Saturday, March 06, 2010

Spot On

Gus di Zerega explains, rather well, I think, the confluence of religion and politics in a sane world.

Being Pagan helps give me the strength t[o] stand my ground, and influences the positions I take, but I believe that my political reasons should address issues in ways that atheists and Christians, insofar as they are decent people, can accept and still remain atheists or Christians.

Saturday Poetry Blogging

Slayer of the winter, art thou here again?
O welcome, thou that's bring'st the summer nigh!
The bitter wind makes not thy victory vain,
Nor will we mock thee for thy faint blue sky.
Welcome, O March! whose kindly days and dry
Make April ready for the throstle's song,
Thou first redresser of the winter's wrong!

Yea, welcome March! and though I die ere June,
Yet for the hope of life I give thee praise,
Striving to swell the burden of the tune
That even now I hear thy brown birds raise,
Unmindful of the past or coming days;
Who sing: 'Oh joy! a new year is begun:
What happiness to look upon the sun!'

Ah, what begetteth all this storm of bliss
But death himself, who crying solemnly,
E'en from the heart of sweet Forgetfulness,
Bids us 'Rejoice, lest pleasureless ye die,
Within a little time must ye go by.
Stretch forth your open hands, and while ye live
Take all the gifts that Death and Life may give.'

~William Morris

Photo found here.

Friday, March 05, 2010

If Not, Why?

Did you go read Phila's Hope Blogging? If not, you must be, as G/Son would say, a poopey-head.

With NOAH, you can photograph an interesting plant, bug or animal that you want to learn about, send in the photo along with a little info about where you found it, and store it in the species database. You can sort through the database to find out more about the flora and fauna around you, and your uploaded data will be added upon by local experts.

What a cool way to deepen your relationship with your landbase.

How I Live Right Now

Wake up in the morning. Ground. Make coffee. Ground. Pray to Goddess doing ablutions, ground. Walk on treadmill. Ground. Drink more coffee. Feed birds. Ground. Drive to work. Connect with Spout Run. Connect with Potomac River. Ground. Connect with weeds alongside ramp to Roosevelt Bridge. Ground. Talk to homeless vet and give him roast potatoes, knitted hat, or money. Ground. Go through email. Ground.

Who hit me over the head with the lucky stick and made me so lucky? Because every day when I wake up I realize, "I love my life."

Picture found here.

Spring Cleaning

Getting ready to do a Spring cleaning on my blogroll. If you haven't posted in some time, but are about to start posting again, let me know. If you'd like to be removed, let me know. If I haven't included you, but should, please let me know.

You can email me at hecatede metersd atterd athotmaild otc om

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Keep Your Rosaries Off My Ovaries

Explain to me again why these guys get to dictate what young women can do with their bodies?

The Vatican was today rocked by a sex scandal reaching into Pope Benedict's household after a chorister was sacked for allegedly procuring male prostitutes for a papal gentleman-in-waiting.

Angelo Balducci, a Gentleman of His Holiness, was caught by police on a wiretap allegedly negotiating with Thomas Chinedu Ehiem, a 29-year-old Vatican chorister, over the specific physical details of men he wanted brought to him. Transcripts in the possession of the Guardian suggest that numerous men may have been procured for Balducci, at least one of whom was studying for the priesthood.

The explosive claims about Balducci's private life have caused grave embarrassment to the Vatican, which has yet to publicly comment on the affair.

While Catholicism does not condemn homosexuality outright, its teaching is that homosexual acts "are intrinsically disordered". The Catechism of the Catholic church states unequivocally: "Under no circumstances can they be approved."

Balducci was arrested on 10 February, suspected of involvement in widespread corruption. A senior Italian government official, he is alleged to have to steered public works contracts towards favoured bidders. He has not been charged.

It was during this investigation into corruption that wiretaps revealed his alleged sexual activity. In one conversation, Ehiem tells Balducci: "I saw your call when I was in the Vatican, because I was doing rehearsals … in the choir … in St Peter's." He then suggests Balducci meet a man who he describes is "two metres tall … 97 kilos … aged 33, completely active."

Balducci is also a senior adviser to the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, the department that oversees the Roman Catholic church's worldwide missionary activities.

Since 1995, he has been a member of one of the world's most exclusive fraternities – the Gentlemen of His Holiness, or Papal Gentlemen, the ceremonial ushers of the papal household. In the words of a 1968 ordinance, they are expected to "distinguish themselves for the good of souls and the glory of the name of the Lord".

According to a report by the Carabinieri for prosecutors in Florence investigating the corruption scandal, there was a hidden side to Balducci's life. "In order to organise casual encounters of a sexual nature, he availed himself of the intercession of two individuals who, it is maintained, may form part of an organised network, especially active in [Rome], of exploiters or at least facilitators of male prostitution."

It named one as Ehiem, a professional chorister born in Nigeria. According to Italian press reports, Ehiem, a member of the choir that sings in St Peters when the pope is not officiating, lost his job on Wednesday after details of the Florence investigation became known to the Vatican.

In an interview to be published tomorrow by the news magazine Panorama, Ehiem said he had been introduced to Balducci more than 10 years ago. He claims: "He asked me if I could procure other men for him. He told me he was married and that I had to do it in great secrecy."

There were conflicting accounts of how the Vatican might respond. According to one source, there was no provision for the dismissal of a Gentleman of His Holiness. Another said: "We shall wait for the judiciary's definitive verdict."

The transcripts imply that over a period of around five months in 2008, Ehiem procured for Balducci at least 10 contacts with, among others, "two black Cuban lads", a former male model from Naples, and a rugby player from Rome.

Balducci's lawyer, Franco Coppi, said tonight: "I have no comment. First, because we have more serious questions to tackle. Second, if these claims are correct, they regard his private life. It is disgraceful that these transcripts, which have nothing to do with the case, should have been spread about."

In January this year, the Carabinieri recorded an exchange in which Balducci and Ehiem discuss a seminarian, or student for the priesthood. Balducci is said to have asked: "Listen, have you spoken with the seminarian by any chance?" Ehiem says he is "probably at mass or something". On 11 January, Ehiem calls again to recommend "a colleague, a friend" of the seminarian because the latter is unavailable. He says the colleague is "better, taller, a bit taller than you". Later, Ehiem asks: "Can I send [him] around straight away?"

He asks where Balducci is. The adviser says: "Up at the seminary … where the cardinal lives." Ehiem replies: "He could get there within half an hour … the time it takes to catch a taxi and get there."

To be clear, IMHO all acts of love and pleasure are rituals of the Goddess, although I admit that I find procuring people based on physical characteristics and, apparently, nothing else, well, at least tawdry. But, you know, these guys have no business telling me what I can do with my own body, and I really don't care whether they're just unable to live up to their own (IMHO evil, anti-life) standards or if they're cynically certain that the rules apply to everyone else.

/hat tip to chidyke in comments at Eschaton.

My Vote For Oscar

You will learn more in the woods, from trees and rocks, than from any other place.

Talk about the way you use the pagan and pre-Christian iconography in the movie, especially the ancient Celtic god Crom Cruach, whose image was supposedly destroyed by St. Patrick.

What I found most interesting about that period -- I've done a couple of graphic novels about St. Patrick, and what I really learned was how the ancient Celtic gods had been transmuted into the new Christian pantheon. A lot of the saints, like St. Colum Cille, had all these amazing legends around them: His hand glowed, so he could write at night! All this strange stuff. It would always be this confluence of the old pagan beliefs and the more modern -- well, not modern -- but the newer Christian stuff.

More here.

Even more here.

Go Garden State

You go, New Jersey!

A phone call to the New Jersey Board of Education's Public Information Office confirms that the calendar is on the agenda for the March 17th meeting and that Wiccan holidays have been tentatively added to the calendar.. The calendar will be voted on for final approval at the meeting. To check on the results of the vote, view the meeting agenda and/or meeting minutes at the NJ BOE website.

You could do some magic. It couldn't hurt. And as the fundies argue that Wicca is not a real religion, the more recognition we can get, the better.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

All The Art There Is

It's Been A Long Winter


No, really, they are batshit insane.

The American Family Association, a religious right group, is urging that Tillikum (Tilly), the killer whale that killed a trainer at SeaWorld Orlando, be put down, preferably by stoning. Citing Tilly's history of violent altercations, the group is slamming SeaWorld for not listening to Scripture in how to deal with the animal:

Says the ancient civil code of Israel, "When an ox gores a man or woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner shall not be liable." (Exodus 21:28)
However, the group is going further and laying the blame for the trainer's death directly at the feet of Chuck Thompson, the curator in charge of animal behavior, because, according to Scripture,

But, the Scripture soberly warns, if one of your animals kills a second time because you didn't kill it after it claimed its first human victim, this time you die right along with your animal. To use the example from Exodus, if your ox kills a second time, "the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death." (Exodus 21:29)

Or, we could just let the captured and enslaved animal go.

Thank You, Washington, DC

Someone that I love recently noted that DC has now, under the Obama administration, which won't even bother to put a "No taxation w/o representation" plate on its cars, been able to do some of the things that it wants to do. One of those things has been to, in the face of large objections from the patriarchs at Catholic Charities, allow people who are in love to get married. That's a v good thing. It's v good.

I live on the Potomac watershed, in the larger-than-life shadow cast by Columbia, atop the Capitol Buiding. I am quite glad that DC is now, also, a place where people who love each other can get married, even if the patriarchy has shit fits.

Onward Xian Soldiers!

They never seem to grow up.

The ever-interesting Pharyngula has a report on a group of rather unpleasant fundies who are targeting Pagans.

"Repent or perish" is their message. They show up dressed in army fatigues, carrying bullhorns, with ghetto blasters blaring Christian music, and they write down license plate numbers and photograph people doing anything they disapprove of.

Because, hey, nothing would make me want to give up my own religion and join yours faster than seeing you act like complete, unmitigated assholes. Can you tell me again about that part where Jesus said, "Whosoever you intimidate and harass in my name, they also will I convert for your religion and arrange to have donate money to your church."

They are our American Mutawwa'in, petty tyrants of propriety with a bloated sense of their own importance. They are our self-righteous wanna-be oppressors.

To be fair, they hate the Masons, gay-friendly Episcopalians, and Unitarians ("Pagan and witchcraft headquarters for Amarillo. Pagan and witchcraft celebrations and rites are performed here"), too, not to mention shops that sell sex toys, and they include those and others on their "Warfare Map." Lots and lots of military images on their website,

It just can't be fun to live that way, can it? I just wish they'd go live like that somewhere else.

Picture found here.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

So Mote It Be

Here's David Whyte discussing one of my favorite poems by the late Irish poet John O'Donohue.

Monday, March 01, 2010

That's 52% Of The Sky, Thank You

More here.

Nope. No Discrimination Or Proselytizing Here.

Here's a ruling that cries out for reversal:
A federal judge in Delaware ruled Monday that it is constitutional for the Indian River School Board to open its meetings with Christian prayers, a ruling that could broaden what's allowed at school board meetings throughout the state.

In a
57-page opinion dated Sunday but not made public until late Monday, [retiring] District Judge Joseph J. Farnan Jr. threw out a lawsuit brought by "Jane and John Doe" against the Sussex County school district that charged the board's practice violated the constitutional separation of church and state.

Farnan found that the elected school board is closer to a legislative body than a school, and therefore a prayer is permissible.

"Although reasonable people can differ as to whether the board's policy is wise, could be more inclusive or is actually necessary to solemnize board meetings, 'too much judicial fine-tuning of legislative prayer policies risks unwarranted interference in [a legislative body],' " Farnan wrote.

The judge concluded that the Indian River School Board did not use its prayer policy "to proselytize or advance religion," so he believed that the court "may not demand anything further" of the board.

The article goes on to explain that:

The lawsuit charged the district created "an environment of religious exclusion" through the use of often explicitly Christian prayers at school board meetings, athletic events, banquets and graduation services. The federal civil suit also charged that students involved in Christian religious groups received preferential treatment, one district teacher told his class there is "only one true religion" and a science teacher told her class she did not believe in the big bang theory and then encouraged students to attend the Bible club to learn more.

The Dobriches claimed they were harassed and felt they had no choice but to file a lawsuit after Mona Dobrich complained about a Christian prayer offered at her daughter's June 2004 graduation. She said abuse and harassment increased after the lawsuit was filed.

In part because of fears of harassment, Farnan allowed the second family in the lawsuit to remain anonymous.

A year ago, the district settled the bulk of the lawsuit relating to its schools and school activities. The district made an undisclosed payment to the families, promised not to promote a specific religion and adopted new policies the plaintiffs helped draft encouraging tolerance. The district also instituted new procedures to handle complaints about diversity issues.

The settlement intentionally left out the issue of the school board praying before its meetings so it could be decided separately.

The plaintiffs say that they intend to appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Of course, if this were a school district where a majority of the school board members were Moslems, I'm sure that the judge would have reached the same decision about opening school board meetings with a reading from the Koran. No, he wouldn't have. And we won't even consider a school board that wanted to cast a circle, call the Elements, and invoke a Goddess to begin its meeting.

Largest Gathering Of Women Ever?

Hail Kali! Hail Saraswati!

BBC News is reporting on what it says may be the largest gathering of women ever seen on the planet.

Clad in traditional Kerala saris and bearing offerings of food, more than two million women - perhaps more - thronged the state capital Trivandrum on Sunday.
The women braved searing heat to offer a special meal at the Attukal temple to Hindu goddess Bhagavathy - one incarnation of the potent goddesses Kali and Saraswati.
Women howled shrilly, as is the custom at the culmination of this 10-day annual event, and they joined the chief priest in offering their earthenware pots overflowing with rice and jaggery - an unrefined sugar - to the presiding goddess.
They were seeking her blessing for the health and prosperity of their families - and the special meal, known as the pongala, was later distributed among family and friends back at home.

It sounds amazing: The legend goes that Bhagavathy once visited the spot where the temple stands today on the banks of the Killiyar river.
The goddess, in the guise of a girl, sought the help of the head of a local family to cross the river. He helped her - but she vanished soon after.

Imagine that many women coming together to worship a Goddess. The patriarchy just felt a great disturbance in the force.

Nicely Done

Here's an interesting article about some witches fighting back against Google's censorship. A couple who go by the names "Lady Passion" and "*Diuvei," (apparently, he's not Diuvei, he's *Diuvei. I'm not sure how the pronunciation differs. How is it that none of us ever get "Shirley" or "Bob" as our magical names?), who are no strangers to controversy, wrote a book called The Goodly Spellbook: Olde Spells For Modern Problems. Then, they posted a video on YouTube that shows them pronouncing what they refer to as Magical Barbarous Words of Power. It's not clear to me how these words are "barbarous," which the online Merriam Webster dictionary defines thusly:

Etymology: Latin barbarus, from Greek barbaros foreign, ignorant
Date: 15th century
1 a : uncivilized b : lacking culture or refinement : philistine
2 : characterized by the occurrence of barbarisms
3 : mercilessly harsh or cruel
synonyms see fierce

nor do I know what language they are using (they describe it as Lingua Arcana and some of the comments on YouTube indicate that it may be Basque, used in Gardnerian rituals, or from a troubadour named Ruteboeuf [who] included it in a medieval morality play, [which is] its earliest record. But he clearly took it from an older source ). Nice marketing, though.

However, anyone who has, as they claim, saved an ancient magnolia, using both magic and good old-fashioned activism, is aces in my book.

At any rate, it appears that, based upon an anonymous complaint, Google slapp[ed] their YouTube clip . . . with a disclaimer[:] The YouTube Community has determined this video may contain objectionable or offensive material. Viewer discretion is advised. In a press release, Lady Passion and *Diuvei claim that Google gave no way to refute the complaint, even as the company got positive press for opposing Chinese censorship and was considering Asheville [a pretty Pagan-friendly location] as a test area for their experimental high-speed access program. They go on to note that they threatened a lawsuit unless the industry enacted fair policies regarding vetting the veracity of anonymous complaints, and [they also] aired the video several times on T.V., proving that it met YouTube’s Terms of Service and that they were not alone in being persecuted: The owner of Practical Magick Shop on Staten Island, New York had also been inexplicably targeted with the identical disclaimer.

“We’re thrilled with people’s sympathetic action,” said Lady Passion. “We got helpful e-mails from all over — some who had Google stock and complained, as stockholders, to the corporation on our behalf.”

And, it appears that they've been successful: Four days after Witches went national accusing Google of a modern-day Witch-hunt by slapping their YouTube clip Real Witch Magic Class with a disclaimer generated from an anonymous complaint, the international mega-corporation has removed the negative label.

It's long past time for the media to stop bowing to pressure from fundies and self-appointed censors. They don't want to know what I consider "objectionable or offensive material."

March Bazooms Blogging

Ladies! Listen up! Detecting breast cancer early is the key to surviving it! Breast Self Exams (BSEs) can help you to detect breast cancer in its earlier stages. So, on the first of every month, give yourself a breast self-exam. It's easy to do. Here's how. If you prefer to do your BSE at a particular time in your cycle, calendar it now. But, don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

And, once a year, get yourself a mammogram. Mammograms cost between $150 and $300. If you have to take a temp job one weekend a year, if you have to sell something on e-Bay, if you have to go cash in all the change in various jars all over the house, if you have to work the holiday season wrapping gifts at Macy's, for the love of the Goddess, please go get a mammogram once a year.

Or: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pays all or some of the cost of breast cancer screening services through its National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. This program provides mammograms and breast exams by a health professional to low-income, underinsured, and underserved women in all 50 states, six U.S. territories, the District of Columbia, and 14 American Indian/Alaska Native organizations. For more information, contact your state health department or call the Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER.

I know that a recent study indicated that early detection via breast self exams might not be "cost effective." I'm not a scientist, but when I read those studies, they appear to be saying that sometimes women find a lump during the BSE that turns out not to be cancer. Those women have caused some expense and have gone through some discomfort in order to find out that the lump wasn't cancer. I don't know about you, but when that happens to me, as it has a few times since my first mammogram found a small, curable, cancerous lump, I go out and buy a new scarf, take myself out for a decadent lunch, call everyone I know, and call it a good day.

Send me an email after you get your mammogram and I will do an annual free tarot reading for you. Just, please, examine your own breasts once a month and get your sweet, round ass to a mammogram once a year. If you have a deck, pick three cards and e-mail me at I'll email you back your reading. If you don't have a deck, go to Lunea's tarot listed on the right-hand side in my blog links. Pick three cards from her free, on-line tarot and email me at I'll email you back your reading.

Picture found here.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Goodbye And Thanks For All The Fish.

OK, February 2010, it's been nice, well, no, it really hasn't been, knowing you. See 'ya around. Or not. Here, let me help you find your things. Want me to help you into your coat? Here you go, don't forget your purse. Wouldn't want you to have to come back for anything, would we? OK, bye! Here, I'll open the door. Yeah, yeah, we should get together again, or not. OK, definitely not. Bye. So long! Adiós! Khau bulyghyz! Au revoir! Auf Wiedersehen! Gee, look at the time! My goodness, tomorrow's going to come really early. OK, bye, now! I'll never forget you. Really. Have a nice trip. Or, not. Actually, just go and if you manage to fall off a steep ledge, that's fine with me. Git. Scram. Off'a my property. Disappear. Vamoose. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Good bye you sorry excuse for a month. I'm GLAD you're only 28 days long. There's a reason they gave you fewer days than all the other months. You, February 2010, were the Worst. Month. Ever. And, now, ha! your time is up. Over. Done. Bye!

gif found here.