Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saturday Poetry Blogging

Warning to Children
Robert Graves

Children, if you dare to think
Of the greatness, rareness, muchness
Fewness of this precious only
Endless world in which you say
You live, you think of things like this:
Blocks of slate enclosing dappled
Red and green, enclosing tawny
Yellow nets, enclosing white
And black acres of dominoes,
Where a neat brown paper parcel
Tempts you to untie the string.
In the parcel a small island,
On the island a large tree,
On the tree a husky fruit.
Strip the husk and pare the rind off:
In the kernel you will see
Blocks of slate enclosed by dappled
Red and green, enclosed by tawny
Yellow nets, enclosed by white
And black acres of dominoes,
Where the same brown paper parcel -
Children, leave the string alone!
For who dares undo the parcel
Finds himself at once inside it,
On the island, in the fruit,
Blocks of slate about his head,
Finds himself enclosed by dappled
Green and red, enclosed by yellow
Tawny nets, enclosed by black
And white acres of dominoes,
With the same brown paper parcel
Still untied upon his knee.
And, if he then should dare to think
Of the fewness, muchness, rareness,
Greatness of this endless only
Precious world in which he says
he lives - he then unties the string.

Picture found here.

Friday, January 15, 2010

One Of The Best Things About My Life Is My Circle

Thanks for doing magic with me, Women. You just keep on rocking my world.

Avatar: Is It A Pagan Movie?

This is an interesting take on the impact of the movie Avatar, not the least because it accepts the views of Australia's catholic bishop.

Other commentators have complained that Avatar promotes a leftist or greenie agenda but Cardinal Pell knows where the real danger lies. He is an expert on the activities of pagan propagandists. In 2001 he warned: "We must not allow the situation to deteriorate as it had in Elijah's time, 850 years before Christ, where monotheism was nearly swamped by an aggressive paganism, by the followers of Baal." (Baal was a Phoenician fertility god.)

Now it would seem that Baal is back, in the person of the writer-director James Cameron. Cardinal Pell is disturbed by Cameron's speculation that a planet might function as a giant organic computer into which all living things are connected.

Reviewing Avatar in The Sunday Telegraph last weekend, he wrote: "Worship of the powerful forces of nature is half right, a primitive stage in the movement towards acknowledging the one: the single Transcendent God, above and beyond nature. It is a symptom of our age that Hollywood is pumping out this old-fashioned pagan propaganda."

Love the conflation of all Paganism w/ Ba'al ( a deity with whom I am personally unacquainted). Not really.

What's really interesting to me is how threatened xians and conservative writers are about a film that shows how satisfying and profound it can be for people to have a relationship with their landbase, planet, natural world (and, no, those of us in such relationship don't regard our Planet as a super computer.) It's that element of Avatar that seems to be attracting huge attention (and pissing off Sullivan).

I also object as strongly as I know how (one of my favorite movie scenes is the one where, in A Few Good Men, Demi Moore objects, is overruled, and then "strongly objects") to the old notion that monotheism and a "transcendent" (aka broken relationship with nature) deity is a "step above" Paganism. And, the notion that Paganism is "old-fashioned."

And, I'm not going to bother with the notion that, until Avatar's ticket sales surpass those of The Sound of Music (a film released years and years and years ago) it's a flop. I could make, in about ten minutes of billable time, a damn good argument that The Sound of Music, with its focus on family, landbase, freedom, the overthrow of a patriarchal family regime, and underground movements, is a Pagan movie.

The article discusses Monbiot's points that Avatar reflects Europe's actions in America (and I'd argue in all of not-Europe, see, e.g., India, Africa, Asia, etc.). Yeah, that's the part of the movie that my brilliant friend E called "anvils" -- it hits you over the head. But Monbitot, who is far more brilliant that I can ever hope to be, misses the point. The point is that people who invade don't have the same relationship with the landbase/plantet/etc. as the people who have lived there forever. So it's a lot easier to strip resources, denude forests, kill off "natives" if you're doing those things to someplace "other" than if you're doing it to your own landbase. A movie that posits a relationship with an entire planet makes that process, absent instellar travel, a lot more difficult.

Finally, this article has has the regular capitalization problems and a problem with calling the movie "propaganda." Was Mel Gibson's movie "propaganda"? Have all the movies that adopt a patriarchial, xian approach to the univers (aka 98% of them) propaganda?

Lately, I'm thinking more and more about how the Na'vi "ground" by inserting a portion of their bodes into the planet. I may have more to say about that later.

Picture found here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How Many Dark Moons Do You Think You're Going To Get? How Many Are You Going To Waste?

Dark of the Moon, new beginnings
Dark of the Moon, plant a seed tonight.
Dark of the Moon, what we envision,
Will come to be by the full Moon's light.

Go out in the cold. Go barefoot if you can. Go skyclad if you dare. Breathe. Ground. Call the elements. Call the Goddess. Cast a circle. Go!

If not you, who?
If not now, when?

Picture found here.

Mother Of Mares

You know, I just love nonsense like this:

Officers now suspect white “witches” who practice “knot magick” are using the horses to help them cast spells. It is thought that Pagan [G]ods have a close connection with horses, which adds strength to spells that incorporate the animals.

Apparently, "white" witches, linking up over some evil cauldron of social networking such as facebook or myspace, have been showing up and braiding the manes of British horses in order to do spells. At least, that's their story, since "it's the Pagans/Satanists/Voodoos/etc." is always the first thing police do to "explain" anything "odd."

More here.

Epona must be amused at being called a "God." And we note, yet again, the inappropriate capitalization and use of quotation marks in the original story.

Picture found here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

And Witches And Gay People Caused 9/11 And Katrina

It's that evil Voodoo.

ROBERTSON: [S]omething happened a long time ago in Haiti and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. Napoleon the Third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, “We will serve you if you get us free from the prince.” True story. And so the devil said, “OK, it’s a deal.” They kicked the French out, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free.

But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other, desperately poor. That island of Hispaniola is one island. It’s cut down the middle, on the one side is Haiti, on the other side is the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etc. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island.

More here.

When America threw out the British, they apparently didn't make any such pacts. Nice white people, in America.

Robertson knows this how? He doesn't know which French ruler, but he knows all about this pact with the devil? What is it with these xian freekazoids and their complete inability to not act like jerks whenever there's a natural disaster?

h/t to trifecta in Comments at Eschaton.

Picture found here.

Update: Apparently, evangelicals have been telling this story about a deal with the devil, conflating the devil with Voodoo deities, for some time now. In Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince today you can see an iron pig statue. It commemorates the ritual of the African religion Americans today call Voodoo conducted by Boukman on August 14, 1791.

A pig on that day was ritually killed. The escaped slaves joined in drinking its still-warm blood as part of a pact. Boukman led his followers in vowing that they and their children would serve the pagan gods of the island, including the devil, for exactly 200 years in exchange for freedom from the French.

Seven days later the slaves of Haiti rose in rebellion, soaking Haiti in the blood of the French overseers and plantation owners who had enslaved them.

On January 1, 1804 – exactly 200 years ago – a beaten France acknowledged the independence of Haiti. This, as you soon shall see, is a key fact in our story.

No need to point out how racist this is, is there?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

May The Goddess Guard Her. May She Find Her Way To The Summerlands. May Her Friends And Family Know Peace.

Miep Gies, who helped to hide Anne Frank and who saved her diary, passed away at 100.

Born in Vienna to Christian parents on February 15, 1909 with the name of Hermine Santruschitz, she moved to Leiden in 1920 to escape food shortages and was raised by a Dutch family who moved to Amsterdam two years later and nicknamed her Miep.

She started work as an office assistant at a textile factory but lost her job in 1933 as the economic crisis deepened. She then came under the employment of Anne's father, Otto Frank, who was director of a pectin producing company.

Gies avoided deportation to Austria by marrying her Dutch boyfriend, Jan, in 1941. Their son Paul was born in 1950 and they lived in Amsterdam until 1993, when Jan died at age 87. Paul has now opened a condolences register on his website.

Gies and her husband became family friends with the Franks and when Otto asked for help, they agreed to hide him and his family at the secret annex, bringing them daily groceries and providing a link to the outside world.

In August 1944, after 25 months in hiding, the Frank family were arrested but an Austrian SS officer spared Gies from captivity out of sympathy on condition she promised not to flee.

Gies found Anne's diaries in the debris left by the raid and kept them in her desk drawer without ever reading them. After the war ended, when it became clear that Anne was not coming back, she handed them over to Anne's father.

She received honors from several governments and institutions, and last year had an asteroid named after her by the International Astronomical Union.

May we all be as brave when life demands it.

More here.

Picture found here.

Monday, January 11, 2010


This weekend, when I was driving G/Son home, we had on a CD of songs by Emerald Rose, including their version of Caledonia. G/Son was interested in the songs, asking me what each was about. When we got to Caledonia, I said, "This is a song about a man who's lonely for his home in Caledonia, which means 'Scotland.'" G/Son said, "Is it the real man who was lonely for it, or is it just a song?" I said, "Well, a lot of people have sung this song, ever since the first lonely man sang it the first time. But I think that they were all, at some point, lonely for Caledonia. Sometimes, I'm even lonely for Caledonia." G/Son said, "Nonna! Your home isn't in Caledonia; it's in Virginia!" and I said, "I know, but my heart's home may be in Caledonia, where our Pictish ancestors ran to hide from the Celts," and G/Son said, "My heart's home is in Maryland," and I said, "So, it is."

Now It Can Be Told

Holy Shit, I think that I AM Mrs. Johnson.

Can't wait to read this book to G/Son.

Come To The Dance

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Making Change

This weekend, I needed to plan a dark Moon ritual and I turned, as I often do for inspiration, to Judika Illes' Element Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells. I don't know that I've ever actually done one of the spells in Illes' book, mostly because (Bad Witch!) I'm usually lacking some important ingredient such as High John the Conqueror's (not that my garden isn't full of bindweed, but I'm always trying to get rid of it, not preserve it for magic) root, or Abra-Melin Oil (which I'd make, except that I lack galangal and myrrh), or kyphi. But I always come away with a ritual in mind after spending a few hours with Illes.

Just now, when my friend NTodd is talking about what we all CAN do to change things and when so many of us are feeling as if some things just never seem to change, and while I am contemplating a ritual with some new witches with whom I've never before done magic of this sort, I was struck by something Illes said:

Why would anyone send a hex or a curse, anyway?

The first reason is the obvious: bad people do bad things. The destructive impulse can be extremely potent.

Other answers are more complex and ambiguous. In some cases, there may be an extremely fine line between a hex and a justice spell. We're very quick to jump to conclusions these days and automatically brand every hex-caster as evil; however, this perception may derive from the luxurious vantage of comfortable ties. People don't create or cast courtcase spells unless there's at least a remote possibility of legal justice. What if you exist in a time or place where you or your loved ones are at the mercy of others more powerful than you and there is no recourse, none, not at all, to justice? What do you do then? Hexes are not an uncommon response. Hexes may be cast as a desperate attempt to end persecution and abuse.

I don't know that I've ever hexed anyone, but I've definitely done plenty of magic that would worry a lot of 21st Century witches who were raised hard on the "Rule of Three" and the notion that you should never interfere with another's will. When it's some powerful man's will that women be denied access to abortion, just as an odd-for-example, I've got no problem interfering with that man's will. (He, as I used to say to my mother, started it. And used his access to power that I don't have.) And if I feel ok about moving on the "mundane" plane to make a political impact (writing my Senators a letter or showing up at a protest), I've got no problem doing magic to make those "mundane" actions more effective. YMMV and one of my few hard-and-fast-rules about magic is that no one should do any magic when she's uncomfortable with either the objective or the means.

When do you do justice spells? And where do you buy Jezebel Root?

Picture found here.

What Is This Stuff We're Surrounded By?

One thing I'll say about Winter sunshine: It may not warm as much as I wish, but it sure does illuminate. The quality of light in Winter is so different, so much more stark and revealing than the warmer sunlight of Summer. This morning, G/Son and I were getting him dressed for a foray out into the bitter cold and a drive from Nonna's house back to his house. We were in my guest room, which has SouthEastern windows and the sunlight was pouring in. G/Son likes to jump on the bed in between articles of clothing, so it can be a lengthy process: put on undershirt and underpants/jump on the bed; put on sweatpants/jump on the bed; put on shirt/jump on the bed; put on socks, well, you get the idea. Finally dressed, G/Son got down from the bed while Nonna was folding up his pajamas and putting them into his overnight case.

Suddenly, clearly enchanted, he cried, "Nonna! What's this stuff we're surrounded by?" I looked down, saw him looking all around, and said, "What? Do you mean the walls and the wallpaper?" G/Son said, "No, Nonna! Look into the sunlight! What's this stuff we're surrounded by?" The smile of wonder on his face was one of the loveliest things that I've ever seen. I knelt down so that I was on the same level that he was and slipped my face into the ray of Winter sunlight in which he'd been standing. And, then . . . I saw. Tiny specs of dust, raised by G/Son's jumping on the bed, were floating in the sunlight. Aware of a teachable moment, I said, "Oh, I see! What do you think it could be?" G/Son said, "We're surrounded by it. Are we always surrounded by it?" And I said, "Yes, we're always surrounded by it, but we usually only see it in certain kinds of sunlight. Some people say it's dust, but that just gives it a name; it doesn't answer the question, does it?" G/Son was slowly turning around by now, hands out in the universal gesture of wonderment, and he said, again, "Nonna, what is this stuff we're surrounded by?" I said, "Well, I think it's a little way of seeing just how much wonder and magic is around us, all the time. I think the sun shows it to us some times to remind us how wonderful our world is. A long time ago, a man named Gerard Hopkins wrote a poem about it. Would you like to hear it?" G/Son looked up as if just remembering that I was there, and said, "Yes." So while he stood, and looked, and slowly turned in the sunlight, I went into the kitchen, grabbed the correct book of poetry, and read him "God's Grandeur".

THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

I don't think that he got more than the feeling; he stopped for a minute and said, "Are we surrounded by it even at night?" and I said, "Even at night. And, a few times in your life, when the Moon is full and the air is warm, you'll see it even then." G/Son said, "I will?" and I said, "I promise."

Picture found here.