Things For Which You Should Not Feel Grateful



Here are two things that you need to read.  Neither of them are warm, fuzzy, all about being grateful.

  •  Against Authority, Against Terror:”That is, terrorist acts push the self-destruct button of Western Civilization.  When a terrorist attacks a city where Authority has become so perfect as to become invisible, it re-appears and rushes to show itself as powerful, just, and righteous. Capitalism is supposed to be perfect, Democracy is supposed to create peace, and governments are supposed to have the sole monopoly on violence.Terrorists prove that all of that to be illusion, attacking Authority with its own game, which sets in motion a series of events which show Authority to be what it really is–just another violent regime which treats its own people well and other peoples viciously.

    This isn’t to say we should thank the terrorists or even sympathize with them.  Like watching a stand-off between a white supremacist and police, we should take neither side.  Instead, we should look for the moment of our own liberation while violence is pre-occupied with violence, while terrorists–and the Authority which creates them–destroy each other.

    Our liberation comes from reclaiming our meaning.  If Paganism teaches anything, it’s that our meaning need not come from authoritarian priests or violent warlords known as ‘governments.’  Rather, our meaning comes from ourselves, our gods, our dead, our forests, and the whole dance of creation which we stand in the middle of, witches and mages, poets and rogues, singing in an other world.

    Resist giving up your ability to create meaning in the world, which is the very essence of your magic.

    And fight everyone who would steal that magic from you.”

  • You know the last time a group of people felt economically and culturally oppressed and looked to “the other” as the source of their problems?  We’re there now.

    “There is a wildness in our politics that goes back beyond this administration. But the election of this president—​and his stubborn insistence that he be allowed to act like a president—​has brought a focused volatility to that wildness that is unprecedented in the years since the turmoil of the 1960s. The lost illusions of American exceptionalism, and the loss of the dominant postwar American economy, make the results of that poll sadly unsurprising. But that basic disillusionment has been percolating around American politics for decades. There is something different about it now that is the result of years of exchanging history for desperate propaganda, a yearning for a past that never was, at least not for all Americans. In the 1960s, protests like those going on at various universities, and like the one that’s ongoing in Minneapolis, would have been completely unremarkable.

    Now, though, thanks to 50 years of steady drum-beating about how it was in the 1960s in which the country began to slide into decline, and how it was in the 1960s that the power drained away from You in the direction of Them, a culture of victimization has arisen despite all the data proving that the victims in question have not been victimized at all, at least not in comparison to their fellow citizens, anyway. What has victimized them are economic and trade policies that have drained the country of decent paying jobs, the decline of organized labor, and a lot of sleight-of-hand political jibber-jabber that continues to this day. It’s just easier to get people to blame each other. And that’s what’s coming to a head in the country now.

    That poll is chilling in its detachment from actual empirical reality. The people polled in it are chilling in their certainty. That certainty makes them believe that the police are their Myrmidons holding back the power of their fellow citizens who happen to be black, and who wield so much power that any means of resisting that power is wholly justified. That certainty makes them believe that protesters on a campus in Missouri are some kind of threat against the dwindling promise of a real American middle class. That certainty makes them jump at shadows, predictably. That certainty eventually curdles into a rage that lashes out blindly at all the wrong targets. For too long, too many people have been willing to believe that which is not true. At some level, people rebel against the nonsense they’ve come to believe. They feel stupid. They feel like suckers. They look for easy targets. Rage is general, like Joyce’s snow, all over this country. It is not a good time.”

Picture found here.

Monday at the Movies

Sunday Ballet Blogging

May You Never Thirst


A funny thing happened to me today, and by “funny,” I mean:  trieste, reflective of the zeitgeist, real shadow work, Charles Williams-type archetypical eruptions, as-above-so-below stuff — you know, that kind of “funny.”

I’ve been working too hard.  I love my work and I’ve always been a woman who works a lot, but, lately, I’ve gotten older and the work’s gotten more intense and my close friends have gotten tired of hearing me complain that something’s got to give when I don’t do anything to make it give.  So today I took what, for me, felt like a big risk.  I arranged a conference call and said I couldn’t write a brief (that an entire group of co-counsel had assumed that I’d write) and I asked if someone else could write it.

And, of course, someone else could.  (And, at least as of this evening, I haven’t been fired or left destitute, without work.  We’ll see how this goes.)

And so I only worked for half a day today and came home to rest a bit, the first time in ages that I haven’t worked a full Saturday.

I’m in the middle (and I think that I may have mentioned this completely traumatic fact, oh, once or twice) of a kitchen renovation.  I came home from work and walked into my little cottage to find a strange man putting down floorboards in my kitchen.  He was obviously foreign, obviously from somewhere in the Middle East, pretty obviously, to my ears and eyes, from Syria.  He didn’t say and, in these times, I didn’t ask.

He immediately began to apologize for still being there, for the noise, for the dust, for his tools, for everything.  I assured him that I was glad to have him there working on the floor and I went outside to spend some time with my garden.

Later, I came inside and poured myself a glass of white wine from the fridge (plugged into a dining room outlet) and he asked if I had any water.  Of course, the fridge is disconnected from the water line that normally lets me fill guests’ glasses with cold filtered water and there’s now no sink in my kitchen.  I have some bottled water downstairs for emergencies, but I couldn’t get downstairs due to the torn-up floor.

And I found myself, to the poor man’s consternation, suddenly in tears.

I am not a woman who ever wants to think that anyone who asks me for water will go away thirsty.

Water is sacred to me.  Whenever I hand anyone a glass of water — G/Son when he wakes up in the morning, the guys who cut my grass on a hot day, a law student interviewing for a job in my office, — I silently give the Stranger in a Strange Land blessing.  May You Never Thirst.  (I always bring the same thing to house blessings:  a basket with a loaf of bread, a bottle of water or wine, a candle, and some salt.  And I always give this blessing:  May you never hunger.  May you never thirst.  May you always be warm.  May your life always have savor.)

I got my act together.  I’m a lawyer and in law, as in baseball, there is no crying.  I offered him wine, which he kindly declined.  And then I went into the guest room where the boxes are stacked up, unpacked a champagne flute (the first box to hand), went into the bathroom, and ran a glass of cold water.

Because I will be, as my grandma would have said, “gol-durned” if, in these times — with the Water Wars beginning in earnest, with people seriously suggesting that we treat immigrants and refuges with contempt, with some people suggesting that we can’t both take care of our own and that “our own” doesn’t mean everyone —  I will be, in these times,  gol-durned if anyone will ask me for water in my own home and not have some when I have it to give.

May it be so for you.

Picture found here.

What Pagans Can Teach the World About Kindness to Strangers




Here’s the thing:  It’s no coincidence (Jung:  there are no . . .) that how to deal with refugees is “suddenly” now such a big issue.

Between our over-populated planet and the now-begun-and-only-going-to-escalate-Water Wars, the entire issue of “refugees” is only going to be more and more important for the next, oh, 500 years or so.   Before it’s over, nous sommes toutes des refugees.  This is the lesson of the Age of Aquarius.

We Pagans have, I think, a lot to teach the world about how to deal with this issue.  For many Pagans, hospitality, especially to the stranger, is a bedrock value.  We’re the ones who remember the legends, and fairy tales, and myths about strangers who, treated badly or well, turned out to be deity, angels, The Gentry.

We’d better get our act together.

Picture found here.

What Were You Waiting For?

Honestly, I think you knew this when you signed up:  No one gets out of here alive.  So we all might as well not take it all so seriously; we all might as well have some fun; we all might as well be who we were meant to be.

Or, as Byron Ballard, beloved of the landspirits and the Goddess says:  “Light the signal fires.  Save the scrolls.  Build the temples  Time to ride.”

It’s all real.  It’s all metaphor.  There’s always more.

Harsh & Exciting



With my Moon in Taurus and my Sun in watery Pisces, my physical environment is important to me.  Having everything “just so” in my garden, home, office lets me deal with all of the madness that is my career, my place in a world in the throes of Tower Time, my over-committed personal life.

And so it is probably fitting, here as I wind up this Saturn Return, that my kitchen is gutted for a remodeling project, every other room in my house is full of kitchen stuff (oven in the living room, refrigerator in the dining room, boxes of wine glasses and dishes in the ritual room, dishwasher and wine captain on the porch . . . .) and the movers are packing up the art in my office for a move across the street, bubble-wrapping around me as I work on three pleadings at once and keep another one on ice.

All day, I kept remembering the words from Mary Oliver’s poem:  Wild Geese.

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Driving home from dinner with family and friends this evening, I had to pull over to the side of the road to watch a V-shaped wedge of geese head south in front of the waxing half-Moon.  Over and over announcing my place in the family of things.

May it be so for you.

Picture found here.