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Tonight, History

Words for Wednesday

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Fat Southern Men in Summer Suits

~ Liam Rector

Fat Southern men in their summer suits,
Usually with suspenders, love to sweat
Into and even through their coats,

Taking it as a matter of honor to do so,
Especially when the humidity gets as close
As it does each Southern summer.

Some think men could do better
By just going ahead and taking the damned
Coats off, but the summer code stays

Because summer is the time
For many men, no matter what their class,
To be Southern Gentlemen by keeping

Those coats on. So late in life here I am
Down here again, having run to fat
(As Southern men tend), visiting the farm

Where my grandfather deposited
So much of his own working sweat,
Where Granddaddy never bought into any

Of “that Southern Gentleman crap.”
Up north where I landed in the urban
Middle class I am seldom caught

Not wearing a coat of some kind. I love
The coats, and though I love them most
In the fall I still enact the summer code,

I suppose, because my father and I did buy
That code, even though I organized students
To strike down any dress code whatsoever

In the high school I attended (it was a matter
Of honor). And it still puts me in good humor
To abide with the many pockets, including

One for a flask. So whether it’s New York,
Vermont, or Virginia, the spectacle
Of the summer seersucker proceeds,

Suspenders and all, and I lean into the sweat
(Right down to where the weather really is)
Until it has entirely soaked through my jacket.

*********************************

Picture found here.

I’m With Her

Hillary Clinton Begins Presidential Campaign In Iowa

MONTICELLO, IA – APRIL 14: Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a roundtable discussion with students and educators at the Kirkwood Community College Jones County Regional Center on April 14, 2015 in Monticello, Iowa. Hillary Clinton kicked off her second bid for President of the United States two days after making the announcement on social media. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

I watched every single site cast its votes tonight at the Democratic convention.  I watched history being made.  The Democrats nominated a woman.  Here’s the poem by Nancy Scheibner that Hillary Clinton read at her graduation from college:

 

 

My entrance into the world of so-called “social problems”
Must be with quiet laughter, or not at all.
The hollow men of anger and bitterness
The bountiful ladies of righteous degradation
All must be left to a bygone age.
And the purpose of history is to provide a receptacle
For all those myths and oddments
Which oddly we have acquired
And from which we would become unburdened
To create a newer world
To translate the future into the past.
We have no need of false revolutions
In a world where categories tend to tyrannize our minds
And hang our wills up on narrow pegs.
It is well at every given moment to seek the limits in our lives.
And once those limits are understood
To understand that limitations no longer exist.
Earth could be fair. And you and I must be free
Not to save the world in a glorious crusade
Not to kill ourselves with a nameless gnawing pain
But to practice with all the skill of our being
The art of making possible.

I’m with her.

Picture found here.

Monday at the Movies

Sunday Ballet Blogging

Summer Saturday PotPourri

summersalad

  • Chas Clifton makes a good point about “interfaith.”  I’ll add my own rant and say that Paganism isn’t a “faith.”  The Abrahamic religions are faiths.  Paganism is a religion.  Using “faith” as a synonym for “religion” implies that only the three Abrahamic religions are “real” religions.

 

  • Theodora Goss is writing about the physical and emotional work that women do.  As I said a while back, it’s possible to just decide that’s no longer your job.

 

  • Sylvia’s post will make you feel better.

 

  • Women in gardens.  To be honest, when I’m out in my garden, I don’t look like that.  I’m pulling weeds and covered in dirt.  My face is sweaty and beet red.  I’m usually scratched a bit and have green smears on my elbows.  But I love it.

 

Don’t give in to the mass media’s drive to control where you put your focus. Focus is one of the great tools in a magic worker’s work-basket. Like corvids, we all love the shiny but let’s work a little harder not to let it rule us. It is shiny for a reason and that reason is rarely good.

Take time for your daily spiritual practice, whatever that may be. Sit at your home altar, walk through the woods, go to your church or temple. Pray, if you do that. Circle dance. Drum. Sing. Connect with the Divines and rest in the glorious agricultural cycle that Pagan religions are built on. Hel, that all religions are built on.

Sit upon the land where you live. Notice everything you can about it—drought or flood or perfect weather, what are the birds singing in the morning, how does the air smell at the end of the day. Be outside, even if the weather is uncomfortable. Pace yourself in heat and sun, splash in rain, touch leaves, walk in bare feet. Become a helpful part of your ecosystem as often as you can.

I second that.

Picture found here..

This Life Matters*

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One of the core messages of Paganism that means the most to me is that This Life Matters.  My Body Matters.  Sex Matters.  My Relationships — with my Landbase, my Watershed, my Bit of Earth, my Goddesses, my Fae, my Family and Friends, my Livelihood, my Magical Community, my Polis — Matter.

I grew up Catholic, in a religion and a culture that discounts this life, shames female bodies and the act of being a woman, demonizes sex, and devalues relationships with any entity other than the one, true, male God.  I grew up Catholic in a religion that tells you that this world doesn’t matter; what’s important is some literal pie-in-the-sky life after death. None of which ever felt “right” to me.  So finding Paganism was a revelation .  “All acts of love and pleasure are rituals of the Goddess” shook the ground beneath my feet.  What if it were THIS life that is holy???  How would that change the way I lived?  In Mr. Frost’ words, two roads diverged in the woods, and I, I took the one less traveled by.  And that has made all the difference.

Which is, perhaps, an odd way to begin to discuss this week’s Republican convention, but it’s what kept coming back to me all week long as I observed the four-day hate fest.  The calls to kill and/or jail Hillary Clinton (and those were the polite things they said) were like nothing ever heard at any convention before.  Of course, no convention has ever faced a woman opponent before.  If you think that it isn’t dangerous to be a powerful woman in America today, well, you just aren’t paying attention.  Patriarchy has always called for the destruction of female bodies.  Of course, Patriarchy doesn’t stop at hating women.  The LGBT community, African Americans, Muslims, Hispanic people, people who aren’t Christian, anyone who doesn’t embrace unrestrained corporate capitalism, etc. all came in for their own dose of hatred.

At some point, it all begins to feel like too much.  It’s all too horrible:  all of the hatred, the deliberate ignorance, the whipped-up violence, the refusal to deal in facts, the purposeful choice to embrace lies, the senseless racism, the virulent hatred of women, the ancient divide and conquer tactics, the recognizable fascism, the candidate feeling up his own daughter . . . .  “Why bother to stay engaged?” I asked myself.  I have more work than I can handle at a job I love; my garden needs weeding; I have a lovely family and brilliant friends.  There are more good books to read than I have time left to read them.  I’d really love to learn how to knit fisherman cables.

And what brings me back is Paganism’s core message:  This Life Matters.  The polar bears in the Arctic and the mycelium being disrupted by logging in the Amazon matter.  My son’s high school friend on FaceBook trying to explain to their other friend why he’s afraid to exist while being black matters.  The poems I love matter and today’s struggling poets matter even more.  This polis matters.  People having sex all over the globe on this Friday afternoon, people holding each other, people orgasming, people becoming drowsy in each other’s arms:  they matter.  The cook serving two perfectly-poached eggs on slices of fried green tomatoes:  she matters.  People trying to patch things  back together in Orlando matter.  My own aging female body:  it matters.  The scent of the Casa Blanca lilies that perfume my front steps:  it matters.  For this one Summer, it matters.  It matters in the morning when I go to work and it matters in the hot summer afternoon when I come home.

And so I believe that it’s worth engaging in the struggle and avoiding the siren call of unawareness.  I recommit to avoiding what Ivo Dominguez has called the enchantment of forgetfulness:  the notion that any of us are separate from each other.  I think this is what Rumi meant when he said:

“The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you
Don’t go back to sleep!
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep!
People are going back and forth
across the doorsill where the two worlds touch,
The door is round and open
Don’t go back to sleep!”

As Rumi suggested:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.

I’m headed out for that field and back into the struggle.  Back into the “mundane” and “boring” tasks of registering voters, doing pro bono projects, dealing with imperfect humans, trying to save a world that — at almost every turn — resists saving.  Back to doing magic to bend the arc of the moral universe just a bit more towards justice.

I shan’t be gone long. You come, too.  This Life Matters.

Picture found here.

* It’s likely a sign of my own white privileged that I wrote and posted this entire piece without thinking of the connection to the Black Lives Matter movement.  So, in case it wasn’t completely clear, let me simply state:  Black Lives Matter.  They matter to me.  They matter to Paganism.  They matter to America.  Black Lives Matter.

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