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.

https://www.facebook.com/jasonlsilva/videos/1876547535942856/

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.

GENERAL SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR

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.

HOW TO IDENTIFY CONSENT

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.

STAYING WITHIN THE BOUNDARIES OF CONSENT

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 CONSENT CANNOT BE GIVEN

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.

YOU ARE CONFIDENT THAT CONSENT IS GIVEN. NOW WHAT?

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.

BREACHING THE BOUNDARIES OF CONSENT

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).

THE CONSEQUENCES OF ACTING WITHOUT CONSENT

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.

RECOVERY AND HEALING

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:
http://www.Consented.ca/

Recovery From Sexual Abuse/Assault
http://www.sexassault.ca/recovery.htm

Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres
http://casac.ca/content/anti-violence-centres

A Voice for the Innocent
http://www.avoicefortheinnocent.org/

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.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Unreceived Gift

This is a story I could stand to remember sometimes.

One day, the Buddha was walking through a village. A very angry and rude young man came up and began insulting him. “You have no right teaching others,” he shouted. “You are as stupid as everyone else. You are nothing but a fake!”
Buddha was not upset by these insults. Instead he asked the young man “Tell me, if you buy a gift for someone, and that person does not take it, to whom does the gift belong?”
The man was surprised to be asked such a strange question and answered, “It would belong to me, because I bought the gift.”
The Buddha smiled and said, “That is correct. And it is exactly the same with your anger. If you become angry with me and I do not get insulted, then the anger falls back on you, making yourself more unhappy. All you have achieved is to hurt yourself.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

To Know the Gods

Showering Epiphany #12

I hear people wondering about how to build a meaningful relationship with the Gods. How do I pick a God to worship? How do I get to know that God? If I never see Her/Him, how can I know I'm not just talking to myself?

We all carry a Divine Spark that comes from the Gods. You have it, I have it, they have it. Pagans and non-Pagans, theists and atheists, every living creature, and even the stones. They all carry a spark of that Divine essence and it's right there, at your fingertips. It is this common spark that ties us together, and in turn, ties us to the Gods, and then binds the Gods to us.

Did the Gods create the people, or did the people create the Gods? The answer is Yes. We need the Gods and the Gods need us. We sustain each other via the common Divine Spark.

So if you are looking to build a meaningful relationship with the Gods (whichever Gods you choose), you can start by building meaningful relationships with the closest, most relate-able form of Divinity: the People.

Paganism has this popular notion that our spirituality is a personal journey: that we build personal relationship with our Gods. And while this is somewhat true, we still need each other to complete that journey. If you want more Divinity in your life, surround yourself with more Divine Spark keepers.

Find people you trust, who challenge you, who push you to be better, who teach you new ideas, who force you out of your comfort zone, who nurture you when you need it. All of these people are keepers of that Divine Spark, real-world expressions of the Gods.

If you build meaningful relationships with these people, nurturing connections with your Divine Sparks, you are building real, concrete relationships with the Gods. From that foundation, with a firm anchor in the real world, you can expand your reach beyond the physical and deepen your relationship with the Gods, and they with you. However, without that grounding anchor in the real world, the Gods may always seem vague, disconnected, far-away, and just theories.

Find your Divine Spark, seek it out in others, and nurture each other. In this way, you will discover the Gods have been around you this entire time.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Excessive Drag

Years ago, I used to participate in Dragon Boat racing. Friends encouraged me to join, we practiced, we went to races, and it was great fun.

Often these races take place in other cities. I think we had traveled to Ottawa for such a race, staying in the dorms at the university. I was out walking the grounds for some reason when I crossed another team. They spotted my team tee-shirt and one of them came over and said "Oh hey... you're rowing with the ABC team?"

"Yeah," I replied proudly. "Are you racing tomorrow?"

"We are," she said. "I'm really glad you're on their team because having a fat guy like you gives us a real edge." They walked away, laughing at how clever they were.

Honestly, there are jerks everywhere. It stung, but I quickly brushed it off and continued on. She was just trying to psyche me out and it didn't matter because my team accepted me the way I was.

The next day was sunny and clear. Our team gathered, stretched, did some warm-ups and cheered each other on. We raced a few times and did pretty well. The team worked well together, rowing in unison (which is the secret to a fast Dragon Boat BTW). It was exciting, exhilarating, and lots of fun.

** Revised **
Near the end of the day, the coach came over and benched me for a number of reasons including that it was my first competition, that I was still green, and there was a paddler limit.

On its surface, the reasons were legit, but with what happened the day before, all I heard was "The fat guy is slowing us down." Sure, there were other larger people on the team, but when you're embarrassed about your weight, you find excuses for others ("Yeah, but he's strong", "Yeah, but she's skilled", "Yeah, but I'm larger and weaker than the others").

When we got home, I quit the team. I had also been injured that season, but coupled with my own humiliation, I couldn't motivate myself to go back. I could have spoken to the coach about the incident, but I couldn't face it.
**

I get it. I'm at this point in my health because every day, I make choices. Sometimes I choose to walk more, sometimes I get lazy. The weight I am at is combination of choice, genes, and physiology. I can choose to get more exercise and try to disregard the despair and the pain that comes with it to try to achieve some amorphous weight loss number that seems impossible (even though so many of my friends have managed to do the same). I can choose to go out there and make a change, or I can choose comfort and stay in. It's my choice. It's always my choice.

But you also need to understand that it's difficult to face not only myself, but the others who see my weight as either a burden or a visual signpost of an undesired life. Even well-meaning people pat my tummy and laugh, as if to say "I recognize you're fat, but I still like you." I recognize the good intention in that moment, but the delivery needs work.

Another summer is arriving and with it comes more choices. Every day, I need to make the choice to take the bus, walk more, and maybe even take swimming again. I love the water, I love to swim, but taking off my shirt in public is one of the most difficult acts in this life.

I know that need to make these choices and I do appreciate all the support I do get for making these choices. When people say "You just need to [insert instruction here].", that's all well and good, but you need to understand how difficult it is to take and maintain these actions when you are surrounded by others who treat you like they are glad not to be you.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Gods are not to be Trusted

I have to come out and make a confession-declaration:
I have insufficient faith in the Gods.
I do have faith in the Gods, but I also realize that there are many aspects of this life that the Gods either have no control over, or into which they refuse to intervene. I seem to be alone in this belief, however, and everyone else faith seems absolute. The fact that these other people have absolutely nothing to lose is surely completely coincidental.

Context: I work with a small team to organize events in my community, so we occasionally need to make practical decisions which some people object to loudly. When we try to explain why we came to these decisions, the Gods are often invoked and our lack of faith is presented as Exhibit A.

THEM: You should organize a Witches Ball for Halloween!
US: Eeek. To rent a hall big enough, we'd need about $1500 to rent the hall and pay the DJ. That means assuming we charge $10 per person, we'd need to get at least 150 people to show up. I'm not sure we'd get enough people.
THEM: You worry too much. HAVE MORE FAITH IN THE GODS!

THEM: Why do the Public Rituals cost $5 per person? Spirituality should be free!
US: The ritual itself is free, but the 3rd floor studio that is close to the metro and has an elevator (because making it accessible to everyone is important) costs $300.
THEM: You should pass the hat and ask for donations AND HAVE MORE FAITH IN THE GODS!

THEM: You should hold this event on a piece of land that is difficult to access, but also provide everyone with return transportation.
US: Eeek. Okay, that location is about an hour away. We could rent a bus, but that will cost about $500. We could car pool it, but there's no guarantee that a bunch of strangers would be willing to--
THEM: You worry too much! It'll work because it's a great idea and everyone will buy into it AND YOU SHOULD HAVE MORE FAITH IN THE GODS!

You get the picture. When I tell these people that, if they have such faith in the Gods and their ideas, they should organize it themselves.

THEM: "Oh no... I can't do that for Reason A. Then Reason B comes into play, which causes Reason C that makes Reason A even more impossible. But I'll help you and support you if you take care of it. JUST TRUST IN THE GODS!"

In the early days of my community involvement, I used to do this. When it seemed impractical and financially risky, I tried to put faith in the Gods that it would all work out in the end. What would actually happen is that these risky events would flop, the promised support would disappear, and I would be left to foot the bill. But on the surface, it would look like everything worked out and IT WAS ALL THE WILL OF THE GODS.

So yeah... I'm left to make the hard decisions that allow events to take place, while mitigating the risks, and dealing with a loud, disappointed few (who didn't support the event at all, btw). All the while to be told that everything would be fine if I JUST HAD FAITH IN THE GODS.

Fuck that noise. I have learned that replacing an insufficient trust in the Gods with some critical thinking and realistic risk analysis increases the chances that an event will be successful. Or at the very least, I won't lose my shirt in the process.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Celebrating Beauty over Violence

I tried sharing an important video on Facebook today, but predictably, the Facebook Overlords lost their collective shit and removed the video. Because violent and hateful posts are okay, but Gods forbid a nude woman should speak her mind... that's just shameful.

I'm sharing the video here because I think it can still get shared and not get detected by the puritans at Facebook. I would much rather share the video directly from Kundalinikak.com, but she doesn't have the video on her blog (yet). If she puts her video up on her blog, I'll share that instead (I may take it down from here).

Choose Pussy over Pain from Cidney G Green on Vimeo.

Friday, February 24, 2017

You matter.

After speaking with a friend today about some challenges she is facing, I would like to take a moment to remind you that you matter. Yes, you there. YOU. You matter. You are important. You are valued. Even now, you are missed by someone who matters to you.

If anyone dares to tell you that you don't matter, that you are unimportant, or that no one truly cares about you, they are lying to you (especially if it's that voice in your head). You are so important, so impressive, so unequivocally awesome that they feel threatened by your greatness. Don't let them lie to you, don't give these lies any credit. You are awesome. You matter.

Some people feel so worthless that the only way they know how to feel better is to prop themselves on top of awesome people. You may have become attracted to people like this, that their broken spirit appealed to you in some way. They may have even been able to hide that broken spirit for a time, but now it has revealed itself and is now looking to tear something down in order to build itself up. Unfortunately, that something might be you, but this is not your fault.

If you have become their target, you need to first get some distance between you both to keep yourself safe. When the air-masks pop out of the overhead compartment, you need to secure your mask first before assisting others. Recognize that this person needs help, but you might not be the person to help them.

Do what you have to do to keep yourself safe. Because you matter. You are important. You are loved. YOU MATTER.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Rebirth of the Print Media

I have finally finished listening to Trump's first Press Conference.

Unrelated: I am out of Gin. I need more Gin.

I might be going crazy here, but people were harping endlessly on Trump's seemingly non-sequitur of "The leaks were real, but the news was fake" (timestamp 00:44:40). It sounds crazy (and it is) and contradictory, but I think I understood what he meant.

Remember the whole Death Panels thing years ago? The Fox propaganda machine took an idea that had some basis in fact and tried to spin it into a wild breaking news story, and then did the same thing with every hot-topic news story that would make Obama look bad: take a small story and whip it up into a big news story to discredit the current Administration.

Trump's position here is that the media is reporting the wrong stuff. The news may be true (the leaks are real), but Trump doesn't want the media to report it because it would present the people with a message that he doesn't want them to hear. If the Trump admin wants to control how the people are informed, then they would have to power to define what is real (real news) and what is untrue or not in-line with the Admin's messaging (fake news).

In fact, he even refers to that idea in the same session: that the news sites are filled with hatred against him, which they shouldn't be doing because he won.

So when he says that CNN reports Fake News, what he means is that they are reporting news that he does not approve of. Trump wants his government to decide what the media reports on and what they get to say. When Kelly Anne Conway says "We might have to rethink our relationship with the media," this is what she means.

You know who does that? North Korea. China. Russia. It's fucking crazy, and if Trump attempts to shut down the Internet and Social Media the way he has talked about in the past, we might see the grand return of the underground Print Media.

Nostalgia


As I'm writing this article (which started out as a Facebook Comment and lengthened into an article because it turns out I have more to say), I am reminded of my College days when I wrote articles for my college newspaper The Broadside. At that time (1986-1988), the Student Council that was so incredibly corrupt that over half the council members were ejected for using Student Council funds for a Get-Rich pyramid scheme (you can actually read about this here, published by fellow writer Keith Waddington).

I personally sat in a Council meeting where they openly discussed using the college money to buy alcohol on a student trip and disguise the expense as getting theatre tickets. So when I wrote an article in The Broadside about what I witnessed, the Student Council demanded that they get to approve articles before they could be publish. We we refused this request, they defunded the The Broadside and took our room away. The College Administration was happy to see us go because we were critical of them as well.

But The Broadside didn't go away. We went underground and continued to publish the paper with a limited printing (funded by secret donors), and our supporters helped us with distribution by sharing the paper person-to-person. Any copy that the Student Council president found was ripped up and I was personally threatened with physical violence several times. Of course, this only strengthened my resolve and gave birth to my backbone.

With a dictatorial administration in power, this may be the rebirth of the Print Media industry with an underground, community-driven financial and distribution system. Mark my words.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Eye Wide Open to Inconvenient Truths

Still reeling from the tragedy in Quebec city last night. Sleepless night.

The outpouring of sadness and solidarity for the Muslim community in Quebec is heartening, but too many people are quick to blame Trump, as if Canada was somehow immune to the racism that he is institutionalizing in his own country.

Have we already forgotten the despicable Charte that Pauline Marois championed to save Quebec from anything that didn't look Christian enough? It was just 4 years ago when that proposed piece of legislation emboldened too many to speak their racism aloud, to harass and attack anyone they felt looked too foreign. Even now, chapters of the despicable Sons of Odin walk the streets of Quebec city looking to oppress anyone who looks unfamiliar  (yes, I mentioning them very specifically and pointedly).

This year marks the 150th anniversary of a country that founded itself by using the religion of a foreign land to oppress and to attempt to eradicate the First Nations people. The last Indian residential school operated by the Canadian government was closed in 1996, only 20 years ago.

It's easy to blame Trump, an outsider, for bringing this tragedy to our homes, but he is just one of many who rile and legitimize an undercurrent of racism that has been constantly humming in our country for over 150 years. Marois did it, the Harper Government did it, and Ezra Levant continues to do it to get clicks and sell papers. Once Trump is gone, others will come to fan the flames to manipulate the people.

As an open and educated society, it does us no good to pretend that this came out of nowhere and wail "How can this happen in Quebec/Canada?" We need to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that this kind of racism is not only a part of our history, but is also a living, pulsing fragment in our living, present culture. We can choose to stand against it, to support all of our brothers and sisters, and to move forward to embrace a positive, inclusive, multi-cultural society, but we can only do this by acknowledging that we all play a part in the inherent racism and bigotry that exists in our living culture.

I choose to stand against it, but my eyes are not shut to the inconvenient truths. Thanks be to friends Molly B. and Natalie H. for keeping my eyes open. #mosqueequebec #JeSuisQuebec

Monday, January 23, 2017

Magical Resistance is Fertile

Reading the Social Media feeds, I'm seeing lots of fear, anger, and subsequent violence. In magical circles, I'm also seeing people demand that Trump be cursed magically and have some kind of ill-moment befall him (watch the skies for fallling pianos).

But quite frankly, lots of cursing and magical workings were going on during the election and they all seemed to fail. As much as I fear the next four years, this may be something that America needs to go through. Keeping a culture afraid for 15+ years (since 9/11) has consequences, and Mr. Trump being President is one of many consequences.

Right or wrong, the people put him there for a reason. It may have not have been the reason they expected, but it's lesson that will be taught (and learned, hopefully). After decades of deposing dictators in foreign lands, let's see how America deals with its own despots.

Rather than trying to get Mr. Trump out, this might be a good time to fix the system that put him in place (i.e. the demise of the Electoral College?). As revealed during his campaign, Mr. Trump does not follow the rules, which may then rupture the systems in place in a way that requires change and correction. It took the tragedy of the Titanic for ships to be required to have enough lifeboats for every passenger on the ship. From tragedy, good works can flourish. Lots of work to do in the next four years.

Going back to the point, if any magical workings are to be done, they should be made to support those who actively resist what is happening. Magic alone cannot bring about this kind of change. It requires boots on the ground, fists in the air, and voices in harmony. It requires physical presence, people getting their hands dirty, and physically working towards a better tomorrow. It needs people putting pressure on government, working with them to devise better solutions, demanding accountability when systems fail, and renewing the energy needed to demand positive change.

So be ready to get your boots and hands dirty, get on the phone to your reps, get yourself to the Statehouse to add your voice. But if you cannot do these things (your reasons are your own), send your magic to bolster those who can. Your magical workings should be directed to keeping these front-line people safe, allowing their efforts to be met with success, and to broadcast their message to bolster others. The magic could be used to awaken people's sense of compassion rather than give in to their fear (fear is definitely what caused this result).

Sure... it's not as sexy as cursing Mr. Trump himself, but it's a much more efficient and potentially effective use of energy. Support the people and they will bring about the change that's needed. Resistance is fertile, and from it, life will grow stronger.

Update

There have been articles floating around on social media about how a bunch of witches are going to perform a magic spell to bind Donald Trump. Personally, I think this is a huge waste of misdirected energy. Although the Trump admin needs to be opposed, its the people who are on the front lines that needs to be bolstered and protected.

When I've seen people raise this point, the come-back is something like "Well I'm glad the witches in the UK didn't think like that when they performed their spell to bind and stop Hitler."

The power of that legend is compelling, but it's wrong.

In World War II, Dion Fortune gathered a group of witches to perform a war spell, that's true enough. But their focus wasn't on stopping or binding Hitler.

What they attempted to do (and succeeded) was to bolster the soldiers' resolve so that they could push through the horrors of the war and exhaust Hitler's forces, keeping him away from Britain. By raising magic, they seeded archetypal visions, invoked angelic protection, and upheld British morale under fire.

It was the unrelenting sacrifice of the Commonwealth pilots that kept Hitler away from Britain. The witches supported the troops and kept them from panicking under fire.

With that success in mind, this is why I think it would be a better use of magical energy to bolster the protesters and the front-liners to defeat the Trump administration and restore some sense of normalcy and respect to the world.

You can read more about the Magical Battle of Britain here.