Friday, February 26, 2010

Then The Night Came, Like A Ceremony*

I don't know, maybe this happens all the time for other people, but, for me, there are these amazing, transcendent moments that don't come too often (it's like the poem by Sara Teasdale, "For one white, singing hour of peace, count many a year of strife well-lost") but that confirm so much. I mean those moments when I "know" that I am where I was always meant to be. For me, at almost 54, those moments come, more and more often, on one side or other of the Potomac River, in a circle of women, witches, magic-workers gathered to work magic. They come on Dark Moons, and Full Moons, and on the 8 Sabbats of the Witches. They come when they will come, but, when they come, that's enough.

May it be so for you.

*From lyrics by Christine Kane

Picture found here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Refuse To Be The Host - Part The Second

Sometimes, because the lies of patriarchy and of patriarchy's son, capitalism, are so loud, I forget, even though I should know better, that I am a node on a web. I forget that the work that I do is the same work and is part of the Great Work done by other Witches, by the wights and devas and ancient, unnamed spirits of this place, this bit of Earth, here in the Potomac watershed. I forget that I am joined in my love of Mother Earth by fairies, Ents, moles, and the fox who lives in a deep den on the high hill just to my South, by the squirrels just now having babies in their nests in the crape myrtle trees, by the robins who either returned too early or who never left and, even, by the bossy cardinal who thinks (too often correctly) he can control me from out on the deck.

And, then, sometimes, I get to sit outside, albeit in a coat and gloves and shawl, and watch the branches of trees dance in the wind, and watch the sun make shadows on the half-thawed land. And, then, I remember. And it is a great relief.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I'm Waiting Till It Comes Out On Netflix

More here

Yes We Can!

It's probably just me, but I'm a huge negotiation geek. It was my favorite class in law school. Every single exercise, my partner and I got buckets and buckets more than anyone else. As we were doing one of the exercises, someone in the class sighed out loud, "They're doing it again." There's an art to negotiation, and a huge part of that art is going in knowing who and what you're up against. Plus, negotiation is great fun. I've made a very respectable living for years based, inter alia, on my ability to negotiate (and to go for the jugular when people won't negotiate with me). So it's driven me batshit insane to watch the Obama administration and the Senate Dems "negotiate" and I use that term loosely, themselves into a losing position on health care reform.

FireDogLake has an interview with Congressman Anthony Weiner, who appears to get it:

Weiner didn’t get an invite to tomorrow’s health care summit, but he’ll be watching and even live-blogging the proceedings, he told me. He found its utility limited. “If we want to spend hours tomorrow highlighting bankruptcy of GOP ideas, fine. But we mustn’t delude ourselves. When we gave up public option, we didn’t get a single Republican. When we gave up national exchanges for a state exchange, we didn’t get a single Republican. We keep negotiating with ourselves.” If the summit is meant to contrast the two parties on the issue, Weiner was fine with it, but if it was seen as an opportunity to convert Republicans to the cause of fixing health care, he advised, “Good luck with that.”

I wanted to know from someone who has been in the room for these discussions whether he thought the votes were actually there to pass the bill, regardless of what fixes could be made in reconciliation. Eric Cantor’s memo today certainly suggested otherwise, as have multiple news reports. I asked flat-out, does this thing have the votes?

Weiner replied, “Well, we passed the bill once.” Obviously, he said, the abortion language was a concern, and he admitted, “I don’t know how it gets resolved.” He reiterated the constant dynamic of dropping things like the public option, which he thinks has majority support in the House and Senate and among 72% of the American people, and getting nothing in exchange. In the final analysis, he said, “I’m not sure what we’re doing, and I’m pretty tied in.”

There's this little paperback called "Getting to Yes" that the Dems need to buy and pass out to all of the members of the Obama administration and the Dems in the Senate. Well, first they need to lock Harry Reid in his locker. Then, they need to read "Getting to Yes."

Picture found here.

My New Name For A Blog

What echidne said.

Perhaps the most troubling part of the bill is a standard that could make women legally responsible for miscarriages caused by so-called "reckless" behavior. Under the "reckless behavior" standard, an attorney only needs to show that the woman behaved in a manner that is thought to cause miscarriage, even if she did not intend to lose the pregnancy. Under this law, if a woman drinks too much and has a miscarriage, she could face prosecution.

No, really. I'm sick and tired of this bullshit.

Picture found here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Rather pricey, but quite lovely.

A BRONZE sculpture of the Roman goddess Artemis fetched $US28.6 million ($A34 million) at auction, a world-record auction price for a sculpture of any period, Sotheby's said.

Artemis and the Stag, dating from the first century BC to AD100, was bought by London art dealer Giuseppe Eskenazi on behalf of "a European private collector", according to Sotheby's spokeswoman Lauren Gioia.

Picture found here.

When Nothing Else Works

Here's a fascinating article about the reaction of Icelandic Pagans to that country's recent economic difficulties.

An act of sorcery against "Iceland’s enemies," undertaken by members of the pagan society Ásatrúarfélagid in Iceland at the beginning of the economic crisis, finally seems to be delivering the desired results, as high chieftain Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson pointed out on the news yesterday—the Dutch government has collapsed and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s political career is hanging by a thread. Members of Ásatrúarfélagid called for the protection of the four Icelandic land wights, the bull, the dragon, the giant and the eagle, in December 2008 and performed an act of sorcery against Iceland’s enemies, Stöd 2 reports.

. . .

“To follow it through, I and Steindór Andersen sat down and wrote an oddhenda, which is a rare form of poetry in the English language,” Hilmarsson said.

“It goes like this: In London town, this lying clown, our land he drowns in chatters, Gordon Brown is going down, his good renown in tatters,” Hilmarsson said, adding with a grin, “now it seems to be working.”

If that's a "rare form of poetry in the English language," I know a lot of witches who write oddhenda.

Europe has seen unusually harsh weather this winter and in the UK people are speaking of an Icelandic winter. “They feel it is our winter and that probably has a symbolic meaning,” Hilmarsson explained.

When asked why it took such a long time for the sorcery to work, the high chieftain replied: “People believed in the old days that […] magic had to go around lakes and such so maybe the Atlantic Ocean caused the delay,” he said and winked.

You know, we might consider something similar concerning "America's enemies," although, sadly, I believe the banksters and their wholly-owned subsidiary, the United States Congress, are internal enemies. But, then, it wouldn't take magic too long to get across the Potomac, either.

I have to say the article reminds me of the story about Gerald Gardner's coven repelling the Nazis who would have invaded England: The coven, including Gardner, joined with other Witches in southern England on July 31 (Lummas Eve), 1940, to perform a ritual to prevent Hitler's forces from invading England. Five members of the coven died shortly afterwards. Their deaths were blamed on the power drained from them during the ritual. Gardner, himself, felt his health had been adversely affected. I can't seem to find it online, but I know that I've read that five older members were selected to perform the ritual skyclad, without even any grease to preserve body heat, and that it was this sacrifice that sealed the magic. At any rate, the Icelanders appear to have figured out how to curse their enemies without any such heroics.

The article includes a link to an article about other ceremonies of Ásatrúarfélagid and a video link to their ritual, along with interviews with various members. What's fascinating is just how respectful the newreporter in the video is; no one is described as a "self-avowed" Pagan and there's no reassurance that Pagans don't worship the devil. The Pagans interviewed assert that Icelanders treat them with respect and are glad to have people who worship the old ways.

More on Örn Hilmarsson.

Picture found here.

Refuse To Be The Host

Southern nights soft and lazy
Southern boys who talk just right
Leave it up to me and I'll take you
Somewhere just you and I

You can round up all your reasons
Tell me that my plan's all wrong
Say you're on the path to Jesus
But I'll bet he'd come along

As for me I've had my demons
Beating down my own back door
Breakin' bad and talking mean
They'll wait for me for sure

I propose we let them in
Sit 'em down and raise a toast
Get 'em drunk and leave those demons
Refuse to be the host.

~From "Made of Steel" by Christine Kane.

Monday, February 22, 2010

What A Cool Way To Celebrate The Census

Decades after xian missionaries outlawed dancing as a spiritual expression for Eskimo people, it's back.

For Atoruk, dancing is a way to tell stories for all occasions, weddings, funerals, birthdays, the subsistence lifestyles of people who live off the land as Noorvik residents do. Motions and songs represent the movements of fishing, ice hopping, even traveling by snowmobile. And as far as Atoruk is concerned, shamanism is an important part of his people's spiritual culture, not a satanic tool.

"I think we lost a lot of our history because the missionaries came," he said. "Now it's coming back."

But too many villages continue to cling to the oppressive legacy left by Western missionaries, according to Theresa Arevgaq John, a Yup'ik Eskimo and Native studies professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Indigenous people saw the destruction of their sacred traditions, including shamans, who were revered as spiritual leaders empowered by the creator with skills and tools to communicate with the spirit world to ensure the welfare of communities. Dancing had nothing to do with devil worship, John said.

"It was our only way of prayer," she said. "Can you imagine someone coming in and saying your way is wrong?"

As Ehrenreich notes, some form of communal dancing is pretty much global in terms of group rituals. My wonderful circle of amazing women loves to dance. I can't imagine how it would feel to have that outlawed by xian missionaries.

Honest, was there ever a worse idea than missionaries?

Picture found here.

Fuck You, Eric Holder. You Took An Oath To Uphold The Constitution.

Dick Cheney said last week: “I signed off on it; others did, as well, too,” when he was asked about waterboarding.

I've been trying to think what I could say about this (other than, "Shame!" and, as Sister Tarsisus taught me to say of evil things done in my name: "Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!") that hasn't already been said. And then I decided that there really wasn't anything I could say that Jacob Bronowsk hadn't already said.

(And, of course, Oliver Cromwell ought to have taken his own advice.)

Gee, Now I'm REALLY Sorry That I Missed It. No, I'm Not.

I have a general rule about what goes on in the Pagan community: If Hecate didn't spend her time organizing it (and she didn't) she should shut the fuck up and not criticize. Because I've been on the other side of the spectrum, having spent a cauldron-full of hours doing the work, just to have someone who didn't do anything criticize. And it doesn't exactly inspire me to work even harder next time.

But I'm going to make an exception to my general rule, although I hope this offering will be accepted in the spirit of friendly suggestion, rather than criticism.

Contrast the TED Talks, or Ehrenreich's talk before the Chicago Humanities Festival with the two, count them, two YouTubes that show up if you do a search for YouTubes this month under "Pantheacon."

I'm not trying to pick, per se, on the very young woman who went there to get hit on by Otherkin and to buy a new tail, nor on the folks, above, who took pictures of their friends dressed up in fun costumes. But I'm given to understand that there were wonderful, serious, informative speeches and panel presentations. And they're nowhere to be found on one of America's most influential forms of new media.

A search of last year's Pantheacon offerings would have you believe that, other than the GreySchool of Wizardry and some musical performances, nothing was going on. So it's not as if the problem is that folks just haven't had enough time to get home and load things up onto YouTube.

I'd love to see some of the more serious presentations show up, not only for the many Pagans who, for reasons of family responsibilities, work responsibilities, disabilities, and poverty can't travel to San Jose, but also for those who are curious about us. Others seem to be able to figure out how to do this.

My New Name For A Blog

What NTodd Said.

Also, What Ed Brayton Said:

Fuck you, Bob Barr. You obviously lied to me and you are just as bigoted and stupid as you were when you were in Congress.

Sunday, February 21, 2010