Author Archives: Hecate Demeter

Words for Wednesday

arundel-tomb

An Arundel Tomb

Philip Larkin

Side by side, their faces blurred,
The earl and countess lie in stone,
Their proper habits vaguely shown
As jointed armour, stiffened pleat,
And that faint hint of the absurd—
The little dogs under their feet.
Such plainness of the pre-baroque 
Hardly involves the eye, until
It meets his left-hand gauntlet, still
Clasped empty in the other; and
One sees, with a sharp tender shock,
His hand withdrawn, holding her hand.
They would not think to lie so long.
Such faithfulness in effigy
Was just a detail friends would see:
A sculptor’s sweet commissioned grace
Thrown off in helping to prolong
The Latin names around the base.
They would not guess how early in
Their supine stationary voyage
The air would change to soundless damage,
Turn the old tenantry away;
How soon succeeding eyes begin
To look, not read. Rigidly they
Persisted, linked, through lengths and breadths
Of time. Snow fell, undated. Light
Each summer thronged the glass. A bright
Litter of birdcalls strewed the same
Bone-riddled ground. And up the paths
The endless altered people came,
Washing at their identity.
Now, helpless in the hollow of
An unarmorial age, a trough
Of smoke in slow suspended skeins
Above their scrap of history,
Only an attitude remains:
Time has transfigured them into
Untruth. The stone fidelity
They hardly meant has come to be
Their final blazon, and to prove
Our almost-instinct almost true:
What will survive of us is love.
Picture found here.
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Lay Off the White Women

Bear with me on this.

I’m getting just that tired of hearing about how fucked up white women are because they keep voting for . . . Donald Trump, Roy Moore, [insert name of mysoginist asshole here].

First, of course, I want to say to my white* sisters, “Sisters!  Do better!  WTF!  Stop this shit!  Evolve!  In the words of Elizabeth Taylor, ‘Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together.’  Quit voting for men who hate you. Y’all been fucking everything up.”

And I mean it.  Some of you bitches embarrass me every damn day.

But hardly a day goes by that I don’t read someone bemoaning how white women vote, or that I don’t have to explain to yet another male colleague why white women vote for Donald Trump, Roy Moore, [insert name of mysygonist asshole here].

It’s just a complete mystery, isn’t it????  Um, hey, anybody see those white men’s votes over there, those African American men’s, those Hispanic men’s?  No, nobody noticed those?  Compared them to Romney’s?  OK, sure, let’s just talk about white women.  They’re the problem.  I’m just saying that, if you’re worried about white women maybe we could talk about . . . OK, sure, yeah, let’s ignore men’s votes and beat up on the white women, because, sure, OK.  Got it.

But, of course, the explanations for white women aren’t that difficult to find.  As I’ve explained , people raised in a culture of prejudice almost inevitably absorb that prejudice, even when they are the object of the prejudice.  Hence, the studies relied upon in Brown v. Board of Education, that showed that African American children who grew up in segregated communities (where segregation is a by-product of prejudice) chose the white dolls as the “nice” ones, the “good” ones, the “pretty” ones, the ones that they wanted to play with.   See, e.g., the studies that show (see, e.g. Joan Williams in What Works for Women at Work,) that both women and men tend to judge women more harshly in professional situations.

There’s also the simple fact of human nature, explicated all too clearly by Lyndon Johnson when he said that, “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket.  Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”  He wasn’t just describing male behavior (it’s just that women, even white women, were too unimportant for him to bother mentioning), so, no, it’s not actually surprising that a majority of white women (the majority shrinks as we move up the education ladder; consider why that might be in a world where college-educated white women are farther from the bottom rung of the ladder than are, say, white women with only a high school degree), finding themselves completely downtrodden by white men, are eager to have some group, any group — let’s say African Americans, or Muslims, or Hispanics, or homosexuals, or whatever — lower than they are.  Similarly, see, e.g., African American attitudes towards homosexuality.

There’s a special kind of sexism in holding white women in this situation (who are even LOWER than Johnson’s prototypical white man) to a higher standard than we hold the “lowest white man.”  The implication is that men get to do whatever will make themselves feel better, but women are always required to give away, in favor of someone else, whatever tiny bit of privileged they have.  Women must always sacrifice, even when men will not.

And it’s that notion that I find offensive in the constant criticism of white women — but not white men — when they vote for some sexist.  Sure, he, like ALL THE OTHER MEN IN THEIR LIVES, looks down on them.  They haven’t got much reason to consider any other kind of man and this is especially true given how sexist so many “liberal” men have turned out to be.  (Thanks, all y’all.)  But since Donald Trump, or Roy Moore, or  [insert name of mysoginist asshole here] is saying the same thing as the (male) pastor at church (who constantly reminds those white women to be subservient to their husbands so that SOME DAY they can be happy in heaven) and since he’s at least offering them the chance to be on some rung of the ladder besides the lowest, and since if they don’t vote for him their husbands are going to be mad at them, it’s not really all that surprising that these women vote for for Donald Trump, Roy Moore, [insert name of mysygonist asshole here].

Again, I want to be clear.  We white women need to do better — a lot better.  We have a ton of (often unrecognized) privilege and we need to use it in much better and in more strategic ways.  We need to stop voting against our own self interests and against the interests of other colonized people.  I want to also recognize my own class privilege.  It’s a lot easier for me — a multi-degreed, well-paid, straight, able-bodied lawyer, sitting in a garden and home that I own, surrounded by privileged family and friends — to vote for an egalitarian society than it would be if I didn’t have that quiver of privilege arrows slung across my back.

But I think it might behoove all of us to turn our criticisms from white women (who vote, by small margins for the assholes) to white men (who vote, but much larger margins, for the assholes).

Why y’all always find it so easy to shit on the women?  Hmmm?

 

*Whiteness is, of course, a construct rather than a physical reality, but that’s beyond the borders of this particular post.  The people criticizing white women assume that whiteness is a real thing.

Monday at the Movies

Sometimes, it’s good to remember how valid it can be to play the long game.

The Magical Battle for America 12.10.17

cowboy-with-lasso-clipart-free-images

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.  Maybe wrap up in a blanket or cloak or grasp a stone or talisman that matters to you.  Grow your roots, send them deep into the soil, let them intertwine and grow small hairs to attach to the mycelia in your own landbase.

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 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.  What’s become familiar to you?  A tuft of prairie grass?  Buffalo off in the distance?  The scent of sand carried on the wind?  You’ve been involved in a months-long magical working here, joined with magic workers from across the globe.  Feel your connection to this place on the astral plane.  It is always here for you, always a source of strength.

As you look across the prairie, the Cowboy banner grows larger and larger until it takes up the entire sky.  It becomes three-dimensional and you can stand up and walk into the banner, to a campfire where a lonely cowboy plays a harmonica and stares into the distance.  Cowboys often had to get used to being alone, well, alone with their animals.  The cowboy looks across his campfire and sees you.  He gives you an appraising look and then invites you to sit down.  He offers you coffee in a tin cup and you cup your hands around it, warming them.  He asks if you’d like to see him use his lasso and you are impressed at how easily he can use it to catch an errant calf that has strayed off from the herd.  You ask if he’s ever used it to catch a cattle thief and he assures you that he has.  He offers to teach you how to use a lasso and you learn the skill easily and thoroughly here on the astral plane.  You thank him for the lesson and return to your hillock.

As you sit there, you think of someone who must be stopped and brought to justice.  It might be Roy Moore.  It might be Donald Trump.  It might be Mike Pence.  It might be Steve Bannon.  Your intuition and spirit guides will tell you who.  Stand up and whirl your astral lasso around and around until just the right moment.  Throw it and see it bind the person who has been doing evil and harming America.  See them caught tightly in its loops and unable to escape the sheriff coming for them.  When you know that they are safely bound, you may want to give a whoop!

“Nice work,” you hear the cowboy call as his banner shrinks back to its regular size in the SouthWest.

Thank you for doing this brave magical work.  Remember that the power of the Cowboy is always available to help you every time that you need to do magic for America.

Take a minute to catch your breath.  As you sit and rest, 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.  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 mint tea or cranberry juice.  If you like, have something to eat, maybe some gingerbread or an apple.

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.  You may want to place something on your altar to help you to remember the cowboy.  You may want to journal about your experience.  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.

Picture found here.

Saturday Ballet Blogging

We had our first snow of the season this morning here, in the Magical MidAtlantic.  It was also the first snow for my young cats, Merlin and Ninume, and, while Merlin took it in stride (Nice, now are there any treats?), Nimue was enchanted and spent most of the day perched in the living room window watching the snow come down.

It seems to me that it’s impossible to watch snow and not think of ballet or to watch a lot of ballet and to not think of snow.  So here’s a lovely video of ballet in the snow.

Enjoy.  Art matters.

It’s a Long Way to Richmond

20171206_142007-3

When you’re fighting evil, everything matters.

How you greet the liminal time between night and dawn when you wake up to make coffee, slip on your bathrobe, and start the oatmeal:  that matters.

How you scrape the catfood into the cats’ dishes while the coffee grinds:  that matters.

How you wrap a scarf around your neck even though what you’ve been taught is to ignore the needs of your body:  that matters.

How you say hello and stop to chat with the guy selling chestnuts, or the lady sweeping up the lobby, or the kid playing the guitar outside the subway:  that matters.

You can do it like a priestess, or you can go home.  You can do it as if the beautiful divine touches each of us, or you can go home.  You can do it wrapped in the awareness that it’s all real, or you can go home.

When you’re fighting evil, everything matters.

The antique store becomes a temple.

The James River becomes the flooded flats of Somerset, the water around the Tor, and its own place once tinctured with blood, the river of brother against brother.

The oyster bar becomes the stage for the great rite.

The golden ginkgo leaves, inches thick on the ground, scattered loose on the sarcophagus, and dangling from the tree become a symbol of the Wheel of the Year because wherever you go, there you  are.

You can do it like a priestess, or you can go home.  You can do it as if the beautiful divine touches each of us, or you can go home.  You can do it wrapped in the awareness that it’s all real, or you can go home.

When you’re fighting evil, everything matters.

How you write the postcard to an Alabama voter:  that matters.

How you help an old woman or a young student get an ID:  that matters.

How you protest at a town hall:  that matters.

How you stand up to sexism at work:  that matters.

You can do it like a priestess, or you can go home.  You can do it as if the beautiful divine touches each of us, or you can go home.  You can do it wrapped in the awareness that it’s all real, or you can go home.

Photo by Greenman.

Words for Wednesday

shadow-lake-lodge

All True Vows

~ David Whyte

All the true vows
are secret vows
the ones we speak out loud
are the ones we break.

There is only one life
you can call your own
and a thousand others
you can call by any name you want.

Hold to the truth you make
every day with your own body,
don’t turn your face away.

Hold to your own truth
at the center of the image
you were born with.

Those who do not understand
their destiny will never understand
the friends they have made
nor the work they have chosen

nor the one life that waits
beyond all the others.

By the lake in the wood
in the shadows
you can
whisper that truth
to the quiet reflection
you see in the water.

Whatever you hear from
the water, remember,

it wants you to carry
the sound of its truth on your lips.

Remember,
in this place
no one can hear you

and out of the silence
you can make a promise
it will kill you to break,

that way you’ll find
what is real and what is not.

I know what I am saying.
Time almost forsook me
and I looked again.

Seeing my reflection
I broke a promise
and spoke
for the first time
after all these years

in my own voice,

before it was too late
to turn my face again.

 

Picture found here.