Saturday, January 08, 2011

Barack Obama, Grow the Fuck Up. America Needs You.

Brighter bloggers than I will say what needs to be said about the domestic terrorism that culminated today in the point-blank shot to Democratic Congresswoman Giffords' head. They'll say what needs to be said about Sarah Palin's poster that targeted -- by which I mean showed in the sights of a gun -- Congresswoman Giffords, the only member of Congress, by the way, married to someone in the military. They'll say what needs to be said about how Congresswoman Giffords' opponent publicized fundraisers "targeting" her by giving Arizonans a chance to shoot guns with him. They'll say what needs to be said about candidates blabbing about "Second Amendment Solutions." They'll say what needs to be said about Glenn Beck and his filthy ilk.

Here's what I have to say: Man up, Barack Obama and do the damn job that you wanted before you were ready for it, won, and now have. You and Eric Holder and Janet Napalitano need to be all the fuck over this shit right the fuck now. You taught these terrorists that it was ok to show up at town hall meetings carrying guns to intimidate decent Democrats. Get off your Goldman Sachs ass. Act like the goddess-damned president of the United States of America. Now, before a few more of us get shot point-blank in the head.

hat tip to filker tom

No One Could Have Anticipated

Season of Misogyny.

Picture found here.

Friday, January 07, 2011

I Hope for Beauty

"This is totally beauty. It's also vandalism." (Be still, my beating heart.)

I just have to say that, IMHO, this is magic of the highest sort.

I don't mean that metaphorically. I mean it literally.

IMHO, guerilla gardeners do magic, deep magic, magic that really matters, and I don't care that they show up ignorant of magical practice, without an athame, bearing no incense, wearing no pentacles or robes, and lacking any chants or spoken spells. It's enough that they not only "hope for beauty," but that they also (unlike too many self-proclaimed Pagans) show up in her service under the pale Moon light.

Sometimes when, in Wendell Berry's words, "despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children's lives [and most of all, what my G/Son's life] may be," (which lately is, you know, almost every night), I remind myself of something that Starhawk said after the midterm elections:
Remember that the real work of change is always going on—if not in Washington, then in thousands of towns and neighborhoods and communities, if not in the halls of power, then in the streets. Don’t be complacent, but don’t despair. All around us are allies working for more justice, more freedom, more ecological balance, more peace. This is not a time to fall back, but to step up, to be bolder, braver, louder, funnier, more inventive, more outrageous, more committed. Political winds blow back and forth—hold to your deepest values, and we’ll stay the course.

Guerilla gardeners are my allies, working for more ecological balance, more peace. I guess that it's time for me to step up, be bolder, braver, funnier, more inventive, more outrageous, more committed. It's time for me to do some serious guerilla gardening. Like Margaret Cho, I have decided to stay and fight. I'm going to hold to my deepest values and stay the course.

What other options are there? What have you decided?

Thursday, January 06, 2011

We Study You So That We Can Control You

Here's an interesting article about a book that discusses why people leave xianity and how xians can lure them back to xianity. The use of the now-almost-completely-discredited-term "Neo-Pagan" is a clue to how "hip" the book really is. Honestly, the relationship of my practice to ancient Paganism is at least as direct as is the relationship of most modern xian practices to those of the 1st Century xians. If I'm a "neo-Pagan," then they're "neo-xians."

Also, look, I'm going to break this to you as gently as possible, but I don't give a flying frap how much you try to "show familiarity with [my] basic beliefs by asking [me] what attracted [me] to Wicca and what problems [I] have with xianity." (How those questions show any familiarity with my "basic beliefs" is beyond me.) I don't care whether you "show[] an appreciation for nature and a desire to protect it," and I really don't want you to think that you can "direct" me anywhere, much less to the god that YOU IMAGINE Nature reflects. Nor will it do any good for you to "not be shy about talking about your own spiritual experiences." I've been deep inside your religion/had your spiritual experiences (hint: I was raised in it and by "raised in it," I mean: Catholic school, daily rosaries and Mass, children's choir, taught CCD for years to first Communicants, did Catholic pentecostalism, was v. seriously recruited for the convent, tried Protestantism as a serious adult) and deep inside mine and I'M NOT COMING BACK. I'm an intelligent, well-educated (to which a lot of you xians object), adult female (and you might want to work on how you treat this half of humanity if you REALLY want to address my concerns) human being, who understands what you have to offer and what Paganism has to offer and who has found Paganism to be a better path for me. I'm (unlike you) happy if others find different paths for themselves, including your religion, but, after 54 years on Earth and several decades as a Pagan, a few bad Marketing 101 tricks aren't going to change my entire life, but, you know, thanks for the insult to my intelligence, integrity, and ideals.

Also, since I say this every time, if you're going to capitalize "Christian," you can capitalize even "Neo-Pagan." If you have to use "Neo" at all.

Can you imagine how insulted xians would be if, for example, Moslems wrote a similar book about how to lure xians into Islam?

Picture found here.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

What Are the Needs of the Beaver, the Bear, the Salmon?

We know what the animals do, what are the needs of the beaver, the bear, the salmon, and other creatures, because long ago men married them and acquired this knowledge from their animal wives. Today the priests say we lie, but we know better. The white man has been only a short time in this country and knows very little about the animals; we have lived here thousands of years and were taught long ago by the animals themselves. The white man writes everything down in a book so that it will not be forgotten; but our ancestors married animals, learned all their ways, and passed on this knowledge from one generation to another.

- A Carrier Indian, from the Bulkley River, in British Columbia

~quoted in The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram.

I think that this notion of "marrying," -- which produces, over time, as good marriages will, an understanding of what, for example, an animal or a plant or a river or a landbase or a watershed does and needs -- is a lovely one. It's an experiential marriage, one that proceeds and undergirds and finally makes possible a "marriage of true minds." I think that it's true, as well, for our relationship with ourselves, especially as Witches. It's one reason why I find daily practice so important. It's an opportunity to really get to know myself, my deities, my mission. It's not something I can get just from reading down what someone else has written in a book, any more than the Carrier Indian could really know about beavers by reading about them. And it is from that slowly-developed relationship with myself, born of daily practice, that I am able to begin to reach out and marry my bit of Earth, the plants and animals in my garden, my beautiful Potomac River, Columbia's landbase.

Well, we're all polyamorous in our own way.

Picture found here.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

A Sleep of Prisoners

Dark and cold we may be, but this
Is no winter now. The frozen misery
Of centuries breaks, cracks, begins to move;
The thunder is the thunder of the floes,
The thaw, the flood, the upstart Spring.
Thank God our time is now when wrong
Comes up to face us everywhere,
Never to leave us till we take
The longest stride of soul we ever took.
Affairs are now soul size.
The enterprise
Is exploration into God.
Where are you making for? It takes
So many thousand years to wake,
But will you wake for pity's sake!

~Christopher Fry

Picture of The Awakening found here.

Monday, January 03, 2011


I'm thinking a lot lately about "elegance," not only in terms of my own professional writing and the writing of the young lawyers that I mentor, but also in terms of my magic and my life. I've been particularly struck by this interview with Matthew E. May, the author of Elegance and the Art of Less: Why the Best Ideas Have Something Missing.

May says:
Something is elegant if it is two things at once: unusually simple and surprisingly powerful. One without the other leaves you short of elegant. And sometimes the “unusual simplicity” isn’t about what’s there, it’s about what isn’t. At first glance, elegant things seem to be missing something.

I really love that notion in terms of magic. "Unusually simple and surprisingly powerful."

One of the strongest, best magics that I ever did, one of the ones with which I'll be glad to face my ancestors, I did with my brilliant friend E. We wound up at the house of some serious activists, who were due in court the next day for, well, for speaking truth to power. We didn't know that we were going to be asked to do magic that evening and we walked off into the kitchen, away from the hub-bub of a loud, busy, party, and stared at each other for a few minutes. The people who'd asked us to work magic weren't Pagans or Witches and really didn't know what to expect from us, but were desperate and they asked us for help. They needed for it to be effective, esp. on the level of their Younger Child, so that they could walk into court (scary for anybody) and be confident. And so we looked into each others' eyes -- we'd been, thank the Goddess, doing magic together for years at this point -- and said, "Well, if they can give us a bowl, some salt, and some water, and if we can . . . ." And it all came together and it was more simple than almost any self-respecting magic worker ever worked and, most important of all, the next day, when the judge ruled, the magic, which had been unusually simple, was also surprisingly powerful and the activists walked.

Elegance, I want to say, matters. And, although life is messy, an elegant life is unusually simple and surprisingly powerful. Like good legal writing, like good magic, an elegant life takes two things. The first is a blindingly clear objective. And the second is ruthless editing. Like good real estate, which is location, location, location or like getting to Carnegie Hall, which takes practice, practice, practice -- elegance takes editing, editing, editing. Take things out. Remove the extraneous (which requires you to know the essential). Get down (as we do in Winter in the garden) to the bones. The more time that I have to work on a legal pleading, the shorter and simpler it will be. And that's what, IMHO, makes good magic -- and a good life -- as well. Get rid of stuff. Figure out, in Shilo's words, "Who is it in me I am excited about letting go?" Discover how, in Theodora's words, to travel light. What can you chip away from the stone to reveal the sculpture hidden inside? What are you willing to give up? What is it that you hold essential to find?


O winter! frozen pulse and heart of fire,
What loss is theirs who from thy kingdom turn
Dismayed, and think thy snow a sculptured urn
Of death! Far sooner in midsummer tire
The streams than under ice. June could not hire
Her roses to forego the strength they learn
In sleeping on thy breast. No fires can burn
The bridges thou dost lay where men desire
In vain to build.

O Heart, when Love's sun goes
To northward, and the sounds of singing cease,
Keep warm by inner fires, and rest in peace.
Sleep on content, as sleeps the patient rose.
Walk boldly on the white untrodden snows,
The winter is the winter's own release.

~Helen Hunt Jackson

Picture found here.

Sunday, January 02, 2011