Circle of Joy and Sorrow

Everything that exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be. -Marcus Aurelius

Friday, July 28, 2006

Asatru in Black and White

Now it's a very easy thing to rant. Easy to rave. Easy to take a stance or a position or to polish an opinion and toss it up in a blog. Unfortunately, we rant and rave most of the time about pre-ordanined greivances spoon-fed to us by the risen American Conservativism. We rant about the bias in media coverage. We rant about the Southern Poverty Law Center. We rant about liberal professors and whatever they may profess. Nowhere do we mention how we really feel.

I waited up last night for news confirming the execution of Michael Lenz by lethal injection for the murder of another prisoner over the control of his prison Asatru group, the Ironwood Kindred. I've been following this story for about a week now after first reading about it on Frost and Flame, where I found myself at a loss on how to really convey racial realities in the American South. I discovered Lenz's story posted over at The Wild Hunt, where people were pretty open with the opinions of the supposed press bias against Asatru, and closed mouthed over Lenz himself. After pointing this out in the comment section, I did get a thoughtful reply by MacRaven.

Under all the polish and spin, what are we really thinking about this? Do I want Lenz denounced for nothing more than political convienence? Because in truth the first thing I thought was at least he wasn't scheduled to be executed during Kaine's run for Govenor. Hard but true. I'm not a bleeding liberal against capital punishment on the grounds that my heart goes out to cold-blooded pre-meditated murderers who play warrior by stabbing to death an unarmed man on the grounds that he was a threat to one's popularity. (Even if he took the time to read the guy some nice poetry first.) Which turns out to be the underlying bedrock for Lenz's protestations of defending the Asatru faith.

Lenz's time of death was 9:07 EST. Although others held out hope that he might receive a last minute pardon from Kaine, and I join the Democratic Govenor in being personally against the death penalty, I cringed at the thought his execution might not take place. And my feelings are wholy about the desire to retain a Democrat as the executive head of a Southern State. I do feel mildly disturbed about my lack of desire to support clemency for another pagan, and on the other hand I do not think a cold-blooded killer should be able to make us an election issue. And I will be really sore if Lenz's poetry starts getting published and he gets a record company named after him. Rant off.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Bread and Circus

Now this post has nothing to do with bread. Really. Bread was the farthest thing from my mind when I took the exit off 95 onto the Beltway yesterday on the new moon. Joy and Sorrow holds ritual at a public park, and while you can reserve and pay $20 online, you have to show up in person to get the code to their gate. (34 miles one-way, 29 miles per gallon, $3.04 per gallon) Nelly Furtado crooned from the speakers of my mother's La Sabre (which I am driving to death whilst she is in Florida on vacation) and I was negotiating the bottle top to my water. Then a little white sports car dove through traffic for the last time.

Three cars lengths ahead the Beltway exploded with spinning cars and a puff cloud of incinerated car paint. Zippy had got himself mowed down by a white SUV. I swerved into the shoulder in the center of the road as fragments of headlights rained down. 911 had only a busy signal, although it looked like the driver of the relatively undamaged SUV had gotten through. He had manuvered onto the shoulder just ahead of me, and was now standing on the shoulder in his pink polo shirt (an interesting recent fad among completely straight men). By the time I had canceled my call, a plain-clothes Statee had pulled over on the median from the East bound side.

There's a certain amount of confidence that marks a Statee even out of uniform. How many of us can leap a concrete divider, organize a group of bystanding men in three seconds, and without even pausing, casually stroll out and stop rush hour traffic on a Beltway armed with nothing more than a upturned palm? Rush hour drivers who would rather creep by Zippy over giving the Statee a few minutes to push the dead car off the road. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't convince anyone armed even with a rocket launcher.

The Statee gestured over the bystanders and got them to push the fuel-leaking Zippy over onto the shoulder behind the SUV. The driver sat in the car the whole time and didn't even help, although he seemed unharmed. Another unmarked Statee arrived on the scene. I then had to convince the annoyed rush hour drivers to allow me off the shoulder and back into the flow of things. Which took me four minutes and 19 seconds before some guy in a red convertable either took pity or was too busy rubber-necking. Some 200 meters down the road, Zippy's front bumper continued to impede traffic.

Off I went to Patapsco and got our gate codes. The toe truck for Zippy had arrived when I cruised by, which meant Zippy's driver had finally been ejected. My mind had scripted a young white guy, and yet there next to Zippy was a late 50s heavy-set black guy wearing a pink polo shirt. Two white vehicles, two drivers in pink polo shirts. And then as I took the exit ramp back towards Giant so I could buy bread mix for ritual ($2.39) and Cherry Wheat Sam Adams for ritual beer ($8.39), a pigeon forced me to a complete stop by insisting on walking the whole way across.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hebe's Empty Chalice

Now here's a bit of global warming coming soon to a ritual circle near you. Or at least over the next 25 years. As the climate changes over the next quarter century, the Goddess will be pouring out less and less American wine from her chalice, as hotter temperatures in the Napa and Sonoma Valleys cause the vine's photosynthesis to shut down and the sugars in the grapes to break down. Meaning the crop will spoil before it gets to the wine cellar.

The rise in global temperatures of just one degree since 1900 has already extended the growing season by a month. The climate model on the effects of global warming is only calculated for the U.S. grape harvest, but as the effects of human-caused climate change span the whole globe, it's a sure bet this effect will be seen in Chile, as it is already devestating grape harvests in Spain. In Germany, long traditional German whites are produced less and less as the sugar content of the grapes has increased over the past generation. Even in the U.S. the climate shift will increase temperatures in the Northwest and Northeast vineyards, where the humidity will increase the occurance of fungus- which will in turn wipe out those cooler climate grape crops.

Which gets me around to the chalice of the Goddess, which I will use to poke all of you dear readers to consider the ways that the little mundane things you do will have a real effect on your fellow pagans and their ritual circles in the years to come. In ways that can't be made up by sending me warm fuzzy energy balls. This year your ritual circle or even in your solitary practice you will still be able to uncork a bottle of wine for cakes and ale, and pour out joy and mirth. Yet in years to come, Hebe's cup may run dry as wine becomes too expensive and too rare. Should that be what shall come to pass?

The news gets an oh-so-very interesting spin on Fox of course, where for some reason at the end of the article there's a reason to bring up Vikings. These trepid explorers named northern Canada Vineland over Hostile-Native-People Land in order to attract more settlers at a time when the earth was also slightly warmer. Fox goes on to point out that there had been lousy grapes in England then, which were wiped out by the Little Ice Age, and now there are lousy grapes in England again. Right over to the right of the story is a videoblog by Sen. Inhofe calling global warming a hoax. Oh really now. Too bad global warming will never put industrial whine on the endangered species list.

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Da Vinci Code Deception

Now I must be the last pagan on the green earth to read “The DaVinci Code.” The reading of which took three days, and I may accurately describe as the sensation of pouring sand onto your exposed brain. I am considering a frivolous lawsuit for unspecified damages against the Trinity Broadcasting Network who may take especial credit for selling yet another copy and a movie ticket. Way to go, TBN!!

Scrolling from SciFi to NGEO, my finger paused at the flicker of “Da Vinci Code” in the cable label while gaudy crosses danced across the screen above. Mmmmm…. “The Da Vinci Code Deception?” As good as Harry Potter hysteria-let’s see….

National hymns began to play, American soldiers walked across Iraqi sand, Christians at BBQs took time out to say the pledge, and Olive perched on her couch idly stirring her martini. Her second. Her third. These 20 minutes were completely necessary to impress on the check book and credit card-in-hand-to-donate crowd that the Da Vinci Code equaled a mortal threat to our troops! Everyone who saw the movie is a flag-burning traitor!

Old fat guy comes on to tirade that while Dan Brown claims his book is fiction, the first word of his book is actually “FACT.” Fact. Fact. And just in case you missed him, he had to say that again. Fact. And again. Fact. (In fact, that’s the first word of the preface which informs the reader that the places are real and the events that take place there are fiction.) Look out America- you almost fell for that fast one!

Like the parade of teenagers in lip-gloss that get trotted out on their pastel designer leashes to recite trembling telenovelas about how their faith was shaken by hearing their friends utter the title. Of course, they didn’t actually read the book. In fact, no one apparently reads the book. Copies of it just mysteriously appear in their book-bags and lockers and cubicles and briefcases, enthralling their minds through osmosis. But no one reads it, because it’s bad for you.

Like no one used the condom that’s missing out of its wrapper their parents found being used as a bookmark. E-yep. Whose ready for another martini?

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Real World Wicca

Now when my eyes flew open at 17:47 EST, I had a feeling of impending doom. I had just overslept by 5 hours and ritual was at 20:00. I hadn’t a dollar on me, the bank closed in 13 minutes, I hadn’t bought apples for Epona, and I hadn’t reserved the campsite. And I had to reserve the campsite and drive back from Ellicot City to the Greater Barrens in order to post the gate code to the park on Joy and Sorrow’s Yahoo Group.

I pretty much figured I was hamburger, but there was a slim chance it might not matter. People had been emailing cancellations over the course of the weekend and it was beginning to look like I might not have anyone to let down left. So I threw on my jeans, found my flip flops and flew on down to my trusty car. Realized I was sans Victoria Secret and had less caffeine in my blood stream than you find in straight water.

The bank closed a whole two minutes early, just so the tellers could have the pleasure of pursing their lips at the several of us and mouthing “we’re closed.” BBT sucks and I really should change banks. Really. Just as soon as they cough up my new bank card, which they swear is in the mail. I go over to Giant and write a check to get cash and apples and caffeine. Campsite, code and back to the computer, an hour later to find that I’m now down to two other people.

Mystery beats me to the campsite by a few minutes, trailing along her bf and some very lovely baked bread. We scrounge around the woods for enough dead fall for a fire, and I get to see some deer feeding in a small meadow. The fireflies are out and the evening is looking good and my altar board is going over well. The altar is a section of tree trunk about two inches thick, from an oak, that has an inlaid wood pentacle that’s from a paper mulberry.

Since the full moon was not set to rise until much later, I decided on a ritual for Epona, who is the goddess of roads and trade, who brings food and cheer to the Celtic grain god Goronwyn, who is watching over the grown grain in the fields until it is ready to harvest and be eaten. We offered Goronwyn seeds of the earth in trade for future seeds from His fields, which were large pine cones I had gathered at Beltane after they were thrown from their trees by a storm.

Then we offered granny smith apples to Epona, and I had the joy of showing Mystery and her bf how to cut the apple to get the secret star to appear. I always love sharing that with people who have never cut an apple to find the star before. Then we mixed oil and water to bless our car keys and driver’s licenses, and to ask for Epona’s mercy and patience dealing with the rising cost of fuel and keeping safe on her roads. We shared Beer and Bread, and gave that and apples to the fire and Mystery’s faeries.

2200 and I’m on my way back to the Greater Barrens. Even though my windows are rolled all the way down, all I smell's only the mixture of sweet cherry oil and wood smoke and rosemary bread and bug spray. To the East there has risen a tangerine moon, which as I take the exit to home is swallowed by a velvet blue bank of storm clouds. I may be poor and frustrated and single and lonely, but tonight I am a witch and by the gods, I really am happy.

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Olive Rants at Whole Foods

"I have shopped at my local Whole Foods store since back when it was a Fresh Fields. As of this month, I find that I can no longer ethically shop at your chain due to your CEO's continued involvement of and endorsement of the Cato Institute, as recently demonstrated by his promotion of their latest publication, "Trapped."

I began shopping at FF/WF because I was looking for an ethical place to shop, for both organic foods (which are scarce more and more on your shelves these days, and there's more and more conventional) and also out of a love for the environment. Cato Institute, especially in its employment of FOX NEWS Milloy and his "Junk Science" campaign, has emerged as one of today's more prominent peddlers of "there's no such thing as global warming."

It's nice you're so concerned about the quality of your Halibut, but the toxic pollution coming down in the rain on me walking into your store from the coal-fired power plants in my state that the Cato Institute helps keep beyond the powers of regulation and polluter-pays principles... well, that's going to kill me faster than the fish at my local fish shop. Even if it's not the best choice by fish standards. If I have to choose between halibut, and ending global warming and toxic rain, I'm afraid I'm going to have to take my grocery money elsewhere. "

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

Future Injuries

Now everyday I go to work asling, and everyday everyone professes surprise that I'm still asling. When you say to people that your arm was crushed and your doctors are saying 3 to 6 months more, you can easily seperate out those who have suffered tramatic injury and those who have maybe once slammed a finger in a drawer. I would like just to be able to turn on the water to my kitchen sink with my left hand.

I've gained a fellow traveler on the road to recovery in the race horse Barbaro, whose continual recovery you can follow through his stables. Barbaro suffered a minor setback this week when his vet had to replace two of the screws in his leg and replace his cast twice. He has a minor sore on his other hind leg and a support shoe to prevent laminitis, a sometimes-fatal foot disease brought on by uneven weight distribution. My mother usually tries to cheer me up by pointing out that his situation's worse, but then of course, I don't have people all around the country sending me carrots and get-well cards. So that I can go on to my next career-having sex.

Amidst all the new and flavorful variety of pain meds, I did watch the Belmont Stakes, which was the third leg of the Triple Crown and ran back on June 10th. Again though, I didn't get my order picked straight. I chose Bluegrass Cat, Sunriver and Jazil but passed on Steppenwolfer. The wire went to Jazil, followed by Bluegrass Cat and Sunriver, with Steppenwolfer at least in the same slot as on my card. Poor Bluegrass Cat. At least I didn't place money on that. On the aside, this year's run saw each leg of the Triple Crown go to the #8 horse, and that 2 + 0 + 0 +6 = 8. And I was born on the 8th. of March. And the Ides of March saw a beloved favorite cut down.... Where am I going with this strange thought- I don't believe that numbers mean anything!!

Why do I care so much about a horse, besides the whole Epona thing and all? I suppose because a horse cannot complain, and that Barbaro's future depends entirely on his champions. And that as someone who eats and sleeps paycheck to paycheck, what I fear the most is being cast aside as too injured to work further.

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Sunday, July 02, 2006

Golden Toaster Awards

Now there’s a rock passing by over head in a few hours. The near-Earth Apollo asteroid 2004 XP14 estimates in at about 600 meters in diameter as a Potentially Hazardous Asteriod, 1 of 796. Best odds of ending life as we know it still fall to 99942 Apophis (2004 MN4), who has a 1 in 38,000 chance in the April of 2036. Just in case you’re thinking of starting your very own doomsday cult. Or joining mine.

But speaking of star-studded events, the 2nd Annual Golden Toaster Awards celebrating the sci-fi show Battlestar Galactica were held again online at Hanger Deck 5 Friday night. Your very own Olive, who is known to the denizens of SciFi’s message board as the zombie DeadSkin, presented Best Supporting Actor. Although it went to Tyrol instead of Helo, the show was still spectacular and the event’s organizers deserve a shout-out for their stellar efforts. Although the show’s re-imaginer RDM and his wife, known on SciFi as Mrs.Ron, weren’t able to attend this year, both sent in speeches by proxy. RDM presented for the award “Best Usage of the Word Frak.”

“How do I love the word "frak"? Let me count the ways... Initially, it was simply a case of personal triumph to be able to slip one past the dread Standards and Practices Politiburo, but as the series has gone on, it's become a bit of a signpost for us all. Frak is a way of defying “politically correct" television and all it stands for. It's a way of saying we're going to discuss things are sometimes unpleasant and unappealing. The self appointed guardians of the public somehow seem unwilling to let the audience decide for themselves whether a show's content is offensive or not. The fact that frak is the stand-in for a word which has been banished from the airwaves because it describes *gasp* the act of copulation, is even more valid, in that it makes the hypocrisy of the whole censorious system plain: you can imply it, you can openly show it, you can think it, make it absolutely clear to anyone watching the show exactly what you mean, you can even come within two tiny letters of it -- but you dare not actually say it, for the heavens may part and the politicians may thunder. Our goal is to make fraking good television, not politically correct television. So frak it all. The award for best use of the word frak:Winner: Laura Roslin to Gaius Baltar after the second Presidential debate: “Why don’t you go frak yourself.” (“LDYB pt. I”)”
Hanger Deck 5.

Battlestar Galactica recommends itself so well that it’s a pity so few people watch: pagan society, first female president, female fighter pilots, religious prophets, baby-snatching, election stealing, and moon-shine. Now I’ve always been curious why for a show about a society of pagans I find myself in such a slim minority in the demographics of the show’s viewers. I only know of one other open pagan poster on SciFi, who interestingly enough lives in Baltimore. You’d think I’d get more than a blank stare from other pagans when I mention I watch a show about the remnants of a pagan society destroyed in a nuclear attack by an evangelical faith proclaiming orders from the “one true god.” Although I’m sure I’d be far less pleased if that tag line did actually market well.

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