Ohio heartbeat bill: pro blastocyte mori…

If in some aching dreams you too could pace
sleepless with the choice we find ourselves in,
and hear the fear and loathing we will face
as people tell us aught we do is sin;
If you could feel, with every cramp, the blood
ready to gush forth from ectopic wound
to salve your conscience in its crimson flood
and leave behind my lifeless form marooned,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To women ardent for a martyr’s glory,
The new lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro blastocyte mori.

With acknowledgement to Wilfred Owens, I repost this as the only response capable of expressing my response to the news that Ohio’s statehouse passed the so-called “heartbeat bill” yesterday. This abortion ban without exceptions for rape or incest will lead to deaths if it is signed by the governor (famously anti-choice) and survives court challenges with judges appointed by the incoming administration. I am terrified.

Posted in civil rights, feminism, politics | Leave a comment

Thanksgiving Grace 2016

Gentlefolk, please charge your glass
with water pure and clear

I do not ask to bow your heads
Nor bend your knees today

I ask that you sit watchful calm
And lift your heart with mine

Ready for what is to come
And we we need to do

Today we eat, and yes we drink
Around a laden table

While others fight with prayers of peace
For water which is life

We steel ourselves with joy today
Against the fear and hurt

As each of us in our own way
Will stand for what is life

Today I pray and ask you join
Your will to be committed

To yet uphold our lives and loves
As each of us are able

And next year may we meet again
Around this holy table

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Glamour breaking as political magic

At the waning of the moon, a Witch’s fancy darkly turns to thoughts of hex…

-With apologies to Lord Tennyson

Breaking glamours is one of the most ethical acts we can do magically in a political situation. If you truly set your intention to break a glamour, then if you’re mistaken, and there’s no glamour there, no harm is done. The energy just dissipates. If you are correct about there being a glamour there, then you are helping the truth come out, which contributes to an informed electorate and better democracy. If, however, you are truly doing a spell to force other people to see your candidate in your way, you are being unethical. Examine yourself, your mind and heart and intentions, before you try this to make sure that you can do it ethically.

This post is about breaking Donald Trump’s glamour(s). I’m not going to debate politics at this time. I am convinced that Donald Trump is casting a glamour to present himself as things he is not. He wants to be seen as a virile man, a nearly cartoonish representation of toxic masculinity and patriarchy embodied. He wants to be seen as a successful, rich businessman (who also is interested in jobs for regular Americans?). He wants to be seen as the embodiment of power-over. I think he is in fact none of those things. Breaking that glamour will contribute to voters seeing him more accurately and making more informed choices on that basis.

This is an outline for a simple spell for banishing. You can dress it up with a lot more features. But if you’ve got a dark colored candle (or a white candle and a sharpie, be resourceful folks), and some magical oomph, you can give it a go.

Cast your circle.

Call the quarters. Ask Air to sweep away empty words and bring in the forces of truth. Ask Fire to burn brightly and consume all falsehoods and mirages. Ask Water to wash us with compassion and empathy. Ask Earth to support and strengthen only that which has true roots.

If you have a deity who is relevant, ask them to join you. I will personally call on Athena Columbia, spirit of this land and our government and the ideals we hold dear, to help show when candidates’ true natures are in line with those ideals or opposed to them.

Light a black candle. You can hold it in your dominant hand if you want.

Form a visualization in your mind of Donald Trump. See and hear him as a person behind a created persona: he has a projection in front of him that looks like his TV personality, big and bluff, virile and rich. If it helps your visualization, imagine yourself walking around to the side or peeking to the side to look “behind” the projected persona. Behind it, you can see him as he truly is: misogynist, racist, weaker than he thinks. He is the ultimate con person, trying to con even himself, but (very) deep down he knows it is a con. Tonight we are breaking that con, shattering the image, and allowing his true nature to show through.

When you have this visualization, using your non-dominant hand (the hand you do not write with), start making counter-clockwise circles in front of you. See and hear and feel yourself wiping away the projected persona just as you would clean the steam off your mirror after a shower. Clean it off of the glass of TV screens and computer screens and mobile devices. Wipe it away, always counter clockwise, at least three times.

Use the black candle to illuminate the truth that remains behind the projection. Let this truth shine clearly, reflect easily, into all the places that projection was showing.

Verbalize your intentions as you go, if it helps you. Say something like, “I break your glamour. I see you as you truly are.” Add details if you want; whatever helps you visualize (which also includes other senses, hearing especially) is useful.

When you are done, thank deity and the quarters. Open the circle.

Let the candle burn out, if you can do so safely. Either way, when you are done with it, take it away from your home, at least across water, and throw it away (in a trash can, be an eco-Witch) and leave without looking back.

Options and further ideas:

If you want to, you could dip your hand in a bowl of blessed salt water to do the wiping away. Dispose of the water immediately afterwards, ideally away from your house, but down the drain if need be, followed by clean water and good riddance.

If you want to, you can dress the candle with an oil and or herbs, such as ones for banishing. Dress the candle from the center to each end for banishing purposes.

I have also been doing a little spell with my weeding. I have a thistle problem in my backyard, and I am trying to use it to good effect. Whenever I weed during the waning of the moon, I name each thistle with the name of something I want to uproot and destroy: patriarchy, racism, misogyny, misogynoir, ableism, and so on. Then I uproot it, or cut it off at the roots below the ground, and visualize the problem becoming a little smaller, a little more manageable, a little less supported. I have also been saying things like, “Donald Trump movement, you have no roots, you are shallow and unsupported, you do not get the hate that you need, you do not get the attention that you need, you do not get the lies that you need.”

If you use these and have any feedback, I would love to hear about it!

Posted in magic, politics | 2 Comments

American medical SNAFU

NB: I am writing this primarily for people who are not familiar with the American medical and insurance systems, whether because they are generally well (lucky you!) or from elsewhere. I am not looking for advice about how to handle this better, either with my insurance or with complementary and alternative medicine.

I have great insurance. Let’s start there.

My insurance comes through my husband, and we have it for life. Our premiums are quite low, and there is a no-premium version of the plan. We have good pharmaceutical coverage and the insurance company is diligent about trying to offer me additional help to save them money make things easier.

I have depression. It’s probably genetic. Life stress can make it worse. I spent the six weeks between Litha and Lunasa in and out of the ER, hospital, and more doctor’s offices than I can count because of an unrelated non-psychiatric disease. That’s stressful. My depression got somewhat worse. I got some short-term psych help when needed, and waited to have my regularly scheduled meds appointment (since I know the practice is very busy and doesn’t really have urgent appointments available).

At that appointment I was informed that the practice was very sorry, but they are no longer accepting my insurance. I can continue to see the same caregiver and pay $100 out of pocket for each 15-20 minute appointment whether anything is wrong or not. The caregiver was very sorry to hear about my recent stresses, was impressed with the way I was coping, and sent me on my way, signing off on a change that one of the short-term people made to my meds.

I have to get a new psychiatrist. Here’s what that process looks like for me:

  • Step zero: hope that nothing goes seriously wrong during the following.
  • Step one: Canvass my friends, relations, mycelia, and other providers to see if they know of a doctor they like. See if that doctor is on my insurance. Alternatively, take the list of doctors provided by my insurance and throw darts to pick a name at random. Hope that one of these doctors is less than an hour away by car.
  • Step two: Schedule an appointment with my primary care manager (PCM).
  • Step three: Wait 2-3 weeks for non-urgent appointment.
  • Step four: Drive an hour one way to PCM appointment. Ask the PCM to refer me to psych services through the doc of my (possibly random) choice.
  • Step five: Wait until insurance approves the referral, approximately two weeks for non-urgent referral, plus time for the letter to arrive in the mail, unless I want to call the referrals line every day to ask if it’s been processed yet (extra week of waiting vs spending a 15-20 minutes on a phone call every day for a week).
  • Step six: Schedule an appointment with the psych doc. Wait until her or his practice has an open “new patient” appointment, which could be up to six weeks, if they’re still accepting new patients at all. (If not, do not pass go, return to step 1.)
  • Step seven: Hope that I like the doc when I meet with her or him, that she comprehends my current situation, that she agrees with my current treatment plan, and that she will continue to give me the same meds. If not, do not pass go, return to step 1, or take an alternate side trip on the Medication Merry Go Round of Doom.

This is really good insurance. Seriously.

Just to add to the situation, I have figured out that the change to my meds that the short-term treatment people put in place is actually making me worse, so we have failed step zero. I now have to cope with that fact with minimal relevant specialist support. I am capable of doing that, but not everyone is.

Keep in mind that this is happening to me while my psych issues actively need close monitoring and treatment. I’m responsible for completing all the steps above correctly. Nobody else can do these things for me. If I screw up, either I don’t get a doctor, or it costs me a lot of money, at a time when my work schedule is significantly reduced by….you guessed it, the disease that I need treatment for. Adding financial concerns to my load is not going to improve my depression, to put it mildly.

This is only one specialist service. I have to do this for each and every specialist service that I see. Even when one specialist refers me to another specialist, I have to go to my PCM to start this process. If I’m very, very lucky they will decide that some of those things are urgent, which will cut the wait times from 2-3 weeks to 2-3 days at each step. Except that the specialist might not have any free appointments regardless.

This is the American insurance-driven medical system: SNAFU.

NB 2: Before you comment, please note!

None of this has to do with Obamacare. This insurance is exactly the same as it was before the Affordable Care Act went into place, and for what it’s worth I am a big supporter of nearly every facet of the ACA. I also do not want to hear your theories about how Big Pharma is run by reptilian aliens from Vega and that’s why the medical system sucks, and I should just meditate anyway. Comments that I deem irrelevant or annoying will be deleted without apology both here and on Facebook.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

To keep the peace in Cleveland

There has been so much violence lately. I have so many thoughts about the proximate and ultimate causes of those incidents, and I am glad that our society is having some of the heartbreaking and necessary discussions around those issues. I cannot contribute more to those discussions today. What I want to do right now is first aid, attempting to staunch the bleeding, in particular in the overheated environment of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

I believe that one thing that would make everything worse is an outbreak of violence at the Republican convention. Whoever starts it, however it ends, I believe that it would further divide our country and entrench fringe positions in power. If you disagree, then you can do whatever work you think best. If you agree, then here’s what I’m doing to try to keep the peace in Cleveland for this crucial stretch of time.

I am a Witch, and right now I am a Witch in touch with the land of Ohio. This is my job. Anyone who wants to help can help; you don’t need to do it exactly the way I do it, and you don’t need to use the same tools I use. Pray, dance naked in the forest, drum for the rivers, do whatever works for you. But if you want to help with this, I’d be grateful, and if you’re not sure how best to help, maybe my work will give you some ideas.

I used a map of Ohio. Just a plain old highway map. (Yes, I rode dinosaurs back before we invented GPS and we used these paper things called maps to point our brontosauruses in the right direction according to the sun. It’s old tech but it still works.) If you don’t have one, print one out. Or draw it. Just the state of Ohio with the city of Cleveland marked on it. Or the watershed. Whatever works for you.

In my sacred space, I oriented the map so that north on the map was facing north in the physical world. (I think this is one of the few crucial parts of using maps. If you’re holding the map upside down compared to the real world, any kind of magic I’m familiar with would be very, very confused.) I sank my awareness down into the soil of Ohio, this glacier-scraped plain shot through with slow and winding rivers, and laid my hands on the map and asked it to become one with the places it represents. (Think of this as just like when you ask the water in the bowl for the west point in the circle to become one with all the Water of the world and what it means metaphysically.)

Then I made offerings. You should make offerings that work for you; mine are shaped at this moment in time by the relationships I’m working with. I poured out honey for the Good Folk, the more tricksy of the spirits of the land, and whiskey for my deities, who mostly come from the Celtic pantheon, who came over with their people when enough of them settled here to make Dublin, Ohio, a reality. I offered tobacco for the spirits of the First Nations, who I do not forget, even though I do not know them very well. I offered tobacco for the wrongs done under slavery, and as a reminder of Ohio’s role in trying to change that sinful system. I offered olive oil for Columbia Athena, who I believe to be the matron spirit of our government and of our nation as it exists now.

I laid out physical objects to express my intentions. My intention for this working is simple: let violence go to ground. Let every human being in and around Cleveland be influenced, in whatever way is possible, to be physically peaceful. This is an earth spell, so I used stones to express it. I put a lead bullet on top of Cleveland on the map, and on top of it and around it I piled black tourmaline, for grounding, and jet, to absorb evil, and a metallic meteorite, to bring things down from heaven to earth.

Obviously the bullet represents gun violence, but lead is also the metal of Saturn, the planet of restrictions and limitations. I am trying to hold down violence of all kinds, but especially gun violence. The guns are already present in Cleveland, in the hands of police and non-police, in the hands of people of all races and genders and political identities. What I am trying to do is keep them from being used.

This is a binding of sorts, but I am thinking of it mostly in terms of gravity: making the weapons of violence too heavy to lift, too heavy to wield, too heavy to fight.

You could do the same thing with stones from your landbase. Or black stones, or whatever stones represent earth and grounding and heaviness for you. The tools are just tools – you are the one doing the work.

With all this in place, I began to shape my intention, to give it voice and form and power. It became something like this:

May all the weapons be too heavy to lift.
Earth, mother of all, keep the peace.

May every hand that is raised be lowered again in peace.
Earth, mother of all, keep the peace.

May batons and sticks remain heavy on the ground.
Earth, mother of all, keep the peace.

May knives be blunted and fall from the wielder’s hand.
Earth, mother of all, keep the peace.

May guns hang heavy in their holsters and remain there.
Earth, mother of all, keep the peace.

May bullets find only earth and not flesh.
Earth, mother of all, keep the peace.

May grenades fall to the ground as duds.
Earth, mother of all, keep the peace.

May only words be exchanged.
Earth, mother of all, keep the peace.

May only voices be raised.
Earth, mother of all, keep the peace.

May only emotions flow in rivers on the land.
Earth, mother of all, keep the peace.

May only hearts be lifted.
Earth, mother of all, keep the peace.

May people recognize each other’s humanity.
Earth, mother of all, keep the peace.

May people value the land they live in.
Earth, mother of all, keep the peace.

May everyone survive.
Earth, mother of all, keep the peace.

While saying this, I put my hands over the stones on the map, and sent my energy into them. When I was done, I gave thanks, and ended my work.

Please note that this is NOT a time to light candles. The situation in Cleveland – and across the country, truth be told – is already volatile enough. It does not need any more undirected, ravening energy of change. If you want to join in this through visualization, great. Through praying to your land, crying to your rivers, speaking to your air, great. But don’t, for the love of all that’s holy, think you can extinguish gunpowder with a candle.

May it be so, for you, for all of us.

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Michigan Pagan Festival!

I’m headed out today to the Michigan Pagan Festival, where I’ll be presenting three different workshops. I’ve had some health problems lately, but they seem to be managed right now, so I’m hopeful for a great weekend.

Remember, if you can’t make it to see one of my talks live, I also give several of them as correspondence courses online.

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Empress and Fertility

Today I am thinking about the future a lot; that may be a result of my personal circumstances, or the time of year, or a number of things, but I’m going to run with it. You might ask: aren’t all the cards about the future? Well, yes, we can use the cards as a way to reflect on the present in order to shed light on the future, but that doesn’t mean that each and every card is “about the future” in the way I’m reading the Empress today. This is a new reading for me, but something about it is speaking to me very strongly, so I’m going to run with it, and I would be glad to hear your thoughts about it.

The Empress image is supposed to evoke fertility in all its senses, and today I am reading fertility as being an anticipation of the future. Fertility implies a series of changes that will perpetuate themselves into the future, and thus it implies hope for a future that will be different from the present.

The classical image of fertility that the RWS card relies on is a pregnant woman. This is a very loaded image, so I love the way that the Gaian Tarot expands on its possible meanings by renaming this card The Gardener and situating that pregnant woman within a natural environment that is overflowing with all kinds of bounty. (Yes, there is some imagery in the traditional RWS card that can be read to imply the bounty of the natural world as well, but not as much, and I appreciate the gender-neutral name change. More on this in the next card as well.)

I love expanding the scope of this card beyond purely human reproduction to include all kinds of fertility and even creativity. The important symbolism is that something new is being created, and to me it’s just as important to create new ideas and new things as well as new physical life. Each type of newness is an essential part of perpetuating life moving forward.

When we think about that newness and life moving forward, the importance of the number three for this card is that a third thing is produced out of the joining of two different things. What I want to emphasize is that the two things joining don’t have to be polar opposites, and they don’t have to be any kind of exact match – they just have to be different enough that when they come together they are creative, and similar enough that they can find ways to come together to allow that creativity to occur. That third thing emerges because creativity – or fertility if you prefer – happens when something different comes into contact and allows newness to develop.

For us as conscious beings, being willing to be in a relationship where creativity can occur is a statement about the future; it is being willing to be changed, to grow and develop over time. Any participation in a creative or fertile endeavor is an act essentially about the future.

If we think in horticultural terms, planting a garden is an act of hope. It requires a particular kind of seeing through time that takes hope and openness and experience to cultivate. Last year I couldn’t imagine that my tiny tomato plants would get as big as they did, so I planted them too close together; I couldn’t yet see through time to envision their future selves. This year, when I look at tomato plants, I will see them with a kind of multiple vision – as they are now and as they may grow to be, both together, and will plant them with that kind of vision in mind.

This makes me think that any time we are working with living beings there is the possibility of a kind of time travel of the mind. I know my mother always saw into my – our – past, but I think now that towards the end of her life she practiced a kind of seeing into the future through me.

In future, I think I will read the Empress/the Gardener as being about fertility and creativity, but on a deeper level, I believe this card relates to some deep ties between creativity and hope for the future, between the willingness to be in a relationship where change is a possibility and a certain amount of confidence in the future, even anticipation, related to our ability to shape that future and to be changed as it progresses.

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