Saturday, January 02, 2010

You Want Outrage?

As a member of religion about which people often say "grossly abusive or insulting things" that "cause outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion," (never mind that the person making the statement is often a member OF my religion), I'd say the Irish atheists have this about right:

SECULAR campaigners in the Republic of Ireland defied a strict new blasphemy law that came into force on New Year's Day by publishing a series of anti-religious quotations online and promising to fight the legislation in court.

The law, which was passed in July, means blasphemy in Ireland is now a crime punishable with a fine of up to 25,000 euros.

It defines blasphemy as ''publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion, with some defences permitted''.

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern has said the law was necessary because while immigration had brought a growing diversity of religious faiths, the 1936 constitution only extended the protection of belief to Christians.

But Atheist Ireland, a group that claims to represent the rights of atheists, responded to the legislation by publishing 25 anti-religious quotations on its website, from figures including Richard Dawkins, Bjork and Frank Zappa.

Michael Nugent, the group's chairman, said it would challenge the law through the courts if it was charged with blasphemy.

Mr Nugent said: ''This new law is both silly and dangerous. It is silly because medieval religious laws have no place in a modern secular republic, where the criminal law should protect people and not ideas. And it is dangerous because it incentives religious outrage, and because Islamic states led by Pakistan are already using the wording of this Irish law to promote new blasphemy laws at UN level.

. . .

''Blasphemy laws are unjust: they silence people in order to protect ideas. In a civilised society, people have a right to express and to hear ideas about religion even if other people find those ideas to be outrageous.''

Mr Nugent said the group's campaign to repeal the law was part of a wider battle to create a more secular republic. ''You would think that after all the scandals the Catholic Church endured in 2009, the introduction of a blasphemy law would be the last thing that the Irish state would be considering in terms of defending religion and its place in society.''

More here.

Here, BTW, are the 25 blasphemous quotations. They include some good ones:

Amanda Donohoe on her role in the Ken Russell movie Lair of the White Worm, 1995: “Spitting on Christ was a great deal of fun. I can’t embrace a male god who has persecuted female sexuality throughout the ages, and that persecution still goes on today all over the world.”


Mark Twain, describing the Christian Bible in Letters from the Earth, 1909: “Also it has another name – The Word of God. For the Christian thinks every word of it was dictated by God. It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies… But you notice that when the Lord God of Heaven and Earth, adored Father of Man, goes to war, there is no limit. He is totally without mercy — he, who is called the Fountain of Mercy. He slays, slays, slays! All the men, all the beasts, all the boys, all the babies; also all the women and all the girls, except those that have not been deflowered. He makes no distinction between innocent and guilty… What the insane Father required was blood and misery; he was indifferent as to who furnished it.”

They left out HecateDemetersdatter, who said, "Fuck you, Padrick, you woman-hating, Celt-hating, nasty slave."

Picture found here.

Hat tip to my amazing friend NYM.

Day Late Bazooms Blogging

Ladies! Listen up! Detecting breast cancer early is the key to surviving it! Breast Self Exams (BSEs) can help you to detect breast cancer in its earlier stages. So, on the first of every month, give yourself a breast self-exam. It's easy to do. Here's how. If you prefer to do your BSE at a particular time in your cycle, calendar it now. But, don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

And, once a year, get yourself a mammogram. Mammograms cost between $150 and $300. If you have to take a temp job one weekend a year, if you have to sell something on e-Bay, if you have to go cash in all the change in various jars all over the house, if you have to work the holiday season wrapping gifts at Macy's, for the love of the Goddess, please go get a mammogram once a year.

Or: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pays all or some of the cost of breast cancer screening services through its National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. This program provides mammograms and breast exams by a health professional to low-income, underinsured, and underserved women in all 50 states, six U.S. territories, the District of Columbia, and 14 American Indian/Alaska Native organizations. For more information, contact your state health department or call the Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER.

I know that a recent study indicated that early detection via breast self exams might not be "cost effective." I'm not a scientist, but when I read those studies, they appear to be saying that sometimes women find a lump during the BSE that turns out not to be cancer. Those women have caused some expense and have gone through some discomfort in order to find out that the lump wasn't cancer. I don't know about you, but when that happens to me, as it has a few times since my first mammogram found a small, curable, cancerous lump, I go out and buy a new scarf, take myself out for a decadent lunch, call everyone I know, and call it a good day.

Send me an email after you get your mammogram and I will do an annual free tarot reading for you. Just, please, examine your own breasts once a month and get your sweet, round ass to a mammogram once a year. If you have a deck, pick three cards and e-mail me at I'll email you back your reading. If you don't have a deck, go to Lunea's tarot listed on the right-hand side in my blog links. Pick three cards from her free, on-line tarot and email me at I'll email you back your reading.

Saturday Poetry Blogging

ANTIQUE – by Robert Pinsky

I drowned in the fire of having you, I burned
In the river of not having you, we lived
Together for hours in a house of a thousand rooms
And we were parted for a thousand years.
Ten minutes ago we raised our children who cover
The earth and have forgotten that we existed

It was not maya, it was not a ladder to perfection,
It was this cold sunlight falling on this warm earth.

When I turned you went to Hell. When your ship
Fled the battle I followed you and lost the world
Without regret but with stormy recriminations.
Someday far down that corridor of horror the future
Someone who buys this picture of you for the frame
At a stall in a dwindled city will study your face
And decide to harbor it for a little while longer
From the waters of anonymity, the acids of breath.

Photo found here.

Friday, January 01, 2010

New Years' Day Poetry Blogging

I love New Years' Day. I love the fresh start. I love cracking open a clean, new calendar, full of possibly wonderful days, accomplishments, chances to get it right. I always have.

My brilliant friend, E., makes only fun resolutions at this time of year: going to acrobat school, learning to mix perfect cocktails, eating at each of the Washingtonian's 100 Best Restaurants. Her theory is that if you need to lose weight you can just decide to do that when you realize that you need to do it. But E. is an Aries, and starting things is, shall we say, not a problem for her. Me, I hit the laziness trifecta of the Horoscope and I love the hit of energy that the New Year can give me.

Joanna Colbert recently wrote about what seems to me like a genius idea: choosing a word or theme for the year, as opposed to just listing a bunch of unrelated resolutions.

I'm picking "Vitality!"

Chasing Vitality by Lloyd Lofthouse

The wake-up call arrived
In 1981,
While swimming
In a bottle of Scotch
With mouth open.

The alarm was
A mountain hike
Followed by
Stiff, hellish,
Lactic acid pain,
A week of aching agony!

Thirty-six pounds overweight,
One for each year;
Popping anti-acids
And pain ‘killers’
like candy kisses;
Shooting pains
Cramping fingers;
Not exercising;
Endless sinus infections
Due to chemical
Classroom exposures.
Afraid to sleep!
Might never awake!

That mountain hike pushed
Me over the edge.

It was a long fall
From carnivore to vegan
Escaping eggs, milk and meat;
Giving up whiskey;
Being chased by
Sodas, pizza
And beer
In ‘bad’ dreams.

After that transformation,
Most of the pain was left
In the sun blasted dust
Climbing endless
Mountain trails.

Sage advice:
“To eat what you don’t want,
drink what you don’t like
and do what you’d rather not.”
— Mark Twain

After a few months of distress,
It gets easy.

I met a couple in line at
Orion’s Express vegan fast food
In Pasadena, California.
He showed me his
Stroke scars
Where the doctor
Cracked his chest.

It’s all about restraint
Instead of Sinatra singing,
“I did it my way”
For people headed
Toward an early grave
Like my brother, Richard.

Why not hunt for
The Vampire Lestat?
Summon him
And seek the true
Fountain of Youth.

Could it be that
Ponce De Leon was looking
In the wrong places
Leading us astray?


What word would you like to define the coming year for you?

Picture found here.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Go On, Wheel, Turn For Goddess' Sake! Turn!

It did, this decade did suck. But, still, some amazing things happened to me.

1. Son married the loveliest, kindest, most down-to-Earth woman -- a kick-ass, take-no-prisoners prosecutor of whom I am in awe, an amazingly, instinctively wonderful mother, a creative cook, and a lady with the deadly accurate instincts of a risk-taker and a yogini. I get to be not only the mother of the gentlest gentleman, funniest Scorpio, strongest father, and all-round kindest person I have ever known, I also get to be the MiL to a DiL that I love. May your children, too, marry well.

2. G/Son. And, as Mr. Frost said, that has made all the difference. I hope that, just once in your life, you get to love someone as much as I love G/Son, that the simple fact of someone's existence can make you as inordinately happy as G/Son's existence makes me every minute of every day.

3. I found my long-desired cottage home and a collaborator (thanks, Landscape Guy!) for the garden that I've been wanting ever since, at about seven years old, I read The Secret Garden. I was born to be the human part of this tiny landbase. Like a good lover, it completes me. May you find your "bit of Earth" and may it love you back as this bit of Earth loves me and I love it.

4. The Witches. My wonderful circle of amazing women. We've grown, shrunk, grown, done amazing political and personal magic. We've sunk our roots into this city and become a part of its magical infrastructure in ways that the denizens of this city never suspect and we've done it flying well below the radar of the city's Pagan community. We support each other, infiltrate, do magic in places where it should be impossible. As Barbara Starrett said:

I am a secret agent
Of the moon


Celestial subversive
Spirita Sancta


And then some
And I have friends.

May you, too, have such friends.

5. I took a tiny, obscure bit of United States Code -- moribund for decades and decades -- and turned it into a several-billion-dollar win. It was the sort of pure fun that no one ever tells you that you can have doing law. It's addictive; it can cost an awful lot of nights' sleep and produce an awful lot of of grey hairs, but it's like riding a wave of pure energy. May you, too, have breakthrough wins. I have a job where I get paid to read, talk, and write about issues that matter to me and where, more often than not, I get a published opinion that says: Hecate wins, you other guys, not so much. I like to win. I do. I never expected to have such a great job. May it be so for you.

6. One late afternoon, on the balcony at Morton's, Son explained to me about this guy called "Atrios," and these things called "blogs" and, well, who knew? May you, too, find the creative outlet that works for you.

May this coming decade bring you delightful surprises, unearned gifts, Moon-lit dances, and serious wins.

What were the highpoints of the Aughts for you?

Photo by the author from her garden. If you copy, please link back.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fare Thee Well, Aughts!

What a decade. It was Sandra Day's fault, but it was my fault, too, and yours, for not rioting in the streets. Well, done is done and, thank the Goddess, the Aughts are done.

Come with me. Strip. Shed your past as cleanly and as decisively as the snake sheds her skin. Leave all the old markers behind. Stand naked on the high hill. Ground. Take a huge lungfull of the icy cold air, the clarity; right now, this is all about the element of Air. Then, leap. Open your heart and let go of everything. Leap into the energy of the enormous Blue Moon that will end this decade and begin the next, spread the wings you didn't know that you had, and soar into the Teens with me.

This song always reminds me of the poem by Mary Oliver:

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

But, we can do so much more than "just" save our lives. We can, with prodigal abandon, begin to spend our lives. Which, of course, reminds me of the Rumi poem:

I would love to kiss you.
The price of kissing is your life.
Now my loving is running toward my life shouting,
"What a bargain, let's buy it!"

May this be the decade when energy becomes green, civilization becomes sustainable, the noosphere comes into its own, women assume half the power in the world, witches are honored instead of murdered, art matters more than war, and your life becomes an amazing collaboration with your very own landbase, watershed, biosphere, higher self/sacred dove/Goddess-self.

Make one wish for yourself on December 31, 2019. Go write it down here. Then, do what witches do: you begin by casting a circle.

Blessed new decade to you.

Monday, December 28, 2009

What's Real?


And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

It's really brutally cold outside this evening, with strong winds and the kind of cold that seeps into your bones, the bones in your hand, the ones that ache for a long time after getting so cold.

But, in the bed of the now-invisible hostas, I can see tiny green tips -- the miniature daffodils that Landscape Guy and I moved this summer -- poking bravely up through the dirt. And, then, my heart with pleasure fills.

One of the best things about gardening is the anticipation. The watching for tiny signs. For me, this has a lot to do with being in relationship with a specific piece of land. It's trite, but true:

And then he added:
"go and look again at the roses.
You will understand now
that yours is unique in all the world.
Then come back to say goodbye to me,
and I will make you a present of a secret."

The little prince went away,
to look again at the roses.
"You are not at all like my rose," he said.
"As yet you are nothing.
No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one.
You are like my fox when I first knew him.
He was only a fox
like a hundred thousand other foxes.
But I have made a friend,
and now he is unique in all the world."
And the roses were very much embarrassed.
"You are beautiful, but you are empty," he went on.
"One could not die for you.
To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think
that my rose looked just like you
--the rose that belongs to me.
But in herself alone she is more important
than all the hundreds of you
other roses: because it is she that I have watered;
because it is she
that I have put under the glass globe;
because it is for her
that I have killed the caterpillars
(except the two or three we saved
to become butterflies);
because it is she that I have listened to,
when she grumbled,
or boasted,
or even sometimes when she said nothing.
Because she is MY rose."

And he went back to meet the fox.
"Goodbye" he said.

"Goodbye," said the fox.
"And now here is my secret, a very simple secret:
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;
what is essential is invisible to the eye."

"What is essential is invisible to the eye,"
the little prince repeated,
so that he would be sure to remember.

"It is the time you have wasted for your rose
that makes your rose so important.

More here.

What's pushing up through your frozen ground? Are you grounding often enough to know?

Oh, Yes.

Mercury sure the fuck is in retrograde. It's been several years since one kicked my ass the way this one is doing. Fasten your seatbelts; it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Picture found here.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

May The Goddess Guard Him. May He Find His Way To The Summerlands. May His Friends And Family Know Peace.

It was a long, rough, day for civil rights:

NEW YORK -- Percy Sutton, the pioneering civil rights attorney who represented Malcolm X before launching successful careers as a political power broker and media mogul, has died. He was 89. Marissa Shorenstein, a spokeswoman for Gov. David Paterson, confirmed that Sutton died Saturday. She did not know the cause. His daughter, Cheryl Sutton, declined to comment Saturday when reached by phone at her New York City home.

The son of a former slave, Percy Sutton became a fixture on 125th Street in Harlem after moving to New York City following his service with the famed Tuskegee Airmen in World War II. His Harlem law office, founded in 1953, represented Malcolm X and the slain activist's family for decades.


South African poet and former political prisoner Dennis Brutus has died. He was 85. Brutus' publisher, Chicago-based Haymarket Books, says the writer died in his sleep at his home in Cape Town on Saturday.

Brutus was an anti-apartheid activist who was jailed at Robben Island with Nelson Mandela in the mid-1960s. His activism led Olympic officials to ban South Africa from competition from 1964 until apartheid ended nearly 30 years later.

Exiled from South Africa in 1966, Brutus later moved to the United States and taught literature and African studies at Northwestern University and the University of Pittsburgh.

Over the years, he wrote more than a dozen collections of poetry, including two while imprisoned. He is survived by a wife, eight children and many other relatives.

He wrote:

No Banyan, Only

The quiet wisdom of the body’s peace:
Carnality, in this our carnal world, is all
Bamboo and iron having sealed
Our mundane eyes to views of time and peace.
Now I am strong as stones or trees are strong,
Insensible, or ignorant with vibrant life;
Streams or the air may wash or pass me by
My mind breathes quiet, lying yours along.
(Upon what meat is this man fed
That he is grown so great?
Diet of eloquent delectable accolades
Warm, soft, kindly, sweet and red.)

Under no banyan tree I strip no onion skin
To find a néant kernel at the still center:
“A little winter love in a dark corner?”
No, Love (for Chrissake, no) no love, no sin.

Sublunary no more, yet more acutely mundane
Man’s fingers claw the cosmos in gestures of
Our souls, since Hersey, seek the helix of
Save mine, you-saved, now leafing like a bough.

Breaking through theory-thickets I thrust
To this one corpus, one more self
That gives Content and content to an earth
Littered and sterile with ideas and rust.

Let alphabetic electrons bloat on Freudian

Picture found here.

Kali On A Cracker

One wishes so that the Frosts would just stay away from the issue of teen pregnancy.

For example: Nearly 90 percent of teen girls are now single mothers. Well, no. More here. Ninety percent of teen girls are not single mothers. And saying so just makes you look ridiculous. Please. Stop.

America has a huge amount of growing up to do w/r/t sex. Wiccans could be a large part of that maturation process, with our sex-positive attitudes. It saddens me to see elders, such as the Frosts, make that process immeasurably more difficult.

Picture found here.