In Beyond God the Father, feminist theologian Mary Daly detailed the psychological and political ramifications of father religion for women. "If God in 'his' heaven is a father ruling his people," she wrote, "then it is the 'nature' of things and according to the divine plan and the order of the universe that society be male-dominated. Within this context, a mystification of roles takes place. The husband dominating his wife represents God 'himself.' The images and values of a given society have been projected into the realm of god and 'Articles of Faith,' and these, in turn, justify the social structures which have given rise to them and which sustain their plausibility."
Philosopher Simone de Beauvoir was well aware of the function of patriarchal religion as legitimater of male power; she wrote, "Man enjoys the great advantage of having a god endorse the code he writes; and since man exercises a soverign authority over women it is especially fortunate that this authority has been vestred in him by the Supreme Being. For the Jew, Mohammedans, and Christians, among others, man is Master by divine right; the fear of God will, therefore, repress any impulse to revolt in the drowntrodden female."
From "Why Women Need the Goddess" by Carol P. Christ in The Politics of Women's Spirituality ed. by Charlene Spretnak
It's the first of the month. In addition, it's the first of October. October is national Breast Cancer Awareness month. You're about to see so much pink shit advertised that you'll want to puke. That doesn't mean that you done't need to check your beautiful bazooms.
Women, now is a good time to do a breast self-exam. BSEs are very easy to do. Here's how. BSEs save lives by detecting breast cancer early, when it is easy to cure. If you prefer to do your BSE at a particular point in your cycle, now is the best time to calendar it so that you don't forget.
Men, are there women who you would miss if they were to die from breast cancer? If so, now is the best time to remind your wife, lover, girlfriend, sister, best friend, mother, sister, etc. to do a BSE. Offer to watch the kids or do the grocery shopping while she does a BSE.
Quan Yin is the first, in what I hope will be a series of posts on various Goddesses. I imagine that, after this week, when the Bush junta, and its enablers in Congress and the Senate, abandoned habeas corpus and embraced torture, we could all use a dose of Quan Yin.
Quan Yin, as Wikipedia explains is the bodhisattva of compassion as venerated by East Asian Buddhists, usually as a female. She is also known as the Chinese Goddess of Compassion by many. Quan Yin once came to me when I was called upon to mediate a bitter dispute between two wonderful women in my coven, both of whom had pretty much decided that they'd like to tear each others' hair out. Strangely, in the end, she counseled me to be compassionate to myself.
Another story, describes Kuan Yin as the daughter of a cruel king who wanted her to marry a wealthy but uncaring man. The story is usually ascribed to the research of the Buddhist monk Chiang Chih-ch'i in 1100AD. The story is likely to have a Taoist origin. Chiang Chih-ch'i however when he penned the work believed that the Kuan Yin we know today was actually a Buddhist princess called Miao Shan who had a religious following on Fragrant Mountain. Despite this however there are many variants of the story in Chinese mythology.
The story surrounds is that of Miao Shan (??). Miao Shan who would later become Kuan Yin told her father the king after he made his demands that she would obey command. That is so long as the marriage eases three misfortunes. The king asked his daughter what be the three misfortunes that the marriage should ease. Miao Shan pointed out that the first misfortune to be eased was that the marriage should alleviate the suffering people endure as they get older in age. The second misfortune is that it should ease is the suffering people endure when they fall ill.The third misfortune it should ease is the suffering caused by death. If the marriage cannot ease any of the above then she would rather retire to life of religion forever.
When the father asked who could ease all the above, Miao Shan pointed out that a doctor was able to do all the above. The father grew angry as he wanted her to marry a person of power and wealth, not a healer. He forced her into hard labor and reduced her food and drinks but this did not cause her to yield.
Everyday she begged to be able to enter a temple and become a nun instead. Her father eventually allowed her to work in the temple, but asked the monks to give her very hard chores in order to discourage her. The monks forced Kuan Yin to work all day and all night, while others slept, in order to finish her work. However, she was such a good person that the animals living around the temple began to help her with her chores. Her father, seeing this, became so frustrated that he attempted to burn down the temple. Kuan Yin put out the fire with her bare hands and suffered no burns. Now struck with fear, her father ordered her to be put to death. After she died she was made into a goddess for all of her kindness and began her journey to heaven. She was about to cross over into heaven when she heard a cry of suffering back on earth. When she turned around she watched the myriad of suffering beings. Filled with compassion, she asked to be sent back and vowed to stay until all suffering had ended.
One version of this legend states that, at the point of Kuan Yin's father's execution of her, a supernatural tiger took Kuan Yin to one of the more hell-like realms of the dead. However, instead of being punished by demons like the other inmates, Kuan Yin played music and flowers blossomed around her. This managed to completely surprise the head demon. The story says that Kuan Yin, by merely being in that hell, turned it into a paradise.
Another version of the same legend tells that upon entering hell Kuhn Yin was overwhelmed with grief at the suffering souls must endure in hell. Out of compassion, she freed many of the souls from hell before being stopped by Yanluo, King of Hell. She then returned back alive on Earth and resided at Mount Putuo.
A variant of the legend says that Miao Shan allowed herself to die at the hand of the executioner. The legend goes that as the executioner tried to carry out Miao Chuang Yen's orders, his axe shattered into a thousand pieces. He then tried a sword which likewise shattered. He tried to shoot Miao Shan down with arrows but they all veered off.
Finally in desperation he used his hands. Miao Shan, realizing the fate the executioner will meet at her father's hand should he fail let herself die, forgiving the executioner in the process. It is said that she voluntarily took on the massive karmic guilt the executioner generated for killing her, thus leaving him guiltless. It is through this she descended into the Hell-like realms. While in the Hell-like realms she witnessed first hand the suffering and horrors beings there must endure. Filled with compassion she released all the good karma she had accumulated through her many lifetimes, thus freeing many suffering souls back into Heaven and Earth. In the process that Hell-like realm became a paradise. Yama it is said sent her back to Earth to prevent utter destruction of his realm. It is said that upon her return she appeared on Fragrant Mountain. Another tale says that Miao Shan never died but was in fact transported by a supernatural tiger, believed to be the Deity of the Place to Fragrant Mountain.
Post her return to Earth or to the Fragrant Mountain Miao Shan was said to have stayed for a few years on Putou Island where she practiced meditation and helped the sailors and fishermen who got stranded. Kuhn Yin/Miao Shan is frequently worshipped as patron of sailors and fishermen due to this. She is said to frequently becalm the sea when boats are threatened with rocks. After some decades Miao Shan returned to Fragrant Mountain to continue her meditation.
The Legend of Miao Shan usually ends with Miao Chuang Yen, the father of Miao Shan falling ill with jaundice. It is said that no physician could cure him. Then a monk appeared saying that the jaundice could be cured by making a medicine out of the arm and eye of one without anger. The monk further suggested that such a person could be found on Fragrant Mountain.
Miao Shan when requested offered up her eyes and arms willingly. Miao Chuang Yen was cured of the illness and went to the Fragrant Mountain to give thanks to the person. When he discovered that his own daughter gave up her arm and eyes for him, he begged for forgiveness. The story concludes with Miao Shan being transformed into the Thousand Armed Kuhn Yin and the king, queen and her two sisters building a temple on the mountain for her. The story concludes with Kuhn Yin hearing a cry from the world below turned around and saw the massive suffering endured by the people of the world. Out of love for all man She returned to Earth, vowing never to leave till such time all suffering has ended.
It's easy to invoke Quan Yin. There is an implicit trust in Kuhn Yin's saving grace and healing powers. Many believe that even the simple recitation of her name will bring her instantly to the scene. One of the most famous texts associated with the bodhisattva, the ancient Lotus Sutra whose twenty-fifth chapter, dedicated to Kuhn Yin, is known as the "Kuhn Yin sutra," describes thirteen cases of impending disaster--from shipwreck to fire, imprisonment, robbers, demons, fatal poisons and karmic woes--in which the devotee will be rescued if his thoughts dwell on the power of Kuhn Yin. The text is recited many times daily by those who wish to receive the benefits it promises.
Devotees also invoke the bodhisattva's power and merciful intercession with the mantra OM MANI PADME HUM-- "Hail to the jewel in the lotus!" or, as it has also been interpreted, "Hail to Avalokitesvara, who is the jewel in the heart of the lotus of the devotee's heart!"
I am less compassionate than I might be. My Goddesses tend to be Goddesses who deal in less compassionate ways with the world -- Hecate, Coyote, Eris, Discordia, Athena, Artemis -- than does Quan Yin. But I pray to her now.
Lady of Mercy, Inspire mercy in the hearst of torturers everywhere. Bring comfort to those who are imprisoned unjustly, without due process, far from their homes and those that they love. Give strength to the International Red Cross, to Amnesty International, and to the UN; let them stand up to injustice and cruelty wherever it originates.
I'll burn some incense to Quan Yin tonight. Will you? With whom can you be more compassionate? In what three ways can you be more compassionate with yourself?
When dark nights eat up afternoons I sweat onions in sunflower oil, weigh out carrots, a swede, and tapering baby parsnips with age-old skins on flesh that fattened underneath the light in a cradling of clay, grit, stones. I take the swede, a misshapen globe marred with scars, cut it in two. The apricot bulk makes my head hum with summer. I slice up the snow-white parsnips, then tip lentils, seeds of a butterfly- petalled plant, into the pan. Opening the door to throw peelings in a pail, I bump into snouting cold. It smells of woodsmoke, bites as I stare at the park bristled with black. Frost is stiffening leaves, grasses, and I feel myself woven to this landÂ’s Saxon past when winter was a giant who trampled crops in fields, snuffed breath with icicle fingers Â– though this was not the country of my forbears, though rootlessness was a wound I bore till turned thirty, I was warmed enough by love to put down roots in myself. When chill sinks its teeth in my ribs, I retreat to the stove, dip a spoon. The heat-swollen lentils are melting among the hulking vegetables, and yellow-brown as November woods. I add lemon and fried spices, stir them in, ladle the stew.
I think in these times of undeclared war between patriots and the Bush junta that is terrorizing our country, we all have moral obligations, obligations to each other. One of them is to nourish ourselves, emotionally, physically, spiritually, intellectually. The junta wants to make us believe that the world is dangerous, dark, narrow. We can fight back by not believing them, by doing both great acts and small acts that support the continued existence of the world as it really is: immanently divine, crammed with heaven, connected, determined to spawn and support life in all its forms.
Go make yourself some root vegetable stew. Freeze some for that night in November when an early dark, icy rain, and the junta's next act of terror drives you home in despair. We can never allow despair to win for more than the few moments it takes to beat it back. We owe that to each other.
On March 23, , police and emergency medical personnel stormed Marina Trutko's home, breaking down her apartment door and quickly subduing her with an injection of haloperidol, a powerful tranquilizer. One policeman put her 78-year-old mother, Valentina, in a storage closet while Trutko, 42, was carried out to a waiting ambulance. It took her to the nearby Psychiatric Hospital No. 14.
The former nuclear scientist, a vocal activist and public defender for several years in this city 70 miles north of Moscow, spent the next six weeks undergoing a daily regimen of injections and drugs to treat what was diagnosed as a "paranoid personality disorder."
"She is also very rude," psychiatrists noted in her case file.
Others have been subject to similar treatment because they suffered from "an acute sense of justice." Nikolai Skachkov, who protested police brutality and official corruption in the Omsk region of Siberia, was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation last year because investigators said they suspected he was suffering from "an acute sense of justice." He spent six months in a closed psychiatric facility where he was diagnosed as paranoid
George Bush can now seize anyone he wants to and have them interred anywhere that he likes and tortured. Now we know why Haliburton was building those big detention camps inside the US. Gives new meaning to his long, deep look into Putin's soul, doesn't it?
I know that lots of people think that I'm kind of a crazy old crank for going on and on about overpopulation. That was supposed to be a problem in the 1960s, not the 21st Century. Didn't new methods of farming produce more food and make a fool of Malthus? And, besides, facing overpopulation creates a host of ethical problems: Who gets to reproduce? What does society do about people who ignore the rules and overproduce; forced abortion, take a child from its parents at birth and allow childless couples to adopt? It creates political problems, as well: since Americans overpollute and overconsume relative to the rest of the world, should they be forced to reproduce at a lower rate? If one country controls its population but it's neighbor doesn't, what stops the teeming hordes from next door from flooding across the border, armed or not, in search of more land, water, etc.? What will we do about the fundies who are, even now, trying to criminalize all forms of birth control, not just abortion? Are there ways to avoid China's practice of allowing couples to make sure that their one child is a boy, thereby creating a generation of men who can't find wives? With so many problems, it's been easier for decades to ignore overpopulation and regard those who bellyache about it as slightly batty.
The problem's getting lots harder to ignore. Turns out that growing more food doesn't solve the overpopulation crisis, after all. Which is not too surprising, when you think about it, as food isn't the only thing that people need. They need land. They need air to breathe and to emit gases into. And, they need water.
The NYT has run a series of articles concerning the growing water crisis in India, one of the world's largest, and most populous, atomic powers. Earlier articles have skirted the overpopulation issue, but today's begins to address it more clearly. With the population soaring past one billion and with a driving need to boost agricultural production, Indians are tapping their groundwater faster than nature can replenish it, so fast that they are hitting deposits formed at the time of the dinosaurs. . . . Electric pumps have accelerated the problem, enabling farmers and others to squeeze out far more groundwater than they had been able to draw by hand for hundreds of years.
This isn't an abstract problem. Here's what it means for the people involved: The growing water shortage has transformed life in Peeplee Ka Bas. Its men left long ago to seek work elsewhere. The women remain to spend the blistering summer mornings digging ponds in the barren earth, hoping to catch monsoon rains.
Where farming once provided a livelihood, now digging puts food on the table. For a day’s labor, under this public works program intended to help the poorest families, each woman is paid the equivalent of 40 cents, along with 24 pounds of wheat.
It was not always this way. Once farming made sense. Many of the women digging on a recent morning remembered growing their own food — peas, tomatoes, chili peppers, watermelons — and selling it, too, at the nearest town market.
Year by year, the wells began to run dry. And there were several years of little to no rain.
Meera, a mother of three who uses only one name, who is lucky enough to come from a landowning family, still watched her husband leave the village to find work in a cement factory.
There were times, she acknowledged, when it became difficult to feed the children. Now she finds herself digging ponds for a bag of wheat. And praying for rain. "Our life is not life," Meera said. "“Only when it rains, there's life."
I'm harping on India because I believe that it's a canary in the mine. The key words in the article are: "With a soaring population". India has too many people and not enough water for them to drink and use to grow food. They're digging more and more wells and are digging them deeper and deeper and they're using technology to pump and transport the water longer and longer distances and it isn't working. They are literally running out of water. As earlier articles have pointed out, global climate change will make that problem worse every year.
At some point, oh in say the next five minutes, India's going to begin looking around at nearby lands that do have water. They probably won't say: "Hey, [Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma]! We're invading you for your water." They'll create or exploit some political dispute and use it as an excuse to invade. I'm not picking on India, which has generally been a pretty non-aggressive state. They won't be able to help it. People dying from lack of food and water get restive and their politicians have to do something. They can't create more groundwater, so they'll have to steal it from their neighbors and then, sadly, engage in wildly inefficient programs to move water long distances from the conquered country to India and move Indians into the conquered country. And if this problem were only going to occur in Asia, it would be too bad, but possibly tolerable. But water shortages, and, therefore, water wars are going to occur all over the Earth as global climate change continues. Of course, one of the main drivers of global climate change is -- overpopulation.
There are ways to control overpopulation. You can pay people, particularly women, not to reproduce; you can pay even more if they'll (especialy men) become sterile. You can, and, yes, this unfairly favors the wealthy unless you make it pretty regressive, tax people who reproduce, charging more for each child above the first. You can make free, safe contraception available to all and you can pair that with serious sex education. And, one of the THE most effective ways to limit population is to simply educate girls. Teach them to read, write, do math. If there's only enough money to educate one sex, educate the girls. Of, we can continue to do nothing, in which case the overpopulation problem will likely solve itself in a few generations -- but in ways that will be far less palatable than even the most "icky" abortion ever was.
Let's talk about this in little words and short sentences. India, one of the world's most populous countries, is running out of water. People need water to live. India has more people than water. Global climate change is making this problem worse. All those people will go somewhere. They have an atom bomb.
All my life, I've been a lover of language. The story in my family was that I learned to talk early and then never shut up, talking up a blue streak to anyone who would listen (and often to plenty who didn't). Well, my rising sign is Gemini, so I come by it honestly, I suppose. As soon as I learned to read, I began to devour books, literally reading every book in the children's section of the little public library in Four Corners. My mother's most frequent instructon to me was, "Put down that damn book and [do some chore that she wanted the oldest girl of five children to do]." I love all kinds of writing: rhetoric, speeches, quips, and, of course, maybe best of all, poetry.
One of the things that I love best about good writing is its ability to recall for us our better selves, to remind us of who we really are. It's as if we can take what we only really know about ourselves in those few hours when we are truly ourselves and store those feelings by writing them down, making them accessible to us in the many more hours when the business of life makes us forget. Years before I knew anything at all about Wicca or magic, I learned the incredible power of just writing down my vision of what I wanted my life to look like, of imagining on paper what a perfect day would look like for me in a month, a year, a decade. Many Wiccans and thamaturgists define magic as the ability to change consciousness at will. That's what good writing can do for us. Change our consciousness at our will, by recalling us to who we really are, to what world we really live in.
One of the great dangers of this world is our tendency to allow other people to define the world and, thereby, ourselves for us. My sun is in Pisces, so perhaps I'm even more fraught with the tendency to allow this to happen than are many others, but it seems to me to be one of the greatest dangers of living and of getting older. The voice of our Better Self can be so quiet sometimes and the voices of the rest of the world can be so loud. But it's the most important thing of all: to cling to what we know about who we are and what the world is and to screen out all of the noise that tries to overpower that knowledge. When I was in law school I took Contracts from a Crazyman. I don't remember much of what he tried to teach me about contracts, but I've never forgotten something that he said to the class the night before our first ever law school exam: after explaining that exams would be graded on the curve and that this meant that many people would be getting their first-ever "C"s, he said, "But don't let that define you. Don't ever let anyone else define you to yourself. Don't ever believe that you are the grade that someone else gives you."
Perhaps I'm the only one who sees the connection between what I've just been saying and what I'm about to say, but, for me, they're completely intertwined. I came home last night so broken by the Senate's abandonement of habeas corpus and embrace of torture that I couldn't stand it. I was literally in pain. My heart physically hurt; I felt as if I'd been kicked in the stomach. I felt worse than I felt when the Bush junta stole the election from Kerry. Worse than I felt when Roberts and Scalito waltzed into the Supreme Court. Worse than I felt when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Worse than I felt when my marriages fell apart. The world, it suddenly seemed to me, was a darker and more horrible place than I'd ever imagined. All of my hopes for helping to create a better world seemed like vanities and nonsense. I felt weak, ineffective, anachronistic, unfit to live in such a world. I could literally feel a dark, heavy wave of evil and hatred flooding west from the Capitol, over my home and on towards the rest of the world.
Blogging seemed pointless, perhaps even foolish, waving a red flag for the jebuzites who can't wait to start torturing the witches again. Political activism seemed a waste of time and energy. Donating money to good causes looked like a waste. My hopes for saving at least some of the Earth and civilization from global climate change appeared dashed. Maybe what I really needed to do was figure out how to liquidate everything and convince my family to relocate to another country. Maybe what I needed to do was to find a very sharp knife and begin running warm water.
Thank you, Athenae. Your wonderful writing did for me what great writing does. It reminded me that the Bush junta does not, no matter how dearly they might wish it to be so, create reality. They are not going to define the world in which I live nor are they going to define me. I'm going, as you suggest, to take this bodyblow and then I'm going to get back up. I differ from you in that I don't think Diebold will allow a Democratic victory this Fall, although I'm going to work for one. Nor do I agree with Atrios that just getting shrill (and as a mouthy, opinionated woman, believe me, I've been called shrill!) is going to be enough. I think it's going to take pitchforks and torches. I think it's going to take people -- lots and lots of people -- willing to pledge "our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor." But you know, whatever it takes, that's what I'm going to do.
And I'm going to do it because of who I am and what the world is and because I am not the naive and powerless anachronism that the Bush junta wants me to believe that I am and the world is not the evil, dark, vile place that they want me to believe that it is. So, I'm going, as Atheane urges, to get back up. You come, too.
Every moment that we spend defending basic concepts of democracy such as habeaus corpus is time not spent working on saving the planet from global climate change created by overpopulation and carbon-based sources of energy.
Keith is good. He's really good. He hasn't made me laugh the way that Lewis Black does, and, so, he doesn't get the same offer from me that Lewis Black gets. But I am given to understand that a number of ladies at Eschaton will gladly make Keith completely forget my reticence.
Further, Known as the "Great Writ", the writ of habeas corpus ad subjiciendum is a legal proceeding in which an individual held in custody can challenge the propriety of that custody under the law. The prisoner, or some other person on his behalf (for example, where the prisoner is being held incommunicado), may petition the court or an individual judge for a writ of habeas corpus.
Although the form of the writ of habeas corpus implies that the prisoner is brought to the court in order for the legality of the imprisonment to be examined, modern practice is to have a hearing with both parties present on whether the writ should issue, rather than issuing the writ immediately and waiting for the return of the writ by the addressee before the legality of the detention is examined. The prisoner can then be released or *bailed* by order of the court without having to be produced before it.
The right of habeas corpus, or rather, the right to petition for the writ has long been celebrated as the most efficient safeguard of the liberty of the subject. Dicey wrote that the Habeas Corpus Acts "declare no principle and define no rights, but they are for practical purposes worth a hundred constitutional articles guaranteeing individual liberty". In most countries, however, the procedure of habeas corpus can be suspended in time of national emergency. In most civil law jurisdictions, comparable provisions exist, but they are generally not called "habeas corpus".
As Wikipedia notes: Since the 18th century the writ has also been used in cases of unlawful detention by private individuals, most famously in Somersett's Case (1771), where the black slave Somersett was ordered to be freed, the famous words being quoted from an earlier case: "The air of England has long been too pure for a slave, and every man is free who breathes it."
Habeas Corpus appears to predate even the Magna Carta: From Magna Carta the exact quote is: "no free man shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised or exiled or in any way destroyed except by the lawful judgment of their peers or by the law of the land."” The practice and right of Habeas Corpus was settled practice and law at the time of Magna Carta and was thus a fundamental part of the unwritten common "law of the land" as was expressly recognized by Magna Carta.
The air of England must be better than the air of America. By the end of this week, the Bush junta will be able to imprison and torture anyone they like and the person imprisoned and/or tortured will have no legal right to challenge that. Thus, Americans will have fewer rights than did those Englishmen who gathered on the meadow of Runnymeade in 1215. In just five short years, the Bush junta has driven this country 800+ years backwards. May the bitch-goddess Karma give them extra special attention. May they have all that they deserve.
This post was technically for a remote group working scheduled for yesterday, but there's no reason not to add some follow-up booster power to it. I worked late last night, but will do this spellwork some time this week. This is, to be honest, the kind of working that I especially love.
If the spell rebounds, the worst that will happen to you is that you'll speak truth -- hopefully to power.
It involves Gods and Goddesses that I love best. Pappa Isaac suggests: Coyote, Loki, or Ellegua are the appropriate ones to invoke, as well as truth-telling deities such as Athena, Tyr, or Obatala. I'll add Eris and Discordia, for the effect they can have on the plans of those who believe themselves to be in control of the world when their lies fall apart.
I think we already saw some of the effect of this spell -- projected backwards in time, as effective spells can be -- when G. Felix Allen, Jr. called a young man of Indian heritage by a racial slur known only to those, such as G. Felix Allen, Jr.'s mother, from French Tunsia. G. Felix, was, in effect, forced to tell the truth about himself and his racist leanings. Since then, the truth about his racist past has continued to come out in dribs and drabs.
I want to give myself utterly as this maple that burned and burned for three days without stinting and then in two more dropped off every leaf; as this lake that, no matter what comes to its green-blue depths, both takes and returns it. In the still heart that refuses nothing, the world is twice-born -- two earths wheeling, two heavens, two egrets reaching down into subtraction; even the fish for an instant doubled, before it is gone. I want the fish. I want the losing it all when it rains and I want the returning transparanence. I want the place by the edge-flowers where the shallow sand is deceptive, where whatever steps in must plunge, and I want that plunging. I want the ones who come in secret to drink only in early darknes, and I want the ones who are swallowed. I want the way the water sees without eyes, hears without ears, shivers without will or fear at the gentlest touch. I want the way it accepts the cold moonlight and lets it pass, the way it lets all of of it pass without judgment or comment. There is a lake. Lalla Ded sang, no larger than one seed of mustard, that all things return to. O heart, if you will not, cannot, give me the lake, then give me the song.
You'd think that, at some point, the suckers would get tired of being taken.
Today's LAT reports that Republicans have thrown some red meat to their rabidly anti-woman base, pretending to "try" to make abortions more difficult. But you've got to wonder, what's up with these clowns? They control all three branches of government and have a lock on the national media. AND THEY HAVE HAD FOR FIVE YEARS! Yet, somehow, they just can't manage to completely criminalize abortion or outlaw gay marriage.
The campaign to restrict access to abortions, meanwhile, has produced fewer successes than many conservatives had hoped.
"Have we had victories? Not enough," said Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), a leading abortion foe who championed congressional passage of the controversial ban on what opponents term "partial birth" abortion three years ago.
Chabot said he could point to only two major legislative accomplishments since 1994, when Republicans took control of Congress: the [so-called "partial birth"] abortion ban, which has been tied up in the courts, and a 2002 measure that requires a doctor who performs an abortion in which the fetus survives to turn the case over to another doctor or call 911 to have the baby transferred to a hospital.
Why, you'd almost think that they wanted to keep these issues around so that the same stupid fundies would keep showing up and voting for them. Nah, probably not.
Today's NYT reports that Hillary Clinton's remarks concerning the failure of the Bush junta to take any actions to capture bin Laden until after September 11, 20001:
were unusually personal in tone. But Howard Wolfson, one of her chief advisers, made it clear that Senator Clinton would be taking an increasingly aggressive posture to thwart any Republican attempts to cast Democrats as timid on national defense this election season.
“She is not going to allow her party, her husband or herself to get Swift-boated,” he said, referring to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group that attacked the Vietnam War record of Senator John Kerry when he was the Democrats’ presidential nominee in 2004. “Democrats have to stand up and go toe to toe with Republicans on national security.”
Senator Clinton made her comments at a news conference on the Hill, where Democrats argued that President Bush’s handling of the war in Iraq and its aftermath had actually made America more vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
“Their policies are failing, our military is breaking and the American people are demanding a change,” she said. “The administration has lost focus on winning the war on Iraq, and all Washington Republicans can focus on is winning elections here at home.”
NYT also notes that:
In her remarks, Senator Clinton also suggested that Bill Clinton’s animated defense of his own national security record as president, delivered only a few days earlier, provided a powerful example for Democrats, whom Republicans have sought to portray in recent national elections as too weak to lead the country in such perilous times.
If Hil's going to start hitting back and hitting back hard, if she and Bill have figured out that playing nice doesn't work with the vast right-wing conspiracy that's taken over our country, I'm all for it. Give 'em Hell, Hil.
Comprehend, we sweat out our rituals together. We change them, we're all the time changing them! But they body our sense of good! ~ Marge Piercy, Woman on the Edge of Time
The body is the image relator. In ritual, we embody and activate images of the archetypal, the eternal feminine, the Goddess. Images of power, of transformation, of harmony, and of duality. One woman empowering another. The crucial exchange of gifts. I cross the circle to give you something; you cross the circle to give her something. And so on until we have all changed places. Power is held powerless; power given is power for all. In feminist ritual we maintain a center of which we are all aware. It is our collective heart which beats there. We hold together, our center endures. Even the most painful separation, the dispersal which is feared but necessary, cannot disconnect us from the ritual circle. Once the circle is created and affirmed, chaos is subdued. We survive. We thrive.
From Contemporary Feminist Rituals by Kay Turner in The Politics of Women's Spirituality edited by Spretnak
I admit that I am coming around to the thinking of some of my more conservative friends on one topic: whether or not to build new nukes.
Throughout most of my life, I've believed that nuclear power is a bad idea. One of my greatest heroes is Starhawk, who earned her activist chops protesting nuclear power plants. Sure, I've always said, nukes are cleaner than any other form of power, but what if there's an accident? And what about the waste? How can we morally create lethal waste that will last longer than any civilized society on Earth has ever lasted? What will happen a hundred or a thousand years from now when society, as it is wont (thanks, Kurgans!) to do, falls apart? What will the warlords, fake messiahs, and tawdry dictators of that era do with nuclear waste? What happens when people can't even decipher our writing or our danger symbols?
The most important factor in my change of mind has been some points made by James Lovelock, a British scientist who, wile working for NASA, developed the Gaia Hypothesis, which is basically a scientific restatement of my entire religion. Lovelock believes that nukes are our Obi Wan Kenobi -- as in, "Help me. Obi Wan. You're our only hope."
Lovelock says, on his website, that:
This answer [to global climate change and global warming] is ecologically clean and tidy and has a very bad press. It is nuclear power. "I can envisage somewhere about 2050, when the greenhouse really begins to bite, when people will start looking back and saying: whose fault was all this? And they will settle on the Greens and say: 'if those damn people hadn't stopped us building nuclear power stations we wouldn't be in this mess'. And I think it is true. The real dangers to humanity and the ecosystems of the earth from nuclear power are almost negligible. You get things like Chernobyl but what happens? Thirty-odd brave firemen died who needn't have died but its general effect on the world population is almost negligible.
"What has it done to wild life? All around Chernobyl, where people are not allowed to go because the ground is too radioactive, well, the wildlife doesn't care about radiation. It has come flooding in. It is one of the richest ecosystems in the region. And then they say: what shall we do with nuclear waste?" Lovelock has an answer for that, too. Stick it in some precious wilderness, he says. If you wanted to preserve the biodiversity of rainforest, drop pockets of nuclear waste into it to keep the developers out. The lifespans of the wild things might be shortened a bit, but the animals wouldn't know, or care. Natural selection would take care of the mutations. Life would go on.
We have to do something. Insanity is doing what we've been doing, but expecting different results.
Do I hope that some 25th Century scientist figures out how to turn nuclear waste into something either mundane or beneficial? Yes. Yes, I do. But first we have to ensure that there are 25th Century scientists.
In some ways, this conclusion reminds me of the way that I think about abortion. The problem doesn't happen with abortion. The problem happens with an unwanted pregnancy. Once there's an unwanted pregnancy, any choice that a woman makes (or is forced by society to make) will lead to some sorrow. A woman who has an abortion will, at times, be happy for her freedom and ability to make choices free of the specter of a child, but will, at least often, feel some sorrow for the child she never knew. A woman who goes ahead and has the child will, at times, be happy to be with her child, but will, at least often, feel some sorrow over the freedom and the ability to make choices that she lost. A woman who gives the child up for adoption will. at least often, be glad that she "did the best thing" for the child, but will feel some sorrow over not knowing her child or knowing how she/he is doing. Once the unwanted pregnancy occurs, there are no great choices, which is why I think it's so important to leave the decision to the person who's going to have to live with it.
Our options concerning nuclear power are similar. I wish we'd controlled and decreased our population in serious ways several generations ago. I wish that we'd spent the last thirty years working flat out slowing population growth and the demand for energy and discovering new sources of energy. But we didn't. And now, like the woman faced with three bad choices, we have to decide how to go forward. I think that one part of the answer is nukes.
Am I wrong? What do you think? If it's not nukes, then I believe that Derrick Jensen's friend may be right and the only other answer is that the only sustainable level of technology is the Stone Age. What do you believe?
U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) in the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act. (H.R. 5122) [has buried an] innocent-sounding passage about military chaplains.
"Each chaplain shall have the prerogative to pray according to the dictates of the chaplain's own conscience, except as must be limited by military necessity, with any such limitation being imposed in the least restrictive manner feasible."
While that idea sounds nice on the surface, what it would do is essentially eliminate mandated sectarian prayer. Which means that the vast majority of prayers to soldiers would be prayers to Jesus Christ. This hasn't escaped the attention of the Union for Reform Judaism.
"This innocuous-sounding provision would open a Pandora's Box of religious proselytizing in the military by giving chaplains free reign over where, when, and how to pray, regardless of the religious preferences of other military professionals, and regardless of the carefully thought-out existing policy. This harmful language would circumvent the religious protection guidelines instituted by the military and codify into law the acceptability of religious proselytizing. This is unacceptable and deeply hurtful to people of all faiths." - Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Meanwhile, certain Christian groups* are trying to spin the rule-change as benefiting non-Christian faiths in the military.
"The question that faces all of us is whether chaplains, regardless of their faith tradition, should be legally allowed to pray in a manner that honors their religion in both public and private settings. The answer is clearly yes, hence the bill should be passed with the provision included. This means that I, an evangelical protestant Christian, will listen to a Muslim chaplain pray to Allah at an official military meeting. It means that I will sit in a room and listen to a prayer offered by a native American pagan. She will offer this prayer officially as a chaplain of one of our military branches. Not a problem. This is a small price to pay to sit in a meeting and hear men and women pray with integrity, no matter their belief." - Michael S. Heath, Executive Director of the Christian Civic League of Maine
But even the Military Chaplains Association thinks that the new rule would create a "host of new difficulties".
"While apparently intended to acknowledge military mission and order, the condition will not totally prevent disruptive consequences. As now framed, this congressional intervention will reach far beyond the grievance(s) it seeks to remedy and foster a host of new difficulties...For this leg of our American journey to reach its best possible destination, we must stretch our capacity to recognize, understand, affirm, and even promote the rights of others while caring for our own. Among other things, this will likely require substantial departure from the evolving notion that the Constitution guarantees absolute freedom from ever being offended for any reason. It will also likely require that we resist the tendency to seek new laws or file suits in order to mitigate if not resolve conflicts over religious practices. In matters of religion, such actions frequently only further impede any efforts to alleviate injury or achieve just arbitration of competing needs, interests, and perspectives."
This new rule would damage the military, and could well make military service an explicitly Christian activity. As it stands now, an overwhelming number of chaplains are Christian and 60% of all chaplains are evangelicals.
"Only 14 percent of the U.S. population is evangelical Christian, compared to 40 percent of the military's active duty personnel. More than 60 percent of military chaplains are evangelicals."
How friendly do you think the military will be to Pagans (or Jews for that matter) if the rule is passed. While one Pagan body has been approved as an Ecclesiastical Endorsing Agency for military chaplaincy, there are currently no Pagan chaplains. Jewish and Muslim chaplains both number in the low double-digits (29 and 13 respectively). Instead of the religious utopia sketched out by evangelical Michael S. Heath, we would instead create a de facto "Christian" military.
It's amazing to me how these fucking fuckers never stop trying to fuck things the fuck up.
Jason notes that my half-way not completely batshit-crazy Senator, Mr. Elizabeth Taylor:
has asked that the phrase be dropped from the legislation before it comes to a vote on the floor (the Senate version doesn't have the provision, only the House). I think it might be time to contact your Representative and tell them (politely) that section 590 of the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act is at its heart a discriminatory change to how military chaplains operate and would create a chilling environment for non-Christian service men and women.
Please call your Senator and suggest that now, while Pagans such as Patrick Stewart, for example, are dying for America is NOT a good time to force a xian military force on us.
Politically minded people often question the need for the symbol, for dragging the spiritual, the religious, into the political arena. Yet seeing the spiritual and the political as unrelated is itself a mark of estrangement. When "religion" is confined to patriarchal religions that remove the content from the world, then it is true that focus on the "spiritual" can undermine efforts for political and social change. But political movements that try to challenge patriarchal institutions without examining the consciousness that creates those structures often themselves get caught in estranged patterns. . . . Effective political action is aimed at changing consciousness and, thereby, causing change -- or to put it another way, political action is itself a form of magic, "the art of changing consciousness at will." Ignoring the spiritual aspects of political consciousness simply undermines its sources of power and benefits no one except those presently in the upper echelons of the hierarchies of patriarchal institutions.
"Magic" is a word that causes discomfort; it reeks of superstition, illusion, silliness. I use it deliberately because the words we are comfortable with, the words that sound acceptable, i.e., rational, scientific, intellectual are comfortable precisely because they are the language of estrangement. "Magic" shocks our sensibilities. It forces us out of the old patterns.
Simply, magic is the psychology, the understanding of mind and emotion, derived from the principles of immanence rather than estrangement. As a system, its underlying assumption is that human drives and needs contain their own regulatory principles. Rather than repressing and adjusting them to a society in conflict with them, we could better spend our energies creating a society that allow us to fulfill them freely.
Magic is based on patterns of energy and their interconnections, on syntheses more than analyses. In magic we are always making connections, linking ourselves with other forms of being, identifying with what is outside of us rather than separating from it. As "the art of changing consciousness at will," magic has two important aspects: art and will.
~From Consciousness, Politics, and Magic by Starhawk in The Politics of Women's Spirituality.
Christopher Taylor, an anthropology professor at Alabama University in Birmingham, Ala., said that in the early 1980’s he heard Mr. Allen use an inflammatory epithet for African Americans. Mr. Taylor, who is white and was then a graduate student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, said the term came up in a conversation about the turtles in a pond near Mr. Allen’s property. According to Mr. Taylor, Mr. Allen said that “around here” only the African Americans — whom he referred to by the epithet — “eat ‘em.”
G. Felix Allen, Jr. At least when Republicans vote for him, there's no way to pretend that they aren't racists.
Well, it's come to this. I'm quoting Froomkin,, who's quoting from this Sunday's WaPo. But the final lines of this are too important to miss:
Chilean novelist and human rights activist Ariel Dorfman writes in The Washington Post's Outlook section with the story of the first torture victim he ever met: "He confessed to anything and everything they wanted to drag from his hoarse, howling throat; he invented accomplices and addresses and culprits; and then, when it became apparent that all this was imaginary, he was subjected to further ordeals.
"There was no escape.
"That is the hideous predicament of the torture victim."
Dorfman concludes: "Can't the United States see that when we allow someone to be tortured by our agents, it is not only the victim and the perpetrator who are corrupted, not only the 'intelligence' that is contaminated, but also everyone who looked away and said they did not know, everyone who consented tacitly to that outrage so they could sleep a little safer at night, all the citizens who did not march in the streets by the millions to demand the resignation of whoever suggested, even whispered, that torture is inevitable in our day and age, that we must embrace its darkness?
Everyone is corrupted who does not march in the streets to demand the resignation of whoever suggested, even whispered, that torture is inevitable in our day and age, that we must embrace the darkness.
It's too easy to look in the mirror and say, "I despise torture. I don't support torture. I even wrote my Senators a letter about torture." Are you less guilty than Bush, who longs with every cell of his body for torture? Yes. Does that matter to the man being beaten and waterboarded? To the woman being raped while listening to her child's cries? No. It doesn't matter to them. They are in too much pain for degrees of nicety to matter to them. It was done in your name, with your tax dollars, with your implicit consent. You consented on the afternoon that you watched tv instead of demonstrating. I consented on the evening that I came home to my fall garden instead of blocking the WH driveways. It was done with our tax dollars, in our name, with our implicit consent to trade that woman's rape for our own convenience, excuses, momentary safety.
Remember how, just before we invaded Afghanistan, Bush and even the Lump got all upset over the way that the Taliban treated women?
Today's NYT reports that: Gunmen Kill Afghan Women's Affairs Official
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) -- Two gunmen on a motorbike killed the southern provincial head of Afghanistan's Ministry of Women's Affairs outside her home Monday in apparent retribution for her efforts to help educate women, officials said.
Safia Ama Jan was slain outside the front gate of her Kandahar home as she was walking to her office, said Tawfiq ul-Ulhakim Parant, senior adviser to the women's ministry in Kabul.
Ama Jan was known for being an active proponent of women's rights and education in this former Taliban stronghold, a region where insurgents have turned increasingly violent in the last several months.
Wonder how upset Bush and the Lump are over this? /Crickets.
Thirty-four House Democrats called on FCC Inspector General Kent R. Nilsson to investigate whether the FCC had suppressed two studies that seem to undermine the agency efforts over the past several years to relax restrictions on broadcast ownership. Led by Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Congressman David Price (D-NC), Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Congressman Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the House Democrats asked for IG Nilsson to recommend possible disciplinary action against agency officials if he finds that they purposefully withheld the studies from the public. "If one or both of these reports were suppressed because they did not support official FCC policy, such actions could not only constitute fraud, but could also run counter to the FCC's stated goals of transparency and public involvement in its media ownership proceedings," the Democrats said in a letter they sent to IG Nilsson. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who was first to suggest the FCC had suppressed studies contrary to its ownership goals, asked for an IG investigation last week. http://www.tvnewsday.com/articles/2006/09/21/daily.5/ * House Members Call On FCC Inspector General To Investigate Hidden Studies On Media Consolidation http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/ny22_hinchey/morenews/092106FCCIG.html
Salon has new evidence that G. Felix Allen, Jr. is an evil racist. Especially telling is the fact that Allen's campaign hung up on people calling to ask questions about his repeated use of the highly-offensive term "Nigger" to describe African Americans and his statement that he chose to play football at the University of Virginia because: he wanted to play football in a place where 'blacks knew their place,'" said Dr. Ken Shelton, a white radiologist in North Carolina who played tight end for the University of Virginia football team when Allen was quarterback. "He used the N-word on a regular basis back then." You'd think he'd be in a hurry to call Dr. Shelton a liar if, in fact, Dr. Shelton were lying.
Maybe unlike "Macca," which Allen obviously learned from his anti-American French mother, even Allen didn't think he could convince anyone that he just made up the word "Nigger."
Look, Virginia Republicans. Webb is a Republican. He only switched parties so he could run. You could at least vote for a Republican who isn't a racist fuck. I'm just saying.
I had the most amazing experience on Friday night and, as is often the case, I've had to take a while to process it before being able to say what it means.
I blogged early last Spring about the fact that my coven had lost some members due to promotions that took women to other parts of the world. We were down to a "core-four" and felt that we needed to either "grow or go." In June, we took an entire day to do magic around our need for new women to join with us, our need for a circle of women, and our need to re-think how we do things. That's what witches do when they need something. They do the difficult spiritual, mental, and physical work necessary to tweak part of the cosmic web over here in order to produce the necessary vibrations over there. At the end of the day, we dragged our poor, tired asses out to dinner, sagged across the table from each other, and crawled -- stiff, sore, limp, empty, and way too full -- off to bed.
Oh. My. Did it ever work.
Friday, I sat in a living room where four had become twelve.
The energy, the simple heady smell of the estrogen, was amazing. My coven has, unlike many others, no high priestess (HP in the world of Wicca). We take turns leading rituals. The brilliant woman leading the Mabon/Dark Moon ritual led us in one of the simplest, yet most profound, rituals I've ever seen. We cast a circle and called the Goddess. Then, each woman went around the room and discussed her harvest this year, and added representative items to our altar. Polyamorous women discussed their joy at moving to be with their partners, mothers discussed their children, daughters discussed their mothers' illnesses and chances for recovery, career women celebrated their victories in court, in medical journals, at non-profits, and the victory inherent in retiring. Young women discussed the harvest of money from jobs they dislike but that will allow them to buy homes, in coping with married life, in screen-plays written, in trips taken to corners of the Earth. We crones discussed, of course, our grandchildren. But my description isn't doing justice to the joy and the amazing magic of sitting with eleven other women and having them rejoice with you in your victories, in the -- for women -- profoundly unusual experience of flat-out bragging and knowing that the other women in the room will applaud you for doing so. That's all. No incantations. No raising energy and directing it at a particular desired event. Simply, for once in each turning of the yearly wheel, a chance to feel gratitude for not only our own blessings, but for those of other women, as well. Given that this ritual took place mere blocks from the Capitol and White House in a time of horrific sadness concerning what's happening in our country -- indeed, concerning what's happening to women and to Mother Earth -- this felt very much like an act of defiance, of revolution.
Then, of course, we ate. Mabon is the witches' Thanksgiving, so we had quite a feast, and, if I do say so myself, witches are excellent and creative cooks. And, while we ate, we talked and talked and talked. About us. About our lives. About ourselves. As if we, women, mattered. As if what mattered to us, well, mattered. As a follow up, one of the women sent me an ad for pirate tampons that I'll try to blog about this week. And, yes, it was a logical progression in the conversation.
In The Politics of Women's Spirituality Carol Christ writes:
Religious symbol systems focused around exclusively male images of divinity create the impression that female power can never be fully legitimate or wholly beneficent. The message need never be explicitly stated (as, for example, it is in the story of Eve) for its effects to be felt. A woman completely ignorant of the myths of female evil in biblical religion nonetheless acknowledges the anomaly of female power when she prays exclusively to a male God. She may see herself as like God (created in the image of God) only by denying her own sexual identity and affirming God's transcendence of sexual identity. But she can never have the experience that is freely available to every man and boy in her culture of having her full sexual identity affirmed as being in the image and likeness of God.
I love America, but it's a fact that the US just hasn't made many major contributions to world culture. Hey, this isn't surprising - we're an adolescent of a country, relatively speaking.
However, one of our few indisputable contributions is 20th century music, notably jazz and its derivitaves, R&B, rock-n-roll, swing, hip hop, and rap.
The NFL has made a practice of providing additional spectacle to accompany games in recent years. This has especially been the case for major events like MNF, the playoffs, and the Super Bowl.
There are several cities that are particularly identified with these specifically American musical styles - Chicago, Memphis, Detriot, New Orleans. New Orleans. NEW ORLEANS.
So how is it that for the half time show at Super Bowl XL in Detroit you hired an over the hill BRITISH band rather than ANY of the stellar local talent and now for the big reopening of the Superdome MNF football game, you've hired U2 and frapping GREEN DAY?!? Are you people complete dolts? DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MANY REALLY FAMOUS NEW ORLEANS MUSICIANS ARE STRUGGLING AND COULD REALLY USE THE EXPOSURE OF MNF? AND YOU'RE BRINGING US BONO?!? DON'T MAKE ME HOP ON A PLANE SO I CAN PIMP SLAP EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU. 'Cause I'll do it. Oh yes, I'll do it.
Well, I like U2, but she does have an excellent point. And, trust me, NFLHonchos, you really don't want to make her pimp slap you.
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 . . . ."