Wednesday Musings

Tea-of-the-day:  Lemon blossom and honeysuckle with honey  (if you ever try this, as a warning, it takes a ton of flowers)

What I am (re)reading now:  The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger

What I am reading now: Druidry and the Ancestors by Nimue Brown, and Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth by William Bryant Logan

What I’ve been watching lately: NCIS, Bill Nye the Science Guy (thanks kids), and Story of God with Morgan Freeman.  Also, lots of safety training videos (I’m rewriting some of our safety training for work).

In which I feel vindicated:  Five years ago I made a boggy complaint about how the media reports science.  I doubt John Oliver has ever read my blog at all, much less that particular post of mine, but still… (far more hilarious and visual) VINDICATION!!!

 

Random thoughts (or what I’d like to tell my redneck cousins) while Facebooking*:  Experience and education bring opportunity. Opportunities bring wider and more in-depth experiences and education.  It’s the proverbial chicken-or-egg scenario (though, as Chickadee would point out, the egg actually came first because lots of animals had eggs before the chicken was domesticated and even before its wild cousin that it was domesticated from evolved and even before birds themselves evolved from dinosaurs).

If no one and nothing in your life teaches you to value education, or gives or shoves you into new experiences, or offers you an opportunity that widens/deepens your experiences and knowledge, what makes you seek those things?  If someone isn’t naturally ambitious or competitive or a perfectionist or (whatever trait you can think of), what pushes them to go above and beyond?  And when people *are* those things but are trapped in a cycle of poverty, bad luck, poor decision-making skills, magical thinking, marginal health, etc…what breaks that cycle and gets them out?  Eventually, even the hardest worker, smartest person, etc. (and let’s face it, most of us on this planet are fair to middling in every way) is going to get tired, is going to breakdown, is going to give up.

If we can’t have compassion for the people that fall down and can’t get up or don’t know how to get up or get knocked back down every time they get up, then what kind of people are we?  Look, compassion doesn’t have to mean rolling over and getting stepped on–sometimes compassion means saying “no”, offering honest criticism (but it should be remembered that criticism is just complaining unless its constructive and compassionate), or even kicking them out (of your home, your life, etc.). But it defiantly doesn’t mean to kick people when they are down because they are down and you aren’t.

On an individual level, do what you can do, when you can do it, for those that are in need—but never, ever feel guilty for cutting off a person in your life that is taking advantage of your good nature.  And if you aren’t doing what you can do, when you can do it, for those that cannot (something different than will not)…well, you’re an a**hole.

But (and here comes the rant from the crap I see posted) on an institutional level, just shut up.  You sound like an idiot.  Seriously.  I seriously doubt you’ve invested the time, effort, energy, and (occasionally) expense to do extensive, (relatively) unbiased, peer-reviewed, legitimately sourced data to form an educated and nuanced opinion on most subjects that you have an opinion on, when it comes to the allocation of government resources.  Most people that are forced to use them are not your anecdotal story.  Most people are not that obnoxious and probably falsified Facebook meme posted by that guy you went to high school with.  Lets face it…if you bothered to invest the time, effort, energy, and (occasionally) expense to do extensive, (relatively) unbiased, peer-reviewed, legitimately sourced research in order to form an educated and nuanced opinion, your opinion sound so much less like the talking points of a Faux News broadcast.

And the real irony of all this is that the most critical (and ignorantly so) people are usually the ones that have benefited from those institutions the most (and refused to admit it).

What’s new in my bioregion: American White Ibis (Eudocimus albus)
On Mothers’s Day, I saw a new (to me) bird for our local bird list!

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lawn ibis…

The American White Ibis is a white wading bird with black wing tips, a red curved bill, and red legs, commonly found along the southern coasts of the US from NC to Texas (as well as the rest of the Gulf Coast, the  Caribbean, and some areas of Central and South America).  While it generally forages for crayfish and other prey along the shores of the salt marshes, it can often be found hunting insects on the lawn (which is where we spotted our feathered friend).

Methylmercury (a neurotoxin and endocrine disruptor) pollution from human population centers, particularly in the Everglades, have led to irregularities in courtship behaviors, breeding success, and chick-raising.  The population over-all is considered of “least concern” according to the ICUN Red List, though state listings vary (in FL, it is a Species of Special Concern).  Historically, the bird was hunted as a food source by Native Americans and for the Victorian era feather trade (for ladies’ hats).

Magically, the ibis corresponds with a number of things (mostly through Egyptian mythology)–the crescent moon, intelligence, writing, magic, Thoth, the Archangel Gabriel, wisdom, and creativity.  And check out this little snippet from a 1902 book on animal and plant correspondences, aptly titled, Animal and Plant Correspondences (by Abraham Lincoln Kip)…

What’s growing on my patio:  A lemon tree!!!  A lime tree!!!  A pot full of peppermint, some mystery seedlings, two pathetic rosemary plants, a giant aloe, a dwarf yaupon holly, and a couple of empty pots awaiting their new residents (I have a couple of patio tomatoes and a TEA TREE (Camellia sinensis) on order, and I’m back ordered for a stevia plant).  I’ve got a short list for ordering a few more plants over the next few paydays and I’m also going to try my hand at growing a pecan seedling and a sassafras seedling in a pot.  We’ll see how that one goes…

A Prayer for the Yard

Guardians of rocks and trees,

of grass and garden,

of wild places and tame,

of outbuildings and outside:

we as that you be benevolent to us,

to those who tend your realm,

and we will be benevolent to you.

The wild on the edge of the tame,

be pleased with our offerings,

so that we might hold a bit of your wildness

within our hearts, bodies, and minds.

(slightly rearranged from A Book of Pagan Prayer by Ceisiwr Serith)

 

…and now its time for bed.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pagan Conferences: Why Would Any Thinking Person Willingly Go?

Honestly, this sounds like great advice anyone going to these things!

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I’m heading out tomorrow for Sacred Space, and I thought that it might be worth discussing some common-sense techniques for getting through a Pagan conference.

I came to Paganism via books, back in the days before the internet, back when I lived in an isolated, rural area.  So I’d been reading ABOUT Witches and other Pagans for a number of years before I ever actually MET real Witches and other Pagans.  And, or course, the reality could never have met my fantasies.  Here, I’d been reading these descriptions of perfect love and perfect trust in Drawing Down the Moon and these lovely notions of religion in action in Spiral Dance and The Chalice and the Blade, and then, there they were, real people, with all their warts, not living up to my high, illusionary ideals.

I was not amused.  I spent a long time secured away with only a…

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Support Your Inner Peace in a World of Voices Arguing Over Deity

When I talk about how people see Deity with my children, I use the metaphor of a box. Some people have a single, gigantic box. Others have many boxes of a variety of sizes and colors and materials. Some have a single, very small box. Others have a box that is the size and shape of the Earth, or of the Universe, or of themselves. And some people don’t have any boxes at all. And many of all of these peoples think that their box is the only way that a box should be, that it is the best box and all other boxes are wrong. Some of them might even go so far as to say that other boxes are a sign that a person is stupid or dangerous or evil.

I’ve used this allegory over the years to explain to them everything from monotheism to polytheism to atheism, to why there are different religions, to why people of one religion can be mean to people of other religions. But I never really realized how much they really *got it* until the last time we had one of these conversations when my son (somewhat of a surprise to me, because while he’s quite smart, he’s not usually as introspective and metaphorically minded as his (older) sister), when he stopped me and said, “Mom, god isn’t the box. God is the idea that we put in the box so that we can hold on to it.”

…I think the allegory in this blog post alludes to that idea quite a bit better.

THE HIDDEN CHILDREN OF THE GODDESS : home of GoddessHasYourBack.com

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Have you caught a bit of broadcast news and heard about someone’s cruelty to another person—and it bothered you?

Or maybe you’ve wondered about how some extremists use religion as a justification for terrible acts.

Recently, just as I was drifting off to sleep, an idea blazed across the expanse of my mind.

Picture this. Deity is water. Each human being is a vessel.

Imagine that Deity’s essence as a large infinite ball of water.

Let’s say you’re a bowl and you grow up among bowls. All you know are bowls. In fact, you might say that bowl people have “bowl Gods” because they see themselves in what they picture to be Divine.

On the other side of the ocean are goblets. And they only know themselves as goblets. So they have “goblet Gods.”

But Deity fills ALL bowls and ALL goblets. Deity is ONE. Deity is in everyone.

Water…

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“I Don’t Believe in Purification” by Shauna Aura Knight

some great thoughts on *ritual as method*

Humanistic Paganism

I’m a Pantheist. I believe that the entirety of the world, of the universe, is divine. So the idea of “making sacred space” or “purifying” doesn’t really fit into my theology or cosmology. On the other hand, a lot of the ritual facilitation work that I do is about working with people and their processes. I tend to think of psychology as a kind of magic because it works to understand people and how they work, and for me, those patterns and processes are a part of our nature, and thus, part of the divine as well.

Heros-Journey-Circle Psychology, architecture, the process of pilgrimage, and the hero’s journey show us that we need steps in order to change our state of consciousness.

For me, the part of the ritual that is often referred to as “making sacred space” is more about getting everyone involved in the ritual into the right mindset…

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…brought to you by the letter E

Whatever name you may call it by–Imbolc, Candlemas, Groundhog Day, or just another Tuesday–in our family, today is a day for Elpis.

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There are several versions of her myth (I prefer the versions derived from Theognis over those of Hesiod), most of which are better known by the name of the human woman that she was given to.  But either way, if you really think about it, Pandora’s myth (or, the many myths of the story of Pandora, each of which was crafted to tell a slightly different story) is truly the story of Elpis.

Zeus gathered all the useful things together in a jar and put a lid on it.  He then left the jar in human hands (the hands of Pandora).  But man (her husband) had no self-control (having been tricked by the gods) and he wanted to know what was in that jar, so he pushed the lid aside, letting those things go back to the abode of the gods.  So all the good things flew away, soaring high above the earth, and Elpis* (Hope) was the only thing left. When the lid was put back on the jar, Elpis (Hope) was kept inside. That is why Elpis (Hope) alone is still found among the people, promising that she will bestow on each of us the good things that have gone away.  

(from Aesop)

Whether its as simple as the hope that Phil sees his shadow (the American version of the Cailleach taking a nap), or for something more serious going on in our lives, this is the day to celebrate hope.  To know that the promise of Yule has been fulfilled, that the darkness is passing, and the sun will shine again.

If there is anything that is truly universal among humankind, its is this:

Where there is life, there is hope.

Happy Imbolc from our home to yours!

Let Elpis shine.

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