Let’s Promote Religious Freedom in China…Nevermind the United States

In this story on Yahoo! News, reporters tell us that Bush plans to preach and promote religious freedom in China.  What a great idea!

But what about our country?  (Quoted from religioustolerance.org):

George W. Bush on 1999-JUN-24,  Interviewed on ABC’s Good Morning America. Peggy Wehmeyer. asked for his opinion about the U.S. military’s policy of allowing Wiccan soldiers to practice their religion on the Fort Hood, TX army base.

“The military should rethink their position. That’s not a religion.”  G.W. Bush, governor of Texas, referring to the Wiccan religion.

I highly, highly doubt his position has changed at all in the nine years. Sure enough, after several hours of research, iIve come up with nothing of him recanting his ignorant statement.  How did he get into office?  I sure hope none of you voted for him.  Although, I don’t suppose Kerry would have turned out better…

Along that, Bob Barr – the Libertarian elect for President – also said some pretty nasty things which he has now, well, sort of, recanted.  The best we can get out of him is that he made his hateful statement…

Barr stated that allowing Wiccans to follow their religion on base: “…sets a dangerous precedent that could easily result in the practice of all sorts of bizarre practices being supported by the military under the rubric of ‘religion.’ “

Is that he made it in response to some unspecified, private matters brought to his attention by unknown military personnel, and he accepts Wicca as a harmless religion.  Oh, and according to his website – he supports the first amendment.

I don’t mean to delve into politics this much.

I wonder what Obama and McCain think about non-Christian religions?

Blessed Be!

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Fundie(s) of the Week Award

The award goes to the Birmingham City Council, whose internet filter blocks atheist, witchcraft, occult, and pagan sites but allows christian, hindu, muslim and jewish sites.

I’m not really sure what to say about that.  I guess I’m not even that pissed – I’m just laughing.  Why?  Because why in the name of any god you choose would you enable your employees to look at religious websites in the first place?  Even within Christianity there is such debate.  Isn’t that just…dumb?

And it seems like the fault lies more with the software that they have cited – Bluecoat Software – than the City Council itself.  My guess is that the Bluecoat Software comes with certain generic settings that allow, encourage and enable people to be discriminatory.  If the software company would stop considering

“witchcraft or Satanism” and “occult practices, atheistic views, voodoo rituals or any other form of mysticism” and Wicca

As something bad, maybe the rest of the world would get a clue.  If anything, my anger is directed there.  Indeed, a quick look at Bluecoat’s “K9” line shows that they use sixty categories of “Bad/Good” Delineation.

They have Religion.  And then, of course, even grouped up inside with the categories “Abortion” “Pornography” and “Violence/Hate/Racism” is, Alternative Spirituality / Occult.

Well guys, now that my morning has thoroughly pissed me off – here is their “contact us” page.  Let them know how you feel about being discriminated against for your religion – which is, by the way, legally declared a religion in the United States for quite a few years.  We have all of the rights that Christians do.  Let’s use them.

My letter:

Dear BlueCoat:

I will not be recommending your product to anyone.  It is unfair and discriminatory for you to place a valid and recognized religion according to the United States government – Wicca – into a category which is grouped with categories like Abortion, Pornography, and Racism.  Perhaps you should allow yourselves to research a little before relying on Fundamentalist Christian Views to dictate what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad.’

It is software companies like yourselves that enable discrimination and hate which all of the Wiccan and Pagan community have been fighting against for many, many years.  You should be ashamed of yourselves for this action, which, although not blatantly obvious, provides the suggestion that Wicca and other earth based, legally recognized religions, are in some way, shape or form harmful to the greater society.

Blessed Be, all!

Let’s Talk About Lammas

Lughnassadh/Lammas is probably one of my favorite holidays.  Well, they’re all favorites.  But this particular upcoming holiday has warm and fuzzy feelings associated with it.

Lammas is the height of summer.  A lot of times here in upstate New York, the last sabbat, Litha, gets rained out.  Or its freezing.  But this holiday – it usually actually feels like summer.

Lammas is all about Passion.  Passion for what you love and passion to try new things.  To me, it is about being and becoming yourself in the deepest possible ways.  It is about remembering to enjoy this life that you’re given.

It’s also the bread festival, and one of the festivals which can mark the death of the God, depending on which tradition you follow with.

In the tradition of Jesus(or perhaps, the other way around) – Lugh the sun god of the Celts gives his life too maintain life and sunlight on the earth.  Beyond that, in Wiccan and a lot of earth and goddess centered traditions, the Goddess is growing more and more pregnant.  At Yule, she will give birth, thereby completing the cycle of birth/death/rebirth.

Practically, it is the bread festival.  The wheat is harvested – if you hadn’t noticed – and bread is made and celebrated, signalling the first harvest.  For those of you that follow along a goal setting path, this is the first harvest – that time to harvest your physical gifts which you have worked so hard for.

So how do we celebrate?  For those of us completely in the closet – making your own bread(there is yeastless bread and easy-to-make bread for those inept in a kitchen, like myself) and maybe your own mead(alcoholic or non-alcoholic) are quiet ways to note the passing.

Incorporating those actions into ritual and dance, and perhaps taking time to drive down some country roads are other, equally respectable ways to celebrate the passing of this particular holiday.

However you celebrate on August 1st, may it be a safe and happy holiday.

Blessed Be!

Refreshed and Ready

Well guys, I have some news!  After an extended period away from college(Since the end of May), I am finally ready to start again!  Summer vacation is extremely important while learning, because you need to want to learn, in order to do so.  It helps it stick better.

Spiritually, we go through the same cycles.  There are some times when we are ready, eager and willing to tackle spiritual problems.  Other times, the last thing we want to hear or see is the word “religion.”

How can we foster that sense of “new” for the stuff we need to do?  For me, if I can’t find the motivation to do something, I will put it off until the very last moment.  That goes spiritually, as well.  And if I don’t feel ready for something, or am frightened slightly by my lack of knowledge, the same thing will happen.  Instead of tackling it in bits and pieces, I take it all at once, in the very end of my possible time to complete the task.

I guess the best thing we can do is practice moderation.  Take breaks and reward ourselves each time we’ve figured something out, or completed a project.  For me, a little extra prayer time – which translates to, a walk in the woods – can get me through months of stressful situations.

Have a great day!

An Invitation to Teach

I know, I try very hard to keep to the subject area, but occasionally, I have to issue a plea for my other projects.  The Order of the Gecko is my first project, and it is a continuous project – over five years of sweat and frustration have gone into this project.  It has gone through constant design changes, but the leadership, the values, and the intentions have always remained the same.

But we want to invite others to join our community.  We need writers – bloggers, even!  We want articles and e-books, we want mini-lessons and full blown e-courses.  We want teachers and learners.  We want anyone who has the same drive to learn and discuss philosophy, religion, ideology, theology, and even history within those contexts.  Our motto is, Fidelis Causo Questio – faithful to the cause of learning.

That being said, I don’t have too much more to say.  We can’t pay for articles, but we’ve got a pretty wide resource of them, all things considered, and I suppose its a good place to start, from blogging to freelance or freelance to blogging.  We want anything that you think someone else might find useful.

And that’s not all.  We want to extend into the real world.  We want to be at the forefront of community service projects.  We want to be the interfaith organization that puts service and knowledge in the same boat, without some sort of secret initiation rite or even member dues.

It’s going to be a long process, but I think if you even have a little bit of time to hop on and join in, we’ll all be better for it.

The address?

www.theorderofthegecko.org

Blessed Be!

Cleansing the Body

Cleansing the body is as much a mental and psychological – and spiritual – thing as it is something physical.  Cleansing the body, in this instance, is something more than just taking a shower.  It is taking into account the recognition that much of what we put into our bodies, and what we expose them to, is “impure” or “unclean”.  In many cases, these impure or unclean substances are created by society.

Many people have differing ideas of unclean.  For some of us, a cleansing may be as simple as using only stuff that is “primary” – has only gone through a few steps before it reaches us.  Things like fruit and vegetables, as well as simple bread, or other grain products which we could/have made ourselves.  People tend to think of mixed substances – cookies, cakes, hot dogs – as impure or polluting of our bodies.

Is this leftover from the Jewish standards?  Or is it simply our subconscious recognition of the idea that not all of what society does is good?

In any case, we are faced with a problem.  How do we cleanse the body?  What do we have to consider?

  • Is this a “for-good” cleansing?  A permanent lifestyle change?  A specific defense against current circumstances?  Or is it something that is going to need to be repeated either on a schedule or by how we feel?  If it will need to be repeated – can we create a smaller event for maintanence?
  • How much time can this cleansing take?  How busy is your life?  Is this a fifteen minute cleansing?  Or a week long one?
  • What do we consider necessary for this cleansing?  Diet?  Hygiene?  Emotional Connections?  Personal psyche?  Pain?  Meditation and contemplation?  Deprivation of senses or material goods?
  • How effective do we want this cleansing to be?  Is it simply for the body, or for the mind and spirit as well?
  • What restrictions will be on us during the cleansing period?  No talking?  Fasting or limited eating?

A very simple cleansing ritual that would last all day, and weave in and out of every day activities is one that I most often use.

When I wake, I shower.  During my shower I pray and meditate for peace and strength and wisdom.

When I dress, I dress simply – nothing in my clothing that is representative of a mood.

When I eat – if I eat – I choose foods that are simple – fruit, fruit juice, milk, water, toast, vegetables, etc.  I stay away from large meals and fast or prepackaged ones.

Before I eat – if I eat – I offer a prayer as a way to make myself conscious of my actions.

When I have free time at night, I will pray and meditate once more.  I sleep naked or with little clothes on, to represent my natural state. (And to be truly free, you will be skyclad in all your rites)…

I do not practice a maintanence rite, but if there was one that I would like to pick up, it would definitely be ritualized hand or foot washing before entering my own room or the ritual room(if I had a ritual room).

What do YOU do for your cleansings?