Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Soldier and the Pentacle

Now is a time of great rejoicing in the Pagan community, as the VA has finally added the Pentacle, the symbol of the Wiccan faith to their list of approved symbols for veterans' memorials and headstones. Here is a lovely article with a tearjerking picture to go with it from Nevada, the home state of the late Sgt Patrick Stewart and his brave wife Roberta.

Here is a briefer article out of Wisconson, home to Circle Sanctuary.

The statement may seem a bit mellowdramatic, and it feels mellowdramatic as I say it, but it's a serious issue. The United States is built upon the foundation of equality and the VA having the right to chose who is equal and who is not is rediculous. Roberta Stewart will be remembered, and so will those who faught alongside her. Circle Sanctuary and many other military wives and families. Let us especially not forget Rosemary Kooiman who went to her grave without seeing her husband Abraham's properly marked.

Most important is that the VA has admitted that the reason the pentacle wasn't approved after 10 years was pure straighforward religious bias. Beautiful. That is so important because it means that when other Pagans apply, they will have this behind them. When the triquetra, the ankh, the hammer and others are requested, this case will be there to hold over their heads. The Pagan community won't just sit down, because we know that this is a fight we can win, and win we will. And when something else comes up, some different religous bias case, we will have the memory of this victory to stir us on.

And here is the key quote from this article
"When President Bush was governor of Texas in 1999, Katskee said he commented on "Good Morning America" television show that Wicca was not a religion and criticized the army base in Fort Hood, Texas, for allowing the religious group to meet.

"What we found is that they (the VA) took his comments into account and made a political decision, not a legal one to exclude the pentacle," he said."

I knew when he said that it would kick us in the ass. I have never understood how Pagans could support him after he said that (and many do), but clearly it hasn't done him any harm. It has, however, done us harm and we as a community would do well to remember it. I would be very curious to hear his comments now.

Of course, all this press has gained the attention, not only of Pagan bloggers, such as myself, but others as well. Mark Oppenheimer is quick to turn attention away from the issue of religous rights to debunk Wiccan history, but I can forgive him this, because he is, after all, mostly right and he does finish up by pointing out that a religion need not have factual history supporting it to be valid and meaningful. His commenters make similar points.

And the tabloids have gotten ahold of it too. Check out The Sun (I actually really really like this article.)

Echoing another writer's sentiments as I wonder why the US VA has an approved symbols list anyway, here is the list.

Last fall my friends and I evoked Hermes and asked Him to stand behind Circle Sanctuary and Roberta Stewart in this matter and to help all of our voices be heard. I have prayed to Him many times alone as well. I would just like to thank Him. I don't have an eloquent prayer for Him at the moment, but I believe I now owe Him a bottle of wine and some honey. I'll get on that right away!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Happy Feet

So Happy Feet (Full Screen Edition) was recently released on DVD and I pre-ordered it, so it came right away. I hadn't seen it in theatres, but my sister had and she recommended it. The funny thing about Happy Feet is that it's really not that entertaining and it doesn't make alot of sense. And yet, we love it. It's strange. Robin Williams is fantastic in it. He plays a number of characters. Steve Irwin is in it too.


So I wanted to see Happy Feet because there was a controversy. For one thing, the Christian Right had had a brief rant about what a terrible thing it was. Check out the Rooftop Blog and True Believers out of Kansas for some of these views. I had also read on another blog that it had too many heavy issues for kids to deal with, (but alas, I forgot where) that kids should be kids and not have to worry about things like global warming and over fishing. So I watched it, to see why it was so bad. And, let me tell you. Happy Feet is all about Pagan family values. There were some rants about sexual inuendos out there too, and, while there was definately flirting... the whole point was to find a mate and make an egg... the idea of penguins trying to get laid just doesn't offend me that much. Isn't that what penguins do, after all?

It's about accepting people for who they are, about not blindly following the crowd, about seeking truth for yourself and following your own path and it's about the inter-connectedness of things. It illustrates in a somewhat silly way how the actions of humans can affect the lives of other living things. It's very Anthropomorphic, and alot of people don't like that, but I do. I want my kids to see animals as people, because they are our brothers and sisters, all children of Gaia and should be respected as such. Humans are no less animals than penguins. They are no better, no worse and because we feel things differently and so can't understand how penguins feel does not mean that they DON'T feel. The same is true for all living things, even plants.

Last night I went and got my hair cut (all off totally short. Somehow I felt like it was the thing to do since I'm about to embark on a new phase of my life. Going to meet the future in-laws next week, going to sign a joint lease with the boyfriend soon. I like to mark these major changes, and getting my hair cut all off seemed like the right way to do it)


So I went to get my hair cut and the hairdresser asked me if I had only two children (they got their hair cut too) and I said, yes, just these two, and my son corrected me and said, "We have a dog and a cat too." and I said "Oh yes, just these two human children." I like that my children understand that animals have feelings and emotions and are an important part of our family. They will extend that beyond our family into the world at large so that they will care about our eco-system, our food chain, and all those things that are going to be so important to the future of our Earth.

Someone had also commented in a blog that they didn't agree with the way the skua and the leapard seal were portrayed- as villians. But I don't agree that they were portrayed as villians. Certainly not the killer whales ("What are they doing?" asked my daughter "They play with their food, like cats." I replied, and when the penguins got away she said, "That's why Fidget doesn't get to keep her mice very often.") who had boat scars on their backs. They were just animals being animals and animals have to eat. Of course, if they had the fish screaming "No, please don't eat me!" when the penguins caught them it would perhaps have been more balanced!

In the end, the humans weren't really villians either. They were simply ignorant. They didn't understand. And it was a little child who was first able to open the lines of communication. And that is the gift of little children, that they can see things that grown ups have learned to ignore. They anthropomorphise naturally, and that is a gift to a Pagan, since the root of so many Pagan beliefs is animism.

One another note, if you saw March of the Penguins (Widescreen Edition), Happy feet pretty much parallels it for the first half of the movie, except, of course, the Penguins are talking (singing) instead of just making penguin noises. And the narrator mimics the March of the Penguins' narrator through the whole movie. I loved March of the Penguins. But it's the kind of thing you can only watch once.

The end of Happy Feet was very anti-climactic and they all lived happily ever after. I was disappointed there. But what can you do?