Saturday, March 10, 2007

A Great Way To Start A Book

In the course of my life, I have received some exquisite gifts. I have known love that melts your very bones, leaving the soul a shimmering pool of aching serenity. I've tasted death, I've seen its landscapes, and I've given birth. I've felt the pain that skids the mind in an endless crushing thrum; I've tumbled with the laughter of its release. I've known the warmth of my parents, the teachings of my bloodline. I've worked with, prayed and danced with, some extraordinary people, priests of different gods, performers, healers, and hermits. In so many ways I seem, in this lifetime of mine, to be forever landing in the most singular places, gazing about me amazed.

~Introduction to Druid Priestess by Emma Restall Orr

My Screen Porch

Sweet Mother of all the Gods, all the Goddesses, all the devas, all the nymphs, all the slyphs, all the Fairies, all the wee folk, all the odd spirits of this cottage, all the animals, all the plants, Sweet Goddess, thank you.

I just went out on my screen porch -- at 8:30 at night, in the complete dark -- and it was blissfully warm. Warm as in, barefoot on the ceramic tiles warm. Warm as in eat your dinner out here warm. Thank you, Mother.

I bought this little cottage for the screen porch. My agent had, by the time we'd been through so many other properties, finally begun to believe me that I only wanted to buy a house with a nice yard. So when we came here, she took me around back to the yard first. And, it was bad. Sloping. Neglected. Hodge-podge, one owner after another having stuck in "something," and taken out NOTHING. So she knew that I wouldn't buy, but she said, "The sellers' agent is a friend of mine. Let's walk through just to be polite." So we did and, even though I did like the kitchen, I had no plans to buy a house with a bad yard, too much shade to grow herbs, a difficult slope. But. But then, we walked out onto the screen porch and I knew that I would buy this house, that in the middle of a feverish market I would do what it took to get this house. Because of that screen porch. And, I did.

The yard still needs a lot of work. I've wallpapered the house and filled it with Stickley and art and new water heaters and basement drainage systems and ceiling fixtures. But the screen porch is perfect.

And, I love it. From about April until through almost the end of October, that's where I live -- out on the screen porch which has a view from which even my backyard doesn't look nearly as bad as it is. Out on the screen porch with its ceiling fan and big cedar table and skylights. I love my screen porch and, from now -- two weeks before Ostara -- until as close to Samhein as I can get, this is where I'll eat breakfast and dinner, read, blog, pet Miss Thing, sit and meditate, conduct rituals.

Thank you Mother of all the Gods. Thank you.

Clinton Supports Plan To End War As Soon As Possible

WaPo reports on Democratic bill aimed at ending the war in Iraq:

Clinton signed on as a co-sponsor when the final language was released Thursday. Although she differed with some Iraq Study Group recommendations, she did not dispute its withdrawal goal. The Senate resolution is also consistent with Clinton's view that a phased withdrawal should start as soon as possible and that Bush should end the war before he leaves office.

. . .

Clinton does support capping U.S. troops in Iraq at the number before the current buildup. She advocates a speedier timetable for beginning a troop withdrawal -- within 90 days, as opposed to 120 days in the new Senate plan.

[Thus,] Senate leadership aides circulated the record of a June 2006 roll-call vote, showing she had supported a similar nonbinding Democratic resolution. The measure urged Bush to "expedite the transition of United States forces in Iraq to a limited presence and mission" and to begin a phased withdrawal by the end of last year. The resolution did not specify a deadline, either as a goal or otherwise.

"Senator Clinton is firmly behind Democratic efforts to stop the president's escalation of troops into Iraq, to begin the phased redeployment of our troops out of Iraq and back home, and she fully supports this latest proposal to reverse his failed policy and end this war as soon as possible," her spokesman Philippe Reines said.

About Town

WaPo reports that:

Sen. Hillary Clinton dined on Thursday night at Penn Quarter restaurant 701, according to The Post's Al Kamen. She was joined by former ambassador Joe Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame , as well as former Bill Clinton aide (and ex-Post writer) Sidney Blumenthal and his wife, Jackie. What they talked about is anybody's guess -- Wilson, reached on his cellphone yesterday, had no comment.

Saturday Goddess Blogging

Hail Persephone, Goddess of the Underworld,maiden face of the triple Goddess, harbringer of Spring! Hail Persephone!

Art found here, here, and here.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Faggotty Protest Poetry Slam

Remember, body...

Body, remember not only how much you were loved,
not only the beds on which you lay,
but also those desires which for you
plainly glowed in the eyes,
and trembled in the voice -- and some
chance obstacle made them futile.
Now that all belongs to the past,
it is almost as if you had yielded
to those desires too -- remember,
how they glowed, in the eyes looking at you;
how they trembled in the voice, for you, remember, body.

Constantine P. Cavafy (1918)

Faggotty Protest Poetry Slam

My Mouth Hovers Across Your Breasts

My mouth hovers across your breasts
in the short grey winter afternoon
in this bed we are delicate
and touch so hot with joy we amaze ourselves
tough and delicate we play rings
around each other our daytime candle burns
with its peculiar light and if the snow
begins to fall outside filling the branches
and if the night falls without announcement
there are the pleasures of winter
sudden, wild and delicate your fingers
exact my tongue exact at the same moment
stopping to laugh at a joke
my love hot on your scent on the cusp of winter

Adrienne Rich

Faggotty Protest Poetry Slam

Never To Dream Of Spiders
by Audre Lorde

Time collapses between the lips of strangers
my days collapse into a hollow tube
soon implodes against now
like an iron wall
my eyes are blocked with rubble
a smear of perspectives
blurring each horizon
in the breathless precision of silence
One word is made.

Once the renegade flesh was gone
fall air lay against my face
sharp and blue as a needle
but the rain fell through October
and death lay a condemnation
within my blood.

The smell of your neck in August
a fine gold wire bejeweling war
all the rest lies
illusive as a farmhouse
on the other side of a valley
vanishing in the afternoon.

Day three day four day ten
the seventh step
a veiled door leading to my golden
flameproofed free-paper shredded
in the teeth of a pillaging dog
never to dream of spiders
and when they turned the hoses upon me
a burst of light.

Faggotty Protest Poetry Slam

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd

from Memories of President Lincoln


When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd,
And the great star early droop'd in the western sky in the night,
I mourn'd, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love.


O powerful western fallen star!
O shades of night -- O moody, tearful night!
O great star disappear'd -- O the black murk that hides the star!
O cruel hands that hold me powerless -- O helpless soul of me!
O harsh surrounding cloud that will not free my soul.


In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-wash'd palings,
Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
With many a pointed blossom rising delicate, with the perfume strong I love,
With every leaf a miracle -- and from this bush in the dooryard,
With delicate-color'd blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
A sprig with its flower I break.


In the swamp in secluded recesses,
A shy and hidden bird is warbling a song.
Solitary the thrush,
The hermit withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements,
Sings by himself a song.

Song of the bleeding throat,
Death's outlet song of life, (for well dear brother I know,
If thou wast not granted to sing, thou would'st surely die.)


Over the breast of the spring, the land, amid cities,
Amid lanes and through old woods, where lately the violets peep'd from the ground, spotting the gray debris,
Amid the grass in the fields each side of the lanes, passing the endless grass,
Passing the yellow-spear'd wheat, every grain from its shroud in the dark-brown fields uprisen,
Passing the apple-tree blows of white and pink in the orchards,
Carrying a corpse to where it shall rest in the grave,
Night and day journeys a coffin.


Coffin that passes through lanes and streets,
Through day and night with the great cloud darkening the land,
With the pomp of the inloop'd flags with the cities draped in black,
With the show of the States themselves as of crepe-veil'd women standing,
With processions long and winding and the flambeaus of the night,
With the countless torches lit, with the silent sea of faces and the unbared heads,
With the waiting depot, the arriving coffin, and the sombre faces,
With dirges through the night, with the thousand voices rising strong and solemn,
With all the mournful voices of the dirges pour'd around the coffin,
The dim-lit churches and the shuddering organs -- where amid these you journey,
With the tolling bells' perpetual clang,
Here, coffin that slowly passes,
I give you a sprig of lilac.


(Nor for you, for one alone,
Blossoms and branches green to coffins all I bring,
For fresh as the morning, thus would I chant a song for you O sane and sacred death.

All over bouquets of roses,
O death, I cover you with roses and early lilies,
But mostly and now the lilac that blooms the first,
Copious I break, I break the sprigs from the bushes,
With loaded arms I come, pouring for you,
For you and the coffins all of you, O death.)


O western orb sailing the heaven,
Now I know what you must have meant as a month since I walk'd,
As I walk'd in silence the transparent shadowy night,
As I saw you had something to tell as you bent to me night after night,
As you droop'd from the sky low down as if to my side, (while the other stars all look'd on,)
As we wander'd together the solemn night, (for something I know not what kept me from sleep,)
As the night advanced, and I saw on the rim of the west how full you were of woe,
As I stood on the rising ground in the breeze in the cool transparent night,
As I watch'd where you pass'd and was lost in the netherward black of the night,
As my soul in its trouble dissatisfied sank, as where you sad orb,
Concluded, dropt in the night, and was gone.


Sing on there in the swamp,
O singer bashful and tender, I hear your notes, I hear your call,
I hear, I come presently, I understand you,
But a moment I linger, for the lustrous star has detain'd me,
The star my departing comrade holds and detains me.


O how shall I warble myself for the dead one there I loved?
And how shall I deck my soul for the large sweet soul that has gone?
And what shall my perfume be for the grave of him I love?

Sea-winds blown from the east and west,
Blown from the Eastern sea and blown from the Western sea, till there on the prairies meeting,
These and with these and the breath of my chant,
I'll perfume the grave of him I love.


O what shall I hang on the chamber walls?
And what shall the pictures be that I hang on the walls,
To adorn the burial-house of him I love?

Pictures of growing spring and farms and homes,
With the Fourth-month eve at sundown, and the gray smoke lucid and bright,
With floods of the yellow gold of the gorgeous, indolent, sinking sun, burning, expanding the air,
With the fresh sweet herbage under foot, and the pale green leaves of the trees prolific,
In the distance of the flowing glaze, the breast of the river, with a wind-dapple here and there,
With ranging hills on the banks, with many a line against the sky, and shadows,
And the city at hand with dwellings so dense, and stacks of chimneys,
And all the scenes of life and the workshops, and the workmen homeward returning.


Lo, body and soul -- this land,
My own Manhattan with spires, and the sparkling and hurrying tides, and the ships,
The varied and ample land, the South and the North in the light, Ohio's shores and flashing Missouri,
And ever the far-spreading prairies cover'd with grass and corn.

Lo, the most excellent sun so calm and haughty,
The violet and purple morn with just-felt breezes,
The gentle soft-born measureless light,
The miracle spreading bathing all, the fulfill'd noon,
The coming eve delicious, the welcome night and the stars,
Over my cities shining all, enveloping man and land.


Sing on, sing on, you gray-brown bird,
Sing from the swamps, the recesses, pour your chant from the bushes,
Limitless out of the dusk, out of the cedars and pines.

Sing on dearest brother, warble your reedy song,
Loud human song, with voice of uttermost woe.

O liquid and free and tender!
O wild and loose to my soul -- O wondrous singer!
You only I hear -- yet the star holds me, (but will soon depart,)
Yet the lilac with mastering odor holds me.


Now while I sat in the day and look'd forth,
In the close of the day with its light and the fields of spring, and the farmers preparing their crops,
In the large unconscious scenery of my land with its lakes and forests,
In the heavenly aerial beauty, (after the perturb'd winds and storms,)
Under the arching heavens of the afternoon swift passing, and the voices of children and women,
The many-moving sea-tides, and I saw the ships how they sail'd,
And the summer approaching with richness, and the fields all busy with labor,
And the infinite separate houses, how they all went on, each with its meals and minutia of daily usages,
And the streets how their throbbings throbb'd, and the cities pent -- lo, then and there,
Falling upon them all and among them all, enveloping me with the rest,
Appear'd the cloud, appear'd the long black trail,
And I knew death, its thought, and the sacred knowledge of death.

Then with the knowledge of death as walking one side of me,
And the thought of death close-walking the other side of me,
And I in the middle as with companions, and as holding the hands of companions,
I fled forth to the hiding receiving night that talks not,
Down to the shores of the water, the path by the swamp in the dimness,
To the solemn shadowy cedars and the ghostly pines so still.

And the singer so shy to the rest receiv'd me,
The gray-brown bird I know received us comrades three,
And he sang the carol of death, and a verse for him I love.

>From deep secluded recesses,
>From the fragrant cedars and the ghostly pines so still,
Came the carol of the bird.

And the charm of the carol rapt me,
As I held as if by their hands my comrades in the night,
And the voice of my spirit tallied the song of the bird.

Come lovely and soothing death,
Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving,
In the day, in the night, to all, to each,
Sooner or later delicate death.

Prais'd be the fathomless universe,
For life and joy, and for objects and knowledge curious,
And for love, sweet love -- but praise! praise! praise!
For the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding death.

Dark mother always gliding near with soft feet,
Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome?
Then I chant it for thee, I glorify thee above all,
I bring thee a song that when thou must indeed come, come unfalteringly.

Approach strong deliveress,
When it is so, when you have taken them I joyously sing the dead,
Lost in the loving floating ocean of thee,
Laved in the flood of thy bliss, O death.

From me to thee glad serenades,
Dances for thee I propose saluting thee, adornments and feastings for thee,
And the sights of the open landscape and the high-spread sky are fitting,
And life and the fields, and the huge and thoughtful night.

The night in silence under many a star,
The ocean shore and the husky whispering wave whose voice I know,
And the soul turning to thee O vast and well-veil'd death,
And the body gratefully nestling close to thee.

Over the treetops I float thee a song,
Over the rising and sinking waves, over the myriad fields and the prairies wide,
Over the dense-packed cities and all the teeming wharves and ways,
I float this carol with joy, with joy to thee O death.


To the tally of my soul,
Loud and strong kept up the gray-brown bird,
With pure deliberate notes spreading filling the night.

Loud in the pines and cedars dim,
Clear in the freshness moist and the swamp-perfume,
And I with my comrades there in the night.

While my sight that was bound in my eyes unclosed,
As to long panoramas of visions.

And I saw askant the armies,
I saw as in noiseless dreams hundreds of battle-flags,
Borne through the smoke of the battles and pierced with missiles I saw them,
And carried hither and yon through the smoke and torn and bloody,
And at last but a few shreds left on the staffs, (all in silence,)
And the staffs all splinter'd and broken.

I saw battle-corpses, myriads of them,
And the white skeletons of young men, I saw them,
I saw the debris and debris of all the dead soldiers of the war,
But I saw they were not as was thought,
They themselves were fully at rest, they suffer'd not,
The living remain'd and suffer'd, the mother suffer'd,
And the wife and the child and the musing comrade suffer'd,
And the armies that remain'd suffer'd.


Passing the visions, passing the night,
Passing, unloosing the hold of my comrades' hands,
Passing the song of the hermit bird and the tallying song of my soul,
Victorious song, death's outlet song, yet varying ever-altering song,
As low and wailing, yet clear the notes, rising and falling, flooding the night,
Sadly sinking and fainting, as warning and warning, and yet again bursting with joy,
Covering the earth and filling the spread of the heaven,
As that powerful psalm in the night I heard from recesses,
Passing, I leave thee lilac with heart-shaped leaves,
I leave thee there in the door-yard, blooming, returning with spring.

I cease from my song for thee,
From my gaze on thee in the west, fronting the west, communing with thee,
O comrade lustrous with silver face in the night.

Yet each to keep and all, retrievements out of the night,
The song, the wondrous chant of the gray-brown bird,
And the tallying chant, the echo arous'd in my soul,
With the lustrous and drooping star with the countenance full of woe,
With the holders holding my hand nearing the call of the bird,
Comrades mine and I in the midst, and their memory ever to keep for the dead I loved so well,
For the sweetest, wisest soul of all my days and lands -- and this for his dear sake,
Lilac and star and bird twined with the chant of my soul,
There in the fragrant pines and the cedars dusk and dim.

Walt Whitman (1865)

Faggotty Protest Poetry Slam

An Asphodel

O dear sweet rosy
unattainable desire sad, no way
to change the mad
cultivated asphodel, the
visible reality...

and skin's appalling
petals--how inspired
to be so Iying in the living
room drunk naked
and dreaming, in the absence
of electricity...
over and over eating the low root
of the asphodel,
gray fate...

rolling in generation
on the flowery couch
as on a bank in Arden--
my only rose tonite's the treat
of my own nudity.

Allen Ginsberg

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Faggotty Protest Poetry Slam

What Ann Coulter has contributed to the wold is bitterness, aggression, and insult.

What many non-heterosexuals have contributed to the world is lovliness, beauty, grace.

Sappho, for instance wrote:

I have not had one word from her

Frankly I wish I were dead
When she left, she wept

a great deal; she said to me, "This parting must be
endured, Sappho. I go unwillingly."

I said, "Go, and be happy
but remember (you know
well) whom you leave shackled by love

"If you forget me, think
of our gifts to Aphrodite
and all the loveliness that we shared

"all the violet tiaras,
braided rosebuds, dill and
crocus twined around your young neck

"myrrh poured on your head
and on soft mats girls with
all that they most wished for beside them

"while no voices chanted
choruses without ours,
no woodlot bloomed in spring without song..."

--Translated by Mary Barnard

I love the idea of dill and crocus, which, frankly, bloom at different times of year here, twined about a lover's necek.

Big Problem; Many Solutions

Two interesting summaries in today's EEI newsletter:

$400 Per Ton Carbon Tax Proposed to Maintain GHG Emissions Levels
Stanford professor Stephen Schneider told a House Ways and Means Committee hearing a $400 per ton carbon tax is needed to keep GHG emissions at or near their current levels, Energy Washington Week reported today. Schneider said the tax would need to be gradually instituted but that it would also need to be "perceived by both consumers and producers as inexorable" in order to be effective.

A House staffer said testimony at the hearing pointed to the need for incentives to develop technologies for limiting emissions while also providing information on the issue to legislators. The hearing also suggested strong Congressional support for an extended and possibly permanent renewables generation tax credit as well as the formation of a research agency dedicated to advanced energy projects.

Schneider stated: "We found that a typical shadow price on carbon (a carbon fee or tax, for example) to prevent the concentration of CO2 from more than doubling was around $200 per ton carbon emitted."
Energy Washington Week , March 7.

Study Finds 15% National RPS Would Shave CO2 Emissions Growth

Wood Mackenzie, a consultant group, has issued a report that has concluded that a renewable portfolio standard of 15 percent would cut CO2 emissions from power plants by 10 percent in 2026, E&E News PM reported. The report said, according to the newsletter: "Emissions are still 18 percent above current levels" versus 31 percent in the base case. "This points out a shortcoming in the perception that renewable energy alone can result in the huge GHG reduction targets being proposed."

Wrote the newsletter: "The Wood Mackenzie report says that as concern over reliance on fossil fuels mounts, it is 'increasingly likely' that RPSs will expand though congressional action or wider adoption at the state level. The report also finds that a federal RPS would lower demand for natural gas by 3 billion cubic feet per day, and correspondingly projects reduced prices for natural gas than would be the case without the RPS. The study also projects lower electricity costs due to lower fuel prices and lower fossil fuel consumption. Wood Mackenzie predicts a savings of $240 billion in 2006 dollars. But the RPS would also create new capital construction costs of $134 billion to create new renewables capacity over the next roughly 20 years."

E&E News PM, March 6.


As I've said before, there is no ONE solution to the problems created by greenhouse gas emissions. Rather, there are lots of facets to the problem and thus, we need many different solutions. Serious taxes on carbon and serious requirements for a large percentage of energy to come from renewables are two such facets. Of course, as with anything, Mr. Satan, he lives in and among and through the details. There are, for example, renewables and there are renewables. Emphasis on ethanol is pushing up the prices of most meat and anything sweetened by corn syrup.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Non-Hetero Poetry Protest Slam Coming This Friday

Well, they must be renting ice skates and selling mugs of steaming hot chocolate in Hell, because I agree one hundred percent with Andrew Sullivan.

[Ann Coulter's] defense [of her speech this weekend at a conservative convention in which she called Democratic presedential candidate John Edwards a faggot], is that she was making a joke, not speaking a slur. Her logic suggests that the two are mutually exclusive. They're not. . . .

I was in the room, so I felt the atmosphere personally. It was an ugly atmosphere, designed to make any gay man or woman in the room feel marginalized and despised. To put it simply, either conservatism is happy to be associated with that atmosphere, or it isn't. I think the response so far suggests that the conservative elites don't want to go there, but the base has already been there for a very long time. (That's why this affair is so revealing, because it is showing which elites want to pander to bigots, and which do not.)

Coulter's defense of the slur is that it was directed at an obviously straight man and so could not be a real slur. The premise of this argument is that the word faggot is only used to describe gay men and is only effective and derogatory when used against a gay man. But it isn't. In fact, in the schoolyard she cites, the primary targets of the f-word are straight boys or teens or men. The word "faggot" is used for two reasons: to identify and demonize a gay man; and to threaten a straight man with being reduced to the social pariah status of a gay man. Coulter chose the latter use of the slur, its most potent and common form. She knew why Edwards qualified. He's pretty, he has flowing locks, he's young-looking. He is exactly the kind of straight guy who is targeted as a "faggot" by his straight peers. This, Ms Coulter, is real social policing by speech. And that's what she was doing: trying to delegitimize and feminize a man by calling him a faggot. It happens every day. It's how insecure or bigoted straight men police their world to keep the homos out.

And for the slur to work, it must logically accept the premise that gay men are weak, effeminate, wusses, sissies, and the rest. A sane gay man has two responses to this, I think. The first is that there is nothing wrong with effeminacy or effeminate gay men - and certainly nothing weak about many of them. In the plague years, I saw countless nelly sissies face HIV and AIDS with as much courage and steel as any warrior on earth. You want to meet someone with balls? Find a drag queen. The courage of many gay men every day in facing down hatred and scorn and derision to live lives of dignity and integrity is not a sign of being a wuss or somehow weak. We have as much and maybe more courage than many - because we have had to acquire it to survive. And that is especially true of gay men whose effeminacy may not make them able to pass as straight - the very people Coulter seeks to demonize. The conflation of effeminacy with weakness, and of gayness with weakness, is what Coulter calculatedly asserted. This was not a joke. It was an attack.

. . .

What Coulter did, in her callow, empty way, was to accuse John Edwards of not being a real man. To do so, she asserted that gay men are not real men either. The emasculation of men in minority groups is an ancient trope of the vilest bigotry. Why was it wrong, after all, for white men to call African-American men "boys"? Because it robbed them of the dignity of their masculinity. And that's what Coulter did last Friday to gays. She said - and conservatives applauded - that I and so many others are not men. We are men, Ann.

Of course, Sullivan, who has benefitted from living and supporting the patriarchy far more than he has suffered for it, fails to consider the implications of what he's saying. In order to demonize a man, to make him ineffective, you "feminize" him. Goddess guard those of us who are, well, females.

I got to thinking last night about how much gay/queer/transgendered/bi people have contributed to our world and how obscene it is for those like Coulter to continue to show such hatred. This Friday, I'm going to post some of my favorite poems by non-hetero poets. Feel free to join in. Music and art work also welcome.

Here's a little foretaste:

After Arguing Against The Contention That Art Must Come From Discontent
Mary Oliver

Whispering to each handhold, "I'll be back,"
I go up the cliff in the dark. One place
I loosen a rock and listen a long time
till it hits, faint in the gulf, but the rush
of the torrent almost drowns it out, and the wind --
I almost forgot the wind: it tears at your side
or it waits and then buffets; you sag outward...

I remember they said it would be hard. I scramble
by luck into a little pocket out of
the wind and begin to beat on the stones
with my scratched numb hands, rocking back and forth
in silent laughter there in the dark--
"Made it again!" Oh how I love this climb!
-- the whispering to the stones, the drag, the weight
as your muscles crack and ease on, working
right. They are back there, discontent,
waiting to be driven forth. I pound
on the earth, riding the earth past the stars:
"Made it again! Made it again!"

The Wearing Of The Weird

A few weeks ago, in the ongoing blogversation about the need for more and better Pagan thealogy, someone, and I apologize for not remembering who it was (cougholdtimersdiseasecough), turned me on to Druid Priestess: An Intimate Journey Through the Pagan Year by Emma Restall Orr. I'm really enjoying it so far; Orr not only has substantive things to say, she's a good writer.

Recounting an interview that she did with a local radio station preparing for its annual "Gee there are Pagans" Halloween feature, she touches on a second topic that's been floating around Pagan Blogistan:

"But you don't help yourselves. What about these funny clothes?"

Again I'm laughing. "You mean the long white sheets with pointy hoods?"

"It does give a pretty weird impression, a dozen blokes -- OK, and ladies -- dressed up like the Klu Klux Klan!"

I am used enough to these guys now to know that, despite the rolling tape between us, the questions he is asking will be edited out of the conversation, replaced by anything that will fit more suuccinctly with my answer.

"OK, some do wear robes when attending ceremonies. It's an important tool for shifting into a different frame of mind, reminding us, affirming, that we are doing something special. But it's very seldom nowadays that they are pure white. Most wear natural cloth which is undyed and unbleached. Some wear tabards or overrobes which proclaim the grade or tradition that they are working in. These might be red or green or blue, even black, embroidered or simple. And some robes have hoods -- they're another aid for focusing."

"Like blinkers," he says and I laugh.

"Yes, for a specific occasion and purpose. But most critically," I tese him with my emphasis, "the hood keeps out the wind and rain." He smiles. I add, "It isn't there so that we can cover our faces."

"Yeah, OK," he sighs, resigned.

Ozzie And Harriet Don't Live Here Any More

You know, I'm not so sure that the 1950s nuclear family is the best model ever envisioned of how people should live their lives --especially for women. But Harold Myerson, in today's WaPo, notes that the conservatives sure do talk as if that's what they thought. Yet, ever since Regan (divorced father, estranged from his children), they haven't been exactly walking the walk.

Myerson notes that the "decline of the American family" has hit the working class with far more force than it's hit those college-educated hippies: Taking into account all households, married couples with children are twice as likely to be in the top 20 percent of incomes, Harden reported. Their incomes have increased 59 percent over the past 30 years, while households overall have experienced just a 44 percent increase. Then, he keys in on one of the biggest differences between 1950s America and America in the aughts: I don't recall a single episode [of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet] in which the family had to do without because Ozzie had lost his job or missed taking David or Ricky to the doctor for fear he couldn't pay for it. I could add others. For example, it was possible for the entire 1950s family to live on the income of one wage-earner. (Yes, it sucked that women generally were forced to stay at home, but I know lots of families that would like the option for one spouse to stay at home, at least while their children are young. But that's simply not a choice for many modern families.)

Myerson notes that the same conservatives who piss and moan about "the decline of the American family" also cheer the decline of unions, the "globalization" of the economy (aka shipping Ozzie's job to India). [T]he very conservatives who marvel at the efficiency of our new, more mobile economy and extol the "flexibility" of our workforce decry the flexibility of the personal lives of American workers. The right-wing ideologues who have championed outsourcing, offshoring and union-busting, who have celebrated the same changes that have condemned American workers to lives of financial instability, piously lament the decline of family stability that has followed these economic changes as the night the day.

He concludes that: Problem is, disperse a vibrant working-class community in America and you disperse the vibrant working-class family.

Which is how American conservatism became the primary author of the very social disorder that it routinely rails against, and that Republicans have the gall to run against.

The party of family values? Please. If that's the banner that Republicans continue to wave, then they should certainly make Rudy Giuliani, who couldn't bestir himself to attend his son's high school graduation or his daughter's high school plays, their presidential nominee. No candidate could better personify the sham that is Republicans' and conservatives' concern for the American family.

Myserson also concludes that conservatives are "a house divided against themselves." I think he's wrong about that because he fails to grasp how cynical they are. They know what they're doing and they know what results it has. But continuing to beat up on individuals for their personal lives (strangely, those who are less secure about their economic futures tend to be less likely to commit to a marriage -- go figure), helps to shift the blame from conservative economic policies. And, if you can keep people mad at those damn feminists, they're less likely to notice who is really to blame for their lack of pensions and health care.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I Am Just Saying

Waiting For The Barbarians

-What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

The barbarians are due here today.
-Why isn't anything going on in the senate?
Why are the senators sitting there without legislating?

Because the barbarians are coming today.
What's the point of senators making laws now?
Once the barbarians are here, they'll do the legislating.
-Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting enthroned at the city's main gate,
in state, wearing the crown?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and the emperor's waiting to receive their leader.
He's even got a scroll to give him,
loaded with titles, with imposing names.
-Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today
wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?
Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,
rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?
Why are they carrying elegant canes
beautifully worked in silver and gold?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and things like that dazzle the barbarians.
-Why don't our distinguished orators turn up as usual
to make their speeches, say what they have to say?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and they're bored by rhetoric and public speaking.
-Why this sudden bewilderment, this confusion?
(How serious people's faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home lost in thought?

Because night has fallen and the barbarians haven't come.
And some of our men who have just returned from the border say
there are no barbarians any longer.
Now what's going to happen to us without barbarians?
Those people were a kind of solution.

Constantine P. Cavafy

Monday, March 05, 2007

Seething Webbs All Around*

That's my Senator, bitches!

"On the one hand, the Administration assures us that it has no intention of launching military operations against Iran. On the other, the Administration tells us that all options remain on the table, at a time when our military buildup in the region continues to grow rapidly. And while we see encouraging new diplomatic initiatives with respect to Iraq, it is important that we clarify, formally, the perimeter of our immediate military interests in the Middle East.

It is time, Mr. President, that we move forward to end our military involvement in Iraq, and the path to doing so is not to widen the war into Iran. Proper, robust diplomacy will enable us to bring greater stability to the region, to remove the American military from Iraq, to increase our ability to defeat the forces of international terrorism, and, finally, to focus on the true strategic challenges that face us around the world.

I believe the American people will welcome this legislation. This Administration has used force recklessly, choosing the military option again and again while never matching the quality of our military’s performance with robust, creative diplomacy. Furthermore, the President’s “signing statement” accompanying the 2002 congressional resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq indicates that this Administration believes it possesses the broadest imaginable authority to commence military action without the consent of the Congress.

In signing the 2002 Iraq resolution, the President denied that the Congress has the power to affect his decisions when it comes to the use of our military. He shrugged off this resolution, stating that on the question of the threat posed by Iraq, his views and those of the Congress merely happened to be the same. He characterized the resolution as simply a gesture of additional support, rather than as having any legitimate authority. He stated, “my signing this resolution does not constitute any change in … the President’s constitutional authority to use force to deter, prevent, or respond to aggression or other threats to U.S. interests…”

This is a sweeping assertion of powers that leaves out virtually nothing. It is a far different matter than repelling an immediate attack, or conducting a war that has been authorized by the Congress. Let’s just match up a couple of these words. The President is saying, for instance, that he possesses the authority to use force to “deter … threats to U.S. interests.” How do you use force to “deter” a threat, rather than preventing or responding to it? And what kind of “U.S. interest” is worthy of the use of force? And, most importantly, how do these vague terms fit into the historically accepted notions of a Commander in Chief’s power to repel attacks, or to conduct military operations once they have been approved by the Congress?

Mr. President, during our recent hearings on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I asked both the Secretary of State and the Deputy Secretary of State for clarification of this paragraph in the President’s signing statement. My question was whether this Administration believes it has the authority to conduct unilateral military operations against Iran in the absence of a direct attack or a compelling, immediate threat without the consent of the Congress. Both wrote me lengthy letters in reply, but neither could give me a clear responses. The situation that we now face is that the Administration repeatedly states that it seeks no war with Iran, at the same time it claims the authority to begin one, and at the same time it continues a military buildup in the region.

The legislation I introduce today is intended to clarify this ambiguity. In so doing, the Congress will be properly restating its constitutional relationship with the executive branch. The Congress will be reinstituting its historical role as it relates to the conduct of foreign policy. And the Congress will be reassuring the American people that there will be no more shooting from the hip when it comes to the gravely serious question of when we send our military people into harm’s way.

Mr. President I would like to emphasize that this bill will not take any military options off of the table. Nor will it tie the hands of the Administration if our military forces are actually attacked from Iranian soil or territorial waters, or by forces that retreat into Iranian territory. Nor does this legislation let Iran off the hook in terms of our insistence that Iran become a more responsible nation, including our positions regarding Iran’s nuclear program and Iran’s recognition of Israel’s right to exist.

I was one of the early voices warning that in terms of national security, Iran was a far greater threat than Iraq. This was one of the reasons I opposed the invasion of Iraq in the first place. Again, all of the options regarding Iran remain on the table. The question is in what context these options should be debated, alongside other options designed to eventually open up Iran and bring it responsibly into the world community. In my view, and in terms of the constitutional process, absent a direct attack or a clearly imminent threat, the place for that debate is here in the open forum of the Congress, not in some closed-door meeting at the White House."

I would like to personally thank G. Felix Allen, Jr. for being unable to reign in his racist shit.

Hat tip to pigboy at Eschaton.

*Seething Webb:
In shot glass
1 jigger Remy Red
1 jigger of Blue Curacao
top off with gin

But you have to find your own Republican to smash. (Credit: hisstoryman,Hunter of Da Snark)

George Bush Doesn't Like Black People

My brilliant friend Elizabeth, author of the best football blog in the world, keyed me into this:

Five days in this motherfucking attic
I can't use the cellphone I keep getting static
Dying 'cause they lying instead of telling us the truth (...)
Screwed 'cause they say they're coming back for us, too
but that was three days ago and I don't see no rescue(...)
Swam to the store, tryin' to look for food
Corner store's kinda flooded so I broke my way through
Got what I could but before I got through
News say the police shot a black man trying to loot.

Listen here.

Worth A Ticket To San Francisco

Check out the slide show, especially the third picture.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Two Points:

(1) Max Blumenthal has stronger psychic defenses than I can ever hope to have.

(2) These folks sure do seem defensive, don't they?

Speaking Of What Witches Wear

Via Witchvox: McQueen is very fun. Too young for an old broad like me, but I appreciate a lot of what he does.

Well, I woud wear this hat.

Pink Is The Navy Blue Of India ~ Diana Vreeland

"Something's happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear."

You can hear and feel it all over modern Paganism. Someting's going on. Maybe it's growing pains. Maybe it's adolesence. Maybe it's simply that the words of that old chant are true: "She changes eveything she touches and everything she touches changes." Whatever(s) it is, there are certainly calls for change.

What's interesting to me, though, is how often these calls are couched in terms of our needing "respect" from non-Pagans coughxianscough. From Thorn Coyle's call for a more thealogically-based Paganism to a number of recent demands that Pagans change the way that they dress, the rationale given is that the called-for change is necessary in order to get "them" to "respect" us. What's up with that?

Thorn, for example, recently wrote that:

Most of us want respect, right? But sometimes I wonder if we are going about it in the right way.

Oftentimes currying of respect comes in the form of people trying to prove "we are just like everyone else." That is fine, though it doesn't work too well for me, personally, and I feel it misses the point.

I was thinking about this because I've been reading Jack Kornfield's After the Ecstasy, the Laundry. In this book he includes interview snippets with many different spiritual leaders and practitioners. At first glance it looks like a wide variety of people of faith: Jews, Christians, Buddhists... Upon closer look you realize "Oh. He's only interviewing Jews, Christians and Buddhists." Right. . . .

Where are the neo-Pagan practitioners in this book? Why are there no Ceremonial Magickians in here? Where are the Witches or Norse Shamans? We are likely not even on Kornfield's radar. And why is that? Some of it is probably due to bad press in general, and more specifically bad press by the likes of Ken Wilbur who thinks our religions are unevolved.

But there is something else going on, too, and I may get stoned for what follows here...

A large part of the reason we are not on Kornfield's radar, I would hazard to guess, is because most of us are not on board with the project of deep self-transformation, and those of us who are just haven't been at it long enough. Where are our deep polythealogians, grappling with issues of soul development, or what we really believe or experience about our Gods? Where are our practitioners who have practiced so diligently we know they are masters because they radiate kick ass centeredness and wisdom rather than just raw power?

Diane Sylvan and Ann Johnson both have posts up debating whether or not (as if that's going to change it) Pagans ought to dress, well, a bit more like "everyone else." Sylvan puts it like this:

Recently there’s been a bit of discussion 'round the blogosphere about the issue of Pagans looking like, well, Renaissance-festival reject freaks, and whether or not we can ever be taken seriously in the religious community if we come off as members of a fandom.

I think we're kidding ourselves if we think that we could get "them" to "respect" us if only we'd write more books of serious thealogy, dress in Armani, or [insert your pet peeve here]. More discussions of serious thealogy would be a good thing, but Pagans have been writing good thealogy since long before Plato and Aristotle and, you know, it hasn't garnered us any more respect and has, in some cases, drawn even more derision. I know witches who wear Hermes and Jimmy Choo, witches who wear jeans and t-shirts, and witches who are Goth beauty queens. They're all serious about their religion and all of them belong to a religion that "others" don't respect. Maybe Uncle Gerald was onto something with all that skyclad business.

I think that, as she often does, Sylvan puts her finger on the real issue here:

Ideally, Paganism represents a fundamentally different way of looking at the world from the mainstream's materialistic commercialism and environmental degradation. Why should we dress to fit into a status quo we don't want to be a part of? Becoming Pagan isn't something that tends to attract conformists; why look like everyone else when you aren't like everyone else?

. . .

And really, when all is said and done, is it our outfits that are going to keep us from being taken seriously, or is it what we represent?

Western patriarchal religion is reaching a crisis point, as its denial of the feminine and the Earth as holy has steadily driven our world closer and closer to the edge of a chasm of greed and destruction. The old system doesn't work anymore, and it won't take much to bring the whole thing crashing down. Paganism's rise in America represents the fact that there is an alternative; that people can think for themselves and come to Deity on our own terms. We are a harbinger of the doom of the old power structure. Of course they don’t take us seriously. We are like the discovery of Christ's alleged tomb--if we're allowed to be thought of as genuine, we become a threat.

. . .

We've had hundreds of years to get used to clerical collars and saffron-colored Buddhist robes. If I show up for an interfaith council dressed in a Gandalf cloak with prosthetic pointed ears and a six-foot staff tipped with a $300 quart point, well, I pretty much waive the right to be surprised when they laugh at me. Do I have the right to dress how I want to dress? As far as I know, as long as my bits are covered to the satisfaction of state and local laws, yes I do. Do other people have the right to think I look like a moron? Oh yes, and I promise you, they will.

. . .

The only thing I can say with certainty is this: my duty is not to dress like a Pagan or like a Christian or like anyone. My duty is to be 100% myself 100% of the time, and not apologize for who I am or what I look like.

(I'll also note that it's apparently only RenFaire-type dress that is driving some folks nuts. I've yet to hear anyone complain about Pagans with too many tattoos or piercings. If we're all going to have to start wearing Ann Taylor, it isn't only the ReFaire Pagans who are going to have to change. Why, no. I'm not suggesting this is an ageist issue; why would you think so? ;) )

Coming back from Pantheacon, Thorn wrote:

I am grateful for our strangeness, our eccentricities, our depth, and the fact that we make room for each other. Margot Adler spoke of that multiplicity being our strong point and Sam Webster talked about the beauty of our polyphony. I believe that this is true, and love that we can celebrate together.

I was even gifted with a pope card by some wonderful, wandering Discordians.

I think that's about right. Our strangeness and eccentricities, our multiplicity and our polyphony are far, far more important than some chimerical "respect" that our patriarchial society would be nuts to "grant" to us, and never will, no matter how much we might like to think that they'd do so "if only" other Pagans "would only" [insert your pet peeve here].

As is so often the case, it's likely the Discordians who will save us from ourselves. Take one of their pope cards. If weird dress and shitty theology were the cause of disrespect, that guy wouldn't be living in a palace and granting audiences to campaigning U.S. presidents.

Late Saturday Goddess Blogging



Mother Diana, Queen of Wytches
Stars in the Heaven obey your calling
Mother Diana, temptress, sorceress
Spinning your magick above the earth
Bore ye Aradia, daughter of incest
Wytch child of Lucifer, teacher divine
Lucifer, Diana, strega Aradia
La Vecchia Religione
Lucifer, Diana, strega Aradia
La Vecchia Religione
Stregoni, stregoni sulla terra
Bella strega Aradia
Stregoni, stregoni sulla terra
Bella strega Aradia

Wiccans don't have, by and large, human avatars. But we do have Aradia. Aradia is said to have taught us:

Listen to the words of the Great Mother; she who of old was also called among men Artemis, Astarte, Athene, Dione, Melusine, Aphrodite, Cerridwen, Dana, Arianrhod, Isis, Bride, and by many other names:

Whenever ye have need of anything, once in the month and better it be when the moon is full, then shall ye assemble in some secret place and adore the spirit of me, who am Queen of all witches. There shall ye assemble, ye who are fain to learn all sorcery, yet have not won its deepest secrets; to these will I teach things that are yet unknown. and ye shall be free from slavery; and as a sign that ye be really free, ye shall be naked in your rites; and ye shall dance, sing, feast, make music and love, all in my praise. For mine is the ecstasy of the spirit, and mine also is joy on earth; for my law is love unto all beings. Keep pure your highest ideal; strive ever towards it; let naught stop you or turn you aside. For mine is the secret door which opens upon the Land of Youth, and mine is the cup of wine of life, and the Cauldron of Cerridwen, which is the Holy Grail of immortality. I am the gracious Goddess, who gives the gift of joy unto the heart of man [sic]. Upon earth, I give the knowledge of the spirit eternal; and beyond death, I give peace, and freedom, and reunion with those who have gone before. Nor do I demand sacrifice; for behold, I am the Mother of all living, and my love is poured out upon the earth.

Hear ye the words of the Star Goddess; she in the dust of whose feet are the hosts of heaven, and whose body encircles the universe.

I who am the beauty of the green earth, and the white Moon among the stars, and the mystery of the waters, and the desire of the heart of man, call unto thy soul. Arise, and come unto me. For I am the soul of nature, who gives life to the universe. From me all things proceed, and unto me all things must return; and before my face, beloved of Gods and of men, let thine innermost divine self be enfolded in the rapture of the infinite. Let my worship be within the heart that rejoiceth; for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals. And therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honour and humility, mirth and reverence within you. And thou who thinkest to seek for me, know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not unless thou knowest the mystery; that if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee. For behold, I have been with thee from the beginning; and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.

Art found here.

Sunday Akhmatova Blogging

There Are Four of Us

Herewith I solemnly renounce my hoard
of earthly goods, whatever counts as chattel.
The genius and guardian angel of this place
has changed to an old tree-stump in the water.

Earth takes us in awhile as transient guests;
we live by habit, which we must unlearn.
On paths of air I seem to overhear
two friends, two voices, talking in their turn.

Did I say two? . . . There by the eastern wall,
where criss-cross shoots of brambles trail,
-- Oh look! -- that fresh dark elderberry branch
is like a letter from Marina in the mail.

~November 1961

I think of all the Akhmatova poems that I've blogged, this may be my favorite, so far. Four of them: Anna, the voices of her two old friends, and the elderberry branch.