CURRENT MOON

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Go On, Wheel, Turn For Goddess' Sake! Turn!



It did, this decade did suck. But, still, some amazing things happened to me.

1. Son married the loveliest, kindest, most down-to-Earth woman -- a kick-ass, take-no-prisoners prosecutor of whom I am in awe, an amazingly, instinctively wonderful mother, a creative cook, and a lady with the deadly accurate instincts of a risk-taker and a yogini. I get to be not only the mother of the gentlest gentleman, funniest Scorpio, strongest father, and all-round kindest person I have ever known, I also get to be the MiL to a DiL that I love. May your children, too, marry well.

2. G/Son. And, as Mr. Frost said, that has made all the difference. I hope that, just once in your life, you get to love someone as much as I love G/Son, that the simple fact of someone's existence can make you as inordinately happy as G/Son's existence makes me every minute of every day.

3. I found my long-desired cottage home and a collaborator (thanks, Landscape Guy!) for the garden that I've been wanting ever since, at about seven years old, I read The Secret Garden. I was born to be the human part of this tiny landbase. Like a good lover, it completes me. May you find your "bit of Earth" and may it love you back as this bit of Earth loves me and I love it.

4. The Witches. My wonderful circle of amazing women. We've grown, shrunk, grown, done amazing political and personal magic. We've sunk our roots into this city and become a part of its magical infrastructure in ways that the denizens of this city never suspect and we've done it flying well below the radar of the city's Pagan community. We support each other, infiltrate, do magic in places where it should be impossible. As Barbara Starrett said:

I am a secret agent
Of the moon

Ex-centric
Extra-ordinary
Extra-sensory
Extra-terrestrial

Celestial subversive
Con-spiratorial
Spirita Sancta

Holy
Holy
Holy

And then some
And I have friends.


May you, too, have such friends.

5. I took a tiny, obscure bit of United States Code -- moribund for decades and decades -- and turned it into a several-billion-dollar win. It was the sort of pure fun that no one ever tells you that you can have doing law. It's addictive; it can cost an awful lot of nights' sleep and produce an awful lot of of grey hairs, but it's like riding a wave of pure energy. May you, too, have breakthrough wins. I have a job where I get paid to read, talk, and write about issues that matter to me and where, more often than not, I get a published opinion that says: Hecate wins, you other guys, not so much. I like to win. I do. I never expected to have such a great job. May it be so for you.

6. One late afternoon, on the balcony at Morton's, Son explained to me about this guy called "Atrios," and these things called "blogs" and, well, who knew? May you, too, find the creative outlet that works for you.

May this coming decade bring you delightful surprises, unearned gifts, Moon-lit dances, and serious wins.

What were the highpoints of the Aughts for you?

Photo by the author from her garden. If you copy, please link back.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fare Thee Well, Aughts!



What a decade. It was Sandra Day's fault, but it was my fault, too, and yours, for not rioting in the streets. Well, done is done and, thank the Goddess, the Aughts are done.

Come with me. Strip. Shed your past as cleanly and as decisively as the snake sheds her skin. Leave all the old markers behind. Stand naked on the high hill. Ground. Take a huge lungfull of the icy cold air, the clarity; right now, this is all about the element of Air. Then, leap. Open your heart and let go of everything. Leap into the energy of the enormous Blue Moon that will end this decade and begin the next, spread the wings you didn't know that you had, and soar into the Teens with me.

This song always reminds me of the poem by Mary Oliver:

The Journey

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.

But, we can do so much more than "just" save our lives. We can, with prodigal abandon, begin to spend our lives. Which, of course, reminds me of the Rumi poem:

I would love to kiss you.
The price of kissing is your life.
Now my loving is running toward my life shouting,
"What a bargain, let's buy it!"

May this be the decade when energy becomes green, civilization becomes sustainable, the noosphere comes into its own, women assume half the power in the world, witches are honored instead of murdered, art matters more than war, and your life becomes an amazing collaboration with your very own landbase, watershed, biosphere, higher self/sacred dove/Goddess-self.

Make one wish for yourself on December 31, 2019. Go write it down here. Then, do what witches do: you begin by casting a circle.

Blessed new decade to you.

Monday, December 28, 2009

What's Real?

Daffodils



And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.


It's really brutally cold outside this evening, with strong winds and the kind of cold that seeps into your bones, the bones in your hand, the ones that ache for a long time after getting so cold.

But, in the bed of the now-invisible hostas, I can see tiny green tips -- the miniature daffodils that Landscape Guy and I moved this summer -- poking bravely up through the dirt. And, then, my heart with pleasure fills.

One of the best things about gardening is the anticipation. The watching for tiny signs. For me, this has a lot to do with being in relationship with a specific piece of land. It's trite, but true:

And then he added:
"go and look again at the roses.
You will understand now
that yours is unique in all the world.
Then come back to say goodbye to me,
and I will make you a present of a secret."

The little prince went away,
to look again at the roses.
"You are not at all like my rose," he said.
"As yet you are nothing.
No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one.
You are like my fox when I first knew him.
He was only a fox
like a hundred thousand other foxes.
But I have made a friend,
and now he is unique in all the world."
And the roses were very much embarrassed.
"You are beautiful, but you are empty," he went on.
"One could not die for you.
To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think
that my rose looked just like you
--the rose that belongs to me.
But in herself alone she is more important
than all the hundreds of you
other roses: because it is she that I have watered;
because it is she
that I have put under the glass globe;
because it is for her
that I have killed the caterpillars
(except the two or three we saved
to become butterflies);
because it is she that I have listened to,
when she grumbled,
or boasted,
or even sometimes when she said nothing.
Because she is MY rose."


And he went back to meet the fox.
"Goodbye" he said.

"Goodbye," said the fox.
"And now here is my secret, a very simple secret:
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;
what is essential is invisible to the eye."

"What is essential is invisible to the eye,"
the little prince repeated,
so that he would be sure to remember.

"It is the time you have wasted for your rose
that makes your rose so important.


More here.

What's pushing up through your frozen ground? Are you grounding often enough to know?

Oh, Yes.


Mercury sure the fuck is in retrograde. It's been several years since one kicked my ass the way this one is doing. Fasten your seatbelts; it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Picture found here.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

May The Goddess Guard Him. May He Find His Way To The Summerlands. May His Friends And Family Know Peace.


It was a long, rough, day for civil rights:

NEW YORK -- Percy Sutton, the pioneering civil rights attorney who represented Malcolm X before launching successful careers as a political power broker and media mogul, has died. He was 89. Marissa Shorenstein, a spokeswoman for Gov. David Paterson, confirmed that Sutton died Saturday. She did not know the cause. His daughter, Cheryl Sutton, declined to comment Saturday when reached by phone at her New York City home.

The son of a former slave, Percy Sutton became a fixture on 125th Street in Harlem after moving to New York City following his service with the famed Tuskegee Airmen in World War II. His Harlem law office, founded in 1953, represented Malcolm X and the slain activist's family for decades.


and

South African poet and former political prisoner Dennis Brutus has died. He was 85. Brutus' publisher, Chicago-based Haymarket Books, says the writer died in his sleep at his home in Cape Town on Saturday.

Brutus was an anti-apartheid activist who was jailed at Robben Island with Nelson Mandela in the mid-1960s. His activism led Olympic officials to ban South Africa from competition from 1964 until apartheid ended nearly 30 years later.

Exiled from South Africa in 1966, Brutus later moved to the United States and taught literature and African studies at Northwestern University and the University of Pittsburgh.

Over the years, he wrote more than a dozen collections of poetry, including two while imprisoned. He is survived by a wife, eight children and many other relatives.


He wrote:

No Banyan, Only

The quiet wisdom of the body’s peace:
Carnality, in this our carnal world, is all
Bamboo and iron having sealed
Our mundane eyes to views of time and peace.
Now I am strong as stones or trees are strong,
Insensible, or ignorant with vibrant life;
Streams or the air may wash or pass me by
My mind breathes quiet, lying yours along.
(Upon what meat is this man fed
That he is grown so great?
Diet of eloquent delectable accolades
Warm, soft, kindly, sweet and red.)

Under no banyan tree I strip no onion skin
To find a néant kernel at the still center:
“A little winter love in a dark corner?”
No, Love (for Chrissake, no) no love, no sin.

Sublunary no more, yet more acutely mundane
now
Man’s fingers claw the cosmos in gestures of
despair,
Our souls, since Hersey, seek the helix of
unknowing
Save mine, you-saved, now leafing like a bough.

Breaking through theory-thickets I thrust
To this one corpus, one more self
That gives Content and content to an earth
Littered and sterile with ideas and rust.

Let alphabetic electrons bloat on Freudian
excrement,

Picture found here.

Kali On A Cracker


One wishes so that the Frosts would just stay away from the issue of teen pregnancy.

For example: Nearly 90 percent of teen girls are now single mothers. Well, no. More here. Ninety percent of teen girls are not single mothers. And saying so just makes you look ridiculous. Please. Stop.

America has a huge amount of growing up to do w/r/t sex. Wiccans could be a large part of that maturation process, with our sex-positive attitudes. It saddens me to see elders, such as the Frosts, make that process immeasurably more difficult.

Picture found here.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Still And Always The Anthem Of My Youth

The first cut is the deepest:



The older I get, the more that I've got to lose.

That, I think, is what I failed to grok in my teens. Well, as Rumi said: I would love to kiss you.
The price of kissing is your life. Now my loving is running toward my life shouting,
"What a bargain, let's buy it."


That's what I've got to lose.

Living In A World Of Polytheists



It might be disappointingly monotheistic, but, then again, it might not. Also, Polly Walker, who can act.

Caprica. Capricorn. Watch here. The important thing to note: it's a religion for teenagers.

It Was A Good Day For Soup



Misty and grey all afternoon. I pulled some of this soup out of the freezer and had it with bread topped with goat cheese and scallions. Perfect.

Friday, December 25, 2009

When There Were Wolves In Wales

I like maybe two or three things about xmas. One of them is this poem:



And one of them is this music:

.

And one of them is this book:



And, of course, who, among us, has not seen that blue light?

But, other than that, well, other than that, I like this, too:

Figuring Out What Winning Means


Years ago I was interviewed by a dogmatic pacifist (note to self: bad idea), who in his (grossly inaccurate) write-up said he thought I wanted all activists to think like assassins. That's not true. What I want is for us to think like members of a serious resistance movement.

What does that look like? Well, to start, it doesn't have to mean handling guns. Even when the IRA was at its strongest, only 2 percent of its members ever picked up weapons. The same is true for the Underground Railroad; Harriet Tubman and others carried guns, but Quakers and other pacifists who ran safe houses were also crucial to that work. What they all held in common was a commitment to their cause, and a willingness to work together in the resistance.

A serious resistance movement also means a commitment to winning, which means figuring out what "winning" means to you. For me, winning means living in a world with more wild salmon every year than the year before, more migratory songbirds, more amphibians, more large fish in the oceans, and for that matter oceans not being murdered. It means less dioxin in every mother's breast milk. It means living in a world where there are fewer dams each year than the year before. More native forests. More wild wetlands. It means living in a world not being ravaged by the industrial economy. And I'll do whatever it takes to get there (and if, by the way, you believe that "whatever it takes" is code language for violence, you're revealing nothing more than your own belief that nonviolence is ineffective).


More here.

You can't do effective magic without having a clear objective. You can't have a serious resistance movement without figuring out what winning means to you.

What's your objective? What does winning mean to you? What are you willing to do to get there? If the answer is less than: "whatever it takes," go back to square one.

Picture found here.

Stripped, Beaten, Paraded, Made To Eat Shit: She's A Witch


In November Jug Chaudhary, a 30-year-old mother of four children, was beaten up by her family members and paraded naked around a village in Kailali. They dragged her out from her home, beat her mercilessly and then forced her to eat human excreta. Her mother-in-law's brother had just passed away. She had been accused of putting a spell on him that caused his death.

When Chaudhary's husband, a labourer in India, returned the couple went to the police station but could not file a complaint. "They said it was a personal matter, it should be solved in the community." Jug Chaudhary did not receive justice. She is living in the same village, in the same Dalit community as those who accused and assaulted her.

***

Witch-hunting is an extreme form of gender violence and the reason it is not taken seriously is because the victims are usually from marginalised communities. Nepal's gender movement has made amazing strides, but it has done little for this community of victims.

Activists in Kathmandu can push for laws against witch-hunting while those in the field can work to spread awareness against the medieval superstitions that target these women. The Nepal Police, too, needs to include a chapter on how to address crimes related to superstition in their training manuals.

Three years ago in June, the interim parliament declared Nepal an 'untouchability-free nation'. Such empty proclamations mean little to women like Jug Chaudhary. This year, Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal acknowledged the state's failure to deliver on its promises, saying, "it is unfortunate that we haven't been able to implement this declaration in practice."


Full article here.

You can contact the embassy of Nepal at:

Embassy of Nepal
2131 Leroy Place, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: 202 667 4550, Fax: 202 667 5534

Email: info@nepalembassyusa.org.

Nepal's ambassador to the United States is: SHANKAR P. SHARMA
E-mail: info@nepalembassyusa.org
Telephone: (202) 667-4450 /4551

Picture found here.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Now. Now Would Be Good.

Thursday Poetry Blogging


For the Animals

BY LAWRENCE RAAB

for my mother
I call to them
with the names you gave me

waiting for the new moon
watching for the trembling in the trees
where the wind hides out at night

I call their secret names and they
come to me finding
the home we made for them
so much like our own with yellow flowers
and books clear windows a door at each end
to go out and come back in
chairs and a good table and everything
you could want

Your poem fills with animals

Woodchuck and beaver the sly fox
the pompous rabbit otter deer
raccoon and owl

In my house there are more of us
than I ever thought we knew
smiling and bringing presents for you

The perfect wings of the owl lift with the wind
The earth hugs the mole as a friend
The bear offers honey from his hands

I let myself fall
into the soft arms of animals and then
into their dreams

all of our secrets
returning to me falling back to me
carrying me home




Picture found here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Frigg



I've adored Renee Russo ever since her role in the remake of the Thomas Crowne Affair and I can't wait to see her as Frigg.

Taking My Own Advice


"Your breasts are perfect. Lovely. Completely fabulous. Just the kind I love."

For maybe two seconds, my snarky side (Geminii rising, what can I say?) thinks: "Now if only you were a man with curly black hair, blue eyes, your shirt sleeves rolled up above the cuff, your hands placed just so, the warm sea breeze playing gently . . . ." But on my next breath, my emotional side kicks in (sun in Pisces, so, again, no surprise) and I grab the hand of the stocky, middle-aged, midwestern doctor with her no-nonsense haircut and her good Polish last name and I break into tears of relief. She pats my shoulder, I blow my nose and start to apologize, she says, "It's more common than you'd think, especially with your history." I get my act together, dress myself and tie my Hermes scarf (moon in Taurus, what do you expect?), cab to my office, and give the driver a humongous tip. He probably thinks it's because of the holidays.

Every year when I have my mammogram, I sit there not-reading the magazine (I not-read Science and Time today, with special not-reading emphasis on the year-end articles on advances in the treatment of breast cancer), centering, grounding, telling myself, "They're taking too long. In a minute, the sweet little technician with the long hair and my sister's name will come back out and say, "Ms. Demetersdatter, doctor wants just a few more pictures, . . ." "and I'll know that "It" has returned. Because when it's all ok, they don't take "a few more pictures" in the rooms on the right side of the hall. When it's all ok, they send you to the sitting rooms on the left side of the hall so the doctor can come give you your results. I can tell by the tilt of the technician's head which way we're going before she opens her mouth. I've gone right and I've gone left, and, me, I prefer going left (and not only politically).

And, this year, I can tell as she walks down the hall: no more pictures. I get the coveted trip to a room on the left, a visit from the middle-aged doctor with the no-nonsense haircut, and a cab ride back to the office. I get to give my secretary, who keeps my calendar and who gives me the "eyebrows up" question, a thumbs up. When a guy with whom I work stops by and says, "You look happy today," I impulsively say, "I am. I had a perfect mammogram today," and I get lunch at the Palm: lobster and champagne. I'll be ready to kill him within days of the new year, but, this afternoon, we're old comrades at arms. I pretend to forget that he told our client that I had breast cancer, after I asked him not to, and he pretends to forget, as well.

Next year, who knows? But this year, twelve years out, I get the nice stuff. I'm going to try and remember it some year when I get the bad news.

A few weeks ago, my wonderful circle of amazing women gathered around me, listened to my wish: "If there is something there, let them find it," and then raised energy all around me to protect my health. I feel that circle of energetic protection every minute that I am standing with a sharp corner jabbed into my underarm and a plastic plate pressing down on my breast. I feel it and I draw upon it and I remind myself that, no matter what, I am not alone.

May it be so for you.

I came home and pulled a tarot card for myself and, let me just assure you, there is zero chance that I am pregnant. But if you feel inspired to read for me, leave a note in comments.

And go get your mammogram. If you've got some flexcare dollars to spend, it's not too late to get one this year. Early detection saves lives and I am living proof.

Photo by the author from the Robin Wood tarot deck.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Love Him Or Hate Him, Lon Milo Says What He Thinks



Peregrin is not impressed.

Axial Tilt: It Really Is The Reason For The Season


A modern religion, and, yet, who can deny its ancient DNA?

"It's not just those that see Stonehenge as a spiritual centre it is a whole multitude of people from both locally and oversees and they want to come here to celebrate the solstice.
"It's one of those things you must do at least once in your life and for many of those that come they will come again and again. It's a very special time for Stonehenge."


Fun video at the link.

As for this batty old broad, just as the Sun set last night, I went "roots down, branches up" and felt the tilt of the planet, felt that zing that reminds you that, no matter how lightly you may try and take it (and I try to take it pretty lightly), it's all still "Magik" with a capital "M" -- and in some ways, more foreign and mind-bending than we can ever remember for more than the space of a few wonderful, terrifying moments. There's no one, I'm willing to warrant, who's touched the stream of pure Earth Magik who doesn't stand there terrified, awed, off the ground, uncertain of surviving.

And, then, this morning, the deep zing of new energy, light, the turn of the wheel. What an amazing blue marble. What deep ley lines. What hidden caves of crystal.

And then I drove through the slush and ice to work. It's all real. It's all metaphor. There's always more.

Picture found here. Do follow this link, not only for the joke, but for the amazing picture of the ten-year-old Pagan. Goddess, she's lovely. What on Earth will this world be like when, in a generation or two, there are more of us cradle Pagans than converts? I'd love to stay around and watch.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Oh, Not Again. Wasn't She Just Out Here In The Summer Thunderstorm?


And, there it is. The Sun gone down on the shortest day of the year.

It was a day of almost surgically-white sunlight, bouncing off the two feet of snow and highlighting every speck of dirt and grime in the house, the way that only Winter sunlight can. I cleaned -- a lot, my housekeepers showed up in the snow and cleaned, and the old cottage is cleaner than it was before. I edited pre-appellate pleadings, interpreted the Code of Federal Regulations, and agreed with my associate's decisions about when to file motions. I dug a path out to my car where my wonderful neighbor helped me to dig out to the (still unploughed) road. I finished knitting a sweater vest for G/Son. I made roast turkey salad. I chatted with one witch about this week's CSA delivery (fewer green beans and lettuce this week; more oranges) and with another witch about grandchildren. I listened to Wynton Marsalis run up, up, up, up, up, all the way up into crystal. His music seemed to match the blinding sunlight.

I'm an old woman with a bad ankle and a recently-broken toe, but, at sunset, I whipped off my clothes and rolled in the snow on my back deck, startling a fox, a rabbit (whose life I think I saved), three squirrels, the demanding cardinal, and more sparrows and wrens than I could count. You can almost hear them thinking: "Fly away! It's the crazy lady! Tomorrow, she'll be out here with seeds and liquid water (which is rare and precious in this time of snow and ice), but, for now, this manifestation of the Goddess is in her crazy aspect. Best to wait it out here in the cryptomeria; it never lasts long. Damn! That is one crazy old woman." If there weren't two feet of snow and if I didn't have a broken toe, I'd have made it out to my boulder and the magnolias and back, but, we crones, we do the best we can and then we go back inside and have a martini. What do you think Baba Yaga has inside that house on chicken feet??? She has crystal martini glasses, that's what she has.

I have some magic to work this evening, and I will do it, but it will begin, because I am old, in a steaming hot bath filled with sage that I picked from my garden just as the snow began.

May the light return to you and yours, may your new projects grow and thrive in this bright light, may our lovely Planet continue to tilt upon her axis. Blessed Yule.

Picture found here.

I Told You It Was Going To Drive The Wingnuts Batshit Insane.



But not the Christian Gospel. Instead, “Avatar” is Cameron’s long apologia for pantheism — a faith that equates God with Nature, and calls humanity into religious communion with the natural world.

You can read the whole petulant tantrum here. It looks pretty standard to me, but you never know what will set the fundies off.

Io Evoe!



It's a day for feasting, focusing on the return of the light, and enjoying our connection to the ancient Pagans, (although Stonehenge will not be opening early today), and for adopting new traditions (like yurts!). And of course, humans will always be building Stonehenges.

May your day be filled with light! Sol Invictus, welcome back. You've been missed.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Earth, Air, Water, Fire; In This Circle We Conspire


In A Swiftly Tilting Planet (appropriate for a time of axial tilt, isn't it?), Madeline L'Engle (as devout an Episcopalian as ever cracked the Book of Common Prayer, and, yet, unbeknownst to her, as true a witch as ever turned the wheel) wrote of a witch craze in colonial New England. The woman accused was a Native American who had married a colonist.

On the morning of the execution Zylle was returned to the settlement. Infant Brandon was taken from her and given to Goody Llawcae.

"He is too young to be weaned," Goody Llawcae objected. "He will die of the summer sickness."

"The witch will not harm her own child," Pastor Mortmain said.

. . .

"Tie the witch's hands, " the man from the city ordered.

"I will do it," Goodman Higgins said. Hold out your hands, child."

"Show her no gentleness, Higgins," Pastor Mortmain warned, "unless you would have us think you tainted, too. After all, you have listened to their tales."

Goody Llawcae, holding the crying baby, said, "Babies have died of the summer sickness for years, long before Zylle came to dwell among us, and no one thought of witchcraft."

Angry murmurs came from the gathered people. "The witch made another baby die. Let her brat die as well." . . . The people of the settlement crowded about he gallows in ugly anticipation of what was to come. Davey Higgins stayed in the doorway of his cabin.

Goodman Higgins and Pastor Mortmain led Zylle across the dusty compound and up the steps tot he gallows. . . . And then Brandon cried aloud the words with Zillo had taught him:

"With Zylle in this fateful hour,
I call on all Heaven with its power
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And the fire with all the strength it hath,
And the lightning with its rapid wrath -- "

Thunderstorms seldom came till late afternoon. But suddenly the sky was cleft by a fiery bolt, and the church bore the power of its might. The crash of thunder was almost simultaneous. The sky darkened from a humid blue to a sulfurous dimness. Flames flickered about the doorway of the church.

The Indians stepped forward until the entire settlement was aware of their presence, silent and menacing. . . . Pastor Mortmain's face was distorted. "You are witches, all of you, witches! The Llawcae boy has the Indian girl's devil with him that he can call lightning! He must die!" . . . And then Davey Higgins came from the door of his cabin and stood on Brandon's other side.

Ritchie broke away from the men who were holding him, and sprang up onto the gallows. "People of the settlement!" he cried. "Do you think all power is of the devil? What we have just seen is the wrath of God! He turned his back on the crowd and began to untie Zylle.

The mood of the people was changing. . . . "Stop them -- " Pastor Mortmain choked out. "Stop the Indians! They will massacre us -- stop them --" . . .

Zilo raised a commanding hand. "This evil has been stopped. As long as nothing like this ever happens again, you need not fear us. But it must never happen again."

Murmurs of "Never, never, we are sorry, never, never" came from the crowd. . . . When there was no one left by the empty gallows except the three children, Zillo barked a sharp command and the Indians quickly dismantled the ill-built platform and gallows, threw the wood on the smoking remains of the church, and left, quietly.


All that it takes to stop the persecution is a Goody Llawcae, a Brandon, a Davey Higgins. All that it takes is a spell (and surely L'Engle's use of St. Patrick's Breastplate is a spell), all that it takes is people, scared people, people afraid for their own lives, who step forward and say, "No." And, so, on the Winter Solstice, I will say the words of the spell and do what I know how to do to pluck the Web "here" so that it reverberates "over there" in order to call those who will say, "No," in order to call the rain.

What will you do?

Picture found here.

Have You Had This Daymare?


I'm willing to bet that there are very few of us who call ourselves "witch" who haven't imagined it. The angry crowd, the knock at the door, the rough hands, the rope, the calm and completely self-satisfied torture, the moment when we'll say anything, even name others, the pyre, the choking, the blistering skin, the end. I know that I did, that I sometimes still do, that I occasionally wonder if it's worth it to be willing to name myself what I am. When the nights are long and dark and ungentle, when sickness stalks the land, when economic times are tough, it seems even easier to allow ourselves to slip into that sick half memory/half night terror/half rational fear. We may say, "Never again, the burning times," but in an odd way, they're in the "DNA" of our religion, in the psychic "DNA" of every witch.

Sometimes, too, I wonder how it must have been -- how it must be -- for those who don't consider themselves a witch at all. Is it even worse for the pious old woman whose land is just that desirable or who made the mistake of demanding a fair price for her cow? When they call her a witch and she honestly protests that she's nothing of the kind, is it more terrifying because it seems so impossible, or less terrifying because she at least doesn't have that sense that she's been waiting for this, all along?

Of course, there's no answer. And, of course, however horrible we imagine it to be, it was -- it is -- actually worse. Throughout the world today, and especially on the continent of Africa, evangelical xians and others are still torturing and killing others -- mostly women and children (gee, there's a surprise!) -- for the crime of witchcraft. As was probably true during the Inquisition, many of those accused are likely not at all involved in any form of magic or witchcraft. It doesn't matter. It never mattered. When they start burning people for being witches, we real witches are likely to burn.

As we move now into the Solstice, a sacred time for witches, a time when, here in this Hemisphere, Mother Earth turns away from the darkness and begins to move, more and more, into the light, perhaps you could spare some magical protection for those who are persecuted? Someday, I hope, some young woman will realize that she's a witch and will only celebrate that fact, not fear it. Let this Solstice be the beginning of the end of the persecution.

Picture found here.

Policing Fail!



It's all about cock size.

It Snowed. A Lot.



Then, the Sun came out.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Every Chance I Get


A really wonderful new friend of mine pointed me to Starhawk's latest essay in the WaPo's "On Faith" series. It's so good, that I'm going to reprint most of it here, before I comment on it.

Q: Is there such a thing as a 'just war'? In his Nobel speech, was President Obama right to speak in these theological terms about war? He also stated that 'no holy war can ever be a just war.' Do you agree or disagree?

Is there such a thing as a 'just war'? The problem with that question is that when we answer 'yes', we end up in a world where there is 'just war'--just war as an ultimate solution to every problem, whether it be terrorists, international diplomacy, drugs in our streets or bugs in our gardens. War becomes the default setting for all of our responses. War becomes the measure of manhood and the definer of strength. War constrains our imaginations and limits our intelligence.

A chemical farmer sees a bug in his field, and declares war. Out come the poisons and the sprays, the herbicides and the neurotoxins, dangerous and costly.. Kill the enemy! The result--poison on the vegetables, beneficial insects die, some pests always survive, making the problem worse.

An organic farmer sees a pest, and says, "Hmmn, here's an interesting piece of information. Something in the system is out of balance. Perhaps some mineral is lacking in the soil, that's weakening the plants. What can I do to shift the balance, to create conditions that will favor the beneficial bugs that will keep the pests in check?" Result--increased fertility, clean and nutritious vegetables, bright flowers growing among the fields, reduced damage to crops and increased health for farmworkers and consumers.

Our policy in the Middle East and Afghanistan, for decades, has been that of the chemical farmer--kill the enemy, and anything else that might happen to be in the vicinity, including civilians and potential allies, and when resistance develops, apply more of the same, regardless of cost. Then call it a 'just war'.

Imagine what our policy might be if, instead, we were guided by the maxim of the clever politician Harry Seldon from Isaac Asimov's classic science fiction novel, Foundation. "Violence is the last resort of the incompetent."

We might develop a policy more like that of the organic farmer--looking for the underlying forces that create the imbalance, that favor the development of terrorism and anti-U.S. sentiments. We might look for ways to support and favor the elements within Afghani or Iraqi or Iranian society that make for health, resilience, and liberty instead of employing the force that creates a perfect habitat for resentment, hatred, repression and terror. We might have supported and protected our Kurdish and Shiite allies after the first Gulf War instead of abandoning and betraying them. We might support the women's organizations in Afghanistan who, even under the Taliban, struggled heroically for women's rights. We might look at the model of Otpor, a student group who successfully overthrew the dictator Miloscevic using nonviolent resistance--with some strategic help and funding from outside. We might support the nonviolent resistance among the Palestinians, pressure the Israelis to lift the stranglehold siege on Gaza, to restrain their use of disproportionate force and to recognize that their true security can only be gained when Palestinians also have peace, security, and a just recognition of their human rights.

I'm deeply disappointed in Obama, because he is intelligent enough to forge such a policy. However, he operates in a country still controlled by a deep assumption--that strength equals force and violence, that a man who is reluctant to use force is less than a man, that a nation who refrains from wholesale slaughter is 'weak'. I can't help but think that his decision to send more troops to Afghanistan has less to do with the 'justness' of the conflict and more to do with the politics back home--an attempt to placate his right wing detractors and to look strong in their eyes.

In my futuristic novel, "The Fifth Sacred Thing," my character Maya says, "For five thousand years, men have been goading each other into acts of brutality and stupidity by calling each other cowards."

Until we confront that assumption, until we challenge our 'real men' and real women to embody a different sort of strength--the strength that nurtures, that heals, that uses intelligence and thoughtfulness and diplomacy to solve problems instead of brute force, until the thought of violence becomes abhorrent to us all, we will have no clear yardstick by which to measure any sort of justice.


I'll disagree only to the extent that I don't think it's the concept of "just war" that is the root of the problem. I think, as Starhawk's discussion of farming intimates, that the real root of the problem is the notion of duality -- the idea that there's nature and then there's us and we can war against some part of nature (say, a bug that eats our crops or a group of people who bother us, possess "our oil, live on "our" land) without warring against ourselves. Once you buy into the notion that we are separate from nature (and, thus, each other), then you need the concept of a "just war" to "justify" what you do, not only to plants, animals, and planets, but also to other humans. And that notion of duality, of "us" and "them," with "us" better than and, thus, "in charge of" "them" is bound up deeply in patriarchy, in the notion that men are better than and, thus, in charge of women.

Starhawk's right: Men have been goading other men into violence for thousands of years. Men, even intelligent men like Obama, would rather kill thousands of other humans (and we won't even mention war's impact on animals, plants, the Earth) than be called a coward. And women raised in this culture often agree. We need a new way to raise children that helps them to see themselves as a part of a beautiful web, not as separate from, and therefore "justified" in wreaking havoc upon nature, including other people. It's one reason that I try pretty hard to get G/Son out in nature, to help him to see the wonder of it, to get him to care for it. I don't kid myself that a few trips to the Nature Center completely counter a world that fills his head with Batman beating up bad guys (just war) or that had him convinced at age two that girls aren't fire fighters. But I will undermine the patriarchy every chance that I get. And I get a lot of chances.

May it be so for you.

PS: If you haven't read The Fifth Sacred Thing, you owe it to yourself to do so, right now. One of my all-time favorite novels.

Picture found here.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

It's Not "Just" In Africa

Proclaiming to be a prophet influenced by the "Holy Spirit," a Bechtelsville area woman dramatically stood up in court and called the woman she's accused of stalking a witch.

"(She) is a very powerful witch, it's true. She has grown more insolent," Sharlene Andreyko bellowed in a Montgomery County courtroom on Tuesday as she stared at the Lower Pottsgrove woman who prosecutors say she repeatedly stalked. "I am here making an accusation that I do not do lightly. This is very, very real. I am not a crazed lunatic."


Countdown to the allegation that the legal system is picking on this poor xian by preventing her from following her religious beliefs in 5, 4, 3, . . . .

Read the whole, sad tale here.

Manic, Alienated Glee. Now, There's A Concept I Can Get Behind



If it pisses the wingnuts off this much, it must be at least pretty good.

For hundreds of years, the [P]agan, communist ideas expressed in this movie circulated among a threadbare group of outcasts with dirty fingernails and greasy hair, who shared their obtuse, occult ideas amongst themselves with manic, alienated glee. Now, James Cameron has made these insane views the major bulwark of a very spectacular movie, but the spectacle does not make these Neo-Marxist views any more coherent, rational or uplifting.

Too Fucking Stupid To Live


Here’s something no one wants to discuss.

The
Tulsa Zoo is a filled with [P]agan deities. The elephant exhibit has a six-foot statue of Ganesha, the principal god of the Hindus.

When it was placed there by the secularists who run Tulsa’s publicly funded zoo, they claimed it was a “cultural symbol” and had nothing to do with religion.

The Hindus felt otherwise. They were offended by the prospect of children touching their elephant-like god and persuaded the zoo to put a fence around it.

In the rain forrest exhibit, there are several examples of [P]agan deities. That has been true in other exhibits, including the one from Africa.

And, of course, the zoo continues to display an exhibit on the theory of evolution, even though its information is outdated by even the most secular standards.

Imagine if a Christian wanted to put up a cross at the zoo or a display of Noah’s Ark. The atheists and the humanists at All Souls Unitarian Church would have city fathers take it down immediately or they would file suit.

The Bible is full of examples of God reacting adversely to idol worship. Ganesha apparently wasn’t enough to protect Amali.

Tulsa shouldn’t have [P]agan idols at a publicly funded zoo. The zoo should be made private or the idols taken down.

Until that happens, Christians should boycott the zoo.


More insanity here.

Picture found here.

Twenty-First Century Pagan


Following up on this earlier post, I see that Thorn Coyle has written:

I practice Paganism and magic. . . . I’m fine with being a 21st century person practicing a religion with ancient ancestry and contemporary innovation. As a person who lives on this land and in this time, among these cities and farms and wild places, how can I really do anything else?

For right now, I will call myself Pagan: one who connects with the non-Dual and the many Gods, with this sweet earth and with the stars far beyond my eye’s ability to reach.


I think that's about right.

My wonderful circle of amazing women practices a very eclectic brand of Dianic witchcraft. We're big believers in doing what works, what's worked before, what logically seems as if it will work in this situation, for this objective, at this time. I wouldn't keep doing something that didn't work just because it was an ancient practice and I don't hesitate to adopt brand-spanking-new modern practices (including the use of iPhones and computers and modern plumbing) that are effective. Sometimes, when I'm doing magic or engaged in my daily practice, I get a strong sense of being part of an unbroken line of women who have priestessed Mother Earth. Sometimes, I can tell that I'm starting something that my great, great, many-times-great granddaughters and great nieces will continue. And sometimes, I'm just a 53-year-old woman doing the best that she can in the early 21st Century.

And, I practice my magic, these days, almost entirely in the DC metro area. What I do, what works for me, the seasons as I know and celebrate them are, of course, different than they were for ancient European witches and Pagans. I'm in relationship with this unique river that, in so many ways, is different from every other river in the world. I have access to places of -- literal -- worldly, political power that rival almost anything my uneducated, impoverished, rural ancestors could have imagined. I can bless and bind politicians, justices, lobbyists, newsmedia figures. I can do it at lunch, in a bar after work, outside their homes and offices, in the Capitol building, the Supreme Court, the Old Executive Office Building . . . where they least expect it. I ground by sinking my roots into red Virginia clay, not Mediterranean sand and, when I cast a circle, I cast it around white oaks and crape myrtles and a red fox and squirrels both grey and black.

Does my religion have ancient roots? Yes. Is it modern? Yes. Does it borrow from other religions and time periods and practices? You bet. And, as Ms. Coyle says, I'm fine with that.

Picture found here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I Don't Know Why They Swallowed The Fly

I don’t remember why they arrested the lawyer.

There's a reason I love Paganii.

Actually, they teach you in law school: Try not to get arrested with your clients; it makes it more difficult to get them out of jail.

And, then, there's this: My faery friend recited a poem so graphically sexual that even I was blushing, and I’m not exactly demure about such things. The cops, being San Francisco cops, never turned a hair. I gave them William Butler Yeats’ “The Hosting of the Sidhe” and they all dropped their pens and stared. Shortly after that, they let us go, in time for me to make my lunch date. As Victor Anderson said: White magic is poetry. Black magic is anything that actually works. Sometimes, poetry actually works. At which point, it's black magic. Me, I'm a huge proponent of what works.

My New Name For A Blog

OK, this is a bit more "civil." What she said:

I believe that if the Senate health care bill passes as Joe Lieberman has demanded it–with no Medicare buy-in or public option–it will be a significant step further on our road to neo-feudalism. As such, I find it far too dangerous to our democracy to pass–even if it gives millions (perhaps unaffordable) subsidies for health care.

20% of your labor belongs to Aetna

Consider, first of all, this fact. The bill, if it became law, would legally require a portion of Americans to pay more than 20% of the fruits of their labor to a private corporation in exchange for 70% of their health care costs.

. . . Senate Democrats are requiring middle class families to give the proceeds of over a month of their work to a private corporation–one allowed to make 15% or maybe even 25% profit on the proceeds of their labor.

It’s one thing to require a citizen to pay taxes–to pay into the commons. It’s another thing to require taxpayers to pay a private corporation, and to have up to 25% of that go to paying for luxuries like private jets and gyms for the company CEOs.

It’s the same kind of deal peasants made under feudalism: some proportion of their labor in exchange for protection (in this case, from bankruptcy from health problems, though the bill doesn’t actually require the private corporations to deliver that much protection).In this case, the federal government becomes an appendage to do collections for the corporations.

Mind you, not only will citizens be required to pay private corporations. But middle class citizens may be required to pay more to these private corporations than they pay in federal and state taxes. . . . And if they have a significant medical event, they’ll pay 22%–far, far more than they’ll pay into the commons. So it’s bad enough that this bill would require citizens to pay a tithe to a corporation. It’s far worse when you consider that some citizens would pay more in their corporate tithe than they would to the commons.

And, finally, while the Senate bill does not accord these corporate CEOs a droit de seigneur–the right to a woman’s virginity the night of her marriage–if Ben Nelson (and Bart Stupak) get their way, it would make a distinction in this entire compact for how the property of a woman’s womb shall be treated.

Single payer for the benefit of corporations

And for those who promise we’ll go back and fix this later, once we achieve universal health care, understand what will have happened in the meantime. The idea, of course, is to establish some means to get people single payer coverage (before Lieberman, this would have been through a public option or Medicare buy-in) and, over time, expand it.

In fact, this bill will move toward single payer, too–though not the kind we want. For the large number of people who live in a place where there is limited competition, this bill will require them to get health care through the oligopoly or monopoly provider. It’ll work great for the provider: they will be able to dictate rates. But the Senate bill allows these blossoming single payer providers to keep up to 25% of the benefit in profits and marketing costs, and pass little of that benefit onto citizens. If we make private corporations our single payer, how are we going to convince them to cede control when we ask them to let the government be the single payer?

The reason this matters, though, is the power it gives the health care corporations. We can’t ditch Halliburton or Blackwater because they have become the sole primary contractor providing precisely the services they do. And so, like it or not, we’re dependent on them. And if we were to try to exercise oversight over them, we’d ultimately face the reality that we have no leverage over them, so we’d have to accept whatever they chose to provide. This bill gives the health care industry the leverage we’ve already given Halliburton and Blackwater.

The feudal health care filibuster-proof majority

It’s the 9.8% tithe that bothers me the most. But for those who think we can fix it, consider this, too. If the Senate bill passes, in its current form, it will mean that the health care industry was able to dictate–through their Senators Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson–what they wanted the US Congress to do. They will have succeeded in dictating the precise terms of legislation.

Now, that’s not the first time that has happened. It certainly happened on telecom immunity. It certainly has happened, repeatedly, on Defense contracting (see also Randy Cunningham). But none of these egregious instances of corporations dictating legislation included a tithe–the requirement that citizens pay corporations to provide their service, rather than allowing the government to contract the service.

This is a fundamentally different relationship we’re talking about–one that gives corporations vast new powers. And the fact that–with one temper tantrum from Joe Lieberman–the corporations were able to dictate the terms of this new relationship deeply troubles me.

When this passes, it will become clear that Congress is no longer the sovereign of this nation. Rather, the corporations dictating the laws will be.

I understand the temptation to offer 30 million people health care. What I don’t understand is the nonchalance with which we’re about to fundamentally shift the relationships of governance in doing so.

We’ve seen our Constitution and means of government under attack in the last 8 years. This does so in a different–but every bit as significant way. We don’t mandate tithing corporations in this country–at least not yet. And it troubles me that so many Democrats are rushing to do so, without considering the logical consequences.


I agree with Dr. Dean. Kill this bill. Perhaps our "above it all" President will decide that it matters to him to get decent health care passed. Or, he can be a one-term-wonder. Gee, that was such a super cool YouTube, wasn't it? Turns out, no, he can't (be bothered).

My Joy Doubled



My Joy Doubled

to drive my daughter
through the jeweled
morning light
this morning:

joy to sigh
"What a lovely morning!"
and see the glimmer
in her eye
in the rear-view mirror
as our light went green,

and joy to show her how
the ochre sunrise hadn't
yet washed down
from the cross
on the steeple
at the top of the town.

The temperature
was three degrees,
the bank sign said.
"Wake up, old Mr. Sun,"
we called as if he were
our corner grocer,
not the ember burling
distant crowns.

A mile we rode in silence
while the nickle-purple
crystal of the world
was poured with light.

I need to think she saw it all
as it sped by --
the rink in spun
chain link, the outlet mall
in mist -- and loved
the pinks and golds
as I do. She is so young.
If I can't train her eyes
to love, how else then
praise the lapidary,
who cuts our days
like diamonds
from the carbon cold above?

~Todd Boss

Picture found here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My New Name For A Blog


What the Rude Pundit Said.

Jacqueline Kelly died yesterday in Jersey City, New Jersey, of ovarian cancer. She also had emphysema. She was 61 years-old, a woman who was a stay-at-home mom to her six kids and a supportive wife for 44 years to John Kelly. John, 68, worked for fifty years as a truck driver and was old enough to get on Medicare when he retired. His wife could not, since she was 61.

She was told she didn't qualify for Social Security disability benefits because she had never "worked." They didn't qualify for welfare assistance or Medicaid because John's pension checks were too high. So, instead, most of the money went to paying for Jacqueline's medical expenses, as much as they could, until it became a choice of chemotherapy or food. As John put it, "I worked all my life. She's being penalized for staying home and taking care of her kids." Kelly died because of a lack of health insurance, pure and simple, cause and effect.

Think about that: John and Jacqueline Kelly were like apple pie, they fit so perfectly into the mold of ideal Americans that conservatives propagate. John was able to support his family doing a job that he stayed dedicated to. Jacqueline chose to stay at home and raise a large family. This is also death by sexism in that we live in a nation where full-time motherhood is not valued as a job and never has been. The myth of the American dream is always, always revealed as the lie it always was, and those who continue to foist it upon us are the ones least willing to make it be true. Where were all the alleged Christians, who are now so ready to kill health reform legislation? Where was the charity that's supposed to take care of such things? There was some, but not enough to get her the medical care that might have saved her.

You know who stepped up to help the Kelly family? Professional wrestlers. Yeah, Total Mayhem Pro Wrestling held a fundraiser for Jacqueline about a week ago, raising $4000 for medical expenses. That money will now be used for a funeral.

Pulls at your heartstrings, no? Really gets that lump in your throat going, this story of love and failure? Jacqueline Kelly was one of millions of Americans who would have qualified for help in just about any of the health care reform measures that actually seek to insure people. She'd have qualified for the public option. She'd have qualified for Medicare buy-in. In almost any other country in the developed world, and even in some in the undeveloped part, her care would not have even been an issue.

We are overwhelmed, yes, by tale upon tale of the sadness and horror brought on by this country's willful neglect of its citizens because we need to please some mad god of capitalism. And because we need to soothe the vanity of politicians, like Joe Lieberman.

We focus our rage on Lieberman out here in Left Blogsylvania not just because he is the kind of man who sucks his own cock in public and then grins, his semen-slicked teeth shining in the klieg lights, to the delight of Aetna and Wellpoint executives just before they shove his ass full of cash and tell him he can have it after he shits it back out. That would be enough. But it's that Lieberman actually takes pleasure in dicking over the Democratic caucus. Motherfucker said he supported the Medicare buy-in and then bailed? What kind of fuckery is that? That's just doing shit for the sake of doing shit. He's Shylock with less motivation. And that just makes us wanna go Berlusconi on his face. (Rhetorically, of course. Of course.)
. . .

Lieberman's gotta be punished, or they gotta get rid of Reid. There's gotta be consequences for Lieberman. He's gotta lose his Homeland Security committee chair, maybe even be ejected from the caucus. He's gotta be publicly defiled. If there was any kind of justice right now, Lieberman should be locked in a glass room with the ghost of Lyndon Johnson. Motherfucker would be on his knees after five minutes, begging to give LBJ a rim job for mercy's sake.

Or, instead, Lieberman should be forced to eat the body of Jacqueline Kelly. He should have to taste her diseased organs and mutated cells. He should have to stare at her dead face as he ingests her faded skin and deteriorated muscle. And if he can't do it on his own, he should have her bones shoved down his throat until he fucking gags. Then maybe he'll understand that we're not talking about abstract numbers of people dying. We're talking about real corpses.


I'm just out of patience with these narcisists.

*****

Update in response to comments: Yes, the Rude Pundit is a bit of an acquired taste (and, believe me, this post was mild. I've seen him perform and, trust me, it's "worse" and, somehow, the dildoes involved always wind up in the hotel bar at an ungodly hour. At least, that's what I hear). As to his desire to persuade, his only audience, for that purpose, is, I believe, the nice, polite Democrats (you know who you are, and in the words of my G/Son, "I am giving you a look") who think that civility and bipartisanship are goals, not only in and of themselves, but also, goals for which it's appropriate to, well, in this case, allow good Americans to die. He's a bit of a performance artist, and the point of his performance is to shine some light on the fact that we often, shall we say, get our panties in more of a wad over "incivil" language and the use of dry powder than we do over actions such as torture or murder that would, in a rational universe, be deserving of significant amounts of scorn. Every other civilized nation on Earth, and some that aren't so civilized, manages to provide basic health care for its citizens. And, then there's us and Uganda. If I've offended my readers, I apologize. I value each and every one of you.

In The Darkness


from FOUR QUARTETS: East Coker by T.S. Eliot

O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark.
The vacant interstellar spaces......
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

Picture found here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Here's Your Daily Dose Of "Slow Down"

It's A Fun Job And


This morning, there was sun-infused mist hovering over the beautiful Potomac River, the river of my heart. There was also mist covering the city of Columbia, mist surrounding the Washington Monument so that it rose like a single, giant tower out of Fairey, mist hiding the Capital and the statue of the Goddess.

As I leave the George Washington Parkway, which runs alongside the Potomac and edges T.R. Island, and head onto the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge, there's a lovely stand of (now, dead) weeds and berried trees and, every morning, I roll down my window and touch the dried, dead weeds as the traffic creeps slowly into the city. As I enter the merge lane, I look for the Homeless Vet, with his swollen feet and fingers and his cardboard sign that says, "Always Proud." Sometimes I bring him hot potatoes in silver foil, crisp apples, bread with raisins. Sometimes, I bring him a package of tube socks, a few dollars, some bottled water. Later this week, I'm going to bring him a hat that I knitted for him. Once I'm across three lanes, onto the far left, I look at the old, dead tree where, sometimes, I see a bald eagle sitting, sunning, staring at the Kennedy Center.

Far across the Planet, in Tasmania, T. Thorn Coyle is working with forest activists. She writes:

Thus began a discussion of disconnection and being part of place. Some of the activists feel that they are not part of great Nature, but rather must work to stop this alienated human destruction of it. I replied that in sensing we are not Nature, we instantiate the rift that causes the logging and wood chipping of the old growth that they are fighting. Alienation and disconnection are the same, whether one thinks humans are superior or inferior to the land, the trees, the animals and the sky.

We need a deep realization that we are one with all of these. That we are the same. That the call of the koorawong is our call. That the rocky outcropping high above the Weld Valley, with its view of clear-cuts, masses of trees, the glorious white of the soaring grey goshawk over the appearing and disappearing shine of river is a vision of the connectedness and disconnectedness of our very lives.

. . .

We are Nature. We are of place. We are born. We live. We die.

We are all indigenous to this planet and this solar system. I am indigenous to the state of California. My practices of religion, inspired though they may be by the magic of the ancient tribes of Europe and rooted in the folk practices of the US and the ceremonial practices of the late 19th century are also informed by my animal body responding to the ocean near my home, to the particular quality of light reflected upon hills or buildings, to the strange quirks of weather on the little peninsula at the Golden Gate. Place informs me and I inform place. My practices are no more nor less indigenous than those of any other migrating people. Something that was invented to root us in this particular place or contemporary time is no less authentic for being 40 years or 40 minutes old rather than 4,000.


I may be a nutty old woman. But doing magic in a place weds me to that place, and being in relationship with a place increases my ability to do magic, aids my daily practice, makes me become the witch I am meant to be. It's not complicated or esoteric, really. It's mostly paying attention. I pay serious attention to the weeds, I notice them every day, I think about them, I touch them when I can, they show up in my dreams, I bless them for absorbing as much carbon exhaust as they do. I pay attention to the people, the birds, the shape of the city. And, in return, they pay attention to me. I am who I am because the Potomac River is who she is. I don't understand how it can be anything else.

I am "of this place." Whether than makes me "indigenous" according to the definition of some person who finds value in dividing things into categories doesn't change who I am, what I do, how effective my magic is, nor does it change my relationship with the misty river, the shining city, the dead, dry weeds. It doesn't change the antiquity of my practices; witches have been doing "this" for aeons. And, tomorrow, I'm still going to be in relationship with the same river, the same shining city of monuments, the same Homeless Vet, the same trees. I'm going to come home and feed the same demanding cardinal by hanging suet in the same euonymus bush that I've been tending and loving for over six years now. I'm going to be a witch, loving the world into magic and magicked into love by the world. Somebody has to do it.

Picture found here.

Education Fail!



Here's an interesting story about a fifteen-year-old Wiccan whose school choral class is singing xian holiday songs. The school's agreed to let her "sit out" those songs, but as she says, This is school and not church," . . . I was the one kid that stood out." And, as someone who really enjoys some xian choral music, I'm almost ready to agree with the teacher who explains that his music has some historical and choral importance and is being taught for those reasons until the article gets around to mentioning that : The [student's family, the] Keens also have raised concerns this year about prayers in class and a prayer board posted in the choir room.

Miller said he gave students permission to lead prayers in class Mondays, at their request. The prayer board was a student-led activity, he said. Miller revamped the concert to include a wider variety of secular songs for the holiday season.


First Amendment Fail!

I notice that the compromise didn't involve including some Wiccan music in the program and letting the xian students sit those out while Ms. Keen sang a couple of solos.

I suspect Ms. Keen will learn a whole lot more, about herself, her society, and the value of standing up for yourself even when that makes you "different," than she'll learn about singing. May the Goddess guard her.

(One does wonder who went to the paper with this story. Was it the family? The school? Some busybody?)

The comments section is worth its weight in, well, dross if not gold. They're such loving, humble people, these xians. Such a shining example of their god's love for all. No, they're not.

Solstice Comes To LA


Toward the Winter Solstice
by Timothy Steele

Although the roof is just a story high,
It dizzies me a little to look down.
I lariat-twirl the cord of Christmas lights
And cast it to the weeping birch’s crown;
A dowel into which I’ve screwed a hook
Enables me to reach, lift, drape, and twine
The cord among the boughs so that the bulbs
Will accent the tree’s elegant design.

Friends, passing home from work or shopping, pause
And call up commendations or critiques.
I make adjustments. Though a potpourri
Of Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and Sikhs,
We all are conscious of the time of year;
We all enjoy its colorful displays
And keep some festival that mitigates
The dwindling warmth and compass of the days.

Some say that L.A. doesn’t suit the Yule,
But UPS vans now like magi make
Their present-laden rounds, while fallen leaves
Are gaily resurrected in their wake;
The desert lifts a full moon from the east
And issues a dry Santa Ana breeze,
And valets at chic restaurants will soon
Be tending flocks of cars and SUVs.

And as the neighborhoods sink into dusk
The fan palms scattered all across town stand
More calmly prominent, and this place seems
A vast oasis in the Holy Land.
This house might be a caravansary,
The tree a kind of cordial fountainhead
Of welcome, looped and decked with necklaces
And ceintures of green, yellow, blue, and red.

Some wonder if the star of Bethlehem
Occurred when Jupiter and Saturn crossed;
It’s comforting to look up from this roof
And feel that, while all changes, nothing’s lost,
To recollect that in antiquity
The winter solstice fell in Capricorn
And that, in the Orion Nebula,
From swirling gas, new stars are being born.

Picture found here.

Don't you love the way the poet rhymes, and thereby meaningfully links, "Capricorn" with "being born"? I do. And, I miss the xmas palms of LA and Pasadena. The poinsettias that grow outside. The beach at dawn on Solstice morning. Not too much, but some. And I miss the San Gabriel mountains and their silence. I miss those almost every day.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

What If You Believe In The Being Of Multiple Goddesses and Gods?


The stupid. It not only burns, it costs taxpayers a lot of money in wasted legal costs.

Honestly, it's amazing to me that, as states and towns all over the country cut needed services due to a lack of funds, people tolerate the waste of money on this sort of xianist nonsense.

Hat tip to wwjd

Picture found here.

Soup


One of the best things about Winter, IMHO, is soup.

I have this soup on the stove right now.

3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
1 cup peeled, cored and coarsely chopped Granny Smith apple
1 cup peeled and coarsely chopped turnip
1 cup peeled and chopped butternut squash (seeds discarded)
1 cup coarsely chopped carrot
1 cup peeled, chopped sweet potato
5 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock
1/4 cup maple syrup
Cayenne pepper
1 small whole-grain baguette
3 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

For soup, heat oil in a large saucepan on medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add apple, turnip, squash, carrot, and sweet potato; season with salt, then sauté 5 minutes. Add stock, bring to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add syrup, then cayenne pepper to taste. Cool slightly. Puree with a handheld mixer, food processor or blender. For toast toppers, cut 6 slices bread and toast them. Spread 1/2 oz goat cheese on top of each; sprinkle with chives. Pour soup into 6 large bowls; float toast on top.

My proportions are off from the recipe; I had a lot of little, multi-colored carrots from my CSA and no turnip. But that's the great thing about soup! I peeled and chopped listening to Handel's Water Music, which is likely the one CD I'd take to the desert island -- you know, the desert island where you can take one book, one CD (played by solar power, I guess), one photograph from your past, and one important memory.

Yesterday, DiL, who is a really, really brilliant cook, made butternut squash soup with grated gruyere cheese. Damn, that was good! I ate two bowls!

The other wonderful thing about soup is that it often gets better served as leftovers when the flavors have had time to meld. I'll freeze some of this soup, take some for lunch a few days this week, have a bowl nuked in the microwave when I get home late, starved, and cold. Fiber, Vitamin A, and the extra, not-to-be-discounted health benefits of warm, filling, brightly-colored, and spicy food eaten in a warm kitchen in the heart of darkness.

Picture found here.

What's your favorite soup recipe?