Monday at the Movies

Sunday Ballet Blogging

The Magical Battle for America 4/22/17

Thank you so much to everyone who has been doing these workings.  If you’re just joining us, you may want to go back through some of the early posts about this project in order to orient yourself.  Now’s probably a good time to remind everyone to check/refresh the wards on your home or wherever you do this work.  Be sure that you’re rested, grounded, and in a comfortable position.

Today, we’re going to work with some American Tricksters.

America is a country rich in Tricksters.  From Coyote and Crow, to Pecos Pete, to Brer Rabbit, to Tom Sawyer, to Bugs Bunny, Tweety, and Felix the Cat, to Grouch Marx, to the Three Stooges, to Red Skelton, to Eloise, to Harriet the Spy, to Pippi Longstocking, to Bart Simpson, to Matilda, we seem to grow Tricksters as thick and as fast as we grow dandelions.  You can probably think of other Tricksters, perhaps some who are special to you or upon whom you have called before.

One of the skills of our current foes is an ability to create chaos, to do one unbelievable thing after another, to keep us all off guard.  Today, we’re going to work with our own Tricksters to counter that.

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Breathe.

Ground and center.  Cast a circle.

Anchor yourself firmly to your landbase.  Notice a small detail that will call you back when this working is finished.

Breathe.

As you move astrally to our American plain on the astral plane, you can see again the safe hillock where you do your work.  You can see the five giant banners, shining in the sky:  Walden Pond, the Underground Railroad, the Cowboy, the Salmon, and Lady Liberty.  Do they seem more defined since we began our work?  Do they have anything special to tell you this week?

Stand and look around you.  Call across the plain, in whatever way seems best to you, to that innately American spirit of fun, silliness, contrariness, and clever misdirection personified in our many Tricksters.  Ask one of two of them who are interested in this work to come to you.

Who answers?

Make an offering to the Tricksters.  Maybe you can tell them a joke or give them a pun.  Maybe you can show them the whoopee cushion that you saved up to buy when you were eight.  Maybe you can demonstrate some sleight-of-hand or pull up a youtube that always makes you laugh.  Maybe you can give them the tale of the time you pulled off a great practical joke or when someone did that to you.

Travel now on the astral with the Tricksters to the place where our enemies are doing the most harm.  Maybe to a bot farm, where they keep inserting fake news and fake discussions into social medial.  Maybe to the White House, where a buffoon sits in our sanctum sanctorum, the Oval Office, and makes a mockery of our democratic traditions.  Maybe to Wall Street, where fools’ gold entices people to destroy their own environment.  What other places appear before you?

As you stand in that place, call in the Tricksers.  Invite them to do their best.  See them creating chaos and uncertainty for those who would harm America.  They work on a landbase already illuminated with sunlight, washed clean with rain, purified with fire.  They may go a bit wild!  Can you breathe into their madness and see the order behind it?  Can you help them to make America’s foes look foolish, even to themselves?  Right now, during Mercury Retrograde, is a perfect time to ask the Tricksters to confuse the communications of those who want to destroy the environment, foster war, and sow hatred of immigrants, people of color, and strong women.  The Tricksters can confuse their travel plans, broadcast their secrets to the public, undo their schemes.  The Tricksters can reveal what our foes would keep hidden.

You are an American Witch and you can use the forces of deception, silliness, and trickery to protect America.  You both direct and give strength to this most American of forces.

Now, slowly, see the Tricksters getting tired.  Their work is done.  Invite them back to your secure hillock.  Again, make an offering to them.  Cookies and punch.  A funny book from the library.  Time to sit and watch a puppet show.  An old Soupy Sales routine or Dick van Dyke doing slapstick.  Praise them.  Thank them for their assistance.  And then, firmly, dismiss them back into America’s storehouse of archetypes, the astral American lodge of avatars, myths, and heras.  Watch carefully; make sure they go safely home.

And, now, sit again on your comfortable hillock.  Breathe in and feel the prairie air calming you, untangling any nerves, filling you with peace, order, control.  You will face the coming storm of Trump’s and Putin’s tricks much more calmly.  So will your fellow citizens.  We will see through the ruses and rogery, through the subterfuge and shams.  We will watch while America’s foes fall victim to confusion, chaos, trickery, missed flights, misdirected emails, and poorly-timed jokes.

Breathe.

Return to your own body, your own landbase.  Open your eyes.  Rub your face, move your arms and legs.  Notice the detail you  selected to call you back from the astral.  Drink some strong tea.  If you like, have something to eat, maybe an oatmeal cookie or blueberry yogurt.

During the course of this week, you may want to visit the bannered prairie several times in order to strengthen its presence on the astral.  You may want to repeat this working several times.  You may want to journal about it.  Are you inspired to make any art?  Can you sit beside a warm fire, or light incense, or stare into a candle?   What actions are you inspired to take for the Resistance?  If you’re willing, please share in comments what happened and how this working

 

 

Are You Marching?

static1.squarespace.comThese days it can be easy to get all protested out. Particularly if you live in or near a major city, there are rallies and protests and marches it seems like every day, and certainly every weekend. Hey, protest is the new brunch, right?

And we just *had* a big march last weekend – the Tax March – and there’s another big march coming up *next* weekend – the People’s Climate March.

“Mrs. Whatsit!” you cry. “Can’t I please have at least one weekend off? If I don’t weed soon, I won’t be able to find my front door, and I have one more day before I’m going to be wearing my pajamas – or my last Halloween costume – to work!”

I hear you, but if you can, it’s really important to show up for the March For Science tomorrow, Saturday, March 22.

Science is not a partisan issue, but it *is* political, particularly lately.

Yes, we all know that so-called President Trump’s budget is not going to pass. Even the dipshit Freedom Caucus isn’t going to approve all his draconian cuts, and they love them some draconian cuts, let me tell you.

But his plan to cut 30% from the EPA’s budget is not going away. Because one of the few things it seems like all the Republicans can actually agree on these days is “Screw the planet! We want to kill every environmental regulation we can, and we don’t care if it causes asthma or cancer or decimates wetlands or kills endangered species, or, you know, DESTROYS OUR ABILITY TO SURVIVE AS HUMANS ON THIS PLANET due to climate change. YAY POLLUTION!”

This bunch of young-earth, creationist, heartbeat-bill, reality-challenged nincompoops is doing everything in their power to kick scientists out of national decision-making and to shape scientific results according to their desired political ends (aka, “I don’t care about your damn facts – I just want rationalizations for what I already believe, no matter how asinine it is”).

Which is why it’s important that we march. Science matters. Facts are a thing, and not, as some would have you believe, a liberal conspiracy. Research that helps us understand how the world and the cosmos work is worthy of support. Human-caused climate change is happening, and it’s the biggest collective threat humanity faces, more that ISIL or economic inequality or right-wing nationalist political movements or Ebola or the rapidly approaching post-antibiotic era or any of the -isms we can name. Science is the only way we can figure out how to halt it and maybe even reverse some of the damage that’s already been done.

As the march website says:

The March for Science champions robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity. We unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policy makers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest.

The main march is in Washington, DC, but there are satellite marches in over 600 locations worldwide. Maybe there’s one near you?

Come out and celebrate science with scientists and the science-supporting public – and me (and my secret “chief curiosity correspondent” crush Emily Graslie – well, at least if you’ll be in Chicago).

Image found here.

Almost Beltane PotPourri

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  •  “Mistress Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?”  Those are the words of an old nursery rhyme and, in The Secret Garden, when British children in India wanted to tease the heroine, Mary Lennox, they called her “Mistress Mary, Quite Contrary.”  And Mary was an unloved and, therefore, unpleasant little girl.  But, as she actually became a gardener, she also became far less contrary.  Some mornings, when I wake up and Trump is still sitting in the White House and it’s still Mercury Retrograde, I feel pretty contrary myself.  But time in my garden never fails to make me feel better.  Because we had such a warm February, my garlic is way ahead of where it normally would be this time of year.  Some of the allium are budding and whenever I walk past the front bed, I’m overwhelmed by the scent of lily of the valley.  My white camellias & white azaleas are in bloom.  How does your garden grow?
  • Asia has violets in bloom and a wonderful discussion of the spiritual and physical medicine inherent in these tiny plants.

I started those first lonely weeks without a single piece of furniture or any connections in town. It was exhilarating and terrifying, and some days I wondered how I would handle the bigness of it all.

I was still sleeping on a pallet on the floor of my room when the violets arrived. It started with a few small handfuls of violets, scattered here and there, like tiny daubs of lavender amongst the winter-flattened grass. And then one morning I awoke and the entire hillside was alive with grape and hyacinth. Stretching for almost an acre, I was living amongst a sea of Viola. It was spectacular, and often stirred me to tears. When I looked at them I had the distinct feeling that I too was being seen. 

Violets grow here in Virginia like weeds and I try to keep them to a small patch by the shed.  When I was a girl, we had a huge patch out in front and I used to make nosegays of them by the basketful.

I have to find a new magic because it is telling me to find it, because I hear the thunder of running feet through streets and the crash of falling stone and broken glass and it waits behind all that, or just before.

It is easy to ignore, isn’t it, here where rivers carry away the dreams of sleepers down to the sea which drowned Ys, when the great floodgates broke because she no longer cared to keep their world together, no longer cared for their dreams that kept the world together.

  • Terri Windling is talking about kindness, and a way of doing science that revolves around meditative walks and knowing the plants.  She’s talking about how we can be both scientific and, at the same time, have the mystical experience that Mary Oliver describes when she writes:  “for a pure white moment/while gravity/sprinkled upward/like rain, rising,/and in fact/it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing.”
  • Check out the pictures of bluebells.
  • We all love Bill Moyers, right?  I do.  I’ve followed him for years because he does the kind of in-depth reporting so few people bother to do, because he interviews important thinkers such as Joseph Campbell and Wendell Berry, because he asks deep questions and is willing to step back and let his guests think through an answer instead of immediately re-centering himself.  And, of course, I follow him on Twitter.  Mr. Moyers’ practice on Twitter is to link to half a dozen or so articles a day.  They’re almost always good articles by smart people, writing about something that not every other Tweet is already covering.  And, as I came to realize over time, the people who write those articles are exclusively male.  Once I started paying attention, I saw that several days could go by without even a single citation to a woman writer.  It’s not that women don’t write about the topics that Mr. Moyers tends to cover:  the environment, politics, economics, etc.  Women write, prolifically and publicly, about all of those topics and more, but Mr. Moyers seldom cites them, features their articles, suggests to his audience that there are women with something important to say.  To be clear, I don’t believe that this is intentional.  In fact, I believe that it’s completely unintentional.  So I started simply responding to the Tweets with “Another man!” or “Why does @BillMoyers only cite men?”  or “Did any women have anything to say about this?” or “Ignoring women effectively silences women.”  Mr. Moyers never responded and weeks and weeks went by with me, whenever I could, noting how seldom he cited women and him ignoring me.  In the last week or so, I think I’ve noted an uptick in citations to women.  I’m going to keep just pointing out how often men are cited vs. women.  Could you pick a blogger or Tweeter and do the same?  Awareness is the first prerequisite for change.
  • A day is coming when water is going to be the focus or more and more of our attention.
  • Next year, in Edinburgh, next year in the Holy Land.
  • My escape reading for the last few days has been Virgin Earth by Philippa Gregory.  She, maybe as much as Mary Lennox, understands how gardening can make us less contrary:  “Joseph and Johnnie filled the sacks with the Flame tulip bulbs.  . . .   Whether the price for tulips ever recovered or stayed as low as it had been thrust by the collapse of the market, still there was something rich and exciting  about the wealth which made itself in silence and secrecy under the soil.”  I’ve never been able to grow tulips here because the squirrels dig up and eat the bulbs as quickly as I can plant them.  This year, I grew them in pots on the screen porch and FINALLY have tulips.  May it be so for you.

 

Picture found here.

 

 

 

 

Words for Wednesday

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Such Singing in the Wild Branches

~ Mary Oliver

It was spring
and I finally heard him
among the first leaves––
then I saw him clutching the limb

in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still

and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness––
and that’s when it happened,

when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree––
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,

and the sands in the glass
stopped
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward

like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing––
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed

not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfect blue sky–––all of them

were singing.
And, of course, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn’t last

For more than a few moments.
It’s one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,

is that, once you’ve been there,
you’re there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?

Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then––open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away.

 

Picture found here.

This Is Not Normal; None of This Is Normal. Except for the Part that Is.

It’s what we say, isn’t it?  When Trump does some insane, gross, shabby, cruel, unheard of thing — which happens pretty much several times a day, everyday — we remind ourselves that “this” isn’t normal.  It’s a way of resisting what he’s doing, of refusing to “normalize” him; his greedy, grubby family; his anti-American administration; his regular violations of the Constitution.  “This is not normal; none of this is normal,” we say to each other, tweet, post on Facebook.

Except that, part of it is.  Part of it is entrenched so deeply in Patriarchy that we almost don’t notice it, kind of the way that fish don’t notice water.  What part is that?  Let me give you a list of names and see if you can identify what they have in common.

  1. Ralph Kramden from The Honeymooners
  2. Fred Flintstone from The Flintstones
  3. Archie Bunker from All in the Family
  4. King Triton from The Little Mermaid
  5. Big Daddy from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  6. King Lear
  7. Your Uncle Who Ruins Every Thanksgiving Dinner
  8. That Boss You Had

Some of you may be too young to have watched The Honeymooners, but here’s Wikipedia’s description of Ralph Kramden:  “Ralph is frustrated by his lack of success, and often develops get-rich-quick schemes. Ralph is very short tempered, frequently resorting to bellowing, insults and hollow threats.”  Ralph is obviously less intelligent than his wife, Alice, who regularly has to deal with the results of Ralph’s crazy schemes.  In almost every show, Ralph waves his balled-up fist at Alice, and yells, “To the Moon, Alice, to the Moon!”  Canned laughter always follows this threat of wife-beating.  Yet, Wikipedia assures us, as the show’s writers carefully did, that “Well-hidden beneath the many layers of bluster, however, is a soft-hearted man who loves his wife and is devoted to his best pal, Ed Norton.”  Ralph was an insecure bully and a buffoon, but, because he was a man, those traits were completely forgivable.  The audience had to accept him as soft-hearted guy who really loved his wife and friend.

Fred Flintstone?  A stone-age version of Ralph, with just a little bit less spousal abuse thrown in for comedy.  But lovable.  Archie Bunker?  Ralph with more emphasis on ignorant prejudices and a penchant for verbally abusing his wife, rather than threatening to hit her so hard she’d land on the Moon.  But lovable.  King Triton?  Ralph without a wife but a terrible tyrant with cruel rules.  But lovable.  Big Daddy?  Ralph in the South with an Archie-like penchant for verbally abusing his wife and children.  But lovable.  King Lear?  A regal Ralph, a fool who misjudged people and caused all sorts of death and chaos.  But lovable.  Your uncle and your boss?  Well, you fill in the blanks.

In fact, from cartoons, to tv shows, to Shakespeare, the idea of an ignorant buffoon to whom everyone must kowtow and whose messes others are regularly required to clean up — generally without letting said buffoon know that they’re doing so — is a staple of our culture.   And we’re taught to love that buffoon and accept that, despite the buffoon’s behavior, the buffoon really has a soft heart and is, deep down, a good person.  Well, as long as the buffoon is a man.  No woman who behaved the way Ralph et al. behave would ever be seen as soft hearted, lovable, good.

So it’s not completely accurate for us to say that Trump — a blustering buffoon; a venal man, full of prejudices; a shyster in love with get-rich quick schemes that leave those foolish enough to trust him bankrupt and broken; a man who mistreats women; a boss who regularly messes up and needs his underlings to clean-up behind him — is not normal.  He may be an extreme example of the trope, but we’ve been taught from childhood to accept men like him, to work around them, to look for the good in them, to keep believing that they’ll be better next time.  And you can see this socialization in Trump’s supporters:  the guys who say, “Aw, I know he talks a lot of shit, but I think he’ll help out coal miners,” or the women who say, “I didn’t think he’d deport my husband or take away my health care.”  We can’t imagine how they can accept him, but their culture has taught them to accept men like him and to believe that, deep down, they’re really well-meaning.

All of which, in my opinion, makes it even more important for us to keep pointing out what Trump is doing and to insist that “This isn’t normal.”  And we need to do the same when we read our children stories about kings who won’t let their daughters sing or talk to humans, when we see a play about a Southern patriarch who blusters and mistreats his family, when our uncle ruins Thanksgiving dinner.

Hat tip to Propane Jane @docrocktex26 for first pointing out the relationship between Trump and how our culture normalizes male pathology.