kitchen_kink: (foreboding)
Cast All Your Votes for Dancing

I know the voice of depression
Still calls to you
I know those habits that can ruin your life
Still send their invitation.
But you are with the Friend now
And look so much stronger
You can stay that way
And even bloom!

Keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From your prayers and work and music
And from your companions' beautiful laughter.

Keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From the sacred hands and glance of your Beloved
And, my Dear,
From the most insignificant movements of your own holy body.

Learn to recognize the counterfeit coins
that may buy you just a moment of pleasure,
But then drag you for days,
Like a broken man,
behind a farting camel.

You are with the Friend now
Learn what actions of yours delight Him,
What actions of yours bring freedom,
and Love.

Whenever you say God's name, dear pilgrim,
My ears wish my head were missing
So they could finally kiss each other
And applaud all your nourishing wisdom!

O keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From your prayers and work and music,
And from your companions' beautiful laughter
And from the most insignificant movements of your own holy body.
Now Sweet one,
be wise,
Cast all your votes for dancing!

kitchen_kink: (spiral)
From [ profile] queen_of_wands:

Elements of Magic in Boston (Somerville)

A Weekend Intensive with Sarah, Sierra, & John
Friday, September 28 - Sunday, September 30

Magic is the art of changing consciousness at will. In this class we empower ourselves to make change in the world by working with Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit. Techniques include visualization, sensing and projecting energy, chanting, trance, sacred movement, creating magical space, spell-craft, and structuring rituals. Elements of Magic is a core workshop in the Reclaiming Tradition of Witchcraft ( You do not need to be part of this tradition to participate. Group experience happens in the framework of feminist consensus process. We hope to provide a fair and nurturing environment for all participants. The workshop is suitable both as an introduction to Witchcraft for seekers, and as an introduction to Reclaiming practice for more experienced practitioners.

Details and registration form. )
kitchen_kink: (energy)
I'm a lapsed Catholic; it's true. And right now I identify more as pagan than anything else; hell, I even have a regular spiritual practice. But one thing that has been so gratifying to me during this transition from agnostico-vague-spiritualist to practicing pagan is the reclaiming of Christmas.

At last, I know what it is that has been so appealing to me about the holiday for all these years. I've watched as mainstream (read: Christian) America has tried, in vain, to "put the Christ back in Christmas," only to see it grow more inflated and commercial every year. It doesn't work, because the holiday has been stolen: it was holly and ivy long before it was a baby in a manger, and the more it tries to be forced into that mold, the more the perverted pagan traditions pop out, devoid of all spiritual meaning, and devolve into an orgy of spending and inflatable plastic Santas. I've watched some of my Jewish friends recoil in disgust at the way the holiday takes over the hearts, minds, and front yards of their neighborhoods, and listened to people complain about everything from false holiday cheer to endless Christmas music to yet another painful few days with their families, pretending to be happy while tensions seethe.

And yet, through all of this, I have always loved the smell of Christmas (cinnamon, pine, baking meats and pies, snow, and woodsmoke), the specials on TV, the caroling (only in the past couple of years have I actually begun participating in a door-to-door tradition), the tree with its white lights and beautiful ornaments (I decorated mine tonight), egg nog, gifts, the Rockefeller Center tree lighting ceremony, the sound of bells in shop windows, and the Mormon God-damned Taber-fucking-nacle Choir.

And I've realized over the last few years that all - not one, not two, but all - of the things I love about Christmas aren't about Christmas at all.

They're about Yule.

Yes, the winter solstice. It was fun tonight singing a gorgeous arrangement of "The Holly and the Ivy" - a pagan carol if ever there was one - and seeing the way it had been warped into a Jesus carol. The words of the first verse and the chorus are as follows:

The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown

O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing of the choir

Come on, now. "The rising of the sun and the running of the deer"? This is a solstice song! But in the next verse it goes on to compare the attributes of the holly to Mary's bearing of Jesus. Whatever.

In any case, there are many, many, many beautiful carols that celebrate the birth of Christ. And many, many more that celebrate Christmas as a general time of love, peace, and good will toward men. And a few that are left over from them pre-Christian times. Deck the Hall with boughs of holly, and all that jazz.

The point, though, is that the silent night, holy night that I love has very little, if anything, to do with the birth of the king of the Jews. And further: that's okay with me. I don't need the Christ in Christmas. Because before it was Christmas, it was very much celebrated in the ways that I find most rewarding about the season: with holly, pine boughs, lights held together against the darkness of winter, feasting and drinking with friends, song, presents, and fellowship.

Happy holidays, everyone, whatever you celebrate. I'll be off enjoying my Yule vigil in front of a 15-hour roaring fire on Thursday night, celebrating Christmas with my biofamily on the 25th, and feasting with my dearest friends here in Boston on New Year's Eve. May you all be so multiply blessed.
kitchen_kink: (sparkly doubt)
If you read me with any regularity, you know that I believe in some things and engage in some practices that the atheists and skeptics among you tend to magnanimously chuckle at and call "woo-woo." For you guys, as well as for the more woo-woo-inclined on my friends list, I offer this interview of Rob Breszny, writer of the column called Free Will Astrology. I generally skip down to his horoscopes, which are usually funny and filled with good insight, but today I chose to read a little of his column, and this Q&A session sums up, to a great degree, the way I see the world. Do read and enjoy.


Q & A

QUESTION. How can an intelligent, educated person possibly believe astrology has any merit?

ROB. Many of the debunkers who're responsible for trying to discredit astrology have done no research on the subject. They haven't read smart astrological philosophers like Dane Rudhyar, don't know that seminal astronomer Johannes Kepler was a skilled astrologer, and aren't aware that eminent psychologist C.G. Jung cast horoscopes and believed that "astrology represents the summation of all the psychological knowledge
of antiquity." The closest approach the fraudulent "skeptics" usually make to the ancient art is to glance at a tabloid horoscope column. To match their carelessness, I might make a drive-by of a strip mall and declare that the profession of architecture is shallow and debased.

That's one reason why these ill-informed "skeptics" spread so many ignorant lies. For instance, they say that astrologers think the stars and planets emit invisible beams that affect people's lives. The truth is, most Western astrologers don't believe any such thing.

QUESTION. Because you pack your column with doses of humor and wild imagery, some people think you don't take astrology seriously.

ROB. On the contrary, I think this proves how much respect I have for astrology--I mean REAL astrology. Not astrology as a superstitious belief system that generates boring predictions in dead language about trivial events that only our neurotic egos are obsessed with; but rather astrology as a mytho-poetic symbol system that expands your
imagination about the big cycles of your life, liberates you from the literalistic trance that the daily grind tends to trap you in, and opens you up to the understanding that you're much more beautiful and full of potential than you've been taught to believe.

QUESTION. You have said that you believe in astrology "about 80 percent." What's up with the other 20 percent?

ROB. I use the same 80-20 approach with every belief system I love and benefit from: science, psychology, feminism, and various religious traditions like Buddhism and Christianity and paganism. I take what's useful from each, but am not so deluded as to think that any single system is the holy grail that the physicists call the "Theory of
Everything." Unconditional, unskeptical faith is the path of the fanatic and fundamentalist, and I aspire to be a rowdy philosophical anarchist, aflame with objectivity and committed to the truth that the truth is always mutating.

QUESTION. But don't you risk playing the same role the tabloid astrologers do: enticing people to take on a superstitious approach to life and seducing them into believing their fate is determined by supernatural forces beyond the influence of their willpower?

ROB. I call what I do predicting the present, not forecasting the future. My goal is to awaken my readers to the hidden agendas, unconscious forces, and long-term cycles at work in their lives so that they can respond to the totality of what's happening instead of to mere appearances. I want to be a friendly shocker who helps unleash their imaginations, giving them the power to create their destinies with the same liberated fertility that great artists summon to forge their masterpieces.

QUESTION. How do you write your column? Do you use actual astrological data, or just go into a trance and let your imagination run wild?

ROB. I draw up a weekly chart for the sun, moon, and major aspects of each sign. It's the framework within which I improvise. The artistic part of the work is harder to pin down. One of my guiding principles, though, is to treat each sign's horoscope as a personal love letter--to speak as intimately about the mysteries of the moment as if I were addressing a close friend.

Where do my inspirations come from? Dreams, letters from readers, overheard conversations, meditation, lots of reading in a wide variety of texts both sacred and profane, and the intensive cultivation of my own receptivity. I also rely on fact-finding missions I call whirlygigs. During these, I steep myself with the intention of attracting lessons I don't know I need, then meander through the world at random, going places I've never been and striking up conversations with strangers with whom I
apparently have nothing in common.

QUESTION. You confuse me in the way that you praise rational thought and the scientific method, yet reserve the right to believe in astrology, angels, miracles, and other woo-woo.

ROB. Thousands of amazing, inexplicable, and even supernatural events occur every day. And yet most are unreported by the media. The few that are cited are ridiculed. Why? Here's one possible reason: The people most likely to believe in wonders and marvels are superstitious, uneducated, and prone to having a blind, literalist faith in their religions' myths. Those who are least likely to believe in wonders and marvels are skilled at analytical thought, well-educated, and yet prone to having a blind,
literalist faith in the ideology of materialism, which dogmatically asserts
that the universe consists entirely of things that can be perceived by the five human senses or detected by instruments that scientists have thus far invented.

The media is largely composed of people from the second group. It's virtually impossible for them to admit to the possibility of events that elude the rational mind's explanations, let alone experience them. If anyone from this group manages to escape peer pressure and cultivate a receptivity to the miraculous, it's because they have successfully fought against being demoralized by the unsophisticated way wonders and
marvels are framed by the first group.

I try to be immune to the double-barreled ignorance. When I behold astonishing synchronicities and numinous breakthroughs that seem to violate natural law, I'm willing to consider the possibility that my understanding of natural law is too narrow. And yet I also refrain from lapsing into irrational gullibility; I actively seek mundane explanations for apparent miracles.

QUESTION. Can you sum up your approach to seeing the world?

ROB. My outlook combines the rigorous objectivity of a scientist, the "beginner's mind" of Zen Buddhism, and the compassionate friendliness of the Dalai Lama. I blend a scrupulously dispassionate curiosity with a skepticism driven by expansiveness, not spleen.

To pull this off, I have to be willing to regularly suspend my theories about the way the world works. I accept with good humor the possibility that what I've learned in the past may not be a reliable guide to understanding the fresh phenomenon that's right in front of me. I'm suspicious of my biases, even the rational and benevolent ones. I open my heart as I strip away the interpretations that my emotions might be inclined to impose.

"Before we can receive the unbiased truth about anything," wrote my teacher Ann Davies, "we have to be ready to ignore what we would like to be true."

At the same time, I don't want to turn into a hard-ass, poker-faced robot. I keep my feelings moist and receptive. I remember my natural affection for all of creation. I enjoy the power of tender sympathy as it drives me to probe for the unimaginable revelations of every new moment. "Before we can receive the entire truth about anything," said Ann Davies, "we have to love it."

kitchen_kink: (Default)

Western Union, my bank, and the strength of my heart.


Long walks that end at Crate & Barrel. Watching jewelry form from a designer's brain. Motherfucking snakes on a motherfucking plane.


Camp Burgess, which is just so damned beautiful. Having amazing friends to talk to when I'm stuck in traffic. Rio's mischievous smile. ("Rio cute!")


Powerful rituals. Even though I'm not entirely sure what I did during it, I know it was deep and hungry work, mainly evidenced by the metric fuckton of food I ate after it.

My coven, and the work we're embarked on. We sat down after rit (when it's usually close to 11pm and we're exhausted), ate at a normal dinnertime, and basically planned out the entire next year. Rock.

Waffles with vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg, crispy bacon, and the awesome people who made them for us.
kitchen_kink: (Default)
So, say you were on a cleanse, peaking in a water- and tea-only fast this Sunday. Say you would like to go on that day to some woods. Ideally, said woods would be:

1. not too far away from Cambridge/Somerville, as you don't want to drive too far while on a fast;
2. not too crowded, so you could do silly spiritual things without attracting too much human attention;
3. not made up entirely of hills and mountainy things, as you will be weak from fasting and not so much into climbing things, and;
4. still fairly isolated.

Where would you go?
kitchen_kink: (meditative)
"Literature is sacred. It is as sacred to me as anything I know. I suspect that most editors and agents feel the same way, if only during the quiet, kept hours of the night. But there is always the issue of how one goes about selling the sacred without defiling it. There is the issue of how one goes about superintending the sacred when tens of thousands of fellow brethren, some of them abundantly insane but many of the truest sort of heart, want to add to its flame. What does one tell them? That they are not holy enough? However one personally and professionally elects to handle these troubling issues, a tiny piece of the sacred is ruined. For me, at least, all of this inevitably leads to a small, quiet grief. We would all like for our worlds to be bigger."

-Tom Bissell
kitchen_kink: (Default)
[ profile] amber_phoenix, to my delight, has been posting a lot of poetry lately. In fact, I bet she'll post this one herself. But I will too.

Man, I love Rob Breszny.

by Ellen Bass (

Pray to whoever you kneel down to:
Jesus nailed to his wooden or marble or plastic cross,
his suffering face bent to kiss you,
Buddha still under the Bo tree in scorching heat,
Yahweh, Allah, raise your arms to Mary
that she may lay her palm on our brows,
to Shekinhah, Queen of Heaven and Earth,
to Inanna in her stripped descent.

Hawk or Wolf, or the Great Whale, Record Keeper
of time before, time now, time ahead, pray. Bow down
to terriers and shepherds and siamese cats.
Fields of artichokes and elegant strawberries.

Pray to the bus driver who takes you to work,
pray on the bus, pray for everyone riding that bus
and for everyone riding buses all over the world.
If you haven't been on a bus in a long time,
climb the few steps, drop some silver, and pray.

Waiting in line for the movies, for the ATM,
for your latté and croissant, offer your plea.
Make your eating and drinking a supplication.
Make your slicing of carrots a holy act,
each translucent layer of the onion, a deeper prayer.

Make the brushing of your hair
a prayer, every strand its own voice,
singing in the choir on your head.
As you wash your face, the water slipping
through your fingers, a prayer: Water,
softest thing on earth, gentleness
that wears away rock.

Making love, of course, is already a prayer.
Skin and open mouths worshipping that skin,
the fragile case we are poured into,
each caress a season of peace.

If you're hungry, pray. If you're tired.
Pray to Gandhi and Dorothy Day.
Shakespeare. Sappho. Sojourner Truth.
Pray to the angels and the ghost of your grandfather.

When you walk to your car, to the mailbox,
to the video store, let each step
be a prayer that we all keep our legs,
that we do not blow off anyone else's legs.
Or crush their skulls.
And if you are riding on a bicycle
or a skateboard, in a wheel chair, each revolution
of the wheels a prayer that as the earth revolves
we will do less harm, less harm, less harm.

And as you work, typing with a new manicure,
a tiny palm tree painted on one pearlescent nail
or delivering soda or drawing good blood
into rubber-capped vials, writing on a blackboard
with yellow chalk, twirling pizzas, pray for peace.

With each breath in, take in the faith of those
who have believed when belief seemed foolish,
who persevered. With each breath out, cherish.

Pull weeds for peace, turn over in your sleep for peace,
feed the birds for peace, each shiny seed
that spills onto the earth, another second of peace.
Wash your dishes, call your mother, drink wine.

Shovel leaves or snow or trash from your sidewalk.
Make a path. Fold a photo of a dead child
around your VISA card. Gnaw your crust
of prayer, scoop your prayer water from the gutter.
Mumble along like a crazy person, stumbling
your prayer through the streets.


And--AND, I got this horoscope.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Writer Michael Tortorello has
complained about the "national delight deficit." My friend Lanny
bemoans the public's shrinking attention span for stories about
joyful events and satisfying breakthroughs. I myself have
marveled at the pathological tendency of many educated people to
equate cynicism with intelligence. It's in the context of this
stupefying collective addiction to dank moods that I give you your
assignment, Scorpio: You, more than any other sign of the zodiac,
are now primed to harvest an abundance of pleasure, mirth, and
fun. Please don't keep it all to yourself; try to infect everyone
you meet.

kitchen_kink: (Default)
We arrived Saturday night after long flying, and I was surprised to see no mountains at all--in fact, Calgary is a flat expanse of farming and industry. We met up with S---- in the airport, found out that two of our pieces of luggage hadn't made it onto the connecting flight, had various ridiculous arguments with the idiots at Avis, and at long last, drove toward Canmore.

Canmore is a precious little town of 15,000 or so, nestled in the Canadian Rockies. It hosted the 1988 Calgary Olympics Alpine events. (My favorite of these is biathalon--skiing and skeet shooting! What a great idea!!)

We drove along, making periodic cell phone calls over the mountains to those of our friends already at the house--"bring ice cream, pine nuts, clementines, anchovies and pickles"--and made several shopping stops. S---- wanted a malt, but discovered that the manager of the local Dairy Queen had been living under a rock for several centuries. Much pouting.

All at once we saw that we were approaching the mountains. The drive was very dark, but the moon was bright even though the clouds hung low, and all at once the hugest mountains I'd ever seen reared up out of the landscape like solid pieces of sky.

We found the house relatively without incident, in a little vacation housing development on a cul-de-sac named Paddy Padmore (those crazy Canadians!). In we walked, and found the place bustling with Pika folks. I felt a bit intimidated at first, as I often do when surrounded by MIT geeks, particularly ones who have known [ profile] ert for nearly 15 years. But this week was to prove fruitful for my getting to know these old friends, and settling in with them proved fairly easy, especially with Settlers to help us.

We tucked in, tuckered out, not long after.

The next day, our baggage having arrived, most folks went off to ski and snowboard. I stayed home and did a brief exploration of the area, which I wrote about in my paper journal shortly afterward. I'll record some of that here as well, though it turns into rather a long-winded spiritual blather.

Philosophical self-importance. )

I'm aware this thread will offend some people who are churchy or ritual-y or otherwise into communal religious experience, but it reflects my gut feelings on spiritual experience, as I have felt it. No offense or devaluation meant; simply my assessment of what I've found to be true for me.
kitchen_kink: (Default)
Fill your cup to the brim and it will overflow.
Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt.
Chase after money and success and your heart will never unclench.
Seek the approval of others and you will be their prisoner.
Do your work and then step back.
This is the only path to serenity.


kitchen_kink: (Default)

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