Sunday, March 27, 2005

New Blog?

I've set up a new blog.

http://mysticheart.blogspot.com

Folks, update your links.

I'm not at ease writing here if I know there's another UU writer calling herself ChaliceChick out there; we might confuse people. I felt the need to create a different identity, and one that seemed a little more personal.

Kinda hard to explain, but there it is.

Lots of Stuff

There's been a lot of goings-on I should be blogging about, particularly Terri Schiavo.

I have written some things and posted them on other sites. I'll post them here soon enough. I'm exhausted these days.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Hmmmm...

The Darkness Drops Again

By WilliamPitt,

Thu Mar 17th, 2005 at 09:48:45 AM EST :: Activism ::
"In a time of chimpanzees, I was a monkey."

- Beck, 'Loser'

So...to recap:

Neocon warlord Paul Wolfowitz will head the World Bank;

The White House illegally puts out fake news reports, and the Justice Department does nothing;

Another $81 billion of your money and mine is to be poured onto the Iraqi sand;

The GOP majority in Congress is preparing to trash 200 years of Senate tradition in order to post a number of certifiably insane people to the bench;

Kevin Martin, a conservative Christian activist for the GOP, will now chair the FCC;

The Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve, one of the most ecologically pristine areas remaining to us, will be paved and drilled for its tiny amount of petroleum.

And that was just yesterday.


The list of appalling and abominable and flatly criminal acts perpetrated by this administration is literally becoming too long to manage. I suppose this is what happens when the entire government is owned by one party. I suppose this is what happens when that one party is owned lock, stock and barrel by a cancerous combination of oil companies, weapons manufacturers and Rapture-happy fundamentalist Christians who think God put dinosaur bones in the ground to mess with our heads.

This is what happens when the "opposition party" sells its people down the river.

Let us be clear: The Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve is about to be ravaged for one reason. Three Democratic Senators jumped the fence and voted with the drill bits, undoing a twenty-year-long fight to preserve the land. Senators Landrieu, Akaka and Inouye were the reason this went 51-49 the wrong way.

Advocates for drilling in ANWR have said the issue is nobody's business but the Alaskan people?s, so there is some irony in the fact that one Senator from Louisiana and two from Hawaii -- the three of whom are a combined 20,000 miles away from Alaska - made the difference here. Mary Landrieu's constituents include a bustling petrochemical industry out there in the Gulf, and I guess Akaka and Inouye somehow think drilling in Alaska will make Hawaii's expensive gas a little cheaper. Seems worth it, don't you think?

This isn't the first time Ms. Landrieu has gone sideways on an important vote. She voted in favor of cloture on the ruinous bankruptcy bill, and then voted for the bill itself. In a statement about her ANWR vote, Landrieu said, "My colleagues and I have been encouraged in recent days that a revenue-sharing measure is forthcoming that will benefit our coastal oil- and gas-producing states. Hopefully, we'll be able to get this done this year, just as we have helped Alaska today."

Yeah. Thanks for the help.

Here?s the thing, Mary: Democrats from all across the country contributed to your campaign in 2002. A lot of people worked very hard for you. Oour victory was one small bright spot in the debacle that was the 2002 midterm elections, a debacle that included the death of Paul Wellstone, a man whose eyes you could not now meet were he alive today to see how you've been voting. A lot of people helped you, and ANWR belonged to all of us. Your betrayal here is epic in its proportions, yet sadly all too common these days.

As for the Hawaii boys, well...A small, dark, treacherous, venomous, vindictive little corner of my soul is devoutly hoping they find a few barrels of oil nestled in the ground under Pearl Harbor, or under Pu'uhonuo O Honaunau Historical Park, or under Honokohau Harbor, or right where the water hits the ground at Moanawaiopuna Waterfall. Even one barrel will bring the petro boys running with pickaxes and a gleam in their eyes, and hey, what's good for Alaska is good for Hawaii, right? My Massachusetts Senators can vote to drill in Hawaii's most beautiful spots even though our state is something like 92 time zones away. After all, we?re in this together.

This weekend, a global protest will be taking place. Here in America, there will be demonstrations in 574 cities and towns in all 50 states. Ostensibly, this protest is to be aimed at the anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. It needs to be about more than that now. It needs to be about public, vocal citizen action in and of itself. It needs to be about We The People reaching out to the one recourse we have left while we still have it: The streets, our numbers and our voices.

Yesterday was a bad, bad day. Today and tomorrow will probably be worse, and next month isn't even to be contemplated. You are running out of options, so you?d better make use of the few arrows left in the quiver: Economic boycotts and the streets. Put your boogie shoes on. In the meantime, I leave our three stalwart ANWR Senators with some words to mull over.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

- W.B. Yeats, 'The Second Coming'

Fat Phobes & Terry Schiavo

OK folks, I figured there was something behind all this..

TAMPA (AP) — Before she was the severely brain-damaged patient at the center of a legal dispute over whether she should live or die, Terri Schiavo was a young woman who desperately wanted to be thin.

At 26, she was strikingly beautiful with delicate features. But she had spent her childhood and high school years as a chubby and shy girl, standing just 5-foot-3 and weighing 200 pounds at her heaviest.

When she finally lost 65 pounds in her late teens, men started to pay attention — including the man who would become her husband, Michael Schiavo, who was tall and handsome.

But keeping the weight off was a struggle for Terri Schiavo, and years later — after her heart stopped briefly, cutting off oxygen to the brain — a malpractice case brought against a doctor on her behalf would reveal she had been trying to survive on liquids and was making herself throw up after meals. The Schiavos' lawyer said her 1990 collapse was caused by a potassium imbalance brought on by an eating disorder.

It is a cruel twist lost on no one close to the case: A woman who is said to have struggled with an eating disorder is now in the middle of a court battle over whether her feeding tube should be removed so that she can starve to death.

Gary Fox, a lawyer who represented Terri and Michael Schiavo in the malpractice case, said the disease is the "lost lesson" in the Schiavo case.

"While there is no cure for bulimia, there were things that could and should have been done for her that would have controlled it," he said in a recent interview.

Terri Schiavo, 41, is now locked in what some doctors say is a persistent vegetative state, with no hope of recovery. In one of the nation's longest right-to-die disputes, her husband is fighting with her parents to have the feeding tube removed; a court order preventing its removal expires at 5 p.m. Friday.

Like almost every element in the case, whether Schiavo really was bulimic is in dispute. Her father, Robert Schindler, said he does not believe his daughter had an eating disorder and thinks her husband had something to do with her collapse. Michael Schiavo has denied hurting his wife.

During the malpractice case, at least one of Schiavo's friends testified they knew she was bulimic because after meals out, she always immediately excused herself to go to the bathroom. Her husband also knew she had peculiar eating patterns but did not realize they were dangerous, Fox said.

Medical records from the hospital where Schiavo was treated after her collapse note that "she apparently has been trying to keep her weight down with dieting by herself, drinking liquids most of the time during the day and drinking about 10-15 glasses of iced tea."

Fox said that in the months before her collapse, Schiavo went to the doctor because she had stopped menstruating. It was a silent "cry for help," the lawyer said. But the doctor did not take a complete medical history that might have revealed an eating disorder.

The jury put the damages at $6.8 million but reduced the verdict to about $2 million because it felt Schiavo was partly at fault for her collapse.

Fox said Schiavo was a victim of medical negligence, but also a victim of societal pressures to be thin. "She didn't want to go back to where she was from," he said. "This was the only way she could do this in her mind and be able to eat as much as she did."

Eating disorders have long been known to cause heart failure. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, the binge-and-purge cycles of bulimia can lead to chemical imbalances that harm major organs.

David Herzog, a Harvard psychology professor and founder of the Harvard Eating Disorders Center, said medical science is only in the early stages of tracking the long-term effects of eating disorders and there are no good statistics on how many people are killed or permanently disabled. Herzog said that even when someone dies from an eating disorder, medical examiners often do not list it on the death certificate.

Experts say the serious health risks exist long before a victim looks sick. In Schiavo's case, Fox said, she was not excessively thin when she went to the doctor.

Psychologist Doug Bunnell, president of the National Eating Disorders Association, said while he could not comment on the specifics of the Schiavo case, it is often impossible to predict which sufferers are in immediate danger.

"Paint me a picture of an eating disorder — it's an emaciated woman," he said. "But that's not the reality. They don't get down that low. The face of eating disorders is your next-door neighbor's daughter or maybe your own."


Would you idiots who want to preserve her life look at this?? SHE DID THIS TO HERSELF!! She was bulimic! She was EATING AND THEN THROWING IT ALL UP!! Don't you see the irony in this? She didn't WANT FOOD! She hated food! She blamed food for making her "fat and unattractive" and me personally...

I BLAME EVERY PERSON OUT THERE WHO HAS EVER MADE FUN OF A FAT PERSON AND HATED FAT PEOPLE FOR BEING FAT FOR HER CURRENT CONDITION! YOU ALL ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS, YOU DID THIS TO HER, YOU CREATED A SITUATION WHEREIN A WOMAN CANNOT BE HAPPY WITH HERSELF AT WHATEVER WEIGHT SHE IS! FUCK YOU ALL! EVERY LAST SCREAMING STINKING ONE OF YOU!

That's why she's in this vegitative state! She wanted to be thin! Well, she's thin now, that's for sure! Are you fat phobes happy now? You'd better not be screaming to preserve her life and feed her because you fat phobic people didn't want her to eat before she developed the eating disorder! Oooh, can't have a fat woman, can we? Oh how horrible, that she weighed 200 pounds! *hiss hiss snarl*

I hope you're fucking happy now. If she dies, no matter what from, her life is on your heads.

The Ostarablot

Well, we did Ostara last night and it went just fine. I had different people reading the parts of the players in the Skirnismal. Chip was Freyr, Anne was Gerd, I was Skadi (she only had one line at the very beginning), Joe was Skirnir (because he had a lot of lines with a lot of weird Norse words in them that most other people could not pronounce) and Peter was the watchman (who only had 2 lines).

The only part where I thought, "Oh dear, this is a bit much," was the comment about the goat urine.

Well, Skirnir is sent to woo Gerd for Freyr. He offers her lovely gifts, but she refuses. He threatens her with death and she refuses. Only when Skirnir threatens her with baneful magic that will render her forever barren and ugly, does she relent -- and that includes leaving her to a life of drinking goat urine.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

I'd relent too. Sex with a God is far better than goat's urine.

I rather hope I didn't piss people off by doing this. See, at the beginning of March, at the last Mystic Grove meeting, Tom said, "So who's going to do Ostara?" and there was complete silence. So I said I'd write up a ritual.

This was apparently ignored, because later an email went out saying everyone should bring something and prepare to improvise a ritual. I then sent out an email saying, "I've written one AS I AGREED TO DO AT THE LAST MEETING, and here it is," and I inserted the blot. Apparently this went ignored too. Is this some weird game of "let's ignore Tracie and she'll go away" kind of thing? Are these people getting tired of Joe and I doing blots, and they don't want to do the same thing twice in a row? As Jarred commented to me on chat, are they just ravens looking for the next shiny? WHAT IS IT people have against consistency and REAL RITUAL??

I think there's this huge push for CREATIVITY amongst Wiccans, and they think, "Oh, if I do the same thing every Ostara, it's not being creative," and they feel obligated to write a new ritual for every ceremony, every year. Can't do what we did last year for Ostara, that's being stagnant. We have to be creative and do something new!

And sure enough, by the time Joe and I got there last night, an altar was already set up for ritual. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

But here's the thing...

I DID SOMETHING...I WAS PREPARED TO DO A BLOT, AND NO ONE ELSE VOLUNTEERED TO DO SHIT!

They all sat there like a bunny in the headlights when Tom said, "Who's doing Ostara?" And I didn't want to volunteer, because I ALWAYS DO THAT! I think I'm the only one, besides Tom and Mary, who has a clue how to do ritual! Hell, getting people to volunteer to read parts was hard enough, AND IT WAS ALL RIGHT THERE IN PRINT!

SO WHY ARE PEOPLE PAGANS? ARE THEY JUST PLAYGANS AND INTO IT BECAUSE IT'S THE LATEST FASHION?? SO THEY CAN BE SHOCKING AND WEAR OCCULT JEWELRY AND BE POSERS??

The single most important bit of jewelry I have, and it isn't even occult, is my gold claddagh ring (for those who may not know what a claddagh is, click here). I bought that back in 1989 when I committed to the Pagan path, and it is something that speaks to my Irish ancestry. I've worn it every day since then as a physical sign of my decision to be Pagan. That ring means more to me than anything else I have.

Well, like I said, I hope I didn't want to piss anyone off by being prepared, but if they don't like it, let them step up and deliver.

During the sumbel (the part where you pass the horn and drink toasts and sing a song or say an oath or whatever) our Panda/Shannon decided to take the floor and talk about her late mother, and the minni hof (basically an altar to her memory) that she'd set up in the west. She got rather emotional about it, and Joe (who at the moment was passing the horn around and also the blessing bowl so people could pour a tiny bit of tea into the bowl - I decided to go with tea this time because it was quick and easy) had to stop and give her a hug so she could get her equilibrium about her again.

I'm very glad she did that.

That's what the sumbel is supposed to be. Emotional. Passionate. Intense. If you're going to sing a song, sing with a firm voice, even if it's not very good. No one cares if you're good or not, just that there was some passion in your song. If you're going to get all misty-eyed about your late grandmother, bawl your eyes out. If you're going to say a boast or make an oath, do it with fireworks. Have some BALLS about it! Ironically, it's exactly like what Steven Curtis Chapman sings about in one of his songs:

Everyone around creation
Is a living declaration
Come join the song we were made to sing
Wake the neighbors
Get the word out
Crank up the music
Climb a mountain and shout
This is LIFE we've been given
Meant to be lived out
So la la la la LIVE OUT LOUD!


It's ironic because Mr. Chapman is a Christian musician. I think he's even an ordained minister as well. But I do really like that song and what it talks about; how can one be all small and quiet if one has the love of the Gods in one's heart? He says "God" in the song, of course, but it's still a lively, upbeat song.

Most of the time when I do a blot and a sumbel, people are very shy and quiet about drinking to something. I want high emotion. Tell you what - the Einherjar who even now sit in Valhall waiting for the Ragnarok are not being meek, quiet heroes. They're noshing on juicy pork, they're quaffin' ale (quaffin' is sort of like drinking only you spill more) and they're getting busy with the wenches and boasting of their battle exploits, the whole nine yards. They go out and fight every day, and those who are "killed" are alive again at the end of the battle, and they go back in at eventide and feast all over again. Feasting! Drinking! Boasting! Nookie everywhere! Battle! Tests of strength and courage!

Seems like a sweet afterlife, eh? This is where Joe hopes to be after he dies; those who die in battle have an E-ticket to Valhall. Those who don't, have to make their own way from Hel to Asgard, where Valhall is.

And no, Hel is not an afterlife of punishment. It's more like...a quiet misty autumn evening. That's about the worst of it.

Well, there it is. The Ostarablot. Tom is doing Beltane, and I think Chip will be doing Midsummer, and Midsummer is when we can have an alfablot, and do a sumbel to the male ancestors such as Chip would like to see. He's far more identified with his alfhar than the disir (female ancestors). So, since the Winter Solstice is the time to drink to the disir, the Summer Solstice is the time to drink to the alfhar. But he may be in Ireland by that time, and we may have to work something else out; I don't know.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Update

It's finally Saturday. This is a good thing.

Tonight we will be doing the Ostara festivities. But I am going to have to tweak the blot. Hmmmmm. I may focus on Freyja and Her aspect as a spring maiden sort. I may also do a bondage thing (snicker) -- breaking the bonds of winter and all.

I did not wear green on Irish Heritage Day. I wore red & white...the colors associated with the Otherworld, the world that was driven underground when St. Patrick brought the Gospel to Ireland. A lot of people at work asked me that. I said, "I'm not wearing green because I am not and never have been Catholic, and this is a Catholic holiday." They said so what, everyone's Irish on St. Patrick's Day and I said, "I'm of Irish ancestry EVERY DAY. But I'm HEATHEN." At which point they giggled. No, people, when I say I'm Heathen, that doesn't mean I live a wild, godless life. I think a lot of people take "heathen" to mean just that.

*sigh*

But we did go over to Susan's house (Tom's current girlfriend, not the Susan that is Joe's ex) and had some lovely Irish stew and colcannon and various other nibblies, as well as plenty of ale and Guinness. A lovely time was had by all.

But, since I will be doing a blot this evening, I'll be wearing Frigga's colors, blue and white. I always do when I do blot.

There's been some interesting developments in the news. Terry Schiavo's feeding tube was removed yesterday. I say it's about time. Let her go. Let her have some peace. I can't understand why they are focusing only on her and not every single person in this country that is on life support...surely she's not the only one in this whole nation right now. I do believe she had a living will, in which case that indicates she didn't want to be kept alive artificially.

I'm hungry. I need to chase down some breakfast.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

My Big Fat Fat Rant

From the blog of RuPaul:
"i love "camp" because it blows the lid on self-righteousness and reminds me to not take life so seriously. it also makes tolerable the rampant hypocrisy that stains our culture like a 500 year old cum rag."


I wanted to make a passing comment about an entry I saw on another site that complained about big people wearing skimpy clothes. The writer did say "people" but any time gender was mentioned at all, he used the word "women".

I've seen lots of rants very similar to that about fat people. And I did leave him a note saying that yes, I am a big woman, and yes, I have noticed that when people rant about this, 99% of the time the only people who are taken to task for this fashion faux pas are women. I think that says a lot, that overwhelmingly people automatically picture women in their heads when thinking about this particular topic.

I think it goes to show that there is some level of serious sexism inherent in Western culture, and I think it needs to be consciously combatted if the human race is going to evolve intellectually and socially.

People need to stop and think about these things before making generalized comments. They need to ask themselves if they are being truly equal and fair even in their most personal of thoughts...and while that may sound like being "thought police" I say it's utterly necessary if there's going to be a halt to the automatic, unconscious stigmatizing of women for various stupid sins that are completely pointless anyway.

It all starts with each individual person -- social revolution is not going to come from outside. No one is going to come along and save us from ourselves, and teach us how to better relate to each other and build a better world to live in. We are responsible for where we are right now, and if we don't like it we are responsible for doing something to change it.

Period.

Therefore if I do not speak up and call attention to these unconscious thought patterns that can be made conscious, and can be changed, then I am partially responsible for people continuing to mentally punish women like me for the "sin" of being big and possibly dressing in a way that people don't like.

Not that I do. I'm very conservative in my personal style. I always have been, even when I was 18 years old, weighing literally 91 pounds soaking wet. (I'm short, ya see.)

But people should be free to dress as they like and not have to consider whether or not they ARE going to be stared at. The person doing the staring CAN make the choice NOT TO DO IT. Imagine that! It's like George Carlin said about the minister who got offended at the "Seven Words You Can't Say On Television" routine that Carlin does, so he wrote an ugly letter to the radio station that broadcast Carlin's show and protested. Carlin's response?

"Pastor, if you don't like what you hear on the radio, there's these TWO KNOBS on it that a: change the station and b: turn the radio OFF! Oh, but I suppose a PASTOR wouldn't be all that COMFORTABLE with something that has TWO KNOBS ON IT!!"

Hahaha! I've always loved Carlin; he kills me.

But basically it always, always comes down to freedom of choice.

A person, no matter their weight or skin color or age or whatever, should be free to express themselves even in the clothes they wear and not have to put up with ugly repurcussions. Those who would stare and riducule and whatnot -- well, quite frankly it's THEIR problem. If they do have issues with it, maybe they need to ask themselves why. Maybe a trip to a therapist would be in order if it bothers them so much.

Reminds me of a story told by Jack Kornfield, a meditation teacher out of Barre, MA. He said that he knew someone who lived in a noisy city for some years, and was having problems with his meditation practice. "The cars are bothering me," he'd say. Well, his meditation teacher finally asked him one day, "Is it the cars coming in to bother you -- or are you going out to bother them?"

I'd say that's an eyebrow-raising question. And it made the meditation student stop in his tracks....and the next time he retired to his room to mediate, keeping this query in mind, he found his meditation went a lot better.

Funny how that happens. *wink*

See, here's the thing...if people did not wear things because they are "gross" or whatnot, then people would not do things like get tattoos. I'm sure LOTS of people out there think tattoos are really disgusting, and that only bikers and GIs get them. Well, my sister has several tasteful tattoos, and she's not a biker or a GI. If people didn't do things because of the fact that SOMEONE OUT THERE might think it's "gross" or "not right" then people wouldn't even come out of their houses.

And let's not even go into the beauty that I've seen in pictures from the fabulous WIGSTOCK festival in NYC! Drag queens EVERYWHERE, darling, looking beyond divine! Looking 100 times hotter than I EVER WILL in things like sequins and wigs and high heels and satin and lame and makeup and whatever it is they can get their hands on to make of themselves a walking work of art. But men aren't supposed to wear dresses; that's gross, right?

Oh no honey. Them's GODDESSES. They've busted boundaries in people's minds - they've had the balls (ironically, sort of) to say a big old "fuck you" to the expectations of society and REALLY go all out -- to which I say, YOU GO GIRLS! I ADORE drag queens and have known a couple here in Orlando. I've also known (biblically speaking) one person who was going through a sex change, from male to female. I damn near fell madly in love with her too. She was very, very good to me indeed.

Oh, but I shouldn't do that, because that's REALLY GROSS. That's grosser than anything, right?

Piffle.

It's all in the mind, folks.

USATODAY.com - Italy will begin Iraq troop withdrawal in September

ROME (AP) — Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Tuesday that Italy will start withdrawing its 3,000 troops in Iraq in September, Italian news agencies reported.

"Already in September we will begin a progressive reduction of the number of our soldiers in Iraq," Berlusconi was quoted as saying during a taping of a state TV talk show.

Withdrawing Italian troops "will depend on the capability of the Iraqi government to give itself structures for acceptable security," the ANSA news agency quoted Berlusconi as saying. "I've spoken about it with (British Prime Minister) Tony Blair, and it's the public opinion of our countries that expects this decision."

Italian government officials already indicated that if Iraq can handle its own security, Italy would consider withdrawing. The Italian contingent is the fourth-largest in the coalition.

In Washington, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, "We certainly appreciate the contributions of the Italians."

Opposition to the war and to Italy's involvement in Iraq is strong here. Berlusconi faced renewed pressure to pull troops out after the March 4 killing in Baghdad of an Italian intelligence agent, Nicola Calipari, as he escorted a recently released hostage to freedom.

Calipari was killed by U.S. troops, who mistakenly opened fire on his vehicle as it headed to the Baghdad's airport with freed hostage Giuliana Sgrena.

The government made it clear it was not considering a pullout following the agent's death.

When asked whether the shooting played a role in Berlusconi's decision, McClellan said, "I'm not sure I'd make a connection there. I haven't heard any comment to that effect from Italian officials."

On Tuesday, the Italian contingent suffered its 21st casualty in Iraq when a soldier accidentally shot himself in the head during target practice, officials said.

In a separate development, Italy's lower house of parliament approved the extension of financing for troops in Iraq through June. The Senate already voted to extend the mission last month.


All righty then.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Get Yer Irish Up!

I would like to point out that this is the same group that banned the Seattle Ancient Order of Hibernians and any other nationalist group associated with justice in the North of participating in the Irish Festival at the Seattle Center. They do allow them to march in parade. I feel they allow that because it boosts the numbers. This group is also well known for being anti-republican so this really does not surprise me in only that it took this long for something like this to happen when they invite yearly a Loyalist politician to this event.

British Union Jack disrupts St. Patrick's Day Parade

By Tan Vinh
Seattle Times staff reporter

At the start, it looked as if the 34th annual St. Patrick's Day Parade would provide the usual afternoon of family fun, with marching bands and dancing leprechauns to honor the patron saint of the Emerald Isle.

Then a dignitary from the British territory of Northern Ireland - invited by parade sponsors to help lead the procession through downtown - raised the British Union Jack, and several spectators got their Irish up, hurling objects and expletives at him during the milelong march.

To Irish Americans who object to the British rule of Northern Ireland, carrying that flag was considered the equivalent of "waving the Confederate flag at a Martin Luther King march," several Irish American community groups said yesterday.

Lisburn Mayor Cecil Calvert, appeared unfazed, even as passers-by got in his face and yelled in his ears. One woman tried to knock the flag out of his hands.

"This is a slap in the face. That flag represents the military occupation of Ireland," said Jenna Stephens, who paraded with the Committee for Truth and Justice in Ireland.

Calvert said he was merely celebrating St. Patrick's Day like everyone else. The holiday, he said, "is not just for the nationalist community."

The Irish Heritage Club traditionally invites dignitaries from Ireland to join in the parade.

The Seattle-based club invited the mayor from Lisburn last year without incident and had no indication that the new mayor would carry the Union Jack flag until the day before the parade.

Parade organizers tried to talk him out of it, but according to Calvert's aides, "He felt it was important to demonstrate his British roots," said John Keane, a spokesman for the Irish Heritage Club. "We felt we did not have the right to censor him."

"I was disappointed in him," Keane said of the mayor. "But I was also disappointed in the reaction of some people. They allowed him to provoke them."

Many cursed at Calvert but no fights broke out, and the Seattle police made no arrests.

The pre-parade events were a clue that this year's would not be the usual St. Patrick's Day celebration. During the Irish and the American national anthems, dignitaries, by tradition, stand on the second floor of a building at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Jefferson Street with the Irish and the U.S. flags.

Among them were parade co-grand marshal Rob McKenna, the state attorney general, and Mayor Catherine Connolly of Galway, Seattle's sister city in Ireland. Calvert was a no-show.

Then Calvert appeared at the start of the parade with his flag. Some passers-by taunted him, but the mayor ignored them. Later, Calvert emphasized he was not making any political statement, merely carrying the flag of his people.

"It is not our intention to have any confrontation. We are here in the spirit of friendship," said Lisburn Chief Executive Norman Davidson, who marched with the mayor.

"I am very upset. They [parade organizers] should have taken the flag from him," said Bernadette Noonan, who was in the parade with another group.

(Now come on...who in their right mind even BRINGS a Union Jack to a St. Pat's parade? Can ANYONE say Oliver Cromwell???)

Stuff

Yesterday was the 6th annual Acorn Community Goddess Faire. Mystic Grove had a table there and did a little fundraising. Joe sold 5 sets of runes. It was nice out there yesterday. It was held on someone's land...I think it's Shawna's home and land. Anyway, it was enjoyable. Joe and I have two sand chairs that we use when we go to events like this, and they have seen a lot of mileage out of our buns!

I did find myself scratching my head and wondering about the fashion show, however. No, it wasn't a literal fashion show, but there were a lot of people there - mostly women did this - who were dressed in layers upon layers of medieval clothing, and in FL at this time of year it's quite warm. Not blazing hot, but enough to where layers would be terribly uncomfortable. And no one was removing said layers as the temperature climbed during the day. People just wanted to look like medieval peasantry, I suppose, and so they did. But brilliantly colored medieval peasantry. Kym Dragon showed up swathed in pink and cream, for example, with dark blue petticoats underneath her pink dress and cream bodice. Someone else did something completely different and dressed in black vinyl pants, which is hotter than hell. And just about everyone of both genders wore some kind of tall boots, not to mention the full capes and cloaks I was seeing. You'd think it was winter!

No, for me, when I go to outdoor events like this, it's plain jeans & a T shirt all the way. And I'll bring a sweater if I get cold once the sun goes down. Oh, and let's not forget comfortable, sturdy shoes that will protect my feet against "curse burrs" and fire ants. My moccasins did just fine for that purpose. I wore long pants yesterday for that very reason - protection from sun, burrs, ants and mosquitoes. This IS Florida, after all. Yeah, I got slightly warm, but not unbearably so. I also had my golf umbrella to shade me from the sun -- I'd forgotten my sunscreen, so I just opened my umbrella over my head and made do with that. Worked just fine - I only got slightly pink in my face and that's it. Heather wore a spaghetti-strap top and no sunscreen and didn't sit in the shade - and got burned. She's very fair.

Saw Stacey/Morgaine at the Goddess Faire. She ignored Mystic Grove completely. I chose not to do ritual with her, because I can't stand in circle with her. I just don't see how it's possible to stand in a religious ceremony designed to strengthen community with a person I have a lot of anger towards, and whom I feel has wronged me and owes me an apology. Of course, she was being her usual snotty-ass self and talking only to those people she thought were cool enough for her attentions. Thankfully, no one else in Mystic Grove participated in that circle either, including Joe. I was hoping at least he would sit out the ceremony in solidarity with me.

Besides, I'm doing the Ostarablot next weekend anyway. No sense in doing two rituals for one holiday. I reserve that kind of activity for Jul.

Joe did make an interesting comment, however, on the drive home. As we watched the Ostara circle from our table, he noticed that Kym Dragon had people kneeling during the invocation. Joe has serious problems approaching the Gods on his knees. Even if he didn't have knee problems from having run track in his youth, he wouldn't kneel before the Gods. Esp. considering they invoked Odin and Ostara during that ritual, and Odin is the God he's specifically dedicated to!

When I write up a ritual or blot, there's no kneeling or even sitting involved. People are on their feet for the whole rite. Dignified. Of course, I don't keep them there for very long, as I know feet get sore from just standing around.

I'm debating on how I'm going to write up the Ostarablot. I'm considering using a particular story from the Eddas, the Skirnismal for this blot. Last year I did the theft of Idunna's apples, which seemed to me a perfectly good myth for this time of year. I'm going to try this one this year and see if I like it better. Joe had commented that the Idunna story didn't seem quite right for the season, and I can't figure out why, so I thought to myself, "Well, there's no harm in trying something different to see if it works; it's the only way to find out" and going with the Skirnismal this year. If I don't like it, I'll go with the Idunna story instead from here on out. Hey, I offered that rite to Mystic Grove to put it into a book of rituals, sort of like a Book of Shadows. Why not use it year after year? That's what a RITUAL is, after all!

Pity there's little lore on Ostara Herself. I just can't find any stories about Her and what She does and how She interacts with other Gods or the Jotun or whatever. Oh, I know what Her symbols are - rabbits, hares, eggs, flowers, all that spring stuff. Everything you see for Easter are Ostara symbols. But, because there's not much out there on Ostara Herself, that's why I'm considering enacting the Skirnismal or doing it as a guided meditation. I'm leaning towards guided meditation, myself.

Yesterday during the ritual at the Goddess Faire, there was a lot of emphasis on balance, because this is the Vernal Equinox coming up. Night and day are equal, balanced. But the thing is...balance does not lead to progress. Progress is controlled imbalance. Just watch what happens when you walk. Taking each step is an exercise in controlled imbalance. Even the Tao Te Ching says, "If you would be whole, let yourself be partial." It's something of a paradox, that's for sure. Balance means standing still, going nowhere, stagnation. I've noticed that the word "balance" is such a buzzword among Pagans, yet have most of them really examined balance?

Ah, but if you ask someone like Morgaine, that snotty wench, I don't know what I'm talking about. I'm a dumbass and not worthy to be listened to or even given the time of day.

Hah. I made a damned impact on her. I got her pissed off, I got her to lose control and flame me, and I still have enough of an impact for her to make it a point to ignore me -- so in a sense, she's not ignoring me. She's silently validating me and acknowledging that I'm enough of a problem to her for her to ignore me. *evil grin*

There IS a dark and perverse part of me that asks, who's pulling the strings here, then? Who is the REAL power here? Of course, I didn't talk to her either. No one in Mystic Grove spoke to her. But she's the one who took herself out of our group. She's the one who threw her hands up and flounced out in a puff of drama. No one asked her to leave. No one told her not to come back. In fact, Chip sent her a welcoming email inviting her to change her mind, but she refused. Ever since then she's pointedly refused to speak to ANYONE in Mystic Grove when she sees us around. This should get interesting, given that Mystic Grove is looking to do a lot more work with WRCF, and she's very into WRCF. (Wiccan Religious Cooperative of Florida - and personally I think they should consider changing their name if not everyone in that organization is Wiccan...and not only that, it goes to show a tiny bit of that Wiccan arrogance, assuming that Wicca = Pagan and all other forms of Paganism aren't valid...I think that having an organization that calls itself "Wiccan" anything yet is open to non-Wiccan forms of Pagan spirituality only reinforces attitudes like Stacey's so she feels she CAN throw "perfect love and perfect trust" up in faces of people like ME who don't bother with it...)

Ah well, I'd better get on with writing the Ostarablot. It's being held next Saturday, and it's not likely I'll have a lot of time during the week to do this.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Hi Folks

Very tired redhead checking in. Haven't had a lot of time to blog.

I do want to, though. I have a lot of topics in my head to blog about.

But, Joe is making sets of runes for selling at the Goddess Faire this weekend. I'm writing up a ritual for next weekend's Ostara festivities.

I'm considering telling Mystic Grove that I want Jul permanently, that I want to do the Jul blot every year. This thought was brought on by the death of a member of First Unitarian Church, and I thought a sumbel was a nice opportunity for the whole church community to remember her, along with other "disir" or female ancestors. We'll see.

I'm also going to work out when we should do Alfablot, for the male ancestors. There doesn't seem to be a fixed date for that.

A brief note for those who don't know: Sharon Hiett, one of the most active members of FUCO, was killed in a bicycle accident Monday night. It's a serious blow to our church family.

That's why one of the topics I wanted to blog about was the effect that real ritual (and by that I mean something done repetitively, something most Wikkans can't understand because for some reason they feel compelled to do something different every single year and have no concept of TRADITION - ok I'll calm down) has in binding a community closer together and strengthening ties. It's really amazing.

But I'm exhausted. More on this another time.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Loss

I just found out from Carie today that one of the people from church was killed in a bicycle accident Monday night.

Here is the text of the email Marni sent out on Tuesday, that Carie forwarded to me:

Members of our beloved community:

It is with the deepest sadness that I send you this email. Throughout the day, we have been attempting to contact as many people as we can so that as few of you as possible will have to learn this sad news by email.

Last night (Monday), Sharon Hiett was riding her bicycle and was hit by a car, falling from her bike and hitting the back of her head on hard pavement. She has not and will not regain consciousness. Many difficult decisions were made today. Sharon had signed an organ donor card; the process of evaluation and matching has begun and will likely be complete within 24 hours.

A memorial service has been scheduled for 2pm this Saturday at the church. In lieu of flowers (which Sharon would have considered a waste of money!), the family has asked that donations be made to the church, with the designation "Sharon Hiett Fund" on the check. Money collected will be earmarked for capital improvements in the Religious Education complex.

Many of you will want to do something. Cards are, of course, always welcome and helpful. I would also invite you to bring food to share for the reception after the service. Sharon would never want people to leave hungry!

Please hold Russ, David and Jonathan in your hearts during these difficult days.


I knew Sharon but not well. Mostly my heart just utterly breaks for her family. But on the other hand I'm so deeply thankful that there is going to be a huge, huge wave of support from the church for them. This is the kind of tsunami that is good...an outpouring of love and support and comfort during this period.