Tag Archives: Politics

Holding a Dying Planet in My Arms


Wildfires Scorch Three States: It’s Like Nothing I’ve Seen Before

Colorado Wildfires: 3,2000 Flee Their Homes.

Colorado Wildfires Signal One of State’s Worst Seasons Ever.

Torrential Rains Cause Flooding, Damage in Florida Panhandle.

Biblical Flooding in Progress Near Tallahassee, Florida.

Florida Flooding Causes Millions in Damage.

Fire Rules: Energy, spirit, heat, flame, blood, sap, life, will, healing and destroying, purification, bonfires, hearthfires, candle flames, sun, deserts, volcanoes, eruptions, explosions.

~ Starhawk in The Spiral Dance: Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess (20th Anniversary Ed.)

Water Rules: Emotions, feelings, love, courage, daring, sorrow, the ocean, the tides, lakes, pools, streams, and rivers, springs and wells, intuition, the unconscious mind, the womb, generation, fertility.

Id.

I came home last night to see a glorious waxing Half-Moon hanging in the Western sky. The Half-Moon represents a time of balance between the promise of the New Moon and the Fulfillment of the Full Moon. I sat in my garden, full just now of flowers — daisies and white day lilies, Queen Anne’s lace and silvery sage — that are especially lovely in the moonlight, and meditated upon balance.

When Witches cast a circle, we strive for balance among the Elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.

And, yet, it certainly seems that Mama Gaia is out of balance.

Too much fire in some places, too much water in others. Record-breaking heat waves covering much of the country, even though it’s only June. My own watershed is technically in drought, but, when we do get rain, it comes in a deluge and brings with it winds that rip the roofs off of buildings. Editors are running out of adjectives; floods are now “biblical,” and fires are “unlike anything ever seen.” And, beyond the irreparable loss of huge forests, liminal wetlands, precious plants, and endangered wildlife, there’s a huge amount of property damage and even loss of human life. A dear Sister who does mental health work in disaster-struck communities has been educating me about how the emotional damage caused by these “natural” disasters lingers for years after the actual event.

As a Witch I grieve and I try to hold Mama Gaia in my heart and rock her as she burns with fever and sweats and cries and rages with too much rain. As a magic-worker, I send healing energy to the affected landbases and watersheds and hope for renewal. I call to Brigid, Hestia, Pele, and Stata Mater to protect Colorado. I call to Chalchiuhtlicue, Vellamo, and the Nix to protect Florida. I burn incense and I make other offerings.

As a citizen of Planet Earth, I am outraged. For years, every single suggestion for controlling our out-of-control population, for decreasing, via conservation, the amount of carbon-based fuel that we use, and for substituting less-polluting forms of energy for coal and oil has been fought tooth-and-nail as “too expensive.” Every day I read a round-up of energy-related news and every day I see corporations and Republicans (but, then, I repeat myself) and, sadly, even Democrats, insisting that moving to renewable energy will “kill jobs,” (it wouldn’t; it would create them) or would make it “too expensive to do business in our state,” as if the expense of re-building after a flood or wildfire were negligible.

And, so, my magic does not stop at meditating on balance, grieving with Mama Gaia in her death throes, or sending healing energy to the mountains and the swamps.

My magic includes my vote. My magic includes protests, and letters to my representatives, and speaking up for the environment whenever I can. My magic includes my decision to have only one child. My magic includes my rain barrel, and my hybrid car, and my decision to not run the air conditioner. My magic includes my efforts to buy food and other products from local merchants.

Yes, I do understand, as Derrick Jensen so eloquently says, that we can not consume our way out of this problem. But I can recognize the first rule of healing which is: Do No Harm. It’s significantly close to the Wiccan Rede: “An’ it harm none, Do what ye will.”

Tonight, I will sit at my stone altar and breathe, and center, and ground. Tonight, I will send all the energy that I can send to Mama Gaia. Tonight, I will conserve all of the energy that I can conserve. Tonight, I will write a letter to my representatives, on paper that I have blessed, with ink that I have spelled, under the waxing Moon which adds increased energy. Tonight, I will move what magic my old, broken body can move in order to help re-balance the circle.

I shan’t be gone long. You come, too.

Picture found here.

This

/hat tip: Digby.

Inner Work and Outer Work. As Above, So Below.

Did you do anything on Earth Day? Did you plant a tree yesterday, on Arbor Day? Do these holidays mean anything to you or do they pass unnoticed as we whirl towards Beltane? Both days call for outward acts — cleaning up a creek bed, protesting mountaintop removal, planting trees — while Beltane can, for a solitary Witch, happen all alone at an altar or ritual fire.

I adore Beltane and I can hardly draw a breath these days that doesn’t seem imbued with the coming of that great festival of bonfires. Can you feel it? Can you feel the Wheel turning under your feet, bringing you closer and closer?

I’ve been pondering a lot lately about the connection, within Paganism, between inner and out work. So often (too often, IMHO) one reads that if one changes oneself (through inner work such as meditation, magical practice, journaling, etc.) one will change the world. And that’s not untrue (there, how do you like that double negative!?!) But it serves, too often IMHO, as an out, as a way of engaging in endless naval gazing and avoiding the real work that needs to be done out in the World, the work that will, when done correctly, spur continued inner growth. I’d like to see it said, as frequently, that by changing the world, one changes oneself.

I’ve been reading Dion Fortune‘s The Magical Battle of Britain, in which she describes the magical work done to protect Britain during World War II. In her letter for the week of (interestingly) April 21st, 1940, she writes that, in spite of the war, the headquarters of her work:

is a centere of peace. . . . This is as it should be; firstly, because if it were otherwise, we could not be a centre of radiation, and secondly, because it proves that we are doing our work efficiently — physician heal thyself! If we were unable to maintain an atmosphere of serenity in our own head-quarters, how could we hope to be a nucleus of stability for the group-soul of the nation?

Just a few weeks later, on June 16th, 1940, she writes:

From our Inner Plane contacts we draw strength and inspiration; in our work on the physical plane we give expression to what we have received. It is not enough to make contact and receive inspiration. The inspiration will soon dry up unless it flows through us, ever renewing itself in flowing. For those who have the deeper knowledge, participation in the national war effort is a sacramental act whereby the power that has been drawn down is put in circuit. Break the circuit, and the power ceases to flow.

I think Fortune gets it exactly right in this respect. Do you agree?

Picture found here.

Seed Swaps with G/Son


My beloved G/Son is growing up so fast.

I know that’s what old women always say, but we say it because it’s true. From our perspective: the wind-sanded, rain-washed, sun-warmed sitting rock here, just before the edge of the cliff, (you know, the cliff that you jump off, or that you get pushed off, or that you dive, or dance, or dither off of to get to the Summerlands, the Isle of Apples, that place where Arthur and Galadriel went, into the West — that cliff) we can see how fast the Dance to the Music of Time (as I learned to call it when I was a young girl in college, taking all the Lit courses I could take) always proceeds, even when it appears, for a moment or two, to slow down. But the fast-action nature of Mama Gaia’s spin through the ever-more-quickly expanding universe has its good points, as well as its overall hint of saudade. And one good point is that I’ve learned to really treasure each moment that I get to spend with G/Son. I’ve learned not to take any of them for granted.

This weekend, I had hoped to take G/Son down to Occupy DC, so that we could bring the Occupiers some hats that I’ve knitted and a bag of apples that I bought and to show G/Son how people are trying to change our world so that some people don’t go hungry, homeless, without health care, while others have too much. But this was the weekend when the National Park Service attacked Occupy DC, and a five-year-old and an old woman with (what my grandma referred to as) a bum ankle aren’t a good match for police in riot gear. So we put our visit to Occupy DC on hold. But we sat quietly, took some deep breaths together, lit some candles and incense, and made pictures in our minds of the Occupiers being safe and protected.

Instead of Occupy DC, G/Son and I went to Washington Gardener Magazine‘s Seed Swap. We took envelopes of the woad and dill seeds that Nonna collected last year from her own garden, and a bunch of free sample seeds that Nonna got last year from various seed companies.

We registered and got our goody bag (G/Son kept the corn seeds and melon seeds and Nonna kept the chive and lettuce seeds) and raffle ticket. G/Son was v interested in the concept of raffle tickets, but he took it like a good sport when we didn’t win the box of seeds to grow lovely baby vegetables.

We answered questions from some of the volunteers who were sorting the seeds and came running up to us to ask about woad seeds. (Volunteer Ladies: “Do you grow them?” Nonna: “Yes.” Volunteer Ladies: “On purpose?”)

Then, we listened to Barbara Melera of Landreth Seed Co. (Landreth is America’s oldest (selling seeds since 1784) extant seed company. They’re in financial trouble. If you’re going to buy seeds this Spring, you could do some good by buying from Landreth. Just saying.) talk about America’s Love Affair with the Tomato.

While we were waiting, G/Son and Nonna talked about how G/Son doesn’t like raw tomatoes, but he does like tomatoes in pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, and catsup. G/Son was captivated by the title slide that Ms. Melera put up before her talk that said: America’s Love Affair with the Tomato: a Story of Adventure, Passion, Commitment, and Nonsense. Since he’s learning to read, G/Son was able to read most of the words by himself. Nonna helped with “commitment.” And we talked about what that word means. A former reading teacher (it’s like a disease; we can’t help ourselves), Nonna got G/Son to anticipate what Nonsense could have to do with growing tomatoes.

When the talk started and Ms. Melera showed a slide demonstrating how tomatoes first grew in Chile, but were first cultivated in a country to the North of Chile, G/Son called out, “Wait! That country is Mexico!” And he was right; tomatoes were first cultivated in Mexico. The talk was twenty minutes long. Midway through, Nonna broke out the Lunchables that she’d brought for G/Son (I’m not proud.) But G/Son paid attention all the way through and was rewarded when, near the end, Ms. Melera explained the “Nonsense” part of her title. She told us how the green-striped zebra tomato (which G/Son and Nonna buy in the Summer at the farmers’ market,) was developed by a man who, as a young boy, wanted to grow a green tomato to throw at people to make green goo. G/Son and Nonna laughed a lot (in fact, a lot more than any of the other (all grown up) people in the audience laughed) at that idea. G/Son also paid attention while Ms. Melera talked about two of her (and Nonna’s) favorite tomatoes: the pineapple tomato and the Black Krim, which G/Son and I came home to trace on a map from Chile, to Mexico, to Italy, to Russia, to America.

In the end, learning about how to grow tomatoes and about how people and this full-of-spirit plant have interacted over the centuries is almost as political an act as Occuping DC. I’m an old woman, sitting near the edge of the cliff, tossing breadcrumbs back, as far back as I can throw them, for my G/Son. Some of those crumbs are learning how to take deep breaths and make pictures of protection in our minds. Some of those crumbs are a discussion, when watching Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, about how it’s important for the leader of the country to identify with the landbase. And some of those crumbs are just the way that I make herb tea with honey for him, look at him with approval so that he’ll have yet another experience of what that feels like, play board games with him in our pajamas on Sunday morning, show him how I collect blue jay feathers, and the way that we snuggle, after reading Redwall, before bed.

Here’s a great list of political books for young children. I think that G/Son and I will be reading a number of them over the next few months.

And, at some point, we’ll get down to Occupy DC. This little person is the son of a kick-ass woman who puts bad people in jail and a father who practices kindness as an act of politics. He’s the G/Son of a feminist and the great grandson of a labor leader and a Catholic Worker activist. I’m going to make sure that the bread crumbs that I throw back from The Cliff show true.

Just take your time, G/Son. Don’t grow up too fast for your old Nonna, or, do, but, if you do, throw (in the way that the universe is changing and the Noosphere is growing) some crumbs back for me.

Picture found here.

All Politics Are Local


There’s going to be a special election for the County Board in my little corner of the world. The election’s not for a few months, so I haven’t yet done much work to educate myself about the candidates.

This morning, one of them came to my door.*

He’s a charming young man, accomplished, and has the endorsement of a politician who almost always votes the way that I want him to vote. We chatted for a few minutes on my front porch and he told me about some of the ideas he has for consolidating county services and getting citizens more involved in local government. I told him that my one complaint with his (potential) predecessor was that she was too cozy with the local developers, allowing sixty-year-old neighborhoods with genuine character to be invaded by McMansions and strip malls. He’d already explained his view (which I share) that economic times may well remain tough. I pointed out to him that the developers of these McMansions (in addition to destroying neighborhood character) only had to pay the fees associated with single-family homes. Yet, in tough economic times, these giant places are sure to become multi-family homes/boarding houses/subdivided apartments. But they only have the parking, sewer hook-ups, school allotments, etc. associated with single-family homes. He quickly agreed, and showed me one of the bullet points on the hand-out he’d given me that calls for more thoughtful growth.

That’s when I asked him the question that he didn’t know how I wanted him to answer.

I told him that I’d read with interest a story in yesterday’s Washington Post about problems that our neighboring county is having over holiday displays on the grounds of the courthouse. I asked him what he thought about disputes over such displays. I’m pretty sure that he hadn’t read the article and I’m certain that he didn’t know how I wanted him to answer my question. I think a fair guess on the part of someone in his shoes would be that anyone concerned enough to ask about that article is likely to be a Dominionist. He stopped, thought for a minute, and then threw caution to the winds. He allowed as how any group** should be able to put up a display that reflects “their religion or their beliefs” because that’s what’s fair in America. I said, “What about Wiccans?”

And that’s where I learned something really important, not only about this candidate, but also about the huge importance of religious freedom in our military.

He took a deep breath and (I imagine, figuring in-for-a-penny-in-for-a-pound) said to the older, white, suburban lady who was specifically asking about religious displays, “As you can see on my handout, I’m a veteran of the Iraq War. When I was in Iraq, we had a guy in my unit who was Wiccan. He was a really good guy. He had his holidays and we always made sure that he could celebrate them. He was a good soldier. Once, when it was his holiday, he needed to go out into the woods to celebrate and we made sure that could happen.” I said, “So Wiccans should get a display?” He said, “Yes. If other religions get a display, I’ve got no problem at all with a Wiccan display. A lot of religions have holidays this time of year, well, at this time of year and at Easter.”

I held out my hand and said, “I’m Wiccan and I appreciate your answer.” He looked, first, amazed, and, second, a bit relieved. He shook my hand. I told him that, as a member of a minority religion, and a believer in the 1st Amendment, my preference would be for there to be no religious displays on county property. But that if some religious displays were allowed, then all must be.

My mailman stopped by to deliver a package, the candidate and I chatted for a few more minutes about when the upcoming election will occur, we shook hands again, I wished him luck, and he left for the next house on my block. I went inside with a newer and deeper appreciation of how important it is for our military to respect all religions. I am convinced that having known a Wiccan who was “a really good guy,” and “good solider,” and whose religion could be accommodated made all the difference for this candidate who, whether he wins this election or not, is going to be an influence in my county and my state (I can just tell when I shake someone’s hand. And I could tell.)

I’ve still got to learn about the other candidates. I’m not sure that I’ll vote for this young man. But I was really impressed with him and I’m grateful to him for teaching me something important.

*(Dear politicians, I don’t think that you can overestimate the value of this sort of contact. I may or may not agree with every position that you take, but I am much more likely to vote for, and to get involved supporting, someone who comes to my door, shakes my hand, looks me in the eye, and answers my questions.)

** To be fair, he said, “any group but, well, I don’t know, Satanists.” I asked, “So a county official gets to determine who it’s ok to worship?” and he quickly said, “Well, no, I see your point.” (Good answer.) Later, after he’d told me about the Wiccan soldier with whom he served, I pointed out that a lot of people, maybe even the county official making the decision about holiday displays, think that Wiccans worship Satan. To which he responded, “And they don’t. That’s not it. They worship Nature, but not Satan. I’ve learned that.” I’m convinced that it was his experience in the military that taught him this fact.

*** Celia‘s song, The Symbol, springs from the years-long campaign to allow Wiccan soldiers to have the Pentacle carved on their gravestones at Arlington Cemetery, just as soldiers of other religions have the symbol of their religions carved on their gravestones. After a long battle, the Veterans’ Administration finally allowed Sgt. Patrick Stewart’s marker (thanks to the endless efforts of his widow) to bear the Wiccan Pentacle. Other Pagan soldiers, including Druids, Asatru, and Goddessians, are still denied the right to have their symbols carved upon their gravestones.

I’m a Pretty Cynical, Old Broad. But Elizabeth Warren Rocks the World.

Go Read This. Now.

A second possibility is that he is simply not up to the task by virtue of his lack of experience and a character defect that might not have been so debilitating at some other time in history. Those of us who were bewitched by his eloquence on the campaign trail chose to ignore some disquieting aspects of his biography: that he had accomplished very little before he ran for president, having never run a business or a state; that he had a singularly unremarkable career as a law professor, publishing nothing in 12 years at the University of Chicago other than an autobiography; and that, before joining the United States Senate, he had voted “present” (instead of “yea” or “nay”) 130 times, sometimes dodging difficult issues.

. . .

But the arc of history does not bend toward justice through capitulation cast as compromise. It does not bend when 400 people control more of the wealth than 150 million of their fellow Americans. It does not bend when the average middle-class family has seen its income stagnate over the last 30 years while the richest 1 percent has seen its income rise astronomically. It does not bend when we cut the fixed incomes of our parents and grandparents so hedge fund managers can keep their 15 percent tax rates. It does not bend when only one side in negotiations between workers and their bosses is allowed representation. And it does not bend when, as political scientists have shown, it is not public opinion but the opinions of the wealthy that predict the votes of the Senate. The arc of history can bend only so far before it breaks.

Here’s the link to the whole thing. GO!