Posted by Heather Greene

MEXICO CITY – Nearly a week since a magnitude 7.1 earthquake hit Mexico City, there are still people missing amid rubble of the reported 3,848 damaged buildings, 38 collapsed. Rescue parties desperately search for anyone buried alive, as time and hope runs out. The death toll reportedly stands at 325.

Wild Hunt columnist Jaime Gironés lives in Mexico City and was home when the quake hit. He said, “I was in my kitchen when everything started shaking like a blender, seconds later I heard my husband entering the house and screaming my name, we left the house and joined the crowded and chaos in the street.”

He added, “Walking around my neighborhood, Roma, or around the close ones like Condesa or Del Valle you can see both dramatic and inspiring scenes: closed streets with quite a few buildings damaged and sidewalks covered by broken glass and stones, parks used as collection centers, exhausted brigade workers walking by, ambulances responding everywhere, cyclists delivering supplies to shelters and people giving water and food to workers and to people that are waiting their turn to help.”

[Spanish Translation: Estaba en mi cocina cuando todo empezó a sacudirse como una licuadora, segundos después escuché a mi esposo entrar a la casa y a gritar mi nombre, salimos de la casa y nos unimos a la caótica calle llena de gente. Caminando por mi colonia, Roma, o por las cercanas como Condesa o Del Valle se ven escenas tanto dramáticas como inspiradoras: calles cerradas con bastantes edificios dañados y banquetas cubiertas de vidrios y piedras, parques utilizados como centros de acopio, brigadistas agotados caminando, ambulancias respondiendo por todos lados, ciclistas llevando víveres a albergues y personas dando agua y comida a trabajadores y a la gente esperando su turno para ayudar.]

As he noted, Día del Orgullo Pagano 2017 (Mexico City Pagan Pride Day 2017), which was originally scheduled for Sept. 24, has been postponed to Oct. 1.

[Spanish Translation: El Día del Orgullo Pagano 2017 iba ser el domingo 24 de septiembre, fue cambiado al domingo 1 de octubre.]

Laura Gonzalez, blogger and radio show host for Pagans Tonight Radio Network, has helped launch a fundraising campaign to help the people of Mexico City in coordination with Pagan groups in the city. The organizers have created a video explaining their efforts to assist.

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Trout Lake, Wash. — Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF) has appointed member Stacey Matthews to the position of human service specialist. According to ADF archdruid Rev. Jean Pagano, this is “another piece that ADF is putting in place to ensure that our members are protected against sexual offenders.”

Pagano states, “The human service specialist will be charged with important duties in regard to ensuring that convicted sexual predators will hold no position of leadership within our organization. Their duties include creating, implementing, and enforcing limited access agreements, and they will report violations to the risk assessment committee. We are excited to bring Stacey on board with her wealth of training and experience.”

Matthews has worked as a service agent with the Canadian Department of Veteran Affairs, and as a counselor with both the Military Family Resource Centre and the Peel Children’s Centre. She has degrees in social work, with specialized training in behavior therapy for those with post-traumatic stress disorder, and family therapy.

*   *   *

FORT HOOD, Texas –This weekend, current and former members of the Fort Hood Open Circle joined together to celebrate 20 years of Pagan worship at the military base. According to Distinctive Religious Group Leader Michele Morris, who’s been in charge since Feb., 2009, it’s the oldest military Pagan group in existence.

The autumnal equinox is traditionally when participants and guests come together for a weekend of camping and celebration, which Morris said requires patience and understanding on both sides. Members of the military have adapted to activities which are a bit unusual for the location, but Morris has had to put together a detailed list of what one cannot bring onto a base. For example, pet snakes are forbidden, and visitors are directed to make other arrangements for their care.

Morris believes that the relationship between base officials and Pagans is a positive one. “We did a sumbel last year, and you have to earn ‘street cred’ in the garrison to say we’re having a drinking ritual, and it’s actually church!” Due to the transient nature of the Pagan population, the types of rituals and classes offered are always being adapted to address the needs of participants.

Over 100 people were expected for this year’s anniversary celebration, among them Rev. Selena Fox, who represented Circle Sanctuary, the religious organization which sponsors the open circle on the base.

In other news

  • Author and Solar Cross Temple founder T. Thorne Coyle was in attendance at the 75th world science fiction convention in Helsinki, Finland. Coyle presented on several panels, including one concerning the intersections of religion and science fiction, where she was able to offer a unique religious voice and perspective. Coyle’s work can be followed through her Patreon account, website, and through social media.
  • Florida has a new festival group, the Trees of Avalon Gathering, which will be sponsoring two new festivals a year. Based in Hudson, the group will be hosting an upcoming Samhain festival Nov. 2-5 called the “Flames of the Ancestors Festival.” Organizers invite people to participate in a “Viking ritual hosted by Hrafnstong, to enjoy a true bardic circle around the fire with Mama Gina, and to watch the amazing fire performers, Lady Darjuxena /Mad Flames Fire team up with Fahrenheit 360.”
  • One of the biggest Pagan festivals in the U.K. will be held Oct.7: Witchfest International. The event is held in Brighton and is billed as the largest Witchcraft festival in the world. Sponsored by the Children of Artemis, Witchfest 2017 will begin with a “pre-event gig” Oct. 6 and then continue Oct. 7 with entertainment, lectures, and workshops.
  • Red Wheel/Weiser has re-released the book written by Lon Milo DuQuette titled Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot. Originally published in 2003, this popular book has been updated to include a “new introduction that provides information on the unicursal hexagram cards included with the deck but never explained.”

18 SEPT - 24 SEPT

Sep. 25th, 2017 02:19 am[syndicated profile] femslash_today_feed

Posted by kidmarathon

{American Gods}
{drabble}
- You Make Me Want to Sing by punk4life1315 -Esther/Media .

{American Horror Story}
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- 12 Drabbles by madampresident - .

{DC Universe}
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- A Brief Visit to Haddenfieldchilly_flameAndy/Miranda **Off LJ Links**
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{Doctor Who}
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{Modern Family}
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- The Girl At The Trade Show by madampresident -Claire/Gloria .

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{Shadowhunters}
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- ecology and pathology by doctorkaitlyn -Isabelle/Maia .
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{Xena}
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Posted by Nathan Hall

TWH — The end of August dealt a bit of a setback to Pagan music fans when festival organizer David Banach published a series of posts on the CalderaFest Facebook page revealing that the concert was going to be postponed. Fewer than expected ticket sales were the primary cause for the upheaval, as The Wild Hunt reported earlier this month.

The reaction among folks who were planning to attend was mixed.

One commenter on those public posts said, “I’d like to know about the developments about refunds… my group spent $1000 and we’d like our money back. Many of us made special arrangements with work and family to be there. It is WRONG to keep our money if this festival is going to be rescheduled!”

Others pledged their support, offering to volunteer or to do whatever was necessary so that the festival could move ahead.

“What ever we can do to help please let me know, this is such a special event and it must happen,” a commenter said.

The issue brought up most frequently on the festival’s page are inquiries about refunds and people taking exception with the event being postponed rather than scheduled as a new event.

Bands that were scheduled to perform were generally upbeat about the postponement and voiced their support for Banach.

Mannun, bassist and vocalist for Witch’s Mark, said that he was, “Bummed.”

He added, “But I understand, if not enough people are gonna be there to make it worth while then why do it. Try again at a later date when things can possibly be promoted better and maybe more can commit.”

Solo performer Brian Henke also expressed disappointment that it won’t be happening this year, but he also said that, as someone who has experienced concert and festival promotion, he knows about the pitfalls.

“I don’t think most people have any idea of the amount of hard work, attention to detail and courage it takes to do a festival of this size,” Henke said.

There are a lot of variables that make organizing extremely complicated and difficult, he added.

“I have nothing but respect and sympathy for the folks that put this amazing fest together and am very looking forward to being at Caldera 2019!”

Spiral Dance had built CalderaFest into their 2017 tour plans, when they travelled from Australia to the UK, where they’re currently performing before flying to the southeast United States to wrap up their northern hemisphere excursion.

Singer Adrienne Piggott didn’t seem to be too shaken by the change, saying, “We’ve got some house concerts as well as Phoenix Phyre Festival so we’re looking to launching our new CD there. If Caldera happens in 2019 and we can be there, we will!”

What follows is a Q&A with festival organizer David Banach. There appears to be some unresolved issues that he still must face if he wants to rebuild the trust of both those who currently hold tickets and those who may attend in 2019.

Banach is admirably unflappable in his belief in the festival, his love of the bands and the music that they create. It is difficult not to get caught up in his enthusiasm.

Green Album Performers at CalderaFest 2016 [M. Tejeda-Moreno]

However, for the people who are sitting on tickets and are feeling like an event in 2019 is not what they payed for, it will take more than a love of the music to win them back. Banach may need to do some soul-searching, as well as reaching out to ticket holders to come up with creative solutions and compromises.

While he appears to sincerely want to do right by people, he still needs to dig in and figure out how best to make that happen.

TWH: First up, if you can catch me up on what’s happened so far. On August 31 you put up the original post to the Facebook page announcing that the festival would be postponed. What’s happened since then?

David Banach: Mostly, I have been fielding lots of questions and doing my best to deal with the backlash. Mostly, the response has been fairly positive, but there have been some negative comments. I’m doing my best to ignore the negativity and focus on making the 2019 event truly legendary.

TWH: How many folks do you have working on the festival, I think I saw mention that there are two of you right now?

Banach: CalderaFest is myself and my business partner at the financial core. I have two other staff members from 2016 and then we added five other staff members for this year. We are all volunteers in this. We haven’t made a dime. In fact, my business partner and I lost a small fortune putting on 2016. It’s a project we really believe can be successful eventually. We might even make that money back someday.

TWH: Can you say who your business partner is? And do you feel like a larger pool of volunteer help could have helped pull the event off this year or was it solely a funding issue?

Banach: My partner is Mary D. She was in charge of the vendors in 2016. She’s an awesome lady and a good friend. I never could have pulled it off without her last time.

The main issue for 2017 was lack of ticket sales. Putting on this festival is very expensive. When we announced the postponement, we had about a third of the tickets we needed to break even. The other factor was volunteers. We need about 90 to make it happen. At the end of August we had 12. The current plan is that volunteers get a severely reduced rate for working three 6 hour shifts during the festival. I’m currently working on a plan to be able to boost volunteer numbers for 2019 by offering a lower rate in exchange for working one shift as well. I want to give people lots of choices to find the plan that works best for them.

TWH: That’s awesome, I was really sorry I couldn’t make it to the first ‘fest. Are you concerned that you may get into a position where you have enough volunteers but the reduced rate still doesn’t hit the break even point.

Banach: There’s always that concern. I’m also working on alternative ways to fund the next CalderaFest as well. We will be selling some fairly inexpensive sponsorship programs that include advertising on our websites as well as ad banners on the stage and on the festival grounds. Corporate sponsorship would be great, but just like we focus on independent Pagan musicians, I’d like to be able to get independent Pagan businesses, media outlets, and organizations, including other festivals, to sponsor with us so we can help each other grow and be successful.

TWH: Have you worked with any fundraising pros to help you create a plan?

Banach: It’s not something we’ve done in the past, but I will be looking into getting some help in that area.

TWH: You mentioned that you chose the new date because of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. Since that’s about a year and a half after the original planned date, why not aim for some time in 2018?

Banach: That wasn’t the only reason, but I mentioned it to build some excitement for 2019. The other factors involved are simply the amount of time needed for everyone involved to make arrangements to be there. There’s the guests that buy tickets, of course, but also musicians, vendors, and volunteers. Plus we have to work with the venue for its availability and one of our key staff members will be unable to do it in 2018 for health reasons. The best reasonable time we could find was Memorial Day 2019. If we had postponed only a week, or a month, or even a few months, most people wouldn’t be able to make their plans by then. We thought this was the best plan that was the most fair for the most people.

TWH: Since you mentioned musicians, do you have a list that have committed to the new festival date? Are there any lineup changes?

Banach: I really don’t have much info on that yet. Most have said they want to come back, but actual details for 2019 aren’t even tentative yet. The plan is to do a Woodstock thing, so yes, the actual schedule will change a bit. The lineup is yet to be determined.

TWH: Have you heard anything from the bands that were booked for this year? Any gripes? I know Spiral Dance was slated to perform, were they understanding?

Banach: All the musicians were very understanding and wonderful. Most knew that things like this happen, some were very disappointed, one even cried. I love them all like family that I still geek out on when I see them. They are really awesome people.

TWH: People are understandably upset about the changes, are you offering refunds to those who can’t make the new date?

Banach: I want to do what is right. If I had the ability to refund everyone, I would. I have given the people who have tickets several choices and they have been very understanding of the situation. I will do everything I can do for them. I wish I could do it all.

TWH: What are the options that you’re giving them?

Banach: We would really like them to keep their ticket for 2019. I’m brainstorming ideas to benefit those that do keep their tickets. They can also sell their tickets or we can sell the tickets for them via brokerage. When tickets go on sale for 2019, any brokered tickets will be sold first. The last option is of course refunds. I understand that this may be the only option for some. I will do my best to take care of all of the people with tickets.

TWH: Have you had anyone threaten to sue or anything like that?

Banach: There has been some talk about it on Facebook, but fortunately not. I hope people realize that we’re not a giant corporation with unlimited resources. We are just regular people that wanted to make something wonderful happen. I’m doing my best to satisfy everyone.

TWH: Do you feel like you’ll be able to regain the trust of fans/vendors/bands? What would you say to people who are feeling uneasy about investing money for the 2019 event?

Banach: I know this isn’t the first event to be postponed, and hopefully everyone will know that this project is our passion. It’s what we gave every free moment of our time and our life savings to. We want Nothing more than for CalderaFest to return better than ever. I’m asking them to believe in CalderaFest and us. If they need a second opinion, ask those who were there in 2016, fans, and musicians. It was real magick for those few days. We can, and will, do it again. We need everyone’s support to make magick again.

TWH: Thank you so much for your candor, Dave. I appreciate your willingness to share. Is there anything else you want to add that I haven’t touched on?

Banach: I would like to say thank you to everyone who has supported this project in the past and we look forward to bringing CalderaFest to you in the future. If anyone is willing to help us make it a success, please feel free to contact me.

Posted by Karl E. H. Seigfried

The fall equinox is celebrated in many different ways by practitioners of Ásatrú and Heathenry. Those who practice modern forms of polytheistic religions rooted in Northern Europe have revived, reconstructed, and reimagined a variety of practices and rituals to mark the turning of the year from summer to autumn.

Haustblót (autumn sacrifice) is mentioned by name in the saga of the Icelandic warrior-poet Egill Skallagrímsson. The Ynglinga Saga of Snorri Sturluson tells of laws established by the god Odin, including the timing of the main annual sacrifices:

Þá skyldi blóta í móti vetri til árs, en at miðjum vetri blóta til gróðrar, hit þriðja at sumri, þat var sigrblót.

There should be sacrifice toward winter for a good year, and in the middle of winter sacrifice for a good crop, a third in summer, that was victory sacrifice.

If “toward winter” can be interpreted to mean “in the fall,” the first rite mentioned may be the Haustblót of Egill’s Saga. However, there is more documentation for the historical celebration of the main autumn ritual not on the equinox itself, but approximately a month later.

“The Harvesters” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1565) [public domain].

The modern Icelandic Ásatrúarfélagið (Ásatrú Fellowship) celebrates Veturnáttablót (winter nights blót) in the second half of October, when members of the organization thank the god Freyr for his autumn gifts and ask the deities for a good winter. The U.S.-based Troth also marks Winter Nights in its ritual calendar.

The Heathen holiday celebrated on the equinox is today variously known as Haustblót, Harvest Blót, Winter Finding, or another related term. As with so much of modern Heathenry, the specifics of historical practice are up for debate. Regardless of historicity, the late-September celebration can be deeply meaningful for those who include it in their ritual practice.

As in my column “Nine Heathens Speak of Spring,” which centered on celebrations of the spring equinox, I asked Heathens from a variety of locations to tell me what the autumn holiday means to them personally and how they and their community celebrate it. There is a wonderful diversity in the answers they gave.

I would like to thank all who took time out of their busy schedules to articulate their relationship to this time of the year. I hope you enjoy reading their responses as much as I did.

Lonnie Scott (Illinois, USA)

The autumn equinox rolls around again. This signals the harvest on the way. The cycle of reaping what you sow can be seen in the land all around. The leaves turn and fall. The air grows crisp and colder. In my area, gardens are yielding their final gifts. Corn and beans are about to be harvested. Pumpkin patches are opening. The smell of baked pumpkin goods fills the cool air. Winter is ahead, along with deepening cold and growing darkness.

We honor the nature spirits in group ritual. It’s a good time to show gratitude for the fruits of the earth. This year we honored the Sangamon River in Central Illinois as a specific spirit and ally. Our waterways are the very arteries of the earth, and their gifts to our lives are boundless. We use our waterways for life-giving water, fishing, and even play. It’s also our waterways that suffer terrible pollution, much of which comes from chemicals used in farming and industry. Honoring the river is a good reminder that we need to honor all our land and waterways throughout the year, recognize our own contribution to their condition, and reinforce our duty to be good stewards. I personally spend time reflecting on the rune jera in meditation during the equinox. The seasons have turned, and now I can look back on what I’ve grown in my own life.

I was prepared to say more about my spiritual practice. Then, on Sept. 20 at 11:33 am, a 14-year-old young man walked into my local high school’s cafeteria with a gun and opened fire a few feet from my daughter. Thankfully, a fast-acting teacher named Angela McQueen subdued the shooter before any fatalities happened. One student was injured. Now the hard questions arise about parenting and bullies. Have I raised my kids well enough to be safe and act fast? Have I taught them proper values to respect life and people around them? Have I convinced them to be a voice for those being bullied? Has the system somehow failed the kid who brought a gun to school? That event did not just suddenly happen. Seeds were planted and nourished through a series of unfortunate and painful events. The harvest came in the form of enraged violence in the one place he and other students are supposed to be safe.

This year, and every upcoming year, I will raise a horn to Angela McQueen for her heroic and selfless actions. I’ll continue to meditate and reflect on what I’ve contributed to my community through word and deed. I’ll honor the land, the water, and all the nature spirits with gratitude, offerings, and support to organizations working to protect them. Most importantly, I urge everyone to allow the autumn equinox to inspire reflection on what you’re experiencing and how you contributed to it becoming part of your life.

Destiny Ballard [courtesy].

Destiny Ballard (Oklahoma, USA)

The autumnal equinox is just that for our kindred. Saying that, we do not flinch at it being designated as either Mabon or Winter Finding. We clearly are not reconstructionist. We also clearly do not occupy Northern Europe, ancient or modern. We are influenced by, not dictated to, when it comes to the available lore, history, and archeological remnants of pre-Christian Northern Europe.

We live in a very rural portion of northeast Oklahoma where agricultural harvest is not symbolic and Native Americans celebrate the seasonal shifts most prominently with pow-wow. Along with our wider home community, this equinox represents to us a time of ending hard labor and travel. It is a celebration of what we have sown, how our ancestors prepared the way to be sown, and also the recognition of the life cycle. What is born must ripen and then die, or at the very least go dormant for a time.

Our celebrations over the last several years have been as guests of our regional folk community of Midwest Heathens. First with a group in Manhattan, Kansas, with a long weekend of camping, ritual, games, and communal feasting in a pasture. This year and last year, we are doing the same at an evolving gathering of many Midwestern Heathen groups at a campground also in Kansas called Gaea. There we will have our own activities planned but will also have a communal feast and workday to build gefrain – worthy reputation and trust – with the park board and its eclectic pagan community.

Haimo Grebenstein (Germany)

In our community, celebration of the fall equinox is simply called Herbstfest [fall celebration]. The fact that autumn is my favorite season makes it my most important event on the wheel of the year.

In our ritual practice as an association, we only have the four seasonal changes as commonly practiced holidays in the year, and we leave it up to the groups and individuals to add additional activities on the wheel. Our local group Bilskirnir usually combines the equinox with the harvest festival, since most of the harvest has been done at this time.

Our ritual is based on the nine-part standard we always use, but it has no fixed texts. When I prepare the ritual, I always include some fall poems that have a nature or Heathen context. This year we leave home and visit the Verein für Germanisches Heidentum [Association for Germanic Heathenry] group in northern Austria to celebrate equinox at their stone circle that was set up 10 years ago.

Offerings at a blót held by Kith of the Tree and the Well [courtesy].

Philip John Parkyn (England)

At my home this Saturday evening, our London group, Hendon Heathens, will be meeting for a small, private gathering for an autumn harvest blót. It will be a fairly informal ceremony. No scripts needed, as we have been doing this for many years and are well versed with our form of blót. Around the fire in the garden we will thank the spirits of this place, Oak Harrow Garth, our ancestors of blood and of spirit, and the gods and goddesses with our homemade mead. We will share fruitcake made from homegrown apples, grapes, and plums and leave some as offerings to the old oak tree, Oak Harrow. After some stories, jokes, and songs, the evening will end with a discussion about the next day’s public meeting of our esoteric group, Kith of the Tree and the Well, which we hold every two months.

Sunday lunchtime we will be at our usual venue for KTW, a room booked above a pub near London Bridge. This is a more formal affair and about fifteen people will attend. We start with people introducing themselves, and then one of our members will give a talk on the seasonal customs and deities. We then share out scripts for the blot and give some explanation and instructions about it, and roles are allocated to those who volunteer. For some of the people, this is the first Heathen ceremony they have been to. Some have never celebrated together with others before. The pleasure they get from being able to join in the celebration with like-minded people makes it all well worthwhile for us.

Ryan Denison (Georgia, USA)

I identify as a Heathen Druid with a bit of a reconstructionist streak, and I am a dual member of the Troth and Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. Because of this, I honor both the Norse and Celtic traditions.

The autumn equinox, from my understanding of history, doesn’t seem to be celebrated beyond a feast in the Norse tradition — and much the same for the Irish and Scottish traditions — although a lot of reconstruction is going on using traditional Irish folk holidays like Michaelmas as a base. Some modern groups do have a Haustblót or celebrate Meán Fómhair from the Irish perspective.

Our local Heathens of Atlanta are holding an apple festival and equinox blót and plan on honoring Idunn and the local wights. I am hosting our local Grove of the Red Earth (ADF) equinox celebration. The Welsh pantheon will be honored, and therefore we are using the Welsh nomenclature of Alban Elfed. We will be honoring Mabon ap Modron and the Welsh pantheon. Both groups are fond of potluck feasts after rituals and blóts, and this year both groups will have apples as a central theme.

For me having grown up in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Kentucky, the equinoxes are a transition between the extremes of cold and heat, when the leaves start to either change color or spring forth. They represent for me balance and a time where the veil between the worlds seems to start to thin. Having been a bit of a jock, fall always means football and family. Some of my fondest memories are playing on Friday nights and in college on Saturday afternoons, then spending time with my family after. For me, too, it is the beginning of the countdown to the celebration of Samhain, my favorite holy day.

Kari Tauring [courtesy].

Kari Tauring (Minnesota, USA)

I am a staff carrier in Minneapolis, Minn. Solar holidays have great importance to Minnesotans. The delicate balance of sun and moon and hot days and cold days determines our favorite things, such as sap collecting in the spring and ricing the autumn.

In the winter, if there is good snow, I practice skiing around my house, so I evaluate the gardens quite heavily at this time. January’s figure-eight ski run goes through today’s pumpkin patch. I must move the larger rocks holding plants up out of the way of my intended ski run before they freeze into the soil. Also, I have to put up the apples, if there are many this year. I sauce them and freeze them for use in frutsøp at winter solstice. What a joy to add the nourishment of autumn to the dark nights of jul!

It is a good time to wash the wool sweaters and blankets. September sun and cool breezes can really dry and bleach the wool nicely before you have to use them from October to April.

In Norse and Baltic traditions, the sun is carried across the sky by a goddess. Sunna comes from my mother’s Norwegian heritage and Saule from my father’s Latvian heritage. I sing their runes and dainas in different ways and for different purposes on each solar holiday.

Hunting season in Minnesota begins soon after the fall equinox. There is a moment each year when the seriousness of impending changeable weather kicks in. It’s different each year, but it always seems to affect the squirrels by the fall equinox.

When the winter is soon here, we must look to our elders and get as much time with them as we can. Always spring and fall equinox see great passings, great deaths. Dark and night hug one another in [the rune] gifu on these equinoxes. Short-lived joy and then nauthiz, dagaz, ingwaz, gifu, wunjo, nauthiz.

I am grateful that I have lived in one place all my life and that this is the place my mother and father lived all their lives. If you live in one place all your life, you will get to know when an equinox feels stable, or if it feels “katywampus,” as my mother would say.

When we raised chickens on this little ski run in Minneapolis, my boys and I called fall when they would stop laying around the autumnal equinox. Spring was when they started up laying again. Here in Minnesota, that was about Groundhog Day or St. Brigid’s Day, around Feb. 2

Thursday, Sept. 21 begins the nine nights of the goddess in the Vedic calendar. I will give a gift to two little girls each of the nine days. On Friday the 22nd, I will perform three sets of songs and poems from my family heritage and in ancestral languages and include sets of nine female deities from my Nordic lineage. The concert will be on the steps of Sea Salt Eatery by Minnehaha Falls. If you have a rhythm-stick set which we call stav and tein, I will invite you up for a few. This is what we call “Stavers in the House.”

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The views and opinions expressed by our diverse panel of columnists and guest writers represent the many diverging perspectives held within the global Pagan, Heathen and polytheist communities, but do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wild Hunt Inc. or its management.

Posted by Manny Tejeda-Moreno

There is a famous pataki about  the orishas Oyá and Changó. In the story, Changó had been in battle and fought continuously against his enemies, but despite his victories, many more of them came to attack him and soon he was overwhelmed. Changó called to his horse for help, but it never came, so he hid in the brush, moving from tree to tree and hammock to hammock to escape. His enemies were relentless, scouring and razing any area where they thought Changó could be hiding. He moved deeper into the brush and swamp. Still, they followed, undeterred by the dense wood. After many days, Changó began to tire. He had drank what he could but had not eaten or slept. Finally, deep in the heart of the bush, Changó came upon Oyá’s house. He hesitated getting closer — he was too proud to ask for help — but finally called to Oyá, and she brought him inside.

Oyá gave him food and drink and had him rest, but they both knew the enemies would soon find her hut, as they could hear them moving in the distance and getting closer through the swamp. Changó then said these enemies were different. They were immune to his strength, his thunder, his lightning and fire.

Oyá was unconcerned. She promised Changó that he would return to his kingdom where he would regain his strength and defeat his enemies. Changó thought she would cast a spell or summon a storm. Instead, she reached for her makeup, then one of her dresses. Finally, she carefully cut off all her hair.

Changó watched probably thinking, “SRSLY? WTF?”, only in Yoruba. Oyá then quickly formed a wig from her hair and told Changó to put it on with the dress. She put some makeup on him, and told him to walk to his kingdom at nightfall, right past his enemies.

That evening, Oyá lit no fire and told Changó to go. He did. He mimicked Oyá’s proud and careless gait, barely glancing and nodding at each of his assailants, and they let him pass, still looking for Changó.

Oyá is a complicated orisha with many spheres of control. Commandingly intelligent, she is a powerful witch and ruler of cyclonic storms. She is shrewd in business, controlling the markets because they too change and move like the weather, and she is unmatched as a warrior, skilled and fierce; Changó prefers her to all other partners in battle. All her nine children died, and so she became the protector of the dead and controls the gates the cemetery and access to ancestors. In a way, above all Oyá is the orisha of sudden, even chaotic change, the one unleashing transformative upheavals through destruction. When Oyá passes, things will not be the same.

The pataki with Changó also shows Oyá’s intelligence. She did not need to use witchcraft nor call a storm to help Changó. What Oyá did do, is what she does impeccably well: expose weakness.

Changó’s enemies were very powerful. They came close to defeating the great warrior orisha. Oyá focused on their weakness: their assumptions about who they were looking for, and how they should find him. She unleashed their prejudices, assumptions and pride to destroy them.

Across the Olosha community these past few weeks there has been a great deal of attention given to what orisha Oyá is saying these days. There were offerings, supplications, meditations and wemileres (rituals with drumming) to answer that question; it is something that every person impacted by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria is also asking. Those recent hurricanes have unleashed historic devastation in the Caribbean from Barbuda — now uninhabitable — to Puerto Rico to Cuba and the Florida Keys. Southeast Texas was overwhelmed by wind and floods, while Florida was engulfed in a weaker-than-expected but far more expansive storm.  Some underestimated the power of the storms, others experienced their constant chaos, evacuating out of the path then into the path. In Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, the storms have brought historic shock and grief. In the continental United States, the storms affected the area from Miami to Corpus Christi to Atlanta. Irma launched what may end up being the largest mass evacuation in U.S. history, slogging the major traffic corridors of the southeast for days. The breath of Oyá has been cataclysmic.

With her breath passing through,  the basic question is simple:  What has Oyá exposed?

She has, in my opinion, exposed our social and ecological hubris. Oyá overwhelmed many first responders and will teach them how to build better human systems. Her ashé openly revealed the motivations of some political and religious leaders. She showed how some communities that we think are important fell silent during the crises.

Oyá exposed the weaknesses of some hurricane codes, and the strengths of others. She exposed how some institutions recognized their duties to the community by offering free services, while others took advantage of the storm.

Oyá exposed that climate change is not an engineering problem, and she further unmasked our dependence on engineered environments solely for convenience and greed. Oyá reminded us that we cannot build without regard for the land. That we are addicted to electricity. That we confuse comfort, want, and need over and over again.

Oyá reminded us that we do not control water and that we have lost respect for it. She reminded us that water remains essential for our life and mocking its strength will bring only ruin. As people scrambled for bottled water, Oyá revealed collective obsessions and ill-placed faith in corporations. Water that is plentiful was instantly and unnecessarily commoditized.

She exposed how we consistently fail as international neighbors. How we let political borders dictate our sympathy and empathy.  And how we become callously tribal when faced with chaos.

Most terribly, she reminded us that it is we who are the invading, exotic species obsessively choosing to live where we shouldn’t.

Perhaps above all, Oyá exposed that fear serves little purpose.

Oyá is also a compassionate orisha. She is the orisha of the last breath of life and sees the suffering that comes with it. She has lived through the death of all her children and intimately knows the pain. As she passes, she also unveils individual strengths to ease her aftermath.

She has exposed personal, social and psychic resilience while also teaching on a personal level. Every person assaulted by these storms learned — is learning — what they are each capable of, and what each personal weakness is. It’s now out there, for reflection, when life becomes more stable.

I saw many confront their own fears and memories in the storms. Some learned to balance their personal and professional roles and others learned their strength in the service of others. All of us learned who our family is. All of us learned that there are no wrong ways to feel our emotions about the dangers of the storm and the aftermath.

Some of us learned and some were reminded that being hot (hot as in “warm”) really sucks, and that humidity adds to the suck; we were also reminded that there is a sky full of stars when the power is out.

Oyá has also exposed community strengths. The members of Everglades Moon Local Council, for example, went into overdrive to support one another; and our covenant colleagues across the country checked in constantly. Many of us learned that our air conditioners are barriers to neighborliness. We even learned that some of the people we see every day can actually speak.  We learned to say “hello” again.

On a personal level, Oyá can speak to each of us, and she has left each affected by the storms with a private message. For me, I got a toughen up and keep perspective as a lesson. I was so busy before the hurricane focusing on what I still can’t do after spinal surgery that I would paralyze myself, ironically the very thing my surgery was to prevent. In the aftermath of the storm, I’m coming to terms with what my limitations actually are based on my condition versus what I had led myself to believe they were from learned incompetence. Oyá also took the opportunity to point out that chain stress-eating mantecado (Latin vanilla) ice cream will only lead to insulin dependence and uninterrupted borborygmus, as well as new pants. I’m sure there will other lessons with more reflection.

Oyá has exposed our current relationships with ourselves, our neighbors and our planet. She has reminded us that we are both children and guests of the planet, both of which can become annoying, especially when the relationships are not nurtured, respected and reciprocated. She reminded us that we have a choice to live in harmony with the earth or hear our requiem; because one thing that is certain about orisha Oyá is that she will come again.

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The views and opinions expressed by our diverse panel of columnists and guest writers represent the many diverging perspectives held within the global Pagan, Heathen and polytheist communities, but do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wild Hunt Inc. or its management.

Posted by Maya Dusenbery

Jen Brea was a 28-year-old grad student when her health began to deteriorate after a high fever. As she suffered from recurrent infections, profound dizziness that left her unable to stand, and eventually terrifying neurological symptoms, doctors told her that she was stressed, or just dehydrated, and finally that a repressed trauma was the source of all her ailments. 

Eventually, Brea was diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis, more commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome in the US. And now her documentary on the disease—which she directed mostly via Skype since she’s been bed-ridden for much of the last six years—is coming to select theaters.

I interviewed Brea and include her story in my forthcoming book on gender bias in medicine. It’s estimated that one million people in the US—and 17 million worldwide—have ME/CFS. Over 80 percent of them are women, and sexism played a large role in the public and the medical system’s reception to the disease.

In the US, the condition first came on the radar after a large outbreak near Lake Tahoe in the mid-eighties. But, unable to figure out the underlying cause, the medical community quickly suspected it of being nothing more than the psychogenic symptoms of neurotic women. The media derided it as “yuppie flu,” its sufferers stereotyped as burnt-out “educated white women.” (In reality, the disease, like many health problems, disproportionately affects low-income patients and people of color.) Meanwhile, myalgic encephalomyelitis, a name given to sporadic outbreaks of a similar-sounding illness that had occurred throughout the first half of the twentieth century, had already begun to be reframed as cases of “mass hysteria” on the basis that it was mostly women who were impacted.

Unrest, which tells Brea’s story, as well as the stories of a few other ME/CFS patients from around the world, discusses this history of neglect by the medical system for the last thirty years. After all, Brea is also an advocate. She co-founded #MEAction, a platform for ME/CFS advocacy efforts, that organized the Millions Missing protests to demand more funding for research on the disease (there has been unbelievably little) and recognition for the millions of patients affected by it (many health care providers continue to believe it’s largely a psychiatric condition).

The film itself isn’t heavy-handed or preachy though. It simply lays bare what life is actually like for severely ill ME/CFS patients. Brea initially began an iPhone video diary with no intention of turning it into a documentary; it was just an outlet for herself when she could no longer read or write. So much of the footage is extremely raw and painful. The film is rooted in a faith that if people truly understood what the disease did to its sufferers, it couldn’t possibly continue to be dismissed and minimized. As such, Unrest‘s greatest potential will come if people beyond those affected, directly or indirectly, by ME/CFS see it—especially those in the medical community who too often belittle it and those in the media who too often uncritically accept some of the bad science that’s been done on it.

So see it and also help spread the the word. While Unrest tells the very particular story of ME/CFS, the film will no doubt resonate with any woman who has ever had a doctor dismiss her symptoms as “stress” or who suffers from other poorly understood conditions that disproportionately affect women and have been similarly neglected—like fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis, vulvodynia, to name a few. Which, sadly, is a whole lot of us.

If you’re in the NYC area, you can see Unrest at IFC this weekend. San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles—you’ll have a chance the following one. See all upcoming screenings here.

Bonus viewing: Check out Brea’s great TED Talk too.

Posted by The Reader



Official Author Website
Order Nefertiti's Heart HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Nefertiti's Heart

Anita W. Exley's Nefertiti's Heart really captivated both Cindy & me as evidenced in our review. It had the perfect mix of characterization, plot pace & Victorian settings that made the story so compelling. We were more than thrilled when Anita agreed to answer a few questions about her writing, the Artifact Hunter series & herself. So read ahead to get to know her better, checkout the gorgeous covers of her books and lose yourself in a captivating world.

Q] Welcome to Fantasy Book Critic. To begin with, could you tell us a little about yourself, your background & your interests?

AWE: I'm Anita and I live in rural New Zealand where I have horses. I used to be a forensic accountant, until I realized it was more fun to sit at home and kill people ;) I'm one of those people born in the wrong era - I ride sidesaddle, adore hats, wear a corset, and was steampunk long before I ever heard the word.

Q] Can you tell us what inspired you to be a writer in the first place, what experience you went through in finishing your book, & why you chose to go the self-publishing route?

AWE: As cliché as it sounds, I'm one of those people who has always written. Books were my escape as a child and creating my own worlds was a natural extension of that, I just never finished anything! lol When I took a parenting break from my accounting job, I was looking for something to keep my mind engaged and decided to take the plunge and finish writing a book. From there it grew as I became more focused and I hit the query trenches trying to land an agent (hint: I failed). I had a friend who gave up on querying despite agent offers, and she headed off into indie waters and encouraged me to follow.

Q] Please elaborate how the genesis of Nefertiti’s Heart occurred. How long have you been working on it? Has it evolved from its original idea (if any)?

AWE: I had written a young adult steampunk novel that failed to interest agents, so decided to try my hand at an older novel with different characters. I have always loved Egypt and wanted to finally use my Egyptology studies! I was staring at my text books, trying to figure out a way to bring ancient Egypt into a steampunk England when I decided to do it via an ancient artifact. I was fascinated by the story of Nefertiti and Akhenaton and once the idea of the mechanical heart popped into my mind, the story grew from there. I think it took me about a year to write the book after that.

Q] Many writers have a muse, who directs their writing, and others do not seem to be affected the same way. Which group do you fall into? What is your main motivation and source of inspiration?

AWE: I listen with envy to other authors who say how their muse pours forth words onto a page. I have to hunt my muse with a sack and a tranq gun. I'm a very slow writer and spend a lot of time turning a scene over in my head before I write it down. I tend to start with the seed of an idea (like a mechanical heart and a killer intent on finding it) and often the ending, then I have to work backwards and figure out how it all unfolded.


Q] Nefertiti’s Heart is the first volume in the Artifact Hunter series. The series is completed so could you talk about what the readers can expect next in the series?

AWE: Life becomes more complicated for my heroine as she adapts to life with the villainous viscount and the secrets he is keeping. Queen Victoria succumbs to megalomania brought on by an artifact from Hatshepsut, a powerful woman who became a pharaoh. Cara needs to figure out how to get the necklace off the queen before she takes over the world. Then someone intent on keeping a decades old secret uses a fiddle that once belonged to Nero to tidy up loose ends by inducing spontaneous human combustion …

Q] One of the things I noticed in your debut was a good mix of steampunk mixed in with a solid mystery. Could you tell us about the research which you undertook before attempting to write the Victorian era as described within it? What were the things which you focused upon and any fascinating things that you found amidst your research?

AWE: I read a lot of non fiction about British history, plus grew up on a steady diet of BBC programmes. I've spent some time walking the streets of London and love the sense of history that soaks up from the cobbles and it was natural to take Victorian London as a starting point. From there I determined how my world differed and how I would utilize steam/mechanical technology.

It's the tiny details about every day life that I find the most amazing. Like learning that an electric light was first demonstrated in 1835 and in the 1840s a French nobleman lit up his estate with electric lights, long before Edison even thought about the light bulb. I also discovered that condoms were made by the Goodyear tyre company in the 1860s and bore a lot in common with inner tubes…! lol

Q] Cover art is always an important factor in book sales (whether we like it or not). This factor becomes even more crucial with self-publishing wherein reader prejudice can be higher. Your Artifact Hunters has some gorgeous cover art, I would love to hear how these covers came to be?

AWE: The covers started with a very simplistic idea of hand + artifact. However by the time I got to book 4, a staff just didn't seem that interesting as a cover symbol. I had a look around at a number of other steampunk books that feature women in corsets. However I'm a corset snob and no cheap plastic boned monstrosity was going on my books! I have a friend who is a very talented photographer and fellow corset wearer and she offered to do a custom photo shoot for me. The mechanical heart that Ricky Gunawan designed is such a powerful image (and central to my author branding) so I kept that for book 1, but used custom photographs as the basis for books 2, 2.5, 3 and 4. Regina from Mae I Design then took the photos and gave each a different treatment that reflects the tone of the book, like the fire for Nero's Fiddle and the frozen London of Moseh's Staff.

Q] Talking about characters, even though your book focusses on Cara & Nathaniel primarily. The character cast however is no less intriguing with folks such as Jackson and the Scotland Yard detectives. In this regard I found your book to be very exciting. Could you talk about how you develop your characters and how do their personas come forth?

AWE: I think secondary characters are often more interesting and believe they should each have their own backstory and motivations, they are after all the stars of their own stories, just not the current focus. When I create a secondary character I spend a bit of time thinking about who they are, where they came from and what pivotal moments impacted their personality/flaws. Two of mine (former pugilist Jackson and airship captain Loki) spawned their own books and I have always wanted to go back and write my detective's story and his investigation into the serial killer known as The Grinder.


Q] The world described in your book is Victorian but with steampunk technology added to it. One of things that I would have better enjoyed in this book if more of the world-building were revealed. What was your inspiration for the setting and what are your thoughts on world-building in general?

AWE: Nefertiti's Heart definitely suffers from first book syndrome and by that I mean things that in retrospect, I wish I had done better or differently. In hindsight I completely agree with you and wish I had spent longer thinking about the world, how its technology differed and what impact that had on society. In many ways I winged it and dealt with issues as they arose, but if I had fleshed the world out before I started writing, I think it would have delivered a deeper and more satisfying experience. By the time book 2 was written and the series was gathering momentum I was stuck with the boundaries I had created and had to make the best of it.

It's been a learning experience for me, and with other series I am tackling I am sorting out the world building beforehand and trying to have certain cornerstones in place before I start writing.

Q] Please tell us about the books and authors who have captured your imagination and inspired you to become a wordsmith in your own right. Similarly, are there any current authors you would like to give a shout out to?

AWE: My introduction to fantasy came as a child when I discovered Anne McCaffrey. Pern captured my imagination and never let go, and who doesn't want to Impress a dragon? Even today I still enjoy her continuing legacy and the novels written by her son, Todd. I also chewed through the Dragonlance chronicles and discovered Raymond E Feist. Fantasy is my first and enduring love but my catnip these days is when fantasy is twisted up with a historical time period like Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series or Bec McMaster's London Steampunk.

I'd like to give a shout out to the Historical Fantasy Bookclub.  We have a monthly book that we read (and twice a year we watch a historical fantasy movie) and I've been reading far wider and outside my usual go-to authors. I've found many new authors to follow and lost myself in books and worlds I wouldn't normally pick up 

Q] Thank you for taking the time to answer all the questions. In closing, do you have any parting thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers?

AWE: A huge thank you to Mark Lawrence for the work he does in organizing and running the SPFBO and I want to take a moment to thank Cindy & Mihir, the Fantasy Book Critic crew, for the time and effort you put into reading and reviewing for participating authors. I've been visiting the blogs and adding to my growing TBR pile but there's no way I'd want to try and pick just one book to put forward!

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Posted by Heather Greene

GENEVA — The United Nation’s Human Rights Council opened a two-day workshop Thursday, concerning abuses and deaths in some way related to witchcraft. This 2017 meeting, facilitated in part by the Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN), marks the first time that the UN has aggressively addressed this world crisis – one that sees adults and children beaten, dismembered, and even killed in the name of the witchcraft.

Human Rights Council, Geneva 2013 [U.S. Mission Geneva / Eric Bridiers]

In coordination with the U.N.’s International Day of Peace, leaders and experts from around the world have come together in Switzerland to examine this global human rights problem, the causes, and the possible solutions.

“This ground-breaking event means that, for the first time, witchcraft and human rights will be discussed in a holistic, systematic and in-depth manner, building on and consolidating critical work done on the issue to date by various experts including co-organizers of the event,” said Ikponwosa Ero, one of the main convenors of the event.

Ms. Ero is also the United Nations Independent expert on the human rights of persons with albinism – a sector of the world population that is acutely affected by witchcraft-related abuses.

“These attacks and violations, which frequently target people in vulnerable situations including persons with albinism, are astonishing in their brutality,” Ero said in a statement.

“In addition, there are gaps in applicable legal frameworks and challenges with implementation and enforcement, and far too often perpetrators are not brought to justice. This impunity simply cannot be tolerated,” she added.

As TWH has reported extensively in the past, this worldwide human rights crisis does not center on Witchcraft as is practiced or understood by much of the Wild Hunt readership. Most victims of witchcraft-related violence are not, in fact, practicing Witches or necessarily using any form of magic on their own, religious or otherwise.

The victims of witchcraft-related violence are most commonly those people erroneously accused of the practice in order to augment someone else’s political, social, or economic gain, or to place blame for some other unforeseen tragedy. In addition, there are cases, such as in Tanzania, where the victims are collateral damage, so to speak, in the practice of a profit-based magic of sorts.

While the UN workshop’s focus is not on Witchcraft as our readers might practice or know, WHRIN organizers did reach out to a South Africann-based Pagan organization in hopes that a member would attend in order to offer a Pagan voice at the UN event.

South African Pagan Rights Alliance director Damon Leff had to decline due to personal obligations. There is currently no Pagan speaking at the UN workshop.

However, WHRIN’s Gary Foxcroft has since told The Wild Hunt that his organization is eager for more modern Witches and Pagans to get involved with this global cause and to share their voices on this complex human rights topic at the world table.

For those interested in the proceedings, the landmark UN Human Rights workshop is reportedly being live-streamed on the UN’s web TV, and the agenda is published online, including a list of the many speakers who are in attendance.

Ms. Ero’s hope, as well as Foxcroft and the many other activists working toward a solution, is that the UN workshop “enables experts, States, academics and members of civil society to develop a greater understanding of witchcraft” and the many harmful practices that are done in its name.

Posted by Reina Gattuso

Harvard’s been sucking this week, and this suckage provides an important reminder of why corporate higher education, for all its rhetoric about “innovation,” actually acts as a barrier to radical social change.

First order of suckage: Recently, despite the fact that the History Department had initially accepted her and that she is a prize-winning historian, Harvard administrators and some professors rejected an offer of admission the History Department had already approved to Michelle Jones.

Jones applied to the PhD program while serving a twenty-year sentence for killing her own child when Jones was a teenager. It should go without saying that the crime is deeply horrible; it should also go without saying that it’s not Harvard’s or anyone’s job to determine the punishment for someone a court of law has already punished. Jones’ rejection instead, argue faculty advocating her, flies in the face of any hope of transformative justice—an irony considering that her work is part of a recent push in the academy to take more seriously the history, politics, and material context of our carceral society.

Second order of suckage: Jones isn’t the only one who’s had an offer rescinded by Harvard recently. The university has also rescinded a fellowship they’d originally offered to Chelsea Manning, really rad lady, effectively deferring to the CIA. Meanwhile, they have offered the same fellowship to Sean Spicer, whose history of white supremacy the university clearly (and disturbingly) considers less troubling than Manning’s history of whistle blowing.

Third order of suckage: Harvard hasn’t only rejected people recently. It’s also continued its quest to reject graduate students’ efforts to unionize. In the most recent manifestation of Harvard’s resistance to this struggle, Harvard has moved to appeal to the Trump appointed (read: very right wing and anti-union) National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). That’s right, folks: The supposedly liberal bastion, which has been outspoken in its opposition to, for example, Trump’s stance on immigration and the repeal of DACA, is also a prime union buster.

So what gives? How is it that the most elite of colleges, characterized by the right as the quintessential arch enemy of their ideology, could make so many decisions that are so frankly regressive?

While Harvard and similar elite universities have admirably taken stands against the repeal of DACA—numerous Harvard professors were even arrested recently while protesting Trump’s proposed repeal—they have a notoriously bad line when it comes to issues affecting their bottom line.

Take the case of divestment. For the past several years, there has been a student movement across the country advocating for divestment from fossil fuels as a tool to stigmatize polluters and thus make headway against climate change. Despite coming out in support of other environmental efforts, Harvard University has staunchly refused to budge on this issue. The University President, Drew Faust, even released a nonsensical letter arguing that the endowment is not political and should not be politicized (ironically, for a historian, Faust seems to know very little about the history of the anti-apartheid divest movement).

Or take the issue of workers’ rights. During a recent strike of Harvard dining hall workers, the University administration dragged its feet; it took weeks of struggle by the dining hall workers to win a living wage for their labor. Not a good look for an institution which claims to be about encouraging educational access across class.

Viewed in this contexts, Harvard’s latest week of fuckery no longer appears so surprising. Rather, it continues a pattern of elite universities’ emphasis on their bottom line—and their reputation—above all else. Accepting the right of the graduate students to unionize will surely mean Harvard will have to pay them more. And accepting Manning and Jones may mean pissing off people with big pocket books.

And why shouldn’t this be the case? Harvard, like most elite universities in the United States, is a private entity with a corporate structure. It is a power broker, a place where the elite come to be consolidated—and where social mobility is possible, but often only along the terms of the system as is. It is a major feeder of employees to the government and an even larger feeder of financiers to Wall Street. Taking this into account, it becomes clearer to see how the liberalism claimed by elite institutions is mere veneer.

Ultimately, it comes down to the bottom line. Our higher education system has become overwhelmingly privatized and corporate, with tuitions which can soar above $200,000 for four year degrees, leading to student debt that can last a lifetime. As we know all too well, this has created debilitating systemic debt among students, many of whom are either left with debt and without job prospects, or who find themselves financially compelled to take higher-paying jobs in the corporate sector which they may not have wanted to take. 

The issue of student debt is also de-radicalizing, a disincentive for students to push for radical social change. If a student is expelled for protesting a university’s decision, for example, they may be very well left with an enormous financial burden and no degree. Finally, the specter of debt prevents many students from choosing lower-income paths, like activism, social work, or teaching.

At the same time, social media scrutiny and a corporate public relations model means that elite universities are intensely phobic of any perceived bad publicity. This fear can be leveraged by student movements for their own good: For example, in publicly shaming universities into becoming responsible for preventing and adequately addressing sexual violence.

Yet we can see in the cases of both Jones and Manning, a direct instance in which the appeal to reputation leads to deep conservatism. The New York Times writes, quoting one of the American Studies professors who raised objections to Jones’s admission:

“We didn’t have some preconceived idea about crucifying Michelle,” said John Stauffer, one of the two American studies professors. “But frankly, we knew that anyone could just punch her crime into Google, and Fox News would probably say that P.C. liberal Harvard gave 200 grand of funding to a child murderer, who also happened to be a minority. I mean, c’mon.”

What we’re missing here, of course, is that education should not be about PR and the bottom line. Education should be dangerous. I don’t mean this in the way that “free speech” advocates mean it, when they complain about coddled liberal “snowflakes” who are intolerant toward conservative views. I mean that the university should be a space of challenge to the workings of a capitalist system, a space where students have the time, space, and (government-provided) funds to remove themselves from the immediate pressures of the market and to build a radically different world. The university should be a risky place, where politically risky things are said and done. Where we have the freedom—from racism, from sexual violence, from debt, from the immediate pressures of the job market—to challenge the status quo.

And this, of course, is a status quo challenged by all three of the people and bodies Harvard recently rejected. It is threatening to a system of racialized, class-based mass incarceration to believe that people who have been cordoned off as criminals can not only rejoin society but thrive. It is threatening to a system of paranoid government “security” rhetoric to laud Manning as a whistleblower, rather than imprison her as a threat. And it is threatening to universities’ profit to acknowledge collective bargaining power and to acknowledge graduate students as the workers they are.

In face of this, it falls on the students, workers, and professors of the university to bring political dissent back into a system which more often produces elite conformity than radical politics. We should not let the university corporation reign without a fight. Our protests should make administrators tremble. Our polemic should make the internet light up with fear. Our unions should send university officials sprinting toward their lawyers.

Harvard may have rejected Jones and Manning, but students are ultimately the ones with the power to collectively reject the deep conservatism of places like Harvard.

Posted by Cindy





OVERVIEW: 
1861. Cara has a simple mission in London – finalise her father’s estate and sell off his damned collection of priceless artifacts. Her plan goes awry when a killer stalks the nobility, searching for an ancient Egyptian relic rumoured to hold the key to immortality.

Nathaniel Trent, known as the villainous viscount, is relentless in his desire to lay his hands on both Cara and the priceless artifacts. His icy exterior and fiery touch stirs Cara’s demons, or could he lay them to rest?

Self-preservation fuels Cara’s search for the gem known as Nefertiti’s Heart. In a society where everyone wears a mask to hide their true intent, she needs to figure out who to trust, before she sacrifices her own heart and life

ANALYSIS: (Mihir)  Nefertiti’s Heart is an intriguing book that popped up in Fantasy Book Critic’s lot. Firstly it was a top 3 contender with its gorgeous cover art and the blurb was exciting enough for me to get started on it early on. The book’s blurb details our protagonist’s hurry to sell off her father’s estate for reasons that become crystal clear in the first few chapters itself. Cara Devon is a person who’s been shaped by her teenage/adolescent years and those hardships have left mental, physical & psychological scars on her. These scars inform her current behavior and outlook in life wherein she has decided she wants nothing to do with her dad and his precious collection.

Cara’s struggles are further compounded when she learns that some of the items in her father’s collections are prized by similarly focused individuals who share even less morality than her recently departed father. There’s also the concern that her father’s death wasn’t a natural one and due to which Scotland Yard detectives are very much intrigued by her and her whereabouts. There’s also the Viscount who’s interested in her legacy and a Scotland Yard officer who wants the truth to be uncovered. These are the main characters in play and there’s a serial killer at work too. These are the tangled threads that author A. W. Exley puts into play in the first volume of The Artifact Hunters series. The book ends on a strong climax which solve the mystery presented in this first volume but sets up a romantic plot thread that will resolve over the series as well gives us a colorful cast of characters to follow.

What I loved immediately about this book upon starting it was the characterization beginning with Cara. She’s a formidable character who will intrigue the reader with the hints about her past and her resoluteness in her wish to be rid of her father’s legacy. I was immediately drawn to her and as the story progresses we find that there’s more to her grit. The story is almost a thriller with some solid romantic overtones to it and I felt that as a thriller lover, I was able to enjoy the story and even the romance. I can’t speak to how well the romance is crafted since I’m not that big a romance reader but the story held up for me. A word of caution though there’s some dark stuff within with regards to Cara’s backstory and it might not be palatable to everyone. Any plus point about the book was its streamlined pace and the mystery at its core. In this regard this book was a definite surprise as it managed to successfully mold aspects of the thriller, romance & steampunk genres in its fold confidently. Lastly the book cover is an eye-catching one and was in the top 3 from our lot.

The not so fun parts to this story, well there’s the whole romance buildup which takes place between our protagonist and the Viscount which doesn’t quite add up. For example our heroine doesn’t like been touched but is strangely drawn to the count’s dark brooding ways. The author explains some of this attraction later on in the plot but it didn’t quite ring much for me. Maybe for romance readers this might be a genre trope and that would explain it. For me, that was a bit of a glitch in the story. There’s also the steampunk aspect of the story which seems a tad window dressing like. Sure there’s mention of airships and other things from time to time but not much explanation is provided of how things came to be as they are.

Overall these are minor complaints from me as I still was able to enjoy the story because of the main mystery, the engaging characters (main and side cast) as well as the plot pace which makes it quite easy to want to keep on reading. I think this book definitely deserves a semifinal slot and I would be interested to see how the author develops the world and characters in the sequels. Nefertiti’s Heart is a fun but dark romantic mystery story that offers a bit of many genres and marks itself as a good read nonetheless.

(Cindy) I think I have mentioned a time or two or even more that I love reading books that take place in London. When I saw that Nefertiti's Heart took place in a Victorian-era London, I instantly had to give it a shot.

Nefertiti's Heart is a mixed bag of genres all combined into one book. There is a little bit of sci-fi/steampunk, adventure, mystery, gothic, and romance. Normally this wouldn't work out as it would seem that mixing so many different genres would cause the plot/characters/flow of the book to suffer, but it didn't.

I will admit that there is a heavier emphasis on the romance element than I am used to or really would care to read, but – for me – the mystery and steampunk elements were strong enough that I could easily look over the romance-heavy sections.

There were a lot of things that I really enjoyed about Nefertiti's Heart. It had a very fast-paced feel to it, the mystery was captivating, and I really "clicked" with the characters. Add in the fact that much of the mythology referenced and time period was very well researched and you have a solid novel that is extremely enjoyable.

While I really enjoyed Nefertiti's Heart, I will admit that it isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea. The romance-heavy sections are really heavy on the romance. Not every reader is going to be able to overlook it and some may even feel it draws from the plot.

There is also another issue that really needs to be mentioned. It isn't so much an issue, but it does – I feel – need to be noted so readers can make an informed decision. Nefertiti's Heart brings up some pretty grim and heavy topics. If you are squeamish regarding abuse, especially the physical and sexual abuse of a child/teen, the entire novel isn't going to fit for you. While these topics are heavy, I felt they were handled in an appropriate manner.

Overall, I feel Nefertiti's Heart is a strong novel. It certainly isn't going to be everyone's favorite book and there are going to be a lot of things some readers don't like, but for me, personally, it worked. Give it a shot, you might be impressed.

Posted by Cara Schulz

TWH – Autumn celebrations are often designated as times to “reap what you sow” and for many Pagans, Heathens, and Witches that means harvest time for plants with both magical and medicinal purposes.

The Wild Hunt spoke with both amateur and professional herbalists to see what’s their favorite plant to grow and what’s an easy, beneficial plant for a beginner to grow.

Calendula [Pixabay].

Medicinal Herbs

Musician Bonnie Hanna-Powers says she grows calendula in her garden. She says it’s easy to grow but does prefer good soil.

“This year I grew my plants from transplants, in one garden, and from direct sowing the seeds in another,” says Ms. Hanna-Powers. She says that she had better luck with transplants than the seeds.

After harvesting the flowers, she dries them on a screen in a well ventilated room. Then incorporates them into topical skin preparations. “It’s a good all around skin herb because of it anti-bacterial and wound healing properties,” says Hanna-Powers.

She also enjoys the smell. “It gives any preparation a pleasant, homey scent. It also makes a beautiful flower for the cutting garden.”

Author Chas Clifton grows cannabis. It’s legal in Colorado to grow, and he says that CBD oil is available even at places like farmer’s markets. Clifton is interested in growing specific varieties for higher levels of CBD and to mix with other herbs like henbane and datura.

“I grow henbane for use as an entheogen, sometimes mixed with cannabis,” says Mr. Clifton.

He notes that author Dennis McKenna wrote in his memoir The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss that datura is a hallucinogen, but not a psychedelic. “I am still trying to decide if he is right or not, but cautiously,” says Clifton.

However, Clifton says that he is increasingly turning toward native, tougher plants like nettles. He cooks with them and also uses the roots to make a tonic that he says is good for male urinary systems.

Philadelphia Witch Karen Bruhin says she doesn’t have the gardening space that rural and suburban Witches enjoy. Her go to plants are horehound and chamomile.

She says both plants are easy to grow, with the chamomile reseeding itself and the horehound spreading like a mint plant.

“For the horehound I simply wash it and use it in a homemade simple syrup for cough medicine,” says Ms. Bruhin. The chamomile, on the other hand, is washed, dried in an oven, and stored in airtight containers to make soothing tisanes.

Heathen Chuck Hudson forages, rather than grows, his herbs in New Mexico. He looks for Yerba Mansa and Osha root.

He says Yerba Mansa is a very old native medicinal herb, but it is becoming popular and harder to find. He dries the roots and leaves and stores them is a cool, dry place.

Mr. Hudson says that Yerba Mansa works as a mild anti-inflammatory agent and has astringent, diuretic, and anti-fungal properties. However, he also cautions that it should not be used internally by pregnant or nursing women. “Externally it’s a wonderful wash for insect bites poison ivy blister. The fresh leaves made into a poultice is great for sore muscles.”

Hudson adds that, when he harvests a plant, he leaves an offering for the Land Spirits and builds a little stone house for any spirits to live in in case her disturbed them by harvesting the plant.

“I along with some close friends are trying to revive the faith/health healing part of the Heathen faith,” says Hudson.

Rowan [Pixabay].

Magical Herbs

Minneapolis Witch Tasha Rose grows the plant that is her namesake. “I have, for my entire life, had wild roses everywhere I have ever lived. They follow me around. Roses are by far my favorite magical and medicinal plant.”

She says that wild roses are very easy to grow and will take over a place if you’re not careful to cut them back. Ms. Rose says that she uses every part of the plant. In spring she harvests the petals to make rose water. Currently, she’s collecting rose hips to make a tea that she says aids in absorbing nutrients.

As for the magical components of the plant? She turns the brambles into small wands and besoms for her children and dries the thorns for magical workings. She uses the thorns for protective spells and for binding and banishing work.

Wild Hunt writer Liz Williams favorite plant to grow and use for its magical properties is one the UK is famous for, the rowan.

She says that, while many in the UK make jelly from the berries, she prefers to dry them and make protective charms. “The berries [are] strung on a thread and hung above a door, or bracelets and necklaces. We also sell the dried berries for use in protection incenses.”

Williams says that the Rowan berries are known to be a charm against negative magic, which is why they are grown throughout the Celtic fringe of Britain.

Minnesota musician and Volva Kari Tauring, like her fellow Heathen Chuck Hudson, prefers to forage for her magical plants rather than grow them.

She looks for hops and sweet woodruff. However, foraging for herbs rather than growing them can mean you come up empty some years. She says that the two herbs were abundant last year, but so far this year, they are no where to be found.

When she does find them, Ms. Tauring dries the herbs and uses them in dream pillows.

Hellenic Lykeia says her two favorite herbs wouldn’t survive the tough Alaska winters. Yet she values them so much that she grows them indoors in pots. Rosemary and lavender are fairly tough when grown outdoors in warmer climates, but are finicky plants to grow inside.

“[I] have to be careful to give them a lot of light, but not directly in front of a window where the direct light tends to scorch them a bit. Also I tend have to remind myself not to kill them with love. Scant water is best.”

She says both plants are used for purification and warding off evil. “Both are key ingredients in my Apollon incense, and the purification bath tea that I make as well as an anointing oil of similar purpose,” adds Lykeia.

She also uses them in various charms “to protect doorways and to protect their wearer when made into a sachet.”

Aloe vera [Pixabay].

Plants for beginners

What if you don’t have the greenest of thumbs or your knowledge of herbalism is very light? Is there a plant you could start out with?

New Hampshire Herbalist Naomi Schoenfeld says a good first plant is Aloe Vera, both for how easy it is to grow and for its beneficial uses.

Rosemary Gladstar, one of the persons credited for the herbalism revival in the US, agrees. In her book, Medicinal Herbs: A beginner’s guide, she has this quote, “If you can’t grow aloe, then try plastic plants.” Ms. Schoenfeld says aloe soothes burns and speeds healing when you break off a leaf and apply the gel to the burn.

“Taken internally it can bring that same healing power to digestive irritations and inflammations, such as ulcers, and help with constipation,” says Schoenfeld.

Another reason Schoenfeld recommends the plant for beginners; it’s safe and there’s very little someone could do wrong with it.

Shelly Tomtschik, a Pagan Herbalist living in Wisconsin, suggests yarrow. She says it’s easy to grow in a pot and is very versatile. Tomtschik says that if you find some growing outside, you can just scoop some up and put it in a pot, and it’ll do well.

“I use it most often in a tincture for colds and flus, but the tincture can also be made into bug spray. My husband can’t wear DEET, so yarrow tincture works really well, combined with witch hazel,” say Ms. Tomtschik.

Another use for yarrow, says Tomtschik, is as a bandage, “Fresh, the leaves can be used as a bandage and stops bleeding quickly, even for, or especially for, deep cuts.”

Most herbalists will tell you to use caution in using or ingesting any herbs, especially if you are looking to self treat any medical conditions. They says that herbalism has different layers of skills and most people can learn enough to tend to the basic needs for themselves and family. They caution when in doubt, consult an herbalist.

Herbalists who have chosen it as a life focus can have incredible amounts of knowledge to share, experience with specific problems such as autoimmune disease, and time spent in apprenticeships or working directly in clinical settings.

In the U.S. there is no licensing body or government oversight of herbalists. But that, Schoenfeld explains, is a good thing.

“If herbalists were licensed, we’d be restricted to suggesting only very specific approaches permitted by the licensing bodies, much the way that medical doctors are finding their professional opinions coming secondary to insurance company decisions, and many traditional herb uses might be blocked,” says Schoenfeld.

The downside is that there isn’t a credential people can ask for in order to find a good herbalist. Schoenfeld says that most of the time people find good herbalists by word of mouth.

Another place persons can look, at least in the US, is through the American Herbalists Guild. They maintain a registry of members who meet training standards and length of time spent in practice.

Savage Love

Sep. 19th, 2017 05:15 pm[syndicated profile] savagelove_feed

Posted by Dan Savage

Can a straight guy find love with a lady with a penis? by Dan Savage

I am a 35-year-old straight guy. I met a nice lady through the normal methods, and we hit it off and have grown closer. I think we are both considering "taking it to the next level." We are on the same intellectual wavelength, enjoy the same social experiences, and have a lot of fun together. So what could be the problem? My friend decided it was the time to inform me that she is transgender, pre-op, and will not be having gender-reassignment surgery. This was quite a shock to me. I'm not homophobic, though I've never had a gay experience. I'm open-minded, yet there is a mental block. I like this person, I like our relationship thus far, and I want to continue this relationship. But I'm in a state of confusion.

Confused Over Complicating Knowledge

Lemme get this out of way first, COCK: The nice lady isn't a man, so sex with her wouldn't be a "gay experience" and homophobia isn't the relevant term.

Moving on...

You're a straight guy, you're attracted to women, and some women—as you now know—have dicks. Are you into dick? Could you develop a taste for dick? Could you see yourself making an exception for her dick? It's fine if "no" is the answer to one or all of these questions, COCK, and not being into dick doesn't make you transphobic. Evan Urquhart, who writes about trans issues for Slate, argues that in addition to being gay, straight, bi, pan, demi, etc., some people are phallophiles and some are vaginophiles—that is, some people (perhaps most) have a strong preference for either partners with dicks or partners with vaginas. And some people—most people—want their dicks on men and their labia on/vaginas in women.

"There's no shame in it, as long as it doesn't come from a place of ignorance or hate," Urquhart writes. "Mature adults should be able to talk plainly about their sexuality, particularly with prospective partners, in a way that doesn't objectify or shame anyone who happens to be packing the non-preferred equipment."

Some straight guys are really into dick (trans women with male partners usually aren't partnered with gay men, and trans women who do sex work typically don't have any gay male clients), some straight guys are willing to make an exception for a particular dick (after falling in love with a woman who has one), but most straight guys aren't into dick (other than their own).

Since you're confused about what to do, COCK, I would encourage you to continue dating this woman, keep an open mind, and keep taking things slow. You've got new information to process, and some things—or one thing—to think about before taking this relationship to the next level. But don't drag it out. If you conclude that the dick is a deal breaker, end this relationship with compassion and alacrity. You don't want to keep seeing her "to be nice" if you know a relationship isn't possible. Because letting someone live in false hope is always a dick move.


A few months ago, I started dating someone. I made it clear early on that I didn't feel comfortable being in a nonmonogamous relationship. They said that's not usually what they're into but they weren't interested in seeing anyone else and they had no problem being monogamous. It's not that I don't trust them, and they've never given any indication that they're unhappy with our arrangement, but I can't shake the fears that, though they won't admit it (maybe even to themselves), they'd prefer it if our relationship were more open and I'm taking something important away from them. Can someone who usually doesn't "do" monogamy feel fulfilled in a "closed" relationship? Can it work out, or will they just slowly grow to resent me for this?

Deliriously Anxious Monogamist Nervously Inquires Today

If you stay together forever—what most people mean by "work out"—your partner will definitely grow to resent you. It could be for this reason, DAMNIT, or for some other reason, but all people in long-term relationships resent their partners for something. If it’s not monogamy, it’ll be something else. And if monogamy is the price of admission this person is willing to pay right now, let them pay it. There are a lot of people out there in closed relationships who would rather be in open ones and vice versa. And remember: What works for you as a couple—and what you want as an individual—can change over time. Resentments too.


My relationship with my husband is bad. We have been together for twelve years, and we were married for eight years before getting divorced last year. We have small kids. We reconciled four months after the divorce, despite the affair I had. I have a history of self-sabotage, but in my relationship with him, it has become near constant. Everyone thinks I'm a smart and kind person that occasionally makes mistakes, but I'm not that person with him. With him, I'm awful. I make promises I don't keep and I don't do the right things to make him feel loved even though I do loving things. We have been in couples therapy a number of times, but I always derail the process. I have been in therapy solo a number of times with similar results. I always get the therapists on my side and no real change happens. I want to change but I haven't. I want to stop hurting him but I keep doing it. He doesn't feel like I have ever really fought for him or the relationship. Why can't I change?

My Enraging Self-Sabotaging Yearnings

It's unlikely I'll be able to do for you in print what three couples counselors and all those therapists couldn't do for you in person, i.e., help you change your ways—if, indeed, it's your ways that require changing. Have you ever entertained the thought that maybe there's a reason every counselor or therapist you see winds up taking your side? Is it possible that you're not the problem? Are you truly awful, MESSY, or has your husband convinced you that you're awful in order to have the upper hand in your relationship? (Yeah, yeah, you had an affair. Lots of people do and lots of marriages survive them.)

If you're not being manipulated—if you're not the victim of an expert gaslighter—and you're awful and all your efforts to change have been in vain, MESSY, perhaps you should stop trying. You are who you are, your husband knows who you are, and if he wants to be with you, as awful as you are (or as awful as he's managed to convince you that you are), that's his choice and he needs to take some responsibility for it. By "stop trying" I don't mean you should stop making an effort to be a better person or a more loving partner—we should all constantly strive to be better people and more loving partners—but you can't spend the rest of your life on a therapist's couch. Or the rack.

If you truly make your husband miserable, he should leave you. If your marriage makes you miserable (or if he does), you should leave him. But if neither of you is going anywhere, MESSY, then you'll both just have to make the best of your messy selves and your messy marriage.


On the Lovecast, Dan chats with Slate writer Mark Joseph Stern about left-wing anti-Semitism: savagelovecast.com.

mail@savagelove.net

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