Saturday, April 02, 2011

(Almost) 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.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

I Have So Had It With the Patriarchy Today

Know who's really an asshole? The unseen, male (of course) voice telling this woman to "take a minute and collect" herself because it's an "emotional" topic. I am willing to bet no man in the history of this body has been instructed to do the same thing. Fuck you. Let her talk. Her emotions aren't going to kill you or make your dick fall off.

Sexism. We're soaking in it.

hat tip: watertiger.

Views Unfold Along Paths

Views unfold along paths. A common pond shape in Japanese gardens, for example, is roughly in the shape of the character for "heart." There are few places along the shore where the entire pond's edge can be seen, because of the way that land intrudes. Thus with each step along the path, hidden views are revealed, and other views hidden. This "concealing and revealing" technique is one way to make small spaces seem larger, since there are always new views to see. Going up and down along topography does the same thing, since it generally forces you to look down for most of the time. Then when you reach the top or the bottom, a view can spread out before you as a little surprise. The gaze, which has been down, is suddenly open to something elementally beautiful, like sunlight on a rose.

~Landscape as Spirit: Creating a Contemplative Garden by Mosko, A. & A. Noden

It seems to me that much the same could be written about daily practice.

Picture found here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Witch's Bottle

hat tip to Teacats in comments.

Other episodes at YouTube

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuesday Poetry Blogging

Since There Is No Escape
~Sara Teasdale

Since there is no escape, since at the end
My body will be utterly destroyed,
This hand I love as I have loved a friend,
This body I tended, wept with and enjoyed;
Since there is no escape even for me
Who love life with a love too sharp to bear:
The scent of orchards in the rain, the sea
And hours alone too still and sure for prayer—
Since darkness waits for me, then all the more
Let me go down as waves sweep to the shore
In pride, and let me sing with my last breath;
In these few hours of light I lift my head;
Life is my lover—I shall leave the dead
If there is any way to baffle death.

Picture found here.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Carnegie Hall

Here's a fascinating post by Star, from the Pagan "portal" at, concerning her recent experience being interviewed about Paganism by a certainly-less-than-friendly panel.

Let me start by saying that, as someone who frequently critiques Pagans who talk to the media, I'd give Star an unqualifed A on her performance. I think she does a pretty good job holding her own against four people who are clearly less-than-friendly to her cause. She certainly avoids the all-too-common mistake of starting off defensive and announcing, unasked, that Witches don't eat babies or kiss Satan's ass. And I think that Star does the entire Pagan community a real service by being willing to engage in some reflective self-criticism about her media performance, something that T. Thorn Coyle has also show herself v willing to do.

Star notes that perhaps she should have better understood the purpose of the interview and better considered whether or not to appear on this venue:
Having been to Jason Pitzl-Water’s talks I’m quite aware that there are times when you shouldn’t speak to the media. If you don’t have a genuine need, why risk having your words twisted? Even so, I agreed to do an interview that I feel may have been a mistake. I have a great deal of respect and love for Elizabeth Scalia, managing editor of our Catholic portal and famously known as The Anchoress. When she asked me to be on a cable show she is a frequent guest host on, I said “Of course!”

Maybe that wasn’t the wisest thing to do. I don’t know. I know the producer told me “‘Pagans, Wicca, Santeria & Voodoo’ is the topic for this half hour show.” [At that point, it would have been a good idea to ask, "And who will be on to talk about Santeria and Voodoo?" When the answer was, "Well, you," that would have been a good time to bow out.] That didn’t exactly jive with the topic I heard announced once we started recording. As the host announced the topic warning bells started to sound in my head. I had visions of a Jerry Springer Halloween special, complete with antagonistic Christians and Pagans getting in catfights and eerie warnings of the dangers of occultists. I felt they wanted an “occult expert” rather than an actual Pagan, and in those few seconds decided that wasn’t going to be how this was going down.

Again, I think that Star did a very good job of managing this experience. I especially want to commend her for her handling of the whole, "Do you call demons?" nonsense. (Honestly, could we please make 2011 the year when all Pagans agree to simply say, "Satanism, which focuses on two Christian entities, Satan and Jehovah -- in whom Pagans don't even believe -- is a branch of Christianity. Please start asking every Christian you interview whether they are Satanists"?) Star's got lots of facts and figures at hand and does a good job of discussing her own experience as a former Christian. She makes good points about the attraction of Paganism to women.

To echo a point that Star makes, I've said over and over that the first question that you need to ask yourself is how doing this interview with this segment of the media will serve your own objectives (which you, maybe not so obviously, need to be clear about before you even consider talking to the media). I'm not sure what Star's objective was, other than to be nice to Ms. Scalia, whom she perceives as her friend. If you don't have a clear answer to that question, maybe you don't need to talk to these people at all. Maybe some other Pagan should talk to them or maybe they don't deserve any Pagan participation at all. (I've been begging Democrats for years to just quit treating Fox as if it were a legitimate news organization. Just stop talking to them. (There's a reason why George W. Bush never did an interview with Bill Moyers.) I think that's what this panel, regardless of how much Star may imagine that Ms. Scalia is her friend, deserved as well.) Really, not one Pagan person on the panel? Really? Warning bells, just saying.

There's an odd notion in our society that talking to the media is cool, that it makes you important, that, of course, you should do it every chance that you get. In America, being on tv is supposed to somehow make you "real." That's what the media want you to think. But you need to approach the media with your own objectives clearly in mind. Will this interaction promote your book or event, or give you an opportunity to make your main point (e.g. Druids worship Nature, Pagans have a proud past, Pagans contribute to our community, etc.)? (Still not sure what Star's overarching point was. She seemed to be mostly reactive here.)

I think that Star's experience illustrates another point that I've made before. If you do decide that you can use an experience with the media to achieve your own goals, then you need to do a lot of practicing beforehand. Here's one example. Star gives really good, but generally nuanced and lengthy, answers to each question that she's asked. But she lets herself get interrupted over and over again. Especially for women in our society, being interrupted is a land-mine. If you talk over the interruption, you may be perceived as "too aggressive." If, as Star almost always does, you stop talking when you get interrupted, you come across as weak and you fail to control the message. (If you watch, almost every time that Star begins to score some points, one of the panelists interrupts her or the host (and, Mother, this is shallow, but who put that woman on a camera in that shirt?) calls for a "break," as if this show has a million commercial sponsors.) My firm pays a communications consultant to come in every year and work with lawyers and one of the skills that I've worked on for a number of years is being able to deal with interruptions. I'm still working on it. But it's something that you can practice for an hour or so before a media interview, even with a friend who has a iPhone with video. Just learning to say, "Let me finish," or "Please don't interrupt, I'd like to finish my point," can make you much more effective. Most Pagans aren't going to be interviewed enough times to learn on the job. Hence, you must learn during practice sessions.

Let me just list a few other points:

(1) This interview is 4 on 1. Those are ridiculous odds. I'd really hesitate before letting even a massively-prepared client face those odds. I've allowed it (ie, couldn't stop it) a time or two in group depositions, but you can't imagine how thoroughly prepped my clients were. On hearing those odds, 99.9% of all Pagans should decline the interview.

(2) Note the use of negative language in the beginning of the interview: "dabble" into Paganism (thanks Christine!) and "play" with Ouija boards. Doubt that converts to Catholicism would be described in those terms. Later there's a reference to "drifting" into Paganism. That's a perfect opportunity to bail. At that point, it's clear that this "interview" is rigged. Say, "I'm sorry; this isn't the interview I expected. I won't be participating." Take off the headphones and cut the Skype connection. The worst that will happen is that they'll show you saying and doing that and that won't hurt you.

(3) This is a subtle point, but all of the 4 interviewers are sitting around table, together, while Star is off somewhere else, on a Skype connection, wearing big headphones. Guess who looks weird and is the odd-person-out? Guess who doesn't see the signaling between the other four people? Again, find out ahead of time what the interview is going to entail and seriously consider your experience at handling that kind of situation. The situation here would challenge even a media-savvy, experienced person. Star may work in the media, but it's a whole different story when you're on the other side of the microphone. I've done depositions, but I'd demand a whole lot of preparation from my lawyer before I'd have my deposition taken (Bill Clinton, I'm looking at you.)

(4) And, this may seem artificial to you, but look at the other participants. The host is professionally made up and coiffed and wearing (what is supposed to pass for; sorry I'm a snob) a designer shirt. The other interviewers are wearing either jackets or a clerical collar -- all symbols of professionalism and authority in our society. Star, bless her heart, shows up in a do-rag, gigantic earphones, and off lighting. In the sub-verbal battle for credibility, guess who is at a disadvantage? I get that Pagans don't like this; that we believe that you should be able to wear whatever you want and that appearances shouldn't count against you. And, in a perfect world, I'd agree 100%. But imagine yourself as Mr. or Ms. Average American and ask yourself who in that interview starts off at an advantage and who starts off at a disadvantage, before anyone utters a single word. How would the interview have been different if Star had insisted on showing up at a well-lit studio, in front of a real camera and not wearing headphones, being professionally made up, and wearing a suit, even with a pentagram on a chain? What if she'd insisted on providing the pictures flashed at random during the interview or having editing authority over the crawl?

(5) As I've said before, insist on making your own recording of the interview. You can negotiate this and other points ahead of time. If they're not willing to make reasonable accommodations for you, bells should start going off and you should seriously consider not doing the interview.

Kudos to Star for being willing to criticize her own performance. I'm going to keep harping on this stuff because it matters.

Hat tip: The Wild Hunt

Picture found here.

Get a Lawyer

Here's a thoughtful, well-written article about religious discrimination against a woman, Carole Smith, due to the fact that she's a Wiccan. If you watch the included video interview with Ms. Smith, you'll see that she does a pretty good job handling the media interview. This is one of those rare cases where it, sadly, is necessary to deal, head-on, with the notion that Witches run around casting evil spells on people, as Ms. Smith was apparently fired, at least inter alia, due to a co-worker's complaint that Ms. Smith cast a spell on her car and made its heater malfunction. (I discussed another such instance here, where Katrina Messenger also did a good job managing the topic.) I think Ms. Smith does a good job and then skillfully turns the conversation around to what Wiccans do believe in a very positive way.

I don't think that I've ever said this before, in all my discussions about how Wiccans should deal with the media, but I want to make sure that I say it now, loud and clear. In any kind of legal situation (and the article explains that Ms. Smith is planning to appeal a negative ruling by an administrative law judge), for the love of the Goddess, please get legal advice early and certainly get it before you talk to the media. Until you get clearance from your lawyer, do not say one word to the media, no matter how earnest, helpful, and decent their representative may seem. As a layperson you've got no idea (no, trust me, you really don't) what innocent thing you're going to say that will hurt your case. Heck, I'm a lawyer and, because I don't practice employment law, I'm not qualified to judge what Ms. Smith may or may not have said that will hurt her case. Nor whether even doing such an interview was helpful or not. But I can guarantee you that, come Ms. Smith's appeal, the employer's attorney will go through her interview with a fine tooth comb and use it against her. To be clear, Carole Smith needed a lawyer from the minute that her boss suggested that she go into a mediation session to "explain" her religion to the complaining co-worker. The correct response would have been, "Thank you for suggesting that. I'd like to think about your suggestion for a day or two and get back to you," and to then make a mad dash for a lawyer. That would be true even if Ms. Smith, herself, were a lawyer. There's an old saying in the law about a lawyer who represents hirself. It's an old saying for a reason.

I'll also say that this case is yet another reason why I'm less than 100% enthused about "Out Yourself as Pagan Day." Ms. Smith was a new, probationary employee. She told at least one person on her job that she was Wiccan. I don't know why she told them, or in what context, but what happened to her is a good example of why many people choose to stay in the broom closet at work. I understand all the good reasons for people to come out of the broom closet, but, in today's employment market, there are real dangers to discussing your personal life, including your religion, with other people. And it's generally not necessary. Even a direct question, "What religion are you?" doesn't warrant a direct response (nor does any question that seeks personal information). A simple, "Well, I have a deep respect for nature," or, even better, "I really consider that a personal subject," works just as well. Whether, and when, to come out at work is a personal decision. People should make it carefully.

Beyond that, as sympathetic as this article is, there are the usual capitalization problems:
Judge: Let's take the witchcraft out of it. If someone complains to you, he's Jewish, and refers to a stereotype about his Judaism, go to mediation and work it out? Is that management's response to that?

To be fair, it's possible that, here, the reporter is quoting from a court transcript that screws up the capitalization and that Ms. Smith wasn't legally savvy enough to demand revisions. But, even so, the reporter should have used brackets to correct this. For example:
Judge: Let's take the [W]itchcraft out of it. If someone complains to you, he's Jewish, and refers to a stereotype about his Judaism, go to mediation and work it out? Is that management's response to that?

Since Judiasm is capitalized, Witchcraft should be capitalized, as well.

But there's also this:
Here's a situation for all you aspiring managers: If you were the boss at a U.S. government agency and one of your employees complained that she was afraid of a co-worker's religious practices, what would you do?
Would it change your decision if the religion were Wicca, and the employee feared her co-worker because she thought she might cast a spell on her?
Here's how the Transportation Security Administration handled it:
It fired the witch.

Let's substitute Jew for Witch. In that case, would the article have read:
"Here's a situation for all you aspiring managers: If you were the boss at a U.S. government agency and one of your employees complained that she was afraid of a co-worker's religious practices, what would you do?
Would it change your decision if the religion were Judiasm, and the employee feared her co-worker because she thought she might make matzo from the blood of Christian children?
Here's how the Transportation Security Administration handled it:
It fired the jew"?

Of course not, it would say, "It fired the Jew."

And, there's the failure to capitalize Voodoo:
“I was dumbfounded,” Smith said. “I told him, that's not what Wicca is. We don't cast spells. That's not witchcraft. That's black magic or voodoo or something else. To put a spell on a heater of a car, if I had that kind of power, I wouldn't be working for TSA. I would go buy lottery tickets and put a spell on the balls.”

Not to mention Ms. Smith's own apparent conflation of black magic and Voodoo.

I hope that Ms. Smith gets the legal help that she needs; her case is pretty egregious.

hat tip/ The Wild Hunt.

Picture found here.

Sunday, March 27, 2011