We have a lot of work to do, people. We still tear each other down too much, rather than lifting each other up. [Which may say more about our own shadows than anything else.] We still fight for petty positions rather than coming into our deep power and recognizing the power we see in each other. This is changing, blessed be, and I hope to continue working with those of you who are active in this change. I saw a lot of this sort of change at Pagan Spirit Gathering last week. I encounter it in other places where I travel and teach. I encounter the desire for this from people in my spiritual direction practice. It is my deep work to foster integration within myself and amongst those who are drawn into my circles. It is our deep work to shine like the stars that we are. Would I ever want to host a television show? Perhaps. Teaching a million people how to align their souls intrigues me. Fostering spiritual dialog from a larger platform might be a good thing. Am I willing to compromise my core mission in order to get a television show? No. That sort of compromise is a compromise of my Being, of the Work of this God, and of my True Will. So, I did not make a video for Oprah. But I plan to make a video for you.
Look on YouTube in the coming months. All of this has inspired me to finally start videocasts to alternate with my audio podcasts. Just some short meditations, and answering questions you or I are grappling with. Something simple. Something to help us connect and reintegrate.
Meanwhile, let us continue to find ways to step up to beauty together. Let us continue to find ways to walk in strength. Let us open to amazement at this world, this cosmos. Let us amaze one another.
As I noted in comments to Thorn's post, I've long believed that YouTube is an under-utilized resource for Pagans. Many of us can't or won't (/raises INTJ hand) get to Pagan festivals, but we can be inspired in our own daily practices by Pagan teachers. I don't spend all of my day thinking about Pagan topics, spirituality, magick. I spend a big chunk of it thinking about law, legal prose, statutory interpretation. So I'm thirsty to hear from people, like Thorn, who have spent most of their time absorbing, thinking about, digesting Pagan topics, spirituality, magick. YouTube is easy, fast, cheap, and can be watched over and over in order to really grock the main points. I'd love it if, when I searched "Wicca" on YouTube I found more people of Thorn's calibre.
I don't kid myself that, as his Nonna, I'm going to be the biggest influence on G/Son's life. Heck, I'd be ecstatic if I wind up being half as big an influence as Batman and Spiderman. But one thing I'm determined to do is to help him to be out in nature, even when that means out in the wading pool in my back yard, floating mint leaves in the water. (His 'rents are even better at this than I am. Hiking is one of their main family activities, and they kayak whenever they're down at DiL's folks' place on the river. I wasn't good about getting Son outside. Their love of nature is, I guess, like playing the balalikya -- a gift.)
I do think that JMG is right; the "good times" as we've defined them, based upon cheap energy, are likely not coming back. I worry about what G/Son's future will be. But if, along with the difficulties that change will bring, people can re-engage with nature, maybe it won't be all bad. My goal for my time w/ G/Son is to gently invite him into that communication, to introduce him to all that I know of the Divine.
As my v creative friend, K, recently pointed out in comments, visiting the farmers' market is a good way, especially for urban Pagans, to stay in touch with the seasons. There are several quite good farmers' markets near where I live and work; the Falls Church Farmers' Market is one of my favorites. I was there early this morning, sampling peaches and cherries, catching up on civic gossip, and buying tomatoes and mozzarella (Blue Ridge Dairy Company; if you live around here, you'll thank me!).
Sometimes, simple is best.
I slice the tomatoes, drizzle some balsamic vinegar and olive oil, add Genovese basil from the herb bed, crack some pepper, and sprinkle some marigold petals.
Photos by the author. If you copy, please link back.
Magic is the art of sensing patterns, following the energy, and doing it all while staying centered and tapped into your creativity. What emerges is total transformation. What can also emerge is a very practical application of all that esoteric stuff, a vehicle through which we can use our whole skill set to bring positive change to the greatest number of people, while living by our core values. In other words, a very cool business.
If you've read my posts for a while, you know that one of my recurring themes is that Witchcraft should make one more effective in the real world. It's frustrating to me to see so many Witches and Pagans whose lives just don't work. Can't hold a job even in a good economy. Don't have a clean, safe, nurturing living space. Have serious health problems that they don't address. Can't manage their finances. Don't really have a working daily practice. And, IMHO, there's a circular effect. When my life doesn't work, it's more difficult for me to sense patterns, follow energy, stay centered, and do magic.
It's high Summer, and one should always make hay while the sun shines. And, the Moon is waning, a good time to get rid of clutter and chaos in all its forms.
Christine Kane (at 6/30/10) has some great suggestions for gaining control of your living space.
Thorn Coyle (at 6/28/10) has a very inspiring podcast up about caring for your physical body -- your main instrument for doing magic.
Many of us have a three-day weekend coming up. What one thing could you accomplish this weekend that would put you in a better place to do magic?
A year ago, Landscape Guy put in trees, dozens of gardenia bushes, hundreds of day lilies, lots and lots of toad lilies, butterbur, and ferns. Then, the blizzards of early 2010 hit and damaged quite of bit of what we'd done. Now, we're in the middle of a quite dry Summer. And, so, I water.
I do have a rain barrel and it helps quite a bit. Every morning and twice every evening, I move the hose to a different spot to drain the water onto another dry area in the garden. And, then, I turn on the sprinkler. I've been packing lunches, doing w/o much air conditioning, foregoing new clothes to pay for the water. It's what I really want.
In the Winter, my great luxury is often Fire, in the form of gas heat, although I also luxuriate in knitted covers (Earth) and hot baths (Water, Fire), warm soups (Earth), and the scent of dried herbs (Earth, Air).
What elemental luxuries do you enjoy this time of year?
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.
G/Son and I had a sleepover this weekend. We had an amazing time and drifted happily off to sleep, with him asking me to "one more time" sing him the lullabies that I used to sing to his father. He gets quite a kick out of the idea of Son being a little boy who went off to sleep with lullabies. About 3:00 in the morning, he stirred and whimpered, and I went over and rubbed his back and said, "It's just a dream. Nonna's here. Everything's ok. It's just a dream." G/Son murmured, still asleep, "Scares me, Nonna." I said, "Here, let's say 'pouf!' together; that will make it go away, like a bubble popping in the air," and, so, we did.
In the bright morning sunshine, eating breakfast out on the porch, I said, "It sounded like you had a scary dream last night." G/Son said, "Storm Troopers." I said, "Do you remember how we said, 'Pouf!" and made the storm troopers go away?" G/Son said, "Yes, just like a bubble popping in air."
So, I said, "Well, the next time that you have a scary dream, if you want to, you can use 'Pouf" and make it pop and go away. When you get older, I'll teach you some other stuff to do with the dreams, but, for now, you can tell those storm troopers 'Pouf!' and, since it's your dream, when you say 'Pouf!" they have to go pouf." G/Son laughed, we practiced saying "Pouf" and waving our arms and then we turned to a discussion of why the squirrels in Nonna's yard come and eat the bird food.
In a series of decisions, this Court has emphasized that the First Amendment generally precludes public universities from denying student organizations access to school sponsored forums because of the groups’ viewpoints. See Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of Univ. of Va., 515 U. S. 819 (1995); Widmar v. Vincent, 454 U. S. 263 (1981); Healy v. James, 408 U. S. 169 (1972). This case concerns a novel question regarding student activities at public universities: May a public law school condition its official recognition of a student group—and the attendant use of school funds and facilities—on the organization’s agreement to open eligibility for membership and leadership to all students?
In the view of petitioner Christian Legal Society (CLS), an accept-all-comers policy impairs its First Amendment rights to free speech, expressive association, and free exercise of religion by prompting it, on pain of relinquishing the advantages of recognition, to accept members who do not share the organization’s core beliefs about religion and sexual orientation. From the perspective of respondent Hastings College of the Law (Hastings or the Law School), CLS seeks special dispensation from an across-the-board open-access requirement designed to further the reasonable educational purposes underpinning the school’s student-organization program.
In accord with the District Court and the Court of Appeals, we reject CLS’s First Amendment challenge. Compliance with Hastings’ all-comers policy, we conclude, is a reasonable, viewpoint-neutral condition on access to the student-organization forum. In requiring CLS—in common with all other student organizations—to choose between welcoming all students and forgoing the benefits of official recognition, we hold, Hastings did not transgress constitutional limitations. CLS, it bears emphasis, seeks not parity with other organizations, but a preferential exemption from Hastings’ policy. The First Amendment shields CLS against state prohibition of the organization’s expressive activity, however exclusionary that activity may be. But CLS enjoys no constitutional right to state subvention of its selectivity.
The opinion's fun reading because it's clear (at least within SCOTUS opinion-speak) that Ginsberg really doesn't like the dissent. No surprise there, Altio essentially calls Ginsberg a politically correct liar. His rhetoric is rather overheated (my guess is that he was one of the votes for cert. and now regrets it.)
There are religious groups that cannot in good conscience agree in their bylaws that they will admit persons who do not share their faith, and for these groups, the consequence of an accept-all-comers policy is marginalization. See Brief for Evangelical Scholars (Officers and 24 Former Presidents of the Evangelical Theological Society) et al. as Amici Curiae 19 (affirmance in this case “will allow every public college and university in the United States to exclude all evangelical Christian organizations”); Brief for Agudath Israel of America as Amicus Curiae 3, 8 (affirmance would “point a judicial dagger at the heart of the Orthodox Jewish community in the United States” and permit that community to be relegated to the status of “a second-class group”); Brief for Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America as Amicus Curiae 3 (affirmance “could significantly affect the ability of [affiliated] student clubs and youth movements . . . to prescribe requirements for their membership and leaders based on religious beliefs and commitments”). This is where the Court’s deci-sion leads.
*** I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that today’s decision is a serious setback for freedom of expression in this country.
Yes, it's amazing how marginalized the xians are in this country. To be clear, Alito's not talking about admitting nonbelievers to your church; he's talking about admitting them to a campus club. Any group that can't "in good conscience" do that, isn't trying to form a campus club; they're trying to form a church -- which cannot, under the Constitution, get state funding or support.
This was a 5 to 4 decision. Breyer and Kennedy were on the right side, this time. You can read the full opinion here.
Essentially, all that the opinion holds is that Hastings Law School wasn't required to give "recognized student organization" status (which includes some money from student activity fees, use of some school bulletin boards, etc.) to a xian group that excluded, for example, gays (well, at least "nonrepenetant" gays -- I guess it's ok as long as you feel bad about it afterwards and ask your god to forgive you). The group was still free to (and did) meet, communicate over social media networks, put up notices on other bulletin boards, etc. Because the requirement to "accept all comers" was content neutral, it was upheld.
What it means for Pagans is that they can't expect recognized student organization status if they want to exclude from their campus club xians or those who, for example, refuse to call East using the term "Guardians of the Watchtower," or who won't sign a pledge stating that only the Greek pantheon are "true" Gods and Goddesses. More importantly, it begins to put to bed the silly notion that unless xians get state funding and status to discriminate against others, then the xians are being discriminated against. Like everyone else, xians can play by the rules (not discriminate) and use the school's softball equipment, or they can discriminate all they want -- with their own ball and bat.
Here's a lovely write-up (quite rare for the WaPo, which generally ignores Pagans all together) of ConnectDC's recent public ritual.
After purifying and grounding themselves with a zinnia dipped in water, members of the group cast a circle and honored the sun goddess, Amatersu, and the Potomac River. Singing, laughter and not being afraid to "let your inner-dork hang out" were part of the hour-long event. As founder Katrina Messenger said, "Humor is one of the magical tools." Added Adam Miramon, "So is laughter."
Extra points to the author for capitalizing "Wiccan," but minus points for the lower-case "Goddess."
To nitpick, I don't think that they grounded themselves w/ the zinnia. I think they purified (asperged) themselves w/ a zinnia dipped in water (lovely touch) and then grounded, but that's the sort of mistake that it's easy for an outsider to make. This article is definitely a move forward for WaPo.
Here's an excellent, almost sympathetic (although, as usual, points off for failure to capitalize "Pagan", etc.), write-up of the long-running legal battle between the Maetreum of Cybele, Magna Mater and the Town of Catskill over the town's denial of a religious property tax exemption on the Maetreum's three-acre parcel along Route 23A.
The town's "reasons" for the denial sure do sound bogus:
First, Dan Vincelette, the town’s primary counsel in this proceeding, said during a phone interview that the 2007 exemption was initially denied because the group was experiencing structural turmoil during that year. No explanation for how that impacts tax exempt status. Nor of whether any xian church, in the process of throwing out its minister, has ever lost or been denied such status.
Then, According to Platine, a tour of the property by town officials, including Vincelette, yielded, to them, little sign of religious iconography.
Though to an unfamiliar vision, and without knowledge of their significance, Platine said, the Cybelline themes and traditional pagan symbols abounding throughout the hotel property may seem obscure.
“Here is a Minoan lily,” Platine said as she pointed to an inconspicuous hand-painted blue and yellow flower on the kitchen’s wooden bar.
Hanging on a kitchen wall were images of goddesses, the ancient deities praised by the Minoan culture.
On the parlor room mantle, amidst a piano and functional beeswax, cylinder-playing Victrola, sits a shrine where the priestesses worship and pray. In its center is a statuette of the Seated Woman of Catal Huyuk, also called Catalhoyuk, an iconographic depiction of the Mother Goddess.
The front entrance of the former inn shows Maetreum stenciling above the doorway, with goddess sculpture hanging beside the doorway and two lion statues guarding the entry way — a traditional guardian of ancient societies, Platine said. So I guess that unless you've got a crucifix or a star of david, there's no "religious iconography." No one tell them about the Islamic prohibition on representational art.
Then, During the Dec. 2 hearing, Pulver asked Smith for the precise arrears amount owed by the Maetreum, to which she responded that “the issue we are looking at isn’t so much the dollars and cents of exactly what the taxes are, which I don’t have off the top of my head, the issue is opening the floodgates. Once you relax the requirements, and if you stretch them too far, then you’re going to have just a multitude of organizations who under the spirit of the law go —”
At that moment, the official court transcript shows Smith was interrupted by Pulver, who again asked how much the amount of taxes owed was. Smith said she didn’t know and did not further qualify her statement. Come on. "Under the spirit of the law"? Really? Really?
To be clear, I don't think that any religious group should get a tax exemption, not even my own. But if you're going to give it to the xians, then you have to give it to everybody and you have to use the same standards.
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 . . . ."