Saturday, February 14, 2009

Damn. This Is Good.

And, oddly appropriate for early Spring. The combination of two root vegetables -- parsnips and horseradish -- with two Spring vegetables -- parsley and chives -- somehow really works. I used vegetable broth and tripled the amount of parsley and chives. Parsnips have a lot of fiber and some vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium.

1 1/2 pounds of parsnips, peeled and cut into 2 1/2 inch batons
4 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup of stock - turkey stock, low-sodium chicken stock or vegetable broth
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
4 teaspoons drained, bottled horseradish (how to make homemade horseradish)
1/2 Tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 Tbsp minced chives
1/2 small garlic clove, minced.

1 Pre-heat oven to 400°F. In a large roasting pan, toss the parsnips with the olive oil, salt and pepper. (Use a roasting pan with sides no more than 2 inches high.) Add the broth, cover with aluminum foil and roast, stirring once or twice, until the parsnips are tender and the stock has evaporated or been absorbed, 30-45 minutes. Check often to avoid their getting mushy - especially if they are to be reheated later.
2 Combine the softened butter with the horseradish, parsley, chives and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Toss the warm roasted parsnips with the horseradish-herb butter and serve.
3 The parsnips (with the oil, salt, pepper, and broth) can be pre-cooked in a covered container in the microwave for 5 minutes. Transfer to oven to finish cooking in a much shorter time. You may want to uncover them to help evaporate the liquid when in the oven.

Recipe found here.

Picture found here.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Date Rape

I agree with everything that Foser says here, but I'll add that Obama set himself up for this criticism months ago when he made "bipartisanship" a keyword of his campaign. He insisted it was of prime importance long before the media decided that his administration would rise and fall based upon its appeal to his opponents. Many of us suggested months ago that it takes two to do the bipartisan boogie and that Republicans will never dance nice with a Democrat. We were told that we just didn't understand his incredible ju jitsu. Someone close to Obama once told me that he has a "very strong sense of his own abilities." I hope he's learned that even he can't get blood out of a stone or help from the Republicans. Now, Barack, tell them to go fuck themselves and govern from the Left. You can do it.

And, as always, What Digby Said. She's been especially brave and amazing and spot on the last few weeks.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tomorrow's the Feast of St. Valentine, and the incomparable Sara Sutterfield Winn pointed me to this wonderful discussion of what love means to Pagans:

I am stuck on the morning light. So much so that I can barely think about aught else. It bleeds all over the wet, dark grass, revealed after a weekend of soaring wind and rain, swaddling February in March’s clothes. The prairie grass that clumps and bends by the roadside lights up like candles in the morning, the tall stems and feathery tips unnamed due to my ignorance, but that I have come to think of as Wing Grass. Poets and biologists may differ over Names, but no matter, it’s the same willowy grace, the soft nimbus haloed behind by the globe of the sun, the roots thrilling in the spongy earth.

The city has its own hard grace, but I do miss the sky. Driving out in the countryside this week, the great vault opened above me, and its vast, empty richness spilled down in huge lungfuls, and I became instantly awash in tears. Love was the message, and the wind in the sky, the blazing of the trees, was the medium.

Love. You know, that’s a tricky subject for a lot of folks, and rightly so.

. . .

Our gods are complex and ten-dimensional! They aren’t simply giant laps we lay our heads on when times get hard - we grapple and wrestle with them, make deals and sacrifices, laugh and clink cups with them, dance and mourn with and for them, and yes, we love them….and sometimes they love us…but Love with a capital “L”? Universal Love? Love, the chemical makeup of organic bedrock…floating there in the dark matter between photons and electrons? Love that pours down from the sky and is swirling around in our cells, motivating the blood through our veins and pumping out of mountain springs, up through black caves made of limestone, out on the wings of the wind, rustling and shouting in leaves and the cry of birds? Eh, wevs.

Well I disagree (and I’m so painfully subtle about it all, I know). I think we can and should speak of Love again as a people - strive to wonder about a Pagan theology of Love - what would this look like? To speak in its language, as the ancient Greeks, who possessed a wide vocabulary of love. Philia, Eros, Agape. The sophisticated, beautiful love that Aphrodite reigned over, the dangerous, ecstatic love of Dionysos. When we engage as Pagani in the discourse of Love, we have a staggeringly rich world from which to pull. To bring Love down from the meaningless aether and work it like clay into the form of embodied theologies, into discourse, into reflection, into the vetting of our ethical beings, into right relationship with the Land. Love is there - love meets us there - we can invoke it with integrity and meaning - it can be something as real to us as our hands.

And then, of course, there’s the sky and the Land burning like roman candles in the midday - paradoxically laying a hand on my forehead and cooling the fever of my mind…forgiving faults…easing pain…and breaking my heart open like a walnut shell, flying into a thousand pieces, weeping stormily and crying out to that divine shade of blue the first thing that rises to my mouth, summoned from the depth of such a feeling… “O I love you. I love you.” Oh there, friends, there. What are we to make of that?

Love…magic…the numinous…the Mama….what’s the difference?

Very little that I can see, beloveds.

Describing mystical experience, of whatever variety -- xian, islamic, buddhist, Pagan -- is almost impossible. (Which is why the Charge of the Goddess says: "And you who seek to know Me, know that the seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery: for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without. For behold, I have been with you from the beginning, and I am That which is attained at the end of desire.")

Rumi managed it and, in the post excerpted above, Ruby Sara does, as well.

Meanwhile, my v creative friend, K. points me to THIS GREAT IDEA FOR VALENTINE'S DAY [concerning] the dreadful incident . . . in which a group of men (associated with the right-wing Hindu group Sri Ram Sena, who oppose violation of "traditional values," especially by Indian women natch) [went] into a pub on a Saturday afternoon and attack[ed] the female patrons.

A group of Indian women have started the awesomely-named Consortium of Pubgoing, Loose and Forward Women and launched a campaign to send pink panties, or chaddis, to Pramod Muthalik, leader of the Sri Ram Sena, in protest of his misogynist horseshit.

[Then, on] Valentine's Day, women across the world are being encouraged to: "Go to a pub wherever you are. From Kabul to Chennai to Guwahati to Singapore to LA women have signed up. It does not matter if you are actually not a pub-goer or not even much of a drinker. Let us raise a toast (it can be juice) to Indian women. Take a photo or video. We will put it together (more on how later) and send this as well to the Sri Ram Sena."

Picture found here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

If you get lost, I'll come and find you.

Picture found here, and above my hearth.

Dogma Is Not Particularly Important, Compared To Ritual And Experience.

Last night, I was talking w two dear friends about the interesting thing going on within Wicca.

Maybe it IS our Saturn Return as a religion. But whatever it is, there are certainly a number of people out there questioning their identity as witches, wondering where they go from here, asking hard kewshtuns. One of the things we noted is that, almost as a reaction to this questioning, there's a seeming movement on the part of some (and, no, this is nothing new; they call them "witch wars" for a reason) to insist that their way is the right way.

And, come on, we're talking about Paganism and witches.

I find her almost insufferable on some topics, but one thing that Ellen Evert Hopman said to me years ago makes perfect sense. Druids may be those people who study and know the laws so that society can go on. They work within the system, advising and teaching kings and preserving knowledge. But witches are those wily, wild, unpredictable, women who live outside the village proper and who ignore the laws that they don't like. They handle poisons and they consort with familiars and they fly around at night when it's windy and dark and proper women are all abed.

It's what makes them powerful. And it's what makes them dangerous. And it's what makes it impossible to "herd" them -- worse than cats.

And, it's what makes me love them, as well. My pipple.

And, here's Gus diZerega celebrating the out-of-control diversity of the Paganii:

Tomorrow I head off to Pantheacon, the largest Pagan gathering on the West Coast. It is always a treat to go and immerse myself in our larger community, the (statistically) 'normal', the granola, the techno, the weird, the geeky, the fey, and every other possible type of human being who can gather together in mutual respect and harmony, for with all the superficial differences among us, and some that I grant are deeper, we are still, all of us, Pagans. And that matters. A lot.
. . .

It is wonderful to see British Traditionalists (like me), Celtic, Asatru, African Diasporic folks, Druids, Erisians, and many more come together to celebrate the many ways human beings have to honor the Divine. (I have tried to provide reliable links here. If I error regarding YOUR tradition, please inform me.) The Sacred spins out its beautiful abundance and we respond in kind, Many old friends practice these other paths, and it is always a joy to see them again as we gather from all over the west, and sometimes even farther away.

In a separate post, diZerega also explains what witches have, in place of the "sacred texts" of other religions:

So what do we Pagans have as an alternative [to sacred texts]?

Fundamentally we are an oral and experiential tradition. We Wiccans have Books of Shadows, but they are more like ritual cookbooks tha[n] sacred texts along Biblical or even theological lines. Similar texts dominate in Brazil among the African Diasporic traditions. Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience. This also appears to have been the case in Rome.

Wiccans and Pagans in general do not look to revelations of other people's experiences with the sacred, especially revelations of long ago, we look primarily to our own experience in ritual, on vision quests, or through other practices. We also depend on the accumulated knowledge of our own spiritual communities to help us put what we have experienced into context. This means that we can never be completely confident of our understanding. What we know is ALWAYS provisional, it is ALWAYS open to revision. Pagan practice, wherever and whenever it has existed, changes, and that is OK.

She changes everything She touches
And everything She touches, changes.

This is a feature, not a flaw.

Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience. I don't think that can be said enough. Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience.

I don't care what you believe. Did you find ecstasy in the ritual? Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience. Did your hair stand on end and did the unknowable touch the buckle of your spine when that witch cast the circle? I don't care which "trad" you follow. Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience. Did you meet the Goddess during the guided visualization? Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience. I don't care if you're a festival pagan or a solitary. Was there a moment when you really became a tree, rooted in the Earth, strong, in touch with the minerals and water and fire at the core? Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience. I don't care who initiated you. Did the Great Rite happen, did seeming opposites become one, did the orgasm make your boundaries dissolve and did you know, really know, for a few minutes that you're just Goddess pouring Goddess into Goddess? Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience. I don't care that you came to the Craft via Buffy. Did the magic change things? Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience. I don't care whether you wear a pentacle, which direction you call first, whether your practice is reconstructionist, or syncretic (hint: it is), or culled from the African Diaspora. Did you help to turn the Wheel of the Year? Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience.

Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience. Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience. Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience. Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience.

I am a witch. I was born a witch and I will die a witch. What that means has changed for me over the decades and will, so mote it be, change with me as long as I live. But I'm happy for those who spend time as witches and then find something else more meaningful. I don't need the confirmation that would come from others also affirming this path. It's mine and it works for me. Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience.

Art found here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Obama Restaurant Watch

Everyone in DC wants to tell the the Obamas where to eat on Valentine's Day. If I had to do a quick pick of romantic places, I'd pick Nora, the patio at Morton's on Connecticut, Tabard inn, Iron Gate Inn, and Citronelle. But I'm old fashioned and what I'd really like is a young lover who could show me some new places.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Obama,

Ignore that idiot Tom. You can have lots of good meals in and around DC.
Or, if you really want to hang out in suburbia, Willow. Willow is good.

Your Friend,


Yarn Lust

Pure and Unadulterated.

Picture found here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


If Samhein is a good time of year to set goals and then let them germinate through Yule, Imbolc, for me, is the shot-in-the-arm time, the pep talk, the time to really use that extra fire that comes with the longer-lasting sunlight and the occasional Spring-like day. (And Eostara's about play, something not reserved for maidens. I'll have more to say about this soon.) People who work off of the secular calendar often set new goals on January 1st and then dive right in. By now, though, the gyms are starting to seem a bit less crowded: people are beginning to flag.

I've been thinking a lot about fire, lately. About how one ignites it and how one keeps it lit. There's not much fire in my chart, and I've always kind of used that as an excuse to have an indifferent reltionship with fire. When I had to, I just relied on my earthy stubbornness to get me through. But I need it: I need more fire in my life. I've finally satisfied some of my earthy and watery needs for security and material comfort and structure and, now, at almost 53, I find myself needing more fire.

And, so, after living in this house for six years, I finally got the chimney cleaned so that I could start having fires. I had one; it was nice. I tried to have another one and somehow screwed up the draft; smoke all over the living room. I cleaned that up, learned how to start a good draft, and had a third fire. It broke the glass fireplace screen. I ordered a new one. It got delayed in production. You can't make this stuff up.

Today, my new screen arrived and I managed to get it inside and assembled all by myself. Even though it's rather warm this evening, I'm going to have a fire. If you hear tomorrow about an old woman and a cat burned in a freak fireplace accident, you'll know it was me. I am going to make a special offering to the house elves before I strike a match.

Image found here.

Update: Of course, when I went out to get the wood, the pile of what I thought was firewood on the backporch was nothing but FatLogs, used to start fires, but no actual firewood. As I said, you can't make this stuff up. I'll get some firewood and try again this weekend when it's supposed to turn cold again. Meanwhile, I love the Universe's sense of humor.

Sunday, February 08, 2009


So, I have several good posts planned out, about what's terribly wrong w Obama's approach to "faith-based" governing, about who should be Sec'y of HHS, about what the upcoming Eostara has to say to crones, and we to it, and, of course, poetry.

But it's sixty-six degrees and sunny outside; the birds are going almost as mad with joy as I am, and I am BLOGGING ON THE BACK PORCH, BYOTCHES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh, thank every god and Goddess and nymph and dryad and elemental and power of nature that there is; it's sunny and warm and Spring Is Coming.

This morning, before we got in the car to head to his home, and while it was still chilly and overcast, I was showing G/Son the daffodils that are poking their heads up out of the still-quite-cold ground and I said, "Soon, it's going to get lots warmer, and we'll be able to play outside all the time, and Spring will be here." G/Son, who's into the "why" stage, said, "Why Spring will be here?", and I started to explain about the Earth and the sun and an ellipse, and then I stopped and said, "Because Nonna really, really, really needs it to be Spring." That was good enough for G/Son. About halfway home, he remembered something that I'd told him the night before, and he said, "Nonna, when you get home, those hungry rabbits may be eating your crocus. So you should put out carrots for them so they will have full tummies and not eat your crocus." And, so, I did.

Once, a student of mine, and once a dear friend, said to me that, if they knew right then that their lives were always going to be as they were at that moment, they'd kill themselves. And, I know that feeling. There are times for almost all of us when you figure that when you're going through hell you should keep going, but you do that because you imagine that hell has borders and that, eventually, you'll reach them. One of the things that I do is to try and deliberately "bottle" days like today, the kind of days that remind you that, eventually, things get better. And that can be potent medicine when the cold, grey Novembers of life transit from autumnals, etc.

The breezes get soft, the light returns, the green reclaims the planet, the sun shines so brightly on my copper windchimes that it creates it's own tiny, teeny, micro ecosystem and makes music from earth and fire and air on my porch. May it be so for you.

Photo by the author. Wooden garden sculpture from Garden Plum.