Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pagan Leadership & the Media

Delighted to see this use of YouTube to bring some of the panels from Pantheacon to the world at large. The other parts of the panel discussion are also available on YouTube.

Jason Pitzl-Waters' point at the end concerning deciding, first, whether you even need to talk to the media is incredibly valid.

Of course, it's true about almost everything in life, from magic to media interviews. We need to approach everything with both discernment and our own intentions clearly before us. Does this need to be done? Am I the right person to do this? Is this the right time/venue/situation?

Discernment: where the ancestors, divination, and spirit and animal allies can help us.

Clear Intention: where Air, Fire, Water, Earth and our Goddesses/Gods can help us.

May we all seek them and find them.

Friday, February 25, 2011

May the Goddess Guard Her. May She Find Her Way to the Summerlands. May Her Friends and Family Know Peace.

Melin Stone passed away this week. Her book, When God Was a Woman, was one of the first 4 or 5 books that I read on Goddess religion, and it had a huge impact on me and, I believe, many other Dianic Witches.

Go well.

hat tip/Star Foster.

Picture found here.

Friday Poetry Blogging

The Witch

I HAVE walked a great while over the snow,
And I am not tall nor strong.
My clothes are wet, and my teeth are set,
And the way was hard and long.
I have wandered over the fruitful earth,
But I never came here before.
Oh, lift me over the threshold, and let me in at the door!

The cutting wind is a cruel foe.
I dare not stand in the blast.
My hands are stone, and my voice a groan,
And the worst of death is past.
I am but a little maiden still,
My little white feet are sore.
Oh, lift me over the threshold, and let me in at the door!

Her voice was the voice that women have,
Who plead for their heart's desire.
She came--she came--and the quivering flame
Sunk and died in the fire.
It never was lit again on my hearth
Since I hurried across the floor,
To lift her over the threshold, and let her in at the door.

Mary Elizabeth Coleridge

Picture found here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Mr. President, I will personally buy you a pair of shoes, if that's what stopping you from keeping your promise.

/hat tip to FireDog Lake.

Dear Christine,


I've been trying to explain to G/Son, who is a huge fan of Star Wars and Harry Potter, @ what's going on in Wisconsin. (I swear that I did not -- I did not -- describe Gov. Walker's actions today as "parseltongue.") He's, not yet, but he's destined to be, a geeky Tolkien fan (well, and his grandfather wooed me, it's true, in Elvish. What can I say?).

I think this sign, from Wisconsin, gets it and I'm going to enjoy the heck out of reading those books to G/Son.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

On Being a Nonna

Being a grandma and a Witch isn't exactly a well-covered topic, not in today's world and not w/r/t young children. That's all I'm saying. Well, no, of course, with Gemini rising, that's NOT all that I'm saying. I do, in fact, have lots more to say. I've been thinking a lot, lately, about how a generation of Witches who came of age amongst odd- and often only-true-due-to-need tales of family trads, are, these days, raising Witches in, who knew?, family trads.

My brave and brilliant Son and my wise and generous DiL are, AFAICT, agnostics. Having grown up deeply embedded in Catholicism, one of my main goals as a mom was to raise Son w/o any religious influence, at all. He did spend a few months in high school investigating the Society of Friends, a religion in which the First-Ex.-Mr.-Hecate's family was deeply and literarily immersed, and that was ok with me.

There are three rooms on the Eastern side of my tiny cottage: my bedroom, the ritual room, and the guest room. As the middle room, my ritual room is the darkest of the three. That room is lined with bookcases, and those bookcases are topped with stuffed ravens. So it's not surprising that, for the first years of his life, G/Son has generally seemed a bit afraid of and avoided my ritual room whenever he's been over here.

Recently, however, my almost-five-year-old (how the Hel did this happen??!!?!?!?!) G/Son has taken to wandering into my ritual room and checking things out whenever he's visiting. One of the first things that he noticed, enthralled as he's always been with swords and Medieval weapons, was my green-stone-sheathed athame. Last weekend, he wandered into the ritual room, picked up my athame, and said, "Nonna, does this do spells?" My general policy is to answer his questions about my religion in a very matter-of-fact way, neither proselytizing nor being defensive. We'd been talking earlier in the day about how some of Nonna's friends are staying inside the most important space in Wisconsin to stand up for workers' rights. So I said, "Yes, Nonna uses that to do spells. It helps her to get into a space where she can send energy to people who need it, like her friends in Wisconsin." G/Son said, "Or, we could send medical supplies to those in need."

I have no fucking idea where that came from, but I said, "Yes, or we could send medical supplies to those in need."

And, so we did.

I can't imagine that I've ever done anything to deserve the gift of being this old soul's Nonna. Like playing the balalaika, it's a gift. I'll take it.

Tonight, G/Son was having his bath and explaining to me that he's read all of the books at his level and now he's working his way through the "reading folders" at his school. He said, "You know, Nonna, I'm going to be a very serious reader, even for my family." And I said, "Yes, I believe that you will be." Again, no fucking idea where that came from, but this child does come, on both sides, from some people pretty committed to reading. You do not want to get between his other grandma and a book. Seriously.

I do not know how to be this old soul's Nonna. I am just making this up as I go along. Maybe there was a scroll in the library at Alexandria that explained how to do this. I am sorry tonight that it burned. I wish that someone had copied it. But the only bit of advice that I'd have to add to that scroll is: just tell the truth.

Also, send medical supplies to wherever they're needed. Do it with the athame.

When I die, I want that athame to go to G/Son. I think he already understands how to use it. And, if he doesn't, I'm charging some other grandmother to teach him how.

Picture found here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I Am So Proud of My Friends in Madison

Thank you, Scout!

Printing Prayers on Water

In Becoming Animal, An Earthly Cosmology, David Abram writes:
[At a gompa, the resident lama] took my hand and led me down a long trail to the river, so I could watch his two students as they worked with temple woodblocks artfully carved with Tibetan ritual verses. Normally these precious woodblocks were used to print out liturgical books. But now -- amazingly! -- the students were stamping the wood-blocks over and over into the flowing surface of the river, so that the water would carry those printed prayers to the many lands through which it traveled on its long way to the Indian Ocean.

Here, remarkably, was a culture wherein written letters were not used merely as a record of words once spoken, or as a score for oral speech, but as efficacious forces in their own right. The letters were not just passive signs, but energetic agents actively affecting the space around them. Whether written on the page of a book or carved into woodblocks, whether etched into standing stones or printed on flags, the Tibetan letters held a power that could be activated not only by human beings but by insects crawling through their cracks, and by water flowing along their shapes, and even by the breeze gusting across them. Human intentions, carried in dreams and prayers, mingled here with the intentions of stones, trees, and rivers. Clearly, "mind" in this mountain region was not a human possession; it was a power proper to every part of the elemental field.

It's common at some point in the training of almost every Witch or magic worker to hear that "words have power." We say it and then we move on. IMHO, it's one of those "basic teachings that are too basic for beginners"; one needs to keep coming back to this precept over and over, spiraling back and learning it more dimensionally each time.

It's part of the reason that I love poetry and promote it regularly to my (mostly) Pagan readers and it's part of the reason that boring, repetitive, bland calling of the Elements drives my priestess soul insane. It's why I'll go to the wall over the need for magical workings to have clearly stated intentions. (If you can't state it clearly, there's a pretty good chance that you've not thought it out, clearly, either. The one tends to foster the other. And I'm too respectful of magic to go releasing energy at some vague, misunderstood target.) And it's the reason why I go on and on about the importance of how we frame issues. When we mingle our intentions with those of stones, trees, and rivers, we owe it to those other entities to use one of our tools -- language -- as respectfully and as skillfully as possible.

What power do you find in words?

Picture found here.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Better Framing Skillz; We Needz 'Em

Never have so many loved 14. #wiunion #killthebill #solidarit... on Twitpic

One of the things I've loved about what's going on in Wisconsin has been the chance to hear all kind of great old protest/union songs. I grew up on those and they make me happy and weepy every time. Those songs don't ever really go away. They wait until they're needed to inspire the next generation of people who stand up for the rights of workers.

Here's a new song by Ken Lonnquist that's quite clever. Goddess knows, I can't sing a note, and I'm no one to criticize Lonnquist.

I'd like to use this song, though, to make a point about framing, something at which "our side" is terrible and at which the Republicans excel.

Note the repeat lyrics: "Fourteen Senators, sneaking 'cross the border."

I'm from the South, where ladies do not sweat, they glow. And I can assure you that union supporters and heroes of representative democracy do not "sneak" across the border. They march across the border. They protest across the border. They stand across the border. They represent across the border. They storm across the border. They do not sneak across the border.

For a moment, compare and contrast:
Forteen Senators, sneaking 'cross the border
Fourteen Senators, capitol disorder.
Fourteen Senators, new Wisconsin heroes.
What's the score?
Senators, fourteen/Governor Walker, zero.

Fourteen Senators, marching 'cross the border
Fourteen Senators, capitol disorder.
Fourteen Senators, new Wisconsin heroes.
What's the score?
Senators fourteen/Governor Walker, zero.

And maybe we could say, "Republicans in disorder," instead of implying that Democrats created disorder in the capitol, something that just "sounds bad." Besides, the protestors have been incredibly peaceful and orderly.

Go read Don't Think of an Elephant by George Lakoff. We keep losing because, in part, the other side is better at framing issues than we are. It's stupid to keep losing to people who are in the wrong simply because we can't be bothered with how we frame our issues.

Mr. Lonnquist, great song and the pictures in the video are wonderfully inspiring. Thanks for celebrating the courage of those fourteen Wisconsin Senators. They really are heroes. My point is not at all meant to disparage this quite creative and v fun work.

But we've got to get better at this, people. It matters. If you don't think so, just repeat: "death tax vs. unearned wealth tax," "partial birth abortion vs. emergency medical procedure." "Sneaking vs. marching."

Picture by the divine Scout Prime on TwitPic.

People Keep Doing It; I'm Going to Keep Complaining About It

Here's an article about the opening of what sounds like a lovely store and community center, Crone’s Hollow, in Salt Lake City. Clearly a lot of work has gone into its opening and it looks as if it will be a great resource for the local Pagan community.

And, yet.

The word "Pagan" goes uncapitalized throughout the article. The word "Pagan" is an umbrella term that describes a group of related religions such as Wicca, Druidism, Asatru, etc. It's precisely similar to, for example, "Christianity," which is an umbrella term for related religions such as Catholicism, Methodism, Baptists, etc. Or "Judaism," which is an umbrella term for related religions such as Hassidic, Orthodox, Reform, etc. Or "Islam," which is an umbrella term for related religions such as Suffi, Sunni, Shia, etc. We capitalize Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, and we should capitalize Pagan, as well. Not to do so implies that some religions groups are "more" than others. Dear ERIN ALBERTY at The Salt Lake Tribune, please take notice.

Similarly, Paganism is not a "faith." While some religions -- Christianity, for example -- are built upon faith, Paganism is not. No Pagan religion of which I am aware requires its members to have "faith" in the Goddesses/Gods. Rather, most Pagans have what they consider to be direct experience, not faith. Paganism is, rather, a religion and should be described as such. To use the term "faith" (or, even more gag-inducing, "faith community") as a substitute for "religion" implies that all "real" religions include an element of standardized faith. That's not helpful and has, in fact, been used against Unitarians to dispute their tax-exempt status as a religion.

And, finally, there's this:
“We have a fun place, and we are hoping to encourage all denominations to come hang out with us. We are your neighbors, and we aren’t scary,” Morgan said. “It’s not about sacrificing children and animals. It’s about people coming together and finding the way in which they can, using the experience of ritual, worship in their own way.”

For the love of the Goddess, can we please quit doing this to ourselves? It's as if no Pagan can get within 20 feet of a reporter without reflexively repeating this guilty-sounding denial. I've blogged extensively about why this practice is so unhelpful. Ask yourself what you remember about Christine O'Donnell or Richard Nixon and then Do.Not.Do.This.


Picture found here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011