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.

Long Live the ACLU

The American Civil Liberties Union gets alot of slack from “conservatives” for picking up “liberal” causes, but I think even the Religious Right can’t be whining about this latest case. It seems a Christian librarian in Missouri was asked to be excused during a Harry Potter promotion because she believed that the books promoted occultism. Now I’m sure you know that I think people who go on about that business are freaks. And I’m sure you know that I think that people should do the job they are hired to do regardless of their religious beliefs and if they can’t, they should get another job. But in this case… is it in her job description to dress up as a witch to promote a book? Not likely. It might be in her job description to take part in promotions, but what if she’d been sick that day? Would her absence have destroyed the whole project? Anyway, the woman allegedly received a 10 day suspension without pay for asking to be excused from work that day and, according to the law suit, was treated so badly on her return, she felt she had to quit.

As usual, I am skeptical because I’m the skeptical sort. I wonder was she a bitch about the whole thing, or did she simply request a vacation day that day? If all is what it seems, then she has my support. Even though I think she’s silly for hating Harry, and even though I am Pagan and her reasons had to do with her Christianity. Why? Because when I am asked to promote the latest Left Behind Series or Anti-Choice rally, I want to be able to say no and not get fired.