Monday, September 18, 2017

The Responsibility of Free Speech

Person 1: Hello everyone and thank you for agreeing to meet and discuss the issues at hand. We've got some huge problems to solve, so let's get at it.

[general discussion of possible solutions]

P2: How about we just eradicate the Elves?

P1: What? What did you just say?

P2: The Elves. I mean, they are the real problem and they cause all the issues. It's a known fact. If we just band together, we could just eradicate the Elvish problem and everything else would take care of itself.

P1: Get out. You are no longer welcome at this table.

P2: Now hang on just a minute. I have Freedom of Speech and Thought in this country! You cannot prevent me from speaking my mind! It's my right.

P1: Actually, as much as I would like to, I cannot toss your racist ass in jail for expressing your deplorable ideas. However, sitting at this table is a privilege, not a right, and you have failed to meet the standards that allow for that privilege.

P2: No! No! I have the right to speak my mind and you MUST allow me to express it.

P1: You're wrong. You can sit at home and be racist all you like. You can sit in your own space and think all the murderous thoughts you want to. But the moment you attempt to express or broadcast those violent, oppressive, destructive thoughts in a public square, this is where the line is crossed. In a public square, everyone should be able to expect a minimum standard of safety and security to be met. In a public setting, you have a responsibility to the public to be honest and factual in the ideas you share. To express ideas that are designed to incite people to actively place others in harm's way violates that expectation.

P2: You have no right to curb my right to personal expression, nor can you oppress me because of my values. That is a slippery slope to fascism!

P1: While it is true that taken to an extreme, attempting to too-tightly control the personal expression of people can lead to oppressive regimes, holding the public good in higher regard can provide better guidelines about what is acceptable or unacceptable. Each case must be examined carefully.

P2: But... but...

P1: However, in this case, this is my table and I get to set the minimum standard. For the expression of that racist view, you have violated the standards of this gathering and now you are no longer welcome here. Not now, not ever. You still have freedom of thought, you have freedom of movement, but your access to this table and this discussion is officially revoked. Get out.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Only You Can Tell Your Story

Hey you. Yeah, you there. Don't look behind you, expecting to see someone else. I'm talking to you specifically.

I know you're struggling with today, afraid of tomorrow, and regretting the past. You've done some questionable things, you and I both know it. You've hurt people without meaning to, you've hurt others on purpose believe you were completely justified in doing so. Maybe now with the wisdom that comes from hard living you've realized you weren't so justified. Maybe you still think you were justified to make those destructive decisions and you're certain that those nights you woke up in a cold sweat are completely unrelated.

But I'll let you in on a secret that might help: What you do today is the only thing that has any real worth. The decisions you make today reflect the only real you that has ever mattered. You are completely in control of this very moment and what you decide right now will change your boundaries and restrictions. It's all on you and the power that you wield in this very moment.

I know that sounds like a lot or even an over-simplification of the immensely complicated lives we lead. I guess in some ways that it is, but I prefer to look at it as a refocusing of your intent, an intentisifying of your divine foothold in this life.

But what you did in the past is simply a remnant of your present-day power. Back then, you had that moment in your hands, you made your decision, and the moment was past, becoming a permanent part of your story. The only reason to dwell on that past moment is to reflect on what you learned from it so that you can make another decision in THIS moment. What you do NOW is the purest expression of who you are,

You are the storyteller, so you get to decide where the story goes. It doesn't matter how the story was told in the past: your past doesn't define who you are in this moment. What matters is where you are taking your story right now.

As the old expression goes: you reap what you sow. If you want to live a happy story, sow happiness in others. But you cannot increase love in this world by sowing hatred. Self-righteousness does not convert hateful acts into a loving reality. When faced with what is ugly in this world, you must meet with with more beauty. To face what is ugly from your past, you must create beauty in your present.

And to do that, you must make a decision right here, right now, knowing that it will become a permanent part of the story of you. Don't let the past dictate the quality of the present. Write a new, better story right here, right now.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Letting Go: It's Dangerous

I had to listen to this bizarro rant a few times to keep track of what he's actually saying. His persona voice and tossing about of jargon is super distracting.

There are many ways to Let Go, but I think Silva is trying to focus on living in the moment rather than worrying about the future or past. But then he starts talking about Ego Imprisonment, which is a completely different kind of Letting Go experience. Sure, both of them are tied together in some ways, but they are not interchangeable. One has to do with the release of control of the moment, and the other has to do with our self-imposed definitions and restrictions.

The first question Silva asks is "Why is it so hard to let go?" He spends the rest of this rant trying to explain why it's good to let go (like all the gurus keep telling us), but he never really explains why is it hard to let go, nor how to actually let go.

But I can tell you why it is hard to let go: it comes from the fear of failure, the fear of disappointment or rejection, and the fear of facing the unknown. People hang onto their preconceptions because they are comforting, because they are expected to cling and be accepted rather than question and be rejected, and because the unknown has more terrifying questions than satisfying answers.

It is not only difficult and terrifying to let go, it is also dangerous. Letting go completely and for the long-term makes it difficult to operate in this society. The trick is to let go enough to explore the possibilities, and then to grasp and own enough to operate efficiently. You can then incorporate what you discovered in letting go and innovate your integration in everyday society.

It's a process that is prone to much failure, but as long as you can embrace failure and use it as a teacher rather than a punisher, you can keep making progress bit by bit. The only other option is lay stagnant in your growth, allowing others to determine your direction, values, and goals.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Predator vs Prey

Note: I did NOT come up with this theory. I read it somewhere years ago and I forget the source. If anyone can remind me of the source, I'll link to it in the article.

I was out with a friend and she remarked "I don't know why guys get so bent out of shape to see two guys kissing. They like it when women kiss, but get so threatened when guys kiss. What's their deal?"

The following was my response:

It comes down to these men hanging their entire self-identity on the traditional view of romantic relationships where men are the predator and women are the prey. Men hunt and consume, while women are hunted and consumed. Men are the strong predators and women are the weak prey.

The reason it is not threatening to watch women kiss is that prey can consume each other and they are not a threat to the predator. Each woman is playing the part of the prey and is being consumed, so men can still feel strong and unthreatened as the predator.

But when men kiss each other, that means that one of them is the prey and the other is the predator. One man is being consumed while the other consumes. To a man who clings to a traditional view of male-female relationships, it is disturbing to watch a man play the weaker role as prey, as being the one who is being consumed. It makes the man worried that he may not always be the predator because of his maleness. Watching two men kiss tells him that he could be the one being consumed rather than being the consumer, he could become prey, and this feels like a violation of the natural order of things.

Similarly, the man who clings to his predator title will feel threatened by a woman who hunts him. A woman who is self-assured, strong, confident, and who take the power of the predator will threaten a man who feels entitled to be the predator. He is no longer the predator by default because of his gender: he will need to put effort into his role as predator and he may fail at this task, making him the prey, making him weak, making him be the consumed.

In conclusion, men who are uncomfortable with expressions of non-heterosexuality do so from a fear of losing their male-entitled social position as predator. These men are afraid that they'll be treated the way that they treat women.

Jesus Christ was a Brown Jew

Yoinked from lauralot89:
Jesus Christ was a brown Jew in the Middle East, conceived out of wedlock in an arguably interracial if not interspecies (deity and human) relationship, raised by his mother and stepfather in place of his absent father.  He may not have had a Y chromosome.  He spent his early youth as a refugee in Egypt, where his family no doubt survived initially on handouts from the wealthy (you think they kept that gold, frankincense, and myrrh from the wise men?  Hell no, they sold that stuff for food and lodging).  He later returned with his parents to their occupied homeland and lived in poverty.
The religion of Jesus’s people has no concept of a permanent hell and instructed its priests on how to induce miscarriages.  Jesus explicitly rejected the concept of disability as a divine punishment.  He spoke out against religious hypocrites.  He had enough respect for women to let his mother choose the time of his first miracle.  He blessed a same sex couple.  He told a rich man that he must give up his wealth to get to heaven, and also told a parable about a rich man suffering in agony in presumably Gehinnom (basically Purgatory) just to hammer the point home.  He told people to pay their taxes.  He declared “love your neighbor” to be one of the two commandments on which all laws hang.  He commanded his followers to help the poor.  He commanded them to help the sick and the needy.  He spent time with social outcasts.  He healed the servant of a high priest during his arrest rather than fighting back.  He was put to death by the occupying government because he was a political radical.
Trump and his administration are xenophobic, misogynistic, racist, fear-mongering, warmongering, tax-dodging, anti-Semitic, anti-choice, anti-welfare, anti-equal pay, anti-LGBTQIA+, anti-immigration, support tax cuts for the rich, support Citizen’s United, want to keep refugees out of this country, want to limit our ability to speak against the government, plan to abolish the Affordable Care Act, and they wrap all of that up behind a banner of “Christian family values.”  If you support them, you have no right to call yourself a follower of Christ.

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Etiquette of Intimacy, Sexuality, and Consent

Let's face it: Pagans are a sexy bunch of people. In a spiritual culture that respects and celebrates sexuality rather than fear it, we tend to wear our love and lust on our sleeves.

However, even with all of this sexual celebration going on, we still need to respect and honor people's boundaries, personal space, and overall safety. When it comes to sexual etiquette, firm and enthusiastic Consent is still King/Queen.

Related articles:

Note: The situations listed in this article do not include the context of Kink that can be considered more extreme than what is acceptable in mainstream society. The Kink communities have their own rules and guidelines and they are not covered in this article. If you are engaging in Kink, please make sure that everyone involved understands the rules about Consent and realize that Consent can be revoked at any time.


When engaging with people in most social situations, act, and speak in a respectful manner, being mindful of people's personal space and boundaries. Let your behaviour be guided by kindness, mutual respect, equality, and compassion for your fellow human beings.

To be mindful of how you interact with other people, you must refrain from any and all of the following:

* touching any part of their bodies without invitation
* uttering rude or vulgar statements
* making sexualized gestures towards any person
* engaging in catcalling, even if you think it's a compliment
* staring, standing too close, or following the person around uninvited
* insisting that this person must act in a specific manner

Although sexuality is often celebrated in Pagan culture, it is also an act that is treated with respect and reverence for those who choose to engage in it. Even if you see others acting in an affectionate, intimate way with each other, this is not an automatic invitation for you to take part. Invitations must be explicit and offered, not assumed.

Free sexual expression is not a requirement of Paganism and is never a measurement of how Pagan you are or how seriously you take your spirituality. Pardon my French, but anyone who suggests otherwise can fuck right off.


According to Canadian law, these are rules that govern Consent:

1. You can only Consent for yourself.
2. You must be able to give Consent, which means you must be awake, conscious, and sober enough to make a clear decision.
3. People in positions of trust, power or authority cannot abuse their position to obtain Consent.
4. Implying "No" is as valid as stating a clear and firm “NO”.
5. You have the right to change your mind and stop anytime for any reason during the consensual activity.

Consent is clear and enthusiastic. Consent is joyous and filled with anticipation. Consent is not half-hearted, nor does it come from a place of fear, either for personal safety or rejection. Consent must be clear, pure, and honest.

Consent is the result of a clear, thorough discussion and negotiation between the people involved. What the person is Consenting to must be clearly understood, boundaries need to be stated and respected, and all pertinent information needs to be shared.

Sure, it might take some of the spontaneity out of the moment, but it's better to make sure that everyone is being safe in that decision, including yourself.

Lastly, and most important, Consent can be revoked at any time by anyone and MUST BE RESPECTED. Just because the people involved agreed to something before it started, that does not mean that the original Consent is binding. Every person has the right to change their minds and renegotiate Consent at any moment without coercion, intimidation, or threats.


Granting Consent is not a blanket statement. You can (and should) be specific about what kind of Consent you are granting, the kind of activity in which you are interested, what are soft-limits, and what are hard limits.

For example, you can Consent to a passionate kissing session, but state that there is to be no nudity or sexual touch. If the other party(s) cross your lines, be firm and re-state your Consent boundaries. If your boundaries continue to get crossed, you need to walk away and keep yourself safe.

It is recommended to define the boundaries of Consent before the intimate act begins, so that everyone can know what the rules are. Knowing where your limits are is best determined in a calm, sober state: it can be difficult to make the right choices in the heat of the moment.


When it comes to acts of intimacy, Consent can never be given or received when under the influence of a substance that can impair judgment (i.e.: alcohol, drugs, etc.). If the person is too impaired to be able to make clear, rational decisions, Consent cannot be guaranteed even when the person gives Consent in that moment. The only thing you can do at that point is make sure the impaired person gets to a safe place, allow the intoxication to pass, and then revisit the giving of Consent if the person is open to this.

Consent cannot be implied or interpreted by actions, behaviour, or mode of dress or undress. "The way he was acting, he clearly wanted it" or "The way she was dressed told me that she wanted it" are NOT forms of Consent. Consent can only be clearly stated by someone who is sober, awake, and enthusiastic in its utterance. Consent is NEVER open to interpretation.

Consent cannot be given if the person is unconscious or unable to respond. EVER.

You cannot be bullied, intimidated, or threatened to give your Consent. Consent given under any of these circumstances is NOT valid.

Legal Consent cannot be given by someone who is under the age of 16, no matter how true or pure your love is. Only a parent or guardian can grant that kind of Consent, and even then, it only applies to people between the ages of 12-15. Under 12 years of age, this kind of Consent cannot be legally granted by anyone.


Enjoy! Now that you and your partner(s) have clearly stated their needs, expectations, and feel safe and secure, go and enjoy yourselves! Sexuality is a beautiful thing. Make sure that everyone practices safe sex so that everyone can get lost in the pleasure of it without worrying or concerns.

Once the good times begin to roll, feel free to check-in often with everyone that they all feel safe and respected, that everything is going well, and that Consent is still being given. Doing frequent check-ins shows that you care, gives people a chance to check-in with themselves, and gives everyone a voice.


If at any point and for any reason, if anyone feels unsafe or unsure, they can declare that their Consent is now revoked. At that point, the activity must stop and boundaries must be respected. This is a time for compassion and empathy; this is not a time for judgment or frustration. Be kind and ensure that their safety is paramount.

If your revocation of Consent is not being respected, you need to be firm and restate your boundaries. Generally, it is not in the middle of the act that boundaries can be renegotiated. If your boundaries continue to be pushed or crossed and you feel unsafe, you need to get yourself away immediately from this situation/person to a place of safety. If you are at an event and continue to feel unsafe, you may want to contact Security and discuss it with them when you are ready (bring a friend for support).


If you find yourself guilty of acting without clear and firm sexual Consent, or that you continue to act while ignoring denied or revoked sexual Consent, you can find yourself in a world of trouble. Depending on the act, you can be facing legal charges of assault, sexual assault, and even rape.

If your are guilty of acting without Consent, you must realize that you cannot undo what has been done, nor can you define the nature of the assault for the victim. It is the victim that defines the nature of the assault, not the aggressor.

If you wish to apologize or make amends, you need the victim's permission to be approached first. You must also realize that you cannot make the victim forgive you, nor can you decide when the victim should be ready to forgive you, if ever. All you can do is to respect the victim's wishes and boundaries, offer an apology and a promise that you will learn from this experience, and then respect the victim's wishes and give them the space that they need, for however long they need it, even if it means forever.

You must then take a good hard look at your own values and decide for yourself what lessons you need to learn to be able to treat others with respect and keep them safe.


If you are a victim of a non-consensual act, you must realize that this is not your fault. You have every right to expect to be respected, to have your wishes heard and honored, and that you deserve to be safe. If someone has violated that trust, it is not your fault.

It's normal that it feels like it is your fault, that you did something wrong and this non-consensual act is the result. Most victims (including the author of this article) go through this process of self-blame after being assaulted. Even when you recognize that it is illogical to do so, you might say "Well, yes... If this happened to you, it would be assault, but in my case, it's different and it doesn't apply."

You hear yourself saying these words, you know that it's wrong intellectually, but emotionally, that's how it feels. The facts are that, being the victim, you are practically incapable of being objective about this. Furthermore, you just want to forget the whole thing, so it's just easier to take the blame and learn from it quietly intead of making a fuss and having to relive the assault over and over.

That's what I went through after my assault. Even after friends and family insisted I tell someone in authority about what happened, I couldn't bring myself to do it and I tried to repress it instead. The results were sleepless nights, horrible mood swings, and devastating bouts of depression.

And then I told someone in authority, and the healing process began. It's incredibly difficult and conflicting to tell someone about your event because it feels like you are just shifting the burden to others, but this is not the case. You are seeking the help you need to heal from this incident and your people want to help you.

If you are suffering from the affects of a non-consensual act, there are just two things you need to know:
1. It was not your fault.
2. You are not alone.

Talk to someone. Seek help. It is the purest expression of strength to seek help.

In Canada, there are several organizations available to either get you the help you need or to point you in the right direction.

Consent Education:

Recovery From Sexual Abuse/Assault

Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres

A Voice for the Innocent

Many Canadian provinces offer their own local sexual assault resources, so to find the ones in your area, we suggest that you search for "sexual assault support [your province/city]" to find the most relevant and immediate resources.

Talk to someone. Get the help you need. You are not alone.

Editors: Aniya,, Laurie S., Nat M., Caroline W., Jessica B., and others

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Recipe for a Bard

by Melissa Keindel (amara_strega)

To make a bard one needs to find, the recipe to create its kind. Never easy, always changing, from culture to culture, recipes ranging. Below we find a simple mix, to make a bard, and learn his tricks.

So listen now, as i do tell, a simple bard creation spell:

  • Start with 1 cup honey, for the best stories come from honeyed tongues.
  • Add 1 cup mead to loosen the mind and mouth.
  • A dash of sass, a dash of pluck, a silver coin for good luck.
  • A teaspoon of sage, to impart wisdom
  • A teaspoon of pepper to keep stories spicy
  • A quarter cup of strong beer to add valor and bravado
  • A pinch of salt for flavor
  • A pinch of suger to sweeten the heart
  • A clove of garlic for strength
  • A sprig of Thyme so they may keep time in competition
  • A tablespoon of oats to add humility
  • A cup of spring water to keep the creativity flowing
  • Lastly add to the brew one sprig of eyebright to sharpen the wit and open the mind.

Add to a sturdy pot and boil over the intense flames of the bardic fire. Stir frequently, listening for the tell tale signs of bubbling and free-style rapping that tell you it is almost complete.

Once cooked, allow to cool and take on its natural shape, that of the master storyteller and keeper of sacred tales.