Sharing: Access and Justice: Disabled Pagan Activism

I highly recommend that everyone who reads this blog go on over to http://stoneontosand.weebly.com/disability-equality-training.html and take a read and /ora listen.  This is topic that, in my opinion, is never discussed enough.

Alternatively, you can hear the talk by clicking the video link below:

 

Slide below posted with permission:4996347_orig

Cloverleaf and Roundabout

Like last year, this year I got to Paganicon via a road-trip, and while I didn’t happen to see The Rider on my journey, I did unravel a piece of the web that I’ve been staring at for what feels like ages but has probably been around six months.

But I should probably back up a bit, and explain a couple of things before diving down the hole in front of me and urging you to follow, shouldn’t I?

2015 was a horrible year for many people, and for me it was filled with family tensions, work tensions, and religious community tensions that eventually drove me to leave the place I considered my religious home for six years.  And, after all that, came the time of No Computers, and I was driven to seeking out those I wanted to stay close to via Google Hangouts from my work laptop in between doing the things that comprise my day job, which is heavy on pointless meetings with people I don’t want to hear, much less see.

(Okay – done with the self-pity now.  I swear.)

At the time of the upheaval (last October, or therabouts), I was staring at a problem I’d been tasked to address – the untangling of a particular set of threads in the Web in front of me.  Staring wasn’t getting me anywhere, and I couldn’t figure out where I need to start, and then things blew up and I put the task aside where it sat.

And sat.

And sat, until I was smacked in the head by a not-so-velvet paw and reminded that the tangle was still there.  And, that I hadn’t said “No” when I was asked to deal with it.  And that it was going to stay right there until I figured it out.

I like to put my gods in the category of “tough but fair”, but they don’t always like to stay in that category.  This time, though, everyone took on that label, and everyone reminded me that there was a THING that needed DOING, over and over again until I finally decided to get off my ass and look at it again.  Which, I did.  I looked at it.  I walked around it, and looked at it from a number of angles, and tugged on a few things, and pushed a few more, and then sat down and stared at it again.

And then, I took a 21 hour (round trip) road-trip with my sister, and we talked the whole way.  Sometimes it was serious, and sometimes it was silly, and sometimes it would have made no sense at all to anyone listening in, but it was in the talking on the way there, and in Paganicon itself, and in the further talking on the way home that I figured it out and the threads unwound themselves as prettily as anyone could hope to see…and now they’re connecting just as they should.

It took two things, really: the realization that I am very very good at asking questions, and that the sigil I created in Thorn’s workshop is meant to remind me to Speak Up.  And once I connected those two things everything else fell neatly into place.  I am not meant to be a Hammer – I am meant to be a Lever.  I am meant to move things from passive to active.  What once I called a cul-de-sac, a parking lot, where we stop and wait and try to figure out which way to go is now a cloverleaf, or a roundabout, with exits that are there.   We’re just waking up and wondering where we are, how we got here, and why we’re in a hand-basket.

This, then, is the Introduction.

Space

Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

This is a post about space, but not the kind of space you might be expecting. I suppose outer space could be included in the overall theme, but what I really want to talk about is space for. You know; space for being; space for action; space for recognizing yourself in the context of the universe.

Space for can be as nebulous and difficult to grasp as time for, and I think more people worry about the latter with the idea that finding the time for will open up space for…but I’ve never really been able to do it that way. I have to seek out both at the same time or put space for in the priority position in order to get what I need.

Here’s an example: If I go into my backyard after the sun has gone down and the neighborhood is quiet, I can find space for any number of religious or spiritual things. The fact that I’ve gone out to investigate at a time when distractions are minimized means that I also have some time for any number of religious or spiritual things. They may not match up symmetrically – space for a lengthy ritual may not always match up with time for the same ritual, but there’s always something that can be done with the available space and time. Perhaps I shift gears and act in a way that matches both space and time, or I go back to the space when I have the time to complete what I want to do.

(At this point, I feel like I might be writing in circles. There is a point to this, I swear.)

The largest space for you can imagine will not work for you without the right amount of time for. The largest time for you can imagine will not work for you without the right amount of space for. The two concepts are connected and intertwined just as you and I are intertwined with each other, and the tree, and the rock, and my left shoe (especially my left shoe!). We are all Divine, and thus we are all part of each other’s being.

Look up at the night sky, into what we call outer space, and remember that such vastness of space is not possible without vastness of time. Now, look into yourself and remember the things you want to do, and then seek out the space for along with the time for. When those two things are solidly in your pocket, the possibilities are endless.

Quaere Priests

(Thanks to The Phrontistery for help with my Q for this week!)

Quaere Priests.  It’s simple enough to say;
Two words that include complexities of meaning beyond their apparent simplicity
(well, if you ignore the Latin.)

Can there be an answer to the question of priests when there are countless
ways and means and methods?
Can there be a right and a wrong?
Or is it all dressed up in fashionable shades of grey, covered with a fabulous hat?
Or are all the answers correct?

If I turned it around on myself and said,  “Quaere Priests…”

Well.  So.

On the question of priests, I ponder function and form.  What do you do, and how?
What do I do, and how?

I am many things, but they are not all that I am:
I am a tool.  I am an offering.
I am a servant.  I am a slave.
I am a minister.  I am a go-between.
I am a voice crying in the wilderness.
I am a whisper huddled in the darkness, with a single match.

If I am all of these things,
and I am a priest,
is the analogy logical?

On the question of priests…have you an answer?
Need you one, if what you do is act?

Paludal Dilemma – Real World Ethics

I was listening to an episode of the Radiolab podcast this week called “For the Birds”, and was struck by the story they told.   In short (from their website):

“…When the conservationists showed up at Clarice Gibbs’ door and asked her to take down her bird feeders down for the sake of an endangered bird, she said no. Everybody just figured she was a crazy bird lady. But writer Jon Mooallem went to see her and discovered there was much more to this story…”

The more to this story?  Mrs. Gibbs’ husband had severe Alzheimer’s Disease and the only time he was present was when birds were in the yard and at the feeders.  In the midst of her turmoil, Mrs. Gibbs found moments when she could almost forget everything she was going through – moments when her husband came back to her.

I recommend listening to the episode in full before pondering the questions I’m about to ask:

  1. Where is the point at which the needs of many outweigh the needs of an individual?
  2. Does that change when one side is human and one side isn’t?

There are a number of ways that I can look at this particular story, and each one reminds me how situational ethics truly are:

As someone who believes in the conservation of endangered species, especially those who are endangered due to human intervention, I can take the side of Operation Migration.  They have worked so hard for so long to keep whooping cranes alive and thriving.

As someone who lived through a loved one’s descent into dementia, I can take the side of Mrs. Gibbs.  I would’ve given anything to have my grandmother come back from where her mind trapped her – my heartbreak remains with me now, even though she’s gone.

As someone who believes that sensible laws on the books should be upheld, I can wonder why the focus is on Mrs. Gibbs and her husband instead of on the vandals that are senselessly destroying migratory birds.  Bird feeders in a yard do less physical damage to a bird population than people who kill animals for the joy of destruction.

As someone who feeds birds in her own yard, I can wonder whether Mrs. Gibbs uses seed feeders or suet feeders…and also whether anyone’s spoken to her about providing sources of water instead of seed, and providing suet in winter to keep insect-eating birds around.

So much wondering, and in the end, my point-of-view has little bearing on this specific situation…but it speaks to my thought processes in general.  Which way am I inclined to lean, and why?  What could convince me to choose another way?  Am I as open-minded and ready to hear things that contradict my own opinions as I’d like to be?

In Kemeticism, the “right” path is the one that upholds ma’at.  To be true to this concept, I must look at the situations in which I find myself and try to predict the choice that will best serve.  In FlameKeeping, the “right” choice is one that promotes growth and improvement rather than stagnation.  To be true to this  concept, I must apply action in ways that move the Divine forward; I must look at the connections between myself and other parts of the Divine and choose accordingly.  When these pieces are put together, though, the “right” way may not be ethical when seen from anywhere outside my own head…and this is why I continually refer to ethics being situational and not always “right”.

Which brings me back to the questions I asked about this particular story, although I’d prefer to alter them slightly to address the world at large:

  1. Where is the point at which the needs of many outweigh the needs of an individual?
  2. When does that point change?

The Cauldron Cill Brighid Devotional Now Available!

As my readers know, I’m a FlameKeeper of the non-Brighidine variety; however, a Brighidine group of my acquaintance has just released a devotional to Brighid that I think you should check out!

The Cauldron Cill Brighid Devotional is a collection of essays, devotional poetry and photographs in honor of the goddess Brighid by the Flamekeepers of the Cauldron Cill.  It is available on Lulu.com in three formats:

Hardcover Version – with beautiful full-color images: $29.53
Paperback Version – in black and white: $3.79
PDF E-Book – FREE

I highly recommend picking up a copy if you’re in any way involved with Brighid, Brighidine Flamekeeping, or are interested in further exploration.  The people involved in putting this devotional together are intelligent and articulate, and it is well worth a read!

Navigation While Adrift

For Fier and Finn.

********************

“…All in a hot and copper sky,
The bloody Sun, at noon,
‘Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the Moon.

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, no breath, no motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean…” – The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Coleridge, Samuel Taylor.

Even if I weren’t a Coleridge fangirl, I’d admit that the above passage is a perfect description of the doldrums.  In the case of the poem, the description is meant to describe the phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean…but I think it has merit in a religious context as well.  To whit – that feeling that you’ve gotten into a ship and started an epic religious journey…only to stall out due to lack of wind.

I don’t know any religious people – pagan or otherwise – who have not experienced the doldrums at least once.  (If you haven’t, please tell me; I want to know your SECRET.)  Even my aunt who is a Lutheran minister and professor of Ancient Greek professes to go through the doldrums at least once a year.  Sometimes she can see where she wants to be and cannot get there, and sometimes she has no idea where she’s trying to go at all.

My doldrums tend to be in the former category – I know where I need to go but cannot get there either because I don’t want to do what I need to, or I cannot figure out how to do what I need to.  However, I’ve been in the second type of doldrums as well and it is horrible.  Not knowing which way to turn, or which action got you there in the first place, or what to do now is just awful – I end up feeling helpless and hopeless and wanting to throw my hands up and say, “That’s it!  I’m DONE!”  And yet…here I am, on a path, and moving forward.  It’s not fast or furious, but it is progress.   I did manage to escape this last time, and that gives me hope that I’ll be able to do it again in the future when I need to.

So, how did I do it, and do I know anything that might apply to other people?

I can describe the How of this last episode – I sat in the doldrums knowing what I needed to do to get out but not wanting to do it.  I yelled at myself to fucking move already, and didn’t.  I sulked and felt frustrated…and then I decided to take a look at why I didn’t want to do what I needed to do.  I looked at the emotions behind the dread, and found what was really bothering me, and then took tiny steps toward facing it.   I was then so happy with the fact that I was doing something and it felt productive that I moved myself right back onto the path again.

When I’ve been in the doldrums without knowing what to do or where to go to get out, it’s been tougher.  I usually end up taking a look at where I am and where I thought I’d be, and then backtracking to figure out where I took a turn I wasn’t planning.  It’s not pretty, and it  can take forever, but it helps somewhat.  It also helps when I keep in mind that the doldrums are not forever – even if I chose to stay there and not try to get out, eventually someone or something comes along to snap me out of it.

Whether this helps anyone, well, only my readers can judge that.