Author Archives: mrswhatsit9

Take Care of Yourselves, Y’all

picture of traditional English tea

Another day, another constitutional crisis, and it never seems to end.

It’s been a rough winter health-wise around here. First, I got the Mother of All Colds (phlegmy rattle in the lungs and hacking cough) right after Thanksgiving, and it took until almost New Year’s to fully dissipate. Fortunately, my spouse managed to avoid getting sick too, by cleverly having two week-long business trips basically back to back.

Then a niggling injury (likely sustained working on our old house this fall) wouldn’t go away, so he headed to the doctor – something I can convince him to do only rarely – and some levels came back a little off in his blood work (likely cause, according to his GP: too much stress, not enough exercise. Welcome to Trump’s America).

Then I came down with the Daughter of the Mother of All Colds about a week and a half ago, with the same phlegmy rattle in the lungs and hacking cough (which I’m still fighting off) and this time, spouse was around, so he got it too.

Now, admittedly, we’re not as young as we used to be, but it’s rare for one of us to get sick once in a year, much less both of us, and me twice (which is super, super rare – I’m generally strong and healthy as a horse).

Which got me thinking – as I seem to periodically these days – about self-care.

What are you doing to take care of yourself these days, my sisters and brothers in #TheResistance? Because it is so, so important. You can’t love, and give, and fight, and rage righteously on an empty tank.

Right now, my self care looks like:

  • A soup a week – we’ve been picking a different soup to make each week since the weather started getting cold in the fall. Nourishing, hearty, warming – and makes great lunches the next day!
  • Reading Kate Manne’s Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny. My sensitivity to recognizing sexism and my knowledge of feminist writing and culture are pretty damn high and have been so for decades, so lately, I’d been focusing more on issues of race and racism, both broadening my scope beyond black writers and hitting some black classics I’ve missed over the years. So I felt the need to remind myself that my activism and consciousness-raising doesn’t always have to be in service to someone else’s core issues – it’s OK to focus on my own core issues sometimes, too.
  • Hot toddies – 2 oz. scotch, 1 Tbsp. honey, 1 clove, large section of lemon peel, little squirt of lemon juice, fill with boiling water. Hot tea is soothing for my irritated throat, but this is even more soothing.
  • American Soul on BET. Wow. LOVE this show.
  • Amanda Seales’s and Michelle Wolf’s recent comedy specials for HBO. My sore lungs do not appreciate you ladies making me laugh so hard, but the rest of me does. Also, the return of Two Dope Queens.
  • Boxing classes (well, not in the past week and a half, but I think I’m well enough to get back to the gym for tomorrow’s class). Something I’ve always wanted to try/learn, and you cannot imagine how satisfying it is to beat the hell out of the heavy bag these days. I finally sprang for my own gloves (had to buy wraps for my first class), and I can’t wait to take them for a spin tomorrow.
  • Flannel sheets, a down comforter, and kitties who realize that the smart move is to cuddle up on the bed with the humans (who are warm) at night, even if they do wake up coughing alarmingly every few hours.

What’s feeding your body these days? Your mind? Your spirit?

Image found here.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

What’s The Difference?

before and after picture of a drag queen

I’m about to write something that’s probably going to get me in a lot of trouble, but there’s no difference between blackface and drag. (That noise you just heard wasn’t thunder – it was all my gay friends running from the room in a rush to disown me.)

And just so we’re all clear up front, that means I think both of them are wrong and are “art” forms that need to be retired.

Blackface has been much in the news this week. Virginia governor Ralph Northam was discovered to have a picture of two guys, one in blackface and one in a Klan robe, on one of the two pages dedicated to him in his medical school yearbook. His first statement was infelicitously worded – apology, good; implication that one of those two racist white dudes might be him, no so good. After doing some digging, he came to the conclusion that neither dude IS him, BUT he had appeared in a dance contest around the same time as Michael Jackson in blackface (which is probably why he wasn’t comfortable immediately saying, “Neither of those guys is me, and I’m not even sure why the yearbook editor chose to put that photo there.”) Immediately on the heels of that revelation, Virginia AG Mark Herring (who had already called for Northam to resign) revealed that he, too, had donned a blackface costume, as rap legend Kurtis Blow, around the same time.

And it got me thinking about the connection between blackface and drag, which is something that’s been bugging me for a while.

For some history, Mary Cheney (Dick’s daughter) raised this same question in 2015, although her point was, unlike mine, blackface ought to be just fine, too. No, Mary, it shouldn’t. RuPaul posted a response video that, to me, really comes down to, “I like to do it and think it’s fun and fine, end of story.” That’s not an answer.

In today’s Washington Post, fashion writer Robin Givhan nods at this issue, but quickly dismisses it as even a possibility:

“Blackface, though, is more than drag. It’s a lot more than a thoughtless costume selection or fashion gone wrong. It’s painful, shared history, of course. But it’s also the horrible present. And it’s likely part of a crummy future. Blackface is denial and ignorance. It’s narcissism, willfulness and disdain.”

I’ve been to drag shows, although not for many years, and admired the beautiful costumes, elaborate makeup, and skilled singing and dancing. Then again, a hundred years ago, people would have said the same about minstrel shows.

I eagerly watched every episode of Pose. Elektra is gorgeous, driven, and charismatic. On the other hand (up until the very end of season one, when she redeems herself), she’s also an utterly selfish, demanding gold-digger.

Seems pretty disdainful to me.

I’ve watched RuPaul’s drag race, and laughed along with the antics of the contestants – bitchy cat fights, emotional outbursts, “mean girl” bullying, all leading up to the catharsis of “you go girl!” rallying around the winner.

Painful, shared history? Check.

“Well, they’re just getting to express the more ‘feminine’ parts of their inner selves that societal gender roles prevent them from expressing outside drag.”

Hm. Then why are the “feminine” parts of themselves that they’re expressing nearly all negative stereotypes of women? Bitchy. Catty. Shallow. Appearance-obsessed. Empty-headed. Consumed by trivia. Gold-digger. Easily distracted by shiny things, like birds or small children.

Quoting Givhan again: “It reduces identity to a pot of grease paint, to a joke.” Only she’s talking about blackface.

The thing is, I don’t care about the makeup – wear all the makeup and sequins you want (or not), male or female, any time and any where you want.

But drag shows and drag queens, at root, dredge up the worst stereotypes of what it means to be a woman.

Here are some positive stereotypes that drag could promote, if this wasn’t about mocking women and promoting the most demeaning takes on what it means to be a woman: Communal. Nurturing. Accommodating. Willing to compromise.

(Now I will say, Pose did some good work there, with the drag houses – or at least Blanca’s House of Evangelista – truly fulfilling the role of families for their members, who were mostly outcast from their families of origin.)

There’s a reason becoming aware of injustice and starting to fight it is called “woke” (much as that term has become an over-used cliche). It’s a process of waking up to inequities that everyone has assumed are just fine, but that, on further examination and after talking to the people negatively impacted, those who are getting “woke” realize are NOT just fine and are, in fact, harmful, no matter how innocuous or fun it seems to them, whether that’s donning blackface to dress as your favorite rapper for Halloween or promoting an exaggerated caricature of “femininity” for fame and fortune.

I don’t know why, in 2019, it’s still considered cute and funny and fun and harmless to mock and stereotype women, but there you have it.

Image found here.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

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Editor’s Note:  Let’s keep this discussion respectful and focused on the issues.  As always, I reserve the right to delete comments that fall outside these guidelines and to block commenters who find them too difficult to follow.  Thanks!  Hecate Demeter

Blessed Imbolc!

brigid's cross metal plaque

Although it seems hard to fathom, with most of the lower 48 here in the US in the continuing grip of the climate-change fueled polar vortex, it’s the first holiday/holy day of spring!

Imbolc is one of the four cross-quarter days, that is, the holidays/holy days that fall in between the equinoxes and solstices. It is dedicated to Brigid, Irish Goddess of healing, poetry, and smithcraft. She is one of the many triune Goddesses, incorporating maiden, mother, and crone.

Her holiday/holy day is an excellent time for planting seeds and spring cleaning.

Now, you (like me) might not be able to plant physical seeds in the frozen ground outside today (although you might want to be starting your seedlings, if your last frost is coming in the next six to eight weeks, and even if it’s not, you can be collecting your seeds and preparing your seed trays and potting mix in anticipation), but that doesn’t mean it’s not a day for making plans.

Be like Kamala Harris, planning her presidential campaign around Medicare for all.

Be like Elizabeth Warren, planning her presidential campaign around economic progressivism.

Be like Cory Booker, planning his presidential campaign around criminal justice reform.

Be like Kirsten Gillibrand, planning her presidential campaign around her proud feminist stances on everything from family leave to Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement to ending sexual assault in the US military.

(Why can’t I just vote for all four of them? Sigh. Too many good choices…)

Be like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, staging a full-frontal assault on grotesque extremes of wealth via a proposed 70% tax on income over $10 million. (And no, “but billionaires use a lot of that money for philanthropy!” is not an acceptable excuse. The short answer is: why should they get to choose who to help and who not to help? For a longer answer, check out Edgar Villanueva’s Decolonizing Wealth.)

Be like Nancy Pelosi, planning carefully how to regain power for the Democrats and then planning exactly what to with it once gotten (see H.R. 1, H.R. 51, and her bad assery on the Trump Shutdown and his unending “but I want my WALL!” temper tantrum).

(And boy is Mitch McConnell, to use the popular expression, telling on himself by accusing the Democrats of trying to steal elections with H.R. 1. No, Mitch, that’s what you and your cronies have been doing since Reconstruction ended. We see what you’re up to, and we are NOT amused.)

Be like me (!!), just returned from my annual business planning retreat. Just because I’m self-employed, don’t think I don’t take assessing progress, making plans, and setting goals seriously.

What plans will you set this Imbolc night, as you light the fires? What seeds will you sow for the coming year?

Image found here.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

 

We Love Women IN Power

Nancy Pelosi raising the Speaker's gavel

We just revile them for seeking it.

I can’t be the only one who’s noticed how dramatically the narrative about Nancy Pelosi has changed in the past month. While she was doing the caucus-building necessary to regain the speaker’s gavel, all we heard was:

“She’s too old! It’s time for new blood!”

“The Republicans hate her.”

“She’s too liberal. We’ll never regain the white working class voters who left us when we passed civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s with someone from San Francisco leadind the House Dems!” (Spoiler alert: It’s been 55 years. They ain’t coming back.)

“She’s not liberal enough!”

“She’s a drag on the party!” (Who led the efforts to get a 40-seat #BlueTsunami in a House whose districts have been so rigged by partisan gerrymandering that the Dems haven’t even had a realistic shot at regaining power in eight long years, but whatever, don’t let facts get the way of your sexist narrative.)

Now?

She REALLY IS playing nine-dimensional chest against a group of idiots who have yet to master the strategy behind tic-tac-toe.

The first bill introduced in the House, immediately after the 116th Congress went into session, was a massive package of voting reforms, trying to replace by law what the Supreme Court destroyed by fiat in Shelby County v. Holder.

The second bill introduced in the House, H.R. 51, is intended to rectify the largest, longest standing, most egregious voter disenfranchisement in the US. More than 700,000 of our fellow citizens have no voice in the laws that govern them merely because they live in Washington, DC, and this has been the case nearly since the city was founded in 1800. Know why? Racism. (For more on the background of this, check out Derek Musgrove’s excellent Chocolate City: A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation’s Capital).

TrumPutin set the trap for himself on his asinine government shutdown (credit where credit is due), but she sprung it, masterfully. And she continues to play him like a goddamn fiddle, all without mussing her Hermes scarf.

You still gonna tell me that the Dems should have handed that gavel to one of the interchangeable milquetoast white boys who wanted it? Or someone who’s in her first term in Congress and, while she’s smart and telegenic and highly skilled at using social media is still, bless her heart, getting basic facts about how the government works wrong? (Don’t get me wrong – I’m sure she’ll pick it up, see above RE: smart – but maybe she shouldn’t be in charge just yet.)

Yeah, we LOVE women IN power, we just don’t love them WANTING it or WORKING to get it.

Look at the entire history of Hillary Clinton in politics. When she’s campaigning (whether for senator, a cabinet position, or president) she’s a shrill, neo-liberal, corporate-owned, ethically-compromised bitch. When she actually wins office and gets to work? One of America’s most admired women, approval ratings above 60%, colleagues love her, efficient and effective.

We’re going to have to get over this in a hurry, folks, and by “we” I mostly mean the men (and some of the women) in the media. And liberal men in general.

The Democrats already have an excellent slate of women candidates running for president in 2020 who are both qualified (unlike Sarah Palin and Carly Fiorina) and have a real shot at winning (unlike Shirley Chisholm, trail blazer and icon, may she rest in power). So far Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren have thrown their hats into the ring, and Kamala Harris is going to announce any second now, and she may not be the last. (No, I’m not forgetting Tulsi Gabbard, but hard pass on that dictator-loving psycho. I’d like a CHANGE from Trump in 2020, please.) Hillary may have been robbed of the presidency by TrumPutin and his minions working hand-in-glove with the Russians to laser target their campaign to steal the office for him, but her historic and unprecedented campaign fundamentally altered the realm of possibility for women in politics.

And we’re already getting the BS.

“People are asking if she’s likeable enough.” (Of course, men in the media are thinking: “Notice, I’M not asking, because I now know that that’s a sexist question, and I’m woke-wokeity-woke enough not to ask it directly myself. But I’m totally cool with incessantly reporting that OTHER PEOPLE are asking it. Those ‘other people’ might be Fox News, the Proud Boys, and QAnon, but hey, they’re people, right?”) (Debatable.)

“Elizabeth Warren is shrill. And too old.” (Somehow, shouty, ancient Bernie Sanders and older than dirt – and multi-time POTUS candidate failure – Joe Biden aren’t, of course.)

“Kirsten Gillibrand was mean to poor, poor Al Franken.” (Look, I still think what went down with Al was more than a little fishy, but here’s the thing – no one is indispensable, and we can’t be caught living in a glass house in this issue, which Kirsten CLEARLY understands.)

“Kamala Harris was a PROSECUTOR. Who put people IN JAIL.” (Sigh.)

Guess what? There’s significant research that women are actually better at governing than men. They sponsor more bills, they pass more laws overall and more laws that benefit women directly (which benefit families, which benefits all of us), they compromise better (tip: compromise is not a dirty word. Without it, government completely grinds to a halt, as we’ve seen ever since Newt Gingrich wrecked Congress), and they bring more money home to their own districts.

We have, obviously, no data on how this works for a woman president, but there’s no reason to think the skills women build and exercise climbing the ladder of elected office will sudden vanish when they win the top seat.

So people – and by “people” you know who I mean – pull your collective heads out of your asses, stop shitting your pants over women who seek power, and get on the bus, because these ladies are about to run your asses over if you don’t.

Image found here.

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That Damn Fine Line

Clothes in a closet

No one can walk it.

Last night, I attended a professional function, a holiday party sensibly scheduled AFTER the holidays.

Seeing as I work for myself, I no longer go to an office with other people every day. I have an office in my house, and I’m fortunate that it is a REAL office, a separate room with a desk and a filing cabinet and a printer and bookcases with all my books and a comfy chair to read them in. But it’s at the opposite end of the hall from my bedroom, and while I aspire never to work in my pjs (and mostly live up to that goal), I wear jeans and sweaters, or yoga pants and sweatshirts, or shorts and t-shirts. No makeup, hair mostly in a ponytail or bun. Maybe shoes (maybe not).

I am out of the habit of dressing professionally.

Additionally, several years ago, a woman colleague I respect and admire (or at least did as of then) shamed me, for my body and how I dress it.

(Now comes the time where I have to point out that I have NEVER EVER confused “dressing for a professional situation or function” – even a party – with “dressing for the club.” NOT ONCE.)

Since then, I’ve found dressing for professional situations to be incredibly fraught.

I was recently chatting with a friend, a woman who is tall and lean. I am not. I am a busty hourglass. My friend talked about how much fun she’s been having dressing more fun and sexy lately – she’s over 50 and has tenure. And great legs. I remarked, “I try to dress so as not to be noticed.”

And that’s true. I have a uniform for public speaking, which is a significant minority part of my business. Always and only flats, black or grey. I have one pair of black and and one pair of grey pants, same exact brand and style. They sit a few inches below my waist. They are loose enough around the butt/hips that I can jam my both hands, balled into fists, into the front pockets (gotta have pockets, so you have somewhere to put the battery pack for your wireless lav mic). The legs are loose, too.

I have two shirts, different colors, same exact brand and style. They both have a VERY high v-neck, which serves two purposes. One, lav mics are designed work best when they’re clipped to ties (and don’t think women don’t get the subtle “this isn’t designed for people like you – people like you aren’t supposed to be up on the podium, you’re supposed to be listening raptly in the audience” message – we get it), and two, a high v-neck is the least troublesome neckline for women who are built like me. When I tuck them in and blouse them out a little, that, combined with the pants sitting a little low, camouflages where my waist goes in.

(Oh, and whoever decreed that button-front shirts are a “wardrobe essential” is on crack.)

I have a few jackets, black and grey. There I did mix up the brands and styles a little, but the jackets are NEVER EVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES buttoned. Can’t show any indications of that hourglass. It’s unprofessional.

Pearl stud earrings. Aggressively neutral makeup. Hair in a bun.

So dressing for a function where I can’t get away with wearing my “don’t notice me” uniform is enough to give me hives.

(Last night, I had started in a knee-length pencil skirt with a loose, high-necked, long-sleeved black top, black tights, and flat black knee-high boots. But I decided the pencil skirt was asking for trouble, or at least judgement, and switched to a slightly shorter – but still nearly knee-length – A-line. Mission to hide my body: successful.)

Why did I just drag you through this excessively detailed recitation of my wardrobe neuroses?

Because Democratic women are starting to declare for president and are taking office as new members of the 116th Congress. And we collectively learned nothing from 2016.

Nancy Pelosi’s goddamn pink dress got more press than the extraordinary fact that she’s STILL the only woman to EVER be Speaker of the House, that she led her party back to the majority after eight years out of power, and that she also regained the Speaker’s gavel, which is highly unusual.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got criticized for wearing a nice suit (and, apparently, for understanding the concept of outlet shopping).

People don’t like Frederica Wilson’s sparkly cowboy hats.

Bil O’Reilly got away with insulting Maxine Waters’s hair.

Kyrsten Sinema was criticized for looking TOO good at her swearing-in.

I could continue, and you can probably think of a bunch of examples yourself. Two words: “boxy pantsuits.”

Could we just not?

I mean, I had conniptions over dressing for an event that I knew was only going have about 150 attendees based on some catty comments made by a colleague several years ago. (And, come to think of it, why in the hell am I still letting her live rent-free in my head after all these years?)

I cannot even imagine what these women go through trying to seek and exercise power, focus on policy, and accomplish the important work of our democracy, all while under a microscope, constantly having to worry about being criticized for having a hair out of place, shamed for wearing a skirt that’s an inch too long (dowdy!) or too short (slut!), mocked for not hitting the “no makeup makeup” look perfectly 100% of the time.

Could we just not? No one can walk that line. NO ONE.

Photo by Adrienne Leonard on Unsplash

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

Who Needs Government Anyway?

mailcarriers

With the current Trump government shutdown mere hours away from entering its second third week, I find myself thinking of the last time the Republicans capriciously decided to shut the government down for an extended period: October 1-17, 2013 (the Affordable Care Act battle). During that time, I happened to be gathering with my right-wing family, where my father and brother proceeded to crack “jokes” about who would even notice and federal workers are all a bunch of lazy bums who don’t do any work anyway, and take cushy civil service jobs where they can’t be fired, har-de-har-har.

I pushed back. I named friends of mine they know who are civil servants and asked: “Would you say that to X, who’s a whiz of a budget analyst for the Department of Transportation? What about to Y, who’s a highly skilled programmer in the Executive Office of the President?” I also pointed out that there are plenty of slackers in the private sector, and I know that because I’d heard both of them complain about specific people they worked with who met that profile (and yes, I named names).

They both abashedly admitted that I was right – my friends X and Y are smart, terrific, talented people who gladly took much lower salaries than they could’ve earned in the private sector to serve our country, and the private sector isn’t immune from bad workers.

But their attitude is, sadly, common. Just last weekend, I saw a woman I hadn’t seen in almost a year. She’s a government contractor who spent 15 minutes ranting about the shutdown and government waste and her ridiculous libertarian beliefs before I could successfully change the topic (and I was NOT subtle when I did it: “So, how ’bout them Saints?” despite the fact that we are NOWHERE NEAR New Orleans, and I don’t even think she’s a football fan).

Where does this insane idea that civil servants are greedily pulling a fast one on all us respectable tax payers come from?

I think it’s rooted in racism and misogyny, and more than a little envy.

Let’s start with the envy. Many – although certainly not all – civil service jobs are unionized. That means workers can’t be fired for no reason (unlike all of us “at will” workers), and they speak with a collective voice to demand reasonable benefits. Civil servants almost universally make less in salary than they would in the private sector (sometimes a LOT less), but they have high-quality, comprehensive health care and pensions, two quality of life programs that are in short supply these days.

Meanwhile, in the private sector, union membership has declined by 9 points – almost 50% (from 20.1% to 11.1%) in the past 35 years. By straight counts, union membership is down by nearly 3 million people over a period where the workforce grew from 88 million to nearly 134 million workers. (Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics) Private sector workers envy civil servants their strong unions, and the perks that come with union membership.

But the bigger issue, I think, is that civil service has, at least since the passage of civil rights legislation in the early 1960s and the EEOC suits women started bringing in the late 1960s, been a path to the middle class for groups traditionally excluded from middle-class jobs. Namely, African-Americans and women of all colors.

Quoting an NPR report from 2012:

Rivaled only by the manufacturing industry, postal and other government jobs built the modern black middle class.

Blacks are 30 percent more likely than nonblacks to work in the public sector, according to the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education. And roughly 21 percent of black workers are public employees, compared with 16.3 percent of nonblacks.

After the civil rights gains of the 1960s opened opportunities in government, blacks began a steady move into local, state and federal government, particularly in civil servant and teaching positions. And since the collapse of U.S. manufacturing, the public sector has been the biggest employer for African-Americans.

Beyond the jobs themselves, their relatively competitive pay scales have lifted generations of blacks into the middle class.

What Republicans call an attack on “big government,” many blacks see as an attack on their livelihoods, given their heavy reliance on the public sector for employment.

They’re not wrong. GOP attacks on “big government” are yet another example of dog whistle, coded racism. And Republican attempts to destroy public sector unions, or at least cripple their power, are fundamentally racist attacks.

The NPR piece doesn’t address sexism, but the EEOC rules that are actively enforced in the civil service (unlike in the private sector, where they’ve often been ignored until someone brings a suit, which, as we all know, is no guarantee of success) protect women and allow us to rise to high levels in government as well.

I don’t know when this shutdown will end – it’s pretty much all in Mitch McConnell’s hands now, Goddess save us all – but I DO know that civil servants are people who work hard to serve American citizens every day, and maybe they’re owed a little respect, which is pretty much the bare minimum we can do, since we aren’t paying them while still expecting many of them to work for us.

Image found here, accompanying an article about one of the hazards mail carriers face. In addition to snow, rain, heat, and gloom of night, more than 6,000 a year are attacked by dogs.

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Wishing You a Lucky New Year

champagne glasses toasting with streamers and confetti

The approach of the new year has me thinking about how we celebrate and what it means.

Some people love getting all dolled up in formal wear – gowns and tuxedos, fancy heels, the “good” jewelry – and going to a big, glitzy party. Some break out their hottest little outfit – the one that looks sexy, makes them feel great, and lets them move and sweat freely – because they are going to the club with one goal: TO GET THEIR DANCE ON. Some gather with close friends at a house party that might feature a fire pit and mulled wine – or an epic D&D campaign. Some prefer to be with their religious community, or with family, or alone with a mug of tea and good book.

But as the clock strikes midnight, no matter what the tenor of the celebration, what do we all do? Hug and kiss! Even the people who prefer to celebrate often send virtual hugs and kisses via text, email, or Snapchat to their loved ones.

Why?

It’s sympathetic magic. The seeds of the end are contained in the beginning, and who doesn’t want love and companionship throughout the year?

Think about how many of our New Year’s traditions are specifically about luck and about bringing in what we want and getting rid of what we don’t.

Many cultures prescribe certain foods that must be eaten on New Year’s Day to ensure good luck throughout the year, whether that be the black-eyed peas of the US South, pomegranates in Greece, grapes in Spain, fish and noodles in many Asian cultures, or even the pork and sauerkraut of my own forebears.

Many of us choose our New Year’s Day plans intentionally, to set a tone for the year – brunch with friends, a hike, a family (of origin or choice) dinner (where, of course, you dine on those lucky foods), having sex, planting seeds or perusing seed catalogs, cleaning out a closet or the junk drawer, starting a new book or creative project.

That, too, is sympathetic magic, about making a fresh start.

Which is why we also set resolutions at this time of year. New beginnings.

(Yes, I’m aware that, for witches, the new year started two months ago. For many cultures – Jewish, Muslim, Chinese – the new year is a lunar holiday, so it moves around. But the Gregorian calendar is still a critical marking of time, and progress, and change.)

How do you celebrate the civil new year? What are your traditions around luck and sympathetic magic? What resolutions will you make? What end do you want to seed now?

This is a liminal point on the Wheel, and, while it is far from the only one, how will you use it to spur the changes you seek in yourself and in the world?

Image found here.

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