Thursday, October 29, 2009

The biggest deal of all for Pagans

Other people have written about interesting things. Lately, I feel like I've been more inclined to write blog entries in everyone else's comment spaces instead of in my own space. My blog has been in a holding pattern for a couple weeks, with no updates, but that's because my life has been about the same way. That's all right. L'Ailee and I have learned not to search too hard for excitement, because it comes to us eventually. Anyway, L'Ailee's a bit too tired for excitement, poor baby, because she's still teaching more classes than usual at her gym.

I did a lot-lot of furniture refinishing in addition to my regular work. It amuses me how sometimes people don't understand that some canny country grandfather only "built a chair by hand" in the sense that he assembled it from a kit himself. I also have two interior decorating jobs coming up after Samhain, both turning a second bedroom into a nursery. I've done a lot of kids' rooms for some reason, but that's fine. I like to put together something that fits the kid and their current stage of life, but with an eye for their future. That means a happy but restful color scheme, nothing cheaply built, surfaces that can be easily cleaned, keeping the cartoon characters to a minimum, and lots of storage. I want to give their minds room to grow.

There is movement around us. Samhain's coming up. My plane leaves for Florida late Friday afternoon, and I have a half-day off. I sometimes have to remember that not everyone knows that October 31st is Samhain as well as Halloween, or that they think Samhain's an evil thing. I've lately had non-Pagans tell me that I make it sound "so normal." Since I've been Pagan for 13 years, I suppose it is becoming normal to me. Then again, we do things like put our departed loved ones' names on cupcakes for offerings to them. It smells really striking when we burn those and a rose for each of them in the first bonfire we set, sure, but I think some non-Pagans would find that disappointing. Maybe if I tell them the cupcakes are usually devil's food...

I can't wait to go back to Florida and celebrate this weekend. It is a new year, the day the media acknowledges our existence, a time for communing with our ancestors and departed loved ones, a powerful time for magick, and the third of the three harvest festivals. It is, in short, a very big deal. My Christian work husband is teasing me, telling me that it must obviously be the biggest deal of all for Pagans, because I'll be missing two Penguins games *and* most of Talladega's autumn race. Talladega was rather sadistically scheduled this year--it used to be the far more missable Atlanta track around Samhain. The Pittsburgh Penguins seem to have hit every single autumn, winter, and spring Sabbat in their scheduling as well, and I just know that there will be a playoff game on Beltaine (May 1st).

Anyway. About 10 years ago, I launched a coven with a few people who I'd known in mundane ways, including my best friend Yemaya O'Reilly. We celebrated one Lughnasadh (first harvest, August 1st) together, and decided to keep coming back. People kept getting interested, and we capped the membership at 13. It's supposedly a traditional number, which we got from Wicca 101 authors who probably gleaned them from medieval anti-Witch propaganda, but we also thought it was a good and manageable size for a group.

There are a few original members left, but several of us have moved on. Some have started other covens. A couple became Christians, one became a Muslim, and one became an atheist. But there are quite a few people who return "home" to this coven for Samhain, including Yemaya and I. Maybe it's because we are a family of choice, and it's a fantastic thing to see each other. How wonderful it is to see how the children are growing up and coo over the new babies and shake hands with boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, and new coven members. L'Ailee asked me twice if I felt left out because she isn't going. I do a little, but I'm not going to push it. I'm not the only one with a non-Pagan spouse staying home, either.

We often do works for upcoming elections on Samhain, when we agree. (We don't always, and I'm glad of that.) I usually think it's no coincidence that Election Days closely follow Samhain. After all, they can really change things. I don't think there will be much of a change in NYC. After Tuesday night's debate, where William "Not Bloomberg" Thompson, Jr. did not exactly build his own case, it looks very much like we're stuck with Big Daddy Bloomberg for another term. And over in Queens, we have a Pagan Republican candidate for City Council, Dan Halloran! I wouldn't vote for him, but he's setting a precedent, and I'm grateful for that. I like seeing the Republican Party opening up to faiths besides conservative Christianity, too.

There are some interesting races for LGBT people nationwide. It's very upsetting, because in the cases of Maine's Question 1 (whether same-sex marriage should be legal, as voted on by their state legislature) and Washington's Referendum 71 (whether same-sex couples should have domestic partnership rights), LGBT people stand to have their rights rolled back! I say this so much, but there is a reason why civil rights gains for minorities don't happen as a result of a majority vote.

I hope this doesn't sound whiny, but I cry when I think of people who work so hard, actually devote their lives, to making lives like mine and L'Ailee's more difficult. During the Samhain ritual, we traditionally call out and write down the things that we want to leave behind in the old year, and throw the papers into the bonfire. We have written down everything from "cancer" to "40 pounds" to, in the case of a 5-year-old boy who needed his mother's help, "being picked on at the bus stop." For me, one of them will be the power that professional homophobes have over LGBT lives. I can't change their minds, and we consider it unethical to work for someone to completely lose their livelihood, but we can try breaking their power to hurt. Maybe, you know, they can simply get tired of saying the meanest things they think of and try something else. Flipping burgers would be more useful--that at least kind of nourishes people.

I won't give them any more thought than they deserve today, though. The Penguins won decisively last night over the Montreal Canadiens, 6-1, including a hat trick by Sidney Crosby, and of course L'Ailee and I enjoyed the hell out of that. The New York Islanders and Phoenix Coyotes, which have my permission to beat non-Penguin teams this year, both did. Tomorrow night, I get to have dinner with friends I haven't seen since last year. There will be an amazing woman waiting for me at the airport on Sunday evening. That may scare some people, but I call it pretty damned good.

Links, if you haven't read enough:

If you can't get a job or a loan, cheer up--the recession's over on paper!

I think this is kind of appropriate for Samhain, too. Starting on October 31st, you can vote on a name for the San Diego Zoo's new panda boy!

A history of the intersections between vampires and bisexuality.

Yahoo! killed Geocities and a ton of really awful webpages this Monday, including my own Sinead O'Connor shrine and list of talisman "recipes". This is a decent tribute to Geocities.

Will swine flu or concussions take down more NHL players this season?

Finally, if you want to make some sugar skulls and chocolate coffins, here are some good recipes.


Barbara(aka Layla) said...

I'm sorry you have to put up with so much judgment, misunderstanding and ignorance. :(

I had never heard of Samhain until you mentioned it today. I do have a couple of Pagan friends but they've never mentioned it.

I hope L'Ailee's schedule calms down soon. Dang, she must be in great shape.

I checked out the links and can't wait for that panda to get big enough to go see him in person!

DaisyDeadhead said...

Happy Samhain, or whatever the appropriate word is! (Thoughtful Samhain? Meditative Samhain?)

Ange said...

In the spirit of giving less thought to a-holes, I had no idea you were so handy with interior design and furniture refinishing!
Man, I wish we lived closer together.
Tom has been on fire with woodworking this fall. I showed him a wardrobe I liked (okay, in the Pottery Barn catalog), because Jack's room doesn't have a closet, so I thought that would be a great solution, and the next thing I knew, he built a wardrobe!
Now he's building a bed frame for Pickles. Using purple wood. Sketches all over the house.

There's something in the air, now.
I can't stand every room.
I really need help figuring out how to put up some photos--and what types of frames to use. Any suggestions? I've got a long hallway with bare pale yellow walls on either side, and thousands of pictures over the last couple of years that have never made it to print.
Something about tending the house makes those uncomfortable feelings outside of the house seem controllable.

And now MY comment has become a blog post.
I'm with ya.
That's another issue. Sitting down to blog and just not having it up there to peck out.

Good seeing ya today, though.

Zan said...

" Maybe if I tell them the cupcakes are usually devil's food..."

HA! That's genuis :)

Dw3t-Hthr said...

I get bemused by the Yearly Pagan News Story thing. Pagan I may be, but Department Of Still Not My Holiday...