Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ecstatic Dance

If Wicca is an ecstatic religion, how do we achieve, maintain, and use ecstasy? How do we allow ecstasy to achieve, maintain, and use us? How often and, if not, why not?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


What She Said.

Neither staying nor going ever prevent the heart from breaking. All we can hope to influence is in what place and under what conditions the heart breaks open, because it will: unavoidably, regularly, and without concern for whatever else we might wish to be doing.

Art found here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Blaming The Victim

I've been pondering this article all morning, amazed at the truths it tells and the things that it gets, well, if not wrong, only, at best half right. The point of the NYT story is that average Americans have been sinking deeper and deeper into debt, while the companies that loan them money have been doing very well indeed. And that's an important point that needs to be made.

What intrigues me, though, are the points that the article can't help making, although it does try and elide them. Note that the financial troubles of the woman in the story are, more than anything else, the result of the fact that she needed a hysterectomy and had a burst appendix. In many countries all across the globe, those events wouldn't threaten financial ruin.

But as happens with many debt-laden Americans, an unexpected illness helped push Ms. McLeod over the edge. In January 2006, her doctor told her she needed a hysterectomy. She had health care coverage, but she could no longer work at a second job.

She made matters worse during her recovery, while watching home shopping channels. “Eight weeks in bed by yourself is very dangerous when you have a TV and credit card,” Ms. McLeod said. “QVC was my friend.”

Later that year, Ms. McLeod realized she was in trouble, squeezed by her mortgage and credit card payments, her $350 monthly car bill, rising energy prices and a stagnant salary. She started to sell knickknacks, handbags, clothing and other items on eBay to help cover her heating and food bills. She stopped paying her credit cards so that she could afford her mortgage.

A year ago she was back in the hospital, this time with a burst appendix. Her condition worsened, and she lost the use of one kidney. She spent 19 days in the hospital and six weeks recuperating. Her prescription-drug costs added to her expenses, and by September she could no longer pay her mortgage.

Throughout the article, there's an emphasis upon the woman's responsibility for her own problems. (Ms. McLeod, who is 47, readily admits her money problems are largely of her own making.) She left her husband! She wanted some nice handbags and some jewelry! (NO discussion, at all, of the role that advertising may play in this issue.) There's no discussion about how government-paid-for health care and government programs to force employers to give employees time off from work for health problems could have helped Ms. McLeod. Nor is there any suggestion that perhaps some visiting nurse services (remember visiting nurses? from the 50s and 60s?) could have helped her to focus on other activities during her recuperation. I'm not sure exactly why, but something about this reminds me of how absolutely horrible the waiting area was in the local 24 hour drug store when I had to sit there at 2:00 am a few years ago to fill a prescription for an ear infection on a Saturday morning after a Friday night in the emergency room. And I just kept thinking, though my pain and exhaustion: lots of lost opportunities here. Lots of lost opportunities to foster health and healing and better lives.

Similarly, "rising energy prices and a stagnant salary" are mentioned in passing, as if they were simply facts of life, and not deliberate policy decisions by a Republican-controlled Congress, WH, and court-system (and, since 2006 by completely ineffective Democrats. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, I'm looking at you).

Should Ms. McLeod have done a better job of understanding the terms of her credit (babe, I want a Kelly bag worse than almost anything in the world, but NO handbag is worth 28% interest!)? Sure. One wonders how she graduated from high school without a basic understanding of this concept. (Oh, yeah, that's right. To the extent that high schools even teach consumer math, they generally do so with materials provided by BANKS AND CREDIT CARD COMPANIES!) But Ms. McLeod isn't the problem here. Where's the NYT story where the chairman of Wachovia gives up his stock options and golden parachute while readily admitting that the bank's money problems are largely of his own making?

And, explain to me again, why aren't we in the streets with pitchforks? Well, being told that the problems are our own fault plays a role in keeping people at home and depressed rather than in the streets and angry. And the NYT, where do its interests lie?

Extra bonus points: Count in comments the ways in which the photo is judgemental.

No One Could Have Anticipated . . . .

No one could have anticipated that this crappy Republican economy would be bad for women.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Shit! Fuck! Damn!

Dear Dark Mother, Kali Ma, Eater of Souls,

I know that all life is a manifestation of the Goddess and that the Eaters must, in turn be Eaten, and that it is this very process of consumption and decay that is Sacred. And, yet, I wanted to tell you today that I fucking hate my fucking little Sisters, the fucking mosquitos, and if I find the fucking one who lives in my car and chews up my ankles and calves while I'm driving and can't do shit about it -- when I find her, I am going to kill her and you can just add it to my karma tab and we'll work it out later.

Love, your daughter,

Hecate, Runnymead Conspirator

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Moon Is As High As The Fourth Of July

My Circle of Amazing Women counts each dark moon, each full moon, and each of the 8 major holidays as lasting three days. And, so, if the "real" moon is on a Wednesday, but it's easier for us to meet on Friday night, we do, and we consider the energy every bit as real, the feeling as strong, the magic as effective. (It's a convention born of the kind of schedules that women in Washington, D.C. keep, but it has never failed to "work" for us. Maybe it's "derivative" and modern; maybe it's "East Coast," maybe it's, here in the center of world politics, political. Whatever it is, it works for us.)

By my Circle's reckoning, today "is" the Full Moon. The "real" Full Moon this month, at around 7:00 am on Friday morning, was so strong that it kept me out of bed, full of dance, and crackling with electricity and life until about 4:00 am on Saturday morning. Staring at the cool orb behind the branches and leaves of the oak trees, jotting down insights into my Book of Shadows, silently communing with the night, I sang my "Hymn to Her" over and over and over again.

And I spent part of "today's" Full Moon time sitting in the hot July sun, surrounded and grounded by the low, droning sound made by crickets in the afternoon heat, breathing the hot, gardenia perfumed, afternoon air, and listening to the small plot of land upon which I live. And I spent part of it at my altar, going through my daily practice.

I believe in daily practice like I believe in breathing, and bathing, and laughing every day, and in the beauty of the Darkest Goddesses. Over time, my daily practice evolves, but what stays the same is the need for my daily practice to be, well, daily. I ground, and if there's not time to do anything else, I think that a witch who has grounded has performed her daily practice.

But almost always, I also invoke the powers of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, and a constantly changing group of Goddesses. Today, appropriate, I think, for the time when we harvest corn, tomatoes, okra, cucumbers (beloved by the Egyptians), blackberries, and cherries, I invoked Ponoma, after reading Sia's lovely post, along with several Others, and always culminating with my beloved patroness, the Goddess of crossroads, liminal spaces, change and flow and transformation, and birth, death, the Moon, witches: Hecate.

I lit candles dedicated to two different specific spells. I pulled a tarot card to give me something to consider. I tranced, and, in trance, danced, naked, adorned with flowers, and sweating in the July afternoon heat, to my place of power. I prayed my two important prayers and I listened, again, to the land. I invoked what I need, using my wand -- an old crooked branch that G/Son always picks up and says, "Your wand don' work?" -- and I swam back home from that "place," back down my street, and up my steps, and inside to the middle room on the left, to my altar.

And, as so often happens, the gate opens, photosynthesis carries me away, I remember that I am part of everything and that everything, oddly enough, is happily part of me, and then, before I dissolve all the way, all the way, all the way into everything, slowly, I come "back."

May it be so for you.