You know that feeling you get after dancing around a great bonfire with drums melting your bones and the stars burning in the shining black sky, and there’s a kind of green wick blazing inside your stomach and your heart, and you feel like at any moment you’re going crack wholly open, and all the love and joy and the sobbing sobbing laughing laughing because of life life will pour out of you and flood the gate and wash the wood clean and you welcome it and you can’t wait and the wind rips through your hands and says yes do this do this now this is the moment and then laughs like a maniac and then you laugh like a maniac and then the drums start again and the night goes on and on and you are the most beautiful thing dancing in the whole of the shocking, gorgeous and perfect world?
Now the bright morning Star, Day's harbinger, Comes dancing from the East, and leads with her The Flowery May, who from her green lap throws The yellow Cowslip, and the pale Primrose. Hail bounteous May that dost inspire Mirth and youth, and warm desire, Woods and Groves, are of thy dressing, Hill and Dale, doth boast thy blessing. Thus we salute thee with our early Song, And welcome thee, and wish thee long.
The month of May was come, when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom, and to bring forth fruit; for like as herbs and trees bring forth fruit and flourish in May, in likewise every lusty heart that is in any manner a lover, springeth and flourisheth in lusty deeds. For it giveth unto all lovers courage, that lusty month of May. - Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte d'Arthur, 1485
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 declare 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com. I'll email you back your reading.
A scheduled pagan festival is under the scrutiny of the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office.
“Obviously, we don’t like this type of activity, but if they are following all of the laws to the letter of the law, then we can’t do anything about it,” Perry Rushing, chief of operations for the Sheriff’s Office, said Thursday. “We vehemently oppose this type of activity in Livingston Parish.”
The festival is being held at a Pagan campsite.The campground’s website describes the campground as Louisiana’s only “dedicated pagan camp” and says the campground will be celebrating its grand opening concurrently with the festival.
Here are the "type of activities" that Sheriff Rushing "vehemently opposes":
Among other things, the festival will offer nightly drumming circles, bonfires, Celtic music, pagan spiritual music, belly dancers, fire dancers and authentic voodoo rituals, according to the website.
I don't suppose some enterprising reporter bothered to ask Sheriff Rushing why he "obviously" doesn't like "this type of activity." One wonders what's wrong with drumming, bonfires, music, dancing, and religious rituals. Would a xian group engaging in the same practices face "vehement opposition"? If not, how does the sheriff's office justify its attitude in light of the, you know, First Amendment?
And we won't bother to mention the failure to capitalize the name of a religion.
When I was trying to grow up both female and Catholic, the church kept telling me about "the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost." And when we uppity women got too '"hysterical" to ignore, they threw us a bone and said, "Oh, yeah, well, the Holy Ghost? That sexless, inhuman dove or flame or whatever the fuck it was? That "thing" that gets so much less attention than the sexed, humanized Father and Son? That's you. That's the "divine feminine," or "wisdom," or "Sophia," at least to the Greek Orthodox, or something; can't you shut up now?"
And, so I was ready-made to be attracted to Wicca, with it's real trinity of Maiden, Mother, Crone. Now that's a trinity that I can understand and one that has nurtured my spiritul development for nigh on a quarter of a century, and it's the spiritual truth that I expect will be on my lips and in my heart when I dance across the river between my garden in Virginia and the orchards in the Summerlands (it's a thin border and a river full of crossing stones. I can see it, once it a while; I think that I'll be good at making that crossing, even as rooted as I am to this particular place.)
And, yet, like so many symbols, that trinity glosses over a lot of subtelties. And, especially as women live longer and fulfill more roles within the world, we're finding that there are a hundred different variations and subcategories between those three markers/archetypes. One of the most discussed, within the feminist Pagan community, is a fourth stage sometimes called: Queen. This is the woman whose family is raised (or who has mothered a creative project, social justice movement, business, work of art, or garden (hell, sometimes all of those) to fruition)and who is, in this day and age of modern medicine and preventive health measures, still sexual, active, vital, alive, able to create and grow quite a lot before she goes off (as I am beginning to long to do) to sit by the fire, dispense wisdom when asked, nap, and reflect. She's what I think that the Empress card was really meant to show and she's a combination of the Queens of Swords, Wands, Cups, and Pentacles. (We all wind up knowing at least something of all of them, by the time we get to be 50/60 something.)
Another, it occured to me today, is the Mature Mother. I was sitting in my garden and thinking about Ruby Sarah's recent post about Beltane being the holiday when the Kore laughs birds and flowers. And realizing that, for many, if not most, women in our society, Beltane sex, the kind that impregnates you (and any child or project born in late February/early March is counted lucky, as "Beltane got"), is often not quite the experience of a Kore, the young maiden just experimenting with sex. She's not Persephone, gathering flowers with her girlfriends and caught, all unawares, by Hades. She's more likely to have already gotten her education, learned to enjoy and use sex, started her career, traveled a bit (if my own acquaintances are any indication), sown some wild oats, had some fun, and then decided -- deliberately -- to have a child (birth a business, found a movement, etc.). Which is the great blessing that birth control allows to those of us living in the late 20th/early 21st Centuries. And, for that woman, that Mature Mother who is no longer a Kore, but not yet a Queen, sex -- and pregnancy and motherhood -- is likely to be quite different from those same experiences when had by a Kore, who can sometimes find herself (Goddess knows, I did) torn a bit unexpectedly and unprepared from her girlhood and into womanhood/motherhood, from nurturing herownself into nurturing a child, project, cause.
And, for me, gardening this year -- just after a once-every-several-centuries Winter and in the midst of both warming spells that have oak pollen falling two weeks before its normal Beltane fall and cooling trends that threaten with frost seedlings put out after our "normal" last frost date -- calls to this Mature Mother, this woman who has learned how to manage the changing weather of lovers (human, weather-got, Herne, or Greenman), my get (children, projects, briefs, art, businesses, etc.), myself. I'm not the Kore, rocked and challenged by pregnancy and parenting. I'm not yet the Queen, ready to rule based on all that I've learned. I'm still in the final stages of the Mature Mother, working now on giving birth to Myself, that person who may have gotten lost a bit, (primordial soup, the stuff of Hecate) but also created, in between Maiden and Mother.
Park officials had separated Pansy from the other chimpanzees for treatment when she became ill in November 2008. But when her breathing became erratic a few weeks later, the other three chimps were allowed to join her.
In the 10 minutes before she died, the three animals – an elderly female named Blossom, Blossom's adult son Chippy and Pansy's adult daughter Rosie – frequently groomed and caressed Pansy. They crouched in close, and Chippy shook her arm, apparently testing for signs of life.
When they got no reaction, "they appeared to arrive at a collective decision that something had changed, and she was no longer the same as she was beforehand," said lead author James Anderson, who studies primate behavior at the University of Stirling. "It seems they are clearly able to distinguish the difference between being alive and unresponsive."
Soon, both Blossom and Chippy left Pansy's side. Even though it was not her usual sleeping area, Rosie stayed by her mother's corpse almost the entire night, sleeping fitfully.
Sixteen hours after Pansy's death, zookeepers removed the body, with the three chimps watching quietly. For several days afterward, the group was subdued, refusing to make a nest on the platform where Pansy had died. They also demanded more attention from the keepers.
“Humiliations, spankings and beatings, slaps in the face, betrayal, sexual exploitation, derision, neglect, etc. are all forms of mistreatment, because they injure the integrity and dignity of a child, even if their consequences are not visible right away,” she writes in an explanatory essay on childhood mistreatment and abuse on her Web site, alice-miller.com. “Beaten children very early on assimilate the violence they endured, which they may glorify and apply later as parents, in believing that they deserved the punishment and were beaten out of love.”
She took child abuse seriously and, for that, she deserves our thanks.
None of the symptoms experienced by the girls are reported to to be serious.
And, indeed, they never are. Women's symptoms are, by definition, not serious.
Education is a weapon that the Patriarchy wields against women. Just like poisoning wells of water, poisoning education is a way that the Patriarchy makes what is necessary dangerous for those of us with two X chromosomes.
You can find witches and environmentalists who say that gardens are bad; gardens change the ecosystem and require too much [water, compost, weeding, mowing, take-your-pick]. And, I get all of that. And I can get pretty rhapsodic in the woods, on a river bank, up in the mountains, at the liminal space between water and sand at the shore, in places that haven't been gardened.
And, yet. And, still.
For me, gardening is a way of being in deep relationship with the land. Gardening Hecate is as much a part of the land as is Bossy Cardinal, Gentle but Gigantic Bluejay, Ancient Oak, the Fireflies that Eat the Mosquitoes, and the Moss That Grows Between the Patio Stones. I dig my fingers into the soil, I place seeds where I want them to grow, I sit and listen to the land and figure out what it wants. And, then, we cooperate.
My garden does for me what Ram Dass' book did for so many of my generation: My garden calls to me to Be Here Now. I can be thinking of work, family issues, politics, the frustrations of Living While Female in the Patriarchy, and then go out to sit with the maple, and the ostrich ferns, and the Japanese Temple Pines and, all of a sudden, a few hours have passed, I'm completely at peace, and I've engaged in a spiritual practice as old as womankind. I can go out to weed the herb bed and the containers of mint, and bergamot, and lemon grass, and, somehow, I come away feeling as if I've wreaked at least a bit of order (such as it is) in this tiny corner of a universe constantly balancing between mad, creative, chaos and lovely, secure, order. I can walk around and smell the lilacs, the just-about-to-bloom sage, the tarragon ("dragon's wort" to my witchy mind), and the French thyme, and come inside high as a kite, as mad as any worshiper of Dionysus, intoxicated by the simple over-stimultion of the connection between the cells on the inside of my nose and the neurons in my brain.
And, so, I am a gardener.
May it, if you wish it, be so for you.
Photo of tarragon in the herb bed by the author. If you copy, please link back.
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 . . . ."