Sunday, October 11, 2009

In a World Gone Mad...

This has been a week of shocking news. First, NASA shot a rocket at the moon in search of water. Why a rover wouldn't have been a better choice for this mission, I can't say. And by all that is holy, why does it matter, really in the big picture if there is water on the moon? Unless of course we're planning for the day when we have no water left on Earth? Or does it have more to do with the idea of abandoning Earth altogether after we've fucked it up and going to live on the moon?

I am having a really hard time with this. I understand that the moon is uninhabited and the rocket wasn't big enough to do any real damage and etc. Cognitively I understand all that. But I'm still pretty upset about it. Perhaps this is because I consider the moon sacred. Perhaps it's because I was traumatized by the book The Dead and the Gone (highly recommended for young readers by the way, my 12 year old son loved it). Maybe it's the price tag. Mostly, it's the hubris of it all that rubs me the wrong way. Doesn't the moon affect the entire Earth? Did NASA take a worldwide vote on this? It's not their moon.

The next shocker came when President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. Even he was shocked. As you know if you've read me before, I love Obama with that pure true love that allows me to accept his faults while still celebrating his total awesomeness. I maintain that adoration even as I rail against some of his administrations policies. I realize that part of this is just because he's good-looking and well-spoken, but there's no shame in standing behind a good-looking and well-spoken leader. My love for him has only made it more painful as his presidency comes to resemble a Cohen Brothers' movie and this latest Peace Prize debacle has only made it worse. Thanks Norway.

Why is it so terrible? Partly because it shines a huge spotlight on the fact that, as Saturday Night Live recently pointed out, he hasn't managed to accomplish much so far. I am the first to leap to his defense and remind my fellow Americans that the President's job does not come with a magic wand of instant gratification. No, he is but one man subject to the whim of the House and Senate as our forefathers arranged because if we gave one man the sort of power that people seem to expect from the President these days, it would be a Very Bad Thing.

Another reason why this Nobel Peace prize debacle is disturbing is because it's sort of a glass ceiling of accomplishments. It sets poor Mr Obama up to have nowhere to go but down.

And finally, it gives people another reason to resent him - as if we don't have enough.

Can the President just get on with being a President? Can we give him some time to accomplish some stuff before we start judging his accomplishments? I think a year is reasonable. It hasn't been a year yet. I promise not to gripe about anyone who wants to make judgments in February 2010.

And the final insanity that has struck my brain leaving me stammering ... WTF?

My mother bought my son a real sword to go with his Halloween costume. Yea. It's a good idea to walk around Salem on Halloween with a real sword.

Why wasn't it so easy to get her to buy crazy stuff when I was a kid?

Sweat Lodge Safety

Many Pagan spiritual retreats feature sweat lodges. Indeed they seem to have become quite fashionable in the past few years outside of Pagan circles as well. With the recent sweat lodge tragedy at the Spiritual Warrior self help retreat in Arizona, it may be prudent to take a look at sweat lodges and safety issues associated with them. (We can talk about paying $10,000 for a spiritual retreat in some other blog...)

A sweat lodge is a Native American tradition. It is much like a sauna and uses hot rocks and steam inside an tent-like structure to cause the air to heat up which opens up the participants' pores and helps to purify their bodies while inducing a mild trance-like or deeply relaxed state, useful for meditation, group journey and other spiritual applications. It is generally used in preparation for some other ritual. The sweat lodge ceremony is a purification ceremony that helps build a profound connection toward the other participants through shared spiritual experience.

Here are a few simple rules that can be applied to the sweat lodge as well as many other spiritual activities to ensure your safety and enjoyment.

Know Your Body
If you have a heart problem, if you are pregnant, if you have anything weird going on with you- don't do it. Talk to your doctor about your condition and how a sweat will affect it. If your doctor just doesn't get it, use comparisons, like- "what if I spent an extended period of time in a sauna?

Build it Right
Your sweat lodge should be built using natural materials, skins, canvas, blankets, etc. Not plastic. This allows for natural airflow and absorption of excess moisture. Besides, the jury is still out on what sort of toxins drip off warm plastic. Rocks should be heated outside the lodge, not inside.

Never Do it Alone
Use the buddy system. It is difficult to think clearly when one is mentally disengaged. There should always be someone willing to refrain from whatever the activity is to make sure everything goes smoothly. In fact...

Always Have an Experienced Facilitator
The first several times you sweat, you should do so under the guidance not just of someone who has done it before, but of someone who has done it many times and who knows what to expect and watch for and what precautions to take.

Drink Lots of Water
Fasting is often part of the sweat lodge ceremony and indeed can enhance any spiritual experience. However, many people neglect water while fasting. This is very dangerous and pointless. The point of fasting is to purification. You cannot purify yourself without water to flush out the old impurities. And if you go into a sweat without adequate fluids in your system, you run a very real risk of dehydration or heat stroke. Fast or no fast, drink lots of water. Not alcohol. Water.

Don't Overcrowd the Lodge
Sweat lodges generally hold up to a dozen people. You should be able to sit comfortably in the lodge without crowding. Remember the lodge is near air tight. Suffocation is a very real possibility if you overcrowd it. Besides, your facilitator will have a very hard time monitoring more than a dozen people at a time. If you have a large number of of people, have one group watch the fire and heat the rocks while the other group sweats and then switch.

Don't be Afraid to Wuss Out
If your facilitator tells you to leave, do it. Don't fight it. If you start to feel faint, breathless or otherwise uncomfortable, seriously consider leading. You will probably be able to stay longer next time around and your facilitator will likely comfort you with stories of other wusses later. Never EVER give someone a hard time if they need to leave. If you do that, you're an asshole.

If Other People Get Sick - Call it Off
You should not feel sick in a sweat lodge. If other people are feeling ill, besides what can be expected- feeling overheated, claustrophobic, needing to step out for air - call it off. This is a sign that something is wrong. If someone loses consciousness, this is a sign that something is very wrong.

Don't Overdo It
An hour is plenty long for a beginner's sweat lodge ceremony. Test your limits carefully and go for a longer ceremony later if you find an hour is easy for you.

Most of these are very common sense and you may be insulted I bothered to mention them, but the tragedy at the Spiritual Warrior's retreat illustrates that sometimes even the obvious needs to be pointed out. As more details about the event emerge, it seems more and more as if the cause of death here was carelessness and failure to follow the most basic of safety rules. The motive, of course, was greed. What else would have prompted someone to stuff 60 some odd people into a sweat lodge!

I hope that those events don't cast a bad light on sweat lodges (which are really quite safe) and lead to extra scrutiny of other events that feature sweat lodge ceremonies.

I am sure there is more to be said about being safe in the sweat lodge and I welcome comments from others on the subject.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Thinking About Health Care (what choice do I have?)

I admit it, I'm bitter. I've been working the same soul sucking dead end job for the past five years and before that it was the same job, different place.

Why? Because it's safe.

I work in an office with lots of other moms like me. I don't do it for the money or job satisfaction. I have a second job to buy groceries and without my husband's income I could barely put a dent in our bills. I work in an airless office where I am expected sit in one spot with nothing but my fingers moving for 60% of my waking life for the free health insurance. One day, when those kids have their own insurance (or my husband finally gets a job that includes health insurance) and I don't have to be responsible anymore I just might follow a dream that doesn't involve the carpal tunnel syndrome and the secretary spread. Because writers and dog trainers don't get health insurance as a rule and they don't tend to make enough money starting out to pay the $300+ or so a month to afford health insurance for a family of 4.

When Obama first started talking about health care reform, I started daydreaming. Yes, I could start training full time. I could spend my spare time writing in a regular meaningful way because I would finally be able to afford health care without depending on the corporate vampires. Maybe, but maybe not. A girl can dream.

I can't get away from health care now. It's on NPR, it's in the paper, it's in my email and I'm pretty sure if I had a TV I would be saying it's on there too. The things they are saying about this reform is alarming and it makes me feel awfully silly for ever having had a daydream.

Here's a look at some of the things I've heard, and this Pagan mom's thoughts on them:

Health care reform, or health insurance reform?
The health insurance companies seem to be right on board with this whole reform thing and that makes me suspicious. Why? Because I don't trust health insurance companies.

Think about it: they would charge me $300 a month to pay 70% of my health insurance costs after a $5000 deductable. What are the chances I'm going to pay more than $5000 in health care, even with two kids? After we've all paid for our physicals & the blood tests that go with them, we'd still need to go for about 10 more visits throughout the year - all including tests, to break $5000. It's a gamble. It's a racket. Health insurance is like a casino. They are betting you don't get sick enough collect back any of the money you gave them and you're betting you are. Meanwhile, if you put that $300 a month in the bank, you've got $3600 to spend on whatever health care you want with no middle man.

But I'm a mother, and everyone knows that responsible mothers insure their children, in case they get cancer or something. So you pay the racket. Insurance companies are like the mafia that runs the neighborhood- if you don't play by their rules you're a pariah.

Which brings me to my next concern.

Some folks are pushing to require everyone to be covered or... what? We get fined? Maybe individuals (maybe not) but certainly employers. Does that include my dog training boss, even though I'm an independent contractor? I don't know. But I highly suspect if he had such a mandate he'd suck it up, with a tear in his eye, and skulk back to corporate hell. Is it good for the economy to put more strain on employers? I don't think so. There are likely going to be exceptions for small companies with only a few employees and probably independent contractors won't count.

If not, I suspect we're going to see a lot of small businesses close down. Of course I live in Michigan which is the worst place in the country (as far as I know) to start your own business. Maybe elsewhere it wouldn't hurt so much.

And when we go back to the idea of insurance companies being a racket, what if you don't want to buy into it? What if you decide, "You know what, I'm a healthy person, in the prime of life, I eat well, I exercise, I am rarely ever sick. When I am sick, I go to a holistic practitioner who doesn't take insurance anyway and most insurance companies wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole if he did. So I think I'm going to take that $300 (or more) a month I spent on insurance and put it in a bank account and pay for my own health care in cash." (Of course I can't make that choice because I'd be a Bad Mother, but if I didn't have kids, I would have a long time ago.)

Now I know what everyone says because I've heard them say it, "But what if you get cancer?" Well, it's my right, isn't it, to decide whether or not I am going to even bother treating my cancer. There is something to be said about dying gracefully and I would rather make that choice than have an insurance company make that choice for me.

In my dream world, I would decide what tests I got and go get them without waiting for my doctor's permission and my HMO's approval. Then I'd get online and read the results myself, consulting with the doctor of MY choice. If I had pain, I would go to the practitioner of MY choice, as it is, I already have to pay for holistic practitioners and a chiropractor out of pocket and he's the one who noticed my legs were slightly different lengths finally solving the mystery that years of intermittent physical therapy (when the doctor gave into my pleading and the HMO approved it) and muscle relaxers could do nothing for.

I don't like mandates because I don't like insurance companies. I don't think we should have to be insured. Yes, there are some people who can't handle their own health care without the guidance of a primary care physician. There are some who have chronic diseases that need supervision, there are those who just have no clue about health and disease and there are those who simply do better following schedules and getting advice. Then there are people who like to handle it themselves and I think they should be allowed to. We don't all need to be sheep.

At the very least I'd like to be able to fire my doctor without asking my HMO for permission and waiting a month for it to be effective.

Concern about "heath care shortages"

So I heard through the grapevine that there is a commercial on TV about how when everyone has access to health care there won't be enough doctors to go around and we're all going to have to wait and wait and wait.

First, I think it's rather appalling to say in effect "Dude, if all the poor people can go to the doctor than all the rich folks will be inconvenienced!"

Because I'll tell you something, us middle class folks, we wait and wait and wait. When I had to go to physical therapy, I had to wait six weeks for an appointment SIX WEEKS. Can you imagine going six weeks with constant pain? If I had to reschedule any of my appointments, I had to do it six weeks out. (I was lucky, two of my coworkers on the same HMO got their physical therapy denied recently, one has fibromyalgia and the other is recovering from a broken ankle.)

The last time I made an appointment for a physical it took nearly as long to get in to see my primary care physician. When I got there, even though I had an appointment, I waited 3 hours in the office before I was seen. Have you ever been to the emergency room? If you think there's any chance at all you're not going to die and you've got anything else going on in the next 48 hours, you're better off staying home. Let the doc re-break that arm and set it in six weeks when you can get an appointment.

We already have a health care shortage. It's been in the news for years. Rich peoples' doctors aren't going to add to their case loads. Doctors have a maximum of how many new patients they will take and then they stop taking them. The rich folks are safe. The middle class folks are screwed anyway so who cares and the poor folks, well they get to buy into the racket now.

The insurance companies are all a-twitter and they should be. Not only is their scam legal, it's proscribed. It's really alarming.

Love it or hate it?

So am I against health care reform. No. I'm not. Health care is screwed up, we need to do what we can to make it better. Personally, I'd prefer an all or nothing approach. Give us state funded health care or strip the insurance companies of their power and legality.

Without insurance companies we'd use our cash to pay for health care and we can set up subsidies for poor folks. Without the insurance companies, doctors and hospitals would have to compete on price which would make things more affordable. Or they could all be government employees and leave us out of it altogether. Personally, I'm for the hands off approach, but I've not met a single person who doesn't want to shout me down on that. Still, I should have the option not to sell my soul to an insurance company.

I'll take what I can get but it should be something that allows people more health care independence, not less. I think of all the people like me who hesitate to start their own businesses because of the health care issue. Those people could provide jobs for other people, if only it didn't mean living under the threat of not being able to receive health care when you need it. This is why health care needs to be fixed, so that our workforce has the freedom to grow our economy.
Yea, I'm selfish. I'm a capitalist.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Review: This Witch for Hire by Kim Harrison

I spent last week in bed with the flu; an annoying situation made tolerable by my latest book club delivery. It was a hardcover 2fer, This Witch for Hire (Dead Witch Walking - The Good, the Bad, and the Undead) which is the first two books in the Hollows series by Kim Harrison.

These stories take place in modern day Ohio, in a parallel world where humans and supernatural people live side by side. There is some hostility between the various groups and, of course, there are various law enforcement agencies to deal with their interactions. Our main character, Rachel Morgan, is a Witch (not a human, a different species) and the product of one of these agencies, but she's gone and quit- sure she can do better as an independent bounty hunter/detective- and set up her own agency. And that, boys and girls, is where we our story begins.

While I was thoroughly entertained, I spent a lot of time rolling my eyes while reading these books. They contain all the things that annoy the hell out of me. Supernatural witches annoy me, but the author at least allows humans to be magic-users too, if sub par ones. Friendly vampires are a major turn off, but at least it's not easy for them. Lack of research is my biggest pet peeve, and the character spends half of the first book in the shape of a mink... which the author apparently believes is rodent considerably smaller than a six-inch pixie... a gnawing creature with big incisors... that eats carrots. Come on. Five minutes on Wikipedia could have remedied that. The most annoying thing is the main character. She likes to spend her time whining about her luck and about how she gets no respect while she runs around acting like a fool and treating others like garbage. She is particularly susceptible to vampire charm due to an unusual incident I won't spoil for you. This is an interesting character trait which would have a much bigger impact if she wasn't a total sex pot who seems to view every man she sees as a mindless walking dildo. Even the ones who want to kill her.

I don't like the main character. She's stupid, reckless, disrespectful and way too much of a hardass to feel any sympathy for. Her priorities are also totally twisted. She is so understanding when her friend tries to EAT her, and she finds out she's been lying to her for years, but she's dead set on bringing down the guy who is smuggling drugs that are outlawed because of reasons she herself thinks are stupid and funding (illegal) research that saves peoples' lives??? She causes ridiculous amounts of problems for the people around her and I don't understand why they like her. I wouldn't give her the time of day.

Most books I keep reading because I'm interested to find out what happened to the character. I make a personal connection. These books are like a train wreck. I can't turn away because I have to find out the details I have to know more. I want to know what happened and how it happened and if there are any body parts scattered about. It's morbid, I know, but I'm going to keep reading this series just because. At least when I have nothing better to read. Assuming I can get them cheap.

This isn't literature- it's total fluff. It's like the Harlequin novels I used to snitch from my mom's headboard, except not quite as smutty. (There is some gratuitous sex, just not as much.) It's not quality but it is entertainment. And bonus: it's got funny bits.


Monday, August 31, 2009

Witch Wanted

Young and gothy? Got some witchy skills? Well there's a guy on Craigslist that has a job for you. For $20 an hour you could be hired by some guy who posted this amusing bit of something:

Looking for talented Witches ages 18 - 25 who like to work in dark, goth type scenarios. It is helpful to be comfortable with the metal music atmosphere.

This will be for work in fortune telling, healing, and magical services of all sorts offered to the public.

In Your Reply PLEASE PROVIDE A FEW PHOTOS and a phone number to reach you for a prompt response.

* Location: Oakland County
* it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
* Compensation: $20.00 an hour

Assuming this is real, I have no problem with the idea of someone doing readings and offering magical services to the public. However, I am not sure that anyone between the ages of 18 and 25 should really be doing that. Assuming you went to High School and then college, even if you were born to a Momwitch, when exactly is an 18-25 year old supposed to learn the skills of reading, healing (does he mean herblore or energy work?)AND spellcasting well enough to be able to put on a good show of it? I don't know, perhaps it's possible but that's alot of study for someone who is just getting out of college. I doubt my daughter would qualify at the mid range of that in a few years unless she quit school and started studying full time right now. And what teenager would study magick, divination and herb lore if they were given the opportunity to quit school? No, she wouldn't have the focus. I did. I studied herb lore and magick feverishly from the time I was 15 but I'm not sure I would have been comfortable doing it for a living at 25 and I sure couldn't have done readings too.

I know alot of young people who can do great readings OR healings OR spellcasting but to find someone who can do all three, and look good in leather? I'm thinking this guy is going to have to pay more than the $20 an hour he's offering.

What this guy should be looking for is an actress. I am sure that is what he actually wants, but it would be nice if people would be enlightened enough to admit that in their posts. This sort of thing always makes me giggle.

Anyway, I'm not offended, except perhaps by the fact that I'm obviously too old and unattractive to be a suitable witch for whatever it is he's planning. But whatever. I don't work for $20 an hour. I don't know any psychics who do either. If you're unemployed, into the goth scene and young and hot, this could be a golden opportunity to practice your witchy skills on a regular basis. After all, practice makes perfect and this sort of experience can only help one grow and learn. In one way or another.

But I do hope whoever responds is careful. Send pictures and your phone number? Creepy. Is this some guy with a weird fetish trying to get his rocks off? Could be. But isn't $20 an hour as light for a fetish worker as it is for a psychic?

***** Update! ****

So today the guy has posted a new ad. He's expanded his age range and his pay. Did he read my blog, I wonder? He's also offered a little more information about the position. When emailed previously about the position and what it entailed, he replied only with "Send a picture". Clearly skill is secondary to his requirements. Here's the new ad.

Girls needed to model for pagan-witchcraft-themed web-site.

Great for those who find that idea intriguing. We want everyone to have fun with that entire scene and enjoy attention.

Shoots will take place mostly on Sundays.

Depending on interest and aptitude, you might be invited to become one of our full-time staff. See us at and apply there for staff positions, if you like.

In Your Reply: PROVIDE SOME RECENT PHOTOS and always include a phone number to reach you.

* Location: Oakland County
* it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
* Compensation: $25.00 an hour

I paid a visit to the website, and you should too. has pictures of half naked young girls in lingerie. It looks like the front of a porn or dating site (the part that's PG-13 to get you all excited for the good stuff you have to paypal them to get to). It says that they want to hear from young women because they have some sort of magical advantage. It says that they will teach you to realize your magical potential to get everything you ever wanted. It says ... that they will let you into some secret empire that rules the Earth. (what, us??)

I'm not the only one that's concerned. Our local witch-biddy squad has uncovered additional information using various internet tools, including Whois and others - It's a company called Wild Things Entertainment in Farmington - and the address - a residential neighborhood near a school.

Now, his line is pretty far fetched and the average girl is probably savvy enough to not fall for it. Anyone curious about Wicca, Witchcraft, Paganism, magick or the occult have plenty of opportunity to learn more if they just do a quick search on the internet as they will be certain to stumble upon,, Witches Of Michigan, or FOCAS before they come across this guy - I hope. And even if they didn't - well, you'd have to be pretty dumb. But this reflects badly on all of us, and the potential exists for someone to be seriously victimized.

This is some serious shit here folks. This guy has predator written all over him. This witch is at a loss of what to do.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Some Confusion in the News

Harvest season is Pagan Pride Season. I think it's possible that our Detroit Pagan Pride Day (August 8th) was the first and despite the fact that it was cold and raining pretty much the whole day, I think a good time was had by all. Unless you're local and have therefore already had your Pagan Pride Day, it's safe to say there's a Pagan Pride Day coming to a metro area near you. Visit the Pagan Pride Day website to find out more.

An Odinist group in California caused a stir when witnesses to their harvest rite decided they must be Nazis. They've got a good attitude about it, admitting that they can see why people might think that, but everyone admits nobody broke any laws. You can find out more about the Raven's Folk Kindred at their website as well as hear a bit more of their side of the story.

Another case that's a little more confusing is the expulsion of a Wiccan from an energy healing program. Sally Wild claims she was kicked out for being Wiccan (Does it blow anyone else's mind that a Wiccan would be thrown out of an energy healing program?) while the program director said that it was a result of concerns about her mental state and unstable behavior. The court rejected Ms Wild's complaint.

By the way: Remember the Wookey Hole Witch auditions? They hired a real estate agent.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Another Quick Look at Current Events

If you're a fan of The Wicker Man, you'll be excited to know that there's a sequel in the works, starring Sir Christopher Lee (as it should) called Cowboys for Christ it's based on a book by the same title by Robin Hardy.

If you think earth works and giant images in sides of mountains are only remnants of the ancient past, check out the proposed Green Goddess of the North to be installed by a mining company in Northumberland in the UK.

The community was also abuzz in the past weeks over a tourist trap in the UK posting a well-paying position for a witch. If you're interested, check out the website and be ready to prove that you're witchier than anyone else in on-site auditions on July 28th.

In more employment news out of the UK, Pagan police officers are now guaranteed time off for Pagan High Days. A Pagan Police Association is also in the works. Nice one, UK! I wonder if the the Wookey Hole Witch will get Sabbats off. Somehow I doubt it.

By the way, if you're interested in the status of Pagan police officers in the United States, check out Officers of Avalon.

Not all of the news out of Europe is good this cycle. Vasily Chervoni, a Ukrainian politician was struck by lightening and killed on a fishing trip. I'm sure someone somewhere is going to have a field day with that one!

Not all of the news is out of Europe! Gulf Islanders celebrated a Nordic Festival earlier this month.

... and our own Jonathan Sharkey, the Vampyre King (remember the candidate from the Vampyre Witches & Pagan Party which, alas, does not seem to have a website) is on his way to Indianapolis Jail on harassment charges. It seems he thought he was being pursued by a vampire hunter.

Meanwhile, a Connecticut community is puzzling over various ritual items that have been found in various places around town. Weird stuff and, unlike some reports of ritual activity that is more like crazy people than magick-users, this seems to be actual ritual activity.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Quick Look at Current Events

Here's a look at some news of interest to the Pagan community at large:

As with just about any Pagan holiday, the summer solstice seems to be an invitation for the media to take note that Pagans exist. This year, Pagans in Russia got some attention as did a few in Texas. And of course, we cannot forget Stonehenge

As a Neo-Hellenic Polytheist, I am always fascinated with news coming out of Greece and a fellow member of the Hellenic Pagan Yahoo group posted a great article about connecting with Poseidon in Athens and another one that got me even more excited about shows performed at the open air amphitheater at Epidaurus. I was excited because I've been there, though I didn't get to see a show. I am not sure there were shows back then. But I'm ready to head back to Greece at the first opportunity.

I'm not sure how I feel about this article about sex offenders. The offenders interviewed just happen to be Pagan, but that's not what the article is about. I've always thought our sex offender laws needed a bit of an overhaul and maybe they do, but that is one heck of a loaded topic. Kudos to the journalist who tackled it, but I'm not sure he got to the point. How should sex offenders be dealt with? And more to the point of Witchmoot, how should the Pagan community address this issue?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Abortion, Fertility and Kids... Oh my...

Abortion has been in the news due to the murder of Dr Tiller in Kansas by an anti-abortion activist and this has got me thinking about ... abortion and about kids. The truth is, anti-abortionists aren't thinking about what's best for kids and most abortion rights supporters actually really like kids. It's so complicated but the media wants to paint it all in black and white. You can't do that.

The decision to have (or not have) a child is quite possibly the most complicated decision of one's life. (Assuming you are sane) If you marry the wrong spouse, you can divorce. If you choose the wrong career, you can quit your job and find a new one. If you chose the wrong major in college, you can go back to college. If you buy the wrong house, assuming the economy hasn't totally tanked, you can sell it and buy another one. But if you have a child you aren't ready for, you're stuck with it. Forever. Yes, you can give it up in its first year when it's cute and looks at you adoringly and doesn't amazing things like sit up, crawl, stand and walk for the first time and you're all hopped up on oxytocin (not to be confused with oxycontin may also be helpful, but isn't recommended) and not thinking clearly anyway. But after that, when the little beast starts talking back, breaking your crap, embarrassing you in public, biting his teachers, skipping school, fighting, lying, cheating, stealing and bringing unsavory characters into your home- he's all yours. No matter what. Unless of course he breaks the law and then you get to send him to Juvey and spend sleepless nights wondering if he's okay, if he's eating right, if the other delinquents are nice to him. And of course, whatever happens, it will be your fault entirely.

Furthermore, you will sink more money into this giant mess-making, stuff "borrowing", back talking garbage disposal than anything else in your whole life- ever. He will cost more than your house, your car, your college education and all the clothes you've ever bought in your life combined. And that's not the worst of it, this ungrateful being that burst forth from your loins (Never asking to be born she will remind you later) has the power in her breast to cause you more emotional pain and trauma than any other being you will ever encounter.

This you must bear all the while keeping in mind that this monster who has taken over your entire life and puked, peed or pooped on all the best parts of it is a child with a delicate psyche and a mind like a sponge that you must not pollute with your own angst but instead allow to grow and expand, to learn about the world, to develop self-discipline, values, and dreams all its own (to be crushed by your grandchildren, of course). You must strive every day give this beautiful, perfect gift from the Goddess all of the things we wish our parents could have given us. Every decision that you make must be weighed against how it will affect the dear gift's feelings, living situation, education, health, security, and the amount of time you have to spend indoctrinating him.

So if you're going to have a kid, you better damn well be ready.

There are many reasons for having a kid. I can't think of a good one. I know I had my first child because I wanted something of my own that would love me. I should've gotten a dog. I had my second because I thought my first should have a sibling. I actually hold by that decision and think it was a good one, but if I'd gotten a dog in the first place, I could've just gotten another dog. Not long ago, when I got married I decided I wanted to have a child with my husband as a symbol of our love... or something. He got me a ring and told me to get over it. Thank Goodness!

Some other very bad reasons to have children:

  • To "save" your relationship (It won't. It'll just make it worse.) or to make someone love you more (If he doesn't love you now do you think he's going to love you when you're bloated and sleepless? Hah.)

  • Because your mother or father wants grandchildren (it's probably out of spite)

  • The Quiverfull movement, otherwise known as Clowncar Vaginas for Jesus, is all about having as many children as you can so that you can indoctrinate them with Christianity, thus building up the ranks of Christians. This seems like child exploitation to me. (Didn't the Nazis have a similar plan? Does that creep anyone else out?)

    Of course there's the Duggar Family who have elevated this concept to a very public art and are all about showing off the efficacy of their gonads for the glory of the Lord- but at least they have them naturally.
  • The latest and greatest, Nadya Suleman who, despite the fact that she was broke and on disability somehow managed to have herself repeatedly implanted with dozens of embryos on her way to fame. Her reason seems to be simply that she's nuts and she's looking for a book deal.

    Of course, it's not new or unique in our day and age when the exploitation of huge amounts of children is fashionable. Take TLC's Jon & Kate Make 8 which not only exploits children but publically embarrasses them by splattering the exploits of their idiot parents all over the tabloids.

Children are much like pets. If you have more than two or three, you start running into problems paying for their food and medical care. It helps, I suppose, to become a reality TV show so you can afford all your cute funny pets. Of course, if I had that many dogs in my house, and was planning to continue to breed indiscriminately, my neighbors would complain (with good reason), the dogs would be seized and I'd likely be the subject of the next town hall meeting.

There are so few good reasons to have children and so many good reasons to keep your family sizes small:

  • If you give birth to large litters of children (which rarely happens without the help of modern science) how are you supposed to breast feed those kids? If you don't breast feed them, you know you're not giving them the best start and you're not getting those hormones the Goddess in Her wisdom provided us to prevent infanticide.
  • The more kids you have, the less individual attention you can provide each one. The less you can spend on things like tutors, lessons, vacations, summer camp, school field trips, etc. for each one.
  • The carbon footprint of the average American is 20 metric tons. Every child that is born represents a new footprint. Consider.

But there are no marches on Washington to end this ridiculous rash of reproduction. No. Instead people are marching to make abortion illegal. Nobody shoots fertility doctors. They shoot abortion doctors. (Not that I advocate shooting anyone, mind you) While I realize not all fertility doctors encourage people to give birth to ridiculous amounts of infants at a time but each child that a fertility doctor helps produce represents not only that 20 metric ton carbon footprint, but another child languishing in foster care somewhere. Think about it. If Jon and Kate had adopted 8 kids instead of given birth to 8, sure they might not be getting the TLC paycheck right now, but they'd be more worthy of respect.

Now nobody likes abortion and nobody likes the idea of abortion- including abortion doctors, I am sure. But abortion doctors provide necessary services to adults and children alike:

  • Since so many people would rather turn to fertility treatments than adoption to get their "Hey look this creature has no choice but to love me" fix, abortion doctors provide a valuable service helping to keep our foster care system from being even more over crowded than it already is.
  • Since many abusive men will use pregnancy as a means to control the women they have chosen to victimize, abortion doctors serve a valuable role in the fight against domestic violence.
  • Since sexual crimes against women and children still run rampant through our culture, abortion doctors help victims of rape and incest to heal by taking away one worry, so they can focus on the rest.
  • Since the occasional woman who already has enough kids and can't afford anymore or can't take time off to have another child has an accidental pregnancy, abortion doctors help keep existing families together and functioning.
  • Since many low-income women are cognizant of the fact that having a child may require them to seek public assistance to continue to survive, abortion doctors help keep taxes from being raised even more.
  • Since women and girls facing unwanted pregnancies will continue to seek abortions by whatever means available to them, whether they be herbal means, coathangers or so-called backalley abortions if safe abortion services are not available to them abortion doctors save lives.

Do I think everyone should go run out and have an abortion? No. Do I think abortion should be used as a means for birth control? No. Do I hate fertility doctors? No. I don't think laws restricting abortion or fertility treatments are appropriate but I can't get my brain around a society that celebrates the clown car vagina while while tearing itself apart over the abortion issue. What we need is some common sense and some responsibility.

I don't believe in abortion, I think it's a terrible thing. That's why I use condoms and I teach my children to use condoms every time- so that my family never has to deal with that decision. That's why I tell them condoms aren't enough and teach them about various methods available to them and how their bodies work all the while trying to instill that sex is sacred, that sex is divine union, that reproduction is the most fabulous power given to mankind and that it must be wielded responsibly.

I love my children and I am amazed every day that they came from me, these fabulous fascinating (and at times cruel) beings that have shaped my world for the last 16 years and will continue to do so till I die. I want them to feel that same fascination and I don't want it to be cheapened because they are overwhelmed with a litter of 6 or riddled with guilt over an abortion. But if it comes down to it, it's not my decision, it's my daughter's or that of my son's partner. It is they that must think on how a new little life that they create will affect their life- until death- and whether or not they can deal with it. Because frankly, if a woman isn't ready to be a mother, she shouldn't have a child.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Witchcraft and Weirdness with Heather Graham

So people are pointing out how stupid this girl is and how weird she is being... but in her I hear echos of my own teenage experiments and I'm thinking, "oh she's just discovering witchcraft and she's excited" and we didn't make fools of ourselves because we weren't in the public eye.

That being said... Isn't she a little old for that? The giddiness I mean. And doesn't she have handlers to tell her to put the brakes on before she makes a fool of herself? Anyway. I think it's cute. Is that patronizing? Disrespectful? Yea. Maybe, but I still think it's cute.

What blows my mind is that when asked how she felt about the breastfeeding scene in the this clip she replies that she thought it was weird but she likes raunchy humor so it was okay.

Breastfeeding = raunchy humor? What is raunchy or humorous about breastfeeding exactly? Okay, the discomfort of the guys in the scene was kind of funny, but raunchy? I don't get it.

She's just out to offend, shock or annoy everyone huh? Or maybe she really is that stupid. I find it hard to believe that anyone could be, but I guess if I can believe in magic I can believe in stupid people.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Are We Ready for More Leadership

This summer members of the Pagan community who serve in, or want to serve in leadership positions are invited to the Pagan Leadership Skills Conference in Richmond, VA, July 23rd through the 26th. Circle Sanctuary is also offering a Pagan Leadership Institute during Pagan Spirit Gathering this year (June 14-21 near Salem, MO). The call is there. Leaders step forward! We need you. We want you. Are we ready? I don't know.

I've been saying for years that the Pagan community needs to get more organized. This much creativity and imagination scattered to the winds is just shame. Not to mention the benefits of organization that we just don't have because we just aren't.

But "they" say that you can't organize a group this diverse. Is that so? Do you think Dr. Martin Luther King's followers only consisted of Southern black Christians? And heck, this is America. We're all about diversity here. We have a government, a bureaucracy, don't we? And isn't it built on a model that was developed by... what? Pagans?

Diversity is a strength, not a weakness. A leader whose followers consist of carbon copies of himself has nowhere to go but where he already is. How boring is that? A diverse group will prevent abuse by its leaders and will bring creative and unique solutions to problems and multiple talents to create a firm foundation for whatever project they want to get off the ground.

We have some leaders. Good leaders who have served the community for years, but we need more. Many of these have been active since the 60s and could use some backup from a fresh generation to deal with 21st century issues. We also need leaders to cooperate rather than compete. It seems there's a lot of "I can do it better" among the leadership of different groups, and I have seen more than one embarrassing spat. Leaders accuse others of everything from whoring to being "in it for the money" as if there were money to be made in public service (and as if the quest for money was somehow a bad thing). I have seen promising leaders throw up their hands in defeat after losing huge amounts of time and money on projects that they were promised help on, and that many members of the community swore they wanted, but in the end were only attended by a few, if any.

People complain and even verbally attack organizers because events aren't conveniently located for them (only to not bother to show up when the next event is located near them) or costs too much (but will not help with lowering costs). It is as if many Pagans really want to live in a fantasy world where everything is convenient, free, fun and requires no effort whatsoever. Who are these people? I am sure they aren't the majority, but a loud minority (like the fundies) drowning out the voices of the reasonable.

I have heard the argument that Pagans are, as a group, generally not terribly wealthy. Bull says I. You're telling me that people who can waste their money on jewel encrusted wands, solid gold pentagrams, ungodly velvet cloaks, renfest wear of all sorts, not to mention authentic medieval weapons, statues and more statues, and scads of herbs, oils and incense... can't afford to pay a few dollars a month in dues to an organization that is created for their benefit or shell out a couple hundred a year for fellowship events? I think it's really a matter of trust. And I've always been suspicious of people who didn't trust other people.

There are more and more of us in trouble now due to the economy. We should be able to support each other in times of trouble with networking and maybe even material support. But that can't be done without organization.

I have been involved with the Pagan community for almost 10 years now and in that time I have heard the excuses, the whining and the accusations. I have seen promising leaders give up and promising organizations fold. But I have also seen more positive signs in recent years. More open dialogue, more acceptance of diverse ideas and more people unafraid to call bullshit when they see it. Of course, there are more of us out of the broom closet making ourselves known to each other and many of us are *gasp* normal people and it seems that the loud minority is maybe not quite as loud as it once was. There are more young people in the Pagan community who were raised Pagan and don't see it as a revolutionary thing and those of us approaching middle age who once did have gotten tired of rebellion and are ready for a more pragmatic approach.

We have to take care of each other. It's as simple as that. And someone is going to have to handle the paperwork. Someone is going to have to handle the logistics and legalities and someone is going to have to bring snacks. Those people are our leaders. Let's support them! If you're one of those people THANK YOU! I know how hard it is sometimes. And if you're one of those people on the fence, thinking about jumping into the leadership arena, if you've got a great idea or you think you might know of a better way to do something- speak up. I am not sure that we're ready for you, but we just might be.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Pagan Community News Update

<b>Much Ado About the Lawn</b>
As a Greek Orthodox church prepared to plant a community garden earlier this month they were "shocked" to discover their 1-acre plot had been <a href="">vandalized</a>. A pentagram had been cut into the lawn with a lawn mower. As far as vandalism goes, pretty harmless but boy what a <a href=",0,3348096.story?track=rss">hullabaloo</a>. However, they will continue undaunted, as if a Pagan fertility symbol would daunt their efforts to plant a garden, and purify the land and carry on. Or I guess they could just mow the rest of the lawn...

<b>Archaeologists Ponder Old Stuff and New Old Stuff</b>
I am obsessed with Anthropology and Archaeology and I just love sites like Vesuvius. I had the opportunity to visit once and let me tell you, it cannot be described. You must go there. Unfortunately, a lot of what was there is no longer there. <a href=",,25468053-12332,00.html?from=public_rss">As this article points out</a>, much of the site was stripped of anything valuable by collectors before the scientists got to it.

In other, perhaps less redundant Archaeology news, Archaeologists in Germany believe they have found the oldest man-made human figure. <a href="">Of course she's a woman</a>.

<b>Obama, Sex, Babies and Catholics</b>
Has pragmatism really come to Washington? Obama has done stuff I don't like, and stuff I like. I am not dancing with joy over his budget (I don't know that he is either) but I am glad that it seeks to end annoying and harmful programs like <a href="">abstinence only sex education</a>.

In related news, his invitation to deliver the commencement speech at Notre Dame <a href="">sent the Catholic pro-Life folks into a tizzy</a> leading them to decide it was appropriate to interfere with one of the great milestones in the lives of thousands of students to show off pictures of aborted fetuses and otherwise display their complete lack of respect for everyone present. I'm all about free speech. But there is a time and a place. But I also get that I don't get it. R<a href="">ead his speech</a> and see where he stands on the issue (he thinks we need to focus on preventing abortions.)

<b>Various Freedom of Religion Ruckuses (Ruckusi?)</b>
Dorchester County Council in South Carolina <a href="">had a disagreement</a> over whether to characterize America as a Christian Nation.

Meanwhile, an Ohio school board has been notified that it should lay off the <a href="">prayers in its graduation ceremonies</a>. Wow. So much graduation drama.

<b>Faith and Healing</b>
<a href="">Here's a heartwarming story</a> about a young cancer survivor and her family who is working to bring healing to others. Why am I including this in a Pagan blog? Because they happen to be Wiccan and use energetic and holistic healing methods.

<b>Gay Pagans?</b>
A Q&amp;A column out of Jacksonville, Florida asks the question, "Do Pagans think it's Okay to be Gay?" <a href="">See what people had to say about it</a>. I was down with pretty much all of it until M. Macha Nightmare started rambling about the Law of 3-Fold Return, which a good chuck of us (Pagans) completely reject as being foolishness (one-fold I can see, threefold makes no logical sense.) and doesn't relate to the question anyway.

What do you think about these stories? I'd love to hear your thoughts on these and your input on more I haven't found.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Another News Update

Arthur Pendragon (Not the roundtable guy, the British Druid guy) has been sitting in at Stonehenge for the last 10 months protesting, among other things, the removal of remains buried there but now he's been ordered to pack up and leave. He says hell no, he won't go. He's a Pagan archaologist's nightmare but you have to admire his gumption.

In Mexico
Santa Muerte has been getting a lot of hassle from the government who links her to drug trafficking. I'm not in Mexico, so I can't comment too much but I will say that I don't agree with any government crack down on any religious group. It can only bring trouble, besides being fundamentally wrong. There has been some speculation on the message boards that the swine flu and Mexico's earth quake might have been Santa Muerta's response to this. I'm not speculating, just saying that it's being done.

Awhile ago I took note of the demise of the First Church of Wicca. But it's not over, oh no. Apparently these folks can't get enough publicity and are in the news again. Nothing exciting. Just talking about how great it is to be all converted and stuff.

Midwestern US Pagans have something new to take note of. Balefire Magazine just released their first quarterly issue (for Beltane). The magazine is targeted specifically toward the Midwest Pagan audience.

Heathen members of the military and their families should take note of a new Asatru military family support program called the Hammer Project. One of their primary goals is to get Thor's Hammer (Mjolnir) approved for use on government provided headstones for Asatru veterans.

Friday, February 27, 2009

What's All the Fuss About Twilight

"It's a fat book" My son said defensively when discovered reading <a href=";;tag=thehearth-20&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957">Twilight</a>, "So it sucks. I like fat books." I told him I wanted to read it and he looked at me incredulously "Why?"

My son brought home Twilight from the library two weeks ago. Since then we've all read it, with the exception of my husband who values his time much more than the rest of us. My daughter read it because all her friends had. I read it to see the fuss was about. Frankly, I still don't know what the fuss was about.

I haven't read the rest of the series (I probably will because I am told it is better and I'm just the sort of cat that curiosity kills) so I can only discuss Twilight and, frankly, I feel a migraine coming on at the thought. Fat book or no, I read it in two evenings. I tried not to skip too much but, frankly, some of it was just too painful to wallow through. I remember reading <a href="">comments by Stephen King</a> about this book, he said that while it was entertaining for young folks, the author just "can't write worth a darn." I thought, "Yea, coming from the guy who stuffs 90% of his books with descriptions of Main and 10% with plot." Well, he was right. She can't.

I'm not an editor, so I won't talk too much about grammar, but it would have been nice if someone had edited that book. The characters were shallow and you didn't care one bit what happened to them. About halfway through the book I turned to my daughter (she was reading by day and I was reading by night so we were roughly around the same spot) and said, "You know, she could save this plot if Bella kills Edward in the end." "She won't." she replied sadly. And I knew it was true. It was totally predictable. Every inch of it. Alas.

Many people have compared the Twilight series with the <a href=";;tag=thehearth-20&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957">Harry Potter</a> series, <a href="">including Robert Pattinson</a> who played Edward on Twilight and Cedrick Diggory in the Harry Potter movies (and you can hardly blame him considering). Sorry, no comparison. JK Rowling is brilliant, her stories are creative and her characters are very well developed. This is evident by the fact that so many reviews of her work are emotionally charged based on what happened to the characters rather than on the quality of her work. Think about it, her skill is so developed, that it has ceased to matter in critiquing her work. Meanwhile, Stephanie Meyers is so lacking in skill that it's hard to get past that and figure out exactly what she's trying to say. I suspect she's not really saying anything but instead living out her own white horse fantasies in the written word.

The Twilight character Edward, while shallow, is annoying as hell. If I knew this guy personally, I would have staked him the first day. Bella is pathetic. Not a heroine, a stupid little girl with a martyr complex who needs rescuing every two seconds.

The plot is the most annoying thing about this book. It is not an original plot. It is the same plot of every Victorian romance novel and the hundreds of Harlequin romances my mother used to hide in the headboard of her bed, and I used to steal- till I realized they all had the same plot.

It goes like this:
Girl meets boy. They are irresistibly drawn to each other for no apparent reason except maybe hormones. Boy fights it because of some issue and ends up treating girl like crap. She's miserable. Then, she's in danger and he has to save her life. They get along for awhile, but he still has issues, so he acts like an ass some more. Ultimately, he confesses his issues, she shows him it's not a big deal, he is delighted he's found someone who can accept him even though he sucks, he ceases to be an asshole and they live happily ever after.

I remember in my younger days talking to my mother about these books and trying to explain just what a terrible message they were sending to women and girls who read them.
1. If a man needs to save you, he'll realize how much you mean to him. 2. A man who is a jerk will stop being a jerk once he realizes how much you mean to him. And
3. All you have to do is wait it out, take the abuse, accept whatever issues he has with grace and you will eventually be rewarded with blissful love.
She told me that some women needed that message to stay in their marriages. I was mind boggled. "Maybe," I replied, "those women shouldn't stay in their marriages."

But Twilight's message is even worse. Now, granted Edward is a vampire and vampires don't have to follow human laws of decency, but why exactly is it okay that he snuck into her house and spied on her while she slept? How is that romantic and not just creepy and disgusting? I mean, are there no stalking laws in Forks?

Another thing that really needs to be addressed by society at large is the fact that physical attraction does not equal love. Now I understand that a whirlwind romance is in fact that, romantic and whirlwind-y, but it's not love. Love comes knowing someone and appreciating the good things about them as well as the bad things. Despite Edward's 4000 question game, these two characters don't know each other at all. Hell, we the readers barely know them and we know stuff they don't. And yet they are both willing to throw their lives away for each other? That's not love, that's co-dependency. Both of these manic depressive characters also use threats of suicide and other harm to themselves to control the other; that is not appropriate in a relationship. At all. Ever.

What Twilight does is romanticize a relationship that far too many giant red flag <a href="">warning signs of future abuse</a> for comfort. He is controlling, he is jealous, he uses threats of suicide and leaving to control her, he spies on her, follows her around without her knowledge or permission and does his very best to convince her that if he didn't, something terrible would happen to her. Likewise he is a big whiny, manipulative baby who coerces her repeatedly into doing things she doesn't want to do and is obviously working very hard to convince her that not only does she need him to keep her from hurting herself, he needs her to keep from killing himself. Oh my.

And doesn't it strike anyone as a little creepy that a 100 year old guy is getting busy with a 17 year old girl? Okay, I know he <i>looks</i> 17, but he's not. It's just gross.

My daughter wondered aloud yesterday why why all of her friends like this book so much with its unoriginal plot, unlikeable characters and uninteresting writing style. I replied "Well, most kids didn't cut their teeth on Shakespeare and Homer." And it's true. We are a family of nerds. Most kids don't know bad literature when they see it and are afraid of good literature. I suspect the popularity of such a crappy book is indicative of the state of our public schools.

I have frequently been amazed at the impact early exposure to good literature has had on my children. I wasn't exposed to it a great deal till I was in college, which happened to be when they were little and that's why they heard classic novels at bedtime instead of storybooks and our puppet shows were based on classic theatre. But I really think this has increased their enjoyment of many things. For example Oh Brother Where Art Thou is much more amusing if you've read the Odyssey. People who are familiar with classical literature have a much more developed sense of symbolism and experience greater enjoyment of visual arts, music, poetry and modern films that utilize it.

But as usual, I digress.

Curiosity sent me to the Christian websites to see their take on Twilight and the jury is mixed. Some, like <a href="">Ignite your Faith reviewer Stacy Lingle</a> find value in the themes of selfless love, sacrifice, resisting temptation and good triumphing over evil. Others, like <a href="">the author of this blog</a> see Edward Cullen as an anti-Christ figure, and agree with me that the message it contains is a poor one for today's young girls.

As a Pagan, I find Twilight irritating in many ways and I'm frankly relieved my children hated it and the characters in it. It tells me I must've done <i>something</i> right in raising them (certainly not everything!) I would be interested to hear what other members of the Pagan and magical community think of this series. Please leave comments, even disparaging ones. I am really interested in hearing from people who like the book because as open as I like to think my mind is, I just can't get my brain around it.

Meanwhile, I am going to horrify my son by requesting he check the rest of the series out of the middle school library, because I'm a masochist like that. Not enough of a masochist to pay for them... but they can't be much worse now that they've got the predefined romance plot out of the way... can they?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Goodbye First Church of Wicca

<a href="">The First Church of Wicca</a> got media attention when it was featured on <a href="">The Learning Channel</a>'s "My Unique Family" in an episode entitled "<a href="">The Witches Next Door</a>". At the time I remember wondering why a Wiccan Priestess would want to wear a Catholic Priest's collar. It seems awfully symbolic of a patriarchal system that's not quite what Wicca's about to me, but who am I to judge? I'm not Wiccan, what do I know?

If you go to the First Church of Wicca's website today, you will find the following: (I provide this rather than just a link because I imagine the website will disappear soon.)

<i>Thank you for all of your loving support over the past 5
years and we have enjoyed serving the Wiccan community
and answering all of your questions, comments, and
prayer requests. However, the church will be closing due
to the fact that our minister, the Rev. Dr. Kendra Vaughan
Hovey, will be opening a new church in May of 2009.

Living Waters Community of Hope will focus on helping
people heal from their experiences of inequity from past
religions and religious institutions, using Jesus Christ and
his teachings in the Bible as the foundation of how to have
a meaningful relationship with God, as well as, holistic
health of mind, body, and soul.

If you are interested in receiving more information about
Living Waters Community of Hope please see our website
at for information as it becomes
available </i>

This may come as somewhat of a shock to some. Though we may have somewhat gotten used to the idea that some people "Outgrow" Paganism and evolve into atheists (I know many personally who have and an article at the <a href="">Wild Hunt</a> expounds on the phenomena) the idea of a Pagan turning Christian is kind of a strange one. After all, most of us came from Christian backgrounds and made a deliberate and conscious choice to embrace a Pagan faith instead. Many of us suffered great heartache and did a lot of soul searching. The idea of just waking up one day and saying "all this is bullshit, I'm totally wrong" just to go back to the thing that didn't satisfy us in the first place is kind of strange.

But if you read the "About Us" page on The First Church of Wicca's website you'll see that it's not much of a stretch. Under "Our Beliefs" you'll find, among other things:
<i>3) We believe in the teachings of the Bible and Jesus Christ, and consistently live by His teachings for our spiritual and moral foundation.</i>
<i>7) Some of us believe in resurrection and salvation through Jesus Christ.
It seems that the First Church of Wicca had one foot in the Christian church to begin with.

Under the What We Don't Believe section is:
<i>2) We do not believe in practicing Magick in our church.</i>
<i>3) We do not believe in practicing ritual in our church.</i>

Which begs the question: What do they do in their church?
It sounds like the First Church of Wicca wasn't very Wiccan to begin with... Which means we're probably better off without them. There are enough confused newbie Wiccans in the world without people being deliberately confusing. A more suspicious kind of person might wonder if it wasn't some conspiracy afoot. But I'm not a suspicious sort of person so I'll quit that line of thought right now. However, if I were a suspicious sort of person, the letter she sent out to members and supporters of the church would certainly have me speculating.

<i>I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for supporting the First Church of Wicca and its efforts within the Pagan/Wiccan community over the past five years. I have thoroughly enjoyed serving you and answering all of your questions, comments, and prayer requests. However, the church will be closing due to the fact that I will be opening a new church in May of 2009.
Living Waters Community of Hope will focus on helping people heal from their experiences of inequity from past religions and religious institutions, using Jesus Christ and his teachings in the Bible as the foundation of how to have a meaningful relationship with God, as well as how to attain holistic health of mind, body, and soul. If you are interested in receiving more information about Living Waters Community of Hope please see our website at for information as it becomes available or email ReverendKendra@.... Please remember that I am always available to help you with any questions, concerns, or thoughts that you may have about your Wiccan practice.

For those of you who are wondering why I am closing the First Church of Wicca, understand that in my several years of studying Wicca and working as a Wiccan High Priestess, I have come to see the serious failings of the Wiccan faith. A major problem with the faith is that there is no unity among the followers of the faith which makes it very challenging to define exactly what Wiccans do and do not believe in. Wiccans have a very open "do what you will" or "live and let live" perspective in life which very easily can cause harm to oneself and others without one actually knowing it until it is much too late. Additionally, there is no unified moral code of ethics. This puts up huge red flags for society-at-large because no one can really be quite sure of what any group's intentions are. Society would have no way of knowing, for example, if you are a Wiccan that practices the Great Rite or polyamory, to name only two examples. Also, they would have no way of knowing just what "Do what ye will and harm none" means, and quite frankly, neither does each individual Wiccan. We are left to make moral and ethical decisions for ourselves rather than realizing that by human nature we are going to do anything that feels good to us, not what is best for us, and also not necessarily what is best for society as a whole. This makes for a very dangerous and faulty moral code of ethics. In addition, Wicca teaches primarily about how we can change the world and have all that we want. Spells, magick, etc. all prove to cause us to think selfishly instead of putting others before ourselves and more importantly instead of putting God before anyone else, including ourselves. It is very understandable that one would be close to nature and the earth, as well as, feel a need to call "God" the "God and Goddess;" however, the actual rote and complicated spells involved in Wicca can prove to be a huge distraction in one's spiritual growth. We do not need all of the "ritual things" in order to have a relationship with God - all we need is a sincere and thankful heart.

I personally have learned that through a true and deep understanding of Christ and his teachings, I can have the relationship with God that I have always wanted and more importantly, I am better equipped to teach how others can also have that relationship. Leaving Wicca was nothing lost for me, but turning to Christ has been everything gained! If you have any interest in learning more about my relationship with Christ I will be happy to share it with you.

Meanwhile, if you would like to remain on the mailing list for Living Waters Community of Hope, please reply to this email stating just that. Otherwise, I will assume that you do not and you will be permanently removed from our database prior to May 1, 2009.

I wish you many blessings on your spiritual journey!

It's a Good Life!
Rev. Dr. Kendra Vaughan Hovey</i>
(Note: I took out information identifying who the letter was sent to, but did not alter the letter in any other way)

The remarks she makes about the ambiguousness of Wicca are strange. For example, that "An it Harm None Do What you Will" is difficult to understand- is it not the job of the Priestess to help the seeker to understand? Or that there is no way of knowing if the group practices Polyamoury or the Great Rite. Yes there is, you ask. Wicca teaches us to change the world.. no it teaches you to change yourSELF and to take responsibility for yourSELF. Does not that Charge of the Goddess say something about "What you can't find within you will never find without"? Her discussion of our need to have things spelled out for us to keep us from hurting ourselves shows a serious disrespect and lack of faith in humanity as a whole. That's just sad.

She also gives us a hint of explanation to the confusing stuff in her "about" page. She apparently believes that the "God and Goddess" are simply names for "God", Jehovah. Has she been teaching Christianity under the guise of Wicca all along? Is she like those people the Christians scream about teaching Paganism under the guise of Christianity all along by saying that Nature is sacred to God? I sure as heck don't want to be a Pagan screamer. So I'll just stop speculating out loud right now!

But okay I can't. Why does the church have to close just because she left? It sounds like it's not really a church at all but a Cult of Personality. Is SHE the Church? Can't they just get a new Preist/Priestess? If I were a member of the church, I would be pretty damn furious. That's like saying "Hey, First Presbyterian Church is closing because your Minister decided he wants to be Pagan." It wouldn't happen. A church isn't about a minister, it's about the congregation. So... What's up with this lady anyway? How long has she been pretending to be Wiccan, all the while loathing Wicca? Has she been receiving donations from her congregation? I agree that the fact that Pagans and Wiccans would be better served with a little unity, but abandoning your entire congregation for greener pastures without making arrangements for them to be served in your absence is not the way to do it. It's irresponsible, rude and somewhat dishonest. It's even somewhat unethical -particularly if you've been getting donations from your group- to my guidance-less screwed up moral compass.

Okay. I'm done now. For real.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Blessings for an Historic Inauguration

<i>1569, from Fr. inauguration "installation, consecration," from L. inaugurationem (nom. inauguratio) "consecration, installment under good omens," from inaugurare "take omens from the flight of birds, consecrate or install when such omens are favorable," from in- "on, in" + augurare "to act as an augur, predict" (see augur).</i> (From <a href=""></a>)

It's been said, someone said it, not sure who, but I'm sure I read it in some Pagan book that Paganism doesn't lend itself well to politics. I remember this particularly because I was so surprised that someone would say such a thing. Surely politics is as ancient as Pagan religion itself. Surely politics and Paganism go hand in hand! Especially in a Democracy where we have many leaders as we have many Gods. Indeed the very word comes from <i>ta politika</i> or "affairs of the state" which is the name of a book on the subject by Aristotle, a man submerged in Pagan culture in the 3rd century BCE who is credited with the wise saying: <i>"He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a God." </i>

At any rate, I have been thinking about this inauguration. I am feeling called by Spirit to prepare a ritual of blessing for our country and for our President and Vice-President elects and their families. I have never felt so moved.  I've even dropped some pretty heavy hints to people who own televisions that they should invite me over for the evening so I can watch.

Maybe it's because nobody I voted for ever got elected before. Maybe it's because I have felt a great energetic pall hanging over our country for the past several years and lately I've felt it lifting, but that could be imagination. Maybe it's because I'm a little bit enamored with our President elect and I'm terrified of an assassination attempt. Whatever it is, I will mark the occasion with magic, ritual, prayer and blessing. And it would seem that I'm not the only one!

<b>Ritual In Washington</b>

It is perhaps not surprising that the Pagan spiritual community of Washington DC is making its own preparations for the upcoming inauguration. Three Washington area witches, <a href="">Caroline Kenner</a> of the <a href="">Sacred Space Foundation</a>, <a href="">Katrina Messenger</a> of <a href="">Connect DC</a> and the <a href="">Reflections Mystery School</a> and Caroline Casey of <a href="">Coyote Network News</a> and The Visionary Activist are joining forces to provide anyone who can get out there an outlet for the sorts of longings that have descended upon me.

Their Ritual of Unity and Blessing, to take place at the Jefferson Memorial Plaza on the day before the inauguration will begin with a Witches Broom Dance followed by ritual for Unity and Protection for our government and the world and wrapping up with a drum circle. The public are invited to this important ritual. More information can be found at

I wish I could go, but alas. I would love to hear some feedback from anyone who does though.

<b>Religious Uproars in Washington</b>

But all is not love and light as spirituality relates to this inauguration. Several groups are up in arms over religious issues. <a href="">Michael Newdow</a>, a California Doctor who has made it his mission to protect us from everything slightly religious in nature has once again <a href="">filed a lawsuit</a> demanding that "so help me God" be removed from the Oath and objecting to planned invocations and benedictions from clergy at the ceremony. He is not alone.

My opinion, if anyone wants to know. If Mr. Obama wishes to say "So help me <a href="">Grandma</a>" or "So help me <a href="">Columbia</a>" instead of "So help me God" then he should certainly be permitted. However, Mr. Obama is a Christian man. It is my suspicion that he would like to say "So help me God" and I am not sure that it's very nice to deny him that right. Furthermore, his inauguration is, well, his inauguration. It's a major ritual, a rite of passage. I think he should have whatever spiritual support he deems necessary there.

Dan Brown of the <a href="">Freedom From Religion Foundation</a> does not agree with that sentiment. In an <a href=";pageId=84962">article from WorldNetDaily</a>, he states: <i>"The inauguration is not a religious event. It is a secular event of a secular country that includes all Americans, including those of us who are not Christians, including those of us who are not believers."</i> and suggests that Mr. Obama have his own private religious observance if he feels the need.

There's also been <a href="">somewhat of an uproar</a> over Mr. Obama's choice of pastor to oversee the spiritual aspects of the ceremony. <a href="">Rick Warren</a> of the conservative, evangelical <a href="">Saddleback Church</a> in California actively supported California's Proposition 8, outlawing gay marriage in the state, though he denies hard feelings toward the gay community saying: <i>"I happen to love gays and straights. Who ever came up with the idea that you have to agree with everybody on everything in order to love them?"</i>. Though he has equated gay marriage with incest, polygamy and pederasty, he has also stated that divorce is more of a threat to families than gay marriage. What can I say, here's a man with deep convictions who thinks deeply about them. Do I agree with him? No. But I don't hate him for it either. I also think that he was perhaps not the best choice.

I'd be interested in hearing thoughts from other members of the Pagan community on these topics.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Witches, Pagans and Justice

<b>Murder Spell Case Goes to Trial</b>

The <a href="">jury has been selected</a> for a case that made Pagans and Witches everywhere cringe. Larry Harris of Souix City, Iowa was arrested <a href="">last year</a> after the deaths of his two young step-daughters and torching of his home. He claimed a spell went bad. What concerns me about the jury selection, is that it seems that are no Wiccans, Witches, Pagans or Occultists in the jury.

The Defense attorney <i> went down a laundry list of items and asked if they believed in or used any of the following: Tarot cards, Ouija boards, Ghosts, Levitation, Voo doo, Black magic, Processions, Evil intervention or Séances.  Hardly anyone raised a hand for those.  But many did believe in: the power of prayer, Satan, demons, guardian angels, and divine intervention.  </i>
(Processions, what do they mean by that?)

The question of whether knowledge and beliefs in these areas would taint the jury one way or another is an interesting one. Sure, people who don't believe in the occult, but do believe in Christian ideas may be more likely to deem a person guilty because they believe he was dabbling in evil forces, or perhaps insane because he was dabbling in unreal or imaginary forces. It's unclear what the defense is going for here. It's too bad there aren't more Pagans on the jury, but I suppose it's the law of averages here. Many Pagans would say that he's crazy, that it's a cover up, that spells don't just go bad and kill folks, etc. But how do we know? I suppose it's possible. Either way if he was doing something dangerous, he shouldn't have been doing it around kids. If indeed the spell "went bad" and the kids died because of it, he is, at the very least, guilty of willfully endangering children!

Alot more information came out in <a href="">an interview with the mother</a> of the young victims. He'd been threatening her. He took blood from one of the girls to use in the ritual, her DNA was on the knife. He claimed he was possessed by <a href="">Kali</a>... the Destroyer, who was traditionally offered sacrifices of young children... If the girls had not died, he should still be brought to justice for cutting one of them if nothing else!

<b>Wiccan Inmate Seeks Release</b>

While we're on the subject of Pagan murderers, Randall Lee McArthur <a href="">has been in prison for 25 years</a> for the murder of a young man whom he killed with the help of another man whose motive was apparently jealousy. (The other guy got five years). McArthur has also been in trouble for burglary and vandalism. But after 25 years he says he's grown up, found Goddess and ready to be released into the real world.

<i>A member of the state prison board, noting McArthur's references to Wicca along with Druidism, said some people view them as evil religions. McArthur was asked if he was discovering something different.

I can't speculate whether the man is rehabilitated, but I hope the fact that Mr McArthur is a Wiccan is not adversely affecting the parole board's opinion of him!

<b>Wiccan Inmates Lose Appeal for More Time</b>
<a href="">Three Wiccan inmates in Iowa</a> recently lost an appeal on their claim that three hours isn't enough time for a proper religious observance, specifically for Samhain.

Okay, folks, I know my Samhain parties take about five hours, but that includes dinner, socializing, etc. The actual ritual doesn't take more than an hour, hour and a half tops. Can we stop embarrassing ourselves by demanding more stuff than everyone else gets? Please.

<b>Debt Collector Hires Witch</b>

Luckily not everyone in my Pagan Justice roundup is guilty. A Lithuanian a debt collection firm has hired Vilija Lobaciuviene, a witch, to use magic not only to help bring in deadbeats, but also to provide spiritual healing and support for those suffering under the strains of debt. She will be doing this using hypnosis, herbal medicines and bio energy field work.

In a story by the <a href="">NY Daily News</a>, there are entirely too many disrespectful quotes for me...

But whatever, Go Valija!

<b>No Justice for the Wicked Witch of the West</b>
And finally, <a href=";BRD=2724&amp;PAG=461&amp;dept_id=563781&amp;rfi=6">fourth graders from Todd Elementary School</a> in Beaver, PA have declared Dorothy innocent of the murder of the Wicked Witch of the West, despite the fact that Dorothy went to the Witch's house with the intention of killing her. No word yet about an appeal.