Sunday Ballet Blogging

There Are No Great Men of History


Much earlier in the Democratic primary season, I wrote about the problem of falling in love with one Great Man of History who is going to magically save us.  What’s happened since then has provided a good example of what I was talking about.

Many, many Pagans (and other Americans!) fell head-over-heels for Senator Sanders as a candidate.  They liked his message about breaking up big banks, providing free college education, providing single-payer health care, and so on.  And, of course, all those things sound desirable.  It turned out that he didn’t really have much of a plan for how to bring about those changes, other than, “And then the revolution will force the Republicans to vote our way,” but, OK, by the time he gave that disastrous interview, many of his supporters were too committed to back off.   Maybe he’d figure it out once he was in office.

They were also willing to overlook some of his sketchier positions.  OK, he’d voted for gun manufacturers, weapons manufacturers as long as they provided jobs in Vermont, and:

Sanders supported Bill Clinton’s war on Serbia, voted for the 2001 Authorization Unilateral Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF), which pretty much allowed Bush to wage war wherever he wanted, backed Obama’s Libyan debacle and supports an expanded US role in the Syrian Civil War.

Somehow, that meant much less than the fact that Secretary Clinton had “voted for the war,” when Bush wanted to invade.  (Insert requisite disclaimer:  I wish she’d voted against Bush’s war, even though that would not have made any difference.)  It’s just different when women are hawks.

And, over the past few months, many of us have watched as many Sanders’ supporters became not so much in favor of him as they were diametrically opposed to her.  No old Republican talking point was too fantastical to warm over.  No sexist attacks on her were out of bounds.  No progressive, Democratic organization was beyond reproach if it made the mistake of supporting Secretary Clinton over Senator Sanders:  establishment, uninformed, part of the massive conspiracy to deny (the man one of my friends calls) Blessed Bernard of the Snows his rightful place in the White House.  Senator Sanders won’t release his tax returns?  No worries!  Senator Sanders professes ignorance of affairs in South and Central America?  He’s been busy running for president!  Senator Sanders really doesn’t get sexism, racism, and homophobia and turns every question about those issues back to his class-war talking points?  Why do you hate Bernie????

It all got extremely silly.   The really sad thing is that Senator Sanders began to drink his own Kool-Aid.

At first, he attacked the Superdelegates.  Even though they’d switched their support from Secretary Clinton to then-Senator Obama when the popular vote favored him, Senator Sanders initially insisted that they were anti-democratic and would throw the election to her in spite of his success in the (then-early) primaries.  Then, when it turned out that millions of voters preferred Secretary Clinton to Senator Sanders, he switched his tune and began to insist that the Superdelegates should ignore the will of the Democratic voters and throw the nomination to him because:  reasons.

Senator Sanders continued to fundraise from his supporters based on more and more counter-factual scenarios in which he won more and more unlikely large percentages of primary voters.

When he won caucuses (which disfavor women, poor people, parents, old people, etc.) caucuses were the answer .  When he won open primaries, all primaries should be open; anyone who wants to choose the Democratic candidate (including Republicans and Independents who will never vote Democratic) should be able to pick the Democratic nominee.  When he won mostly white voters, the problem was allowing states with larger African American populations to vote.   When voters his own age wouldn’t vote for him, the answer was younger voters.  His answer to how he could win was to ignore women, Hispanics, and African Americans and to focus on “white, working class” voters, as if Hispanics, women, and African Americans don’t also vote.

Sanders used campaign funds to fly his family to the Vatican in a desperate attempt to get Catholic support.  He made  fool of himself announcing that he and Trump were going to debate without that woman.

And all along you watched good, gullible people get suckered into posting Facebook memes about how evil Secretary Clinton was and about how a bird landing on Senator Sanders’ podium (birds inside are an omen of a coming death) meant that he was definitely going to defy the odds and win not only the Democratic nomination but the presidency.

Finally, when his supporters went overboard in Nevada and, instead of simply saying, “Of course we condemn violence and threats,” Senator Sanders complained about his own treatment, you began to watch some of the saner people start to peel off.  “OK, Bernie.  You made your point about big banks.  Having a riot at the convention and handing the election to Trump isn’t funny.”

Now, where are his supporters?  Those who fell in love with him, who saw him as just the latest in a long line of Great Men of History, are disappointed.  You start out in love with the next great man who’s going to save us and you wind up defending a guy whose message has gone from “Break up the big banks!” to “Let’s tear down the Democrats!”

Meanwhile, at every local level, there are races for local positions playing out under the radar. The other evening, Landscape Guy and I went to the local Dem caucus to pick Board of Ed candidates.  There were 4 candidates for two slots.  It took half an hour’s research to figure out that we’d vote for the one woman already on the board and for the progressive woman trying to get on the board.  All the local candidates were there, ready to talk to voters.   I traded viewpoints with out local DINO.

You can have MUCH more influence in your local races than you’ll ever have falling in love with some Great Man of History.  We’re Pagans.  We should do something about this.

GIF found here


The Witch’s Bedtable


The subversive, utopian dimension of the witches’ Sabbat is also stressed, from a different angle, by Luciano Parinetto who, in Strophe e Potere (1998), has insisted on the need to give a modern interpretation of this gathering, reading its transgressive features from the viewpoint of the developing capitalist discipline of work.  Parinetto points out that the nocturnal dimension of the Sabbat was a violation of the contemporary capitalist regularization of work-time, and a challenge to private property and sexual orthodoxy, as the night shadows blurred the distinctions between the sexes and between “mine and thine.”  Parinetto also argues that the flight, the travel, an important element in the charges against the witches, should be interpreted as an attack on the mobility of immigrant and itinerant workers, a new phenomenon, reflected in the fear of vagabonds, that much preoccupied the authorities in this period.  Parinetto concludes that, viewed in its historical specificity, the nocturnal Sabbat appears as a demonization of the utopia embodied in the rebellion against the masters and the break-down of sexual roles, and it also represents a use of space and time contrary to the new capitalist work-discipline.

~ Caliban and the Witch:  Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation by Silvia Federici

Rosemary blooms.  It seems a miracle that this Mediterranean native is so at home in the soggy north.  Perhaps it is sort of a reverse vacation, with so many British heading to points south for the winter.  The Sawrey soil conditions are just right, quickly drying out after each rain.

Shakespeare wrote, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.”  In her twenties, Beatrix [Potter] could recite so many of Shakespeare’s plays by heart.  She remains a person of solitary pursuits:  painting, reading, writing, gardening.  Close up, the rosemary has tiny purple-blue flowers that look like orchids, needles free with a stripe of gray — contrast and complement for an artist to appreciate, lovely in design and even lovelier to smell.  Brushing a hand against a branch releases the fragrance.  Sharp.  A cue, or perhaps a memento.

~ Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life:  the Plants and Places that Inspired the Classic Children’s Tales by Marta McDowell

Picture found here.



Words for Wednesday

England in 1819
~ Percy Busshe Shelley
An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying King;
Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow
Through public scorn,—mud from a muddy spring;
Rulers who neither see nor feel nor know,
But leechlike to their fainting country cling
Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow.
A people starved and stabbed in th’ untilled field;
An army, whom liberticide and prey
Makes as a two-edged sword to all who wield;
Golden and sanguine laws which tempt and slay;
Religion Christless, Godless—a book sealed;
A senate, Time’s worst statute, unrepealed—
Are graves from which a glorious Phantom may
Burst, to illumine our tempestuous day.
Picture found here.

Banishing Trump’s Glamour


As I discussed here, the glamour that Donald Trump projects is certainly not at all who he really is.  While he wants others to see him as a successful leader, a brilliant businessman, a sexual giant, he is, in reality, a buffoon, a failure,  shadowy trickster, a puer.  Yet, as I wrote:

[H]ere we have a puer, a shadowy trickster, who may well become the leader of the free world.  His ascent to power depends upon his ability to continue to cast a glamour upon a large number of gullible people.  We’re, as Christopher Penzack once said, Witches; we should do something about that.  As magic workers we must work to dispel that glamour.

So how do you dispel a glamour?  Especially with Donald Trump’s followers, simple facts don’t seem able to pierce the bubble.  Tell them that he’s gone bankrupt a number of times, would have made more money simply investing his inheritance in index funds, knows next to nothing about governing and policy, changes his positions from minute to minute, and is really a creepy old man with a combover, and it does no good at all.  In fact, there’s some evidence that trying to dispel right-wing and fascist glamours with facts and logic almost always backfires, actually strengthening the glamour instead.

Byron Ballard provides, in Assiduity and Mad Stones, a simple spell for busting a glamour when you’re in a meeting, which I’ve adapted here to provide for the fact that you likely won’t be meeting Trump in person.

Ground yourself and cast a circle.  Burn whatever incense you use for protection.  Light a white candle.  Call upon Apollo, God of reason and clear sight, Hecate, who tells the truth about what’s happened even when no one else will, or Athena, Goddess of politics and strategy.   Breathe deeply to clear your own energy filed.  Call up an image of Trump as he appears to his followers.  Sit with your forearms resting on your thighs.  Open up your left hand, palm-up, and begin tapping the center of that palm with the middle finger of your right hand.  You’ll start to feel the one hand get warm and then the other.  When you can feel the energy flowing back and forth between the tapping and the receiving had, look directly at that image of Trump.  See  his glamour begin to fade away and look at who he really is.  Keep tapping and project that image — the failure, the cheat, the old man terrified of losing any sexual prowess he ever had, the buffoon, the failure — out into the universe.  Keep tapping and see the scales falling from the eyes of those who admire him.  Slowly tap three more times.  Breathe and clean your own energy field of any remaining bits of his glamour.  Thank the deity you called.  Extinguish the candle.  Allow the incense to burn out.  Open your circle.

Judika Illes‘ book, The Element Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells:  the Ultimate Reference Book for the Magical Arts, contains banishing spells that can also be used to dispel Trump’s glamour.  (I’ve adapted them a bit for our purpose.)  You’ll need to make some Four Thieves Vinegar, which is easy to do and uses common kitchen ingredients.  If you can make it during the full or waxing Moon, that will add to its ability to shed light on who Trump really is.

Four Thieves Banishing Spell No. 3

  1.  Write “Donald Trump” on a piece of brown paper.
  2. Soak the paper in Four Thieves Vinegar.
  3. Fold the paper and bury it in a flowerpot, ideally filled with crossroads dirt, but any kind of dirt will do.  Adding some coffee grounds to the dirt will give the spell a little bit of extra energy and will be good for the plant.
  4. Plant a cactus in the dirt and keep the pot near your front door.

Ms. Illes tells us that the following spell is traditionally attributed to Marie LaVeau, who certainly understood how glamour works.

Four Thieves Banishing Spell No. 4

  1.  Write “Donald Trump” nine times on a square of paper.
  2. Cover and cross each name with the word “Truth” and say, “I cross you.  I cover you.  I command you.  I compel you to drop your glamour.
  3. Place this paper inside a small glass jar or bottle.
  4. Fill the bottle with Four Thieves Vinegar and seal it tightly shut.
  5. Dispose of the bottle.  The traditional way is to throw it over your left shoulder into running water without looking, but you can adapt this to your situation.

You might want to continue to work these spells through election day.

Picture found here.


Monday at the Movies

Based on a true story:

Sunday Ballet Blogging