Saturday, December 26, 2009

Still And Always The Anthem Of My Youth

The first cut is the deepest:

The older I get, the more that I've got to lose.

That, I think, is what I failed to grok in my teens. Well, as Rumi said: I would love to kiss you.
The price of kissing is your life. Now my loving is running toward my life shouting,
"What a bargain, let's buy it."

That's what I've got to lose.

Living In A World Of Polytheists

It might be disappointingly monotheistic, but, then again, it might not. Also, Polly Walker, who can act.

Caprica. Capricorn. Watch here. The important thing to note: it's a religion for teenagers.

It Was A Good Day For Soup

Misty and grey all afternoon. I pulled some of this soup out of the freezer and had it with bread topped with goat cheese and scallions. Perfect.

Friday, December 25, 2009

When There Were Wolves In Wales

I like maybe two or three things about xmas. One of them is this poem:

And one of them is this music:


And one of them is this book:

And, of course, who, among us, has not seen that blue light?

But, other than that, well, other than that, I like this, too:

Figuring Out What Winning Means

Years ago I was interviewed by a dogmatic pacifist (note to self: bad idea), who in his (grossly inaccurate) write-up said he thought I wanted all activists to think like assassins. That's not true. What I want is for us to think like members of a serious resistance movement.

What does that look like? Well, to start, it doesn't have to mean handling guns. Even when the IRA was at its strongest, only 2 percent of its members ever picked up weapons. The same is true for the Underground Railroad; Harriet Tubman and others carried guns, but Quakers and other pacifists who ran safe houses were also crucial to that work. What they all held in common was a commitment to their cause, and a willingness to work together in the resistance.

A serious resistance movement also means a commitment to winning, which means figuring out what "winning" means to you. For me, winning means living in a world with more wild salmon every year than the year before, more migratory songbirds, more amphibians, more large fish in the oceans, and for that matter oceans not being murdered. It means less dioxin in every mother's breast milk. It means living in a world where there are fewer dams each year than the year before. More native forests. More wild wetlands. It means living in a world not being ravaged by the industrial economy. And I'll do whatever it takes to get there (and if, by the way, you believe that "whatever it takes" is code language for violence, you're revealing nothing more than your own belief that nonviolence is ineffective).

More here.

You can't do effective magic without having a clear objective. You can't have a serious resistance movement without figuring out what winning means to you.

What's your objective? What does winning mean to you? What are you willing to do to get there? If the answer is less than: "whatever it takes," go back to square one.

Picture found here.

Stripped, Beaten, Paraded, Made To Eat Shit: She's A Witch

In November Jug Chaudhary, a 30-year-old mother of four children, was beaten up by her family members and paraded naked around a village in Kailali. They dragged her out from her home, beat her mercilessly and then forced her to eat human excreta. Her mother-in-law's brother had just passed away. She had been accused of putting a spell on him that caused his death.

When Chaudhary's husband, a labourer in India, returned the couple went to the police station but could not file a complaint. "They said it was a personal matter, it should be solved in the community." Jug Chaudhary did not receive justice. She is living in the same village, in the same Dalit community as those who accused and assaulted her.


Witch-hunting is an extreme form of gender violence and the reason it is not taken seriously is because the victims are usually from marginalised communities. Nepal's gender movement has made amazing strides, but it has done little for this community of victims.

Activists in Kathmandu can push for laws against witch-hunting while those in the field can work to spread awareness against the medieval superstitions that target these women. The Nepal Police, too, needs to include a chapter on how to address crimes related to superstition in their training manuals.

Three years ago in June, the interim parliament declared Nepal an 'untouchability-free nation'. Such empty proclamations mean little to women like Jug Chaudhary. This year, Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal acknowledged the state's failure to deliver on its promises, saying, "it is unfortunate that we haven't been able to implement this declaration in practice."

Full article here.

You can contact the embassy of Nepal at:

Embassy of Nepal
2131 Leroy Place, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: 202 667 4550, Fax: 202 667 5534


Nepal's ambassador to the United States is: SHANKAR P. SHARMA
Telephone: (202) 667-4450 /4551

Picture found here.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Now. Now Would Be Good.

Thursday Poetry Blogging

For the Animals


for my mother
I call to them
with the names you gave me

waiting for the new moon
watching for the trembling in the trees
where the wind hides out at night

I call their secret names and they
come to me finding
the home we made for them
so much like our own with yellow flowers
and books clear windows a door at each end
to go out and come back in
chairs and a good table and everything
you could want

Your poem fills with animals

Woodchuck and beaver the sly fox
the pompous rabbit otter deer
raccoon and owl

In my house there are more of us
than I ever thought we knew
smiling and bringing presents for you

The perfect wings of the owl lift with the wind
The earth hugs the mole as a friend
The bear offers honey from his hands

I let myself fall
into the soft arms of animals and then
into their dreams

all of our secrets
returning to me falling back to me
carrying me home

Picture found here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I've adored Renee Russo ever since her role in the remake of the Thomas Crowne Affair and I can't wait to see her as Frigg.

Taking My Own Advice

"Your breasts are perfect. Lovely. Completely fabulous. Just the kind I love."

For maybe two seconds, my snarky side (Geminii rising, what can I say?) thinks: "Now if only you were a man with curly black hair, blue eyes, your shirt sleeves rolled up above the cuff, your hands placed just so, the warm sea breeze playing gently . . . ." But on my next breath, my emotional side kicks in (sun in Pisces, so, again, no surprise) and I grab the hand of the stocky, middle-aged, midwestern doctor with her no-nonsense haircut and her good Polish last name and I break into tears of relief. She pats my shoulder, I blow my nose and start to apologize, she says, "It's more common than you'd think, especially with your history." I get my act together, dress myself and tie my Hermes scarf (moon in Taurus, what do you expect?), cab to my office, and give the driver a humongous tip. He probably thinks it's because of the holidays.

Every year when I have my mammogram, I sit there not-reading the magazine (I not-read Science and Time today, with special not-reading emphasis on the year-end articles on advances in the treatment of breast cancer), centering, grounding, telling myself, "They're taking too long. In a minute, the sweet little technician with the long hair and my sister's name will come back out and say, "Ms. Demetersdatter, doctor wants just a few more pictures, . . ." "and I'll know that "It" has returned. Because when it's all ok, they don't take "a few more pictures" in the rooms on the right side of the hall. When it's all ok, they send you to the sitting rooms on the left side of the hall so the doctor can come give you your results. I can tell by the tilt of the technician's head which way we're going before she opens her mouth. I've gone right and I've gone left, and, me, I prefer going left (and not only politically).

And, this year, I can tell as she walks down the hall: no more pictures. I get the coveted trip to a room on the left, a visit from the middle-aged doctor with the no-nonsense haircut, and a cab ride back to the office. I get to give my secretary, who keeps my calendar and who gives me the "eyebrows up" question, a thumbs up. When a guy with whom I work stops by and says, "You look happy today," I impulsively say, "I am. I had a perfect mammogram today," and I get lunch at the Palm: lobster and champagne. I'll be ready to kill him within days of the new year, but, this afternoon, we're old comrades at arms. I pretend to forget that he told our client that I had breast cancer, after I asked him not to, and he pretends to forget, as well.

Next year, who knows? But this year, twelve years out, I get the nice stuff. I'm going to try and remember it some year when I get the bad news.

A few weeks ago, my wonderful circle of amazing women gathered around me, listened to my wish: "If there is something there, let them find it," and then raised energy all around me to protect my health. I feel that circle of energetic protection every minute that I am standing with a sharp corner jabbed into my underarm and a plastic plate pressing down on my breast. I feel it and I draw upon it and I remind myself that, no matter what, I am not alone.

May it be so for you.

I came home and pulled a tarot card for myself and, let me just assure you, there is zero chance that I am pregnant. But if you feel inspired to read for me, leave a note in comments.

And go get your mammogram. If you've got some flexcare dollars to spend, it's not too late to get one this year. Early detection saves lives and I am living proof.

Photo by the author from the Robin Wood tarot deck.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Love Him Or Hate Him, Lon Milo Says What He Thinks

Peregrin is not impressed.

Axial Tilt: It Really Is The Reason For The Season

A modern religion, and, yet, who can deny its ancient DNA?

"It's not just those that see Stonehenge as a spiritual centre it is a whole multitude of people from both locally and oversees and they want to come here to celebrate the solstice.
"It's one of those things you must do at least once in your life and for many of those that come they will come again and again. It's a very special time for Stonehenge."

Fun video at the link.

As for this batty old broad, just as the Sun set last night, I went "roots down, branches up" and felt the tilt of the planet, felt that zing that reminds you that, no matter how lightly you may try and take it (and I try to take it pretty lightly), it's all still "Magik" with a capital "M" -- and in some ways, more foreign and mind-bending than we can ever remember for more than the space of a few wonderful, terrifying moments. There's no one, I'm willing to warrant, who's touched the stream of pure Earth Magik who doesn't stand there terrified, awed, off the ground, uncertain of surviving.

And, then, this morning, the deep zing of new energy, light, the turn of the wheel. What an amazing blue marble. What deep ley lines. What hidden caves of crystal.

And then I drove through the slush and ice to work. It's all real. It's all metaphor. There's always more.

Picture found here. Do follow this link, not only for the joke, but for the amazing picture of the ten-year-old Pagan. Goddess, she's lovely. What on Earth will this world be like when, in a generation or two, there are more of us cradle Pagans than converts? I'd love to stay around and watch.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Oh, Not Again. Wasn't She Just Out Here In The Summer Thunderstorm?

And, there it is. The Sun gone down on the shortest day of the year.

It was a day of almost surgically-white sunlight, bouncing off the two feet of snow and highlighting every speck of dirt and grime in the house, the way that only Winter sunlight can. I cleaned -- a lot, my housekeepers showed up in the snow and cleaned, and the old cottage is cleaner than it was before. I edited pre-appellate pleadings, interpreted the Code of Federal Regulations, and agreed with my associate's decisions about when to file motions. I dug a path out to my car where my wonderful neighbor helped me to dig out to the (still unploughed) road. I finished knitting a sweater vest for G/Son. I made roast turkey salad. I chatted with one witch about this week's CSA delivery (fewer green beans and lettuce this week; more oranges) and with another witch about grandchildren. I listened to Wynton Marsalis run up, up, up, up, up, all the way up into crystal. His music seemed to match the blinding sunlight.

I'm an old woman with a bad ankle and a recently-broken toe, but, at sunset, I whipped off my clothes and rolled in the snow on my back deck, startling a fox, a rabbit (whose life I think I saved), three squirrels, the demanding cardinal, and more sparrows and wrens than I could count. You can almost hear them thinking: "Fly away! It's the crazy lady! Tomorrow, she'll be out here with seeds and liquid water (which is rare and precious in this time of snow and ice), but, for now, this manifestation of the Goddess is in her crazy aspect. Best to wait it out here in the cryptomeria; it never lasts long. Damn! That is one crazy old woman." If there weren't two feet of snow and if I didn't have a broken toe, I'd have made it out to my boulder and the magnolias and back, but, we crones, we do the best we can and then we go back inside and have a martini. What do you think Baba Yaga has inside that house on chicken feet??? She has crystal martini glasses, that's what she has.

I have some magic to work this evening, and I will do it, but it will begin, because I am old, in a steaming hot bath filled with sage that I picked from my garden just as the snow began.

May the light return to you and yours, may your new projects grow and thrive in this bright light, may our lovely Planet continue to tilt upon her axis. Blessed Yule.

Picture found here.

I Told You It Was Going To Drive The Wingnuts Batshit Insane.

But not the Christian Gospel. Instead, “Avatar” is Cameron’s long apologia for pantheism — a faith that equates God with Nature, and calls humanity into religious communion with the natural world.

You can read the whole petulant tantrum here. It looks pretty standard to me, but you never know what will set the fundies off.

Io Evoe!

It's a day for feasting, focusing on the return of the light, and enjoying our connection to the ancient Pagans, (although Stonehenge will not be opening early today), and for adopting new traditions (like yurts!). And of course, humans will always be building Stonehenges.

May your day be filled with light! Sol Invictus, welcome back. You've been missed.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Earth, Air, Water, Fire; In This Circle We Conspire

In A Swiftly Tilting Planet (appropriate for a time of axial tilt, isn't it?), Madeline L'Engle (as devout an Episcopalian as ever cracked the Book of Common Prayer, and, yet, unbeknownst to her, as true a witch as ever turned the wheel) wrote of a witch craze in colonial New England. The woman accused was a Native American who had married a colonist.

On the morning of the execution Zylle was returned to the settlement. Infant Brandon was taken from her and given to Goody Llawcae.

"He is too young to be weaned," Goody Llawcae objected. "He will die of the summer sickness."

"The witch will not harm her own child," Pastor Mortmain said.

. . .

"Tie the witch's hands, " the man from the city ordered.

"I will do it," Goodman Higgins said. Hold out your hands, child."

"Show her no gentleness, Higgins," Pastor Mortmain warned, "unless you would have us think you tainted, too. After all, you have listened to their tales."

Goody Llawcae, holding the crying baby, said, "Babies have died of the summer sickness for years, long before Zylle came to dwell among us, and no one thought of witchcraft."

Angry murmurs came from the gathered people. "The witch made another baby die. Let her brat die as well." . . . The people of the settlement crowded about he gallows in ugly anticipation of what was to come. Davey Higgins stayed in the doorway of his cabin.

Goodman Higgins and Pastor Mortmain led Zylle across the dusty compound and up the steps tot he gallows. . . . And then Brandon cried aloud the words with Zillo had taught him:

"With Zylle in this fateful hour,
I call on all Heaven with its power
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And the fire with all the strength it hath,
And the lightning with its rapid wrath -- "

Thunderstorms seldom came till late afternoon. But suddenly the sky was cleft by a fiery bolt, and the church bore the power of its might. The crash of thunder was almost simultaneous. The sky darkened from a humid blue to a sulfurous dimness. Flames flickered about the doorway of the church.

The Indians stepped forward until the entire settlement was aware of their presence, silent and menacing. . . . Pastor Mortmain's face was distorted. "You are witches, all of you, witches! The Llawcae boy has the Indian girl's devil with him that he can call lightning! He must die!" . . . And then Davey Higgins came from the door of his cabin and stood on Brandon's other side.

Ritchie broke away from the men who were holding him, and sprang up onto the gallows. "People of the settlement!" he cried. "Do you think all power is of the devil? What we have just seen is the wrath of God! He turned his back on the crowd and began to untie Zylle.

The mood of the people was changing. . . . "Stop them -- " Pastor Mortmain choked out. "Stop the Indians! They will massacre us -- stop them --" . . .

Zilo raised a commanding hand. "This evil has been stopped. As long as nothing like this ever happens again, you need not fear us. But it must never happen again."

Murmurs of "Never, never, we are sorry, never, never" came from the crowd. . . . When there was no one left by the empty gallows except the three children, Zillo barked a sharp command and the Indians quickly dismantled the ill-built platform and gallows, threw the wood on the smoking remains of the church, and left, quietly.

All that it takes to stop the persecution is a Goody Llawcae, a Brandon, a Davey Higgins. All that it takes is a spell (and surely L'Engle's use of St. Patrick's Breastplate is a spell), all that it takes is people, scared people, people afraid for their own lives, who step forward and say, "No." And, so, on the Winter Solstice, I will say the words of the spell and do what I know how to do to pluck the Web "here" so that it reverberates "over there" in order to call those who will say, "No," in order to call the rain.

What will you do?

Picture found here.

Have You Had This Daymare?

I'm willing to bet that there are very few of us who call ourselves "witch" who haven't imagined it. The angry crowd, the knock at the door, the rough hands, the rope, the calm and completely self-satisfied torture, the moment when we'll say anything, even name others, the pyre, the choking, the blistering skin, the end. I know that I did, that I sometimes still do, that I occasionally wonder if it's worth it to be willing to name myself what I am. When the nights are long and dark and ungentle, when sickness stalks the land, when economic times are tough, it seems even easier to allow ourselves to slip into that sick half memory/half night terror/half rational fear. We may say, "Never again, the burning times," but in an odd way, they're in the "DNA" of our religion, in the psychic "DNA" of every witch.

Sometimes, too, I wonder how it must have been -- how it must be -- for those who don't consider themselves a witch at all. Is it even worse for the pious old woman whose land is just that desirable or who made the mistake of demanding a fair price for her cow? When they call her a witch and she honestly protests that she's nothing of the kind, is it more terrifying because it seems so impossible, or less terrifying because she at least doesn't have that sense that she's been waiting for this, all along?

Of course, there's no answer. And, of course, however horrible we imagine it to be, it was -- it is -- actually worse. Throughout the world today, and especially on the continent of Africa, evangelical xians and others are still torturing and killing others -- mostly women and children (gee, there's a surprise!) -- for the crime of witchcraft. As was probably true during the Inquisition, many of those accused are likely not at all involved in any form of magic or witchcraft. It doesn't matter. It never mattered. When they start burning people for being witches, we real witches are likely to burn.

As we move now into the Solstice, a sacred time for witches, a time when, here in this Hemisphere, Mother Earth turns away from the darkness and begins to move, more and more, into the light, perhaps you could spare some magical protection for those who are persecuted? Someday, I hope, some young woman will realize that she's a witch and will only celebrate that fact, not fear it. Let this Solstice be the beginning of the end of the persecution.

Picture found here.

Policing Fail!

It's all about cock size.

It Snowed. A Lot.

Then, the Sun came out.