Straws and Camels’ Backs

Sometimes “fuck it” IS a great notion.

herlander-walking

88389076-1f10-4dba-9503-b21111e74cd7_363_293Sometimes it is just a small thing, and the air is sucked out of a room. Of course, “small” is a relative term. It has come to a point in America that something utterly egregious is “small” because nobody died, never mind that something certainly DID die.

Reading the news this morning, I had to set my coffee cup down quickly.  So I wouldn’t vomit if I tried to drink more of it.  So I wouldn’t hurl the cup across the room in despairing fury.  The article in question?  It names the victim of a racist event.  It does not name the perpetrator, and it SHOULD. A white owner of Annville, Pennsylvania’s restaurant “Just Wing It” threw a college basketball team member out of his eatery for being black.

Trump’s president now so I can say what I want. You niggers need to get out,

Nope, not…

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Black Snakes And Other Monsters

standing_rockMy mind does not always make clear lines in what moves me in my life. Is “this” action political? Is “that” one spiritual?  I have often talked about how much I hate specialists and how much I value generalists.  Hoity toity historians, for instance, dislike Will Durant and his “History of Civilization” for being “too general.”  I LOVE his books, for his humanity, for his linkages of political whys to religious or societal or cultural whys!

So when I write here of the ongoing fight at Standing Rock in North Dakota to stop the North Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), it is one of those instances of fusion in my mind.  Yes, it is, of necessity, a political battle.  But it is also a spiritual battle.  The Amerindians leading this ecologically vital charge to protect drinking water for their people AND for a lot of seemingly oblivious white people downstream, call the pipeline “the Black Snake” and are correct to say it needs to be killed.

The Gaslighter-in-Chief, the man who makes Comment A behind a closed door with Individual A, and Comment B about the same topic in public before a crowd of mouth-breathers; has signed an Executive Order, most likely drafted by Racist-in-Place Steve Bannon to allow the pipeline to go forward.  Likely this isn’t even legal, just like his immigration ban has illegal elements — barring people already holding visas or green cards, for instance.  Believing and living ANY part of the lies being told so often and loudly that it begins to cloud people’s minds is to becoming ethically and morally compromised.  This IS what makes it a spiritual battle — whether you are traditionally monotheist, pagan, polytheist, or agnostic, or atheist.  EVERY person needs a set of core values to guide their actions.  What do your core values tell you about the practice of breaking treaties (governmental promises/vows) and setting the stage to poison water needed for drinking, irrigation, and other vital life-giving functions?  All for money made off the fossil fuels that are creating global climate change that could render life unbearable on this earth?

I’m not made of money.  We are on a limited income with ever increasing expenses.  When I make a promise I believe in keeping it.  I am no oath breaker!  So the money I usually give to Remote Area Medical Foundation every month, will be halved now.  So I can send $50 a month by check to Standing Rock.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
#1 N. Standing Rock Avenue
Fort Yates, ND 58538.

 For Water, for Life on Earth.

 

A Call To — Pens? Cards? Paypal?

To Arms…to Wands, even? A little help for a Good Guy? Money, magic — what have you!

herlander-walking

Keep CalmThe forces of chaos are emboldened, are they not? The narcissistic barbarians are through the gates, after all.  Now that the standard bearer is crowned inaugurated, the “great white hopes”* of the West simply canNOT bear to hear discouraging words from any Americans of sound minds.

So, as Badtux said, this neo-Nazi fuck named Cobb is going after a truly literate blogger, a veteran and standard-bearer for rational thought, mom, apple pie, and the REAL American way — he is mounting an attack on Jim Wright at Stonekettle Station.  So, help him out, ok?  It is the season of his donation drive – having a bit more financial stability in a time of scary crazy bastards can’t hurt, right?  Have his back for him, ok?  The Minotaur and I both tossed $$ till our checkbook is on fumes, because there is no such time as a better time…

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A Tale of Two Dreams, Horror and Warning….(trigger warning)

2016-11-19-0001I dream vividly, in great detail and full color. Thus, when I have the very rare nightmare; these, too, are not sparing in detail. I’ve been sick for over three weeks and that makes my dreams even more wild it seems. I had a real doozy last night, the kind of thing you wake from, in a sickening sweat and shaking.

A President sits in the White House – a proven liar, a sexist, a sexual predator, a misogynist, a con man, a cheat, and possibly a traitor in debt to Russians.  This and being sick is not a great combination.  No wonder I had a horrid dream, I told myself, arms around my own knees at 0400 this morning.  But the revulsion still has me feeling nausea – I regret my breakfast attempts.

So, I must put it down on paper, I must pull it out of my head and see it on black and white.  If you are reading it, I found the courage to hit “publish”!  If you are a sexual abuse victim, I warn you not to read further. I am NOT being silly or politically correct — this dream shook ME.

In my dream, I had company – a friend I almost never see as she lives far away.  She had come to visit and brought a woman friend of hers to meet me.  We were having coffee when the doorbell rang.  At the door was an incredible sight, which was rolled into my family room.  The man pushing this wheeled contraption unfurled a paper scroll like some prop from an old “tyrant king” flick — something John of England would have read aloud by minions just before peasants got abused.  He read this absurd looking scroll to us.

It announced that the government had a new crime prevention strategy, since public executions had not drawn the crowds expected.  They wanted ordinary citizens – men and women – to SEE the punishments of crime, so as to properly understand deterrence.  Now, I must describe the horrible thing he rolled into my home.

It had a flat bed atop six or eight wheels.  On it was a nude woman, on her hands and knees – as if she was getting ready to do a yoga pose like “the cat”.  But her knees were strapped in place in a very wide stance, as were her ankles.  Around her waist was another large band tying her to a horizontal cross bar above her back. She could drop her elbows and sag forward, for instance, but her body was more or less locked in the sexual position called “doggy style”.  Behind her was a kneeling pad, as if she was the most obscene prie-dieu ever devised.

The man, rolling up his scroll, announced that he wanted to park this somewhere where all three of us could sit in a row where we could see him and he could see us.  This monstrous thing was too large to turn into my living room, he pushed it through into the den, where a platform bed is a nook in the wall and ordered us to sit on the bed.  He was armed, so we obeyed – dead silent and utterly shocked.

This woman, he told us, was arrested for prostitution.  She needed to be taught better ways and the government was merciful once she had learned, he said.  After all, he said in a confiding, oily sort of voice – he himself had done time for rape, but now was forgiven and given a place in “law enforcement.”  He locked a break on the wheeled hellish “prie-dieu” made of a bound woman’s body and stepped onto it.  “If she wants to fuck outside of proper marriage, she will now BE fucked!” he announced, suddenly undoing his belt and zipper and dropping his pants.  (And his gun belt, as it happens.)  He dropped to his knees and began raping the woman in front of us.  She sagged in her bindings, weeping.

I felt a terrible paralysis.  My friend put her arm around her younger friend, who was whimpering.  I tried to reach for her hand and found I could not move.  I could feel tears on my face, my teeth were clenched and I could taste blood and then my fingers suddenly unfroze and I clenched my friend’s hand briefly.  I couldn’t bear this.   I drew my knees up to my chest, which made the law enforcement rapist turn his head sharply to look at me.  I put my arms round my knees and put my head atop them — this expression of proper fear pacified the rapist and he looked back to his work, grabbed the woman’s hips and pounded on.

Another five seconds passed.  He didn’t look at me again, as I released my clenched fingers and brought both my booted feet forward hard, directly into his hip joint.  He flew off his prie-dieu and bounced off the large heavy brewing table on the other side of the room.  I leapt to my feet, as did my friends.  Before another thing happened, however, I woke – upright and shaking in my bed.  There was blood in my mouth, tears on my face.

DO I expect something so horrific from the Trump Administration?  Is that even sane?  I could never have even envisioned such a thing in my waking life!  It is enough that such a horrible vision could even be suggested; such fear unbound, unleashed, and loose in my head.  My dream, for me, is recognition of the threat embodied by the type of mentalities behind Trump.  My dream warns me not to think there is a low this new President would not sink to, to achieve his own idea of winning.

More than eight years ago, while Bush the Simply Stupid was President, I had a similarly scary dream.  In retrospect, it was so prettily framed compared to my latest nightmare.

I was one of many peasants, harvesting a golden field of grain, by hand.  In the distance there was a golden dais, complete with billowing golden draperies moving in the summer wind.  The huge thing was empty, which in the dream felt reassuring for some odd reason.  Then a sound began, a terrible bellowing, trumpeting with the attendant sounds of screams and crashings.  People dropped their sickles, scythes and other tools and began to run.  I was frozen in place, and into my most distant field of view came a giant elephant, magnificently caparisoned in gold cloth and jewels.  The tusks were ringed with shining brass.  It was rogue and maddened – swinging the massive head and tossing humans, animals, and furnishings before it.  I looked once more and ran, and running, woke.

I thought my imagination had finally just gone nuts; what the fuck does that kind of thing even mean?  The GOP rampant and mad?  Well, hell, they had been there for a while – then calling what was once called “the loyal opposition” treacherous and disloyal for even disagreeing with them.  Now, looking back — I have to wonder with a superstitious chill of the spine, if I saw the Donald; he of gold curtains and an unmitigated ego?

I don’t want to believe in dreams.  But then, I didn’t want to believe Donald Trump would ever inhabit the White House either, did I?

The Discomfort Zone – Are We Recycling Selves in Shame?

2017-01-08-107nc_df_0-2I’ve been struggling for a good while now with certain trends in society. I’ve fought racism and sexism all my life — I started taking hits for doing this as early as fifth grade for the first, and my junior year in high school for the latter.  So, I’m not a novice, exactly to the field of change vs progress.

I think progress is the goal, rather than just any old change that comes along being labeled as progress.  And I’d really rather not watch those I think of as allies doing what is commonly referred to as “eating their own.”  So, I admit, a relatively recent phenomenon in feminism makes me squirm with discomfort: the seemingly harsh take of some feminists about trans-women.  The level of “cut them from our herd” behaviors makes me wince, to be honest.  I first noted it being written about in relation to some pagan conventions, when certain women’s spirituality groups banned trans-women because they weren’t “real” women, weren’t “born” women.(Just as a small linguistic aside?  Let me say the term “cis” for those “real”, “born” women makes me think of the word “cyst”.  Make of that what you will.)

One acquaintance tried to make the case for being anti-trans inclusion by asking me if Rachel Dolezal was black.  No, she isn’t black although she chooses to identify as black.   What does that objectively (if not objectionably) mean?  When I first read about the outing of Rachel as white, I spent a good deal of time trying to get inside her head.  Why would she do such a thing?  I began to speculate and review my own memories and experiences in search of explanation.

As I was graduating high school – with a grade point average artificially reduced because my Principal, who was pissed at me for getting a petition allowing girls to wear pants instead of skirts/dresses only, said in spite of my A-average, I had “too many unexcused absences” and reduced ALL my grades to mere B’s – I read “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.  It broke my little all-but-entirely-white heart into little bitty guilt-stained pieces, let me tell you.  I have a grandmother I’d been told was Comanche — though whether she was a “half-breed” or a mere quarter was lost somewhere in shamed white pride in the family.  Oh, reading that book and then soon thereafter following the white cop/FBI confrontations that ended with Leonard Peltier in prison, sure made me wish I could claim another race than white!  This would have been complicated by my blue eyes and blond hair, right?  But that didn’t stop Rachel Dolezal, did it?

So, it made me wonder, if my late adolescent desire to be Indian instead of white (in spite of having only a few drops of Amerindian blood) was motivated by shame?  Was that the motivation, if only subconsciously, for Rachel Dolezal?  And yes, I know some several someones out there on the web will take umbrage and get insulted at the idea that shame could be such a motivation.  Tough.  Shame IS a motivation in society, otherwise slut-shaming and other such egregious behaviors would not exist.  I DID manage to not present myself as anything but what I am — a blend of Northern European with a drop of Amerindian to lend me lactose intolerance, yay? (And coincidentally, much later on being told by an Indian, that I was NOT Indian because I was not reservation-raised.  Gee, I feel so excluded by choices I did not get to make?  Maybe?  So, is a black woman not black if she didn’t grow up in Donald Trump’s hellish “inner city”?)

So, if one makes a leap from feeling such horror of actions done by one’s race can make you wish you were something else, could horror over what things have been done by one’s sex make you crave a different identity?  I have no idea if horror at male behavior could make some men actually say, “You know, I don’t want to be THAT guy – in fact I don’t want to be ANY guy!”  It seems doubtful to me.  Trans people I know say they just knew they were in the wrong body.  A few I have read about might have a point – certain people born with confusing combinations of sexual parts – who might once have been called hermaphrodites, might have had a snap decision made by a doctor or parent in their infancy.  I could easily see that causing them to want to be something other than that random “assignment.”

Feminists have been at lengths to rationally explain that there are two “sexes” determined by physical attributes at birth.  But what does that mean for people with indeterminate sexual bits, eh?  On the other hand, gender, they tell us, is societally imposed bits assigned to those bearing said physical attributes.  My school Principal, seeing bumps on my chest, assigned “wears skirts” to me as a gender attribute to match my physiology, for instance.  Perhaps my demand to wear pants violated some deeply held belief in a Biblical injunction against women wearing men’s clothing?  (Never mind, of course, that in Biblical days NOBODY wore pants!)

So, if I am understanding the trans objections of certain feminists, they are against the idea that trans people wear the clothing of their chosen gender as an outward sign of the sexual identity they wish to adopt?  Gender is an artificial and negatively affecting condition and thus to be wore down, ground out, and destroyed, you see?  So the trans idea of men wearing feminine attributes like skirts, bras, make-up only reinforces the subjugating force of gender and must be opposed?  Am I getting this right?  My mind does boggle at this, you see?

I get into these moral dilemmas when ideology seems to completely cut people, who are surely suffering, out of the equation in the service of an idea.  What are these suffering people left on the margins in the pursuit of a perfect ideology, if not some kind of snarling logicality induced collateral damage?  If one assigned this same rational to homosexuality, by saying, for example “Men being fucked like women reasserts gender roles, so by Logic, we canNOT have THAT happening!” it wouldn’t wash, would it?  Oh, wait, something very like that IS what homophobic religious jerks DO say, isn’t it?  We have seen how that played out, haven’t we?

Thus, my problems with being anti-trans because “feminism opposes gender.”  I care about the people it is happening to more than I care about an idea about reinforcement of “gender”.  And what has this to do with a photograph of pretty glassware at the top of this random mental ramble?  Well, those lovely “glasses”?  They were once soda bottles.  They were TRANSformed into pretty, bright, colorful glasses to drink beer, wine, martinis — or water — out of instead.  So, I expect that any day now, we should catch hell from the Mormons decrying the natural non-alcoholic use of that GLASS being TRANSformed into something promoting the use of demon rum, etc, etc, etc.  Recycled soda bottles should only be made into more soda bottles, damn it all!

We are chasing our semantic tails round and round and forgetting people.  This disturbs and troubles me.  There are plenty of oppressors out there, I’ve met them.  It is when I meet them looking like ME that I am most disturbed.  I cannot “see” a trans woman being an oppressor by “reinforcing gender roles” because she is wearing a dress and has her hair permed.  No, I cannot.  I will not.  And no, I can’t just sit on my fingers or keep my mouth shut.  I am deemed an idiot, occasionally.  The reason is, I keep saying things like this: What would the world look like IF everyone actually COULD choose who/what/how to be?  Is that not really a suggestion of what a post-racism, post-sexism world might look like?

And yes, thank you.  I’d rather be an idealistic idiot than a snarling logicality-induced bit of rhetorical rubble.  I’m pretty ashamed to be American in the wake of the November election, but I don’t think I can be anything else.  I’m also pretty ashamed to be a human, in light of human behavior.  So, I will stick with idealistic idiot until I find a wolf pack that will take me in in spite of my inadequate hairiness.

How Do We Become Who We Are

books-livrmI remember being pregnant with my first son. I remember stacks of books about being pregnant and producing children. I remember laughing and throwing one of those books, the title of which escapes me, into the trash can because it said something about newborn children being “blank slates” upon which their parents basically “wrote” their being.  Wow.  I somehow knew, just from the nature of the kicks to my breastbone, that the little presumed “chalkboard” in my belly was not going to go along with THAT program!

books-officeThis was before I’d even taken a philosophy course and before I’d even heard the word “existentialism.”  But I had the certain knowledge of what my own parents tried to “write” me into and knew I had rejected that completely.  How and why did I reject their doubtless sincere, if self-serving, efforts?  Because of BOOKS.  Because I read from an early age – I read at 4th grade level in grade one.  Because in a household full of horrific physical punishments, the worst punishment of all was not being allowed to check out library books for a whole year.

booksaltarBooks were where I escaped the cruel cloister of “family” life.  Books made me forget cold and hunger.  Books told me there were other ways to live, places to be.  Books made me sure I could do more with my life.  I’ve asked for books as presents more than any other object, I’ve given books away all my life.  The ones pictured in this post are small remnant of books owned and re-homed elsewhere, or occasionally sold, in my lifetime.  Books, to me, are WEALTH.  And no, those photos are not even all of the books of the family.  Not even half the books.

Reading is freedom seeking.  Reading is hope in ink.  So believe me when I say, I approve this message.  A plan to GET books into the hands of children who live in the unimaginable horror of a “book desert”?!  I am absolutely FOR that idea.  Even at our poorest, in my childhood, there was a set of encyclopedia and a dozen other books in our home, until we lost it all when I was around age 13.  Living in the wilds of frozen rural Idaho with no book in the house except the Book of Mormon, left by missionaries, was the most extreme deprivation I’d known.

Books are the building blocks of the mind.  And the roadmaps to better futures.  Books can be weapons against chaos.  Give your children books.  Give your adult friends books.  Read books yourself.  Challenge yourself!

 

 

 

 

Tone Setting?

img_0081I know, someone is going to accuse me of intolerance. I care not one whit.  I don’t even pretend to tolerate racism, misogyny, slavery, and other horrid societal things, do I?  And since the dominant paradigm faiths promote  all of those things practically as a default? Hey, that puts it all in the “never fucking mind” file in my mind.  Christianity, like most of the big three monotheistic faiths, being centered on a male deity, tends to treat women like crap.  Possibly worse than crap.  (Fertilizer is valued for crops and bomb making, after all.)  Since I’m a woman, I feel under no particular strain to aid in my own subjugation!  I actually feel like religion is used more to oppress everyone into “good” behavior that serves our corporate and governmental “masters” more than any purported god.

I like the pagan pantheons because they encompass both male and female divinity as an example.  Also?  None of that “all good, all knowing, all powerful” nonsense that makes the Jehovah figures either incompetent or assholes.  Don’t waste your time throwing C.S. Lewis or any other apologists at me; been there, done that and it was as unsatisfying as that crummy diet ice cream made with poly-what-the-hell-ever instead of cream!  Does that mean I pray to the figures on my altar — Kybele, Athena, Mary, and Crow Mother?  No.  It does not.  They are there to remind me of storied capabilities they were endowed with so as to activate those very human qualities in myself!  As I have often joked, I am a sort of poly-deist: “They” may indeed be out there and have set it all in motion, but they are not standing by a prayer/ritual switchboard to satisfy all “our wandering desires”.

I live, these days, mystical past apart,  basically as a “godless pagan”.  This does not mean precisely that I am an atheist — I am firmly agnostic due to my mystical past.  I have no clear idea whether or not gods and goddesses objectively exist; but I am pretty certain that this planet is OUR ball of wax to shape and destroy as WE will.  To me, tales of gods, goddesses, heroes, and heroines are examples and precautionary tales.  Mind you, if Athena pops in (again) and head-smacks me?  I am willing to change my mind; but as a humanist?  For me, the biggest deterrent to the  common practice of religion is that it holds us back from saving ourselves as we wait, like children await the Easter bunny, some other Being to do it for us!

It is reassuring to me to know  that I am not alone as a pagan who isn’t rushing to propitiate divinities.  If gods and goddesses exist, my main perception is that they would most likely prefer for us to grow up and stop acting like little lost sheep(le).  The first book on my buy-t0-read list this year is Godless Paganism.  May it be so for you!