Friday, December 3, 2010

Handeling A Christmas Flash Mob

On today's installment of Epic Win, we bring you Alphabet Photography's Christmas Flash Mob. They infiltrated Seaway Mall's Food Court to pass around some excellent holiday tuneage:

Notes: people have reported that the video window does not appear on the blog home page, but does in the individual blog post. Till I can figure out why, you can either click on the title link of the post, or go to the Alphabet Photography link above (worth checking out anyway), or go here:

The Hallelujah Chorus is a great piece of music that you don't have to be Christian to appreciate. Mithras, Osiris, Cernunnos, Odin if you count stringing himself up, Prometheus paid out too . . . plenty of us have a sacrificed god somewhere in the woodpile. Send me any more nominees for the list and I'll add them.

What's most important to me is that with all the stress, BS, instability, and divisiveness we've got right now, a group of people still wanted to give a bunch of perfect strangers something to feel good about. Beer & Cookies all round to Alphabet Photography, and to the shoppers who dove in and had a good time along with them.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving From The Half Breed Mutt

 Here we go again. One of the few national holidays we have that doesn't come with fights and debates over religion, and we still have to rip each other a new one over whether it's morally acceptable to celebrate it or not. I got what seems to have become an annual tradition as much as a bird and sage-flavored carbs, three or four emails about protesting Thanksgiving Day and celebrating "Day of Atonement" instead.

Every year for the last several years, someone(s) attempts to correct me for saying "Happy Thanksgiving", and explains to me that I really need to look past the lies I was taught and learn the real history of the First Peoples and how my ancestors pillaged them and their land, because if I knew anything at all, I wouldn't be perpetuating this travesty by telling people Happy Anything. This pretty much based on me not having dark enough coloring to meet their expectations of anything other than being a bona fide Cracker.

I got tired of New Age White Guilt a long time ago. I'm better acquainted with Native American (I'm not using the term First Peoples - that moniker needs to go to someone much farther back, and closer to modern day Iraq) history than most of the people who tell me this stuff. Part of my ancestry went west to Oklahoma (or died on the way) when Jackson's sorry white trash ass pulled the Removal, and part of it hid out in the Appalachians of NC, SC, and Georgia and lived like fugitives. I know some of their names, and where they lived; do any of the DoA proponents?

The other portions of my genetic makeup came from the "evil white invaders", a handful of Irish, Scots, and English immigrants who were mostly on the run from some European authority, for better or worse reasons. These Meerys, Hamiltons, Poes, and others married Cherokees and Tuscaroras, and probably pissed off both sides doing it (see? I come by it honestly). Some of them came here because someone else took their homes and land, and wrecked their lives; and some of those people had the same done to them at some point. How far back does the punitive action need to go?

So if it weren't for all those nasty, murdering, theiving Caucasian buttinskis, I wouldn't be here. Now, I have had a couple of people (all from the cowardly safety of online message boards) inform me that I indeed should not exist, and that any interbreeding that took place with NA women was surely either rape or an act of treason to her people. They seem certain that any NA woman would've been killed before the offending offspring was born, or have just stated the opinion that my ancestor should've never been allowed to live. Considering we have Antler Silverthorne and Anne Hammer marrying two Europeans and running businesses with them, I feel I can argue against those being the only possibilites. And considering I damn well think I should exist, I can definitely argue the rest.

I'm also tired of people acting as if indigenous Americans are the only people in history to be overrun and done dirty by another group. No act of greed, cruelty, and bigotry is acceptable, but buying into the "noble savage" myth and pretending that Native Americans never warred on each other, taking territory and resources, killing some and enslaving others, and all the godawful things that generally happen when two groups clash, is simply fluffybunny wishful guilting.

So is demanding that the current generations should be punished for things that happened before they were born. Ending the reprehensibly prejudiced, unjust, and dishonest leftovers of Manifest Destiny that still exist needs to happen, but I don't believe in blood guilt. Even if I did, I'd be paying a blood debt to myself, which seems kinda pointless. I'd feel bloody stupid taking my house away from me and giving it back to me. Either way, the "Old Days" are not coming back. It wouldn't be a perfect utopia if they did. That which can adapt survives, and some NA tribes have done just that. They deserve to be proud for coming through to the current day in spite of truly horrendous obstacles against them. They have not accomplished as much as they have by indulging in bigotry against people who are not responsible for the wrongs of their forefathers, and insisting that the only acceptable option is to turn back the clock.

However it began, Thanksgiving has become a day to celebrate bounty, not just of material comforts, but of all the things we should be grateful for. Given the level of self-absorbed entitlement I encounter on a regular basis, we need something to remind us that we should be thankful for everything we have. I'm thankful to have ancestral ties to two continents, and to be the product of people on either side who didn't give up, who moved forward and made their own destinies. Today's dinner (with a bow to Turkey) is in their honor.

The official playing of Alice's Restaurant, and the After Dinner Nap, however, belong to the doglets and catwads. I'm thankful for them and Miles most of all.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Clean Out The Sandbox - Vote


Screw the politicians, screw pop media, and screw the jackasses that scream warped extremist propaganda in hopes of drowning out everyone else. They want people to believe that the bulk of the nation are either polarized fat cat extremist partisan players or brainwashed sheep who can't bang two gray cells together.

While there are plenty of those, I'm seeing and hearing plenty of people whose political slogan is "I'm Tired Of All Of You", and they're talking to Reps, Dems, Tea Partiers, and anyone else who is dividing, marginalizing, defaming, scapegoating, or whining in order to promote a status quo that only works for a small segment of the population. And it IS small. So small that it has to go Uber Napoleon Complex and bully people into thinking it's bigger than they are.

They are not the be all and end all of We The People. Those of us who are willing to act like adults with brains instead of selfish spoiled brats are. You may not like or agree with everyone, but letting everything go to garbage because you can't kick the rest of us off the planet and have it all your way is shitting in your own sandbox.

If the politicians suck, we put them there. If they don't represent us, challenge the rhetoric that claims they do. Speak up. They are our problem to clean up. Get off your ass and vote. Vote for the lesser of two evils if you have to, but vote.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Broom Closet Politics . . .

 . . . or, "At least it smells nice and lemony in here."

On Pagan In Paradise, Peter Dybing posted a thoughtful blog entry about going back into the Broom Closet, and went wading in a paradigm shift.

One of my pet whines (nah, I don't have any of those, really . . .) is people who are militantly certain that everyone must be open and public about their belief system, regardless of personal circumstances. Even to the point of saying that if you aren't out of the broom closet (or equivalent household implement storage) then you have no right to call yourself a Pagan/witch/Heathen/Wiccan/etc. Exactly how self-absorbed such a statement is to start with aside, it's also lousy as a sole strategy.

Yes, I do believe that having more PHAs as visible members of our secular communities will further tolerance and help banish behavior founded on ignorance and insecurity. But I'll repeat the comment I left on Peter's post:

"Visibility creates strength in numbers and makes people question what they think they know. But if your visibility is going to be hijacked absolutely by people who want to destroy you, with no chance to present yourself honestly, it doesn't get to serve it's purpose, and accomplishes nothing except diminishing the numbers you want to give strength to."

Pick-your-battles person here. I also don't think anyone should be allowed to pick anyone else's battles for them. If you're going to demand that everyone must be "out", you need to be prepared to cover their asses from the fallout. That may mean paying their bills, finding them a new place to live, bodyguarding their kids and/or pets, providing security for their house or car, or possibly paying for a lawyer to protect their custody of said kids. And that doesn't even get into what happens if someone likes the idea of guilt by association, and targets their friends or family.

I'm not saying we should all cower in fear of zealot extremists and sociopathic control freaks. I'm saying quit kicking people who might have more to lose than they can afford to sacrifice, or who aren't willing to drag other people into the line of fire without their consent.

"They can't fire you or evict you based on religion, it's illegal!"
"You need to grow a set and get a lawyer!"
"People aren't like that anymore; I'm sure they'll understand if you're just honest with them."

People want to throw those lines out as if the solutions were easy and obvious. Lemme give you another bit of opinionatedness:

"The law is only as good as the people enforcing or interpreting it." Illegality doesn't matter one jot if you're in a place where money or the Buddy System matter more, and the Buddies aren't on your side. The burden of proof can be very slippery. Laws are not the same everywhere. Lawsuits and legal action can take months or years to see any results, and I don't care how many times you've seen it on TV, no, you can not always get your legal fees back if you win. And you still have to keep the bills covered and the boat afloat in the meantime. How many other things can contribute to someone's everyday stress at the same time? How many could you juggle?

In Peter's case, it's even more so. Africa is a dicey place to call yourself a witch, and the fruitcakes who want to imprison, maim, torch, and execute people they don't like don't give a damn about your human rights or what you mean when you use the word "witch". They aren't going to give you an opportunity for any teaching moments, they're just going to do whatever their current insanity dictates.

They have counterparts of varying degrees of crazy here in the US. Some of them are running for office. Some of them are already in.

Educate, debunk, and be visible all you can. Every inch is closer to a mile, and if you can score a whole mile all at once, good for you. But when it's called for, be strategic - fight smarter, not harder. And don't shoot down the people who can only manage an inch at a time.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The US Air Fundamentalist Academy

Snitched from Gus diZerega for additional opinionatedness, and in case you guys haven't been there yet.

Talk To Action's Chris Rodda covers a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates from MRFF - the Military Religious Freedom Foundation regarding the Academy's refusal to make the results of the most recent Climate Survey public, as is usual. It also addresses complaints from several cadets, parents, and others who have seen things get worse instead of better. It's important to note that many of the complaints, and some of the co-signers, are Christian - but not, as one of the cadets notes, "the right kind of Christian".

Except from the letter:

Last year, due to our then confidence in Lt. Gen. Gould, MRFF was advising the cadets and USAF Academy staff who came to us to trust the system, and not to be afraid to take their complaints and concerns to the appropriate staff at the Air Force Academy. The cadets et al were skeptical, but MRFF assured them that things were changing for the better. Apparently, in light of recent events, the cadets as well as members of the USAF Academy staff were right to remain skeptically leery of the system.

Sorry guys, but from where I stand, people who think the system works have never had an unpopular complaint or opinion. Retaliation is alive and well, and it takes on a whole new level of fugly when you're in a culture where you've sworn to obey authority and given up some of your personal freedom in pursuit of the pinnacle of team performance. "Some" personal freedom does not mean "all", but you can't tell a religious supremacist that. "Rank is might and might makes right" gets even nastier when applied to a mentality that believes it's religious goals have the precedence of God-ordained righteousness over everything else, including civil law. I don't think there's going to be any improvement unless people take into consideration that people who maintain that attitude are part of the system that's supposed to prevent that kind of thing, and are in fact remaking the system to support and enforce it.

Why aren't more people in an uproar? Ignorance and apathy. The general media will report on that Lohan bimbo if she blows her nose (with or without anything up it), but they're not reporting on this. It doesn't appeal to the right kind of lowest common denominator.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pagans Invade Local NPR Station

"Why I love NPR, Reason #28"

On today's installment of Epic Win, we bring you Pagans On The Air! This past Friday, local NPR affiliate WFAE's Mike Collins did an interview on Charlotte Talks with some peeps from the Charlotte Piedmont Pagan and Heathen community. I didn't put out any announcements before the show because the last three years, every time I've set up something like this save once, it's gotten canceled or something, and I've been left with nada to show for it. So it looks like outsmarting the media may have worked this time. If you missed the live broadcast, you can hear the show here, or order a copy from the station.

I couldn't exactly expect them to do an infomercial on our upcoming Charlotte Piedmont Pagan Pride Day, so I did the next best thing and aimed for a broad overview focusing on the diversity of PHA belief systems and discussion about PHAs being a part of the whole community, not just some insular fringe group who wear a lot of tie dye and live in an communal old farmhouse with 14.7 cats. While that would be nice, it isn't accurate for everybody, neh? (pauses to blow the cat, dog, and other critter hair off the keyboard)

My Evil Plan was to get a plug in for this past Saturday's PPD as a segue, shooting off from points about needing to communicate with the general non-pagan public. If we're ever going to move past Hollywood stereotypes and Chick Tract style smear propaganda, we're going to have to do more educating and debunking. It didn't quite go that way, but they did include a link for CP PPD and got in a brief blurb at the end, and I'd be an idiot to complain*.

I'm tickled about the line of questioning Mike Collins and the producers went with. As a broad subject to the uninitiated, Paganism can look like a barrel of monkeys on double-shot espresso, and they did a great job of wrangling an unwieldy amount of information and tying it all together coherently. Corbie (Kennari), Heather, and Tony did a killer job helping untangle all of the material, and I think they definitely hit the "not what I was expecting" mark. Beer & Cookies all round!

By the way, if you had to miss CP PPD, or want more, here's a list of PPD festivals still to come. Showing up matters!

*I have, however, been told that it might be a public service to confirm for Ms.Gaffney that no, that was not your daughter's phone! The responsible moose has been carted off by llamas!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

White Knuckles: OK Go Goes Goggie Style

On today's installment of Epic Win, we bring you more OK Go:

I love these guys. The link at the end goes to their ASPCA donations page. There's also some great backstory on the whole project in the Corvallis Gazette-Times.

Thanx muchlys to Melissa from Gothic Charms for the clue x 4!

Monday, September 13, 2010

"Dude, you have no Qur'an!"

 . . . or in netspeak, "Sk8terboi Pwns Repent Amarillo For EPIC WIN!"

On today's installment of People Who Are So Far From Suckage They're Over Quota, we bring you a story of Local Boy Makes Good. Actually, several local people made good in this business with Repent Amarillo and their Terry Jones impersonation attempt - watch the video and give Jacob Isom and the Cool People of Amarillo the props they deserve.

If anything, the whole sorry clusterfrack of the misnamed, media-created "Ground Zero Mosque" flap, and Terry Jones' Book BBQ, and similar stupidities have given people an impetus to get the word out that these clowns do not speak for all of America. I personally believe we (ie, the Non-Sucking Public) outnumber the fruitcake boogerheads and raving asshats; they just get more airtime because some substances just attract more press flies.

So, who else thinks "30 Mosques In 30 Days" would make a cool movie? Then there's the folks in Tennessee who totally get that whole "good neighbor" thing:

And Western Presbyterian Church in D.C. had a bunch of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim leaders over for lunch and a conference about speaking out against intolerance for any religion. Yeah, I know, most of them may not be thinking past the mainstream on that, but they still deserve Beer & Cookies for it. Besides, I'm a "gimme an inch" girl, and that's worth a couple of inches.

The Truth Is Out There - we just gotta make sure it gets more airtime than the garbage.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Propping Pakistan Plan Parries Petulant Pastor

I have been saved from major disappointment and despair, thanx to T. Thorn Coyle. My plan of plunking down across the street from Dove Outreach Center this Saturday with some really hugeass subwoofers and cranking up Dennis Leary's "I'm An Asshole" has to be ditched because I can't get a few of the ticky details together (the equipment, a sound permit, permission from the property owners, and a vehicle that will make it across three states).

Thorn, however, has rescued me from gloom and doom by coming up with a brilliant idea - making a counterpoint to all the Muslim-bashing dick waving by doing something productive and useful instead of polluting the air with burning paper.

You can help someone who needs it, and make a statement about being a decent human at the same time by going to the Doctors Without Borders site, and kicking some resources toward flood relief in Pakistan.

Cripes, for the past several years they've had enough crap to deal with on a good day - and what the flood refugees are going through right now makes those days look like a trip to a spa.

When was the last time you had to worry about whether or not you were going to eat today (or the day after that or the day after that)?

Or if your parents or children had a dry place to sleep, or a place to sleep at all? Winter weather isn't far off. We got people here in the US who've had to run from water; if someone helped you out then, think about paying it forward.

If you want to make a further point, you can opt for Morpheus Ravenna's also brilliant idea:

In the donation page, designate the donation to be made in honor of Terry Jones, with the card to be sent to his church at You can give a name or make your donation anonymously and hide your contact info.

Here is the message I included with my donation. You can use this, or better yet write your own message:

"Dear Terry,
Your attempt to spread hatred in the world through International Burn a Quran Day has inspired me to make this donation in your name, to support relief efforts for the Muslim nation of Pakistan. Let it be known that your actions will only inspire us to resist fear and hatred, and instead act to support and honor our common humanity with all people regardless of faith. May this act plant a seed of compassion that will grow and spread. May your efforts at spreading hatred and fear fail until you stand alone in this, or until you awaken to your humanity and find a new way of expressing your faith.

In love and hope,

Now, go forth and commit merciless acts of humanity - and pass it around too, huh?

** Note: on the Facecrack entry about this, I had stated that MSF's site would accept donations of one dollar. This was accurate as of the last time I donated; I do that to make a point. According to the current donation page, their minimum is $5.00 to process online donations. Five bucks isn't bad considering the changes credit card companies are making now, but I called the 800 line and asked about it. The rep said they were not able to take Paypal right now, but you can still donate less than that over the phone.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Can we build a mosque on top of Allen West?

Unfortunately, on today's installment of "Things That Suck Rancid Pig Snot", we bring you toss out on the curb close to the trash cans Allen West, candidate for Florida's House.

West's denouncing of the Coexist bumper sticker and the ideas it represents is one more drop in the bucket of the Rarin' Rabid "Religious" Right and others' ongoing spin campaign against plurality. However, there's a silver lining; there are also those deserving of Beer & Cookies.

It's piecemeal with the ongoing war of soundbytes and slogans over the misnamed Ground Zero Mosque, which is neither a mosque or at the site of the former NY World Trade Center. The same cheesy rhetoric that throws any pretense of accuracy out in favor of whatever inflammatory spew will keep the bandwagon rolling, and doesn't care what it runs over. The one that really blows the mind is the Hallowed Ground/Outrage To Victims meme that's been taken up as the new Battle Hymn of the Theo-corpocracy - if I'm ever in New York, I am SO buying Daryl Lang a Beer Salute for his History Eraser photos on the neighborhood these people have declared to be sacred. Lilly O'Brien's, mebbe?

I find it noteworthy that a few of the people who have angrily insisted to me that "allowing the 'Ground Zero Mosque' to be built is a slap in the face to the 9/11 victims' families and an act of treason against the nation's security" cannot actually locate where NYC is except that it's "up north". One person confidently informed me it was "up there next to Canada, which explains a lot - French people, y'know". I'm curious how many of them have bothered to ask the people they claim to be outraged for what they think.

Add to the bucket the PEW report stating that an increasing number of people are convinced (and unhappy about it) that Obama is Muslim, and the groups who are screeching for a moratorium on any Islamic churches being built in the US at all. I'm not sure what's more :facepalm: ; that not demonstrating enough Christianness is the #1 smear tactic du jour; that "Muslim" has been made into an insulting accusation, or that people are rushing to prove OMG! Obama IS Christian instead of taking a "so what?" position.

That bucket needs dumping, and some scrubbing with Lysol. Aw, hell, just melt it down and turn it into a STFU Rock.

Now the good part: there are droves of people who are asking "where can I get my COEXIST sticker?"  Think I'll send Ted Olson one, to go with the Beer & Cookies he's already getting. (bows)

Update: Okay, Jon Stewart and team are on the Permanent Beer & Cookies award list, and I may have to change my blog again because embedded vids are proving finicky. Apologies if this causes more drag. But this is going on here just because it needs to be plugged:

(bows with forehead to floor)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Urban Facelift Epic Win

On today's installment of Things That Don't Suck, a subsidiary of Epic Win, we bring you Still Building With Life:

Want the home decor package . . . nice giant mutant octopus on the porch, maybe in a purple that would complement the petunias . . .

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Update on Con Man Terry Johnston

Update on a previous post about a guy who's been ripping off Christians, Pagans, AIDS support groups, and others since 1998, who's most recently been seen in the Indianapolis area:

I got this from Holli Emore:

"Many of you will remember “Raven,” or “Terry Johnston,” who has passed through most of our cities in the Carolinas at one time or another over the years, with his story that he only has a few weeks to live and just wants to get back home to Los Angeles so he can be buried by his friends. 

As you know, Johnston turns out to be a career con, presenting himself as either Pagan or Christian, depending on who he thinks will pay for his hotel, etc.  In case you h ad any doubts about him, be aware that he has turned up other places, preying on an elderly couple in Aiken last March/April, and last week in Indianapolis.  In the latter, his story was that his house is being renovated, so he has to be in a hotel for a time.

I met with a detective at Richland County Sheriff’s Department here in Columbia, SC, this morning.  Since Johnston did not try to sell me anything and I have no cancelled check for services or products I did not receive, it will be a bit more difficult to make a case against him.  The investigator is willing to take your statement by phone, if you are willing to call and share your experience with him.

In case you may be squeamish, may I remind you that my concern is not to punish Johnston, but to protect future victims.  He nearly walked away with close to $800 people had sent me for him in December.  Some of those people apologized that they could only afford to send $3, but wanted to help! 

I want to get something into the system so that his photo turns up when people make a report.  It doesn’t matter if you were out of state or outside Richland County.  The more stories he can accumulate, the more likely a judge will be willing to listen.

**Will you call Investigator Ric Stephens, 803-576-3063?   Reference Case # 0912208423

Thank you for helping Ma’at to bring a bit of balance back to us.  If you have questions, feel free to get in touch with me by email at Sekhmet at osireion dot com  Feel free to share/repost this message."

Holli Emore

The biggest reasons Johnston has been able to get away with this for over a decade is that people do not want to get involved, even if they already are. I've heard from a wide range of people all over the country, and over and over again it's the same thing: 

"I don't want to look like a homophobe/hater/witch war starter"

"I don't want to look stupid for getting duped"

"I don't want have bad karma/feed negativity"

"Reporting him would be turning on a fellow GLBT/Pagan/Christian, and we have to stick together"

"If I talk to the police, they'll just think I'm out for revenge and tell me they can't do anything"

"This attack will only perpetuate the cycle of hate - we need to apply love in order to heal him of his self-hate"

I'm hearing this even from people who rant and rave that "Somebody has to DO something", but everybody wants it to be somebody else.

You're worried about looking bad to someone else? How do you think you'll look to the people he swindles AFTER you pass on your chance to speak up? And as I said in my original post, "A person who steals a group's identity to take advantage of that group does not deserve it's protection or loyalty." Who's your priority, your real homies, or some yo-yo who pretends to be one of you in order to steal from you?

That goes for the people who've informed me that this is "feeding negativity" or going to give me bad karma too. Have you checked on the negativity levels or karma balance for letting this jerk keep on fleecing people, and giving whatever ID he poses as a bad name in the process, when it might be prevented?

You're worried about looking dumb for being taken advantage of? All that means is you wanted to to the humane thing and help someone out, and goes double for those of you who are living on SS checks or are out of work, which is a lot of us. Not knowing you were being lied to does not make you a waste of space.

The idea of talking to the police can be stressful some people, and I know from first hand experience that there are LEOs who do treat everyone like a perp who just hasn't been caught yet. If that's what you're concerned about, here's your chance for things to be otherwise. The investigators you'll be talking to already know we're telling the truth, they just need our statements to convince a judge of it. The more people they hear from, the more likely that is to happen.

As for the (thankfully few) individuals who have given me that last line (and that's a direct c/p from an email);

Your reality check has not only bounced, it's ricocheting off things and nailing people in the head.

People have been applying love to Johnston for more than ten years in the form of being ready to give of their resources to help him, even when they haven't had it to give. If a seventy-something forking over her social security check, or an already stretched AIDS group giving him money that could be going to someone who really is dying, isn't enough to "heal him", he's not going to be "healed" by you, me, or anyone else. 

If you're one of the people he's ripped off (or tried to), do a bit to protect his future victims and make the call. If you're not one of these people, you can do the same thing by reposting or emailing this info. Bear in mind, there aren't many PDs right now who aren't understaffed and underpaid, and there are much more violent, dangerous people out there to spend resources on. This just happens to be one the general public can help with. Even if nobody catches him, Richland Co. can get a warrant out for him. Then he and his face can go national news. That'll make it harder and harder for him to scam people, and that's what we're after.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Axis of Awesome - Four Chord Epic Win!

On today's installment of Things That Don't Remotely Suck, we bring you this wunnerful combination of NerdPride! and Epic Win:

They get extra props for the Rocky Horror Eddie nod and reffing Tim Minchin . . .

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

It takes a village to raise a PSG Pt 1

Okay, caught up on laundry, tomatoes, and dog & cat hair removal now - it's what I get for doing PSG and then jumping to back to back shows.

I could post loads of stuff about Pagan Spirit Gathering that has already been posted by plenty of people (nudgenudge: go check out those!). Short overview version:

1. The creek rocks
2. They have their waste matter meticulously  accumulated
3. Notable absence of drama
4. The creek rocks 
5. Lots of accredited peeps and a distinct lack of "University of Oprah" popsyche or Positivity Police
6. Camp Zoe staffers and owner Jimmy are cool and on the ball
7. People yell "welcome home" at you when you go through the gate, and mean it
8. The creek rocks 

We've got some great local festivals, but sometimes it's just cool to be a part of a huge, international gathering like this. Circle Sanctuary & Co. have spent the last 30 years producing not just a PHA nature retreat or week-long party (neither of which is bad in itself), they've grown a temporary mini-village, with people who really believe in the gestalt entity, and bring a high operating standard to it as offerings. In fact, there was an excellent amount of being a Professional Human across the board, from Selena and Dennis and the rest of the coordinating team to the guest presenters to the Zoe staff who enjoyed the festival right along with everyone else. 

Temps in the upper 90's kicked our butts, but everybody more or less just dealt and tried to make it easier on each other, instead of using the heat as an excuse for drama. We all had workshops and things to go to, and most of us went Creekin' in the hottest part of the day. So people just left money and a note for anything they got, or Fran or Krystina or Harvest would come bopping over to let me know they'd left something with them. I can't thank our little block of the merchant's neighborhood enough for all the help, crafty tips, and generosity. Look these folks up; they rock as much as the creek does.
(waves to the crew of Greenman Emporium and Envy & Isis Readings, Harvest Hollow, Drums & Treasures, The Goblin Trader, Eyedance Photography, Spiralware, and Arthur Hinds for excellent Instant Tuneage while we set up)


PSG Mantra and a little bit of Zoe Recycled Art

Circle Sanctuary may have a Wiccan flavor, but the community comprises a full spectrum of practice and paths. After some of the flap we got over having the local Disabled American Veterans chapter at our Pagan Pride Day awhile back, I was tickled that they made a point of acknowledging service people, and having a Warrior's Blessing ceremony for military personnel, veterans, and their families.

In the next installments of "It Takes A Village To Raise A PSG", we'll bring you Wights Will Be Boys, Maid, Mother, Crone, & The Rest Of Us, and Lead, Follow, Or Get The Hell Out of The Way!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Fag Hags Local 227 - Lifetime Member

Yeah, I know, my slack ass hasn't been on here in ages, and I have three or four separate posts on Pagan Spirit Gathering to throw on here when I get them done. However, this is going up right now, just for the Epic Win of it:

  Wish I'd had it twenty years ago in college, when people looked at me quizzically and asked "why on earth would a girl want to hang around with a bunch of gay men?" Would've saved me so much time . . . 

SGF & Eve is my next fave - it's all about the scarf, baby! Yahway!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Waffling Oil Execs, or The Front Fell Off . . .

Oil leak in the Gulf: if the Suits keep piddling and blowing smoke, I'm going to arrange to have every one of them tied to an uncomfortable chair and forced to watch themselves on video until their heads explode:

Then we can use them to plug the hole.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Repealing Stupidity: "Don't Ask Don't Tell" Veterans Lobby Day

Today is Veteran's Lobby Day, a concentrated effort to push for a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". The blog entry at Pagan + Politics has better details and links than I can cobble together, so head over there.

Since we couldn't all fit in the van for the road trip to D.C., Servicemembers United and the Human Rights Campaign set up a Virtual Lobby Day on the side. They have the main Congressional switchboard phone number, along with some Twitter and Facecrack links for updates during the meetings the vets are participating in.

I'm hoping for a good response. Aside from the overall unfairness, misinformation, and bigotry the policy perpetuates, DADT has become a handy one-size-fits-all tool for anyone who has a personal axe to grind with someone, or anybody who wants to play manipulation games. If it's enough of a problem that brass notes that changes need to be made to stem the flow of reports by jilted or rejected wannabes looking for revenge, why not cut to the chase and ditch the nonsense altogether? If the military really wants a shameful problem that's debilitating to morale and function to address, they can concentrate more on how most of their injured and sick veterans are being treated.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Been Caught Stealin'

This is just too frackkin' cool  . . . I've seen the little ones play with stuff, but you could cam for years and never get something like this . . .

Theftee: Victor Huang

Location of tech snitch: Wahine Memorial, Wellington, New Zealand

(notes to self: more awesome stuff about New Zealand)

A Community Statement of Sexual Ethics

 . . . or, "what part of 'raping your initiates will get you an open can of whupass' can't we agree on?"

Hokay, I've been bitching for years about the overall PHA community's often haphazard handling of abusers, frauds, and criminals within it's ranks. One of the greatest strengths of PHA belief systems, the room for people to explore a range of faiths and develop a personalized spiritual or philosophical path, can also be the means for exploitation and abuse to take place. The trick is how to keep things open enough that we don't become Pagan Popes & Pharisees while still keeping an eye out for the train wrecks, and to stop screaming "judgementalism!", "intolerance!", and "witch war!" when someone makes a bona fide effort to speak against a documentable dirtbag.

Sex is a ginormously sensationalized, baggage-loaded, taboo-riddled subject with a lot of the general public, and the fact that many PHA practices don't follow Judeo-Christian rules and viewpoints regarding sex leaves wide open opportunities for misunderstanding and misinformation. It's a potentially messy issue in any format; the same means for people to develop healthier attitudes toward sex than have been popular for the last few centuries can also be perverted into the means for freaks to prey on people who don't have the knowledge and experience to protect themselves from abuse. 

I've recommended Isaac Bonewits' Cult Danger Evaluation Frame to plenty of people; it can be used to examine an individual's MO as well as a group's, for sexual predators as much as any other abuser. That and other references to ethical practice are good for those within the community, but I also think we could use something(s) in place to give the non-PHA public some point of reference as to what we do and don't do. Pagans, Heathens, and other alternatives to mainstream belief systems ratchet religious diversity up to a whole nother level, and that kind of room to move and a lack of hierarchy and authoritarianism is what many of us value most about PHA beliefs. It's actually often easier to say what we don't have in common than what we do.

That in mind, there are some abusive and destructive behaviors we can pretty much all agree to call "unacceptable". A priest(ess), or anyone for that matter, who warps practice to manipulate newbies into sexual situations they aren't comfortable with and an out-and-out rapist aren't much removed from each other. We've had occurrences of both, from fakes who merely adopt the trappings of Heathenry or Paganism to people who've been in real positions of leadership.

The mainstream public can have some seriously FUBARed-up ideas about what PHA faiths and folkways are about, and anytime some fruitcake sex offender makes the news and some sort of Satanic Ritual Abuse card gets played, or the police find a pentacle or Thor's hammer, or a lot of herbal tea in someone's house, the urban myths add pages. I'd like to think we can develop some kind of ethical guideline statement that non-PHAs can be referred to for comparison. CAORANN - Celts Against Oppression, Racism and Neo-Nazism and Heathens Against Hate went there awhile back, with statements and info to combat the rise of white supremacist hate groups who have been appropriating Heathen/Asatru symbols and material in a trashy attempt to gain some pretense of validity.

Now it looks like Wild Hunt is proposing to get a similar effort going, working on a broader ethical statement against sexual abuse that can be effective and relevant to a broad sample of PHA practice. There's an intent of making this something that can be a declaration of norms without sacrificing autonomy, which may require a lot of hashing out, but I believe would be well worth a lot of trouble in the long run. Brendan Myers has offered to facilitate the discussion on his website, so it's open to anyone who wants to input, hopefully without an overdose of trolling.

We're making dents in discrimination and prejudice against non-Abrahamic faiths. To keep that ball rolling, we're going to have to be more visible and more transparent. There are plenty of sources of anti-PHA propaganda and Satanic Panic bogeymen out there being used by people with varying agendas; a functional piece of educational material that can be endorsed across varied schools of non-mainstream thought could be a good tool for fighting them.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Crowder's Mountain

Yesterday, we hiked the Backside Trail at Crowder's Mountain. Damn, I'm outta shape!

I used to be able to run the thing, back before they put all the new terraced steps in up  close to the top. Then again, I haven't been up it in fifteen years. At the beach, you get used to the flat.

The 336 steps start about two-thirds of the way up; the rest varies between 20 degree to 45 degree grade. Steps are 50-ish. The top is all nice weathered outcroppings, chimneys, and rain and wind carved stone valleys in between. There are great trails all over the park, and more ways to get to the summit than the one we took.

 Rock troll, anyone?
There are some great examples of the plate squeeze play that produced Crowders to start with, where you can begin to imagine the geological squabble that either shoved tons and tons (and tons) of  rock out of the way, or folded the really stubborn bits up like laundry.
 You can also see why going up on the mountain is a fantastic energy experience, in the liberal doses of quartz and huge boulders full of blue kyanite all over the place.

 The top is a 1625 foot elevation, and the view is amazing not just for the 25-odd mile range, but for the spots where you can stand at the edge and look down into 150 foot straight drops.

There were a load of turkey vultures out riding the thermals, and a gorgeous huge one glided within fifteen feet of our heads, close enough I could see his eyes clearly. He banked off behind the trees before I could get the camera pointed, the bugger. Maybe next time (waves to Mama Vulture in general).

Not my pic, btw - since I missed the shot, I swiped a really gorgeous one off The Vulture Society page.

One more reason Miles is perfek is that even being fairly acrophobic, he's game to trek right up and enjoy the parts that don't involve looking at those sheer, vertical, repeller's dream type faces.

Now I gotta get him up to Grandfather when the bridge isn't covered in ice and gale winds aren't making horizontal icicles . . . will post the video of that trip across the swinger on another entry, as soon as I figure out what I did with it!

We capped off the day with a bit of Random Coolness in the parking lot:

Friday, April 2, 2010

Jodie Nelson & Larry: Surfer Whales Against Breast Cancer

On today's installment of Epic Win, we bring you Jodie Nelson and a minke whale nicknamed "Larry". Nelson is a Southern California surfer who completed a surf board standup-paddle of 39.8 miles from Santa Catalina Island to Dana Point, in an effort to raise money for breast cancer prevention, and encourage her best friend to keep fighting. While some of her sponsors apparently wimped out on her, looks like she wound up with a much higher quality endorsement on her trip.

Apologies, there's a 15 second commercial at the start, but the other 2:25 is worth it.

This video has had a few problems; here's the original link, and another one if this one blows out again:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Paddle With Purpose and KeepABreast are where to go if you want to give props to the fundraiser, Jodie & Larry, and everyone whose breast cancer survival or memory also kept her company on the trip.