Heavy sigh.

I’ve been trying to keep up with this blog and write thoughtful and spiritually connected stuff. Just as I was forming my thoughts, feelings and unlearnings around Caitlyn Jenner, Rachel Dolezal happened. I took a deep breath and did some reading and feeling around THAT. Then today happened. Nine people were gunned down in Charleston South Carolina while in a bible study group. A five year old watched as nine adults were murdered in front of her. The gunman reloaded several times and kept shooting her adults. The people who were there to keep her safe. She knew to lay on the floor and pretend to be dead so she would live. A five year old knew this.

The question going around the internet, the news sources and fox news is, why? The short naked truth is racism and hatred. There will be many spins on this truth of why, but ultimately that is why. That is why this little girl will live the rest of her life with the image of nine people she knew, possibly loved, were shot down because their skin was brown. They were shot by a man who took it into his own hands to decide who could live and who would not. He did so because he believed himself to be superior to people with brown skin because his skin is not.

How will she recover? How will she ever trust another person whose skin is not brown? People ask what institutionalized racism is. This is it. Children as young as five years old know what to do, how to live when a white man comes with a gun. He didn’t act crazy. He didn’t scream or shout, he loaded his gun and started shooting. He reloaded his gun and kept shooting.

If this little girl watched TV, and chances are good that she did, or listens in on adult conversations, again chances are good that she did, then she is fully aware of the rash of shootings of unarmed people, both male and female, by police and others. She has heard the heartbreak of her relatives and parents of friends, talking about what is a normal occurrence in the lives of people of color. She will have probably talked about it with her friends or her parents. And her parents, because they want naturally want to protect their small daughter, reassured her that everything will be ok. But for her, they will never be ok again.

Not just for her, but for thousands of children who have watched their parents be demeaned or disparaged in public by people who do not have brown skin. Children who have been thrown out of pools, snickered at, talked down to, called names, told to go back to their section 8 housing, or back to Baltimore by adults who do not have brown skin. They watch TV and see the images of people with brown skin sold as dangerous, not matching the people in their homes, their communities and yes, their churches.

They go to school where teachers may be “secretly” racist and posting pro-segregation thoughts on social media. Or where principles dismiss boys without brown skin who harass others as “oh they’re just boys” but if a boy with brown skin does the same thing they are suspended. Principles who call in police for kindergarteners misbehaving instead of calling their parents, because the kindergartener has brown skin.

How do we expect kids to ever trust people without brown skin when every shred of experience-direct or indirect- is telling them we are not to be trusted. WE. I said it. We earned the distrust. Not because of a few isolated incidents by a few crazy people. But by a long history of organized and systemic discrimination against people of color. A hatred that is fanned and encouraged by white religious organizations (Christian, Jewish, and Pagan), white news sources and hate groups across this country and others.

I am weary of all this hatred. If I am weary and heart heavy, I cannot imagine the weariness and bone chilling fear that is in the hearts of mothers and fathers of brown children. The weariness and heart heaviness of wives and husbands and partners of people of color. We did this. We, white people. We cannot blame the oppressed for their oppression. We are the ones doing the oppressing.

Intentionally or unintentionally. I am complicit if I say nothing and do nothing to address this festering pestilence that is racism so fueled by hatred and fear of other. Our fear is of our own making. Slavery in this country was race based and we have never forgiven ourselves for being enslavers and we have never forgiven people of color for being enslaved by us. Our fear is that they will treat US the way we have treated them. We say it wasn’t us. But it IS us if we hold on to racist attitudes and beliefs. It IS us if we do not rectify the inequities that are entrenched in our bureaucracies, schools, religious organizations and ourselves.

If you say nothing when racism is occurring around you, you are complicit. If you laugh or say nothing when a racist joke is told, you are complicit. If you think that it doesn’t affect you because you are not brown, then you are complicit. If you are weary and stop paying attention, then you are complicit. People of color don’t get to stop, they don’t get to be weary, they don’t get to rest. Neither do the people who love them.

That five year old girl deserved to have a happy childhood. She deserved to grow up believing the world is a good place. Every child deserves that. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. This little girl will not have a happy childhood. She can never believe the world is a good place. All because some man who’s skin is not brown decided he had the right to slaughter people who’s skin was brown because he believed his skin gave him the right. He learned that. Just like the little girl learned that men without brown skin cannot be trusted.

The rest of us who do not have brown skin need to spend our time proving that we are trustworthy. We need to stop being angry at people who have had enough and have no outlet for their despair. We need to start working on a solution for ALL of us. Not just for that little girl, but for all the little girls and all the little boys.

No child should be taught to hate others because of their skin color. But Dylann Roof was. It was his parents and community that taught him that. The state of South Carolina is codifying that belief by continuing to fly the confederate flag (a true symbol of hatred and as reprehensible as the swastika). We should not be surprised when more like Dylann Roof express their delusions of superiority via guns. We as a nation are condoning him.

I believe that as a community, as a nation, we need to acknowledge that we have a racism problem. We cannot fix what we will not acknowledge.

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what’s on my mind?

The prompt for writing on this website is “what’s on your mind?” There are so many things on my mind that it can be somewhat paralyzing. My spirituality is all tied together with how I view the world daily, politically, spiritually, how I treat people, how I treat myself… I have difficulty much of the time parsing it out, pulling those many threads apart to write something specifically on one of these topics or on something completely different.
Overall I am a positive and happy person. This does not mean that I do not have moments, or longer, of despair related to the state of our earth and the many creatures that live on/with it. While humans are one of the types of creatures there are so many more that are not human and they are being directly affected by our actions or lack thereof.

Also on my mind are the many “isms” that are rearing their ugly heads with such a vengeance. Do I address my heart break? Do I speak politically? Do I just weep? I feel compelled to say and do something, anything…but in what venue and with how much vehemence. I am told I can be quite intense… The racism and misogyny that is killing and silencing so many is creating a rage in me that I can barely contain. The words that go with that rage may or may not be helpful and so I silence myself until I feel that what I have to say can help change the state of hatefulness that seems so prevalent.

And I know that there is great beauty in the world. A world where love, support, true kindness, and the work of allies is big in its ability to change. A world where people care, and plant trees, and save bees, and each other is out there…

I am mostly a both/and kind of person. Lately there are so many examples of people just killing people because they can. Children with guns, adults who think that is okay. What IS that?! Women treated as broodmares and laws that attempt to codify that opinion. Sometimes (most times) a sense of panic accompanies any of the news I may watch or read.

Knowing what to DO is mind crippling at times. I know I cannot save them all, no matter who “them” is. But I really want to. Even if it is not my job to “SAVE” anyone. I want everyone to live inside with plenty of food. I want everyone to have healthcare, education, healthy options for whatever life they lead.

I hear so much naked hatred from so many religious “leaders” that really should be called religious “haters” and still I know the Work continues, quietly, continuously… Sometimes that knowing doesn’t help my sense of urgency. The urgency to plant a forest, save the bees and bats and all pollinators (even wasps!) while in the face of such naked aggressive greed on all sides and such resignation and desperation in equal amounts.

I have no answers. I just keep going forward trying to do as much as I can to make the world around me a better place. To be kind as much as I can, to be generous, and to plant stuff so we can all continue to breathe. I do my political work, I vote (really you should too) and I work for money in the mundane world so that my family can live inside and eat food etc.

So yeah, that is what’s on my mind.

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at long last, an update.

This past year, 2014, has been such a challenge for me. Lots of change spilling over into 2015. We bought a house. A process that most might find enjoyable, but I find it to be an incredibly crazy and crazy making process.
You find a realtor after getting a loan and the realtor takes you around to different houses and you look around and make one of the most expensive decisions of your life in the 15-20 minutes it takes to open all the closets, look at the roof, check the oven and fridge and and see how much yard work you can guestimate.
We finally made such a decision and moved all our stuff in to our chosen house. It, of course needed much more work than originally thought, but luckily it is all cosmetic. WHEW!
Meanwhile the documents for recognized religious organization for 10K Sanctuary were submitted and denied on the grounds that it had to be for the sole purpose of religious services. Today I finally had the time and patience to go over all the documents to see if there was any other purpose stated or implied in the official docs.
I called the comptrollers office and spoke to a supervisor and she could not find our denial letter. in an even stranger turn of events neither could I. I called my husband to make sure I hadn’t dreamed the denial letter and he confirmed that we did, indeed, get a hard copy of a denial letter from the comptrollers office.
My purpose for calling and speaking to a supervisor was to initiate the process to contest the decision and to submit whatever documents and proof they need to recognize our religious organization.
So, That process has been started and research is being done to see why the recognition was denied. Deep Breath for me!
Meanwhile life goes on. Work on my garden is progressing. Flowers are blooming everywhere! The bees are loving it! Tomorrow I go to check on the bees and see if we are able to harvest some spring honey. With wildflowers everywhere for the last month and more rain today I am optimistic on the honey front.
I am also cautiously optimistic on the recognized religious organization front.
It is already April! I was in a car accident in January, minor damage to me, major damage to my truck. BUT the other driver was at fault (he is ok but his car not so much) and insured so all damage was repaired to both me and the car! YAY! We didn’t lose any bees over the summer. My kids are all doing well and there is rain in Central Texas for the time being.
Lots of projects going on at my house. I will not be able to have a full on veggie garden this spring/summer but I will be able to ready the garden for a fall/winter planting.
I am trying a pinterest experiment with potatoes in a laundry basket, I will let you know how it goes. I am also trying my hand at a succulent vertical garden. The deck in the back of my house has no fence so we are trying a bottle fence. It is amazing how quickly wine bottles add up when you ask your friends and neighbors to contribute! 😉 Right now I really want more blue ones. I think I have decided to just buy a few cases of those just to change up the color from brown, green and clear. I hope this is not a pinterest fail!
Things are moving along. Rituals are being held, meetups are occurring, seed and plant sharing as well. Our community continues to grow and expand.

Blessings!
Liona 🙂

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So now it is March…

This year I have really been feeling the push and pull of the planets and the moon. The seasons here in Texas have been intense and I find myself longing for California. I feel so lost at the moment. The application for recognized religious organization has been denied. I will challenge it but for the time being I’m feeling somewhat overwhelmed. I am allowing myself to just be with this feeling of sadness and overwhelm.
At the same time my vision has not changed. I can see the Temple and the grounds and people there and I feel such a sense of calm and groundedness.
Recently I was given some very nice antiques for 10K Sanctuary to sell. I am having a hard time finding an appraiser. If you know of a good appraiser or antiques dealer in the Central Texas area please contact me. The statues and pottery still have price tags on them from the antique shop of the grandmother of the donor. If the tags are accurate (and they seem to be after a cursory search on ebay) then that will be a huge boost to 10K Sanctuary!
This update is feeling disjointed and winding, exactly how I am feeling at the moment.

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wonderings

I have been wondering if there is a place for social justice in Paganisms, sort of a liberation theology for those that are not Abrahamics. I believe there is and at times it feels like there is little interest outside of those who are directly affected by social/structural injustice.
Today I saw a post elsewhere from a white woman who wanted to know how ( other white) people felt when their efforts to be an ally are rebuffed. Heavy sigh. One doesn’t do social justice work to get affirmations, or pats on the back from those for whom you feel you are “working.” One does this work because it is the right thing to do. Doing the work, being able to live with ones self IS the affirmation, the atta girl/boy.
This work is also very uncomfortable. Unearthing ones submerged beliefs can be painful and highly embarrassing (even if no one but you knows your submerged beliefs…). It can be frustrating. To work so hard only to be rebuffed can be challenging. But why should anyone be “grateful” because you have decided to do the right thing? To be a good person? To recognize the humanity and suffering of someone other than yourself?
I know that sometimes I don’t like my ally’s. I see them doing the work of being a feminist. I respect and honor that work, but I don’t want to hang out with them, or give them a pat on the back for just recognizing my humanity.
I often just feel relief when people that believe differently than me don’t try to convert me or don’t even bring up what they believe except in passing. Shrug. Just wondering if this is a conversation that people are willing to have. It is a conversation I am eager to have.

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Using a Both/And methodology.

I have been sitting with the election results of yesterday. It is, to say the least, very disheartening. There have been several spiritual and other leaders that have been saying the system is corrupt and our votes are worth nothing so don’t bother (Russel Brand I’m looking at YOU). I feel this is incredibly irresponsible.
Why must things be either/or? Why can’t they be both/and? We may, in fact, be voting for the lesser of two evils. Both leading parties may be owned by the same people. But not even making your voice heard, not even trying seems incredibly counter productive.
We cannot go directly from laissez faire capitalism to the gift economy. We cannot go directly from a rugged individualism, competitive style of governance to cooperative community based governance over night. That does not mean we shouldn’t be working towards a more equitable sustainable way of life.
This work is generational. As I sit here disheartened by some political and spiritual leaders telling people not to vote while feeling the wrongness of the election results it is hard for me not be angry. They say they want change in the system and then do nothing and encourage others to do nothing allowing others to elect people that will further decimate our environment, our rights as women, our national parks, our safety nets-such as they are. This makes a bigger mess to clean up, it makes no sense to me.
I really see it as both/and. Vote. Choose the lesser of two evils AND also do the work you need to do to build the alternatives you want to see in the world. Plant trees you will never sit in the shade of or eat the fruits of. Scatter organic native wildflower seeds for the bees and other pollinators. Create community or join communities that are doing the work you want to see done in the world.
Prevention is so much easier than repair. Our millions of small positive actions IN ADDITION to voting in a system that many feel is rigged will eventually win out. Both/and not either/or will be how we can change this world for the better.
While I know Gandhi is problematic this quote from him is something I keep on my desk, “When I despair I remember that all through history there have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it. Always.”
We really need to think of the long term. Change our actions now and build what we want to see. Do what we can in the system that is here now. We cannot change the acculturation of centuries overnight but we must begin. We must become the foundation. We must give our children and grandchildren something solid to build on. Destroying what is without providing an alternative will only create a vacuum. We must give those that come after us something solid to build on.
Liona

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Abundance!

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This has been a very busy time of year. Anyone with children knows that Samhain/ Halloween is a BIG deal! My family is no exception. My son wants to be Dr. Who this year so I am busy making his 11th Doctor costume… There will be sewing lessons in his future  for sure!
I’m preparing our family altar for our Beloved Dead. We place photos of them along with some of their favorite foods and drinks placed in offering where they can been seen and enjoyed by our Beloved Dead.  The veil is thin and I can feel them calling.
Our board of directors is happy to announce a new board member, Mary Tufts. She is a farmer and knowledgeable about growing anything in Texas. She is also committed to social justice issues and green/organic gardening as well as permaculture. She will be submitting a bio and photo soon. In addition to joining the board, Ms. Tufts has also donated some antiques left to her by her grandmother. These donated antiques should bring in anywhere between five or six thousand dollars when sold! 10K Sanctuary is not only lucky to have Ms. Tufts as a resource and board member, we are grateful for her very generous donation.
Speaking of Donations, there is more! Jo Terrell and Catherine McDarg have also made a donation of a farm scale for chickens and other farm animals and another object (they told me I forgot-but it will be posted with photos soon!) Photos will soon be up of all the donated items for sale. We have a PayPal account and accept all major credit cards and debit cards.
This website is undergoing changes as well (Chris and Amanda Godwin of firewell&tree were amazing! They came and taught me how to do things I need to do and updated and fixed some issues with the 10K Sanctuary website. If you need help with marketing or website design they are the ones to speak to!  chris@firewelandtree.com).  With their help there is now a page under the “donations” tab. The donated items for sale will be found there.  In addition, a finances page has been added so that we can be transparent in what comes in and what goes out while the project of 10K Sanctuary progresses.
It has been an amazing month for 10K Sanctuary as the old year comes to an end and the new year is showing promise as a great year for 10K Sanctuary!
Blessed Samhain to all. May your Beloved Dead feel your love and you theirs.

 

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Furry critters and allergies

Two months ago I felt compelled to get a dog. By compelled I mean COMPELLED to get a dog. Not just any dog but a morky. I am really allergic to cats and dogs and pretty much any furry critter. The reason I thought I could have a dog and not die is this. My daughter has a dog. It is a morky. She nearly always brings him with her when she visits. I have always been fine. So has my husband, who is also allergic to dogs and cats and so has my son who is also allergic to cats and dogs…
So when I saw an advertisement on Craigslist for a 19 month old morky I talked with my family and we agreed to get the adorable little dog. We named him Spike. The woman on the phone told me he was 8lbs. He is 14lbs. The woman on the phone told me he was up to date on his shots. He was not. The woman on the phone told me that he was neutered. He was.
We got him home and he was terrified. We walked him around the house to get him accustomed to his new surroundings. We have a two story house. I started to walk him down the steps and he just trembled. I figured he didn’t know how to go down the steps so I sat down and went step by step with him down the stairs. We showed him where his food was going to be and tried to give him some treats. He was having none of it.
I took him for a walk and he seemed ok. We didn’t think he could bark for the first 3 days…he can. Over the next several weeks we realized that he must have been left home alone quite a bit. He had developed some bad habits, like chewing on the baseboards I suppose out of boredom. So I walked him more and got him every kind of chew toy I could think of, he hates them. We got bitter apple spray and sprayed in on all the furniture legs, baseboards, really anything at his mouth level. We rarely ever leave him alone, but when we do we leave him in the master bath with his bed, water and some toys.
Spike has been with us for 8 weeks now. He has stopped chewing on the walls and baseboards, gets regular walks, runs in the yard, he has ZERO problems going up and down the stairs at top speed with a toy in mouth. We realized very quickly that his bad behaviors in his old house were probably met with violence. We had a fly infestation (that is a whole other story) so I bought a fly swatter and as soon as he saw it he cowered. If he does something he knows he shouldn’t have, he slink/crawls away in fear. We have never hit him or even raised a hand to him.
He has since learned to not pull on the leash, sit for treats, walk on his hind legs for treats, stay at cross walks and is working really hard on not jumping up at people when we go on walks…he just loves everyone! He is a happy little dog. The problem? I am so allergic that I am completely drugged up all the time with allergy meds. The bigger problem is I know I have to find him a new home and it is weighing on me terribly.
I feel good about getting him out of an abusive home (although I think it was more out of ignorance about how to train a dog than maliciousness) and I feel terrible about having to find a new forever home for him now that he is happy. I have been beating myself up about the whole situation. At the moment some friends and I are trying out a “shared custody” arrangement. They have two dogs that he loves to play with and I get an allergy break. Meanwhile I continue to look for some other loving home for Spike to have as his forever home.
I’m sharing this because it has been taking all of my time to fester and feel guilty. Feeling guilty and paralyzed on so many levels is not helping Spike or me. I have also realized that many rescue dogs often go into foster homes for two to three months while a forever home is found for them. I have had to try and re-frame this whole adventure as a fostering situation. It is really hard because I love that little dog. He doesn’t understand that he triggers my allergies, nor should he.
I have really been looking at why I felt so compelled to get this dog. What lessons am I to learn, if any. I have learned that I cannot have any furry animals no matter how much I want to. I have also learned the kind of love you can give a pet is so unfettered. Their expectations are so small, they just want to be fed and loved. As I’m writing this I’m realizing that this might all be a lesson in trust. Animals are so trusting. I have been really questioning my abilities to get this temple up and running…perhaps I just need to trust that everything will work out as it is supposed to. Perhaps I felt compelled to get THIS dog because I am the one that can find him a good forever home. I don’t know.
I have stopped the paralysis though. That all by itself is a huge thing.

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Synchronicity

Sometimes I become overwhelmed by the enormity of temple building. I wonder “who do I think I am?” “Is this just my own hubris thinking I can create something out of nothing?” “Do I have the skills for community building?” “WHERE IS THE MONEY GOING TO COME FROM?!” That’s a big one. I try not to focus on that one at all or I will become filled with despair.
This week I received a copy of Sage Woman. A subscription that I thought had long since expired. In it was an article written by Hunter Liguore, a woman I have never met, nor ever heard of. I read the article called “When She Speaks” and in it Ms. Liguore basically outlines my own vision for 10K Sanctuary, right down to the Temple needing to be round…
It has had a profound effect on me! Not only was my vision real it has been given to others as well! This week I have had a red tailed hawk buzz me, a dragonfly fly into my head, a damsel fly sit on the table in front of me, a heron fly directly over me and two crows fly over me. BIG changes are coming my way and Goddess REALLY wants me to pay attention! So I am.
Any reservations that I have had, or doubts were erased while reading that article. It is time for the Mother to arise and time for me, for US to midwife and support her return. She’s got quite a big mess to clean up and will need all of us to complete Her work.
Thank You Hunter Liguore for writing your article and for creating your journal called American Athenaeum. Please check out her website at www.hunterliguore.com

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Feeling it lately

The world is a complicated place sometimes. People categorizing other people and judging that category as either acceptable or unacceptable. Either way blocking themselves off from learning, growing, loving in a multitude of ways and levels.
It is painful to read or watch the news and see yet another story or report about a person killed in cold blood because of the color of their skin, who they love, who to worship or not worship. Bombs being dropped from the sky like rain on other mother’s children and then reading or watching other people be happy about those bombs, those deaths. My heart aches at the cycle of death and retribution being created before my very eyes. My heart aches for the mothers and fathers who have to pick up the bodies of their children and for the children who have to pick up the bodies of their parents.
Some days I find it hard to see the beauty and kindness that I know are all around me. I have to actively look, be aware, listen to see and hear it. Kind people spewing words of hatred or judgement. Justifications from their sacred books about killing the “other” that will “destroy their way of life” it is sickening. people in positions of power abusing their power to strip people of their rights and their lives. But if I am still and stop looking outside myself for a moment I can see it, the beauty.
I must be very still. I must really go deep and look around and dig out the kindnesses from the muck and the mire, the din of the “news” and pull them out and feel them, see them, smell them. They are there, even in the news. If you look away from the death and destruction you can see those that help. If you look away from the hatred you can see them. They are there running day cares, food banks, donating money, sending cards of support, driving their beloveds or strangers to wherever it is they need to be. Planting trees and flowers, taking in strays, both human and animal. They are there. Know it.
It is those kindnesses and this beauty that is dim for me today. But they are there. Today I am digging to find them so that I can charge up my hope, my love, my ability to be kind and loving instead of angry and retributive. Today it is hard. I am doing it anyway.

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