Saturday, June 18, 2011

Early Harvest

And, so, just like that, we're headed, will-we-or-nil-we, towards Litha.

The great Sumer Solstice.

The fire festival, when Sol Invictus stands highest in the Summer sky.

In my tradition, this is the Feast of the First Harvest. (Is it so, for you, as well?) And so I started my day at the local farmers' market, buying (finally!) ripe and green tomatoes, corn for roasting, cucumbers for (mixed with my own parsley and mint) tzadziki, local pickles, and lettuce for which I imagine many a poet could compose odes. I came home and had fried green tomatoes and iced tea (Southern breakfast of champions) on my screen porch and then went out to weed the herb bed. After several hours of v. aromatic weeding, I came inside to make various kinds of simple syrup for all of July's cocktails: mint, basil, lavender, and dill. I harvested enough sage to make smudging sticks for everyone in my circle and enough dill, sage, and tarragon to make flavored butters for my own use and for Son and DiL. I am going to be so sore tomorrow that I may not be able to move. Good thing it's a day of writing, reading, doing more research.

For me, the first harvest is crucial.

We're here, halfway through the calendar year. We've either achieved some of the goals that we thought about/set back at Samhein/Yule, or we haven't. It's a good time to take stock, weed out the (fucking!) sorrel, (Kali-blasted!) bindweed, and (goddess-damn-it!) maple seedlings, and to begin to cut and use the lavender, basil, mint, and dill. It's time to decide if we need a new planting of basil (time on the treadmill, hours writing prose at work, focus on our family) or if we need to plant something else (learning runes, walking outside, networking, meditation) entirely.

We'll celebrate several later harvests, but, by then, the chance to correct course becomes more and more attenuated. Every ancestral cell in my Scandanavian-RNA body adores these longer, longer, longer days and shorter nights. And yet, and yet, and yet, the old women whose genes live on in me: those old women survived those long Winters because they knew how to pay attention to the early harvests and correct course if needed.

Here are my early harvest course corrections: Even more time on the treadmill, lots more time polishing legal prose, more spontaneous fun, and even more time at my altar.

What's up for you?

Picture found here.

Friday, June 17, 2011

One More Time!

Here's an interesting article about a great effort to get Australian Pagans to list themselves as "Pagan" on their census. That's a very worthwhile goal and I hope that Mr. Hepworth is successful.

I'd like to use the article to, once again, illustrate a few points about Pagans dealing with the media. The very first quote:
A lot of other faiths see us as the people that got too much into Harry Potter and decided to call themselves a [W]itch instead of an actual group of people who do have a serious spirituality, [Mr. Hempworth] says.

shows why I regularly beg Pagans to practice what they're going to say and consider whether and how what they say can be used against them.

Yes, "got too much into Harry Potter" is a big step up from "eat babies," but it still reinforces a negative frame about Pagans. And, it seems badly calculated to make anyone want to self-identify as a Pagan. If your objective is to get more people to say that they are "Pagan" on the census, what about starting off with a brief discussion of what's good about Paganism:
Paganism is a growing religion in Australia because it satisfies a need that many feel for a deeper connection with the Earth, for a relationship with the Divine Feminine, and for an opportunity to worship our ancestors.

If asked about misunderstandings or discrimination, you can say:
It's getting much better, but some people do still fail to understand modern Paganism. Or they smear us to further their own "conversion" efforts. However, here in Australia, Pagans are involved in [reforestation efforts, pet rescue efforts, rituals to heal our relationship with the ancient spirits of this land, collecting funds for Aboriginal People, etc.] One reason for urging people to identify as "Pagan" on the census is so that we can achieve parity with other religions in areas such as . . . .

The article makes the same mistake about "Paganism" as an "umbrella term" as do many articles. Although the author would certainly capitalize other "umbrella terms" such as "Christianity" (Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, etc.), "Judaism" (Reform, Orthodox, Hassidic, etc.), or "Islam" (Shia, Shite, Sufi, etc.), she fails to capitalize "Paganism," although she does capitalize individual Pagan religions such as Gardnerian, Greek Reconstructionist, Druidism, Shamanism and "Lesbian Feminist Goddess Worship [because apparently only lesbians would worship the Goddess?]" This is another area where those being interviewed can help their interviewers, even if only by handing out an information sheet that uses proper capitalization.

Finally, I'll note the title: "No More Mooning About." Shoot me, but I think it's cute and not really offensive.

Pagans. Please. Know why you're talking to the press. Understand that they are not your friend. Practice ahead of time what you're going to say. Don't be afraid to say, "Let me get back to you on that" if you get a question that throws you and then be sure to get back to the media person within 2 or 3 hours.

Picture found here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

When We Win

When We Win from scoutwillie on Vimeo.

Go, Scout!

Happy Bloomsday!

I love flowers I’d love to have the whole place swimming in roses God of heaven there’s nothing like nature the wild mountains then the sea and the waves rushing then the beautiful country with fields of oats and wheat and all kinds of things and all the fine cattle going about that would do your heart good to see rivers and lakes and flowers all sorts of shapes and smells and colours springing up even out of the ditches primroses and violets nature it is as for them saying there’s no God I wouldn’t give a snap of my two fingers for all their learning why don’t they go and create something I often asked him atheists or whatever they call themselves go and wash the cobbles off themselves first then they go howling for the priest and they dying and why why because they’re afraid of hell on account of their bad conscience ah yes I know them well who was the first person in the universe before there was anybody that made it all who ah that they don’t know neither do I so there you are they might as well try to stop the sun from rising tomorrow the sun shines for you he said the day we were lying among the rhododendrons on Howth head in the grey tweed suit and his straw hat the day I got him to propose to me yes first I gave him the bit of seedcake out of my mouth and it was leapyear like now yes 16 years ago my God after that long kiss I near lost my breath yes he said was a flower of the mountain yes so we are flowers all a woman’s body yes that was one true thing he said in his life and the sun shines for you today yes that was why I liked him because I saw he understood or felt what a woman is and I knew I could always get round him and I gave him all the pleasure I could leading him on till he asked me to say yes and I wouldn’t answer first only looked out over the sea and the sky I was thinking of so many things he didn’t know of Mulvey and Mr Stanhope and Hester and father and old captain Groves and the sailors playing all birds fly and I say stoop and washing up dishes they called it on the pier and the sentry in front of the governors house with the thing round his white helmet poor devil half roasted and the Spanish girls laughing in their shawls and their tall combs and the auctions in the morning the Greeks and the Jews and the Arabs and the devil knows who else from all the ends of Europe and Duke street and the fowl market all clucking outside Larby Sharans and the poor donkeys slipping half asleep and the vague fellows in the cloaks asleep in the shade on the steps and the big wheels of the carts of the bulls and the old castle thousands of years old yes and those handsome Moors all in white and turbans like kings asking you to sit down in their little bit of a shop and Ronda with the old windows of the posadas glancing eyes a lattice hid for her lover to kiss the iron and the wineshops half open at night and the castanets and the night we missed the boat at Algeciras the watchman going about serene with his lamp and O that awful deepdown torrent O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

~James Joyce

Picture found here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Synchronicity -- Wherever You Go, There It Is

There's this:

and there's this:

Wildwood Tarot

My regular readers know that I'm given to rants about how acquiring things is not the same thing as practicing a serious Nature Religion.

You can buy every book that Lewellyn publishes (my bookshelves house more than a few). You can have Celtic-this and dragon-themed-that and unicorn-themed posters all over your house. You can cover your tables, walls, and yourself with cheap cotton Celtic-batik tablecloths (I've got a few!). You can wear high-Goth or expensive SteamPunk (OK, if I win the lottery, I am buying that hat). You can burn incense and sage from etsy 24/7. You can jingle when you walk from all the pentacles, LOTR-themed jewelry, and gypsy-hand amulets that you wear, but it doesn't make you a devotee of the Goddesses/Gods nor does it cause you to live in tune with Gaia.

And I work at practicing what I preach.

I own fewer than a dozen Tarot decks and I regularly talk myself out of buying yet another really neat one. I rely almost entirely on my Robin Wood, with some Tarot of the Crone, hand-made by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince, thrown in for mystery and the occasional Cheryl Richardson Self-Care Card pulled for an overall theme. On my iPhone, I have the Goddess Tarot app, and I find it uncannily accurate for one-card answers to questions. I have Joanna Colbert's Gain Tarot on order for this Autumn, and Joanna knows that if she ever decides to sell the painting for her Six of Water, I'm first in line. And, ok, someday I'm going to break down and buy myself the Peter-Max-inspired Aquarian Tarot, which I always buy as a gift for friends.

And, beyond that, there's only one other Tarot deck that I've seriously craved. Ever since my brilliant friend Stoat showed me his Greenwood Tarot deck, I've been seriously in lust. Supposedly based upon pre-Celtic, European themes, as well as the Wheel of the Year, it's been unavailable for some time (although occasionally one will show up on eBay for several hundred dollars and I'm not spending that kind of money for a deck of cards; my heart is happier with an almost-paid mortgage and some money in the bank).

Now, Mark Ryan, who worked on the Greenwood Tarot, has come out with the Wildwood Tarot, described as a "complete reconception and redesign" of the Greenwood Tarot. I got my copy last night, on the Full Moon.

My practice for getting acquainted with a new Tarot deck is to ground, center, call the Elements, and cast a circle. I smudge the cards and the LWB (Little White Book, although it's a largish dark-colored book in this case) and then I just spend time with them. I look them all over, in order, shuffled, and then, finally, with the LWB to help me learn the ones that are less-Rider-Waite based.

I'm in love.

Pictured above is my first reading with this deck.

What divination method do you use? Is there a new one you're thinking of trying? How do you handle your lust for "stuff"?

For Your Full Moon Pleasure

hat tip: Wired Science, listed to the right in my BlogRoll

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Make Believe

Tuesday Poetry Blogging

The Truly Great

~Stephen Spender

I think continually of those who were truly great.
Who, from the womb, remembered the soul’s history
Through corridors of light, where the hours are suns,
Endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition
Was that their lips, still touched with fire,
Should tell of the Spirit, clothed from head to foot in song.
And who hoarded from the Spring branches
The desires falling across their bodies like blossoms.

What is precious, is never to forget
The essential delight of the blood drawn from ageless springs
Breaking through rocks in worlds before our earth.
Never to deny its pleasure in the morning simple light
Nor its grave evening demand for love.
Never to allow gradually the traffic to smother
With noise and fog, the flowering of the spirit.

Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields,
See how these names are fêted by the waving grass
And by the streamers of white cloud
And whispers of wind in the listening sky.
The names of those who in their lives fought for life,
Who wore at their hearts the fire’s centre.
Born of the sun, they travelled a short while toward the sun
And left the vivid air signed with their honour.

Picture found here

Monday, June 13, 2011

History from a Pagan Perspective

This new book looks fascinating and I'm going to add it to my (already too long) reading list.
The newly released novel "Buried: The Discernment of Pagans in Ancient Rome" (ISBN 1456471651) opens with a hostile confrontation between [P]agans and Christians. Though the Christian viewpoint may be familiar, says author Frank Troy, the reader is then swiftly transported into the unfamiliar, dangerous and strangely beautiful world of pre-Christian Rome as it is seen and understood by the [P]agan narrator. Troy, a retired literature professor, has spent a lifetime studying the literature and philosophy of European civilizations prior to the arrival of Christian ideas and concepts.

The novel's principal narrator is a 27-year-old Roman aristocrat named Aeneas. Educated in Aristotle's Lyceum in Athens, a lover of boxing and philosophy, his narrative aims to help readers understand the how and why of paganism's magnificent achievements in a range of areas including philosophy, politics, art and science.

While fulfilling his military obligation in Alexandria in 387 A.D., Aeneas falls hopelessly in love with the beautiful female scholar Hypatia. After he is discharged from service the lovers travel by way of Athens and Delphi to Rome to meet Aeneas' sister, Honoria. Unexpected family obligations require Aeneas and Hypatia to separate, but they vow to reunite. Hypatia returns to Alexandria and Aeneas and Honoria travel north to join their father, the governor of Upper Germania. As the summer passes, Honoria falls deeply in love, only to lose her lover in a war between opposing generals. Their father too becomes a victim of the war, and the siblings flee to the safety of a family farm near Carthage and plan their reunion with Hypatia. Their future, however, becomes more complicated than they ever imagined.

Troy seeks to offer readers a tale that is rich with historical details and numerous surprising plot turns, along with the narrative that interprets events in light of [P]aganism's core beliefs about the underlying nature of reality and the purpose and meaning of life. Modern readers, Troy contends, will encounter an unfamiliar world view that is initially puzzling, yet as the novel unfolds, [P]agan core beliefs gradually become clearer. Troy aims to provide insight to readers so they can begin to see that even though ancient and modern core beliefs are fundamentally different, the practical problems faced by Rome were an amazingly accurate reflection of ours today.

What's up with this recent resurgence of interest in Hypatia?

Also, Dear Mr. Troy, Since it's pretty clear that you wrote your press release, if you want to sell to Pagans, perhaps you should capitalize our religion, just as you capitalize "Christian." OK?

It's available at Amazon; I can't find it at any of the independent bookseller sites I normally recommend.

Anybody read it yet?

Picture found here.

Sunday, June 12, 2011