Saturday, September 26, 2009

Saturday Poetry Blogging


I KNOW a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite overcanopied with luscious wood-bine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine :
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lulled in these flowers with dances and delight ;
And there the snake throws her enamell'd skin
Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in.

~Wm. Shakespeare

Picture found here.

Datura In Late September

Photos by the author. If you copy, please link back.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Burning Times -- Yes Again

Jason has an incredibly important post up over at The Wild Hunt that you've really got to go read.

He explains that: Yesterday a coalition of U.N. officials, NGOs, and representatives from affected countries addressed the United Nations asking for governments to face the full extent of witch hunts across the world. Far from being a localized phenomenon in “primitive” or isolated villages, witch hunts and witch killings are now global in nature and spreading. Further, Jason notes that According to some U.N. experts tracking the issue “at least” tens of thousands have died due to witch hunts, while millions have been beaten, abused, isolated, and turned into refugees. Perhaps a few centuries from now, people will come along and insist that it couldn't possibly have been that many. Likely, some hysterical feminists inflated those numbers.

The most chilling part of the post? Some unscrupulous pastors, many linked to Pentecostal churches, have a lucrative trade in making unfounded accusations of witchcraft against young children. [The pastors then agree to “cure” the witches for a substantial fee. Many children are being ostracized and abandoned by their parents as a result of these accusations.]

These Christian pastors aren’t isolated to Africa, they tour churches in America bragging about their battles with the occult, and have established ministries in Ireland and the UK [, c]ommingling with an increasing anti-occult fervor among some Western Christian groups. Meanwhile, actual modern Pagan communities in places like India and South Africa are facing the possible ramifications of intensifying witch-hunts and witch persecutions.

If this trend isn’t seriously addressed soon, we may find this madness turning its eye towards “safe” occultists and Pagans in places like America, the UK, Australia, Brazil, and Canada. Don’t think it could happen? All it takes is a pseudo-militant occult-fighting Christian movement cross-pollinating with a reviving “Satanic Ritual Abuse” movement, stir in some anti-government populist anger and frustration, and you have all the makings for an American witch-lynching.

* * *

The anger and hardship that cries out for a scapegoat is right here in our backyard. Right now “socialism” or “the government” may be the popular/populist nightmare, but that can change.
It could change especially quickly if those who profit from stirring up hatred start tying the "evil government" to increased government recognition of, and protection for, oh, I don't know, Pagans in the military, just for example. Imagine if Glenn Beck decided to spend a few weeks on the topic.

This is a serious problem and it calls for serious actions. As Jason notes, signing a few internet petitions isn't going to cut it. I'd like to call on the Pagan community to -- in addition to serious political action, donations, and pressure on our own elected officials -- plan to do some magic on this topic at Yule, when we turn from the dark to the light. What can you do --as a solitary, a member of a coven or grove, a worker of magic, a shaman, a worshipper of the old gods, a priestess or priest of a public ritual, as one who moves between the worlds where what you do between them affects them all -- what can you do to put a stop to this modern day slaughter of witches and those labeled "witch"? If you plan an action at Yule, please share it in comments; if we can collect enough ideas, I'll do a separate post on the topic a bit closer to the Sabbat.

Picture found here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I'm Not In Love

Obama Restaurant Watch -- First Lady In New York Edition

Michelle Obama had lunch at Gramercy Tavern in NYC today.

We spoke with chef Michael Anthony after Obama left the restaurant, and he reported that she ate "a light seasonal meal," and emphasized a preference for items sourced from nearby. She also told him that her campaign to encourage healthy eating and local food had "just begun."

I'd probably have made a meal of the chilled corn soup and crispy oysters and a glass of the 2005 Pouilly-Fuissé, Ferret, Les Vernays.

Picture found here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Poetry And Booze

A lovely examination of W.H. Auden and the martini.

Let the healing begin.

Photo found here

The Difference Between Poetry and Prayer

The real prayer is the attention that comes first.

~Mary Oliver

Picture found here.

The Autumn Moved Across Your Skin

Raising Power Month

Looking for an amazing magical ritual to perform between now and Yule?

Make seed balls, charge them, and toss them with intention. Send sex magic to the plots on the full Moon. Dance up energy for them. Ground and feel the roots of the seeds growing with your own.

Among the proponents of seed balls are guerrilla gardeners, who call them seed bombs and toss them in neglected patches of the urban landscape, hoping they take root. We wrote about the phenomenon last year. From Joe Robinson's amusing story:

In London, Berlin, Miami, San Francisco and Southern California, these free-range tillers are sowing a new kind of flower power. In nighttime planting parties or solo "seed bombing" runs, they aim to turn neglected public space and vacant lots into floral or food outposts.

Part beautification, part eco-activism, part social outlet, the activity has been fueled by Internet gardening blogs and sites such as, where before-and-after photos of the latest "troop digs" inspire 45,000 visitors a month to make derelict soil bloom.

Picture found here.

Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Come Be With Me, I'm Your Daughter

That I Think About You All The Time

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Where's My Goddamn Flying Car, Then?

You know, I never can figure out which comes first in these stories, the accusation of witchcraft or the desire to get rid of an inconvenient woman and to blame the victim as a witch. In this story, it's pretty clear which came first. In any event, being called a "witch" is still enough to get a woman killed in the 21st Century. Let me say that again: in the 21st Century.

Photo found here.

Some Sad News About Laurie Cabot

Daughter of 'official witch' accused of 'conjuring' check

By Julie Manganis
Staff writer
SALEM — The daughter of Laurie Cabot, Salem's "official witch," is now wanted on a warrant after defaulting in a court case in which she's accused of stealing money from her mother.

Jody Cabot, 49, who now lives in Hull, was supposed to appear in Salem District Court yesterday for a status hearing in her case, which involves charges of larceny and forgery dating to 2007.

Laurie Cabot had gone to police after learning that her daughter had deposited a $3,750 check drawn on her mother's account and purported to have been signed by her. Laurie Cabot said she never signed any check to her daughter and added that she had been forced to deal with similar incidents in the past, according to a police report.

By the time Laurie Cabot's bank rejected the check as forged, Jody Cabot had allegedly made $3,200 worth of purchases from Target's Web site with the money, according to a police report.

Last year, Jody Cabot was granted a general continuance in the case on the condition that she pay restitution of $1,328 to her elderly mother. Had she done that, the charges would have been dismissed. But earlier this year, Jody Cabot defaulted on the agreement and the case was put back on the court's docket, where it was heading for trial.

Attorney Steve Reardon tried to convince Judge Richard Mori not to issue a warrant for his client, saying she had stayed home because she had a severe headache that was a result of a past head injury.

But Mori noted that not only does Jody Cabot have a history of defaults in the case, but "normally, headaches are not a good reason to miss court."

When her lawyer continued to argue against a warrant, Mori added that he recalls telling her himself that she cannot skip court dates, something she has done in the past.

"I told her she had to be in court," Mori said.

If Jody Cabot does not turn herself in at court, she faces arrest. Mori also added a condition that if she is arrested, she cannot be released on bail.

I've never been a big Cabot fan, but I wish the Salem News could restrain the desire to be too cute in its headline. Doubt they'd have said that the child of some xian personage "resurrected" a check.

Photo found here.

Our Mabon

A trip w friends to the farmers' market. Sun-warmed figs and sweet, soft cheese. Icy cold white wine. Mixed greens, balsamic, olive oil. Rissotto w corn, tomatoes, and basil picked that minute from the deck. Rockfish planked w rosemary picked a minute before from the bush. Chicken thighs w garlic, lemon, and rosemary under the skin. Jazz trumpets. People I love. Discussions of gratitude. May it be so for you.

Blessed Mabon

J. Keats

CCLV. Ode to Autumn

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees, 5
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease; 10
For Summer has o'erbrimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind; 15
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook; 20
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barrèd clouds bloom the soft-dying day 25
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river-sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; 30
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Picture found here.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Just as when I read Mary Oliver, I seldom read Diane Ackerman without saying to myself, "She's a witch, whether she knows it or not." This review of her latest book leaves me (1) certain that I am right and (2) longing to set aside an Autumn morning to read the book.

For many women, dawn is the one time that they can devote to themselves, a time for which they find the sacrifice of sleep worthwhile, a moment to be ALONE. My mom, mother of five, farm wife, full time cook, active volunteer, rose every morning in time to be at daily 6:30 am Mass. For years, when I was a single parent, full time teacher, part time lecturer, student, reader, seeker, the five or so minutes when the sun rose -- when I considered that deity might be as involved in the world and me as I was in deity and the world -- were what kept me going. I seldom see a sunrise without feeling around me all the women who, centuries and centuries gone, have risen at the same time to include in their lives a few precious minutes devoted to nothing but themselves and their relationship with deity.

Ackerman's site says: Humans might luxuriate in the idea of being “in” nature, Ackerman points out, but often forget that we are nature—for “no facet of nature is as unlikely as we, the tiny bipeds with the giant dreams.” In prose so rich and evocative that one can feel the earth turning beneath one’s feet as one reads, Ackerman’s thrilling observations—of things ranging from cloud glories to the endangered whooping cranes of the book’s title—urge us to live in the moment, to wake up to nature’s everyday miracles. The WaPo's review says: Thinking of Aurora, goddess of the dawn, leads Ackerman to consider the respective merits of metaphor and science. The planet Venus, she notes, was called "deer of the dawn" in Hebrew, while Roman astronomers dubbed it Lucifer (light-bearing), a name the Bible transferred to a fallen angel, "son of the morning." A glimpse of a baby rabbit at sunrise reminds the author that Eostri, the Celtic goddess of dawn and source of the words East and Easter, was always accompanied by a rabbit; "as Christianity borrowed from the old pagan religions, the goddess Easter became the holiday, complete with benign Easter rabbits."

Ackerman roams far afield, and sometimes the links to her ostensible subject are strained, albeit delightful: A glimpse of starlings flocking at dawn segues into a visit with a friend's hilarious talking bird; the morning light catches a sycamore tree shedding bark in "parchment scrolls reminding me of Archimedes' lost journals." She always returns, however, to her central preoccupation, the need to pause amid life's hurly-burly forward motion and quietly appreciate where we are right now.

It's Autumn. The Eastern Light comes slant and longing for warm mugs of coffee, knitted slippers, a gentle fire in the fireplace. Curl up and read.

How many of you do your daily practice at dawn?

Picture found here.

The Goddess Is Alive And

In India, they are worshipping the Goddess Durga, as well as several of her Sister Goddesses/Other Incarnations.

Navratri History

The practice of goddess worship was prevalent in India since the time immemorial even before the advent of Aryans. Our ancestors have always placed Devi or Stree (as she was referred to) into the highest pedestal of the prevalent social system at that time and they worshipped her as Shakti. There are references in our Shastras which confirms the existence of such practices. There are several myths and legends associated with celebration of this Navratri Festival.

Picture found here.

High Heeled Guide To, Well, Something

Goddess guard us, on the heels of a pretty vapid NYT magazine exploration of "Women Teaching New Age Stuff to Other Women," here's The High Heeled Guide to Enlightenment', a lighthearted exploration of what ideas such as reiki, reincarnation, shamanism, kabala, buddhism and wicca have to offer the modern woman. Written by the daughter of a Wiccan ("white witch" -- blech) father, the book was written because the author decided that, "there were no books aimed at the modern woman - the type that enjoy Cosmo or Vogue - and that's why I decided to do it myself. I guess Hex and the City wasn't tepid enough.

The author has a blog, here. Move over, Fiona.

Photo found here.

A Witch School In Taiwan

Here's an interesting story about the Paiwa People in Taiwan opening a school to ensure that their witchcraft traditions are passed on to the younger generation. Lack of a written language is making the process difficult. The school's founder explains that: We are witnessing the disappearance of the ancient ritual. We are trying hard to preserve it. Passing on psychic acts to the young generation is a good way to understand Paiwan culture. We can go back to see how ancestors lived.

The article explains that: Paiwan witches are seen as mediums between gods and humans, and the school teaches pupils rituals for blessing people and protecting them from evil.
Witches can use their powers to worship gods and ancestors, pray for weather and for their harvests and perform healing treatments and rituals for hunting and tattooing.

There's an interesting hereditary vs. learned component to the story.

Here's hoping the school is a success.

Photo found here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Do It

Kali on a croissant, get up on the right day in November and vote to defeat this asshole

Photo found here.

Poetry And The Law

So, I am a huge reader of, lover of, and student of poetry and I have, in my wicked youth and childhood, even composed a few poems that I believe do not suck.

But I spend most of my days doing and absorbing not poems but legal writing which, I swear to you, when done well (which is not all that often (Clauses, people. Learn where to put them)), is a thing of beauty and transcendence. There are even a few legal opinions (the things the judge(s) write that say how they decided a case and why they think they are right) that are written in poetry and, if I can ever afford to retire, I'd love to collect them in a slim volume. I've only ever quoted poetry in a brief once, and the quote, a tribute to my father, was from John Milton's Areopagitica: And though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play on the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously [to] misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to second best in a free and open encounter? (My dad misremembered this in a more poetic, and, thus, better version: "Whoever knew Truth put to second best when scattered to the Four Winds?" I grew up on that. I think Milton never anticipated Fox "News").

Here's a lovely (and short!) article by a federal judge about the relationship between poetry and legal writing. I'll add only this: legal writing is all about, IMHO, expressing exactly what you mean, in such a way that nothing distracts your reader and in such a way that there is zero, absolutely zero, ambiguity about what you mean. Poetry is about expressing exactly what you mean, in such a way that you grab your reader's insides and there is zero, absolutely zero, ambiguity about what you mean, although your words may, and in a good poem quite often do, have layers of meaning. I'm good at one, good at appreciating the other. I've had a v rich life as a result.

(I'm going to be blogging a bit over the next few weeks about people who are talking about poetry. If you don't read poetry, you should likely skip over those posts. My own experience is that you need to read a lot -- no, really, a lot -- of poetry before you try to read, what is obviously "the experience once removed" of people writing about people reading poetry. I've tried to come at poetry from both directions, and I think that actually reading poetry, figuring out what you like, what you don't, what would work for you in a Dark Moon ritual, on the treadmill, in your darkest hour, when your heart overflows, should come a long time before reading about reading about poetry. YMMV.)

Picture found here


This weekend, my wonderful circle of amazing women and I were, once again, directly in the shadow (and Shadow!) of power, doing magic. This time, with a serious Mabon bent. In spite of what assholes (and I apologize, in advance, to all real assholes, which perform an important function) such as Dana Milbank may think, the "real people" of DC have always adored our farmers' markets. The renovation of Eastern Market is complete and, like my boobs, is both real and fabulous!

Photos by the author. If you copy, please link back.

My New Name For A Blog

What Thers Said.

H/T to Nancy in comments at Eschaton.

Photo found here.

Still A Few Things In Bloom

Photos by the author. If you copy, please link back.