Saturday, December 02, 2006

Saturday Goddess Blogging


I always think of Coyote as a Goddess, primarily because my introduction to her was the stories of Ursula Le Guin, who writes about Coyote as a Goddess. Le Guin discussed Coyote in a 1994 interview and said:

INTERVIEWER: Speaking of Coyote, she wanders in and out of much of your recent work. How did you meet up with her?

URSULA LE GUIN: She trotted through a project of mine in 1982. It was an essay on utopia called "A Non-Euclidean View of California as a Cold Place to Be," and when the tracks of utopia and Coyote crossed, I thought, "Yes,now I'm getting somewhere!" The idea of utopia has been stuck in a blueprint phase for too long now. Most of the writing you see is similar to Callenbach's Ecotopia, which is another "wouldn't the future be great if we did this or that?" Or, in science fiction, it's been dystopia: utopia gone sour. These blueprints aren't working anymore.

Coyote is an anarchist. She can confuse all civilized ideas simply by trotting through. And she always fools the pompous. Just when your ideas begin to get all nicely arranged and squared off, she messes them up. Things are never going to be neat, that's one thing you can count on.

Coyote walks through all our minds. Obviously, we need a trickster, a creator who made the world all wrong. We need the idea of a God who makes mistakes, gets into trouble, and who is identified with a scruffy little animal.

But, as this Wikipedia article shows, many people consider Coyote to be a God, instead. Either way, Coyote is a Trickster Deity, one of the least appreciated, IMHO, types of deities.

Coyote often gets her way through tricking others, often by telling them a different version of the truth than that to which they subscribe. Wikipedia says that Coyote's personality strengths are humor and sometimes cleverness and that Coyote's personality weaknesses are usually greed or desire, recklessness, impulsiveness and jealousy. . . . Traits commonly described in pop culture appearances include inventiveness, mischievousness, and evasiveness.

As a trickster, Coyote fuzzes the lines between Male and Female, between cunning and stupidity (in one story Coyote steals a horse, in another [s]he almost drowns trying to eat some berries reflected in a stream), between wisdom and stupidity. Trickster tells us the truth about our selves, showing us with truth and wit the sides of our nature that we may be more comfortable not acknowledging; he's the one who points at the Emperor's nakedness, [s]he's Lenny Bruce and Ashleigh Brilliant, Ken Kesey and Uncle Remus, Opus, Geech, Tom Robbins, Abbie Hoffman, Don Becker, Weird Al Yankovich[,] and David Letterman, holding up a skewed mirror of reality for us to look into. Among the Aztecs, as serious a culture as this continent has ever seen, [the trickster manifests as] Ueuecoyotl, a funny and outrageously unacceptable clown figure; in the Southwest, at serious rituals, [s]he's the Koshare[,] speeding around the circle with tickling feathers and rattle, being ignored completely by the priest.

Some say that: There are thousands of myths and stories about Coyote, the Great Trickster. Many Native cultures call Coyote "Medicine Dog." Whatever the medicine is, good or bad, you can be sure it will make you laugh, maybe even painfully. You can be sure Coyote will teach you a lesson about yourself. Coyote is sacred. In the folly of [her] acts, we can see our own foolishness. Contained within trickster medicine is the humor of the ages. The cosmic joke. If you can't laugh at yourself and your crazy antics, you have lost the game of Life. Coyote always comes calling when things get too serious. The medicine is in laughter and joking so that new viewpoints can be assumed. Coyote LOVES food, and [s]he [often] get in lots of trouble trying to get it. You can buy chocolates that depict Coyote here.

I pray to Coyote when I am trying to get away with something, to skirt the rules and norms that traditional society lays down for women. She can create enough chaos and confusion for me to slip through, unnoticed. We old women, usually invisible in this culture, can sometimes get away with things that others couldn't. Coyote doesn't care so much about how she looks; she'll roll her stockings down to mid-calf and wear her house slippers out in public, if that's what feels comfortable. She takes the last cookie on the plate and gets others to do lots of the difficult work. Like Granny Weatherwax, Coyote does not do housework, although she is often the cause of housework for othrs. I'm thinking of Coyote types such as the Raging Grannies, Grandmothers Against the War, the grandmothers who keep showing up at enlistment offices and trying to enlist, the Grey Panthers, and, to some extent, Cindy Sheehan. Being a trickster Goddess, sometimes Coyote helps out and other times, she won't. That's her nature.

Because she's so fickle, Coyote can be difficult to appease. When she does you a favor, she IS going to get something in exchange, and you can never be sure what she'll want. But food and good liquor are often a offerings.

Image found here.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Lewis Black on Bottled Water

Derrick Jensen says that we can't have a revolution, because a people who will accept bottled water have no pride. Lewis Black appears to agree.

The Chance To Love Everything By Mary Oliver

All summer I made friends

with the creatures nearby ---

they flowed through the fields

and under the tent walls,

or padded through the door,

grinning through their many teeth,

looking for seeds,

suet, sugar; muttering and humming,

opening the breadbox, happiest when

there was milk and music. But once

in the night I heard a sound

outside the door, the canvas

bulged slightly ---something

was pressing inward at eye level.

I watched, trembling, sure I had heard

the click of claws, the smack of lips

outside my gauzy house ---

I imagined the red eyes,

the broad tongue, the enormous lap.

Would it be friendly too?

Fear defeated me. And yet,

not in faith and not in madness

but with the courage I thought

my dream deserved,

I stepped outside. It was gone.

Then I whirled at the sound of some

shambling tonnage.

Did I see a black haunch slipping

back through the trees? Did I see

the moonlight shining on it?

Did I actually reach out my arms

toward it, toward paradise falling, like

the fading of the dearest, wildest hope ---

the dark heart of the story that is all

the reason for its telling?
Rivers and Tides

Salmon, so close they were touching. It doesn't feel like destruction at all.

I want to have Andy Goldsworthy's love children.

I love his hedge art, most of all, I think, but this is quite lovely.
Traditional Greek Religious people

We had a discussion the other day over at Atrios about how Greece has been forced to recognize Greeks who worship, duh, the Greek Gods and Goddesses. Hecate, a Greek Goddess, was often worshipped where three crossroads met. Libations are still welcome, in or outside of Greece. :)

A World Of Relationship

The Wikipedia article on Derrick Jensen notes that: Many indigenous peoples suggest that the primary difference between Western and indigenous perspectives is that even the most open-minded Westerners generally view listening to the natural world as a metaphor, as opposed to the way the world works. Many indigenous peoples suggest that the world consists of other beings with whom we can enter into relationship, as opposed to the more western belief that the world consists of objects or resources to be exploited or used. I'm not indigenous, in the sense that the author in Wikipedia is using the term, but I think that this is exactly what I believe.

Listen to more from Derrick Jensen here.

Nine Seconds by Theodora Goss

The hull has opened, like a silver flower.
She tries to grab a hatch. The handle breaks,
And fragments, spreading like serrated knives
Or jagged petals, float against her arm,
Then float away. She thinks of the alarm,
The red light flashing in the corridors,
The impact and the grinding and the rip,
Remembers running, being lifted up,
Floating above the floors, then floating out
In jets of oxygen and nitrogen.
She reaches toward the hull, remembering
In space you have nine seconds, fails to hold.

The motion sends her farther from the ship.
She sees the ruined modules with debris
Floating around them, and the ruptured shape.
She thinks, I should feel something more than this
Dispassionate regret, like grief or fear.
But fear has drifted off and floats somewhere
Among the reinforced aluminum
That moves in shards through random fields of glass.
She thinks, it is a dream, but knows no dream
Has this exquisite clarity.

In space,
She thinks, you cannot hear the clashing sound
That metal fragments make, like kettledrums.
They drift and crash in mute cacophony.
She mouths her name, the multisyllables
Of her identity, but makes no noise.
It has no meaning now, and she discards
It like a scarf that drifts and disappears
Into the silence.

When she notices
She cannot feel her hands, she turns to look,
Sees hands that flicker red, then flicker out,
Then flicker red in intervals that match
The intermittent flash of the alarm.
They are not hers. She wonders who has lost
Two hands like hummingbirds.

She thinks, at last
The universe reveals itself. The eye
Perceives directly, not through panes of glass
But naked and uncertain. Look, the stars
Revolve erratically, like fireflies
Glinting above the surface of a lake.

She dives into the water, hears it rush
About her ears. The lake is dark and still,
And on its bottom blooms a silver flower.

She reaches for it, but the scattered lights
Of phosphorescent fish are winking out.

She must dive deeper, so she spreads her mouth
And drinks the darkness in.


(For Geoffrey Landis, who first told me that a
body in a vacuum has about nine seconds of useful
consciousness, and whose web site was my primary
source of information.)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

First of the Month Bazooms Blogging

It's the first of the month. Women! It's time for you to do a breast self-examination BSE. It's very easy. Here's how!

Men! Can you think of three women you'd miss if they died from breast cancer? If so, now's the time to volunteer to cook dinner, or bathe the kids, or to do the laundry to give those women some time to a breast self-exam. Buy her a stocking stuffer

Eat some flax seed. It couldn't hurt!

Just Because

Charge of the Goddess

Traditional by Doreen Valiente, as adapted by Starhawk:

Listen to the words of the Great Mother, Who of old was called Artemis, Astarte, Dione, Melusine, Aphrodite, Cerridwen, Diana, Arionrhod, Brigid, and by many other names:

Whenever you have need of anything, once a month, and better it be when the moon is full, you shall assemble in some secret place and adore the spirit of Me Who is Queen of all the Wise.

You shall be free from slavery, and as a sign that you be free you shall be naked in your rites.

Sing, feast, dance, make music and love, all in My Presence, for Mine is the ecstasy of the spirit and Mine also is joy on earth.

For My law is love is unto all beings. Mine is the secret that opens the door of youth, and Mine is the cup of wine of life that is the cauldron of Cerridwen, that is the holy grail of immortality.

I give the knowledge of the spirit eternal, and beyond death I give peace and freedom and reunion with those that have gone before.

Nor do I demand aught of sacrifice, for behold, I am the Mother of all things and My love is poured out upon the earth.

Hear the words of the Star Goddess, the dust of Whose feet are the hosts of Heaven, whose body encircles the universe:

I Who am the beauty of the green earth and the white moon among the stars and the mysteries of the waters,

I call upon your soul to arise and come unto me.

For I am the soul of nature that gives life to the universe.

From Me all things proceed and unto Me they must return.

Let My worship be in the heart that rejoices, for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals.

Let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.

And you who seek to know Me, know that the seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery: for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without.

For behold, I have been with you from the beginning, and I am That which is attained at the end of desire.


Via Witchvox, comes news of humankind's oldest discovered ritual. It appears to involve carving symbols and then ritually burning certain red-stoned tools. Python, giraffe, and elephant are also involved. You know the game you play about the Wayback Machine? Which moment in history would you choose to visit if you could? This is for sure in my top three.

What A Fatuous Ass

George Will might want to shut the fuck up before Jim Webb ties Will's bowtie in a knot around Will's pointy little head and keeps on tightening it. Notice Will's dishonesty. What's missing from his account of the incident between Webb and Bush? Earth to Will: if you have to lie to make a point, you don't have a point.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Next Thing You Know, It's A Movement

The Wild Hunt has a fascinating post up about a new study of Australian religions. Specifically, modern Paganism is growing at a faster rate than any other faith grouping in the country.

"Amongst those religions on the rise are Buddhism (up 79% since 1996), Islam (up 40%), Hinduism (up 42%), Pentecostalism (up 11%), 'nature religions' including Paganism and Wicca/witchcraft, (up 130%), and Scientology (up 37%)."

A growth rate of 130% is pretty amazing. It's not clear from the post whether these are people leaving traditional xian churches or of they're former atheists or agnostics. Some of the growth may come from "cradle Pagans," people who have been raised as Pagans, the way that i was raised as a Catholic. Some of them may be people who have been Pagans for some time but only now feel "safe" to identify themselves as such.

The Wild Hunt concludes: So while some may debate as to whether or not modern Pagan faiths are the fastest growing in America, it seems certain that there isn't any doubt in Australia. Combine this new data with the continuing rise of modern Paganism in Britain (not to mention Europe in general) and it seems clear that modern Pagan faiths have long passed the "tipping point" of being a mere fad or small cult(s) destined for the margins. As our loose grouping of faiths emerge among the world religions it should be interesting to see not only how the monotheist faiths react to us, but how we interact with other polytheist faiths in the world.

What makes this question especially interesting is Paganism's general lack of organizational structure (something that I love about it, but that worries lots of others). How do "we" react with others when there's really no formal "we" involved??? I guess that's what we're going to find out.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Rick Benjamin reads Mary Oliver's


If they don't go looking for some easier world, they can do it.

The Question

I get this question at least once a month so I'll try to remember to answer it here from time to time. If you want to find out about Wicca, witchcraft, witches, there are several ways to go about it.

One way is to start from the vision and work towards the practical. Read The Mists of Avalon and The Fifth Sacred Thing first and then, move towards the history, reading The Chalice and the Blade and Drawing Down the Moon. Finally, go for the practical, reading The Spiral Dance, Twelve Wild Swans, and The Circle Within.

Or, you can start with Spiral Dance, Twelve Wild Swans, and The Circle Within and then, grounded in reality and theory, you can go towards history, reading The Chalice and the Blade and Drawing Down the Moon. After that, if you're still interested, you can check out how it's supposed to feel by reading The Mists of Avalon and The Fifth Sacred Thing.

Others may want to experience "it" for themselves. Witchvox has public rituals in your area, as do most Radical Fairy sites and, if you're ready for a week-long experience, you can try one of the Reclaiming witcamps in your area. Jump in. Experience. If you like what you feel, you can read later to fill in the gaps.

Personally, I 'd wait on The White Goddess, The Golden Bough, Aradia, and Uncles Gerald's and Crowley's various tomes, although, Goddess knows, many and many a better witch than I started there.

I also read quite a bit of Bachofen and Carol Christ in my early days, but those early days predated the web and the wide-availability of materials on witchcraft. There's a lot of crap out there and you can find it on the shelves of any Borders' Books or B. Dalton's. Actually, once you know something about witchcraft, The Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells can be a great book, but it's sure not where I'd start.

Mostly, though, you need to dive in.

Stand still. Take a deep breath. Feel your feet sending deep roots into the ground and pull energy up from the ground. Pull that energy up into your body, feeling it warm and bless every cell in your body. Call on fire, water, earth, and air to guard you well and keep you fair. Look to the center of the circle that surrounds you and ask Mother Earth to guide you. There. Now, you're a witch. What would you like to read?


Tristero has a post up at Hullabaloo that touches, at least in part, in some things that I've been thinking about ever since slightly before Samhein.

I got to thinking around Samhein, which is a serious religious holiday for me, that we've got an interesting situation in this country that results from overlaps between secular and religious holidays. I think it started way back when the xians attempted to appropriate Pagan holidays and then got worse when the corporatists attempted to make money off of purported xian holidays.

Consider Samhein. It's an old Pagan holiday, one of the holiest days on the Pagan calendar. The xians came along and tried to appropriate this holiday, traditionally celebrated on October 31st, by establishing All Soul's Day on November 1st. Just when the Pagans celebrated a time when they could communicate with and honor their beloved dead, the xians were "celebrating" a time to pray for their own beloved dead. Overlayered, on top of that, I think, that there's a secular holiday called Halloween that relates to death by making it funny and ok and harmless, which serves a deep psychological need and involves an opportunity for the corporatists to make money: they can sell candy, costumes, yard decorations, cards, magazines telling women how to carve cute pumpkins, pumpkins, and pumpkin-carving supplies. With an influx of Hispanics, there's been an incorporation of a partly-xian/partly-Pagan holiday known as Day of the Dead. There's lots of overlap -- good Pagan that i am, I bought raven-shaped candle holders, multiple pumpkins, little tiny pails with black cats on them to hold candy, and incense to burn for my ancestors. I'm determined next year to make little decorated sugar skulls, as well.

Easter is another example. The xians imposed it on top of Eostara. Now, there's a corporatist, secular holiday at the same time of year, designed to sell nice clothing, pretty baskets, chocolate, and plush stuffed bunnies, almost none of which have almost anything to do with either holiday, although, to me, they seem to have more to do with the Pagan holiday than with the xian holiday. And, although most xians will tell you that Easter is a more important holiday for them than is xmas, the emotional intensity surrounding the two holidays shows that this is a lie.

Xmas is intensified because, I think, the corporatists view xmas as one of their prime money-making opportunities. The xians sense a weakness and hope to exploit it in order to ensure, in their goal to establish a theocracy, that their vision of the holiday is the only "legitimate" one allowed. Hence the completely-self-created War on Xmas, of Bill O'Reilley fame.

Many, many, many Pagan peoples celebrated (and continue to celebrate) the Winter Solstice, the day when the days are shortest and the nights are longest, or, depending upon how you look at it, the time when the days (light) begin to grow and nights (darkness) begin to shrink. For European Pagans, this was the time when the Holly King died and the Oak King was reborn. Not surprisingly, when they were struggling for acceptance and legitimacy, the xians selected a date less than a week away from the Winter Solstice to celebrate the birth of their King, a child of light who would die and be reborn in the Spring. They did one of the few things that I really appreciate about xians: they wrote some lovely music, although they couldn't have predicted how wretched it would be after being turned to muzak and played over and over for ninety days in a row. Handel is one of my great loves, and I don't care how pedestrian that makes me. Puritans seemed to want to move away from Pagan celebrations at this time of year, but, gradually, most xian churches have accepted this holiday as one of their major holidays.

Then, again, on top of that, you have a corporatist holiday that celebrates the buying of many commercial items and seeks to perpetuate this myth of the perfect xmas -- no matter how lovely (expensive) your xmas tree, how munificent (expensive) your gift-giving, how sumptuous (expensive) your xmas brunch and dinner, how tasteful (expensive) the cards that you send to people who you only speak to once a year, etc., you can never live up to the "xmas ideal." Especially women, who can never bake enough cookies, be pretty enough at the holiday parties, or create a perfect enough xmas for their families, which, it turns out, big surprise, is their job.

When you think about it, few of the "symbols of xmas" have much at all to do with the birth in Bethlehem of Jesus of Nazareth. A jolly old elf from the Scandinavians, snow men, sleigh bells and choo choo trains from the Victorians, a fir tree covered in lights left over from the Pagans, an exchange of gifts left over from the Romans -- Jesus of Nazareth, via Bethlehem, via Egypt, wouldn't understand what those things had to do with his birth. And the answer is really, they have nothing to do with his birth. They are, in some cases, holdovers from the Pagan celebration of the solstice and, in other cases, corporatist carryovers from Victorian times, with the corporatists making endless yearly additions in the hope that something will "stick," whether it's a rock & roll version of The Little Drummer Boy or the need to purchase a DVD of It's A Wonderful Life. BTW, have you given an xmas party this year? Or bought enough pretty dresses for al the xmas parties that you'll need to go to? Want to buy some perfume? Need your hair done?

Tucked in, kind of as an aside to the corporatist, secular xmas celebration is Hanukkah, a minor Jewish celebration at roughly the same time of the year, generally acknowledged as a way to try and get Jews to buy a bunch of stuff at the same time that everyone else is supposed to be out buying stuff. After all, can't have those children feeling hurt when, after a solid 90 days of advertising, they don't get any presents! Everyone's included in the corporatist holiday!

All of which would be sort of ok, and would make sense on a small, diverse planet ruled by corporatists, if the xians didn't, as they so often do, get their panties in a twist and demand that the end of December is THEIR holiday and everyone must celebrate it THEIR Way. ~Sigh~ The corporatists are then forced to join in, see, e.g., O'Reilley's War on Xmas, in order to ensure their continued sales. That's how protection rackets work.

A religious holiday cum secular holiday then becomes a way to beat up on disfavored groups and to impose theocracy on all the rest of us.

Triestero notes that "the term 'christianism' seems finally to have caught on to describe the political movement that exploits Christian symbols for secular gain." Further, it describes the political exploitation of religious symbolism and belief. To be blunt, I find it immoral that anyone would dare to corrupt the religious impulse - which, for so many, is crucial to their understanding of their lives - for cheap, secular, partisan gain. I'm talking Pat Robertson here, Jerry Falwell, followers of Rousas Rushdoony, Joseph Morehead, Randall Terry[,] and the whole sick crew of sleazy political operatives eagerly working to wreck the American system of government and establish a theocracy.

They deserve no respect, no quarter, whatsoever. It is very important to understand that whatever their personal beliefs - which are all but unknowable - they have made it clear through their public statements that they are dangerous political extremists who have celebrated the virtue of their intolerance on numerous occasions. Some have gone out of their way to excuse, advocate[,] or even perpetrate murderous violence in the name of their utterly sick beliefs. They have generously funded elaborate efforts to undermine science with sophisticated marketing campaigns to teach cruddy lies to science students.

And they have blasphemously used the cross and other religious symbols as if they were trying to ward off vampires in a cheesy horror film. They degrade the cross, a symbol beloved and honored by millions who have nothing in common with these people. And they do so not to affirm their religious beliefs, whatever they may be, but in the most cynical fashion, merely to counter legitimate expressions of outrage at their hateful behavior or ideas.

For all these reasons, I think it is crucial that a distinction be made between the expression of religion and its political exploitation. Therefore, a few years ago, I proposed the term "christianism" to distinguish the political movement from Christianity. I urged others to adopt it. Other terms have been proposed such as Michelle Goldberg's "Christian Nationalism" but I like the parallels between "christianism" and "islamism."

I guess that all of this is bubbling to the top for me as a result of Grandon's wonderful arrival on the scene this year. His parents, Son and D-i-L, aren't, as far as I can tell, at all religious, but enjoy lots of aspects of the secular xmas holiday and are eager to see Grandson smile with pleasure at the pretty lights, beautifully-wrapped gifts, and silly Santa Clauses all over the place. His other grandparents, lovely people and good Southern Baptists who also deeply enjoy the secular, corporatist holiday, are eager to establish a tradition where all of us -- Son, D-i-L, Grandson, the First Ex-Mr. Hecate, his husband, and Hecate -- all get together and enjoy Grandson at the secular holiday. I'm having to sort all this out for myself, all over again. Xmas is a doubly-loaded holiday for me, not only due to my antagonism to both the xian and the corporatist holiday, but also due to several traumatic family events closely-related to December 25th. And so, I'm struggling to figure out where I stand, what I can do in the name of family unity and peace, and what I can't tolerate. How much I can "go along to get along" and how much do my own beliefs require me to stand down. Where do my personal, religious, political, and family obligations conflict and where can they meet each other half way?

This year, my coven is thinking of a "family event" to go along with our traditional all-night-long ritual, capped by making noise at sunrise to remind the sun (the light) to come back again and warm the Earth, followed by schnapps in shot glasses made of ice, followed by a huge breakfast, followed by collapse, and I think I'd like Son and D-i-L to bring Grandson to see how I celebrate the season. Can I as happily watch him go to the Baptist church w/ his other grandma to see how she celebrates it? I think so. I decided the moment that he was born to trust this kid. And I think I'll drag him to my firm's children's holiday party, for the picture on Santa's lap, if for nothing else. (OK, yes, and to show him off. You cannot imagine the wattage of this kid's smile. I'd say that even if I weren't his Nonna. Really.)

And I'll keep living, as I have my entire adult life, half in the "real" world of my Paganism and half in the secular world and half in the world of my lovely, patchwork, kind, and wonderful family. Sometimes the balance shifts in one direction, sometimes it shifts in another. Hopefully, it always shifts away from christianism.

What will you do?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Global Orgasm Day

Reclaiming witch Deborah Oak has a great post up about Global Orgasm Day. Video here, and even more information here.

Oak explains that: It could be argued that all magic IS sex magic, as all magic involves the life force, which is inherently sexual. Given that, magic that literally uses sex packs a powerful punch, and tends to be effective. A call to action to have people around the globe orgasm on the same day while invoking peace is a call I have to answer. This really could work. . . .

But then, it’s a call put out by the same folks who started
Baring Witness, which has people all over the world spelling out invocations of peace in both word and symbol. Buck Naked. Naked people on beaches and in parks, coming together, taking their clothes off and becoming part of a potent spell. . . . Each time it’s happened, it’s gotten more media coverage than most peace marches, and according to my friends who’ve participated, its loads more fun. Baring Witness is great magic, getting bunches of folks sky-clad and spelling out a spell of peace, one which then inspires with it’s photographic images.

On December 22nd, you've really got something better to do? I.Don't.Think.So.

The Appalachian Trail

Today's WaPo has an interesting article about a plan to use volunteers to collect information about the ways in which global climate change is affecting the the Appalachian Trail Volunteers will collect information about air and water quality, the health of plants, and animal migration patterns to build an early environmental warning system for the 120 million people along the Eastern Seaboard. . . . The Appalachian Mountains are ideal for the project because they are home to one of the richest collections of temperate-zone species in the world. They also have a variety of ecosystems that blend into one another -- hardwood forests next to softwood forests next to alpine forests. The trail along the mountain chain passes through 14 states and eight national forests.

David Startzell, executive director of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in Harpers Ferry, W.Va. explains the importance of having the observations made by volunteers:

"People will read that on 25 or 30 days in a given year, it's considered unhealthy to walk on the Appalachian Trail, and we think that's going to grab people's attention more than if they just read about air-quality trends in general.

That is also why volunteers will be critical to the project's success. It's one thing for people to read about technical reports on bird migration, acid rain or air quality, Startzell says. We think it's another thing when people learn about that firsthand by actually helping to collect that information," he said.

This sounds like a great idea for extended families, scout-type organizations, covens, and, well, hiking clubs. More info on participating here.

Everything Old Is New Again -- Remember "The Peace Symbol Is A Sign Of Satan"?

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

In a town in scenic southwestern Colorado homeowners are battling over whether a Christmas wreath that includes a peace sign is an anti-Iraq war protest or even a promotion of Satan.

"We have had three or four complaints. Some people have kids in Iraq and they are sensitive," said Bob Kearns, president of the Loma Lynda Homeowners Association in Pagosa Springs. He also said some believe it is a symbol of Satan.

Jeff Heitz, of the association board, sent a letter to Lisa Jensen saying "Loma Lynda residents are offended by the peace sign displayed on the front of your house. ... This Board will not allow any signs, flags etc. that can be considered divisive...."

I'm not a xian and xmas isn't my holiday, but man, does this seem weird to me.

~via Witchvox~

Sunday, November 26, 2006

We Continued To Distract Ourselves With War

Many years ago, the poet Diane di Prima wrote a line that comes back to me now: "The only war that counts is the war against the imagination." I often wondered what she meant by it, but now I think I understand. All war is first waged in the imagination, first conducted to limit our dreams and visions, to make us accept within ourselves its terms, to believe that our only choices are those that it lays before us. If we let the terms of force describe the terrain of our battle, we will lose. But if we hold to the power of our visions, our heartbeats, our imagination, we can fight on our own turf, which is the landscape of consciousness. There, the enemy cannot help but transform. . . . We old women have learned from our history and its mistakes. Many of you are too young to remember the wealth of the old society, the incredible resources, the power of its technology, the power of its weaponry, the sheer abundance of things, so many that they could be shamelessly squandered and wasted. Precious water was fouled by sewage and toxins; whole industries built to manufacture things to be used once and then discarded.

But the greatest waste was war. I remember how we watched in frustration as all of that wealth, so many lives of blooming young men and women, all of our ingenuity and resources were poured down the hole of war after war. The Cold War, the Vietnam War, the Middle East, Latin America, riots in our own burning ghettos, big wars and small wars and endless preparation for nuclear war. We waged war on ourselves, with nuclear testing, gave our own citizens cancer and then denied responsibility, poisoned the sacred lands of the Indians and turned great rivers into radioactive sewers, and every time there was a glimpse of peace, we scurried to find a new enemy so we could continue this mindless wasting. Blowing up our wealth, burning it off, turning it into poisons and toxins, shooting it in the belly, shipping it home in body bags, murdering our children and everybody else's.

And meanwhile we decayed. When I was born, when I grew up inth fifties, we believed our country was the land of opportunity, where nobody was doomed to remain poor, where every person of goodwill had a chance to rise. By the time my child was born in the nineties, beggars were crowding the streets of every city, accosting shoppers in the malls. There were camps of homeless in the parks and empty lots, young people going to war with each other for drugs and booze and a few bucks. Our compassion eroded faster than the topsoil, and when we began to notice the earth changes, the droughts and the warming and the die-offs of animals, the hole in the ozone layer and the epidemics of strange diseases that showed our own immune systems faltering, when we still had a chance to save so much and avert the worst of what followed, we continued to distract ourselves with war.

What I say, what I have always said, is there has got to be an end to it. Now is the time to make an end. There will never be a better time, because there is always a reason to fight and kill and build more guns and weapons. Twenty years ago when we founded this Council we said, 'Make an end of it -- we will not waste what hope is left to us by building weapons of war.' We knew this day would come; we hoped only that when it did we would have other kinds of weapons to fight with. Now it's here. Now we had better be ready to take up the challenge, as Lily said. Or we will die, and perhaps the earth will rethink this whole experiment in consciousness and start afresh to grow some other form, less aggressive maybe, less extreme, less surprising.

~ Starhawk The Fifth Sacred Thing

Ah, how much I would miss the extremities.
The surprises.
There is always a choice,
but eventually they come down to only two.
Kobayashi Maru.

SomeTimes, The Stupid. It Burns, And Burns, And Burns.

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Oh! You meant well-regulated. Sorry. Never mind.

The problem with family atomics is that only some families will have family atomics.

Sunday Akhmatova Blogging

To the Many
I -- am your voice, the warmth of your breath,
I -- am the reflection of your face,
The futile trembling of futile wings,
I am with you to the end, in any case.

That's why you so fervently love
Me in my weakness and in my sin;
That's why you impulsively gave
Me the best of your sons;
That's why you never even asked
Me for any word of them,
And blackened my forever-deserted home
With fumes of praise.
And they say -- it's impossible to fuse more closely,
Impossible to love more abandonedly. . .

As the shadow from the body wants to part,
As the flesh from the soul wants to separate,
So I want now -- to be forgotten..

September 1922
-- translated by Judith Hemschemeyer


Is this Russia talking to her people? Or the poetess talking to her public?

The Gift

Wow! Thank you so much to the nice readers in Brooklyn who sent me the amazing CD with the lovely Stevie Nicks songs! I don't think I've heard any of these before and I'm loving them!

Some Days I Just Get So Tired Of This Nonsense


Georgia legislator, undeterred by South Dakota's rejection of the criminalization of abortion, attempts to criminalize abortion. As the Mad Melancholic Feminista explains, he, of course, bases his bill on lies.

This was to be expected when (thanks, Democrats!) Roberts and Alito were confirmed. Everyone knew that they plan to overturn Roe, despite the insulting lie that they hadn't made their minds up. The whack-job fundies in SD and Georgia don't seem too worried, do they?

Does anyone EVER stop to consider what this nonsense costs? I'd love to see a study of what it cost South Dakota to go through its recent experience. In the end, abortions weren't prevented, but money that could have gone for good schools, for cleaning up the environment, for police and fire departments, or for prenatal care for poor women, went, instead, down a black hole. How is the state better off as a result of the whack-jobs in the legislature passing their idiot bill? How is Georgia going to be better off?

It's the real problem of dealing with people who operate in a faith-based world. The fact that abortion DOES NOT cause breast cancer doesn't stop them from continuing to assert that it does. The fact that SD rejected criminalization of abortion doesn't stop whack-jobs in Georgia from proposing the same thing. I don't know what to do about people like this. They refuse to learn from their mistakes.