The Internet Is Smarter Than All Of Us Put Together

Jul 27, 2007
(The aforementioned idea might be the subject for dystopic science fiction, but it's also part of the basis for the collective model of the universe -- like the one central to many forms of pagansim, that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I love both of these ideas deeply, and the inherent self-contradiction never ceases to amuse me. That said --)

I started this blog, like the subtitle says, to fill the gap of what I wanted to read in the Pagan community. Unfortunately, that's not always enough. The motivating factor was a book I read for my religious studies class -- Crabcakes, by James Alan McPherson. I didn't actually like it all that much, although I liked the concept: a long, rambling memoir about life and what it looks like looking backwards, and how the way your perceptions change and how that changes the meaning of the story of your life. It was only nominally religious, I don't think I would have thought it was if not for the context, but it awakened in me a profound yearning for Pagan-type books like that. (Other books we read that I'd kill for Pagan-type versions of: Meeting Faith, The Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God, The Jew in the Lotus. All highly reccomended on their own merits, of course.)

I own and have read Phyllis Curott's Book of Shadows approximately one billion times, and I think The Red-Haired Girl From the Bog was what I was looking for, too. Does anybody out there know of something else like what I'm talking about? Memoir-ish, thinky, personal -- I don't care if it's a focus on a tradition I don't do, so long as it has something to say. So many Pagan books are how-to manuals, it's hard to find something different.

starting over

Jul 26, 2007
I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but I'm not really a religion-in-a-time-of-crisis person. I think it's partly because I resent the idea that any religion works as a self-help program. Surely there's something more to it than that. Then again, a relationship with the gods is, like any relationship, made up of give and take. Then again, I'm horrible at human relationships, why should I be any better at divine ones?

I took apart my altar today, and it didn't even feel like disassembling something. It needed to be cleaned anyway -- dusted, tidied up, wicks trimmed and wax chipped away, things like that. I'd let the water bowl dry up and it was coated inside with the crap that the city just can't get out of our well. I took the altar cloth outside to shake it out, wondering what it meant that this didn't seem to mean anything to me, and when I came inside I liked the look of the empty space so much I left it that way.

To tell the truth, I can't be positive I ever properly consecrated half the stuff on my altar. It migrated there, for one reason or another, some for good reasons and some for bad, but right now it looks like a pile of stuff. Five minutes after I left the altar table empty, it felt like a hole in the world, but I knew I couldn't fill it up by piling that stuff back on it. Five minutes after that I was all wrapped up in the Plan, thinking, I'll clean what I have, and decide if I still want it or need it, and then I'll reconsecrate it and build a better altar, and it will be Great, and I knew I had cut off whatever emotional reaction I had been having to it, but hell, you can't feel that much all the time or you'd go insane. Right?

I have epiphanies like this at least twice a year, and they never seem to stick, so I hardly think this is going to be earth-shatteringly revolutionary or anything. But I guess you never know.

Thanking Eve

Jul 25, 2007
I really did mean to post about how the Jehovah's Witnesses went. They showed up a couple of weeks ago -- just when I'd decided I didn't want to deal with them and was running off to buy groceries. But no, they were early. And once faced with a bald-faced assertion of God's Plan, I just can't walk away. No, I have to argue.

Truth told, it was quite civil (I never did mention which other religion I was...) even if most of the debate was not only pretty standard but downright cliche. I did manage to shovel in my college lit professor's argument about the Garden of Eden story, though, which I've always liked. I doubt it'll ever convince a Christian, but it makes the story a hell of a lot more compelling for someone with no investment in the idea of Original Sin, so I thought I'd share.

We were in a Gothics class, discussing the concept of veiling. The Veil is a big thing in Gothic novels; in the earliest ones, it's the point of the whole book. When you draw the veil aside and see what it is you've been scared of this whole time, the story's over. Or, a personal illustration my professor told: She was a kid, maybe five or six. Mom always let her play in Mom's room when Mom was getting ready for work -- which is a special treat when you're five or six, all those shiny pretty things you aren't allowed to touch when Mom isn't keeping an eye on you while she's putting on her mascara. Just, Mom said, don't open that box on Mom's nightstand. It's private.

What's that going to do to a six-year-old? Of course. One day Mom leaves the room for a minute, and the temptation is just too much. What might be inside? Candy? More pretty jewelry, or perfume, or makeup? Something good, obviously, or you wouldn't be told not to open it. My prof was always very good at describing her disappointment upon finding a box full of individually-wrapped balloons. And not very good balloons, either. All the same color! (Yes, this is indeed the Bluebeard story but with condoms. I loved my lit prof.)

Mom, of course, was mortified, and six-year-old lit prof still couldn't figure out why she'd gotten in trouble. All that fuss over a box of balloons. The moral of the story, of course, being that the only interesting thing about the box was the fact that she wasn't allowed to open it. If Mom had shown her what was inside when she asked, she's have been bored and gone away.

The parallel to Genesis is obvious, although unfortunately we have to lose the condoms. "Here," says God, "Have anything you want. Except this, a huge and impressive tree smack in the middle of everything else, which you can't touch because I said so." Well, what's that going to do to a newly-created sentient race? Note here that when you argue about this point with JWs, they remind you that God also said "lest ye die," and invoke him as a watchful-parent figure. This is, of course, a perfect opening for the condom story. I have never been brave enough to tell a condom story to visiting JWs; maybe someone else will be.

So of course Eve does what any kid does when faced with an overprotective parent, and God shrugs his shoulders in a remarkably calm way for the Old Testament version of that particular deity, and Adam and Eve go out into the wide world and start making curious kids of their own. All of which just doesn't sound like the story of The Entering of Evil Into The Heart of Man, not really. It's more like a coming-of-age story. One day God looks down and notices his kids are kind of outgrowing the Garden, it's not got much interesting in it after all, and darn it, they no longer accept Because I Said So as a reason. Time to buy them a microwave and some milk-crate furniture and let them out on their own.

Like I said, you'll probably never win over a JW with this argument -- it's just looking at the same story from a vastly different point of view, and it's point of view they're trying to convince you on. But then again, if you're arguing with JWs with the intent to win, you're doing it wrong.

my name is hope, luck just ran out

Jul 16, 2007
this is my day, this is my song
i am alive... what can go wrong?

Some days I think the problem isn't that working forty hours a week is tiring, it's just that sitting for eight hours in a grey cubicle -- even if I'm lucky and get a seat where I can see a window if I crane my neck when I'm not busy -- gives me this slow creeping tension that, by the time I'm done, makes me just want to bash my head into a wall until I can relax. It's not the best frame of mind for magick or religion, and it means that it's hard to even remember that I had something wonderful in the morning to post about.

If only I could blog from the bus goes right by the lake in the mornings, twice on Sundays, and the colors it can turn never cease to amaze me. I've never lived by a large body of water before, and I knew that theoretically it changes colors, but every day! Yesterday it was bright cerulean blue with darker patches scattered through; a couple of days ago it was flat grey even when the sky was bright and cheerful; a few days before that it was so dark it was almost black, with little whitecaps thrown up all across the surface. The bus does not go past the lake on the way home, more's the pity.

It's like some kind of superpower.

Jul 2, 2007
Well, I've done it again. Yep, I've gone nearly a month between posts, not because I don't have anything to post, but because I'm too lazy (and/or busy, take your pick) to type up the post I already have written. And since I already have a post written, this somehow prevents me from writing anything else. No, it doesn't make sense to me either.

But now I'm faced with a conundrum. Fellow Pagans, Witches, blasphemers and other Internet lurkers, I think I'm being stalked by Jehovah's Witnesses. She was at my door when I came home from work today! I find that a little excessive.

Unfortunately I am entirely too nice. I mean, I don't actually want to be horrible to her, she seems like a perfectly nice woman, I suppose it's not entirely her fault her faith requires proselytization. That and I really genuinely believe that the only good thing that can come of proselytization is some kind of interfaith dialogue, even if one side doesn't think their job requires any listening at all.

So what do I say to her (when she shows up again on Saturday like I told her, like a fool, would be okay for her to do) without being really horrible yet still getting across the impression that I'm not going to just sit there and listen to her talk about Jesus? I have a niggling desire to tell her that I feel a kinship with her as a member of another marginalized religion, but I'm not sure that's a good opening gambit...