Monday at the Movies

Sunday Ballet Blogging

Summer Saturday PotPourri

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  • Chas Clifton makes a good point about “interfaith.”  I’ll add my own rant and say that Paganism isn’t a “faith.”  The Abrahamic religions are faiths.  Paganism is a religion.  Using “faith” as a synonym for “religion” implies that only the three Abrahamic religions are “real” religions.

 

  • Theodora Goss is writing about the physical and emotional work that women do.  As I said a while back, it’s possible to just decide that’s no longer your job.

 

  • Sylvia’s post will make you feel better.

 

  • Women in gardens.  To be honest, when I’m out in my garden, I don’t look like that.  I’m pulling weeds and covered in dirt.  My face is sweaty and beet red.  I’m usually scratched a bit and have green smears on my elbows.  But I love it.

 

Don’t give in to the mass media’s drive to control where you put your focus. Focus is one of the great tools in a magic worker’s work-basket. Like corvids, we all love the shiny but let’s work a little harder not to let it rule us. It is shiny for a reason and that reason is rarely good.

Take time for your daily spiritual practice, whatever that may be. Sit at your home altar, walk through the woods, go to your church or temple. Pray, if you do that. Circle dance. Drum. Sing. Connect with the Divines and rest in the glorious agricultural cycle that Pagan religions are built on. Hel, that all religions are built on.

Sit upon the land where you live. Notice everything you can about it—drought or flood or perfect weather, what are the birds singing in the morning, how does the air smell at the end of the day. Be outside, even if the weather is uncomfortable. Pace yourself in heat and sun, splash in rain, touch leaves, walk in bare feet. Become a helpful part of your ecosystem as often as you can.

I second that.

Picture found here..

This Life Matters*

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One of the core messages of Paganism that means the most to me is that This Life Matters.  My Body Matters.  Sex Matters.  My Relationships — with my Landbase, my Watershed, my Bit of Earth, my Goddesses, my Fae, my Family and Friends, my Livelihood, my Magical Community, my Polis — Matter.

I grew up Catholic, in a religion and a culture that discounts this life, shames female bodies and the act of being a woman, demonizes sex, and devalues relationships with any entity other than the one, true, male God.  I grew up Catholic in a religion that tells you that this world doesn’t matter; what’s important is some literal pie-in-the-sky life after death. None of which ever felt “right” to me.  So finding Paganism was a revelation .  “All acts of love and pleasure are rituals of the Goddess” shook the ground beneath my feet.  What if it were THIS life that is holy???  How would that change the way I lived?  In Mr. Frost’ words, two roads diverged in the woods, and I, I took the one less traveled by.  And that has made all the difference.

Which is, perhaps, an odd way to begin to discuss this week’s Republican convention, but it’s what kept coming back to me all week long as I observed the four-day hate fest.  The calls to kill and/or jail Hillary Clinton (and those were the polite things they said) were like nothing ever heard at any convention before.  Of course, no convention has ever faced a woman opponent before.  If you think that it isn’t dangerous to be a powerful woman in America today, well, you just aren’t paying attention.  Patriarchy has always called for the destruction of female bodies.  Of course, Patriarchy doesn’t stop at hating women.  The LGBT community, African Americans, Muslims, Hispanic people, people who aren’t Christian, anyone who doesn’t embrace unrestrained corporate capitalism, etc. all came in for their own dose of hatred.

At some point, it all begins to feel like too much.  It’s all too horrible:  all of the hatred, the deliberate ignorance, the whipped-up violence, the refusal to deal in facts, the purposeful choice to embrace lies, the senseless racism, the virulent hatred of women, the ancient divide and conquer tactics, the recognizable fascism, the candidate feeling up his own daughter . . . .  “Why bother to stay engaged?” I asked myself.  I have more work than I can handle at a job I love; my garden needs weeding; I have a lovely family and brilliant friends.  There are more good books to read than I have time left to read them.  I’d really love to learn how to knit fisherman cables.

And what brings me back is Paganism’s core message:  This Life Matters.  The polar bears in the Arctic and the mycelium being disrupted by logging in the Amazon matter.  My son’s high school friend on FaceBook trying to explain to their other friend why he’s afraid to exist while being black matters.  The poems I love matter and today’s struggling poets matter even more.  This polis matters.  People having sex all over the globe on this Friday afternoon, people holding each other, people orgasming, people becoming drowsy in each other’s arms:  they matter.  The cook serving two perfectly-poached eggs on slices of fried green tomatoes:  she matters.  People trying to patch things  back together in Orlando matter.  My own aging female body:  it matters.  The scent of the Casa Blanca lilies that perfume my front steps:  it matters.  For this one Summer, it matters.  It matters in the morning when I go to work and it matters in the hot summer afternoon when I come home.

And so I believe that it’s worth engaging in the struggle and avoiding the siren call of unawareness.  I recommit to avoiding what Ivo Dominguez has called the enchantment of forgetfulness:  the notion that any of us are separate from each other.  I think this is what Rumi meant when he said:

“The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you
Don’t go back to sleep!
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep!
People are going back and forth
across the doorsill where the two worlds touch,
The door is round and open
Don’t go back to sleep!”

As Rumi suggested:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.

I’m headed out for that field and back into the struggle.  Back into the “mundane” and “boring” tasks of registering voters, doing pro bono projects, dealing with imperfect humans, trying to save a world that — at almost every turn — resists saving.  Back to doing magic to bend the arc of the moral universe just a bit more towards justice.

I shan’t be gone long. You come, too.  This Life Matters.

Picture found here.

* It’s likely a sign of my own white privileged that I wrote and posted this entire piece without thinking of the connection to the Black Lives Matter movement.  So, in case it wasn’t completely clear, let me simply state:  Black Lives Matter.  They matter to me.  They matter to Paganism.  They matter to America.  Black Lives Matter.

Words for Wednesday

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The Whitsun Weddings

~PHILIP LARKIN

That Whitsun, I was late getting away:
    Not till about
One-twenty on the sunlit Saturday
Did my three-quarters-empty train pull out,
All windows down, all cushions hot, all sense
Of being in a hurry gone. We ran
Behind the backs of houses, crossed a street
Of blinding windscreens, smelt the fish-dock; thence
The river’s level drifting breadth began,
Where sky and Lincolnshire and water meet.
All afternoon, through the tall heat that slept
    For miles inland,
A slow and stopping curve southwards we kept.
Wide farms went by, short-shadowed cattle, and
Canals with floatings of industrial froth;
A hothouse flashed uniquely: hedges dipped
And rose: and now and then a smell of grass
Displaced the reek of buttoned carriage-cloth
Until the next town, new and nondescript,
Approached with acres of dismantled cars.
At first, I didn’t notice what a noise
    The weddings made
Each station that we stopped at: sun destroys
The interest of what’s happening in the shade,
And down the long cool platforms whoops and skirls
I took for porters larking with the mails,
And went on reading. Once we started, though,
We passed them, grinning and pomaded, girls
In parodies of fashion, heels and veils,
All posed irresolutely, watching us go,
As if out on the end of an event
    Waving goodbye
To something that survived it. Struck, I leant
More promptly out next time, more curiously,
And saw it all again in different terms:
The fathers with broad belts under their suits
And seamy foreheads; mothers loud and fat;
An uncle shouting smut; and then the perms,
The nylon gloves and jewellery-substitutes,
The lemons, mauves, and olive-ochres that
Marked off the girls unreally from the rest.
    Yes, from cafés
And banquet-halls up yards, and bunting-dressed
Coach-party annexes, the wedding-days
Were coming to an end. All down the line
Fresh couples climbed aboard: the rest stood round;
The last confetti and advice were thrown,
And, as we moved, each face seemed to define
Just what it saw departing: children frowned
At something dull; fathers had never known
Success so huge and wholly farcical;
    The women shared
The secret like a happy funeral;
While girls, gripping their handbags tighter, stared
At a religious wounding. Free at last,
And loaded with the sum of all they saw,
We hurried towards London, shuffling gouts of steam.
Now fields were building-plots, and poplars cast
Long shadows over major roads, and for
Some fifty minutes, that in time would seem
Just long enough to settle hats and say
I nearly died,
A dozen marriages got under way.
They watched the landscape, sitting side by side
—An Odeon went past, a cooling tower,
And someone running up to bowl—and none
Thought of the others they would never meet
Or how their lives would all contain this hour.
I thought of London spread out in the sun,
Its postal districts packed like squares of wheat:
There we were aimed. And as we raced across
    Bright knots of rail
Past standing Pullmans, walls of blackened moss
Came close, and it was nearly done, this frail
Travelling coincidence; and what it held
Stood ready to be loosed with all the power
That being changed can give. We slowed again,
And as the tightened brakes took hold, there swelled
A sense of falling, like an arrow-shower
Sent out of sight, somewhere becoming rain.
********
Picture found here.

The Witch’s Bedtable

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I’m walking home from work.  It’s a bit chill, early March in Seattle, that city blessed of so much rain that only a writer can really endure its winters without complaining, the sky so close to earth.  People talk of blue skies as if ‘blue’ means clear; sodden from the perpetual dripping of rain from the city’s cavernous ceiling, I knew deeply that grey is composed of every blue.

Trudging, actually, up the tree-flanked streets.  To climb those  hills without faltering, you must step as if on stairs.  Wearing boots helps, though not to keep out of puddles, only to tone the calves upon those ascents.  I guess you could maybe drive, but cars are for people who don’t like streets or trees and so must zoom past them quickly to get away from them.

It is nothing to sit on a stone bench in the rain in such a city, if you’ve been there long enough.  This was my intention, white benches describing part of the circle-shrine where I and others sometimes prayed.  It was to the Mother of God, and she seemed sometimes almost to intercede for us for other gods, though I think this was only my hope, not the truth.  I tried to walk to the shrine, and suddenly felt a hard push to stop me.

Your Face Is a Forest by Rhyd Wildermuth

Sowell contended that there had been an unchanging  subculture going back centuries.  Relying on Grady McWhiney’s Cracker Culture (1988), a flawed historical study that turned poor whites into Celtic ethnics (Scots-Irish), Sowell claimed that the bad traits of blacks (laziness, promiscuity, violence, bad English) were passed on from their backcountry white neighbors.

White Trash.  The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America.  by Nancy Isenberg

Picture found here.

 

Monday at the Movies

Richard Louv has a new book out and it’s definitely worth a read.

I love the point he makes in this video about how, given access to  nature (a land base) a child can “bring the confusion of the world to the woods, wash it in the creek [and] , turn it over to see what lives on the unseen side of that confusion.”  The Goddess knows, that’s what my creek did for me as a child.

May it be so for you.