Friday, November 21, 2008


You know those great science fiction stories where a culture in the future has founded an entire way of life around some random quote left over from present times? Where "eorge ashington" is all they know about leadership or "Have a Coke and a Smile" leads to intense theological debate concerning what the ancients meant by "Have a Coke"? Where a garbled version of the Pledge of Allegiance is a sacred text?

I sometimes wonder which words, if I had to choose, as a witch, I'd leave for some oddly witch-deprived world of the future to discover. I generally wind up unable to choose between "All acts of love and pleasure are rituals of the Goddess," and "The Goddess is alive. Magic is afoot!" Both seem, to me, to encapsulate so much of what's good and right about Wicca. I do know, though, (yes, I spend a lot of time on such silly thoughts) what one skill I'd teach if I were the last witch left and not left for long, at that. I'd teach Grounding.

IMHO, if you can ground, you're a witch and you'll probably eventually get all the rest on your own, anyway. (OK, and -- "don't light a lot of candles when wearing flowing robes," "spend some time every day outside," "when you forget your well-written incantation, just make it up, it will probably be better anyway," "you don't REALLY need an athame," "witch wars are not worth it," "handle wolfsbane and thorn apple with gloves, really," and "when you meet Great Lady Artemis Raven Moonflower along the path, kill the Great Lady" -- those are good, too.)

Grounding is the basis, for me, of all magical practice and if all that you have time to do is to ground, I still think that you can say you've engaged in daily practice. Similarly, I'm v hard pressed to think of any situation in which grounding isn't the first thing you should do, the most effective magical spell that you can cast, the best and most effective way to be a witch in whatever situation you face.

More here, here, and here.

Beyond that, there's the Ha Prayer or some form of breath work, and there's building a personal place of power where you can go to work magic, find answers, gather strength. But, trust me, only ground and the rest will come. Even if you never have a small, ancient jar full of ground-up High John the Conqueror's root tucked in the hidden compartment of an ash broom carved w interesting runes. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Why This Culture Is Doomed (Or Should Be)

It doesn't get any better when they get older; in fact, it gets worse. Twisty, of course, is on it:

Bayer’s new Teen Advantage pill focuses on the “top health concerns of moms and teens” (dads, it is well documented, are oblivious to their children’s health; their top health concern is erectile dysfunction). The “For Him” vitamins address the critical dude issue of “healthy muscle function.” Girl-teen vitamins, on the other hand, are primarily concerned with “healthy skin.”

Seriously. This shit just writes itself.

So I don’t need to spell out the multi-faceted celebration of patriarchal ideology, binary genderism, and sexist bullshit encrapsulated by this asinine product. Hey, Bayer Product Development Guy! The 50’s called, and they want their male chauvinist pig jibbajabba back!

If, back when I was still a captive rebelling against the stifling stewardship of my nuclear family, my mother had induced me to take dork-ass pills called “Teen Advantage,” I would have written 8 pages in my journal about her smothering suburban uncoolness and how I couldn’t wait until I was 18, whereupon I would move to Manhattan, wear black, and become a fixture at the most prestigious literary salons.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Le Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrive!

The harvest, which that lasted nearly a month, beginning as it did on 15th September, was blessed with ideal weather. With hardly a drop of rain in September the crisp sunny weather meant that the grapes ripened evenly and steadily and that, health-wise, a good balance was reached. This allowed the vine growers to leave the grapes on the vine a few days longer and make the most of the excellent weather.

As far as volume is concerned, the yield in 2008 is particularly low, throughout the vine growing area. The yield could even be the lowest in Beaujolais since 1975, if the forecasts are confirmed: under 800 000 hl, where the average is 1 000 000 hl. This, in addition to the weather during the harvest, guarantees certain quality and has led professionals to state that “all the conditions for a successful vintage are combined”.

In the cellars, where fermentation has started, the primary juice augurs really aromatic wines, with a marked domination of fruit. Small red fruit, including the raspberry and black currant that are classics for the Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc grape variety, from which all red Beaujolais is made, will be present this year, together with notes of vine peach in a lovely palette of exuberant, lip-smacking aromas and flavours.

To the eye, the robes are shining ruby red. On the palate, the vintage will tend towards the fruit, with freshness and supple tannins that are the fortunate result of the sunshine in September making the wines beautifully round.

Because of the unruly weather, 2008 may globally be seen as a “winemaker’s vintage”. This year has required know-how and vigilance to keep the vines on track and create delectable wines, whose qualities will open out over the coming weeks.

More here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Since the election, I've been discussing abortion w friends at work who are very anti-abortion, and my v creative friend K and I were talking about it tonight. I seriously disagree with some of this Catholic's points. (Back off my Constitution, you woman-hating creep.) But he does make some worthwhile points.

Years and years of trying to criminalize abortions and of turning the catholic church into the church of "please elect a republican" (who among us can forget the catholic church doing everything possible to steal the election away from John Catholic Kerry and to give it to George the Torturing Warmonger Bush? Nicely done, bishops. You must be so proud.) have failed to stop women from getting abortions. So if your REAL goal were to prevent abortions (and I don't think that is the real goal of many who want to criminalize abortion, but, again, another story for another day), now would be a great time to stop and try to re-think your methods.

Here are the facts:

Criminalizing abortion doesn't stop abortion. We know that this is true because, back in the bad old days when abortion was criminalized, women still had abortions. They had them in back alleys from hacks who butchered them and left them to bleed to death, but they still had them. Abortion has been around for centuries and centuries. Before abortion was available, people exposed unwanted children. There's a long-standing human need to control family size and it's not going away any time soon, laws or no laws. And, even those who advocate criminalizing abortion can't explain exactly how they'd punish women who seek abortions. If it's murder, would you execute the woman? Leave her other children orphans? Only penalize the doctor? Even if she saved the woman's life? WTF? (One suspects these "pro-life" sorts would gladly execute the woman, but don't think that notion is too marketable, "yet." First they'll criminalize abortion and then they'll introduce stoning and burning at the stake. Cuz they're "pro-life.")

Countries in South America with stringent laws criminalizing abortion have high rates of abortion and countries in Scandinavia with liberal abortion laws have low rates of abortion. Abortions were down under Bill Clinton, who was pro-choice, are up under Bush, who says that he opposes abortion. The conclusion is obvious and inescapable: Criminalizing abortion -- the primary goal of the catholic church and of the past several decades of the "pro-life" movement -- doesn't and wouldn't prevent abortion.

You might want to just sit with that thought for a few minutes.

There are things that have been empirically shown to reduce abortions. Sadly, for the catholics and other wingnuts, those things also empower women and reduce unplanned pregnancies (which lead to abortion), and they can't get behind either of those outcomes.

Teaching girls to read, write, do math, do science, understand history, and run small businesses -- dollars spent on educating girls -- empowers women, and reduces unplanned pregnancies and, thus, abortion. Check out any developing nation or American inner city and you'll see that this is true.

Real sex education, not bullshit "abstinence education," empowers women and reduces unplanned pregnancies and, thus, abortion.

Opportunities for women to advance in the work world empower women and reduce unplanned pregnancies and, thus, abortion.

Enforcement of child support laws, provision of affordable, effective and safe birth control, provision of good, affordable day care, provision of medical care for pregnant women and infants, jobs with equal pay: all of these have been shown to decrease abortion.

And, yet, for over a generation, the catholic church and the "pro-life" movement have focused relentlessly on criminalizing abortion. When someone consistently works towards an ends shown not to be associated with his asserted goal and consistently refuses to support those things shown to be associated with his asserted goal, it causes me to question that person's true goal. But that's another story for another day.

If I were concerned with preventing abortions, I think that the last 8 years and this election would be a wake-up call for me.

Even in wingnut South Dakota, anti-abortion ballot measures fail. Your vaunted "state's rights" arguments -- last used by those who wanted to be able to discriminate against African Americans in their own states when they realized they were losing the national debate on that issue (nice company, bishops; you must be so proud!) -- won't save you. Obama's going to pick the next 2 to 4 SCOTUS Justices and they're not going to criminalize abortion. Several generations have grown up accepting that women have a right to terminate pregnancies when they choose. Even when Republicans control the WH, the Congress, SCOTUS, and the media, (and it's going to be years and years and millions of abortions before they ever do again; go look at who's up for re-election in 2010 and 2012) they don't criminalize abortion. They just save the issue to use to make a bunch of fools donate and vote for them every two years. That's all. They use the fundies like the gullible fools they are.

It turns out that you can't have both. You can either decrease abortions -- your stated goal -- and increase women's power and control over their own sexuality, or you can continue to try to control women's sexualiy while fetus after fetus bites the dust.

As the wonderful psychiatrist in my favorite episode of the Sopranos told Carmella, at least you can never say that no one told you.

Monday, November 17, 2008

What Did You Do This Weekend?

Winter's Coming

Make soup

Knit mittens

Burn logs and incense in the fireplace

Put socks on your feet

Brew a cup of tea

Plan your spring garden

Picture found here.

My New Name For A Blog

What NTodd Said.

Also, of course, What the Snake Goddess Said.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My New Name For A Blog

What the Kenosha Kid Said:

Ban Heterosexual Marriage

This measure shall be known and may be cited as the "California Marriage Destruction Act."

SECTION 2. Article I. Section 7.5 is added to the California Constitution. to read:
Sec. 7.5. No marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

In order to qualify for the ballot, the marriage definition measure needed 694,354 valid petition signatures, which is equal to 8% of the total votes cast for governor in the November 2006 General Election.

Start collecting those signatures!

Sunday Trakl Blogging


At evening the woods of autumn are full of the sound
Of the weapons of death, golden fields
And blue lakes, over which the darkening sun
Rolls down; night gathers on
Dying recruits, the animal cries
Of their burst mouths.
Yet a red cloud, in which a furious god,
The spilled blood itself, has its home, silently
Gathers, a moonlike coolness in the willow bottoms;
All the roads spread out into the black mold.
Under the gold branches of the night and stars
The sister’s shadow falters through the diminishing
To greet the ghosts of the heroes, bleeding heads;
And from the reeds the sound of the dark flutes of
autumn rises.
O prouder grief! you bronze altars,
The hot flame of the spirit is fed today by a more
monstrous pain,
The unborn grandchildren.

Translated by James Wright and Robert Bly

Wikipedia tells us that: On the outbreak of World War I, Trakl [trained in his youth as a pharmacist] was sent as a medical official to attend to soldiers in Galicia (comprising portions of modern-day Ukraine and Poland). Trakl suffered frequent bouts of depression, exacerbated by the horror of caring for severely wounded soldiers. During one such incident in Grodek, Trakl had to steward the recovery of some ninety soldiers wounded in the fierce campaign against the Russians. He tried to shoot himself from the strain, but his comrades prevented him. Hospitalized in Krakow and placed under close observation, Trakl lapsed into deeper depression and wrote to [a friend] for advice. [The friend[ convinced him to contact Wittgenstein. Upon receiving Trakl's note, Wittgenstein went to the hospital, but found that Trakl had committed suicide from an overdose of cocaine three days before.

Photo found here.