Words for Wednesday

I am going to break one of my cardinal rules which is that talking about poems is a dumb thing to do.

First, I’ll say that this poem often wars in my attention with the Mary Oliver poem that I posted last week as “best poem for Litha,” but that I always wind up thinking that it’s more a poem about mysticism than about summer.

Second, I’ll say that most people love this poem for its closing lines:  “Tell me, what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious* life?” and those are brilliant lines and I sometimes use them to turn my life around and head it back towards my own true North.  But those are not the lines that make me love this poem.  The lines that make me love this poem are the ones that first explained to me that (like the man surprised to learn that he’d been speaking prose all this time) I’d been doing mysticism all my life:

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?

And, I love it for Oliver’s particularity:  “this grasshopper.”

May it be so for you.

*I always want to read “precious” as “wonderful.”  I’m not saying that Ms. Oliver was wrong, but, well, I’m a sucker for alliteration.

All Acts of Love and Pleasure Are Rituals of the Goddess

Fireflies

The fireflies are back.  They return every June, like regular vacationers showing up at their mountain cabin or lakeshore campground.  They begin just after sunset, when the air has begun to cool but you can still see the garden, once your eyes adjust.

At first, there are only a few, but as the days go by (or should one say, “as the nights go by”?) there are more and more of them,   They’ll be a true mob in a few weeks and, then, they’ll begin to drift away.  By August, there will be only a few strays, still hoping to find love or, at least, lust.

One of the true pleasures of this place is to slip into the habit of going out to sit and watch them, sweet tea in hand, just before bed.  You have to stop and pay attention, watch for them out of the corner of your eye, the way you watch for fairies.  Their ballet changes every evening; one night they cluster around the magnolia trees but the next they seem to be all over the yard.  You can feel your breathing slow down, your muscles relax, your body connect to the land.

Do you have fireflies where you live?  What do you do to settle before bed?

Picture found here.

 

Monday at the Movies

A Gentle Reminder

Witch hunt 4

I’m delighted to have folks comment on my posts and to engage in debate with other commenters.

However, as always, I reserve the right to remove comments that offend basic principles of democratic debate.  I’ve had to do so recently and hope it will not be necessary again.

Also, I have a day job and can’t monitor comments 24/7, so if you step over the line more than once or twice, don’t be surprised to find yourself banned.  In over a decade of blogging, I’ve had to ban only a very few commenters.  I’m a Witch and you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

Picture found here.

Sunday Ballet Blogging

The Magical Battle for America 6.24.17

Wow.  Trump has been president for six months and we’ve been resisting him for longer than that.

It’s completely understandable if you’re tired; I think we all are.  It’s easy to get discouraged; I think we all get discouraged when we pay attention to what this administration is doing.  But this was never going to be easy.

In many ways, our fight is simply one more battle in the long-running war for the American soul.  America is both drenched in the original sins of genocide, slavery, rape of the land, and Patriarchy and bathed in the bright light of democracy, the principle of equal justice under law, the search for unity, and the arc of the moral universe, ever bending towards freedom.  Our current civil cold war is, in many ways, simply a continuation of the hotter civil war that was supposed to have ended at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.

As I indicated  when we began these magical workings, I have two goals.  The first and most obvious one is to protect America from the Trump administration.  And the second is to help America to build up a library of magical/archetypical tools to use when threatened from either within or without.  When Dion Fortune  and her society turned to the magical defense of Britain, they had an entire arsenal:  Arthurian legend, the king who sacrifices himself for the land, Drake’s drum, the ravens at the Tower of London, etc.  We’re a younger nation and so we’re still stockpiling our defenses.

In today’s working, we’re going to be strengthening and working with one of America’s truly archetypical heroes, a figure who seems now to be almost more myth than man, the sacrificial king who did lay down his life for the land:  Abraham Lincoln.  He’s as close to an American Arthur as there is.

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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.

Breathe.

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

Ground and center.  Cast a circle.

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?

For a few moments, just sit on your hillock and allow yourself to become comfortable. This place should be feeling very real to you by now; we’ve been working together to create it for months and months.  If you look to the East, you can see Gettysburg, Pennsylvania through the mists.  A terrible battle took place here and, in the middle of the Civil War, Lincoln came here to dedicate a cemetery for fallen soldiers.  His speech  is iconic in American history, similar to Queen Elizabeth’s “Heart and Stomach of a King” speech before the battle with Spain’s Armada or to Churchill’s “Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat” speech* in World War II.

Stand up upon your hillock.  Wrapped in your magical powers, you stand so tall and so straight that you can see from sea to shining sea.  You can see each of the giant banners, and you can see all of your sisters and brothers in the Resistance, those alive now, those who have lived, and those who will carry on our work long after our bones are as dry as those buried at Gettysburg.  You are between the worlds, in that place where all times are one time and you are standing with Lincoln on that April afternoon.  Listen to Lincoln’s words and, at the same time, declare them with him, so loudly that they echo and bless the land, protecting and immunizing it against the harms that this administration is inflicting.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

We are now those “living” to whom Lincoln referred.  It is, as he said, for us to be dedicated to the “great task remaining before us,” the task of ensuring, in the face of all that this administration and its fellow fascists around the world can throw at us, “that government of the people, by the people, [and] for the people shall not perish from the earth.”  Take as long as you like, standing firm upon your center of power here on the astral plane, and send strength, and power, and enthusiasm to that great task.  Rededicate yourself to it.

And know that you are not working alone.  The Resistance — both magical and in all of its mundane (phone banking, check writing, representative calling, letter writing, canvassing, voting, volunteering, tutoring, restoring wetlands, growing plants for bees) manifestations — is huge.  As Shelly wrote, we will “Rise like Lions after slumber/In unvanquishable number/Shake [our] chains to earth like dew/Which in sleep had fallen on you/[W]e are many — they are few.”  Know that you are a powerful worker of magic, rooted in your very own landbase, working with the strong archetypes of this land, assisted by countless unseen others who labor in league with you.  You are brave and growing braver.  Your magic and your practical workings can make the difference.

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.  Open your circle.  Drink something, maybe a glass of water with a slice of cucumber in it or some dark, strong coffee.  If you like, have something to eat, maybe a few slices of nectarine or some barley soup in a stoneware mug.

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 copy out the Gettysburg Address and place it on your altar.  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 went.

*Churchill’s speech is remembered for the well-known phrase, but I have always been far more partial to his closing words, which seem, to me, quite appropriate for our own times:

You ask, what is our policy? I say it is to wage war by land, sea and air. War with all our might and with all the strength God has given us, and to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy.
You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory. Victory at all costs — victory in spite of all terrors — victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.

Let that be realized. No survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge, the impulse of the ages, that mankind shall move forward toward his goal.
I take up my task in buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men.

I feel entitled at this juncture, at this time, to claim the aid of all and to say, “Come then, let us go forward together with our united strength.”

Ossoff’s Loss Gives Me Hope

ossoff

Lots of hair-on-fire finger-pointing on the left this week, in the wake of Jon Ossoff’s narrow loss to truly deplorable human Karen Handel in Georgia’s 6th district.

One narrative is: “Four special elections since November, four Democratic losses, PUSH THE PANIC BUTTON Y’ALL. It’s Nancy Pelosi’s fault, it’s Hillary’s fault, it’s neoliberals’ fault, it’s Kamala Harris’s fault, it’s the DNC’s fault, it’s Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s fault, it’s Cory Booker’s fault, it’s Obama’s fault, it’s the Women’s March’s fault…” (notice it’s never some white guy’s fault)

I’d like to ask us all to stop and take a breath for a moment.

Where were those four special elections lost?

Kansas. Montana. Georgia. South Carolina.

Notice anything in common?

All DEEP red states.

Kansas, if you’ll recall, TWICE elected a small government radical as governor, who’s basically turned the state into a third-world country in the name of hewing to his demonstrably false ideology that the cure for ANYTHING that ails you is MOAR TAX CUTS!11!!!11!

After he utterly destroyed the state’s budget and tax base, Brownback’s Republican dominated legislature FINALLY reigned him in a little this year, passing minor tax increases with a veto-proof majority. But it’s probably too little, too late. Someone should remind these yahoos that no matter HOW low the taxes are, businesses aren’t really interested in moving to a location where the roads are impassible, the bridges are about to fall down, the schools are crap, the air and water and soil are unsafe, and the police and fire departments are badly understaffed.

[As an aside, in the 2014 Kansas gubernatorial election, Brownback had fucked things up so badly that over 100 Republican leaders in the state endorsed his Democratic opponent, who lost by three points. The third party candidate siphoned off FOUR points. Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it is all I’m saying.]

In Montana, the Democrats ran Rob Quist, a guy who under normal circumstances would have been a novelty candidate who didn’t make it out of the primary. Then, to make matters worse, Bernie Sanders decided to weigh in and publicly support him. In a deep red state. That is not exactly full of hipster dudes from Brooklyn who think Bernie is MLK, John Lennon, and Jesus rolled into one. So yeah, that was totally the right strategic move there.

South Carolina and Georgia? The last Democrats who won those districts were Dixiecrats before I was even born (and I am not young). In fact, part of the reason so-called President Trump tapped Mick Mulvaney and Tom Price to be part of his administration is they were giving up “safe” Republican seats to do it.

Which brings us to my point: these were NEVER going to be competitive races.

Also, all FOUR candidates (Ossoff, Quist, Archie Parnell and James Thompson) were complete newbies – none had ever run for any type of office before.

[Column interruption two: Democrats need to start running for lower-level offices. City Council. School board. Mayor. State legislature. Let’s get candidates building a base of support and experience in both campaigning and legislating BEFORE running for national office. Also, not for nothing: four white guys. Who’s your base again, Democrats?]

But, to share a piecesof wisdom I recently spotted on Twitter:

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 2.46.21 PM

Or as the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent (“The Plum Line”) puts it:

“the last thing Democrats should do right now is allow this loss — Ossoff fell short by just under 4 points — to demoralize them…let’s hope Democrats take a different message from this year’s special elections: The House is very much in play in 2018.”

It’s worth reading the whole article, as Sargent gets detailed on some of the math – calculated by Republican strategists – working in our favor for 2018.

As Sargent notes:

“The crux of the matter is that of course an Ossoff win would have signaled that Republicans are in very deep trouble, and that would have been great for Democrats. But the fact that this didn’t happen does not undercut the idea that the general trends still show that the House is likely to be in play next year.”

HOWEVER, that is NOT an invitation to relax and take it easy. It’s a call to keep fighting, because what we’re doing is working. We’re making up enormous ground.

But we have to keep registering people in the Democratic base to vote and getting them out to polls (hint: the base is NOT white dudebros, not that they aren’t welcome to join us – well, at least they’re welcome if they can stop acting like misogynist assholes for a damn minute).

We have to keep phone banking.

We have to keep looking for potential candidates and nurturing them to run, for city council and school board and mayor and state legislature and governor AND Congress.

We have to keep giving, to individual campaigns and candidates, to the party, to organizations like EMILY’s List  or maybe Onward Together, which is acting as a signal booster and as a clearing house for donations for spunky upstart groups that are punching way above their weight right now and could do amazing things with a little more cash in the till.

So let the brogressives flash their ill-informed hot takes on Daily Kos and Eschaton and Twitter and whatnot and congratulate each other on their brilliance and tire themselves out, while the rest of us – the REAL Resistance – keep doing the work. As we do.

[Edited to add: another reason to be hopeful – Dems are turning out to vote, which is what we’ll need in 2018 to take back Congress and 2020 to take back the White House. Exercise those voting muscles, y’all!]

Image found here.