Saturday, February 05, 2011

A Task for Writers

For those of us who care for an earth not encompassed by machines, a world of textures, tastes, and sounds other than those that we have engineered, there can be no question of simply abandoning literacy, of turning away from all writing. Our task, rather, is that of taking up the written word, with all of its potency, and patiently, carefully, writing language back into the land. Our craft is that of releasing the budded, earthly intelligence of our words, freeing them to respond to the speech of the things themselves – to the green uttering forth of leaves from the spring branches. It is the practice of spinning stories that have the rhythm and lilt of the local soundscape, tales for the tongue, tales that want to be told, again and again sliding off the digital screen and slipping off the lettered page to inhabit these coastal forests, those desert canyons, those whispering grasslands and valleys and swamps. Finding phrases that lace us in contact with the trembling neck-muscles of a deer holding its antlers high as it swims toward the mainland, or with the ant dragging a scavenged rice-grain through the grasses. Planting words, like seeds, under rocks and fallen logs – letting language take root, once again, in the earthen silence of shadow and bone and leaf.

~David Abram

Picture found here.

The Garden in Winter

The ground's been covered with snow for the last few weeks, which is actually good for the garden, but difficult for this gardener. It keeps me mostly inside and leaves me longing for a chance to be outside, breathing fresh air and just being with plants. Today I went to the DC Seed Swap, sponsored by Washington Gardener Magazine, at Green Springs Gardens in Alexandria. It's drizzly, grey, and cold here, but it was still wonderful to step into the gardens with their very-well-shoveled walks, to feel the energy of seedlings and seeds (and gardeners!) inside the Horticultural Center, and to begin to feel my enthusiasm building over the opportunity to get things to grow.

There's this thing that happens to me (does this happen to you, too?) when I step outside in a garden, even in Winter, and can let my eyes move over a vista. There's a palpable loosening and expanding of my soul and a brightening in my body in the areas of my yellow and green chakras. It happened the moment I entered the gardens and I'm still feeling it, maybe more strongly than normal because it's been weeks since I've been anywhere except inside, in the city, in my car.

I took seeds of woad, Grandpa Otts' morning glories, dill, black-eyed Susans, and wildflower mix and came home with white narcissus bulbs and black bat plants. And a determination to spend more time with plants, even if we do still have a bit more Winter weather on the way.

/Goes and compulsively checks, yet again, seeds planted just 4 days ago.

Pictures by the author; if you copy, please link back.

Friday, February 04, 2011

My New Name for a Blog

What Gus Said.

Gus' post on abortion is short and incredibly well-reasoned. Please check it out. Here's a taste:
Spiritual literalism degenerates into irrationality.
. . .

By reading sacred texts in a purely logocentric way [fundamentalists] ultimately trap themselves and cut themselves off from all spiritual insight because as Sallustius and Augustine and Ambrose all recognized, they cannot be read that way wisely. When the 'literalists' interpretations are contradicted by historical evidence or scientific discoveries, because they have rejected myth they have no way to incorporate new knowledge into their spiritual understanding, and so new knowledge must be rejected.

I have a pretty much standard reply to people who tell me that we must outlaw abortion because it "kills babies." It goes like this:

First, please get back to me when we feed, house, clothe, give medical care to, and educate the actual babies who are actually born. Until then, abortion is better than exposure or sale into slavery, which is how humanity dealt with unwanted pregnancies for centuries and centuries.

Second, this society "kills babies" every damn day. We kill them with our bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan. We kill them because we've made the decision that it's more important for CEOs to get obscene bonuses than it is to make all kinds of companies stop polluting and poisoning the commons. We kill them because we've made the decision that it's too politically costly to stand up to the NRA and impose the regulations that the Second Amendment calls for when it talks about "well-regulated" militias. We kill them because we've made the decision that it's more important for America's wealthiest 2% (and corporations) to bear almost no tax burden than it is to provide the visiting nurse services and mental health care that it would take to stop some poor woman's boyfriend from shaking a six-month-old to death because it was crying. And the people who wail the loudest about how abortion "kills babies" are generally in favor of those other "baby-killing" decisions. So forgive me if I can't believe that they really give a flying frap about "killing babies" and that they actually have other motives deeply related to preserving patriarchy.

Third, anyone who truly wanted to cut down on the number of abortions (which would seem to include anyone who actually thought that abortion "kills babies") wouldn't be in favor of criminalizing abortion. Because criminalizing abortion no more prevents abortions than criminalizing pot possession prevents people from possessing pot. Criminalizing abortion simply pushes it into back alleys, where it not only "kills babies," but also kills women. Anyone who actually wanted to cut down on the number of "babies killed" by abortion would, instead, be doing the things that decades of research show actually do minimize unwanted pregnancies and, therefore, abortions. You know, things like regular and well-funded actual sex education (which would teach that abstinence is a rather-prone-to-failure method of birth control), free, easily-available, safe, and effective birth control. Education for girls. A social safety net, including pre- and post-natal medical care for mothers and children, free and fantastic day care, preschool, and early education, financial support for mothers and kids who need it, parenting education available throughout a child's life, etc. Yet, the people who wail the loudest about "killing babies" generally are actively opposed to each of these things.

So, you know, don't hand me shit and tell me that it's Shinola. I'm not stupid and I can see through that "oh, abortion kills babies" bullshit. Sell crazy someplace else; we're all stocked up here. And the planet's way past its carrying capacity, which kills and is going to continue killing people of all ages.

Picture found here. (And yes, sometimes, a picture DOES speak a thousand words.)

Thursday, February 03, 2011

First (Week) of the Month 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 declare 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.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

My New Name for a Blog

What Sara A. Said.
"Most witches don't believe in gods. They know that the gods exist, of course. They even deal with them occasionally. But they don't believe in them. They know them too well. It would be like believing in the postman." ~ Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I was a cute little witchlet armed with a copy of The Spiral Dance in one hand and The White Goddess in the other. I dove in, like you do, with exuberance. Reading Tarot! Casting spells! Trance journeys! Rituals! Meditations! Communing with trees! I did a self-dedication rite that I wrote myself! My awesomely shiny ear-wet witchiness was a sight to behold.

Possibly because I was kicking up such a fuss, a being started talking to me. She said I should call her Rowan.

"Are you THE GODDESS?" I asked.

"No, I'm something you can talk to," was the reply.

"Well, how come I don't get to talk to the real thing?" I wanted to know.

Suddenly, I was aware of the vast, cosmically profound black and starry depths of the Universe, and the intelligence that permeates it all, an intelligence so immense and complex that it is impossible to apprehend even how immense, complex, and profound it really is, only that the least touch from it overwhelms.

My brain did that thing that computers do when you try to run too much information through them. I blue-screened. *BOGGLE BOGGLE BOGGLE BOGGLE*

. . . then it went away. Rowan said, "That's why."

You should definitely read the whole thing.

Hat tip: Angela Raincatcher

Picture found here.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Sixth Annual Brigid Poetry Festival

There are the poems that you love, and then there are the poems that you write into your will. Here's one that I made the nice young lawyer from the white-shoe law firm write into mine:

When Death Comes

~Mary Oliver

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measles-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

Picture found here.

Sixth Annual Poetry Festival

I've posted this before, but I love this poem, especially the call that it makes for us to find what we need in our landbase.

Blessed Imbolc.

Monday, January 31, 2011

We Need It All

Do what you love. Do what you can. Do what best serves your landbase.

Poetry for Imbolc


Sometimes things don't go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail.
Sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war,
elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best intentions do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen; may it happen for you.
-- Sheenagh Pugh

On this Imbolc, may it be so for you.

Photo by the author; if you copy, please link back.

'Scuze Me While I -- Blam!

This week's page of my Ecological Calendar at work tells me that, at this time of year, some bees from every hive begin to make forays out in search of food, but that many are killed by freezing to death or by flying into snowbanks, which they mistake for the sky. I had this evil image of a heroic bee flying along in search of food, communing with the great Winter sky after weeks stuck inside the hive, and then, suddenly, blam! A snowbank. And the poor bee's last thoughts, inscribed idly by its poor frozen little legs doing their final bee dance, are "WTF?"

But on a more serious note, the bees' need for food is yet another good reason to begin starting some seedlings now (at least if you live, as I do, in Zone 7) so that they'll be ready to plant outside once the danger of frost has passed. Those seedlings will flower early and provide the bees with some needed food.

I save the pots that I get when I buy seedlings, wash them out in late Summer/early Autumn, and then re-use them every year to start seedlings. I've also made pots out of newspaper, which are great, as long as the ink is vegetable-based. You can pop them, paper pot and all, into the ground and the paper just decomposes. It's a perfect way to spend Imbolc, and if you have children, you can always get them to help, mark "their" pot for them, and then do all kinds of lessons about Science, Math (measurement, esp.), Poetry, Music, Art, etc.

Tomorrow, I'll be potting marigold, woad, cucumbers, and some orange cosmos (that I got as a freebie) for guerrilla gardening. I'll also sit down with my stack of garden porn catalogues and order datura, French tarragon, sweet basil, dill, Italian oregano, white foxgloves, black hollyhocks, and more black day lilies.

What are you planting? How many bees did you dance with last year?

I've got packets of one-year-old woad seeds for the first three people to email me their address at hecate demetersdatter at hot mail dot come.

Blessed Imbolc!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Nekhbet's Children

My brilliant friend NTodd has a good post that shows the historical developments in the growing field of performing effective revolutions. One hopes that, as people gain more experience with the business of overthrowing repressive regimes, they'll pay attention to lessons learned from previous attempts. I've no idea what's really going on in Egypt (no one has, just now, not even the Egyptians), but NTodd's post provides reason to hope that the young people in Egypt have been paying attention.

Ever since this revolution began, several days ago, I've had this huge sense of Hecate floating gigantically over that part of the world. For me, Hecate is that magical power that creates the situation in which change (personal, political (of course, that's redundant), world-shaping, time-sensitive) can occur. She doesn't cause the change, She shifts the atmosphere, gets a butterfly to flap its wings in Brazil, moves the molecules of air just a bit farther apart so that something new can begin to infill, opens up a doorway, signals liminality. And that's what makes Her both a dangerous and a deeply-beloved Goddess. And I can see Her floating -- three-headed, key-bearing, sycle-weilding, filth-eating, and holding Her torches high -- over every map of Egypt that I've looked at.

I am not a devotee of the Egyptian pantheon, although I've called to Isis, Nekhbet, and Nuit in extremis and I see much to honor in all of those alien and strange deities. But I have a candle burning on my altar for Egypt, for the young people there who hope to affect positive change, and for the protection of the many ancient temples and artifacts. May mighty Hecate, who strode out of the Anatolian planes into Greece and thence to Egypt and the world shift the winds for positive change. Whoooosh.


Janet Kane says:
I hate to say I told you so, but for the last few months I have stated that the Uranus/Pluto Square is the next evolution of the Uranus Conjunct Pluto that we experienced in 1964 to 1969. Uranus/Pluto brings in revolutionary energy and the promise to totally transform society. Of course, all of the astrologers I know predicted the same thing. I didn’t realize that the revolutionary activates would take place in the Middle East.

At the same time that Uranus/Pluto is square, Saturn is opposing and squaring Pluto. Saturn turned retrograde on the day the protests started in Egypt. Saturn was opposite Uranus from 1917 to 1923 when we had the Russian Revolution. Also, Jupiter entered Aries on Jan 22. Jupiter is expansive and Aries is the energy needed to go out and express the need for freedom. This complex configuration of planets started in 2010 and will be with us for the next 4 years.

More Janet here. She's v good.
Picture found here.

Sunday Ballet Blogging