Thursday, 25 September 2008

..... I am now back on track

Which is good. We had a wonderful ceremony in the Temple yesterday in which I was free to participate without responsibility - just go along for the ride, as it were. I had no ceremonial function and no knowledge of what was to come. I think this is the frist time this has been this way since I arrived here.

The ceremony was planned and held by people just completing their first year of Priest/ess training. As a teacher, I felt deep admiration with a seasoning of pride and satisfaction. And wonder at the power of the Goddess to manifest Herself in people's lives. The ceremony was simple and effective - with the bare minimum of verbal explanation we were led on a journey towards deepening and strengthening our contact with our bodies and with the earth.

Which was exactly what I needed.

I am feeling back in touch with myself again and ready to move forward.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Having taken a slight detour...

It is strange how easily I seem to get blown off course. When I wrote my last blog I was feeling empowered and confident and ready to move forward into whatever the future holds. And it was in this spirit that I went to the airport to meet a friend whoo was visiting from England. All seemed to run very smoothly, her flight was even early so I did not have to wait too long. It was as we were heading for the bus into town, however, that I discovered my wallet was missing, containing about £35 in cash and my monthly bus pass, bought that morning, which was worth about £27. Even in the UK that would be a lot to lose, but here it is a huge dent. I contacted the appropriate agencies, but no luck.

So. I am out of pocket. This in itself is not that bad a problem - I should be able to pay the rent next month etc. However, what it has knocked is my confidence and equilibrium. There are moments when I feel distinctly vulnerable and fearful and beset by doubts. And then, from nowhere it seems, I feel a wave of fear, doubt and vulnerability coming over me. And then that passes and I feel OK again.

The strength of the waves is subsiding but it seems to be taking a hell of a long time to do so. And, having Sun, Moon, Mars and Mercury in Aries, patience is not one of my strengths.

One of the cliches that I often hear and sometimes trot out for myself is that everything happens for a reason. Perhaps. And perhaps there is some way that I attracted the thief - for thief I believe it was. Or perhaps shit just happens. I do not know. What i do know is that something outside my control has pushed me into a period of doubt and confusion in which I have been wondering about my entire path.

And this is crazy. It is, in the end, only money. I feel fit and healthy and have a roof over my head and food in my belly. I have friends who, if the worst came to the worst would not see me on the street. All this I know. And I know that I am on a path which is right for me - that Goddess, that Inanna has called me to it. I know that what I wrote in the last post remains true. One of the things I was taught as a counsellor was that we do not know what we believe until we hear ourselves say it. I think there is a lot of truth in this and the purpose of this blog has been to find out whether I still believe.

And I do.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Chickens and roosts?

For decades now, the accepted ideology in both the US and the UK has been the Friedmanite doctrine that government should leave business to run its own affairs and not hobble it with unnecessary regulation. Now, as banks etc. crash as a direct result of their own greed, those same ideologues are using taxpayers money to what is in effect nationalise these failing financial institutions. Are we hearing a "sorry, we got it wrong" ? No. We are not. I can only surmise that when taxpayers have bailed out these corporate pirates it will be back to business as usual. Until the next time. When will we hear a serious politician saying - "hey, maybe government should actually govern and not contract it out to our friends."? I will not hold my breath.

Reflections on a wonderful weekend

I have just recovered from running my first weekend workshop introducing people to the Motherpeace tarot deck. This had been on the way for a long time but by last Friday I was distinctly lacking confidence. This is of course nothing new. Every time I do something there is a voice in the back of my mind, telling me that I am not good enough- that I do not know enough - that I am a fraud and this time I will be found out. And yet, as soon as i get started and into the flow, the doubts slip away and the words and actions emerge with a seeming effortlessness. This is what happened on Saturday and Sunday. I connected with something above and beyond me - Goddess.

I do not know whether this doubt will ever leave me and perhaps i do not really want it to. One one hand it seems to imply a lack of trust but on the other it could be a safeguard against taking Her for granted. Or believing that i can be somehow immune from error - some sort of pagan infallibility - that it is coming from me and that I am therefore something special.

Which i am not. At times I crave approval and at others i can retreat into the cave and isolate myself from true contact with any other human being - wrapping my misery and self-pity round me like a blanket. Thank Goddess these times are getting shorter and less frequent but they can still ambush me.

Something has definitely shifted. The doubts I had last week, although uncomfortable, were not at all paralysing. I was able to see them from a sort of distance and see that they were old scripts that I no longer need to rehearse. Acknowledge and honour them, yes, for they keep me from floating away on some insubstantial cloud of self-importance. They force me to look for a while and see if what i am planning to do is a result of the search for ego-gratification or a true expression of the vision I have been granted.

I now accept that I am a tarot reader - that when I read there are three parties to the conversation and that Goddess is present for us both.

As She is increasingly present in my everyday life. When I turn to her, She is there. And when I say Goddess, I mean Inanna. This blog is dedicated to Her and in it I try to express what I believe and in this expression trust that I am serving Her. Often, this can make me feel uncomfortable as I know that at times I express minority opinions - or opinions that seem to contradict accepted orthodoxies. And sometimes my opinions are plain, downright wrong - nothing other than prejudice - the result of lazy thinking. Nothing, I say, however is the word of Inanna - I am not a channel - it is just my opinion and experience

In the end I am forced back to the stark reality. Either Goddess, and in particular, Inanna has called me or I am deluded. I cannot see any other explanation of my experiences. I do not believe I am deluded (although totally aware that truly deluded people may feel the same - an infinity of mirrors in that thought) so must assume that I have been called. Problem is, the Lady of the Labyrinth is very niggardly with Her information and just when I think I am getting emerging into the new I find myself back in the dark, again restricted to putting one foot in front of the other.

However, it seems to be becoming easier all the time to trust that the path is right. There are labyrinths within labyrinths as I climb out of the underworld. It is not a simple linear journey but is a series of lesser descents as old habits have to reassessed and new ones adopted.

And it is a road that I must walk.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Love is Radical

Found this on another blog,where it is attributed to Kiya N. I will let it speak for itself:

"Love is radical, and I light a candle to shed red-glass light on Lilitu's owl-clawed feet, because today I am a child of the Mother of Demons. My love will shake the world, fan out like the peacock fan that spreads behind Her and glows in the firelight in honor of strife and compassion.

Love is radical, and its tears will extinguish Hell, but only if we burn with it. It is not enough to love quietly, mousily, in the safe spaces, because love is radically unsafe. Love will throw you through Hell and walk with you on the hike out. Love does not let you hide behind walls, it will slice you open, it will make you bleed.

Love is an act of blood. Love is an act of bone. It is your breath.

I am a child of the Mother of Demons. My love will rip up the foundations of the world if need be. It will tear apart your safe spaces. It will not let me be silent. My love is a claimed conspiracy to riot stashed in a jail cell awaiting judgement in Minnesota. My love does not wait for a permit or follow an established route. It is here now there then always not with a whimper but a bang and if your world is ending for it then remember that love will divide your families, set kith against kith and kin against kin, that you were warned and said you believed.

I am a child of the Mother of Demons. My love roars like the hollow wind. My love comes for the children. It does not listen to the doors. My love sees people married without checking their genitalia at the door, without evaluating the colour of their skin, without seeing if they have a hollowness that will be filled with a baby. My love sings and screams and goes to the ballot box dancing with the joy of holiness.

I am a child of the Mother of Demons. I walk a warrior path of love, and follow the song of my heart. I hold sunlight in my right hand and shadow and storm in my left, and am born of the serpent's dance with the falcon. I have the restored Eye and I offer it to you, that you may live.

I am a child of the Mother of Demons. I am one of the ones to fear, who goes stealthy through today in my cat-print pyjamas passing for one of you normal ones, the sane ones, the pretty children who went to school and then to the university and got put in boxes and came out all the same. I am the pervert among you, the polytheist, the deviant, the one whose world is wider than you can face, I stand at the open door in the desert from which there is no return.

There is no male or female, no free or slave, no line of race or creed or colour in love. Fear me, for I love you."

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Inanna, patriarchy and porn

In one of the stories of Inanna, it is told that she went into the orchard, leaned against an apple tree, gazed upon her wondrous vulva and applauded herself. When I first read that I could not quite take it in. Here was a sacred text in which genital shame was absent. And it is described so matter-of-factly. her vulva was wondrous. She applauded herself. Of course. Why not?

Except we all know why not. Or do we? I have written about this at length elsewhere and will put it online as soon as I have a website up - so will go no further here. But I got to thinking about this when I read a recent posting by Debi Crow on the ongoing controversy regarding pornography. Wherever truth lies, and I suspect it lies somewhere between the two extremes, I applaud her call for both sides to talk and listen to each other. I am also disturbed that she seemed unable to get this very balanced article published elsewhere because the site feared "blog wars".

Anyway, to get back to Inanna, as i always do and have done for several years. I wonder whether, had the technology been available then, a photograph of this event would have been termed pornographic. It was her vulva - the boat of heaven - which in the end of the story brought the facets of civilisation to Uruk just as, later, in Gilgamesh it was a priestess who, by lying with him, civilised the wild man Enkidu. If a camera were ther to record those seven nights, again this would be classed by some as pornography. Which is not necessarily to legitimise pornography but to ask a simple question. How and when did the active, unashamed, sexuality portrayed in these myths, become so debased? The simple answer is, of course, patriarchy but this merely defers the answer. My own feeling - and the subject I am currently working on - is that patriarchy arose as a reaction to civilisation and a perceived emasculation that it brought. Gilgamesh and Enkidu go on their quest into the wilderness in the first-ever buddy movie and their adventures have haunted us ever since. In the meantime, in the locker rooms, clubs, barracks, madrassahs and vaticans of the their successors, sexually autonomous women, of whatever kind, remain, as Glgamesh called Ishtar/Inanna, sluts, creatures of filth and shame.

As far as I can see, pornography and other aspects of the sex trade are the direct and inevitable result of this shame. As such, it will continue to exist as long as shame does. And shame has been with us almost throughout recorded history and its wounds fester. I also believe that much of the reaction to the sex trade in all its forms is equally a result of shame and that by demonising "unrepentant" sex workers they can become repository of the collective shame by all those who parade themselves as pure - whatever their ideology.

But the story of Inanna in the garden hints at a time when this was not the case - that sexual shame is not an intrinsic part of human nature but a relatively recent pathology. We can be different.

Goddess calls for a way of healing these ancient wounds and a movement towards a sexuality of mutual respect and love. I do not know what that will look like and neither, I suspect, does anybody else. Perhaps there will be financial transactions and i suspect there will and there is certainly ample historical precedent but we simply cannot tell . Goddess knows there is a long way to go, but we can only start from where we are. And the sex trade cannot be legislated, argued or wished away. Moralists of all persuasions have tried to do so for a long time. There are certainly unambiguously evil aspects to it. There are women and children of both sexes trafficked and enslaved. This is fact and it is also a fact that far too few resources are devoted to eradicating it and freeing those who are affected. This is the urgent problem. It is literally a matter of life and death. when slavery has finally been abolished, then and only then can we begin to look at the reasons why people choose to be sex workers. To conflate those enslaved and those who choose is to do both a disservice. Furthermore, the marginalisation, criminalisation, patronising and scapegoating of non-enslaved sex workers can only serve to perpetuate this slavery. I am no expert but I cannot but see that those who are voluntarily in the industry are far more expert in the conditions of slavery of others than any who sit outside and comment from an ideological perspective in which positions have already been reached before the debate has even begun.

Life does not fall neatly into any of the binary oppositions that human beings are so fond of erecting. I act from motives that are mixed - both noble and ignoble - and so, I suspect, does everyone else. I fear all those who claim that "right is on my side" - the 20th century is full of mass graves dug by those who "knew" that they were right.

My last word on McCain/Palin - I promise (sort of)

Which will not be mine but Vicki Noble's.I received an email from her today from which I will, with her permission, quote. Recalling the cultural revolution of the 60s and the years of reaction since, she asks:
" Sisters, don't you remember? We went wild. Like the ancient Greek Maenads (or the Indian Yoginis and Tibetan Dakinis, for that matter), we cut loose. We left our husbands, threw off our repressive jobs, our bogus traditional values and conditioned knee-jerk responses. We left the churches and synagogues in droves, we left behind the corporate tracking system and the academic elitism that supported it. We opted out in favor of freedom, liberation, and authenticity. It was a magical, thrilling, and transformative revolution in which, collectively, we took back the night, owned our own bodies, and awakened to our unique human potential."

And the rhetoric from the right ever since has been aimed at undoing this revolution and returning to "traditional" values. Politicians for whom liberation has meant the freedom to line their own pockets and to terrorise those whom they see to threaten this freedom. Faced with the crucial nature of these times, Vicki then asks this question:

"What would happen if we cut loose and became ourselves? What if we took a stance that looked more like the Daly show (Comedy Central), what if we were to laugh out loud at the absurdities and mock the players, rocking out--instead of trying to stay all buttoned up and proper? I think we've sold out our "shakti" (natural female power) in our efforts to tow the line. The revolutionary movements of the 1960s and 1970s weren't based on being square--they emerged out of a volcanic explosion of spontaneous life-force energy and creative self-expression."

A good question and a good point. I remember the feeling of the 60s - I remember the conviction that things did not have to be the way they were. And that conviction has never died - but I learnt to moderate it and try to hide who I was. That time is now past - I no longer want to hide - the threat is too grave for that luxury. So, as promised I will leave the last words to Vicki:

"I just can't see going on in the normal polite way, which will surely cost us the election. Change or die, that's the call. Let's come together, make alliances, practice solidarity. Vote for life. Organize for change. Break free. Do something radical or unexpected. Fight to win!"

Monday, 8 September 2008

Everyday heroism

Just an example of simple courage beyond grand rhetoric or heroic posturing

A message from Palin's sponsor?

I am sorry. I genuinely wanted to leave the US election behind but I keep coming across things that get me increasingly alarmed. I found this on AlterNet today and it is chilling. Someone mentioned the old saying that when fascism comes to America it will be carrying a bible and wearing a flag and then he pointed out that perhaps McCain is providing the flag and Palin the bible. These christians sing to their god "This world has nothing for me". If Sarah Palin truly believes that this world has no value, can she be trusted to be a heartbeat away from the nuclear trigger? The excerpts from pastor Kalnins' sermons towards the end of the video make clear what the rest of the world could expect from a "saved" America. Not to mention what a theocratic US would do to those of its own citizens who are pagan.

PS - have just noticed that the footage I posted a few days ago about wolf hunting has been pulled from youtube
no idea why - so i posted another, longer and better

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Biology = Destiny?

There is a very interesting piece on Gorgon Resurfaces about the female hero and it has got my thinking away from the US elections - I am glad to say.

For a long time now - well, as far back as I can remember - I have been fascinated by sex. It started as doctors and nurses when I was very young and continues to this day. This fascination, however, is not just genital but about the very nature of all difference between women and men - including all that cultural baggage that surrounds gender and sexualities. And the issue that keeps coming up is that above and beyond, and even perhaps underlying, cultural constructions there is an essential difference. A few days ago, I posted a poem by Louis MacNeice and received an emailed comment to the effect that the last long stanza described two different ways of being a man within patriarchy but that women were more grounded by virtue of the different nature (I hope I have paraphrased correctly).

This statement is, of course, essentialist, and as such is heresy in some circles. But I honestly do not see how we can evade the question of biology. Much of what divides men and women is indeed culturally determined but the division remains nevertheless. And this division is, as far as I know, something that is recognised in every culture on this planet. The ways that different cultures construct gender are many and various but they are all fundamentally based on biological difference. A degree of essentialism is therefore unavoidable.

As a man, working as a priest in goddess ceremony, I know that there are ceremonies and other occasions when my presence is not appropriate because the nature of my biology means that I could not be other than observer – or even worse, voyeur.. A young woman’s menarche springs instantly to mind but there are others. I will stay with the first blood because that seems to me to be a very good example of how biology determines behaviour.

It is often said that something or other, usually military service. “makes a man” of boys. What does this mean? Do men have to be made? We do not speak of anything external “making a woman” of a girl – that happens. There is an identifiable moment at which a girl’s condition changes – and this is often long before the end of physical growth. There is no such moment for a boy. The man therefore has to be “made”. The first Rambo movie makes explicit mention of the difference between male and female blood mysteries in its very title, "First Blood".

I think this is what MacNeice is referring to. I will reproduce the stanza here but would recommend any who have not done so to scroll back and read the entire poem.

I am not yet born; O fill me
With strength against those who would freeze my
humanity, would dragoon me into a lethal automaton,
would make me a cog in a machine, a thing with
one face, a thing, and against all those
who would dissipate my entirety, would
blow me like thistledown hither and
thither or hither and thither
like water held in the
hands would spill me.

Let them not make me a stone and let them not spill me.
Otherwise kill me.

As males we can either be made into men - stones - or we can be cast adrift without cultural support or validation.

A woman knows she is a woman – her body will not let her forget. This, I think, is what lies at the root of patriarchy- the male knowledge that the very concept of “ a man” is artificial and consequently fragile whereas that of a woman is grounded in physicality and entire systems of thought have been propagated to try to deny this fact They are called religions.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Last chance saloon?

This morning I had a long skype conversation with a friend who was deeply concerned about a friend of hers, Jason Johnson, aka Scarecrow, from Chicago Reclaiming who had been brutally treated by police at the Republican National Convention.

In all my years of demonstrations etc I have never seen such a blatant abuse of police power - they seem not to care that they are being filmed and that they have absolutely no legal justification for their use of tasers- as if they are asserting their right to do with the population at large as they please. Perhaps my friend was most upset because she still believes that the US is a democracy and has a constitution which enshrines human rights. If it is, then the few weeks leading up to 4 november represent the last chance to save it.

I make no apologies for posting this on a Goddess blog. Neither do I apologise for posting this video about the vice-presidential candidate these police are ostensibly protecting

These people have declared war on all that I hold dear. I am not, thank Goddess, a US citizen but, as the neo-cons have decided that the US should become a world Empire rather than a democratic republic, no human being can ignore what is at stake here. Nor can we ignore the blatant disregard and contempt for biodiversity and the environment that is evident in this video. These hypocritical "pro-lifers" show their true colours here as disciples of death and Goddess forbid that the American electorate should give them power. This may be the last chance for democracy and life. Please, America, defend your constitution from those who seek to destroy it,

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Prayer Before Birth - Louis MacNeice

I was meditating in the Temple today and the random thought came strongly into my mind that I should post this poem on the blog

I first heard it read by the fine English actor Michael Horden on a BBC children's television programme when I was about 16. Ever since, I have always had an edition of MacNeice's poetry with me. My current one is falling to bits so needs replacing. I will let the poetry speak for itself and only say that it still resonates with my soul.

Unfortunately, I do not know how to transfer the original formatting so some of the visual impact is lost.

I am not yet born; O hear me.
Let not the bloodsucking bat or the rat or the stoat or the
club-footed ghoul come near me.

I am not yet born, console me.
I fear that the human race may with tall walls wall me,
with strong drugs dope me, with wise lies lure me,
on black racks rack me, in blood-baths roll me.

I am not yet born; provide me
With water to dandle me, grass to grow for me, trees to talk
to me, sky to sing to me, birds and a white light
in the back of my mind to guide me.

I am not yet born; forgive me
For the sins that in me the world shall commit, my words
when they speak me, my thoughts when they think me,
my treason engendered by traitors beyond me,
my life when they murder by means of my
hands, my death when they live me.

I am not yet born; rehearse me
In the parts I must play and the cues I must take when
old men lecture me, bureaucrats hector me, mountains
frown at me, lovers laugh at me, the white
waves call me to folly and the desert calls
me to doom and the beggar refuses
my gift and my children curse me.

I am not yet born; O hear me,
Let not the man who is beast or who thinks he is God
come near me.

I am not yet born; O fill me
With strength against those who would freeze my
humanity, would dragoon me into a lethal automaton,
would make me a cog in a machine, a thing with
one face, a thing, and against all those
who would dissipate my entirety, would
blow me like thistledown hither and
thither or hither and thither
like water held in the
hands would spill me.

Let them not make me a stone and let them not spill me.
Otherwise kill me.