I Read the News Today, Oh Boy

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I don’t know about you, but some days the news is almost more than I can bear.  And it’s OK to disengage for a while.  Turn off the social media and get outside, talk to a tree, walk, or swim, or garden.

Tough times are also when it really matters to do your daily practice and to practice gratitude for everything:   from your morning cup of coffee, to your child’s smile, to the smooth sheets on your bed.

Read some poetry, or a junk novel, or old love letters.  Listen to some music.

We are going to get through this.

What helps you cope?

Picture found here.

Monday at the Movies

 

I loved the books  and didn’t think the Australian tv series  could do them justice but I was wrong.  I loved Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.

And I didn’t think the sequel, set in the 1960s, could do the original series justice but I was wrong.  I love Miss Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries.  The sets and costumes alone make it worth watching, but it’s also a paean to strong women and their friendships.

There’s a scene in the first episode when young Peregrine Fisher sees the women of the Adventuresses Club of the Antipodes hugging each other and the look of longing on her face is as wonderful as the way the women are giving strength to each other.

Have you seen it?  What did you think?

 

The Magical Battle for America 6.5.19

bal-pennsylvania-eaglets-fight-over-food-in-nest-20150326

Now’s probably a good time to remind everyone to check/refresh the wards on your home or wherever you do this work.  (No, really.  You really need to do this.)  Be sure that you’re rested, grounded, and in a comfortable position.  Maybe wrap up in a blanket or cloak and grasp an herb, 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.  Does your landbase have anything to tell you today?  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 flat prairie, you see near your hillock that a stand of trees has begun to grow up near a spring.  The spring creates a small wetland, hidden by the tall, green prairie grass.  Toads, frogs, snakes, and insects thrive in this wetland.  Small mammals come to it to drink and to feed.  Trees grow near the wetland, prairie trees such as oak, maple, dogwood, and cottonwood.  As you watch, the trees grow tall and strong.  One tree, in particular, reaches up into the clear prairie sky.

As you look into the distance, you see several small, dark spots moving towards the tree.  They grow larger as they approach and now you can see a pair of bald eagles flying towards the trees.  Which tree do they pick for their nest?  Is it the tallest one or one protected by the other trees, close beside the wetland?

Watch them for as long as you like as they settle upon the tree, leave to hunt or to soar on the winds, and then return to the tree.  Can you tell them apart?  What do you learn about their personalities?  Do they notice you?

Eagles build large, strong nests high up in the branches of vigorous trees.  They weave thick twigs together into a firm base for their youngsters.  Up among the airs, in nests called aeries, they settle amongst the winds and raise their young high up amid the sound of trees rustling, train whistles, and river music.

As you return to the wetlands you created upon the astral plain, see a strong tree and see a large nest, snuggled into the branches of the tree.  There are sturdy twigs woven into a secure aerie, here, high above the ground.  All the dangers of the winds are offset by the security that comes from being wiling to brave strong breezes.

Do all that you can to create a strong nest for America’s bald eagles here on the astral plane.  We will be returning here over and over as the elections draw nigh.

Perhaps you feel called to offer a gift to the eagles.  Will you work to preserve a bit of wetland where they hunt or a forest where they nest?  Do you have a song or dance to offer to them?  What chant would you chant to bring them into this astral prairie?  Can you learn more about them and where they live in your area?  Promise the eagles that you will return in coming weeks.

Slowly, come down from your hillock and begin to walk back to your own landbase.

Open your eyes.  Rub your arms and face.  Notice the detail that you selected to call yourself back.  Drink something, maybe dandelion tea with molasses or strong coffee with cream.  Have something to eat, maybe vegetable soup or grits with butter and pepper.  Maybe you can set up a small altar dedicated to Eagle.  (If so, please post a picture!!)  You may want to repeat this working several times this week.  You may want to journal about it.  Are you inspired to make any art? If you’re willing, please share in comments what happened and how this working went.

Picture found here.

 

Bittersweet Potpourri

Framing matters.  A brief reminder as we continue to resist Trump and his Nazis.  It matters how you say things.  Thus, John Kelly is now on the board of a major operator of concentration camps for children.  Not child prisons.  Not detention centers.  Concentration camps. It’s the global climate crisis.  Not global warming.  Not climate change.  Global climate crisis.  Democrats will need to bring our courts up to the demands of the 21st Century.  Not pack the court.  What are some other framing tactics you use?

In a similar vein, I am on a new mission to call out everyone who says something good about a female candidate, past or present, but begins by saying, “Whatever you think about her . . .,” or “In spite of some flaws, . . .” or “Notwithstanding . . . ”  No.  Not every compliment paid to a woman has to start by tearing her down.  Do better.

Are you a lover of books?  Look at these gorgeous books.

Chas has some info on what fairies want.

I had lunch this week with Freeway Blogger.  He’s been exercising his First Amendment rights to put up signs alongside California freeways for years and years.  He’s now out here in DC putting up “Impeach” signs.  Here’s how he does what he does.

Terri is writing about place names.  Being in relationship with your place is, in my opinion, a major part of being a Witch.  It is a big part of the answer to the question , “What are Witches for?”  Understanding how your place got its name can help you to know it better and to understand it.  Here’s a bit of what Terri says:

[Y]ou realize that Gaelic speakers of this landscape inhabit a terrain which is, in Proust’s phrase, ‘magnificently surcharged with names.’ For centuries these place-names have spilled their poetry into everyday Hebridean life. They have anthologized local history, anecdote and myth, binding story to place. They have been functional — operating as territory markers and ownership designators — and they have also served as navigational aids. Until well into the 20th century, most inhabitants of the Western Isles did not use conventional paper maps, but relied instead on memory maps, learnt on the island and carried in the skull.

***

The history and significance of place-names in land-based societies is something that those of us writing mythic fiction would do well to bear in mind — whether we’re working with myth or folktales born from a specific landscape, or creating an imaginary one.

“Invented names are a quite good index of writers’ interest in their instrument, language, and ability to place it,” says Ursula Le Guin. “To make up a name of a person or place is to open the way to the world of the language the name belongs to. It’s a gate to Elsewhere. How do they talk in Elsewhere? How do we find out how they talk?”

Perhaps by knowing the land they walk. Which begins with knowing our own.

What do you call your land?  How did it get its name?  How many other names has it had?

Theodora Goss has some important observations  about measurements,, life, and the difference between European and American food.

Emma Kathryn has a lovely meditation on trees.

It’s early days yet in the Democratic primary.  I’m mainly focused on Virginia’s upcoming (June 11th) primary.  And now that my house is sold, I’ve been able to do a bit more volunteer work:  registering voters at metro, writing postcards, putting together yard signs, baking for canvassing events.  But I will donate money to any Democratic candidates who promises NOT to concede the next presidential election until we are certain that every single vote has been counted correctly.  We made a big mistake letting the Republicans get away with stealing Florida for Bush in 2000 and Ohio for Bush in 2004.  What they (and Putin) learned was that Democrats will fold.  And the result was the hacked, stolen election of 2016.  Never again.  I really don’t care what kind of crisis it precipitates.  No more noble sacrifices for the sake of peace.  We can’t keep conceding stolen elections.  Want my money and my vote?  Promise not to concede.

Women’s Work and Being “Neighborly”

stereotypical 1950s white American family in their yard

I recently had lunch with a conservative friend of mine. (Yes, I do still have some conservative friends. I’ve dumped the libertarians, though. Those people are just self-centered assholes.)

He and I got talking about the “decline of community.”

You know about this phenomenon. “Nobody knows their neighbors anymore.” Bowling Alone. Suburban isolation. Car culture. Fragmented society. Overwork. Too many hours commuting. Blah blah blah.

I pointed out that at least one major reason why it happened is that women took back their unpaid emotional labor.

My friend either didn’t understand, or pretended not to (or didn’t want to). He came back with “but all these guys in my neighborhood seem to be avoiding their families by spending excessive time on lawn care.”

I didn’t let him get away with it, and came back with a fairly stern, “That’s not what I’m talking about.”

“Everyone” wasn’t more “neighborly” in some hazy, largely imaginary, more communal past. WOMEN were, whether we wanted to be or not.

My dad was not the one who built the connections with the neighbors (and neither were those dads in my friend’s neighborhood) – it was the moms. They baked the cookies to welcome the new family that just moved in and threw the baby showers and made the casseroles when the baby arrived or the mom got sick (because OF COURSE the dad can’t be expected to know how to cook or be willing to do it after a hard day at his desk job) and watched the kids before and/or after school for the moms who worked outside the house and organized the block parties and cookouts. They did this even when they didn’t like to, didn’t want to, even in cases where the moms themselves worked part or full time outside the house. Community building, “neighborliness,” was yet another instance of unpaid emotional labor required of women.

And in our rapacious capitalist society, women are less willing – and less able – to do unpaid emotional labor in 2019 than they were in 1959.

Two things:

  1. Men, do you miss community, knowing your neighbors, those weak/casual connections where you’re not best friends, but you know each others’ names and kids’ names and ages, and feel comfortable sharing a beer on the front stoop? You’re perfectly capable of doing the emotional work to create those connections. It’s not something that’s magically attached to a double-X.
  2. We need more time banks.

What are time banks? Glad you asked!

Time banks are places where you store time-based currency.

So what is time-based currency? According to Wikipedia, it is:

an alternative currency or exchange system where the unit of account is the person-hour or some other time unit. Some time-based currencies value everyone’s contributions equally: one hour equals one service credit. In these systems, one person volunteers to work for an hour for another person; thus, they are credited with one hour, which they can redeem for an hour of service from another volunteer.

In other words ALL types of labor are valued EQUALLY. And, as a recent Washington Post article points out, time banks inherently build community.

Founded by a University of the District of Columbia law professor in 1995, TimeBanks USA allows local communities to set up their own time banks for an extremely small fee, which then, per founder Edgar Cahn, allows people to “value what it means to be a human” – and make visible the value of the unpaid care-taking work that’s traditionally been required of women.

Sounds like a good start to building community to me.

Image found here.

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How the Earth Thinks

Blessed Beltane