For The Love of Baltimore

I have lived in the state of Maryland since the spring of 2002. I love this state, and particularly, I love Baltimore. I have also lived and worked in that city over my tenure here. My children spent several of their formative years amongst her residents, and particularly youths who were represented in the chaos of last night. I am both heart-broken and hopeful tonight.

The children who broke into the CVS, the check-cashing store, and the liquor stores.. those who raided the mall and set buildings on fire were not people peacefully protesting the death of Freddie Gray. They were, at worst, opportunists; at best, symbols of the truth that underlies the questions we want answered about his death, and those who share his skin color.

They are not thugs. They are children who live in desperate poverty- over 50% of the people of West Baltimore are unemployed. The majority of their fathers are either dead or in jail. They have no help and little hope for the future. Gangs are prevalent there- they fill the gap of the non-existent family life that we whites see as crucial to proper child development. My children and I knew many of those gang members in our time living there. These children adored mine. They were the most loyal, kind and respectful young people I've met. They wanted to be loved, respected, and heard. They wanted to matter. When those needs were met, they blossomed. I was always safe on the streets, because I was their surrogate mom. Their moms were there, but working 2, sometimes 3 jobs just to put food on the table and a roof over their heads.

My coworker today (who is an older white woman) was aghast at last night's events. She said, "We're in the national news! Just think what this will do to tourism- we make a LOT of money from tourism in Baltimore!" To be fair, she has no understanding whatsoever of what she is saying. I replied, "Just think of what these children are living and dying with every day. They are being systematically killed by the people who have sworn to defend and protect them." She is indicative of what's wrong with our national picture.

We whites, as a rule, do not grow up this way. We don't live in an area where our people are targeted by law enforcement for arrests. We don't experience "rough rides"* to the police station. We don't tell our boys how to behave if they are stopped by police on the way to the convenience store so they will make it home alive. We don't see people whose skin color resembles our own being tortured and killed because they live in poverty or in a crime-ridden neighborhood. Our children don't see police cars and immediately begin to run out of fear of what will happen if the police get a hold of them.

When I see/hear people who look like me saying that these children are destroying their own neighborhood, I am filled with deep sadness. They don't understand at all. No, last night wasn't about protesting Freddie Gray. This was about opportunity, and the lack thereof.

Opportunity, because there are 8 schools that feed into that mall (bus stops), and at a time when the parents who are at work, are trying to make just enough money to barely care for these kids. Opportunity, because the police received bad intelligence that gangs were uniting to target killing them and left these targets unprotected. Opportunity because the CVS, the check-cashing place, the liquor stores, et al.. are all in impoverished neighborhoods, and the police were protecting the money-spots. The police were nowhere near these areas, and even when they saw what was happening, they didn't respond. Sure, they are saying that these were 14/15 year olds and they didn't want to shoot them. Why is shooting them the go-to strategy?

Lack of opportunity, because these children are living in abject poverty. Many of you have seen the footage now of their neighborhoods. Row homes where one house in five on a row is actually occupied- the rest are falling apart and boarded up. There are no youth centers, after-school programs or places for them to go. They see their peers, fathers, mothers, etc... being killed every day, They don't have enough- to eat, to wear, to do.. this is why there is a sense of anger and despair. Freddie Gray's death was the match to a long-smoldering, gasoline-soaked pile of disappointments. The spark became a bonfire (both figuratively and literally) because human beings are easily frenzied, and teenagers are no exception.

I saw hope last night. Strong, black men from a variety of faiths, coming together and out in droves, dressed in business suits and measured words, stopped many of these young people by simply asking them to stop.They are well-known by these children and respected in the community, because they involve themselves in it. Rival gangs that had come together on Saturday to try to stop the looting showed up at the Shiloh meeting and asked to be heard by the clergy (who were more than willing to listen). They all joined together to bring peace where law enforcement could not.

I saw hope this morning. The people of Baltimore got up early to clean up the mess left behind. Peaceful protests with chants of "Hands up- Don't shoot!" were seen throughout the city. Nearly 250 arrests were made from last night's incident, but only 2 were made today.

Yes, there are nearly 2,000 National Guard personnel, and police support from neighboring counties and states present. But, before they were in place, these hopeful things occurred.

What we all, no matter our skin color, need to do is to see these children as ours. They are the future of our cities, our states, our country, our world. Their lives matter. The quality of their lives matter. These are our people, and we need to do better by them.

Freddie Gray's death must, I repeat MUST be addressed. The Baltimore police department needs to be overhauled. They must be made  accountable for what happened to him, and to others who have died needlessly in their custody.

In the bigger picture, we need to care for our people. We must work to improve the quality of life for all of us, because we are ALL connected. When our children are hurting to this degree and lashing out, we must pay attention. We must give them a voice, and we must give them hope. Blaming them for what happened only attacks the real victims and does nothing to solve the mounting, but not yet insurmountable problem.

Let us love one another, immediately. Whatever action you can take to ameliorate this situation, whether it's listening, standing with your neighbors, writing blogs, calling politicians, mentoring children, etc... do it now, and for the love of your community.

*a “rough ride,” is a term for a situation in which police officers deliberately drive erratically to injure unbuckled and handcuffed passengers.

Monday Meditation: The Quickening, by Ly De Angeles (Book Club invitation)

I have a strong connection to crows. One of them keeps following on my walks every day. He reminds me of Ly De Angele's book, The Quickening". In that book, crows guard the main character. I am about to start up a book club on this book next month, so if you're interested, be sure you let me know via email. A purchase of the book will be required, as well as a Facebook account.

Below is a 'reprint' of an article I wrote about it during my "Love of Ly" week.

Many of us fell in love with the characters she introduced in her book, "When I See the Wild God"- Hunter, Brighid, Willlie, Rowan, Puck, etc... and when this book came out, a squeal of delight was heard throughout the Lyverse of fandom. She takes the characters on an amazing adventure, and we get to come along too! Each of us found ourselves in at least one of the folks described, and wondered if we didn't also get a glimpse of Ly as well in here. When I need to reconnect, this is one of my go-to books. The great news is that she's updated and expanded this edition!

Copyright note: The excerpt below is copyrighted to the author and shared here with her permission. To protect her rights, all copy/paste has been disabled  on this blog. I'm sure you understand.

The Quickening

Description from The Quickening (Magical realism): Most people see the Irish Travellers as a ragged bunch of musicians, artists, and fortune-tellers crossing the country in an old double-decker bus in the new land, in the twenty first century, but these people are a secret. They are a race older than time, the Sídhe, the Fair Folk, almost immortal. On an unforgettable night of murder and mayhem, Kathryn Shilton meets the Travellers and her life changes forever. She and her witch friend Merrin help the Sídhe find the ones responsible for the bombs, fires, and terror wrought on the Southside of New Rathmore. When Hunter’s son, a child of immense magical power, is kidnapped by members of Michael Blacker's Fundamentalist Christian cult all hell breaks loose. But no one knows what’s really going on and who or what are the powers behind both sides in a struggle against bigotry and hate. Except, perhaps, a conspiracy of ravens.


Hunter climbed the steep sides of the ancient hill fort, deserted now except fo the ring of low standing stones and the barrow to which the king stone pointed. He sat down with his back against the tallest of the menhir as the twilight lengthened shadows into mysteries.

He'd said all this before, but it helped him get his grounding in the magic.

"Lady?" he called to the dusk. "You here yet?" No answer. He would wait. She'd show up-she usually did when he reminded her of his travels and just how tired he was. In the meantime he'd just talk.

"It's me again," he said softly," and I’ve wandered the great forests of oak and rowan and birch, oh yes I have, knee deep in stone and bracken. And none have taken me down. I was heedless of fear, because the forest was everywhere, and we were so much a part of it all. Do you remember, my Lady?"

The air became a listening thing- still and tense as he reminded it of smells it used to know.

"Now it all hides- what's left of it-and fear is very real amongst the survivors. You know? Proud? Silent? Desperate? Through their blood they can't forget; through our blood, Lady! Through the Mysteries!"
His boot slid out and rustled the loose stones.

"Sorry. Sometimes I get maudlin, yeah? Sorry about that. It's just that people seem so blind, you know? So blind to the repercussions of their needs for comfort and safety that they mostly don't realize the devastating effects that their not-knowing is having on the habitats of others who are not quite so voracious."

There was a shifting of the air as if a piece of night was manifesting from the twilight in just one part of the ring. Hunter pretended to ignore it, knowing what it was, but he talked to her anyway.

"Hey, you know? Willie and Matt and Jack and I have just come back from spending time with a couple hundred of the true people. You know what they do? They stay, day in and day out, defiant before the machine giants sent to take down 'set percentage' of old growth forest. The media was there, too, on and off, for the show, depicting the tale of the joke of the unwashed chaining themselves to the graters and each other as they attempted to stop the devastation-fair enough- who would be clean under the conditions they had to put up with?"

"But of course, you and I both know how it works. Balanced journalism and all that."

"Are you there, Lady?"

"I'm here Hunter." And the darkness gathered itself into form.

Autumn Equinox, the previous year- It's very late. The sky is huge and black and moonless and glittering with a million, billion stars accentuated in their brilliance by the late autumn frost.

We're all out around the remnants of the Feast of the Fire. Brighid lays the offering of food out over at the tree-line for the creatures of the forest as Hunter and Puck share out the last of the mead with the rest of us and pour some to the earth as a blessing to the land.

Everyone is quietly excited as Hunter raises the ancient horn to his lips…

There are two versions of this book. The one our book club will be reading is the up to date version from 2012.

You can purchase this treasure from Amazon right here. It's also available in Kindle format :)

Please do visit Ly at her website:

To Play "Plutocracy" or Not to Play, that IS the Question (yep, it's a rant)

The election season has come upon us, here in America. I hate that every year, it gets earlier and earlier. We won't even be voting on our President until November of 2016. That's 19 months away!

Already, the typical, corporate-owned candidates have declared their foray into the Presidential race, and already the rhetoric is flying between the far left and far right supporters. Those of us who don't want this crappy system are already being caught in the fray. What we need is a unified voice as a people, rather than tearing each other apart  (aka doing what the politicians want).

I was vocal last year about not voting. I am tired of my vote counting for nothing, and it did count for nothing, regardless of what anyone says. The districts have been gerrymandered since the Bush Administration. We couldn't have voted the current Congress out if we all wanted to. Point in fact: more democrats voted in the 2008 congressional election than republicans, but because of the gerrymandering of districts, the republicans won. That's a fact. Look it up. The insults are now hurling their way toward those of us who saw the truth of the corrupted voting process, and chose to refrain from exercising our right to vote. Now, we're being told we have no right to complain because we didn't vote.

1. I am not complaining. I was complaining when I saw the corruption in the voting process. I didn't drink the "your vote counts" koolaid this time. Sorry if you did, but that isn't going to stop me from speaking my mind.

2. I am a United States Navy veteran. I swore an oath to protect the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. No one ever dismissed me from that oath, and it stands today. I served this country and in that vein...

3. The First Amendment to the Constitution that I served to protect allows me the RIGHT to SPEAK OUT, COMPLAIN, TELL IT LIKE I SEE IT, etc... If you think that insulting me and trying to tell me what my rights are by YOUR book, then you should probably just shut up and sit down. You have no idea what the hell you're talking about.

4. Now, those of you spouting off those insults, did me railing back against you feel good??? No??? Wonder why. Let's get to work instead, and I'll educate you a bit on the history of U.S. Politics and Presidential elections. Maybe then, we can stop playing the same old bullshit tapes and do something, together.

Marianne Williamson, famous author-turned-politician, wrote an open letter to Hillary Clinton last year. I cannot recommend reading it highly enough. It speaks to what so many of us are feeling, right now:

BOTH parties are corporate-owned. Corporations run the political system of the United States. This is a plutocracy*, not a democratic republic. Unless and until We the People stand up as a consolidated force to make changes, this plutocracy will continue to grow until there is nothing left of its original structure. Now, I say that with some hesitation, because as a History major, I know that the founding fathers were never too keen on the people having the power to vote for senators or the President. The founders actually wanted the people to choose their house of representatives. The House would then choose the Senate, who would then choose the President.

Article Two of the United States Constitution was instituted as a compromise between the factions who wanted the aforementioned voting process, and those who wanted a straight-out popular vote. Under the original article, electors could cast two separate votes for two different people, and whomever received the second highest vote would become Vice President. (For an interesting story, read up on the Thomas Jefferson/Alexander Hamilton vote. They tied). In response to what happened between Jefferson and Hamilton, the 12th Amendment was passed, requiring electors to cast two distinct votes: one for President and another for Vice President. The amendment also established rules when no candidate wins a majority vote in the Electoral College.

In the presidential election of 1824, Andrew Jackson received a large number of popular, but not enough electoral votes cast. The election was thrown to the House of Representatives, and John Quincy Adams was elected to the presidency. Why? Because Adams made promises to Henry Clay, Speaker of the House (and also a presidential candidate), who made an impassioned speech throwing his support behind Adams. Once Adams was elected, Clay became Secretary of State.

In reality, this never was an incorrupt system, nor were our beloved founders all that keen on the people having the power. My point is that our votes never really have counted for much to begin with, and it's always been somewhat of a plutocracy. That said, our rights have eroded drastically while the wealth disparity has bloomed under this toxic mix of money and power.

It's up to us to determine whether we're going to continue to allow this to fester, or if we're going to take our country in a different direction. Should we choose the latter, we need to stand together. We need to give up this idea that we're liberal, conservative, moderate, independent, etc... all of those terms are simply masks for corporation-run politicians. Insulting one another will get us nowhere. We have to stand together and against corporate politics. Instead of letting them choose the candidates in which we will 'vote' for the lesser of two evils.. how about we decide to find another solution?

If we keep regurgitating their platitudes ("if you don't vote, you don't have a right to complain"), let's think outside the box. There are 300 million of us.. there are a handful of them. The strength lies in our numbers and unity, and we CAN make a difference, if we try.

*Plutocracy (from Greek πλοῦτος, ploutos, meaning "wealth", and κράτος, kratos, meaning "power, dominion, rule") or plutarchy, defines a society or a system ruled and dominated by the small minority of the wealthiest citizens. -wikipedia

Monday Meditation: On Friendship

I have a very large circle of friendly acquaintances, particularly online. I like their diversity, creativity, and intellectual curiosity. They are fun people with whom I interact regularly, and I very much enjoy each of them.

Then, I have a very small circle of close friends with whom I share deep feelings, conversations and bonds. These are people who have been there for me through thick and thin, year after year. They are my sisters and brothers. They are my wise counselors. They are my goofball gigglers. They know me better than my own family members, and they love me, anyway.

I admire each one of them. They give of themselves freely, and they don't wear masks with me. They are as similar and different as possibly could be to and from me, and yet, they mean more to me than I could ever express in words. No matter what, they support me and know that I am there for them, too. We don't have to talk every minute of every day for us to know that if there is a need, the other will be there... no hesitation, whatsoever.

We laugh together, we hurt together. We also kick each other in the backside when it's necessary. There's an honesty and trust that only time and trouble can forge.

They know who they are... and I want to thank them. But, I want to thank even the friendly acquaintances, too. I consider myself one of the luckiest people I know. I have an abundance of friends, regardless of their closeness. If you're reading this, you're most likely one of those people.

Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for caring enough to read my blogs, and for supporting whatever wild and crazy projects I come up with. Thank you for being uniquely you, and also having enough in common with me that we connect.

I send you love, hugs, and gratitude.

Fad saol agat, gob fliuch, agus bás in Éirinn!
(Long life to you, a wet mouth, and death in Ireland)

Witchy Wednesday:Jupiter Returns

Today, Jupiter stations direct today, finally. It's been Rx since December 8. Jupiter is one of my favorite planets, and I was born on its day of the week (Thursday). Jupiter is the planet of luck and expansion, so be prepared for your plans to start moving forward at a much faster pace. Colors for Jupiter are royal blue and deep purple.

Many of you have seen the famous Nat Geo photo of Laurie Cabot's coven drawing down Jupiter energy. If not, here it is:

National Geographic has studied this photo ad-nauseum trying to figure out what caused that lightning bolt-like image. Laurie explained that they had called upon the energy of Jupiter. That should settle it, but of course, that' no explanation for those who cannot believe in the power of magic and intent.

I'm planning to welcome Jupiter back in style tonight. I've missed the energy, and I'm happy to get ready for some movement.

How about you?

Monday Meditation: The Distinction of Resurrection

Easter is a time for Christians to reflect upon what they consider to be the most holy and unique tenant of their faith, the 'resurrection' of Jesus Christ, their savior. The biblical story states that Jesus, a god-man, died for the sins of mankind and rose again three days later, thus redeeming all humanity to eternal life. The following quote sums up a majority-held view within Christianity:
"... the resurrection is the most significant. It is not merely important to the historic Christian faith but without it there would be no Christianity. It is the singular event that sets Christianity apart from every other world religion and elevates it above all other world religions. "~
In other words, no one else's god has died and risen again from the dead, so this is why they believe their religion is superior to others. But, how true is that statement? Just how distinct is the resurrection?

The Pagan myth generally goes, in some form, that the god (in some form) dies or is killed (many times, in an effort to save the people from destruction) and is resurrected some time later. The following is a sampling, and by no means a comprehensive, list of Pagan gods who died and were resurrected long before the alleged death/burial/resurrection of Jesus:

  1. Aeneas- Greek/Roman 
  2. Adonis- Greek/Phoenician/Canaanite
  3. Amun- Egyptian
  4. Amun-Min- Egyptian
  5. Attis- Phyrgian
  6. Atunis- Etruscan
  7. Baal- Canaanite
  8. Bacchus- Roman
  9. Chinnamasta- Indian
  10. Cronus- Greek
  11. Dionysus- Greek
  12. Dumuzi- Sumerian
  13. Eshmun- Canaanite
  14. Gullveig- Norse/Germanic
  15. Heitsi-eibi- Khoikhoi
  16. Izanagi- Japanese
  17. Jarilo- Slavic
  18. Kaknu- Ohlone
  19. Melquart- Phoenician
  20. Mithra- Persian
  21. Obatala- Yoruba
  22. Odin- Norse/Germanic
  23. Orpheus- Greek
  24. Osiris- Egyptian
  25. Phoenix- Arabic, Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Phoenician, Roman
  26. Quetzlcoatl- Aztec
  27. Shiva- Indian
  28. Tammuz- Akkadian
  29. Xipe-Totec- Aztec
  30. Zalmoxis- Dacian, Greek
This list does not include all of the female deities who would fit into the death/resurrection category. 

The famous mythologist, Joseph Campbell, was interviewed by Bill Moyers of PBS fame in what's been titled, "The Power of the Myth" in 1988. Here is an excerpt from that interview:

Campbell: The death and resurrection of a savior figure is a common motif in all these legends.... Somebody has had to die in order for life to emerge. I begin to see this incredible pattern of death giving rise to birth, and birth giving rise to death. Every generation has to die in order that the next generation can come.
Moyers: You write, "Out of the rocks of fallen wood and leaves, fresh sprouts arise, from which the lesson appears to have been that from death springs life, and out of death new birth. And the grim conclusion drawn was that the way to increase life is to increase death. Accordingly, the entire equatorial belt of this globe has been characterized by a frenzy of sacrifice -- vegetable, animal and human sacrifice."
Campbell: There is a ritual associated with the men's societies in New Guinea that actually enacts the planting-society myth of death, resurrection and cannibalistic consumption. . . ."
Toby Johnson: 
"The myth of the resurrection of the body (Jesus' in history and ours at the Second Coming) signifies that life keeps coming back in the flesh. To see that is to see that death need not be feared, that embodied life is good, that we are all manifestations of the same life. To see that is to be born again of the water (of the ocean out of which life first grew and of the amniotic water of our birth) and of the spirit (which is the breath respiring through all of us, and which, as William James saw, is modulated into consciousness in each of us). It is to see that we are all risen from the dead because of God's act of creation of space and time." ~

The belief in the uniqueness of the Resurrection, and in the superiority of their religion, is prevalent in the Christian sects of today. It is this superiority complex that has given rise to the domination and forced conversions of indigenous cultures around the world; the witch hunts and crusades of the past, and the discrimination and political agendas of today. 

In truth, death/burial/resurrection is an ancient theme throughout the mythos of humanity. It is a reflection of our planet. Something must die for each creature to live, and in each death, there is life. The commonality of the resurrection motif  does not lessen the critical role that each creature plays in perpetuating the circle of life. It simply reduces Christianity's assertion of it's superiority to its rightful and ordinary place among the many belief systems in history.

Witchy Wednesday: The April Fool

It's is April 1, and of course, the tricks are flying. For example, Google pulled a "gotcha" on folks by stating it was turning google maps into a pacman game. It was announced yesterday for most of us, but in conjunction with Asian countries' calendars turning to the 1st.

Speaking of calendars, up until 1582, many cultures celebrated the new year on April 1. Pope Gregory XIII is the one who declared January 1 as the new year. The Romans had a festival named Hilaria on March 25, to celebrate the resurrection of Attis, the vegetation god who died and was reborn (nope, Jesus was just one of many resurrection god myths). The Hindu calendar has Holi, and the Jewish calendar has Purim. All of these are very light-hearted festivals that seem to celebrate the earth's "reawakening".

In Tarot, the Fool card is the card of new beginnings, potential, and renewal. It's about setting out on a new journey, experiencing new lessons, personal growth, and adventure. The fool brings a spirit of innocence, lack of fear, and creative expression.

While this day may be a day of pranks and hoaxes, it can have a lot of meaning for those who wish to go a little deeper into the Pagan mindset of our forebears. With the full blood moon/lunar eclipse on the horizon, it's a great time for shedding that which no longer serves you, and for setting off on a new adventure.

Celebrate with foolish gusto today!

Sláinte :)