Some winters this doesn't happen at all, but, for almost a week, the beautiful Potomac River has been frozen, well, at least covered by a sheet of river ice. It's so amazing to me to drive past, and then over, it every day, as I do, and to see it covered in choppy ice, from the Teddy Roosevelt Island all the way to the Kennedy Center.
Water, in my cosmology, is about flow, change, cleansing, shifting, floating, drift. Seeing the most important body of water in my natural world frozen, I'm reminded what happens to Water when Fire is absent. Everything stops. It's gorgeous, and it reflects the Available Light beautifully, but there's neither solid ground nor cleansing flow. There's ice.
Imbolc's coming. Imbolc's about both the returning fire and sacred wells. Of course, it's about poetry. For me, this year, it's also about a focus on fire, will, intention, clinging to poetry. What's this Imbolc about for you? What is it that is frozen in your life? Towards which thaws are you yearning?
Thank you, Mr. President for striking down the Bush administration's ban on giving federal money to international groups that perform abortions or provide abortion information ! This step will save women's lives, help to keep our already-vastly-overpopulated planet a bit less crowded, and acknowledges the deep truth that women have a right to control their own bodies. As Secretary of State Clinton explained: [F]or seven years, Bush's policy made it more difficult for women around the world to gain access to essential information and health care services. ''Rather than limiting women's ability to receive reproductive health services, we should be supporting programs that help women and their partners make decisions to ensure their health and the health of their families,'' Clinton said.
I'll repeat what I've said before: Criminalizing abortion and denying women access to safe abortions doesn't prevent abortions. It simply sends women into back alleys and the hands of untrained abortionists. Everyone knows that the real goals of the pro-criminalization crowd have nothing to do with preventing abortion. They've been trying for 36 years to criminalize abortions and, in that time, have prevented exactly zero abortions. Meanwhile, they actively oppose many measures that do actually prevent abortions and give only lip service to others. I'm not particularly concerned with reducing the number of abortions, but, we know, empirically, what measures do, in fact, reduce the number of abortions and, if the pro-criminalization crowd actually cared about preventing abortion, they'd be doing these things instead of standing outside clinics screeching at women.
1. Education for girls reduced the rate of pregnancies, thereby reducing abortion. Spend money teaching girls to read, do math, do science, learn a marketable skill, write, whatever, and you'll reduce abortions.
2. Teach real sex education. Quit with the insulting, anti-sex "abstinence" bullshit and teach all kids real sex education, including the use of all forms of birth control. Teach it early, teach it often, teach it without including the biases of the Abrahamic religions. That's something Abrahamic parents can do in their homes and their own places of worship.
3. Make free, safe, effective birth control available.
4. Provide economic opportunities for women. There's a reason that abortions went down during Bill Clinton's administration and up under George Bush's administration. When a woman knows that she will be able to provide for her child, she's more likely to carry her pregnancy to term. When she has health insurance, family leave, access to day care, etc., she is less likely to abort.
5. Teach boys that no means no.
6. Enforce child support laws.
I'll believe the pro-criminalization crowd really cares about "babies" when they start to do the above.
Meanwhile, as grateful as I am to Mr. Obama for reversing Bush's gag rule, I'd like to offer a big, steaming cup of fuck-you-very-much to our new president for this little game: Obama issued the presidential memorandum rescinding the Bush policy without coverage by the media, late Friday afternoon. The abortion measure is a highly emotional one for many people, and the quiet signing was in contrast to the televised coverage of Obama's announcement Wednesday on ethics rules and Thursday's signing of orders on closing the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and banning torture in the questioning of terror suspects. Look, closing Guantanamo and banning torture were highly emotional measures for many people. That was a reason to put those policy changes front and center, not to try to hide them on a late Friday afternoon. Why are women's rights different?
Obama often gives the impression that standing up for women's rights is a necessary, but distasteful, part of his job. Now, his job is to be the president. I hope that women's issues aren't going to continue to be the "Friday document dump" of the Obama administration.
And I'm sorry as all get-out that Mr. Obama is "bored" by the "stale and fruitless debate" over whether I own my body or the state owns it. Really. So sorry to bug you, Barack. No, I'm not.
The kind of times when you can hear the turning of the wheel.
This morning, G/Son and I sent our guests off with choruses of "Na na na na na na na na, na na na na na na na, Batman!" Along with coffee, bagels, eggs with cheese, and orange juice. G/Son had a side of oatmeal.
When they left to go see President Obama, G/Son and I went downstairs and played Batman, complete with cape, for quite some time.
Then, we came upstairs and watched President Obama make his serious promise to G/Son, to me, and to everyone. We ate Obama cookies before hand and Obama cupcakes afterwards. Nonna cried and had to explain why, sometimes, crying is a way of saying that you are way too happy. G/Son said: "Don't cry, Nonna. I will listen to President Obama's serious promise. He will tell the truth to me."
After President Obama made his promise, Nonna went into her altar room to light some incense for him. G/Son came in and lit some incense, too, for the fox, and the raven, and the Potomac River. We said, "Here, Mr. Obama. May you have mental clarity." We went outside and beat on some pots and graters and said, "Yeah! Obama is president!" We played with the neighborhood cat, Smoke, and we slid around on the icy stream in front of Nonna's house, and we came inside and had soup and then we took a nap.
Our senses have coevolved with the whole of the sensuous world, with all these other sentient shapes and forms, all these other styles of life. Our nervous system emerged in reciprocity with all that rich otherness, in relationship and reciprocity with hawks and waves and stormclouds and waterfalls, with an animate, living land that spoke to us in a multiplicity of voices. . . .
[Yet, in the modern world, many have come to believe that a] dynamic or living relationship is simply not possible with an object. The only things you can enter into relationship with . . . are other humans. Yet the human nervous system still needs the nourishment that it once go from being in reciprocity with all these other beings and entities. And so we turn toward . . . our human lovers and friends, in hopes of meeting that need. We turn toward our human lovers demanding a depth and range of otherness that they cannot possibly provide. Another human cannot possibly provide all of the outrageously diverse and vital nourishment that we once got from being in relationship with dragonflies and swallowtails and stones and lichen and wolves. It's just not possible We used to carry on personal relationships with the sun and the moon and the stars! To try and get all that, now from another person -- from another nervous system shaped so much like our own -- continually blows apart marriages, it explodes so many of our human relationships, because they can't stand the pressure.
I'd add to Abram's point that we now, also, seek what we're missing in increasingly advanced technology: what we can't get from other humans we now often look for in tv, DVDs, computer games, Wii. And, they're all great; I'd be lost without the internet. But I agree with Abram that there are some things that only being in relationship with the Earth can give to us.
I believe that one way to begin to establish that relationship, or, perhaps to re-establish it, as most of us did have such relationships as children, is -- this will surprise no one -- to regularly ground. A regular practice of grounding helps to remind you that you are of and in the Earth, helps you to focus on how the Earth is feeling, how it makes you feel, what you have to say to each other. This is one of the reasons why I like to ground by paying direct attention to physical stuff: are you sinking your roots into mountain stone, wet clay, warm sand, forest duff, garden humus? Is the ground frozen or warm? Are there small pebbles that your roots push past or large stones around which they curl? Are there worms, bugs. moles, bats in caves? Do your roots twist and branch around the bones of your ancestors, someone else's ancestors, the bears' ancestors? How does the energy that you pull up into your roots taste, feel in your belly, smell when you exhale it out into the air around you? I don't know how you can do this exercise and not realize that you are made of the Earth, you are in relationship with the Earth, you and the mole, you are both seeking solace and rest deep in the Earth; are you not sisters?
Abram says that we need to realize that, there is something interior about the mind, but it is not because it's inside us, but rather because we are inside it. Mind is not a human property, it's a quality of the [E]arth. As soon as we begin to loosen up, to allow the life of the things around us, and as soon as we begin to speak accordingly, we'll begin to notice that the awareness that we thought was ours does not in fact belong to us. We're breathing it in and out. Along with all the other animals, the plants, and the drifting clouds, we are immersed in the mind of the living world. . . . And I need to notice that each place has its own particular style of awareness. The intelligence of this place, the mind of this land, here in this valley, is quite different from the mind of the Puget sound, which is quite different from the mind of the eastern forests.
If we just start listening somewhat, something will snap us up, and suddenly we'll be just practicing; we'll be in it. Just discovering one again that we are inside the world will, I think, be vital, sufficient, strong enough to enable us to work with whatever we must face.
Ground. Ground regularly and something will snap you up, and suddenly, you'll just be practicing; you'll be in it.
Abram quoted in How Shall I Live My Life? On Liberating the Earth from Civilization by Derrick Jensen
Figure which has long dwelt in the coolness of sinister stone Opens the pale mouth sounding Round owl's eyes – sounding gold. Those found the cave of the forest decayed and empty The shadow of a doe in the rotten branches At the border of the spring the darkness of his childhood.
Long at the forest border a bird sings your decline The anxious showers of your brown coat; The shadow of the owl appears in the rotten branches.
Long at the forest border a bird sings your decline The anxious showers of your blue coat The shadow of the mother appears in the spiky grass.
Long at the forest border a bird sings your decline The anxious showers of your black coat The shadow of the black horse appears in the mirror of the spring.
A few years ago, my husband and I went out howling for wolves, with a dozen strangers. It was a clear, cold night -- so cold. Our guide told us to work for discordance, all of us howling on a different pitch, switching keys randomly, to imitate the sound of a wolf pack in full chorus. We always started out that way, but as each group howl drew out at the end, we found we had turned ourselves into a minor chord -- a rich, deep chord, something Bach would recognize. In a clearing, surrounded by pines that cut the shape of wolves sitting on their haunches, the wolves answered our chorus --a full pack-howl coming from behind the wolf-trees. I have never loved my husband more deeply. More than that, I loved all those strangers that night. I didn't know a thing about them but I loved them.
I have come to believe that natural beauty can be the ground of human connection, and the richer your experience of the natural world, the richer your experience of the people around you. When we alienate ourselves from the natural world, we alienate ourselves from fundamental parts of ourselves, and become lesser -- and impoverish our relationsips with ohther people, too, because we have less to give.
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 . . . ."