All of a Piece

Not believing the Earth rotates around the Sun.

Not believing that the Earth is round.

Not believing in evolution.

Not believing in climate change.

Not believing in COVID, using masks, or vaccines.

Not believing Trump lost the election.

It’s all of a piece. And it’s also all of a piece with freaking out over teaching about race relations in America.

Picture found here.

Speaking of Glass Ceilings

This week, voters in the state of Virginia chose their Democratic candidates for this fall’s state elections: Delegates, state Senators, State Attorney General, Lt. Governor, and Governor.

At the top of the ticket? They chose Terry McAuliffe.

On the one hand, he was a popular governor from 2014-2018. Had he run for re-election then he almost certainly would’ve won, if the Virginia state constitution didn’t forbid consecutive gubernatorial terms.

He did good stuff as a governor, restoring voting rights to more than 200,000 mostly non-white Virginians, although he was faced with a Republican-controlled legislative branch, so his main accomplishment was having to replace his veto pen every six months stopping unending culture war foolishness.

And he raises money like a mofo, and that’s going to be important, with a very wealthy Trumpist Republican challenger who has an almost unlimited ability to self-fund his campaign.

But.

There were two qualified Black women running. Jennifer McClellan is HIGHLY qualified. Jennifer Carroll Foy is HIGHLY charismatic. It’s unfortunate that those traits were spread over two candidates, but either would have been a good choice for Virginians.

Either also would’ve been the first woman of any color to be governor of Virginia (if elected), and either would’ve been the first Black woman to be governor of any state (if elected). (Virginia elected its first Black governor, L. Douglas Wilder, in 1990.)

Yes, 2016 still has Dems shook. Yes, beating TrumPutin was the key goal for 2020, and lots of folks are mostly, at this point, concerned about who can beat his disciples at all levels (of which the Republican candidate in Virginia definitely is one).

So apparently, we’re all retreating to the “safety” of white dudes.

Just over two weeks ago, I had my first restaurant meal since before the pandemic, brunch with two friends who are VERY active in Virginia politics. Both voted for McAuliffe, because, as one of them put it, “I didn’t want to throw away my vote.”

IT’S A PRIMARY. THERE IS NO SUCH THING.

On election night 2016, we learned that the US is more sexist than it is racist – and, let’s be honest, we’re pretty damn racist as a country.

Four and a half years later, that remains true.

Photo by Umberto on Unsplash

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Thoughts on Thursday

The Wheel of the Year is turning and turning and Litha, the Summer Solstice, is only a few days away. People who grow crops are already beginning to reap a harvest from the seeds they sowed in early spring. Here in the Virginia highlands, we’re getting radishes and lettuce, some early spring onions, spinach and strawberries. Friends further south, in Richmond, are getting ready to pick tomatoes. One way I’ve always liked to stay in touch with the Wheel of the Year is to visit farmers’ markets and buy seasonal produce. (Luckily, many cities have farmers’ markets a few days a week — you don’t have to live out in the country to enjoy.) What’s growing in your garden? How do you make the Wheel of the Year a part of your life? How do you plan to celebrate the Summer Solstice?

For the past few weeks, I’ve been catching up on medical check-ups that I didn’t get during COVID lock-down. Mammogram: check. Dentist: check. Ophthalmologist: check. General practitioner: check. Today, the vet is coming to give the cats a check-up and that will, hopefully, be that, for a while, at least. It’s gotten me thinking about the whole “self-care” issue. During COVID lockdown we were all urged to make time to care for ourselves. And, of course that can take different forms for different people at different times.

I remember reading somewhere that what we’re sold as self-care is often some ritual (preferably for which we have to buy a product) that lets us step out of the day-to-day business of getting things done. You know, something like a bath with scented oil and a candle. Those kinds of things can be wonderful and I’m a big believer that ALL acts of love and pleasure are rituals of the Goddess. But self-care is also doing the difficult things we don’t really want to do. I HATE going to the ophthalmologist. Hate it. Hate those drops that dilate your eyes, hate having bright lights in my eye, hate the whole process. But researching local doctors, making an appointment, going, coming back and spending the afternoon with a headache — that’s self care, too, just as much as giving myself time to sit on the porch with a cup of herbal tea in my favorite mug. Organizing your finances and personal records isn’t anybody’s idea of fun (well, hardly anybody’s) but it’s another important form of self-care. And once you do it, even if it does make you face some worrisome facts, it’s incredibly empowering. Asking for a raise even though it makes you nervous and raises all your “imposter syndrome” emotions; telling your mother-in-law that she can see her grandkids once she’s vaccinated (and not before) and sticking to that while she raises one conspiracy theory after another; finally getting someone in to fix the old wiring that makes you crazy — all of those are self-care as much as going for a pedicure. One thing I do is to try to use the bath, mug of tea, pedicure forms of self-care to reward myself for doing the ophthalmologist, research Medicare plans, clean out the garage types of self-care. How are you caring for yourself these days? If your best friend looked at your life, what challenging form of self-care would they say you should do this month?

We’ve been having a dryish Spring here, but parts of the Western US are having terrible droughts. I’ve been saying two things for years: (1) Too Many People; Not Enough Planet, and (2) Water Wars: Coming Soon to a Planet Near You. When you work with the Element of Water, please remember how important it is.

Picture by the blogger. If you copy, please link back.

(Belated) Words for Wednesday

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why (Sonnet XLIII)

Edna St. Vincent Millay – 1892-1950

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again 
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before: 
I cannot say what loves have come and gone, 
I only know that summer sang in me 
A little while, that in me sings no more.

Picture found here.

(Midsummer) Monday at the Movies

That Is Not a Reason

When I was in grad school, we had to jump through all sorts of asinine hoops. Whenever some brave grad student dared to ask The Powers That Be why, the answer was inevitably: “I had to put up with [X pointless thing], and so should you.”

That is not a reason.

This past week, my spouse got called for jury duty. It was a civil case, the first one at our local courts since the Before Times. Without going into an inappropriate amount of detail, a young woman was working for a small consulting firm. She was sexually harassed by a prospective client at an after-hours event for prospective clients at a restaurant. When she told her boss, the owner of the company, his response was, basically, “Suck it up – that’s the job.” She promptly quit.

The place was otherwise, by all reports (including hers), a great place to work. And they loved her – they’d hired her directly out of college and, over the course of three years, more than doubled her salary through a series of raises she hadn’t even had to lobby for.

It probably didn’t meet the legal definition of a hostile work environment, since the harassment wasn’t perpetrated by the boss or one of her co-workers, but Spouse felt strongly that she was owed compensation and was worried there wasn’t going to be a legal way to get it for her. Well, turns out, although I can’t really go into the details, there was, that had to do with her employment classification and the fact that the small firm she worked for was definitely not following good practices as far as HR processes and documentation.

The amount of money the jury awarded her was not life-changing, but it was enough to compensate her for the fact that it took her a year to find another comparable job.

So what’s my point?

In every generation, young women take a look at some sexist situation or behavior or norm that previous generations have just put up with and say, “Not today, patriarchy.”

And too many of those older sisters don’t back them. “Quit your whining. I had to put up with [X sexist thing], and so should you.”

That ain’t it, my sisters.

And I do get it. When I think of all the shit I’ve put up with in my career, I get it. I sucked it up because no one had my back. Or because I felt like no one would have my back. Or because I needed the paycheck. Or because I didn’t want the reputation of being difficult. Etc.

At one point, many years ago, something went down that was bad enough that I called an employment lawyer. She listened to my story, told me I probably had a case, but then pointed out that winning was far from assured, even if I won it wouldn’t be life changing money, and then I’d be “that bitch who sues people” in a smallish, highly-networked industry. She recommended I think about all that for 24 hours and then call her back if I wanted to move forward. I never called her back.

But see, if we can do better for ourselves and each other, it doesn’t have to be that way. It wasn’t for that young woman in court this week, and it doesn’t have to be that way for all the young women who will come after her.

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Mini Meadows

If you’re a fan of BBC‘s Monty Don, you know that meadow gardening is all the rage right now in the UK. Setting aside even a part of your garden for native wildflowers and grasses has become quite the horticultural trend. It’s good for the pollinators and wildlife. It requires almost no watering and nearly no mowing. And it’s gorgeous. I’ve always loved meadows. There’s just something about their wild abandon and the way they play with the wind that makes them endlessly fascinating to me.

My local museum has a large parking lot and there are squares between the various rows. These used to be planted in lawn grass and mown regularly. Yesterday, I was delighted to see that they’ve turned these spots into mini meadows which work together to create a sum greater than its parts. Here are a few pictures I took, but they don’t do it justice.

(BTW: taking over a local strip between parking lots or a similar plot and turning it into a mini meadow would be a great project to do with your kids or as a Litha celebration for a coven.)

Pictures by the blogger; if you copy, please link back.

Words for Wednesday

Days

BY PHILIP LARKIN

What are days for?
Days are where we live.   
They come, they wake us   
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:   
Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor   
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

Picture by the blogger. If you copy, please link back.

Monday at the Movies

Richard Louv says that we can’t expect the next generation to fight for the environment when they don’t know it. He’s speaking specifically about how many children these days don’t really get unstructured time outside.

The Springwatch, Autumnwatch, and Winterwatch series from the BBC is a wonderful way to help children to learn about the natural world and, well, I like it too.

Landward is similar, although it focuses exclusively on Scotland.

I wish we had something similar for the US.

Daily Practice

You no doubt read often that it’s important to have a “daily practice.” As Pagans, we assume responsibility for our own spiritual development and a daily practice is a large part of that.

But what is it? That, like most things in Paganism, depends. And, it can (and should) change.

Often a daily practice involves grounding and centering and some form of meditation and/or visualization. It can include chanting, praying, drumming, dancing, yoga. Some people include a method of divination: pulling a tarot card or rune to give them guidance for the day. Many Pagans light some incense or a candle to help them to focus or to slip into the right frame of mind.

“Practice” implies that you repeat essentially the same set of steps every day and teachers often say that even if, at first or on some days, not much seems to be happening, you should just return tomorrow for more practice. I agree, but I also think that practice can grow stale. If your daily practice isn’t doing anything for you, it may be time for you to switch things up. I’ll sometimes listen to a guided meditation when this happens to me. Then, I’ll see if going back to my regular routine works. If not, it’s time for a “walk and talk” with Hecate and then to try something new.

What’s your daily practice?

Picture found here.