Author Archives: Hecate Demeter

Words for Wednesday

Picture found here.

For the Chipmunk in My Yard

BY ROBERT GIBBI

think he knows I’m alive, having come down 
The three steps of the back porch 
And given me a good once over. All afternoon 
He’s been moving back and forth,
Gathering odd bits of walnut shells and twigs, 
While all about him the great fields tumble 
To the blades of the thresher. He’s lucky 
To be where he is, wild with all that happens. 
He’s lucky he’s not one of the shadows 
Living in the blond heart of the wheat.
This autumn when trees bolt, dark with the fires 
Of starlight, he’ll curl among their roots, 
Wanting nothing but the slow burn of matter 
On which he fastens like a small, brown flame.

Monday at the Movies

They never really understand the Witches.

Almost Samhein Potpourri

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We’re just a few days away from elections in Virginia and I’m working flat-out to try and keep Virginia blue. Meanwhile, the trees on the Blue Ridge mountains have started turning in earnest and Samhein is even closer than the election.

SCOTUS is going to take down Roe. The only question is whether they’ll outlaw abortion all together or (my guess) leave it up to the states. After the fascists get abortion, they are coming for your birth control, your gay marriage, your health care, etc. So, as I’ve said over and over, if you don’t plan to have any children or any more children, get sterilized. Now. If you’re planning to have children some day or to have more children, then buy condoms and Plan B and store them somewhere hidden and according to the storage directions. If you’ve been planning to marry your LGBTQ partner, do it now because there’s a chance they will leave existing marriages intact and only outlaw new ones. Get all the health care you can get now (trip to dentist, new glasses, that nagging problem with your back, etc.) Once they’re beating on your door, it will all be too late.

Meanwhile, there’s lots of good writing going on.

Jason Miller explores an important Samhein question: What If Your Ancestors Were Horrid? One of his points is that:

Acknowledging And Honoring Are Different

You can’t erase your ancestors, but that doesn’t mean you have to embrace them. You should acknowledge who they were but acknowledging and honoring are different. You can call your ancestors to the circle, you can even make an offering to them, without in any way honoring them as good, noble, or worthy of emulating. The first step in rejecting something is knowing what it is you are rejecting.

Some ancestors . . . show up at offerings and I ask them for advice and connection. Others I say “take this offering and shut the fuck up. I don’t want to hear from you”.  Remember, offerings are not only for spirits you like. Paying off spirits that cause harm or that you don’t want around is a time-honored tradition.

Do you agree? The essay is worth a read.

Find out more about Appalachian Folk Magic.

It’s soup season. What are you cooking?

Are we really still debating this? OF COURSE they are!

Worth Your Time

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Mrs. Whatsit will be back next week. Meanwhile, Atrios posted this excellent discussion of how the press creates the impression that liberalism is dangerous and/or not supported by most Americans. It begins by focusing on the story we all know that just ain’t so: the McDonald’s hot coffee case and “frivolous law suits.” It’s not very long and is well worth a read.

The author notes, for example, that many such stories : “display the superficial features of investigative journalism, a deep dive reveals the same motivated reasoning, nonexistent evidence and indefensible editorial standards that misinformed the public about frivolous lawsuits.” These features include: (1) really low stakes, (2) irrelevant examples, (3) misleading statistics, and (4) false equivalence.

In conclusion:

Moral panics entrench misinformation and foment reactionary backlash. The parents storming town halls and taking over school boards to ban critical race theory have been explicit that their efforts are in response to the alleged “wokeness” of K-12 teaching. This is precisely, word for word, the narrative that the Economist and Atlantic articles, and dozens like them, have promoted. 

The “frivolous lawsuits” panic should be seen as a foundational embarrassment for the national media. Rather than educating the citizens of a functioning democracy — the role we journalists love to tell ourselves we’re playing — prestigious publications were de-educating them by presenting evidence of a national trend that didn’t exist.

They are doing the same thing now, playing with the same fire that has pulled the United States rightward and backward over and over again for the last 40 years.

The media has tremendous power to shape public opinion. Reporters and editors should not just be aware of their ability to spread moral panics. They should be terrified of it. “

Starting Now

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Do you vote in primaries? You should. I’ve been reminded this week just how many people simply don’t.

I’ve been phonebanking and, due to the weird way Virginia registers voters, the list of “likely Dem” voters comes from people who vote in Democratic primaries. (I assume it’s the same for the Republicans, but I don’t, you know, ever phone bank for them.) The phone banking program gives you a name, phone number, sex, and age of the person. To say the list skews not just “not young” but to “genuinely old” is no understatement.

Look, democracy can be a hassle and I don’t expect everyone to take politics as seriously as I do. But you have to vote.

Every time.

Words for Wednesday

An old favorite. . . .

(Belated) Monday at the Movies

Definitely will watch. Kind of a poor man’s Thomas Crowne Affair.

And I Have Friends

Picture found here.

I.D. by Barbara Starrett

I am a secret agent
Of the moon

Ex-centric
Extra-ordinary
Extra-sensory
Extra-terrestrial

Celestial subversive
Con-spiratorial
Spirita Sancta

Holy
Holy
Holy

And then some
And I have friends.

**********

Sometimes, I just need to remind myself.

Words for Wednesday

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Tomorrow, No, Tomorrower

BY BRADLEY TRUMPFHELLER

From up here in the leaves’ no-kidding goldishness
you’d guess everyone was already in lovely w/ each
others’ cheekbones. Infinity scarves
& vanilla coffee, mint tea, warm whatever.
Cozy becoming the coming-at-the-seams, a couplet
of verbs mid-bodily inexperience.
That man doing cartwheels is not wearing a shirt
& in any other life I’d want to be the double dare
fanfaring a future so totally astonished
by his nipples. This is what I mean

when I say things like catastrophe.
Okay, fine. Just one more winter.
Nothing can compare anymore to us anymore.
You big good oak limb. I’m in such cute like w/ you today.

In one diary of my have-beens, my mother
named me Elizabeth after one of her
mothers. You god particle. You matrilineage.
I’ve never lived anywhere more
or less this haunted. She named my sister
Elizabeth. You boy
genius. You midsummer pinky promise ring.

There’s this person I know I’m not in love w/ but wears
a dress patterned like a postcard from the state my grandma
died in. Imagine waking up
a whole frame away from your bedsheets. Imagine
waking up & being anything as yellow
as a dress. You treeline. You root song. What’s an amount
of time equal
to you? You kindling ring finger. You unchewable bark
but the headache’s gone. Pardon me, dandelions,
have you seen my ghost, six foot nothing,

has an interstate for a mother but also a mother? Adjust
your spurs, honeybunch. This time I’m writing all of us
in pink ink. Let’s huckle-buckle off into the leafiest
of all possible genderings. You know how the rain
starts right after you get home & the country song
your friend slow-danced w/ her big love to, the one
your mom would play real quiet on her moonbeam
highway streak back to Pensacola, is somehow

already at the chorus & you forget there are words like joy?
Or when someone whispers Imagine you never met them
back at the bum, grinning stars? You remember.
It’s like that.
Or, is that. The difference between salt & salt. A someday
of matching sweaters.
Told you it’s cute. O sweaters. O little knit
bundles of vegetable-spit. It’s always sunsetting.

You golden hour. You soap-soft seasonal.
Once my mom found me
sitting in a circle of candles, touching each rosebud
& sat w/ me until we were wax musuems
of our secrets. Look—
the sky’s a toenail & the moon’s a chesthair. All the shirtless
boys have tired themself out, spread-eagled
& slapping the sun off their shoulder blades. My body is a line
heading for my body. You crushed-grass
sex smell. You dirt-inverted comma. Someone w/ bleached
hair is biking home to restud their denim.
I rediscovered kissing foreheads & it is so yes again.

Hurry up & sunspot, daylilies!
The cops aren’t going to awe themselves
to death & we have
a dictionary to laugh across.

The light’s seltzer, bubbles.
I said My lord. I thought
My god. O moonstruck. O gladracket. Barring
gravity, our knees could be forevering each other.

Barring leather, love is a world I’m praying
all my mothers’ joy back toward.

Elizabeth was my name. I’m writing this on all the trees like a wish.
I’m kissing every hem in sight.

We’re all hysterical & going nowhere together.

C’mon rapture. Let’s go bedazzling.

Nothing gets futured without its own spitshine
& I’m already not not not not not not miraculous.

You Feel That Way for a Reason

Picture found here.

Brene Brown referenced this article from the Harvard Business Review on her Facebook page. The short synopsis is that we blame women for “suffering” from “imposter syndrome” and make that one more thing that’s wrong with women and that women need to fix when, in reality, workplaces are set up in ways that almost ensure women won’t feel that they belong. It’s one of those things, like mansplaining, that, once someone points it out, you go, “Oh! Or course!”

As the article explains:

In truth, we don’t belong because we were never supposed to belong. Our presence in most of these spaces is a result of decades of grassroots activism and begrudgingly developed legislation. Academic institutions and corporations are still mired in the cultural inertia of the good ol’ boys’ clubs and white supremacy. Biased practices across institutions routinely stymie the ability of individuals from underrepresented groups to truly thrive.

The answer to overcoming imposter syndrome is not to fix individuals but to create an environment that fosters a variety of leadership styles and in which diverse racial, ethnic, and gender identities are seen as just as professional as the current model, which Opie describes as usually “Eurocentric, masculine, and heteronormative.”

And:

We often falsely equate confidence — most often, the type demonstrated by white male leaders — with competence and leadership. Employees who can’t (or won’t) conform to male-biased social styles are told they have imposter syndrome. According to organizational psychologist Tomas Chamorro Premuzic:

The truth of the matter is that pretty much anywhere in the world men tend to think that they are much smarter than women. Yet arrogance and overconfidence are inversely related to leadership talent — the ability to build and maintain high-performing teams, and to inspire followers to set aside their selfish agendas in order to work for the common interest of the group.

The same systems that reward confidence in male leaders, even if they’re incompetent, punish white women for lacking confidence,* women of color for showing too much of it, and all women for demonstrating it in a way that’s deemed unacceptable. These biases are insidious and complex and stem from narrow definitions of acceptable behavior drawn from white male models of leadership. Research from Kecia M. Thomas finds that too often women of color enter their companies as “pets” but are treated as threats once they gain influence in their roles. Women of color are by no means a monolith, but we are often linked by our common experiences of navigating stereotypes that hold us back from reaching our full potential.

*Think Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

The article isn’t long but there is a reason why, as Ms. Brown notes, it’s among Harvard Business Review’s 100 most-read articles of all time. The message of “imposter syndrome” is that you’re misperceiving reality. But women are usually very good at reading social cues. And in lots of places, they are getting cues that tell them they don’t belong, they’re somehow not good enough, they’re “less than.” That’s not imposter syndrome; that’s women correctly reading the room. It’s the cues that are wrong, not women’s perception of them.