We know ourselves to be made from this [E]arth. We know this [E]arth is made from our bodies. For we see ourselves. And we are nature. We are nature seeing nature. We are nature with a concept of nature. Nature weeping. Nature speaking of nature to nature.
The red-winged blackbird flies in us, in our inner sight. We see the arc of her flight. We measure the ellipse. We predict its climax. We are amazed. We are moved. We fly. We watch her wings negotiate the wind, the substance of the air, its elements and the elements of those elements, and count those elements found in other beings, the sea urchin's sting, ink, this paper, our bones, the flesh of our tongues with which we make the sound "blackbird," the ear with which we hear, the eye which travels the arc of her flight. And yet the blackbird does not fly in us but in somewhere else free of our minds, and now even free of our sight, flying in the path of her own will.
Susan Griffin, quoted in Earth Prayers from Around the Word, edited by Elizabeth Robers & Elias Amidon.
I've always loved this poem by Dylan Thomas. Rereading it today, it occurred to me that modern Paganism is, in large part, an attempt to recover the ability -- for which Dylan longs in this poem -- to speak to nature.
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower by Dylan Thomas
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees Is my destroyer. And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.
The force that drives the water through the rocks Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams Turns mine to wax. And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.
The hand that whirls the water in the pool Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind Hauls my shroud sail. And I am dumb to tell the hanging man How of my clay is made the hangman's lime.
The lips of time leech to the fountain head; Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood Shall calm her sores. And I am dumb to tell a weather's wind How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.
And I am dumb to tell the lover's tomb How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.
A week or so ago, Landscape Guy showed up, saying, "I have a gift for you, heh, heh, you're going to love it, heh, heh." I couldn't think what it could be, as planting season's really over and it couldn't be a plant, and well, I love presents, but what COULD it be? Finally, on Monday, our schedules jived and we got together on my porch for wine and cheese and, wow, Landscape Guy gave me a lovely copy of Black Magic and Purple Passion by Karen Platt, who is in some gardening writers' group w Landscape Guy.
My new favorite book.
I am just going through it and longing for, well, everything. If you love black flowers, this book is an amazing resource.
NTodd does, as is often the case, a better job of making the point that I was trying to make in last night's post about Senator Coburn (R - Soulless) telling a sobbing woman that she should look to her neighbors to provide skilled nursing home care for her very ill husband and just SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP about expecting any help from her insurance company or from its wholly-owned subsidiary, the United States Congress.
I'm a lawyer and, we lawyers, we're big believers in reading the actual words in the actual law. The actual Constitution of the actual United States of America begins with these actual words: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
"Promote the general welfare." The snarky, bitchy side of me wants to say: "The defense rests," and call it a blog post. But I'll spell it out anyway, since about 20% of our population doesn't get it.
There's a reason why people form governments and it isn't, recent evidence to the contrary, to make Haliburton and Blackwater rich, to engage in immoral wars against people who never attacked us, or to conduct the sort of sick, vomit-inducing, soul-destroying torture that has recently been the calling card of the United States of America. As our Founders explained, we create governments to, inter alia, insure domestic Tranquility and to promote the general Welfare.
I know from neighbors helping neighbors.
I think the notion of neighbors helping neighbors is charming. Recently, a friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer and I was honored to take off work in order to accompany her to her biopsy on one day and her appointment with a surgeon on another day, to buy her lunch and some over the counter meds, to take her for her surgery and sit with her until some other friends came to get her through the night, to meet with a group of her friends and set up a website to coordinate help for her, to buy books that she wanted to read concerning her condition. Others helped her to care for her pets, rehab her home, deal with her own mother's death. This summer, when I underwent surgery, a dear friend showed up to help me to do laundry, to pick my lavender, to cheer me up. The other day, I baked some lemon bars for a neighbor up the street who had a baby. I regularly read Tarot for strangers who want a reading. One of my dear neighbors organizes every year's block party for which I bake a big, special cake; I take herbs from my garden to all of the folks who live around me. I know from neighbors helping neighbors.
That's all beside the point.
We, as neighbors, citizens, fellow travelers, what have you, band together and form governments so that these matters can be taken care of in an efficient and fair manner. Let's talk about efficient. None of us could have given my friend the chemo treatments that she needed. My dear friend couldn't have done my laundry on a permanent basis. When I had breast cancer, no friends could have done for me what the visiting nurses did: advise about dressings and medications. That poor sobbing woman's neighbors can't give her husband, no matter how well-intentioned they may be, the care that he could get in a nursing home from trained professionals. And, yet, we, not only as neighbors who want to see our sisters taken care of, but as people who know that we, ourselves, will benefit from the care that others receive, that we, ourselves, will benefit from domestic Tranquility, have ways of "promoting the general Welfare."
We do that by paying taxes and having our government provide services for everyone. Here, in my county, we pay taxes that provide a Fire Department. They buy v expensive fire trucks and ambulances, they train people in emergency medicine, they install fire hydrants all through the neighborhoods. As a result, if my neighbors' house catches fire, they won't have to hope that I'm home and can run over with water from my rain barrel. And my own home won't be in danger. I pay taxes so that when Katrina hits New Orleans, or fire hits Southern California, or a toxic waste site makes people sick anywhere in the country, the government can show up and insure domestic Tranquility. Kali Fuck, is this too difficult for Republicans to understand?
Of course, it isn't. They understand it. They just don't like it.
I believe that there are two reasons why they just don't like it. The first is that they don't want to care for their neighbors, and Coburn is just a lying sack of shit about this. They believed Gordon Gekko that "Greed is good," they think, "I've got mine; fuck everyone else," and they aren't capable of realizing that other people with Swine Flu can infect them, that a woman whose husband gets no care will impact their own bottom lines, that their neighbor's flaming house may turn their own into cinders.
And, the second is that they'd willingly see their own homes burn to the ground, see that woman's stress levels give her breast cancer even if she works for them, see those illegal immigrants who can't get shots infect their own children with Swine Flu before they'd ever see "the other" get some help. Patriarchy. They're soaking in it.
All of the talk about government inefficiency, about high taxes, about liberty and not allowing the gov't to "interfere" in "private" lives (unless it's a brain-dead woman or a woman who wants an abortion or a liberal who doesn't want Bush/Cheney to read their emails) is, IMHO, complete bullshit. They're willing to run deficits to make Blackwater and Enron rich, but not to pay for nursing home care for that woman's husband. They care about liberty to carry guns, but not for a woman to control her own body. They're all about the Second Amendment, but happy to confine people trying to exercise their right to assemble peacefully to First Amendment zones. The only constant principles motivating their actions are patriarchy, pissing off liberals, and nastiness.
Let's talk about fair. I'll just add, that domestic Tranquillity and Justice involve providing services to everyone, not just the neighbors we know or like. That's something else that our Constitution does. People who live in big cities (currently, most Americans) and don't even know their neighbors, or the Muslim, lesbian, Wiccan, or black neighbors who move in, but aren't yet well-beloved by the people who live around them, may not get help from their neighbors. But they can get it from the government that we all fund and for which we all provide. And that contributes to Justice and the General Welfare.
I call upon Republicans to stop shitting on the entire notion of government. I call upon and invoke America's founders to aid Republicans to see what this country and this government is all about. And if the Founders can't turn their hearts, then I call upon the Founders to turn their ankles so we'll know them by their limping. Coburn, I'm looking at you.
I'm an old hedge witch, an invisible older woman, an introvert with a garden. I've done a few good things in my life. I've raised a smart, kind, feminist of a son with the world's most amazing sense of humor, who is, in his own turn, a wonderful and involved father. I've won a case with national importance that helped a lot of ordinary people, and I've worshipped matter on an almost daily basis, as a way of co-creating the Universe. I've shown up and marched to end the war in Viet Nam, the war in Iraq, gun violence, attacks on women's right to choose.
But, like Amanda, and Atrios, and watertiger, I will presume to say: Hells yeah, politicize my death.
I am an organ donor so that, even in death, I can do what I think it's important for all beings to do: engage in positive energy exchanges with other manifestations of the Goddess, turn the wheel, make things better than they were when you showed up. What could make this political junkie happier than a politicization of her death? A lot of my life has been shallow, and I imagine that some of my memorial will be shallow: She adored the snark and could quote Dorothy Parker at length, she wore pretty scarves, she wrote clever briefs, she drank her martinis with two olives and an onion, she wrote v good thank you notes, you never went to her home when you weren't offered warmth and wine, she sure did love the ballet. But I've tried, in my own way, to make things better via the body politic and I would be hurt if that escaped mention at what I hope would be the rather sodden (the witches all know where the older bottles of Krug are kept) party following my trip between the veils. And if it would help, even a little bit, even at all, hell, yeah, politicize my death. If that pisses off some Republican, well, laughter and joy lift the barge that sails to the Summerlands.
Update: As always, Athenae says it best and leaves me more than willing to chew off my left arm to be able to write like that.
First, let me just say that there's a reason why I've lived, on and off, in Virginia ever since I was five years old and have never been to Reston. And that reason is because Reston is way the hell out in the middle of no damn where. I mean, there should be signs that say: "Heading for Reston. Here be dragons." And why you have to pay a toll to get on the road to Reston and a toll to get off the road to Reston (no, honest, dudes, I'd have paid the whole $1.25 up front, no problem) is beyond me. So, in spite of leaving downtown D.C. at 4:30, it was 5:30 by the time we got out to Reston for Jim Moran's town hall meeting with Howard Dean. The entire school parking lot was full; I knew we were in trouble when we saw crowds walking from the shopping mall 3/4 of a mile away.
We pulled in and gave a thumbs up to a lovely lady holding a sign that said: "77% of Americans want a public option." An invocation to the mighty Goddess Asphaltia later, we snuck into a parking space only about 1/4 mile from the school. I'm not going to tell you exactly what magic we did, but I will say that we had some powerful supplies and invoked some interesting help. The line was already between 3 and 4 thousand people long and it was evident we weren't going to get into the auditorium. We walked all along the line, though, doing, well, I could tell you, but then I'd have to turn you into a newt, so let's just say, doing what we came to do. It worked. You watch.
There's, IMHO, a huge advantage to doing magic week after week, month after month, year after year, with the same group of women. You know each other's energy, you know that you can completely let go and trust them, you know how it feels when your magic works. You can cast a circle in a moving car, you can call the Quarters in real time. You can ground when the energy's vibrating 3 miles away.
The crowd was pretty overwhelmingly white, middle aged, and, based on our totally unscientific observation of signs, probably 5 to 1 in favor of health care reform and a public option. Not too surprising in blue Northern VA. The folks opposing reform were spread throughout the entire crowd and, although the press was definitely more interested in talking to them than to the thousands of people there supporting health care reforms, not particularly effective nor, I don't quite know how to say this, but not too enthused. They expect to ultimately lose, of that I have no doubt. I'm good at sensing energy and there was nothing threatening about this crowd, although I could see how, crowded into an auditorium, the energy could become more intense. I didn't see any guns and, if they were there, they weren't being flaunted. There were deluded young people who were generally libertarian. There were older people generally angry that the president is a black man. There were senseless signs: "ObamaCare. If Congress doesn't want it for themselves, why should we?" And there were the inevitable LaRouchies, doing their best to get attention. They were the only people I saw with pictures of Obama defaced to look like Hitler.
I hope the FiredogLake people got in. I'll follow up tomorrow w Jim Moran to ask him to sign a pledge to only vote for a plan that includes a public option. Then, I'll keep following up with him.
Finally, I want to thank the v numerous folks who supported us energetically in our magical working this evening. I imagine you could feel me drawing hard on the energy that you sent. And, I hope that all magic workers can experience, at least once in their lives, the amazing support that I got this morning from the universe. I draw a huge amount of my energy, magical and otherwise, from the beautiful Potomac River. This morning was, maybe, the most perfect late-Summer morning EVER, and the universe conspired in at least 3 different ways to ensure that I'd get to spend some extra time with La Potomac. What a lovely Goddess of a river.
Who made the world? Who made the swan, and the black bear? Who made the grasshopper? This grasshopper, I mean- the one who has flung herself out of the grass, the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down- who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes. Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face. Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away. I don't know exactly what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day. Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
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 . . . ."