Tuesday, June 18, 2013

From The Power of Myth

    "Similarly, in mythology -- if you have a mythology in which the metaphor for the mystery is the father, you are going to have a different set of signals from what you would have if the metaphor for the wisdom and mystery of the world were the mother. And they are two perfectly good metaphors. Neither one is a fact. These are metaphors. It is as though the universe were my father. It is as though the universe were my mother. Jesus says, "No one gets to the father but by me." The father that he was talking about was the biblical father. It might be that you can get to the father only by way of Jesus. On the other hand, suppose you are going by way of the mother. There you might prefer Kali, and the hymns to the goddess, and so forth. That is simply another way to get to the mystery of your life. You must understand that each religion is a kind of software that has its own set of signals and will work."

Campbell,  Joseph.  The Power of Myth.  New York: Doubleday, 1988. P. 20. Print.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Articles on leadership

Google does internal data mining to deterring hiring practices and leadership. Good stuff.

On brain teasers in interviews : https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130620142512-35894743-on-gpas-and-brain-teasers-new-insights-from-google-on-recruiting-and-hiring

On leadership: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/13/business/13hire.html

And summary for project oxygen: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=google%20project%20oxygen%20pdf&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CDMQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mybreakthrough.com%2Fclientuploads%2Funrestricted_pdfs%2FHandout%2520Project%2520Oxygen%2520B%26W.pdf%3FPHPSESSID%3D0d955444758395ab0351cbdbfca54214&ei=dGvEUeb3J4f-9QT8ooA4&usg=AFQjCNF_2Il5XXQzeLR_iJoiLweQzG7lSg&sig2=B4HYjp3kiU5lv7KS6xk1dA&bvm=bv.48293060,d.eWU

The Wolf Gift, by Anne Rice

Refreshing and light. A welcome respite which welcomes possibility and weaves its magic without relying on the sensationalism crutch which mainstream writers tend to lean on. Thank you, Anne Rice!

From page 375:

     "And why not? Truth is a risky proposition. It's the nature of mediocre human beings to believe that lies are necessary, that they serve a purpose, that the very scaffold of communal life is supported by lies--."
     Again he stopped.
     He smiled suddenly at Stuart.
     "That's why you want the truth from me, isn't it? Because people have taught you all your short life that lies are as vital to you as the air you breathe and you are hurling full tilt into life dependent upon the truth. "
     "Yes," said Stuart gravely. "That's it, exactly." He hesitated, then said, "I'm a gay boy. I've been taught ever since I can remember that there were excellent reasons for me lie about it to everybody I knew."

Recommended Reading: Dreaming the Dark by Starhawk

Dreaming the Dark: Magic, Sex and Politics
I just completed my first read of Dreaming the Dark: Magic, Sex, and Politics by Starhawk. It's one of those books I think I'll be reading and re-reading for years to come! 

"To reshape the very principle of power upon which our culture is based, we must shake up all the old divisions.  The comfortable separations no longer work.  The questions are broader than the terms religious or political imply; they are questions of complex connections.  For though we are told that such issues are separate: that rape is an issue separate from nuclear war, that a woman's struggle for equal pay is not related to a black teenager's struggle to find a job or the struggle to prevent the export of a nuclear reactor to a site on a web of earthquake faults near active volcanoes in the Philippines, all these realities are shaped by the consciousness that shapes our power relationships.  Those relationships in turn shape our economic and social systems; our technology; our science; our religions; our views of women and men; our views of races and cultures that differ from our own; our sexuality; our Gods and our wars;  They are presently shaping the destruction of the world.

"I call this consciousness estrangement because its essence is that we do not see ourselves as part of the world.  We are strangers to nature, to human beings, to parts of ourselves.  We see the world as made up of separate, isolated, nonliving parts that have no inherent value. (They are not even dead -- because death implies life.) Among things inherently separate and lifeless, the only power relationships possible are those of manipulation and domination." (Starhawk, 5)

Starhawk.  Dreaming the Dark. Boston: Beacon Press, 1982. Print.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Stand

I just finished The Stand by Stephen King.  I've read it, oh, I dunno, a half dozen times.  It weighs in at over 700 pages or so and every time I'm through it I'm glad to have read it.

I'm taking a course in creative writing right now.  The professor isn't all that interested in "genre" fiction, preferring "literary" fiction instead.  So, there's a set of guidelines about what we turn in and how they should be shaped (more precisely, how they shouldn't be shaped: Not genre, not cliche, not formulaic, not stereotypical, on earth, with human characters.)

So, I've been exploring the spaces in between these things.  Some of the sample writings I submitted were surreptitiously themed (the character's dead, he just doesn't know it yet; this one thinks he can predict the future using mathematics and a sliderule, stuff like that).

I'm going to go ahead and say that Stephen King is literary fiction.  Or maybe he's not and I just don't like literary fiction that much.  Or maybe, it just doesn't matter. A good story's a good story.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Dedication of intent

Goddess with us, Goddess within.
God with us, God within.

I stand before you O Great and Ancient Ones,
Hands uplifted, seeking refuge from the storm.
I have called You by many names, and by none.
In my belief and disbelief, my resolve remains,

You are the creative force,
You are the organizer,
You are the destroyer.

I heed your call, and dedicate myself to good.
I will know myself.
I will cultivate mindfulness.
I will respect my path and the path of others.
I will cultivate wonder
and curiosity
and generosity
and compassion.

In action and stillness:
May I find peace in sharing it.
May I find fullness in holding the lamp
for myself and for others,
remembering that I follow the path of those before me,
remembering that I light the path for those who follow.

This circle is the wheel of life, always waxing, always waning.
God with us, God within.
Goddess with us, Goddess within.

In the name of the Mother, Gaia, blessed be Her Name.

Please feel free to copy this, publish it, modify it, do with it what you would like, as long as those whom you share it with have the same freedom.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sonoran Desert Wheel of the Year: Square Peg Round Hole!

One thing that most strongly calls to me from the Earth-based religions is their profound adaptability.  There is such a strong anti-dogmatism present at the heart of the Goddess-based eco-spirituality, which borders on anarchy and bedlam at times.  Many who have migrated from other, less flexible, spiritual paths feel ‘at home’ in the Pagan practices because there is a deep sense of ownership of the spirituality, an opportunity to make it one’s own, a reflection of our mind, body and spirit.

Yet, as paths tend to do, the more they are travelled, the more well worn they become.  Those well worn paths are then paved, and eventually even may become highways.  And sometimes, often at great expense, those highways become the ‘only way’.  It happens!

One such example is the Wheel of the Year.  The traditional Wheel of the Year is derived from a combination of astronomical, agricultural and traditional practices of Western Europe.  An excellent history is described at AmericanPaganism.com (* Links and references follow this article).

One day I was planning my Samhain ritual and was thinking deeply about harvest.  I was clearing out the straggling weeds from my garden getting ready to plant my Winter crops.  (You can see the Planting Calendar for the Sonoran Desert in the links below).  Although I was getting ready to plant, I was still trying to ‘make it fit’ the classic harvest-festival mold by trying to generate some pseudo-harvest activity in my life to celebrate according to the Eurocentric calendar. 

I continued puzzling about this and decided to ask the local community how they’ve responded to this topic.

Off I go to a few local Pagan groups and individuals at meet-ups and Pagan pride to pose the question “How have you adapted the Wheel of the Year to meet our desert climates?”  Their answers first surprised me, and then followed a great loss as I realized that many people, in essence haven’t.  It just didn’t make sense.  After all, this is supposed to be an Earth-based religion, right? Isn’t it our responsibility to adapt it to our needs?

I would often get a furled brow and a squinting eye of suspicion to which I would clarify.  “Take the fertility rituals, for example… Beltane really isn’t a time for planting for me.  I planted my tomatoes back in February!  And the Summer Solstice, well my basil and dill made it through the heat but the rest was in the compost pile already! Fall is really less about harvest and ore about getting ready to plant my second crop for a good Winter harvest. The Winter Solstice provided me with some tasty turnips and beautiful beets, but the rest of my garden was positively thriving by then.  I had fresh herbs all Winter, and let’s not forget delicious oranges. And, I stay indoors more in the dry-Summer (they’re pretty hot) and am outside more in the Winter! There’s something in bloom every day of the year!  It just doesn’t match.  What do you do about that?”

Most people responded that the wheel of the year “is what it is.” They indicated they make do with it as it was handed down to them and celebrate the sabbats as they were taught: Beltane is for sowing, Samhain for harvest, and so on. They used words like traditionalist, old fashioned, Celtic, and old school to describe their celebrations.  In other words, most practitioners have little no adaptations.  Many drew strongly from European traditions and felt that they were honoring their ancestors and motherlands by maintaining those traditions.

A few ignored the agricultural ties completely and just focused on the astronomical aspects of the wheel, the solstices and equinoxes, and their esoteric meaning.  This indicates a modest adaptation.

More than a few people ignored the question altogether and told me how to ‘force’ vegetables and herbs to grow against the seasons.  I also got some good tips on how to make tomatoes grow, what types of fertilizer to use, and a lecture or two on composting and ladybugs.  When pressed to answer the original question, they typically deferred to the no adaptation school.  (Don’t even get me started about what I heard when I asked if eating was a spiritual issue.)

In fact, of all the people (several dozen) I’ve asked, only a handful actually drew from local seasonal changes and augmented the wheel of the year in such a way as to make it apply to us.  And fewer still checked out the local native tribal practices to see how they perceived the seasonal year. Dia de los Muertos, came up often, but almost unanimously October harvest did too.

Well, I sat on this for a while. Immutable traditions are so frighteningly close to dogma.

I realized that there was something I could do! Research it and report back on what I’ve found.  And what I’ve found is pretty amazing. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

On the web, I found only one article, authored by Shawn Finn (published in Sage Woman magazine, issue # 76 entitled “Sonoran Seasons”).  I highly recommend to anyone interested in this topic.  In it, she describes the rhythm and flow of nature in the desert and some of her reflections on becoming acclimated to its cycles. 

The traditional wheel of the year goes like this: Yule (Winter Solstice, 20-23 December), Imbolc (2 Feb), Ostara (Spring Equinox, 19-22 March), Beltane (1 May), MidSummer (Summer Solstice, 19-23 Jun), Lughnasadh (1 Aug), Mabon (Fall Equinox, 21-24 September), Samhain (All-Hallows Eve, 31 October; All-Hallows, 1 November).  The Equinoxes and Solstices  (also called the Quarters) mark the 4 traditional seasons.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum lists five seasons for our climate: Winter (December through early February), Spring (Late February through April), ForeSummer Drought (or Dry-Summer, May-June),  Summer Monsoon (July to Early September),  and Fall (September to November). 

There still is a bit of a lineup as you may notice. However, there’s a few other things to consider.   There’s really no ‘dark’ and ‘light’ half of the year.  It’s sunny 85% of the time. 

A great majority of my vegetables grow in the traditional ‘dark half of the year’.  Because the Fall, Winter and Spring are so seasonable here, it’s also when the parks and mountain trails fill up with people hiking, camping and enjoying outdoors life. 

And during the traditional ‘light half of the year’, the Sun has a few months when it is most Brutal, it’s way over 100 and a lot of people just try to keep cool, although you’ll see early-morning joggers, and late-evening promenades, and families still enjoying a good park visit. If I were to call a season of hibernation – it’d probably be the dry Summer. I tend to put on a few pounds, just about the same way I used to in Winter when I lived in the Midwest.  And Summer is certainly not about lush anything: the desert seems to pull back its life and go into a deep slumber throughout the unforgiving dry Summer.

The Tohono O’odham Nation has 12 seasons, each corresponding with the moons:  January, No More Fat Moon; February, Gray Moon; March, Green Moon; April, Yellow Moon; May, Painful Moon; June, Saguaro Moon; July, Rainy Moon; August, Short Planting Moon; September, Dry Grass Moon; October, Small Rains Moon; November, Pleasant Cold Moon; December, Big Cold Moon.

So, there’s stuff out there. There are several tribes native to this area that we can access for insight. 

I want to be clear that I’m in no way suggesting that we abandon the wheel of the year.  It’s symbolism has become one of the binding elements of Pagan practice.  However, I do believe that the Goddess manifests herself to us in a very uniquely South West Desert way.  People in the Southern Hemisphere have a calendar opposite that of the Northern Hemisphere. (Their Beltane is in October; Samhain is in May).  Why not us?

Although I still recognize the thinning of the veil at Samhain, that time to me is a time of sowing, not harvest.  With the spirits of those who have come before me at my side I begin planting the seeds, which will nourish me in the months to come. Winter, once a time of quiet reflection is now the time of action and harvest.  First frost is really when the hiking is best.  And Beltane in some ways is the last hurrah before the long and hot slumber of the desert, when things grow quiet at midday, not because of the lack of light, but because of the overabundance of it.  And Summer the rest in between, when I get caught up on all my reading.  Monsoon is a great cleansing time, to wash and be washed. And the wheel turns, once again.

Useful links and references

American Paganism.com is a very detailed website with plenty of references  http://americanPaganism.com (website is offline) and the history of the wheel of the year is at http://www.americanPaganism.com/historyofthewheel.htm (website is offline)

Arizonensis http://www.arizonensis.org  lists the 12 names of the Tohono O’odham months at http://www.arizonensis.org/news/sonorandesertedition/almanac.html

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum http://www.desertmuseum.org/ has a Sonoran Desert Natural Events Calendar here: http://www.desertmuseum.org/books/nhsd_Winter.php

National Ocanic and Atmospheric Administration http://NOAA.gov has Comparative Climate  data at http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/ccd-data/pctpos11.txt

Sage Woman Magazine http://www.sagewoman.com/ Issue # 76, p 12. Shawn Finn writes an article called “Sonoran Seasons”

Tohono O’odham Nation website is at http://www.tonation-nsn.gov/

The Urban farm http://www.urbanfarm.org/ has an amazing planting calendar for the Sonoran Desert.  http://www.urbanfarm.org/Planting_Calendar.pdf