Saturday, October 10, 2009

Reading To Children

The NYT has a review of three children's books about Halloween (not Samhein). They all sound wonderful, but I especially love the evocative poetry from Only a Witch Can Fly:

The dark night around you fills with Fly, fly,
and bright yellow moonlight shines down.
Cat, by your side, purrs a gentle
Bye, bye,
and Owl stares up at a star, so far.
Your heart tells you
now and you walk to the door.
Cat arches his back and croons
, Soon.

Isn't that JUST how it is on those windy, Fall nights when you stand at the door, watch the clouds skud past the Moon, and simply LONG to hop on a broom and go?

G/Son and I are still really enjoying The Last Wild Witch (which is not really about Halloween or Samhein but about the role of witches in the modern world and about how to use non-violent resistance), but we may have to check out these new books, as well. Maybe with a cup of warm cider and some oatmeal cookies.

Picture found here.

Saturday Poetry Blogging


Out of the chaos of my doubt
And the chaos of my art
I turn to you inevitably
As the needle to the pole
Turns . . . as the cold brain to the soul
Turns in its uncertainty;

So I turn and long for you;
So I long for you, and turn
To the love that through my chaos
Burns a truth,
And lights my path.

~Mervyn Peake

Picture found here.

Friday, October 09, 2009

I'm In Love

My New Name For A Blog

What Susie Said.

The average American might even be angry if he/she understood the fact that he spends five times as much for procedures as other people do. But Gwen Ifill isn’t going to tell Americans that. . . .

Why? Why do we spend twice as much for drugs? Why do we spend five times more for procedures? In a rational world, this remarkable state of affairs would lead to strings of front-page reports.

But you don’t live in a rational world. You live in the United States, a society which is owned by corporate interests—unlike the other societies in those OECD data.

That ownership is enabled by the dulled sensibilities found in the mainstream and career liberal worlds.

Go read the whole thing.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

In Small Words

As the Supreme Court weighed a dispute over a religious symbol on public land Wednesday, Justice Antonin Scalia was having difficulty understanding how some people might feel excluded by a cross that was put up as a memorial to soldiers killed in World War I.

"It's erected as a war memorial. I assume it is erected in honor of all of the war dead," Scalia said of the cross that the Veterans of Foreign Wars built 75 years ago atop an outcropping in the Mojave National Preserve. "What would you have them erect?...Some conglomerate of a cross, a Star of David, and you know, a Muslim half moon and star?"

Peter Eliasberg, the American Civil Liberties Union lawyer arguing the case, explained that the cross is the predominant symbol of Christianity and commonly used at Christian grave sites, not that the devoutly Catholic Scalia needed to be told that.

"I have been in Jewish cemeteries," Eliasberg continued. "There is never a cross on a tombstone of a Jew."

There was mild laughter in the packed courtroom, but not from Scalia.

"I don't think you can leap from that to the conclusion that the only war dead that that cross honors are the Christian war dead. I think that's an outrageous conclusion," Scalia said, clearly irritated by the exchange.

More, here.

No, here, Justice, allow me to explain it to you very simply: Some people feel so strongly that it does NOT honor their dead that they were willing to sue all the way to the Supreme Court. If it truly represented everybody, then some people wouldn't be suing because they find it so offensive. So rather than continuing, in the face of clearly contrary evidence, to insist that everyone is honored by the symbol of a religion that, for example, considers me evil and damned and, thus, could hardly honor my dead, perhaps you could simply look at the evidence standing right in front of you. The fact that it's not offensive to you is irrelevant.

Oh, and, by the way, that conglomerate of a cross, a Star of David, and you know, a Muslim half moon and star? Still excludes me. Still offensive. All monotheistic, warmongering, religions. All male deities.

Of course the point of separation of church and state isn't to try and find a religious symbol to put on government land that somehow represents everyone (including atheists). It's to separate government from religion. How about a memorial that is secular, not religious, in nature? Or a secular memorial to peacemakers?

Picture found here.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


October In the Garden

I finally have a Moonflower in bloom, the anemones are going mad, and the pineapple sage is just beginning to bloom.

Photos by the author. If you copy, please link back.

And, Now, Just In Time For Halloween . . . .

Is the USS Salem haunted? She is, after all, on her third life. You can take a haunted tour and see for yourself.

"We were really excited to have the Ghost Hunters team onboard this summer," said Michael Condon, executive director of the museum, in a press release.

Condon wouldn't say if the team found any spooky evidence aboard the ship.

I suppose that, in some ways, we Pagans have a relationship to secular Halloween that parallels xianity's relationship to secular xmas, although we, at least, call our religious holiday by a separate name (Samhein in my tradition) to make the distinction. Still, secular Halloween is "based on" Samhein even a bit more than secular xmas is based on the xian holy day of Christmas, although I'm not about to launch some "poor persecuted me" campaign and bitch about the "war on Samhein" with "The Beloved Dead Are The Reason For the Season" bumperstickers, although, now that I think about it . . . .

I find that many of us, yours truly included, both enjoy some of the witchy and spooky aspects of secular Halloween, while, at the same time, objecting to the sexist and xianist characterizations of witches as evil, ugly, old women and to the commercialization of what is one of our high, high holy days. I have a collection of Halloween witches, added to just this year, that I collect the same way that some African American friends of mine collect Aunt Jemima figurines: I want to reclaim the word witch and to honor even those "ugly" old women who were being marginalized and persecuted as witches, even as the good xians skulked out to the edge of the village on moonless nights to ask for an herbal cure, a charm, a potion. I decorate for the secular holiday, I hand out candy to all the neighborhood kiddies ( dressed in my witchy finery, including the pointed hat), I enjoy the secular emphasis on the places where the veils thin, and I hold within myself as odd and, yet, because it's real, also sacred, the conflict over the strange overlap between my sacred day and the secular and commercial attempts to render that which chills us as somehow safe and silly. At the same time, I've started long -running blog wars with jerks who announce "The Witch Is Dead" when a conservative bites the dust or who call any evil woman a "witch".

How do you manage the overlap?

Picture found here.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Sweet Little DFH

Photo of the author's grandson. If you copy, please link back.

I'm Just A Soul Whose Intentions Are Good

Landscape Guy so "gets" me.

He came by this afternoon to plot out the Western crocus bed and said, "Oh, by the way, I found a plant you're going to love for the woodland garden and I ordered you five of them. We can put them in when we put in the crocus. They smell icky, but you're not going to care when you see them."

It's nice to be understood.

Turns out, heh, the roots are poison.

Pictures found here, here, and here.


Times are tough, even for a Goddess.

Picture found here.

Sunday, October 04, 2009


What She Said:

Have you ever made bread? Ever knocked on the bottom of a hot loaf, searching for the perfect hollow note that will tell you it’s done? Ever bitten into sweet corn in July, a ripe peach in August, acorn squash in September? Ever made a summer fire? Thrown your most beloved God into its burning mouth? Ever danced the ecstatic volta at Sabbat with loved ones and heartfriends? Darlings, I know you have. And I wonder, as I wander, friends friends, I think it’s possible that the vast majority of the time…yes yes yes….these are enough. The meaning is there – grokked in the deep myth, sitting sated and strong in the marrow of our bones. There is no need to ask “what the grain represents” at Harvest. It is itself, the Grain, and that staggering mystery is enough. It is plucked, threshed, ground, mixed with yeast and water and salt and kneaded until it looks like satin, and then, swollen and ripe with pure life, it is thrust into a livid hole of fire, to emerge an alchemical miracle, and effing delicious with butter and blackberry jam. Isn’t that phenomenal? To consider this each year, or every day, is the spiritual devotion of a storied being wed forever to the heart of the Mama. Break the bread and give it to a neighbor. If words are needed, make them a prayer. If singing is required, sing your guts out. If you are so gobsmacked by its profundity that you lie on the fertile ground for an hour, enchanted by the stars and the smell of the fistfuls of frankincense and peasant loaves and apples you gave to the hungry fire until your arms were slack and your skirt empty, and during that hour you feel the weight of the fragile and amazing thing that is your body settle down into the planet’s lap, and you grok Harvest, beloveds, well….you can stick a fork in the season and call it done. And no one had to even ask you what abstract qualities you were metaphorically harvesting, or what the bread meant. The bread sits in your belly, infusing your whole body with its ineffable perfection. The mystery is in the bread. Literally.*

As we move, at an alarming and alluring rate towards Samhein, as I sit by my trees and literally watch the veils grow thin, thinner, thinnest, thin, I wish for each of us the pure Sabbat that Ruby Sara describes. In my humble experience, and, truly, it is humble, I've found that the best preparation that I can do for such a Sabbat is (here's a surprise! not!) to engage in a regular daily practice. For me, that means: sit, ground and center, call the Elements the Goddesses with whom I'm working (right now, Hygeia, and Columbia, and, as always, the Great Three Headed Goddess of Liminal Space Whose Very Being Creates the Possibility of Change -- Breathe, Breathe, Breathe), cast a circle, say the Ha Prayer, do my Iron Pentacle exercise, envision and breathe into change, thank the Goddesses, thank the Elements, open the circle. And, then, do the work. Feed the birds, weed the herb bed, knit the warm sweaters, write the shining brief, encourage the friend, be kind enough to the store clerk (THIS store clerk, the very one that the Goddess has especially chosen to throw this day into your path, THIS one) to elicit a smile and a small warming of the aura, repair the web, exalt in the sunlight or the rainstorm or the icy cold wine. In short, do the privileged work of a witch: put your shoulder to the wheel and help it to turn.

I'm not sure why such regular, and seemingly "mundane", practice leads to those Sabbatical moments in the field that Ruby Sara describes. But I do know that they do.

May it be so for you.

(Many, many thanks to Medusa Coils for noting Ruby Sara's return to the blogosphere.)

Picture found here.

*Or, as the Goddess said: 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.

Eating -- All Acts Of Love And Pleasure Are Rituals Of The Goddess

Eating the living germs of grasses
Eating the ova of large birds

the fleshy sweetness packed
around the sperm of swaying trees

The muscles of the flanks and thighs of soft-voiced cows
the bounce in the lamb's leap
the swish in the ox's tail

Eating roots grown swoll
inside the soil

Drawing on life of living
clustered points of light spun
out of space
hidden in the grape

Eating each other's seed
ah, each other

Kissing the lover in the mouth of bread
lip to lip.

~Gary Snyder

Picture found here.

Obama Restaurant Watch -- Anniversary Dinner Edition

The Obamas continue to eat out in Washington, D.C., something that delights residents of the city and foodies everywhere. For their 17th wedding anniversary (congrats to both!) they ate at Blue Duck Tavern, an upscale, contemporary American restaurant at Washington’s Park Hyatt hotel, [that] fits comfortably with Mrs. Obama’s effort to promote fresh food. When the restaurant opened in 2006, it was among the first in the capital to hop on the local sourcing trend, and its menu still cites the origin of the ingredients, most of which come from nearby Pennsylvania. (I'll note that Nora was working on local, organic sourcing long before Blue Duck opened.)

No word on what the couple ordered. There's a lot to choose from at Blue Duck. Everytime I go, I wind up ordering a couple of the vegetable sides and skipping an entree. A meal of Leek and Mushroom Tart with Potato Leek Sauce, made from ingredients from Path Valley, PA and Constant Bliss Agnolloti, with Artichoke, Date, & Hazelnuts from Jasper Hill Farm in VT would make a pretty good meal. If the Obamas were feeling especially celebratory, they could pair the Perrier Jouët, Fleur de Champagne, Brut, Epernay 1999 with almost anything on the menu. Blue Duck is known for its ice cream, but I always seem to wind up ordering the tin of old fashioned sugar cookies.

Thanks again, to the Obamas for actually living in DC, instead of hiding out behind the fortress walls of the WH, the way that the former residents did. DC loves you.

Photo (and another review of Blue Duck) found here.