Friday, February 25, 2005

Ministry Titles!

Pinko Feminist Hellcat: President-for-Life Sheelzebub announces new competition for ministry titles

I applied for Ministry of Religious Education. I'll be adding Pinko Feminist Hellcat to my sidebar because anyone who comes up with such a kickass name like that has GOT to be way cool.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Ask a Pagan

Yes, methinks I am just a little bit crazy, but here goes nothing.

Q: I have a question.....Do Pagans believe in a G-d?? What happens when man/woman dies? Do we go to another world?

A: There are some Pagans and Heathens who actually do not believe in deity at all. They might be thought of as sort of humanist Pagans and Heathens. As far as what happens when a person dies...each tradition has their own response to that. The Asatru have a response to that, the Wiccans have a response to that, the Dianics have a response to that, the Kemetic Orthodox have a response to that, the Celtic Reconstructionists have a response to that....I could go on.

Q: How do you worship?
A: Once again, that answer depends on the tradition of the person you're talking to. My man is an Odinist, and there are ceremonies called "blots" that the Asatru participate in ("blot" rhymes with "boat"). Wiccans have circles. I'm sure the Celts and Kemetics and others have different ceremonies they participate in.

I feel I should pause and indicate that there is a branch of Pagan life known as the "reconstructionist" religions, and what this means is that the people involved in this are looking into as much of the history and source material as has survived and are trying to "reconstruct" the old worship/religion/values as closely as possible to the way it was originally done. Examples of reconstructionist religions would be Celtic reconstructionism or Aurrad or Senistrognata - Asatru or Heathenry or Forn Seid or Rites of Odin - Kemetic Orthodoxy to name a few.

Wicca is NOT a reconstructionist religion, please note. (There is a very good article online about the differences between Asatru and Wicca called The Pentagram and Hammer and you'll find it on my blog, which is at h t t p colon slash slash chalicechiq at blogspot dot com)

The things I go through to get the address of my blog on a post. Sheesh.

To continue: there are those Pagans and Heathens out there who feel they have a connection to a particular deity; in some cases the person believes that the deity in question came to them in vision or meditation and "tapped" them or chose them as their own devotee. I believe this happened with Frigga, the Norse Queen of Asgard and myself, many years ago. She came to me in vision while I was doing the wash one day. I wasn't expecting it at all.

Q: What percent worships Goddess?
A: Hard to say, but I do know this much...some years ago the EarthSpirit community did a "Pagan census" and they found that the American city with the highest Pagan population per capita is right here in my own back yard: Orlando, FL. Odd, isn't it? But then again, consider the weather and all. Perfect place to do outdoor rituals year round.

Oh, and a word about the word "ritual." Bear in mind that attending Sunday morning worship at the local Baptist church is attending a religious RITUAL. Going to Mass - going to receive the ash on Ash Wednesday - receiving communion - all these are religious RITUALS. "Ritual" seems to have acquired this horribly negative connotation (probably thanks to Hollywood, mostly) that involves something dark and evil and harmful to either babies or small furry animals. Rituals are simply things that are done with regularity; on Wednesday evenings it is usually my habit to attend a Journal Group at the local Borders bookstore. That's a ritual too. So it is probably best to clear the mind of negative connotations associate with that word, thanks very much.

Q: Now this is the part that gets me. You say you know what pleases the divine and the divine's will but with so many gods and such how to you have a clue?

A: This is why it's important to develop a relationship with a particular deity, in my mind. This way you get to know the way the deity in question communicates with you, and when you see certain things going on in your world, then you know that this deity is imparting a message to you. For example, with my sweetie and his relationship with Odin, he knows there is some kind of message going on when he starts seeing ravens (not crows or other corvids, but specifically ravens, for these birds are closely associated with Odin) all over the place.


Q: Another question, would you consider the golden calf the hebrews made an aspect of the divine?

A: Yes, I would. Look up "Hathor" sometime. I believe that's Her.


"And just a side note. God said not to have any gods before Him because He does not want us following things that dont exist."

I'm not going to go there with a ten-foot cattle prod, and don't give me a hard time about "it's because you know you are following the wrong deity anyway." Do. Not. Start. With. Me. On. That. Level. Understood? No comments about whose deities really do and really don't exist, have I made myself crystal clear? Thank you.


A note on the Wiccan Rede (usually quoted as "An it harm none, do as you will"). This is an ethic that I have been trying to tell people does NOT apply to ALL PAGANS because not all Pagans are Wiccan. I would say the same thing about the concept of "perfect love, perfect trust" and the threefold law. These are WICCAN ideas and have no place in reconstructionist religions like Asatru. So for those who are very unfamiliar with this world, let me say this: NEVER confuse an Asatruar (specifically) with a Wiccan, and NEVER treat Asatruar as if their religion and Wicca are basically the same thing. They aren't. There does tend to be a certain amount of very bad blood between many reconstructionists such as the Asatru and many Wiccans, and there are reasons for this. See the above mentioned article for further information on this.


I also have never liked the way many Wiccans have hijacked the concept of karma from the Hindus, and they don't even have a proper understanding of the word and how karma works. Myself personally, since I am of Northern European ancestry and a Norse Goddess has tapped me, I go in for the ideas of "wyrd" and "orlog" and am learning about them. In some ways they are similar to karma (and bear in mind that the cultures that gave rise to these ideas are all descended from Indo-Europeans that migrated out of the Russian steppes many many thousands of years before the birth of Christ) but in many ways they are quite different.


Q: What is your claim in creation of mankind because not all claims Adam was the first creation of Mankind?
A: Different traditions have different creation myths/stories. Bear in mind, by the way, that I am not using the word "myth" in the perjorative sense. I've studied far too much of Joseph Campbell to ever do that to such a noble word. The Asatru have a specific creation myth that talks about the Ginnungagap, the primordial worlds of fire and ice, a cosmic bovine named Audumbla (I hope I spelled that correctly) and the first being, a giant named Ymir, and how things progressed from there. I'm not going to retell the story right now; I'm too tired for that. Look it up online sometime.

RE: Why Wiccans Suck webpage
As for me, I think it's hysterical. I included it in the links on my sidebar on my blog. Oh, there's also a ** recommended reading list** on the sidebar too. Someone asked about that. I laughed til I almost fell off my chair when I saw it. Of late, I must confess to losing a LOT of patience with Wiccans in general, and I have my reasons for it. Most of them have made of Wicca something that I don't believe Gerald Gardner (whom as far as I'm concerned, pieced Wicca together well over 40 plus years ago) intended. I'm not going to argue about this because my mind is made up on this matter and I like it this way. It suits the information that is out there to be found and read and learned about.

One thing about anyone who has walked a reconstructionist path - you learn to question your sources, and you learn to look to real scholars who have tenure at real universities for your information, not the weak stuff that Llewellyn Publishing tends to put out there. As far as I'm concerned, it's all candyfloss. I am NOT one to recommend writers like Silver Ravenwolf or Raven Grimassi or their ilk at all.

Q: What valid reasons are there that you follow your faith and not the faith of Prophets?
A: Read the Voluspa sometime. That is Norse prophecy. The Voluspa is found in a document called the Poetic Edda. Those who engaged in prophecy and seeing were called "volva" in the North.

"All creation stories cannot be correct"
Sure they can. They're called "myths" and aren't meant to be interpreted literally or read like the Dec. 7th 1941 edition of the New York Times.


"a religion must be accurate in its claims"
Yup. And they are. You're just not looking at it the right way.


"When you believe in Allah then you have to educate about the commands of Allah - The very first command is taking "Shahada" which is testifying there is one Allah without any partners and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah."
Got a point there. This is why I wish more people would develop a strong, deep relationship with ONE deity and learn to see the uniqueness of each deity, not treating them like interchangeable parts and getting into this business of "all love Goddesses are the same" because as far as I'm concerned, there are whole worlds of difference between Freyja and Aphrodite and Venus.

ARGH....I'm just too exhausted to continue this...I have to go to bed.

I'm sure Pensive thinks I've just totally lost my ever-loving mind, and that's OK. He'd be completely right.

Goodnight everyone.

http://www.christianforums.com/t1265533-ask-a-pagan.html&page=18

What place for God in Europe?

Why the Continent is debating what role, if any, religion should play in public life.

By Peter Ford, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

PARIS - As he urged closer ties with Europe Monday, President Bush played down the current political disputes. "No power on earth will ever divide us," he said.

That may be true when it comes to Iran's nuclear program. But his remark ironically hints at a transatlantic chasm over US and European values, and the role each side assigns to a fundamental facet of human life: religious faith.

Two events last year neatly frame the challenge: In the United States, a California man tried to remove "One Nation, Under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance. Americans cried foul - roughly 90 percent wanted to keep the phrase - and on June 15, the Supreme Court halted the bid on procedural grounds.

Three days later, in Brussels, officials agreed on the final text of the European Union's new Constitution. The charter made no mention of God, despite calls that it recognize Europe's Christian roots.

Indeed, its secularism has led to jokes that Europe is one big "blue" state. But Europeans aren't laughing. Buffeted by the crosscurrents of secularism, Christianity, and Islam - and mindful of a history of religious violence - they are wrestling with their values and identity as never before.

"The clash between those who believe and those who don't believe will be a dominant aspect of relations between the US and Europe in the coming years," says Jacques Delors, a former president of the European Commission. "This question of a values gap is being posed more sharply now than at any time in the history of European-US relations since 1945."

Religion's role in public life, and its influence on politics, have been center-stage questions worldwide since Sept. 11, 2001. But the debate in Europe has been complicated by the continent's difficulty in integrating its fast-growing Muslim immigrant minority. It has been sharpened by tragedies such as the bombing of a Madrid train station last March, and the brutal murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh by an Islamic extremist last fall.

Those incidents "will reinforce secularism" in Europe, predicts Patrick Weil, a sociologist of religion at the Sorbonne in Paris. "The tendency now in Europe is to say we have to be clear on the limits to religious intervention" in public life. "We are not going to sacrifice women's equality, democracy, and individual freedoms on the altar of a new religion."

Secularists who think like that are swimming in friendly waters in Europe, where religious convictions and practice have dropped sharply in recent decades, and where mainstream churches - especially the Catholic Church - continue to lose members and influence.

Today, just 21 percent of Europeans say religion is "very important" to them, according to the most recent European Values Study, which tracks attitudes in 32 European countries. A survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that nearly three times as many Americans, 59 percent, called their faith "very important."

Although a Gallup poll found last year that 44 percent of Americans say they attend a place of worship once a week, the average figure in Europe is only 15 percent, although the picture varies widely across the Continent.

Godless secularism?
For some Europeans, that slump marks a defeat for moral values at the hands of godless secularism.

"The new soft totalitarianism that is advancing on the left wants to have a state religion," complains Rocco Buttiglione, the Italian politician whose ambition to become the European commissioner for justice was thwarted last year by the European Parliament, which objected to his description of homosexuality as a sin.

"It is an atheist, nihilistic religion - but it is a religion that is obligatory for all," Mr. Buttiglione adds.

Luis Lopez Guerra, the Spanish government's point man in its campaign to wrest from Catholic influence social legislation on questions such as abortion, divorce, and gay marriage, sees things differently.

He wonders why, in a country where less than half the population ever goes to church, he should have found a Bible and a crucifix on his desk, along with the Constitution, when he was sworn in as undersecretary at the Ministry of Justice a year ago.

The Spanish government's plans to legalize gay marriage this spring, to liberalize divorce and abortion laws, and to permit stem-cell research, do not represent an attempt to impose an atheist state religion, he insists. Rather, he says, they "extend civil rights and make the law independent of Catholic dogma.

He adds, "The government has a responsibility to represent the majority of the people. Our policy has to depend on the people's will, not on the preferences of the Catholic church."

Spain is currently the front line in the Vatican (news - web sites)'s rear-guard battle to retain church influence over public policy in Europe. But with public opinion ranged firmly on the government's side, there seems little it can do but make its displeasure known.

Pope John Paul II lashed out at Madrid recently, accusing authorities of "restriction of religious freedom" and "relegating faith to the private sphere and opposing its public expression."

The changes in Spain, Catholic church leaders worry, are part of a broader trend. Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, recently attacked "a new holy inquisition ... motivated predominantly by prejudice toward all that is Christian."

Other traditional churches have felt the same cold winds. The president of the French Protestant Federation, Jean-Arnold de Clermont, warned Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin last December of a climate of "secularist zeal" that was undermining all faiths.

Such zeal has known peaks and troughs over the centuries, but it is not new to Europe, where political leaders and ordinary citizens experienced religion and felt its weight in ways quite unknown to Americans.

The differences are rooted in the 18th century, when the Enlightenment, the philosophical revolution that laid the foundations of the modern Western world, was interpreted quite differently by Americans and Europeans in one crucial respect.

Enlightenment divergence
In Europe, says Grace Davie, an expert on religion at Exeter University in England, "the Enlightenment was seen as freedom from religion ... getting away from dogma, whereas in the [US] it meant freedom to believe."

In America, a country founded in part by religious dissidents fleeing an oppressive government, "religious groups are seen as protecting individuals against the interference of the state," says Mr. Weil.

In Europe, on the other hand, the post-Enlightenment state "is seen as protecting individuals from the intrusion of religious groups," Weil argues, after centuries during which the official church, be it Catholic or Protestant, had always been closely identified with temporal powers.

While religion and democracy have always been intertwined in America, where churches were at the forefront of battles against slavery and in favor of civil rights, this has by no means been the case in Europe. There, estab-lished churches in countries such as Spain and France long opposed political reform.

European mistrust of public religion is heightened even further, however, when it is mixed with patriotism in the kind of rhetoric that President Bush often uses.

"God and patriotism are an explosive mixture," cautions Nicolas Sartorius, an éminence grise of the Spanish left who spent many years in jail during Gen. Francisco Franco's dictatorship. The dictator's guiding ideology, he recalls pointedly, was known as "Catholic nationalism."

After a tortured, centuries-long history of wars fought over religion, in whose name millions died, Europeans are deeply skeptical today of patriotic exhortations infused with religious meaning, says Karsten Voigt, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's adviser on relations with Washington.

And nowhere is this truer than in Germany, he adds. "The mixture of patriotism and religion is anathema and heresy in German religious life because it was misused and went too far in the past," Mr. Voigt explains. "Remember, German soldiers in World War I wore belt buckles reading 'Gott Mitt Uns' [God With Us]."

Dominique Moisi, one of France's most respected political analysts, agrees. Viewed from this side of the Atlantic, "the combination of religion and nationalism in America is frightening," he says. "We feel betrayed by God and by nationalism, which is why we are building the European Union as a barrier to religious warfare."

How values affect policy
EU members have gone further than any other group of nations in pooling their national sovereignty in the interests of collective security. It's a concept completely foreign to the US, where Bush has repeatedly insisted that he will do whatever he sees fit to protect Americans.

That divergence "is a matter of principle, a matter of values," says Martin Ortega, an analyst at the EU's Institute for Security Studies in Paris. "Europe's history has led Europeans to a more cosmopolitan worldview, which tries to understand 'the other,' " he suggests.

One of the implications of this approach, Mr. Ortega argues, is that a ban on the use of force except in extreme circumstances has become a European value, just like its corollary: reliance on international law.

That, too, sets Europe apart from America in a fundamental way when it comes to coping with world crises.

The differences were stark over the war in Iraq. They persist with regard to Iran, where Europe's three largest nations are pursuing diplomatic efforts to prevent Iran from enriching uranium - efforts the US has refused to join.

The values gap is evident in Washington's wariness of multilateral approaches to world affairs: The US has rejected the Kyoto treaty, designed to slow global warming, which came into force last week, while the EU embraced it. And Europe supports the International Criminal Court, which the US opposes.

Some European leaders, eager to mend diplomatic fences with the US, fear that such different perspectives could tempt Washington to dismiss Europe as an unreliable ally.

"In some segments of conservative US opinion, anti-European feeling is on the rise," worries Mr. Voigt. "They see us as soft on terrorism, or as simply immoral."

On the contrary, retorts Ortega, who describes himself as a Catholic believer, "I interpret my religion in a more modern, humane, and universal manner. I find the American manner quite antiquated. For example, I'm sure that when President Bush applied the death penalty in Texas, or decided to use force in Iraq, he felt it compatible with his religious beliefs."

In fact, the fundamental values that Europe and the US proclaim are almost identical.

Few Americans would quibble over the proposed EU Constitution's declaration that "the Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights." It goes on to promote "tolerance, justice, solidarity, and equality between women and men."

Philosophical differences
These shared sentiments, however, flow from different metaphysical head waters. In his inaugural address last month, Bush founded his commitment to human rights on the belief "that every man and woman on this earth ... bear[s] the image of the Maker of Heaven and Earth."

That thinking does not sit well in Europe, where human rights are rooted in a tradition of secular humanism, which holds that mankind is capable of ethical conduct and self-fulfillment without recourse to the supernatural.

In Europe, secularism is not understood as necessarily hostile to religion. In France, the term denotes a level playing field, on which the state allows all religions to operate freely, but stands aside. Elsewhere, it means an indifference to faith. More generally, secularism refers to an approach to life grounded not in religious morality but in human reason and universal ethics.

At the same time, European governments have chosen to adopt a broader set of moral values in setting their foreign policy than they see apparent in US policy, which to them often seems wholly focused on "the war on terror."

That leads them to attach more importance to issues such as the en-vironment and poverty, as British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac stressed in speeches to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, earlier this month.

Though the broad moral values at the foundations of public policy in Europe draw clearly on Christian inspiration, the established churches are equally clearly losing their grip on social attitudes to personal moral questions.

A look at the dramatic fall in birthrates all over Europe reveals how faithfully couples are following Catholic teaching on contraception. And as religion's importance fades in people's lives, their permissiveness increases, the European Values Study found.

For example, of the 10 countries where religion is most important to people's lives, eight are among the 10 least tolerant of euthanasia. An increasing number of European governments are following Britain's lead in legalizing stem-cell research, with public support, despite opposition from Catholic leaders.

But even if churches are emptying across Europe, and citizens are reluctant to imbue policy with religious significance, that hardly makes the Continent atheist, pollsters and religious leaders say.

Rather, suggests Archbishop John Foley, the US head of the Vatican's Council for Social Communications, "many people in Europe consider it poor taste to mention your beliefs. It is perceived as rendering other people uncomfortable."

While only 41 percent of Europeans say they believe in a personal God, another 33 percent believe in a spirit, or life force.

It is on that reservoir of spirituality that religious leaders of several faiths hope to draw, in order to bring religion back from the margins of public life in Europe. And they are finding encouragement from some unlikely sources.

In France, perhaps the most militantly secular society in Europe, and which this year celebrates the 100th anniversary of a law separating church and state, one of the men most likely to succeed Jacques Chirac as president broke a strict political taboo late last year.

In a book-length series of interviews entitled "The Republic and Religion: Hope," Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of the ruling conservative Union for a Popular Movement, broached controversial subjects such as state funding for religious institutions.

He was motivated by a feeling that would be banal in the US, but which for a French political leader is almost revolutionary: "That the religious phenomenon is more important than people think, that it can contribute to peace, to balance, to integration, to unity and dialogue," he wrote. "The Republic should debate this, and reflect on it."

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

On Certain Feminist Theologians

Well, I'm really thinking of Carol P. Christ (click here for information) specifically, because I'm re-reading one of her old books, "Laughter of Aphrodite."

And I'm seeing it with entirely new eyes, after a certain amount of time as a reconstructionist. Oh man...what a difference it has made. I read with FAR more critical eyes than I did when Dann first got me this book, almost 20 years ago.

I'll just dive into it, shall I?

One of the BIG beefs I have with Ms. Christ is her outright rejection of ALL deities, Gods AND Goddesses, who are warlike and violent. In one essay, she explicitly names Ishtar and Athene as being two Goddesses that she rejects, because of their associations with war. Ms. Christ seems to want to define Goddess spirituality as being only concerned with pacifistic Goddesses.

Now, this is coming from a woman whose personal ancestry includes Germans, Swedes, Irish, Scots and Anglo-Saxons. Obviously she has forgotton a great deal of the history of her own people, who were inclined to very bloody sacrificial rituals, headhunting, Goddesses who wore armor and carried swords and knew how to use them, women warriors like Freydis who (at 8 months pregnant) did not hesitate to snatch up a sword and fight even when the men were in hiding as the homestead was being attacked...

Her own ancestors were violent, bloody people. Yet in her theology (or as she calls it "theaology") she completely and totally ignores ALL Northern European mythology and Goddess lore, and focuses instead on the deities of Greece and Crete and the Mediterranean.

That's all well and good, but their Goddesses weren't all light and fluff either.

I say that she cannot speak of introducing women to spiritual wholeness if by doing so she's introducing them only to the Goddesses that she likes and approves of. She has no FAITH in Goddess to let Goddess be what Goddess must be, and if that means a very violent Goddess like Kali or the Morrigan or Skadi or Freyja or Oya or whatever, then so be it. She's *analyzed* it to death, and she's letting her personal ego get in the way of just letting sheer spirit speak.

She forgets that Athene, for example, could provide a girl with a very strong archetype or model or whatever to look to...because Athene is a Goddess of wisdom and insight, as well as a Goddess of the domestic/civilized arts. And Athene isn't a simple battle Goddess in the same way that Mars is a fair brute when it comes to warfare. Athene was a ** strategist ** not just a warrior. Ties in with that wisdom thing again. Athene would show a girl how to use her mind to get what she wants, to be intellectually competitive, and how to use the brain to win. Ms. Christ dismisses Athene a little too easily for my taste.

I think that in ignoring the war Goddesses, this really robs female military personnel of their dignity, and teaches that this part of a woman's soul, that may very well feel the call to defend country with life and limb, is somehow bad and wrong. I can just see an Army woman looking at this and thinking, "So there's no place for me here at this table? I am woman, but I am rejected because I serve my country?"

No thanks. I won't have that kind of exclusion going on in MY Goddess spirituality. I may not have chosen that road for myself, but damned if I'll tell another woman that she shouldn't do so if she truly feels that call.

Ms. Christ's vision is far too limiting to women, and since it is so limiting (to the soft gentle compassionate mothering sort of woman), how on earth can she write about something she calls "liberation theology?" It doesn't seem to me like her vision frees women from anything, but in fact continues the sentence that patriarchy has placed upon women, only giving it a fresh and more attractive coat of paint. "Oh, it's GODDESS spirituality teaching me that I should be a sweet gentle stay at home mother and not have any ambition beyond the kitchen and the nursery! That's OK then, as long as it's not those nasty male Gods telling me this."

Ms. Christ also writes that she has a problem with monotheism that leads to religious intolerance. Oh, don't make me laugh...because that is what she herself seems to engage in. I have a feeling she would not be very open to or respectful of the religious insights found in Asatru, because Asatruar do not hesitate to use violence when it is necessary. That, and they also worship male Gods, so I guess that renders them completely useless. Please.

Joe and I had a conversation about something similar just yesterday. He couldn't understand why so many people in the women's spirituality movement didn't include ANY Northern European Goddesses. MY response was, "Would you really want to see it commercialized and cheapened and fluffed out in this way?" The closest thing to a response to this question that I put to him was, "Well, there's something perverse in me that would enjoy seeing the fur fly."

OK Joe, you're a weirdo. But I suppose he does have a point...people tend not to mess with Skadi when She's standing at the gates of Asgard demanding weregild for the death of Her father Thiassi.

Anyway, another thing about Carol Christ that proves to be beyond irritating is the fact that she and people like her go around complaining about how "oppressed" they are as women. People like Joe come along and say to people like her, "When was the last time you had to go dumpster diving just to have something to eat? When was the last time you lived on the street? When was the last time you had a choice between instant popcorn and powdered biscuits for dinner beacuse that was the only thing in the kitchen to eat and no money to buy anything else? When was the last time you had to live on food stamps and public aid? And WHAT exactly have YOU DONE, in all your enlightened Goddess spirituality, done to HELP RELIEVE THE BURDENS OF THE POOR AND NEEDY IN YOUR OWN COUNTRY?" As far as he's concerned, her happy-ass little trips to Crete are a complete, complete luxury and are totally pointless and a total waste of time. Let Carol Christ contribute something to reliving the needs of the poor right here in the US, before going charging off to Crete for a weekend to bathe in the sun and pat herself and other women on the back and tell each other how fabulous they are then go home to their upper-middle and upperclass lives with their big houses and sparkling pools, their expensive personal trainers and their Prozac and therapists - therapists they have because they themselves are like high strung little poodles themselves who can't cope with too much reality.

It's just so much more fluffy bunny feelgood crap.

Ya know, Lexa, I'd volunteer to be Rhiannon's Goddess-mother...but I think I'm a little too "out there" to do that for ANY kid. *blush*

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Article on Ruth Barrett

I have a few reservations about this article:

To say that Ruth Barrett is a witch who performs magic in Evansville and has a new book about Wiccan traditions is an accurate but cheap way to get your attention.


It also may well turn you off to knowing more. Witches are devil worshipers, magic is sacrilegious and nobody accepts Wicca as a religion, right?

Barrett, 51, has spent most of her adult life celebrating and demystifying her nature-based faith, which is recognized by the Parliament of the World's Religions. That means dissolving the myths. The devil is a Christian concept, she notes, and thus "outside of our cosmology," which finds divinity in the cycles of life, the four seasons and four natural forces: earth, water, fire, air.

The magic? It's been a bit sensationalized.

"Anytime you send something into motion while wishing, it's magic," she says. People practice it every time they blow out the candles on a birthday cake. (It might feel more significant if each person would express a wish for the guest of honor as the candles are lit.)

"I'm not pulling a rabbit out of my hat," notes the high priestess, ordained in 1980. She and life partner Falcon River are co-founders of the Temple of Diana, a tax-exempt denomination within the Wiccan faith that is more of a female monotheism, an offshoot of the feminist movement.

Barrett contends that you don't have to be a witch to benefit from "Women's Rites, Women's Mysteries: Creating Ritual in the Dianic Wiccan Tradition" (Author House, $21.75 in paperback), her new and self-published book.

"This book was written for anybody who wants to create their own rituals for their own life," Barrett says. "It is written for women because that's what I know, and our rites of passage tend to be invisible" -- the basis for shame or concealment instead of celebration.

She is talking about menstruation and menopause, plus using terms like "old crone" and "hag" as respectful references to old women, although rituals can and should be attached to passages not associated with gender, too.

"They are for any moment that we understand as significant -- getting a divorce, starting a new career, adopting a child. When we don't intentionally mark these things as important, then we move through life without a deeper consciousness."

So a croning ritual, for a woman in her mid 50s, "acknowledges a woman's value as a woman of wisdom, and as a person to be cherished and respected." What should this, or any other, ritual involve? Barrett's book provides more concepts than directives, because "each woman's needs are different."

The croning might be a multigenerational gathering of women who recall significant events during each decade of their lives. The older women speak the most. A celebration of menstruation might prompt participants to dress in red or light red candles, or for the mother to give her daughter a ruby ring.

Raised as a Reconstructionist Jew in southern California, Barrett is concerned about the trivialization of life, particularly on television, and self-centeredness.

"We need to stop and notice the miracles in the everyday world," she says. "That helps us make better decisions about ourselves, and the continuation of humanity."

In her Evansville home is a personal altar that changes with the seasons. There is a Brigid's Cross, because the Celtic goddess's holiday is this month, plus sprouting tulips and photos to symbolize the coming of spring. Other items are a tribute to the natural forces: a cup for water, stones for earth, a candle for fire, an incense burner for air.

Regardless of the reason for celebration, a "ritual altar is created to visually focus your consciousness and energy on the ritual purpose," Barrett writes. "It is a physical space in which the ritual work will take place. The items on the altar symbolize your intention, so you must consider how the building of the altar can best reflect the purpose or nature of the ritual."

She talks about "natural magic' and "sympathetic magic," using the garden as an example. The planting of seeds can represent the intent to grow something else in your own life; the nurturing of the seedlings is a reminder to nurture the more intangible goal, too.

"You enact something that you want to see happen" in another arena.

Attitudes about paganism in general, and witchcraft in particular, have softened in the last decade, Barrett says, but the rise in political intolerance worries her.

She notes that it has only been since 1954 that witchcraft laws were repealed. "We are interested in a world where women have rights," she says of her faith, which is goddess worship and for women only. Although Barrett is a lesbian, she says the majority of participants are heterosexual.

"We are not man haters -- this is just not about them."

Why concentrate on women? "Metaphorically, people in many religions decide what the divine looks like and feels like," she says. "The fit best for me, even as a child, was a female form. To me, it was just common sense."


I suppose on a certain level, it's not that big a deal...but on another it is. There are more than just the four classical elements. But I s'pose it's in the article this way because Barrett is a Wiccan, and that's the way she learned things.

Admittedly, there's a part of me that would say, "Ah, hell, might as well just go along with the four classical elements. It's as good as any." And just at least be aware that (for example) the Celts did things very differently, with three elements (Land, Sea and Sky).



Saturday, February 19, 2005

REALLY UPSET about this

Mom is still in denial, it seems.

She just will not take responsibility for the way her choices have had a negative impact upon my life.

I talked to her on the phone yesterday, and I commented that I was feeling VERY pressured by her into taking the Beaufort, SC property -- and that if I did not, she'd never let me live it down. And she'd treat me like I was so stupid for letting it go.

There are reasons why I think I can't keep that property.

I told Mom that I was feeling like I should take it just because she basically has tried to push very hard for me to do it.

She didn't want that...she said I should do what I want to do.

I said, "Mom, I've never done anything in life that I have WANTED to do. I've always gone along with what other people want me to do, just to keep the peace."

She said, "You went to Florida because you wanted to be with Dann, right?"

I grudgingly agreed - and here's why it was grudging agreement.

I REALLY went to Florida to get away from her and Denny and their drinking. I did it because I did not want to live with them because I felt unsafe in their household.

My father lived in Baltimore at the time, and he'd already shown a complete lack of respect for my privacy by reading my diaries to my mother on the phone when I was 16. That's a serious breach that I didn't want to subject myself to again.

If Mom hadn't divorced Dad -- if my parents had just done whatever it took to JUST FUCKING STAY MARRIED and provide a normal home for me LIKE OTHER KIDS HAD -- then maybe I would NOT be in Florida right screaming now, struggling like I am!

Mom didn't divorce Dad because he was abusive or whatever. She divorced him because....she just didn't love him any more. There were a lot of reasons for that, one of them being Dad's tendency to allow the Holladays to dominate their life. For example, Dad's aunt Mary owned the house we lived in, on South Springwood Drive in Silver Spring. Mom wanted to buy it. Mary wouldn't sell. Mom then wanted to look for a home to buy, but Dad wouldn't move out of the South Springwood Drive house. Mary assumed a level of control over our lives that she thought she was entitled to because she owned that house. Whenever she was in town and would come to see us, Mary went through our mail. She would stay with her sister Martha, who lived across the street from us, and watch from Martha's dining room window everything that went on in our house. Every day when I'd go out to school, she'd meet me at the end of the walk and do a 20 Questions thing about my life, our lives, etc.

THIS is why I NEVER want to live in the house in Bithlo that Joe's friends Sue and Lucky own. Sue is Joe's ex girlfriend. I don't want her having control over our lives in this way.

Anyway, there were a lot of factors that went into my mother's decision to leave. Father had a habit of writing checks to buy things like records, but not entering it into the check register and not telling her about it -- so when she was trying to balance the checkbook and pay bills, she was wondering why the figures weren't coming out right.

She would then go look in the record collection a few days later and find a new album. Oh, so that's where the money went. Instead of paying bills or buying groceries, he bought a new album. And didn't tell her about it, didn't consult her, didn't make sure there was money to cover everything...just did it.

That sort of thing.

So they wound up divorcing...which I suppose in and of itself wouldn't have been a problem if either of them had married again, and married decent people.

Dad never remarried.

Mom married a redneck she met in a bar who would get drunk, stay out late, she'd be at home drinking her sorrows away....and he'd come home drunk and once with a venereal disease from some whore he'd schtupped (and didn't even know her name)....and one time he came home late and I was there (unbeknownst to him) and he thought I was Mom, asleep in the front bedroom (as she sometimes did when she was mad at him) and he crawled into bed with me and began molesting me.

I had to wiggle out of that one and wake Mom up to get him out of my bed.

Then there was the time I'd gone over there for dinner, and was leaving to go to Dann's house. Mom wanted Denny to walk me to my car. I didn't want him to, because they were both drunk (but at least this time it was a happy drunk). He wanted to kiss me goodbye at my car -- and he attempted to slip some tongue in there.

Then there was the time both he and Mom had been out somewhere, I was in their apartment, and Mom had walked to the back bathroom to use it. Denny wanted to hug me goodnight, and as he was hugging me, he squeezed my ass and started probing my girl parts (over my pants of course) with his fingers while hugging me. Naturally he was drunk again.

DOESN'T ANYONE THINK THIS GETS A LITTLE TIRESOME AFTER A WHILE????

If it was only the one time he'd made the mistake, when he didn't realize I was there because I'd just come in from being out of town all week and when I'd arrived he was out drinking with his buddies (of course, what he was doing out with them when he had a wife at home I don't know), that'd be one thing.

BUT IT WASN'T JUST ONCE!!!

And not even Mom is willing to admit this. I have told her about these occasions. I think she's in such shock that her brain just blacks out the memory of the other occasions I have described above, and she just refuses to own up to the fact that she married a man I felt NO safety around at all!

AND THAT'S WHY I WENT TO FLORIDA!!!!!

And that's why for the longest time I REFUSED to put alcohol to my lips. And I didn't want to date anyone who drank even socially. I wanted a teetoaller boyfriend.

Because I can't trust someone who leaves their self-control in the hands of their good buddy Jack Daniels.

I love Mom dearly, but there are times when she's just SO DAMN STUPID about this kind of thing.

Why didn't she just tell Denny "NO MORE DRINKING" a long time ago?

Why NOT ban alcohol? Because SHE wanted it.

I guess IT was more important than having ME around, and providing a safe, secure home for her kid.

As long as there was drinking going on, I was NOT going to live in that house.

This was determined one night in January of 1990. Mom and I got into a physical brawl over something....she was drunk, she was singing loudly and poorly, keeping me up, and I was getting so sick of ALL of this drunken bullshit I'd had to live with for two years, since graduating high school in 1988 and attending Montgomery College. I just could NOT TAKE ANY MORE. Why couldn't she have just SHUT THE FUCK UP and gone to bed at a normal hour like normal parents do? Noooooooooooooooooooo, she couldn't do that. She had to be up, on the phone, singing songs, drinking and drinking and drinking. I saw her drink for 15 hours straight one night, and then drive Denny to work the next morning!! She cleaned out a WHOLE CASE of beer! When I told Dad that, he was shocked. He'd never seen ANYONE polish off an entire CASE of beer in one night.

Anyway, Mom and I got into a fight, and I called Dad at 2am screaming, "Mom's beating me!" into the phone. Dad lived just over half an hour away, but inside of about 20 minutes he was there with two cops in tow to get me out of that apartment.

Way to go, Dad. On THAT count, you did so right. I'll never forget that. Never.

I went to his house in Baltimore that night to spend the night there. But because I was a student in Montgomery County, I could not live in Baltimore County and receive the financial aid I was getting to continue my classes there.

So I went to stay with Dann.

BUT IF MOM HAD JUST NOT MARRIED A FUCKING WEST BY GOD VIRGINIA HILLBILLY -- IF SHE'D JUST MARRIED SOMEONE WHO HAD SOME SENSE AND COULD BE A DECENT HUSBAND -- IT'S STILL POSSIBLE I WOULD NEVER HAVE COME TO FLORIDA!!! I WOULDN'T HAVE HAD TO RUN FROM THEIR HOUSE TO PRESERVE MY ASS!!!

A long time ago, when I still lived with Dann, I'd sent her a letter telling her about all this. But she STILL chooses to ignore it.

She won't listen to me.

Mom doesn't listen to her own kid.

She just thinks I am in Florida because Dann came here. Well, Dann and I broke up in 1996. I could have gone back to Maryland.

But I didn't. Why?

THE DRINKING!

I knew they were not capable of having a child in their household, even an adult child. Life would be MISERABLE for me. And I didn't go back to my dad's in Baltimore because I couldn't trust HIM either. I could just see him going through my things while I was out of the house.

Dad never owned up to reading my diaries to Mom over the phone. I never told him I knew about that.

WHY COULDN'T MY PARENTS HAVE JUST BEEN NORMAL PARENTS???? THEY FUCKED UP MY LIFE!!! BECAUSE OF THEM I WAS UNABLE TO GET THE COLLEGE EDUCATION I NEEDED TO SURVIVE IN THIS WORLD! BECAUSE OF THEM I HAVE TO STRUGGLE TODAY!!

When is at least Mom going to own up to the way her choices have fucked up my life???

Article from Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando

Access to reproductive health care can save the lives of women and children, advance development and preserve the environment -- but under the Bush administration, access continues to be denied in the developing world.

The great progress of the women's rights movement has made many of us forget that it was once illegal for women in this country to buy contraceptives and that American women once gave birth to an average of six children. It's important to remember that our progress isn't shared by many women in other parts of the world. Nearly 350 million people in the developing world lack access to contraception, and 52 million unplanned pregnancies were reported worldwide in 2003 alone. U.S. policy restrictions, such as the Mexico City Policy, deny women in developing countries the freedoms that women in the United States often take for granted -- and the consequences have proved to be both societal and environmental.

First imposed in 1984 by the Reagan administration and reinstated by President George W. Bush four years ago, the Mexico City Policy prohibits the U.S. government from providing foreign aid and supplies to family-planning organizations overseas that engage in any activity that could be construed (according to arbitrary U.S. guidelines) as being abortion-related, including counseling or referral.

The policy was purportedly designed to reduce the incidence of abortion, yet there is no evidence that such a reduction has occurred. Also known as the Global Gag Rule, the policy has closed scores of clinics in some of the world's poorest countries and drastically impaired other clinics' abilities to maintain adequate levels of staffing/supplies, including condoms needed for HIV prevention. In Africa, for example, there are only enough condoms for every adult male to receive four condoms per year.

Here at home, Florida's teenage pregnancy rate ranks sixth nationally, and, as nearly 80 percent of teen mothers go on welfare, stopping the teen pregnancy cycle is crucial. According to two studies in AGI's Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 account for 50 percent of all new cases of sexually transmitted diseases in 2000. We must recognize that the problems we face locally are also occurring globally but on a much larger scale.

Roughly one-sixth of the world's population lives in environmentally fragile hot spots where the unmet need for family planning is often highest, and that population is growing nearly 40 percent faster than the world as a whole. The largest generation of young adults in history (more than 1.3 billion) is entering its reproductive years, and the number of people facing critical fresh water and crop-land scarcity worldwide is rising rapidly. We must engage our community and encourage our elected officials to help the United States keep its promise to support family planning and reproductive health-care services -- for women, for children, for the planet.

Friday, February 18, 2005

From Troy....

...on a liberal Christian list I'm on...

I'm enjoying Phillip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The book was the basis for the film Blade Runner. The novel follows Deckard, a special-ops cop in San Francisco, whose job is to "retire" renegade androids built by the Rosen Association. The androids were built as "help" for humans colonizing other worlds. A few humans remain in post-WWIII San Francisco and its oppressive dust and slowly dehumanize. Deckard rises each morning and uses his "mood organ" to program whatever appropriate "moods" into his brain for the day. Humans refer to androids condescendingly as "andies". The movie refers to them as Skin Jobs. So perfect in design and flawless in execution are these droids that their only "glitch" is the inability to completely empathize with humans and animals. Empathy Tests are used to weed out droids and exterminate them. Deckard is looked down on by his neighbors in the apartment building because they all have real pets and he has an electric sheep fenced into a grazing pen on the rooftop.

The enmity and outright hostility toward andies is quite clear. The androids become more and more human while the people, with their "mood organs", become less and less human. Droids are programmed with finite lifespans. They want quantity of life. Humans in San Francisco want quality of life and envy the droids their exotic adventures on colonial planets.

Deckard dreams of replacing his electric sheep with a real one. The converse question is, would androids dream of having electric sheep? Both sides, humans and droids, seek greater humanity from two different thrusts, the humans craving better quality of life and the droids seeking greater quantity of life. The lines between android and human quickly blurs.

Now---I know this isn't the sci-fi board, LOL.

But look at the clutter of technology that daily programs us. Advertisements on t.v., radio, billboards, in schools, on buses, in school buses, on the internet, in magazines. We're told what the "current trends" are and conditioned to accept those trends so the commercials can further tell us what to wear, what to drink, how to diet, who to watch on t.v., which politicians to believe, who to trust, who to hate. We're being slowly programmed into "electric sheep". How would Jesus go about tending his flock of "electric sheep"? Sheep who see material trinkets as more humanly comforting than other humans can be? We see the commercialization of Jesus, stores that sell Testamints and dashboard saviors and lip balm in a cruciform box called Cross Gloss, we see Jesus theme parks. A wonder they don't call these parks Six Flags Over Salvation. All that's missing is an actor, as Jesus, doing a commercial-break promo for an upcoming movie on the life of Christ, who stabs a finger at the t.v. audience and says, "Tonight on NBC! Be There!"

I'm not suggesting a complete "technology fast", though many go this route with no regrets. But some impurities need to go. The internet can be either a great tool of learning and connection with others or can fast become our only connection to others, connection to people who are known only as log-on names and writing styles, in essence, electric sheep. I avoid t.v. as much like the plague as I can unless t.v. offers an occasional good documentary. I'm sitting here at my computer armoire and wondering---how in the hell did I surround my walls with 5,000 VHS and DVD movies? Oh, gee, here's one I haven't watched since the Earth cooled. There's seven more I've never watched. There's another fifty I'll never get around to watching.

Technology is like border-line junk food that still has nutritional value but must be ingested in moderation. This world is becoming so fast-paced that suicides rise, footprints on the backs of others become our stepping stones, and none dare to stop and savor a rare moment. Jesus is all about "human connection", about family fellowship around the dinner table in place of a Hungry Man XXL in front of NBA basketball. It's easy to see how we become electric sheep when the attempts to commercialize Jesus try to turn him into an Electric Messiah.

I guess all I'm saying is slow down now and then, savor a moment with all five of the senses, experience life in place of brushing past it. Find new human connections. Restrengthen old ones. It is within those connections we'll find Christ waiting, and where we'll find peace.


I'd say "we'll find Goddess waiting" but the sentiment is the same. I do agree that in so many ways, technology has really started to strip humanity of its -- well, humanity.

I don't have a cell phone.

I don't have TiVO.

I don't even have cable TV.

I don't have a dishwasher. (My apartment didn't come with one.)

I don't have an iPod.

And I like it this way.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

PC but non PC

Would we act any different?

I’m staring at a photograph of me and my father at my high school graduation. I’m in a white cap and gown, he’s in summer blue slacks, a white short-sleeved shirt, and a pink tie with navy blue circles on it. His hair is grey, but he still looks very fit and healthy at this time.

I was 17 when that picture was taken.

I’m 35 now, so that means 18 years had passed between now and the day that picture was taken.

If I had known my father only had 18 more years to live…how different would I have acted?

I knew his time here was limited. He was an apprentice undertaker in his youth, after all, and he told me all the weird stories that he had acquired from working in the funeral industry. I knew about mortality.

It just didn’t seem so immediate to me at the time.

Look at your families, people. They may have 18 years yet to go – or only one year. They may only have til next week. No one knows. “Life is very short and there’s no time for fussing and fighting, my friend.”

That said, my mother and I are rather baffled about Father naming Debbie co-owner of the house with me AND making her executor of the will. Let me explain.

See, here’s the thing about my sister – she didn’t grow up with me. I had NO contact with her, and neither did Father, until about 1995 when HE sought HER out. She didn’t go looking for him at all, even once she turned 18. Debbie is in her late 30s now, I think. She’s not much older than me. By the time my father contacted her, my great grandmother Katie (and please note that grandma Katie wrote a poem called "Larry" about my father, and she mentioned my mother Billie and I in the poem, but not Nancy or Debbie at all) and my aunt Mary and grandfather Fred and grandmother June were all dead. Debbie is the product of my father’s marriage to Nancy, his first wife. I am the product of his second marriage to Billie. Nancy remarried and the man she married adopted Debbie, so he was not allowed to have contact with her.

So she grew up completely apart from the rest of us Holladays. By personal “culture” she isn’t a Holladay at all – only by genetics is she my sister, really, and I don’t quite mean that as cruelly as it probably sounds. Granted, it’s not her fault. It’s just a statement of what is. But as a result of not having grown up as a Holladay, she knows nothing of our family’s in jokes, for example. She doesn’t know why it’s the biggest HOOT that I got June’s “throne” and her organ that she used to play the world’s worst versions of “Silent Night” on you’ve ever heard in your life. LOL!!! Debbie does not know any of this -- our family’s power plays/struggles, what things have meaning to us and what doesn’t, how the Holladays think, she isn’t familiar with our family traditions (such as serving dessert at Thanksgiving on the beautiful blue/white Copenhagen Christmas plates, or the fact that those Christmas plates were actually purchased by aunt Mary as a gift every year for my family, those being Dad and my mother Billie and me).

This is why it’s shocking, completely shocking, to me that he willed to her the yellow-pattern china that had once belonged to aunt Mary and grandma Katie. And Debbie said she wanted the bedroom furniture in the blue bedroom for her son Bruce, because he has no bedroom furniture. The thing is, we’re talking a very elegant antique bedroom set that belonged to June’s mother, Mrs. Hoban. My family had a THING with antiques that were kept in the family, and she doesn’t know how we Holladays value those things that have been in the family for so long – and Bruce, I feel, wouldn’t treat them with the care and respect they are due as real family heirlooms. She also wants the dining room set…but she never sat down to a Christmas dinner at that dining room set with Fred and June in West Orange, New Jersey. I have. My first birthday was celebrated on that dining room set with the family. I have pictures of it. I think I also celebrated my fourth birthday on it too – I remember the Pooh cake I had.

I suppose there are a lot of levels to this. One is, Debbie was able to get to see him more frequently than I was these last few years. She also took him up to PA for the holidays a couple of times. Second, I think he wanted her to feel as much part of the family as possible, to make up for lost time.

But Mom and I believe that everything should have gone to me for this very reason – she just isn’t a Holladay. I don’t know why, as soon as she turned 18, she did not attempt to find him, knowing that she was adopted by the man she called “Dad.” She never called Father “Dad.” She called him Larry.

I called him “Doc” as in Doc Holiday/Holladay. Even my former boyfriend Dann knows more about the family than Debbie did. He’d know why it’s so hilarious that I got June’s throne (and what that is is simply a beautiful upholstered lounge chair that she ruled her roost from – you’d have to have been there to get it).

I know this isn’t politically correct, but I had to get it off my chest.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Quick Post

Before I crash...

I'm being my usual tossed-up self again. I think I may want to be a Goddess woman again.

No particular trad. Just women's spirituality. Well, maybe with a hint of Celtic flavor, but Goddess nonetheless.

I never felt so confident about myself and what I was doing in life as I did once I found women's spirituality, Goddess spirituality.

For if I am made in HER image, I am divine. I can handle anything.

It's hard to explain.

I may start wearing my Goddess pendant again. I'm sure I drive people nuts with this, but hey....as Billy Joel said:

I don't care what you say any more, this is MY LIFE
Go ahead with your own life, leave me alone!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Telephone Conversation

I talked to Doug today, - probably the single most successful person in the family. He's in NY working with an investments firm. And he travels and does guest speaking and all that stuff. He is supposed to be in West Palm Beach at the end of next month.

Anyway, Doug was his usual effusive, lovely, wonderful self. He did make a comment about talking to June many years ago about leaving something in the will to my father. Sandra too believed that June was completely awful to my father. I bet the whole family saw it, and I just NEVER realized it.

I can see that Doug is still committed to God all the way. *wistful smile* I do not know if he'd really be happy with my mystical turn of mind. But I can't hide it. I saw what I saw, back in 1996. Blinded by the light, as it were.

I'm telling you...this business with my father dying has really made me look at a lot of things differently. Odd as it may sound, it has brought home to me very forcefully that I'm a Gael in ancestry. It has also whacked me with my Christian identity. Suddenly everything in the Wiccan world looks so very -- self-centered to me. I'm seeing, from this perspective, far too much of the "look at me, I'm different and I'm so persecuted" attitude. A lot of my desire to be anything RESEMBLING Wiccan just evaporates in the face of my real family.

I might get over this eventually.

Then again, I might not.

I have to admit, and I know this isn't cool, but sometimes I could just KICK MYSELF for where I am now. When I look at how I live, compared to how Doug lives, I'm so bitterly ashamed of the mess I have made of my life. I don't want any of the family coming to my apartment and seeing the poverty and ugliness I live in. I could just cry. I could just absolutely scream.

Then again, as Clarissa Pinkola Estes put it in her book "Women Who Run With The Wolves," I am one of the Scar Clan. I wear the scars on my soul of the abuse I suffered in my college years, and they know nothing about that because I never told them. They'd be shocked if they heard what happened to me when I was 21. Hell, so would Dad...he's the one who turned up at Mom's apartment with two Montgomery County police officers at 2am when I called him shrieking "Mom's beating me!" because she was drunk and we had argued about something. And thankfully Dad never found out in THIS life about what Denny did to me. I wouldn't even want to know what would have happened, had I told him. He knew I didn't like Denny much, but he thought it was because Denny just drank too much. He didn't know it was because Denny laid hands on me...

Yes, I've been initiated in another way, a very painful way, but initiated nonetheless. I'm an initiate in the Coven of Hard Knocks. LOL!!

I guess I've earned the grey hairs that are coming in at my temples now.

I'm so very sorry that Dad never got back in touch with Doug and Sandra. I believe he wanted to. And I did search frantically for information on where Doug was. I have the Bible Doug gave my father many years ago; it is the Bible that I read the 23rd Psalm out of when we scattered his ashes to sea.

I'm finding myself spending a little more time in the Word these days. I'm reading the Psalms and just basking in the beauty there.

And while I think about that, I'm seeing in these things wisdom that I never saw there before. I see the wisdom in the Scriptures teaching how awful a thing divorce is. I see what happened to my life after my parents' divorce. And how not putting Godly values first cost a great deal.

Doug put Godly values first, and look at how successful he is. And happy.

I see people putting things like Wiccan values first, and I don't see anyone nearly as successful or happy as he is.

The proof IS in the pudding, after all, isn't it? Doesn't Scripture say that ye shall know a tree by its fruit?

Yes, I have a LOT of happy memories of Woodside United Methodist Church. I'm so proud that my family is associated with that church.

But over the years I have come to see things and learn things that make me question. Yet, questioning aside, I do feel something soothing in my heart when I read the Psalms, as I mentioned I was doing.

Funny. I find myself thinking back to the time when I visited Aloma United Methodist, right up the street, right before the holidays year before last. It was when Joe and I were apart. I walked to the altar to receive communion, and something in me snapped and it was all I could do NOT to weep upon receiving the bread and wine. I had to struggle to keep it in.

I guess I felt the grace, and somehow didn't feel worthy of it. But it was so tenderly gifted to me, so freely...how could I not be moved? Mystic that I am, how could I not feel something sing in my heart?

So why did I want to cry?! I shouldn't have felt that!! I should have felt...elation! But I felt misery, as if I wasn't deserving of it and I didn't belong with those people and at that church and I felt so wrong. Like I was doing something wrong and I'd be found out and thrown out soon. Like I was lying.

Yet, what on earth was I lying about? I was just a seeker kneeling there, trying to understand. I'm just one person.

There are times when I sit in meditation and just open myself, and I allow myself to become aware of the grace, gently showering down upon all of us here, and all we have to do is open to it and smile and say a simple, humble thanks for it.

All I know is that conservative or liberal, Catholic or Protestant, white or black, male or female, the grace IS there. We are never, ever separated from it. We might claim to be. We might think we are. But it's always there. If it wasn't, we simply wouldn't exist. Galatians 3:28.

"It's all about serving God - It's all about Saving Grace!"

What I take that to mean is that this grace, poured out upon us like a shower of golden light so softly and sweetly, is the healing balm for the soul. "Salvation" means "to heal" and that is what I remind myself of when I see that word.

Yes, I suppose I am rambling. I should stop.

Lent

I read this entry on another site:

"What did I give up for Lent..................

L E N T ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

The Lord says he desires OBEDIENCE not SACRIFICE.

Yes we are called to give up something. I think Romans says it best...

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2 KJV)

Do want to sacrifice....Give him YOUR ALL, EVERY PART OF YOU. Not just for 40 days, but for your life. That is his desire and nothing else. Did you notice it said REASONABLE SERVICE (The least your can do)."


Hmmmm. "Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God." Reading this, I'd say this sums up the thoughts I've always had about recreational drug use. I can't fathom putting that stuff into my body, which is a temple of purity in my eyes. Isn't that odd?

I originally gave up sodas for Lent, but fell off of that within two days. Ooops!

Attempting to think of myself as Christian in this hyperconservative world is really awkward. I get funny looks and people tell me that my more liberal interpretation of Christianity is wrong, and they are the ones who are right.

Perhaps BOTH parties have missed something.

But since reading "Original Blessing" I don't think so.

I can't help but think that, despite the first of the Big 10, God loves variety. I just can't see myself following a God that feels so weak and threatened in the face of other deities.

I wonder if I have not so much Jehovah in mind as the Elohim, whenever I think of God. I think of God as the benevolent Creator, in whose image all people are made.

I should not be afraid to express the mystical vision I had, very similar to Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus, similar to Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich and so many other mystics.

Sometimes I pity the writer who posted the entry above. He hasn't really seen the dynamic, living God. He's a little too similar to the Pharisees if you ask me. Worried about the LETTER of the Law rather than the SPIRIT. He just...doesn't get it.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Drove To Beaufort

9.58pm Sunday

Joe and I just got back from driving up to Beaufort, South Carolina. It was the first time he'd ever seen anything up there.

He was really amazed at the size of the house, he says it's in better shape than what he expected, and he would like to see me keep the house, and keep it in the family.

I also took him around downtown Beaufort and let him see some of the gorgeous antebellum homes that are still there.

It's hard, very hard, to walk away from Beaufort. It's so relaxing and beautiful there. It's so wonderful. And the house IS gorgeous.

But sadly I don't think I have the job skills necessary to get a job that would support that house.

I don't know what else to do but let it go. Much as I WANT to live in it, and live there, I don't think I CAN.

I feel like I screwed my life up totally.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Unity : Daily Word - Forgiveness

Unity : Daily Word - Forgiveness: As I forgive, I move forward to brighter days and better times.

I give thanks for what I gain and also what I am relieved of when I forgive myself and others. Expressing forgiveness, I gain peace of mind and more harmony in my relationships. I give up hurt feelings and angry thoughts. How good I feel, for I have opened a way for love to flow within me and among others and me!

Forgiveness is a daily practice of choosing to avoid harsh judgment and resentment and to give love and acceptance. As I forgive, I move forward to brighter days and better times. Leaving the mistakes and misunderstandings in the past where they belong, I free myself to live in a fresh atmosphere of harmony and love.

Then Peter came and said to him, Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times? Jesus said to him, Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
Matthew 18:21-22


I have a lot of things to forgive people of.

I was perusing another diary site (*coughbloopdiarydotcomcough*) and I saw this note appended to another diary entry:

"Yup we rock because we aren't following the lemmings. And as with being Wiccan (or in your case, satanist) we get a LOT of flak from the general public because they all think in binary. White or Black. Hot or Cold. Good or Bad. They can't understand someone who likes it BOTH ways. And they can't understand someone who is not a Fucking Christian, either. Can you tell I'm sick of people right now?"

The same noter also left this note further down on the same entry: "If there is nothing I hate worse than mindless sheep, I don't know what..."

There are a couple of problems I have with this.

One is just the fact that it's assumed that all Christians are sheeple. I'm not quite halfway through "Original Blessing" yet but I can already see that there are a lot of people out there such as Matthew Fox who are NOT sheeple.

BTW I'm thinking that I may start hanging out with the Quakers for a time. And George Fox was certainly not any of the sheeple, that's for sure.

I really, really like their idea of simplicity in life so as to better hear the voice of Spirit speaking, not letting clutter get in the way.

Anyway, another problem I have is not exactly politically correct, but I bristle at the idea that this young girl is putting out, that Wiccans are the only original thinkers out there...when in so many ways, I've SEEN Wicca become herd mentality over the years. It's conforming to nonconformity any more. That's what most of the teenybopper Wiccans have turned it into. And there's NOT a lot of deep theological inquiry in Wicca.

*sigh*

I just wanted to get that off my chest. It doesn't REALLY matter that much, I suppose, but it's just something I observed and wanted to blog about.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Mutterings

I just thought I'd post a few thoughts I had.

I got a silver Celtic cross today.

And I picked up Matthew Fox's book "Original Blessing."

This looks like it will be a very interesting read -- yet on the other hand, nothing all that new to ME, who has spent the last 15 years in the Pagan world.

But it IS nice to see Christian mystics like this writing books and speaking up and NOT letting the fundamentalists have the final say in Christian spirituality.

There's a part of me that does want to own a mystical form of Christianity, like Creation Spirituality and whatnot.

This whole business with losing Dad has made me think of a lot of things. He's my ancestor now. And he was a Christian...specifically, a Methodist. This is part of my own personal spiritual history. I have a lot of positive memories of being a Methodist.

And somehow I'm feeling a bit more courageous in claiming the path I was born to and just doing it MY WAY, not the way Brother Jim or Stace or Walabe or any other Christian would do it. Not that I am saying they are clueless. They have found their "groove" with Christ. But the fact remains that, like so many other things in life, what works for them may not work for anyone else. Including me.

My relationship with God is MINE, not theirs.

I'm also coming to the realization that things like runes, Tarot, I Ching, whatever -- none of that really matters. It's almost a distraction from just living in a constant state of prayer and ecstatic thanksgiving. That's where we should be. Looking at the beauty all around us and going nuts because it's crazy, it's awesome, it's wonderful.

All this business with different Gods and Goddesses -- well, what comes to mind is the Zen idea of "don't confuse the finger pointing AT the moon FOR the moon". I'm coming to the conclusion that they are fingers pointing at the moon, but they are not the moon. And even the very idea of God in and of itself -- that's a distraction too.

I guess the Buddhists put it best when they teach to be fully present in the eternal now. That's where one experiences God as a verb, as a dynamic process. Just be open and present.

And that's why it doesn't really matter whether I wear a cross or a hammer or a pentacle or anything else. The Spirit is not limited to one path.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

This Is Amusing

I kept a few things that I found in Dad's house...

One is an old, unopened pack of True 100s cigarettes. No, I don't smoke. There's a reason these smokes were kept unopened.

When you look on the back of the pack, you find the Seal of the President of the United States and a statement in script below it that says "Welcome Aboard Air Force One."

I also have some of the ration books from the war -- and they still have some stamps in them.

Old newspapers (mostly the Philadelphia Inquirer) with headlines from the war and that era, such as when Hitler died, the war ended, Roosevelt died, etc.

I find these to be amazing things. It really brings the war home to me personally in a way that studying it in a history book does not.

I have also acquired the habit of keeping old newspapers of significant events. The Challenger and Columbia disasters are things I've kept newspapers of. Princess Diana's death. I'm sure I'll keep the papers when the current Queen dies and Charles ascends the throne. And probably when William gets married.

I've kept TIME magazines of the 9-11 attacks. I've kept all kinds of things like this...because someday someone will look back on all this and go, "Wow..."

I got a lot of the black/white family pics into an album last night. I guess there's only so much of the pics I can take before I get overwhelmed and I have to put it down.

I should shower and get out of here. I'm hungry.

Friday, February 04, 2005

I'm Back

...and I think I'm changed.

I'm looking at my little life here and thinking how unimportant it all is. I mean stuff like my computer and just......stuff.

I want to clean my life out.

I want to start over.

I'm absolutely terrified what this will mean.

And there's no one here any more to call me "Peanut." No one but Dad was allowed to call me that.

Not even Mom calls me that. Joe doesn't call me that. Dann didn't call me that.

That was strictly Dad's nickname for me. Now he's taken it to his grave...

...which is actually his favorite fishing hole in SC. We had him cremated and released his ashes to Mother Ocean.

I read the 23rd Psalm over him. He'd read it for Grandma Katie. So I read it for him.

I'm so glad I have these pictures. I also have the flag that was over my grandfather's coffin at his burial; he had a military funeral, as he was a Navy officer.

But I feel like my whole perspective is different now. I feel like Melissa Etheridge...that is to say, "I will never be the same."

*sigh*

I don't know how "normal" my life will be from here on out. I guess I can try to get back into the normal swing of things...but I feel like some support was taken out from under me.

Pray for me. I'll need it. I guess I was more of a daddy's girl than I realized.

I'm sorry I didn't get to see him one more time, yet...my memories that I have of Dad are of him as a strong, healthy man. Not as an aging, weakening man.

I was shocked when I saw the condition of his bathroom. Absolutely beyond unsanitary. Apparently the kidneys were really going bad. And other things too.

Good thing I had industrial strength cleaner with me.

I almost feel hopeless, that I'll never have a home now. I've lost that. I can't keep that house up there.

I need to calm down and get some rest. Although I'm really amazed at myself; I drove 6 hours straight and made it just fine.

Not bad. And I get GREAT highway mileage on my car.

I must get to sleep. Maybe more tomorrow.