Saturday, December 16, 2006

Pagan Blogs -- Who Would Have Thought?

Pagans, yours truly included, often lament the dearth of good books for Pagans who have moved beyond the initial, introductory stage. There appear to be hundreds of Pagan 101 books, but it can be a challenge to find books that go beyond that level.

Lately, I've been thinking quite a bit about the disparity between most of (the drek) what's to be found on the bookshelves of your local Border's or Barnes & Noble concerning Paganism and what can (the gems), with some hunting, be found on the web. Sure, there are a lot of pretty crappy Pagan blogs out there. But there are some real gems, as well. This is by no means an exclusive list, but here are some Pagan blogs that I'm ashamed to say I have only recently discovered, but that I think are quite good:

The answer is simple: any notion of a "Pagan community" today is a farce; few Pagans can agree on the color of horse shite, much less on religion, and this is how it should be. There is no need for Pagan "popes". "Organized religion" has shown us that it does not and cannot work, and not a single Pagan would be what they are, if they were satisfied with pre-packaged dogma being disseminated among massive congregations of people. Robin "Ule" Artisson's blog, Cauldron Born is a very recent discovery, but one that I intend to make a regular stop in my daily wanderings. His writing is the best discussion of northern Heathenry that I've ever found, and great-granddaughter of a Swedish immigrant that I am, it's not as if I haven't looked.

I've also begun to check in daily with Sara Sutterfield Winn at her blog, Pagan Godspell. Maybe that's because, as I do, she agrees with both Derrick Jensen and Rob Brezsney. It takes either a very big brain or a very disturbed personality to read both of them and say: Yes.

One of the few actual Pagan 201 books that I regularly recommend is Dianne Sylvan's The Circle Within. Her blog is equally good. Plus, she sometimes posts Mary Oliver's poems, which is a Very Good Thing.

Anne Johnson is the smartest, most authentic Druid that I know. And I've taken classes from some pretty boring, full-of-themselves-needed-to-brag-nonstop-about-sex-with-Pappa-Isaac-but-couldn't-really-teach-just-liked-to-read-Brehorn-laws-outloud-type Druids, believe me. Anne's not one of those. She regularly touches something very deep with her writing.

Full Circle is published too infrequently, but I keep checking back almost daily, hoping for more good writing, insight, admirable thought.

Saturday Goddess Blogging

Sheila Na Gig

Carved on churches in Ireland, Sheila Na Gig is one of my favorite Goddesses, because, to modern eyes, at least, she's so outrageous. Our culture has tons of pictures of women's vaginas, selling those pictures is a multi-million dollar industry. But pictures of old women's vaginas? Well, there are far fewer of those.

Thalia Took tells us that: The Sheila-na-gig is a figure from medieval stone carvings of the British Isles (mostly Ireland), of a grinning woman holding open Her vulva. She is regarded by some as a gargoyle-like figure meant as a medieval allegory of lust, or as a magical figure meant to cure infertility in women, but others have seen in Her an echo of the ancient Irish earth mother.

The word "gyg" is Norse for giantess, in other words, a supernatural or deified female, while "Sheila" is a woman's name, or used as a word for "girl".

The vulva as holy symbol of birth and life is a very ancient idea that symbolizes the life-giving and regenerative powers of the Earth Mother. The image of the vulva has a long history of being carved in stone, and is found all over Europe from the Paleolithic and Neolithic Ages. Passage graves were built in the shape of the Goddess, with the passage the vagina, and the tomb chamber itself representing Her uterus. "Tomb" and "womb" were equated, thus ensuring regeneration and continuity after death, in the same way that a "dead" seed is planted in the fertile earth and sprouts up to grow into a complete plant.

Despite the fact that to modern eyes Her pose is "obscene" the Sheila-na-gig is most predominantly found carved in the decoration of churches.

Barbara Walker wrote that: Sheila-na-gig figures closely resembled the yonic statues of Kali which still appear at the doorways of Hindu temples, where visitors lick a finger and touch the yoni "for luck." Some of the older figures have deep holes worn in their yonis from much touching. The protruding ribcage on many examples of the sheila-na-gig imitates the figures of Kali as the death-goddess, Kalika, evidently
remembered in Ireland as the Caillech or "Old Woman," who was also the Creatress and gave birth to all the races of men. Celts generally protected doorways with some female-genital fetish, which is why they settled on the horseshoe, classic Omega-sign of the Kalika. In India it stood for the feminine cosmos within which Shiva ever performed his creative sexual dance, although he was assimilated to the Kalika and given her title of Destroyer.

Derivation of the term sheila-na-gig is obscure. It meant something like "vulva woman." Gig or giggie meant female genitals and may have been related to the Irish "jig," from French gigue, in pre-Christian times an orgiastic dance. In ancient Erech a gig seems to have been a holy yoni; the sacred harlots of the temple were known as nu-gig.

Amy Sophia Marashinsky says that: Sheila Na Gig grins at you provocatively and invites you to join her in opening. Now is the time to open to new experiences, people, places,and things. Now is the time to begin new projects, forge new directions, venture out boldly. The universe invites you to come out and play. Perhaps you've had to contract your energy to deal with a wounding, a grieving, an ending. Or you haven't felt [that] it was safe to to open up. You may have needed a time of seclusion, sorting out, and focusing inward. Sheila Na Gig is here to remind you that a period of contraction is followed by expansion and opening. It is time to nurture wholeness by integrating what the stretching, expanding, and opening will bring.

I find that Sheila Na Gig is a good goddess for Yule. Her thin, wasted, Crone's body almost perfectly symbolizes this dark time of the year. Her open vulva seems to me to be the opening to the underworld, just as the open vulva of our younger mother was the opening to this world. "Come," Sheila Na Gig seems to me to be saying, "Go on out the way that you came in. Step back into the darkness, regenerate, and re-emerge later in a new form." She represents the Mother Earth, that will receive our used-up bodies and turn them into something new; her vulva represents Cerridwen's cauldron. With that understanding of her, i don't find it strange, at all, that she would have been carved over the doors of churches by the still-somewhat-Pagan Celts.

And, via watertiger, we have this.

Friday, December 15, 2006

More Shoes Than Witches -- Whatever

Today's WaPo mentions Pagans, essentially in the usual gee-let's-throw-something-weird-into-the-article way that is essentially the only way that WaPo ever covers Pagans. In an article on the recently-released census report, WaPo notes that:

Membership in Wiccan, Deity, Druid and Pagan sects has been skyrocketing -- up from an unregistered blip in 1990 to more than 350,000 as of 2001 The article couples this statistic with the fact that: We love shoes, 2.1 billion pairs of them, almost all from overseas.

Thanks, WaPo. Fascinating analysis. Note the use of the word "sects," rather than religions. Cute. The report itself calls them "Religious Groups," which is what it calls every other group that it lists from Catholics, to Methodists, to Hindus, to Jews.

The report shows a total of 140,000 Pagans, which I consider to be an overall category, kind of like Christian, 134,000 Wiccan, which I consider to be a subcategory of Pagans (and 33 Druids, again, a group I consider to be a subcategory of Pagans). (I'm not sure what "Deity" means -- perhaps the number of people who identify themselves as believing in a specific diety, such as Pan, or Hecate, or Athena? But then wouldn't almost all religions -- Judiasm, Xianity, Islam, etc. -- fall into this category?) There are 629,000 Unitarians, and my guess is that a number of those folks are Pagans, as well, who find it easier to say that they're a Unitarian than a witch or a druid. To compare, there are 55,000 Scientologists.

It would have been fascinating if WaPo had bothered to do any reporting or analysis of these figures. Why the explosion? Are these religions actually growing at this rate or are people now more comfortable identifying themselves as members of these religions than they were during the earlier census? How many of these new members are Cradle Pagans who were born and raised in their current faith and how many were adult converts? How does the trend in America compare to Australia, where the growth has been almost explosive? How does the growth of Paganism, in general, compare to, say, Evangelicalism, or Atheism, or Buddhism? No answer. Witches and lots of shoes are just funny and weird and that's all that a piece on them is meant to be.


The Bill Of Rights -- 215 Years Old Today

An email from the League of Women Voters reminds me that American's Bill of Rights was ratified on December 15, 1791. Happy Birthday, Bill of Rights! You've had a rough couple of years, but you're still the best protection that there is from government oppression. Here's wishing you many happy returns of the day!

As Wikipedia notes: The Bill of Rights is the term used to describe the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. These amendments limit the powers of the federal government, protecting the rights of the people by preventing Congress from abridging freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of religious worship, the freedom to petition, and the right to keep and bear arms, preventing unreasonable search and seizure, cruel and unusual punishment, and self-incrimination, and guaranteeing due process of law and a speedy public trial with an impartial jury. In addition, the Bill of Rights states that "the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people," and reserves all powers not granted to the Federal government to the citizenry or States. These amendments came into effect on December 15, 1791, when ratified by three-fourths of the States.

Initially drafted by James Madison in 1789, the Bill of Rights was written at a time when ideological conflict between Federalists and anti-Federalists, dating from the Philadelphia Convention in 1787, threatened the Constitution's ratification. The Bill was influenced by George Mason's 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights, the 1689 English Bill of Rights, works of the Age of Enlightenment pertaining to natural rights, and earlier English political documents such as the Magna Carta (1215). The Bill was largely a response to the Constitution's influential opponents, including prominent Founding Fathers, who argued that it failed to protect the basic principles of human liberty.

The Bill of Rights plays a central role in American law and government, and remains a fundamental symbol of the freedoms and culture of the nation. One of the original fourteen copies of the Bill of Rights is on public display at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

Celebrate the Bill of Rights today! Use your freedom of speech to write a letter to the editor, to the president, or to your Senator. And, have some cake.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Alvin Ailey - Revelations 2

The best cure in the world for the winter blues.

Fuck the Fucking WaPo

The WaPo does a pretty excerble job of reporting on religion in general, and certainly screws up when it comes to reporting on any minority religion. Today, it's Kids Page tries to get all multicultural, but then, somehow, just apparently forgets to mention modern Pagans in an article about, get this, the Winter Solstice. Sheesh. WaPo, you know, Pagan kids read your Kids Page, too. WTF?

For Solstice, Let There Be Lights
Candles Have Been Part of Winter-Season Celebrations for Thousands of Years
Thursday, December 14, 2006; Page C15

Hundreds of years before anyone was decorating Christmas trees or hanging holiday lights, families in ancient Rome used evergreens and tiny candles to celebrate the winter solstice.

The solstice is the date when, because of the way Earth is tilted as it orbits the sun, the night is longer and day is shorter than any other time of the year. (That's in the Northern Hemisphere, or the top half of the globe. In the Southern Hemisphere, daytime is longest during the winter solstice and shortest during the summer solstice.)

The solstice coincides with the start of winter, beginning on the night of Dec. 21 and lasting into the evening of Dec. 22. Here in Washington, there will be only about 9 1/2 hours between sunrise and sunset that day.

For ancient peoples, life was very hard in the weeks leading up to the winter solstice. Everyone struggled to stay warm and to find enough food. Some feared the sun eventually would stop shining. After the solstice, the days slowly grew longer. People wanted to celebrate the victory of light over darkness. They understood that warmer weather was on its way, and that all plants -- not just evergreens -- would soon sprout green leaves.

Historians say it is no coincidence that evergreens and candlelight became important symbols of Christmas and other winter holidays. The themes of Christmas -- Jesus as a source of light and goodness for humanity -- also fit with the solstice season.

Ancient Romans also celebrated the solstice, with a focus on children. The weeklong festival called Saturnalia began Dec. 17 and was followed by Juvenalia, a day to celebrate youth and the promise of new life.

Solstice traditions can be found in many cultures throughout the world. The Hopi Indians spent weeks preparing for their Soyal ceremony, which they believed helped guide the sun's return. People of Iranian descent, including many in the Washington area, celebrate the solstice festival called Shabe-Yalda, which means birthday, or rebirth, of the sun.

Light is also a central theme for the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, which falls during the solstice season and celebrates a Jewish victory over the ancient Greeks more than 2,100 years ago. Jewish warriors, called Maccabees, drove the Greek army from the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, Israel, and lit the menorah, a special kind of lamp. It was supposed to burn day and night, as a reminder of God's presence. The Jews had enough oil for only one day. Miraculously, [Jews believe] the flame lasted for eight days. That is why Jews light candles each of the eight nights of Hanukkah.

Today, lights and candles remain a popular way to decorate for Christmas -- from trees to Advent wreaths that count down the weeks to the holiday. The menorah is still the main symbol of Hanukkah. And some African Americans light the seven candles of a kinara for Kwanzaa, a celebration of black and African heritage and culture.

Many people from other backgrounds [here's where the WaPo shows that it's afraid to mention Pagans} are adding [I'd have said re-inventing] modern-day solstice celebrations to their December calendars, gathering around bonfires late at night or holding candlelight ceremonies inside their homes.

No wonder it is called the "Season of Light."

-- Debbi Wilgoren


And it doesn't make up for it that WaPo lists some quasi-Solstice events in a sidebar. Pagan kids deserve to read about their religion just as much as do xian, Persian, and Jewish kids.

How To Get Elected While Being Female

Women interested in Congress: Move to where the money is

What’s the formula for getting elected to Congress as a woman? For starters, move to the right district. That includes ones with high incomes and high levels of education. Then throw in some diversity and — perhaps surprisingly — low numbers of households with school-age children.

This formula is part of Barbara Palmer’s “Index of Woman Friendliness,” a tool that predicts which districts are most likely to elect women. The University of Maine professor spoke yesterday at a joint discussion with Women in Government Relations and Women Under Forty PAC — politically charged, diet soda-drinking groups.

Palmer discussed her latest book, “Breaking the Political Glass Ceiling,” which discussed how the factors of incumbency, redistricting and raising a family work against women in elected office.

“It just blows my mind,” she said, that in the 21st century, the world has 85 countries that elect more women to legislative bodies than the United States.

I can't say that these findings surprise me. High incomes and high levels of education tend to go together and, in general, I imagine that, where you find one, you'll find the other. Nor does the fact that districts with low numbers of households with school-age children are more likely to elect women surprise me. Districts with high numbers of school-aged children tend to be districts where people have large families. The only people having large families these days are wingnuts. Who don't approve of women in office.

Crazed Chicks Rampaging Around On Tabloid-Quality Murder Sprees

Twisty has, as usual, a spot on analysis, this time, of the murders in Ipswich.

The Ipswich killer’s upgrade from random violent schlub to a mythic personage capable of waging “a campaign” means a concomitant downgrade for his victims. These people are demoted instantly from human women to ‘prostitutes,’ from ‘prostitutes’ ** to ‘vice girls’. From there it’s just a short hop to ‘heroin addicts’ and finally, to the lowest form of life imaginable, ’single mothers.’ Their first names are always used as if they were children. Tabloids, as Guardian columnist Joan Smith notes with dismay, even allude to their hair color (“blonde Gemma”). It’s as though they were hotties in Hustler rather than murdered women; no report omits to describe the women’s corpses as ‘naked’ or ‘having been stripped.’
. . .

The Sun’s ‘top criminal psychologist’ speculates that “the maniac [has a] history of being dominated by women.” Funny how every single woman on the planet has a history of being dominated by men, yet the world remains puzzlingly bereft of crazed chicks rampaging around on tabloid-quality murder sprees.


Garden Pr0n

The garden porn has started arriving early this year. I just got my Wayside Gardens catalog, which is always full of things that I just HAVE to have. I really don't like rose bushes (they're ugly all year long and only have flowers for a few weeks), but I bought a bunch of these for their color. And they want sun and, Goddess knows, I've very little sunny ground. But, that color.

Weather Prediction vs. Climate Prediction

Michael Crichton argues that long-range weather prediction is impossible because of the chaotic mathematics of weather systems. Most professional meterologists would agree with him, but he is quite wrong when he says that the same is true of climate prediction.

Future climates are much more predictable than is future weather. We know that there is no way to predict if it will, or will not, rain on 2 November 2010 in Berlin. But we can with near certainty say that it will be colder in January in that city than it was in the previous July. Climate change is amenable to prediction, and this is why so many scientists are tolerably sure that a rise of carbon dioxide to 500 ppm, which is now almost inevitable, will be accompanied by profound climate change. Their confidence comes from knowledge of the past history of the many glacial and interglacial events of the past two million years. The record drawn from the analysis of Antarctic ice cores clearly shows a strong correlation between global temperature, carbon dioxide[,] and methane abundance.

~From The Revenge of Gaia: Earth's Climate Crisis and the Fate of Humanity by James Lovelock

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Luce di Strega
The Wheel of the Year

A witch's job is to turn the wheel. And round, and round, the wheel does turn.

The Eroticization Of Domination

Violence against women and violence agains the Earth, legitimated and promoted by both patriarchal religion and science, are interconnected assaults rooted in the eroticization of domination. The gynocidal culture's image of woman as object and victim is paralleled by contemporary representations that continually show the Earth as as a toy, machine, or violated object, as well as by the religious and scientific ideology that legitimates the possesion, contamination, and destruction of Mother Earth.

Jane Caputi, as quoted by Derrick Jensen in Endgame, Vol. II

Fuck You, Jeff Skilling. Fuck You, You Piece of Shit.

I had a really nice day today.

I woke up and it was raining on all the lovely bulbs that I planted yesterday (well, all the daffodil and allium bulbs; the squirrels, I'm sure, have already devoured the two dozen tulip bulbs).

The nice man showed up on the dot of 7:30 for my annual furnace inspection and pronounced my furnace nice and healthy. I don't know if I've ever mentioned it, but I love the furnace in this house. I don't know what it is, but it makes the warmest warmth and it warms my little house up in about two minutes. Miss Thing loves it even more than I do, if that's possible. Warmth. It's a blessing.

I got to work and had a lovely e-mail from a former paralegal who's doing really well in the world of politics and is loving his life. I did a spot of work.

I took Son to lunch at Agua Ardiente, and had gazpacho, rack of lamb, and naranja poached in Grand Mariner & vanilla ice cream, with a glass of Sangria. Not the best Spanish restaurant in D.C., but better than Matlin & Carvelle's place that used to occupy this space.

Went back to work, went to the gym, came home to my nice (warm!) little cottage and had homemade vegetable soup and a Stoli martini while reading holiday cards from old friends.

And do you know what made all of it 100% nicer? Knowing that Jeff Skilling reported to jail today.

Every day, for the next however many years, no matter what kind of day I have, I'm going to say to myself, "Hecate, Darling. Jeff Skilling is still in jail. Have another martini." And then, I will. And Jeff Skilling won't, because they don't serve martinis in jail.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Monday, December 11, 2006

Gardening In The Deep Of Winter

Do you know it? Do you know the thick, connected mass of roots that make up a plant that you are pulling up from the ground, from a container, from your yard? Do you you know it? Do you know the water-saturated acorn that tries so seriously to make a new oak tree, before you can pull it up, before you realize what is growing in your yard?

The seed company tells me that it will be September 2007 before they will send me black hyacinths. Meanwhile, I will have planted white Queen Anne's lace. Meanwhle, my black iris will flower for the second year. Meanwhile, I will give D-i-L's mother seeds from my black hollyhocks for xmas. Meanwhile, meanwhile, I will grow what I can grow in this shady yard for yet-another year.

What Is It About YouTube That Wiccans Don't Get?????

Sweet Goddess, the Corellians, Goddess bless them, are all over YouTube. Where's Starhawk? Where's Katrina Messenger? Where's Thorn Coyle? Where's the Rad Fey Where's Carol Christ? Where are the witches of San Francisco? (Don't you know that the rest of us look to you, count on you, imagine that if the crash comes, we'll treck out there to find you?) Where's Lewellyn, for Goddess sake? Where's the serious thealogians?

If you were to judge by YouTube -- only the hottest and hippest way of communicating today -- all witches are either Corellians, people who put lots of pictures of witchy-stuff to some not-so-great music, or people who can't spell.

Come on, witches! Get with the program! There are lots of interesting, controversial, visually-fascinating things to say about modern witchcraft, about magic, about feminist wicca. But they're not being said, today, on YouTube.
Wiccan Pentacle Dedication Ceremony

Liberty & Justice for All.

The Property Of Those Higher On The Hierarchy Is More Valuable Than The Lives Of Those Below

{T]he property of those higher on the hierarchy is more valuable than the lives of those below. It is acceptable for those above to increase the amount of property they control -- in everyday language, to make money -- by destroying or taking the lives of those below. This is called "production." If those below damage the property of those above, those above may kill or otherwise destroy the lives of those below. This is called justice.

This is certainly true of our intraspecies relations. Police can and routinely do bust up homeless camps, but homeless people are not allowed to dismantle police stations (or the homes of the police). Petrochemical companies are allowed to make people's homes uninhabitable by toxifying the surrounding landscape, but the residents of those homes are not allowed to destroy the refineries (or the homes of the owners). Whites could, should, and would systematically destroy the possessions of the Indians, but Indians were not allowed to return the favor. And it's true of our interspecies relations, as industrial production systematically devours the living planet, any nonhumans who threaten productivity must be destroyed. . . . [If destruction by those above of those below were not a given in our society, we would not tolerate extinction of entire species of animals,] prisons would not be stocked with small-scale criminals[,] and civilization would collapse in a heartbeat.

From Endgame, Vol. I by Derrick Jensen

Perhaps He Could Be Educated Concerning Who Hijacked Whose Holiday. That Would Be A Good Place To Start

10,000 Reasons to Doubt the Fish has an interesting story about a neighborhood where people decorate their homes with lights this time of year. One neighbor decorated his yard with a lighted pentacle. His fundie neighbor went ballistic.

Fundy: "I'm so tired of you people, thinking you can just hijack the Lord's holiday for your own agenda. Don't you get it? This is about the birth of JESUS! That's what it's for! I don't need your satanic agenda shoved down my throat when you should be showing respect for Christ!"

If we want to have a discussion about one religion shoving its agenda down everyone else's throat, I know a good place we could start. (And if the fundie thinks that his neighbor erecting a light display on his own property is "shoving" the neighbor's religious agenda down the fundie's throat, whoa boy, I wonder what he'd think about living in a world where the Pagan holiday of Yule was a national holiday?)

It's funny, because one of the few things I enjoy about this holiday is the colored lights, although, good conservationist that I try to be, I don't put any up because they require electricity, which pollutes the air and emits greenhouse gases. (I know. I know. Grinch.) But I think the lighted pentacle is a good idea for the same reason that I thought it was a good idea for my friend R. to send home Yule flyers in school children's backpacks. It forces the fundies to realize that they're NOT the only ones celebrating a holiday at this time of year.

Image found here.

Living In A Theocracy -- And Ain't It Grand

At some time in the last six years, and I don't know the exact date, the United States of America became a theocracy. We now have the tax dollars collected from everyone -- atheists, Pagans, Hindus, Moslems -- going to support xian churches and xian proselytizing. And, our military has become openly theocratic.

Today's WaPo reports that: A military watchdog group is asking the Defense Department to investigate whether seven Army and Air Force officers violated regulations by appearing in uniform in a promotional video for an evangelical Christian organization.

In the video, MUCH OF WHICH WAS FILMED INSIDE THE PENTAGON, four generals and three colonels praise the Christian Embassy, a group that evangelizes among military leaders, politicians and diplomats in Washington. Some of the officers describe their efforts to spread their faith within the military.
(emphasis added).

If you think just anyone can wander into the Pentagon and start shooting film, I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I'd really like to sell to you.

The article goes on to remind us that: In 2003, Army Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin drew criticism for appearing in uniform before church groups and saying, in remarks captured on video, that President Bush was "appointed by God," that the United States is "a Christian nation" and that Muslims worship "an idol." The inspector general's office determined that Boykin had not violated any rules, and he remained in a top intelligence post.

Contrast that with the fact that: This year, Navy chaplain Gordon J. Klingenschmitt was court-martialed for appearing in uniform at a political protest in front of the White House, though he maintained that all he did was lead a prayer.

Welcome to the Theocratic States of America. The military -- the ones with the guns -- are whackjob religious fundies. We can't change things if we won't even acknowledge them.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Via Witchvox, Here's an article from the Nashua Telegraph that is another well-written, respectful discussion of Wicca by a small, local paper. I'm noticing more and more often that, while the WaPo pretends that minority relligions don't exist and while other large media outlets only cover Wiccans from the "ooooh, spooky" standpoint, lots of local papers do a decent job of reporting on local Wiccan events.

MILFORD – For most of us, the holiday season involves trudging through crowded shopping malls, enduring long, aggravating lines, and slogging through the mass exodus from said shopping malls.

On the other hand, many followers of pagan religions spend the weeks before their major winter holiday – Yule – making handmade gifts, pounding out their excess energy in drum circles, and working with calming herbs to cleanse the soul.The second annual Yule Festival in the Ancient Tradition, held at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Saturday, offered all of those options to practicing pagans and curious community members alike.

The Granite Tribe chapter of SpiralScouts International, the pagans’ answer to Boys and Girl Scouts, sponsored the event.

Fundies: Go Bitch To Falwell

Here's the follow up to several of the posts below concerning Pagans in Albermarle, Virginia who decided to hoist Jerry Falwell on his own petard.

My madcap friend, R., reports that there was a very nice turnout for the event. The first part of the day was educational, with presentations concerning a number of late-December holidays, including Kwanza, Channauka, and Yule. More people attended this event than attended the afternoon event, which was a children's celebration of Yule. It's likely that some of the people at the morning program were fundies, looking for something to complain about to the Board of Education. However, they behaved themselves and then vamoosed before the Yule celebration. The kids who stayed for the Yule celebration had a great time, especially helping the Fairy Guide turn the wheel of the year. Their parents were delighted that their kids had a chance to meet with/hang with some other Pagan kids and R. came away convinced that Pagans need to do more for our young people.

It's likely that the Board of Education will be re-examining their policy of sending home religious flyers with school children (which was always the intent), but the fundies are apparently split between those who are so determined to use the schools to prostyletize that they'll put up with a few Pagan flyers and those who now realize that there might be something to this separation of church and state business.
Go, R.!

Hmm. This Reminds Me Of Someone. Now Who Could It Be?

A psychopath can be defined as one who willfully does damage without remorse: "Such individuals are impulsive, insensitive to other's needs, and unable to anticipate the consequences of their behavior, to follow long-term goals, or to tolerate frustration. The psychopathic individual is characterized by absence of the guilt feelings and anxiety that normally accompany an antisocial act." Dr. Robert Hare, who has long studied psychopaths, makes clear that "among the most devastating features of psychopaths are a callous disregard for the rights of others and a propensity for predatory and violent behaviors. Without remorse, psychopaths charm and exploit others for their own gain. They lack empathy and a sense of responsibility, and they manipulate, lie and con others with no regard for anyone's feelings." Hare also states, "Too many people hold the idea that psychopaths are essentially killers or convicts. The general public hasn't been educated to see beyond the social stereotypes to understand that psychopaths can be entrepreneurs, politicians, CEOs and other successful individual who may never see the inside of a prison."

From Endgame, Volume II by Derrick Jensen

Sunday Akhmatova Blogging

The Sentence

The word dropped like a stone
on my still living breast,
Confess: I was prepared,
am somehow ready for the test.

So much to do today:
kill memory, kill pain,
turn heart into a stone,
and yet prepare to live again.

Not quite. Hot summer's feast
brings rumors of carouse.
How long have I forseen
this brilliant day, this empty house?

Summer, 1939

Translatedby Stanley Kunitz & Max Hayward