Saturday, May 16, 2009

Wind, Sun, Shade

It's a sign of just how simple I am, and, in the days of my youth, it would have been a sign that I needed drugs and shock therapy and "care," but I simply cannot describe the spiritual joy that wind in the leaves gives to me, especially when there's shadow and sun. I am literally in love with the sound and the sights, indeed, with the smells. Dappled shade is, and long has been, one of the greatest joys of my life. Today was predicted to be all rainy. Instead, it's been rainy, misty, sunny, windy, changing -- liminal. I am really happier than I know how to express.

Just One Corner Of A Garden

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Candle Does Nothing

Learning to work magic is a process of neurological repatterning, of changing the way [that] we use our brains. . . . A spell is a symbolic act done in an altered state of consciousness, in order to cause a desired change. To cast a spell is to project energy through a symbol. But the symbols are too often mistaken for the spell. "Burn a green candle to attract money," we are told. The candle itself, however does nothing -- it is merely a lens, an object of focus, a mnemonic device, the "thing" that embodies our idea. Props may be useful, but it is the mind [and the body] that works magic. . . . The primary principle of magic is connection. . . . Of all the disciplines of magic, the art of moving energy is the simplest and most natural. . . . The laws of ecology are the laws of energy. Everything is interconnected; every action, every movement of forces, changes the universe.

Starhawk in The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess (20th Anniversary ed.)

Picture found here.

A Richer Relationship

I mean, hey all these investigations into other dimensions are very elegant and sometimes even useful, but in our lust for the Truth with a capital T we forefit our responsibility to the scale at which we live, this ambiguous and uncertain world that moves all around us. We hide ourselves from the most outrageous and mysterious truth of all which is our ongoing immersion in this wild web of relationships -- with other persons and other beings -- all of whom request our awareness and our humble respect. After three full centuries of science in the West, it should be obvious to all that we humans are one little part of one little facet of the cosmos, and so I can't understand how anyone could think that we could ever figure it out in its totality. The most we can really attain, with humility and humor, is a richer relationship, a deeper reciprocity with the persons, beings, and elementals around us.

David Abram quoted in How Shall I Live My Life? On Liberating the Earth from Civilization by Derrick Jensen

Picture found here.

More Like This

Hampton Roads, Virginia has a large and active Pagan community. It's wonderful to see the local paper doing such an upbeat and respectful article on their local Beltane celebration. The slide show makes it clear what an amazing day it was.

Picture found here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

From A Keeper Of The Dark To The Keeper Of The Light

Victoria Slind-Flor, recently named Keeper of the Light at the 8th Annual Pagan Festival in Berkeley, gave an amazing speech. I've copied a few of my favorite bits, but you should go read the whole thing, especially if you're wondering what it really means to be a witch in 2009.

I celebrate the fact that I am a member of the best of all possible religious communities in which to grow old. In mainstream society, aging women are marginalized, despised, and finally invisible. In Paganism, we crones-–and sages, which is what we call aging men—are honored, supported and often invited into the very center of things. How cool it is to be an old woman in a religion that honors the Goddess in her triple aspect of maiden, mother and crone!

Today I want to talk a little bit about who we are, how we got here, and what we do. The Pagan community is as diverse and energetic a religious community as ever could be imagined. Among the Pagans I know personally—many of whom are here today—are scientists, university professors, lawyers, nurses, computer specialists, software designers, poets, dancers, musicians, artists, therapists, stay-at-home parents, college students, entrepreneurs, small-business owners, and even other journalists like me.

We’ve become the subject of interest to a growing body of scholars who have noted we own more books per capita than members of just about any other religion, and who say the Bay Area has become the Athens of the Pagan world. Ours is not the religion of the book, but, you might say, the religion of the whole library, and the kitchen, the meadow, the loom, the potter’s wheel, the vegetable garden, the oven filled with baking bread, and yes, even the compost bin.

. . .

Pagans don’t prosletyze. There are no Pagan missionaries who go door to door, or who hand out leaflets or take to the air waves to urge others to join us. We know that each person has to make the journey by herself or himself. I would guess that the majority of us didn’t suddenly become Pagans, but, rather, finally found in Paganism a name for the religious stirrings and connection to the sacred earth that was always within us. I know that for me, personally, it was a matter of self-discovery, the aha! moment in which I realized I probably always had been a Pagan, despite my years and years of religious education, participation and service in Roman Catholicism. And I know that many many of my former co-religionists are here today and to be found in Pagan communities around the world.

. . .

Many come to us because Paganism is truly the ``big tent’’ with room for all. We’re sex-positive, and those who’ve been discriminated against for their gender or their sexual orientation or their ethnicity or economic status will find room here.

So where will you find us? Pagans can be found turning the compost in their bins, gathering up their bottles and cans for recycling, using public transportation to lessen their carbon impact on the environment. You’ll also find Pagans building houses for Habitat for Humanity, or in New Orleans, helping citizens of that beleagured city rebuild their lives.

If you’re in the hospital, chances are one of the nurses or doctors giving you care is wearing a pentacle and will work hard to make sure you receive spiritual as well as medical care. If you need to see a therapist, increasingly you’ll be able to find someone who doesn’t think it peculiar that you honor a polytheistic pantheon.

. . .

What does it mean to be a Pagan in the here and now? I think it means being awake, noticing, paying attention, in Buddhist terms, living mindfully. It means having your eyes open and noting the small changes in our physical universe that herald the turning of the wheel of the year.

Pagans notice when the winter rains upholster the Berkeley Hills with green velvet, or when the full moon means low tide in the Alameda estuary. They stop, filled with wonder, when they’re distracted by the scent of blooming jasmine, or when they hear frogs singing in the marshlands.

Pagans also have good radar for injustice, intolerance, and inhumanity. Pagans make donations to organizations that care for animals, the environment, the elderly, and anything in need of help. They’re also found giving service, trying to create a new and better world.

It’s also my theory that we Pagans are the so-called ``cultural creatives,’’ the leading-edge thinkers and doers. For us, making beautiful things, dancing in the meadow, walking in the rain and singing up the sun are religious acts. The Goddess crooks Her finger at us, and invites us to join Her in the messy, chaotic and joyful process of creation. And every morning when we hop out of bed, we see the world as fresh, ripe with possibilities.

. . .

And today,in our flowing robes, our face paint, our glitter, wearing our pointy hats, and laughing in the sunlight. we are here, we are whole and we are Pagans!

Yes, this is a big feel-good day for us. We can see our sisters and brothers who share space with us inside the big tent that is Paganism.

After all, we are a circle, within a circle, with no beginning and never and never ending. So let’s go dance and sing and have a terrific day.

Image found here.

Woad And Sage

None of them would hold still long enough for me to get a good picture, but the bees are having the maddest party of their lives out in my herb bed.

Black Iris And White Jack In The Pulpit, May 2009

Landscape Guy is coming around to my dream of a black and white garden. It's modern, Goth, and Victorian, all at once.

Rhododendron, Woodland Garden, Mother's Day 2009

This rhodie was here when I moved in, tucked back in the woodland garden. It doesn't fit in my color scheme, but I love it too much to part with it. Rhodies remind me of the mountains. A big white one is going in next to it.

What She Said

Damn. This is so good, it will blow you away.

Picture found here.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

NTodd and Ericka brought me flowers from the Code Pink vigil at the White House fence.

G/Son spent last night with me and we watched movies and played on my new rock and fed the squirrels and this morning we went and ran, and I do mean ran, a few miles through Brookside Gardens. G/Son and I got some flowers for him to give to his mom and Son and DiL took us out for brunch. All in all, a good day.