Friday, 17 December 2010

The Pagan Arts Initiative
(a project of the Delaware Valley Pagan Network)

presents the

14th Annual
Winter Solstice Celebration

Celebrate the Darkness and the Light
with Songs and Stories

Feminist Spirituality Vocal Ensemble

Saturday, December 18, 2010
7:00 pm

co-sponsored by
Thomas Paine Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

3424 Ridge Pike
Collegeville, PA, 19426
directions at
Please email or call to confirm child care availability for this Celebration (contact info below). 

Sunday, December 19, 2010
7:00 pm
co-sponsored by
Walking Fish Theatre

2509 Frankford Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19125
(Frankford Avenue & Cumberland Street)
SEPTA and driving directions at
Space is limited; we encourage reservations for this Celebration (contact info below).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010
8:00 pm

co-sponsored by Springfield Friends Meeting
and The Inner Path

at Springfield Friends Meetinghouse
1001 Old Sproul Road
Springfield, PA 19064
directions at

Suggested donation, $10.
All are welcome regardless of ability to make a full donation.

For more information, email or call 267-255-8698.

A performance of "A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual" by Julie Forest Middleton and Staśa Morgan-Appel. Book and compact disc for sale at each Celebration and at

For information about additional Winter Solstice Celebrations, please click here.


Thomas Paine Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

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Walking Fish Theatre

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Springfield Friends Meeting

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Friday, 29 October 2010


I have been thinking a lot over the last few weeks about Samhain ("Saw-wen"), which is also known in different traditions as Hallowe'en or Hallowmas.

In my tradition of Feminist Witchcraft, Samhain is the Third Harvest, the Witches' New Year, and the Feast of the Beloved Dead.  This is the time when we honor those who have gone before, our literal ancestors and our spiritual ancestors, those whose names we know and those whose names are lost to us.  We mourn endings and losses of the past year.  And we welcome babies who were born this year and honor new beginnings from this last year. 

It can be a very tender time of year for many of us.  A time to gather together, grieve, and rejoice. 

For our potluck, my particular little group often sets our theme as "Remembrance Food: Food that honors your ancestors or cultures that have nurtured you."

The time between Samhain and Winter Solstice is the time between death and rebirth.  At Winter Solstice, the Sun is reborn -- on the shortest day, the Sun comes back to us; "life comes new from Death" [Schrag, "Kore, Evohe"]. 

In our culture, we're used to thinking of birth as the beginning of life, and death as the end.  But really, death and life are a circle, and we can't actually say what comes first: death paves the way for new life.  Without the death of the old year, the new year can't be born; without the death of the old leaves, new leaves can't be born; without time in the Darkness, seeds, ideas, and babies can't germinate; without the sacrifice of our food -- the grain and the animals, Lugh and the Horned One -- we wouldn't eat; all light casts a shadow. 

Every seed becomes a promise
Kore takes them in Her hands
Into the Earth, and into the Darkness
And into the quiet lands...
- John Schrag, "Kore, Evohe"

With every change comes some kind of end: without the "death" of an old way of being, the new way wouldn't be "born."  Loss is inherent in change. 

Witches have a saying:  All things must change, or die; and death is change. 

This Samhain, I am remembering my grandparents, their parents, and others who have died over the years and who will always be with me -- friends, loved ones, family members, former partners, teachers, mentors, spouses of friends, beloved pets... 

I'm also honoring people who have died this year, or whose deaths I've just learned of this year, several of whom I've mentioned on this blog under the tag "Samhain."  Christine Oliger, Father Emery Tang, George Willoughby, Morton Kravitz, Mabel Lang, Art Gish, Carolyn Diem, Sarah Leuze, Lynn Waddington, Gene Stotlzfus, Betty Nebel, and others.  And people I didn't know personally, but still honor, like Miep Gies, Dr. William Harrison, Daniel Schorr, and others. 

This Samhain, who are you honoring?  
  • Who are your ancestors, literal, spiritual, metaphorical?  Known and unknown? 
  • Who are your beloved dead you honor?  
  • Who are your not-so-beloved dead you are glad to release?
  • Who are you mourning?  
  • What new beginnings do you honor from this last year? 
  • What new babies did you welcome this last year? 

Who is remembered, lives.  

Blessed be. 

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Open house week at many mosques and Islamic centers in US

I just found out that last week was a week of open houses at many mosques and Islamic centers in the US.  I wish I'd realized; I would have gladly visited our local Islamic center... 

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Information on Fragrance-free Quaker Meetings, Churches, and Gatherings?

The Ministry and Counsel Committee at the Meeting where I am sojourning, New Brunswick, has brought forward a minute to Monthly Meeting for Business recommending that the Meeting become fragrance-free, as a matter of accessibility.

Meeting for Worship for Business is not yet in unity with the principle of becoming a fragrance-free Meeting.  The matter has been referred back to Ministry and Counsel, which would like to find out about other Quaker organizations which are fragrance-free, and if possible, see some of the policies of those organizations. 

So I am working with Ministry and Counsel to collect some of that information, and I was wondering if you all might be able to help me.

  • Do you know of any Quaker Meetings, Quaker Churches, or Quaker Gatherings which are fragrance-free?  Which ones?  
  • Can you email me any specific policies, or any language in announcements (stasa dot website at gmail dot com)?  (Or post a comment with links to any on-line policies?)

New Brunswick Friends Meeting, and I, would be immensely grateful. :)

Thank you, Friends!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Writing my principal

I am beginning to write on this blog about my experiences in high school.  I've received some gentle, powerful, thoughtful responses, both in comments and privately.  Thank you.  It's helping me do more work on this. 

Before reading this post, I invite you to read the two I've written so far.  While you can absolutely read this one free-standing, the prior two provide some good background:

Today's post is a letter, one that was surprisingly scary to write.  Some part of me still feels like that scared high school froshling or sophomore who's being blamed for being bullied.  (And I was blamed for being bullied.)  Some part of me almost expects them to say, "Well, what do you expect?  You did
turn out to be a lesbian."  To which my grown-up self says, "That attitude is exactly why LGBTQ teens have an even-higher risk of being bullied and of committing suicide than their straight and cisgender peers.  That needs to stop." 

Why this post, now?, and the encouragement of my Garrison friends on Facebook and of Andre Robert Lee.  Thank you.

October 12, 2010

Melinda Bihn
Head of the Upper School

G. Peter O’Neill, Jr.
Head of School
Garrison Forest School
300 Garrison Forest Road
Owings Mills, MD  21117

Dear Ms. Bihn and Mr. O’Neill,

            I’m a 1986 alumna of Garrison Forest School.  Several things are prompting me to write to you today: the Write Your Principal Project (; conversations I had during this year’s National Coming Out Day; the increased attention currently being paid to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer teenagers who have recently committed suicide; and the heartbreaking fact that even after those deaths, more LGBTQ teenagers are committing suicide every day. 

But what’s prompting me most of all to write are the conversations I am starting to have with other Garrison alumnae about our experiences of bullying when we were at Garrison – and in particular, the pain from anti-lesbian bullying I experienced when I was a Garrison girl.  That pain remains with me to this day, poisoning the legacy of what was in so many other ways a wonderful education, and poisoning my present-day relationship with GFS. 

            When I was at Garrison, great care was paid to the issue of teen suicide.  However, no care at all was paid to the fact that LGBTQ teens were at a much higher risk of suicide than their straight and cisgender peers. 

What’s more, bullying against perceived lesbians and against girls and women who didn’t conform to gender stereotypes was rampant during my four years in Garrison’s Upper School.  Both students and adults were targets, and both students and faculty perpetrated this kind of bullying.  This created an unsafe climate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students, faculty, and staff, as well as for members of the Garrison community who were straight and cisgender allies. 

            Nationally, LGBTQ teens are still at a higher risk of suicide and at a higher risk of experiencing bullying than are their straight and cisgender peers. 

·       According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, LGBTQ youth are 3-4 times as likely to attempt suicide as straight and cisgender youth – not as a result of being LGBTQ, but as a result of bullying and harassment. 

·       The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network’s 2009 National School Climate Survey found that, due to perceived sexual orientation or to gender expression:

o      85% of LGBT students experienced school harassment within the last year
o      61% felt unsafe at school
o      30% had stayed away from school for at least a day within the last month due to safety concerns
o      LGBT students who experienced increased rates of harassment and victimization experienced increased levels of depression
o      GLSEN also reported on positive steps schools can take to enhance students’ safety. 

            I graduated in 1986; it’s now 2010.  So I ask you:

1)    What has changed in the nearly 25 years since I graduated from Garrison? 

2)    How is Garrison safer now for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and ally students, faculty, and staff? 

3)    How does Garrison prevent – and when prevention fails, how does it stop – bullying against LGBTQ and ally members of the Garrison community? 

4)    How does Garrison support LGBTQ and ally students, faculty, and staff? 

I very much look forward to hearing from you. 

Yours truly,
Staśa Morgan-Appel
Class of 1986

Columbus Day; Indigenous Peoples' Day

Two good videos, with some thought-provoking perspective on Columbus Day.

"Happy Columbus Day"
(via Native Appropriations)

And "Reconsider Columbus Day"

Enjoy... both the funny bits, and the uncomfortable, thought-provoking bits.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Reprise: "Not the National Coming Out Day conversation I expected"

I wanted to share again my post from last year for National Coming Out Day.

...I'm always surprised when people who know me at all well are surprised to find out I'm a lesbian. It's less startling, but still frustrating, when people are surprised I'm bi, because there's still an assumption of monosexuality in this culture: either you're homosexual or you're heterosexual. Folks who are startled to learn I'm bi either know I've had successful romantic relationships with men and assume those are invalid now (because I must be monosexual), or assume that because I have been involved only with women since they've known me and am not that interested in men, I must be monosexual.

But those are still the conversations I more or less expect to have. The kind where I refer to my partner or spouse in conversation at an event, the other person asks what my husband does, and I say, "My wife is a mathematician," and they blink. The kind where someone I've known for a long time says in shock, "You had a husband!?," and I say, "Yes, my first partner was male, and yes, I was out before we got together. He took me to my first Pride event."

But these conversations have progressed and changed over time. For example, more and more over the last few years, the conversations I've been having around the fact that I'm a lesbian center around civil rights, and especially marriage equality.

And while there's one little thread on my Facebook Wall about National Coming Out Day and how people identify and what labels mean (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer), there's another, completely different, conversation I've ended up having about the reality of my life as a lesbian in today's society.

And it really does feel like a coming-out conversation: Here is my reality. Here is the truth of my experience.

And as with many other such conversations over the years, I'm finding someone I'm talking with disbelieves the uncomfortable truth...

Click here for more.

What about National Coming Out Day?

So, today's National Coming Out Day. 

What does that mean

For me, that meaning has evolved over the years.  I wrote a little last year about how that's changed -- how my conversations have changed from stark conversations about existence ("I didn't know you're bisexual/a lesbian") to more nuanced conversations about the day-to-day reality of my life and the legal realities of second-class citizenship ("For $100 you can get the same benefits as legal marriage!") (Yeah, right...). 

But I'm curious.  What does National Coming Out Day mean to you?  If you're a lesbian woman, a gay man, a bisexual woman or man, a transgender woman or man, a queer woman or man, a cis ally, a straight ally, someone who's none of those things, someone who's confused about it all -- what does National Coming Out Day mean to you? 

Thursday, 7 October 2010

More "I'm a Witch - I'm You" response videos

The Pagan Newswire Collective is, well, collecting "I'm a Witch - I'm You" response videos (like the one I posted here yesterday) on their You Tube Channel.

Thanks, PNC!

Check out the playlist here (especially as new ones may have been uploaded since I posted this)!

In the meantime, here are some more:

Holding Patrick McCollum in the Light today

Even though all US citizens, regardless of religion or lack of religion, are supposedly equal under US law, non-Christians face several interesting forms of discrimination. 

I wrote about some of the specifics in my post Difference and Discrimination in the US and the Religious Society of Friends.  One of the situations I wrote about was not being allowed to work as a chaplain in the prison system. 

Rev. Patrick McCollum filed suit in CA over being barred from being allowed to work as a paid chaplain in the CA prison system.  He's in court today for one of the hearings pertaining to his case -- click here to read details over at the Wild Hunt

Patrick's friends and supporters, including folks at Cherry Hill Seminary, are asking people to send Patrick and his legal team spiritual support today especially. 

I know I am holding Patrick and everyone involved in the Light today, and I invite you to do so as well. 

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Recommended video: "I'm a Witch - I'm you"

What a lovely response, not only to a certain DE political candidate, but to the media coverage surrounding the whole thing. 

Star Foster, this rocks. 

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Pagan bloggers, beware: intellectual property theft in progress

Earlier this week, Jason Pitzl-Waters posted a warning to Facebook about a Facebook group called Blackraven Coven, whose creator and main author/poster, Bram Darkraven, who says she's from Wiltshire, UK, was stealing Pagan authors' copyrighted material and posting it as her own, with her own copyright and copyright date.  T. Thorn Coyle soon followed with a similar warning. 

In case you've ever been scathed by me for passing stuff on without verification, I verified with Jason, Thorn, M. Macha NightMare/Aline O'Brien... and by going to the group itself.  (That was an education.) 

A couple folks in the group asked her to  explain herself.  At first it looked like she might be compiling things from different sources without proper citation.  Then her posts to the discussion forum of the group became wholesale cut-and-pastes of other people's blog posts and web pages, but again with her own copyright and copyright date. 

The she lifted "Ruminations on Pagan 'Clergy'" from the Broomstick Chronicles by Aline O'Brien / M. Macha NightMare -- with certain very notable exceptions that obviously were made to take the original author out of it:
  • she changed the date she said she originally wrote it to an earlier date than the date Aline said she originally wrote it; 
  • she removed the middle sentences of the first paragraph about being the Chair of the Public Ministry Department at Cherry Hill Seminary; 
  • she added her own copyright date again.  

Those changes were no accidents of sloppy scholarship.

More people in the group asked her to explain herself.  She deleted their posts and blocked them from the group.  

But wait, there's more: when confronted by Aline Macha about stealing the work, she insisted again that she wrote it, not Aline Macha

Folks continue to monitor to see if she continues to steal other authors' work.  Some of them have been well-known, like Aline Macha; some have been more obscure webspinners and bloggers; one was even Edgar Allen Poe (!). 

There's a process to report theft of intellectual property to Facebook.  The only person who can make the report is the owner of the intellectual property. 

However, if the offender removes the violation, Facebook considers the matter resolved. 

So if someone steals your intellectual property and you complain, and the thief takes it down but then re-posts it... or keeps someone else's stolen property up... the owners of the intellectual property are stuck. 

As you can see, Facebook's response has been lukewarm at best. 

No matter what excuses people come up with for stealing other people's work, doing so is a violation of international copyright law and of Craft law.  There's no way around that.  The Craft teaches co-operation; it also teaches, through the Law of Threefold Return, what happens to thieves (and to everyone, actually). 

Variations I've heard on the Law of Threefold Return include: Your actions will come back to you threefold; at least threefold; or three times three.  

Either way, you'll get what's coming to you.  Natural law does that. 

Intellectual property theft is ethically wrong, legally criminal, and a violation of Craft Law (and Testimony of Integrity)

Don't do it.  

And if it happens to you, talk about it.  

Recommended post: "She Geek: Women and Self-Labeling in Online Geek Communities"

Victoria Janssen pointed this out to me, and I was impressed by both the research and the analysis. 

My intent in this project was to examine the labeling of female-oriented geek spaces on the internet. What I found was that self-labeling of geek women often defeats the potentially subversive act of creating a female-oriented geek community.

I would argue that the mere creation or and participation in geek communities labeled “for women” are aggressive acts towards male-dominated geek culture. One of the reasons we can see these communities as a challenge to mainstream geek culture is the still-prevailing myth of internet neutrality.



Happy Fall Equinox and Witches' Thanksgiving

Day and night are in balance; Fall Equinox is the door to the dark time of the year.

This is the second harvest festival. What are we storing away for the winter? What foods don’t store well, and so we eat them now?

Some trees are already beginning to shed their leaves. What do we shed with the coming of winter, so that we don’t waste energy bringing it through the cold, and so we have energy and room for new gifts?

In many traditions, the Goddess, or one of Her faces, begins a journey into the Underworld at Fall Equinox. What will we lose in our journeys? What will we find? What abundant gifts of Mother Earth, tangible and not-so-tangible, carry us through the coming dark and cold time of the year?

What gifts do fall and winter bring?

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

What should I talk about in my talk about Feminist Witchcraft?

I've agreed to give a talk and discussion on Feminist Witchcraft at an upcoming Pagan Pride Day

So, what should I talk about? 

Pagan Pride Day events tend to draw people from different traditions with Paganism, and non-Pagans as well. 

What would you want to know if you went to a Pagan Pride Day event, saw someone was doing a talk and discussion on Feminist Witchcraft, and went to it? 

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Paganism in the news: Satanism isn't Witchcraft, and recommended post: "Pagan Reactions to O’Donnell’s “Dabble-Gate”" at the Wild Hunt

When the video first broke of a certain DE Senate candidate supposedly admitting back in the 90s that she'd "dabbled into Witchcraft" (yes, ladies and gentlemen, those were her exact words), I admit I went and watched it, and even shared it in a certain social networking forum... because at the time, I thought it was ridiculous, and even a little funny.  

I also made comments about how in talking about a "Satanic altar" she clearly hadn't a clue, because any self-respecting Witch or Satanist will tell you that Witches don't have Satanic altars, because Witchcraft and Satanism are not the same thing. 

Conclusion, somebody was trying to impress her, thrill her, be a jerk, get her to sleep with him, etc, and took her on this midnight picnic.

I put it out of my mind, went to visit family out of state, and focused on my Tradition's Fall Equinox celebration.

While I wasn't paying attention, the media got all over it, and that hasn't been all good for Real-Life Pagans.   On the other hand, times have changed enough that representatives of several Pagan organizations have been contacted, and have been quoted in the news. 

Jason Pitzl-Waters over at the Wild Hunt has some good analysis of the news coverage; check it out here: 

"Pagan Reactions to O’Donnell’s “Dabble-Gate”" at the Wild Hunt

On the whole, I wish the mainstream coverage had been a bit more nuanced. I think there are larger issues to confront than “Witches don’t worship Satan” involved here, and I’m disappointed that we may have lost our chance to raise them before the media machine moves on to the next controversy. Still, I suppose it’s a mark of how far we’ve come that representatives from several organizations and traditions were contacted by the mainstream media for our thoughts.



But wait, there's more!  Now even Democrats seem to agree that being Pagan means not being electable.  Gah!  

"The O'Donnell "Dabble-Gate" Feeding Frenzy" at the Wild Hunt

While we stick to the “it’s not Satanism” talking points of old, a larger narrative, and one harder to easily refute is taking shape before our eyes. That any taint of Paganism, of Witchcraft, of the occult, is political suicide.

Recommended article: "Commitment, the Best a Lesbian Couple Could Do"

A friend of mine passed this article on to me:

City Critic - Commitment, the Best a Lesbian Couple Could Do -

It hit home, kind of hard.  

Six months after Beloved Wife and I started dating, we got hit with heavy-duty medical shit.  We waited four years to get married (religiously, not civilly).  Then last fall, when one of us was getting ready for major surgery, we did the civil union thing in NJ.  We feel like the mayor and everyone involved at City Hall is invested in our marriage now.  But we knew that NJ hospitals don't always respect civil unions "because they're not marriages," even though the NJ Supreme Court says they're supposed to

This story brought tears to my eyes...

Saturday, 18 September 2010

A little more on interfaith, Muslim, and evangelical outreach

From the Washington Post, "Jim Wallis on the story behind pastor Terry Jones' change of heart" is an informative and inspirational article in both a practical and heart-warming way. 

A few days ago, Stone told me, he got a call from a group of Muslims in a small town in Kashmir, Pakistan. They said they had been watching CNN when the segment on Heartsong Church aired. Afterward, one of the community's leaders said to those who were gathered: "God just spoke to us through this man." Another said: "How can we kill these people?" A third man went straight to the local Christian church and proceeded to clean it, inside and out.

Lately, we have heard much about hostility toward Muslims in America. We have heard an awful lot about Jones's threats and about arson at the site of another Tennessee mosque project, in Murfreesboro. But we have heard little about people like Tunnicliffe and Stone and Stone's admirers in Pakistan.

And that is everyone's loss.

Blessed be.

from/about the Pagan Newswire Collective

There's been some buzz recently about the Pagan Newswire Collective.  What is that, you ask?

The Pagan Newswire Collective is an open collective of Pagan journalists, newsmakers, media liaisons, and writers who are interested in sharing and promoting primary-source reporting from within our interconnected communities. The idea is simple: a pool of journalists and writers within the collective share sources and collaborate on dynamic and timely stories of interest to the Pagan community; media liaisons from various Pagan organizations pass along news and current events for possible coverage; editors, bloggers, podcasters, and other media outlets can call for submissions, collaborate with the collective, and negotiate with individual writer(s) to distribute finished product. All work created from within the collective remains the property of those who produced it, and it can be distributed in any number of ways, from Creative Commons to more traditional arrangements with various periodicals.  

The PNC is looking for writers, bloggers, and more, with experience in several specific content areas.  For details, read on. 

If you like to write, or have a leading to write, and you have a specific area, this could be a good fit for you.  

Thank you for your ongoing interest and support of the Pagan Newswire Collective. As we enter Fall, our organization is busier than ever. I have some news and announcements to share, so let's get to it!

PNC Bureau Project:

Our new initiative to build a true Pagan news organization though the nurturing of local bureaus has been making great strides. First, let me welcome our newest bureau, PNC-Sacramento (! Co-coordinated by David R. Shorey and Isabella Wolfe, their team will be covering the Sacramento and Northern San Joaquin Valleys and the Northern Sierra Nevada in California. PNC-Sacramento joins already established bureaus in Minnesota, Florida, Washington DC, Georgia, Maine, and Iowa. Links to our bureaus can be found at the main PNC site (

PNC Bureaus Coordinator Danielle LeBrun has also had contact with several other people who are looking to start a bureau in their area and are looking for others. If you are in any of the follwing areas and would like to be part of bureau, e-mail Danielle (danielle at pagannewswirecollective dot com) and she can pass your info along to the appropriate person: Kansas City, Cincinnati, Salem MA, North Texas, Chicago and/or Illinois, or Michigan. If you don't see you're area but are interested in starting a bureau, please e-mail Danielle!

You can also download our bureau starter kit:

These bureaus will provide the backbone for the PNC's national/international coverage, empower local communities to engage in creating their own journalism, and ultimately influence mainstream media narratives concerning modern Pagan faiths. Already, bureaus like PNC-Minnesota are getting noticed by local reporters, and are being cited in places like the Minn Post.


Want to write for the PNC? There are a number of opportunities currently available! First, almost all of our bureaus are looking for writers; if you live in one of the states with an established bureau, please head to their site and contact them. Reporting on your own backyard is an excellent way to build experience and get to know your community better.

PNC-Blogs: Interested in becoming a PNC blogger? We have a number of topic-focused sites that are in development or need an infusion of new blood!


Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians (and libertarians), moderates, conservatives, progressives, Anarchists, and Pagans of all political stripes are being sought out for the PNC's political commentary site. Be a part of the next wave of recruits for this site and make your voice heard! Perhaps the PNC's most popular (and infamous) project, it's a great way to hold forth (in a civil manner) on politics from a Pagan point-of-view.

Warriors & Kin:

Are you a military Pagan? Veteran? Part of a military family? We are seeking writers to help reinvigorate our military-focused blog Warriors & Kin. Pagans in the military is an increasingly important topic, and the PNC wants to ensure that Pagan voices from within the military are heard by the wider community. Writers who can post at least once per week are ideal, but we'll consider anyone with the proper background and experience who is interested in participating.


We have a few projects that are nearly ready to be launched, are in active development, or are in the planning stages. We are seeking out writers who have a special interest in following topics/areas.

Ecology/Nature/Environmentalism, Chaplaincy (hospital, prison, military, etc), and Pagan Music.

When a project is in development we prefer applicants who have experience with, or have written extensively concerning, the topics. Please include writing samples and any applicable history with the topic.

To apply for a position with any PNC blog, whether existing or in development, please send the Projects Coordinator (Jason Pitzl-Waters) an e-mail (


The PNC's main site is currently under active development and will be launched this Fall. Our Tech Group coordinators David Dashifen Kees & Scott Reimers are hard at work and when we launch you'll have a better idea of how all the PNC projects and initiatives will be integrated towards our goal of creating a Pagan newswire.

The PNC is also planning an official "coming out" meet-and-greet at the 2011 Pantheacon in San Jose, California (to be held at the COG/NROOGD suite). We're also proposing an introductory talk to be held before the meet-and-greet. Details to come as we know more. What I do know is that several PNC coordinators and writers will be in attendance, and you'll be able to meet them and talk about the work we are doing. I can't wait!

Thank you for your support,

Jason Pitzl-Waters
Projects Coordinator
The Pagan Newswire Collective
You can also find the Pagan Newswire Collective on Facebook -- click here.  

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Two upcoming special issues of Friends Journal (and submission guidelines)

Friends Journal has two upcoming special issues: "Pendle Hill After 80 Years" (June/July 2011) and "The Ministry of Quaker Women" (October 2011). 

Submission guidelines are available at

Friday, 10 September 2010

How to celebrate Winter Solstice using A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual

Speaking of other facets of my ministry: music.  And one aspect of my music ministry is that every year since 1997, I've been part of a community-wide Winter Solstice Celebration in the Philadelphia/Delaware Valley area, which then eventually became a book and compact disc, and has spread to other parts of the US (and maybe other countries, who knows?). 

When Julie (my co-author) and I put together the book and cd package, one of the things we thought could be useful would be if groups of different sizes could use it to put on these same Winter Solstice Celebrations (WSCs).  We'd only worked with large-ish groups, with Celebrations open to the community, but what if individuals and solitaries, and isolated Covens, and small groups who weren't Covens and maybe didn't know each other well, and groups we hadn't even thought of yet, could use the book and cd to do this Winter Solstice Celebration?

From the feedback I've gotten, and from the experience I've had during the time I lived in other parts of the country, it works as we'd hoped.

I've used (experienced!) A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual in a bunch of different ways:
  • with small and medium-sized vocal groups and volunteer narrators and readers, in celebrations open to the community
  • with a group of drummers and the cd, narrating myself and sharing reading
  • with 13 people who sight-sang it in an unheated gazebo and no artificial lights, passing reading around the circle
  • by myself in my living room in the dark
  • with four other adults and a preschooler in my living room during a snowstorm, with the cd, with one narrator and sharing readings
Groups that Julie and I have worked with, or know have done this (often working together) include:
  • a number of Unitarian Universalist congregations, either with their own choirs or in partnership with community choirs
  • community choirs, especially feminist and LGBTQ choirs
  • Pagan community groups 
  • churches
  • Quaker Meetings
  • YM/YWCAs
  • LGBTQ community centers
  • peace centers
  • private covens
  • individuals
  • families
  • community groups that aren't Pagan or religious at all, who have wanted to do some interfaith community-building around/during the winter holidays, and have wanted to escape the commercialism of the season
Okay, that sounds like fun!, you say.  How do I do it?  How do I use A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual for a Winter Solstice Celebration?  

(I'm so glad you asked!)

Host an event on your own or with some family or friends.  
  • You can do it by yourself, using the book and cd. 
  • You can do it with a small group of friends and/or family, using the cd for music, and volunteers to narrate and do readings. 
  • You can get together a group of friends to learn the songs, and do it at one of your homes, either as a performance or just for yourselves. 
Partner with an organization
  • Find out if a choir or chorus you know is interested in doing this as an alternative to a Christmas concert, as a community-building event, and/or as a fund-raiser.  (For example, a women's choir or LGBTQ choir somebody you know sings in.)  
  • Find out if your spiritual community or congregation is interested in doing this as a service, as an interfaith community-building event, or as a fund-raiser. 
If you're part of a Unitarian Universalist congregation
  • ...and your congregation has a music program, talk to your music director or some of your musicians to see if they're interested in this as a service.  Julie and I are members of the UU Musicians Network, and we can put you in touch with other UU folks who have done this.  
Feel free to contact me directly for encouragement, advice, practical assistance, and spiritual support.  

There are lots of practical suggestions in the second half of the book.  If you need to order books and cds for your group, please contact the publisher.  (She will charge you less than Amazon, plus she's an independent bookseller.)  

For lots more information, see the Winter Solstice page at my website

But most of all, have fun!  Enjoy the music, sing along, take time for the silence, and appreciate both the gifts of the sacred Darkness and the rebirth of the Light.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Difference and discrimination, part III: Minority Quakerisms?

(continued from part II: Pagan Friends and Pagan Quakerism)

Pagan Quakerism?

So, we've talked about whether or not I, by myself, bring Pagan Quakers into existence.  Now, let's talk about Pagan Quakerism.

I could be wrong, but I don't think it exists.  Except maybe in "The Princess Bride" alternate universe.

Difference and discrimination, part II: Pagan Friends and Pagan Quakerism

(continued from part I)

Sweeping Pagan Friends and discrimination against Pagan Friends under the Meetinghouse rug

No one has actually sat down to have a real conversation with me about this next issue, which I find interesting.  And I have had lots, and I do means lots, of long and chewy conversations with other people -- in person, over email, on blogs, on Facebook, and on email list-servs -- about theaology, Paganisms, Quakerisms, where different Paganisms and Quakerisms intersect, where they don't, and more.  In July, I had two weeks of travel in ministry where sometimes eating was a challenge because in-depth or far-ranging conversations over meals didn't leave much time for actual eating.

So even though I "do" conversations, people don't generally have this conversation with me; but some Friends are happy to report to me that other people have this concern:

Difference and discrimination, part I: Difference and discrimination don't exist until they're named? Wrong.

I've had a piece of writing brewing for a looong time -- for more than two years, when I go back and look at scraps and drafts of things -- about this fallacy in both American society, and the Religious Society of Friends, that equates naming or identifying something with actually creating it. 

I witness, and experience, how this inhibits discussion in two areas in particular: difference and discrimination.  With difference, the myth is that differences don't exist until we name them -- and that when we do, we threaten unity and cohesiveness, and therefore organizations or communities themselves.  With discrimination, the myth is that prejudice and discrimination don't exist until we name them -- and that when we do, we're the ones who are prejudiced bigots.

What bullshit.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Whose reality?

This started out as a comment on someone else's blog, but then I realized it ought to be a short post on my own blog:  

I often hear people trash both theism in general, and Quaker non-theism in particular, as something that just cannot possibly be true at all, if it cannot be true for the speaker or if the speaker cannot understand it.  Yet, as a broader society, and as a Religious Society, we don't have that standard for, say, Christianity.  (If someone can't understand Christianity, or if it's not true for them, society locates the problem with them, not with Christianity.)  Why can't non-theist Quakerism (or Pagan Quakerism) be true and valid for someone else even if I just cannot grasp it?

Perhaps I have more humility here because I'm already used to that experience with other things that plain don't make sense to me, but obviously have great meaning, and work in real-life practice, for other people.  And therefore I accept them, even if I don't understand them, or agree with them, or even if I think they're kind of (or way) out in left field. 

This is part of the reality of life for folks who are minorities. 

Whereas, the belief, the fundamental assertion that if I can't believe it, or if it doesn't make sense to me, then it's just plain not true in an essential, basic sense, often comes from a position of some kind of dominance, privilege, or power-over that needs to be protected.  It's part of the experience of being a member of dominant culture. 

Suggestions from American Muslims for how non-Muslims can support you?

I'm having several conversations right now in different electronic fora (Merriam-Webster does say the plural of forum is fora) about how American non-Muslims can best support our American Muslim neighbors, especially this year.

Eid al-Fitr, the festival marking the end of Ramadan, falls on September 10th this year, sparking fears that some non-Muslims might think Muslims are actually celebrating the attacks of September 11th, 2001; there has been a recent spike in hate crimes and domestic terrorism against American Muslims; and there are promised Qu'ran burnings on September 11th, which, while protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution, are nonetheless alarming.

Some proposed actions have included:
  • Reviving scarf solidarity -- wearing scarves on September 10th, September 11th, during all of September, in support of Muslim women in particular.
  • Writing letters to the editors of local newspapers supporting Park51.
  • Intervisitation between local mosques and Islamic community centers and other religious and spiritual groups.
  • Calls to lawmakers.
  • Calling local mosques and community centers and asking if visitors of other faiths are welcome at Eid celebrations. 
  • Raising money to help pay for cleaning and repairs to damage to mosques and community centers and construction sites after recent vandalism and arson events. 
  • Hosting interfaith peace events co-planned with the local Muslim community.   
    I don't know how many of these ideas come from Muslims, how many come from well-meaning non-Muslims (of which I count myself), and how many come from Muslim/non-Muslim partnerships (which I consider preferable). 

    So, in this space, I ask any Muslim readers: what actions can American non-Muslims take that will help support you?  What would help you?  What would build community?

    What would help you feel supported and help you know you do not face this alone?

    Recommended post: "The Discipline of Listening as Tool for Christian and Pagan Friends in Conflict" at Plainly Pagan

    I have been mulling over similar topics recently...  
    Oftentimes I have read Christian Friends' comments regarding the frustration of Meetings and online conversations that are, if not openly hostile to the Christ-centered Friend, at least not supportive of him/her. This is a serious concern and a hard thing for me to hear. It is especially hard when Christ-centered Friends suggest or even openly advocate that Friends be limited to Christians only. My perspective is often the opposite and so I want to argue and bluster when I read such things. To hear these things makes me feel unwelcome and defensive...  (Read more)

    FCNL: We Stand with American Muslims

    According to Friends Committee on National Legislation, here are some ways to support American Muslims right now:  

    FCNL: We Stand with American Muslims
    • Ask 5 friends to sign the petition too.
    • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper supporting the Islamic Cultural Center.
    • Find out if the American Muslim community in your area might welcome a public or private opportunity to get to know your own local church, meeting or community group;
    • On Friday, September 10, many local American Muslim communities around our country organize public celebrations of Eid ul-Fitr -- the end of the holy period of Ramadan. Find out if Muslims in your area might welcome the participation of people of other faiths.
    • Write your senators to ask them to speak out in support of the Islamic Cultural Center.

    Monday, 30 August 2010

    Supporting American Muslims: The Velveteen Rabbi's "A Gesture of Repair"

    American Muslims are having a rough time of it right now.  To say the least.  Domestic terrorism against American Muslims spiked after September 11th, 2001, never dropped back to pre-2001 levels, and has surged again recently. 

    American Muslims are afraid of what other Americans will do to them, simply and solely because of their religion.  And that is plain wrong

    A lot of non-Muslims have wondered what we can do to support our Muslim neighbors right now.  Rachel at the Velveteen Rabbi offered a heart-warming response to the recent hate crime in a mosque in Queens.  (I first came across the Velveteen Rabbi's work two years ago when I was living in Ann Arbor.) 

    I for one am grateful to Rachel and Stu not just for the idea, but also for Doing Something, and for demonstrating that Doing Something is possible.  Tikkun olam is the work of all our hands. 

    Blessed be.

    Friday, 27 August 2010

    What century is this? The Summer's Eve ad in Woman's Day magazine

    Sexist bullshit is alive and well.

    Just in case you think we've arrived in the post-patriarchy, there's this little tidbit from Summer's Eve brand in Woman's Day magazine.

    No, it's not from the Onion.  No, it's not from the 1970s (or the 1960s or the 1950s).  It's from the 2010s.  Here and now.  

    Check out the great analysis by dhonig at Daily Kos

    And please do let both Summer's Eve (866-787-6383) and Woman's Day (212-767-6000) know what you think of advertising that insults women this incredibly.

    Update 8/28/10:  Verified.  I have now seen this with my own two (four?) eyes, and it made me feel all slimy.  It's on page 50 of the October 1, 2010 issue of Woman's Day.  Ew. 

    Thursday, 26 August 2010

    Is it time for scarf solidarity again?

    I've been reflecting over the past few months on my experience as a second-class citizen, socially and legally -- informally and formally -- as a Pagan.  Oh, sure, we technically share the same protections as everyone else under the US Constitution, but it doesn't actually work out that way in reality for Pagans. 

    (My "favorite" case in point these days is my colleague Patrick McCollum's experience in CA, and how in the lawsuit McCollum v. California, folks really do make a legal argument that some religions are legally "better" than others, and that folks from certain religions deserve more legal recognition -- and differential access to jobs -- than folks from other religions: specifically, that the First Amendment to the US Constitution applies only to religions that existed at the time of the framing of the Constitution.  Hoo, boy.)  

    (And that's not even touching my literal legal second-class citizenship as a lesbian.  (Click here to read some of what I've written about my experience with that in the last year.) 

    But over the last few weeks,  I've been reflecting that while I may be a second-class citizen in my own country when it comes to my religion, my Muslim neighbors must be feeling like third-class citizens. 

    These reflections started with the brouhaha about the so-called,  non-existent "Ground Zero Mosque."  It's not at Ground Zero, and it's not a mosque.  (For more information, see Park 51's FAQs and the Cordoba Initiative's FAQs.) 

    If we look at the things that do exist within a mile of Ground Zero -- of the site of the former World Trade Center in NYC, the site of the September 11, 2001 attacks in NYC -- it's clear that too many people in America consider it more patriotic to operate a strip club, or a church, than to operate a Muslim community center -- than to help American Muslims reclaim Islam from extremists.  (Hat tip to Daryl Lang.)

    Do we have a problem with the sculpture "And Jesus Wept" at the site of the former Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City?  Even though a Christian extremist was responsible for that bombing?  

    And in the discussion of the non-existent "ground zero mosque," American Muslims are been getting treated like crap. 

    But, wait!  It gets better!  Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida -- doves being a symbol of peace, remember -- is hosting International Burn-a-Qu'ran Day on September 11, 2010, because "Islam is of the Devil."

    Two pieces of good news:  1)  The First Amendment protects their right to burn books, even if it doesn't guarantee them a fire permit.  2)  Other local religious leaders are not taking this sitting down: the Gainesville Interfaith Forum, comprised of Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Hindus, are hosting a "Gathering for Peace, Understanding, and Hope" the night before.

    But let's be honest, folks.  American Muslims are the targets of hate crimes all the time.  We just don't hear about it.  American Muslims, and mosques in America, have had to cope with this particularly since September 11th, 2001, as if all Muslims were responsible for the behavior of a group of extremists.  We don't act as if all Christians were responsible for the behavior of the extremists who were responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing.  But we act like all Muslims are responsible for September 11th. 

    But wait, you're saying.  I don't act like that. 

    Well, what do you do to stop it?  When people bad-mouth Muslims around you, do you speak out against it? 

    Personally not blaming Muslims ourselves is no longer enough.  Not in today's political and cultural climate. 

    On the radio today, I heard a guest on WHYY's Radio Times talking about how Muslims in America are afraid of violence directed against them personally on the upcoming anniversary of September 11th. 

    And that's just wrong. 

    No one -- no one -- in this country should be afraid they will be attacked physically because of their religion.  

    And that statement brought back memories. 

    Of September 11th, 2001 in Philadelphia.  

    Of the aftermath.  

    Of the bomb threats at my Meetinghouse.  

    Of how it felt like my entire workplace, my entire family, the entire world around me, was demanding vengeance. 

    Of not knowing where friends, family, and loved ones were -- including folks in the military, folks on commercial airplanes that day, and folks overseas.  

    Of threats to bomb Afghanistan "back to the Stone Age."  

    Memories of Americans being attacked for being suspected of being Middle Eastern.  

    Memories of American Muslim women -- regardless of race -- who wore the hijab, or headscarf, being attacked and harassed, and so either leaving their headscarves at home, or simply not leaving home -- becoming prisoners in their own homes to hate.  

    Memories of Quaker women I knew wearing headscarves of some sort in solidarity with the women of Afghanistan and with American Muslim women.  

    I came late to scarf solidarity that year, but wore a headscarf for a good month or so -- October?  November? As long as I was led.  I still wore long, full skirts frequently then, and probably looked more Jewish than anything else.  Still, it felt important. 

    One co-worker looked at me worriedly and said, "But Stasa, what if people think you're Muslim?"  Exactly, I told her.  "But you're not.  I mean, you're obviously not."  Exactly, I told her.  She didn't get it.  The idea is to make people think, I explained.  She was still nervous for me. 

    I have been wondering: is it time for scarf solidarity again? 

    I looked up scarf solidarity when I got home today, and found the story of Jennifer Schock's Scarves for Solidarity Campaign originally planned for October 8, 2001; I also found this article from the LA Times

    Jennifer did her homework.  She talked to Muslim women.  She called local mosques, Muslim associations, and Islamic centers.  I haven't done any of that work yet.  I have tried to reach Jennifer, but haven't been successful (yet). 

    Is it time for scarf solidarity again?  If so, on September 11th, 2010?  Longer?  Coinciding with Eid al-Fitr at the end of Ramadan - ?  (September 9th, this year.) 


    Wednesday, 18 August 2010

    "Divining Divinity" -- Bob Patrick at Meadowsweet & Myrrh

    I very much enjoyed Bob Patrick's recent post "Divining Divinity" over at Meadowsweet & Myrrh.

    What spoke to me about this post? A whole bunch of things.  Rather than go through and analyze and annotate the whole thing, I'll just pull out a few highlights: 

    1)  "Belief" vs. "working with," or experience.

    "That is a Christian presumption that other religious paths require belief as it does. What of those paths that do not require belief?"

    I come face-to-face with this often, with the assumption that a dedicated religious or spiritual life of course requires belief -- and that a spiritual or religious life that is based in belief is by definition superior to one that isn't. 

    Recently, I was at a conference that focused on the diversity of Quaker women's theaological experience.  Not our theory, not our thoughts, but our experience: narrative theology was the phrase shared with me with excitement by the conference organizers. 

    I was nonetheless yanked up short by how wedded some of the Christian women in particular there were to this assumption about belief. 

    "So, if you don't believe in Jesus, but you're here because you're Quaker, but you're telling me -- you're -- a -- Witch -- then -- that means you believe in -- well, not the Devil? -- I guess, if you're -- a member of your -- Meeting -- so -- what, exactly?" 

    When it was my turn: "Actually, I would say, You experience the Divine as Jesus, or through Jesus, whereas I experience It as, or through, the grass, the trees, the seasons, Nature, the other women here, animals, all life, the Earth, the Air, the Fire, the Water, the Spirit, the Goddess.  It's not about belief.  It's about experience.  I can go outside and touch.  I can touch you.  I can breathe the air.  I eat food." 

    Blank looks. 

    It's one thing to come across this attitude from people who operate in a particular theological tradition; but I also get it all the time from non-Pagans who are non-theists and atheists, too.  What gets me is how Judeo-Christian these nonbelievers still are in their thinking and reactions, and how they still try to force other people into that same narrow box they claim to reject. 

    2)  "Worship"

    The word "worship" has a connotation of subservience rather than one of simply reverence.  It definitely generates the idea that when we gather in worship, we are holding ourselves subservient to that which we worship, and holding that which we worship as superior to ourselves.  As a Feminist Witch, I struggled with this when I when I first came to Quakerism; and something that I appreciated was the discussion in my then-Yearly Meeting's Faith and Practice about the roots of the word in worth-ship: what do we hold in worth, in esteem? 

    What's more, here's that notion again of not only the separation of divinity from creation, but also of creation at all.  This is so enshrined in Judeo-Christian, and possibly all Abrahamic, thinking, that most folks simply don't recognize the assumption they're making -- much less the religious and theaological ethnocentrism in it. 

    This is just not my experience of the Divine. 

    Seeing "divinity as totally other and superior to the creation."

    Sure, there are plenty of creation myths in Paganism / in different Paganisms.  But if the gods and the world are not separate -- if That-Which-Is-Sacred and That-Which-Is aren't different -- creation isn't linear; it's cyclical.  Personally, I may have a Mother Goddess, but I don't have a "creator."  My relationship with the Earth is to someone who grew me, not someone who made me.  And there's a big difference.  Reverence in connection.  The gods are not outside the world, separate from it: They are the world, the creator and the created. 

    In technical terms, we're talking about world-views of immanence and transcendence, and world-views of both.

    3)  That conversation!

    Why can't I be that articulate all the time? 

    Friday, 6 August 2010

    On the Prop 8 ruling (Perry v. Schwarzenegger)

    Two seemingly-unlikely courtroom bedfellows, David Boies and Ted Olsen, speak with Rachel Maddow just after the federal court decision regarding California's Proposition 8 banning same-gender marriage

    (If you've never read Ted Olson's piece "The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage: Why same-sex marriage is an American value," I highly recommend it.) 

    For info about the MA court case they refer to regarding the court finding the federal Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, click here

    For the NY Times basic story about the Prop 8 ruling, click here

    If you'd like to read the ruling itself, click here.  I haven't read the whole thing yet, but from what bits I have read, and from the exclamations and excerpts erupting from the other end of my living room as well as the analysis I keep seeing, it's an amazing read.  You can skip the mind-numbing legalese and just read the juicy parts, which I'm told (by many friends) really are beautiful, even to the lay reader, from a legal standpoint.

    If even that much legalese is too much, try starting with these two NY Times articles -- this editorial, which does some legal analysis of the discrimination angle, and this analysis article, which tackles some of the legal and judicial structure around what happens at the levels of different courts, why and when "findings of fact" do and don't matter, and why some people are so excited about that beautiful legal language I mentioned above. 

    Sure, this is going to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal, and sure, it might well be going to SCOTUS after that, and sure, Walker (the judge in this case) placed an immediate temporary stay on his ruling pending appeals, so nothing practical changed right away.

    But none of those things diminishes my joy.  This legal ruling states very clearly that California's bar to same-gender marriage discriminates irrationally against me, and my sisters and brothers, in a way that can't be justified legally.

    It states very clearly something that should be a reminder to all of us when it comes to other issues as well:

    “Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and women.” 

    Wednesday, 4 August 2010

    Announcing the CPT Boutique on EBay!

    Too totally awesome.  If you're looking to simplify your life, get rid of old stuff, etc, and aren't satisfied with your current local options... why not CPT?  
    U.S.-Canada: CPT Boutique accepting valuables from donors; all profits support work of CPT
    You know that valuable old necklace handed down from your Aunt Agatha that you never wear and your children don’t want?  Or that antique china you think is kind of hideous? Or your sister's stamp/coin collection? Or that designer outfit that doesn’t fit you?

    Put it to work for peace!  CPT now has a boutique in the Ebay store, Kathy’s Hideous Little Ego.  CPT will accept any legal, valuable item that can mail easily...

    Not only will you be simplifying your life, you will be supporting the peace and human rights work of CPT in Colombia, Iraq, Palestine and in North American aboriginal communities.

    Click here for more information...

    (Click here for the boutique!)

    Fidelity and infidelity in community

    Thinking more about Max's article, or, Part B.

    I agree with Max about spiritual community and about how true spiritual community helps us be faithful to the Inner Light, the Goddess Within.  Held by true spiritual community, my spiritual life -- not to mention my ministry -- is one not of contraction, or of artificial growth, but one of expansion and natural growth, of ebb and flow, within the rhythms of nature and the cycle of the seasons. Held by true spiritual community, I have been able to do things I have been led to do, but couldn't otherwise do. 

    And yet I have been particularly aware again lately of a number of the ways in which both other Friends and other Pagans have asked me to make myself smaller, or have tried to make me smaller, or have asked or demanded that I be unfaithful, so that they might be less uncomfortable, less disturbed, by my life or my witness or the truth of my experience.  Not just ordinary folks I come across in a given day or week or First Day or committee service or Gathering -- but folks whose "job" it is, as a Friend, friend, co-religionist, or co-clergy member, to help me be faithful to myself and to what the Goddess is asking of me.  Folks with whom I am in spiritual community. 

    So I am living very much in the awareness right now of the both/and of spiritual community -- of how good spiritual community can indeed help me be more a more faithful Quaker and Witch, and also of how poor spiritual community not only makes it harder for me to be a faithful Quaker and Witch, but actively inhibits me from doing so.  

    When we ask each other to be unfaithful because another's faithfulness makes us uncomfortable, we diminish ourselves.  We diminish our own relationships with ourselves and the Divine within us.  We diminish our own integrity.  We diminish our ability to be in relationship with the Divine with each other -- spiritual communion and spiritual community.  We weaken our Meetings, our circles, our Covens, and our larger spiritual communities.  We weaken our ability to build and participate in interfaith groups and dialogue.  We weaken community, small and larger. 

    We create an injury to the spiritbody of the Sacred. 

    Max Carter, and Quaker parallels with Anne Rice and Christianity?

    Today I read Max Carter's recent article in the Washington Post about Anne Rice's decision to leave Christianity in order to remain committed to her relationship with Jesus. 

    I was struck by something Max wrote:

    Unfortunately, too many Christians - among them many Friends - are caught up in "notionalism," equating faithful Christianity with particular notions about proper dogmas, doctrines, creeds, formulas, rituals, and social norms.

    And I couldn't help wondering, How might this be true of Quakerism itself today?  

    Are there ways we, as Friends, equate faithful Quakerism with particular notions about proper norms -- proper behavior and thoughts?  

    Are there ways we look more at how someone -- ourselves or someone else -- fits the external notion of Quakerism, rather than how they are faithful to the Light within, to Quaker worship, or to Quaker process?

    How do we tell if they're faithful to the Light within, Quaker worship, and Quaker process, anyway? 

    How do we tell, when we know someone, if they're a "good Quaker" or not?  What do we look for to tell us that? 

    I was reminded of something Merry Stanford once said in an article in Friends Journal:

    ...I yearned so strongly to belong that I strove to be a "good" Quaker, rather than an authentic one.

    How do we ask each other to be "good" Friends, rather than authentic Friends?

    Saturday, 31 July 2010

    Recent deaths

    I feel particularly held by the circle of death and life right now. 

    Two recent deaths, Daniel Schorr and Mabel Lang, leave me feeling like two pillars of the universe have upped and left for some other universe.  Their deaths are not remotely out of season -- both were 93 -- and yet, somehow, it's the very length of their presences in my life that makes their absence seem so strange. 

    Death in due time, I can deal with; I grieve, but that's okay.  Early death is harder for me.  When it comes at the end of a terminal illness, I feel relief for that end, and still feel a kind of helpless rage.  

    My F/friend Christine Oliger's death is no surprise, yet it is hitting me hard. 

    The unexpected death of Art Gish, a beloved activist often involved with CPT Hebron / al-Khalil, is also hitting me surprisingly hard.

    Death is part of the cycle of life.  For Witches, we honor it, but we also honor our grief; and right now, I am grieving. 

    I am grieving in the Light, and in the comforting Darkness.  I have the support of beloved F/friends and family; I am blessed and lucky. 

    I've also just received word of the unexpected but welcome pregnancy of someone very dear to me. 

    The circle of death and life continues, inexorably. 


    Friday, 30 July 2010

    New Health and Human Services rules prevent the most vulnerable women from paying for abortion coverage themselves

    I am so pissed about this, I'm not even going to attempt putting it in my own words.

    Then again, yes, I am.  

    The US Department of Health and Human Services announced recently that "the state high-risk insurance pools intended to provide coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions will not generally include coverage of elective abortions" (National Partnership for Women and Families).  Even if women pay for this coverage themselves, out of pocket.  Excuse me??

    This means the women who are most economically and medically vulnerable -- women with pre-existing conditions, who are more likely to have complicated pregnancies or failed birth control, women who are in the high-risk pool because they are having a harder time getting other health insurance -- women who are more likely to need abortion services, are going to have even more barriers to obtaining safe and legal abortion.

    News on this: Google news search "HHS abortion"

    Good article to start with: Medical news today from July 19th

    The Catholic Reporter says, Eh, it's not news.

    Planned Parenthood says, Yeah, it is, and it's a problem, too.