Saturday, August 28, 2010


Coffee Time

The Arch Druid:

The gardener’s art, after all, requires a close attentiveness to time, and in particular to dimensions of time that contemporary culture doesn’t grasp as well as it should. We’re so used to thinking of time as an abstract numerical measurement – so many minutes, hours, days, or what have you – that it’s often easy to lose track of the fact that for living beings, time always has a qualitative dimension as well as a quantitative one. In the temperate zone, for example, four o’clock in the afternoon is a completely different time for living things in January than it is in August, and twenty days means something completely different for living things at one season than it does at another.

Skilled gardening depends on these qualitative differences. Most of the best gardeners I’ve ever known made it a habit to go out into the garden first thing in the morning and stand there, hands in pockets, doing nothing in particular except trying to get a sense of what the garden was doing, or ready to do, on that particular day. Most of them also had a collection of ground rules setting out the basic rules of garden timing, with wiggle room so they could be adjusted for the vagaries of weather and the like. Choosing the right time to plant particular crops, in particular, is a fine art, and usually ends up supported by traditional incantations that are handed down from generation to generation.

Landscape Guy calls it "coffee time." You make a cup of coffee, take the grounds out to sprinkle around the base of your weakest plant, and commune with the garden. It's an important part of my day.

Picture found here.

Friday, August 27, 2010

My New Name for a Blog

What Watertiger Said.

Damn. Girlfriend is on fire these days.

I Worship a Goddess of Liminal Spaces

Right Livelihood

I don't talk about it often, here on this blog, because (1) I can't, and (2) it would bore most people to snoring, deep, dreamless sleep, but there are days when I absolutely adore my job.

Yes, there are days -- many of them -- when my weary, stressed, tired, old body crawls home, pours a drink, goes out to place my head, cheek-down, upon the cold stone altar in my garden, and says to Mama Gaia, "Sweet Mother, what did I ever do to condemn myself to a life of arguing w/ stupid, dealing with minutia, correcting the same document over and over, sitting on another interminable conference call? What, Mother, what?!?"

And, then there are days like today. Days when I get to toss glass bead bubbles back and forth with minds I truly admire, minds that sharpen my own, minds that I sharpen. Days when my understanding of cases and statutes runs deep and true, days when I really can't imagine that anyone pays, rather than charges, me to get to do this. Days when (and, really, just like being drunk on religion only appeals to a small percentage of the population), even though only a small percentage of the population would get high on this, the combination of my expertise concerning a tiny, tiny, moderately obscure snippet of the United States Code and my understanding of a technical issue such as standing or due process allows me to float, soar, glide, engage in what Robert Frost called "work [that is] play for mortal stakes." As Frost explained, only then can one say that "the deed [is] ever really done for Heaven's and the future's stakes." I do think that many of us are "born" to do something. I was born to do appellate work.

I'm incredibly lucky to have shown up in one of the few times in history when girls get to play this game (May the future cause my great, great, many-times-great granddaughters to wonder how women were ever excluded). I'm incredibly lucky to have gotten the state-supported eduction to allow me to do this. I'm incredibly lucky to have found a place where I can do this with minds that leave me flat-out in awe, where I can get out-of-this world technical and paralegal support that frees me to do what I love to do. I try to remind myself just how lucky I really am. Especially when my cheek is resting on stone.

Joseph Campbell discussed this phenomenon when he said: "If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living." That's the path that I set my feet upon when I went to law school, took this job, began, terrified of failure, to do the job that I do today. And it absolutely feels to me like flying, like amazing sex, like what I imagine cocaine must feel like, like what I imagine a surgeon feels upon cutting out disease, or an artist feels when she gets just the right color, or a composer feels when she figures out just the right note, or a mathematician feels when the numbers click, or a mother feels when the baby catches the nipple, like my deepest mystical experiences in nature, like being right.

May it be so for you.

Picture found here.

How It's Done


If I were being ultra-picky, I'd note that articles about other religions don't normally say such things as "He considers himself a Reformed Jew," or "She considers herself to be a member of Opus Dei," but, the way that it's done here, it's not terribly offensive.

Otherwise, nice focus on positive aspects of the local Pagan community and a refreshing absence of defensiveness.

Picture found here.

The Kidz Are Alright

Here's a fascinating article about teen-aged xians. While the author of the featured book seems to suggest that even more intense evangelicalism is the answer, I doubt that this is a practical answer. While a significant portion of Americans do identify as evangelical, the notion that more parents and pastors are going to become even more "hard-core" in order to get teens fired up about their religion seems far-fetched to me.

What I find really interesting to consider is how a similar study of Pagan teens would turn out. I doubt many Pagans (the author of the study is xian) would even advocate that Pagan parents and priestesses/priests get more "hard-core" in order to get Pagan teens fired up about their religion. I think the study of xians stands, mostly, for the unremarkable proposition that most Americans self-identify as xians. Thus, most teens do, as well. That doesn't mean that they're fiercely passionate about their faith. I imagine that, in predominately Pagan societies, some small percentage of the population was passionate about their religion, while the majority, although identifying as a member of the locally-predominate religion, happy to celebrate a number of holidays, and very willing to propitiate the Goddesses/Gods, really didn't spend all that much time thinking about religion.

And, you know, THAT'S OK. As Thorn Coyle recently noted (I'm paraphrasing here, any errors are my own), some of us (/raises Piscean flipper/hand) are called to live lives based as completely as possible around our religion. And for some of us, religion is an adjunct to our lives, which are mainly focused on art, or growing plants, or programming computers. We aren't all called to serve exclusively in the temple.

It might behoove us to open up our ideas of priesthood. Not everyone need go through the same initiation. The hierarchy of current initiatory systems only works for a few people. Why? Because the mystery of their particular service, creative spark, or connection to the Gods is not served by the rituals that exist. Those rituals are most often rituals to help people lead covens, or teach a certain pathway of magical practice, or marry a particular set of Deity forms, or often, to pass on that particular initiation.

What about the priest who whispers to the plants in the garden at midnight or dawn, and is initiated by the fecund powers of the earth and the effects of the moon and sun? What about the priestess who is the weaver of fine cloth and who ministers to us all through the mystery that flows together on her loom? What about the priestess who serves as a paramedic, doctor, or nurse? Or the priest who cares for children or the dying? All of these are sacred acts with their own trials and rites of passage. Each of these has a power that I cannot begin to understand. When did we cease to "labor along different paths of holiness" in order to best serve our own souls, our own Gods, our own communities? When did we begin to believe the lie that equality means equivalency? My theory is that because we come from broken traditions, we forget the householders and physicians and set our sights only at those who sat on the high seat or made the sacrifices for the community. We forget that every person had a different role to play and that this helped to keep the community healthy and strong.

~T. Thorn Coyle

Wicca, in particular, is known for attracting teen-agers who may or may not practice a religion that differs in significant ways from various tv shows. Some of those teens may go on to live a life full of passionate Paganism, some may go back to the xian faith of their parents, from which they were momentarily rebelling, some may become "mere" festival Pagans. And, you know, it's all ok. I'm not about to advise Pagan parents and priestesses to get more hardcore about our experiential religion in order to make sure Pagan teens can mouth what we want them to mouth or live as we want them to live.

Picture found here.

I Mean It

You really, really, really need to go check out the Amazing Aquila ka Hecate today. No, really.

Picture found here.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dissident Bodhisattva


She's a Witch! Burn Her!

But, we, surely, are not at risk.

Brutally beaten, made to eat human waste, ostracized, denied work and earning opportunities, forced to live in isolation – this is the story of Rubiya Bibi, a poor Muslim woman in Jharkhand, India, branded as a ‘witch’ by men in her village.

A mother of four children – all under 10 -, Rubiya’s husband is mentally unstable and oblivious to what is happeing. Rubiya’s in-laws have supported her tormentors and driven her away from her husband’s home.

Rubiya now lives at her father’s home. Her father, a poor labourer, struggles to feed so many mouths with his meager income. Rubiya’a children can’t go to school as their mother is a ‘witch’. They can’t play with other children because everyone teases them as the ‘witch’s children.

More Like This!

Kudos to Ann Arbor dot com for a nice summary of the growth of Paganism. The author completely understands the rules of capitalization!

Here, however, is a good example of how it shouldn't be done. Can you spot the mistakes?

Pictures found here.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


There are two kinds of blogposts that I don't normally do. The first is the "gratitude post." You know: tea, sunlight, morning sex. The second is the "journal post." You know: Here's what I've been doing lately and some random thoughts.

There's nothing wrong with those posts; some folks write amazing blogs full of little else. They're just not my style. But, what's itching my fingers to be written today is a combination of those two posts, so, if you're not a fan of them, either, I won't feel at all offended if you just skip this and come back tomorrow.

There's a song in The Sound of Music that says, "Somewhere in my wicked youth or childhood, I must have done something good," as a way of explaining extraordinary good luck. I use that phrase as a shorthand, but, honestly, I don't believe it. I don't think I did very many good things at all in my own wicked youth and childhood. But I do believe in complete, extraordinary, totally unearned Grace. And that happens to me all the damn time.

I have an amazing doctor. She's a down-to-Earth, unpretentious, good old girl, who talks with me about politics, Arts and Crafts architecture, kids, living in DC, and gardens. She does something most doctors simply cannot do: she listens. And, then, she talks to me, adult-to-adult. She saved my life more than a decade ago when she sent me for a baseline mammogram. Seeing her is more like seeing an old friend who has a needed area of expertise than like seeing a doctor. Especially in our broken health care system, I'm lucky to have found her. Grace.

I have the world's best pharmacist. A guy who will walk out from behind the counter, tip his head, pull his own ear, and show me how to put in the ear drops and then say, "Here, now you show me that you know how to do it." And there we stand, in the middle of the nation's capital, heads tipped and ears pulled, not at all self-conscious. He's been in my corner ever since he was filling my chemo prescriptions and used to give me little slips of paper saying, "Laughter," because he wanted me to take some every day along with the other medicine. I would, and do, trust him with my life. He's just an honestly good person and I'm lucky to have found him. Grace.

I have the best Landscape Guy in the world. Ever since I read The Secret Garden as a little girl, I've longed for my own secret garden. I was in my fifties before I could afford it, and I spent a long, long time looking for the perfect ally. And, then, as soon as I found Landscape Guy, I knew. Over the years, he's helped me to realize a vision that I only kinda-sorta-vaguely knew that I even had. A good xian boy, he completely groks how my garden is a part of my spirituality and he is really expert in local flora. I value his advice as much for the things he talks me out of as for the things he talks me into. I'm lucky to have found him. Grace.

Nothing that I ever did, nothing, could have ever entitled me to my magical women. It's pure Grace that deposited me in this circle. There's a small group of women who are really pieces of my heart, out, walking around. A piece of my heart is on the West Coast, knocking people's socks off, shining as bright as a star in the Milky Way. A piece of my heart is heading bravely into an unexpected challenge. A piece of my heart is starting life with a new-born piece of her own heart, sending pictures to her magical sisters for us to ooohhhhh and awwww over. A piece of my heart is working overtime serving the country at a big federal office. A piece of my heart is preparing for an intense spiritual retreat. A piece of my heart is cleaning out decades of stuff, preparing to move. I was born to live in a community of women and, through no fault of my own, I do. Grace.

This full Moon has been so powerful and, as is often true on full Moons, I've found myself unable to sleep as the amazing silvery light of mystery and ecstacy floods each of my cells and all of the spaces in between. I go out in the moonlight to weed the front cottage garden and, old woman that I am, I weed sitting, and often laying, on the ground. And, Goddess, I can hear it thrum. Feel it thrum. Feel the intense activity of roots, rocks, water, moles, gophers, rabbits, bugs. I've never heard the Earth so ALIVE. Grace. Complete Grace, that the Mother and the Moon would give this gift to someone who drives a car, eats food in packages, runs the air conditioner, pays taxes that support war, prints out cases off Lexis because it's easier for me to read them that way, uses electrons to blog, pees drugs from the amazing pharmacist into the ground water, and, in general, transgresses in a million unjustified ways.

So, there you are. Gratitude and journal all in one; I live flooded with Grace and amazed at what I've received and made solemn when I consider how little I manage to give back.

May it be so for you.

Not All Pagans Are Heathen, But Most Heathens Are Pagans

I appreciate the sentiment, but some Pagans are, in fact, Heathens. And since we capitalize Christians, we should capitalize Heathens.

Picture found here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

Still Enough to Get You Burned

Being elderly is a decided disadvantage.

Hedge Witch

You know, it's funny. I read this headline to mean something quite different from what it means.

Picture found here.

Stop It. Because, When You Hurt Yourself, I Will Laugh*

I'm going to say this again. Pagans, please quit perpetuating stereotypes about our religions. I don't care how well-intentioned you may be. Do NOT tell interviewers:

“We don’t sacrifice goats in the middle of the field,” Driscoll said.

And for that matter, there’s no dancing in the nude. No flying broomsticks. No wiggling of the nose to get things done. And no devil worshipping (pagans don’t believe in the devil).

Please. It's long past time for you to say those things. If, and I mean only if, the interviewer is so stupid, crass, ignorant, and/or prejudiced as to ask if you, for example, "sacrifice goats in the middle of the field," or worship devils, then give them "the" look and say "Of course not. Do you ask Jews if matzo is made from the bones of xian children? Then why would you ask me if Pagans worship the devil?" Come on; do you think the local Catholic church meets the reporter outside the annual St. Anthony's Bingo Day and Bake Sale and announces that their priests don't molest children?

And you know, at least be accurate. Some of us do dance in the nude. (I'll be at a skyclad ritual tomorrow on the Full Moon.) Some Pagans, particularly of the African Diaspora, may well sacrifice animals, in or out of the middle of the field. So proclaiming that Pagans don't do those things, when they demonstrably do, leaves your other defensive announcements, such as not worshipping the devil, up for doubt. (PS: They illustrated your comment about how we don't fly around on broomsticks with a picture of a woman sampling . . . brooms on sale at your event.)

Yes, Pagan Pride Day can help others to learn about our religion. Explain what Pagans ARE about. Explain how your local group raised funds for homeless animals, adopted a strip of highway to clean up, or collected canned food for flood victims. Discuss our reverence for nature, our focus on experience vs. faith, our inclination to honor the ancestors. There's a lot to say about us that doesn't begin, "We don't really . . . ."
Teacats suggested in comments to my last post on this topic that someone develop a set of Talking Points for events such as Pagan Pride Day. I'm willing to bet that work has been done several times. If anyone's aware of such a resource, please post it in comments. This nonsense has got to stop, no matter how well-meaning the involved Pagans may be.

Props to the author of the article for capitalizing the names of Pagan religions.

Picture found here.

*OK, I won't really laugh; because this behavior hurts all of us. But that's my standard saying at work when people do things they should know better than to do.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Kali, Fuck; This Gets Old

I'll say what I always say about this kind of nonsense. There is no role for religion on government property. And it's beyond pathetic in these times of state, county, and municipal cut-backs on basic services such as education, police forces, and firefighting, to see politicians waste time and resources on this nonsense. But when the xians demand that their commandments go up on town property, I support Pagans demanding their due. Because it makes the point. And, apparently, that point needs to be made over and over.

At any rate, it will be interesting to see what happens at the press conference and the mayor does seem to be backing down from his previous position, at least a tiny bit.

Picture found here.

Sunday Dance Blogging