Witchy Wednesday: Honor and Gullibility

Instead of a 'how-to' kind of thing, I'm going to speak to the rainbow controversy that's been going on for the past week or so, then I'm putting it to rest. It's wearing down my spirit, and I'm just not going to allow that to continue.

So, unless you've been hiding under a rock, you've heard about this whole "relentlessly gay rainbows" fundraiser where someone allegedly put an anonymous note on Julie Baker's door that threatened to call the police on her if she didn't stop making her yard "relentlessly gay". She asked for 5k and got over 43k. Her friends helped her build a website where she's creating t-shirts and other items for sale.

When I first saw the post, I thought, "Something isn't right about this." I couldn't put my finger on exactly what it was that bothered me. I spoke to my closest friends about it, and one of them also had a feeling that something was amiss. The next morning, I woke up out of a sound sleep and said, "The random capitalization!", and shared it with my group.

Julie Baker used to write for the Sunday Stew. She is a very creative and clever writer, but with that gift also comes a lot of grammatical error. She was only with us for a few weeks, but she drove me and my copy editor crazy with her random capitalization of words. It got so bad that my editor had to send the raw material to me for editing, because she didn't have that much time to spend on one person's idiosyncrasies. But, it wasn't just the random capitalization. It was the tone and certain words used that made me even more suspicious about the allegation that this was written by some disgruntled neighbor.

Julie's made it very clear that she is a Christian-hater. Over time, and on several threads of mutual friends, I've watched her go at it. She's even commented on one of my posts using the phrase, "There are Children!", as a way to disparage Christians. The style is too unique to have been someone else. In 25 years of editing other people's work, I've never come across someone who types like that; let me emphasize NEVER.

There are also allegations from those who know her that she couldn't pay her property taxes and this is why the fundraiser began. She also has at least one other Gofundme to provide laptops for her daughters. She believes $4,000 will cover it.

A statement analysis expert who teaches law enforcement  analyzed the "note" versus her Facebook and GoFundMe posts, and found that the note is a fraud.

Her friends are very loyal. They bully every person who questions any part of her integrity or even asks a simple question about where the money is going to go. They immediately assume that someone who asks questions is the bad guy, not someone seeking truth. They attack and bully others worse than anything stated in that anonymous note.

She claims that the police cleared her, but when snopes.com reached out to the officer in question, he claims that she either cannot or will not produce the note, and that she alleges that she no longer has possession of it. So, she lied to the world about the police issue, and no longer has the note? That note is worth 43k+! If that was the note that did you such a favor, wouldn't you frame it? Of course you would. So would she, if she weren't the author.

She also accuses a Christian of being the culprit. In one local paper interview, she states that she believes it is the Presbyterian church nearby. The only Presbyterian church in her neighborhood belongs to the Presbyterian USA chapter and publicly states on their website that they support the LGBT community and gay marriage. 

Now, let me be clear. I'm not here to bash her or to jump on the "lynch mob" that wants to see her arrested for internet fraud. Evidence and proof are two very different animals. The burden of proof for this is way beyond what I believe is available in evidence. So, no, I don't want her to go to jail. Personally, I don't give a rat's ass if she keeps the money and spends it on whatever the hell she wants.

Why? Because even if this were a legitimate note, there are idiots in the world who donated 43 thousand freakin dollars for someone to paint her house in rainbows so she could piss off her neighbors. They deserve to all be scammed, shamed and feel betrayed while she laughs all the way to the bank. The contents of that 'note' are laughable. Seriously, all suspicions aside, someone is complaining that her yard (not her rainbow jars) is relentlessly gay and that they're going to call the police? Rigggggggght.

All it takes to get people to run to your side these days is to claim you were attacked for being LGBT  or being a supporter. (The fact that Baker didn't disclose she was bisexual until AFTER the LGBT community jumped on the bandwagon shouldn't raise your eyebrows at all.)

Legitimate news sources ran the story as fact without attempting to validate the note. George Takei shared it, Ashton Kutcher commented on his twitter feed about it; The Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post ran the story, and it ended up in UK news sources as well.

Will the Pagan and LGBT communities be harmed when the truth inevitably comes out?  Will she be exposed as a dishonorable person and be shamed into doing the right thing?
Who knows?

Frankly, I'm done caring. I deleted Julie from my Facebook, as well as the majority of her cronies. I don't need my newsfeed littered with fraudulent colors. I don't care what she does with the money. She begged for it appropriately and got it.

I once visited Mexico City. We were headed to the main Catholic church there. Along the street were beggars of all kinds. One woman lifted her 5 year old daughter's dress to show me that she had no legs. It turned out that she made her daughter stand in a hole covered up to make it look that way. People fell for it hook, line, and sinker. I saw the farce, and I walked away. If she was able to provide for her family that way, then who was I to point out that the emperor had no clothes?

Along those same lines, I'm walking away. I've had all I care to take of rainbows, relentless fraud, and the entire sickening farce. Those of you who donated and want your money back should talk to GoFundMe. Those of you who want to defend her- just shut up. You will never get me to believe she has a neighbor who types just like her. Your only purpose would be to bully me into backing down, and the last thing you really want is for me to care more than I do right now. Right now, neither you nor Julie is worth another second of my time.

In the words of the Greek Pagan, Sophocles, "I would prefer to fail with honor than to win by cheating."

Monday Meditation: A Message for the Exceptional

This is for all who attempt to achieve something remarkable in life.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. There are also people who are going to purposefully misunderstand you, no matter what you say or do.

These are people with agendas who will commit themselves to your destruction. They want to vilify you. They want to minimize you because there is something they see in you that they want, and believe they can't have or be. Their insecurities overwhelm them, and they look for ways to victimize themselves.

They are jealous,mean-spirited, and spiritually stunted. They are usually passive-aggressive.

They don't have the courage of character to own their words. They will say things behind your back, and will try to sabotage you in your work and home life. They will mimic you and take credit for your work.

Online, they will post status messages and blogs about you without naming you, but when confronted, they'll claim it isn't about you. They'll attempt to make you believe you are paranoid, that  you are the one who misunderstood them. They will go out of their way to avoid taking responsibility for their words and actions.

This is why you cannot let them get to you. You cannot worry about what they think or say or do, because it really is none of your business.  You don't have time for that kind of nonsense. You have bigger and better things to do with your time. The only person you have to impress is you.

The only questions you have to ask are:
Am I being true to myself?
Am I being authentic?
Do I understand my own motivations and accept them?
Am I living by my own honor code?
Do I like who I am and where I'm going?

If your answers are "yes", then you have nothing else with which to concern yourself. You owe these people nothing, and particularly no explanations. They don't have your best interests at heart. They intend to cause you harm, and it stems from their own insecurities and "no" answers to the above questions.

Keep moving forward; keep your eyes on your goals and your growth. They have nothing for you, and you don't need distractions. They are crabs in a pot from which you escaped, long ago. Where they are petty, be magnanimous. Where they obfuscate, clarify. You cannot be swayed from your goals and intentions.

No explanations. No excuses.

Just keep being extraordinary.

Festive Friday: A MidSummer Story

This was originally published in Imramma Magazine.

Midsummer’s Night
By Kallan Kennedy

She sits in silence as the longest day finally recedes.

A watcher, she is careful not to intrude; this night does not belong to her. The lightning bugs are the first to break the ebony cloak, as they illuminate the forest.

The anticipatory tension increases with each passing moment. Will they come? Will they show themselves? It seems as if she is not the only one asking.

The death beetles and crickets begin their song- a cacophonic competition that rises and falls in synchronization, inviting them to the dance. She holds her breath and tries to stay in the moment.

Don’t think. No anticipation. No expectation allowed. Be here. Be present. Be grateful. Feel the air filled with water; it is heavier than the night. Smell the bracing scent of forest pine and sassafras. Listen to the nocturnal concerto. Hone in on the fireflies as they pepper the scene. Wait- are those eyes? Yes! Several sets, piercing blue and moving this way! They have come!

As she draws in breath, it is stolen by their majesty. These are not the tiny winged creatures of silly folklore, but they are much more magnificent than she had ever imagined. Towering, lithe, and agile, their shine is mesmerizing.

They light a fire, and set up camp. The drummers join in the woodland symphony, as the dancers warm up. The king and queen take their places on cedar thrones, while the court prepares to feast. Their laughter is contagious and she forgets herself for a moment. The king’s head turns her way as her hand quickly covers her mouth. His eyes make contact with hers, and he winks before turning his attention back to the celebration at hand.

The fair folk begin their joyous festivity of fecundity and Mystery that will last until sunrise. She smiles as she takes it all in, knowing she is right where she belongs.

Witchy Wednesday: Summer Solstice Family Fun

The Summer Solstice is Sunday, so it's time to prepare for some celebratory fun this week. All of these are family-friendly things you can do together.

The Pooka Pages is a free Pagan kids' magazine. You can download it here.

Salt Dough Sun Medallions for a Solstice Treasure Hunt!

A little more on the grown-up side, DIY Firepots

This Sun-weaving Solstice craft is great for kids!

How about some Rosemary Biscuits for a summer breakfast treat?

Here's one of my own ideas:

The Family Bucket List

What you'll need:
One sand pail  (you can get them at any dollar store)
Some sand (Lowes, Home Depot, Wal-mart, etc... all carry sand in the garden centers)
Parchment paper (typing/copier or any unlined paper is fine)
Ziploc bags
Each person writes or draws pictures of the things they'd like to do before the end of summer as a family (this can be modified for single folks with no kids as well). Place the wishes into ziploc bags and bury them in your sand pail. Each weekend, take turns having one person dig in the bucket for a wish throughout the summer. Keep the papers, and at the Autumn Equinox, review the fun you had together and burn them in the Mabon fire.

Happy Summer!

Monday Meditation: Mercury Rx Lessons

Mercury retrogrades several times in a year. It can be annoying, challenging, and downright awful at times. Mercury's Rx is the time when we review, relax, and recharge ourselves, and if we take the time to pay attention, the lessons it brings can help us with our personal growth.

The main theme from this last rx seems to be "what doesn't grow corn for me anymore?" particularly in the area of social media. I've seen quite a few people giving their notice that they are either limiting their online time, or cutting it out all together. While varying slightly, their reasons are a craving for more offline/in-person interactions.

Social media is a powerful tool and a great medium for communication. Many of us would never have met, or been exposed to the variety of cultures that our online friendships bring. We get news faster than through traditional mediums like newspapers and television. We sharpen our wit and communication skills through online groups, hangouts, etc...

On the flip-side of that coin, it can also be a breeding ground for disinformation, miscommunication, and online bullying. Internet addiction disorder is still being discussed (it is not in the DSM-5 manual used by psychologists), but anecdotally speaking, it can become a problem for some. When used as an escape from offline life, it can interfere with relationships, jobs, and daily responsibilities.

Now that Mercury's Rx is past us, it's time to review the lessons we've learned. What did we notice during that time that needed to be changed? Did our computers go wonky? Maybe that's a message that we're over-communicating. Did the car break down? Maybe we're spending too much time on the go and not enough in quiet contemplation. Did an old relationship issue rear its ugly head? Time to fix it or forget it.

Take some time this week to contemplate your Mercury Rx lessons, then act on your lightbulb moments. Don't worry. If you decide not to make those changes, you can always revisit them when Mercury goes retrograde again September 17-October 9 ;)


Witchy Wednesday: Magic for Coffee Makers

I know this is a weird subject for a Witchy Wednesday, but were you aware that not cleaning your coffee maker regularly can actually make you sick?

Most of us know that using a vinegar/water solution (1 cup vinegar to 11 cups water) through it once a month is a standard practice.
The other day, I was allowing my inner child to play while cleaning. I've always loved watching what happens when one combines baking soda and vinegar, so I decided to put some baking soda into the coffee pot after putting the vinegar/water solution into the coffee maker.  I turned it on, not only to clean it, but to watch it foam up (remember, this is my inner child having fun- yes, I am a weirdo).  It didn't let me down.. it was lots of fun to watch. Then, I had the bright idea of running that baking soda/vinegar/water solution through the coffee maker to see if there would be any sediment/residue that would be cleaned by the foaming action.

I was floored.

The water came out looking like coffee, and I like my coffee DARK. If I didn't know better, I would have sworn that someone had brewed a fresh pot of coffee. I ran three pots of fresh water through it after that. The first pot came out dark, but slightly lighter than when the baking soda solution ran through. The second pot was considerably lighter- more like tainted water. The third pot ran through completely clean.

I've come to the realization that vinegar/water alone does not do the trick. In order to remove the sediment, baking soda is the way to go. I put about 1/8 cup of baking soda into the pot.

Try it for yourself and let me know your results!

Sláinte! (To your good health!)

Monday Meditation: The Horse and the Stag

The Horse and the Stag

Aesop's Fables

Artwork by Alicia Bedesky
 AT ONE TIME the Horse had the plain entirely to himself.  Then a Stag intruded into his domain and shared his pasture.  The Horse, desiring to revenge himself on the stranger, asked a man if he were willing to help him in punishing the Stag.  The man replied that if the Horse would receive a bit in his mouth and agree to carry him, he would contrive effective weapons against the Stag.  The Horse consented and allowed the man to mount him.  From that hour he found that instead of obtaining revenge on the Stag, he had enslaved himself to the service of man.

This one seems pretty straightforward. What I found particularly significant was that the horse made an assumption that he owned the plain and pasture upon which he stood. He assumed he had dominion over something and that it belonged to him. He assumed that the stag was an intruder, and he was unwilling to share the plain with what could have been his newfound friend and companion. Instead, he immediately became defensive and plotted "revenge".  I've seen people who behave this way and I've seen the outcome.

Assumption is ugly. It gets us into all kinds of trouble. I assume that people are going to treat me a certain way or behave in a manner to which I'm accustomed based on my own perceptions. The biggest problem with assumption is that it fills the void of communication.

I've seen people who have assumed many things about me. I've been accused of writing a blog post specifically about someone and that person wasn't even a thought in my mind. I've had people plot revenge against me for allegedly saying and doing things that I hadn't even considered. I've been the subject of many a hurt feeling simply because people assumed they had greater importance in my life than they truly did. I know you can relate. I can almost see you nodding your head right now. It's happened to you, too.

I've also been guilty of assuming things about others. In my younger days, I would assume things about relationships without asking. I would assume that certain behaviors, rules of etiquette that I grew up with, and cultural norms were prevalent and went without saying. I learned some painful lessons that way.

Expectation always goes hand-in-hand with assumption. Because we assume something, we expect a specific result. It's like an "If-Then" sentence. If I do this for you, then you will do this. If I have been here my whole life, this land belongs to me; then you don't belong here and I must defend it. If someone claims you said this about me or your words hit home for me, then it must be true and I must repay in kind.

Invariably, the person who seeks revenge loses freedom. As the horse became enslaved to the human, so does the person who makes it his/her life's mission to pay back assumed offenses. To make me or you or someone else the focus of your anger, angst, and animosity is to put me, you or someone else in charge of this person's life.

How much time is wasted on these kinds of pursuits? How much of our lives do we waste thinking about perceived offenses? Why is there never direct communication in these situations?

If the horse had simply talked to the stag, what would his life be like? He may have found a new friend instead of an enemy. He may have run free with the stag. Perhaps they would have taught each other something valuable. He could have found that his life was enriched and expanded, rather than being enslaved to the human hunter on his back. He may have found that the stag was lost and didn't intend to encroach. There are so many issues that can be resolved through confronting a situation or person or both head-on.

I love the mantra, "Fix It Or Forget It."  It makes life simple and keeps one free from these encumberances. Fix it- stop assuming and expecting and simply ask or say what you want/need. If it doesn't result in the outcome you want and you can't fix it any other way, then forget it. It isn't worth your time and energy. You have other things to do.

Try practicing this for a week and see how it goes for you. Let me know your results.