G/Son and his 'rents celebrate secular xmas, and today, while I was over at his house w another wonderful witch from my circle, he was showing her some ornaments off the xmas tree that he so much adores; the ornaments, as he named then for her, were Yoda, Vader, R2D2. His tree also has a TRex ornament and an ornament that he loves with his name, DiL's name, and Son's name printed on it, and some bells that he loves to ring.
Later, after my Sister Witch and I sat at G/Son's kitchen table and planned a Yule ritual surrounded by plastic Spidermen and foam building block pieces, I took G/Son to the local public garden to see the model train exhibit. G/Son's quite the train enthusiast, and he and a just-barely-three-year-old there had a long discussion about "tenders" and "cow catchers," and, of course, "Thomas the (good cog in capitalism's machine) Tank Engine."
On the way home, G/Son and I were talking about Santa Claus and G/Son asked me where Santa came from. I told him that Santa used to be a shaman of the Saami people, and that shamans go between the worlds and help people talk to their ancestors and to animals and that Santa realized on his journeys that children love presents and so he decided to make presents for children. G/Son and I like to read Tolkein's Father Christmas Letters, and G/Son has a keen interest in the North Polar Bear, who causes so many mishaps for Father Christmas. G/Son said, "So that's why Father Christmas lives with a bear and can talk to him, because he was a shaman," and I said, "Yes, I imagine that's so." G/Son said, "Nonna, there isn't really a real North Polar Bear who can talk, in the real world; he's only in the make-believe world," and I said, "Yes, that's right. Which world is more important?" and G/Son said, "Nonna, they are both important because for of different reasons."
And so then we had a fun game saying, "Well, if you had a book about a fairy who lived with Peter Pan, would that be make-believe or only real?" and "Well, if you had a book about how firemen fight fires, would that be make-believe or only real?" "and "Well, if you had a book about Spiderman and Venom would that be make-believe or only real?" and "Well if you had a book about how dinosaurs lived, would that be make-believe or only real?" and we had a lot of fun and then we learned the words "fiction" and "non-fiction" because, damn it, Nonna has a BS and an MS in education and she knows how to use them! Truth be told, she cannot help herself in any world.
And then G/Son said to me, "Hey, Nonna? When I'm all by myself . . . and there's no one to talk to me . . . I think to myself about what Santa Claus might bring to me . . . and I talk to him . . . and no one knows but me and Santa Claus, and I like that, and, Nonna . . . even if I'm mad or sad, I think what I would say to him and Santa Claus is not mad at me if I get sad about something." And I just wanted to fall prostrate on Mother Earth and kiss the dirt and absorb the cold into my very body and to cry with gratitude that G/Son has an interior life. But I was driving, so I settled for some weepy eyes and saying, "Well, that's good. You can talk to Santa anytime, even if you are surrounded by other people."
And they are going to have to pry me, kicking and screaming, from this world w/ G/Son in it. I will not go gentle into that Good Night (although my words have, indeed, from time to time forked some lightning) until I think that it's come to the time to make a good example. I won't. I am having too much fun. It's just getting interesting w/ this little person whose Sun and Moon match mine and whose Ascendant matches his father's Sun. I want to see how this story turns out. It's a good story and it's not "only" real. In the words of the prayer that I say each morning upon arising: it's all real, it's all metaphor, there's always more.
Religion permeated life in the first century, but no one today would recognize their gods, except as curios in history books. Roman and Greek gods, ethnic religions and native American (North, Mid and South) religions are extinct or virtually unknown to the world.
The case of a Toronto woman accused of fraud has shed light on a section of the Canadian criminal code that carries a hint of the Dark Ages: posing as a witch.
Vishwantee Persaud allegedly defrauded a Toronto lawyer of tens of thousands of dollars by telling him she was the embodiment of the spirit of his deceased sister, come back to help him in business. Ms. Persaud now faces charges under a rarely used section of the criminal code for pretending to practise witchcraft.
"She said she came from a long line of witches and could do tarot-card readings," says Detective Constable Corey Jones, who investigated the case.
So if she's were actually an hereditary witch and could actually read Tarot, that would be alright?
Really, laws like this just need to go. People who actually defraud others can be prosecuted under plenty of modern laws. But making it illegal to "pose as a witch," while it's apparently fine to "pose as a xian faith-healer," is discrimination.
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has released an interesting study that highlights the complexity of Americans' religious beliefs, especially Americans' willingness to believe in things officially at odds with their stated religion. For example: The religious beliefs and practices of Americans do not fit neatly into conventional categories. A new poll by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life finds that large numbers of Americans engage in multiple religious practices, mixing elements of diverse traditions. Many say they attend worship services of more than one faith or denomination -- even when they are not traveling or going to special events like weddings and funerals. Many also blend Christianity with Eastern or New Age beliefs such as reincarnation, astrology and the presence of spiritual energy in physical objects. And sizeable minorities of all major U.S. religious groups say they have experienced supernatural phenomena, such as being in touch with the dead or with ghosts.
Further, Though the U.S. is an overwhelmingly Christian country, significant minorities profess belief in a variety of Eastern or New Age beliefs. For instance, 24% of the public overall and 22% of Christians say they believe in reincarnation -- that people will be reborn in this world again and again. And similar numbers (25% of the public overall, 23% of Christians) believe in astrology. Nearly three-in-ten Americans say they have felt in touch with someone who has already died, almost one-in-five say they have seen or been in the presence of ghosts, and 15% have consulted a fortuneteller or a psychic.
Most interesting to me, as a Pagan and ecofeminist, was the study's finding that: [Twenty-six percent of adults say that] they believe in spiritual energy located in physical things such as mountains, trees or crystals, and 25% profess belief in astrology (that the position of the stars and planets can affect people's lives). Fewer people (16%) believe in the "evil eye" or that certain people can cast curses or spells that cause bad things to happen to someone. Many people have pointed out that the modern tendency to see the Earth as dead matter and matter as fallen helps to allow people to pollute the Earth, Air, and Water. For increasing numbers of people to see mountains and trees, for example, as imbued with "spiritual energy" -- which the study seems to not define -- has to be a good thing.
In total, upwards of six-in-ten adults (65%) express belief in or report having experience with at least one of these diverse supernatural phenomena (belief in reincarnation, belief in spiritual energy located in physical things, belief in yoga as spiritual practice, belief in the "evil eye," belief in astrology, having been in touch with the dead, consulting a psychic, or experiencing a ghostly encounter). This includes roughly one-quarter of the population (23%) who report having only one of these beliefs or experiences. More than four-in-ten people (43%) answer two or more of these items affirmatively, including 25% who answer two or three of these items affirmatively and nearly one-in-five (18%) who answer yes to four or more. Roughly one-third of the public (35%) answers no to all eight items. Sixty percent of the population is a surprisingly large group, especially when you consider that most xian churches would say that, for example, consulting a psychic or believing in astrology is a sin. It's interesting to contrast this with the control that, for example, the catholic bishops exercise over our political life.
The survey doesn't appear to have examined how willing Pagans are to adopt some beliefs/practices from mainstream religion, but that would be a fascinating study, as well, I think. My own experience is that many Pagans are willing, for example, to revere the Virgin Mary as a manifestation of the Goddess, to accept that the religious practices of various religious groups, such as speaking in tongues, can raise energy that can be directed towards a given purpose, etc.
Where would you come out on the survey? How many of the things they survey have you done/do you believe in?
More and more, what calls to us just now is dark, hibernation, rest, the deep. Snowstorms blanket the country and, yet, so many of us ignore the clear message from Mother Gaia: Stay home! and try to pretend that we don't live on a weathery planet, but in some technological bubble where we can always go about as if it were 70 degrees and sunny. The flu, car accidents, broken ankles, and a sense of displacement and anger are the inevitable results. Some great, great, many times great G/Daughter of mine will live on one of those starships, but I don't.
I live on a watery planet that spends at least three months out of every year telling me to stay home, cover up, drink warm tea, wear socks, have a fire, consume soup, feed the birds, and contemplate the deep message in desiccated weeds and skeleton-bare trees.
Yes, in a few weeks, my lovely blue planet/Mother will turn, the days will begin to grow longer, I will turn my focus to the light, to action, to growth, to activity, to the East. But, not yet. Not yet. We do ourselves and our planet wrong to turn too quickly to the light.
Just now, the darkness is growing. We can be with that. We can be of that. We can be for that. Just now, we can explore the darkness, both the darkness within ourselves and the darkness in the world outside. What is the scariest thing that would happen if you paid attention to the dark? What is the scariest thing that will happen if you repress it?
They won't stop until they destroy all the classics.
Alicia’s [Keyes'] first project is said to be remaking the 1958 romantic comedy “Bell, Book and Candle,” which was about a modern-day witch living in New York. One day the witch sees a handsome man she decides she wants to spend her time with, but it turns out he is with someone else! The witch casts a spell on the man so he will love her, but will her powers cast over him last or will his love for the woman he was with be able to prevail?
And, her reference to Lady Freedom -- known to my wonderful circle of amazing women as Columbia, the Goddess of our place, our watershed, our polis, our city, our locus -- as "She Who Has Brought Mercy Back into the Streets," somehow puts me much in mind of the similarities between our statue and the statue of Quan Yin, "She Who Hears the Cries of the World."
I'd like to be at a business breakfast meeting at the Four Seasons with those two. And not just for the pot of perfectly-brewed jasmine tea or the expertly-poached eggs with artichokes. Imagine what those two could do together well before 8:30 in the morning.
We don’t ask the question ‘What does God want me to do,’ but rather ‘Why do humans behave this way?’” Mirecki said. “It’s more of an anthropological than a theological question. So we’re not looking for the answer that a religion might provide. We’re looking more toward why humans construct reality in this way. In a Muslim way, in a Catholic way, a Southern Baptist way, in a pagan way, whatever the religion might be.”
There are 41 religious student organizations registered on campus this school year. Most of the organizations are based in Christianity with a few Muslim and Jewish groups. One organization that stands out is KU Cauldron, the student pagan group.
The second example, in particular, belies the notion that "Pagan" doesn't get capitalized because it's just a generic grouping, rather than a specific religion. If that were the rule being followed, then "christianity," "muslim," and "jewish" shouldn't be capitalized. (Find it a bit jarring to see those religions not capitalized? That's how I feel when I see mine written about in lower case while others are capitalized.) Here's another example of the exact same problem:
A pagan religion is loosely defined as believing in polytheism, a belief in more than one god, or not pertaining to the beliefs in Christianity, Judaism or Islam. That's not only a pretty shitty definition, it's poor usage.
This isn't difficult, people. Either capitalize the names of all religions, or don't capitalize the names of any. And don't tell me it doesn't matter. If it doesn't matter to you, then all the more reason to do it just to be polite.
You know, Nino, Roberts, Thomas, and Alito (I'm just taking a wild guess) didn't grant cert in this case in order to do us any favors. It's the oddest damn thing about xians. If you try and prevent them from using the government and state funds to further their discrimination, you are apparently stepping all over their religion which, "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's" apparently notwithstanding, apparently requires them to use the government and state funds to discriminate against, well, almost anyone but white men who believe what they believe.
Links to petition and responses here. LA Times article here.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why, no matter how big a disappointment Obama has been, presidential elections matter.
She was thinner, with a mannered gauntness as she paused just inside the double glass doors to survey the room, silvery cape billowing dramatically behind her. What's this,
I thought, lifting a hand until she nodded and started across the parquet; that's when I saw she was dressed all in gray, from a kittenish cashmere skirt and cowl
down to the graphite signature of her shoes. "Sorry I'm late," she panted, though she wasn't, sliding into the chair, her cape
tossed off in a shudder of brushed steel. We kissed. Then I leaned back to peruse my blighted child, this wary aristocratic mole.
"How's business?" I asked, and hazarded a motherly smile to keep from crying out: Are you content to conduct your life as a cliché and, what's worse,
an anachronism, the brooding artist's demimonde? Near the rue Princesse they had opened a gallery cum souvenir shop which featured fuzzy off-color Monets next to his acrylics, no doubt,
plus beared African drums and the occasional miniature gargoyle from Notre Dame the Great Artist had carved at breakfast with a pocket knife.
"Tourists love us. The Parisians, of course"-- she blushed--"are amused, though not without a certain admiration . . ." The Chateaubriand
arrived on a bone-white plate, smug and absolute in its fragrant crust, a black plug steaming like the heart plucked from the chest of a worthy enemy; one touch with her fork sent pink juices streaming.
"Admiration for what?" Wine, a bloody Pinot Noir, brought color to her cheeks. "Why, the aplomb with which we've managed to support our Art"--meaning he'd convinced
her to pose nude for his appalling canvases, faintly futuristic landscapes strewn with carwrecks and bodies being chewed
by rabid cocker spaniels. "I'd like to come by the studio," I ventured, "and see the new stuff." "Yes, if you wish . . ." A delicate rebuff
before the warning: "He dresses all in black now. Me, he drapes in blues and carmine-- and even though I think it's kinda cute, in company I tend toward more muted shades."
She paused and had the grace to drop her eyes. She did look ravishing, spookily insubstantial, a lipstick ghost on tissue, or as if one stood on a fifth-floor terrace
peering through a fringe of rain at Paris' dreaming chimney pots, each sooty issue wobbling skyward in an ecstatic oracular spiral.
"And he never thinks of food. I wish I didn't have to plead with him to eat. . . ." Fruit and cheese appeared, arrayed on leaf-green dishes.
I stuck with café crème. "This Camembert's so ripe," she joked, "it's practically grown hair," mucking a golden glob complete with parsley sprig onto a heel of bread. Nothing seemed to fill
her up: She swallowed, sliced into a pear, speared each tear-shaped lavaliere and popped the dripping mess into her pretty mouth. Nowhere the bright tufted fields, weighted
vines and sun poured down out of the south. "But are you happy?" Fearing, I whispered it quickly. "What? You know, Mother"--
she bit into the starry rose of a fig-- "one really should try the fruit here." I've lost her, I thought, and called for the bill.
As the nights continue to lengthen and the daylight visits us only briefly, almost grudgingly, it's more important than ever to ground, center, give time to your daily practice.
Our culture is so focused on ignoring the dark, which, of course, like any shadow issue -- or ignored mistress -- only gives extra energy and power to what's ignored and causes it to erupt in dangerous and uncontrollable ways. One of the most important things that witches can do for our culture, IMHO, is to serve as "steam valves" for all of that repressed darkness. We can recognize it, look into it and see what it has to teach us and our culture; we can speak to it, acknowledge it, give it its proper place.
In part because our culture is so terrified of darkness (death, matter, bodies, women, ecstasy, age), at this dark time of year, the message that we get from almost every source is to be busy! frantic! manic!, to consume, consume, consume, to ignore the darkness and to strive, instead, for some Madison-Avenue-Martha-Stewart-concocted impossible holiday that we can never, really -- no matter how many cookies we bake, parties we dress up for, cards we send -- achieve. Don't listen to them. Remember who you are at your core; do not let the culture define you.
Go someplace quiet, all the better if it can be outdoors, even if that means bundling up. Breathe. With each breath, remember who you are. Ground. Center. Do your daily practice. Give honor to the long nights. A witch's job is to help to turn the wheel. Help.
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 . . . ."