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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Simple Gifts

Tomorrow I shall post about that special holiday, but for now, let us speak once more of gifts and sacrifices and our relationship to the gods.  This idea has been sitting in my “unwritten” folder for a few days, and its just dying to come out.

Let’s say you leave a bundle of flowers somewhere for the Gods, and walk away, offering it as a gift.  How soon – if you visit that spot frequently – should you go back?

For me, at least, I feel that my gift has been accepted if the present that I leave – be it a carving, food, flowers, or some other gift – is gone.  I realize that in a practical sense, as magic creates opportunities, it is easiest to believe and understand that some other physical entity takes the gift from the spot – be it an animal or a human.

It’s kind of like leaving cookies for Santa, in my psyche – whether or not it should be is up for discussion.  A sacrifice is something you are giving away.  A true sacrifice then, would be something which you offer completely.  If you go back to ‘check on it’ – are you not claiming ownership, especially if its still there?  A true sacrifice should be something that occurs just like a spell – it happens, and you leave it be.

Yet, things happen in due time, and someday, perhaps you or others will find something inline with my current experience –  that the sacrifice that you leave that is even non-edible, is gone in an hour.  Maybe 2.  Definitely by the next morning.  And I begin to ask myself:  Are the gods that close to us?  And I realize, its not my place to question, in this instance and this instance alone.

Sometimes, trust and faith are the gifts left to us, and we must take what we will from them.

Imbolc: Part One

Sort of a short post today, as I’ll be running back and forth for the beginning of the semester.  I am now situated in New College, an extremely small, public honors college, the only one of its type in Florida.  Two days from now is Imbolc!

Imbolc has always held a special place in my heart, mostly because what it represents is such a powerful image.  It is the height of the cold.  But it is also the sunrise, the beginning of the sun really starting to make a difference in its rising power.   The image that always comes to mind is the sun’s first break over a line of evergreens, snow slowly beginning to melt, and animals finally coming back to life.  As I am in eighty degree weather currently, I am unable to enjoy the parts of spring which I have always witnessed before now.

Imbolc, also, holds a powerful energy of renewal.  It is that time to begin the physical changes within your life.  Brigid, the smithy goddess, represents changing something dull and ugly, useless, and through an act of intense heat and trial and stress upon the material, making it beautiful, shinier, useful.  We can harness this energy ourselves, and through her energy, become stronger, more faithful, more energetic, build healthier habits, and discover new spiritual truths.

What changes do you want to bring?  You should have been thinking about it before now, but the decision is upon us:  What will you manifest today?  This coming year?  Season?  Hour?

Stay tuned for some “practical” expressions of Imbolc – hopefully tonight or tomorrow.

Taking It Slow: The Hummingbird’s Omen

Here in New York where I live, there is only one species of Hummingbird, and we see this specimen only when we look hard at where we are and what’s going on. Yet, in the tropics, flitting through all levels of forest in Costa Rica, you see hummingbirds hustling about their duties.

In terms of ecology, the hummingbirds and the plants that are their food supply have a very intimate, dependent relationship. Without the hummingbirds, those vibrant red flowers with their deeply cupped shape would not be able to reproduce. And without the carb-loaded sweet nectar found within the depths of those flowers, the hummingbirds would not be able to survive the night.

We were blessed with the opportunity on our travels to visit a hummingbird garden area a few times. We got to watch the hummingbirds fight and challenge each other over the previous spots along the feeders for at least an hour in the dim light of the setting sun.

Hummingbirds use so much energy during the day that sometimes they fall into a near-death state, called torpor, at night to conserve their energy. Can you imagine running yourself so near death everyday that you’re not really sure if you’ll be able to get your heart working in the morning?

Slow down! It works for the hummingbirds. It doesn’t work for us. There is something to be said about the perseverance of these little birds with their flashy colors and quick moves, but they are made for their job.

We learn to take life one step at a time from these little creatures, some of which are no bigger than the size of your hand.

Hummingbird

The 73 witches in ’74

On April 13-14, 1974, 73 witches from varying traditions gathered…The American Council of Witches deems it necessary…

Sound familiar? If you’re a witch, it does. If it doesn’t, check out the 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief. IThis post is just a short and sweet one. I’m going on 200 visits, and I was wondering this question:

Who, exactly, were the 73 witches on the Council of American Witches?

I only know a few names – as in, one or two. I know the founder of Llewellyn was there. I know my High Priest’s High Priestess was there. I’m assuming the head of the COG at the time was there. But who else?

If you can fill in any blanks, it would be much appreciated. I’ll bring this up every few months. The 13 Principles is such a standard in Wiccan Literature nowadays, that it doesn’t seem right that the 73 witches are not remembered. I can find no list of them, I’ve searched for hours. I’ve emailed various representatives of different pagan organizations, to no avail. So, join the search! Please?

(Something more relevant tomorrow – this has just been bugging me)