To Boldly Wander…

dystopian Alex AndreevArt by Alex Andreev

In keeping with a personal vow to total and complete honesty, I was destined to be a nerdy girl. I remember vividly watching the Friendship 7 and Mercury space flights with awe, wonder and envy. The first book that I bought was the unabridged version of H.G. Wells “War of the Worlds,” which would be followed by the purchase of Homer’s “Iliad” and “The Odyssey.” By the time I’d digested ancient space and space invaders, ‘Star Trek’ premiered and I would damn near trample anyone that got into my way while sprinting home on Tuesday afternoons to catch that week’s episode. In my time, the term was junior high school; by the time my shadow crossed the threshold, Bradbury, Asimov, Heinlein, and Cherryh were to become my mythic pantheon of worship. I learned The Three Laws of Robotics simultaneously with the obtuse directives of Boolean algebra and vagaries of photosynthesis. It never occurred to me that I couldn’t do what John Glenn, Neil Armstrong and others would do; the destruction of that dream took years of sexist oppression, rape and substance abuse to kill. Oh, was that a bit too raw for you?

This is no less shocking to me than the sight of law enforcement officers beating and killing pedestrians or other citizens of color and then attempting to use the ‘Unwritten Code of the Blue Brotherhood” to shield their perversions and crimes. The great minds of Literature Past and Present have ever warned us of the dangers of complacency and ennui. The Voices of the Great Enlightenment spoke deep and vast cautions against allowing our baser human natures to rule over our better selves. The Bells that Toll have been doing so for a very long time without a single voice to query “Why?” Or worse, “For Whom?’

There are no less than 40 years of a perverse directive to destroy an educational system and a safety net of worker’s rights that have a once-powerful nation on its own edge of internal destruction. We lack the compassion to enfold our veterans in a blanket of services, our populace in the gentle guiding hands of mental health professionals, and the once solid separation between Church and State is nothing more than a bloodied smear on a the artifact of a printed newspaper.

Flags that symbolized our nation’s historic shame of human ownership still fly where they should have been taken down and archived with the memories of that intolerance and hatred. There is no genetic basis for race, just as there is no marker for sexuality. We are all shades of the spectrum, we come in all flavors of joy and tears. I dream that perhaps one day the bipedal hominids of this planet will actually awaken to the puppet master and clip the strings of ignorance and oppression that bind them to the mirage of their despair.

For now and for today, I quietly sit in a forgotten corner of a rolling Texas plain watching the clouds that drift overhead and envy them their freedom; trying to remember when watching the clouds was a moment of peaceful joy.

Behind “Home”

trail home


There’s been a ghost of an idea sitting on the back burner of my mind for a few days; more than just the usual ‘because’ that grants perpetuity in the writer’s mind. This niggling, this fomenting creation of firing synapses and fulminating neurons is much more than that. It’s a concept that is being borne out every day in some new way by hard science and prattled upon mercilessly by one guru or another.

In a very simple derivative, it is thus: all that we are is the summation of what is around us at any given time. We must needs be mindful of this at every moment or accept the consequences. Breaking this down into chunks or simple bits of digestible concept much like cold cereal follows. (Yes, stuff like this really DOES bubble around in my brain…maybe I should have had a bit more support in the educational realm.)

There now exists hard science that our bodies shed cells on a regular basis – we are ever in the process of becoming who we are on a regular daily, almost, cycle. Given this, stop for a moment and think. Where did your breakfast come from? Was it grown locally? Touched by the hands of a neighbor? Was it harvested by machine or by hand? Was it transported in a refrigerated truck far away from where it first saw sunlight? Did it sit in a warehouse waiting for its lot to be bid upon before moving on to a distribution center? Where does every iota of what you eat come from? Where are the hands that touched it in some form before you purchased it and brought it home to grace your oven, hotplate or microwave before it graced your plate and table? Do you know these people? Would you have them share your dinner with you? You do, you know.

Every time you eat, everything you eat has been touched by others in the process of here to there; unless of course, you grow and harvest every morsel of food you put into your mouth. So with this in mind, let’s track your day. Who grew the beans that were later harvested by another, transported by yet another, processed by an additional handful, roasted, blended and ground to be put into a container that found its way to your kitchen pantry and thus your coffee cup? Do you ever think to thank the blessed hands, hearts and minds of each person that touched the coffee you now drink? How about the hands of the laborers that went into making the coffee machine that brewed the beverage you now consume? Like it or not, we are all creations of energy; we expend it in myriad ways throughout our day, but we take it in likewise. The sum of each person’s touch is in every item of clothing we wear, every morsel of food we eat, the cars we drive. Our days, our world, our presence is literally filled to the brim with the essence of another – in fact many others.

When we allow Oligarchs and Plutarchs to rule, they seek to stifle, muffle, and silence the voices and the energies that make this energy exchange bright and joyous. Without the love of the land as expressed by a human farmer, the beauty and health of the wheat field loses something in the process of providing life-sustaining grain. Without the loving hands of those that prune, tend and harvest them, tomatoes seem to lose the vibrant flavor that dances upon our tongues and sings within the sauces and dishes that they later grace. Let us add the additional dimension of presence of place.

Many of us choose to live within an urban environment, some of choose instead to thrive well off of the beaten paths of civilization. Some of us live upon the water, and some of us have no door to close nor roof to shelter our heads. Wherever we find ourselves, we need be mindful of where we are for many reasons; the least of which was stated earlier – we change, we recycle, we regenerate our cells on a regular basis. The building blocks of who we are we must get from somewhere.

Think about this – think about it hard, for more than just the moment that you are taking to read this blog. Do you know the barista that made your coffee? Do you know the hands and heart of the person who crafted a cheese Danish for your consumption? Are you aware that the chicken that laid the egg you are eating may very well be living out her short miserable life in a 1 x 1 foot cage and force fed nutrients that do nothing more than force her to lay egg after egg?

There’s a very simple reason why home-grown tomatoes taste so good. The obvious reason is the vine picked freshness, but think of the joy and energy put into the plant with the daily watering and hand care received by the plant itself. But, you argue – I cannot raise the wheat that makes my bread, or the corn that goes into my tortillas, or the beef and fish and chicken that I consume. Maybe there’s another Truth you need to embrace and integrate. Are you within reasonable commute distance to a farm? Have you ever made an effort to get to know where your food comes from? When was the last time you kicked off your shoes and let your naked feet embrace the soil?

As a whole, we humans have forgotten our sense of tribe, our sense of unity with all things living and growing. We’ve neglected to remember our bodies crave communion with the earth our bodies are made of. We’ve forgotten the music of the winds, the waters, the hymns of feather, fur and scale. What’s even worse, we’ve convinced ourselves that wandering from place to place without discovering the “feel” of where we are is a ‘normal’ thing.

As a result, our children are numbed out with medication, we take pills to wake up, go to sleep, and keep our attentions focused on the production of mindless crap. We’ve neglected to embrace our elderly in a healthy manner and allow them to pass their stories to our young. We’ve failed to place adequate value in sound judgments that will stand the test of common sense and altruism. Further, and perhaps even more shameful, we refuse to govern ourselves beyond electing a sound bite and carefully packaged automaton whose sole purpose to exist is for the elite.

If we can, it is now past time to put our courage to the sticking place and take charge of change with both hands. If you only have one hand, make sure it’s your neighbor’s that you grab because like it or not, we’re in this together. None of us can single-handedly raise the food, shelter and transportation required of our lives; but we can remember and learn to accept as family those that can.

The “Me” generation was wrong; it is past time that “We” stand up, get over the petty issues, address the serious ones and move into our tomorrow – mindful of who we are, where we come from , and where we intend to go. At the very least, before you consume anything; eat food, pump gas, buy a piece of clothing, perhaps it would be a good thing to be mindful of the hands behind its creation – and give thanks.

A Yuletide Pagan Primer for the non-Pagan



Time and again I’ve posted on Facebook and elsewhere NOT to wish me a “Merry Christmas” please, I’m not Christian. I don’t say it to sound mean or callous or Goddess-forbid engage in some feeble minded attempt to make war on a holiday held sacred by others. I’m simply asking that a level of civility be observed and to please extend to non-Christians the same courtesy extended to Jews, Muslims, and other non-Abrahamic individuals. In return, I’ve been asked “What DO you observe?”

I am only timidly going to stick my toe in the Pagan waters here, because I can only speak for our Druidic tradition and some of the Wiccan and Asatruar traditions that we share hearthkin with. Ah, yes…I can see that some definitions are going to be in order as well.

Shall we jump in? Primarily there are as many Pagan traditions as there are stars in the sky – and probably just as many variations in Druidry, Asatru and Wicca, so this is not gospel. It is a generality and should you have a burning desire to know and question that you just have to have answered, feel free to ask. Likewise, if I don’t have the answer, I can usually point you in a solid direction for where to discover the answer. is a likely resource, but not the final answer by any means.

Let us start with “community” – this is not as cohesive (although a crap-ton of us wish it were) or as inclusive as the word suggests. “Loose confederation” is closer, more holes that your granny’s doily is a better description. This mutually-agreed upon truce betwixt and between traditions and spiritual paths tends to generate a consensus gathering for most, if not all of the 8 “Holy Days” that revolve around an agricultural/astronomical calendar. Neither are the dates ‘set in stone’ per se. Because of a large amount of religious bigotry still running unleashed and rampant in a good part of America, most Pagani tend to utilize “the weekend closest to” the actual date/day/time for observance.

Let us also add an additional warning here. Because of the aforementioned problems with the distinct lack of general acceptance, if you’ve made an acquaintance of an individual that follows The Old Ways, please keep that information to yourself, unless that individual has acknowledged to you that they are “Out Of The Broom Closet” with regards to their spirituality. It’s a big no-no to expose someone who could very easily lose their job, their home, their children, their school funding or even their lives. No, I’m not going over the top here. It’s happened.

OK, definitions. “Heartkinship” – this is an established relationship between two separate groups of pagani; sometimes, two covens or circles, sometimes Druid and Wicca, sometimes Asatru and Druid. There is an agreed upon joint relationship for observance, prayer, feasting, even extending to informal fosterage of children during the summer months or sometimes during the school year. Yes, my family and I fostered our girls with an Asatruar hearth and likewise accepted their children into our household. It works very well when there are shared values and morals, with shared goals and expectations of the children involved. The benefits are amazing all around; but the trust and ability to compromise required of each side promotes a level of maturity that is admirable. Once upon a time, when there were extended families that knew each other just as well, informal fosterage was simply a given status. Modern America has lost something it could do well to rethink and regain.

‘Ghosti’ or Guestright – this is the set of acceptable behaviors between guest and host that stretches back into time. In a nutshell, it describes what is expected of a good guest; no breaking of the good china, lamps or host’s bones, no wrecking of the house, cars or property, no allowing the remainder of the household to come to harm through action or inaction on your part. In exchange, your host is expected to grant you a meal free from poison, vermin or inordinate gossip, a place to sleep should you require it, and a bath should you need one. Additionally, protection from anyone who would harm you while within the boundaries of their property is also an expectation. It sounds so simple, and yet too many times the members of the pagan community have seen both guests and hosts wreck the parameters of appropriate behavior on the order of a sleazy talk show.

As much as I hate to illumine the single underlying cause of the majority of these rampages, it must be outlined that alcohol can breed just as much antipathy as cheer. Setting firm expectations/boundaries with guests is a welcome foundation that can insure many happy holidays to come – be they Pagan or not. Oh yes. One more item. Set firm boundaries with regard to sex and sexual behavior. If you’re going to have a grown-up party, act grown-up and discuss consensus and protection.

Ah, so you’ve been invited to “circle” or “ritual” – Chances are the person that invited you will inform you of their particular traditions with regards to dress, time to show up, etc. Want to impress the person who invited you or officiates at the ritual? Bring a bottle of mead, or good wine, or something to eat. Clueless as to what would be appropriate? Do a bit of research on the ritual being observed. Many of the Full Moon/Dark Moon observations are closed – which means “no one outside the immediate group unless permission has been given.” So, if you are invited to a Holy Day observation, (one of the Big Eight) you’re going to be there with others who are likewise clueless or are attending their first event. Accommodations should have probably been made for your presence. Relax, keep an open mind and enjoy. Participation in the event is always voluntary, save for a preliminary ‘smudging’ or cleansing. Never be afraid to ask your host/hostess about appropriate attire, what to do once inside circle, if you can ‘sit this one out’ and where, etc.

What is this “Yule” thing anyway? For our hearth, Yule, is an ancient Germano-Celtic tradition that celebrates the return of the Light and is observed from sunset the day before the Winter Solstice to sunset the day of the Solstice. An hourly vigil is kept at the Hearthfire by the Yule Log to insure blessings to one and all that come to observe, offer prayers and seek blessings. There are some that keep an all-night vigil when seeking wisdom of importance. While there is gift-sharing, it is minimal and observes a protocol of “one gift to Share Your Light” (i.e. an artist receives expensive brushes, a chef receives a prized carving knife, etc.) There is often story-telling (the cycle stories of Munster, the Children of Lir, etc.) and there is often a recounting of the year’s events similar to Samhain.

At midnight, every light is turned off, the fire is ritually tamped out, and a new fire re-kindled upon the ashes of the old, with the exception of the Yule Log. Additionally, the Yule Log is never allowed to burn away completely; one piece of the log is saved to use to kindle the next year’s Yule Log, else the family line dissipate never to be spoken of or remembered again. Usually, only “hearthkin” (kindred accepted by rite) are allowed to share Yule as they are familiar with and answer to the traditions of “ghosti” or guestright. (This is a complicated set of traditions that have to do with hospitality – how to behave as a guest and/or host.) We usually roast a ham, a brisket and a salmon to offer on the table for the main feast. There’s baked apples, sometimes a roast goose, it all depends on a.) what we can afford and b.) what we can get at the butcher’s. It’s very different from Christmas, but very family oriented.

By far, this isn’t an in-depth description…because there is so much more. The names of all whom I’ve sent Yule cards to will be recited at the Hearthfire in order that the Exalted Ones extend a Blessing to them. There are bayberry candles that adorn the altar (for prosperity – “A bayberry candle burned down to the socket brings health to the family and gold to the pocket.”) Mistletoe is carefully hung over doors, holly and pine over windows (to honor the Ancestors & the Shining (Fae) Ones) and often the kitchen and pantry is ritually cleansed with salt & mint to keep pests away, the floor cleansed with herbal tinctures and homemade soap….It’s a JOB…but the laughter, the sense of community and the camaraderie makes it so worth the effort!

Yule is probably the one Holy Day wherein we open the hearth and door to any who care to share because we feel it’s only right to Share in the Light. To us, sharing the sacred with others connects us to them in a way that no other form of communion can. When you share a meal, a ritual observance, stories and song, you being to understand another person’s perspective, and their lives begin to have worth and value to you. A common understanding goes a long way towards acceptance and inclusivity.

Blessed Yule, Y’all…..from our Hearth to Yours.

Time to OWN it….

roast goose

OK…Time to “come out of the pantry” so to speak. While I am NOT any type of Domestic Goddess by any stretch of the imagination, I am the Goddess of Comfort Food. The kind that has folks hanging around our campsite for a bite of whatever I’m whipping up to feed the Horde of the Half-NeKkid when they return from wheedling vendors, fly-by huggings of folks that they haven’t seen for moons, and just to keep the hands busy because dammit, I forgot my damned crochet at home and my freakin’ brain is wound up tighter than a virgin’s knees at Beltane!

I suppose I was sorta shy to do more than admit to it, but after some reflection on the whole thing AND the fact that my far-flung offspring have been calling me for recipes and “how-to” tips, I’m gonna OWN IT, DAMMIT.

I COOK…and I cook DAMN WELL. Ya’ want Roast Goose with Apple-Walnut stuffing and savory gravy? Fine – get your ass out of the kitchen unless you’re willing to help under my direction (that means you can take orders and follow directions EXACTLY) and be prepared to worship me properly when I’m done. Unfamiliar with a spice? Ask me – I can probably tell you what it is, what it’s used for, any alternative you can use if you’re out, and the best varietal to purchase when shopping.

Other people count their wealth with CD collections, gold, silver, stocks, mutual funds and Universal Life insurance policies. I take stock in a well-stocked spice cabinet, pantry, fridge and freezer. My chef’s knives are worth more than your IPhone, and I lust for cookware and stoneware like other women lust after designer pumps! I have a choice of an alabaster slab, a hard rock maple cutting board, and a beautiful block of crafted glass with which to begin,  to fashion and perfect my culinary creations upon.

Recently, I have discovered and am returning to “the joy of aprons” after one too many mishaps of braising the boobs with hot broth. I tend to prefer cheesecloth dishtowels, and hand-crochet dish cloths to hand wash my more prized containers, bowls, and cookware. All of this descriptive phrasing leads me to another eye-opening personal observation: some folks paint literary masterpieces with words, I prefer to create 7 course meals complete with finger dishes of lemon-scented water adjectives and palette cleansers of minty metaphors.

This alone has enlightened me as to why there are sudden long stretches between my writing. I’ve mastered the art of feasting upon creativity to create gluttonous wonders, but I’m still in the apprentice stage of crafting the thin, meager portions of famine sentences and the simplicity of a daily meal of prose. Further – this is OK, because a well-rounded human being needs to learn throughout the lifetime granted in order to keep itself viable as a contributing member of humanity. There is no final graduation ceremony until your loved ones bid you goodbye until your next incarnation.

Additionally, a well-seasoned meal and a well written composition should have all the flavors of life incorporated from bitter tears to sweet laughter and all the rich fullness of existence layered in-between. In truth, we can neither write nor cook a meal without the influence of others. Whether they are in our heads, hearts or by our side, the presence of those who inspire us are as much a needed ingredient as the entrée to a dinner or the healthy plot bunny who leads us a wild chase in the merry meadow of metaphor.

We desperately need all the shades and shadows of humor and pathos, we need to both stand alone and be woven together as the tapestry we are; and we dare not deny ourselves the basic nature of identity, either. Looking at the whole tableau and table, there is no place nor space for judgment, just simple acceptance of what is placed before us.

Now, all that being said, shall I put the kettle on?