Saturday, February 13, 2010

There Are Statues, And Then There Are Idols

Note the subtle difference in these two stories, both about the recent discovery of a statue of the Goddess Durga. First, from The Daily Rising Kashmir:

Statue of Hindu goddess discovered from Jhelum

Asem Mohiuddin
Baramulla, Feb 13: A statue of Hindu goddess, Maa Durga Sherawali was discovered by some fishermen from river Jhelum here on Saturday. The white-coloured statue, 2.3 inches in height and 1.10 inches in width, was found intact except for one of the hands out of the seven broken.

Speaking to Rising Kashmir, Sub District Magistrate, Baramulla, Syed Muhammad Yousuf said the statue was recovered from fishermen of Dewanbagh, Ushkara.

“The fisherman of the area approached Deputy Commissioner and informed him that they have recovered the statue from river Jhelum. The authorities immediately dispatched a team to the spot and secured the statue which was later been kept in a strong room of District Treasury till the legal process for its preservation is decided,” Yousuf said.

The SDM said the significance of the discovery can only be revealed after proper investigation by experts.

Meanwhile, a fisherwoman, Hajira of Dewanbagh area claimed that the statue had been in the river for the last many years.

“I along with my son once spotted the statue two years back. But after attempting to bring it up the boat shook horribly and we decided to leave it. Today when the water level raised, the statue again emerged and was trapped in some other fisherman’s net,” Hajira said.

And, from the Press Trust of India:

Goddess Durga idol recovered

Srinagar, Feb 13 (PTI) A marble idol of goddess Durga astride a lion was recovered from river Jhelum in Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir today.

The idol, measuring 2x2-ft, was found by the villagers while they were fishing in the river, official sources said.

The idol was handed over to police and later to the Revenue department.

I'd still like to see the word "goddess" capitalized in the first story, but it's far better than the second story.

Picture (of a similar statue of Durga) found here.


Here's an interesting story about a "real" (well, I guess that I'll take that over "self-professed") Witch being rejected as a candidate by the local British Green Party. The rejection appears not to have anything to do with her religion, which makes one wonder why the article mentions it, at all. To see just how silly this is, I've reproduced the article below, substituting the word "Episcopalian" for "Witch" and "Shaman and Shamanka."

Episcopalian's poll hopes dashed after rejection by Greens
Saturday, February 13, 2010, 07:00

A REAL Episcopalian hoping for success in the forthcoming general election claims she has been rejected by the Green Party.

Sarah Goldsmith, (pictured left) 50, who lives in Torre, Torquay, made her parliamentary bid for the Green Party last month.

She said her name was in the hat with others to become the Bay's prospective parliamentary candidate.

But since then she's been told her new membership has been refused.

The dejected mum-of-two said she believed the decision has been made because she is seen as an 'agitator' within the party.

And she claims she has been ousted because she has criticised the administration of the South Devon group — the biggest in the country.

Ms Goldsmith said she quit the party in 2008 after previously being selected as prospective parliamentary candidate for Torbay and on the Euro list for the South West.

She said: "I pulled out and quit the party because I had lost faith in the party.

"I wish I had not, but that has happened."

But she applied again in January and received her membership welcome pack, dated January 20, from Green Party HQ.

But just two weeks later, an email from Green Party chief executive David Murray states her membership had been refused under the urgent procedures process.

It read: "The Green Party Regional Council, in its capacity to review party membership applications, has resolved not to accept your recent application for membership to the Green Party.

"As part of this review process, GPRC spoke to both elected regional councillors in your area, then the matter then went through the GPRC urgent procedures process last week.

"All five representatives voted for the application to be refused. It is not possible to appeal against this decision, although any applicant may reapply to the party in the future if they wish."

Disappointed Ms Goldsmith said: "They were determined to have me out.

"It is a shame because I still stand by the party manifesto.

"I said I would go quietly. I will walk away. If they don't want me, then they don't want me," she said.

Ms Goldsmith said she had hoped to represent Torbay on green issues.

She said her lifestyle as a 10th generation hereditary Episcopalian is in tune with the party's politics.

Ms Goldsmith describes herself as a female Episcopalian who practises the ancient arts to help students on their spiritual journey.

A Green Party spokesman did not make any comment on Ms Goldsmith's recent membership application.

He said: "Sarah Goldsmith resigned from the Green Party in May 2008. The South Devon Green Party will shortly run a selection process to find our general election candidate for the Torbay constituency.

"That candidate will champion our party's goals to preserve public services, restore the NHS, and create jobs to address the recession."

See? It makes no sense.

Picture found here.

Saturday Poetry Blogging

All the True Vows

by David Whyte

All the true vows
are secret vows
the ones we speak out loud
are the ones we break.

There is only one life
you can call your own
and a thousand others
you can call by any name you want.

Hold to the truth you make
every day with your own body,
don't turn your face away.

Hold to your own truth
at the center of the image
you were born with.

Those who do not understand
their destiny will never understand
the friends they have made
nor the work they have chosen

nor the one life that waits
beyond all the others.

By the lake in the wood
in the shadows
you can
whisper that truth
to the quiet reflection
you see in the water.

Whatever you hear from
the water, remember,

it wants you to carry
the sound of its truth on your lips.

in this place
no one can hear you

and out of the silence
you can make a promise
it will kill you to break,

that way you'll find
what is real and what is not.

I know what I am saying.
Time almost forsook me
and I looked again.

Seeing my reflection
I broke a promise
and spoke
for the first time
after all these years

in my own voice,

before it was too late
to turn my face again.

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

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Poetry Blogging

O Sweet Irrational Worship

by Thomas Merton

Wind and a bobwhite
And the afternoon sun.

By ceasing to question the sun
I have become light,

Bird and wind.

My leaves sing.

I am earth, earth

All these lighted things
Grow from my heart.

A tall, spare pine
Stands like the initial of my first
Name when I had one.

When I had a spirit,
When I was on fire
When this valley was
Made out of fresh air
You spoke my name
In naming Your silence:
O sweet, irrational worship!

I am earth, earth

My heart's love
Bursts with hay and flowers.
I am a lake of blue air
In which my own appointed place
Field and valley
Stand reflected.

I am earth, earth

Out of my grass heart
Rises the bobwhite.

Out of my nameless weeds
His foolish worship.

No, I Won't.

Because masculinity is about which piece of shit American-made car you drive.

No, it isn't.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

We Can Love The Land And It Can Love Us Back

In our language, the word for our bodies contains the word for land. Everytime I say that word . . . I'm saying that I'm from the land and my body is the land.

What our grandparents have said is that the land feeds us but we feed the land as well. We live on the land and we use the land and, in so doing, we impact the land: we can destroy it, or we can love the land it can love us back.

~Jeannette Armstrong, quoted in We'Moon 2012.

Picture found here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Xians Putting Death Spells On Politicians

Nice religion you got there, xians. No, really.

Southern Baptist Pastor Wiley Drake of Buena Park sent out an email Monday night, saying that perhaps his prayers had been answered with the death of [Democratic] Rep. John Murtha yesterday.

“Maybe God took him out,” Drake wrote. “Maybe God Answered our
IMPRECATORY prayer that we prayed every 30 days.”

The Pennsylvania congressman, a decorated former Marine who fiercely opposed the Iraq war, died at the age of 77 after complications from gallbladder surgery.

I asked Drake if his statements weren’t distasteful, particularly coming immediately after Murtha’s death. He said that as a Christian, he didn’t buy into the sentiment of not speaking ill of the dead.

“It’s not distasteful to pray the word of God and include somebody’s name,” he said. “I didn’t celebrate his death. I said maybe it was God’s answer to our imprecatory prayer.”

Drake regularly asks his “prayer warriors” to participate in prayer targeting “unrighteous” politicians. He typically uses Psalms 109, including these passages including in his Monday email: “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.” And, “Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.”

At one point, Drake prayed for the death of President Barack Obama. However, he dropped that because he wants to see Obama faces charges that he is not a natural-born citizen and so cannot be president. Drake has such a lawsuit on appeal. Drake said he and his prayer warriors had been praying for Murtha’s death for four or five months. Among other things, Drake said Murtha’s use of profanity and his use of God’s name in vain [caused Drake to offer the imprecatory spells]. Beside praying for the death of specific politicians, he said they pray for “politicians in general who are taking unrighteous stands."

Of course, one can imagine the cries of outrage if Pagans announced that their spells had caused the death of some right-wing politician. (If Psalm 109 is anything other than a spell, I'd like to know what it is. ) Sensible Pagans would line up to disassociate themselves from the practice and we'd hear all about the Rule of Three.

I'm sure that "mainstream" xians will fall all over themselves denouncing this practice.

No, I'm not.

I Will Get Through This Winter

Birds hatching in nests.


That yellow/pink color of green haze that hovers over the trees just before the leaves pop out.

Cherry blossoms by the Jefferson Memorial in the moonlight.

Fresh watercress.

The scent of daffodils and tulips.

Purple and black jelly beans.

Cocktails on the screen porch, even if a sweater is needed.

Green grass.

Sudden showers warm enough to dance in.

Pink sunrises, earlier and earlier, every day.

Going outside in a light cotton dress.

Bare feet, even when it is a bit too early.

The return of the mourning doves.

The first day that the baby squirrels come down from their nest in the crape myrtle.

The way the dirt feels in your hands when you plant seeds.

Go on, you add yours.

Picture found here.

Blizzard Poetry Blogging

The Snow Man
One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place
For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

~Wallace Stevens

Picture found here.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Snow On Snow On Snow, In The Bleak MidWinter

Snowing again, here in the deep MidAtlantic.

Monday, February 08, 2010

They're Only Words, And Words Are All I Have, To Take Your Heart Away

So, yeah, I'm the witch of this little bit of land inside the Potomac watershed, with a bunch of oaks, and maples, and birches, and some newly-planted magnolias. Me. Sorry, bit of Earth, that's what you got in the cosmic lottery. I'm not as strong as the 30-something Army officer across the street, to the North, but I'm a lot more Earth-sensitive than the Ugly Neighbors to the South. And, at any rate, you're stuck with me

And in the midst of a storm system that, by best estimates, is the sort of storm system that hits once every 700 or so years, I'm telling myself that I'm doing pretty well. I stocked up before the storm and, truth be told, for years I've been buying either a can of something on sale or a container of bottled water at least twice a month when I go to the grocery store, so I'm not going to starve for a long time, and I bought stuff like bread, eggs, etc. just ahead of this storm. So it's going to be March before I'm going hungry, although I may run out of alcohol (Goddess forfend) by the end of this month, or so. And I've long since installed new sump pumps, a new furnace, a new generator, and new insulation in this little cottage. I have two comforters on my bed, a drawer full of warm socks, and cashmere shawls out my toukas. I'm figuring that I've got internet, heat, electricity, and hutzpah to last forever, so, you know, Winter, do your best. I've even got firewood on the back porch.

The Big Storm of My Life hits and I'm out on the porch communing with the fox and the spirits of this place and the Devas of this storm and I'm sheltering in place, watching Netflix, making sweaters for G/Son, finally reading Little Big, and I'm cool. I was born, in large part, to commune with nature and that's what I do for a good 18 hours.

Finally, day dawns, it's sunny and cold, the storm is over, and I strap on my boots, wrap a Hermes shawl over my head, don my Chanel sunglasses, put on my warm coat with the black velvet collar, and I head out back to bang the snow off of my two new magnolia trees, stopping on the way to knock snow off of my euonymous bush which is hung w/ suet feeders and peanut feeders and all kinds of bird-seed dispensers. I wade through snow up to my sweet, round ass, climb the hill, use my iPhone (my iPhone! I'm so modern it hurts!) to snap pictures, use my broom (Babe! Just this once! Just this one time you can't fly me? Srsly? Cuz it would just be v cool. No? OK. But I'm just saying, "If not now, when?" Just this once? No? OK. No biggie.) to knock snow off the trees, and I head back to the warm inside of my neat little cottage and a hot mug of lapsang souchong.

On the way, I fall down.

Falling scares me; I'm an old woman with a bum ankle full of screws, plates, titanium. Falling on this much snow is fun; it's soft. Getting back up, that's not so easy. It just squishes everywhere that I try to push down. I can't, and this is often the story of my life, gain purchase.

I ground. I breathe. I check that I do, still, have the cell phone in my pocket.

I refuse to get scared. Frostbite? I laugh at frostbite, even as it IS lapping at my more sensitive parts. (No, I'm NOT going to the hospital w/o underpants, which, it just happens, I did not bother to put on this morning. I'm my grandmother's granddaughter and I'm just not. Why do you ask?)

I call for help to every great-great-dwelled-inside-a-cold-cave grandmother that I have, especially the ones who lived through the ice age just so that they could send their mitochondria all the way down to me, me, this silly old woman floundering around in three feet of snow in her back yard and hoping that she won't be a bad story on the evening news. Who am I kidding? I'm just hoping that I die in the snow before Son gets to yell at me; he's SO not going to be amused. I can just hear me telling him, "Well, I wanted to knock snow off the trees. . . ." I have to get up and get inside so that this does not happen. (Line from a LeGuin short story: The Ancestors: "Oh, it's that one. She's in trouble again." Yes, damn it, help me up!) I crawl a few yards through 3 feet of snow (easy for you to read) to my back deck, where I can grab a post and become, again, upright. I walk carefully back along the Eastern side of the house, up the icy steps, back into my bedroom, under my covers.

I get into a warm bath and I do chastise myself. "You could have BROKEN your ankle again. Or your leg! You oughtn't have done that. You need to learn your own limits. You're not as young as you used to be. Crazy old woman; you're lucky you didn't have to call for help, which couldn't have gotten here, in this weather, anyhow! Don't do that again. I mean it."

So last night I did the best magic that I know to raise some guys to come dig out my walk, car, back stoop, etc. At 2:00 this afternoon, after the sun had had time to work on the snow and ice, I went out and shoveled a path from my steps to the street. (Goddess to Hec: " Ho'kay, I sent you someone to clear your walk. You didn't say who. What else you want? You ask too much, you know that?") The sky was blue, the air was clear, I felt good. I shoveled, I paused to let my heart rate get down, I shoveled, paused, admired the clear sky, admired my progress from steps to street, shoveled, anticipated the sweet ache that I'd feel in my shoulders this evening in bed, shoveled, breathed in cold fresh air, looked at the blue sky, shoveled: you get the idea. A couple of neighbors walked by. I called "hullo" to them. One neighbor said, "Are you doing ok? You need anything?" and I said, "Yes, I'm fine; how 'bout you all?"

I came back inside and, for no reason that I can imagine other than that the Mother knows that I appreciate, above all, her sense of humor, not an hour later 4 guys in a truck showed up asking if I needed anything shoveled. I paid them to dig out my car and to dig out the back deck so that I could open that snowed-in door and feed the birds.

So I'm editing legal pleadings on line and I'm feeling rather Mistress of the Universe, myself, if I do so say so, and then some v nice neighbors stopped by to say they were on their way to the supermarket and did I need anything? I was happy to say that I didn't, and we chatted about the upcoming even-more-snow and I mentioned that I have the generator, so, if the power does go out, please feel free to come by and charge up cell phones or laptops or whatever, and then my v nice neighbor said, "I saw you out this afternoon, struggling to shovel out your walk."


Just, damn.

I didn't think that I was "struggling." I was feeling pretty damn good about getting out there in this once-in-a-lifetime storm and clearing a way to the street, just after having had an epic struggle to save some magnolias, meanwhile knitting a sweater, editing a legal pleading, and cooking some soup.

I don't know. Maybe I'm nuts. Maybe I should be living in a nice condo for old people. I know the nice neighbors didn't mean anything, except to be nice, but I didn't think that I looked as if I were struggling. I didn't. I thought that I looked strong and vital and alive and like a tough old survivor. I did. That's how I felt and that's how I assumed that I looked.

I'm going to go on being the witch of this place. Struggling isn't the worst thing in the world. Giving up on the struggle: that's bad.

I wasn't struggling. I know struggle and that was not struggle. I have struggled, and, when I was struggling, no one knew it, but that wasn't struggling. Just saying.

Apologies: I forget where I found this picture.