Saturday, March 05, 2011

The Glory of the Garden

The Glory of the Garden
by Rudyard Kipling

Our England is a garden that is full of stately views,
Of borders, beds and shrubberies and lawns and avenues,
With statues on the terraces and peacocks strutting by;
But the Glory of the Garden lies in more than meets the eye.

For where the old thick laurels grow, along the thin red wall,
You will find the tool- and potting-sheds which are the heart of all;
The cold-frames and the hot-houses, the dungpits and the tanks:
The rollers, carts and drain-pipes, with the barrows and the planks.

And there you'll see the gardeners, the men and 'prentice boys
Told off to do as they are bid and do it without noise;
For, except when seeds are planted and we shout to scare the birds,
The Glory of the Garden it abideth not in words.

And some can pot begonias and some can bud a rose,
And some are hardly fit to trust with anything that grows;
But they can roll and trim the lawns and sift the sand and loam,
For the Glory of the Garden occupieth all who come.

Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made
By singing:--"Oh, how beautiful!" and sitting in the shade,
While better men than we go out and start their working lives
At grubbing weeds from gravel-paths with broken dinner-knives.

There's not a pair of legs so thin, there's not a head so thick,
There's not a hand so weak and white, nor yet a heart so sick.
But it can find some needful job that's crying to be done,
For the Glory of the Garden glorifieth every one.

Then seek your job with thankfulness and work till further orders,
If it's only netting strawberries or killing slugs on borders;
And when your back stops aching and your hands begin to harden,
You will find yourself a partner in the Glory of the Garden.

Oh, Adam was a gardener, and God who made him sees
That half a proper gardener's work is done upon his knees,
So when your work is finished, you can wash your hands and pray
For the Glory of the Garden, that it may not pass away!
And the Glory of the Garden it shall never pass away!

Picture found here.

Back from a day with my family and inundated with seeds, especially stinging nettles, which I'm trying for the first time this year. What are you potting up?

Friday, March 04, 2011

Friday Night Music

Talking to the Media

Kudos to for the correct capitalization. And, the article manages to skip the "Pagans don't eat babies," trope.

However, I'd like to propose a tweak to this:
What do Pagan's believe exactly? That's hard to pin down. Gold says a lot of different philosophies and beliefs are accepted under the umbrella of Paganism, and he admits these beliefs are not always accepted by everyone.

"There is a stigma to the word ‘Pagan.' If people really understood what it meant to be Pagan, I don't think there would be such a stigma to that word," Gold said.
Well, then, help them to understand, rather than invoking negative framing.

How about:
"What do Pagan's believe exactly? That's hard to pin down. Gold says a lot of different philosophies and beliefs are accepted under the umbrella of Paganism. In general, though, Pagans believe in the sanctity of the Earth and are open to various forms of deity"?

This article illustrates a point to which I keep returning. If you're going to talk to the media, you need to be prepared. "What do Pagans believe?" is the sort of question that any reporter is likely to ask a Pagan, regardless of the specific topic of the article. You can anticipate it and be prepared with a one or two sentence answer that focuses on the positive. There's no need to discuss any stigma. By providing a simple answer, you'll help people to understand Paganism in a way that ameliorates any such stigma.

Picture found here.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

An Amazing Resource

Reuters reports that:
A 350-year-old notebook which documents the trials of women convicted of witchcraft in England during the 17th century has been published online. Skip related content

The notebook written by Nehemiah Wallington, an English Puritan, recounts the fate of women accused of having relationships with the devil at a time when England was embroiled in a bitter civil war.

The document reveals the details of a witchcraft trial held in Chelmsford in July 1645, when more than a hundred suspected witches were serving time in Essex and Suffolk according to his account.

"Divers (many) of them voluntarily and without any forcing or compulsion freely declare that they have made a covenant with the Devill," he wrote.

"Som Christians have been killed by their meanes," he added.

Of the 30 women on trial in Chelmsford, 14 were hanged.

Wallington also recounts the experiences of Rebecca West, a suspected witch who confessed to sleeping with the devil when she was tortured because "she found her selfe in such extremity of torture and amazement that she would not enure (endure) it againe for the world." Her confession spared her.

More here and here.

The notebook can be viewed here.

Picture found here.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Things We'd Be Better Without

Four be the things I am wiser to know:
Idleness, sorrow, a friend, and a foe.
Four be the things I'd been better without:
Love, curiosity, freckles, and doubt.
Three be the things I shall never attain:
Envy, content, and sufficient champagne.
Three be the things I shall have till I die:
Laughter and hope and a sock in the eye.
— Dorothy Parker

Like the divine Dorothy, I suspect that I shall never attain sufficient champagne, but tonight I'd like to discuss two things that I believe the Pagan community would be better without: Witch wars and pointless discussions about which subgroup has been "the most" oppressed. Minority (and especially disfavored) groups often become enmeshed in Witch war-type battles. We fight with each other instead of standing together and establishing our place and/or bringing about the changes that we hope for in the dominant culture. Those of us old enough to remember the counterculture struggles of the 1960s still have sad memories of energy and time spent on battles over philosophical purity while war raged on and the planet was poisoned. And you'd think that we'd have learned from the French Revolution.

As magic workers and people who understand that everything is connected, we Pagans have a really good basis for breaking out of the cycle of attacking each other. I'd like to see that happen and I'm encouraged to see some community leaders stepping back, taking time to listen and think rather than reacting immediately, and modeling more Pagan, productive ways to deal with conflict when it does arise.

And, I keep hoping that we've gotten past the completely unproductive game of arguing over which subgroup of us has been "more" oppressed than the others. That's a practice tied to a belief in a zero-sum Universe.

Again, as Pagans and magic workers, as people who understand that everything is connected, we, of all people, should know better. Patriarchy has wounded many, if not all, of us. Why should we compare and try to rank similar-but-unique experiences of oppression, in the mistaken belief that it's possible to determine who has been "most" wounded? That exercise has as its only goal the determination of who "wins" the oppression wars (and is, thus, the most deserving, virtuous, able to make demands, etc.) I will never know your unique wounding, but I can use my own experience of oppression and colonization to give me a basis for listening to you and trying to understand. I can use my experience as the landbase from which my empathy can begin take root and grow. And you can do the same for me. And then we can acknowledge that when you are oppressed, so am I and when I am oppressed, so are you. And then we can work together, respectfully. Or separately, respectfully. There's no need for us to discount each others' experience, which is what we do when we start declaiming which oppressed group had it "worst." Nor is there any need for us to listen to those who would ensorcel us into believing that we inhabit the limited, disconnected Universe that would respond to such nonsense.

And, in the end, we can stop. We can breathe. We can examine our own role in perpetuating the dominant culture, Witch wars, and arguing about who has been most grievously oppressed. We can return to our altars, or walk in our woods, or work in our gardens and open our hearts and our minds to the divine while we hold our community within the crucible of our best intentions.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

First 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 heca tedemet ersdat ter@ hotm ail.c om. 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. I'll email you back your reading.

Monday, February 28, 2011

And I Was Initiated by the Real Robin Hood

In Sherwood Forest.

On Beltane.

The Moon was Full and the Ley Lines were activated. The sex was amazing. So you should listen to me and follow everything that I say.


I loves me my Pagan pipple, I do. (OK, I love some of you much better from a distance, but, really, it's me; it's not you.)

But we are, in an odd way for a group so devoted to the notion that "an ye harm none, do as ye will," a guilt-haunted people. There are shadows that we haven't even begun to deal with because they are such deep shadows that we don't even see them as shadows. It shows up in the absolute inability of any Pagan, anywhere, at any time, to ever speak to any member of the media without bleating, unwarranted and unasked, "And we don't murder babies or worship Satan. Really!" I've said (and will continue to say) enough about that.

This weekend, at a delightful Pagan conference, I realized that we have another, very similar, tick. We apparently are constitutionally incapable of discussing the facts that we are creating religion and religious practice as we go, that we generally engage in a delightful syncretism (which I adore), and that, even when we attempt reconstruction, we are, even so, "making all things new," without ALWAYS having to genuflect and say, "Of course, it's fine, unless you pretend that you found it in an ancient grimoire or were initiated by your grandmother when you weren't." Two of the most brilliant and wonderfully Witchy presenters I spoke with felt the need to offer this advice, even though, of course, no one suspects either of them of any such thing.

You know, I've been a Witch for well over two decades, and I have never met anyone who told those lies. I am given to understand that in the late 1960s, early to mid 1970s, some people did tell those lies. I can, I think, understand why they might have done so (and I may write about that later), but I've been a practicing Witch for a long, long time and I've never run into anyone who told me that they were initiated by their grandmother or Gerald Gardner or an old woman living alone in a forest. Nowadays, people join traditions, create new traditions with abandon, hive off, combine traditions ("I'm a Witch and a Theosophist, a Witch and a Buddhist, a Witch and a priest of Bast, a Reclaiming, Fairie, RadFaey Death Priestess, etc." I love it. Let a million flowers bloom.) No one feels the need to pretend that they're revealing ancient secrets.

So why do we need to keep genuflecting and apologizing for the sins (if they were sins) of Pagans who blazed trails (sometimes pretending they were literally, rather than poetically, discovering, old trails) decades ago? Let's stop this. I think we all get it. It's wrong to lie about the literal origins of any practice or tradition. But no one is doing that, these days. We don't need to keep expunging the mistakes of our progenitors.

Picture found here.

Sunday, February 27, 2011