Friday, December 12, 2008

Roses Love Garlic - A Book Review

I bought this book because I was looking for resources on companion planting to help me decide what plants to use to create guilds. Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed. While this book does contain information about companion planting, it's only a very small section in a much larger text that is organized into sections of related gardening terms followed by alphabetical listings encyclopedia style. Each heading only has a very small blurb and doesn't go into much detail. While it's a nice reference to have on hand, it is not at all what I was looking for or need and I felt the title was somewhat misleading. Instead of being called Roses Love Garlic: Companion Planting and Other Secrets of Flowers , it should have been called A Laundry List of Gardening Tips with Brief Mention of Companion Planting. In fact, since it didn't have much more mention of companion planting than most other gardening books, I don't see why it was mentioned in the title at all.

Gaia's Garden a Book Review

Gaia's Garden presents ideas for creating a garden space that looks, feels and behaves as if it happened naturally, instead of being planned and groomed by civilized folk. This doesn't mean it looks unkempt, but that each plant within a garden group exists in a relationship with others in a mini ecosystem. This type of planting produces healthier plants and greater yeilds while preserving or improving the health of the soil and reducing the amount of work it takes to maintain established beds. (Though the amount of work it takes to establish them in the first place is not reduced by any means.)

Although I think that the book could have been simpler in its execution (although it promises it won't read like a text book it does in some places) and it digressed a little too often for me (examples are nice, but I got tired of them) I was very pleased with it. It was both informative and inspiring.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Battle of the Beauty Queen

Here is the article I'm about to expound upon

And now I begin.

So, basically, here's what happened. Ms. Canada Plus is a Wiccan (cool, huh, I thought so) and the Ms Toronto Tourism pageant invited her to be a judge. But when she submitted her bio, presumably for their marketing materials, she mentioned tarot cards under "hobbies" and they withdrew their invitation. (Which is very silly, because if they just looked at the Miss Canada Plus website, they would have seen her bio there, could have decided then, and would never have needed to embarrass themselves by issuing the invitation in the first place!

"We just got her bio a week ago and we don't agree with it," said Karen Murray, Miss Toronto Tourism pageant director. "We want someone down to earth, not someone into the dark side or the occult."

Grammatical nightmares not withstanding (How does someone not agree with a bio? A bio is not an opinion to be disagreed with.) How does Tarot cards make someone not down to earth? I dunno, there are a few headintheclouds Pagans, probably alot, but there are quite a few down to earth Pagans too. I like to think of myself as down-to-earth and I read Tarot cards. My atheist lover and I read each others cards before we go to bed at night. It helps us wrap up the day, put things in perspective and communicate with each other about the things that are on our minds and make plans. Very down-to-earth, practical stuff. And the "dark side of the occult"? If this lady thinks tarot cards are the "dark side" of the "occult", she doesn't know much about the occult, does she?

A letter to the Miss Candada Plus people said "We need a judge who has an upright reputation and we would be proud to introduce to the audience,"
It is my understanding that these pageants only award the Miss Somebody title to people who they feel is "upright" and has a clean reputation. It would seem that the Miss Toronto Tourism people do not think the Miss Candada Plus people are capable of determining who has a clean reputation, because they went on to explain:

"Our board of directors has eliminated her as a judge as tarot card reading and reiki are the occult and is not acceptable by God, Jews, Muslims or Christians. Tarot card reading is witchcraft and is used by witches, spiritists and mediums to consult the dark world."

The letter went on to quote a couple of passages from the Bible, including one from the book of Leviticus that warns, "Do not turn to mediums or seek out spirits for you will be defiled by them."

"We hope that Stephanie Conover will turn from these belief systems and will repent from her practice of them," the letter reads.

Now, this confuses me slightly, because we're talking about the Miss Toronto Tourism pageant, not the Miss Good Christian Pageant, so what's the deal here? The article is quick to point out that the Miss Toronto Tourism pageant is independant of Toronto's tourism department, and bully for Toronto then, because if it wasn't we'd be looking at a clear case of state-sponsored discrimination. As it stands Murray said her group doesn't get government funding and has the right to decide who acts as a judge in their pageant. and that's the truth.

What I don't understand is how the crazy Christian lady feels vindicated: Murray insisted Conover is "trying to stir up trouble" by raising the issue in the press. "She's obviously a very vindictive person," she said.
No lady, the public has a right to know that your pageant is discriminatory. Will you snatch the crown away from Miss Toronto Tourism when you discover that she reads Tarot cards? Since there is absolutely nothing about Miss Toronto Tourism that would cause someone to even suspect that someone into things Christians don't approve of would be automatically disqualified. I mean, check out the website, it doesn't say anywhere that you have to be a follower of an Abrahamic religion

Check it out

1. Canadian Citizen

2. Single, not married or living common-law

3. No dependents

4. Good health

5. No criminal records or criminal offences

6. Height of 5 feet and 0 inches and up

7. Good Will To Others

8. Good character

9. Born female.

10. 19 to 27 years of age.

Nowhere there does it say "Must adhere to the principles laid for by the God of Abraham."

What we have from Miss Conover is a public service.

If you're going to run a Christian pageant, call it that. But they're not religious says Murray:
Asked if her group is a religious one, Murray replied, "We adhere to God's principles. We're God-fearing. I wouldn't say we're religious." Isn't that a little contradictory, I dunno?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Babies, art, business and politics

With festival season is in full swing, it hardly seems necessary to point out the many Pagan gatherings taking place all over the world this summer, organized by such groups as Circle Sanctuary, The Pagan Federation and The Pagan Pride Day Campaign. Obviously the old stereotypes about Pagans being unable to get organized doesn’t apply when there’s a party to be had. But that’s not all that’s going on in the community these days.
Rowan Tree Pagan Ministries in Oregon is planning to offer a faith based pre-school and kindergarten for children at the newly formed Rowan Academy. Actually, as with most Pagan programs, it’s open to everyone, not just Pagan children. Another program offered by Rowan Tree is the Senescha School of Magic, and aftershool program and The Magic Wheel a program that offers age appropriate activities to children of adults attending Rowan Tree activities. How cool is that? Read the article in full here. I hope other Pagan communities will take an exemple from Rowan Tree Ministries and start getting organized into more productive avenues.
And now for something new and different.
Georgian Christians are up in arms about a really neat stone monument in Elberton, GA known as The Georgia Guidestones and occasionally referred to as the American Stonehenge. On the surface of the stone slabs that make up the monument is inscribed 10 commandments that aren’t Christian commandments. And, although they are referring to them as such, I’m not sure they are. After all, the Guidestones don’t say they are commandments but “Guidestones to an age of reason”.
Far from “reason,” however, Dice sees pagan, New Age and even satanic themes in the message’s exhortation of one-world unity, condemnation of humanity as a plague on the planet and call to seek “harmony with the infinite.”

While I don’t know why Mr. Dice thinks Pagan, New Age and Satanic themes are inherently at odds with reason, I am also confused as to why one-world unity, pointing out that humanity is a plague (but it doesn’t really say that, it says Be not a cancer on the Earth – leave room for nature ) and encouraging “harmony with the infinite” is a negative thing. But whatever.

While America has a reputation for having the most anal retentive religious wackos in the world (Whether Christian, Pagan or otherwise), we are not the only folks who face the occasional “WTF?” moments when it comes to religious intolerance. According to the Register, out of the UK, Birmingham City Council recently had a big scandle involving improper use of the internet by its members, so they installed BlueCoat Webfiltering Software on its computers which blocks access to things related to keywords like porn, cannibalism (?), witchcraft, new age, atheism… well, you can see where this is going. And while I think everyone can agree that city council members probably don’t need to be surfing the web from their office on those subjects anyway, they are free to surf things related to Christianity, Islam, Protestantism, etc. But have no fear, the National Secular Society seems to have had a little chat with them and now it seems locals have nothing much left to gripe about beyond the fact that a British city council bought American. This may be another case of news that was not news and wtf am I blogging about it? Mainly because I’m fascinated to discover that the UK has a National Secular Society. You can read about this debacle here.

Some of you may remember Bob Barr. Back in 1999 he won The Burning Times award for his comments regarding Wiccans in the military. Ever wonder what he’s up to these days? Well, he’s running for president on the Libertarian ticket and recanting all sorts of things, including his position on Wiccans in the military. He must’ve realized just how many Libertarian Pagans there are out there.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Passing of a Pillar

Seven years ago a young girl named Tempest Smith took her own life. She had been bullied at school for many years in many forms, not the least of this included religious persecution, as she was a Wiccan child. From her death came life and hope.

Her mother, Danessa first donated Tempest’s organs to the Gift of Life Foundation. But this was not enough. No, she wanted to make sure no other child need suffer and no other mother need feel this pain. After reaching out to her local Pagan community, including FOCAS and WOM, Danessa formed the Tempest Smith Foundation, dedicated to promoting tolerance for all religions and backgrounds and combating bullying in schools. Danessa has been tireless in pursuing this goal of tolerance, as well as working with many other local nonprofit and social organizations, both Pagan and secular, in her community.

Yesterday, Danessa left this world to join the beloved daughter who inspired her to do so many things. She was a pillar in so many ways. She rose up strong out of heartbreak- the worst thing that could happen to a parent- and she allowed it to bring out the best in her and encouraged it to bring out the best in others. I did not know her personally though she was part of my local community. I knew of her, I heard of her activities frequently but one degree of separation, it seems, kept us from meeting. I am sure I would have liked her. I hope she is resting now, with her daughter in her arms.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

While I Was Out

So I just got back from a fabulous vacation. I spent some time with my future inlaws and I spent some time alone with my future husband. We went down south where you can get every kind of vegetable imaginable deep fried and I discovered the joy that is bbq beans with cornbread. Yum.
Yes. I am chubby and perhaps chubbier than when I left despite the fact that I spent alot of time walking around and rowing boats. I sure hope my wedding dress still fits!

Anyway, a quick scan of the news reveals that Pagans found their way into it while I wasn’t paying attention. According to the Associated Press, a Wiccan woman stabbed herself in the foot with her sword during a ceremony of thanks in Lebanon Indiana. Wow. Talk about embarassing. To make matters worse, this gaff took place in a public cemetary. After dark. Can you say trespassing?

Lucky for her, the police let her and her crew off with a warning and Ms Gunther (the sore-footed Wiccan) was able to display the Pagan value of laughing it off. I will join her in laughing as soon as I finish pondering the mechanics of how one gets a sword through one’s foot during ritual. Just what was she doing and why did it require enough force to send a sword through a foot? Was she wearing shoes? You know. Reporters just don’t share the important details. Perhaps the Gods demanded a blood sacrifice in exchange for whatever they were being thanked for and simply didn’t let her in on it ahead of time? I have a feeling she’s not the only one laughing!
(”So yea, boss, I’m not going to make it in to work today, you see, I stabbed myself in the foot…”)
Meanwhile, in the UK, a group of bowlers were disappointed to find a strange structure in the middle of their bowling green (they bowl outdoors in the UK. Weirdos!) consisting of a circle of paving slabs surrounding a pentacle made of bricks and inhabited by a headless scarecrow. Weird. While authorities have ruled out satanists. (*snicker*) there is still no clue as to who, what, why? The local ‘occult expert’ blames the teenagers.

The last tidbit of (questionably) Pagan related news that occurred while I was on vacation is a real gem. It seems a crazy drunk lady in Colorado declared herself to be a witch who would hex the officers for arresting her.
Oookay. That’s all I have to say about that.
Now, I need to spend some time recovering from my vacation which was, admittedly, not as exciting as the news but still left me with a mess to clean up.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Book Review: The Wicca Herbal

Today I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite books about herbal magick, The Wicca Herbal by Jamie Wood.

The introduction contains a bunch of information that is, as usual, questionable, but not offensively so. She describes a tradition, which she calls Wicca, which is certainly earth-based spirituality and witchcraft, but is not really Wicca, though the definition of Wicca is so convoluted these days, who knows what it is. She gives a brief ritual outline that is certainly Wiccan and she explains how to get in tune with the energies of plants, which isn’t anything in particular. She expounds romantically on how she believes ancient people viewed the plant world as if it were fact, which is moderately annoying, but still romantic and pleasant so it’s forgiveable. She also includes handy tips for growing, gathering, storing and preserving herbs, but she’s pretty light on general information about making herbal preparations. If you already know all that, you won’t miss it.
Finally, we get to the nitty gritty, the plants themselves. For each plant she gives a brief introduction and provides practical information for integrating it into your magical practice. Here is where the herbal preparations are, but you have to find the herbs she’s chosen to provide recipes for to get the information.

She wraps the whole thing up with a list of sources and of course a handy index.

I just like this book. It’s a good reference and it has lots of neat ideas and recipes. It would be nice, perhaps, if there was more detailed information about the individual herbs, their correspondences, growing conditions, plant identification tips, but I don’t think that’s what this book is all about. I think it assumes you are already familiar with the plants under discussion and just wants to give you some ideas about how to use them. All and all, a great book to have as a companion to more mundane book with more detailed information about the plants themselves.

Of course you can find lots of information about magical herbs at if you want to know more about magical herbs.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Kathy Lee is an Idiot

I am not going to get excited about this because I try to make a point of not getting excited over what stupid people have to say. Like when President Bush gets up and starts talking about Weapons of Mass Destruction, I don’t get excited because I know he’s an idiot and doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Likewise, I am pretty sure Kathy Lee is too much of an idiot to get excited about as well. Besides, there are lots of other people getting excited without my help, and I’m not sure I’m the one to determine what things are things to get excited about. If she had said “those greedy nasty Jews” or “those evil Muslim terrorists” she would have been smacked down by her network, this is true. And we might roll our eyes over the overreacction and people out there well might roll their eyes at our overreaction and whatever. That’s life.

Now call me a Gemini, but I couldn’t help but get distracted by the issue of the question itself, or rather the multiple choice answers supplied to it. I thought- “Why would Pagans think carrying metal on the right side would be bad luck? What kind of stupid superstition would that be? How would our ancestors have carried their swords?” and I thought “Wait a minute… the ancient Egyptians were Pagans… weren’t they?” This is why I never did well with multiple choice tests at school. It was short answer or essay or I was screwed. Too easily distracted. but I digress.
Anyway. Outrage, or lack thereof notwithstanding (how many compound words can you fit in a sentence?) I don’t think this sort of behavior should go unchecked. So I encourage everyone to write a letter to somebody. You can send a letter right to the Today show at NBC, quickly and painlessly at

Here’s Mine:

I am writing because I am confused as to why Kathy Lee chose to add unecessary adjectives to a very simple sentance she was reading off of a card on June 25th Today Show in order to insert insults directed at a minority religious group. I am also confused as to why a hasty apology to the Pagan community was not made. I am sure that this was simply ignorance on the part of Kathy Lee and an oversight on the part of the network, that the situation will be immediately rectified and that the network will take care to educate its employees better in the future.

Now I realize that I’m being a little hypocritical in calling Kathy Lee and idiot in my public blog when I think that it’s not a good idea for her to call Pagans filthy and nasty on TV, but let me point out that I am not generalizing. I am calling a specific person an idiot. I’m not saying “all female TV talk show hosts are idiots” and I’m not saying “All white Christians are idiots”, I am saying Kathy Lee is an idiot. If Kathy Lee said, “That Dawn Black woman is a filthy, nasty person” that would be one thing. (I would further not care, and I expect the Pagan community at large wouldn’t care much either). But no, she generalized. One can say that a specific person is an idiot, or filthy and nasty, but not a whole group. When you say it about one person you are perhaps being rude, and you are stating an opinion. When you say it about a whole group of people, you are letting your bigot show. If I was the CEO of a major TV network, I sure as hell wouldn’t want people flashing their bigot all over my products.

You can also voice your opinion on the matter at the Petition Site. But that might be takingg it a bit too far. I’m not sure.
Update: Kathy Lee made a blanket apology (you can see it here) that may or may not have been in reference to this incident. I must say, if the apology is in reference to this incident, the apology is more annoying than the incident itself. But I’m still not going to get excited. And I’m not going to boycott. It would be a meaningless gesture anyway. I never watch that show. It is beneath me.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Dating Homer

Call me a geek, you wouldn’t be the first, but I think this is totally cool.
Some scholars have used astronomical clues in The Odyssey to put a date to the day Odysseus killed his wife’s suitors April 16, 1178 B.C.

How do they know? According to a story by the Associated Press, Marcelo Magnasco at Rockefeller University and Constantino Baikouzis of the Astronomical Laboratory in La Plata, Argentina, searched the text of the Odyssey carefully for clues to the position of the stars in the sky throughout the story. If you’ve read the story, there are frequent mentions of constellations (and even more frequent mentions of rosey fingered and saffron robed Eos.) (When I read it out loud, the family jokes that all they ever do is eat and watch the sun come up!). They did fudge some things. For instance, they interpreted a statement that Hermes had gone far to the West to deliver a message to mean that Mercury was near the Western end of its trajectory.

Anyway, it’s all very cool and yes, maybe some people have too much time on their hands, but there are worse ways to spend your time.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Yoga, Power, and Spirit: Patanjali the Shaman

This is a review of the book by Alberto Villoldo

I don’t know why I got this book. I guess because I’m spiritual and into Yoga. At any rate, it was rather an disappointment to me. Clearly it was written for someone who already knew who Patanjali was and how to use the Sutras and that’s not me. I hadn’t a clue. There is some introductory text that talks about how the sacred feminine was once worshipped in India and how the evil Aryans came and tore power away from the Goddess, but there’s no sources provided to back up his assertions. This is followed by a bunch of translated Sutras, or sayings which are supposed to reveal divine truth if meditated upon, but I found most of them too clumsy and long to meditate on properly and, since the text was too busy talking about the divine feminine instead of explaining the Sutras themselves, I’m not sure I was doing it right.

All in all, I’m sorry I bought this book. I’m sure I’ll never pick it up again and I’m not sure it was worth the $10 I paid for it. I had it done in one bathtub reading session and came away feeling like I’d read yet another unsubstantiated ramble about how the evil men stole power from the once female rulers, which, as you know, just gives me a headache. I thought I was going to find information about integrating your Yoga into your spiritual practice, and maybe a little information about this Patanjali guy, but that was also scant.

Maybe this book would be useful for someone else. Someone who doesn’t mind, or enjoys reading rants about the stolen power of the sacred feminine (I personally think it’s been said and there’s nothing we can do about it, even if it is true, and we need to stop harping on it) and who already knows alot about Yoga Sutra. I am not that person. So I didn’t like it.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Barack Obama a Muslim? Who Cares!

I’ve heard alot of rumblings in the news lately about Barack Obama’s religious affiliation. First people are screaming because of some things his Christian pastor said, and now they’re screaming that he’s Muslim because, well, he’s got a Muslim name. Well Duh? His father is from Kenya, isn’t he? Here’s an article about his half brother who can’t imagine Barrack would have been raised anything but Muslim. But can we remember that this man is from Kenya and a product of his own culture? Muslims (and many others) firmly believe that the religion of the father must be the religion of the son and it couldn’t be any other way. I once had a long conversation with a young Hindu man who was completely baffled by the fact that I am Pagan and my family in Christian. He couldn’t get his brain around it no matter how much I tried to explain it. He was Hindu because his parents were and that’s how it is. Same with Muslims. You can’t look at these interviews with people from other cultures from an American perspective. You have to understand where they are coming from. It’s cultural relativity. And that’s something way too many of our political candidates are lacking and one of the things I hope Barrack Obama has, given his background, which makes me want to vote for him.

I frankly don’t care what Obama’s religion is. You know why? Because this is America. This isn’t Isreal, this isn’t Saudi Arabia. This is frigging America where religion doesn’t matter. Theoretically. Why should his Muslim background be discussed at all? Why should his Christian background be discussed at all?

At issue is the fact that Barack Obama speaks perfect Arabic and can read Arabic.
Um. Aren’t we repeatedly running into problems with Arab speaking countries? And don’t we do alot of trade with Arab speaking countries? Won’t it be to our advantage to have a representative dealing with foreign affairs issues who can speak Arabic without an interpreter? Personally, I consider it a bonus that he speaks Arabic. Not a detriment at all.

I am a bit disturbed by the adamance with which the Obama campaign is denying his Muslim heritage. Oh yes, I believe the rumors. He was born of a man from a country that is largely Muslim, I’m quite sure there’s some Muslim heritage going on. Never mind that it wasn’t one of the Muslim countries that we are having problems with. Yes, he began his education in a Muslim country and maybe he went to a Muslim private school. The funny thing about that is that I know alot of Pagans who send their kids to Christian private schools so they can have the best education possible. Doesn’t make them Christian. I imagine in a Muslim country the Muslim school gave its students the best education possible. Of course, he also went to Catholic school…

He may even have been Muslim as a child… yes even those who are using this Muslim thing as an attack are, for the most part, limiting it to his childhood. But guess what, I was a Christian as a child. A devout Christian until I was 12 because I was not aware that there was anything else to be. Children know only what they experience. He may have been a Muslim until he was in his 20s and then converted which makes him not a Muslim now, which is all that really matters.
But it doesn’t, because I reiterate. This is America. It doesn’t matter what you’re religion is.
But in a country where we have problems with evil Muslims blowing up our buildings, wouldn’t it be an advantage to have a commander in chief who knew about Islam?
The fact is, Barrack Obama spoke of his Christian faith long before there was any hint he was going to run for president. If he was Muslim, and he was pretending to be Christian… I think that’s a sin. Not sure, but I think it might be. Does he take communion? Probably a Muslim sin. Certainly worshipping Jesus and claiming Jesus as the Son of God is a nono in a Muslim’s eyes. If Barrack Obama is a Muslim, or has been for the last 20 years, he is a very very bad Muslim.
Anyway, here’s the Snopes listing refuting the “Barrack Obama is Muslim” rumors. They do more research than me but research aside, it is still my opion that:

1. It doesn’t matter what religion a political candidate is, and furthermore, pulling out the religion card in the political arena is distasteful

2. A candidate with a firm grasp of Arabic and Islam can only be a benefit in a country that has so many disagreements - and trade agreements - with Arab and Islamic countries.
But still… I think Mr. Obama doth protest too much.
Remember sir, this is America. It doesn’t matter what your religion is!

Friday, June 13, 2008

On the Fence

It seems some folks in Des Moines are a little upset over some “graffiti” and the author of such graffiti is a little annoyed that he’s being bothered over it.

According to the Des Moines Register, Ryle and Rachel MacPebbles, members of the American Pagan Church (something I was not aware even existed until I read this store. Learn something new every day!) put up a fence awhile back and painted some “pagan symbols” on it. Looking at the picture I see a Pentagram, algiz/eolh and raidho/rad. I am not sure about the raidho symbol though, it could be something completely different. Anyway, a Pentagram is a general protection symbol. Algiz, the elk, is a shield symbol, also for protection and warding, but it also symbolizes awakening, enlightenment and connection to the Gods. Raidho is the wagon (or chariot) and is generally a protection while travelling or finding your way symbol. I’m not sure it’s one I would’ve chosen to put on a fence.

Anyway, so the neighbors are complaining and the town is demanding that the symbols be removed under their graffiti laws. According to the article, City law defines any “inscription, drawing, picture, letter, number, symbol or other written communication”, which makes sense. But the MacPebbleses say that their religious rights are being violated.

I dunno. I think I would be annoyed if someone wrote “Jesus Saves” in spray paint on a fence I had to look at every day. I am disturbed enough that I must occasionally drive by a certain church with a particularly disturbing Big Dead Jesus displayed in front of it. (I mean, why does he always have to be dead and bloody and wearing a loincloth. That’s morbid and not appropriate for public viewing!) But then again, I probably wouldn’t complain. I am not an asshole. A bitch maybe, but not an asshole. I think people should be able to do what they want on with their own property. I mean, I’m not complaining about the neighbor’s teenager’s eyesore car that sits out by the road, making the perfect backdrop to my rose garden, covered in spray paint declaring that she’s a senior even though it drives me fucking nuts. Maybe I should, but I imagine her parents have already exploded over that one…

The symbols, if you look at the picture, aren’t like artistic or pretty in any way. They are spray painted. I’m sorry, I’m having a hard time taking the Pagans’ side on this one. I mean, you can spray paint the symbols on the inside of the fence and they’ll be just as affective and not annoy the neighbors. If it were me, the symbols would have been carved out of wood or something. I mean, well, it would offend my personal sensibilities to have something spray painted on my fence. I’m just not that kind of redneck. There’s no reason Pagan symbols can’t be pretty and attractive. And besides, making them by hand puts your energy and intent in them and makes them more effective. It takes two minutes to spray paint a symbol on a fence. Man, I think I’d feel like a thug just doing it. You can hang carvings and other ornaments on fences without violating ordinances, usually, and it doesn’t look like graffiti.

Anyway, the MacPebbleses are going to take this thing all the way to court. They are going to contact the ACLU. But I don’t think they have as much of a case as they think they do.

Sheltering Discrimination

The “I”’s have it today.

A woman in Idaho was recently kicked out of a faith based women’s shelter, Ruth House in Idaho Falls, Idaho, because, she says, they didn’t like her choice of religion. She’s Pagan. She states that a worker there took exception to her jewelry, calling it Satanic, and told her she must get rid of her books, a fiction series about witches. When she refused, she was asked to leave. Now she and her 17 month old son are looking for a place to stay.

The Director of the shelter, Robert Gulden, says she shouldn’t have been kicked out and that he wasn’t even notified. His staff didn’t follow protocol. So he hopes she will get in touch with him to talk about the matter.

Read the full story at

There are Pagan homeless shelters and they generally accept anyone, regardless of faith. Unfortunately, there aren’t many. The Pagan community is simply not organized enough to set up charities on a large scale, so shelters are few and far between. However, many Pagan organizations do charity work to collect goods and services to support homeless shelters and battered women’s shelters that already exist. Although… my experience doing this has been less than satisfactory as some Christian and Muslim organizations in my local area have refused to accept our charity.

Some Pagan charity initiatives:
Goddess Moon Circles Helping and Warming Program
Circle Sanctuary, WI
Robin’s Hood Community Center, KY
The Delaware Valley Pagan Network
Touchstone Local Council
The Officers of Avalon
Familiar Friends Black Cat Rescue, MI
The Open Hearth Foundation, DC
Please feel free to comment and list any Pagan charities you know of.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Guess What Grandma, I'm Pagan

So I’ve been out of the broom closet for some time. My stepdad has been convinced that I am going straight to hell since I was about 12, so there’s no reason to bother talking to him about it. My mom is cool and my birth father doesn’t seem to understand. I mean, he said he did, but in the end, I don’t think he did because he still keeps sending me the “God Bless America” email forwards. So whatever. My uncle stopped after I had my talk with him. But then again, my ex-mother-in-law still sends me those forwards and we talk about how I’m Pagan all the time.
Well, I’m getting married and I really want to have a Pagan wedding. Oh it won’t be a real traditional Hellenismos wedding because, well, Mr. Rabbit and I already live together and there’s already two half grown kids in the picture and we don’t want anymore. I thought about having a procession from my mom’s house to our house (since we walk in between all the time anyway) but that sort of blows the whole “keep it simple” concept. So we decided to have our friend who is the High Druid of our local ADF Druid Grove come to the house and marry us. But it can’t be too short and sweet and simple because I love ritual and I need it.

So I’m inviting the Circle to the wedding rite because it only makes sense and besides, processing by yourself is boring. So I thought since I was having a ceremony I wanted my mom and my sisters there (one sister is in Europe, so she won’t be there, and the other sister is.. um… not sure right now, possibly Africa so she won’t be there either, but my youngest sister- she’ll be there!) and my mother said to me that I should talk to my grandmother as well. Now, in reality I would love to have my grandmother at my wedding, but I don’t want to upset her with my weird Pagan ways. I mean, we’re going to be invoking Hera and Zeus and running around in circles waving torches and peacock feathers and yelling Hymen!

I mean really.

So I decided I would talk to my grandma about the whole thing and she could talk to my grandpa. (I would have talked to him at the same time but he was napping). So I sat there while my mother and grandma talked about the family reunion for like two hours. And I got more and more nervous as time went on. Now my mom knew why I was there, so I was also getting a little annoyed with her. Finally I blurted out that I wanted to talk about the wedding. And I told Grandma “I would like you to be at the wedding, but I am afraid you might be shocked by what we do.” And she looked at me and she said “Shocked? In this family?” (I paraphrase) and I said “Well, it’s not going to be a Christian wedding or a Civil ceremony, it’s going to be a Pagan ritual” and do you know my grandma started talking about how her minister said that Pagans were the first religion, etc. And I really didn’t know what to say, so I babbled nonsense about how Pagans and Christians used to fight and how whoever was the state religion was cruel to the other and neither one of them was innocent or something. And then she started asking questions, which was cool. I was prepared for that. And then she asked “So you don’t believe in Christ at all?” and just as I was preparing myself to answer this one, a tornado hit.

I’m not kidding. A frigging tornado.

But we didnt’ realize right away that it was a tornado. So my mom and I ran to the back door to try to get the cover on my grandpa’s boat, but it was hopeless because the tarp was flying away and the force of the wind wasn’t letting us out the door. So we gave up on that and I tried to get back to the subject at hand, but then the electricity went out and the tornado siren went off, so everyone huffed and puffed about that for awhile.

Finally, I got back on track and said “Well, I would like you to come but if you won’t be comfortable, I would understand.” and she said, “Why wouldn’t I be comfortable?” and I could tell that she really had no idea why I thought she’d be uncomfortable. And then my mother said, “Well I think what she’s saying is that she wants to know that you won’t judge her.” (which really wasn’t what I was saying) and my grandma said “Well she should have her wedding how she wants, it’s her wedding.” Then turned to me “Will you be uncomfortable?” And I was like nonono but then my phone rang.

My daughter had just been dropped off (early) after work and was locked out of the house, so we had to hurry up and go get her cause we couldn’t leave her out in the storm.

So. My grandma is totally cool. But I am a dork. She’ll be back in town in two weeks for my cousin’s graduation party. I will talk to her again then.

No major tornado damage to our house or my mother’s. She lost a tree, but she said it was already dead and some branches came down in both of our yards. Unfortunately many of our neighbors weren’t so lucky. My mom’s next door neighbor lost seven fruit trees and our neighbor lost a huge old oak tree. Twisted right up from the roots.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Indigenous Pagans

There’s been some news lately about indigenous Pagan cultures that still exist in this world, sometimes right under the noses of “conservatives”. I remember a long time ago someone telling me there are no “real” Pagans left. That all Pagans these days are Neo-Pagans. I argued veheminantly at the time and my opinion hasn’t changed, but the news has evidence to back me up.
One story out of Pakistan talks about the Kalesha people in the Chitral region of Pakistan. They are Kafirs-infidels-Pagans and they have been there for more than 2000 years. Legend traces them back to Alexander the Great and some say that they worship the Gods of the ancient Greeks under different names, but their traditions are unlike anything seen elsewhere.
The reason they’re in the news is because some folks think Osama Bin Laden is hiding in this region. Indeed, rumor has it that he hid among the Kalesha during his jihad against Russia. But Osama Bin Laden is a conservative Muslim. It is hard to believe that he would be comfortable living among people whose women run around uncovered, who marry (and divorce) as they please and who worship many Gods. Also, the Pakastani tourism society is promoting Joshi, the Kalesha spring festival, as a tourist atraction. I’m not sure how I feel about that. It seems very disrespectful. And it will only encourage missionaries and we will have yet another extinct culture to talk about.

Another story is about a tribe in the Amazon. Anthropologists believe there are still a few uncontacted tribes in the Amazon and have for quite some time. Last week helicopter photographs were released from Brazil’s indigenous affairs council of several individuals from a previously unknown tribe. National Geographic has a bit about that. This has led to a great deal of conversation about how the Amazon rain forest is used, about oil mining and farming, which often requires cutting down great swaths of the forest. Should protecting these people interfere with this “progress”? And should these people be contacted? Although these tribes are being called “uncontacted” tribes, we don’t really know that. They could have been contacted by missionaries or Anthropologists in the past, and certainly they have contact with other tribes, many of which have contacts with “civilization” and can share their stories. It seems clear to me that at the very least, these folks don’t want helicopters landing near them, judging by the arrows they were shooting.
When I think about cultures going extinct it makes me as sad as when I think about species going extinct. All cultures contain wisdom and nobody from another culture has access to it unless we go and ask. So many cultures have already gone extinct, been totally wiped out, by other cultures who were so sure that they knew more than the culture they were wiping out that they never stopped to ask. It’s not just that the wisdom is lost, but the fact that maybe if they took the time to ask and saw the wisdom that was their, they might decide the culture had value and was worth saving and cooperating with instead of just wiping out. Thankfully, it seems, at least for the Amazonian tribes, there are people who care about them. The Kalesha I am quite worried about.