Getting Ready for the Book To Arrive

As most of you know, I have a book coming out in a very short time. (In fact, I have a separate blog for the making of the book–http://staubsandditchwater.blogspot.com.) I spoke with the publisher today–a small independent publisher who is also an old friend. A launch party is being organized and I was very fortunate to have supporters who pre-paid for the book.

Since their generosity helped pay the cost of publishing–bless you all!–I’m getting padded mailers ready to receive a signed copy of the book and a special thank-you book mark.

It’s been fun to design address labels and trim down mailers to the appropriate sizes. My dining room table is filled with this project–red-brick talismans, stacks of mailers, labels to be cut and affixed.

It looks like this:

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and this:

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Folks have been so patient with this process–more patient than I!–and I look forward to sending them a copy as quickly as I can.

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Memorial Day

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I just posted this picture of my dad on Facebook…a picture of him in his uniform for the army, when he served in N Africa et al during WWII. I always think of him on Memorial Day because the war had an interesting effect on him. That poor boy from WNC saw a lot of the world and he had some amazing adventures…and he lived to tell about it. He always seemed proud of his time in the army and he told us lots of stories about Europe. I think it may have kindled my life-long love of travel, now that I think of it.

And I also think of my maternal grandfather who was in the Navy in the First World War. He died of tb during the Depression and I’ve never seen a picture of him. But I have seen a picture of my grandmother in his sailor suit, saluting.

And I also think about my step-grandfather who was gassed in France in the War to End All Wars. He must’ve had stories, but he never told them. He didn’t talk about his experience and would change the subject if asked. He was a slight man, a dapper dresser who had weak lungs for the rest of his life.

And I think about my father-in-law, who lied about his age and spent the war in England. It always seems fitting that my English-American father spent the war in Italy and my Italian-American father-in-law spent the war in England.

I think about their memories–the ones shared, the ones hidden, the ones suppressed. I think about farm boys who became soldiers and sailors, and how their lives–even if they lived through the conflict–were irreparably changed by “serving their country”.

That is a high price for service, but one they were willing to pay.

Bless ’em.

Pagan Unity Fest–another bright day

I’m sure you’re tiring of this long report so I will bring you the highlights of the last two days.  I taught one of my favorite classes on Friday–Willful Bane: the Joy of Hex. It was scheduled for the small, cramped smokehouse but someone on the staff said that the fellow who was teaching in the more spacious (and cooler) Pavillion had not yet arrived on site.  I verified that and then happily moved my class there. There was a wonderful tunr-out and I think we all had a good time.

The ritual that evening was created and facilitated by Christopher Penczak and was well-attended (of course) and excellent.  I had taken a nap in the afternoon so that I could stand as Guardian for a group of Wayists from Texas who were doing a Northern European Oracular ceremony.  I haven’t stood as Guardian for many years and had forgotten how empowering a role it is.

The following day was Sunday and we left before lunch for the long ride back to WNC.

All in all a good time, with good company, beautiful weather and terrible food.  I’m pretty sure I’ll go back next year–barring incident or accident.

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My First Class at the Fest

Organizer Tish Owen had asked me if I was okay with teaching my first class on Thursday and it was scheduled for 11 am, just before lunch. But before that, I was charged with doing an opening ritual at 9 am, the time the gate opened for realz, as they say.

That turned out to be an idea not so good.  I had warned the organizers that I don’t do “Pagan Standard Time”–the odd notion that if a ritual or other event is scheduled to start at a certain time, it will be delayed by at least half an hour. I will generally allow a wee grace period for travel or traffic but I personally find it disrespectful to announce a time and then keep people waiting.

So, I don’t do that, as a rule, and thought they ought to know.

I slung my green ruanna over my shoulders, picked up some suitable treats for the land spirits (including a wee tot of some Black Bush) and headed for the ritual field.

I stoof under the big poplar there, in the shade, and waited.

And waited.

At ten past the appointed time, I smiled to myself and set my personal intention for the festival.  I grounded and set wards.  I left the land spirits some hideous candy, some shiny stones and a drink of Irish. I chanted softly, honored my Divines and left the field to get ready for my class–Growing Your Own Botanica.

My cool scheme for this fest was to pack my class supplies into my daughter’s old rolling suitcase and that turned out to be a good plan.  I set up in the main hall, in front of the stone fireplace and had a good crowd to talk about herbs, their growing and preservation.

I strung a clothesline and clothes-pinned herbs to it

There were lots of good questions and discussions and a lot of people went away knowing a bit about where I’m from and what I do. And I was headed to take some classes of my own–Dark Goddesses, Awakening Spirit, Exploring the Feminine Divine.  And I looked forward to hearing Tuatha Dea live at the evening concert.

Pagan Unity Festival 2012

Well, friends, I’m back.  As some of you know, I left Asheville last Monday with my friend Star and headed to Nashville to be a volunteer and teacher at Pagan Unity Festival at Montgomery Bell State Park.  We had packed Star’s car as tightly as it could have been with bedding and suitcases of ritual wear, with a case of hoodoo materials for my classes and promotional material for my books.

We made good time and arrived at the Goddess and the Moon, a shop in Nashville that is owned by the festival’s primary organizer, Tish Owen. Hugs, madness, confusion–fairly typical for the last days before a big annual event.  I met a very nice parrot named Cherokee, went shopping in a wholesale warehouse, ate in a terrific Greek restaurant.

We loaded the Uhaul the following day and spent the night at the park, ready to start preparations on site the following day.

It’s a wonderful park–filled with critters.  We spotted deer, skunks, chipmunks, scarlet tanagers, bluebirds, gold finches, geese, groundhogs. The cabins are rustic, solid, decorated with what my grandmother called “mice spice.”  We cleaned and unloaded the truck and set up and got ready for the rest of the staff, the vendors, and the VIPs to arrive.

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More about all this next time.  It is nice to be home.

Mother’s Day Proclamation

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I love to post this first thing in the morning on Mother’s Day.  This day has become so sickly sweet and meaningless, and this is a good tonic for that. Mothering is not passive:  we have only to look at nature to see that–from mama bears to blue jay mothers.  So here’s to the moms, the muthas, the nurturers, the ones who hold you close and the ones that kick your sorry ass out of the nest. So, today, in addition to a card and some chockies, go out and change the world in ways that your mothers couldn’t. And cut them/us a little slack.  We worked with what we had and tried to do our best.  Arise, children.  Let us all rise.

Mother’s Day Proclamation
by Julia Ward Howe 1870


Arise, then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or tears!

Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have taught them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of the devastated earth, a voice goes up with our own. It says, “Disarm, Disarm!”

The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail & commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesars but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

Amendment One, the Fourteenth Amendment and why I long for a real separation of church and state

I have been on the phone all day.  Yesterday I was glued to Facebook for far too long–trying to soothe and console and cajole and threaten.

You know, the usual.

There are people in the world–well, in my part of it–who think the passage of Amendment One is a good thing.  Saves the institution of marriage and all that.  Keeps Jesus from pulling the wings off butterflies or something. They are all wrapped up in the “biblical” definition of marriage, while most of them have no idea what that means.

Some folks–like the fascinatingly repulsive Rush Limbaugh–opine on the virtues of “traditional” marriage. Given his track record on that, I’d suspect he might welcome a new way of approaching the institution.

So, NC passed it, joining the majority of states in the Union that have done just that.

Blech.

your truly, giving the benediction for a Memorial Day gathering last year, preaching as it were

Once again, I am a house divided.  Here’s why–everyone who wants to have a domestic union in this country should be able to simply go to the courthouse and fill out the papers and sign them, in front of witnesses.

Done.

Then if you want to have a religious ceremony, you should do that.  But your religious ceremony should not be a legal agreement because we have a separation of church and state here.  Well, not really, but you know what I mean.  Because, see? my religious ceremony for the bonding of a couple isn’t legal in this state and no one else’s should be either.

That’s what separation of church and state is.  Separate.  A pastor should never utter or be forced to utter the phrase, “by the power vested in me by the state of…”  Secular legal authority shouldn’t  be “vested” in the clergy of any religion. That is creepy. That is treading inexorably into theocratic territory.

So, I vote for civil unions for everyone who is of age and consenting, regardless of their preference in partners. But that religious stuff? Not in a secular state.

As you know, I’ve been doing all that First Amendment/Establishment Clause stuff in the school system/s but I hadn’t been diving into the 14th Amendment–All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

That’s Section One.  So it seems to me that NC’s new amendment is in direct conflict with the US 14th.  How the heck does that happen?  And what’s the next step?  Firing on Fort Sumter?

It is a cold, slimy mess and many lawyers will be enriched, and taxpayers will be enpoored, and people will start eyeing each other with doubt and confusion.  Because which one of your neighbors thinks your domestic arrangement is so awful that we need a constitutional amendment to get rid of it?

And then there’s all the NC and South bashing that is happening throughout social media.  NC is full of bigots and homophobes and idiots and people who marry their cousins.

But I’ll speak a bit more on that next time.

Are you liking the new blog format?  I kind of am, myself.