You are viewing fairgoldberry

Happy Rowan

Recent Entries

Journal Info

Leafy
Name
Happy Rowan

View

Navigation

January 25th, 2014

(no subject)

Share
Leafy
Apparently LiveJournal has been reminding some of you to tell me I haven't updated.

I am still writing, but not here, because the platform is so shaky and there are not as many people here.

You can find my thoughts at The Badger Sett.

I am, however, still READING all of what you are writing.

I love you all.

Rowan

June 10th, 2011


A lot of people who know me might be surprised to find that the pagan value I choose to discuss first is not love. But love is a function of my faith and a complex part of my relationship with myself, and I choose to begin with more of a root value. What led me to paganism, and what keeps me here more than anything else, is joy.

 

JoyCollapse )

 


June 2nd, 2011

I have decided to participate in International Pagan Values Blogging and Podcasting Month.

The first thing it seems sensible to do is answer the question, "Why is it important, as pagans, to talk about our values?"

The obvious and easy answer is that our culture is deeply divided on matters of faith, and what's commonly considered 'the other side' has claimed the moral high ground as its own.  There is no good reason to cede that higher ground and every reason to establish ourselves as a presence on it.  Fundamentalists use the expectation that they are the 'good' people to demand credibility and respect in discussions of faith and morality, claiming a higher moral authority because their faith derives from a 'one true god'.  If we don't step into the debate and meet them on equal terms, we run the risk of being unable to maintain our right to participate meaningfully in the discussion.

But that's a fear-based response, an 'us vs. them' response.  It suggests that values are a battleground, a war to be fought, something one side or the other can 'win'.  An antagonistic structure for faith-based interaction means there has to be a loser, and as long as that is the case, the only way to resolve religious differences would be for one side to somehow end the other.  That's not a dynamic I'm comfortable contemplating, and not just because I'm on the disenfranchised, outnumbered side.  No one wins a holy war.

Why, then, talk about pagan values and ethics?  Why insist that we have a place in shaping the common moral sense?

There's a responsibility in it, as well as the right to speak.  If we believe that ethical and moral behaviour can make a better world, and we choose to refrain from participating, then we're avoiding our duty.  We have chosen our paths because we believe they're right, and we seek guidance from our faith to be better people.  If we don't talk about what 'being better people' means to one another and to those outside our communities, how can we really say we're walking that path fully?

In the pagan community, there's a strong reluctance to talk about right and wrong.  We shrink from judgment, from making concrete values statements, because we're carrying old baggage about being judged ourselves.  It weakens us as a community, leaves us open to sexual predators, to unscrupulous behaviour, to abuse and manipulation.  It makes us feel we are not empowered to confront people who we see mistreating others, and it diminishes our credibility in the larger community when we don't speak out against unethical or harmful behaviours.  Just as a sex scandal tarnishes a priest or a church, lapses of character and decency taint our community.

The world can be a better place than it is, and I have a part in making that.  We all have a part in making that, each of us who has found some way to walk the path of joy and love, and in sharing the what we believe to be right and good, we can create a world where more than one worldview can thrive.  By learning to speak the language of values in positive terms instead of judgmental ones, by talking openly about what we believe is right, we can establish a common ground with others willing to do the same.

And when we talk about what is right, we also speak against what we believe is wrong, but we have a better chance to avoid harsh judgment and condemnation, and we can build positive ethical frameworks that aren't based on shame and fear.

But first, we have to admit not only that we shouldn't be shut out of the conversation of values, but that we have something new, useful, and beautiful to add to that conversation, that we will enrich it by our participation.

I love you all.

April 18th, 2011

(no subject)

Share
Leafy
I came face to face with the concept of desecration this weekend, and with my own thoughts and feelings on it.

For the most part, when I am at a place like Spirit Haven or Camp Gaea I have a general sense of "This whole place is sacred."  There are, in each space, designated altars (one of which I help to tend), but in my sort of vague and fluffy sense of things I had not considered them particularly separate from the land surrounding them.

This past festival I ran into moments when the treatment of a place I consider to be individually sacred did not match my expectations of reasonable behaviour, and I'm still processing my response to it.

Friday night, someone took a hammer to the stone circle around the Revel Fire and smashed several pieces of the stone off.  Theories about who did this abound, and no one has any concrete evidence.  Perhaps it was a kid, playing with a hammer to see the pieces flake off.  Perhaps it was someone who took issue with the burn ban, or with a member of the fire crew, or with the organisation in general.  I can't say.  It was deliberate and destructive.  The damage inflicted was intentional, though it may or may not have been malicious.  Finding out about it struck to my core, and it took me several minutes to come up with the word for what had been done until someone asked if the circle would be re-consecrated.  This was my first personal experience with the idea that someone might have deliberately desecrated a space I held sacred, and most of what I felt can be summed up as 'shock'.  Because we don't really have much in the way of forensics or investigatory bodies at CMA, our only hope is that someone saw or knows or hears something.

Then, on Sunday, it was discovered that someone had spray-painted on the altar stone and standing stone for Grandmother's Grove, another of the sacred spaces.This was announced during the Great Works meeting, because that's when it was found out.  It sparked some interesting discussion of how we treat sacred spaces and what our expectations are from them.  Luckily, it was not spray paint but rather colored hair spray, and was able to be removed with soap and water.  No permanent damage was done there.  It's most likely that this was a kid, because one of the vendors was selling the colored hairspray and fully half the kids on site had it.  Again, though speculations abound our only hope of figuring this out is someone coming forward with concrete information.

Through all that is a rising awareness that we do not, perhaps, always respect the places others use for sacred purposes.  This was certainly *not* the first festival where Carly and I had to deal with someone camping or parking beneath the tree at Brighid's Altar, and the response is invariably, "Well, how was I supposed to know that the sacred space extends beyond the dimensions of the altar table?"  We've had consistent troubles

It's also been repeatedly brought to my attention that the Healing Station, which is dedicated in memory of a member of the Healing Staff and the place our healers use to help those who are physically or spiritually injured, is being used outside of festival times as sort of a Hookup Hut, a great place for a quick fuck while sheltered from the elements.  I'm not quite sure how to articulate exactly why the last one bothers me as it does, but it may have something to do with the fact that one of the people doing so is using it to blatantly cheat on a partner who's also a member of the community.  During festival, folks have had to be told, "Hey, it's really awkward to bring children in here while you're having loud sex in the back room; go find a tent," but that hasn't happened in a while.  The Safety Staff has been actively working to build the energies they need to do their jobs in that space.  Once those energies are firmly established and grounded there, it will be less of a problem, but while they're still fragile and in flux we would want people to be *more* careful about treating them as sacred spaces, not *less*.

Overall, though, being hit full in the face with both desecration and disregard has got me seriously considering how and why we interact with our sacred spaces the way we do, and what it means, outside of a designated 'church' situation, to designate something as 'sacred space'.

I love you all.

April 7th, 2011

(no subject)

Share
Leafy
Occasionally, there is a life lesson the Universe seems to keep hammering at me.  Aside from all the other things that happen, I'll notice a variation on a specific theme.

This week's lesson seems to be, "Not liking someone very much, even with reason, doesn't mean you can't feel bad for that person if his or her life turns unpleasant."

There have been several instances in the last seven days of bad life changes happening to people I didn't really care for.  Some of them have been downright cruel.  The first time I thought, "Oh, how awful!  I mean, it's not like I *like* him or anything, but that's still terrible to go through."  I kind of felt myself hedging, to relegate him to "It doesn't mean anything that I feel bad for him, because I'd feel bad for a stranger this happened to."

After it happened a few times, I started to wonder why I felt I had to bound that compassion with "it doesn't change how I feel about (person)..."  Was I so attached to my dislike of another person that I couldn't possibly accept my own natural instinct to sympathy without qualifying it?  Do I believe it's only sad when bad things happen to good people, and smugly assign the rest of the credit to 'karma'?  On the reverse, was I so willing to discard the reality of how someone behaved towards me (or others) simply because tragedy had struck?  Do I really believe a house landing on your sister makes you a good witch?

For my opinion of someone to change, the behaviour has to change.  A messy and painful breakup earns my empathy, but it's not enough to earn my friendship.  Maybe as the person comes out of that breakup, and starts to change the behaviours that contributed to it, having empathy for that person will allow me to be more receptive to the change.  But whether it does or not, I have to give myself permission to feel sympathy when bad things happen to bad people.

I see a lot of tendency, especially within the pagan community, to call it 'karma' when bad things happen to someone they don't like and unfair when bad things happen to their friends.  I'm starting to find that a little jarring, because it seems like there's not a sense of proportion, and that none of us is really that good a judge of what other people deserve.  Maybe someone who treats a partner badly deserves that horrible humiliating public breakup, but maybe there were things I never saw that went on, and not liking someone shouldn't give me cause to dismiss that pain with "Well, she was a total bitch to him, so she got what she deserved."  I can still remember times in my life I felt hurt and humiliated in front of my friends, and I feel ashamed if I think about being *glad* someone else feels that way.

There seems to be a perception that if I voice compassion for someone it's openly known I dislike, then I'm a hypocrite, because I can't possibly be sincere.  The sense of 'balance and proportion' so evident in our community seem to require that I assume all the setbacks that come to those I don't like are only justice, only fair.

But I don't believe life is inherently fair, that karma keeps an exact tally sheet to mete out clear whaps on the hand when we're not nice people.  I think that sometimes things happen all out of proportion to the actions of the people they happen to.  And in the words of Marcus Cole, "I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, 'wouldn't it be much worse if life *were* fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?' So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe."

So, if someone who's thwarted or hurt you is laid low, and you feel the stirrings of compassion, don't stifle it.  Don't feel that opening your heart requires you to open your house, your arms, your wallet, or your life, but do take a moment to honor the impulse in your heart that says, "We may not be friends, but I'm genuinely saddened by your pain.

I love you all.

March 25th, 2011

(no subject)

Share
Leafy

When I was in junior high, I started reading these sort of historical fiction books.  They were Young Adult entry-level historical romances, basically, with the premise being that a girl in some historically significant era had to choose between two suitors set against the backdrop of Real History.  I liked that the girl didn't always choose the 'romantic' suitor and sometimes took the safe path of the 'expected' suitor because I felt that was more realistic to women's historical behaviour.

One of them was the story of a young girl, whose Jewish parents had left Eastern Europe to escape persecution and violence.  The girl, now beginning her own start in life, took a job at a "ladies' garment factory" where she made shirtwaists.  Much of the book focused on what I thought were weirdly restrictive and unbelievable policies.  I thought, "you can't stop for lunch?  Really?  You have to be searched every day and the windows are nailed shut?  That's ridiculous, who would work in conditions like that?"  The book ended with a harrowing account of a workplace fire, which left me, even at 15, shaken and alarmed.

That book, of course, was talking about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire...Collapse )

I love you all.

March 16th, 2011

(no subject)

Share
Leafy
It's always kind of amusing, when you know where to slow down for the speed traps, to see the stupid yayhoo with the superbright lights who was tailgating you fall back abruptly because he didn't know he was going the speed limit and slammed on his brakes at the sight of the cop.

You're welcome, there, sparky.  Now if only I could get cops to ticket tailgaters and aggressive drivers and people who point their bright blue headlights right at my rearview mirror from five feet away...

I love you all.

March 2nd, 2011

(no subject)

Share
Leafy
I have a lot of thoughts on the Westboro Baptist Church's Supreme Court decision, but not a whole lot of time to really voice them, so I will be brief and expound upon a thought I had elsewhere.

When we allow the likes of Fred Phelps the protection of the First Amendment, the freedom to spread his hate and lies without being silenced, the ability to shout his message from the rooftops if he so desires, what can that possibly say about us as a culture and as a nation?

It says, "We are not afraid of you.  We do not fear your words, we do not fear your hate.  We know that when you speak, the better angels of those who hear you sit upon our shoulders, whispering words of reason, words of love, words of compassion into our hearts, and we believe in one another's better angels.  Let your voice be heard, angry old man, because the light of day will show you for what you are:  weak, frightened, helpless, and ineffectual.  Your words are not a danger, because you have nothing new, nothing revelationary, nothing revolutionary to say."

It is possible to grant someone the protections of the First Amendment as an act of scorn as much as for any other reason.  Silence him?  Why bother?  Even if I didn't defend his right to speak as if it were my own, I still wouldn't consider so pathetic a target worthy of the attention required.

I love you all.

Yeah, even him, in my own way.

February 28th, 2011

(no subject)

Share
Leafy
Life, it is SO TRAGIC when you are a Mojo Kitten.

First off, Mojo has gone back into heat, but (thankfully) she is FINALLY more than four pounds of cat, so I can get her spayed with minimal hassle, expense, and risk.  Apparently the difference between four pounds of cat and five pounds of cat is substantial enough when it comes to anaesthesia titration that it cuts the risk *and* the cost substantially.  Why she's still a five-pound cat at a year and a half is beyond me, because she eats and runs and plays and sleeps like a normal cat, just smaller.  I had the same problem with Silkie, who took two years to get to the six pounds the vet wanted her to be.  I swear, I feed these animals.  They have food sitting right out there for the eating ALL THE TIME.

At any rate, she's been wandering the house yowling plaintively for the last week or so, when she's not sleeping directly on me.  She kicked out of this round and I've got a call in to her vet to schedule her procedure, but it's left her a little codependent and lonely.  So, when I got home last night she was SO GLAD to see me.  We had hug and snuggle time, and there were purrs for everybody.

Until, that is, I remembered that it was Flea Goo day.  Mojo Kitten, like most cats, hates her Flea Goo.  There was leaping and flailing and profanity until finally I got most of it poured out onto her neck.  She retired to sulk under the altar and sigh her emokitty sighs.  A little later, Jonathan said, "Hey, isn't that a wasp she's got?"

Sure enough, she was chasing a wasp around the room, batting it out of the air and trying to catch it between her paws.  It was a little the worse for wear, enabling me to snag it with a paper towel (it stung through two layers of the paper towel trying to get at me, but I'd folded it four layers thick) and deposit it in the Great Watery Bug Grave.  As one might expect, Taking Away Mojo's Bug is a sin second only to Bathtime and Flea Goo.  She returned to her under-altar sulking, with a withering glance to say "You're not even my REAL MOM.  I hate you.  Someday you will be sorry for this."

She didn't even come out for bedtime, so I tucked in to sleep without the usual kitten sleeping precisely in the middle of my side of the bed.  Somewhere around 5:40 I awoke to a crash and scrambling.  The crash appears to have been a cardinal hitting the closed window next to the open one where Mojo likes to sleep.  The scrambling was a hasty feline retreat to the space under the computer desk in the living room.  As I watched, the cardinal shook off its haze in the loquat tree, then flew over to the balcony to look in.  It fluttered a little until Mojo ventured to the sliding glass door, then *PECKED* right at kitty face-level.  More leaping and scrambling.  I yelled, "Hey there, leave her alone!  Pick on someone your own size."

I swear that bird glared malevolently at me.  I returned to bed, and Mojo tucked herself safely between my knees as I dozed back off.

Just over an hour later, I awoke to "Thunk...thunk...thunk..."  Blearily heading back into the living room, I saw that the cardinal was still waiting there, at face level, pecking the door every ten or fifteen seconds.  I looked down to find the Mighty Huntress cowering bravely behind my ankles, and saw a chance to redeem myself.  I wandered over to the window, hunkered down to bird-level, and wiggled my opposable thumbs at the bird.  He pointedly ignored me.

"Listen, you little Red Menace," I said, as he continued to peck insolently at my door.  "You're probably the baddest cardinal in your tree, I'll give you that.  But you're just about a handful of crunchy little bird bones, and you're messing with my cat.  You take your fluffy little door-pecking pointy-headed Communist self, and you hie on outta here.  I don't want to see you here again, and if I do, we're going to play a little game called Fluffy Red Birds Make Good Kitty Toys, you hear me?  May I point out my opposable thumbs, my pointy canines, and my forward-facing binocular predator eyes?.  And the fact that I am several hundred times larger than your quarter-pound self?  Think carefully, Pinko."

The bird regarded me carefully for a minute, then flew away faking nonchalance.  I turned around to find Mojo regarding me with worshipful adoration.

This adoration lasted approximately two minutes, at which point she stuck her head in the sink while I was brushing my teeth and got an earful of toothpaste spit.

*sigh*

I love you all.
Powered by LiveJournal.com