Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Totem Infestation

Friend IM'd me:

Her: I have mice
Me: you got cats, dontcha?
Her: not like that, I'm dreaming about them and about being one
doesn't that suck
Me: you'd rather have real ones?

Her: I've been meditating asking for a totem animal guide
Me: . . . . ?
Her: who has a mouse totem?
Me: what's wrong with mice?
Her: they're stupid my bf's totem is wolf
Me: so you think he'll try to eat you now?
Her: mice are pests you call someone to exterminate
they spread diseases
Me: so do people - I seem to recall you complaining about that very thing from the guy you were dating before
this one
Her: you are so
messed up


Poor mice. Perfectly good, useful animal, gets no respect. Neither do a lot of other critters that may show up as totems, spirit guides, what-have-you. Everybody wants wolves, raptors, corvids, big cats, bears, stuff from the cervidae family, dolphins, etc. Supposedly the bigger you are, the more noble you are. Some of the less statuesque yet interesting mammals and birds get decent enough receptions. Snakes, spiders, frogs, and turtles get cool points, but a good chunk of the time the rest of the Crawly Kingdom gets blown off. And domesticated livestock is right out - in fact, the closer you get to the bottom layer of the food chain, the less palatable the creatures are as teachers.

Guys, that's about as lame as putting a spoiler on a station wagon. Without the bottom row, nothing else could make it. The entire world's ecosystem runs off the prey animal niche, and really, what's predator one day may be prey the next. Think of it as the foundation level that everything else rests on, not the losers at the lowest end. And they fill their part perfectly. Rodents, insects, worms, gastropods, minnows, brine shrimp; for the most part, the smaller you get, the more abundantly you reproduce. Mosquitoes and flies, as annoying as they are, are the main means of staying alive for some species. Where would baleen whales be without plankton? The late Ted Andrews is one of my favorite "experts" for addressing this, and for including several critter people in his collections of totem information that haven't always been given a place with the popular ones.

And livestock - why do people have such disrespect for animals that are "food"? We owe them the most. We've altered their development for thousands of years for our benefit, they've kept us alive, worked for us, and given some of us a way of making a living in order to provide other necessities.

That's not to say that the Big Boys like bears, hawks, wolves, etc. aren't worthwhile. They're prevalent in the lore of various cultures for good reasons; they all have their own unique substance and energy. Some of the ways their qualities might manifest may have shifted from the time of neolithic people, but their continued applicability is testament to their value, and they're possibly one of our best links to our farthest-removed ancestors.

I blame popular perceptions of power and definitions of pride. The model of always being top dog, always being the winner, and translating "pride" as meaning "never letting anybody get the better of you" makes anything that gets used by someone else something low and less respect worthy.

Bleah. the only thing lesser about providing for someone else is if the gift isn't appreciated appropriately, and that should make us look down on the person who fails to acknowledge it's worth, not the one who's been denied their due. The idea that the only type of power is the brute force bulldoze-over-everything type is mindlessly selfish.

One of my all time favorite books is Always Coming Home by Ursula K. LeGuin; it's fiction; best described (if I recall, in her own words) as "an archaeology of the future", with a liberal helping of Pagany/Aboriginal-ish inspired sprinkles. Among many other things, it's an example of a culture where winning may be losing, and vice versa. This passage from the chapter "The Cats Here Don't Care" pretty much sums it up:

To be single-minded is to be unmindful. Mindfulness is keeping many different things in mind and observing their relations and proportions.

To conquer is to be careless. Carefulness is holding oneself and one's acts in appropriate relation and proportion to the many other beings and intentions.

To take is to be joyless. Joyfulness is accepting the given, which cannot be earned by mindfulness nor deserved by carefulness.

So, the next time you eat a burger, or have to swat a biting bug, or feed your pet snake, maybe take a shot at giving them their props. Maybe Cow, Mosquito, or Mouse will show up and tell you what they know, that you won't hear anywhere else.

Friday, February 19, 2010

I is Dangewuss!

ROTFLMFAO!!!!! I made a death threat against somebody, and they didn't even bother to tell me! I gotta get a secretary . . . that's just damn slack, to promise to rub somebody out and not even put it on my Yahoo calendar, or what his name is, or anything . . . . geez . . . . and it was a mincing death threat . . . that's a little confusing. Got these definitions:

1. mincing
(of a person) affectedly elegant in gait, manner, or speech
mincingly adv
dainty, niminy-piminy, prim, twee

2. Mincing is a cooking technique in which food ingredients are finely divided. The effect is to create a closely bonded mixture of ingredients and a soft or pasty texture.

Looks like I'm gonna have to go with the second one, and the soft, pasty texture thing - I got no idea how to niminy-piminy somebody.

So, who is this dude, anyway? He needs a secretary too; he thinks I'm a guy.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

"Alien on the phone for you, Sir . . ."

Happy Valentine's Day, Miles - Muppet appreciation is one more reason you're perfek!

The Javas, Muppet Show season 1, 1976

The Yipyips, in all their Martian glory - now you know where "Cow!" came from . . .

Sunday, February 7, 2010

San Francisco RickRolls WBC

Go San Francisco! These people are my new heroes!

Thank you to Laughing Squid for coverage of this wunnerful response to the moronically rabid fruitcakes of Westboro Baptist Church. Apparently, WBC's busy weekend protest itinerary was greeted with the kind of warm, generous hospitality you'd expect from the City By The Bay. They're all awesome, but for me personally "I was promised donuts!" and the Rickroll Team are tied for first.

Gus diZerega is dead on in hoping that this will catch on. So, let the word go forth to every man, woman, and child (and also penguins and small arboreal marmots) who has survived this stupidity to set sail for wherever these idiots show up, armed with The San Francisco Cure.

First one who tags me here about the geekref will be the recipient of their very own custom sign!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Why I'm a judgmental bitch . . . RIP Sherry Harlan

Anytime I say something about busting a fraud, or wanting some credibility to work from when someone spouts claims of PHA belief and practice that sound like so much pig slop, I get at least one email/conversation/etc. about being "too judgmental of other people's paths", and how I need to be a better person and show more tolerance.
This kind of crap is one of several reasons I do not just accept whatever someone tells me as valid, with no questions asked.

A member of PNC knew the victim, and confirmed that Sherry Harlan was indeed pagan, and had told people she feared for her life. This isn't just the usual case of some psycho throwing out Satanic Panic bugaboos so he'll sound sound nice and creepy for the public, he was connected to people in the pagan community purportedly "studying Wicca" by an acquaintance. Now he gets to tell national media about a "Wiccan Blood Oath" as an excuse for a brutal murder, and his alleged Scottish ancestors' "blood runs".

Seattle's community may have already been shunning this cretin; have no data on that yet. Hopefully people in the local community will stand up and say "We don't care what he calls himself, he's a rotten load of BS, and we don't claim him". I understand that it's hard to focus when you're grieving, but not as hard as it will be later when somebody whips this out as a justification to discriminate, or as proof that "Witches and their ilk are just as evil as those Chick tracts say".

He's an extreme example, but he's not an only child. The PHA community attracts fruitcakes just like any non-mainstream social grouping does; it's easier to hide amid the wider diversity. Since so many of us have been judged poorly against an idea of what is "mainstream", it often makes us frown on calling it on anyone else, sometimes even in cases of blatantly dishonest, predatory, or abusive behavior. There's also the often heavily polarized range of opinions and prejudices some more established Trads have against eclectic or syncretic practice, that many of us don't want to add to, and the efforts so many people and groups have made to create a sense of unity, community, and "we need to stick together" among PHAs, for the best and most worthwhile of reasons. If you do put the questioning doubt out there, it may get you a debate about civil rights or hypocrisy, or some stupid aphid who commits an act of cliche and plays the "Witch War" card. We've been more or less lucky around here as far as I know. I've heard people from other communities and festivals express frustration with situations where they've had a dangerous person around, and people attacked the concerned or festival security for "not being accepting" or "excluding people from the community" if anyone made a move to ostracize or disassociate.

But if it robs the media or any political-religious parties with agendas of an opportunity to play connect the dots with the average PHA practitioner and the dangerously unhinged, it's worth it.

May Ms. Harlan have peace, and an easier trip next time around.