Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What Makes Your State Great? North Carolina

Today I take on North Carolina in my quest to promote the wonders of a secular society; a society structured not around religious doctrine, but instead governed by reason and laws- laws such as the following which can be found on the books in North Carolina...

  1. In the city of Barber, it is illegal for dogs and cats to fight one another. 
  2. While having sex, you must stay in the missionary position and have the shades pulled.
  3. Elephants may not be used to plow cotton fields.
  4. It is illegal to have sex in a churchyard.
  5. No one may visit their departed loved ones late at night.
  6. Oral sex is considered a crime against nature.
There are more, but you get the idea.  Numbers 1 and 3 interest me. Was there a reason behind #1? Did Michael Vick move into Barber? 
#3 Just makes me make that face

Numbers 2, and 6 are pretty obvious examples of a blurry line between church and state. If your shades are pulled, how will they know if you're doing it missionary or if you're on page 86 of the Kama Sutra? And what about same sex couples? Is it still missionary if the girl is on the top and the bottom? As for oral sex being a crime against nature: I'm pretty sure that if we weren't supposed to do it, something bad would happen; maybe an electric shock or something akin to hemlock poisoning; your bank account would suddenly become overdrawn, your septic tank would back up. Something.

Number 4 is just plain bad manners. Number 5 is a little unfair. What if you work 2nd shift and the only time you get to pay your respects to Aunt Betty is after 11pm? I think if Wal-Mart is open 24 hours, the cemetery ought to be too. If you ask me, people ought to do more visiting the dead and less shopping anyway. Nobody ever ran themselves into debt or made questionable purchases like a Shake Weight while venerating their ancestors.

Fitness eh? If you say so...

I've got to wrap this up. I have an elephant to return.

Hail North Carolina!

Monday, November 7, 2011

What Makes Your State Great? Vermont

Okay, here’s the deal. I have had a weird hectic day, and while I don’t think Vermont is any less important than the other states, I don’t have the energy to be either funny or erudite.

Vermont was the first state to abolish slavery, the first state to formally recognize same sex relationships, the fourth state to allow same sex marriage, and the last state to get a Wal-Mart. Then there’s Ben and Jerry’s. Vermont is also (according to the 2008 ARIS report) the least religious state in the union, with a whopping 34 percent of people saying they are not religious at all. Imagine that--all those people treating other people like human beings just because.

Hmmm…Don’t sell people, marry who you love, eat ice cream, resist Wal-Mart to the bitter end, go skiing. I’m tempted to say Vermont is not just a great state-it’s the greatest state.

Hail Vermont!

Photo credit Michael Bonfigli

Sunday, November 6, 2011

What Makes Your State Great? Kentucky

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that since today is Kentucky day, and I am who I am, that I’m going to indulge in some juvenile giggle fest by posting about Big Bone Lick State Park, located on Beaver Road, just outside of Beaverlick Kentucky. HA! You don’t know me as well as you think you do. I have something else on my mind today.

Do you know what that ^ is? That is a photo of the side of my computer. It functions as a sort of bulletin board for me. Those brightly colored squares of paper contain phone numbers and addresses, grocery lists, birthday reminders, chore lists, tarot spreads I’d like to try, herbs I need to get, correspondences, bits of prayers and inspirational quotes, incantations, lyrics to songs, and recipes. It is basically an annex for my brain, holding things I don’t have room for in my cranium yet still need to be able to access quickly. My organizational skills absolutely depend on the great state of Kentucky, for here and only here is where 3M Post-it® Notes are manufactured, in the charming and picturesque city of Cynthiana, Kentucky.

I have a thing for Post-its. I can’t use the generic ones. For one thing, the glue doesn’t hold up. The most important function of a Post-it is its ability to stick to things; the off brand ones flutter to the floor the instant the temperature fluctuates or a cat hair gets too close. Also, the paper is of inferior quality and makes my ink or pencil smear; so it’s imperative that my Post-its only be the real deal made in Cynthiana.

We use a lot of Post-its in our house. Not only are they good for the aforementioned things, but they are superior tools of passive-aggressive warfare. My house is papered with snide remarks and “friendly” reminders to do things like shut the front door, put the toilet paper ON the spindle, throw the trash IN the can, and clean the catbox “when you get a minute.” I do believe that if we ever went to family counseling and developed healthy communication skills, 3M would go belly up. It’s in the best fiscal interest of the good people of Cynthiana that my household remain locked in a battle of wills.

For some reason, 3M won’t divulge how many Post-it Notes they crank out a year. It’s some sort of trade secret, although I can’t imagine how it’s relevant. Of course, since they don’t want me to know, I’m absolutely dying of curiosity. It’s like 3M is waging their own passive-aggressive war against me. They know I want to know, and they won’t tell me, and they know I’m not going to boycott because I rely on them to win my own petty skirmishes. It’s all very Machiavellian.

Here’s to Kentucky, home of Post-it Notes. Thank you for keeping me organized and victorious.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

What Makes Your State Great? Tennessee

What Makes Your State Great? Tennessee!

What is it about the Volunteer State that draws people like bees to nectar? Is it the breathtaking vistas of the Great Smoky Mountains? The awe inspiring magnitude of the Cumberland Gap?  Do they want to see the place that inspired Harry Warren and Mack Gordon to write a li’l ol’ song about a choo choo train? Are they packing up the kiddies and heading for a fun filled family vacation to Dollywood? Maybe they’re reveling in the rich musical history of the Grand Ole Opry, or paying their respects to The King at Graceland? Wait, surely it must be the barbeque?


What makes Tennessee great can be distilled down to two words: Tennessee whiskey. This libation is so distinct that it actually has a legal definition, and if a whiskey doesn’t fit that definition, it cannot by law call itself Tennessee whiskey. That’s pretty fancy for corn squeezins, and when it comes to corn squeezins, nobody is more famous for their use than the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg Tennessee. Reportedly the best selling whiskey in the world, Jack Daniel’s is probably responsible for more births than any other beverage. It has inspired a plethora of country and western songs and more than a few rock‘n’roll songs. And while the powers-that-be at the JD distillery might disagree with me, I would bet that more than one long term prison sentence can be laid squarely at the feet of Old No. 7. Why, without Tennessee whiskey, there might not even be country music! No Opry. No Dollywood. No Hee Haw.

So the next time you extol the virtues of sobriety, think where we would be without Tennessee whiskey, and ask yourself, “WWJDD?”

Friday, November 4, 2011

What Makes Your State Great? OHIO

Ohio: high in the middle and round on both ends. That pretty much describes my figure since I hit middle age. *rimshot*

But seriously folks, my home state has much that makes it great. Ironically, one of the things that makes Ohio great is its mediocrity. We are so average here, so middle of the road, that we are used as the example of Middle America. Want to know how your new product will sell? Test it in Ohio first. Need to take the political temperature? Dip your toe in Ohio’s waters to see how voters will react. In films, the wholesome girl next door is from Ohio. Fictitious rock bands pay ironic homage to Ohio by opening their concerts with “HELLO CLEVELAND!” Real rock bands can’t wait to play here so they can legitimately shout the same words. Joe the Plumber, an iconic symbol of the middle class during the 2008 Presidential election, hails from Ohio.

So how did Ohio come to represent Americana? Strangely, the secret to Ohio’s middling reputation actually lies in its diversity. With a number of top ranked colleges and universities, including mammoth Ohio State University, Ohio draws students from all over the United States and the rest of the world, many of whom stay on after graduation and make their homes here. These students bring with them their culture, customs, and spiritual beliefs.

Another factor in Ohio’s diversity is its location. During Slavery, Ohio was a major stop on the Underground Railroad. Many Blacks opted to settle in Cincinnati and other Ohio towns along the Railroad. The National Road (now U.S. route 40) also runs smack dab through the middle of Ohio, linking the Eastern and Western United States.

With these and other factors, it’s no wonder that Ohio is home to, well, just about every kind of person you can think of. We’ve got freaks, geeks, rock ‘n’ rollers and holy rollers, jocks, farmers, beauty queens, steel workers, suits, high society and just plain folks. We’ve got Pagans, Episcopalians, and Episcopagans. We’ve got Baptists and Wiccans (both known for their potluck suppers), Unitarian Universalists, Quakers, Catholics, Buddhists, Taoists, Methodists, Ba’hais, Muslims, Eastern Orthodox, Atheists, Agnostics, Gnostics, Red Road Walkers, Lutherans, Hindus, and people who identify as “Other”. I even know one guy who says he’s a Vaginist. Talk about pious! That young man is always ready to kneel and worship. And if the aroma around college campuses is any indication, Ohio is home to a LOT of Rastafarians. Hungry? I hope you’re in the mood for greekmiddleeasternchinesejapanesemexicanethiopianfrenchgermanitaliansomalianspanishkoreansouthamericancentralamericannortherneuropeanbritishirishscottishaustraliankenyanindianvietnamesecambodianlaotianpolynesianisraelicubansoutherncookinsoulfood, ‘cause that’s what’s on the menu in Ohio.

Hail Ohio, we make average extraordinary!

To Be or Not To Be: That is the option

(My apologies to Wm. Shakespeare)

 I really dig freedom. Freedom informs much of my spiritual practice, and indeed makes it possible. My religion brings me a lot of peace and joy. I think it makes me a better person and a better citizen. Because of this, I am in favor of others also being able to practice their faith in any way that brings them joy and makes them better people. I’m also in favor of others being able to not practice any faith at all. As long as everyone is relaxed and groovy, I’m down with however they get that way.

Now, it seems that what brings some people joy is the act of keeping other people from finding joy. I’m not sure that it’s a religion per se, (although it certainly appears to have disciples) or that it makes its followers better people, but I’m no judge of other folks’ spiritual practices. As long as I’m free to howl at the moon I’m pretty content.

Except that’s just it: some people don’t think I should be free to howl at the moon. And they don’t want you to howl at the moon either. These people have been waging a state-by-state campaign of imprecatory prayer, beginning with Hawaii and ending in our nation’s capital, to magically claim the United States for their god. If you’re unfamiliar with the term imprecatory prayer, I’ll just call it what it is: cursing. Now, I’m no stranger to laying a good curse. I’m of the “if you can’t hex you can’t heal” school of thought. But my curses have been few and far between, and only when I felt that my life or my loved one’s lives were at stake. I’ve yet to curse someone over a theological difference of opinion. You might as well curse someone over which way to hang the toilet paper. But these folks are actually engaging in maleficent magic designed to spiritually manipulate the good people in all 50 states of the Union just because they think their god should be The Boss of Everything.

So some like-minded folks and I got together to talk about what, if anything, should be done about these folks. There was a lot of talk, and differences of opinion, and more talk (Pagans are very long-winded) and I’m not sure but I think someone may have pulled their wand on someone else. And the upshot of all this is that we decided
nothing. That’s right. Nada. About the only thing we could come to an agreement on is that we all liked our country (for the most part) just fine the way it is. We were especially fond of the 1st Amendment of the Constitution, which guarantees us groovy rights like freedom of religion and speech, among others. So some of us decided to use the rights granted by the 1st Amendment to tell the world just what makes our individual states so great. We've been publishing blogs, and notes on Facebook about the individual states the day before that state is targeted to be “prayed” over. We’re hoping that these posts will remind everyone who reads them of just how lucky we all are to live in a secular nation where everyone is free to worship (or not) as they see fit. As of today, I will be joining my fellow bloggers* in posting a state a day until the culmination of the cursing. Feel free to contribute in the comments section your feelings on what makes your state great.

*For more on What Makes Your State Great, pay these blogs a visit:
The Secret Life of the American Working Witch
Cauldron Werx: A Room with a Brew
Confessions of a Modern Witch
The Gods Are Bored
more to come!

Next stop: OHIO!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Running Toward Myself: Samhain Reflections

I heard this whisper and I wondered,
I heard this laugh and then I knew.
The time is getting near my friends,
The time that I hold dear my friends,
The veil is getting thin my friends,
And strange things will pass through.
~The Veil is Getting Thinner

I suppose I would be a piss poor Pagan blogger indeed if I didn’t post a blog on Samhain. I was going to skip it, as this is a new blog and doesn’t really have readership yet, and I have to get my kids ready for trick or treat, and I have to pass out candy. But since this is a new year, I would like to start a new tradition for myself of marking where I am, so to speak, spiritually, emotionally, mentally; taking stock of my life, chucking what doesn’t serve me and keeping what does.  Although astrologically, Samhain doesn’t occur until November 8 this year, I just generally treat this entire week as a holiday, similar to how we approach the Yule season.

I've always loved Samhain, even when I was a kid and still called it Halloween. Even then I felt the presence of other beings through the thinning veil, and always a wildness arose in me, a restlessness, an urgency. Like the legendary werewolf, I wanted to runrunrunrunrunrunrun in the moonlit night toward my own destruction. I wanted to howl and scream and rut and BE. With the first cool October nights I felt the stirrings. Traditionally, October has often been a time of crisis for me. As I got older, October marked a time of severe depression, and later, alcohol abuse, culminating in weekends in jail, wrecked cars and relationships, grave physical injuries, embarrassment, shame, and sometimes just plain old fashioned melancholy. That’s why I’m so grateful for the changes in my life now, and why I feel a need to acknowledge them.

I still feel the wildness, but now with the help of medication for my S.A.D., I’m able to channel it into creative endeavors instead of self destructive behaviors. I still want to run, and so I listen to my body’s need for physical activity and increase my exercise. I spend more time alone instead of forcing myself to be social. This is a time of drawing in, of death and repose. When I ignore my body and soul response to the turning of the Wheel, I am setting myself up for disaster. For me, really living my spirituality by heeding and nurturing my connection to the rhythms of nature is an essential component of my well-being. This has been a rough and long lesson for me to learn; spiritual growth doesn’t happen overnight, and some of us are more hard headed than others.

Tonight, after everyone is in bed, I’ll sit my altar and open myself to Spirit. I will review the past year, mulling over the lessons, the successes and the failures. I will assess my spiritual harvest trusting I’ll be sustained through the long winter, and I will plant the seeds for the coming year. I’ll feel the familiar animal surge in my veins and I’ll runrunrunrunrunrunrun in the moonlit night, toward my own creation.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

An open letter to the Not-the-99-Percent

Dear Not-the-99-Percenters,

Well well well, I see some of you out there don’t want to be considered part of the 99%. You’ve worked hard, pulled yourself up by your bootstraps, have a savings account, pay your bills on time, and have managed to escape the latest round of layoffs. Naturally you don’t want to be tarred with the same brush as a bunch of liberal, unemployed lay-abouts with no clear agenda! You’re a purpose filled, driven individual who is smart, yessiree, and you’ve got better things to do with your time than support those stupid protesters. Why, you’ve got shopping to do, and TV to watch, and Farmville to play. Besides, those free-loaders should be looking for jobs instead of exercising their Constitutional right to assemble. The only amendment worth a fig anyway is the Second one. If they didn’t follow the rules, they shouldn’t be surprised that they’re unemployed, and that the police are fracturing their skulls.

That sounds awesome. Very Darwinian. Survival of the fittest and all that.

If you’re not part of the 99%, if you don’t want to be associated with those “idiots”, those “dirty hippies”, those “trust-fund brats”, those “welfare queens”, (By the way, which is it? Are the protesters rich kids or welfare recipients? I forget.) then by all means keep pretending to yourself that the 1% has your best interests at heart, and that they think of you as one of them. But when the Revolution results in better conditions for everyone, including your condescending, paddy rolling, Mistah Ovahseeuh ass, then I don’t think you should partake of the spoils. I think, as a matter of principle, that you should refuse to benefit from any positive social or economic change wrought by the protesters you so despise. After all, you didn’t earn it, and we all know how you people hate to take anything you didn’t get by working hard and following the rules, right? Surely your pride and ethics would preclude you benefiting in any way from the reprehensible actions of the OWS crowd.

Let me clue you in on a little something…if you make less than a million dollars a year; if a catastrophic illness would indeed be catastrophic and drain your savings; if your children will have to apply for any financial aid at all to go to college; if you will have to work until full retirement age so that you can be assured of drawing your full social security benefit in order to have enough to live on; if you don’t come from old money; if you don’t make enough money to justify having an offshore/Swiss bank account; if you park your boat in your driveway; if you don’t own your very own politician; if you’ve never been on the society pages of the newspaper; if you go to parties, but have never attended a gala; if you do all your own grocery shopping, cook all your own meals, and do all your own cleaning and yardwork; if you actually sit down with your bills every month to pay them instead of sending them to your accountant: YOU ARE PART OF THE 99% whether you want to be or not. No matter how much you vilify and belittle the Occupy protesters, and how much shade you cast upon the movement, the cool kids are not going to like you. They'll still think you’re poor trash suitable only for fulfilling their needs. That is, if they think of you at all.

The Revolution is happening, with or without you. Lead, follow, or get the fuck out of the way.