Why I choose to say “Happy Holidays”

 

A status message is making the rounds on Facebook… “Just a friendly reminder, you aren’t going to get arrested or anything for saying “Merry Christmas… it won’t kill you to keep the ‘reason’ in the ‘season’…” etc.  Please remember that there are people who live in this free country along with you that do not celebrate the same holidays as you. It won’t kill you either to offer or receive the sincere greeting “Happy Holidays.” I choose to offer that particular greeting because I want ALL my friends and neighbors – whether Pagan, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and yes, even Agnostic and Atheist – to know that I care that they have a wonderful Winter Holiday Season.I am not closed-minded to the fact everyone deserves to feel as happy as I feel at this time of year. I wish to spread the JOY but NOT the judgement. Personally, If I am 100% certain of a person’s beliefs, I will offer them best wishes using the name of their special holiday (“I hope you have a Happy Hannukah” – etc.). Very often, they thank me and then try to do the same for me, knowing I am a militant out-of-the-broom-closet Pagan/Wiccan. And you know what? There is no harm done in ASKING what someone prefers as you shake their hand. Some will ask me, “Happy Yule, is it?” – that brings a great smile to my face, and makes me feel listened-to and appreciated. There are numerous clients at my law office and it’s impossible to know their specifics. They feel respected and happy that I would care to ask, should they happen to stop by my office to share a moment of seasonal fellowship.So, on that note, I hope you don’t take offense at the words I use to communicate my sincere friendship this time of year should I happen to wish you HAPPY HOLIDAYS, when no offense is meant.  And yes… for me and my household, it is Yule… Yuletide… the Winter Solstice, a traditional Celtic fire-festival which celebrates the return of the light following the longest night of the year… and the battle between the Oak King and the Holly King. 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/special_report/for_christmas/_new_year/pagan_christmas/37276.stm


Lovely blog entry by Danu’s Daughter (2010) –
http://danudaughter.blogspot.com/2010/12/make-this-yule-your-own-sacred-sabbat.html

Random history links –
http://www.randomhistory.com/2008/11/21_christmas.html
http://didyouknow.org/christmas/history/

Info on the Yule log –
http://www.noelnoelnoel.com/trad/yulelog.html

A lovely tradition – make a Yule log with your children – blog and photos by Jonah Lisa Dyer –
http://www.jonahlisadyer.com/2008/12/yule-log-tutorial.html

Some links – by Christians for Christians – as to why Christmas is a Pagan holiday, and not to be celebrated –
http://www.circlegame.com/live/feast.htm
http://www.atruechurch.info/wrongxmas.html
http://www.atruechurch.info/xmasletter.html

Christmas is multi-cultural –
http://www.humanreligions.info/christmas.html

Faith, Choices, Rescue and Respect

It began with an article, which was posted on a closed, invitation-only, group board, on which I am  Mod/Admin.  The purpose of the board, you ask?  Here you go:

“This is a safe space for woman-born women and TG women who have taken female names, and who are a minimum of 18-years-old ONLY. Here we are Goddess-centered or at least believe in Her. We are open to other traditions but place a emphasis… on The Goddess as our group name denotes. If you are truly interested in learning more about why Her powers are increasing, your membership will be considered, with the prerequisite of writing a short explanation about why you wish to join our group. If your attitude is that we hate men, this is not the place for you! We do however, strongly dislike patriarchy. Please understand the difference BEFORE deciding to join us. If your membership is accepted and you begin posting anything which attempts to divide and conquer our membership, you will be deleted immediately without explanation. There is NO “balance” in a world rife with monotheistic male gods. That is the root cause of most evil, violence and unrest. In this group, we operate on a consensus and eco-feminist model.”We discuss ALL THINGS WOMEN… and so, this article was posted for discussion:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2063143/Saudi-women-attractive-eyes-forced-cover-resolution-passed.html

Among others’ comments, I posted my own:

“I am “friendly” with a few Muslimahs on another board, where we have some things in common. Some are in the US, some are not. Some “cover” and some do not. The ones who DO cover have spoken to me from their hearts and they do so because they choose to do so, because they believe it pleases (their) God (Allah). You know what? Goddess bless them! But this? THIS?! This is appalling to me. The article speaks of a woman who was covered (as she wished to be/as the law stated she had to be), walking with her husband, who was “molested” (my word, not theirs) by another man who couldn’t keep to himself. This disgusting display of macho caused her husband to be stabbed as he defended her honor. WTF?! And she – and other women – will suffer the consequences of having to wear Niquab even if they don’t want to? That’s… just… not… right.  I will have to ask (my friends) their opinions about this.”

Among several later responses was this one, spoken from the heart:

 “Don’t EVEN get this DykeAmazon started. I’m seeing more and more wearing the head scarfs and even some wearing veils… there’s nothing I see positive in that religion for women, just another way to hold women and girls down, and for males to enforce their power and superiority through the opiate of religion… NOTHING spiritual about and certainly NOT empowering for women and girls as a whole… sharpening my Labrys as I speak….”

I responded:

Hold on there (friend).  I am all for joining you, wielding a scythe and sickle to protect and rescue any and all women who WISH to be rescued… from anything and anyone who would oppress them… however… I’d like to publish here the input I got from a Muslimah Sister of mine, whom I respect very much.  I hope you – and others – will accept this input with an open mind, as she is NOT here to speak for herself.  She had a lot to say, and thus, responded to me with three separate messages (copied and pasted below):

~~~~~~~~~

From Ana P.:

Hi there Wiccanwoman, the way I understand it is Muslim women are supposed to cover their hair so they will be known as being Muslim and not be molested. There is an Iyat (verse) in the Quran that addresses it. It makes total sense to me. It the same as the orthodox Jews; there’s no mistaking them, right? Everyone knows what a Muslim woman looks like. If she wasn’t covered, she wouldn’t be able to be distinguished from any other woman. A Muslim woman has the appearance similar to that of a catholic nun. No one goes up to her, trying to hit on her, flirt with her or bed her for the night. They pretty much see her and don’t. It’s where the protection comes in.

Regarding the article and the women not being able to makeup their eyes to make them attractive, I understand the reasoning regarding it. I have had the discussion recently with my Muslim mentor regarding the American women that wear the abayah, yet wear provocative, seductive eye makeup. What’s the point of wearing the clothing? They don’t want to appear as a woman and show curves or accentuate the body, yet they seduce with the eyes. There is a contradiction there. It seems to me to be hypocrisy. A lot of those women (I’m more so referring to the ones in burkah in America) looked down on Muslims that aren’t all covered in black as they are, but they are no more righteous than the ones not dressed that way. The way a person dresses does not determine righteousness, just as a man wearing a beard that is Muslim doesn’t. They only fool themselves.

The only thing I can say about Saudi and what’s happening with the women there is that many Arabs have made there own rules. They use man-made books such as the Hadiths and Tafseers etc. to back door the Quran and go back to pre-Islamic times to oppress women. The Arabs think they are “the chosen ones”. They don’t believe in one brotherhood in Islam. Allah in Quran tells us to believe in all the Prophets mentioned in the Quran and not to differentiate between any of them. Yet, the Arabs and many Muslim only speak of the Prophet Muhammad. That should tell everyone something.

It’s only my understanding and belief. I hope it’s helpful.

Take good care of yourself, Wiccanwoman. Good to chat with you.

Oh, I forgot to mention that I don’t know why those in the group are outrage or whatever about what some of the Muslim sisters have said. To each his own. What I like about being in America is that we are all pretty much left alone and allowed to be. We can’t change the world. We can only work on ourselves and try to help those that we are able to. I know to stay away from Saudi unless I go there to perform Hajj or Umrah.

LOL Oh, I’m sorry, Wiccanwoman. One more thing. Life in Egypt, Saudi and places like that are so different than what we know here in America. From what I’ve been hearing is the men in many of those countries are barbaric. It’s not uncommon for a man to walk down the street and grope a woman, molest her or whatever. Yes, there is sexual assaults etc in the United States, but overall, we can safely walk down a street alone and feel safe, unless in a crime infested area.

~~~~~~~~~

I then responded to her:

Thank you, Sis. I am going to share your input with the ladies.

But just to make it clear, the Sisters in my Goddess group weren’t outraged AT women who cover… they were outraged at the fact that for the lady in this particular article, it wasn’t good enough, and that MEN were the ones trying to make the “new rules” for her and others to cover even MORE.

Peace, Sister! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours — I hope you are well.

~~~~~~~~~

I posted a response to my enthusiastic Goddess Sister who had responded…

“I’m with you on the rescue mission, but I will not believe that ALL women who are not as we are, are downtrodden and oppressed.  Just because we drink from our own Well of Freedom does not mean that because they drink from a separate spring, they all are ignorant of “the truth.”  As Pagans, we don’t prosletyze, right?  All we can do is talk the talk, and then walk the walk.

Ana and I share information with one another about our faiths and lifestyles, and have forged a unique friendship at the border where those faiths and lifestyles meet.  We have agreed to disagree – with respect –  regarding some issues.  Where we embrace?  We are women, 100%.

Ana is a US citizen, living in the USA.  She is a Muslimah revert (i.e., convert).  She has a professional career.  She and I began tentative contact, and then became internet pals, because we have some personal “interests” in common.  I have held my own against some Muslim males who have posted on her site, and was backed by her as being respectful, informed and educated.  The men wound up being reprimanded for their behavior and angry words.  (Yes, they had a hissy fit… and no, Ana did not back down.)  When I want answers to questions about Islam, I go to Ana.  If she can’t supply the answers I seek, she asks her mentor (her “wali” – that is an Arabic word meaning “custodian”, ” protector”, “sponsor”, or authority as denoted by its definition, “crown”).  I would respect and protect Ana and her choices with my scythe and sickle just as freely as I would step up to protect YOU and YOURS (not saying you’d NEED my protection, LOL, I’ve seen some of your photos – you GO, girl, and I’d love to meet you someday!).

Namaste, Sister.  And Happy Thanksgiving.  😉 ”

And in case I don’t post again before the actual holiday — Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving to my readers.  May you all have something to be thankful for, now and forevermore.  Blessings.

Bounty

These photos show a display of the bounty I purchased this morning from the local Farmers’ Market.  This is their last day for the year.

As the Thanksgiving holiday draws near, I am humbly grateful for the talent of others who grow this food for my family and me. Cabbage… red, white, gold and candycane beets… purple, orange and white carrots… cauliflower (both white, and purple! – cross-bred with red cabbage!)… multicolored Swiss chard… butternut squash… bread… pumpkin butter, apple butter, low-sugar raspberry syrup and mango preserves… salad mix… shallots.  I am honored to pay them for their labors, and their goods. 

I have food… a warm, comfortable home… a job… investments… family… friends.  I surely am blessed, and give my word to pass along those blessings to others in need, every chance I get.

May the Goddess bless you all.

FURY and FAMILY

Demeter by Shelly Salter

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/arts-entertainment/realistic-art-shelly-salter-5536.html

There is NOTHING like the fury of a MOTHER when her child is endangered… hurt… scorned… ignored.

 The words below were posted today on FaceBook, by my daughter, Anna

“so, its been awhile since i talked to my family from my fathers side. so when i found them on here i was very excited. my aunts and uncles (titi’s and tio’s) and my cousins of whom i grew up with. i have missed them all so much. one of my titi’s deleted me as a friend here on face book, which saddens me. you see she is a born again christian and i am not, im pagan. so because i dont worship her go…d i cant be on her page. im her niece her blood, her brothers daughter, and she chooses to stay away. my heart is hurting. i never would of thought she would pick her church going friends over her family, i never did nothing to her or her family. i just loved them. i would never turn someone away because of thier religion, they are alowed to belive in what they want as long as they dont hurt me or my family. and her being christian and being taught to love everyone has fallen short. i have many friends of different religions, and because i am a good person and i try my hardest to do right they love me regardless of what i believe. i guess the saying is true just because your born into a family doesnt mean you are family. as you grow older you make your own family from friends. so i just want to say thankyou to all my friends who love me for me and are not afraid to show it. i love you all so much. and i will always love my titi, and will keep her in my daily thoughts.”

I had to respond, and this is what I said:

“Daughter mine, I love you and am so proud of the woman you have become. If I could ease the ache of your heart, I would. You have other “blood family” members (like cousin Rocky and other cousins), and you have built a Family of Friends as well. If there is one thing I hope I have taught you, it’s that blood does not a family make, and loyalty and respect must be earned, not given cheaply. There is no need for you to bang your head against a stone wall when there are open doors all around you.

By the way, I wonder if Myriam remembers that THIS PATH is how your BIO-FATHER raised you, even before I was in the picture? Part of why we married was because I was of the same faith as he – PAGAN/WICCAN – and I was strong enough to stand up to the pressures from his sisters who seemed to enjoy telling you as a four year old that you and your parents were going to rot in hell. Has Myriam put that same wall of miscommunication and disrespect between her and her brother, Humberto? Has Lydia… or is she still in communication with you? How about Sylvia? Jose?

I hope they read this post. All of them. I hope they contact me. BRING IT, I say. It’s about time the truth be told.

Blessed Be, daughter mine, of whom I am most proud.”

I met my daughter when she was three years old.  I married her father when she was four.  I bought her the first dolly she ever owned, the first carriage she ever pushed.  I also took her to her first MayPole ceremony… her first Circle casting… made her first ritual robe out of a pillowcase.  I may not have birthed this child, but she is MINE. 

I rocked her when she had ear infections, put cold compresses on her head when she had fevers, held her head when she had to vomit, and stood between her and her angry father when I finally said ENOUGH.

It wasn’t until she turned 18 that I became her mother, legally.  We had kept in touch secretly for nearly ten years after the divorce.  The papers were signed, the Judge’s gavel hit the desk, and we were linked, forevermore.  My then-husband’s name is on her birth certificate alongside mine, and he and I are linked too, into eternity, as her parents.  (I am no longer with him, though I hope for him only the best… and I wish that someday we could be, at least, friends.)  She calls my present (and final LOL) husband Pops… and the grandboys call him PopPop.  I am Nana.  She has a lovely man in her life.  We call him Son.  WE ARE FAMILY.  Is there any blood between us?  No.

Years after the adoption, I stood at her shoulder as she birthed those twin sons, whose souls I am sure were chosen for her by the grand-daughter I never met, who resides in the Summerlands, waiting for us to cross over.

To the people who have chosen once again to close the door between themselves and this strong, beautiful, kind, generous, intelligent woman, I say – YOUR LOSS.  She has repeatedly made the effort to have a relationship with you – just as I did with my own parents – and repeatedly, you have pushed her away – as did my own parents.  So I can say that I know how she feels.  I know what she is thinking.  I know how it hurts.

I also know how good it feels to have the Family we have built surround and protect us over the years… Sisters and Brothers, Aunts and Uncles, Spouses, all sent by whomever is our interpretation of GOD/DESS.  It is in the bosom of THAT FAMILY that I hope my daughter finds what I found in mine: the joy and strength to continue living HER LIFE, holding her head high in pride and self-love.  SO MOTE IT BE.

sometimes forget

 

Happy Birthday, Valerie Lenore

My love for you

Is as complex as honeycomb,

But sweeter;

As vast as the sea,

Yet deeper;

As molten as lava,

But firm as bedrock;

As calm as the quiet of the falling snow

As reassuring as the scent of baking bread

As wholesome as clean sheets, fresh off the line

As rich as the scent of patchouli and frankencense.

There is no one word to describe you,

No single definition for who you are.

Sister, friend, spouse, soulmate.

Happy Birthday to you, my beloved.

I am so happy you are a part of our Family,

And am so content with our life together.

At what price, freedom…?

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/11/14/mom-daughter-suspended-from-kreps-middle-school-for-wearing-confederate-flag-shirt/

EXCERPTS:

Torri Albrecht said Monday when she showed up to her middle school wearing a sweatshirt with the confederate flag. She said her vice principal gave her a choice:

“He said I had to take off the sweatshirt or flip it inside out or face the consequences,” Albrecht said.

But the eighth grader, who was born in Virginia and lived there just a year, said she refused to take it off.

“It shows I am from the South. I am proud of where I came from and it shows my heritage,” Albrecht said.

Albrecht’s bed is covered with her dad’s Confederate flag. He died two years ago. And it’s on the computer screen she used to buy her sweatshirt online.

However, Albrecht did admit she doesn’t know the history behind this flag, viewed by many as a racially-charged symbol.

“I don’t pay attention to that, I don’t know,” Albrecht said. . . . the teenager, who said she’s receiving death threats, insisted, “Everyone who wears it isn’t racist.”

*sigh*

I watched her on Channel 2 News this morning, and once again, she admitted she did NOT know the history of the symbol.

I feel this could have been handled differently, as a learning experience for all concerned.

School authorities should have asked what the symbol meant.  Upon such a response, the very moment this child said she had NO IDEA what the “Stars-n-Bars” stood for, she should have been told to go down to the school library and write a report (with references) or an essay (with points) on the symbol/flag, what it actually meant to her, and why.

She should have been told to come back with the report, and been asked to read it aloud in home room, or perhaps in English, social studies, or history class.  If she takes a second language, like Spanish, she might have been instructed to translate it into that language as well.  (Might as well “kill two birds with one stone,” eh?)

She should have been asked – then – what it really meant to her… and if she could answer intelligently, and without racism/hatred, she should have been allowed to wear the shirt, with no adverse consequences.  If her response was disrespectful to anyone, then and only then should they have moved to step two – remove or reverse the shirt, or face possible suspension.

And as for the mom’s comments (excerpted):

The teenager’s mother, who took a picture at the Kreps Middle School, said her daughter was suspended for not changing into something else — a violation, she said, of her First Amendment rights.

“The Indian kids get to wear turbans. The Jewish children can wear yarmulkes. That’s their birth right, their heritage. It’s my daughter’s heritage,” said Jane West, Albrecht’s mother.

. . . . Albrecht’s mother said she plans on suing her current school district.

… those are religious symbols, Ms. Albrecht… the “Stars-n-Bars” is not.

Goddess Bless.  Let Freedom Ring.

PS – UPDATE

Added on December 4, 2011… a Black college student wishes to hang the “stars-n-bars” in his dorm room…

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/black-college-student-hangs-confederate-flag-dorm-room-163334484.html

Beauty of the morning, from my front stoop.

Things happen for reasons….

In February of 1987, I fell from a train and shattered my face.  It was one of the best things that ever happened to me, although at first, I didn’t know it.  I had thought I was happy… but I wasn’t.  It took this miracle to bring me some clarity.

My jaw was broken in four places.  Most of my teeth were broken, or knocked out.  My chin was cut, my lower lip was severed on the right side, and a crescent-moon gash was opened above my right eyebrow.  I felt blood seeping into my mouth, pressuring me to open my lips, to set it free, but this I did not do. 

I crawled to the crosswalk, where a school-bus driver stopped and pulled me up into the stairwell.   I could see by his face that I must have looked bad.  There were no passengers aboard, and he drove me to the local firehouse.  An ambulance came, and took me from there to the first hospital.  The medical staff admitted they couldn’t help me, and I was transferred to a second facility, which just happened to have the right specialist present, during the last few minutes of his shift.  Dr. Casino.  He looked like the actor who played the dad on “Family Ties.”

I remember, finally, letting go and trusting… and at his coaching, spitting into a cup.  I remember being fearful that what I felt in my mouth was actually my tongue, floating freely… thinking I would never speak again.  But it wasn’t.  My mouth was full of clots which had solidified into a mass of gel, and acted as a kind of bandage, slowing the internal bleeding.  We found all the broken and missing teeth in that mass, except for one… which he located in my sinus, via a scan of some sort.  As I sat upright on a cot in the emergency room, he went after it, using a long tweezer-like object.  I sat as still as could be, amazed by the things I was feeling, and how we were interacting with one another.  He pulled my right incisor back down, through my upper jaw bone, back into place. 

I remember the things he said to me, and that I could not respond with words.  We both kept good humor as he stitched my chin, my lip and my head.  I also remember the exquisite pain coursing through my body like a tide.  I was actually able to watch it, feel it as it came and went, and still I remained calm.

Shortly thereafter, I was admitted.  The first of many wires were run through my bones and teeth.  Once in bed, with pain meds injected into my thigh, I slept.

A few days later, that wonderful man would be back.  We met again in the operating theatre, and he reassembled me like a giant jigsaw puzzle.  I was under anesthesia, yet I was able to absorb a sentence of two, which I repeated to him later on.  He was amazed, because the words I “heard” had indeed been spoken during the middle of the operation, while I was unconscious.

I remained in the hospital for about a week, until I insisted that I had to go home.  I had to continue my life.  It was about two weeks later when my then-husband said, in anger and disgust,  “When are you going to stop being such a fucking invalid?”  My mouth wired together, my right arm in a sling, I had been unable to toss a towel up over the shower-curtain rod.  I had asked for help, and that was his response.  Why?  Because I was moving too slowly, and we were going to be late to a “party” he wanted to attend, which was three hours away.

*click*

The switch was thrown, and at that moment, there came a burst of clarity.  There was no doubt in my mind.  Although we had been married for seven years, and I’d wanted it to work, this man had become a stranger to me.  I had done anything and everything he’d ever wanted… but now, I had to do for myself.

It took until 1990 to have most of my dental reconstruction done… and by that time, I had divorced him, obtained my driver’s license, got a dog, bought a brand-new candy-apple red car, worked two jobs, and got my name only put on the deed to what had been “our” house… which became MY home.  

It’s twenty-one years later, and I have never been happier, more content, more secure.  Never would I have made it to this point in my life had it not been for that fall… the “accident” which wasn’t “an accident.”  It made me who I am.

Many times, when “something bad” happens, people ask “why me?” – but when something good happens, nobody asks “why me?”  It should be “why NOT me” under BOTH circumstances.  

All things happen for reasons.  We may not know what those reasons are, but they are there nonetheless.

a special evening…

Eleven years ago today, I married my Husband.  He’s my third, and my final, Male Spouse.  Our beloved SisterWife is taking us out to enjoy dinner at a fancy-schmancy restaurant, and with us we are taking a dear friend (Miss Dee) whose birthday is today.  She has experienced horrors in her life, and is a strong woman as a result.  She just does not believe she is strong… or beautiful… or worthy.  So, we will celebrate together.  We have some gifts for her, and will be getting balloons to take to her home before we leave.  This is an “in your face” act, as recently she began a relationship with a “man” who has moved into her residence, and who does not treat her well.  He is abusive, mean, and criminal… yet she feels she “needs” him.  She admits this. 

He has made it clear that that he does not celebrate things like birthdays… and holidays… and she does not need anything other than what he provides (which is next to nothing).  She receives social security disability, and food stamps… that’s all.  So, he doesn’t celebrate his woman’s special day?  Then he is not invited.

I reckon I have my work cut out for me.  Please lay this cause at the feet of the Goddess.  I’m going to need some help.

Strong Women…

Fabienne S Morgana: “I have been blessed with so many strong women in my life – they continue to be an inspiration and to me, the Divine Feminine made manifest. I am grateful.”

As am I… and I hope to step up as an example every day of my life, to help those in need.

Please, Sisters, pass this around. It’s beautiful.

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