that sent us to a feminist bookstore where we saw a three-by-five card on the bulletin board that led us to an occult bookstore where we overheard a conversation and screwed our courage to the sticking point in order to introduce ourselves . . . .
It's not that there's a lack of serious literature. Christ writes it, Eisler writes it, Starhawk writes it, Sylvan tries to write it; hell, a bunch of the blogs linked right here write it. But there is a lack of information/direction/description of where you go once you've "got" the basics. (Not that any of us every really "gets" the basics. I maintain that, if you find a good teacher, you could take Reclaiming's Elements of Magic class (the true Wicca 101) over and over for a lifetime. But ,you know what I mean.) Growing up Catholic -- with several centuries of writing about how to meditate, how to pray, how to approach liturgy, how to integrate liturgy into a personal practice, how to spend each hour in worship, how to process mystical experience, how to grow within a spiritual tradition -- being an avid reader, and, named, as I am, for a Doctor of the Church, I've long felt this lack quite deeply.
T. Thorn Coyle has started a series of podcasts, available for free on iTunes, that help to address this gap. I'd link, but iTunes makes that fucking difficult, esp. if you don't want to reveal your name. If you go to iTunes, go to podcasts, and search under Thorn Coyle, you'll find them easily. She's basing the discussions around each of the elements and the discussions, so far, have been quite good. Her discussion of Air, with a ceremonial magician, was particularly good, IMHO. It's not an introduction to Pagan practice, but even someone w only a good basic understanding should get something out of it. She also discusses water and dream work with Anne Hill in an understandable and yet advanced way that would profit any witch no matter how experienced. I woke up this morning going, hmmmm. Dreams are so much richer when you go to sleep expecting them to be rich.
I'd love to see this same material up on YouTube, even if accompanied by no more than pictures of Thorn and her interviewee or by Powerpoint slides. Not everyone goes to iTunes for this sort of search.
Lunea's right: this completely rocks. Get a mammogram and welcome your ancestresses on Samhein. In my circle, one of the things we do on Samhein is to call our female line back as far as we know it. How many old women are there in your line?
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 . . . ."