Tuesday, October 21, 2008

HTSG Festival

We're back home again (emphasis : again), this time after a trip to the Highlands of Tennessee gathering. We've learned to call it HTSG - Highlands of Tennessee Samhain Gathering.
What a wonderful time we had. Lady Amythyst is one of the most welcoming of any festival organizers; and for you troops who are in a financial squeeze, the price for the gathering--including food!--has to be the lowest in the western world.
We felt no negativity there at all. Everyone shared the intent to have a pleasant time, and maybe grow spiritually and experience some healing, in one of the most natural settings we've seen. Everything was very positive and forward-looking.
The site, Avalon Isle, offers camping space and some cabins (cabins for those who book early). It's well away from other habitations. So we'll see you there, won't we. Access is really easy from almost anywhere in the southeast, in the Knoxville/Asheville/Gatlinburg triangle. The campsite is open year round so you can get away from the mad rush by renting a cabin there in any season.
Avalon Isle's website avalonisle.org

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Home again, home again.

Greetings, Readership.
At last we're back, and we promise to deal with individual e-mails as quickly as we can. Yes, we're still reeling, spiritually and physically, from the tight-packed month of experiences we've just enjoyed.
We had a wonderful trip and hit Europe at the height of an indian summer. The Guides must have put in a special order in our behalf for beautiful weather. Sure, there was a day or two of overcast and rain in England; without them, Yvonne would have asked for her money back. Brittany (Bretagne) did us proud; visits to Mont St-Michel, the Bayeux Tapestry, the ancient tomb at Gavrinis, and Point du Raz were just some of the many highlights.
In the normal French way there are many suggestions, both thoughtful and tongue-in-cheek, about the significance of the alignments at Carnac. We'd like to add one more: they were installed by a syndicate of Kodak and the makers of digital cameras as a giant photo-op.
In England most of the party were very taken with Glastonbury with its amazing spiritual energy and with our B-and-B hostess Koko, a leading light of the Avalon group. Local lore grows
by the day. Imagine the traffic cop pulling you over and giving you (a) a ticket and (b) an aura reading. Anyhow, Koko's group have just bought the church hall and turned it into a shrine to the Lady.
In Cornwall, finally finding the circle where Gavin was initiated was a high point for him. The circle now labeled on all the maps as the Nine Maidens of Boskednan is in fact not the Nine Maidens of Boskednan. It was originally a circle of 21 stones, or maybe 23. On-site inspection led us to surmise that nine of the stones had been moved to form another adjacent nine-maidens circle with one large rock serving as the hunch-back fiddler outside the circle itself.
(You probably know the story, found at this site as well as at the Jungfraujoch in Germany. A circle of women is dancing on a holy night, probably Beltane. A hunch-back fiddler comes upon them by accident. "You play for our dancing, and we'll straighten your back." Everybody goes away happy at dawn.)
At one semi-secret circle Yvonne the apprentice dowser dowsed for whatever would manifest, and was able to pick up a known ley line bisecting the circle north-to-south. Huge gratitude to the family who owns the land, and who cherish and guard the site, admitting only respectful people who (somehow) find it by word of mouth or by other means. Y's thanks to Lauren, her mentor in the skill of dowsing.
We spent just a couple of days in London and were fortunate enough to hear the Master of the Temple, Robin Griffith-Jones, give his Monday talk in the Temple Church. His presentations happen only twice a week and we ... just happened ... to stumble across it on our way to another meeting. Imagine. What staggering erudition he enthusiastically, generously shared with us. He summarized the history of the Templars and pointed out that the little cobbled road down which we walked from Fleet Street to the church had lain undisturbed since the 1200s when the Templars actually constructed it. The Master had several rather cutting remarks about Dan Brown's "The da Vinci Code." Because of our earlier commitment to a 2 o'clock appointment, we had no chance to ask him about Picknett/Prince's "Templar Revelation."
We were overjoyed and grateful beyond words that we had earlier read both Baigent/Lee/ Lincoln "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" and the Picknett/Prince. Their information made the whole experience even more enriching and meaningful.
The low point of the trip undoubtedly was sticker shock. If it hadn't been for our good, generous friends who paid for the fares and covered many expenses, we could never have afforded to set foot on the eastbound aircraft, let alone to enjoy one experience after another. We have not obtained their permission to reveal their identities, but will long be indebted to them. Breakfast coffee at a mid-range restaurant costs $4 a cup (actually a mini-Cup, by Frost standards)--and there are no free refills here. You're still lucky, too, to get theatre tickets at $100 a seat. On the other hand, food in supermarkets is not unreasonably priced.
In St. Ives, life is a lot kinder and less pricey if you simply resign yourself to using a bike. A car? Forget it. Parking is literally impossible; and town councils seem consciously to make it more of a challenge than it actually might be.
We took hundreds of slides, and learned a lot more about stone circles and alignments. The pre-Christian community owes a tremendous debt to the many people who quietly make it their
responsibility to cherish the early sites and protect them from stupid people who would disrespect and even deface them.
If you want to see our slides and hear about the very unusual characteristics of the crystalline rocks that form the circles, come to our new presentation on megalithic monuments, scheduled for FPG in Florida and for Sirius Rising, as well as for several other gatherings with smaller audiences.
Off for another installment in the home-again laundry mountain. Blessed be all. G Y

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pagan Unity

Greetings, patient readers.
Just a quick thought before we depart our matrix : How about if we label pagan meet-and-greet events Pagan Alliance Day -- PAD -- or Pagan Friendship Day -- PFD?
See you soon. Keep a light in the window. Blessed be all. Gavin and Yvonne

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pagan Unity Day

It's probably a good thing that we two are retired. Our life is chronically so busy that even writing a blog keeps falling off the end of the schedule. And since we're leaving next weekend for four weeks in Europe, this blog will be the last utterance for another extended period.
What we want to do today is claim precedence for the title Pagan Unity Day. Notice the date of this publication and compare it with the dates of other claims.
Why? Apparently the title Pagan Pride Day has been taken over and cannot be used except with the gracious royal approval of some central authority--an attitude diametrically, violently at odds with the way we believe pagan/Wiccans should act toward each other. With an approach like that one, who needs Pat Robertson? After all, freedom is what we loudly tout in our actions toward each other; non? Yes, of course some people might actually have made a couple of bucks from using the name; though surely such an experience is unique in the world of alternative spiritualities that we Frosts are acquainted with.
So we hereby propose that everyone who wants to run a full pagan/Wiccan information-booth, meet-and-greet kind of day call their event a Pagan Unity Day, or Wiccan Unity Day. After all, our paths are not supposed to decree marching in lockstep, are they?
So who do we think/propose can use "Pagan Unity Day" as a title for their event? For now and forthwith, the answer is: Everyone. And we mean everyone.

The other day we had an interesting discussion abaout anti-discriminatory "statements" along the line of "This letterhead does not discriminate against ... " Well, against what? Against people who don't enroll in the same credit union we might belong to? Against people who don't use the same brand of ketchup we use? Against people who butter their toast north-to-south instead of east-to-west? Is it an act of discrimination when we say, "We will not discriminate against gays"? or "lesbians"? or "people with freckles"? Surely the very act of distinguishing and naming such stereotypes means we are ipso facto discriminating, exhibiting an attitude that says, "I'm so desperately tolerant that I won't discriminate even against those guys, though they're clearly sub-human and (gasp) different from me"? Whew--what a humanitarian attitude. Let's all be awed and grateful.
That's all for now; we'll see you in October. Or (wow) au revoir jusqu'a l'octobre. Blessed be.
Gavin and Yvonne

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Walking Your Talk

We're back from Sirius Rising at Brushwood. Some 1,200 or so assorted pagans, Wiccans, new-agers, had a wonderful time. The weather cooperated, mostly; and the Saturday-night bonfire, where we burned the Thunderbird of Communication, was as enormous as usual.
The idea of the daily community meeting ("village meeting") is to pool ideas for making things even better. There was much discussion on our joint carbon footprint and what attendees could do to "green" Brushwood. The final conclusion was that each person should bring such things as solar-powered path lights and solar panels for any electronic requirement at their own campsite.
The wood burned in the bonfire is generally scrapwood and offcuts from sawmills; still it makes a significant addition to the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The unspoken mantra is, "My bonfire is bigger this year than yours was last year, so ha ha!" We've heard the concept verbalized as a dick-waving contest.
If you didn't see the PBS special last week on global dimming, you should endeavor to see a rerun of it; or go to the PBS website and see what you can call up. Anyway, the gist of it is this: Throughout the world significantly less radiation from the sun is reaching the earth's surface than reached it even ten years ago. In Israel, for example, monitoring instruments show that over the last 12 years radiation has diminished by 30 percent. Why should you care? Sunlight is the only source of photosynthesis for all the crops of the world, and the pattern extends worldwide. Experts estimate that we would be experiencing something like 2 degrees more global warming than is currently happening if the dimming weren't going on.
The principal sources of dimming are jet contrails, vehicle exhaust, and smoke. The question is, What can you do?
One morning at Brushwood as we walked away from the community meeting, we had to step over a pile of discarded soda cans thrown into the grass with a sprinkling of butts. This from professed earth-loving pagans.
Okay. You know what would make us happy--or happier? Congress, you pass a law (and occupant of the White House, sign it!) stipulating the following:
1. If you want to buy 20 cigarettes, you bring in 20 filters.
2. Any filters found abandoned on the face of the earth must be (a) recyclable or (b) compostable
Prove to me that I'm wrong, or offer a better choice of dispositions, and I'll withdraw my suggestion. Meantime, I for one am heartily sick of what smokers do to themselves, to me and my descendants, and to the face of the Mother. I am heartily sick as well at the thought that my tax dollars may be going to repair the ravaged bodies of individuals who have knowingly addicted themselves and now expect me to pay for their rehab.
And how about a federal law (not piecemeal state by state) mandating, say a refundable deposit of $1--that's not a misprint--on every aluminum can and every plastic bottle that passes by a merchant's cash register?
Who else feels the same way?
Sure, in some states you already get money back for the cans anyway--but people still can't be bothered to pick them up.
Ah well. We're just a couple of cynical old grouches after all. In another few years it won't matter to us. But if you have (or expect to have) descendants, don't forget. It could conceivably matter to them. Let us know.
Blessed be those who walk respectfully on the earth. Gavin and Yvonne

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Researching Festivals

We're sure that by now you're getting used to the erratic schedule on which we write blogs. Stay tuned: It looks as if it's going to get a lot more erratic. The middle two weeks of July we'll be at Brushwood Folklore Center (Sherman NY), the first week attending one of the best festivals in the northeast, Sirius Rising. (Remember Orion's dog Sirius? He's the reason we call this warm season dog days. In mid-July, the dawn sun rises between earth and Sirius.) The second week we'll be on site basically meeting old friends who will also atend Starwood: ACE's* massive festival and party.
Festivals and festival speakers seem now to us to fall into definite categories: Some festivals, those that refuse to pay speakers or even reimburse them for honest travel expenses, are only a money machine for the promoters. Other festivals pay to get good speakers and musicians but have a hard time breaking even. These, though, are definitely much more worth attending.
Speakers and presenters as well fall into two distinct categories: The "big names" who charge the earth and are pushing the same old tired message; and those who have a new and different view (which they have thought through past the point of ego-stroking blither). Here the pattern is to charge very little if anything, and to be well worth listening to.
With both speakers and festivals, then, we ourselves perceive a strong negative correlation (note: negative) between sincerity and profit.
So how can you tell which gatherings are worth attending? You really can't, unless you can psychometrize the announcements they publish. You pays your money and you takes your choice. After once or twice researching Festival X or Speaker Y, you'll at least have something to push against; you can review the experience and say to yourself, "Not this!"
We can promise that at the ones we attend, the organizers are not making much if anything in the way of profit. We ourselves ask for expenses but never an honorarium.
Meantime, get out and sniff around any festivals you can get to. Do your research. Look at the attendees and listen to them. Where do they fall on the Flake/Weird Index? Look at the program. Is it too bizarre or too hackneyed or too gasping to fit your interests?
By the way, has anybody got any ideas on ways we can compensate for the carbon footprint that we incur with the bonfires?--ways beyond making attendees pay for carbon credits.
We hope to cross paths with you at one or another of these gatherings.
Blessed be. Gavin and Yvonne
- - - - - - - - -
* The Association for Consciousness Expansion

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Our Week in the Garden

Let us apologize for not keeping the blog updated. If there is a problem, it is the garden. We live on a city lot; our Spread is 44 feet wide and ... maybe ... 100 feet front to back with everything behind the house a steep uphill climb. The house and the front lawn presently occupy the streetside half of it. If this nation continues on its present track, one of these days we will put in a front fence, ideally securing it where plain traces of an earlier fence remain in the retaining wall, and dig up the lawn too. Sure, we know full well that growing our own is definitely a non-profit operation; still, it's worth it for the reward of having really fresh vegetables, free of pesticides and all the rest of the toxins that abound in the environment.
So far this year we've had four feeds of asparagus and three feeds of rhubarb; we've lost count of the feeds of snap peas (mange-tout or eat-'em-all or snow peas) and green beans--many of which now reside in the freezer section of the fridge after being tray-frozen.
Today we're cooking up the first batch of plums off the two trees we planted, and we'll probably have harvard beets with lunch. The small beets from the thinning of the rows go well in that recipe. This besides the ongoing supply of tender young beet greens for salads.
The first tomatoes have come in, of what promises to be a very heavy crop.
Birds are wreaking havoc among the raspberries, having previously had a go at the strawberries. We find that feeding the local cats is an enormous help in vigilance over berries of every sort. So long as they loiter around the yard, the birds take their appetites elsewhere.
Between all that, and putting a new roof on the conservatory, and painting the back of the house, it's a good thing we're "retired" (ironic smile). Otherwise we'd never manage to get any of it done.
Yvonne has to go now. She's about to time the blanching of another batch of mange-tout peas. Oh, and did I mention the gooseberries and the apricots?
The compost bin has become even more of a shrine for certain creatures, and the volunteer toad is doing his part to restrain the airborne population. Talk about a squatter ... It's all a beautiful demonstration of the Mother's bounteous cycle, with us gratefully functioning as enablers or custodians.
Blessed be those who walk respectfully on the Earth. Gavin and Yvonne

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Armchair Strategists

This is Yvonne's musing, nobody else's. Feedback goes to her alone.
The countries now labeled Ireland and Northern Ireland have been the scene of untold sorrow and grief, the scene where thousands of lives have been aborted, wasting their talents and their skills and their potential, visiting grief and loss on their families and associates in needless warfare laid on the land by--whom else?--by religious leaders. We ourselves in this generation are living witnesses to essentially the same pattern being inflicted today on the Middle East, in Africa, in North Korea--again--by religious leaders.
So whether the front lines of battle be official or guerrilla or catch-as-catch-can, where are the self-appointed old men who daily urge murder and destruction in the name of their religion? Why, they're at home, thanks, clean and comfortable, well-fed, safe from danger, with time on their hands to think up new accusations against the Enemy, those faceless humans who bear the artificial label "to be destroyed for not believing as I believe."
Let's indulge ourselves a moment in the name of fantasy. What if, in the Middle East, people were to say something to this effect? "Hey! Let's knock off this nonsense and go home to what's left of our life. Let's let the old men meet with wooden swords in the soccer stadium to fight out their own battles if they're so deeply troubled by their aging prostates. It's not really our problem. Didn't Allah tell us somewhere in the holy book that it's okay to live and let live? Let's all cut each other a little slack and do something beneficial--just for the novelty of it."
But that's only my fantasy. It probably won't amount to anything.
Occasionally I fantasize about what might have happened in the Emerald Isle if the touchy old religious leaders had all gone away and some sensible person (probably a woman) had said, "Let's dump these dominator religions altogether, each with their malevolent juju-on-a-stick, and let's return to the gentle worship of the Lady Who was here before any of these soreheads hit town."
Just a fantasy. Never mind.

Blessed be those who refuse to buy into the propaganda. Yvonne

Thursday, June 12, 2008

You can't be my friend

We Frosts have a relatively wide circle of friends and aquaintances. With the passage of time many of them have become divorced or have separated. For years we have ignored a common assumption: that is, that we are not supposed to remain friends with both parties to the breakup. Ridiculous as it seems, when you've been friendly with, let us say, both the husband and the wife, after a divorce you can be friends with only one of them.
It isn't true, you know. We can remain friends with both of them as individuals as well as friends with them as a couple. Our principal guideline in behaving thus is this : Never discuss one party's doings with the other party. Genuine friends are not so thick on the ground that we can afford to lose either or both.
As well as couples, covens and groups break up. Here, deplorably, we see exactly the same phenomenon. Instead of separating and then still working rationally together for the common good of the Movement (the Community) toward shared goals, especially on mundane matters, or simply going their own way, the two groups assume that now they have to hate each other--to such a degree that third parties outside, who now have friends in both the groups, are hated and reviled because we are so stupid that we don't see the terrible things the "other" fraction of the former group is doing. It doesn't take an Einstein to figure out that this behavior pattern isn't doing any good for the community or for our mutual spirituality. Must we assume that pagans are incapable of rational behavior?
Such either/or sulking and pouting behavior occurs on the playground of second-grade seven-year-olds. It is unworthy of self-styled "adults". Please just get over yourselves, you individuals who claim to exhibit adult behavior. Do something useful with your lives instead of staying crouched panting for the death of your new enemies. Don't you still share some inkling of the feeling that almost any pagan is better company than almost any (say) Christian?
Blessed be those who can demonstrate their maturity. Gavin and Yvonne

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Stonehenge Undecoded

Before we begin this blog let us apologize for not being very up to date. The garden is taking a lot of attention and time with the snap peas in full production, as well as strawberries, lettuces, beet greens, and radishes. This year even the tomatoes look as if the crop will be abundant. Some of the plants are already showing four trusses.* The tomatoes' sideshoots are going into the mix of salad greens, because they offer an extremely high content of calcium.
* the British term for sideshoots that bear fruit.

But enough of that. Now for the real intent of today's utterance.
We very much enjoyed the National Geographic revelation this week of findings in the Stonehenge area, and cannot sufficiently praise the work of Professor Mike Parker-Pearson.
We would like to suggest an alternate explanation for the moving of the sarsens. Any farmer knows that the time to move heavy objects, such as sledding farrowing houses on a pig farm, is midwinter when the ground is frozen. If we look at temperature observations during the Holocene, we can see quite clearly that a cold spell occurs at the time of the major construction of Stonehenge. The evidence for this is proxy, of course; but ice cores and other evidence suggest that there was a short-lived climatic shift--and there is some evidence that there was also a worldwide reduction in precipitation. It is a stretch, but some people believe this to be a primary cause of the collapse of the Old Kingdom of Egypt.
What if they just sledded the sarsens on iced pathways? What if, instead of building simple earth ramps to tilt for erection of the stones, they iced the surface?
Another factor here might be that during summer these gatherer-hunter people would most likely be working to enhance their food stores. Why not then start construction perhaps at winter solstice or indeed even earlier at Samhain, when the man- and woman-power were not busy with their gathering-hunting tasks?
We were most intrigued at the parallels postulated to the Hindu sacred-river cultures of today. It is a real joy for us to share this planet with one (Parker-Pearson) who is not so confined by dogma and who has the cojones to reach beyond conventional wisdom and its accepted assumptions, thus perhaps giving a further reason to believe that these ancient peoples migrated right across the continent and were the forebears of our Celtic ancestors.
Blessed be those who dare to think beyond conventional ideas. Gavin and Yvonne

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


travesty - burlesque or ludicrous treatment of a serious work or subject; any grotesque or debased imitation. French: travest - dressed to appear ridiculous.

Sometimes a series of events gets us so angry and frustrated that we can't see straight and we have to sound off. We're sounding off here not as dancing Wiccans but as private citizens of the United States. The recent flap over "Should we negotiate with terrorists or should we blast them out of existence?" is a travesty.
Do you remember when Libya under Gadafi was the foremost terrorist nation and they were shopping for nuclear armament? First Washington tried to bomb his house. When that failed, guess what? We negotiated. Gadafi promised to be a good boy and not to go looking for nuclear arms. Last month Mr. Gadafi wrote to George W. Bush complaining that the United States had reneged on the earlier deal, because the Senate in its wisdom was going to allow companies doing business with Libya to be sued for past transgressions.
Do you remember when North Korea was part of the "axis of evil"? Madeleine Albright negotiated an agreement with that nation; by it they would not pursue nuclear technology in return for food and for aid with oil. The Republicans reneged on that deal, but North Korea rattled its sabers, and lo and behold, we negotiated with them. The deal benefited this nation less than the one the Democratic administration had concluded.
Now it's reported that Washington is negotiating with the terrorists in Iraq--in fact we are paying them not to attack American military troops--paying them in cold hard American tax dollars.
Another subject we see in the news is materials supposedly supplied by Iran to terrorists in Iraq. It is suggested that Iran either made these themselves or got them from Russia or China. Why then are the packing crates stenciled in English, in the Roman alphabet?--not in an Arabic alphabet, not in the cyrillic alphabet, not in Chinese characters, but in Roman letters. Were those materials stolen from U. S. stockpiles, or even materials supplied to Iraq in the days when we were friendly with Saddam Hussein?
One last bitch while we're letting off steam. We wrote a blog a few weeks ago about the lady buying dog food to eat. Part of her problem is that she receives a Social Security check which gets adjusted for the cost of living. It sounds wonderful--a system perfect and benign. There's just one minor problem. The CoLA that our enlightened government uses does not figure in the price of food or fuel. Apparently, in Washington's Olympian indifference, these are not essential items to be calculated. In our CoLA all we Frosts can do is go out into the garden and beat the tomato plants so they'll give us an adequate crop this year. But you, my friends, can do something more emphatic. You can tell everyone what unadulterated BS the Republican stance of not-negotiating with terrorists really is. They've done it; they're doing it; actually it has worked.
You may rest assured, of course, that the administration has read both the Koran and Mao's Little Red Book. From the Koran source, "One sword is worth 10,000 words." From the Little Red Book, "Trouble at home? Start a war."
Okay; we've gotten it out of our systems. It does make us feel better ... until we turn on the news again. If you aren't angry, and if you're not planning to vote, boys and girls, you're not paying attention. As St. Timothy Leary said (whom that same Gadafi saved from the CIA and the Black Panthers), "Hold your nose and vote."
Ah well. Just keep payin' your taxes; everything will be okay. Blessed be. Gavin and Yvonne

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bulletin from the Garden

We're finally back from Florida Pagan Gathering (FPG), the best one yet. See flapagan.org to learn the particulars of the sponsoring organization, Temple of Earth Gathering. The site is a fantastically beautiful one within Ocala National Forest. All praise to the hard-working, creative staff.
At FPG's bardic circle we enjoyed a lot of bass guitars. What ever happened to saxes? to trumpets? to drums? to all the other instruments? And by the way, what ever happened to intelligible lyrics? A respected music teacher once told Yvonne's glee club,
"Instruments can make music. Humans can make words."
The most beautiful singing voice on earth is meaningless and insulting if the words are indistinguishable.
We saw fewer children on site than in earlier years. Is that because the parents just want to party? Our kids are the future, in spirituality, in creativity, in play as well as in the whole mundane-world culture. If we don't bring them to festivals, we'll lose them to the Muggles and the conformists. Is that what you hope for your descendants (shudder)? Granted, they may see naked people--if they actively seek out the concealed area. And yes, they may get naked themselves. Quel horreur! Sometimes we grind our teeth in such frustration with American "morality"--that is, with inflicted cultural prudishness--that we want to bang our heads against the nearest wall. Didn't thinking "alternative" people learn anything at all from Prohibition and its fallout?
We're planning a trip to Europe this autumn. We'll get to be on a naturist beach in Brittany where gendarmes come down and run off anyone in clothes--the "textiles". It's a glorious feeling on a sunny autumn day to experience sea, sun, breeze on natural bodies. There's a picture postcard available (in Brittany) showing a nude man holding the hand of his nude daughter paddling in the waves. It is untitled; no title is necessary.
Let your kids have that gift at festival. Outgrow cultural assumptions when it is appropriate. Lay aside the shalt-nots of "normal" people. We've seen "normal"--and it's not for the faint of heart.
On our return to West Virginia the lawn was a foot tall, of course; and the snap peas (mange-tout) had grown about two feet. Because our daughter Jo had carefully covered the tomato plants, they in turn were not damaged by a late frost. We're looking forward to a heavy crop. This year again, we planted each with a Tums tablet at its base to furnish the calcium that prevents blossom-end rot. (All this is gardener-jargon. Ignore it if your interests lie elsewhere.) Adding a few tomato-leaf tips to your green salad will help with any lack of calcium; and we all know that a deficiency of calcium is the defining factor for osteoporosis in people of all genders. Don't add too many leaves, though. An excess can upset your tummy.
While we were away the asparagus buds did not get harvested, so more of it went to seed than we usually let happen. In one way asparagus resembles rhubarb: They both need infinite patience. It is best to wait two years before you crop either of them, even when you start them from good root stock.
Blessed be each one who seeks. Gavin and Yvonne

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Morning Affirmation

It has been said that Jews and Witches hid out together during the Burning Times. In those dark hours they shared information that the dominator combination of church and state had officially forbidden. Here you have the root cause of the high interest in Qabalah(1) and in "high" magic found in many Wiccan groups. Traditionally such groups have used the affirmation

Ateh Malkuth Yours are the kingdom
Ve Geburah, Ve Gedullah, and the power and the glory
Le Olam. Amen. forever. Amen.

To us this felt chauvinistic, though some of our friends insist it is equally applicable to the female side of the Life Force. Thus for the feminist Wiccans (and for herself) Yvonne created this equal-opportunity affirmation.

Lady Queen, Lady Queen, Lady Queen, (2)
Shining Maiden, strong Woman, wise Crone:
Yours are dominion, power, glory. (3)
Yours are grace, nurturing, justice. (4)
Thus it is. Thus let it ever be.

You may be interested to know that in our personal life we also use a dawn affirmation of gratitude : gratitude for all the good things that came to us in the previous day and gratitude that we are alive and living today.

We are grateful for yesterday. We are grateful for today.
We honor all the things that make our life possible and pleasant.
So let it be.

Notice here we use "So let it be", in contrast to the more popular "So mote it be". This latter expression again is a dominator way of thinking and speaking. We who have thought through some of the traditions know that it might be just as well not to tell the gods or the Elder Ones arrogantly, "It must be this way" or to demand that the coming day meet our specification.
Use what you like from the ideas above. If you think they stink, suggest something better.
Blessed be those who live mindfully. Gavin and Yvonne
- - - - - - - - -
(1) Choose your favorite spelling from among the many variations on the theme.
(2) Because She is three.
(3) Fair enough, but there's another whole half of the Life Force to be acknowledged.
(4) Attributes approximating the way a human mind can perceive Her grace, Her nurturing, Her justice that correspond to the three aspects of the Goddess, to balance the dominator-male attributes of the original version.
- - - - - - - - -
We'll be out of town to address Florida Pagan Gathering (FPG) presented by Temple of Earth Gathering (TEG), in Ocala National Park/ Forest, Florida. If you're within range to attend, there will be some great speakers and presentations. Information: flapagan.org

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Proud to Be a Taxpayer

Before we begin this blog, we should mention that the opinions expressed below are personal opinions, NOT positions of the Church of Wicca. Why? Because legally an exempt organization is not supposed to take political positions. Would it were true for the rest of the nation's churches and ministers in this election year! The law governing the expression of opinions by an exempt organization is one (of many) honored more in the breach than in the observance. Remember "Render unto Caesar" ? Anyway ...
News channels on TV are showing food riots in several nations of the world. The Wall Street Journal says that food prices in the States have risen 83 percent in the last three years. If we remember accurately, they have gone up about 50 percent in the last six months.
At the checkout counter today, I watched an elderly lady stock up on dog and cat food. She doesn't own a dog; she doesn't own a cat. The cashier had known this woman for years, and was close to tears at the sight. She left her register and brought a sack of apples, giving it to the lady. Once the lady had departed, the cashier confided to me (next in line) that the lady was on a fixed Social Security pension, and that the dog and cat food was all she could afford to eat.
The shopper looked as if she was somewhere in her eighties, and actually looked pretty healthy.
Of course she had traveled to the grocery store in the senior citizens' bus, because she could no longer afford to operate a car. That means a dramatic drawing-in of her horizons. Our small town does not have a movie theater, for instance, or (since a recent fire) any quality clothing store. A shoe store? Forget it. Optometrist? Same story. Dentist? You're kidding.
We all know what has happened to the price of fuel. The problem is a very simple one; that is, that people on federal Social Security get a cost-of-living increase each year--but that increase does not acknowledge or figure in the prices of food and fuel. Apparently the federal government (our elected officials) thinks that life does not require either of these commodities.
Something needs fixing. It's only going to get worse, and your own retired parents and grandparents will end up eating cat and dog food--relying on the pity of a supermarket cashier for fresh fruit.
Write your congressman. Write your representative. Hell! Write to the candidates. Ask what they're going to do about it all. We ourselves have given up on the AARP. That body now seems to be part of the establishment, assuming that the biggest decision we currently have to make is how to manipulate our comfortable retirement funds.
So blessed be anyhow. Gavin and Yvonne

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Global What?

April is in its second week. As we drove toward aquarobics yesterday we noticed that the service trees (officially Amelanchier, aka "sorbus" trees because of the dialects common to the early European settlers of West Virginia), were blooming on the mountainsides. Why "service" trees? Their blooms revealed two seasonal things: the ground had thawed sufficiently that the bodies of the winter's deaths could be buried; and itinerant circuit-riding preachers could travel to conduct services over those burials and could christen babies born in the season of freezing.
At the same time, for some reason best known to themselves, this year the redbuds (Cercis canadensis) have suddenly bloomed. This means that Spring is well advanced and that we can probably put the bean seeds safely into the ground.
All these signs are encouraging in that Nature is doing its thing, for the most part ignoring politics and politicians. Of course our calendar from last year's garden journal hints that we're two weeks ahead of schedule; so global warming is hitting even us in the mountains.
Somehow in all the talk about global warming and the greenhouse effect, the studies on global dimming have been forgotten. In the few days after 911, when all civilian flights were grounded, the good people at NOAA (national Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency) took the opportunity to calculate the effect of jet exhausts on the planet's atmosphere. Their calculation showed that the planet could be as much as three (3) degrees Fahrenheit cooler because of the jet exhausts than it would be without them. Most of the global-warming studies are talking about 1 degree F in ten years or so--but global dimming is accounting for 3 degrees! Without dimming the world would be 3 degrees hotter today.
Just thought you'd like to know. Blessed be. Gavin and Yvonne

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Thoughts from France

There is a love-hate relationship between the United States and France. The French often seem to do things to enrage this nation's government (and who can blame them, when we get such stupidities handed down as "freedom fries" instead of French fries?).
Remember how this whole caper escalated? It was engendered when
1. Emperor George decreed that every right-thinking nation would gladly fall in line to support his one-man vendetta against Iraq.
2. France declined to obey.
3. The American government decreed that all visitors holding French passports suddenly needed visas to enter this nation.
4. In return France dumped its American dollars.
5. Your dollars and mine abruptly lost who knows how much value against the Euro.
In researching earlier cultures, we ourselves have spent some time in Brittany (Bretagne) (a land not to be confused with France itself because the Bretons too have a love-hate relationship with France).
We have observed that French people have some wonderful, effective, innovative ideas that make a lot of sense. When diesel prices climbed outrageously, French truckers united to blockade access to the oil refineries of France. Only emergency vehicles could get fuel. The blockade lasted one (1) entire day; then the French government decided to change the tax structure on fuels. We hear truckers complaining impotently on TV today about diesel at $4 a gallon--and well they should. Why don't American truckers take positive action?
From the point of view of gasoline prices in this nation, the only thing that will convince the oil cartel to lower its prices is if we all stop using as much fuel. Again if we turn to the French, they used the good old Irish boycott--they declared a no-driving day. Of course with public transportation in Europe it is easier to do that than it is in the United States. Of course. We understand--but still we could do it too. Surely if we can declare a no-smoking day, we can declare a no-driving day.
As a last resort, write your congressman, futile though it may be, to tell them in words of one syllable that while the oil companies are making today's obscene profits, they don't need or deserve multi-million-dollar tax breaks and subsidies.
Have a good day. Have a nice walk.
Blessed be. Gavin and Yvonne

1. All of us drastically cut our consumption of fuels. Carpool, ride a bike or a motor scooter, take a bus.
2. Consolidate errands to do them all on one trip instead of on three or four.
3. Until the auto makers catch on, simply stop buying and driving the big SUVs and vehicle-envy machines that implicitly vaunt their low mpg.
4. Finally, a four-letter word that we hesitate to use on a site accessible to young people:

Monday, March 31, 2008

Locking Our Shields

We think Basra can teach us a bloody lesson in helping our community survive.
Under British control, Basra was a scene of calm. The city and its docks worked. The oil flowed. Then the British withdrew. For over a month the city continued to function "normally" ... whatever "normal" may mean in the Middle East. Then for reasons best known to itself and to the imams, the central government decided that a city with a "different" sect and its own militia could not be allowed to exist.
Chaos ensued--hundreds of deaths.
The Basra no-win situation can be compared to what heppens when one self-appointed section of our own pagan/Wiccan community decides that another section is wrong. Our community combines a vast spectrum of people. There are those who waft around in pretty robes and gossamer wings, calling themselves Lord Everup and Lady Candy-Ass. Such a worldview shades over into more mature behavior when those individuals begin journeying on to La-La Land.
Beyond La-La Land we find more serious practitioners of the Arts on a more serious path, who spend years in putting together well-thought-out magical systems and cosmologies. In some ways these two activities are diametrically opposed. Cosmology in general is concerned with beginnings and with spirituality. Magical systems in general are intended to influence events in this horizontal dimension.
Everyone is on a progressive ladder. Those in their kindergarten-level dress-up phase will graduate--at least that is our hope. Thus we should embrace their activities, just as we should try to support the activities of those who would like to move to higher levels and to expand the boundaries of Wiccan spirituality and technology. The community cannot afford to bite and claw at each other when people out there are lined up to dance on our graves, people waiting to elect stealth candidates to school boards and to government at every level, itching to make this nation into a theocracy on their terms.
So please. Let us take our heads out of our ... centers of gravity ... and administer to ourselves a reality smack. If we don't lock our shields, the fanatics will not need to destroy this community; its own members will do it.
Why did the British succeed in Basra when the American offensive elsewhere was such a dismal failure? The answer lies in their respective attutides and assumptions: The British went in expecting to meet friends. The Americans went in expecting to meet enemies. Why don't we turn our heads around, you good pagans, and start believing that other members of the community might just become our friends instead of our enemies?
In the hope that we can all lighten up, Blessed be each one cuts the others a little slack. Gavin and Yvonne

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Quarterly Observance on the Wheel of the Year

Recently we attended a meeting of the pagan-studies group associated with the Beckley fellowship of the Unitarian-Universalist Association. Today's blog stems from some remarks of the group's leader J. L. and from the discussion that followed.
In this year of the Common Era 2008, Spring Equinox occurs on March 20. In this year the pre-Christian way those other folks use to calculate Easter* has brought the two observances unusually close together.
Ostara is really the time to observe your own private beginning time of year. Samhain is good for shared observances at the full moon nearest November 1, and we Frosts would be reluctant indeed to forgo its observance; but our personal lives might make more sense if we as pagans made our personal new year's resolutions at the vernal equinox, a time when we all want to get out and do things. Join us now if you like, in rolling up your sleeves and reviewing your assumptions. Let's start with a little research.
Easter - Our Oxford Etymological Dictionary says: Easter is derived by Bede from the name of a goddess whose feast was celebrated on the vernal equinox Eostre (related to east) and from the Sanskrit word Usra (dawn).** We are all familiar with the idea of spring cleaning and dawn in the east and the east correlating in our way with new beginnings.
We ourselves have been tilling and planting our small city garden. The task gets us out of the house after a long winter season of short, gray daylight hours and encourages us to put our hands into actual soil ... maybe not a bad thing.
How about not only making new resolutions but also actually doing something?! You might start with a good look at your spirituality, giving a good polish to those things you firmly believe, and sweeping away all that old rubbish that people have been blathering at you since you were born. Sum this up as:
What do you believe, and why do you believe it?
It's just a thought, but it's one we like.
So bright blessings to you who will polish up your spirituality but will also get out into the real world and do something. Gavin and Yvonne
- - - - - - -- -
* Find Spring Equinox. Find the next full moon. Find the next Sunday. That will be Easter. (Do you believe it?)
** Anotehr cognate occurs in the words Ostrogoth (Eastern Goths) and Visigoth (Western Goths).

Friday, March 14, 2008


We are told that blogs are supposed to reflect
* what we're doing in our day-to-day life and (of course)
* the random thoughts that come with that life.
Today's review of the Frost calendar might start with Yvonne's presentation on progressive reincarnation at the Unitarian-Universalist fellowship in Beckley. It was well received, maybe because she made it utterly clear that she was there not to recruit but to reveal a very personal interpretation of reincarnation as a rational process of learning and growth. She gave the same presentation the next week to the Pagan Leadership conference in Christiansburg VA. At that meeting Gavin gave his thoughts too on meditation and stress. You can read that presentation on the Conscious Mind Journal's site.
We traveled to the University of West Virginia in Montgomery to talk with a class in comparative religions about basic beliefs of Wicca. They kept us with questions for 2 1/2 hours. The classroom was full of students who had been well prepared, and thus their questions were at a much higher level than usually happens when we walk in cold. Our gratitude to their teacher and to the class members for their openness.
We're starting a series of detective fiction, The Dancing Detective. The first one of the series combines Termination Tango with Wicked Waltz; galley proofs for it came in from Outskirts Press, so we simply put our life on hold for a week so Yvonne could administer the final nit-picking review. You think you've seen bug-eyed? Whew.
Then two friends from Ohio, Ray and Raven, visited us for a very pleasant weekend. We hashed around all the usual Wiccan topics.
Our old bones feel as if we've done a lot more than the above, but the calendar shows few further entries. This along with the regular aquarobics, ballroom, and a review of French lessons. I don't know what we'd do if we weren't retired. ... or that's what they call it. Hmm ...
Oh, perhaps I forgot to mention we're writing a third book in the detective series: Reprehensible Rumba. You'll be on the edge of your seat.
Blessed be. Gavin and Yvonne
You don't pray in my school,
and I won't think in your church.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

P. Coelho's The Alchemist

When you want something,
all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.
This is a quote from Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist. The question is: Do we believe it or not? If we are here to learn, and we take the statement of Coelho's as fact, we will go further and will achieve everything we desire. But on the other hand, if we are here to learn, it would be more valid to say that the universe puts along our path challenges to be overcome. This way we are to gain knowledge and spiritual awareness.
We all have our dreams. The sad thing is this: that many people don't follow their dream--do not follow the precept "Do what you love; the money will follow." (the book by Marsha Sinetar) In the minds of many, the money must come first--so they do a lot of things they do not love. That makes them angry and stressed out. Then because of their anger and stress, the world is a worse place than before.
Blessed be those who have the courage to face their challenges.
Gavin and Yvonne
PS Kiran Paranjape: Thank you for your erudite correction and for your support. It means a lot.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Derivation of wicca

An ongoing argument* in Craft circles centers on the derivation of the word Wicca. We have always been very fond of the Oxford English Dictionary system, finding sources in which a given word was used and the dates of such usage. Recently there has come into our hands an Oxford Etymological Dictionary dated 1995. It tells us that wicca is an Anglo-Saxon masculine noun (feminine wicce). The Bosworth/Toller dictionary of 1898 CE, cited therein, defines wycce as phytonyssa--probably a typographical error by those two esteemed worthies for the word we know as pythoness.
Wiccan occurred in the laws of Edward and Guthrum (880-890 CE) and in the Laws of King Cnut (1043-1086 CE). There it is related to the Anglo-Saxon wican: to give way, and links to the Norwegian and Icelandic vikja (to push aside, to move, to turn [in the sense of warding off something headed toward you]). From this derivation in turn, it has been tenuously connected to know or know how and to the Sanskrit vedeti (each e with a Latin-style straight line over), thence to the Sanskrit veda.
So, modern arguments aside, we see that it was in use in the time of King Cnut, derived from the ancient vedas of perhaps 3,000 BCE.
Remember: You read it first here. Please don't get arrogant about refuting our scholarship until you can suggest something better, and can cite sources for your claims.
Blessed be those who seek. Gavin and Yvonne
- - - - - - - - -
* among all the others

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Nature's Pentagrams

Given our spiritual path that deviates from the conventional way of thinking, sometimes it is simply prudent to assume protective coloration and keep a low profile. Consider the words of Al Pacino's character in "Devil's Advocate" : "Don't let 'em see you coming."
Yet there are near-invisible techniques we can quietly use to remind ourselves of our true path. When we plant a garden of whatever size, we can nurture plants whose blossoms display five petals--a Pentacle created by the Mother Herself. No one need notice, but our glance at such blessings is usually enough to remind us, "It's okay to be who you are. For now, keep your thoughts behind your forehead and be content."
What better time to reflect on these matters than now, when seed catalogs are beginning to manifest in mail boxes?
So what are some plants with such a configuration? Here's my starting list of such forms, with their botanical names and one folk name (probably one among many). Start digging. Heh heh.

Five-Pointed Blossoms (or parts), taken for now largely from "A Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of North America" by Joan Barker
Silene virginica fire pink
Spigelia marilandica indian pink
Sphaericea coccinea scarlet globe-mallow
Hypericum perforatum common St. John's wort (sorry)
Lithospermum incisum fringed puccoon
Lysimachia ciliata fringed loosestrife
Lysimachia quadrifolia whorled loosestrife
Meltzelia lauricaulis OR northern blazingstar
Nuttallia laevicaulis
Potentilla glandulosa sticky cinquefoil
Potentilla simplex common cinquefoil
Saxifraga bronchialis spotted saxifrage
Viola glabella stream violet
Glaux maritima sea-milkwort
Nemophila maculata fivespot
Saponaria officinalis soapwort
Silene latifolia, Lychnis alba white campion
Thalictrum dioicum early meadow-rue (sometimes 4 petals)
Agrostemma githago corncockle (seeds toxic)
Asclepias speciosa showy milkweed
Claytonia caroliniana carolina spring beauty
Erodium texanum Texas storksbill
Geranium carolinianum cranesbill
Geranium maculatum wild geranium
Geranium viscosissimum sticky geranium
Hibiscus moscheutos crimson-eyed rosemallow
Ipomoea pes-caprae railroad vine
Mimulus lewisii pink monkeyflower
Sabatia angularis bitterbloom
Silene acaulis moss campion
Nemophila menziesii baby-blue-eyes
Polemonium viscosum sky pilot
Saxifraga oppositifolia purple mountain saxifrage
Viola sororia common blue violet
Aquilegia caerulea Colorado blue columbine
Camassia quamash common camas
Campanula rotundifolia harebell
Lobelia siphilitica blue cardinal flower (makes you wonder, dunnit?)
- - - - - - - - -
there are also
squash helleborus
cucumber balloon flower
mountain laurel vinca minor
- - - - - - - - -
and if you are Inside or something and simply can't do anything with any of the above, get an apple. Cut around its equator. Observe the beautiful five-part star displayed there.
Blessed be those who ... fill in the blank. Gavin and Yvonne

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Hi, gentle readers.
We have finally caught up on the mail that accumulated during our very short weekend trip to observe Imbolc (an Irish-Celtic word meaning in the belly or the womb; thus a festival sacred to the female principle). Yes, it snowed up north, but that was overcome by the warmth of our reception. Thanks again, FireHeart.
When we returned we were greeted by blossoms on the two witch hazel bushes* that bracket our front steps. Always the earliest bloomers, they are welcome even if they are a week or so early and presage more global warming. On that subject, the University of Munich has kept records of the blooming of snowdrops for over a hundred years. The snowdrops they observe have never been caught in a late frost. This year they have already bloomed, over a month early. Kew Garden (London) reports that the spring seems to be two months early this year.
What do you know about global dimming? Not much, right? Well, global dimming is the reduction of heat from the sun, caused by jet contrails (or if you prefer, exhausts). After 9/11 all flights were grounded for about three days. During that brief time, the sky became startlingly clear. NOAA in Boulder noticed a two- to three-degree rise in temperature. Worst-case calculations now show that without the jets, temperatures would be as much as five degrees higher. So here we have a situation where the exhaust gases cause a rise in temperature because of their carbon footprint--and a lowering of temperature because of their dimming effest. So far no one has figured out the loss/benefit tradeoff of these effects.
Back to good old global warming: Apparently insects are hatching earlier, so that their larval stage is over before several bird species hatch and can use them for nutrition. So soon, as Rachel Carson foresaw, no birds will sing.
When you next dance around the bonfire, think about it, if even for just a moment.

* Hamamelis vernalis or
Hamamelis virginiana

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What Are We In?

The question is often raised: Whether the people who call themselves pagan/Wiccans constitute a community. If we use as a first-draft definition: a community is a group of people who work together for a common purpose and are mutually supportive, then to our eyes the people who espouse the label have lost their professed purpose. Many pagan/Wiccans find themselves trying to educate a small group of acolytes/seekers. Unfortunately that teaching sometimes comes with an unspoken subscript, "My path or no path."
One prime purpose of a community is mutual support. If a member is unwell, is short of cash, needs help getting a car repaired, or whatever, then the community should pull together to offer what help it can. This is not to say the community should be enablers of parasitic or negative behavior.
We Frosts may be blessed with a larger number of friends and acquaintances than many of you are, and we can say with some confidence (though with great sorrow) that today's pagan/Wiccans do not support; instead they tear down. We've all got to stop this behavioral trend, though quite frankly we ourselves have no idea of how to do it. So we're open to suggestions.
It would be a great pity if everybody changed their path so that we all formed one gray amorphous mass. The whole excitement stemming from differences of opinion, and thus sharing possibilities, would be gone. What can we do, mutually to help each other? How can we go forth as a united religion (or spiritual path) and gain our rightful place in a modern society?
Some of you read on this site the little homily about Gail Geisenhainer's painful experience in a UU fellowship. We got only one real comment on why the members of the fellowship did not criticize the woman who held such negative views about gays. Is that fact symptomatic of our problem? That apathy?
We're off to Toledo, so you'll have plenty of time to get worked up again at us.
Blessed be, y'all. Gavin and Yvonne

Monday, January 21, 2008

Imbolc - a Water Festival Connected with New Birth and the Lactation of Ewes

The full moon that marks Imbolc (near February 1) occurs in 2008 on Tuesday, January 22. We have looked at several Imbolc observances on the web and have come away with the impression that all are designed to star the high priest/ess conducting the ritual. It occurs to us, then, that the community needs and deserves a new ritual observance of the holiday.
In England, where Gavin grew up, he remembers this season as the time when the hedgerows wer cleaned and re-layered. When a workman layers, he works along the hedgerow selecting lowest branches, cutting them halfway through on the trunk side of the plant, laying them down, weaving them into other low branches, to strengthen the hedge as a barrier to straying livestock. The worker in this effort who first found a sleeping hedgehog was usually given a prize.
In this nation where hedgehogs were never native, the animal traditional in Europe (Erinaceidae) morphed into the groundhog or woodchuck (Marmota, Sciuridae). Hence the enduring new tradition we still observe, employing the groundhog to predict the probable length of winter.
Most hedges have given way to metal fences, anathema to Native American nations who look upon metal stakes as driven into the Mother's heart. Further, since most of us currently live in urban environments, we need a new ritual, perhaps designed to interconnect with the spring cleaning of the dwelling place.
In Brittany this is the season when the first big traditional community laundering of winter's dirty clothing occurred at the old Roman lavaterias. The Breton language enjoys a host of words that look like cognates of Imbolc. All mean research, including one that means research of the spirit (imbroudereah). The verb form is imbroudic. The word family can also refer to researching the imagination. If anyone has an appropriate ritual, we would be grateful to you for sharing with us all.
It is clear from Breton and English practices that the holiday dates back to time immemorial. It is not based on the calendar laid down so arbitrarily by Pope Gregory some time in the 16th century C.E. Indeed, it is more closely related to the calendar dating from the French Revolution, and based on the old Egyptial 30-day month. The short-lived French version featured days named for plants, animals, and agricultural tools.

This week we enjoyed a saying that deserves to be shared around, especially in this year when we're dreading non-stop political white noise.
Don't comfort the afflicted. Afflict the comfortable.

In this political year, too, we recall Sam Keen's words:
Don't follow the man with all the answers. Pay attention to the man with the questions.

Never sign anything until you've asked an Indian.
Trust, but count your change.
Blessed be, and never leave the house without fresh batteries in your BS detector.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I, Thou, We, Us

Last Sunday we saw Gail Geisenhainer, a UU Minister, tell her congregation how she came to the Unitarian Universalists. When she first visited one of the smaller UU fellowships more than 20 years ago, she was an over-the-top in-your-face lesbian, wounded, lonely, and hurting. She found acceptance with that congregation--except a couple of weeks after her first visit, a lady stood up and said in effect, "I don't know how we can have gays in our community. They bring their filthy diseases and dangerous ideas with them, and should be quarantined, preferably on some remote island away from all of us decent people, so they can't spread their loathsome creed to us healthy people."
Need we say? Gail was stunned. She crawled into her shell, drew her aura in about her, and ran for her car. She didn't want to see or talk to anybody; she was just in that space where holding your breath and hoping the world would stop was all there was. As she reached the exit door, one of the congregation opened it for her, looked her straight in the eyes, and gently said, "See you next week."
This shocked her out of her trance. Was he crazy? What was he thinking? Was he on another planet? Impaired? But no, he didn't seem crazy; he was looking her straight in the eyes and he spoke in a soft, pleasant voice. "See you next week."
That next Sunday she decided to gather her forces and brave it out. In a part of the UU service called "Joys and Concerns", almost every member of that congregation stood up and said, "There were views expressed last week which I didn't agree with; I will not stay in this congregation if we believe that gays are diseased and should be quarantined." It all took a long time, because almost everyone spoke, saying essentially the same thing; but Gail realized that she was home. Thinking about it afterward, she realized too that nobody had denounced the woman who had attacked her.
This was an interesting epiphany. She stayed with the fellowship and eventually became a respected UU minister.
Our point is this: The congregation as a whole was tolerant of diverse views no matter what those views were. If the congregation had criticized the woman who wanted to quarantine gays, then she would have dug in, cast her ideas in concrete, probably left that UU church. Since she stayed, her views had a chance gradually to change.
You cannot change people's fast-held opinions overnight, nor can you torture them out of them. Always remember that the Buddha said, Hate generates hate.
We think this is a lesson that all we Wiccans can gain from. Blasting someone for his/her opinion does not work. You can defend your beliefs on a topic; in fact you should, especially if that means you have to think them through. Not, though, by attacking someone else for theirs; we see that too often in the pagan/Wiccan community.
We ourselves were partially doing it with BDD. Everyone is entitled to their opinion--yes, even the Christians--but to be a community, we must think of life and the lessons it brings in terms of "we" the community, not "Mine is the one and only right and true way." The Christians say, "Love your enemy." We like better the idea, "Tolerate your enemies and their views."
In the future is it to be I, or thou, or you, or we, or us -- ?
Blessed be. Gavin and Yvonne

Friday, January 4, 2008

Tradition versus Reality

Last Sunday we gave a presentation at the local fellowship of the Unitarian-Universalist Association. The congregation there, small but select, is accustomed to honoring the directions at the beginning of each Sunday service. They do it in the traditional way, with Air in the east, Earth in the north, and the rest of it; so we decided to try on them a new way of honoring. We had attendees do the calling, taking turns around the circle (deosil, of course). Instead of the whole congregation singly doing it, we had three in turn, around the circle, honor each direction. Just to give them some ideas to push against, we passed out copies of a crib sheet like the one at the bottom of this posting.
We started with Mother Earth, below; after all, we do stand on the earth. Then we put Water in the east because the largest body of water near Beckley (where we met) is the New River, flowing east of the meeting site. We put Fire in the south because we were in the northern hemisphere. Air went in the west because here in the States that's where our air mostly flows from. (At least that's what the weather channel leads us to believe.) In the north we put Old Age and Ancestors. Overhead we put Father Sky and the Universe. In the center we put Spirit, for seven directions in all.
Two interesting things came out of this.
1. The various directions elicited a stunning range of responses and personal associations. After a hesitant beginning with earth, attendees came up with fascinating and moving thoughts about each direction.
2. The people really liked the approach. Every adult present, without exception, had something personal to say about various directions. Indeed, they asked afterward that we do it again, and even perhaps write it up for the UU national bulletin. We came to realize how involved they had become in this one little part of the presentation.
The question, then, is this :
In general, in our own pagan/Wiccan circles, are we right to follow the old traditional way that was developed in Europe, much of it in times long gone? Or should we seriously think about letting attendees at circle put their own flavor into the ritual?
Give us feedback, please; many aspects of life could do with some updating and/or improvement.

Earth - our mother -- the solid ground from which we all come
east - water, adaptability; takes on the shape of its container
south - fire, passion, not indifference
west - air, mental -- here new ideas come in on the wind
north - remembrance -- good times and old people who have gone before
Sky - our father -- the sky over us all
spirit - spiritual aspect of relationships; without a spiritual match, all is lost.