Saturday, May 24, 2008

Making Excuses

Light posting for the next few days; my circle's big annual retreat is tomorrow, here, in my mid-landscaping-mess of a yard! Datura seedlings need to be planted RIGHT NOW. Any of you with the keys, feel free to guest blog.

Here's a nice poem to hold you:


SOMEDAY beneath some hard
Capricious star—
Spreading its light a little
Over far,
We'll know you for the woman
That you are.

For though one took you, hurled you
Out of space,
With your legs half strangled
In your lace,
You'd lip the world to madness
On your face.

We’d see your body in the grass
With cool pale eyes.
We'd strain to touch those lang'rous
Length of thighs,
And hear your short sharp modern
Babylonic cries.

It wouldn't go. We’d feel you
Coil in fear
Leaning across the fertile
Fields to leer
As you urged some bitter secret
Through the ear.

We see your arms grow humid
In the heat;
We see your damp chemise lie
Pulsing in the beat
Of the over-hearts left oozing
At your feet.

See you sagging down with bulging
Hair to sip,
The dappled damp from some vague
Under lip,
Your soft saliva, loosed
With orgy, drip.

Once we'd not have called this
Woman you—
When leaning above your mother's
Spleen you drew
Your mouth across her breast as
Trick musicians do.

Plunging grandly out to fall
Upon your face.
In grimace,
With your belly bulging stately
Into space.

~Djuna Barnes.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Here, Obama Campaign, This One Is Gratis. Get Way Behind The ERA.

Barack Obama has run an amazing campaign and he certainly doesn't need my advice.

But reading my good friend Sinfonian today, agonizing over what Hillary Clinton can do to advance the more deserving man's cause, (ahem, as if, were positions reversed, anyone would worry over that), I got to thinking. And I started thinking that there's one thing, beyond the blindingly obvious, that Obama could do to help us older women voters cozy up to the idea of, gee, one more time, supporting the man.

Obama could come out strongly in support of the ERA.

I mean, really, strongly in support. I'm biased, but I think this is a brilliant idea.

What got me to thinking of it was that I was listening to a radio news story about McCain on the Ellen DeGeneres show, trying to equivocate on gay marriage, and I was wondering, does anyone really think that gay marriage won't be the norm in, say, 30 years? I was trying to think of even one movement such as this where the conservatives were able to completely turn the tide. American independence. An end to colonialism throughout South America and Africa. Birth control. Loving v. VA. Lunch counters. Slavery. Environmental laws. And, then I thought, as is my wont, about women. Women won the right to vote a while back, but are still waiting for passage of the ERA. And, bam, it hit me. The Obama campaign has a serious problem with women, esp. we older women who watched the ERA bloom and fade. He needs to show as he really, really, really hasn't yet ("You're likable enough," "Absent" on choice votes, "Sweetie," a campaign full of men and based on his being a "committed xian" who is "called to serve") that he gets it. Serious backing for the ERA would go a long way for this grandmother.

So, don't listen to me. I'm only an old woman with a fat checkbook, an extensive address book, some weekends this Summer to spend handing out leaflets, and a house and garden made for entertaining. Don't address my concerns. It's better to make fun of me on blogs and make me feel even more disaffected from my own political party.

No, it's not.

The ERA. An idea whose time is now. Mr. Obama?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tell The Story

Thou Art Goddess

The Goddess Is Alive. Magic Is Afoot!

So Many Books, So Little Time

She Who Changes is one of the more important books in my spiritual development. It's one of those too-rare books for Pagans that goes beyond Feminist Spirituality 101. Carol Christ, who now blogs along with Starhawk and others, has a post up that discusses her book.

While process philosophy agrees with traditional views that all human knowing is partial and fragmentary, it does not take the further step of asserting that therefore we can know nothing of Goddess or God. Process philosophy boldly affirms that the love of Goddess/God for the world is something like the love we can know in relationships in the world and that the care and concern that Goddess/God offers to every individual in the world is something like the care and concern we can offer each other. In sharp contrast to traditional theisms, process philosophy argues that Goddess/God is more known than unknown because Goddess/God is in the world and the world is in Goddess/God. Process philosophy rejects all language and understandings that suggest that God is any way a distant or dominating Other. He is not a king, a tyrant, a bully, or man of war. She is not a queen, a withholding or controlling mother, or a wielder of a battle axe.

More here.

Meanwhile, Jason at The Wild Hunt has an interview with Brendan Cathbad Myers about Myers' new book: The Other Side of Virtue: Where Our Virtues Came From, What They Really Mean, and Where They Might Be Taking Us. I ordered it right away. Myers says:

It's not well known, but Virtue was originally a pagan idea. It was not only an ethical idea, but also a spiritual idea. It had to do with the way people make choices, but also with the way people 'held' themselves and possessed themselves. It configured how they understood their relationship to other people, the world, and the gods. To most people today it has to do with Christian qualities like humility and chastity. But its original side, which has now become its 'other side', has to do with the means by which a person empowers and edifies herself, and becomes a complete human being. Pagans have virtue-concepts in some of our most important and most widely shared statements of identity. The Charge of the Goddess mentions eight of them. But when most pagans think of ethics, they usually think of the the Wiccan Rede -- a highly utilitarian idea which has nothing to do with virtue. I'd like to change that.

Burning Witches

BBC reporting that:

Eleven elderly people accused of being witches have been burned to death by a mob in the west of Kenya, police say.

. . .

Anthony Kibunguchy, the provincial police officer, told the BBC that the eight women and three men were all aged between 80 and 96 years old.

The mob dragged them out of their houses and burned them individually and then set their homes alight, our correspondent says.

Residents have been ambivalent about condemning the attacks because belief in witchcraft is widespread in the area, he says.

But local official Mwangi Ngunyi spoke out against the murders.

"People must not take the law into their own hands simply because they suspect someone," he told AFP news agency.

Villagers told reporters that they had evidence that the victims were witches.

They say they found an exercise book at a local primary school that contained the minutes of a "witches' meeting" which detailed who was going to be bewitched next

Irredeemably sad. See what Angela's doing about it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Peonies By Mary Oliver

This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open ---
pools of lace,
white and pink ---
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities ---
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again ---
beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open.
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?

~from New And Selected Poems by Mary Oliver


I went out in the rain this morning and, even then, the ants were trying desperately to get INSIDE the peony buds. Peonies are quick to open once picked and brought inside, especially if you give them lukewarm water. You can almost watch them unfold.

Monday, May 19, 2008

From Six Recognitions Of The Lord By Mary Oliver


I lounge on the grass, that's all. So
simple. Then I lie back until I am
inside the cloud that is just above me
but very high, and shaped like a fish.
Or, perhaps not. Then I enter the place
of not-thinking, not-remembering, not-
wanting. When the blue jay cries out his
riddle, in his carping voice, I return.
But I go back, the threshold is always
near. Over and back, over and back. Then
I rise. Maybe I rub my face as though I
have been asleep. But I have not been
asleep. I have been, as I say, inside
the cloud, or, perhaps, the lily floating
on the water. Then I go back to town
to my own house, my own life, which has
now become brighter and simpler, some-where I have never been before


Every summer the lilies rise
and open their white hands until they almost
cover the black waters of the pond. And I give
thanks but it does not seem like adequate thanks,
it doesn't seem
festive enough or constant enough, nor does the
name of the Lord or the words of thanksgiving come
into it often enough Everywhere I go I am
treated like royalty, which I am not. I thirst and
am given water. My eyes thirst and I am given
the white lilies on the black water. My heart
sings but the apparatus of singing doesn't convey
half what it feels and means. In spring there's hope,
in fall the exquisite, necessary diminishing, in
winter I am as sleepy as any beast in its
leafy cave, but in summer there is
everywhere the luminous sprawl of gifts,
the hospitality of the Lord and my
inadequate answers as I row my beautiful, temporary body
through this water-lily world.


Substitute "Goddess" or "the Lord and the Lady" for Oliver's "Lords" and this is a v Pagan poem, I think. It confirms for me that mystics do what mystics do and then they seek for some kind of language to translate the cannot-be-translated into words. The words can be xian, Hindu, Buddhist, Kabbalah, Wiccan. It doesn't matter. In the end, it's all just god pouring god into god, as someone once said.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

In Progress

It doesn't look like a real herb bed, yet.