Thursday, February 28, 2008


Another little dust up here in “God’s” country. Although, according to the latest poll released by Pew Research Center, Oregon is still the most unchurched state in the union. We also have the largest percentage of people describing themselves as evangelicals. There may be a correlation in there somewhere. We did have a lot of missionaries plying their trade back in the beginning. And it may be that we’re just a little more honest when we admit that we haven’t hung a label on ourselves. Unless the label is “darned if I know, but I’m working on it

Oregonian columnist, Margie Boulet, wrote three columns ( 1, 2, 3 )about an eighty year old gal from the Brookings area who tried to join the local Elks Lodge. She has friends who are members, she believes the Elks do some good things, and frankly there aren’t a whole lot of places for seniors to hang out in the south coast area. During the interview, she admitted that she is an Atheist. Actually, she is a believer of sorts, just not the kind that can be found on a check list. And I checked the Elk’s website. One of their goals is to foster a belief in God, but they don’t specify which one. Although this particular group is making it painfully obvious which one they have in mind.

The Elks not only turned her down, she was informed that she wouldn’t be admitted as a guest of friends who are members. If you’ve followed the links to Ms Boule’s columns, she was very careful to differentiate between a group denying membership to a person and never allowing that person to darken their doors under any circumstance. Last time a checked, non belief was not a communicable disease.

What doesn’t surprise me in the least was the reaction from the “believers” side of the building to the columns. You’d think the barbarians were sacking Rome; again. Give it a rest guys, you’ve won, at least for now. But without the power to coerce, at least in the US, I think you’re going to have to share the sandbox a little more than you’re used to.

I could say a lot more. It’s not worth it and I’m preaching to the choir here, anyway. It’s just the oddly aggressive defensiveness that many Christians and Muslims display when any questions are asked is, well, really weird when you come right down to it. It’s almost as if they’re afraid that someone else asking questions will bring their own faith into question.

I wouldn’t know, all I’ve ever had were questions. A lot of questions, and damn few answers. But, I can't help wondering what would happen if the shoe were on the other foot. If there were enough "non-monotheists" to have fun organizations that the current dominants wanted to join and they were denied entry due to their beliefs. I just wonder what the reaction would be.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Not a poem. Perhaps a wish……or a memory

Do you remember?

You were an acorn, fallen from a great branched oak; a nimble pawed squirrel tucked you under leaves in a nearby clearing, and you lay forgotten under the winter snows. The Spring sun was warm, the showers were cool and welcome. The hard shell around your infant self cracked, and you began to grow. Your roots worked their way into soil rich with time, old leaves and moss. Your leaves remembered the sun; you’d felt that warmth before. Seasons passed with a rhythm as old as time; the days grew longer, warmer, brighter, and you stretched towards the sun.


The long bright days came and went; the days grew shorter, cooler, greyer, and you drew back into yourself as the sun was lost in the mists. The cold times passed, your leaves grew green and full again;

Birds came again to dart through your branches and build their nests. The small, scurrying, furry creatures helped themselves to your wealth of leaves and seeds. They took shelter in the lower branches as the storms passed from spring to summer again.


Your roots threaded their way through rich soil, hard pan clay and rock; you touched other roots, and sensed the whispers and memories of trees that were old when your parent tree was still a seed. Your seeds were carried to other clearings, reached towards the sun and shaded the earth. The decades of leaves enriched the earth, while mosses grew on your weathered bark.


The life of a tree covers generations of men, but finally even a great tree begins to fade. Branches break away and the canopy of leaves begins to thin. Your life is drawn down, back to soil enriched by your leaves. And the sunlit clearing opened when you fell, your children begin to grow.


Sunday, February 24, 2008


I got this off Russ’s journal. And there is some good information on the net.


Good ol’ John MaCain stepped out on his first wife. He divorced her, the wife who wouldn’t let anyone let him know she’d been hurt in a traffic accident while he was a POW. She didn’t want to worry him. And he cheated on her before they split the sheets.


So the peroxide blond at this side during the latest flap is wife number two. Makes me wonder about the claims in the New York Times. Given his history, it is entirely possible. I just get such a kick out of all the claims that same sex marriage is a threat to marriage. Oh, so funny. His first wife was quoted along the lines of “he was forty, wanting to still be twenty five.”


Clinton, McCain, Gingrich, Hyde, what a sad, sorry bunch.


Saturday, February 23, 2008



The Andromeda Galaxy from the Astronomy Picture of the Day Website.


The atoms that built this world and everything on it were forged in the hearts of stars.


Do you remember when

You rode the light after the big bang;

You lived in the heart of a star as it began to shine;

You danced between the first stars;

You were a grain of sand on a new born world bathed in the first sunrise;

You were a droplet in the newborn ocean;

You rode the shock waves of a dying star;

And were reborn as new stars began to shine.

Do you remember?

Thursday, February 21, 2008


I have been doing some reading from a couple of Elaine Pagel’s books and one by Bret Ehrman. Both authors have researched and written about the books that didn’t make it into the Bible, the errors, mistaken or otherwise, in those that did, and the fussin’ and feudin’ over the decisions. I’ll even finish them one of these days. These aren’t books that you read cover to cover in a few days. At least for me. This is something you think about, do a little research and read some more. And in the meantime something else grabs my attention, and………..excuse me, my new book on Greek Mythology just came, there’s those essays by Tom Cowan, that book on herbs, and you think this is why my reading list never gets any shorter? Oh, and don’t forget the shawl I’m working on and really need to finish

I’ve always asked questions. I’ve never been able to believe something just because “it is written” or somebody said so. I’ve always had to work it out for myself. And I guess that’s my core identity. It doesn’t really depend on anything outside of me. And I guess I never bought into the every word in the Bible was written by God therefore it can’t be questioned. It’s been nearly two thousand years, texts have been copied over and over, mistakes got made and things got added or subtracted. And language as a tool can be incredibly crude. Especially when we’re working with several languages and a lot of centuries.

In fact, Ehrman who heads up the religious studies department of the UNC at Chapel Hill, started out as a literalist and is currently an agnostic. I guess that’s why so many of the fundamentalists head for the barricades at the drop of a very small hat. If someone who went through the literalist training, believed it whole heartedly, started his research intending to prove that the literalists were right and ended up not only on the other side of the fence but in the next county, what will happen next?

Everything was written after the fact. Probably based on third hand accounts at best. Preached in Aramaic and Hebrew, written down in Greek, translated into Latin, translated back into Greek and then into the modern European languages.

Funny thing about ancient Greek, the words were not separated and there was no punctuation. You can read a phrase as “Jesus is now here” or “Jesus is nowhere.” Excuse me, I think I’ll just go outside and thank whoever did it for the birds, the flowers, the fact that I woke up this morning, that mom also woke up this morning, and the cats. That’s the core, everything else is profit.

I doubt if Paul ever intended for his letters to be taken as gospel “truth.” He was writing to specific people, in a certain place, at a certain time. The Bible is a tool, and it’s one of many, to be used for understanding the spirit. And you can’t understand the Bible without understanding the people who wrote it and the people and cultures around them. And that’s a very tall order. It’s so much easier I guess to “just accept Jesus and you’ll be saved.” But, as my family will tell you I’ve never taken the easy way to anything.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I’ll be honest, I haven’t decided which way to jump in the presidential campaign but, I believe that if I were a supporter of Barack Obama I would be feeling pretty pissed right now. The movement is being described among other things at cult like. There are other adjectives of a similar creepy nature. The implication is that the Obama supporters are either a bunch of sheep or don’t have two gray cells to rub together. Yeah, that would really get me on board to support anybody from inside the Beltway. NOT

You want a cult? How about free market will solve everything Capitalism and no matter what the problem is, let’s cut taxes. How about borrowing money from ourselves/China to stimulate the economy? In May, at the earliest. How about torturous definitions of what isn’t torture. It’s kind of like trying to explain a joke. If it has to be explained it probably isn’t funny. If you have to explain why something isn’t torture, chances are it probably is. I’d be happy to nominate Alan Greenspan, the shrub, or Disappearing Dick Cheney for the role before I’d nominate Obama. And on the subject of torture, tell you what guys, you give it a try and tell us how it went.

From what I can pick up reading the newspaper, Obama supporters tend to be younger, fairly well educated, and I suspect computer savvy. And I think that’s what is scaring the shit out of the pundits on the beltway. They’ve spent years cultivating contacts, creating personas, and handing out advice, solicited or not. That’s how they make their living. Here comes a politician and a movement, basically from left field. They didn’t see it coming, they don’t have an in with his supporters, and I suspect those supporters don’t give a damn what these people say about anything or anybody.

It’s a bit like the old line leaders of the religious right. There is a new generation coming into national attention. They may not like abortion and they’re iffy on gay rights. But, they have concerns beyond these two issues. If you support families, you better worry if your kids are going to have a planet to live on when they grow up. Will they have clean water, safe food, breathable air, affordable health care, access to education and job to pay for it all. The old guard made their careers driving wedges between people. Maybe the next generation can make their careers building bridges. I hope so.  

I’m not overly concerned about Mr. Obama’s perceived lack of experience. Yes, he hasn’t been in the senate very long. He did spend eight years in the Illinois state senate and at least a decade as a practicing attorney. His experience seems to be equal to if not better than the shrubs’s string of business failures and time spent as governor of Texas. And for the curious here’s a link to an article comparing Obama and Clintons’ educational and work histories. The article appears to be pretty even handed. Frankly, I wouldn’t have a problem voting for either of them, based on this information.

There is some material on the net about an iffy land deal. I’m not sure if it’s quite in the league of trying to make the US government a wholly owned subsidiary of Halliburton.

I’d like to believe that this campaign will mean a permanent shift in how power is exercised in this country. We’ll see. Just a thought, when the likes of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington set out on their political careers they were in their thirties and forties, too. So, I don’t see age as a problem. The problem is imagination, to stop reacting and start acting. To imagine possible futures and get the rest of us on board to build that future.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


We’ve started cleaning up the yard and redoing some of the plantings. The roses in the actual “garden” were all Fred Meyer type $3.99 specials and most of them were twenty or twenty five years old. We really feel kind of like murderers but we pulled them this weekend. It’ll be a garden spot for awhile give the ground a rest. We still have the white and the gold climbers, the peace, and the Cecile Brunner. Ordered two from the rose gardens up north between St Paul and Newburg.


We stumbled on the idea of planting not a rose garden so much as a rose and other plants. Say a red rose, this one is called Don Juan. It's a red climber from Italy. It's supposed to have a really nice fragance.



And we need to split the Lady Scarlet daylily. This is one tough day lily. The leaves haven't died back yet this winter. They're getting battered but they're still green.



We can put some of  the white Shasta daisies from grandma's yard, some coral bells, and some Pacific Iris for one section.


Or a pink rose, this one is called Aunt Honey of all things. It also is supposed to be good in the fragrance department.



The strawberry candy daylily also is due for splitting so we'll add this to the mix.



Maybe add some candy tuft or white alyssum. And go a section at a time. If we get a couple of sections and most of the path done this year we’ll be doing well. Frankly we have a lot of our own flowers to draw from now and that’s good. Hopefully if we avoid the concentrated planting that basically hangs a sign over that part of the garden that says free food we can keep them healthier. Oh and the rose shots come from the Heirloom roses website.


There’s a subset of roses on the Heirloom roses site known as Buck roses. They’re named for a plant breeder at Iowa State. He came up with a line of roses that will survive Iowa winters (and summers) with no special protection. They have some really nice ones of this type and the really nice thing is that they’re not only tough, they’re compact. And in our yard that is a real plus.


And I swear the daffodil greenery grew two inches this weekend. At least it seemed like that. At least on the east and south side of the house. As it goes, there may be a lot of bark in our future too. LOL

Saturday, February 16, 2008


With a little sunshine we get the first crocuses. This patch is next to the blueberries. They are so tiny. Just compare them to last year's maple leaves.

A tripod shot. These are the little crocuses. There are some slightly larger ones in other parts of the yard be they are barely up yet.

And and an about as close as I can get without getting down on the ground macro shot. The foliage with these is so fine it looks almost like grass. They're so delicate you're almost afraid to breath to hard on them.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


I’m your typical American mutt. Scots, Irish, English, Welsh and touch of either Dutch or German. When I Google dad’s last name, Heaton, I end up in Yorkshire, a coastal county in northwestern England. There were Viking settlements in Northern Ireland and the north west of England so there may be a touch of the Scandinavian in the mix too.

All of these countries have one thing in common, the people who live there are never very far from the sea. And, except for most of Ireland, Holland and much of Germany; if you aren’t dealing with the ocean, you’re trying to get over a mountain. That may explain why both sides of dad’s family didn’t waste any time getting from the east coast to the west coast. The same is true of mom’s grandparents. They came from Tennessee and Indiana. When it was time to light for good, they were in Oregon.

One of grandma Heaton’s ancestors was born in Vermont in the early 1800’s, the family was in Iowa by the time she was born in 1889 and she was in Oregon before dad was born in 1915. If there had been more land west of Oregon, I don’t think she’d have stopped until she reached the Pacific.

 The sea longing is always there. A gossamer thread most of the time, but when I really stop to think about it, an ache that won’t go away.

We give the oceans names and think the naming gives us some sort of control. A name on a map.  A barrier to be crossed in a cocoon of pressurized air. Or the support of a sea going city as we flee the familiar while surrounded by the familiar on the way to more of the same.

When it could be so much more if we could only remember. If we could only remember the time when

I was an olive tree, gnarled roots clinging to tide washed crags;

I was a gull, wind tossed in a North Sea gale;

I was a wave, a crashing rainbow on black cliffs;

I was a branch, left on a beach as the tide ebbed;

I was a grain of sand, cut from the cliffs by the wind;

I was the sun, lost in the mists;

I was a cloud, pushed inland to be caught snow by capped peaks;

I was a drop of rain; at home in a mountain stream;

I was the river; caught between two shores;

I was the sand bar; carved by the tides;

I was all these things and will be again.


So, here I am; between the fire mountains and quenching seas, Poseidon’s country if He ever wanted to relocate from the Mediterranean. You see one of Poseidon’s nicknames, maybe the oldest, is Earthshaker. I think He’d be right at home on one of Oregon or Washington’s basalt headlands. And He wouldn’t have to go far to get a decent glass of wine.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


I guess I understand the attraction of the just saying yes to the fundamentalist’s faith. Just believe in Jesus and all your questions will be answered. No pesky whys. No little earth shaking visitations by the Universe before you’ve even finished your first cup ginger tea. Too bad that not even the universe is strong enough to take the whole six billion on this planet and shake some sense into us all at the same time.

Apologies for the reruns, but two years later I’m still trying to make sense of what happened. And maybe it’s one of those things that you can’t “make sense of.”



Something totally, freaking, weird happened this morning. And folks that’s the mild description. I was thinking about the journal entry I did last night. The phrase “the whole planet is alive” popped through my mind. That fits, that was the theme of the entry. Then the sentence completed itself. I was not expecting this, I really was not. “The whole planet is alive; and screaming.”  And just for an instant, maybe half an instant, there was this mind-bending sense of “wrongness." A jumble of sounds and images. Continental plates grinding, whole forests falling, winds howling and a feeling of bottomless, endless grief. Sorry, that’s the best I can do with the sledgehammer we call language. I had to get out of the office for a few minutes. I was almost in tears for crying out loud.


That’s the best I can do. I don’t think there are words for what I felt in that microsecond. And I haven’t had anything mind altering this morning. Last time I checked oatmeal, applesauce and lemon ginger tea aren’t on any list of controlled substances. I suspect it was the entry itself. If words are mind altering, then I’m altered. While my brain is still doing little (and not so little) summersaults this had to happen for a reason. What the reason is I’m not sure….yet. I tapped into........what or who?


And I posted this later in the day because frankly I was still shaking in my boots. I’m not sorry I had the experience but thank heaven the universe doesn’t stop by an rearrange my neurons every day.



 I suspect that some of the individuals we call “insane” may be tapping more deeply into this sense of what we’re doing to the earth and ourselves. And they just can’t take the pain. Is this attempt to communicate always there and we’re drowning it out with drugs and objects? Or think it’s the devil tempting us and run screaming to the nearest fundamentalist house of worship. Oh, there’s a devil all right. It’s called fear and we’re choking on it.


I’m still a little overwhelmed by what happened this morning and frankly it scares the hell out me. I’m getting an overwhelming sense that the scales are tipping and it’s not in our favor. I’m also convinced that the answers we need won’t be found in the organizations that run the churches, mosques, synagogues, ashrams or political parties. Too many groups are too invested in defining who belongs and who doesn’t. Too worried about what might be happening the bedrooms and not enough about what is happening in the boardrooms. Too tied up in the power games. Too busy screaming that they have all the answers that they can’t even hear the questions. So damned scared that if someone else gets a little “more” of something we’ll end up with “less.” Somehow we have to tap into the individuals that realize that the balance needs to be righted. That if we stick to what really matters, there is enough to go around.


We matter simply because we are. Each of us is unique. Each of the over six billion people on this planet is unique. No one is expendable. And I think that’s what scares us. The refugee in Darfur is just as unique in the universe as President Bush. And just as special. What we can’t seem to admit is that the whole universe matters simply because it exists. Too many are chasing things that they believe will make them better somehow. And so many have so little that just surviving takes everything they have. One group can’t make the time to look up and the other group can’t find the extra strength.


I know that getting everybody to join hands and sing Kumbayah isn't going to solve the problem. But, I'm not going to give up, I've got too much riding on the outcome of this little thing we call life and so do the rest of us.



We’ve watched most of the candidates, especially the Republicans, fall all over themselves claiming that they’re good little soldiers for the religious and political status quo. John McCain is finding himself trying to convince the likes of Limbaugh, Coulter and Dobson that he’s a “true conservative.” Maybe he should spend a little more time pointing out that these would be emperors don’t have any clothes on. Call them the bullies that they are, or better still ignore them.

The Democrats appear to be splitting on generational lines and the “newsies” are totally hopeless, hapless and helpless. I suspect that if someone poked a microphone in my face and asked me if I was going to vote for senator Clinton because she’s a woman and I’m a woman too: or senator Obama because he’s black and I was black too (I’m not really, but you get the picture) I would be very tempted to stick that mike where the sun doesn’t shine.

We’ve been Fox News and CNN’d to a fare thee well. If the question can’t be answered in one or two words or compressed into a ten second sound bite they don’t want to ask it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


There is a type of Irish poetry called the “boast.” The poem is a series of statements; the poet claims to have been or to have been many things in creation. Tom Cowan in Yearning for the Wind.


Perhaps the form can be used another way too. Not a boast so much as an expression of your unity with your family; its history and the land where you live. Perhaps even the lands where your ancestor’s might have lived.


I am fire from the heart of the earth;

I am the sun, caught in flowing stone;

I am a pillar of steam, born when glowing stone met foaming breakers;

I am a cloud, gray white and heavy with rain;

I am a drop of rain, fresh water become salt;

I am a wave breaking on wind whipped cliffs;

I am a grain of sand caught in the ebb and flow of the tides:

I am the land;

I am the sea;

Here I am home.


This is my take on living in a part of the world caught between the hammer of Oregon’s volcanic heritage and the anvil of that great western ocean. That wonderful, wild not so Pacific Ocean.


I do get a perverse kick out of listening to certain groups complain (bitch actually) about the “homosexual agenda.” Or certain Christian groups complain that attempts to remove overtly Christian icons from public funded areas are an attack on Christianity

It’s more than potato/potahto. What some groups see as an agenda I see as human beings wanting to act like human beings. And I don’t mean copping a feel in public. The only couple I ever saw doing that was relentlessly heterosexual. I’m not talking about bedroom stuff. I’m talking about normal, everyday stuff. Imagine a co workers’ work area. Are there pictures of family and friends? Imagine the reactions of some of your co workers if a new hire posted shots of two guys or gals hugging, or a same sex couple standing with their kids and a soccer trophy.

 Remember the Monday morning catch up conversations at work. Who did what with whom? How easily the words “the wife and the kids went to” wherever trip off the tongue. What would be the reaction if the speaker was another woman? Or “Joe and I had to take the kid to the ER, the flu’s going around.” What would happen if the speaker happens to named Steve, not Eve?

Imagine not being able to do all those little things that the rest of take for granted. Imagine having to constantly self censor what you’re saying. I don’t think any of us want to live like that. But, the behaviors of the majority society are so ingrained that you really have to stop and think about what’s happening.

To be honest, I don’t really have a problem with religious icons in public places. As long as we make room for icons valued by other groups. Somebody wants the Ten Commandments. OK, let’s include the twelve tables of the Roman law. There’s even a built in bias in Word. If I don’t capitalize the entry about the commandments it reminds me to do so. The twelve tables set out customary Roman law in mid 400 BC. They were written on twelve stone tablets and set out in the Forum for all to read (if they could read). They were destroyed several decades later in the beginning of the period of civil wars that wracked Rome for generations.  Anyway nobody reminds me to capitalize them.

I’m not familiar enough with Greek or Roman festivals to really know what festivals took place around the time Christians have their major festivals. Saturnalia took place around the time most of us celebrate Christmas. And of course there is the Celtic (and Wiccan) Yule that takes place at the Solstice. Imagine the hoo ha if a group of pagan reconstructionists wanted to put up an alter dedicated to Saturn next to the Nativity Scene. Or if a group of Wiccans wanted to add in a solstice celebration at the same site. I can think of a few local churches that would not be happy. And even if the locals were OK with it, there would be somebody from somewhere out of state trying to make political hay on the six PM news.

Or what would happen if a candidate for election answered the question about his/her religion with “Greek Orthodox, old orthodox, I serve Apollo, or Athena, or Hestia or Gaia the mother of them all or ………...” The shit would hit the fan so fast they could smell it in Greenland or Antarctica.

And let’s not even talk about discussing my reading list at work. Oddly the only person I feel comfortable with is working towards ordination as an Episcopalian priest. He’s a good egg and very supportive. As for most of the others? No way. I’ll keep my observation that February 1 was Bridghig’s Day before it was Candlemas to myself, at least for now.

And probably the biggest difference between what we have and what we had can be found in those Mormon missionaries that knocked on our door last month. While the ancients expected you would serve or at least honor a god or goddess I haven’t found any references to anyone beating the bushes for converts. If you were sincerely seeking you would eventually find a good fit, the god or goddess found you, and when they did, you knew it. There are times when I feel I’m being offered a chance to spend the night in Procrustes bed, not faith.

As for where I am right now? Every question I answer brings up at least five more. I find myself surrounded with possibilities I never dreamed were possible.

If you’ll excuse me, that's it for the lunch hour. And for tonight I just got a new book on herbs, and what to do with them. And I need to read another entry in Yearning for the Wind and a few more pages in the book on Greek Mythology. So many treasures so little time. :-)

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Mom got back this evening from a flying trip to Eastern Oregon. Flying as in going on Friday and coming back today. Sis as involved in a fender bender about a week and a half ago. Both cars were at an intersection. She was signaling a  left turn and the other car was going to go through. They both thought the other one was going to stay put and they both started out at the same time. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but they’d sent kid number 2 back to Portland in the Forerunner and kept the circa ‘80’s Toyota whatever in Umatilla. Driving the smaller car through the Gorge with the weather we’ve been having was just a no go. So who had the accident? Go figure.


I don’t think it would have been so bad, but the car had one of the early generation air bags. You know, the ones that popped if you said a harsh word within a ten foot radius of the car. I think she still would have been bounced around but I think it was the airbag that put her in the hospital. She’s been poked and prodded to a fare thee well. She does have a break in one collar bone and plenty of bruising and the like. Mom tried to get over sooner but there just aren’t any good connections even with the bus. The closest station is in Pendleton over twent miles away. The kids were going home to check on their mom so grandma (mom) hitched a ride on the grandson express. The weather wasn’t good enough for them to get over any sooner. Ice, snow and wind do not make for good driving conditions through the Columbia Gorge.


She’ll be fine. Eventually. My brother in law sent pictures of the car last week. It’s totaled. If the blasted thing had to be in a wreck, the street next to the school was about the best place to be. Frankly, I didn’t post before because frankly, it took several days to sort out what happened. It took a couple of days for her to even remember what happened.


So we’re thankful that everything turned out as good as itdid. And the guardian angels are probably still in therapy.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


This is my attempt at form of poem from Tom Cowan’s Yearning for the Wind. Honestly, I’ve never really tried to write poetry. My few attempts beyond a passable Haiku or two have been, well, nothing to write home about as the saying goes. With a little practice, I just might have some fun with this form. It’s fairly free form and it doesn’t have to rhyme. LOL That’s always been the hard part for me.



I invoke the land of my birth:

Mountains, high peaks covered with trees;

Trees, rich green touching the sky;

Sky, blue, white and misty gray;

Misty gray, rich with rain;

Rain, falling on endless waterfalls;

Waterfalls, joining the great rivers;

Rivers, flowing to the West;

The west, becoming the ocean;

The ocean, home of the setting sun;

I invoke this land, my home.


Each line joins with the next and they weave back and forth like Celtic knotwork designs. The idea is to help you slow down. To remind you who, what and where is important to you and how these things are all interconnected. How they weave in and out in our lives; how they change and yet stay the same.


I’m proud to say the Oregon is one of the eleven states that have some sort of partnership opportunity for same sex couples. Over the dead bodies so to speak of some of my fellow citizens. I still can’t quite understand why some of my fellow Oregonians are so obsessed with what their neighbors are doing in their bedrooms. God/dess get a life for cryin’ out loud.


And really could believe a letter in the Oregonian earlier in the week on the topic of sex is for procreation, period. Same sex partnerships are wrong because they can’t have kids with each other. Arrrrrrrrgh. At first I was going to blast off a nasty letter myself. I don’t know if it’s still true, but sex within marriage was a venial sin in the Catholic Church for generations. What the F……! A couple married in the church, with all the sacraments, etc. and sex, if you’re not planning on having kids, is still a sin? And the hierarchy wonders why they can’t get people in the church unless they can force them to attend. And on a planet straining at the seams due to overpopulation, it’s like ?????????????


As far as the letter goes though. There’s this saying. Don’t get in a fight with a pig, you get dirty and the pig enjoys it too much. On the other hand, if the pig is too annoying you can at least get some ham, sausage, and bacon out of it.


Odd thing, I’ve been working on Joy Chant’s collection of Celtic tales, The High Kings. Many of the Celts had up to ten different ways to be married. And only three were the permanent, exchange of bride gifts, or dowry kind of marriage. My feeling is that if you don’t want a same sex union, don’t have one, and leave everybody else alone. And I'm seeing more and more letters from people who are in mainline marriages asking "how does same sex marriage endanger my marriage?" Good for you guys.


A local columnist for the Eugene Register Guard had a great idea. A copy of the column can be found here. I think it’s a great idea. Get the state out of the marriage business. If a particular denomination doesn’t want to solemnize a same sex union that’s their business.


I may not think it’s right but if I’m not a member I don’t have a say. But it’s not fair to dictate to people who aren’t members of their group, either. (I really like his idea of limiting people to one marriage and if your divorced you get a domestic partnership. But, he kind of undercuts the get the state out of the marriage business idea with it)


And I guess I’m a little kinky or something. But, if more than two people want to stand up in front of God/dess and everybody and commit to one another, I don’t really have a problem with that. As long as they’re all adults, it’s not really my business.


Anyway, for now, same sex couples in Oregon can break out the Champaign and get it on. We’ll see how many times we have to vote to keep it that way. Maybe there is a good side to all the Californians moving up here. Because California and Washington have some kind of same sex partnership set up too.

Monday, February 4, 2008


I was researching a totally different subject on the internet and stumbled onto two sites for groups working to reconstruct and work with Celtic and Hellenic traditions. There are thriving non Christian, indeed non monotheistic communities in this country. And I think it scares the heck out of some of the conservative Christian groups in this country and conservative Muslim groups overseas. Thanks to the World Wide Web believers separated by Geography can get together virtually. And in most places, there ain’t thing one anybody can do about it. And it’s driving the Inquisitors crazy

Church and state do not walk hand in hand in this country, not officially anyway. You wouldn’t believe it to watch the presidential campaign, though. I can just imagine someone running for any office telling the world “I worship Dionysus actually; please join us at the festival down by the river next week.” Just imagine the scramble. And the number of reporters on their laptops trying to find out just who the hell Dionysus is, was, whatever.

And even when church and state get a little too chummy for comfort, the church still lacks the power to force obedience. Christianity and Islam both share a history of forced conversions in the old world. And for Christianity genocide and forced conversions in the new world are shameful reminders of cultural arrogance.

The political empire of Rome may have fallen centuries ago, but it was replaced by a religious empire that still endures. Pontifex Maximus is one of the titles of the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. It was also the title of the high priest of the Roman state religion, and after Augustus was elected to the post, the title was held by the emperor.  The empire didn’t fall it just put on new clothes. And every so often, there’s a kid watching the parade who whispers to his/her folks “why doesn’t that person have any clothes on.” Usually followed by the parents leaving abruptly, square peg firmly in tow. Said square peg not to be seen in public until it has been firmly anchored in one of society’s round holes.

Many of the Protestant reformers turned out to be just as ambitious. Reformers and dreamers from St Francis to John Wesley have tried to tip the scales towards caring for the poor, healing the sick, visiting the prisoners and attempting to act as peace makers. Wesley preached more than a half dozen times on the sermon the mount alone. He also allowed women to preach. That freedom ended barely twenty years after Wesley’s death.

The church isn’t to blame for the problems it inherited. Slavery was common in the ancient world and the Romans carried it to new highs (or is that lows). Defeated soldiers and their families sold into slavery choked out the free farmers in many areas. Free farmers found themselves and their families sold into slavery for debt or failure to pay their taxes. Slaves rebelled and the army put them down. Bloodily.

It is to blame for accepting or at least turning a blind eye to those problems in return for political and social respectability in the short term and political power in the long term.

Ok, enough about the past. This is ancient history. Trouble with ancient history is that it doesn’t stay in the past, it keeps tripping us up over and over. One example is the  Roman answer to corporate agriculture. Some of the ancient latifundia had as many as twenty thousand slaves working on them. Latifundias 20 centuries ago or big agriculture now, the little guy still gets it in the neck.

Without the power to coerce the church has to compete on a more level playing field. Granted it’s going to take a long time to build a playing field that doesn’t resemble Mt Everest. I don’t expect to find to find a couple of earnest missionaries for Athena or Apollo a la the Mormons knocking at my door any time soon.

We had a couple of those the other day. They seemed a bit puzzled when I told them “we have our own beliefs, thank you. Have a nice day.” I kept mum about the details. Mom’s a Methodist, that wouldn’t have been a problem. I can only imagine their reaction to a Celtic Methodist hybrid; with the emphasis on the Celtic part of the mix.

And I doubt we’ll find t-shirts with the logo “My goddess gave birth to your god” at the local Target in the near future. That would put the kettle on the boil, wouldn’t it?

Sunday, February 3, 2008


This is adapted from a prayer in Yearning for the Wind by Tom Cowan. In Roman times many of the Celts referred to the nurturing, sustaining elements of the land simply as the “the mothers.”  The pictures were taken out under the dogwood.



Mothers of Life,


You bless the earth that gives us food, shelter, clothing, and tools for our work and play, and that provides the many paths that lead us through life,


Thank you.



Mothers of Life,


You bring waters from the sky and from deep in the earth to cleanse and refresh us and to keep us living.


Thank you



Mothers of Life,


You give us days when the air is crisp and sweet-scented, and days when is heavy with dew and mist.


Thank you.



Mothers of Life,


You nurture us in the long bright days of summer, and in the rich darkness of night and winter, you teach us the mysteries of the moon and the stars.


Thank you.


Friday, February 1, 2008


In Greek mythology Gaia is the mother of all. In ecology, Gaia is the earth and everything on it or in it. Earth as a self contained organism. And, perhaps, Gaia as part of a greater organism; the Sol system itself. When our sun begins to die, it will expand into a red giant star. It may expand enough take in the orbits of the inner planets. The bloated giant will shed great shells of gas into space carried on the solar winds. The gases may contain the remains of some or all of the inner planets and may rip away the outer atmospheres of the gas giants. Think of the elements in these clouds as seeds for another generation of stars and planets. One of the arguments against Gaia as a living organism is that a planet can’t reproduce itself that way smaller organisms can.


The cells in our bodies renew themselves. Their life cycles are very short compared to the life of a mouse, a dog, or a man. Perhaps the critics aren’t looking at life cycle that’s long enough.


So Gaia’s fire. The fire of creation. The warmth of sustaining fires. The fires could seed a new generation of star families.


Note: Gaia has a counterpart in the myths of Ireland. In that misty, emerald land she is called Danu.