CURRENT MOON

Monday, July 11, 2011

Drop by for a Visit!


Hi, have you been over to visit my new blog? There's a great conversation going on about whether or not Pagans need buildings (churches, temples, community centers, etc.) You can find it here. Come on over share your thoughts!

If you've been kind enough to follow me here, or to blog roll me (for which, thank you!) I'd be very grateful if you'd update your information. My new blog is at hecatedemeter.wordpress.com .

Picture found here.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Come on Over!


I'm now blogging at http://www.hecatedemeter.wordpress.com. Come on over! Sunday Ballet Blogging is up, with an amazing use of slow motion and an interesting discussion of the daily practice of ballet. This past week, we heard Charles de Lint sing a country song (really!), discussed The Last Unicorn and what Witches and artists know, smelled some potpourri, and had a great exchange in comments about the tellurgic intelligence of cities. You can still catch up and join in the discussions!

If you've been kind enough to follow my blog or to list it in your blogroll (for which, thanks!) I hope that you'll update the information. Come on over to http://hecatedemeter.wordrpress.com and let me know what you think!

Hecate Demetersdatter

Picture found here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

We're Moving; Please Come Visit!


Please follow me to my new blog at http://hecatedemeter.wordpress.com. Or, just click here.

If you've been kind enough to follow me here, or to list my blog in your blogroll (for which, thank you!) I hope that you'll update the information.

You can also follow me on Twitter as hecatedemetersd.

Thank you!

Hecate Demetersdatter

Picture found here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

But we've been out in the woods all night, a-conjuring summer in



Isn't this great? I'd scheduled it some time ago to post just before Litha. Over the weekend, the wonderful Joanna Colbert beat me to it! Blogger, in its infinite wisdom, went ahead and posted it here and then wouldn't let me in, until this morning, to give Joanna credit. At any rate, I hope you enjoy and that your Litha is as wonderful as you could wish. I'll be spending time with G/Son and with my Sisters, so I expect it to be fantastic!

Please come on over and visit at my new blog: here at http://hecatedemeter.wordpress.com.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Early Harvest


And, so, just like that, we're headed, will-we-or-nil-we, towards Litha.

The great Sumer Solstice.

The fire festival, when Sol Invictus stands highest in the Summer sky.

In my tradition, this is the Feast of the First Harvest. (Is it so, for you, as well?) And so I started my day at the local farmers' market, buying (finally!) ripe and green tomatoes, corn for roasting, cucumbers for (mixed with my own parsley and mint) tzadziki, local pickles, and lettuce for which I imagine many a poet could compose odes. I came home and had fried green tomatoes and iced tea (Southern breakfast of champions) on my screen porch and then went out to weed the herb bed. After several hours of v. aromatic weeding, I came inside to make various kinds of simple syrup for all of July's cocktails: mint, basil, lavender, and dill. I harvested enough sage to make smudging sticks for everyone in my circle and enough dill, sage, and tarragon to make flavored butters for my own use and for Son and DiL. I am going to be so sore tomorrow that I may not be able to move. Good thing it's a day of writing, reading, doing more research.

For me, the first harvest is crucial.

We're here, halfway through the calendar year. We've either achieved some of the goals that we thought about/set back at Samhein/Yule, or we haven't. It's a good time to take stock, weed out the (fucking!) sorrel, (Kali-blasted!) bindweed, and (goddess-damn-it!) maple seedlings, and to begin to cut and use the lavender, basil, mint, and dill. It's time to decide if we need a new planting of basil (time on the treadmill, hours writing prose at work, focus on our family) or if we need to plant something else (learning runes, walking outside, networking, meditation) entirely.

We'll celebrate several later harvests, but, by then, the chance to correct course becomes more and more attenuated. Every ancestral cell in my Scandanavian-RNA body adores these longer, longer, longer days and shorter nights. And yet, and yet, and yet, the old women whose genes live on in me: those old women survived those long Winters because they knew how to pay attention to the early harvests and correct course if needed.

Here are my early harvest course corrections: Even more time on the treadmill, lots more time polishing legal prose, more spontaneous fun, and even more time at my altar.

What's up for you?

Picture found here.

Friday, June 17, 2011

One More Time!


Here's an interesting article about a great effort to get Australian Pagans to list themselves as "Pagan" on their census. That's a very worthwhile goal and I hope that Mr. Hepworth is successful.

I'd like to use the article to, once again, illustrate a few points about Pagans dealing with the media. The very first quote:
A lot of other faiths see us as the people that got too much into Harry Potter and decided to call themselves a [W]itch instead of an actual group of people who do have a serious spirituality, [Mr. Hempworth] says.

shows why I regularly beg Pagans to practice what they're going to say and consider whether and how what they say can be used against them.

Yes, "got too much into Harry Potter" is a big step up from "eat babies," but it still reinforces a negative frame about Pagans. And, it seems badly calculated to make anyone want to self-identify as a Pagan. If your objective is to get more people to say that they are "Pagan" on the census, what about starting off with a brief discussion of what's good about Paganism:
Paganism is a growing religion in Australia because it satisfies a need that many feel for a deeper connection with the Earth, for a relationship with the Divine Feminine, and for an opportunity to worship our ancestors.

If asked about misunderstandings or discrimination, you can say:
It's getting much better, but some people do still fail to understand modern Paganism. Or they smear us to further their own "conversion" efforts. However, here in Australia, Pagans are involved in [reforestation efforts, pet rescue efforts, rituals to heal our relationship with the ancient spirits of this land, collecting funds for Aboriginal People, etc.] One reason for urging people to identify as "Pagan" on the census is so that we can achieve parity with other religions in areas such as . . . .

The article makes the same mistake about "Paganism" as an "umbrella term" as do many articles. Although the author would certainly capitalize other "umbrella terms" such as "Christianity" (Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, etc.), "Judaism" (Reform, Orthodox, Hassidic, etc.), or "Islam" (Shia, Shite, Sufi, etc.), she fails to capitalize "Paganism," although she does capitalize individual Pagan religions such as Gardnerian, Greek Reconstructionist, Druidism, Shamanism and "Lesbian Feminist Goddess Worship [because apparently only lesbians would worship the Goddess?]" This is another area where those being interviewed can help their interviewers, even if only by handing out an information sheet that uses proper capitalization.

Finally, I'll note the title: "No More Mooning About." Shoot me, but I think it's cute and not really offensive.

Pagans. Please. Know why you're talking to the press. Understand that they are not your friend. Practice ahead of time what you're going to say. Don't be afraid to say, "Let me get back to you on that" if you get a question that throws you and then be sure to get back to the media person within 2 or 3 hours.

Picture found here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

When We Win

When We Win from scoutwillie on Vimeo.



Go, Scout!

Happy Bloomsday!


I love flowers I’d love to have the whole place swimming in roses God of heaven there’s nothing like nature the wild mountains then the sea and the waves rushing then the beautiful country with fields of oats and wheat and all kinds of things and all the fine cattle going about that would do your heart good to see rivers and lakes and flowers all sorts of shapes and smells and colours springing up even out of the ditches primroses and violets nature it is as for them saying there’s no God I wouldn’t give a snap of my two fingers for all their learning why don’t they go and create something I often asked him atheists or whatever they call themselves go and wash the cobbles off themselves first then they go howling for the priest and they dying and why why because they’re afraid of hell on account of their bad conscience ah yes I know them well who was the first person in the universe before there was anybody that made it all who ah that they don’t know neither do I so there you are they might as well try to stop the sun from rising tomorrow the sun shines for you he said the day we were lying among the rhododendrons on Howth head in the grey tweed suit and his straw hat the day I got him to propose to me yes first I gave him the bit of seedcake out of my mouth and it was leapyear like now yes 16 years ago my God after that long kiss I near lost my breath yes he said was a flower of the mountain yes so we are flowers all a woman’s body yes that was one true thing he said in his life and the sun shines for you today yes that was why I liked him because I saw he understood or felt what a woman is and I knew I could always get round him and I gave him all the pleasure I could leading him on till he asked me to say yes and I wouldn’t answer first only looked out over the sea and the sky I was thinking of so many things he didn’t know of Mulvey and Mr Stanhope and Hester and father and old captain Groves and the sailors playing all birds fly and I say stoop and washing up dishes they called it on the pier and the sentry in front of the governors house with the thing round his white helmet poor devil half roasted and the Spanish girls laughing in their shawls and their tall combs and the auctions in the morning the Greeks and the Jews and the Arabs and the devil knows who else from all the ends of Europe and Duke street and the fowl market all clucking outside Larby Sharans and the poor donkeys slipping half asleep and the vague fellows in the cloaks asleep in the shade on the steps and the big wheels of the carts of the bulls and the old castle thousands of years old yes and those handsome Moors all in white and turbans like kings asking you to sit down in their little bit of a shop and Ronda with the old windows of the posadas glancing eyes a lattice hid for her lover to kiss the iron and the wineshops half open at night and the castanets and the night we missed the boat at Algeciras the watchman going about serene with his lamp and O that awful deepdown torrent O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

~James Joyce

Picture found here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Synchronicity -- Wherever You Go, There It Is

There's this:


and there's this:

Wildwood Tarot


My regular readers know that I'm given to rants about how acquiring things is not the same thing as practicing a serious Nature Religion.

You can buy every book that Lewellyn publishes (my bookshelves house more than a few). You can have Celtic-this and dragon-themed-that and unicorn-themed posters all over your house. You can cover your tables, walls, and yourself with cheap cotton Celtic-batik tablecloths (I've got a few!). You can wear high-Goth or expensive SteamPunk (OK, if I win the lottery, I am buying that hat). You can burn incense and sage from etsy 24/7. You can jingle when you walk from all the pentacles, LOTR-themed jewelry, and gypsy-hand amulets that you wear, but it doesn't make you a devotee of the Goddesses/Gods nor does it cause you to live in tune with Gaia.

And I work at practicing what I preach.

I own fewer than a dozen Tarot decks and I regularly talk myself out of buying yet another really neat one. I rely almost entirely on my Robin Wood, with some Tarot of the Crone, hand-made by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince, thrown in for mystery and the occasional Cheryl Richardson Self-Care Card pulled for an overall theme. On my iPhone, I have the Goddess Tarot app, and I find it uncannily accurate for one-card answers to questions. I have Joanna Colbert's Gain Tarot on order for this Autumn, and Joanna knows that if she ever decides to sell the painting for her Six of Water, I'm first in line. And, ok, someday I'm going to break down and buy myself the Peter-Max-inspired Aquarian Tarot, which I always buy as a gift for friends.

And, beyond that, there's only one other Tarot deck that I've seriously craved. Ever since my brilliant friend Stoat showed me his Greenwood Tarot deck, I've been seriously in lust. Supposedly based upon pre-Celtic, European themes, as well as the Wheel of the Year, it's been unavailable for some time (although occasionally one will show up on eBay for several hundred dollars and I'm not spending that kind of money for a deck of cards; my heart is happier with an almost-paid mortgage and some money in the bank).

Now, Mark Ryan, who worked on the Greenwood Tarot, has come out with the Wildwood Tarot, described as a "complete reconception and redesign" of the Greenwood Tarot. I got my copy last night, on the Full Moon.

My practice for getting acquainted with a new Tarot deck is to ground, center, call the Elements, and cast a circle. I smudge the cards and the LWB (Little White Book, although it's a largish dark-colored book in this case) and then I just spend time with them. I look them all over, in order, shuffled, and then, finally, with the LWB to help me learn the ones that are less-Rider-Waite based.

I'm in love.

Pictured above is my first reading with this deck.

What divination method do you use? Is there a new one you're thinking of trying? How do you handle your lust for "stuff"?

For Your Full Moon Pleasure



hat tip: Wired Science, listed to the right in my BlogRoll

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Make Believe

Tuesday Poetry Blogging


The Truly Great

~Stephen Spender

I think continually of those who were truly great.
Who, from the womb, remembered the soul’s history
Through corridors of light, where the hours are suns,
Endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition
Was that their lips, still touched with fire,
Should tell of the Spirit, clothed from head to foot in song.
And who hoarded from the Spring branches
The desires falling across their bodies like blossoms.

What is precious, is never to forget
The essential delight of the blood drawn from ageless springs
Breaking through rocks in worlds before our earth.
Never to deny its pleasure in the morning simple light
Nor its grave evening demand for love.
Never to allow gradually the traffic to smother
With noise and fog, the flowering of the spirit.

Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields,
See how these names are fêted by the waving grass
And by the streamers of white cloud
And whispers of wind in the listening sky.
The names of those who in their lives fought for life,
Who wore at their hearts the fire’s centre.
Born of the sun, they travelled a short while toward the sun
And left the vivid air signed with their honour.

Picture found here

Monday, June 13, 2011

History from a Pagan Perspective


This new book looks fascinating and I'm going to add it to my (already too long) reading list.
The newly released novel "Buried: The Discernment of Pagans in Ancient Rome" (ISBN 1456471651) opens with a hostile confrontation between [P]agans and Christians. Though the Christian viewpoint may be familiar, says author Frank Troy, the reader is then swiftly transported into the unfamiliar, dangerous and strangely beautiful world of pre-Christian Rome as it is seen and understood by the [P]agan narrator. Troy, a retired literature professor, has spent a lifetime studying the literature and philosophy of European civilizations prior to the arrival of Christian ideas and concepts.

The novel's principal narrator is a 27-year-old Roman aristocrat named Aeneas. Educated in Aristotle's Lyceum in Athens, a lover of boxing and philosophy, his narrative aims to help readers understand the how and why of paganism's magnificent achievements in a range of areas including philosophy, politics, art and science.

While fulfilling his military obligation in Alexandria in 387 A.D., Aeneas falls hopelessly in love with the beautiful female scholar Hypatia. After he is discharged from service the lovers travel by way of Athens and Delphi to Rome to meet Aeneas' sister, Honoria. Unexpected family obligations require Aeneas and Hypatia to separate, but they vow to reunite. Hypatia returns to Alexandria and Aeneas and Honoria travel north to join their father, the governor of Upper Germania. As the summer passes, Honoria falls deeply in love, only to lose her lover in a war between opposing generals. Their father too becomes a victim of the war, and the siblings flee to the safety of a family farm near Carthage and plan their reunion with Hypatia. Their future, however, becomes more complicated than they ever imagined.

Troy seeks to offer readers a tale that is rich with historical details and numerous surprising plot turns, along with the narrative that interprets events in light of [P]aganism's core beliefs about the underlying nature of reality and the purpose and meaning of life. Modern readers, Troy contends, will encounter an unfamiliar world view that is initially puzzling, yet as the novel unfolds, [P]agan core beliefs gradually become clearer. Troy aims to provide insight to readers so they can begin to see that even though ancient and modern core beliefs are fundamentally different, the practical problems faced by Rome were an amazingly accurate reflection of ours today.

What's up with this recent resurgence of interest in Hypatia?

Also, Dear Mr. Troy, Since it's pretty clear that you wrote your press release, if you want to sell to Pagans, perhaps you should capitalize our religion, just as you capitalize "Christian." OK?

It's available at Amazon; I can't find it at any of the independent bookseller sites I normally recommend.

Anybody read it yet?

Picture found here.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Saturday Poetry Blogging


Meditation at Lagunitas
~Robert Hass

All the new thinking is about loss.
In this it resembles all the old thinking.
The idea, for example, that each particular erases
the luminous clarity of a general idea. That the clown-
faced woodpecker probing the dead sculpted trunk
of that black birch is, by his presence,
some tragic falling off from a first world
of undivided light. Or the other notion that,
because there is in this world no one thing
to which the bramble of blackberry corresponds,
a word is elegy to what it signifies.
We talked about it late last night and in the voice
of my friend, there was a thin wire of grief, a tone
almost querulous. After a while I understood that,
talking this way, everything dissolves: justice,
pine, hair, woman, you and I. There was a woman
I made love to and I remembered how, holding
her small shoulders in my hands sometimes,
I felt a violent wonder at her presence
like a thirst for salt, for my childhood river
with its island willows, silly music from the pleasure boat,
muddy places where we caught the little orange-silver fish
called pumpkinseed. It hardly had to do with her.
Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances. I must have been the same to her.
But I remember so much, the way her hands dismantled bread,
the thing her father said that hurt her, what
she dreamed. There are moments when the body is as numinous
as words, days that are the good flesh continuing.
Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings,
saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.


Picture found here.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Synchronicity -- Wherever You Go, There It Is


Sobeit has up a great post today about the need to consult our landbase when we make important decisions.
In all [E]arth traditions there is an understanding that the land is a witness to truth, that its very molecules do not lie, that its constituent fabric and all life forms that naturally grow upon it are wise in ways that humans rarely match.

. . .

One thing is certain: whoever lives upon a land with respect is welcomed by that land in ways deeper than we can imagine - a fact we should bear in mind when issues of race and culture are raised. For those who are true to the land shall find that the land also keeps faith with them. With our ability to move about the earth and settle at will, we do well to first consult the region where we are thinking of living, going straight to the land and speaking with its spirit, so that we can live with discrimination, truth, and respect.

"Wherever you are living, go and stand on bare, unconcreted earth and commune with the spirit of the land. Return to your home and in soul-flight go back to the site you visited and ask for a better sense of discrimination."
[From: The Celtic Spirit by Caitlin Matthews]

Earlier this week, a friend and I were discussing a point that Thorn Coyle makes in Kissing the Limitless:
The [E]arth remembers us, and the places where we grew up or have lived a long time recognize our patterns, just as we recognize the patterns of those places. Upon entering a new place, I always strive to introduce myself to the energies there. If there is time, I spend long moments in meditation, sending out tendrils of my life force into the land and sky, getting a better feel for the space and the beings that reside there, and noticing what is different from my home. This introduction also gives me a sort of permission to be there, and my time there is more joyously spent.

Starhawk is talking seriously about making a movie from one of the three or four books that completely changed my life, The Fifth Sacred Thing. (It's one of those projects that makes me think, "If it could be done well, it would be wonderful. But I'm so afraid that, once the process starts, best intentions and good plans notwithstanding . . . ." And I'd rather see it not done than see it done with compromise.) One of the things I love best in that book (well, I love a lot, but, lawyer that I am, one of the things that I love "really, really best," as G/Son says,) is the description of how decision-making happens. There are people from the various affinity groups gathered together in a room, each speaking from hir heart about how best to proceed against a threatened invasion. Some argue for war, some argue for sabotage, some argue for nonviolent resistance. And, then:
The Speaker raised her hand, calling for silence, and bent her ear to the Salmon mask.
"Friend Salmon says, 'Learn from water. Water is malleable, water is gentle, but drops of water wear away stone, and everything it touches is shaped by its passing.'" She sat down again. [And then the argument goes on, some calling each other cowards, some explaining what's wrong with that notion, . . . .]

When I first read that passage, all that I could think of was the question that my Environmental Law professor asked the class: "What's wrong with Justice Douglas' proposition that someone should be appointed to 'speak for the trees?'" Older, and maybe sadder than a lot of the class, my hand went up. "Weyerhauser will create a "Committee to Speak for America's Trees" and explain why trees long for, need, in fact, must have, clear cutting." I got an A.

I've been mulling over, lately, the notion of how we can have a democratic (forget consensual, let's just talk about honestly democratic) society when the money of large corporations appears capable of contaminating everyone and everything. I'm not a member of the "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party." I'm so far to the left of that, that it's difficult to even see that over the horizon. But I'd be orgasmically ecstatic to see that wing of that party these days. Because I don't. Other than Elizabeth Warren, I see, from the White House on down, a whole lot of people who, while I have no doubt that they went into politics planning to do good, are the sort of persons of whom Winston Churchill is once supposed to have remarked, "We've already established that. All that we're arguing about now is the price." And I wonder, more and more, how can we ensure that there's anyone who has (1) a real seat at the table, (2) in the Salmon mask, who (3) isn't colonized by those who make money killing Salmon and destroying Salmon's habitat?

And the only glimmer of an answer that I've been able to discern is encapsulated in Sobeit's post. We have to, as a cultural value to which we all give real credence, return to, taste, and listen to the Land, our Watershed. And while I think (and I am a woman who has given her life to The Law and would do so again, tomorrow, with a happy heart) that The Law can help to make a difference, what really has to happen is for us to begin to tell ourselves better stories. As Muriel Rukeyser said, “The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.” The universe that we perceive is, indeed, made of the stories that we tell ourselves and our children.

And we have to start telling a different story. Not only in our legal opinions, but elsewhere, as well, in those stories that seep into our bones before we ever read a law or a news story about a Supreme Court opinion.

This weekend, I read G/Son the story of Merlin and King Arthur. And it gripped him and raised questions within him as it has (repository of so many Western archetypes that it is) in generations and generations of post-Roman Celts. In the version we read, Arthur goes to France to besiege Lancelot for daring to sleep with (the Queen of) Arthur's Land, Albion. And it is while Arthur has turned his back on his land in order to pursue the demands of Patriarchy that Mordred raises an army against Arthur, requiring Arthur to abandon his fight with Lancelot and return to Arthur's own land to slay Arthur's Son (destroying what Patriarchy pretends to be about -- male progeny -- for what it's really about -- death), lose Arthur's relationship with Arthur's land, and sail off to a land ruled by three women in order to be able to return again in the hour of England's greatest need. Although the book clearly said that "Some said that Mordred was the King's own son," that was too much for G/Son to process. So on each successive reading of the story, when we got to the part where Arthur and Mordred slay each other, G/Son said to me, "Nonna, why the King fought with his own brother?" And each time I would say, "Arthur fought with his closest male relative because he didn't know what else to do. He had boxed himself into a corner by imagining that he could own and control either a woman or The Land. Arthur was a good man who wanted to help people, but he made a big mistake. He couldn't see that women, like Guinevere, and that a landbase, like England, must be free to make their own choices. Mordred made the same mistake."

The stories that we tell, the stories that we hear as children from our Nonnas, the stories that we see on tv, the stories that they show at the movie theatres: those stories matter. They matter in as basic and as important a manner as whether or not we can find a way to do what Sobeit, Thorn Coyle, Starhawk, and Justice Douglas have all urged us to do: to listen to our Landbase, to pay attention to our Watershed.

Because, after all, we desperately need a Lorax, who speaks for the trees:
Yes, I am the Lorax who speaks for the trees, which you seem to be chopping as fast as you please. But I'm also in charge of the brown Bar-ba-loots, who played in the shade in their Bar-ba-loot suits and happily lived eating truffula fruits. Now, thanks to your hacking my trees to the ground, there's not enough truffula fruit to go 'round!

Picture found here.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Missing the Memo





Last night, I had dinner (on the porch in spite of the record-breaking heat here in the mystical MidAtlantic! Of course, we did have shade, the ceiling fan, and a bottle of icy grand cru from Arnould & Fils, recommended by my brilliant friend Stoat) with a beloved magical Sister. I asked her, "You'd tell me, right? Mercury didn't unexpectedly go retrograde and I just (in retrograde Mercury fashion) missed the memo?" Because it would explain a lot. (Blogger, you fickle, evil BitchGoddess, I am looking, inter alia, at you.)

And speaking of missing the memo, I'm not sure why I am just now finding out about the amazing sculpture of Fidelma Massey. If I'd known about her sooner, I'd have planned my garden around one of her sculptures. As it is, I'm going to have to sit down w/ Landscape Guy and see where we can work one in. There's a spot he's been pointing to along the Southern boundary for a few months and saying, "Something needs to go there. You need to figure out what."

And, in true if-Mercury-isn't-retrograde-who-is? fashion, I'm not sure where I first found Ms. Massey's work. I thought it was at Sally J. Smith's site, but now I can't find it there. (And I'd love, someday, to get Sally to build one of her fairy houses in my garden for G/Son, too. He's so fascinated w/ the fairy door on the big maple in my woodland). Whoever brought Ms. Massey to my attention, many thanks!

Which of her works do you like best?

Pictures: Google "Fidelma Massey" and click on "Images".

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

A Stroll Through the Garden

David Salisbury asked for some pictures of my garden. I'm the world's worst photographer and I'm always too busy to run inside and get the "real" camera, so I wind up using my iPhone. But here are a few that I've taken over the years, in relatively seasonal order.










Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Gaia Needs Good Media Relations



Here's what looks like a pretty neat film.

I'd like to use it to make another in my regular series of points about dealing with the media. Observe the difference in how Francesca De Grandis and Joan Marler come across. Both women make incredibly valid points, but Marler looks directly into the camera while De Grandis is often looking off to the side or at the person holding the camera, rather than into the camera.

It's a fairly common trait to look off to the side when you're thinking of what you want to say, but people who do research on jury reactions will tell you that most people subconsciously think that you're looking away because you're prevaricating, that there's a reason why you won't "look them in the eye." My bet is that, in person, De Grandis doesn't come off this way, as she fairly often does look up and into the eyes of the person to whom she's speaking. The problem in this case is that "that person" is the one holding the camera, not the camera. And her real "audience" is inside the camera.

This isn't something that you're likely to "get" without someone showing it to you, but it is an easily mastered skill once you're aware of the issue and spend a bit of time practicing, even with a friend who has an iPhone that takes video. If you're planning to be taped, or if you're making your own videos for youtube, it's really worth spending some time practicing, critiquing yourself, and then practicing again.

Gaia can use all the help she can get.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Monday Poetry Blogging


A Lesson from James Wright
~Mary Oliver

If James Wright
could put in his book of poems
a blank page

dedicated to "the Horse David
Who Ate One of My Poems," I am ready
to follow him along

the sweet path he cut
through the dryness
and suggest that you sit now

very quietly
in some lovely wild place, and listen
to the silence.

And I say that this, too
is a poem.


Picture found here.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Explaining Myself



Just the first few minutes of so much empty space allows my breath to sink deeper into my belly, my spirit to expand. My INTJ self looks at those images the way a thirsty woman looks at pictures of icy water. The times in my life when I've been most surrounded by emptiness have felt the most freeing to me.

This weekend, G/Son asked me, apropos of nothing as far as I could tell, "Nonna, why Pop Pop was your only husband and you never had another one?" (There was another one, but we'll wait until he's older to get into that.) I replied, "Well, what I found out about myself was that I really like to have some time alone so that I can think my own thoughts." G/Son replied, "Well, why you don't like to be around people?" I said, "Oh, I do like to be around people, a lot. But I also need time to myself." G/Son then said something that floored me. "Well, sometimes you don't see me for days and you don't miss me."

If anyone has ever misperceived anything about me, surely this. But I think that it was really more an inquiry than a statement.

Honestly, there's not a day, indeed, there's hardly an hour that goes by when I don't think about G/Son and his 'rents, offer up energy for their safety, health, and happiness, and wish that I could be with them. Luckily for me, my family lives close by and I get to see them more often than, say, DiL's 'rents or Pop Pop and his partner. Goddess knows, there are more days when I stop myself from bugging them (with a phone call, a request to iChat, a visit to take them out to dinner or brunch) than there are days when I give in to my longing to be with G/Son. And, of course, often when I do call or iChat, this busy 5-year-old wants to head off to look for worms under bricks or to watch some Harry Potter before bedtime.

So I was floored.

I paused a bit before answering, especially because, as G/Son has his Sun in Pisces, Moon in Taurus, and Ascendent in Scorpio, I imagine that he's going to be, maybe even more than his Nonna, one of those people who will need a lot of time alone as he gets older. So I want to lay down enough breadcrumbs, along the appropriate paths, to be of some use. After grounding and centering, taking some connecting breaths, and touching the Great Grandmother in the Sky Depository of All Wisdom, I said, "Well, actually, I do. I think about you every day and I wish that I could be with you. But I know that you, and Mommy, and Daddy need space to live your own lives. And so, when I miss you a lot, I think about how I want you to be healthy and happy and then, sometimes, I light incense for you. And, I think about how, by really thinking my own thoughts, I can be a better Nonna to you and a better mother-in-law to your Mommy and a better Mom to your Daddy."

G/Son thought about this for a moment and then said, "Nonna, Guess what?"

Me: "What?" (This is a phase all kids go through, in my experience. "Guess what" is sort of a way of beginning a conversation.)

G/Son: "My new favorite colors are red and yellow, because those are the colors Harry Potter wears and, tonight, if you read me the book about Geronimo Stilton, can you let me read the words that are in big print, because I can read them now and I can also type the word "Batman" on the computer and, Nonna? do you have any blueberries for me because I am hungry and when I am hungry I like blueberries a lot, even though blue isn't my favorite color any more, and, Nonna, Guess What?"

I love this kid.

Talking to the Media


I rail pretty regularly about Pagans who, IMHO, shoot themselves and the rest of us in our collective feet when they talk to the media and defensively announce, "We don't eat babies/worship Satan/dance naked around a fire (which we, you know, do)/do spells (ditto)/etc." I think it's also important to point to examples of Pagans who do a good job dealing with the media.

Here's local Pagan, Iris Firemoon, showing how it's done.

First, note Iris' picture. It matches her objective of coming across as someone you might work with, a person you might know.

Then, observe how Iris starts out with a positive definition of what Paganism is and then moves on to explain the positive things about Paganism that attracted her to this religious path. In that context, her discussion of the discrimination that she faced is perfectly logical.

It's midway into the article before Iris mentions that one of the questions people ask when they find out about her religion is whether she casts spells. That's not reinforcing a negative frame; it's answering a logical question about a religion that involves, you know, casting spells.
Yes, I am a witch and cast spells, but we have a strict code of ethics. We don’t do magic that harms people. People think magic is a big deal, but it is just the willed movement of energy. For me, it is akin to prayer, but more active. Rather than will someone or something to intervene on your behalf, with magic you seek out the action yourself. The hard thing about spells is that you can never really know if things happening can be attributed to your work, but I don’t believe in coincidences and sometimes the gods like you and may work in your favor.

There's a perhaps subtle, but hugely important, difference between defensively volunteering that Pagans don't do something that we, of course, don't do, and explaining why we do do something that we actually do. (You know, I doubt that I've been inside a bookstore in the last 25 years when I didn't check out the Pagan books. And I've seen hundreds on casting spells. I've yet to see one on how to prepare babies for dinner.)

Iris answers the question in a straightforward manner and moves on to explain that many people in DC are open to her religion.

She closes with a plug for a cause she cares about (raising funds for a Pagan community center in DC) and provides a reliable source for those who want more information. Positive, upbeat, focused. This is how it's done.

(Of course, the capitalization for this article is terrible. Iris explains elsewhere that the article was adapted for non-Pagans, although I can't see how that makes discriminatory language ok. But it's pretty clear that this problem didn't arise with Iris.)

Picture found here.

Sunday Ballet Blogging

Saturday, June 04, 2011

A Way Forward for Pagan Prisoners


Blogger is apparently determined to behave in a completely erratic manner. Perhaps it will stay up long enough to let me share a few thoughts on McCollum v. CDCR, 2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 10971, (9th Cir., June 1, 2011). Warning: Some of this will be a little bit "law geeky" but I'll try to keep that to a minimum.

First, the lower court was ruling on a summary judgment motion. That's a motion that you make, generally before the trial starts, that asks the court to dismiss the complaint (and avoid the cost and trouble of a trial) because, even if the person complaining proved everything that they say they can prove, they still wouldn't be entitled to recover anything. In essence, they have no cause of action. The lower court agreed with CDCR that McCollum (and the prisoners suing with him) had no case. McCollum appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which agreed with the lower court. Primarily, as to McCollum, the Ninth Circuit held that he lacked standing on most of his claims and couldn't prevail on his others. And the prisoners had either failed to exhaust their claims, let too much time go by, or had dropped their claims so that the appeal could go forward.

So that's two strikes on this approach. But no court has really had a chance to rule on the merits of this case -- the actual issue of whether it comports with the Constitution and other laws for California to pay chaplains of some religions and not others. And, the real goal here is not to prove whether Rev. McCollum or any other specific person has standing to sue, but to get equal treatment for Pagan prisoners and chaplains. I'd hazard to say that Rev. McCollum would agree with me.

Let me say a little bit about standing. I've seen standing described in some blog posts and comments about this case as a "technicality." But standing is a bedrock foundation of our legal system. Most of our federal courts (including the Ninth Circuit) exist because Article III of our Constitution says:
The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;—to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;—to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;—to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;—to Controversies between two or more States;—between a State and Citizens of another State;—between Citizens of different States;—between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

Our system of limited governmental powers applies to Article III courts, as well as to the President and Congress. Article III courts can only adjudicate legal disputes in "Cases" or "Controversies." Thus, if a court simply doesn't like a law that Congress passes, it can't issue an "advisory opinion" and say what the court thinks is wrong with the law. It has to wait until litigants bring a proper suit over the law. As SCOTUS very recently explained in Camreta v. Greene, 2011 U.S. LEXIS 4016 at *15 (2011):
To enforce this limitation [on courts' powers], we demand that litigants demonstrate a "personal stake" in the suit. The party invoking the Court's authority has such a stake when three conditions are satisfied: The petitioner must show that he has suffered an injury in fact that is caused by the conduct complained of and that will be redressed by a favorable decision. (internal citations and quotations omitted).

Standing is what stops your nosy neighbor from suing the neighborhood kids for trespassing because they walk across your lawn, when it's ok with you for the kids to do that. It's what keeps "activist" judges from issuing opinions outlawing abortion when no one has brought a suit before them. Yes, standing sometimes seems unfair. It prevents someone who cared enough about an issue to hire a lawyer, bring a suit, and pursue a case from having a day in court. But it's what keeps our tripartite system of government in balance; it's not a technicality.

At this point, McCollum and his lawyers have several choices. First, they can ask the same Ninth Circuit panel that issued this opinion to grant rehearing. That's, IMHO, a long shot in this case. (Rehearings are rarely granted, in any event.) If one judge had dissented, you'd figure that you only had to get one of the other judges to change hir mind. But there was no dissent here. Or, if the court had just gotten something factually or legally wrong (thought that the light was red when everyone in the case agreed that it was green, thought that the law said "X" when it really says "Not-X"), you might file for rehearing. You can do that and then, afterwards, go to the Supreme Court if you're still not happy, so it's not an either/or proposition. It's generally low risk, in that if the court denies the rehearing, they don't usually write another long opinion and give you 15 more reasons why you're wrong. But it's just not likely in this case. Similarly, McCollum can make a suggestion to the entire Ninth Circuit for a rehearing en banc, but that's probably even more unlikely. This issue just isn't interesting to enough of the judges on the Ninth Circuit. People often file both a request for rehearing and a suggestion for a rehearing en banc, so McCollum can do both.

Second, McCollum can ask the Supreme Court to hear his case (either after seeking rehearing or right now). The Supreme Court is unique, in that it doesn't have to hear any case and doesn't have to explain its reasons for not hearing a case. Lawyers call the process of asking SCOTUS to hear a case "seeking certiorari" or "cert." Rule 10 of SCOTUS' rules explains that the Court is most likely to accept a case when there's a split among the circuit courts -- for example, if the Ninth Circuit held "no standing," but the First and Third had held that there is standing in very similar cases -- or in cases of national importance (think, grrrr, Bush v. Gore). The key language from Rule 10 is:
A petition for a writ of certiorari is rarely granted when the asserted error consists of erroneous factual findings or the misapplication of a properly stated rule of law.

McCollum likely would be arguing that the Ninth Circuit misapplied a properly stated rule of law. So this case is unlikely to get cert.

I've seen some people say that SCOTUS won't grant cert. (guaranteed 100%, no how, no way!) in a case about standing, but that's incorrect. Just last week, SCOTUS issued an interesting Ninth Circuit standing case, Camreta v. Greene, 2011 U.S. LEXIS 4016 (2011). But McCollum v. CDCR, unlike Camreta v. Greene, is pretty cut-and-dry standing stuff, and if there were a split among the circuits, I'd have expected that to be argued in briefs and dealt with in the Ninth Circuit's opinion. And prisoners' First Amendment rights, sadly, aren't considered issues of national importance.

Finally, I'd worry -- a lot -- about letting this SCOTUS, which recently held that the cross is a good enough religious symbol to memorialize soldiers of every religion, get ahold of this case and explain why a Catholic priest is good enough for every Pagan prisoner. (The court has only gotten more conservative since that opinion.) In other words, if they DID grant cert., it would be to work more mischief, not to help Pagans. Sometimes, you just have to be willing to quit while you're only so far behind.

So should McCollum just give up? I don't think so.

My reading of the opinion is that Judge Schroeder (a Carter appointee, placed on the panel when Judge Thompson died, so that this panel was composed of Judge Schroeder and Judge McKewon, another Carter appointee, and Judge Silverman, a Clinton appointee; you won't get a more sympathetic panel than that) was careful to lay out an eventual path to victory. No, it's not as emotionally satisfying as saying, "Fine! We'll go all the way to the Supreme Court!" but it's more likely to actually, you know, work. I hope that those willing to raise money, write letters, and do magic (raises hand!) for a run at SCOTUS will be willing to get behind this slower, more likely effort.

Here's what I think Judge Schroeder was saying. I'm referring to the "slip opinion" published at the Ninth Circuit's home page and that's where the page numbers that I'll refer to come from.

First, the Ninth Circuit rejected the notion that there is a "Five State-Sanctioned Faiths Policy," as argued by McCollum.* Rather, the court found that:
over time, the CDCR paid-chaplaincy program has evolved to include these five faiths. Officials indicate future evolution is envisioned by inmate needs. Slip op. at 7165.

We need to focus on that "future evolution" driven by "inmate needs."

The opinion goes on to note that paid chaplains were added for Muslim prisoners in 1981 and for Native Americans in 1989 due to "perceived inmate need" and a "consent decree". Id. at 7166. What led CRDC to "perceive a need" for a Muslim chaplain and what led to the consent decree re: Native Americans? How can McCollum and the rest of us make a case that Pagan prisoners are now similar to Muslims in 1981 and Native Americans in 1989?

The opinion cites the 5 factors that the CRDC says it will apply and these include "religious group size." (In 2002, there were 598 Wiccan prisoners and only 306 Jewish prisoners, but CRDC paid rabbis.) What can we show right now? Can we fit within the other factors, such as "alternative means of accommodation"? It's one thing to say that a Lutheran minister can oversee a Methodist Sunday service; it's got to be easier to show that a Catholic priest, whose religion holds that one may not "suffer a Witch to live," can't effectively supervise a prisoner-led Wiccan Samhein ritual.

Then, at slip op. 7169-70, there's a discussion about why the claims of the prisoners, themselves, as opposed to McCollum, were either not fully exhausted or were time-barred. "Exhaustion" is (oh, yes, in more ways than one) a legal term. It means, for example, that you can't, generally, run right to the Supreme Court with your complaint. You have to start at the lowest level and only work your way up if you can't get relief below. For prisoners, this includes filing a complaint with the prison and giving the prison notice of the specific relief -- here, a paid Wiccan chaplain -- that you want. You've got to explain why a paid chaplain, rather than a volunteer one, is necessary. As the opinion hints, Mr. Collins, a prisoner, did that. He wanted a visit in hospital from a Wiccan chaplain, but was told that he couldn't have one because his "chaplain was not a regular paid chaplain at San Quentin, i.e., not Christian/Protestant/Catholic, Muslim, or Native American." Id. at 7169. The problem was that Collins made this complaint a long time ago, and our laws impose time limitations; you can't sit on your case for years and then sue on it. It's not fair to the other side, which may have lost evidence that they'd have saved if they'd known you were going to sue.

But here's where, IMHO, Judge Schroeder sets out a clear path that shows how to build a successful case. Pagans need to request visits from Pagan chaplains (in hospital, when they are concerned about their family members, before appeals and other trials, etc.) and document that they get denied because their chaplains are not "regular paid chaplains." They'll probably also have to accept a visit from, say, a Catholic priest who counsels them about the evils of Witchcraft and then show why that didn't work for them, because CDCR's policy seems to envision paid chaplains ministering to prisoners outside their religions when necessary. And then, with the help of McCollum and those willing to raise funds and do magic, etc., they'll have to pursue their claims in a timely manner.

This is the work of a number of years. It's not nearly as likely to sustain long-term Pagan interest as, say, a run at SCOTUS, which, as I've noted above, is, at best, a pipe dream and, at worst, a way to have this temporary loss turned into a complete and total loss that applies nationwide and not just to California. But it's how civil rights have always been won. Thurgood Marshall laid out a long-term, multi-year, incremental route to Brown v. Board of Education. And he won.

I'll say what I've said before. I'm grateful to Rev. McCollum and his able pro bono (that means: unpaid, even in these difficult economic times) counsel at Jones Day for standing up for Pagans. Thanks to them, we've now got a Ninth Circuit opinion that lays out a clear path to eventual victory. It's never fun (oh, no, trust me, it's not) to lose an appeal. These cases take a lot out of you, and you pour everything you've got into them. You show up, do your best, argue before really brilliant judges, and, sometimes (damn it!), you lose. It hurts. A lot. And then, if you're really committed to a cause, or if you're just an honest-to-Goddess advocate all the way down to your marrow, you sober up, say a few more bad words, kick some dust, and figure out how to move forward. You go back, re-read that painful opinion, see what's to be done, dust off your suit, light incense to Ma'at, and get back in the game, in the most sensible and likely-to-succeed manner possible.

That's what I hope that the Pagan community can do here.

Because this fight, like the fight for Wiccan veterans, matters. For all of us.


*For the love of the Goddess, can we quit saying "faith" when we mean "religion"? Paganism isn't a "faith," it's (probably) an umbrella term for various religions, just as "Christianity" is an umbrella term for various religions such as Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans, and Satanists.

Picture found here.

*****************


Update: Several commenters make very good points about the use of the word "Wiccan" in the Ninth Circuit opinion, as opposed to "Pagan." The court said that it was adopting the terminology from McCollum's brief. I don't know, but my guess is that there were two things going on. One is that there's a word limit on briefs, and so people often select one word and note early on that, when they use it, they mean all of a group of things. Hence, "Wiccan" for Druids, Asatru, Reconstructionists, etc. The second thing that I suspect may have been going on was that Wicca tends to be, more and more these days, and especially since the victory over veterans' tombstones, recognized by the outside world as a "real" religion, while "Pagan" is likely to be perceived as a looser term. My understanding is that McCollum is a Wiccan and the thought was likely that the court would recognize Wicca as a "real" religion and, hence, entitled to paid chaplains.

Also, markarios asks about volunteer chaplains. And if the prison system were to, for example, in cases similar to Collins', allow volunteer Pagan chaplains to visit prisoners in the hospital, the prisoners would have a more difficult time showing that they needed to be visited by paid chaplains, although I can think of some reasons why that might matter. In Collins' case, he was sick in the hospital and denied any Pagan chaplain because there were no paid Pagan chaplains, and that's a pretty good, sympathetic case to take up on appeal in a timely manner. There's also some indication that volunteer chaplains have to be supervised by the paid chaplains, and I can think of instances when that could interfere with the prisoners' rights and, again, be worth running up on appeal.

I've revised the rest of the posting in minor ways for clarity.

(I should add, these are my own thoughts, not intended as legal advice, and do not represent the views of anyone else.)

Friday, June 03, 2011

A Poem for Our Time

Blogger is having, as we used to say, "issues," so if posting is a bit light for the next few days, it's not only because G/Son and I are busy going to the farmers' market, reading about how Arthur became the king, blowing bubbles, visiting the nature center, climing on the jungle gym at the park near Nonna's house, playing knights in armour, picking herbs, and coloring with our 84 crayons, but because of said issues.

In the meantime, have a poem:

The End of Science Fiction
By Lisel Mueller

This is not fantasy, this is our life.
We are the characters
who have invaded the moon,
who cannot stop their computers.
We are the gods who can unmake
the world in seven days.

Both hands are stopped at noon.
We are beginning to live forever,
in lightweight, aluminum bodies
with numbers stamped on our backs.
We dial our words like Muzak.
We hear each other through water.

The genre is dead. Invent something new.
Invent a man and a woman
naked in a garden,
invent a child that will save the world,
a man who carries his father
out of a burning city.
Invent a spool of thread
that leads a hero to safety,
invent an island on which he abandons
the woman who saved his life
with no loss of sleep over his betrayal.

Invent us as we were
before our bodies glittered
and we stopped bleeding:
invent a shepherd who kills a giant,
a girl who grows into a tree,
a woman who refuses to turn
her back on the past and is changed to salt,
a boy who steals his brother’s birthright
and becomes the head of a nation.
Invent real tears, hard love,
slow-spoken, ancient words,
difficult as a child’s
first steps across a room.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Litha's Coming


I woke up this morning aware that we're only a few weeks out from Litha, the longest day of the year. Here in my corner of the myth-crammed MidAtlantic, the period from Yule to Imbolc seems very long, and then, from Imbolc until Beltane, although things speed up, it seems as if I still spend much of the time looking, hoping, dreaming, wishing: focused on every tiny sign of Spring, turning the appearance of a single snowdrop or a haze of green on the bleached-bone frames of the beech trees into a cause for celebration. And then, ABRACADABRA, it's here and time seems to speed by.

It's likely my Swedish ancestors dancing the spiral dance in my DNA, but I have to admit that I love, best of all, these long, long, long sunlit days. In Sweden, I read once, no one sleeps when the sun near the Arctic Circle stay up in the sky all day. People have late picnics in the woods and gather berries and get in boats to row across to Denmark to get beer. I don't really care whether or not it's "factual"; in my cosmology, it's "true" and I've picked those berries and rowed those boats often and often sitting at my altar or knitting sweaters in the dark of deep Winter. Something about Litha connects me deeply to that place where "I've" never been.

This time of year is, as well, an amazing time to just sit out in the evening and enjoy the garden. The voodoo lilies are just finishing up. The magnolias that worried me so and over which I did so much magic are in bloom, an embarrassment of lemon, vanilla, and gloss. The herbs are almost out of control. The Dutch iris have replaced the bearded iris. The astilbe is a white, lacy froth of abundance; the gardenias are still going strong, and the day lilies have giant buds that will open any day now. I should have lilies -- Casa Blanca and Adios Nonino -- in a few more days.

Soon, too soon, the days will start to get a bit shorter, but the daisies and black-eyed susans will show up, the sunflowers will exult, and the purple obedient flowers will make the bees and hummingbirds happy.

And then, and then, but, no, I'm not going to go there -- yet.

For now, I'm going to sit in my twilit garden, smell the magnolias and gardenias, listen to the birds, watch the wisteria bushes creep towards each other on the top of the garden shed, and store all of this up. It's an old magic that I do, creating the ability to get myself through those hard-as-iron February days when I've seen nothing blooming for months and I know that I still have a ways to go. I'll release them the way you release any spell from the magic bottle into which you crammed and stoppered it, set aside for when it's needed.

I shan't be gone long. You come, too.

Picture found here.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

First of the Month 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 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 heca tedemet ersdat ter@ hotm ail.c om. 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. I'll email you back your reading.

Out of My System


Something deliciously funny and madly ironic happened today and OVER and OVER I typed the snarky email I wanted to send and, then, I deleted it.

With my Ascendent in Gemini, you can't imagine how much Will-with-a capital-W that took.

All of that work with Fire must be paying off. ;)

May it be so for you.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Poetry Blogging


Waiting for the Barbarians

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

The barbarians are to arrive today.

Why such inaction in the Senate?
Why do the Senators sit and pass no laws?

Because the barbarians are to arrive today.
What laws can the Senators pass any more?
When the barbarians come they will make the laws.

Why did our emperor wake up so early,
and sits at the greatest gate of the city,
on the throne, solemn, wearing the crown?

Because the barbarians are to arrive today.
And the emperor waits to receive
their chief. Indeed he has prepared
to give him a scroll. Therein he inscribed
many titles and names of honor.

Why have our two consuls and the praetors come out
today in their red, embroidered togas;
why do they wear amethyst-studded bracelets,
and rings with brilliant, glittering emeralds;
why are they carrying costly canes today,
wonderfully carved with silver and gold?

Because the barbarians are to arrive today,
and such things dazzle the barbarians.

Why don't the worthy orators come as always
to make their speeches, to have their say?

Because the barbarians are to arrive today;
and they get bored with eloquence and orations.

Why all of a sudden this unrest
and confusion. (How solemn the faces have become).
Why are the streets and squares clearing quickly,
and all return to their homes, so deep in thought?

Because night is here but the barbarians have not come.
And some people arrived from the borders,
and said that there are no longer any barbarians.

And now what shall become of us without any barbarians?
Those people were some kind of solution.

~Constantine P. Cavafy


Picture found here.

Memorial Day Poetry Blogging


i sing of Olaf glad and big


i sing of Olaf glad and big
whose warmest heart recoiled at war:
a conscientious object-or

his wellbelovéd colonel (trig
westpointer most succinctly bred)
took erring Olaf soon in hand;
but--though an host of overjoyed
noncoms (first knocking on the head
him )do through icy waters roll
that helplessness which others stroke
with brushes recently employed
anent this muddy toiletbowl,
while kindred intellects evoke
allegiance per blunt instruments--
Olaf (being to all intents
a corpse and wanting any rag
upon what God unto him gave)
responds,without getting annoyed
"I will not kiss your fucking flag"

straightway the silver bird looked grave
(departing hurriedly to shave)

but--though all kinds of officers
(a yearning nation's blueeyed pride)
their passive prey did kick and curse
until for wear their clarion
voices and boots were much the worse,
and egged the firstclassprivates on
his rectum wickedly to tease
by means of skilfully applied
bayonets roasted hot with heat--
Olaf (upon what were once knees)
does almost ceaselessly repeat
"there is some shit I will not eat"

our president, being of which
assertions duly notified
threw the yellowsonofabitch
into a dungeon,where he died

Christ (of His mercy infinite)
i pray to see;and Olaf,too

preponderatingly because
unless statistics lie he was
more brave than me:more blond than you.

~E. E. Cummings

Picture found here.

Memorial Day Poetry Blogging


Dulce Et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

--Wilfred Owen


Picture found here.

Memorial Day Poetry Blogging


Carentan O Carentan
BY LOUIS SIMPSON
Trees in the old days used to stand
And shape a shady lane
Where lovers wandered hand in hand
Who came from Carentan.

This was the shining green canal
Where we came two by two
Walking at combat-interval.
Such trees we never knew.

The day was early June, the ground
Was soft and bright with dew.
Far away the guns did sound,
But here the sky was blue.

The sky was blue, but there a smoke
Hung still above the sea
Where the ships together spoke
To towns we could not see.

Could you have seen us through a glass
You would have said a walk
Of farmers out to turn the grass,
Each with his own hay-fork.

The watchers in their leopard suits
Waited till it was time,
And aimed between the belt and boot
And let the barrel climb.

I must lie down at once, there is
A hammer at my knee.
And call it death or cowardice,
Don’t count again on me.

Everything’s all right, Mother,
Everyone gets the same
At one time or another.
It’s all in the game.

I never strolled, nor ever shall,
Down such a leafy lane.
I never drank in a canal,
Nor ever shall again.

There is a whistling in the leaves
And it is not the wind,
The twigs are falling from the knives
That cut men to the ground.

Tell me, Master-Sergeant,
The way to turn and shoot.
But the Sergeant’s silent
That taught me how to do it.

O Captain, show us quickly
Our place upon the map.
But the Captain’s sickly
And taking a long nap.

Lieutenant, what’s my duty,
My place in the platoon?
He too’s a sleeping beauty,
Charmed by that strange tune.

Carentan O Carentan
Before we met with you
We never yet had lost a man
Or known what death could do.


Picture found here.

Memorial Day Poetry Blogging


A Reminiscence
BY ANNE BRONTË
YES, thou art gone! and never more
Thy sunny smile shall gladden me;
But I may pass the old church door,
And pace the floor that covers thee.

May stand upon the cold, damp stone,
And think that, frozen, lies below
The lightest heart that I have known,
The kindest I shall ever know.

Yet, though I cannot see thee more,
'Tis still a comfort to have seen;
And though thy transient life is o'er,
'Tis sweet to think that thou hast been;

To think a soul so near divine,
Within a form so angel fair,
United to a heart like thine,
Has gladdened once our humble sphere.

Picture found here.

Memorial Day Poetry Blogging


The War in the Air
BY HOWARD NEMEROV
For a saving grace, we didn't see our dead,
Who rarely bothered coming home to die
But simply stayed away out there
In the clean war, the war in the air.

Seldom the ghosts come back bearing their tales
Of hitting the earth, the incompressible sea,
But stayed up there in the relative wind,
Shades fading in the mind,

Who had no graves but only epitaphs
Where never so many spoke for never so few:
Per ardua, said the partisans of Mars,
Per aspera, to the stars.

That was the good war, the war we won
As if there was no death, for goodness's sake.
With the help of the losers we left out there
In the air, in the empty air.

Picture (of the U.S. Air Force Memorial in Arlington, VA) found here.

Memorial Day Poetry Blogging


The Performance
BY JAMES L. DICKEY
The last time I saw Donald Armstrong
He was staggering oddly off into the sun,
Going down, off the Philippine Islands.
I let my shovel fall, and put that hand
Above my eyes, and moved some way to one side
That his body might pass through the sun,

And I saw how well he was not
Standing there on his hands,
On his spindle-shanked forearms balanced,
Unbalanced, with his big feet looming and waving
In the great, untrustworthy air
He flew in each night, when it darkened.

Dust fanned in scraped puffs from the earth
Between his arms, and blood turned his face inside out,
To demonstrate its suppleness
Of veins, as he perfected his role.
Next day, he toppled his head off
On an island beach to the south,

And the enemy’s two-handed sword
Did not fall from anyone’s hands
At that miraculous sight,
As the head rolled over upon
Its wide-eyed face, and fell
Into the inadequate grave

He had dug for himself, under pressure.
Yet I put my flat hand to my eyebrows
Months later, to see him again
In the sun, when I learned how he died,
And imagined him, there,
Come, judged, before his small captors,

Doing all his lean tricks to amaze them—
The back somersault, the kip-up—
And at last, the stand on his hands,
Perfect, with his feet together,
His head down, evenly breathing,
As the sun poured from the sea

And the headsman broke down
In a blaze of tears, in that light
Of the thin, long human frame
Upside down in its own strange joy,
And, if some other one had not told him,
Would have cut off the feet

Instead of the head,
And if Armstrong had not presently risen
In kingly, round-shouldered attendance,
And then knelt down in himself
Beside his hacked, glittering grave, having done
All things in this life that he could.

Picture found here.