February 5th, 2011


Recent House Bills That Make Me Shiver

Republicans introduced H.R. 358, probably best referred to as the Let Women Die Act, which indicates that women can be denied life-saving treatment because a doctor is unwilling to perform said treatment (and let's face it, it does not matter what type of treatment that is: it's wrong to deny treatment to anyone who needs it). This comes on the heels of H.R. 3, which tried to re-define what counted as "rape," indicating that "forcible" rape was somehow worse than any other kind of rape.

Essentially, in H.R. 3, the Republicans (and several idiot Democrats) tried to sell "rape by being held down" as somehow worse than "rape through roofies" or "statutory rape". . . when, in reality, "non-consent" can be the only valid measure of rape, or there is a risk that we will find ourselves saying, "Oh, well, she was only raped a little bit." That doesn't even make any sense, and even worse, it starts to tell people that rape is only sometimes a crime.

H.R. 358 allows hospitals to outright refuse treatment if they can't find a doctor willing to terminate a pregnancy, even if the woman will die without termination. Not only that, but they also don't have to transfer the patient to another hospital that will do the procedure. Essentially, the law says that they can let the woman die and not be responsible. . . and still get their federal funds.

I was under the impression that everyone voted to get the government out of their personal lives last November. . . This moralizing and hypocrisy (our local effervescent bundle-of-joy "hero-of-a-congressman," John Boehner, referred to this bill as the "will of the people" just about a week ago, tying it to the perceived mandate they got) is pretty much the furthest thing from what people were voting for.

So let's review H.R. 358 in light of "the will of the people" as expressed in the last election. The bill allows the hospital to refuse treatment and let a woman die, and still collect federal funding? I thought we were trying to reduce federal spending here, not give it to people of a "higher moral standard," as decided by Congress. (If you can honestly tell me that letting a woman die and not providing her a different option for treatment is an objectively "higher moral standard" than potentially terminating a pregnancy, you'll win a sucker.) I would be more inclined to buy the argument that the recent election indicated that all federal dollars for hospitals should be pulled than the argument that the recent election indicated that Congress (of all people) should be our moral compass.

It's one thing to have the government's hands in my pockets: that will never change, but it would be nice if they stuck their hands in my pockets a bit less. I'm all for that. But I don't have to let their hands down my wife's pants. That's not where the government's hands belong!

I rarely talk about politics in my journal (and I tend to think of myself as a "Republican who can't find his party" because of stuff just like this), but this circus act is pretty clearly out of line with what the voters want. And I'll admit that I'm a bit upset about it, though I was also pretty much expecting this. Tigers don't change their stripes, after all. This sort of thing isn't a Republican problem, not really: Democrats do some pretty dumb things (like sponsoring these bills, for instance), but I am forced to admit that the Republicans tend to pull this sort of thing a lot more often than the Democrats seem to.

What the hell is a fiscally conservative, socially liberal person supposed to do these days? I think the message is that we should just stay home, because neither party actually cares about us.

This new House of Representatives is failing at representing sanity.

Trinities and Allies: Working Druidry Thoughts

Over the past few years, I have noticed that even though my path is one of Druidry and nature worship, I tend to talk mostly about the Deities and the Ancestors; often, I speak less specifically and with less honor to the Spirits of Nature than I do to the other two Kindreds.

Druidry is founded on threes: trinities of place (land/sea/sky), trinities of cosmos (upper/mid/underworld), trinities of gates (fire/well/tree), trinities of functions (priest/warrior/producer), trinities of sacrifice (drowning/burning/strangling), and trinities of blessing (self/community/cosmos). We do so many things in three, but I know that I sometimes (and others as well) don't pay as much attention to the Spirits of Nature in the trinity of the Three Kindreds.

It's natural for folks to gravitate, I think, toward one primary, one secondary, and one tertiary relationship. I think, too, that it's perfectly okay to do that, in general. . . but I also think that when you notice it, it's time to start revising the way you approach the Spirits, as if you notice, then surely they notice.

I am primarily attracted to the deities: the shining gods and goddesses of order who keep the world moving are really the religious center of my work. The Ancestors and the Nature Spirits have always been important to my work (and I work with them daily), but when I began this practice, and for much of it, it has been the deities that I was primarily concerned with.

When we began the Clergy Order Work in 2006, we started working heavily with the Ancestors in the form of the Ancient Wise. Before this, I had often had trouble connecting with the Ancestors as a whole. Death itself is not something that I have ever been particularly familiar with, and so the relationships that resulted from work with "the Ancestors" was somewhat limited: I could say I had a relationship with my grandfather, but I could not say that I had any other particular Ancestors, mostly because my grandfather was the only person that I really had a relationship with prior to his death. Other people who had died were people I didn't feel I knew well, or did not have an interest in getting to know better.

What I experienced with the Ancient Wise was a category that I could finally relate to. Working with them was not awkward, because there was a "box" that they fit in: these were a specific group of individuals with whom I shared a connection, and they were clearly willing to teach me.

I began, then, to connect with them via trancework, which led to study, which led to forming a coherent picture of the "place souls go" for the first time in my life. Suddenly, I had a deeper understanding of death and what it meant, including its value to the cosmos (and, by extension, to each person). Additionally, understanding the process of "Ancestor-making" allowed me to understand my ancestors better, and to place them as part of the larger, proper-noun "Ancestors" that we call to in ritual.

So now, when I call out to the Ancestors in ritual, I call out in a unique way, drawing the Vision Work into my mind's eye, and allowing my breath to vocalize it. There is a connection that has formed, that was cursory at best before.

So now I turn my attention to the Spirits of Nature.

Ian and I have been having a wonderful discussion for the past few days about allies among the Nature Spirits, and I am excited to see where this will lead us (other ADF Priests will get a summary of this discussion soon on the Order list). Specifically, we have been talking about a class of Nature Spirits (or a "court," if you will) of somewhat celestial origin as potential allies, which the Ancient Wise might introduce us to formally. I am noticing, though, the same thing that happened with the Ancestors: the Spirits of Nature are beginning to fall into place, to be organized in my mind. Drawing on the work that we've been talking about, I foresee a deepening of experience with these Spirits as well, and already they are aligning themselves.

This excites me mostly because the Nature Spirit portion of our rites (particularly when I've been asked to do the invitation) has always been the least effective part of our rituals to me, due to this lack of connection. Heck, I talk about them so rarely that I don't even have a LiveJournal tag for "nature spirits" (well, starting with this entry, I do). As the connections build, I see them drawing in and improving, and I have a feeling that the next time I open my vision's voice in ritual to call to the Spirits of Nature, there will be new images that appear and draw up from the well of inspiration.

I've also given some thought to particular allies among the deities. I know that this will bring me full-circle, but some of those thoughts are frightening to me as well as exciting. I have recently been thinking about the gods of order and oaths, and the price of devotion to them. . . I would imagine a geis of truth placed upon their followers, and that is quite the sobering thought. While I don't think of myself as a person of great lies (well, perhaps a couple of stretched truths when I feel the need to improve a story), I, like everyone else, make use of the "little white lie" from time to time, generally without thinking of it. The idea of having anything other than the whole truth excised from my life is somewhat frightening.

But I am also excited by that notion.

So, I think about these allies, what they mean, how to be introduced, and what it will be like to work with them. Exciting and frightening: isn't that how all new relationships are to be?

Back to writing support materials for the ADF Clergy Training Program's Discipline 2 course. . .