Friday, June 29, 2007

Cat Naps

Okay, folks. This post is for cat-lovers and friends of cat lovers.

Our lovely kitties, like all kitties, have their own favored napping spaces and styles. This afternoon these are Fernando's and Oona's styles.

On this hot Summer day, Señor Fernando chooses the cool of downstairs, on the rug in front of the couch.

Then he repositions himself. He's a sweet, trusting cat and will spread out on his back, belly up, for a scratching without even opening his eyes.

I found Oona upstairs in the bathroom sink. This is how she acknowledged my presence.

Then she spread out in this inviting pose. Check out that awesome multicolored plume of a tail.

As I was ready to leave with the camera, she bestowed this enticing pose, showing her lovely markings.

As I've said many times, I believe cats neutralize bad vibes. Call that California woo-woo if you want. It works for us. I know our recent, and ongoing, family crises are eased by the soothing, often playful, presence of these sacred beasts.

My operating principle is that our cats' job is to entertain and amuse us, and in return we adore and worship them. Corby gets mad when I say they have a job. He says they're animals and have their own lives; they owe us nothing. We humans have messed with them by domesticating them and owe them respect and honor and care, but shouldn't expect them to do a job for us. In spite of his feelings, as our symbiosis with these two critters has grown, he's come round to my way to thinking.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

More Books

This is my unread but soon-to be-read pile, not to be confused with shelves of other unread books calling me, and shelves of previously read books inviting me to return to their pages. Meaning these are the ones most likely to be read after, or even before, the ones on the pile of books I'm in the middle of are read. Unfortunately, unlike my friends Victoria and Patricia, I don't read a book in an evening. :sigh:

Alice Walker's We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For is a Yule gift from my stepdaughter Dr. Lee Wolfer. I'll read anything by Alice Walker. I keep thinking that the words of the title are part of a chant I know from Reclaiming. I've been distanced from Reclaiming for so long that I don't know many of the more recently written ones, and those I do know I don't know as well as the older ones.

Yoruba Girl Dancing, by Simi Bedford, is on loan from Victoria. She thinks I'd like it based on our mutual appreciation of Purple Hibiscus, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who, like Kiran Desai below, has received several literary awards. Purple Hibiscus gives a look into the life of a sheltered young African girl during a tumultuous period of Nigerian history. A life where "good" and "bad" blend so that there really is no black and white. (I'm speaking in terms of behavior, not skin color.)

Those of you who pay attention to contemporary literature will no doubt recognize Kiran Desai's The Inheritance of Loss, winner of the 2006 Mann Booker Prize for fiction and, in 2007, the National Book Critics Circle Fiction Award. I already read this book so I'm mistaken to have photographed it in this pile.

Frijof Capra's The Web of Life interests me because of my ongoing fascination with the interconnectedness and interdependence of everything. It remains to be seen whether I'll be able to understand the book.

The Life and Death of Great American Cities, by the late Jane Jacobs, has been on my list of books to read since I first heard of it, and her, from my late husband Rod Wolfer, who was an architect. When it was recently republished and offered by my book club, I bought it. This book interests me because we are faced with a growing human population, less space for us on our planet, and global warming.

Don Frew lent me Hypatia of Alexandria, by Maria Dzielska, after we'd talked about a novel I'd read and because she is the guardian ancestor of Cherry Hill Seminary.

Believe it or not, Antoinette May, author of Pilate's Wife, was one of my very first students in the earliest days of Reclaiming. Back in the early 1980s she contacted Reclaiming Collective (RIP) on behalf of herself and several women in Palo Alto, CA. Most of them were already part of a women's group, which subsequently coalesced into a coven called Stone Dancers that survives to this day. Though she didn't end up circling with the Stone Dancers, Antoinette, aka Minerva, writes a lively weekly astrology column in the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle that I never miss.

Finally, it's always fun to reread different people's writings about the Greek myths. My mother read them to me when I was a child. Hence, Nigel Spivey's Songs on Bronze: The Greek Myths Made Real.

Monday, June 25, 2007


Just in case you didn't believe that bit about working atop KT-22, here the proof, sort of. That's me on my daily ride up to the place where I took and sold the photos. The photographer is standing where I stood. Back in those days, money changed hands and photos were mailed later. The building at the lower center is Blyth Arena.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Personal Tidbits

Taking up Chas Clifton's challenge, with inspiration from Deborah Lipp, here are eight things about me, six true and two false, that most people probably don't know:

  1. I first learned to drive when I was about 10 by driving a tractor and a flatbed truck helping my dad farm. He was a seedsman, specializing in tomatoes, peppers and eggplants (nightshade family).
  2. The earliest ancestor we can trace who came to North America was a man (I don't know his name; will try to find out) who arrived in New Amsterdam around 1658 on a ship called De Vergulde Bever, the "Gilded Beaver." My maternal grandfather's name was Van Tine. I have lots of Van Tine relatives, the Protestant, anglophilic side. I see no Van Tines on the Gilded Beaver's passenger list, but I see "Gerrit Gerritsen van Gilthuys," which could be the name Gilruth, which is a maternal family name.
  3. My orphaned grandmother, née Kate Reilly, from Ballinasloe, Co. Galway, Ireland, on the River Suck, came to Moorestown, NJ (founded by Friends in 1682) via Philadelphia point of entry as in indentured servant to a caring Quaker family. Her siblings dispersed around Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, PA and Australia.
  4. I eat only organic food, very little in the way of carbs or dairy. I am a slender, fit gym rat.
  5. I have a giant crush on Anderson Cooper (yes, I know). Also on multi-talented Heathen Viggo Mortensen (not because of his role in LOTL either), Irish charmer George Clooney, younger Irish charmer Matthew McConnaughey, Irish Irish charmer Pierce Brosnan, and hunky Henry Simmons, "Baldwin James" on NYPD Blue. Oh, yes, almost forgot Chow Yun Fat. I guess that shows my tastes are conventional. I like them for their politics as much as for their looks and talent. I should note that all of them are younger than I, some considerably. I'm just an old feminist with a lusty appreciation for men.
  6. I'm a big fan of figure skating. My own ice skating experiences are limited to cranberry bogs in the Winter in New Jersey and a couple of ice rinks in California, such as Blyth Arena, built for 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley, and demolished in 1983.
  7. I love camping.
  8. I worked atop KT-22 (elevation 8,000 feet) during the Summer of 1961, after my freshman year at San Jose State College (now University). I rode the ski jump up the mountain every morning, where I stood on the landing platform and snapped photos of tourists as they sat in the chairs suspended over the valley floor 3,000 feet below.
Why eight, Chas? Why not five or nine or ten?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

"Enlighten" Interfaith Board Game

This has been my month to immerse myself in interfaith activities, it seems. I already wrote here about interfaith and immigration on May 30th. I started to write about the Marin Community Foundation's second annual Celebration of Giving awards ceremony I attended on June 7th, but never got a chance to finish. In a nutshell, the Marin Interfaith Council I've mentioned so many times before received a $25,000 grant from MFC. There's lots more to say; that's the reason I was invited. A very swanky affair, I must say.

Then on June 11th, my daughter's birthday, Malendia, her friend Marianne and I attended another of MIC's quarterly retreat days, this time at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, lead by the Rev. Fu Schroeder, tanto of the center, and Fr. Paul Rossi, pastor of the Church of St. Raphael and Mission San Rafael Arcangel (twentieth and second most northerly of the original 21 missions established by Spanish Jesuits between 1769 and 1823 in Alta California). We spent a restorative day in contemplation and reflection.

Tonight I went to the MIC Forum & Annual Meeting. One of the things we did was play a new interfaith board game called Enlighten. The game is surprisingly comprehensive and not all that easy to play, since it requires a fair knowledge of many religions. Not to worry, we Pagans are represented in three ways, as I see it:

  • Prehistoric Religions: Shamanism, Native American, African, Central & South America, Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands
  • Classical Paganism: Greek Gods, Egyptian Gods, Roman Gods, Persian Gods, and Scandinavian Gods
  • New Religious Movements: Mormonism, Bahai, Jehovah's Witness, Unitarian Universalism, Unity Church, Krishna Consciousness, Rastafarianism and more.
NRMs are those which arose within the last 200 years. In the world of religious studies, Wicca, Druidry, Heathenry, et al. are considered NRMs because they cannot be proven to be older. I call our religion(s) "ancient-future" because we draw upon our ancient heritages (all reflected in the list above), we apply them and live them in 21st Century society, with the hope that we leave a viable and satisfying legacy of a sustainable future for our descendants.

Today is Midsummer, when there are no shadows and nothing is hidden. May the light of the Sun illuminate our many paths as we travel life's road together on our precious life-giving green Earth.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

So Many Books, So Little Time

Like many Pagans, I'm a big-time bibliophile. Here's a photo of the books I'm in the midst of reading -- never mind that at least one of them has not been picked up in a couple of years.

I'm nearly finished reading Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father. It's a very touching memoir, written before his arrival on the national political scene. I like his quality of reflecting, his depth, and his compassion for humanity. I'm working with Marin County for Obama, tabling at the weekly downtown San Rafael Farmers Market.

I'm also well into Jonathan Kirsch's A History of the End of the World, which about the Biblical Book of Revelations. I have a remote connection with the author: he was the attorney Starhawk and I consulted when we signed the contract for The Pagan Book of Living and Dying. Since then I've read his God Against the Gods: The History of the War Between Monotheism and Polytheism and really liked it. Since the more manic of our neighbors among the religious right cry of the endtimes, it's good to have a sensible look at the underpinnings of this craze proffered by a rational, level-headed Jewish lawyer.

She Who Changes is Carol Christ's book about process thealogy. I resonate strongly with much of what she says, but find reading about it somewhat dry.

The Last Witchfinder and Boudica are both historical novels, the first about Enlightenment featuring Isobel, Lady Mowbray, as a character, aunt of the protagonist Jennett, and the latter about the Iceni warrior queen.

In the absence of the opportunity to take a class in basic geology and with a fascination with our glorious Earth, I began reading McPhee's Annals of the Former World. It's a wonderful book, but I'm unversed in the subject so it takes me a long time to digest what he's saying. His writing is accessible to the lay person; that's what makes it so great. Still, I have to work to understand and retain.

Many of the entries in Clifton and Harvey's The Paganism Reader I've read before, and many are new to me. I learn from rereading the familiar writings and encountering the newer ones.

The bookends in the photo are actually boxes, Yule gifts to Corby and me from our friend Victoria, who made them. Guess which is whose.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Yet Another Cool Pagan Blog

This one, Necropolis Now, is the effort of another cyber-friend, Caroline Tully, in Australia. She writes about some of my favorite entities. My assessment: "Very Witchy," a compliment coming from me.

Caroline wrote a fine article about Cherry Hill Seminary in the Australian Pagan press a couple of years ago. Someday -- soon I hope -- it will be viewable on the CHS website.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Blog of a Pagan Artist

My friend, mask-maker extrordinaire Lauren Raine, has just begun a blog, Threads of Spiderwoman. Lauren has made a series of goddess masks for use in ritual that are utterly exquisite.

They were first used (20 of them) in the 20th Anniversary Spiral Dance in 1999 in San Francisco. I felt they were not used as effectively as they deserved, so was inspired to create a ritual I called "Goddesses Alive!," using only 13 of the masks, for PantheaCon 2000. Under the sponsorship of The Lilith Institute and New College of California Women's Spirituality Department, I polished and recreated this ritual, renamed "A Rainbow of Goddesses" to distinguish it from other non-mask-ritual entities with similar names, in December 2000.

The New College performance included original music for each goddess by Amy Luna Manderino -- koto music for Amaterasu, Mexican guitar for Guadalupe, bluesy jazz for Hekate. I loved it!

Since my original production, others have created different rituals using the masks.

The 2006 performance of Reclaiming's Spiral Dance ritual featured many more than the original 20 masks. The photo above, taken at that event, was published on the front page on the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle.

With a good sponsor, I'd love the opportunity to recreate the complete "Goddesses Alive!" masks ritual.

In the meantime, however, I wanted to alert readers to Lauren's blog.