Sorry. Sometimes, I can't help myself. (And I'd swear that the complete lyrics include "I have read the great Cabala, And I simply worship Allah. Zip! I am just a mystic." But I'm old and maybe I'm "misremembering.")
In all seriousness, this discussion from Pantheacon concerning the unity, duality, and/or zero-ness of deity is worth listening to, oh, a dozen times.
Me, I'm a hedge witch. I go with what works at any given time. And my answer to the questions is Molly Bloom's:
the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.
Yes. It's all real. It's all metaphor. There's always more. And it's all just god pouring god into god.
And, I adore Lon Milo Duquette, but isn't it interesting that it's the older, straight, white man who's most willing to buy into the "I create even my own bad reality" stuff?
Michelle Obama has been making news championing cooking with local and sustainable ingredients. . . . She put in a pitch for the superior flavor of local and sustainable food and for healthy eating, a recurring theme for her during the campaign and since she has come to Washington.
Sam Kass, the chef who cooked local, sustainable and healthy food for the family in Chicago is now an assistant chef in the White House kitchen. And both the executive chef Cristeta Comerford and the pastry chef Bill Yosses, well known to many New Yorkers who enjoyed his work at Bouley, made it clear they, too, cared about sourcing ingredients locally and regionally.
Mrs. Obama had high praise for the chef’s healthy creations, remarking on the creamless “creamed” spinach on the menu that evening, and she spoke glowingly of several “creamed” soups Chef Comerford had made that were also without cream.
The following ten eateries - listed alphabetically - were chosen based on their stated commitment to sourcing organic, local and sustainable fare - not to mention that they're all cooking up delicious food. So enjoy, and when you head in for lunch or dinner, be sure to mention that you appreciate their efforts to source your food responsibly - the more they know you're paying attention, the nearer we approach attention to sustainabilty becoming an integral facet of our local dining culture.
2. Charlie Palmer Steak
3. Founding Farmers
4. Harry's Tap Room - Arlington and Pentagon City, VA
Susie's got up a good post about making lemonade out of these difficult (liminal) economic times. Not to get all Pollyannaish, but I do think some good things may be coming, including less emphasis on consumption and overbuilding. Are you seeing anything good that might come out of this debacle? Either personally or on a broader level?
It's difficult to tweak one strand of the web without causing waves all through the web.
This waxing moon is the perfect time, here in the Mid-Atlantic, to start seeds indoors so that they'll be ready to plant outside as seedlings in a month or so. I've read that magic was first done to ensure successful hunts, but agriculture lends itself to so much magic, and it's doing magic with and for my plants that often connects me at a deep and cellular level with my many-times-great grandmothers. From the soil, to the seeds, to the containers, to the compost or other fertilizer, to the land where the seedlings will ultimately go, there are plenty of opportunities to do magic for plants. And there's something about plants that seems to make them receptive to our magic.
Like many gardeners, my eyes are often bigger than my yard and my budget. I spend a few months in the winter going through catalogues, reviewing my landscape plans, dreaming about what I'd grow if my yard got more sun or if I had a bit more space/time/water, etc. By January, I order -- mostly seeds, but some seedlings, as well, which will come sometime in April.
This year, I'm planting both curly and Italian parsley in the herb bed instead of dill, which, again, didn't do well for me last year. I'm putting in basil seedlings and I'm planting more French Thyme seedlings to supplement the few plants that I was able to grow last summer from seed. I think the lavender, rosemary, and sage will all come back, and I'm hopeful that maybe the pineapple sage will, as well, although I've bought more seeds, in case I need to fill in a bit. The woad, very faithful performer every year, is already looking green and strong. I've bought peppermint, spearmint, and chocolate mint seeds; I'm tearing up the mint bed for the patio and I'm going to rip the Night Owl roses out of their pots on the deck and grow mint in all those pots. I'll move the gardenia pots out there, as well, once it's warm enough, and am looking forward to the smell of mint and gardenia on warm summer evenings. I've tried for years to grow Bowles Black violas; I'm giving it one final shot this year in some small pots that go on the ledge shelf on my garden shed. And, of course, from last year, I have tons of datura, woad, black-eyed susan, morning glory, moonflower, and black hollyhock seeds, and I'm planning to grow the datura, moonflowers, and black hollyhocks all around the new fence.
I do a lot of simple sex magic for plants: cast a circle, call the directions and a Goddess, have an orgasm, direct the energy to the seeds, soil, land, etc. I also surround myself with the seedlings and ground, strongly feeling my own roots and the roots of the plants growing and strengthening, pulling in needed energy and nutrients. The night before I transplant the seedlings and the week or so after they're transplanted, I often do a lot of magic to help them over that transition (liminal) period.
I save the plastic pots that I get when I buy seedlings and re-use them, but I also make my own little pots out of newspaper and a wooden mold, although you can do the same thing with newspaper and a glass. This year, I may try inscribing the pots with some runes, although I'm still thinking about which I'll use.
What are you growing this year? What are you giving up on? What kind of magic do you do for your plants?
I've got a few packages of vegetable seeds that Shumway sent me for free. I don't have room to grow them, so I'll bless them and send them to the first person to send me their snail mail address at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And, it might be a good idea for feminists and progressives and, hell, anyone sane in America, to call or write the WH and thank Mr. Obama for taking this v important step. You know he's going to hear lots of whining and bitching from the christianists.
Here's a v young Barack Obama extolling the virtues of Dixie Kitchen and Bait Shop. He's a fan of johnny cakes and peach cobbler. Nothing wrong with that. And, BTW, it's National Pancake Week. G/Son is a huge fan of pancakes, esp. w strawberries. This coming weekend, I'm going to take him and his 'rents out for brunch and I know that he'll order pancakes. Ever see a three-year-old put away an adult order of pancakes? The good thing is that the carbs send him straight into Nap Heaven.
There are a number of people who blazed the trail out of the broom closet back in the late fifties/early sixties, long before I'd ever heard of any witch besides the one on The Wizard of Oz, who scared me -- as she was meant to scare little girls considering female power -- shitless. I owe a debt of gratitude to all of them, including Yvonne and Gavin Frost. And I'm as disinterested in witch wars and controversy as it's possible to be. Oddly, I've never found that sort of thing to contribute to my growth as a witch, to my connection with Divinity, or to my general well-being.
So it's with a bit of reluctance that I note a grave concern that I have with Gavin and Yvonne Frost's book: Good Witches Fly Smoothly: Surviving Witchcraft. In general, it's an easy read and it contains some advice that I'd just ignore as not relevant to me as well as some generally helpful suggestions. Chas Clifton has a good review of some of the helpful advice offered.
I particularly agree with a point that the Frosts make early in their book, when, via a few entertaining stories, they note that it can often be a mistake to cling:
too tightly to some ancient tome for your circle casting. Just as with other subjects, examine the validity of the information. Would you make a potion by grinding up the magical bugs that appear in horse dung that stays warm and moist? That is the recipe from the widely-acclaimed bookThe Magus. . . . If you have a new way of doing something that's easier and/or more effective than the "traditional" way generally accepted, you may have to endure the slings and arrows of the traditionalist knee-jerk reactionaries; but you will be doing the whole community a giant favor. . . . [Pagans and Wiccans] are not dinosaurs unable to adapt -- follow your path and grow. Grow and learn. It is a mistake for modern people with modern mindsets to stick with rituals designed by and for people who had less knowledge and a different mindset, people who lived in a different time and place with different perceptions.See Chapter 2.
And, so, it's particularly disconcerting to see the Frosts assert that:
Any initiatory sex should be with a "stranger" -- an initiated Witch of the coven [that] the neophyte plans to join. . . . The underlying tradition here is sometimes overlooked. If the Craft means enough to you that you are willing to abide by its tenets thenabide by them! If you cannot transcend your cultural brainwashing and accept the assignment to have sex one time with an assigned partner, in accordance with centuries of Craft tradition, the Craft can't mean that much to you. Here's the door. Don't call yourself a Witch.See Chapter 12.
This is just wrong.
And I need to point out the wrongness so that any young or impressionable people new to Wicca, who may stumble upon the Frosts' work, don't believe what the Frosts say about initiation and sex. The Frosts are, I'm sure, lovely people and have much to offer. And I'll preface my comments by saying that I'm a big believer in sex magic, I do it often and find it effective, and I imagine that, in the right situation, the sort of initiation that they advocate could be quite empowering and effective. But I have never had sex with an "assigned partner" and I think I'm a reasonably devoted and powerful witch. So, sex magic: good, however, also possibly: devastating.
I've no idea how far "back" the notion of initiation into Wicca involving sex with another coven member may or may not go. It's hardly the universal that the Frosts proclaim. Uncle Gerald, may the Goddess hold him in her arms, loved nudity and flagellation, and he swore that they were key elements of ancient witchcraft, going back to the dawn of time. He swore that less than a century ago. How far back before that period initiation into witchcraft may or may not have involved sex with a "stranger" is anyone's guess.
But I can tell you -- without qualification -- that you can certainly adhere to the tenants of Wicca, that you can call yourself a Witch, and that the Craft can mean the world to you even if you never allow someone like Gavin or Yvonne Frost to order you to have sex with some "stranger." What, Solitaries aren't witches?
Especially for women, sex in this society is a loaded proposition, and you can decide never to have sex, never to have hetero sex, never to have sex with anyone but your chosen partner, or to have sex with whomever you -- not some High Priest or Priestess -- like, and you can still be a dedicated, magnificent, initiated, powerful Witch. I would never let anyone tell me that if I decided to control my own sexual behavior, I was therefore the victim of "cultural brainwashing" or that the Craft didn't "mean much" to me, or to suggest to me: "Here's the door. Don't call yourself a Witch."
As the Frosts, themselves, note, It is a mistake for modern people with modern mindsets to stick with rituals designed by and for people who had less knowledge and a different mindset, people who lived in a different time and place with different perceptions. That's as true of rituals designed by and for people who came to Wicca in the 1940s and 1950s as it is of people who wrote Books of Shadows centuries ago. One of the most important things that I ever read about Wicca, and I apologize for forgetting who wrote it, is "A witch takes responsibility." That sentence guides all of my practices within Wicca. Above all, I am responsible for what I do or do not do with my body, which is my only tool for being immanent in this reality. And I will never give that responsibility away to anyone, not even some v eminent witch, or High Priestess, or elder.
Sia, as is often the case, has some simple, common-sense advice about sex and Wicca here.
It is a light, that the wind has extinguished. It is a pub on the heath, that a drunk departs in the afternoon. It is a vineyard, charred and black with holes full of spiders. It is a space, that they have white-limed with milk. The madman has died. It is a South Sea island, Receiving the Sun-God. One makes the drums roar. The men perform warlike dances. The women sway their hips in creeping vines and fire-flowers, Whenever the ocean sings. O our lost Paradise.
The nymphs have departed the golden woods. One buries the stranger. Then arises a flicker-rain. The son of Pan appears in the form of an earth-laborer, Who sleeps away the meridian at the edge of the glowing asphalt. It is little girls in a courtyard, in little dresses full of heart-rending poverty! It is rooms, filled with Accords and Sonatas. It is shadows, which embrace each other before a blinded mirror. At the windows of the hospital, the healing warm themselves. A white steamer carries bloody contagia up the canal.
The strange sister appears again in someone's evil dreams. Resting in the hazelbush, she plays with his stars. The student, perhaps a doppelganger, stares long after her from the window. Behind him stands his dead brother, or he comes down the old spiral stairs. In the darkness of brown chestnuts, the figure of the young novice. The garden is in evening. The bats flit around inside the walls of the monastery. The children of the caretaker cease their playing and seek the gold of the heavens. Closing accords of a quartett. The little blind girl runs trembling through the tree-lined street. And later touches her shadow along cold walls, surrounded by fairy tales and holy legends.
It is an empty boat, that drives at evening down the black canal. In the bleakness of the old asylum, human ruins come apart. The dead orphans lie at the garden wall. From gray rooms tread angels with shit-spattered wings. Worms drip from their yellowed eyelids. The square before the church is obscure and silent, as in the days of childhood. Earlier lives glide past upon silvery soles And the shadows of the damned climb down to the sighing waters. In his grave, the white-magician plays with his snakes.
Silent above the place of the skull, open God's golden eyes.
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 . . . ."