Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tell Me A Poem

I tried to write something about National Poetry Month, and poetry, and Paganism, and ecstasy, and Pagan Practice, but, you know, you can write poetry, but almost any attempt to write ABOUT poetry is doomed to awful failure.

Good poetry cuts through Talking Self, by diverting it with lovely or effective or unusual language, and goes straight to Younger Self, and, once in a while, when you're giving as much as the poet, straight to your Higher Self.

That's why.

Picture found here.

Miniature Daffodils

Thursday, April 09, 2009


Water Wars, Coming Soon To A Continent Near You

From Comcast:

Mexico City has turned off the tap to millions of residents because water reserves have reached historic lows.

The two-day shutdown of a main pipeline starting Thursday affects at least 5 million of the 20 million people in the Mexico City valley. It is the third time this year the metropolis has temporarily turned off the tap to conserve water.

The water restrictions come as many residents are out of town for Holy Week.

An unusually dry rainy season last year left the city's Cutzamala water system at 47 percent capacity compared to 85 percent in previous years. The system supplies 20 percent of the area's water.

The government says it will restore 50 percent of service Saturday and full service by Wednesday.

Here we go.

Little Messages Everywhere.

What if Gaia had been talking to you all the time and you just hadn't been listening? What if that could change tonight?

Both Thorn:

[The homeless man] staggered to his feet again, unsteadily weaving, trying to catch his balance and muttering, more like a person in a mystic trance than like one drunk. Before the doors opened, he paused and looked directly into my eyes. After several long seconds of our staring he spoke, clearly and cogently, "Look at the Temple. Thank you." The doors opened, he walked out onto the platform, arms spread and head tilted toward the gathering rain clouds above. I wondered if he would catch the train he needed. The doors closed again, and I returned to his words, that had penetrated to my core: "Look at the Temple."

Indeed. Elijah had spoken and there is work for me in the prophecy that fell upon my ears. I am thankful I was open enough to hear them today and wonder what will unfold.

Magic is every place and any moment.

I am off to Baltimore first thing in the morning and will carry thoughts of the Temple with me. Blessed be.

and Deborah Oak

I left the gathering, my heart stretched with tenderness for my friends, and also beginning to contract with worry and mounting anxiety.

It only took me several steps on Cortland Avenue until the world interjected and had something pithy to say. There, in a window of a small shop, was a big red poster with white lettering. "Calm down, and Carry On", it simply stated. Yes, indeed.

Calming down, is of course, hard. Breathing helps, and slowing down thoughts. Carrying on, well, that's hard too, but it's made easier by the world carrying some of the burden of the ongoing conversation. Cock your ear, and really, the world, it just won't shut up.

Thankfully, it's pretty darn smart. Carrying on, we would all do well to deeply listen.

are getting messages.

There's a full moon in Libra tonight. Go listen to what it, the World, your Spirit Guides, your Higher Self has to say.

I love what Deborah says about Pagans:

[W]e Pagans have something to offer. We know how to carry on mytho-poetic conversations with the world, and any rich conversation like that makes human life a hell of a lot more meaningful, if not more interesting.

"I was the I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms. I was the Pagan carrying on a mytho-poetic conversation with the world." Carve those words on my gravestone and you'll have told the truth.

What messages have you gotten this Full Moon?

My New Name For A Blog

Go read Jeffers. He's a xian, making a lot of sense of the whole "post-xian nation" thing.

Photo found here.

Go Read Reya

Reya has a fascinating and (as always) well-written series of posts about spirit guides. Hers seem to give her practical advice like recipes for Spring tonics and advance info for classes she's going to take. Mine tend to show up and go: Hoo boy, are you going to regret doing this! ("This" being whatever I'm about to do.) The only other good writing I've ever found on spirit guides is by Emma Restall Orr, although she writes about her guides in the context of discussing other subjects, rather than directly.

Picture found here.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Obama Restaurant Watch

Obama pi=chicken & hot sauce.

Dring a campaign stop last fall in St. Louis, President Barack Obama said he loved the pizza from Pi on the Delmar Loop.

He loved it so much that he wants seconds. So he’s invited Pi’s owners to the White House to make some more pies.

Owner Chris Sommers and partner Ryan Mangiarlardo plan to make 10 deep dish and 10 thin crust pizzas for the Obamas on Friday, said Cory Watkins, a kitchen manager for the restaurant, which opened a year ago.

“Pi’s very pro-Obama,” Watkins said. “Chris had Obama staffers stay at his house. And after the election we served a Broccoli Obama pizza.”

Sommers' restaurant has garnered some attention from other celebrities as well. He said he was busy Wednesday delivering pizzas to actor George Clooney and the cast and crew of "Up in the Air," which are still filming in St. Louis.

He was also preparing for his trip to Washington, D.C.

"It's been a little surreal," he said of the presidential invite and media coverage.

Sommers met Obama in 2007 at a fundraiser in St. Louis, where he also met basketball star Reggie Love, who became one of Obama's aides. When Obama held a rally under the Gateway Arch last fall, Sommers asked Love if Obama wanted to try Pi pizza. Apparently, the president has been talking about it ever since.

Sommers is planning a pie especially for Obama: the Hyde Park, with some presidential favorites, chicken and hot sauce.

Photo here


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A Witch Takes Responsibility

I'll start this post by saying that there's one kind of magic that no one should ever do: magic in which you don't believe.

I started to say: magic that makes you uncomfortable, but that's wrong. Doing good magic, like creating good poetry, running a good marathon, writing a good brief, or doing a good job of weeding the garden can, and often does, make you uncomfortable. But there's magic you just shouldn't do and that's magic in which you don't believe. And, by that, I mean either magic that uses methods to which you ethically (Higher Self), or esthetically (Younger Self), or practically (Talking Self) object, or magic that would create a result to which you object. Within the category of magic that would create a result to which you would object, I include what I'll call "well-meant power over" magic, magic that most witches agree is not a good idea: doing a love spell on someone w/o their consent, trying to heal someone who wants to die, trying to impose your will on someone who isn't harming anyone else by their actions. More on this point later.

I'll make my second point of this post by saying that the Wiccan Rede (an' it harm none, do as thou wilt) and the Rule of Three (whatever you do magically will return to you three times over) are, IMHO, shorthand ways of expressing much more complicated concepts and saying that witches err when they take them literally. (Just as it would be error to take literally the saying, "In perfect love and perfect trust" every time you get together with other Pagans. It's aspirational. Grow up.)

As the Jains make clear, it's impossible to "harm none." Take a step and you'll crush some life forms. Sweep the way before you, as the Jains do, and you have to first kill some plants to make a broom, or disturb the biosphere to harvest the dead grasses. Do some magic to find a job and you disadvantage the other job applicants. Send reiki to your seeds, to help them to grow vibrantly, and you condemn the unblessed seeds of some weed to falter. Work magic to heal yourself, and you kill the viruses or bacteria that want to live in your bronchial tubes or the cancer cells that want to reproduce unchecked in your bone marrow. The circle of life includes both life AND death. The Goddess is both Demeter AND Kali, both Innana and Erishkegial, both the bountiful Empress and Shelia Na Gig, waiting to suck us back into the Earth and make worm food out of us the moment that we falter. You either see the beauty and perfection of that or you don't.

Similarly, the Rule of Three is a shorthand way of expressing the fact that we live in a closed system (don't shit where you eat) where everything is interconnected. You literally can't pluck this tiny string on the web without causing the entire web to vibrate, and it's almost certain that you can't completely know how the vibrations will shake out across the web, nor how those vibrations will feel when they come back round to the part of the web where you feel yourself to be comfortably centered. (See, e.g. butterfly wings in China and storms in South America. And, still, the butterfly flaps her wings.) When we say in circle, "We are between the worlds. What we do between them, affects them all," that's a true statement and a reminder to us to behave responsibly and thoughtfully. It's not an invitation to paralysis, EVEN THOUGH I HAVE NO IDEA EXACTLY HOW WHAT I DO WILL AFFECT ALL THE WORLDS.

I'm often surprised at witches who treat magic as somehow different from other ways of impacting the world. Look, it's just magic. They'll write a letter to their Senator asking her to vote to end the war, but they won't do magic to end the war. They'll go on tv and be interviewed about the need to address climate change, but they won't do magic to change the minds and hearts of world leaders. They'll make a YouTube about the importance of reproductive choice, but they won't do magic to help a scared young woman in Ireland make it to England for an abortion. They'll vote, but won't do magic to help a candidate. Look, it's just magic. My grandmother -- hell, my mother -- would have considered it pretty magical that I can sit at home, type letters on a wireless keyboard, hit "send," and communicate with my Senator miles away. My great, great, great, great grandmother would certainly have regarded tv, the satellites that show us climate change, and the cameras that record an interview as magic. As Arthur C. Clarke reminded us, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Look, it's just magic. It's no more, and no less, likely to affect you than anything else you do. (You do EVERYTHING that you do within a closed, interconnected system. Maybe that's a reason to think MORE about the things that you acquire, throw away, use electricity for than it is to shrink from ever using magic. If you thought that every plastic fork you use for five minutes at a mall food court and throw away was likely to come back to affect you three times, would you never eat again at a mall food court? Would you be more likely to do magic to develop plastic-eating organisms? To bankrupt malls? To stop yourself from shopping? And, yet, all of us have, at one time or another, eaten at a mall food court and thrown away the "spork." Rule of Three, baby. Rule of Three.)

Yet one often finds witches who insist that it's wrong to do magic unless one has been specifically invited to do so. I think that's wrong. I think those witches are conflating two different kinds of actions. If I do a spell to make someone fall in love with me, and I do it without their knowledge, that's a way of exercising "power over" as surely as if I made someone have sex with me because I could fire them if they didn't do what I wanted. However, Barack Obama never asked me to do any magic to get him elected. But you can bet that I did do magic to get him elected. Just as I handed out flyers at farmers' markets to get him elected, donated money to get him elected, put up a sign in my yard to get him elected, blogged to get him elected, drove voters to the polls to get him elected, and voted to get him elected. He never asked me to do magic to protect him from crazy racists, but I did. And, IMHO, there's difference.

Similarly, if I do a spell to bind my sister from marrying a guy I think is a jerk, that's a way of exercising "power over" as surely as if I schemed and connived to make her think he'd been cheating on her when he hadn't. However, if I do magic to prevent John Ashcroft from accessing the medical records of women who've had abortions, that's no different than if I'd written the judge a letter, volunteered to work pro bono for those women, or broken into Ashcroft's office and thrown blood on his files. IMHO, there's a difference between binding my sister and binding Ashcroft.

Derrick Jensen says that if we kill an animal for meat (and I'd add, if we take a plant for food or clothing or shelter or beauty (yes, beauty. there's a bouquet of daffodils on my desk at this moment)) we take on an obligation to that animal's species to ensure that it survives. If I do magic to elect one candidate over another (and, believe me, I'm aware that I'm always choosing one bad choice over a worse choice in American electoral politics) or if I do magic to bind John Ashcroft from violating women's rights, I, too, take on responsibilities. I accept the responsibility of living both in and between the worlds where I do these things. I accept that, should I, for example, try to violate the legal rights of women, others may bind me. Ashcroft may try to stop me using legal methods, may pray to his xian god to stop me, may write the judge a letter about me, etc. I am willing to accept that responsibility.

Being a witch is not only about being a fluffy bunny, as much as I love fluffy bunnies. To be a witch is to step outside the boundaries of the village and to live in that liminal space between the village and the wild woods (and this is true even if you live in Manhattan, Capitol Hill, Paris, London) and to accept responsibility for raising poison plants, dispensing abortifacients, giving advice to the powerless, living outside the law. Being a priestess of the Goddess is about honoring Persephone and Quan Yin and Brigit and about honoring Kali, and Maat, and Hecate. Don't do magic in which you don't believe. But don't hide behind literal interpretations of complex concepts and pretend that you're being anything other than gladly bound by unreasonable rules that let you off the hook, and scared, and, ultimately, irresponsible. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Picture found here.

May The Goddess Guard Her. May She Find Her Way To The Summerlands. May Her Friends And Family Know Peace.

Eva Evdokimova-Gregori, an internationally known ballerina who stood out for the delicacy and eloquent purity of her dancing and stage presence, died on Friday in Manhattan.

Photo found here.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Saint Death

WaPo reports that, as part of Mexico's War On Drugs (apparently every bit as misguided as America's War on Drugs), the Mexican government is attacking devotees of Saint Death.

About 200 worshippers marched Sunday to protest the government's destruction of "Death Saint" shrines, saying Mexico's fight against drug cartels has veered into religious persecution.

"We are believers, not criminals!" the protesters chanted as they marched from a gritty Mexico City neighborhood to the Metropolitan Cathedral downtown.

At shrines, chapels and small churches across the country, tens of thousands of people worship the Death Saint, which is often depicted as a robe-covered skeleton resembling the Grim Reaper.

It is popular with drug traffickers, and soldiers often find shrines to the saint during raids on cartel safe houses. But in crime-ridden neighborhoods, people of all walks of life believe the "Santa Muerte" protects against violent or untimely deaths. Devotees often use elements of Catholic rites, leaving offerings of candles or praying to the folk saint for protection.

Mexican law enforcement won't say it is targeting the "Santa Muerte." But last month, army troops accompanied workers who used back hoes to topple and crush more 30 shrines on a roadway in the city of Nuevo Laredo, across the border from Laredo, Texas. Many were elaborate, one-story, marble-clad constructions with electric lighting and statues of the skeletal Death Saint.

The sect's archbishop, David Romo, denounced the destruction as religious persecution and demanded a meeting with President Felipe Calderon.

Protesters carried statues and pushed makeshift shrines to the saint. Some brought their children, and one marcher carried a white puppy.

"Sometimes people look down on us because we believe in her, but my faith is bigger than somebody looking down on me," said America Melendez, a 24-year-old street vendor marching with a red-robed statue of the saint.

Roberto Sanchez, a 28-year-old carpenter, said he became a believer after praying to the Death Saint for the recovery of a sick nephew. He carried a sign reading "I believe in you Santa Muerte and I am not a narco."

"If we are not doing anything to them, they shouldn't be doing this," he said of the shrines' destruction.

Yeah, Mexico. That'll work.

Picture found here.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Full Moon Magic

During the campaign, and up through the Inauguration, lots of Pagans were doing political magic. And it's normal to get burned out, to stop for a rest, to turn to other things.

But there's a full Moon this week, in Libra, the sign of balance. And if you were casting about for a good magical project, you could do worse than to send some energy to Elizabeth Warren, to work some magic to let her balance out the insanity of Geithner and Sumers. I've no doubt that she's a xian, but she can use all the help that she can get. And, she fucking rocks.

She's a woman trying to talk financial sense to a bunch of men who, of course, are sure that they know best. So you understand what she's up against.

Picture found here.