Saturday, November 25, 2006

Declaration Of The Four Sacred Things

The earth is a living, conscious being. In company with cultures of many different time and places, we name these things as sacred: air, fire, water, and earth.

We see them as the breath, energy, blood, and body of the Mother, or as the blessed gifts of a Creator, or as symbols of the interconnected systems that sustain life[;] we know that nothing can live without them.

To call these things sacred is to say that they have a value beyond their usefullness for human ends, that they themselves become the standards by which our acts, our economics, our laws, and our purposes must be judged. No one has the right to appropriate them, or to profit from them at the expense of others. Any government that fails to protect them forfits its legitimacy.

All people, all living things, are part of the earth life, and so are sacred. No one of us stands higher or lower than any other. Only justice can assure balance; only ecological balance can sustain freedom. Only in freedom can that fifth sacred thing [that] we call spirit flourish in all its diversity.

To honnor the sacred is to create conditions in which nourishment, sustenance, habitat, knowledge, freedom, and beauty can thrive. To honor the sacred is to make love possible.

To this we dedicate our curiosity, our will, our courage, our silences, and our voices. To this we dedicate our lives.

~Starhawk The Fifth Sacred Thing

Saturday Goddess Blogging

Inana, Queen of the Earth, Lady of the People of the Seed, traveler to the underworld, seeker of wisdom.

Ancient One, you who show us the way to descend to the underworld and the way to return, Innana, Hail and Welcome.


I have been sick for more than a month, really sick with an upper respiratory infection that just won't quit.

In one sense, I've been trying to treat it seriously, to break my old pattern of refusing to take care of myself when I need it. When it turned into a raging ear infection the rainy Friday night before Samhein, I took myself to the emergency room, a nice old white matron in a raincoat and Hermes scarf, sitting among the stabbed gang victims and poor people who, even here, especially here, in affluent surburbia, have nowhere else to go except for the emergency room to treat their ills. Emergency room waiting rooms, let me just say, are NOT healing places. They've got that horrible florscent light and, Goddess guard us, a tv going, and hard chairs and linoleum floors, and no hot herbal tea, or soft light with candles, or people walking around giving those who wait a neck massage, or any of the things that could be done to begin the healing process long before the one overworked doctor can see you.

I took all the drugs that the lovely doctor prescribed for me, picked up at the all-night drug store, which, may I say, is hardly a place of healing. It could be so easy to make a place for people to wait for medicine that started the healing process -- get rid of the godawful lights and displays of commercial crap to buy and give people a spot of lovely colors and sweet herb scents and gentle drumming.

I did more. I followed up the next Monday with my own doctor, as ordered by the nice doctor in the emergency room, who regarded me as the odd worried almost-well person. She had a heart attack in the next room and a stabbing in the room down the hall. My aching ear wasn't going to kill me. My own doctor gave me a nasal spray and told me that if I didn't feel better soon, I should see the earn-nose-and throat doctor whose name she wrote down for me on a piece of paper.

And, then, Samhein at my house happened and then work happened, and then a major filing with what has been, at least in the main, a court of appeals very sympathetic to my case happened. The oak leaves that rain down on my yard happened. A lot of things happened and I coughed and coughed and coughed and tried to listen with one good ear through all of them.

And, when I looked up again, I was still really sick, my ear and sinuses really infected, and, my oldest nemesis -- the cough -- back again in full force. I was getting little sleep due to the cough and had, gee, surprise!, almost no energy at all.

So yesterday, again telling myself that i've broken out of my old pattern of not caring for my physical health, I went to see the ENT, grounding beforehand and praying, "Lady Hygeia, Goddess of Good Health, send me to a true healer. I need help." It's difficult for me. I'm just NOT one of "those" Pagans who are always going off for "healing," searching over and over for someone to "fix" them. A part of me recoils from it, from the notion that "that's" what "this" is all about, that the amazing power at the center of the Earth, what Hopkins called "the dearest freshness deep down things," is about fixing arthritis or migranes or, well, or a sinus infection. Yes, it's about that, but only in the most tangential ways, just as it's tangentially "about" getting a parking space when it's needed or suddenly becoming "invisible" (these are not the droids you're looking for) when needed. But me, now, I needed healing.

And, as soon as the doctor came into the room and said, "Tell me what I can do for you," I knew that the Goddess had, indeed, sent me to, not just a doctor, but to a healer. I said, "You can make me stop coughing and let me get over this infection and get some energy back. I've had cancer before. I can't allow my immune system to be so compromised." He was not young; he was confident in the way that only competent people can be confident; and he was, I have to say, rather sexually-attractive, the way that competent men always are, for me. He not only saw what was wrong (you're really sick! you should have been here weeks ago!) and gave me the medicines that I need to get better, but diagnosed another problem that I hadn't even mentioned to him.

I am a witch who does not, in far too many ways, act like a witch. I went home and re-read one of my favorite books, Walking To Mercury and started one of my others, The Fifth Sacred Thing. And realized, I take pride in eschewing lots of the "silly symbols" of witchcraft. But I need more of a daily practice, more of the small, daily gestures that remind me, remind me, remind me, to live in the lap of the Goddess.

She changes everything she touches/And everything she touches changes.

What Is WRONG With These People?

And, to carry on a theme from the post below, when you have a group of celibate, never-married men trying to dictate sexual practices, this is what you get:

"Suppressing fertility by using contraception denies part of the inherent meaning of married sexuality and does harm the couple's unity," according to "Married Love and the Gift of Life." "The total giving of oneself, body and soul, to one's beloved is no time to say: 'I give you everything I am -- except.' "

Of course, as anyone who has actually, you know, been married can tell you. it's the fear of an unwanted child that "denies part of the inherent meaning of married sexuality and does harm to the couple's unity." I know that the men in skirts and red shoes don't understand this, but sex, in or out of marriage, has many meanings and "Let's make a baby" is actually one of the rarer meanings. Sometimes, sex doesn't mean, "We want to bring another child into the world." Sometimes it means," I love you, I want to connect with you without fear," or "I want some comfort," or, "Let's reaffirm our attraction to each other," or "Let's make up," and, sometimes, "I'm horny, let's have sex."

In fact, trying to have sex while terrified that you might conceive a child that you don't want, or can't afford, or won't have time for, or that will impair your health, or that will damage, through too much stress, your marriage itself, is what can make it impossible to totally give yourelf, body and soul, to your beloved.

Really, the Catholic Church isn't "countercultural" about contraception. The Catholic Church is dead fucking wrong about contraception. The planet is too fucking small for all the people who are here already. Being perpetually pregnant is not good for women's health, nor, for many women, for their sanity. Throughout the world, including the U.S., most families need for mothers to work outside the home to earn money -- something that's possible with one or two children but that becomes increasingly difficult with each extra child. Large families are expensive and the larger a family is, the more likely it is to be poverty-stricken.

Really, the Catholic bishops need to quit trying to control sex. You can't win a "war on sex." Sex is bigger than the Catholic Church and the genie of birth control, which has saved millions of women's lives and millions of marriages, is not going to go back in the bottle, no matter how many times the bishops order it to do so.

Gee, That's Surprising

The right creative team is important. “When you had mostly boys and men making comics, you had comics made mainly for boys and men,” said Johanna Draper Carlson, the editor of, a Web site for comic book news and reviews. “Then you end up with teen-girl superheroes who are drawn like Victoria’s Secret models.”

I'll just say that "Minx" is not exactly the most promising name for the series.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Out Now.

Rosa Brooks has a good column in today's LAT concerning what we need to do in Iraq. She begins by noting that: IN 1789, GEORGE Washington issued the first national Thanksgiving proclamation. After giving "sincere and humble thanks" for the many blessings our young country had enjoyed, he urged Americans to "unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions."

If Washington were alive to express those sentiments today, he'd be pilloried by Bill O'Reilly as a member of the "Blame America First Club." National transgressions? Who, us?

She then discusses the clusterfuck that has become Iraq and concludes that: [A]t this point, our presence is manifestly making things worse. Ask the Iraqis, who ought to know. In a poll released this week, 78% of Iraqis told researchers that the U.S. military presence is "provoking more conflict than it is preventing"; 71% said they want U.S. troops out within a year; 58% said they think inter-ethnic violence will diminish if the U.S. withdraws; and 61% think that a U.S. withdrawal will improve day-to-day security for average Iraqis. We should listen to them, this time.

And no, adding another 20,000 or 30,000 troops won't magically turn the tide. It's too little, too late. Adding another 200,000 to 300,000 troops might make a difference, but troops don't grow on trees. They grow in families, and this war has already damaged thousands of those.

We can withdraw quickly or slowly, all at once or in stages, but we should withdraw. If it makes anyone feel better, we can call it "strategic redeployment," and we can and should look for ongoing ways to use our financial resources and our technical expertise to help ordinary Iraqis and any legitimate, nonaggressive Iraqi government.

Before the war, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell told President Bush of the so-called Pottery Barn rule: "You break it, you own it." But Iraq is not a decorative dinner plate. We broke it, but we can't fix it, and we can never own it. All we can do now is leave and apologize for the terrible damage we've done.

It's hard to imagine our current president asking anyone's forgiveness for our "national transgressions," but this Thanksgiving season would be a pretty good time for him to start.

I don't expect Bush to ever ask anyone for forgiveness -- you have to admit that you screwed up in order to do that and Bush obviously would rather die than admit that he screwed up. But I'll settle for getting our troops out of there, starting, oh, now. The figures that Brooks presents are pretty compelling. If 51% was a mandate for Bush, having 78% of the people in Iraq saying that our presence is provoking more conflict than it is preventing ought to be enough to convince us that the Iraqis want us gone. And it's their country. We should go.

Allowing the Bush junta to seize power may well go down in history as one of America's greatest national transgressions.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Sally Quinn's Daddy Issues -- TMI

Corrente has an interesting post about an xian public school teacher who was prostelytizing instead of teaching American History and who lied about it when a student complained. Luckily, the student had it on tape. Corrente notes that this story didn't exactly leap from the Newark Star-Ledger to AP to Pravda on the Potomac to Izvestia on the Hudson … (the way that it would have if the teacher had been recruiting students to join, oh, I don't know, Islam or Wicca) and then suggests that Maybe Sally Quinn can cover this one in her new “On Faith” blog.

Yes, it's true. Sally Quinn has a "blog" at the Washington Post and it's about religion. Literally thousands of intelligent people who've spent their entire lives studying and thinking about religion and the WaPo decides that the best person they can possibly find to blog about religion is a washed-up ex-Style reporter who married the boss and should have retired to suburban Chevy Chase ephemera, but who still imagines herself as having something worthwhile to say and, see above re: marrying boss, a platform from which to say it. Of course, it makes sense. The WaPo's coverage of religion has stunk for so long that one is only surprised on those rare occasions when it doesn't completely stink.

Digby's also noted WaPo's insult to its readers, explaining that Of course, gossip, backbiting and social ruin are sacred rites in all royal courts, so I suppose it makes a certain amount of sense for the Mother Superior of the Order of Bored Trophy Wives to exploit some of that olde time religion.

I made the mistake of following Corrente's link and found myself face to face with this piece of Peggy-Noonan-style crap. It's the kind of writing about religion that gives serious religious people a stomach ache and gives religion such a bad name.

In treacley prose, Quinn recounts how her father loved to say grace at meals and how she, wild rebellious daughter that she was (right) stopped saying grace and asked her father not to say it at her home until, until, until . . . well, let's let Ms. Quinn tell it in her own cotton-candy, Norman Rockwell, Prescious Moments words:

[T]hat Thanksgiving 13 years ago, I sat at the opposite end of the table and asked my father to say grace. There was stunned silence for a moment, and then without a word, we all held hands and my father began, “Lord, make us truly thankful......”

What was I feeling? Truly thankful. I had a wonderful loving family and many blessings. Why, I asked myself, had I been so against allowing my father to express those feelings in a way that was meaningful to him?

And the result of the prodigal daughter bowing her head to her father's authority? Well, it will come as a complete surprise to you, I'm sure, to learn that the results were amazing! Ms. Quinn luckily has a picture of the moment that she can look at and describe (taken, I guess by a domestic, as everyone else is in the picture):

My husband and son, my parents, my brother and sister and her family. We are all smiling. We are clearly having a wonderful time. We are sitting at the Thanksgiving table 13 years ago. The candles are glowing, the plates are empty, the wine glasses refilled. You can almost feel the joy emanating from the photograph. It was, my father said that day, “the happiest Thanksgiving our family has ever had. I’ve never felt so much love in my life.”

OK, don't throw up yet, because there's more. Right away, driven there, likely by her daughter's stupid self-importance, Ms. Quinn's mother suffers a series of strokes and, well, I'm too choked up. Let Sally continue:

We never had Thanksgiving at home again. My mother was the real cook in the family and it just wasn’t the same without her cornbread dressing and mashed turnips. We went, instead, to the Brome-Howard Inn in Southern Maryland. It’s very warm and cozy and welcoming. If I couldn’t be at home, there’s no place else I’d rather be; but it was never the same after that. For one thing, in the restaurant the atmosphere didn’t lend itself to saying grace. Damn those secular restaurants! But you know, you just know, that Quinn can't resist gilding the lilly on this story that is, I think we've all figured out by now, not at all about religion and all about Sally and her Daddy:

This year, though, I’m going to say grace. I haven’t become a believer, but I do feel overwhelmed with gratitude for all the wonders of my family and friends and the gifts I have been given. After all, what is grace anyway, what does it mean but gratitude?

Here’s what I’m going to say: “Let us be truly thankful for these blessings which we are about to receive. Amen.”

This one’s for you, Daddy.

That's right. A grown-up adult woman -- who married her much older boss lo these many years ago, so I think we're safe in assuming that there have always been some daddy issues -- a matron writing in a national newspaper just closed her article by writing: This one's for you, Daddy. Note to Sally: You are not now and never have been Stevie Nicks. Quit embarassing yourself like this.

And this, this, THIS kind of crap, the kind of crap that couldn't even get published anymore in the Ladies Home Journal or Woman's Day, the kind of crap that Norman Vincent Peale would have regarded as pablum, this is what the WaPo presents to its readers as a serious discussion of religion.

OK, you can throw up now.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Global Warming: Point of No Return?

Too many people. Not enough planet. Not enough resources. Free, safe, effective birth control for everyone. Now.
b*witched c'est la vie

Happy Thanksgiving to Molly Ivors!

If You're Determined To Spend Your Money, You May As Well Get Something Wonderful For it

Isaac Bonewitz has a Cafe Press store; you may need to be Pagan to get some of the jokes, but his American flags with multiple religious symbols where the stars normally go would be a great gift for anyone.

Revel Moon has a new album out, available from Esoterica of Leesburgh, Virginia. I especially like Persophne with lyrics that remind us that, "You can't be Persephone forever."

I love Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab because their scents actually live up to their descriptions. For example:

GLASYA -- Created in honor of the fiery, vicious Princess of Hell and bloodthirsty general who governs thirty-six legions of infernal warriors. Her lust for bloodshed and manslaughter is matched only by her love of the classical arts and sciences - definitely a woman that we respect. A seething, fiery blend of dragon's blood, deep myrrh, red and black musks, civet and thick red patchouli, glistening with drops of rose and ylang ylang.

GLITTER -- All flash and glam: white wine, heliotrope, d'Anjou pear, and lotus.

ANNE BONNY -- Named in honor of the most notorious female pirate to ever set sail. Wicked, cruel, beautiful, intelligent, resourceful and dangerous: a true role model. A blend of Indonesian red patchouli, red sandalwood, and frankincense. A million thanks to Juliana Williamson-Page for inspiration!

and, of course, my signature scent:

HECATE --Magnificent three-faced Goddess of Magic, the Dark Moon and the Crossroads. She is the Mother of Witches, and the midnight baying of hounds is her paean. Her compassion is evidenced in her role as Psychopomp for Persephone, and her wrath manifests as Medea's revenge. Deep, buttery almond layered over myrrh and dark musk.

They've finally developed a black hyacinth. I bought a bunch of these and hope they are even half as lovely as the pictures in the catalog.

At Heifer, International you can buy trees, honeybees, a flock of ducks, or a goat -- for hungry families anywhere from Appalachia to Zambia.

If I were rich, I'd buy the moonbat vase and the Pasadena Lantern from Ephraim Pottery.

Give someone the ocean. Greenpeace has been trying to prevent overfishing for years and years -- long before anyone took the death of the oceans seriously.

Endgame, Volumes I and II are available from Derrick Jensen. You owe it to yourself to read him.

My brilliant friend, Amy, has a wonderful new EP available here and on iTunes. Listen here.

Omega Institute is offering a 3-day conference in New York called "Being Fearless" with interesting teachers such as Arianna Huffington (who just wrote a book on this topic), Jane Goodall, Al Gore, and Seane Corn. (They have some I'd skip, too, including the IMHO odious Carolyn Myss). Go with your parent, your lover, your best friend.

When I retire, I'm going to get myself one of these. And lessons to go with it.

Trees for Life is dedicated to restoring the Caledonia Forest in the Scottish Highlands. The great forest of Caledon once covered over 1.5 million hectares. Today just 1% of that remains. It's fragmented, and,with overgrazing, it's struggling to regenerate naturally. This year's calendar looks absolutely amazing. In America, the American Chestnut Foundation is doing some amazing work restoring the chestnut tree to America, including a breeding program designed to find mutations that can stand up to the blight. You can buy seeds and seedlings. Could be a fun project for children or grandchildren and -- who knows? -- you could grow the tree that will fight the blight.

Or, you can go to Walmart and buy some plastic crap that was advertised on tv.

I Don't Feel Like Writing About Gratitude Today; How About Forgiveness Instead?

The Wild Hunt has an interesting post on the subject of forgiveness. The article that Jason links to discusses an interfaith Thanksgiving service that focused on how the Amish reacted to a recent horrific event that left many of their daughters dead in a school shooting. (How terrible is it that "school shooting" is now an understandable expression?)

Rabbi Irwin Goldenberg discussed "the remarkable news that the Amish community had forgiven him. ... We were awed. ... I can only thank the Amish people for being a model for us ... sharing with us that we are capable of forgiving."

The Rev. Kate Bortner of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York, one of six members of the Interfaith Alliance of York, told the nearly 100 people attending the observance that the senseless murders of the Amish girls at the rural schoolhouse brought members of the alliance together.

The fellowship provided comfort to members of the alliance, she said.

The next day, "we realized, right then, that is what we needed to share with you this evening," Bortner said. "The Amish community showed us how to move through the unthinkable without violence. We come before you tonight with the opportunity to build a community of forgiveness and trust."

That's a remarkable phrase: to move through the unthinkable without violence. Thinking about it, I realized how this option never even seems to occur to, or to be an option for, Americans. Someone does something bad to us and we don't even consider if there is a way to "move through it without violence". Of course, the prime example would be the terrorist attacks of September 11th. Not only did we respond to "the unthinkable" with violence against Afghanistan, but we also applied what Richard Cohen recently (and obscenely) referred to as "therapeutic violence" against Iraq -- a country that didn't even attack us. It was as if attacking Afghanistan just wasn't "enough" -- we were so full of the need for revenge, so incapable of forgiveness -- that we still had to vent our spleen on someone else. And, or course, once in Iraq, we've found other things that "require" a violent response from us, which requires a violent response from the Iraqis, which . . . well, any eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Which is what makes the Amish response so revolutionary.

The Wild Hunt links to a Wikipedia article that explains how the Amish reacted to the school shooting:

CNN reported a grandfather of one of the murdered Amish girls said of the killer on the day of the murder: "We must not think evil of this man."

Jack Meyer, a member of the Brethren community living near the Amish in Lancaster County, explained: "I don't think there's anybody here that wants to do anything but forgive and not only reach out to those who have suffered a loss in that way but to reach out to the family of the man who committed these acts," he told CNN.

The Amish have reached out to Roberts' family. Dwight Lefever, a Roberts family spokesman said an Amish neighbor comforted the Roberts family hours after the shooting and extended forgiveness to them.

An article in a Canadian newspaper the National Post stated that the Amish have set up a charitable fund for the family of the shooter.

Can you, at least for a moment, imagine what the world would be like if, following the terrorist attacks on September 11th, America's leaders had helped America to react in an Amish fashion? Refusing to think evil of the terrorists, reaching out to their families and extending forgiveness to them (if these words are literal, then the concept is weird: the families didn't do anything. I think what the Amish did was reach out to the shooter's family and express to them that the Amish forgave the shooter), and setting up a charitable fund for the terrorists' families and communities? What if we'd opened up serious dialogues with radical Islamics who support terrorists, perhaps headed by Bishop Tutu and Jimmy Carter? How would we have had to change? How would the radical Islamics? How would our allies? Would more people be alive today if we'd done something like this? Would Americans be safer?

I'm not a forgiving woman. I find forgiveness very difficult; it stirs up my shadow issues in an instant. There are things that happened to me decades and decades ago that I still struggle to let go of, to forgive. I've found, in my own struggles with forgiveness, that the more secure I feel, about my own self worth, about my own abilities, about my own ability to survive, the less trouble I have forgiving. I know that I'll probably work the rest of my life to try and become a more forgiving person. I hope that I can become more Amish in my outlook. I wish that America could do the same.

Getting On An Airplane Doesn't Mean Surrendering ALL Of Your Rights

There are few sights in the entire world as beautiful, peaceful, and precious to me as the sight of a mother nursing her child. I guess that's because, wild-eyed, abortion-supporting, population-explosion-concerned radical that I am, I love babies. In fact, I support abortion and worry about population explosion precisely because I believe that all babies should be wanted, loved, cared-for, and welcomed into a safe, thriving planet.

I nursed Son when he was born and my wonderful D-i-L nurses Grandson. Some of the happiest memories of my life are of times spent holding infant Son and nursing him to sleep.

So it's beyond bizarre to me that the same people who claim to espouse "family values" -- which seems to mean that they hate sex but want women to stay pregnant and have as many babies as possible -- turn out to hate the idea of breast feeding. They hate it, apparently, because it involves, well, breasts. And in twenty-first-century America, breasts are apparently such a sexually-fetished part of every woman's anatomy that, in a culture that thinks that sex is "bad," it's now "offensive" for a woman to nurse her baby in public. Taken to its extreme (and you don't have to take this idea too far to get to its extreme because, believe me, it's already pretty far along on the extreme-o-meter) what this means is that mothers must stay home, stay covered up, be invisible.

Look, I don't care that Delta apologized. We live in a society where women nursing their children can get thrown off of airplanes. That's just sick.

And, what IS it about airplanes? Women nursing their children get thrown off of them. Moslems praying get thrown off of them. Gays resting their heads on each other's shoulders get harassed on them. Apparently, in America, if anyone, no matter how much of a crackpot, is "offended" by something that you do, no matter how objectively harmless and inoffensive, you can get thrown off an airplane. And this is no small inconvenience. We all know how many hours are involved in buying tickets, waiting in lines, making connections, etc., etc. We all know that getting thrown off a plane can mean missing your next connection, missing your meeting, missing your family get-together, costing hundreds of dollars, etc. Not to mention that it usually inconveniences all the other people on the flight, 99% of whom weren't even aware that somewhere else on the plane someone had dared (~clutches pearls!~) to nurse a baby or pray.

I'm willing to agree that, because airplanes present such an attractive target for terrorists, we all need to put up with some demonstrably-necessary (which eliminates a lot of what goes on, but that's another story) inconveniences: having our bags ex-rayed, going through a metal detector, having air marshals on flights. And I'll agree that airline stewards and stewardesses have a rough job and shouldn't have to put up with abusive drunks. But this nonsense of allowing every crackpot stewardess who finds it "offensive" to see a mother nurse her baby or to see gay men express affection throw people off a flight is just fucking ridiculous. It's fucking ridiculous and it needs to stop right now.

Make Exxon-Mobile Pay For This War -- My Grandson Can't Afford It

A letter to the editor in today's NYT caught my eye:

To the Editor:

While I agree with you that reinstating the draft is not the solution, I also strongly agree with Representative Charles B. Rangel that we should all share some of the burden when the country goes to war.

If our leaders had asked for a greater shared burden before sending us to war in Iraq, we would be more united as a country today through our shared “ownership” of the problem.

Rather than the draft, why not impose a stiff $2-per-gallon gasoline war tax? Such a tax should be structured to end as soon as the war ends and the vast majority of our troops have returned.

Nearly all of us would feel the sting, and would share a desire to find real solutions rather than using the misery for political advantage.

A $2-per-gallon war tax could finance much of the warÂ’s cost without saddling future generations with debt, and would force all of us to consider how our enormous consumption of oil contributes to the problem.

Per Halvorsen
Branford, Conn., Nov. 21, 2006

Regardless of how you feel about Rangel's proposal to re-instate the draft, I like this idea very much. The one problem with it is that it -- just like our current "volunteer" military -- would hit the poor harder than it would hit the rich. It would, however, have the additional benefit of making big honking Lexus SUVs much more expensive to drive.

A good alternative would be to tax, not gasoline at the pump, but oil company profits, which have been beyond obscene recently. Let the oil companies decide if they want incurnur the public ire that will result from raising gasoline prices to cover the tax or if they want to swallow the difference and live off measly, say, 10 or 15 percent profit for a change. If the owners of the Bush junta knew that they were going to have to pay for this war, you'd see Bush begin to advocate "cutting and running" in a way that would make all of his previous attempts to "propel the propaganda" look like idle chatter.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Here's how the intellectual thumb tack Dinesh D'Souza attempts to discount the role of relgion in warfare: Moreover, many of the conflicts that are counted as "religious wars" were not fought over religion. They were mainly fought over rival claims to territory and power. Shhh, Dinesh. We all know that all wars are fought over territory, resources, and power. But poor dumbfucks aren't always willing to kill and die for Haliburton, so we have to tell them that they're fighting the jihadis so that "our" god, who is "bigger than" their god can prevail.

But there's more nonsense to come:

Atheist hubris

The crimes of atheism have generally been perpetrated through a hubristic ideology that sees man, not God, as the creator of values. Using the latest techniques of science and technology, man seeks to displace God and create a secular utopia here on earth. Of course if some people - the Jews, the landowners, the unfit, or the handicapped - have to be eliminated in order to achieve this utopia, this is a price the atheist tyrants and their apologists have shown themselves quite willing to pay. Thus they confirm the truth of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's dictum, "If God is not, everything is permitted."

Whatever the motives for atheist bloodthirstiness, the indisputable fact is that all the religions of the world put together have in 2,000 years not managed to kill as many people as have been killed in the name of atheism in the past few decades.

It's time to abandon the mindlessly repeated mantra that religious belief has been the greatest source of human conflict and violence. Atheism, not religion, is the real force behind the mass murders of history.

That's right. If we'd all just convert to xianity, there wouldn't be any more war. Just like there wasn't when everyone believed in xianity. Oh, wait, but all those wars weren't really over religion, so they were ok, except that if everyone had been xian, there wouldn't be wars, the way that there are when there are some atheists. Or something.

Monday, November 20, 2006


My circle of women is the only one that I know of where all members take turns planning, leading, and conducting rituals. No high priestesses for us! I can't imagine doing the kind of rituals many do -- reading out words that someone else wrote, generally in badly-imagined "archaic" language. Ask me to listen to "thee" and "thy" and "Lady Petunia Fire" and I'll ruin everything by getting the giggles.

Planning a meaningful ritual, organizing serious, deep magic is a skill. It can be learned, but it takes time. What's most important, to my mind, is to know your audience and your objective. Too many pagan rituals fail because it's not clear what they're FOR. And, the larger the group, the more difficult it becomes to conduct a ritual that will be meaningful for everyone. After that, I find my grandma's rule for getting dressed is awfully effective. Grandma always said that after you were all dressed, accessorized, and made-up, you should look at yourself in the mirror and take one thing off. The neclace and the earrings, but not the brooche or the hat and the gloves but not the scarf. Many of the most effective rituals are the simplest. Because I know that I'm going to have to plan rituals myself, I'm always on the lookout for elements of ritual that will "work."

Here's a beautiful description of a lovely ritual that obviously "worked." When the magic happens, you just know it.

Wiccans Sue the Veterans Administration (VA).

When you sent him off to war, you didn't care what he believed.
Now he's served you with his blood,
grant him his dignity.

from The Symbol

I Love It When Good Things Happen

Go Ninth Raven! I may not make it out to your new home this week, but we'll definitely get together soon.

M. Macha, I have one tiny quibble. Please do not write: "created and taught by me." It makes me crazy to read stuff like that. Instead, please write "a class that I created and taught." Thank you.


I had a pretty rotten day. Nothing big, just an upper respiratory infection that won't quit, weird co-workers who won't change, blustery co-counsel who periodically need to be slapped down, etc., etc. And then, via Dancing Down the Moon I came across the picture above.

That's a glasswing butterfly. Somehow, I'd never heard of such a thing. Isn't it just gorgeous? And fun?

I feel better already.

Groundhog Day

It's like deja vu, all over again!

You know, there's really no way to deal with people who simply won't even learn from their mistakes. You've just got to get rid of them, push them upstairs into a position where they don't really exercise any power and can't fuck up anything else. This is "faith-based governing" -- and it's not pretty.

Their abstinence programs don't work, yet they keep pushing abstinence. Their foreign policies don't work, yet they keep telling the CIA to STFU and give them the evidence that will justify their stupid foreign policies. Even after they've had their ass handed to them for -- get this -- ignoring the CIA's evidence.

They're hopeless.

Teaching Protestors A Lesson

It's George Bush's America. The rest of us just live in it.


Some Good News and Some Bad News

The Good News:

Post Examines How Solar Energy Aids Grid, Economy, Manufacturing
The Washington Post today took an extensive look at how the solar power industry is growing, touching on how it is aiding the economy, the steel manufacturing industry, and the power sector. Lee Edwards, CEO of BP Solar, was quoted as saying: "The demand for solar energy is so strong, not only in the United States but around the world, that we have to keep up." Wrote the Post: "Many boosters of solar, wind and biofuels have tried to sell them as pieces of a new American economy, but these nascent industries rely on many of the same skills and materials as the old American economy - and that's good for people looking for jobs."

The Post pointed out that wind turbines set up by Madison Gas and Electric were on massive steel towers built in Shreveport, La., with components such as gearboxes, rotors, control systems, disc brakes, yaw motors, drives, and bearings, manufactured in the U.S. by other segments of the hard manufacturing sector that are considered endangered due to international competition. Marco Trbovich, communications director for the United Steelworkers of America, was quoted by the Post as saying: "What we need are policies that advance the climate for investment in these products."

For the power sector, the Post points out that one pioneer – Whole Foods – installed solar panels in January 2004 bringing power costs down 1 percent below commercial utility rates. Added the Post: "But rates have since soared and now the store's power costs about 20 percent less than the electricity sold by the local utility, a bonus for its effort to promote an environmentalist image. If utilities start charging customers more for electricity during peak-usage periods - around midday and early afternoon, when solar power is most available, the solar business could get another boost."

Wrote the Post: "Capacity has doubled over the past three years, but costs haven't dropped as much as expected because of a silicon shortage. Eventually, though, Edwards said that 'if we can keep driving costs lower, we will reach a point where solar is the same price as grid power'."
Washington Post , Nov. 20.

The kinda good news:

Sen. Warner Eyes Top GOP Slot on Senate Environment Committee
Sen. John Warner, R-Va., has decided to seek the ranking Republican position on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Congressional Quarterly Today reported. Warner, who is the outgoing chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, had given up the right to be the top Republican on the panel when he assumed the Armed Services role, giving the gavel over to Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla. Now, with the GOP in the minority, Warner has indicated that he wants to recapture his seniority rights and lead the Republican minority on the Environment panel.

While Inhofe's role on the committee has been politically charged and partisan, Warner is considered more conciliatory. Wrote CQ Today: "Warner's voting record is more moderate [than Inhofe's]. In 2005, he voted with 52 other senators for a resolution saying that global warming is a man-made problem that requires economy-wide regulations. But Warner also has voted twice against legislation by McCain and Connecticut Democrat Joseph I. Lieberman to create a market-based system to restrict greenhouse gas emissions."

The newsmagazine said Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute called Warner "a disaster for us," while Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, said the move "would be exchanging a partisan and an environmental extremist for a lawmaker of a more pragmatic disposition, who might be willing to seek bipartisan compromise."
Congressional Quarterly Today , Nov. 17.

And, the bad news. HoJo is no friend of the environment:

Sen. Boxer Sets Up Two Subcommittees to Deal With Climate Change
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., the incoming chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, established a new subcommittee on climate change – and named herself chair, National Journal's Congress Daily reported. The panel will be called the Public Sector Solutions to Global Warming, Oversight, Children's Health Protection and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, ID-Conn., was named chairman of the Private Sector and Consumer Solutions to Global Warming and Wildlife Protection Subcommittee.

The Clean Air subcommittee has morphed into the Clean Air, Nuclear Plant Security, and Community Development Subcommittee, and still will be headed by Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del. The panel loses all jurisdiction over climate change issues.
National Journal's Congress Daily , Nov. 17.

Source: EEI newsletter

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sunday Akhmatova Blogging

"You'll Live, But I'll Not..."

You'll live, but I'll not; perhaps,
The final turn is that.
In the end, the secret plot of fate
Grabs us by the throat.

They shot us in different ways:
Each creature has its lot,
Each has its order, robust, --
But a wolf, well a wolf is always shot.

In freedom, wolves are grown,
But the deal with them is short:
In grass, in ice, in snow, --
A wolf is always shot.

Don't cry, oh, friend, my dear,
If, in the hot or cold,
From tracks of wolves, you'll hear
My desperate recall.

Translated by Yevgeny Bonver, August, 2000
Edited by Dmitry Karshtedt, February, 2001
Edited by Hecate, November 2006


Here's a poem from Akhmatova's later years. I love how she identifies herself here with the wolves -- the enemies of civilization, the ones who are "always shot." She'd spent so much of her life an enemy of the Soviet state, perhaps it was only natural.