Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ten Things That Raise the Hackles of the Bored Gods

I know, I know ... you're saying to yourself, "How does Anne get an inside track to the bored gods?" Have you no faith? I compiled an exhaustive survey of over 300 downsized deities, and here are the things that they're hating on just now:

1. Fracking. Hades says that if one more drill bit comes through the roof of His bedroom, He is going to send us an 8-point earthquake. You heard it here first.

2. Drones. Even the War Gods categorically detest drones and even guided missiles. Please forgive them for that, reader. It shows how old-fashioned they are, with antiquated notions about being able to visibly identify your enemy before you start randomly killing.

3. Global climate change. Only the gods are supposed to change the climate, and They are really pissed that the human race has figured out how to do this. They say They will issue a few more gentle warnings, and then ... forget it. We reap the oven.

4. Lil Bub. This one came out of nowhere. Just jealousy, I suppose. Or overkill.

5. Genetically Modified Organisms. The bored gods say They gave us some latitude to breed plants and animals in an old-fashioned way, leading to dachshunds and sweet corn. But splicing genes? Evil! Only the bored gods can alter genetics. Again comes a warning from various pantheons with no specific threat attached.

6. The busy god. Other deities claim They have never seen such hatred as this busy god engenders, especially since so much of it is aimed at other followers of the same god. The Aztec pantheon attributes this hatred to overpopulation of the planet, while the Norse deities blame it on global warming.

7. Machines. The vast majority of bored deities see machines of all kinds (except simple ones like the wheel and the pulley) as a threat to the future of the human race. More than one Goddess said that going back to grinding with a mortar and pestle would be preferable to hours spent on Facebook.

8. Greed. Have you ever heard of a deity who liked greedy people? This one is no surprise.

9. Bottled water. A hatred of this is pervasive among the bored gods, with more than one saying it should only be handed out for free, and only where the existing water supply is dirty or depleted.

10. Inconclusive response. Many of the questionnaires came back listing "Amazon" as something the bored gods hate. Our researchers cannot determine whether the deities meant the company, the warriors, or the river. Further study is needed.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Micro Meadow Mangled

We didn't even choose the lowest bidder.

But never mind. The "professional" tree service Mr. J chose to trim our ancient pear tree consisted of a cast of goofs.

They arrived promptly at 7:30 Monday morning, powering up their chainsaws in a way that pays back all of our noisy neighbors for their damn leaf blowers and lawn services.

Mr. J went out to greet them. I heard him tell them to be careful with the garden.

About two minutes later, I heard one of the crew say to the other, "Didn't the guy tell you to be careful with the garden? Look where that branch landed!

It landed in my micro meadow, crushing just about everything.

There was only one flower blooming in the whole patch. They knocked it over.

Not seeing any other flowers, they just tramped through the patch, dragged branches over it ... even after I came out and told them not to. I said that the garden didn't look like much, but that it was just planted this year.

All the plants were doing well, too. The prickly pear had grown ... and there was that one lone purple spiky flower. Now in a vase in the kitchen.

Our neighbor across the way came out in a purple rage because branches (and pears) were falling in his yard.

The proprietor of the service told Mr. J that his crew would arrive with "a million dollars worth of equipment." I don't know where they stored it. They used our step ladder and stood (perilously) on the roof of the garage.

They did not wear hard hats. No brains to protect anyway.

 One would think that wild flowers can bounce back from a bashing. Time will tell. Tree-trimming is an affront to the Green Man. Guess I'll pay the price.

Oh ... I was smart enough to cover the Shrine of the Mists with a good, strong tarp. If they had trampled that, I would have had to join a well regulated militia pretty quick.

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.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Lessons from the British Isles: The Salmon of Wisdom

For many years I had a maid service. It started with one enterprising Ukrainian (got her citizenship) and moved to a force of young ladies who could whoosh in and clean Chateau Johnson in 90 minutes.

Today I cleaned Chateau Johnson. It took me more than six hours. And I forgot to vacuum the carpet in the living room.

There's something about unhurried housework that makes you think. And I got to thinking about all the cool deities and characters who inhabit the history of the British Isles. And the places! Then I got to thinking about the totemic meaning of the various deities and heroes and heroines. I ought to clean house more often!

Here are a few, and I think this will be a nice "Gods Are Bored" series!

My favorite Celtic spirit is the Salmon of Wisdom.

The Salmon of Wisdom lived in a pool into which fell the hazelnuts that were full of wisdom. As the Salmon consumed the nuts, he became the wisest being in the world.

I suppose I love the Salmon of Wisdom because I myself can never seem to learn enough. Are you that way? There's always another book to read, there's always another celestial event in the sky, there's always a new person you want to know all about. Wisdom is a treasure. And what I love the most about the Salmon of Wisdom is that he had no agenda for his smarts. He wasn't going to take over the world, or win a contest, or any of that. He was content to sit in his pool, growing ever wiser.

We can learn a lot from this fish without eating him (which was his sad fate). Knowledge comes to us as a tasty hazelnut. We digest it and ponder it and use it to craft our conclusions about the world. There's nothing quite so pathetic as a person with lots of opinions and little knowledge to support them.

So, take a message from the Salmon of Wisdom and learn what you can about anything and everything. Wisdom engenders good decision-making. And if you learn just for the joy of it, without a particular egotistical agenda, you're going to be a wonderful companion to anyone you're with.

I think I'll do a few more of these posts. They're fun!

The whole Salmon story is here.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Blogging Is Weird

This Tiki...
Appeared in my neighborhood in 2008, stayed about three months, and moved on. One of my friends says it's a free-range Tiki.

It didn't look like a particularly friendly Tiki, so I gave it an offering of a fifth of hard liquor. You can't be too careful with a fierce Tiki.

About a week ago, the numbers on my blog skyrocketed. People are looking at this Tiki in droves. I don't know whether It has made Its way into a meme, or what. However, I am glad that I took the photo myself. Anyone who wants to use it can use it.

The Internet is a very peculiar entity. Sometimes I forget that everything I write goes out there and stays out there as long as there is an Internet.

I have written over 2100 posts for "The Gods Are Bored." If it was a newspaper column, they would have wrapped up fish and gone to the landfill. Here they are immortal, unless I delete them -- and even then I wouldn't be sure ...

And so the free-range Tiki begins a new life roaming around the Internet. I hope the people using the image have some hard liquor on hand that they can pour onto their keyboard or pad. Just saying, I found this Tiki to be bad ass.

Friday, July 11, 2014

I Am Petty, Hard-Hearted, and Haunted by My Past

Yes, yes, that's right. No sugar-coating on old Annie. Her current resentments and old baggage combine to create a pungent potion of pettiness!

I've had three readers for almost a decade, but I recently added another ... so here's an old story:

My sister arranged my dad's funeral and told me that her pastor would deliver a homily. At the time, Sis was attending a Pentecostal church. Long story short, Dad's funeral turned into an old-time revival meeting, with that abominable pastor preaching from the pulpit that Heaven was like Hershey Park (a local amusement park). You had to have money for a ticket to get through the turnstile. If you get to the turnstile with no money, you're going to be sent away.

I was a Pagan at the time of that sermon, and my sister knew it. There I sat, seething, while a man I didn't know used my dear agnostic father's funeral to warn me that I was headed for Hell.

Over the years, Sis has just kept bringing up that sermon. Over and over. Sort of seeking forgiveness from me, I suppose. But hold on! I'm petty and hard-hearted! I'm not going to forgive that.

Well ... sure I would have, except that Sis brought it up again at the Spoutwood Fairie Festival, the last place on Earth I would ever want to talk about that. On this occasion, she said, "Pastor John was very proud of that sermon. He told me, 'Oh, wait until you hear it!'"

During the course of the Fairie Festival (Sis stayed in my hotel room, gratis, and let it be known that we needed to keep to her schedule), I said a few things about Drum and Splash, and Four Quarters Farm in general. Yes! I am petty and hard-hearted! I let her know, in a roundabout way, that there was a Pagan campground within an easy drive of her McMansion.

No surprises from my sister. About six weeks before Drum and Splash, she sent me a message: "Have you ever been to a Moon Ceremony at Four Quarters Farm?" She could only have found out about their Rituals by checking out the site.

So I unsheathed the rapier and let her have it.

Petty Anne #1:
I told her that I didn't mind having her in my hotel room for the Fairie Festival gratis until I saw her outfit herself in about $600 worth of costuming over three days.

Petty Anne #2:
I told her that I work overtime, long hard hours in November, to pay for Drum and Splash, and I did not want to be her cruise director there or see her arrive with a $400 djembe.

Petty Anne #3:
I asked her why she would want to go to a Pagan gathering, given her religious background. What would her husband and son think? What was she looking for that her community of Christians might not be providing? Was she ready for the consequences? Which led to.....

Petty Anne Maximum Ride:
What would Pastor John say? Would she be squandering her Hershey Park ticket money on a different amusement park? And while on the subject of Pastor John, Annie never wants to hear about him again, EVER. He's a despicable man who knowingly stabbed at me at a time when I was grieving. Maybe he had the best intentions, but even so, in all my life, I had never heard a message like that at a funeral. And I have been to Mennonite funerals. (They mostly sing.)

Petty Anne's Baggage:
When Sis and I were kids, my mother was mentally ill. From about age 8, I was expected to parent Sis, entertain her, and give her whatever she wanted from my possessions. Until some children her age moved into the area, I was completely hamstrung by caring for her. Therefore, when she dogged my every step at the festival I save for all year, I felt that same childhood frustration. And when she asked me about Four Quarters Farm, I saw the writing on the wall. She wanted more entertainment from me. She saw another opportunity to re-enact a childhood that was pretty happy for her, and absolutely miserable for me.

Long story short, Sis is not speaking to me. I blame myself, petty, hard-hearted Anne.

On the other hand, it feels good to let her know that childhood is over, and that she can't cry poverty in May and visit the Grand Canyon for the third time with her family in June.

I honestly don't mind at all if she starts going to Moon Services and becomes a Pagan. But I'm not going to hold her hand and show her how.  Sis can't help how our childhoods mapped out, but she's a grownup now. Time to find her own way and pay for it too.

It's just about the same thing I expect of my daughters. So maybe I'm not as petty as all that.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Lessons Learned at Four Quarters Farm

Hello, there, chappies! It's me, Annie of the Appalachians, slinging more words your way! Catch 'em, share 'em, collect the whole set!

My three long-time readers will know that the biggest hurdle in my personal life has been the loss of my ties to the Appalachian farm that was in my family for ... oh ... thirteen or so generations. Really. I have an ancestor who died in 1778 whose grandfather lived in those parts.

At just about the same time that the last generation of Johnsons were dying out or moving away from Polish Mountain, a campground called Four Quarters Farm opened at the other end of the Zip code. It was quite a joke at the time, because Four Quarters started out as a completely clothing-optional place. (Options have been scaled back but not abandoned at present.)

It's no coincidence that I started camping at Four Quarters the same year that my family sold the homestead. What is a coincidence is that Four Quarters Farm is for Pagans ... and I had become Pagan.

When I go to Four Quarters Farm, I meditate on the loss of my farm, the lack of Appalachian identity in my children, the loss of family and friends and anchor. This is the Great Work that I still have to do to find peace in my life: I've got to stay connected to the land even with the loss of ownership.

This year at 4QF, my friend Maebius came and was pretty much game for any silly endeavor I proposed. So I persuaded him to go hiking with me off site to a state forest trail that I recalled from my youth. (There are some very gorgeous hollows in those mountains, but they're hard to get into and out of.) We set out in search of a drop-dead gorgeous hollow that used to be easy to find on a well-marked trail. But that was 20 years ago. The trail isn't even marked any more. We discovered this only after hiking into a wicked thicket of new growth woods and stinging nettles.

We weren't lost, but we couldn't find a consistent path back out of the hollow. It was slow going. Thankfully we did have a nice pure stream at our side.

As we made our way down along the stream, back toward where I parked, we began noticing interesting topography. There were ornamental shrubberies grown wild. Rock walls abandoned. Masonry foundations in the middle of the woods. The area had once been populated. Now it's woods.

Maebius said, "Nature has really reclaimed this place."

This comforted me immensely.

The long-gone residents of those long-gone homes were no doubt kin of mine. They're probably buried up in Chaneysville. But their homes, yards, barns, bridges ... lost, all lost.

So, too, will this be with my great-grandfather's land. Once the kinship tie is broken, and the property owners are absentee or foreign, Nature moves in. There's a stubborn grove of locust trees where my great-aunt Belle had her magnificent garden. Carpenter bees have eaten the barn; it was torn down this year. The pastures are growing in because only deer are grazing them.

Appalachia is still under attack by mountaintop removal mining and fracking, but at least in the little patch where I came up, Gaia has moved in and is reclaiming. Now that no Johnsons live along Johnson Road anymore, I beseech Her to expand Her reach.  Let there be trees. Let there be woods. Let the roads grow in and the timbers crumble. Let the mountain forget us all. It was born in the days of the dinosaurs -- what do we matter to it, after all?

Gaia, take back what was yours, and thank you for letting us borrow the mountain for awhile. We didn't leave very much behind. Bright blessings to You.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Drum and Splash 2014

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored Go Camping!"

From Wednesday through Sunday past, I was at an event at a campground called Four Quarters Farm. The event is called Drum and Splash.

Four Quarters Farm has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to swimming holes. The property has three.
It's tough to do justice to a swimming hole in a photograph. And, since this particular swimming hole is under-utilized, you can't get a good perspective on its size. But take it from me, as a born-and-bred Appalachian, this is a quality swimming hole. Five stars outta five.

The swimming holes account for the "splash" portion of Drum and Splash. The "drum" portion consists of classes and seminars built around drumming. Almost everyone brings fancy djembe drums, but this year I was also happy to find dumbek classes for clueless beginners. I mean, I know so little about my drum that the teacher had to show me how to hold it. And when he said that a whole major beat is created with one finger, I contemplated aborting the mission. Instead I'll practice, because drumming is a wonderful thing.

After dark at Four Quarters Farm, the staff builds a bonfire, and there's an open drum circle. People dance around the fire. This goes on until the last person stops for the night, which means sometimes the drumming goes right on to dawn. The fire spinners also come out and practice their moves in the meadow. Elsewhere there's a big tent for guitars and storytelling and singalongs.

The Grand Finale of this event is a celebration that begins with a parade of dragons, bellydancers, drummers, straw men, and stilt-walkers. After they march across the meadow, the fire-spinners come out. After them, big ol' fireworks shoot up into the clear mountain air. Then everyone pours into the drum circle for Masters performances and much more drumming and dancing.

I don't have a single photo of any of it.

Some people can live and take photos of the living as it's happening. I can't seem to do that. Maybe it's because I grew up in the 20th century, and photos were staged ("everyone say cheese").

You know, I would be feeling really geezerish if I could come home and Google this event and find 1,000 vivid photos, but the pictures just aren't there. Drum and Splash is a be-in. People are doing stuff. No one is looking through the lens of an IPhone. Even the teenagers sit and talk to each other. And the place isn't off the grid. My phone worked to make calls. I was just too busy to point and shoot.

I know I have said this before. If you are looking for a Pagan-friendly place to bring your children, or just to chill out yourself, you cannot do better than Four Quarters Farm. Put it another way. Do you have a closet full of tie-dye you can't wear? Shove it in a satchel and go to Artemas, PA.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014


We at "The Gods Are Bored" will be making merry for the next six days. Please re-join the madness next week!