When two knights (Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman) return from the Crusades, they find their homeland ravaged by the Black Plague. The church blames the plague on sorcery, and orders the knights to escort an accused witch (Claire Foy) to a remote abbey , where monks will perform a ritual that they hope will put an end to the pestilence
I don't watch tv, and I work pretty hard at avoiding all the winter holiday commercialism, so, but for this Chicago SunTimes article, I'd never have known about the above commercial for the Gap. Since I don't have to see it a million times, I think it's kind of cute, as far as WesternCiv commercialism based upon exploiting third world laborers, promoting ageism and sexism, turning religion into commerce, and destroying the planet can be cute. (I am, I'm a regular bundle of optimism and joy.) The dancing's not bad, and my first reaction is to think it's cool that they even bothered to mention my religious holiday: are Pagans now a large enough demographic that we're worth including? Or, maybe we're thrown in for shock value; most folks in advertising think that a controversial commercial is great, as it generates even more interest than a "normal" one. So, cool.
But while Ms. Falsani, the religious columnist for the SunTimes, goes out of her way to not get involved in the "war on xmas," she does manage to harsh my ad-induced holiday buzz. While they all occur around the same time of the year, Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa and Winter Solstice hardly carry the same spiritual weight. Oh, really?
I bet you're never going to guess, so I'll go ahead and tell you: the xian holiday carries the most spiritual weight, followed by the other patriarchial, monotheistic, Abrahamic religion, followed by the African Americans, followed by the Pagans. I know, who'd have thought?
Christmas celebrates the miraculous birth of a savior come to redeem the world. Hannukah, while also commemorating a miracle (a one-day supply of oil for a lamp in the temple lasted eight days) and the victory of the Jewish rebellion over the Hellenistic rulers of Jerusalem, it is a minor holiday, not to be compared to the High Holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur or the major festivals, Sukkot and Passover.
Kwanzaa is a nonreligious festival, begun in 1966 and celebrated nearly exclusively in the United States, which celebrates African-American culture and values. Winter Solstice marks the shortest day of the year and the longest night of the year and is for many pagans and neo-pagans the symbolic and spiritual rebirth of the year.
Could her biases be more obvious? Interesting how "pagans" and "neo-pagans" don't get capitalized, isn't it? And does the "religious columnist" for the SunTimes truly not understand that "the miraculous birth of a savior come to redeem the world" is based upon Pagan themes, celebrated at the Winter Solstice? Does she not know that many African Americans churches do celebrate Kwanza, making it, indeed, a religious holiday? Give me a break.
In case you missed the fact that Paganism is not the "spiritual equivalent" of monotheistic religions, Ms. Falsania repeats: While each of these holidays, for lack of a more universally applicable term, is significant to different groups of believers (and nonbelievers, for that matter) they are not spiritual equivalents. OK, I think we get it.
But, she's open-minded, really, she is. Still, I have no problem with all four being mentioned in the same context when we're talking about the things people celebrate this time of year. That's valid and correct. Mighty big of her, isn't it? Well, no, it isn't, as her next few paragraphs prove.
Unless we're meant to be concelebrating Bacchanalia or -- and this is even a stretch -- Mardi Gras, nothing in the Christian, Jewish and pagan traditions or the African-American cultural ideals that Kwanzaa celebrates would encourage the faithful to throw all rules out the window and do whatever feels good, man. Again, with the capitalization problems. Christians get capitalized. Pagans don't. Not spiritually or grammatically equivalent, apparently.
Given the lack of "spiritual equivalence" between the holidays, you'll probably not be surprised to see whose holiday gets an entire paragraph and whose holidays get jumbled together all into one.
Christmas is about selflessness and transformative love, the improbable gift of a divine baby born into straw poverty in order to reconcile the world back to God. We do celebrate Christ's birth by giving something to each other to commemorate that epic, divine gift. But it's not supposed to pivot around the exchange of material goods, and it's definitely not about sweaters and turtlenecks.
Hannukah is about power of perseverance, faith and righteousness to overcome tyranny. It's about a small miracle that changes everything. The seven principles of Kwanzaa are: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. Those principles are pretty much the direct opposite of the idea of "do whatever you want." And Solstice is, first and foremost, a natural, communal, Earth-centered event. Nothing about ushering in the death of the old year and the birth of the new says "fleece hoodies" to me.
So some people's holidays are "about" selflessness and transformative love, improbable gifts (but not gifts of improbable hoodies!) of divine babies who are born to "reconcile the world back to God" and some people's holidays are about nothing more than "communal events" (which would surprised my closed circle) that mark the death of the old year and the birth of the new. You know, kind of a communal, Earthy, early New Year's party. Not much spiritual significance, certainly not the "spiritual equivalence" of transformative love, divinity, selflessness, and divinity. And, in case you missed it, babies! And, divinity. All religions are equal, but some are more equal than others.
What's really interesting is that the thrust of the article, to the extent that it has one, is that commercialism and religious holidays don't mix. So the entire discussion of the "spiritual equivalence" of the various holidays is unrelated to, and a distraction from, the main point of the article. Yet, one gets the sense that showing how "unequivalent" some religions are was the point closest to the author's heart. Does this woman not have an editor? (I mean, it's obvious that she lacks a stylebook, but I thought the SunTimes still had editors.)
I have a suggestion for Ms. Falsani. Turn off the tv and go get a Comparative Religion 101 text. Then, read it. And either capitalize the names of all religions or don't capitalize the names of any. Oh, and Merry fucking xmas.
Real insanity (Did you notice it? Gap compares Christmas to the pagan holiday called ‘Solstice.’ Solstice is celebrated by Wiccans who practice witchcraft!” (as opposed to, you know, those Wiccans who DON'T practice witchcraft) cried the AFA in a press release.) here. (Yes, Virginia, Paganism IS Nazism).
But if you have any say about the menu, I'd go, as is often the case, for several of Aquavit's appetizers instead of the main course. GRAVLAX smoked salmon roe, melon, cucumber, LANGOUSTINE BISQUE crab and lobster salad, sea urchin, crème fraîche , and FOIE GRAS GANACHE pork and foie gras terrine, pickled apples, port wine .
As always, Obamafoodorama (my nominee for one of the best new blogs of the past year) has all the details.
So, oddly, or, if you follow the money, perhaps NOT so oddly, just as insurance companies are about to be forced to cover female breast health, a new study is out suggesting that women really shouldn't be getting such frequent mammograms nor should doctors be teaching women to examine their own breasts for lumps. No study suggests -- because it would be a lie -- that early detection isn't the key to surviving breast cancer. Because, it is. Finding a cancerous lump early, getting it cut out of you, and getting early poisoning for any cells that may have split off from that lump and headed elsewhere in your body -- those steps are, as everyone admits, the complete key to living to see your grandchildren become teenagers as opposed to dying while your own children are too young to remember you.
But, you know, false positives -- the process and cost of checking out lumps that turn out to be benign -- are scary for women and, here's the important part, not cost effective for insurance companies. So, oddly, just now there's a study out saying that women should not be taught to examine their own breasts to see if the poisons in our air, water, earth, food, and life are giving the women cancer.
It's as Rep. Grayson said: Die quickly.
Me, I want to live to say "Namaste" to my Great Granddaughter. I'm going to keep doing BSEs and getting mammograms. Sorry, insurance companies.
LA Weekly notes the sad death of Edward Woodward, star of cult TV shows The Equalizer (US) and Callan (UK), and, more crucially, the 1973 film version of The Wicker Man.
The film was remade in 2006 by Neil LaBute (starring Nicolas Cage) as a hysterically misogynistic flop, [Well, the movie was a hysterically (to coin a phrase) misogynistic flop, Cage was just a bad actor with a piss-poor script] but the original was a brilliant, moody little movie featuring Woodward as a repressed Scottish cop who gets called to investigate the death of a young girl in a remote island and ends up discovering a bizarre local pagan cult led by Christopher Lee in drag. Its soundtrack, written by Paul Giovanni and performed by Magnet, has had a huge influence on folk revival, freak-folk, and darkwave bands (and what other movie can you name that impressed both Pulp and Iron Maiden?).
crone living with cancer making friends with death funeral plans and pre-death rituals become a community affair double saturn return brings a beautifully pagan croning ceremony gaia at her radiant best green rolling hills rocky knoll sacred tree blazing fires calling ancestors venus attending in the night sky lesbian clan singing as i enter the third trimester of my life a celtic warrior queen walking with ancestors time now to prepare my beloved daughters my precious sisters my devoted family my special friends for my journey towards a complete and peaceful death warrior queen reigning over life wounds healed in heart mind and spirit wisdom and life stories shared and stored wrapped in a magnificent croning cloak decorated with thoughtfulness by my female clan patches stitched beaded and drawn celebrating each woman's connection to me inspiring creative colourful moving delightful patches continue to arrive as cloak is destined for shroud when living is done safe nurtured and cloaked in love when journeying to the land of the dead no queen will travel as gloriously robed as i in the colors and handcraft of my precious friends family and beloved lesbian clan scottish lass to celtic warrior queen i delight in the depths and joys of this time of my life.
To own the word Priestess, I am becoming more brave, beside my thousand thousand priestess-sisters.
I see the Goddess is returning through our troubled skies through wars and violated children, through land raped into angry dust and I will priestess Her, call Her healing love through ritual and my daily living; I know in all her many names she spells the flame of hope.
One result of joining a CSA is that you get pushed to come up with recipes for foods that you might not often cook. I like pears, but I generally don't buy them at the store on the theory that they're too hard when you buy them and they'll go soft all of a sudden and be wasted. But they're high in fiber and have Vitamins C and K, to boot. However, my CSA has been providing them and, even after splitting my small, organic box with two other witches, there are enough pears left to make me go look for recipes.
My CSA is split about 50/50 between fruit and vegetables and, sure, you can take the fruit and eat it raw for lunch, but, especially this time of year, I often prefer it warm. These pears in sage butter are delicious, easy, warming.
Pick and chop up sage leaves. Melt butter (I use half butter and half olive oil) Saute sage leaves until butter browns. Slice and saute pears.
I've done the same thing with apples, bananas, and squash. All good.
When the world turns completely upside down You say we'll emigrate to the Eastern Shore Aboard a river-boat from Baltimore; We'll live among wild peach trees, miles from town, You'll wear a coonskin cap, and I a gown Homespun, dyed butternut's dark gold colour. Lost, like your lotus-eating ancestor, We'll swim in milk and honey till we drown.
The winter will be short, the summer long, The autumn amber-hued, sunny and hot, Tasting of cider and of scuppernong; All seasons sweet, but autumn best of all. The squirrels in their silver fur will fall Like falling leaves, like fruit, before your shot.
The autumn frosts will lie upon the grass Like bloom on grapes of purple-brown and gold. The misted early mornings will be cold; The little puddles will be roofed with glass. The sun, which burns from copper into brass, Melts these at noon, and makes the boys unfold Their knitted mufflers; full as they can hold Fat pockets dribble chestnuts as they pass.
Peaches grow wild, and pigs can live in clover; A barrel of salted herrings lasts a year; The spring begins before the winter's over. By February you may find the skins Of garter snakes and water moccasins Dwindled and harsh, dead-white and cloudy-clear.
When April pours the colours of a shell Upon the hills, when every little creek Is shot with silver from the Chesapeake In shoals new-minted by the ocean swell, When strawberries go begging, and the sleek Blue plums lie open to the blackbird's beak, We shall live well -- we shall live very well.
The months between the cherries and the peaches Are brimming cornucopias which spill Fruits red and purple, sombre-bloomed and black; Then, down rich fields and frosty river beaches We'll trample bright persimmons, while you kill Bronze partridge, speckled quail, and canvasback.
Down to the Puritan marrow of my bones There's something in this richness that I hate. I love the look, austere, immaculate, Of landscapes drawn in pearly monotones. There's something in my very blood that owns Bare hills, cold silver on a sky of slate, A thread of water, churned to milky spate Streaming through slanted pastures fenced with stones.
I love those skies, thin blue or snowy gray, Those fields sparse-planted, rendering meagre sheaves; That spring, briefer than apple-blossom's breath, Summer, so much too beautiful to stay, Swift autumn, like a bonfire of leaves, And sleepy winter, like the sleep of death.
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 . . . ."