Monday, January 15, 2018

Goddess Worship and Feminism: a Plague of Hypocrisy

I am disappointed in someone.

That's not much new for me. I have a lot of optimism and hope surrounding the people that I don't hate on sight. The more I get to know them, the more I see the epic awesomeness they could be. This leads to a certain amount of disappointment when they don't live up to their potential, but more often because they don't even try.

This is a very brief description of a very nuanced set of experiences for me, so don't assume you get it from those few sentences. It will be better for everyone involved.

My recent disappointment is but one of a series revolving around a single general concept - Goddess worshipers (ie, Wiccans, many Pagans, etc.) who actively speak out against women's rights and, in particular, the issues surrounding the #MeToo movement. For those of you living in a cave, I'm talking about people who don't support women having more justice in sexual harassment, abuse, assault, etc. cases.

Yeah, I say women, but only because it is disproportionately women. Men get attacked, too. Men also represent 98% of perpetrators, so I'm going to keep this simple and assume that a perpetrator is male.

Skadi got a divorce cuz her
first hubby didn't allow for her needs.
If I get another #NotAllMen comment, my head will blow up. 98% is not a statistic of kinda-sorta. It doesn't even break out of the +/- range of uncertainty. Fortunately for us, this statistic is based on reporting, so it really doesn't have an uncertainty range. 2% of women are douche-canoes, too.

Here's what my issue is.
Many Wiccan (mostly) men (mostly) worship the Goddess (TM). Great! Awesome!

Unfortunately, it ends up being a semi-sexual relationship of holding the ideal feminine as the only feminine with value.

Oh, yes, I said it. I could go into a background and history, but I'm a Midwestern gal, so I'm going full-on redneck with some

You Might Be A Hypocritical Goddess Worshiper If:

  • If your default position is that women are likely to lie or exaggerate about being assaulted or attacked or harassed...
    Some Goddesses are the Divine Mother;
    some will destroy your world. Both are
    "real women".
  • If you are concerned that women having the power to get justice for assaults will negatively affect you or your life...
  • If you believe that women are "bad" if they react to an accidental grope/brush/bump "excessively"...
  • If you have called a woman a name that implied a sexual or physical judgment of her in a debate or argument*...
  • If you feel that apologizing to a woman for an accident is worse than her being the recipient unintentional or accidental touching of her breasts, butt or other "second base" body parts...
  • If you feel that apologizing would give a woman power over you...
  • If you believe that your intentions for a situation trump any experience a woman has in that situation...
  • If you think taking responsibility (ownership) for your actions doesn't include accidental violations of another person...
  • If you think taking responsibility (ownership) for your actions will somehow mandate punitive measures...
  • If you think that a woman's past experience, whether distant or immediate, MUST be shared and understood by you before it can mitigate whether she has the right to an emotional reaction...
  • If you think your intentions in a situation should be more important than a woman's past experience, whether distant or immediate, in how she feels about a situation...
    No one ever taught "fuckability
    of subjects" in art history...
  • If you think that your intentions in a situation should give you immediate, verbal and enthusiastic forgiveness for any unintentional violation of a woman's body...
  • If you have ever said, thought or typed something like "you aren't helping your cause" during a discussion about women's rights, sexual assault, etc...
  • If you have ever behaved in action or word as though a woman should not question your trustworthiness because you are connected on social media or through mutual friends...
  • If you have ever told a woman "I would never fuck you"** or otherwise reduced a woman with a position/opinion on a topic to having value only if you would be willing to have sex with her...
  • If you have ever thought or made a comment about a woman's negligence in preventing her attack/assault/harassment, WITHOUT making a conscious effort to refute or walk-back those thoughts and/or comments AND attempting to derail such thoughts in the future***...
  • If you have ever said or thought that someone was not a "real woman" because of their opinions, appearance, sexual preferences or activity, career choice, behavior, gender assignment at birth, or anything other than their own self-identification...
    Even the Great Mother isn't always what
    the generic images portray.
  • And, perhaps the most controversial one - If you have expressed or behaved in a way that indicated that the sacredness of a woman or the feminine was solely or primarily about their sex, sexuality, reproduction, or appearance in relation to any of these things...
So, what do you do if you suspect you are a hypocritical Goddess worshiper? It's really easy. Shut up and listen to the conversation. Think about what people are saying, and not just from the (white) male perspective. How would you feel if you endured what women are talking about? How would you want it resolved? Work on applying the things you've learned TO YOUR LIFE. The best thing you can do to support women in your life or in this world is to #LearnBetterDoBetter.

Please feel free to comment more "you might be a hypocrite Goddess worshiper if..." items!

* If you think I'm wrong about Universal Healthcare, that still doesn't make me a slut. And, yes, this "clever comeback" is something I literally experience several times a month - it just doesn't happen to me that often.

** I can guarantee that, unless we are on a dating site and actively flirting, having sex with you is not something I'm considering. At all. Your penis is not and will never be the focus of my interactions with you. I would appreciate if you would stop thinking about my vagina.

*** I acknowledge that this is a visceral reaction with a steep learning curve. This only partially excuses it. Victim-blaming is always wrong.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Problem With Integrity

“With integrity, you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity, you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt.” - Zig Ziglar

This quote was waiting for me in my in-box, like a crouching panther about to attack.
I get it. I sometimes look for the simple tales - the one with the black hat bad guys and the white hat good guys. The ones where the good guy always knows what to do and it’s always right. How simple, how pure such tales are.
I can’t write them. It’s not like I don’t know how. That’s how children’s stories go. It’s a basic plot with characters who are iconic. Dare I say, archetypal?
I guess it would be more honest to say I won’t write them. To explain why, I have to unpack everything I find wrong about the quote above.
“With integrity, you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide.”
First of all, this assumes that hiding something is counter to having integrity. But that’s not the case. I can’t spill my entire life story every time I meet someone. Or even every time I befriend someone. I can’t wear my life on my sleeve. That’s called oversharing.
And it means there will always be things you don’t share about yourself. Some of that may include bad behavior you’ve since grown out of. And sometimes, it just doesn’t mean enough to you to share with other people. That is, you forget about it.
This also assumes that things that you hide are all things you don’t want other people to know about because of nefarious reasons. That’s bunk. Sometimes, I’m just embarrassed, like when I can’t walk on ice because I’m a clutz. Sometimes, it’s an issue that I have that no one needs to know about, like how ice sends fear shooting through me with thoughts of pain and death because I slipped once and shattered my ankle, and sat in the snow screaming for help at 5 am. Life changing, yes. Something everyone needs to know about? Probably not.
Fear isn’t just about what people will think of you or how they will judge you. Sometimes fear is the primal reminder that we are mortal and may have brushed up against death at some point.
“With integrity, you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt.”
I have got to move to B&W world where these quotes come from. Just because you have integrity, doesn’t mean you automatically know what decisions are right. Gods, that would be awesome! Evil things would never happen by accident. Bad stuff would never be an unintended consequence. It would all be by choice, making those who caused bad things to instantly be the bad guy.
Life doesn’t work like that, and realistic writing plays with the grays. Good people make bad choices, and no amount of integrity can change that.
However, people with ego and a belief in the strength of their own integrity will actually believe that they cannot make a bad choice. If their actions have a negative and unintended consequence, they will blame it on the victim (“she must have deserved it”) or on someone else (“look what you made me do”). To these people, there is no need to feel guilt or apologize for accidental or unintended bad things. If fate put you in the way, you must have earned that negativity somehow.

I could go on, evaluating the way that this quote extends into social mindsets, like meritocracy, and the pros and cons associated. But I should keep this short, and that would be a thesis-sized project.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

My Strong Opinion on Strong Opinions

I've noticed something lately. It may not be a new thing. It may be something that has just only recently crept its way into my consciousness. But I find it annoying.

People like to comment about things. That's great. People have the right to have passions and to express their opinions. Those things together (plus cat pics and the meme of the day) are what social media is all about. More power to you!

What I find annoying is people who have strong opinions about people having strong opinions.

I was listening to the radio today, and the announcer was having a near-aneurysm over the fact that people were upset. The details, though unimportant, are that Nutella changed its recipe and didn't tell anyone. Apparently, the company did research to show that the change wouldn't affect the product in any discernible way, but people still noticed.

Okay, so maybe not something that most people care about. But Nutella fans are PASSIONATE about Nutella. I am not, but I can see why.

Also, if your research says no one will notice, but your customers notice... Well, there seems to be a logical fallacy at work here. Maybe the fallacy of thinking your rabid customer base is the same as a bunch of randos picked up off the street. Just saying...

The point is that this announcer was having a conniption over people complaining about what he called a minute change. He admitted that he, naturally, doesn't have a preference or dislike for the product, but he was certainly going to take 10 minutes out of our day to tell us why having an opinion about this was stupid.

You know what's stupid? Telling people who are passionate about something enough that they have an opinion that their opinions are stupid and useless. Shaming people for liking something enough to notice an undisclosed change. Suggesting that being upset about a favorite food changing is the same as being upset about one of the many political crap-storms that have gone on in the last few years.

Oh, yes, he did. He said "Isn't that what we're supposed to do now? Be upset about stuff?"


I couldn't help but think that this same guy, who I've heard wax passionate about some fantasy football happening or another, would birth an actual cow if his favorite team changed their jerseys to a new color. He would pop a blood vessel in his brain if a sports league decided to change the title of "coach" to, I don't know, "field manager".

To those of us without a passion for sports, those changes would be eye-rolling at best. But when you have a passion for something, the details can and do matter.

My point is, maybe, if you don't have a strong opinion about something going on, you also shouldn't have much to say about people who DO have a strong opinion about it.

And, yes, this applies to the Craft, too.

Just as people shouldn't tell you whether you can be upset about Nutella, or Oreos, or your favorite brand of underwear, no one should tell you how to feel and practice your religious and/or spiritual path. YOU are the one passionate about what you do. You are the one who gets to say what is or is not right for you.

Generally, I think people should keep more of this kind of opinionating for the sake of opinionating in their own heads, or at least on their own porches.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Nine Noble Virtues: a Modern Take - Courage

The Nine Noble Virtues are a modern invention, so it seems my title is redundant. However, little seems to have been done to bring the concepts themselves from the past into the present.

I do not consider the NNV to be a historical reference. I do consider them to be a modern way of understanding cultural and even subconscious values that were stressed, if not perfectly, by those peoples lumped together as Norsemen.

This series will explore my thoughts on these values and, hopefully, start conversations about them in a modern context.

Courage is a concept oft discussed and seldom understood. People say it's the soul of a soldier defending the ideals and values of their country. Soldiers argue that it's the way you deal with absolute terror, doing what needs to be done in the face of that which makes others run. I'm more inclined towards the latter definition.

While courage may have once been the one who faces down wolves and bears to protect friends and family, times have changed. Not nearly as much as you would think though. Our loved ones are not threatened by wildlife so much these days. Instead, it is society itself that is the greatest threat to many of us.

To me, courage is weighing your options carefully and using whatever advantages you have in your life to stand up for others.

Weighing your options

This is the tough part, because literally no one can tell you how much risk to take. If you have a boss who's racist, you can't necessarily tell them to shut up if you have rent to pay and a family to feed. If you are a minority, you may not be able to stand up against discrimination in a safe way.

Even online, women are doxxed and attacked and threatened more than men. I imagine the same is true for racial and LBGTQ+ minorities. Diving into various discussions that will likely turn hostile can have actual, harmful consequences.

At the same time, I'm sure there are many who use that as an excuse to not stand up for people being discriminated against. There are some who will live their lives more intimidated by possibilities.

And the hard part is, ONLY THEY CAN KNOW WHICH IS TRUE. More often, they haven't done the introspection to know, but I certainly can't make that call for them. Neither can anyone else.

The first step in courage is knowing the truth behind your motives. Is it because the threat is really too much? or is it because the threat is too frightening? Until you know, you can't know that you act with courage.

Using your advantages

I am a woman, which makes me a minority. But I am also white, cis, hetero, and (at least to casual appearances) financially stable. I am well-spoken by the accepted social standard of such a thing, and I am well-read with a healthy background of knowledge.

This all gives me some huge advantages in a conversation. I am usually not dismissed or degraded because of my gender identity (at least not until I've pissed off a broflake), and I come across as an average American woman.

Because of this, I can get into conversations that others may not be able to, either because of knee-jerk discrimination or outright hostility. I dive into debates about rights and truths for minorities that aren't me. I get into debates with casual racists, and homophobes/transphobes. The haters let me begin these conversations because I am not one of THOSE. I am more like the hater, so they give me some leeway to get into it.

I use my advantages as a weapon for those who don't have the advantages, but need the fight. The fact that these fights don't personally affect me IS MY WEAPON. I could sit on the sideline. I could sit there and talk about vague philosophies with my white children. But I don't. I start fights.

Standing up for others

One of the questions I see so often is, How can I be an ally to XYZ group?

Stand up for others.

We see videos passing around social media of racist bigots punching someone because they didn't like their skin or their language. We see men drawing guns in public places because they didn't like that the dark-skinned person standing in line behind them... was just standing in line behind them.

Every day, people yell the "N" word at people of color, telling service people of color to "get out" of the country they risked their lives to protect. Every day, LGBTQ+ teens are kicked out of their homes for being themselves, openly. Every day, people make jokes about slavery or "being gay" or disabilities. The list goes on.

Those of us who are not the "other", who want to be allies... we are the ones on the receiving end of a racists nudge when they say a murdered black teen "got what he deserved, the thug". We get the wink when people make comments about "no homo". We get the side hug/friendly jostle when someone implies that a "man in a dress" is incompetent or a pedophile.

We can give the polite response - an uncomfortable, forced laughed with a quick change of subject.

Or we can put the haters in their place with a well-placed "why on earth would you think that that disgusting idea would be a good idea to say out loud to me?" We can shove away the nudge/side hug, give voice to the horror in our minds, and tell that person that they made a mistake thinking they could get away with being like that in your presence.

Stand up for others. Make it uncomfortable for haters to voice their hate.

It's not right, it's a right...

"Oh, but if they aren't allowed to voice their beliefs, it'll..."

What? What will it do?

People have weird and inappropriate thoughts ALL THE TIME. Parents imagine dropping their kids. Spouses consider how easy it would be to smother their snoring partner. People have the brief idea to crash their car into the overpass while driving down the interstate.

It happens to nearly everyone. It happens so often, the French (bless their grim little souls) have a phrase for it: l’appel du vide - call of the void.

WE DON'T HAVE TO LIVE WITHOUT THE FILTER. In fact, we shouldn't be encouraging this unfiltered life. Have the COURAGE to stand by your boundaries, for your own behavior and for others'.

Don't TMI All Over the Place

We can be honest with ourselves without forcing the oddities of our own minds onto others. We can be true to ourselves without spilling every little idea out of our mouths with no regard for how our words affect others. And we don't have to accept that others can say whatever they want without consequences. That's literally not how that works.

BELIEFS DON'T HAVE TO BE SHARED. And some of them shouldn't be shared.

Case in point: I believe that people who don't maximize traffic flow should get a point against them. After so many points (quite a lot, to be sure), they should have to defend themselves or be executed. Okay, I really only believe this when I'm out driving around, but... Wouldn't it be fun if I kept bringing that up at parties?

NO! That's why I have this lovely little fantasy that I keep in my own head. No one else needs to know that I wish death upon so many. It's irrelevant because neither I nor anyone else should be able to force that kind of thinking on society.

But that's what we allow with bigots. That's what we allow with the -ISTS (racists, misogynists, anti-semetists, etc). We let them spew their unfiltered BS into the world like it's right.

Not A right. Just, right. But it's wrong. Just because it isn't illegal doesn't mean society should allow it.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Dark side of Mental Illness - Abandoning those who need us to keep ourselves clean

Many people have seen the video of Sinead O'Connor in the past week. This raw and even heartbreaking expose of her motions and of her situation brings to light mental illness.

More importantly, it brings to light the way we look at mental illness. Specifically, the way we attempt to distance ourselves from it.

Mental illness is hard. It is hard to live with. It is hard to have. It is hard to watch.

In many ways, it is just as hard to deal with somebody in your life who has mental illness as it is to be someone who has mental illness. The difference is, one of those people gets a choice.

Many times it is easier to push people away rather than deal with the issues that they themselves suffer from. We decide that somebody is not worth the extra time and energy that we would need to invest in them.

The major problem here is that what seems like self care from the person who can push somebody else away, is also abandoning a person who is suffering from mental illness. It is a fine line to walk. And it is a hard decision to make.

When you know someone with mental illness, you need to determine if you are self care of pushing them away and of neglecting their care is more important than the help and support that they need from you. Each person in their lives has to make this choice. But the person with mental illness, they have to live with those choices.

Helping someone with mental illness is part of Shadow work. And Shadow work is difficult. The problem is when people decide that the shadow work is too difficult, and they wash their hands of it.

Well that may be a valid choice for some, it is not a valid choice for all. And we each need to take responsibility for making that choice when we are in that situation. We need to acknowledge what we are doing when we choose ourselves over someone with mental illness.

Shadow work is never done by washing one's hands of an issue. It is done by facing those issues that most people wash their hands of.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Energy of the Eclipse

I'm a practical sort, but I do feel energy and communicate with spirits. Yeah, I know, this puts me in an odd place where I'm both believer and skeptic. Oh, well.

Today's eclipse was a rather unique opportunity for me. Because of where I live, I didn't need to travel to see the totality. Score! My daughter's school provided eclipse glasses for any parents who wanted to show up to watch with the kids. Double score!

So the hubby and I went off to the school and got our glasses and watched the eclipse from a spot a little off from everyone else. Just how the introvert in me likes it.

The first thing I noticed was that my stomach was all a-flutter. I was happy to see the eclipse, but it wasn't really an excitement thing. Why would I be reacting this way? I finally realized what it was and I turned to hubby. "It feels like the energy before a big storm." He agreed.

There was some cloud cover where we were, which was a bit disappointing. We saw only bits and pieces of the moon moving over the sun. Still the energy was weird, restless, like something coming, like a struggle.

When the time came, the school's principal announced to the kids "glasses off!" By that time, it had gotten dark, cold and windy. Crickets were singing and street lights came on.

And the clouds broke.

Even before I looked up to see the light-limned blot in the sky, I could feel the change in the energy. It was harsh, powerful, indomitable. I stared up at the sun, the symbol of the Seelie, Fae Court of Summer, and I watched the Winter Court parade across it.

The Wild Hunt, restrained for this show to all mankind, strode across the land in the shadow of the moon over the sun. Mab and her retinue looked down upon us as if to say "This is my power. This is a reminder."

Then, too quickly, it was over. The sun peeked out again, with a show of rainbows on the clouds. The temperature raised several degrees, and a full expression of Summer brightened the day.

I took a deep breath and, as the kids trailed teachers back into the school, we left. My stomach roiled and my legs were rubbery, just like when I do big energy work. We spent half an hour grounding before we got back to a semblance of normal.

I didn't do any spell-work. Having never experienced a total solar eclipse before, I can't imagine how I ever could have been prepared for the energy of it. It was like expecting a breeze and getting a hurricane.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

My Response to "Violence is not the Answer" in Protests, Pt 2

This is continued from another post... HERE.

Why should we not take the high road when protesting hate?

Simple answer: Because we have the high road as an option.

Not so simple answer:
The high road is still available to people who don't agree with the VBH (Very Bad Haters) who oppress and suppress entire populations of people for a multitude of reasons, primarily (but by no means exclusively) the sins of being born with A) genetics that are less European than they find acceptable, B) a sexuality and/or orientation that is not cis-het, C) not a penis.

We can still fight it. We can still do this. We aren't in the midst of an actual military war, which is where we (the whole damn world) ended up when we (the US) ignored Germany's VBH takeover of Europe for YEARS. Let's not repeat that SNAFU.

Code what?

Most organizations that have a code system (green, yellow, orange, red) have stuff that they do BEFORE it gets to code red. The goal is to NOT get to code red. But here we are talking about things like they are code mellow-yellow, when oppressed minorities are telling privileged folk it's more like code burnt umber. If you don't think violence belongs in protests, you are probably not one of these groups being murdered or tortured on a daily basis. Just saying.

Silencing Voices

This means that by not acknowledging how very bad and even desperate it is (because we may not be experiencing it ourselves - privilege defined), we are actually SILENCING the voices of those who most need us to hear them.

At war

Additionally, outside of the whole military conflict aspects, this is a war. A social war. It is a fight for rights, and people are DYING. Literally dying. (Let me google that for you - ran out of words to link.)

This is a war, and wars produce veterans. And veterans carry scars, both physical and psychological.

Why do we thank veterans for their service? Because they suffered brutalities of battle on behalf of those who couldn't, those who wouldn't, and those who came later.

The truth about heroism (hint: it's shadow work)

We want to believe that because our cause is just, we can accomplish our goals with no collateral damage, no injury to innocents or innocence, no lasting scars because we are on the side of right.


This isn't an epic fantasy with a hero would comes out unscathed. We will be damaged. And we will be heroes, not because of adherence to some stupid code of honor that has us facing the same crap villains time and time again (looking at you, Batman). We will be heroes in a way that cannot be ackowledged, because it is too damn dark and depressing.

We must fight this fight with fists because it WILL damage our souls. We must fight this fight because by doing so, we step up and take the bullet that would spread and damage other generations. We step up when we don't have to and take SOUL DAMAGE so as to give those already oppressed a little respite.

This isn't white light and unicorns, people. This is the fact that the ones who fight the good fight usually don't make it out okay - be it physically, psychologically or spiritually. We are injured in the fight, and it's worth that injury to still fight.

That's why it's hard. That's why it's heroic. That's why it's shadow work.