Saturday, 3 September 2011

Bug with subscriptions

Hello, folks!  If you follow Musings of a Quaker Witch via subscription (email, reader, feed, etc), there's been a bug, and you may not be receiving the correct updates.

If you do follow via subscription: 
  • check the latest post
  • see if it matches the latest post you've received via your subscription.  
  • If it does not, then please re-subscribe via the method of your choice.  Many choices are available on the sidebar. 

The blog with the white background is the correct one.  

Thanks, and please accept my apologies for the inconvenience.  (Who knew updating my template would do so many other strange things - ?)

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Monday, 29 August 2011

Recommended radio piece: BBC's "Twenty Minutes: Quakers Don't Sing"

BBC Radio's Twenty Minutes: Quakers Don't Sing

This was announced at the rise of Meeting for Worship yesterday, and we made sure to listen when it was broadcast last night.  Some F/friends in the States also heard it and passed the link on to the Quaker Pagans email list.  It's both fun and deeply moving. 

Many creative people have found a spiritual home amongst the Quaker movement in our noisy modern world but one thing seems to be missing from this most peaceful of all gatherings - music. Dame Judi Dench, novelist Margaret Elphinstone and the composer Sally Beamish contribute to a montage of thoughts, akin to a Quaker meeting discussion, and reveal their own relationships with silence and music.

The Quaker part starts at about time mark 3:30.  Enjoy! 

(The broadcast is available on-line through 8:30 PM British Summer Time on 4 September.)

Friday, 26 August 2011

Recommended article: Selina Rifkin's "Cauldron to Kitchen: Pagan Kosher"

This is the first in a series where Rifkin explores the idea of "Pagan 'kosher'."  I've followed the beginnings of this exploration in other communications with Rifkin, and I'm looking forward to seeing how her ideas develop further of how we, as Pagans, can approach being in right relation with our food, with what we choose to eat, and with what food options are available to us given our life circumstances and where we live.  I have a feeling Friends might also find this an interesting and useful avenue of inquiry as well. 

Rifkin writes:

But why should it matter? Are not all acts of love and pleasure Her rituals? Certainly eating chocolate can approach the experience of ecxtasy. But what if that chocolate was harvested with child labor? And how good can we feel about an industry built on a foundation of slave labor? The sugar trade spawned the African Slave trade, and never mind what it does to our health. But this is just one example. The food we eat should not just feed our hunger, our desire. It should feed our bodies and minds. It can connect us with our ancestors and our descendants. It can connect us to our local environment. Every time we eat, it is a chance to affirm our ethical choices, and create alignment with our communities. Food is powerful.

Read more at Cauldron to Kitchen: Pagan Kosher

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Recommended reading: Feminist Hulk and J's interviews at Ms. Magazine Blog

Here are links to the three interviews -- two with Feminist Hulk and zir "literary life partner," J, one with J alone -- at Ms. Magazine Blog.  I found that while reading these, I laughed uproariously, nodded, winced, and felt often like I'd found two like-minded souls.




Who's Behind the Mask of Feminist Hulk?  Only the Ms. Blog Knows!

Feminist Hulk make Stasa happy

You can take that any way you want; but what I'm talking about is, I love this quote:

It’s important to remember that Republican doesn’t have to equal conservative. Palin is an embarrassment for the many intelligent and dedicated Republicans who are tired of their party’s dependence on the far right. In a year when so much of the GOP’s agenda has appealed to conservatives by stomping on women (whether by trying to defund Planned Parenthood’s ability to offer pap smears–in a redundant effort to limit federal abortion support–or by trying to redefine rape), I think there is no greater sign of this problem than the laughable notion that Palin is the best female candidate they could come up with.

This quote is from Feminist Hulk's "literary life partner," J. (Jessica Lawson).

Why do I love it?

It's nuanced.

I've been following Feminist Hulk for a while, and I just finished reading all three of zir interviews with Ms. Magazine Blog.  Feminist Hulk is a fierce feminist, as fierce as I am.  This makes me happy.  And just as Hulk smash gender binary, Hulk smash us/them binary that divides women from each other and people from other people who share values with each other.  This also makes me happy.  (Yes, labels like "Republican" and "Democrat" are at times irrelevant.)   

It takes courage to cut across that either/or divide, whether it's in politics, religion, spirituality, culture, customs, etc. 

At its heart, feminism is about seeing through those artificial either/or divides, back to both/and.

At their heart, so are Quakerism and many forms of Paganism.

Feminist Hulk rock.

(And Feminist Hulk make Stasa happy.) 

Monday, 8 August 2011

On my way home from NPYM Annual Sessions last summer

I recently found an old draft of this post and decided to share it.  - sm

Where do I even start this story?

It was last July (2010).  I was standing in the entryway to the airplane, watching my soon-to-be seatmate in the first class cabin put lotion on her hands, and I had a bad feeling about this.

I was on my way back to NJ from Spokane, WA and North Pacific Yearly Meeting in Missoula, MT.  I’d accepted a voluntary bump that re-routed me through Portland on a twin-prop plane, instead of going through Salt Lake City on a commuter jet.

Happily, coming into Portland, it was a calm evening, and the view of mountains and rivers was gorgeous.  (Gorges, for the Columbia River Gorge?)

Powell’s Books in PDX was an unexpected respite and delight.  I’d been upgraded to first class for the second, red-eye part of my journey, an ambiguous delight.  (Paying for real, unsweetened oatmeal for breakfast at JFK the next morning with an airline voucher was deeply satisfying.)

I was feeling ambiguous about being in first class.  I’d been thinking about class a lot lately, talking about it a fair bit, and been writing about it some.  And hoo boy, had I been feeling in touch with my working class roots and self.

So that night, on one hand, I welcomed the extra space on a flight where I would really, really need to get some sleep; Beloved Wife was overseas on a research trip, and I was going to need to get myself to central NJ on public transit from JFK when my body thought it was 3 am and I was under the weather.  But I felt somehow like I was reinforcing the class system.  And I also felt somehow like I wasn’t presenting as “good enough” for first class.  Conversely, with our family's scruffy travel backpack, no makeup, my faded Guatemalan print pants and my hiking shirt, traveling first class on a mitzvah, I also felt like I was subverting the class system.  (And representing well, too...) 

So I sat down next to my seatmate.  And oh, my, was that lotion strong.  I can’t even tell you what it smelled like, except it was very spicy somehow. 

Because first class boards early, I had a lot of time to contemplate what to do.  Or not to do.  I had a lot of time to argue with myself that that lotion wasn’t actually making me sick.  It wasn’t giving me a migraine, so it was easy to argue that it wasn’t really making me nauseated – that was just how warm the airplane was.

I’d already had a bad asthma attack this trip because of totally unexpected mold exposure; both the asthma attack and the meds to treat it had left me feeling pretty vulnerable.  The next day I’d had an ADA accessibility problem and a chemical exposure problem within the same ten-minute time frame, both of which also left me feeling tender and vulnerable.  I’d been wrestling with these kinds of issues for a good chunk of my trip, with Friends who love and respect me, and even with that love and support it was hard – so let me tell you exactly how much Ms. Scruffy Itinerant Minister Bumped Up to First Class felt like telling a total stranger her hand lotion was a problem.

I got up to pull my cell phone out of my bag in the overhead and turn it off.  Standing in the aisle, I instantly felt much better.

Shit, I thought.  I have to say something.  What do I say?  How do I ask this total stranger in first class to go wash her hands

I sat back down.  Lotion.  My head pounded and my stomach rebelled.

“Excuse me,” I finally said.  “I need your help with something…”

And it worked.

My seatmate was quite startled, but very responsive.  I kept it short and sweet and talked about it in terms of allergies.  She was sympathetic.  She’s from Europe and her husband’s from the US, and they have very different allergy problems when they visit family in different countries.  She obviously felt a little silly washing her hands, but then worried the fragrance in the soap would be a problem.  It was fine, and I was deeply grateful.

She drank her wine and went to sleep.

Eventually, I went to sleep, too.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Spaces still available in workshop!

Friends who are attending this summer's Friends General Conference Gathering -- I still have space available in the workshop I'm leading, "Singing the Goddess." 

Here's the short description:

From simple chants and rounds to more complicated songs; music that honors the Earth, the Goddess, nature, the seasons, silliness and each other. Come as you are, whether or not you think of yourself as a singer! No music-reading needed. Grounded in worship. Centering, joyful and fun. All genders welcome.

Details and the long description -- including expectations and objectives for the week, specific areas/topics that I expect to cover, a rough description of the format, what participants should bring, and a brief bio -- are available at the FGC Gathering website; please click here:

The workshop meets for five mornings at the Annual Gathering of Friends General Conference, from July 3rd through 9th in Grinnell, Iowa this summer.  To attend my workshop, you need to be registered for the Gathering (which is a rich and wonderful experience!). 

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Quote of the day...

Quote of the day, from Ta-Nehisi Coates (emphasis mine):

I think that when you are lucky enough to write in a prominent place, there's some sense that you must not just represent your own views, but those of your comrades in struggle...

But the salient point, for me, is to always write first, and represent second. To do it in reverse, would result in a poorly written mush of liberal complaint which would, I assure you, represent no one well.

Good food for thought... 

Write first, represent second. 

I know I often feel pressure to represent Pagan Friends somehow.  (As if I could.)

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Guest post/s for Pagan Values Blogging Month?

June 2011 is the third International Pagan Values Blogging Month

I've participated in this project in the past, and have found it really interesting, as well as helpful in my own spiritual growth and my own ministry. 

This year, I hope to write something again myself and to explore this topic further.  But I also find myself wondering:

Are there folks -- Pagans, Pagan Quakers, or Quaker Pagans -- who are interested in writing about this, but who don't have blogs of your own?  

Would you be interested in writing a guest post for this blog?  

If so, let me know, and give me a way to get in touch with you, and we'll explore the possibility and hopefully work something out. 

I think I'd love to have one or more guest posts on this topic this year, with viewpoints different from my own, and I'd like to explore that with anyone who's interested. 


Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Do you have to get divorced every time you move?

Are you married?

If so, when's the last time you had to get divorced and remarried just because you moved within the United States?

If you're in an opposite-sex couple and you're married, chances are you got married, and no matter where in the US you've moved, you've stayed married.  It's probably never occurred to you to get divorced and remarried just because you were moving to another city or county in your state, or to another state.

Sounds pretty silly, actually, right?

Thursday, 19 May 2011

FLGBTQC travel assistance request deadline for FGC Gathering is May 20th

The deadline to request travel assistance from FLGBTQC (Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns) for the 2011 FGC Gathering is May 20th.  

Clerks are requesting help in getting the word out, since the newsletter will not be out before the deadline.

If you need the contact information, please let me know.

Friday, 6 May 2011

The really fast version of Introduction to Feminist Theory?

From a conversation in another on-line venue.  Thoughts?  

So, here's a question: 

I came to my understanding of dominant culture/minority oppression, connected oppressions, and power systems in society through learning feminist analysis. 

I know other people have come to similar understandings through other avenues, as well. 

Is there a quick way to communicate basic, essential information about power dynamics and oppression to people who don't have this understanding and who therefore think ALL of it is about equally-valid individual diversity, and not about power differentials? 

How can I help people see the institutional power-over, dominant culture/minority oppression issues, more clearly, without taking them through Feminist Theory 101?


Pagan Coming Out and Pagan Pride

So, May 2nd is Pagan Coming Out Day.

I know very little about the International Pagan Coming Out Day organization (, so I don't really know how I feel about yet another Pagan holiday / movement borrowing words from / being named from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer movement.

I am familiar, though, with the International Pagan Pride Project (, which is an excellent organization, and which openly and gratefully acknowledges its debt to the work of the Gay Pride Movement and to all the lesbians, gay men, bisexual women and men, queer women and men, and transgender women and men who have gone before, paved the way, and provided inspiration for the Pagan Pride Movement. 

Why are Pagan Pride and coming out important?

They're important for the same reasons as for LGBTQ people, and as they are for the members of any minority group. 

Visibility.  Survival.  Combating discrimination and prejudice.  Building community.  Building bridges.  Education -- sharing the truth with ourselves / each other and with people outside our community.  Equality.  Integrity.  Celebration and joy.  Honoring our fabulousness. 

Yes, honoring our fabulousness.  Honoring and celebrating each other. 

Acknowledging and honoring those who have died due to prejudice, bigotry, and discrimination, and working to end them. 

Celebrating those of us who are alive, those who have gone before, those of us who work every day to make equality truth and not just words on paper, those of us who live every day in the world walking through our lives as Pagans, in the bright variety of Paganisms that exist all over the world.

Thou art Goddess. 
Thou art God. 
Thou art Divine. 
Thou art Sacred. 

Thou art Fabulous. 

Blessed be.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Recommended article: Tape Flags and First Thoughts: Red Cedar's Experiment with Fragrance-Free Seating

Tape Flags and First Thoughts: Red Cedar's Experiment with Fragrance-Free Seating
Su Penn
My Quaker meeting is working on accessibility issues related to fragrances, which some people (like me) have sensitivities to and which can also trigger or exacerbate migraines and asthma. It's been a surprisingly vexed conversation over the last six to nine months, and there are a lot of tender feelings...

Anyway, one thing we're experimenting with is designationg one-fourth of the meeting room as fragrance-free seating. This was a hard decision to make...

Blogging Against Disablism: Why I'm tired, why I'm sick, why I feel embraced

When I first read about Blogging Against Disablism/Ablism Day, I knew I wanted to write something for it.

I finally had some time to sit down and write this week, and I spent a little while sitting quietly, not thinking about much, not writing, just being.

Letting my mind go out of focus, then bringing it back to my experience… what really comes to the forefront is

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Recommended article: Blogging Against Disablism Day: The political and the deeply personal

Recommended article: Blogging Against Disablism Day: The political and the deeply personal

One Blogging Against Disablism Day, I was struggling to update the archive page. When overwhelmed, cognitive dysfunction can deny me access to very basic bits of information – I have forgotten my own name before, let alone my address or telephone number. At this point, I was having trouble listing the contributions in alphabetical order – something lots of people might struggle with when tired. In particular, I couldn't for the life of me work out whether M came before N or vice versa. So I asked my then husband which came first.

A brief exchanged followed. It was impossible that I couldn't remember which came first - I wasn't that stupid. I said that honestly, I couldn't remember, and reached for the dictionary, which I should have done first. Asking might have been quicker, but I had obviously picked a bad moment. My husband got up and punched the back of my laptop screen, cracking the case. For a moment I thought the screen was going to die and I would lose my computer in the middle of BADD. That's why I know what the date was...


Monday, 25 April 2011

At tax time, my second-class citizenship rears up and smacks me in the face

Tax time is interesting in our household.

My wife and I are not married as far as the federal government is concerned.  Because we're a same-sex couple. 

We're married as far as our religion is concerned.

We're everything-but-married as far as the state we live in is concerned -- our state has a civil union law, court-mandated to be everything but marriage in name. 

This has some fascinating tax implications.

And they rear up and smack us in the face at tax-time.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The Third Annual International Pagan Values Blogging and Podcasting Month

Pax over at Chrysalis is organizing the Third Annual International Pagan Values Blogging and Podcasting Month, in June 2011. 

I've participated in this in the past, and I encourage other Pagan writers, bloggers, and podcasters to do so.  Not only have I appreciated the chance to examine my own Pagan values, I've appreciated reading about other Pagans' explicitly Pagan values. 

If you don't have your own blog, consider a Facebook note.  I'd also be willing to consider a guest post, or several, here. 

Pax writes:


We must not be afraid to discuss the values and virtues and ethics we have discovered in our contemporary Pagan faiths. There are enough books on rituals and spells and prayers to last us a few generations… lets start writing works on confronting poverty and hunger from Pagan perspectives. Let us set aside the fear of prejudice, and the once glamorous but now tattered and worn mantle of the outsider and the rebel, and take pride in ourselves and our faiths, in our works and lives and worship and in our Pagan communities and our larger communities.

You can learn more about the event by going here,

When you get your contribution written/recorded and posted in June put a link to it in the comments stream here. Tags such as "PVE2011" and "Pagan Values" are also encouraged.

If you feel so moved, please share this event with any and all you feel would like the opportunity to share with the global Pagan community.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Witchery = "witch*er*y/ n. 1 witchcraft. 2. power exercised by beauty or eloquence or the like." ~Oxford American Dictionary of Current English New American Edition (2000)

For more information: 

Thanks, Pax! 

Friday, 1 April 2011

Closing Minute of Midwinter Gathering 2011 [of FLGBTQC]

Closing Minute of Midwinter Gathering 2011

As F/friends arrived at Summit Conference Center in Haw Rivers State Park near Greensboro, NC for the annual Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Queer Concerns Midwinter Gathering of Friends 2011, there were warm greetings and welcome hugs for both long-time and first-time attenders. Friends looked forward to exploring together the planning committee’s theme, “Reclaiming the Past – Proclaiming the Future.”

Two panel presentations, one led by older seasoned Friends of the FLGBTQC community and a second led by younger seasoned Friends, helped us first begin the process of reclaiming our past, and then considering what we might proclaim for our future.  We were moved by stories of the faithful and powerful witness of early members of this community who made it possible for us to grow more closely into who God calls us to be today. We were equally moved by younger F/friends who boldly challenged us to joyfully move into our future, asking who might still be waiting to be welcomed to our table. They invited us to continue to grow in Spirit, faithfulness, and as a beloved community that is called to be radically inclusive by witnessing to the both the oppressed and the oppressor with radical love.  

During meetings for worship, worship sharing, memorial meeting, and meetings for worship with attention to business, we became aware of the breath of the Spirit moving among us, ministering through us and to us, giving us glimpses of a vision we seek. We were challenged to continue in Friends’ rich tradition of walking cheerfully in the world (even in places that may not be welcoming or safe),
seeking and speaking to that of God in everyone.  There is still work to be done.

We sought ways to include our youngest members more fully in our community, welcoming them into our worship. And during meals, over puzzles and card games, while walking in the beauty of the state park, during precious one-to-one conversations, dancing together, and joyfully celebrating during the talent show and auction, we all have continued to deepen and broaden this beloved community –
rooted and grounded in Divine Love and Joy. 

We ask ourselves, “What is it we are called to proclaim for the future?”  Perhaps it is the same Truth that early Friends proclaimed, that early members of our FLGBTQC community felt led to build upon, that we too feel planted in our hearts.  We are invited by That Which Has No Name to live in the radically inclusive Love offered freely to us with each breath, and to find ways to share it with each other and the world. We have celebrated where we have been and where we are today, and we look forward to a time when we will even more closely reflect who we are called to be.  Opportunities of radical Love are always before us, and our work will continue as we leave this beloved community to return to our homes, our meetings, and the wider world.

Our business coming to a close, we now adjourn planning to meet again Seventh Month 3 to 10 at the 2011 Summer Gathering of Friends General Conference at Grinnell College in Grinnell, IA.

Deborah Fisch, co-clerk

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Please read this article: Jason Pitzl-Waters' "A Pagan at Work"

Short version:  Please read this article.  It will take you two minutes, and it will help you understand the reality of my life, and the lives of many other ordinary Pagans, a lot better. 


I've written here, and spoken on many other occasions, about the discrimination many Pagans face in daily life. 

What always gets me is when non-Pagans just plain don't believe me.  It's as if some folks think I, and other Pagans, just make this shit up. 

On Monday, MSNBC broke the story of Carole A. Smith, whose firing from her job with the TSA seems to involve all sorts of things:
  • outright religious bigotry;
  • different treatment on the basis of religious identification ("If someone complains to you, he's Jewish, and refers to a stereotype about his Judaism, go to mediation and work it out? Is that management's response to that?" "No. That would not be management's response to that");
  • retaliation for whistle-blowing;
  • sexism ("She was emotional");
  • union-busting;
...just to name a few.

But the most public part is her being a Witch.

Smith's situation has resonated with a lot of Pagans in the US, for a lot of reasons. 

Including the fact that almost all of us have experienced at least some of what she has at work. 

I certainly have.  On more than one occasion.  

But... there's more. 

Jason says it better than I do. 

Jason Pitzl-Waters, a regular writer at the Washington Post's "On Faith" (Religion and Politics) section, has an excellent piece in today's paper about what's happening to Smith -- and what happens to us all, at work every day, and in the rest of our lives, every day.

Thank you, Jason.

Please, take a minute and read Jason's article.  I, personally, would really appreciate it.  

A Pagan at Work

Action Needed to Save Our Washington State Parks

I recently received this letter from the Washington State Parks Foundation (  I've camped in WA State Parks, have visited them for other reasons, and in general think they're wonderful. 

Having no revenue for the State Parks System in the State budget is a BIG problem for WA State Parks.  Please consider a way you can help -- especially time or money, and calling the governor and your representative.

Thank you.  


Dear Friends of State Parks,

Saint Patrick’s Day has come and gone, but there was no pot of gold in the State Revenue Forecast. While the numbers were not as bad as some had feared, the hole in the State Budget is now $500 million deeper.

Gov. Gregoire proposed no general revenue for State Parks in her budget. The only option to preserve our cherished system of State Parks, which turned 98 years old last week, is a revenue package. However, a super majority of 66% in both the House and Senate must agree to raise taxes. The prospect for a tax increase by this legislature is nil.

So, the choice is stark … close more than 100 of our 119 State Parks or charge a user fee. Washington State Parks can only survive with help from their friends.

Sen. Kevin Ranker has been leading the efforts to fund State Parks through a $30.00 Discover Pass. The Discover Pass would allow the holder to access all State Parks, Fish & Wildlife and Dept. of Natural Resource lands for a full year. The pass is estimated to generate $71 million for outdoor recreation in Washington, with 84% going to State Parks. The cost for a single day pass would be $10.00 per vehicle.

Passage of the Discover Pass is not a certainty and a decision likely will come in the final days of the legislature. Already, competing interests are carving out exemptions and loopholes to weaken the impact upon Parks. The Discover Pass should be simple to understand, and not a mish-mash of differing fees.

I ask you to contact your senator and legislators and urge them to support the Discover Pass and to keep the bill simple. You can call the legislature at 1-800-562-6000 or send your senator or representative an email by visiting

As the WA State Parks Foundation prepares to celebrate the State Parks Centennial in 2013, I’m sure you can agree that the worst legacy for future generations would be to close 100 parks and privatize others. We cannot allow this to happen, and the time to act is now.

I also hope that you will consider supporting the Foundation. Please visit our website at to become one of the thousands of contributors to the Foundation’s efforts. Your support of $50, $100 or more will help us leave a legacy for future generations like the one our forefathers left us; the treasure that is the Washington State Parks system. Please help!


Sam Garst, Chair
Washington State Parks Foundation

Monday, 28 March 2011

A note about the Epistle: please share it!

Please share the Epistle!  

It's vitally important to get the word out that there are communities of faith that are affirming of lesbians, bisexual people, gay men, transgender people, and queer people.  

Please help spread that word.

If you are a Friend, please share FLGBTQC's Epistle with any Quaker groups with which you have a relationship -- your Monthly Meeting, Yearly Meeting, (Quarterly or Half-Yearly if they're active,) any Quaker email lists you're on, etc. 

If you're a member of another faith community, please feel free to share it there.  

Do you blog, or LiveJournal, or DreamWidth, etc?  Twitter?  Buzz?  If the Epistle spoke to you, please consider sharing it there. 

It's also been posted on Facebook; you can share it there. 

You can link to it directly from the page at FLGBTQC:

You can forward it from the posting on my blog (see the buttons at the end of the post). 

Thank you! 

An Epistle from Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns, Midwinter Gathering 2011

An Epistle from Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns

Midwinter Gathering 2011

To All Friends Everywhere,

We send you love from Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Concerns Midwinter Gathering, held from February 18-21st, 2011 in Browns Summit, North Carolina.

There was a time when we could not say our name. We dared not say our name -- even in the Religious Society of Friends. We were the Committee of Concern. This community has grown up around the concept of “radical inclusion” – the willingness to welcome new and different kinds of people into our community even when we had not expected them, recognizing the expansion of our understanding of who we are as a form of continuing revelation. Some of those who helped form this community continue to actively be a part of our community, for which we are blessed. Others have moved on. Still others have passed on. Yet all these Friends are still very much with us, standing in their own integrity, and calling us into our own.

We came together once again to witness to the power of radical love and radical inclusion to transform and sustain us spiritually – both individually and as a community and to discern how we are called to deepen our commitment to that call. Framed by our theme, “Reclaiming our Past; Proclaiming our Future,” we heard stories of what happens when we do this well. When we are faithful, we recognize that love is a practice, that in relationship we reveal and discover our true selves. We share the stories and truth emerging from our lives; when needed, we say to one another, “You’re standing on my foot! Please get off!” And then we talk about it. We experience the gifts of receiving and giving love that is shaped by the quirks and flavors of each of our individual essences; in so doing, we invite each other into wholeness, greater integrity, a fuller understanding of who we are as a community, and even greater integrity, and thus the cycle begins again.

As we shared our truths with one another in worship, Spirit revealed to and through us how wholeness, community, love, and integrity are intimately intertwined with each other. As one Friend said, “With Quakers, I cannot lie about who I am.” He spoke about how Friends from this community “kicked me out of the closet” – not through violence, but through holding him to a higher standard of integrity and by loving him for exactly who he is. Another Friend gazed into the eyes of each speaker on a panel of our elders, expressing how she could feel the flavor of each life moving through her, transforming her. A third urged that in an unsafe and sometimes hostile world, we must nevertheless go cheerfully where we are led, understanding that only as we bring our full selves forward can we make the world safer for those who will follow. A fourth speaker, an attender for whom this gathering was hir* first experience of Quakerism, spoke powerfully at the end of the gathering of how way had opened for hir* to be here, and a sense of how “I am supposed to be where I am right now. Life is overwhelming but I can do it.” Young and young adult Friends spoke deeply of the condition of a continuum of sexual and gender identities and the urgent necessity of a place of full and unconditional love and acceptance to call forth one’s true self. They spoke of the blessing of a safe space where they could be fully known, of the feeling that FLGBTQC was a place where there was no “card check,” where all were welcome, warts and all, where they could bring their whole selves forward.

We also know our own stories of the pain it inflicts when radical love and inclusion are absent – experienced within this community and others. We know that we have work to do to more faithfully practice radical love and inclusion with people of color and Young Adult Friends and Young Friends, and those who may yearn for but not be aware of or have access to our community.

We ask for the prayers of all Friends everywhere as we do our work, and we ask you, as way opens, to support us and join with us in our struggle. We offer you our unfolding witness and testimony to the power of radical love and inclusion in this community and an invitation to join in this experience at gatherings in the future. Co-clerks can be reached via telephone at 267-270-2315 or email at Our website is

On behalf of Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Concerns,

Deborah Fisch, Co-Clerk

Kody Hersh, Co-Clerk

* Many people who identify as neither men nor women prefer to be referred to by non-gendered pronouns, and this attender is among those people. The word "hir" in this case is grammatically equivalent to "her" as the possessive ("this is hir [item]") and object form ("I gave it to hir") but carries no connotation of a female or male gender.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Deaths of two elders: Margaret Hope Bacon and Merlin Stone

Beloved Quaker historian/herstorian Margaret Hope Bacon recently died.

I knew Margaret from the Meeting where I first came to Quakerism.  She was an amazing woman as well as a wonderful historian.  She also told women's untold herstories.

I believe every modern Goddess worshiper, Pagan, Witch, Feminist Witch, and feminist should read Mothers of Feminism... at least once. :)

Margaret's obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Beloved (and controversial) elder, author, and scholar Merlin Stone also died recently.  When God Was a Woman still remains one of the most essentially thought-provoking books ever for many women when it comes to religion and spirituality.

They are both sorely missed; but so many give thanks for their long lives, well-lived.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

from CPT: "Walk the walk—CPT seeks applicants for Peacemaker Corps‏"

19 March 2011

*CPT INTERNATIONAL: Walk the walk—CPT seeks applicants for Peacemaker

CPT Announces Summer 2011 Peacemaker Corps Training in Chicago, IL USA, 15 July through 15 August 2011.  Applicants must have participated in a CPT delegation or equivalent CPT experience before June 2011.

Full-time, and part-time positions with stipends are available, especially for the Palestine project, to start as early as September 2011.

Please send your Peacemaker Corps application to the Chicago office by May 1, mailing address P.O. Box 6508; Chicago, IL USA 60680; or fax: +1-773-376-0549; or

CPT delegation and Peacemaker Corps Applications can be found online:
CPT delegation dates and locations can also be found online:

Notes from FLGBTQC Mid-Winter Gathering

notes from my Book of Shadows (spiritual notebook) from the 2011 Mid-Winter Gathering of Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns.  

As soon as our Epistle is available, I will post it here.  - sm 

Meeting for Worship Sunday

the idea that one "ought" to write, blog, etc., from love rather than from anger

--> anger springs from love, is a sign that something needs to change --> I would not be angry if i did not love

--> would not be angry on my own behalf if not for self-love; would not be angry on behalf of my Quaker communities if I did not love Quakerism or my Pagan communities if I did not love Paganism and if I did not love the Goddess (each other, this beautiful Earth)

writing about being at FLGBTQC Mid-Winter and my experience being here

--> what is it that is so wonderful about FLGBTQC?  it's hard to explain to people who haven't experienced it, or to someone who's come and who's maybe been put off by another who's rubbed them the wrong way

-- so far this weekend, we've talked quite a bit about this community as someplace where we feel known, with our imperfections, and loved
-- I certainly feel this way

-- worship

-- worship for business

(-- no "card check" at the door)

reminder from worship: community is one of the testimonies

large-group worship sharing

how we collectively hold the integrity and centeredness of our worship as something important

-- conversations I've had today with Friends about how theaological diversity, and sharing that with each other, is one of the gifts of FLGBTQC

--> these two things -- integrity and centeredness of Quaker worship, and theaological diversity -- are not in conflict; but rather, they complement and enrich each other

I am hearing: it is important to ask to be held in the Light on the list-serv

*post the intergenerational worship post on the blog --> radical inclusion

Singing the Goddess


Monday, 21 March 2011

Happy Eostara!

Happy Spring Equinox!

So here we are, on the balance point between Winter Solstice and Summer Solstice.  We are half-way between the longest night of the year and the longest day of the year -- between the day with the most hours of darkness and the day with the most hours of light; between the day with the fewest hours of light and the day with the fewest hours of darkness.  Between the shortest day and the shortest night. 

We're also halfway between Brigid, when the days first are really noticeably longer, and Beltane, when spring springs forth with great energy and abandon. 

I've lived most of my life in the Mid-Atlantic region of the US, but I lived for several years in other parts of the country -- the Midwest, the Pacific Northwest -- and I paid close attention to the progression of the seasons there, too.  Even in the Mid-Atlantic, just between the city where I grew up and the city where I've lived the longest, which are a scant 100 miles apart, there's a difference in how quickly spring comes. 

But everywhere I've lived, there's a noticeable difference right now.  Even my last year in Michigan, when it snowed on Spring Equinox (and then again at the end of March!), Spring was still very clearly on Her way. 

I've had eggs on my mind for the last week. 

And rabbits. 

And chocolate. 

And cardinals.  There's a mated pair in our neighborhood, and not only have they finally, finally discovered our bird feeder, they even sometimes come to it together.  This brings me happiness. 

There are crocuses in the communal lawn, and shoots poking their green heads up through the earth all over the place.  I've seen some snowdrops.  

Our neighbors' baby is no longer a newborn, but well into infancy. 

Driving to the Roses, Too! Spring Equinox potluck yesterday, I saw a few sheltered daffodils starting to bloom, and lots of forsythia blooming alongside the road. 

The temperatures were in the 70s F on Friday, in the 50s F over the weekend.  And thet will dip down to freezing overnight, with snow flurries possible. 

Yes, we are on the balance point. 

What signs in nature tell you we're on the balance point between Winter Solstice and Summer Solstice, between Brigid and Beltane? 

What's happening in your own spiritual life that reflects what's happening in nature?  

How are you still stuck in the cocoon or shell of winter?  

What environment are you emerging into?  

How are you transformed as you emerge from your shell or your cocoon into spring? 

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

About Sarah's poem

I first heard Sarah Leuze's poem "In Wildness" read aloud at this year's Mid-Winter Gathering of Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns.  Read out loud in a powerful voice by someone who loved and loves her very much. 

It blew me away.  My breath caught.  Tears came to my eyes.  I knew right away this was the poem I'd been waiting for, for this year's on-line Brigid poetry festival. 

I'm grateful to Robert for permission to reprint it here.

p.s.  For a copy of Sarah Leuze: a collection of her poetry, fiction, and a memoir - with photos and biographical notes, please contact her estate, below.  

Poetry for Brigid: "In Wildness," Sarah Leuze

In Wildness

You do not have to suffer.
You do not have to mimic the great martyrs.
You do not even have to know who you are.
You only have to be happy in the wild beauty of the world;
You only have to love what you love, unfettered and unfurled.

Let the untamed call of the loons come to you from across the lake in the afternoon;
Hear the thrilling rush of wings overhead as the wild swans head home to the lagoon.
Let the rock dove coo to you softly each morning from its city perches;
Listen for the song sparrow's call each evening from the forest edges;
Let even the humble robin sing to you each day from the grass and hedges.

Whoever you are, no matter how insignificant, how despairing, know this:
In wildness is the resurrection of the soul, and the preservation of the earth.

February, 2009
Revised October 29, 2009

Copyright © by the Estate of Sarah Leuze, 2010. All rights reserved. Any correspondence should be addressed to Robert Leuze, Executor, Estate of Sarah Leuze, 245 West 104th Street, 16C, New York, NY 10025. Reprinted here with permission.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Radical love, radical inclusion... and the stereochemistry of gender inclusion

I know there's some renewed attention right now to the issue of cisgender-women-only space/the exclusion of transgender women in certain kinds of Paganism.

(Please note that I am not following, or interested in, that debate, and please don't ask me for information about it.)  

A number of people have spoken to me quietly about the issue -- because they're hurt or just plain puzzled by the fuss, or because they're trying to figure out their own complicated reactions to it.

I've also been trying to discern what, if anything, I should say publicly about this issue.

I realized I'm led to share a response I sent to one of those friends.  Part of why I'm comfortable sharing it is because it turns out there's nothing in this letter that I haven't said to other people, both electronically and in person, in public as well as in private.  

Apologies to my beloved former chemistry professors for the oversimplified explanation of stereochemistry. 

- sm

Dear [name],

Cis *isn't* being used because it's the opposite of trans -- it's a termed borrowed from chemistry, and it's being used because it's a good descriptive term for people who were born into bodies consistent with their gender identities.

In chemistry, there are types of molecules with two different kinds of structures -- cis and trans. In one structure, the component groups are attached to *opposite* sides of a molecule across a (double) bond; that structure is called trans, or different. In the other structure, the component groups are attached to the *same* side of a molecule across a (double) bond; that structure is called cis, or same.

Take a look at the second set of pictures here to get the idea (the ones with the big green circles with no rotation):

You and I were born into bodies consistent with our gender identity -- the same, or cis; "the same" with our gender identity, or cisgender.

My friend [name/mutual acquaintance] was born into a body not consistent with her gender identity -- different, or trans; "different" from her gender identity, or transgender.

If you don't like the way it's being used by transgender women in the [blank] debate, then you're giving too much credence to the commenters there, IMO.

If you don't like how it's being used by transgender women in general, I'm sorry. That sounds difficult. It's often difficult to listen to people with less privilege when they confront us, and it's true: you and I have cis privilege.

But the term cisgender is *not* being used exclusively by transgender women, any more than the terms heterosexual, straight, white, temporarily able-bodied, upper class, or male are being used exclusively by lesbians, gay men, bi people, transgender people, disabled people, people of color, poor people, working class people, middle class people, or women.

You also need to understand that transgender women experience a terrible amount of misogyny, and that they get it both from men and from other women. I don't know about you, but I don't want to be another woman who behaves that way towards women who also happen to be transgender.

My own journey towards transgender inclusion has not, and still isn't always, an easy one. I've been part of a Quaker lesbian organization that was torn apart over the issue of including transgender women; I couldn't have told you then if I thought it was better to exclude or include transgender women. I have also been incredibly honored to get to know a number of transgender women and men in person, as real people, most but not all of them through a deeply Spirit-centered Quaker organization that walks its talk of radical love and radical inclusion. It has become very, very clear to me where I find the Goddess, and where She leads me, when it comes to this issue. I can be sure of that even when I'm not 100% comfortable; it's a very different kind of discomfort than when I'm not certain.

So I hope this helps some. 

Love and blessings,

Recommended article: T. Thorn Coyle's "Duality and Diversity: Gender at Pantheacon"

T. Thorn Coyle's "Duality and Diversity: Gender at Pantheacon"

The theme of gender at Pantheacon started for me on Friday afternoon, when I was able to catch most of Dr. Charlie Glickman's presentation on "The Mystery and the Masculine." I walked into a lively discussion about stereotypes, gender, and where we might find a place inside or outside of the box, and how breaking out of the box sometimes offers a full range of deep and powerful archetypes. Why was I drawn to this presentation? Not only do I like and respect Charlie, but I carry a great deal of the masculine within me; as a matter of fact, I used to get mistaken for a man with great frequency. I don't anymore, though most people still recognize that strand of my energy signature. I feel comfortable presenting in a more "female" way these days and my power is more fully integrated so my overall energy outlay is smoother. But you still won't catch me in a skirt unless I'm doing high femme drag. And that is rare.

I spoke in Charlie's class about Z Budapest saying last year that I was not a masculine woman, presumably because I wear lipstick now, and my jeans are no longer two sizes too big. No, I'm not butch like my butchest of friends, but the reason I identified as masculine at the first was in an attempt to do damage control around some masculinity bashing that had been going on. As I still swim strongly with that current, I outed myself on the panel and was then smacked down. Not for long, as you might imagine.


Friday, 4 March 2011

Friends Journal article on young families; other thoughts on accessibility

A F/friend of mine brought this excellent article to my attention a few weeks ago.  (I know I saw it when it first came out, but because of other things going on in my life that month, it didn't really sink in.)  Then, at FLGBTQC Mid-Winter recently, one of the many things we were talking about was how to make worship accessible to different people -- children, people with different neurological needs, etc. -- and I was reminded of it again.  

From "Young Families and Quakerism: Will the Center Hold?" (Friends Journal, May 2008):

[The project] found that those who joined Quakerism started attending at the average age of 34. The project summarized that our outreach efforts should focus on those in their 30s and 40s. Many of those who are drawn to unprogrammed Quakerism are looking for a "tribe" that gives them a sense of connection and belonging that resonates with their sense of who they are, and who they are becoming. (Many who take the quiz at <> are pleased to discover that there is already a well-established religious tradition that shares their convictions! Now, all they need to do is find a Friends meeting in their area. Thank goodness for <>!)

This yearning for authentic community shifts to an even deeper existential level when young adults find themselves becoming parents. As has been well documented, people often seek a religious community during the early years of parenthood, because of their bone-deep hopes and fears for their children. Having children tends to evoke in us a spiritual awakening, and a connection with the Source of life. We experience the Divine through our love for our children. Contemporary culture, with its wide array of anti-spiritual messages and experiences, has only exacerbated these deep yearnings. For Quakerism to be a spiritual home of choice for today's young adult seekers, then we must meet them where they are. That is, we must offer them a community that does not simply accept them and their children, but which pro-actively embraces them and nourishes them, personally and spiritually.

(Read more:

But this article isn't just about helping Meetings be more accessible to young families: it's also about nurturing our Meetings and helping them be vital, growing communities.

I'm excited, reading this, because the connections with and parallels to other kinds of accessibility are really clear to me.  And the tools are related, too.

The author and his family and I used to all be part of the same Meeting, before they moved and we moved.  In that Meeting, we used to have regular, intergenerational, semi-programmed Meeting for Worship.

While I was there, that worship never took place in the main Meeting room, and it never took the place of regular Meeting for Worship: therefore, it was optional.

There were a couple of issues with this.  It made it clear that our children were not full members of our community.  However, it also meant that no one who felt they couldn't in good conscience participate in programmed or semi-programmed worship was forced to do so. 

Sadly, when it came to our children, we didn't walk our talk as well as we might: several families I know left for other Meetings where they felt their children to be more fully part of the life of the Meeting.  This is not an option in many geographic areas, including some of the other places where I've lived. 

I confess that I am one of those people who's allergic to programming in Quaker worship.  For me, as soon as we introduce programming, we introduce dogma and theaology, and we are no longer in spiritual communion.  We have violated Meeting for Worship.  It's no longer safe worship space.  When that happens, I can visit, but I'm no longer home.  But I also felt really strongly, in that Meeting, about intergenerational Meeting for Worship, and I knew a full hour of unprogrammed worship just wasn't accessible to our children.  So I went to intergenerational semi-programmed Meeting for Worship.  (I itched, but I didn't break out in hives.)

Even though the connections with other kinds of accessibility are clear to me, they're not so clear to other people.

Here are some examples:

If it's okay for kids to wiggle quietly, read, write, or play quietly during worship...

...then it's okay for adults with neurological conditions to wiggle quietly, or engage in other quiet activities, during worship.   

If it's okay for kids to read Bible stories silently, or for adults to read from Christian or Hebrew scriptures silently...

,,,then it's okay for kids or adults to read from non-Christian books silently. 

If it's okay for kids to write quietly...

...then it's okay for adults to write quietly.

Those are just a few parallels that spring immediately to mind.  I'm sure there are others.

I'm reminded of two times in my life when handwork was the only thing that made Meeting for Worship accessible to me.

The first was when I was recovering from an injury and was in constant pain.  For months, I had a terrible time centering into worship.  Reading or writing was too cerebral -- it pulled me out of worship, into an intellectual head-space.  But finding a place in the back of the Meeting room where I could sit on the floor, stretch out the leg with the cast on it, and work on my crochet ministry -- the blanket I was making for a Friend whose husband had just died suddenly -- I could center into worship.  The second was during a flare-up of a neurological condition, when I was on a medication that made me sleepy unless I had direct sensory stimulation.  If I was driving, I was fine; as a passenger, I would fall asleep.  I found myself very sleepy in Meeting for Worship, no matter what time of day, no matter where -- the Meeting where I was sojourning, back at my home Meeting, at FGC Gathering, when traveling, it didn't matter.  I did not want to sleep through Meeting for Worship.  Again, reading or writing pulled me out of worship and put me into too intellectual a space, but crocheting allowed me to stay centered in worship when I started getting too sleepy. 

Coming back to Tom's article and the thoughts it's prompting for me, I also want to think more about how this kind of openness might work to help us embrace the theaological diversity among us -- and so help us deepen our Meetings in the Spirit and in their faithfulness to Quakerism. 

Here is something really important Tom points out in his article:

Learning to be accessible doesn't have to be comfortable at first in order to grow comfortable, or in order to provide huge rewards for a Meeting community. 

So, dear Friends -- shall we see how the Spirit is leading us to be uncomfortable together, and how how we are led to be transformed?

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Query on grief and support

How do we bear witness to, and support each other through, griefs which society doesn't usually recognize or honor?

What are some examples of these kinds of grief?

Thursday, 24 February 2011

An accessibility ally

At a Quaker retreat last weekend, during the introductory announcements about the site, the schedule, etc., a member of the Planning Committee made some announcements about accessibility, including an announcement about the fragrance-free nature of the gathering.

I was grumpy and overwhelmed at that point.  I felt that fragrance issues hadn't quite been handled adequately so far, in a community with a history of handling them very well.  I'd been trying to negotiate with my (well-meaning and responsive) cabin-mates, who'd brought fragranced personal care products with them.  I certainly did not expect to have the reaction I did to zir announcement.

Ze stated very clearly that this was a fragrance-free gathering, and that this was for accessibility reasons and is an accessibility issue.  Ze explained plainly and clearly several of the problems fragranced products can cause for people with medical conditions triggered or exacerbated by chemicals in fragrances, and how such exposure would prevent members of our community from participating in the gathering. 

But ze went further.  Ze announced that the Planning Committee was providing fragrance-free soap, shampoo, and conditioner.  Ze added, "So there's no excuse for using scented products."  Ze also said, If you are wearing something scented and someone with a fragrance sensitivity can smell it, you have already made them sick.  Then ze said (I'm paraphrasing), If we can smell a fragrance, those of us without fragrance sensitivities, being allies and advocates, are the ones who should take it upon ourselves to say something in situations like that, rather than leaving it to people who are sensitive.

How did I feel? 

This heavy load lifted from my shoulders.  There were all sorts of things ze had said, and so I didn't have to.  There were all sorts of ways ze was advocating for me and for other people there with this accessibility issue, and ze was calling other allies to do so, and so we didn't have to.  I was off duty.  It was amazing.  It gets so completely exhausting doing self-advocacy around disability accessibility (and not just disability).  This weight just lifted from my shoulders. 

I made a point, later, of telling ze how much I appreciated what ze had said and the language ze had used.  Ze said it was heart-felt, and that was how ze had chosen zir words, and that ze appreciated the feedback. 

Me, I appreciated zir advocacy, and I appreciated how the whole community -- once again -- embraced responsibility for accessibility for vulnerable members of our community. 

Someone over the weekend reminded us vocally that "community is a Quaker testimony."  Yes. 

Blessed be.  Thank you, Friends. 

Friday, 4 February 2011

A review of Ben Whitmore’s "Trials of the Moon: Reopening the Case for Historical Witchcraft"

I don't have the brain right now to digest and analyze this fully, but I find it really interesting.  - Stasa


Here is an excerpt:

This is a review of Ben Whitmore’s Trials of the Moon: Reopening the Case for Historical Witchcraft. A Critique of Ronald Hutton’s Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft. Auckland: Aotearoa / New Zealand, 2010

I am glad someone took on the task of providing a detailed critique of Hutton’s book. Ben Whitmore, a Pagan priest in New Zealand, does not hail from the school of Wicca-is-a-direct-transmission-of-ancient-Pagan-tradition. He is clear “that today’s witchcraft is largely a reinvention” and favors  examining the foundational myths of modern neopaganism with a critical eye. At the same time, he feels a spiritual kinship with past traditions and holds out the possibility of recovering their authentic roots:

“I feel it is high time that Wicca and Paganism be permitted to have not just myths, but a history as well.” Hear, hear.
Hutton, although himself a Pagan, has systematically attacked the idea of pagan survivals in medieval Europe, and not just in this book. He hews to an orthodox focus on literary sources as the font of culture, with a corresponding disregard for the testimony of folk tradition and its conservational power. We hear from Diane Purkiss about how the English school of witchcraft history had “hardened into an orthodoxy”since the 1970s. Whitmore points out that they ignore the rich documentation of folk paganism by continental historians (a disregard, paired with sputterings about “rigor,” that I have been protesting for years).

Hutton’s earlier book is described as taking a “withering” approach  toward neopagans while rhapsodizing about christianity. Such attitudes are unsurprising in most academic circles, but Hutton’s dismissals have been taken up by some Pagans as well. Whitmore recounts “one rather sad conversation I had with a bright young High Priest and High Priestess who were abandoning the Craft because Triumph had convinced them they were living a lie.”[2-3]

Whitmore makes an effort to be evenhanded. He praises Hutton’s chapters on Wicca as “balanced and comprehensive.” He corrects an error about the succession in Alexandrian Wicca. [3] It’s been years since I read Triumph of the Moon, so I don’t remember if the feminist branches of Wicca were included. In any case, modern paganism is not the main thrust of Trials of the Moon; it is about making the case for a historical connection between pagan ethnic religion, including goddess reverence, and later witches and witch traditions.

Whitmore counters Hutton’s exaggerated claim of “a tidal wave of accumulating research which [in the 1990s] swept away … any possibility of doubt regarding the lack of correlation between paganism and early modern witchcraft.”He lays out the misrepresentations and revisionism in Triumph of the Moon by reviewing the historical literature that Hutton cites, and systematically showing that his sources do not say what he claims they do. In some cases they say the complete opposite. The quotes that Whitmore provides shows that they affirm rather than deny the persistence of pre-Christian spiritual traditions, including shamanic ones. The exception is Muchembled, but even he acknowledged the demonization of folk beliefs and observances in constructing the myth of the Witches’ Sabbath. [6-8]

So the book tests Hutton’s evidence and provides some much-needed historiography. It also offers  helpful summaries of ideas by various authors. P.G. Maxwell-Stuart, for example, talks about the incompleteness of European conversion into the middle ages, and tracks the imposition of elite ideas about diabolical pact and witches’ sects onto folk culture. (Hmm: a footnote alludes to the famous case of two German villages where only two women were left alive. Maxwell-Stuart, however, appears to have erased the specific targeting of women, rendering it as only two “residents”spared by the hunts. [9 fn 27]) Still, I’d like to read his discussion of the number of accused witches who actually were cunning folk, healers, diviners, or people who had dealings with the faeries. [10]

Read more:

Conflict and Quaker process

I was thinking recently about a conflict in the Meeting where I'm sojourning.  And then I found myself thinking back on conflicts -- and potential conflicts that never were -- in other Meetings and Quaker organizations I am or have been part of.

I posted the following to Facebook: 

...reflecting today that whenever I've been really angry over, disturbed about, or hurt by a conflict in a Quaker meeting or organization I've been part of, the real root of my pain hasn't been the conflict, but a lack of Quaker process. Whereas the most potentially terrible conflicts have been transformed in the deepest love through worshipful decision-making, leading-seeking, and truth-seeking together.

Thoughts?  Reflections on your own experience?

What are the parallels or analogs in Pagan groups or organizations? 

Thursday, 3 February 2011

6th Annual Brigid Poetry Festival

It's the 6th annual Brigid Poetry Festival! All over the internet! 

I found out about this a few years ago through Deborah Oak Cooper, Reya Mellicker, and Anne Hill

A quick web search of Brigid poetry brings all sorts of results for this year's festival.  


Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Blessed Brigid to you!

A happy and blessed Brigid to you!

Brigid is the Goddess of smithcraft, healing, and poetry. How is She moving in your life today? 

If this is Imbolc, Candlemas, or Brigid, to you, what does the holiday mean to you?

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Upcoming CPT aboriginal justice delegations to northwestern Ontario, Canada

Here's an opportunity for peace witness work here in North America.  - sm

25 January 2011
CPT INTERNATIONAL: Christian Peacemaker Teams announces Aboriginal Justice Delegations to Treaty #3 Territory (Northwestern Ontario) March 31-April 11, August 12-22 and September 24-October 5, 2011.

Corporate clear-cut logging of Asubpeeschoseewagong traditional territory has destroyed hunting, trapping, and food and medicine gathering activities.  The legacy of  Indian Residential Schools have deeply impacted families and communities.  Mercury contamination discovered over forty years ago continues to poison residents.  Explore what it means to live in right relationship with the earth and each other.  Find out what it means to be an ally to indigenous communities engaged in healing, resisting colonialism, and struggling for sovereignty.

From a base in the city of Kenora, and visits to Asubpeeschoseewagong traditional lands, the delegation will meet with Indigenous and non-Indigenous community leaders and residents.  Delegates will develop an analysis of colonialism, participate in undoing racism training and plan a public witness/nonviolent action as appropriate to confront issues of structural violence. Some physical rigors may be involved, such as camping in basic conditions, and stretches of time outside in unpredictable weather.

Fundraising expectation: $525 Canadian or US.  Delegates make and pay for their own travel arrangements to Winnipeg, Manitoba or to Kenora, Ontario.

CPT is a faith-based group that seeks participants who are interested in human rights work, committed to nonviolence and to undoing racism, and willing to participate in team worship and reflection.  Delegates should have plans to share about the trip upon return to their home communities and congregations.  All on-ground travel, two to three meals a day, simple accommodations, and all honorariums and delegation fees are covered.  Most CPT delegations involve some physical rigors.

English language fluency is required for full participation.

Funding support: CPT has limited funds available to assist applicants who otherwise could not participate.  CPT is committed to undoing racism and will give preference for funding support to applicants from communities that have been disadvantaged by racism.

For more information or to apply, contact CPT, PO Box 6508, Chicago, IL 60680; phone 773-376-0550; fax 773-376-0549; e-mail, or see CPT's website at:

Thursday, 6 January 2011

What are your favorite feminist blogs?

What are your favorite feminist blogs?

Some suggestions I've received so far, some of which I've known about, some of which are new to me:

from Amy S: 

A few other suggestions I received:  

What are your suggestions?  

A quick web search turned up some of these. What's your experience with them?

I had to dig hard to find any blogs at all by women of color, much less feminist ones.  Even in this day and age.  This sucks.  

Update:  How could I forget Geek Feminism???

What feminist blogs do you suggest? 

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

from CPT: ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: USA and Canada sign UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples | Christian Peacemaker Teams

from Christian Peacemaker Teams

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: USA and Canada sign UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples | Christian Peacemaker Teams

5 January 2011
ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: USA and Canada sign UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples
by Peter Haresnape

“We owe a very great debt of gratitude to those who remember the old ways to live and honor the earth. And yet, we have ignored them, oppressed them, and even stripped them of the land that is their life. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is an important step toward protecting these vulnerable members of our human family, of giving them the dignity and the respect that they so richly deserve.”
- Archbishop Desmond Tutu

On 12 November 2010, Canada endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The U.S. followed suit on 16 December. Both countries, along with Australia and New Zealand, initially voted against the Declaration when the UN General Assembly adopted it on 13 September 2007, but with these recent endorsements, the Declaration is now unanimously recognized by the international community.

The Declaration is the result of more than twenty years of discussions and negotiations, making it one of the most carefully designed instruments to support human rights on an international level. According to Amnesty International, “The Declaration does not create new or special rights. Instead, the Declaration provides urgently needed guidance in applying existing international human rights standards to the specific circumstances and needs of Indigenous Peoples.”

It remains to be seen how the Declaration will affect the attitudes and actions of the U.S. and Canada towards Indigenous Peoples. Prior to his announcement of support for the Declaration at the White House Tribal Nations Conference, President Obama gave many examples of recent endeavours to amend past wrongs and improve current conditions for Indigenous communities in the United States. He did not refer to specific articles of the Declaration that would connect to such endeavours, but he did say, “What matters far more than words […] are actions to match those words. And that’s what this conference is about.”

The Declaration sets out minimum standards expected of governments towards Indigenous Peoples. Canada has yet to move toward meeting these standards, but the Declaration provides a tool for Indigenous communities seeking justice in Canada. On Monday 13 December 2010, Barriere Lake First Nation delivered a copy to Prime Minister Stephen Harper as part of their campaign against Canadian interference in their traditional governance.

Implementation, not endorsement, will be the true test of the Declaration’s value. Canada and the U.S. must demonstrate respect for Indigenous knowledge and law, and understanding of their nations’ colonial history and present. “Only through continued use will its provisions become our reality,” writes aboriginal and human rights law expert Robert T. Coulter. We must start citing the Declaration at every opportunity as we call our governments to account for their actions across the world, and as we—both as individuals and as nations—build relationships with Indigenous peoples.

Text of the Declaration

Robert T. Coulter’s analysis of the new U.S. position

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Music from circle at Winter Solstice/Yule (but probably not what you think)

In my Tradition's Winter Solstice ritual, we spiral into the Darkness, spend some time there, discover a number of gifts in the Darkness, and then spiral back out into the Light.

Several pieces of music have stuck with me from circle this year.

Lorna Kohler's "Spiraling into the Center" 

Spiraling into the center
The center of the Wheel
Spiraling into the center
The center of the Wheel
I am the weaver,  I am the woven one
I am the dreamer, I am the dream
I am the weaver,  I am the woven one
I am the dreamer, I am the dream...

(I learned this with "shield" and "wheel" interchangeable (ah, folk process...).  There are times when "shield" makes sense to me, and times when "wheel" makes sense to me, too.  Sheet music for this can be found on p. 251 of Songs for Earthlings.)  

Clara Scott's "Open My Eyes, That I May See"

When I had walked a counter-clockwise spiral into the center of the circle, into the Darkness, I spent some time in worship there.  And one of the things that came to me were lines from this hymn:

Open mine eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me...
Open mine eyes, illumine me
Spirit Divine!

Yes, it's a hymn!  Like a lot of women of my generation, I spent many years thinking that was simply the opening to Cris Williamson's "Song of the Soul."

But at FLGBTQC Mid-Winter Gathering a few years ago, when Willie Frye was our keynote speaker, we sang hymn #166 in the Quaker hymnal Worship in Song in worship one morning.  And I learned there's a whole hymn behind those opening bars...  Clara Scott's hymn "Open My Eyes, That I May See."

Open my eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me...
Open my eyes, illumine me
Spirit Divine!
Open my ears, that I may hear...
Open my ears, illumine me
Spirit Divine!
Open my mouth, and let me bear...
Open my heart, illumine me
Spirit Divine!
Open my mind, that I may read...
Open my mind, illumine me
Spirit Divine!

Cris Williamson's "Song of the Soul"

During the rest of ritual, then, "Song of the Soul" was of course stuck in my head.  During singing, I snagged my wife's copy of Rise Up Singing (there are occasionally advantages to casting a circle in your own living room), and my circle sisters indulged me by singing it enthusiastically with me.

In harmony.

They rock.  

And we can sing this song
Why don't you sing along?
And we can sing for a long, long time
And we can sing this song
Why don't you sing along? 
And we can sing for a long, long time
May you, too, always find gifts of magic in the blessed Dark.