Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Artist of the Bored Goddesses

It's that time of the summer when everything gets a little dried out and brown. Time for some color!

I've never met Thalia Took, but I sure would like to. She has accomplished the amazing feat of getting dozens of bored Goddesses from multiple pantheons to sit for portraits! I'm lucky these days if I can collar them for a spot of tea.

So today you might want to biff over to Thalia's Great Goddess portrait gallery and find your religion. Many of them!

Image: Thalia Took

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Briefly the Empty Nest

This day comes for all. For me it's been coming in fits and starts. My daughters are trying to navigate a difficult labor market. Trust me, it's like sewing together a crazy quilt -- part time job here, part time job there, minimum wage because you're doing what you love ... and for poor Heir, one last year before she has to get Obamacare and pay off college loans.

All the same, she has found a room in a house in West Philly. The Heir is going to launch.

The Spare has a less-than-posh apartment in Center City Philadelphia, where she will live while she finishes her final two years of college. She has received heaps of financial aid but will still have five-figure loans to pay off herself.  But that's down the road.

For one month, before Extra Chair returns from China, Mr. J and I will be empty nesters. That will be weird. It's not like my daughters have needed to be coddled over the last few years, but they've been around.

May the Goddess protect them. May they walk in the Old Ways. May they become themselves, "like the tadpole, its time come, tumbling towards the slime."

Monday, July 21, 2014

Where the Lilies Bloom

It's a big, tough world out there, and I honestly don't know how I got so lucky as to live comfortably, have enough to eat, health care, and the age of fifty-plus. There are so many dangers without and within. Ah, but rest assured my time will come. I don't know anyone who has escaped the Reaper.

In the meantime, here's a little bit of mundane happiness. My lilies have bloomed.

The plant lady who came over to help me make a meadow says that these are the only native American lily. All the others are imported. I got the seeds for these lilies from my dad, out in Appalachia. They have grown in my back yard, under pretty plant-unfriendly conditions, for 27 years.

I have more of these than usual this year because I took an axe to my butterfly bush. There's more light in lily-land. And that's the way it's going to be.

The broad leaf in front is not lily, but milkweed. It is having a good year too. As long as I stay here in Snobville, the native fauna will prevail on my little patch of heaven.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Pagan Ministry for Kids

Ahem. Ladies and Gentlemen, may I have your attention please. This sermon will be about ...

ZZZZzzzzzzZZZZZZzzzzzz! Hey, I'm no scholar! This is me, Anne, the Mistress of Mayhem! Time to have some fun!

In today's mail I received a lovely note from my dear friend the Monkey Man. How time flies! I haven't seen the Monkey Man since we went to a Snobville Fighting Wombats football game last fall. However, next week I'll get to see him at his monthly poetry get-together in sunny downtown Camden. I'll get someone to snap a shot of us together. Here he is, in all his Monkey Man glory, with my nephew.

The Monkey Man is a member of the Society of Friends. He also attends Mass sometimes because he helps with the Catholic ministries in Camden. He is not a Pagan and is not interested in being a Pagan.

And yet he has informed my Pagan path more than anyone else.

The Monkey Man is famous and celebrated throughout the Delaware Valley because everywhere he goes, he takes his monkey, Bongo. (You can see Bongo in the picture. My nephew is holding him.) Bongo talks with a high-pitched monkey voice. He makes kids smile.

When I first got to know the Monkey Man, I saw him one night at the local pizza joint. He asked me to hold his monkey while he went to the water closet. I felt honored. I peppered the monkey with questions, but the loyal chimp was mum until his owner returned. Nowadays, Bongo and I are tight.

Bongo the monkey inspired a magical creature who came into my life in 2008. That creature is Big Red.

Unlike Bongo, Big Red doesn't talk out loud. He whispers to me, and I translate for him. Other than that, he's pretty much Bongo.

Big Red has gone with me to the Spoutwood Fairie Festival for six years. There he helped me to recruit for the Mountain Tribe. Mostly, though, he greeted little kids and accepted hugs. Lots of hugs. Lots and lots of hugs. The number of hugs every single stuffed animal everywhere dreams about all the time.

This past year, I was somewhat distracted at the Fairie Festival. On Friday and Sunday I didn't take Big  Red. So, in order to make it up to him, I took him with me to Four Quarters Farm. He was a huge hit at Four Quarters. I wouldn't say he got hugged there. He got mauled. Tossed. Peppered with questions. Passed from hand to hand. He got flown across a glen and landed nose-down in mud. He also got to march in the Fourth of July parade there. And he danced with me -- and with lots of happy little girls -- around the fire.

My goodness. I'm the Monkey Woman. Except I don't have a monkey, I have a dragon. This is appropriate. Pagan kids love dragons.

So if you see me at a Pagan event where there are children, chances are I'll be holding this dragon. It has been my privilege to study puppet politics at the knee of the great and renowned Monkey Man, and I am now ready to take my place amusing kids and adults with the help of my friend, Big Red.

Love me, love my dragon.

Final photo from Facebook page "365 Days of Fairies"

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Open Invitation

I will be sojourning in sunny Baltimore for two days in order to visit my mother-in-law. This is a good time to issue an


To a Lughnasadh ritual hosted by Grove of the Black Oak

Area 14, Ridley Creek State Park, Media PA

Sunday, August 3

1:00 p.m.

Bring some eats and beverages for yourself.

Free of charge

This is a beautiful wooded setting. Our group is easy-going, egalitarian, and funny. The ritual is not aligned with any particular Pagan path ... all are welcome.

I would love to meet you.

Oh yeah ... we do this rain or shine. Once it hailed on us. Hoping for a sunny day, but we take what we get.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

No Surprises with Hobby Lobby Family Agenda

What, you were expecting them to stop at Plan B?

I stumbled across a print version of Time magazine in a doctor's office earlier this week. Wow! Are those getting thin! Striplings, when I was your age, Time magazine arrived in the mailbox, chock-a-block with advertising of all sorts and running more than 100 pages. Now they have a website. On which I could not find a copy of the print article about the Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby.

The article is called "The Contraception Countdown." It appeared in the July 7-14 print issue.

In the absence of the link (sorry), let us here at "The Gods Are Bored" give you a rundown. Same thing, right? That's what blogs are for!

The article profiled the Green family, evangelical Christians. Here's a family portrait:

The Greens believe that America has lost its way and needs to return to good Christian values. Nobody would care much, except -- as you see from the portrait -- they're well-heeled and powerful. They have the clout to bring this country back to God as they see Him.

There's little argument that our nation has drifted from fundamental Christian principles that are clearly delineated in the Bible.

As the Greens see it, one way to rectify this falling-away from faith is to teach the Bible in public schools. Mind you, the course would be an elective, but they have sunk tons of money into developing a technologically advanced, kicky curriculum for their elective on the Bible as a historical and philosophical textbook. Needless to say, this has been a goal of many Christian Americans for a long time, and damn that pesky Constitution!

Since they more or less roll in ducats, the Green family has amassed a formidable collection of ancient Bibles, scrolls, and relics. Well, this is not the kind of stuff you heave into a temperature- and humidity-controlled vault, just for creaky old scholars to peruse. No! The Greens are funding a Bible Museum that will open in 2017 ... five blocks from the Capitol of the United States of America.

Come on, now. This whole "separation of church and state" thing is really bad. Historically, Christians have been shown to be open-minded and compassionate, modeling themselves after Jesus. Christians have a long and exalted track record of kindness to their own as well as to those of other religions.

This nation needs discipline, the kind that only Christianity can provide.

I'm sure the Green family would be waving their hands and shouting, "Oh, no no no no! This is not what we mean by bringing faith back into the classroom! This is not our vision of a unity of Church and State!"

*When you tell someone what they can and can't do with their own body, that's slavery.

*When you teach a religion in a public school, that's indoctrination.

*When the government favors one faith over others, that's discrimination.

*When a moral code from a religious text is applied piecemeal, rather than in its entirety, that's dishonesty.

Ooooops! I turned a perfectly lovely Time profile of a morally upright family into a screed. Shame on me! But you see, like the founders of this nation, I've read my history books. I know about the Crusades, about the persecution of Protestants during the Reformation, about slavery, about the Holocaust, about the creation of the Church of England, about popes who murdered entire families in vendettas. I know that our country is filled to the plimsol line with atheists, with Jews, with Pagans, with people who are just indifferent to religion, and with numerous Christian sects (large and small) who all have their own slightly different take on the faith. Putting Jesus into our government would only work if you could actually get Him, the actual Jesus, to run the government. And then ... oh golly! Within a heartbeat we'd lose our military industrial complex and find ourselves facing the death penalty for divorce.

I'll bet you're wondering what that new Bible museum in Washington, DC is going to look like. Here's an artist's rendering:

Theocracy is a marvelous thing. Ask any Pharaoh.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Friends of the Cherry Hill Library

Oops! I did it again. I volunteered. I broke that most sacred of vows, to never ever volunteer to do anything for anyone. And as usual, I got my bitch slap. Happens every time.

It's hot as Hell here, and muggy as a sauna, so when Mr. J  suggested I help him set up for the semi-annual Friends of the Cherry Hill Library book sale, I said yes. Mr. J has been lugging boxes of books for these Friends for about twelve years. He is a collector, and he does quickly peruse the boxes as he stacks them on the carts ... but he's there to work.

So was I. On a hot day it's good to have a workout with meaning.

We got to the library at about 10:00. I am not exaggerating one bit when I say that there were 40 pallets, each with ten to twelve boxes full of books. Think of a banquet hall filled end-to-end with books, VHS (why?), CDs, and DVDs. The task was to move all of these books out of the storage area into the selling area, which was two long hallways away.

When Mr. J and I arrived, there were five people loading boxes onto carts: a woman about my age who was having back trouble, another lady I recognized from many book sales, an elderly man, and a guy of about 60-65. We all set to work.

I'm very spry for my age, but I know my limits. I lifted whatever I could safely lift. Whenever I had a chance, I opted for the paperbacks. I was moving fast, but I was on the lookout for young adult books that my inner city readers would like. Of which there were nearly naught  -- Cherry Hill is a snowy white suburb of keen snobbery.

About midway through the morning, a woman came up to me and said, "I don't know you." Well, that was true. This is the first time I ever helped Mr. J at a sale. So I said, "I'm Mrs. J," and nodded toward Mr. J, who was laboring like Hercules.

Readers, my hands are numb and my arms are tired. I worked my butt off in there. When I'm tasked with something, I do it to the best of my ability. I took one bathroom break. I found one precious Paul Volponi title. (Ever tried getting a 16-year-old boy who hates to read to actually do it? The author Paul Volponi is one of my go-to guys for this difficult demographic.)

Time passes quickly when you're moving stuff around. It was just before noon when the same lady who said "I don't know you" came back to where we were still stacking books. In 90 minutes we had reduced the number of pallets from 40 to 6. There was little left to do.

Nevertheless, the lady said to us, "You need to stop looking through the boxes and hurry up. I have corporate volunteers out there who are leaving at 12:30."

Mr. J, who never suffers a fool easily, pointed out the obvious. "We're volunteers," he said.

To which she replied: "I know you're volunteers. Hurry up. Stop looking at the books."

Giving Mr. J the props here. He said, "What the fuck?" He put down the box of books in his hands and walked out the door.

I tarried. You see, the Paul Volponi book I found (a library discard) was about inner city boys in a basketball tournament. I had never seen this book before. Darling Amazon does not list it as a "people who like this also liked" under Paul Volponi. And as for looking through the boxes, they've already been sorted. It's easy to find the young adult lit. And of course I fully intended to pay for the book. THE book. The ONLY book I had set aside.

Luckily, the other lady helping load the carts was a good ol' regular. She said I could give her the money for the book, and she would pay for it. So I handed her the ducats and hoofed it with Mr. J, the precious Paul Volponi library discard in my trembling hands.

When I think of being poorly treated as a volunteer, I have to go way back to my days as a United Methodist Church Lady before I find the kind of rudeness I got in spades today.

Free advice to people who are coordinating volunteers: Treat them kindly. After a thorough upper body workout lasting 90 minutes, I just didn't want to hear, "Hurry up." As for the "I don't know you," I've thought of about 25 witty responses that I should have used on her -- and would have, if only I had known she wasn't through cracking the whip.

With friends like Friends of the Cherry Hill Library, who needs enemies? Sermon over, sweet Pagans.