Sunday, June 26, 2022

What would Aunt Lydia do?

 

Stolen from Facebook / Artist unknown
Well! It certainly has been a week. 

On Thursday we learned from the January 6th committee that five or six sitting members of Congress had asked for presidential pardons for their roles in former President Trump's attempted coup. 

That headline was very shortly superseded by a Supreme Court ruling that makes it easier for gun owners to carry their weapons in public. Within hours, that headline was followed by the news that Congress had approved (and President Biden signed into law yesterday) a gun control bill for the first time in decades. Even though most Americans would view it as weak sauce, it's better than nothing. Among other things, the new law: requires background checks for 18- and 19-year-olds who want to purchase a gun; closes a "boyfriend loophole" that allowed some convicted domestic violence offenders to get hold of guns; stiffens penalties for people who buy guns for those who wouldn't pass a background check; and provides money to states for mental health treatment and for confiscating guns from those who've been deemed dangerous by a judge. Notably, it doesn't ban assault weapons like the AR-15. But hey, baby steps, I guess.

But even that news was overtaken on Friday by the release of the Supreme Court's ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, in which the justices overturned Roe v. Wade and then promptly left town. Liberals and progressives weren't surprised by the ruling -- after all, somebody at the high court leaked a draft in early May. But they were shocked -- okay, we were shocked -- by Justice Clarence Thomas's concurring opinion, in which he said he'd like to see decisions that legalized gay marriage and access to contraceptives reconsidered, too. The majority opinion attempted to reassure everyone that the court didn't intend to go after those decisions -- but the three justices nominated by former President Trump swore during their confirmation hearings that Roe was settled law, making this most recent claim somewhat less than trustworthy. (Observers have noted that Thomas made no mention of overturning Loving v. Virginia, which legalized interracial marriages. That's especially interesting, given that he's Black and married to a White woman -- with whom, by the way, the January 6th committee would like to have a chat, due to her involvement in Trump's coup attempt. But I digress.)

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I'd attended a lecture -- a Q&A, actually -- given by Margaret Atwood, the author of The Handmaid's Tale. It occurred to me then that I had never read the sequel, The Testaments, so I did. I read the first book shortly after it was published in the '80s; it describes an America that has descended into a fundamentalist hellscape, with women forced to either submit to an arranged marriage or produce babies for the men running the place. The Testaments has been out since 2019, so the statute of limitations on spoilers has probably run; still, I'll try to avoid giving away the ending. Suffice it to say that the prime mover of this second novel, Aunt Lydia, remembers what America was like before Gilead, and is secretly doing everything she can to overturn the regime. 

I find today that The Testaments gives me hope. I don't believe we've hit rock bottom yet; things are going to get worse in the United States before they get better. But women are smart and resourceful. We won't tolerate attempts to make us give up the independence we've had for fifty years. To those who think Dobbs is the beginning of the end for liberal ideals, I say this: 

Just wait.

***

These moments of bloggy upheaval have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed! And if you value your freedom, for gods' sake, VOTE!

Sunday, June 19, 2022

In which I admit to being a snowflake.

Or a flake, at least. I had every intention of posting last Sunday night, as is my usual practice, but somehow the day got away from me. When I realized what had happened, I told myself I'd just post the next night. I've sometimes skipped Sunday and posted on Monday night instead. But that didn't happen this past week, either. So I apologize for flaking out on you last week, and I hope not to do it again (too many more times). 

Clker-Free-Vector-Images | Pixabay | CC0
Now about my snowflakery. 

As a retired person, I have the luxury of being able to watch the House January 6th committee hearings -- even the daytime hearings -- in real time. This past Monday, one of the topics was former President Trump's fundraising efforts after he lost the 2021 election to Joe Biden. Here is the scam in a nutshell: First, Trump lied that the election was stolen. That's been dubbed the Big Lie. Then he sent millions of emails to his supporters, asking them to donate to something called the Official Election Defense Fund to help fund the legal fight to "stop the steal." And his supporters did donate -- $250 million total, $100 million of that in the few days after the election. 

But the Official Election Defense Fund never existed, and none of the donations ever went to pay lawyers to challenge the election. Instead, the donations went to a political action committee Trump had just created, a charity begun by former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, a conservative organization, Trump's hotel company, and the outfit that organized the January 6th rally that preceded the insurrection at the Capitol. In short, Trump raised a quarter of a billion dollars on a lie, and then lied about where the money went. During the hearing, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) called it the Big Ripoff.

Moreover, more than half of the small-dollar donors to this scam -- that is, people who donated $100 or less -- listed their occupation as "retired". When this came out during the committee hearing, I got a little choked up. I felt sorry for the folks who got conned into giving money they probably didn't have to such a shyster. And I said so in a Facebook post.

I got pushback. 

A whole lot of people I know have zero sympathy for anyone who has gone along with any of Trump's lies. They believe it's his fans' own fault that they got taken in, and they deserve to lose their money.

But here's the thing: If you've been scammed, you've been victimized. It doesn't matter if the scammer is a guy claiming to be Nigerian prince, or someone who tells you to pay a bogus bill by sending them gift cards, or Donald Trump. It's still a crime, and crimes have victims. Making fun of a victim, or telling them they should have known better, doesn't solve anything. And it sure as hell doesn't help the victim.

Did Trump's victims have ample opportunity to wake up from the lie? Maybe, maybe not. Depends how deep into the rightwing media ecosphere they've been. Sure, they could have stepped away from Fox News and QAnon videos like their family members pleaded with them to do -- but keep in mind that Fox News has been in operation since October 1996. Trump's hardcore followers have been marinating in this stuff for more than 25 years. It's been said that if it hadn't been Trump who captured their slavish devotion, it would have been someone else (and we should count our blessings because that person might have actually been competent).

My friends think what Trump and his true believers have done to the country is so damaging that they should never be forgiven. I've written about my view of forgiveness before, and I've gotten pushback on that, too. I don't believe in forgiving someone who has done nothing to deserve it. However, when it comes to gaslighting, it takes a lot to wake someone up to what's going on. Seeing the violence at the Capitol on January 6th woke up some of them. Maybe the hearings will wake up others. And it seems to me that the realization they've been had is the first step toward remorse -- and feeling remorseful is the first step toward earning forgiveness. 

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying the originators and perpetrators of the Big Lie should be forgiven; on the contrary, I hope they all rot in prison. But for folks like small-dollar donors who got sucked in? If they realize their mistake now, and take steps to undo the damage they've done, we shouldn't turn our backs on them. In my view, they deserve not ostracism, but compassion.

If we ever hope to bring this country together again, we need to find ways to breach the divide. Seems to me that compassion is a decent place to start.

And if that makes me a snowflake, so be it.

***

These moments of flaky blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. The pandemic isn't over yet -- get vaxxed and boosted!

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Carding and spinning and weaving, oh my.

It's Sunday night, which means I owe y'all a blog post. But I'm tired and my feet hurt, so I'm going to try to keep it short.

The reason I'm tired, etc., is that I've just completed my first weekend as a volunteer with El Rancho de las Golondrinas here in Santa Fe. Yesterday, I sat out in the placita (the little plaza in the part of the museum depicting 17th century life in northern New Mexico) in the shade and learned how to card wool and use a Navajo spindle. I even got my picture in the Santa Fe New Mexican, the local paper -- click here for the article, then click through to the third picture. (There's a typo in the caption, by the way. We were carding the wool, not carting it.)

Carding involves taking the washed, dried, and matted wool fibers that have been shorn from the sheep and combing them to get the tangles (and other junk -- sheep live outdoors, you know) out and to get the fibers to lay straight so that they can be spun. The carding combs sitting next to me on the bench are adult-sized; we also have some smaller combs for the kids. And yes, kids carded wool back in the day -- even toddlers were taught how. After all, it's not like you could have popped down to Target to buy a new shirt; if you wanted one, you had to weave your own. And it's labor intensive work, so everybody had to contribute.

The wool comes off the cards in a little roll. Here it's called a lamb's tail; I've also heard it called a rolag. A spindle is then used to make the rolags into yarn.

There are a bunch of different types of spindles, but the one everybody used in 17th century New Mexico was called a malacate (pronounced mah-lah-CAH-tay). It's also known as a Navajo spindle. Now, just like a lot of other terms, there's some question about whether "Navajo spindle" is politically correct, but I'll link to a video in a minute that was shot in 2020 and features a Navajo woman calling it a Navajo spindle. So there you go. 

Here's what a Navajo spindle looks like:

 Photo shamelessly stolen from woolery.com

It's a supported spindle -- that is, the tip of the spindle rests on the ground (or in a bowl), so the yarn you're spinning doesn't have to support the weight of the spindle the way it does when you use a drop spindle. It's hard to tell from this photo, but a Navajo spindle is about a yard long, which is two or three times longer than a typical drop spindle. You spin the yarn by rolling the top of the shaft against your thigh. (Video of that Navajo woman demonstrating it is coming up in a sec.) 

I am not proficient either at carding or at spinning on this kind of spindle, so here's that video I've been talking about. First you get to see some Navajo churro sheep, which are the kind we have at Las Golondrinas; then come the demonstrations on carding and spinning. The whole video is about 20 minutes long. She starts carding the wool at about 37 seconds in, then she picks up the spindle at about 9:10 and talks about the technique and what weaving means to the Navajo. If you want to skip over that and just watch her use the spindle, start the video at about 12:26.


So that was yesterday. Today I was in the demonstration loom room, letting guests try their hand at weaving. Of course I didn't get a photo of the demo loom because pockets are anachronistic, so my phone was in my shorts underneath my skirt. But going back to the article in the New Mexican, if you click to the fourth photo, you can see a couple of the other looms we have: the jerga (YEHR-gah) loom takes up a good bit of the front of the photo, and behind the guy in the red shirt you can kind of see the loom used to weave sabanilla (sah-bah-NEE-yah), the cloth that's used for colcha embroidery (which is a whole 'nother craft that I have yet to try).

I was commiserating today with a guest who both knits and weaves that while knitters have a big online home in Ravelry, there's no comparable website for weavers. So I'm happy that I've landed here in New Mexico, where weaving is part of the culture. I met so many experienced weavers this weekend -- more than I ever have in the years since I started learning the craft. I'm happy to keep learning, and to keep sharing what I learn.

And now I think I'll go and put my feet up.

***

So much for keeping it short...

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These moments of fiber-crafty blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. The pandemic's not over, guys -- get vaxxed and boosted!

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Spanish Colonial me.

I promised y'all last week that I would post a photo of my rebozo when I was finished weaving it. Alert hearth/myth readers will recall that the rebozo is part of my costume as an interpreter at El Rancho de las Golondrinas, a living history museum here in Santa Fe. 

Lynne Cantwell 2022
Well, it's done. This week, I fixed a few blips in the weaving and washed it. I realized y'all would probably want to see the whole costume, though, as it's a whole lot more interesting than just seeing a long, rectangular piece of cloth. So here you go, and please excuse the unmade bed in the background that I only kinda sorta managed to crop out. 

Under the rebozo, I'm wearing a peasant top. It's from Lands End, and drapier than it should be -- I thought it was mostly cotton when I ordered it, but it turns out it's a blend of cotton, modal, and -- whoopsy! -- spandex. The skirt is all cotton. There's a sash that's hard to see in the photo -- I'll get to that in a minute -- and you almost can't see the shoes at all, which is a good thing because they're brown suede flats and they are not historically appropriate. The shoes we're supposed to be wearing are called tewa boots. Don't bother googling the term; Mama Google will think you mean boots made by Teva, the shoe manufacturer. I'm a big fan of Tevas, but they don't make anything like the boots that everybody in Northern New Mexico wore in Spanish Colonial times. You can click here to see what the footwear looked like in those days.

Anyway, I'm hoping the rest of the outfit will be sufficiently convincing that nobody will notice that I'm not wearing the right kind of shoes.

Now, about that sash: Surprise! I wove that, too. The yarn is a cotton/linen blend that a friend gave me last year. I decided to attempt to weave a twill pattern for the first time ever. Here's what it looked like on the loom (yes, that's Tigs on the floor, and you don't want to know what he was doing when I took the photo): 

Lynne Cantwell 2022
To make plain weave like the rebozo, you go under one warp thread and over the next, all across the fabric, and then reverse it on the next pass, so that you go over the thread you went under the last time, and under the one you went over. But for 2/2 twill, you kind of think of your warp threads in groups of four. You go under the first two warp threads and over the next two on the first pass; then on the next pass you move over one warp thread, so that you go over one, under the next two, and over the last one, and so on. That's what gives you the diagonal slant. With any luck, you end up with fabrick that looks like this: 
Stolen from https://www.gistyarn.com/blogs/how-to-weave/basic-weave-structures-twill
If the pattern looks familiar, it's because you've seen it on your favorite pair of jeans. Denim fabric is a 2/2 twill.

Anyway, it was an interesting experiment. The end result looks a little rough in some places, but I think it will pass for the costume. Next weekend is my first volunteer gig. I'll let you know how it works out.

***

I had intended to do a split post this week and address the recent rash of mass shootings, particularly the one in Uvalde, Texas, that put the lie to so many of the NRA's talking points. For example, the army of "good guys with guns" in the school parking lot didn't stop 21 people, most of them kids, from being shot to death.

Rather than keeping you, however, I'll point you to an interview I read in Politico earlier today. A couple of researchers have studied a whole bunch of people who committed mass shootings over the past several decades. These researchers have identified a profile that fits such individuals -- one that would make it easier to stop such incidents before they start. The question is whether the political will is there to implement their suggestions, which, for one thing, would require a huge investment in mental health screenings and treatment. So far, the will has not been there; for all the bleating conservatives do about how troubled these individuals are, they are also quick to scuttle any actual funding for mental health treatment. Still, I found it an interesting and balanced read, and I recommend it to you.

***

These moments of balanced blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. The pandemic's not over yet, folks -- get vaxxed and boosted!


Sunday, May 22, 2022

Atwood and GRRM in my hometown.

The rebozo is finished -- well, the weaving is finished, but I need to fix a thing and then wash it. So I'll post pictures next week. 

I have a lot of to talk about this week anyway, and it's even writing related. Not mine, but that of a couple of my favorite authors. 

This weekend was the inaugural outing for the Santa Fe Literary Festival.

Lynne Cantwell 2022

It's kind of mind boggling that we haven't had a literary festival here before; we have world-class art, world-class opera, world-class food, and lots of resident authors, but no big events centered around books -- until now. So of course I couldn't miss it -- although I had to pick and choose amongst a ton of interesting author events because the ticket prices were insane, even with the discount for New Mexico residents. Here's hoping they're a little more reasonable next year.

Anyway, I settled on one Saturday session and one Sunday session. Yesterday's was Margaret Atwood. Picking her session was a no-brainer, as she's one of my favorite novelists ever. 

Lynne Cantwell 2022
(She was not actually blue, you understand. My phone camera did a weird color shift when I tried to take a photo of the jumbo screen above.)

I have to wonder whether the festival organizers knew, when they scheduled Atwood's session, just how topical it would be. She's famously the author of The Handmaid's Tale, of course. When the draft Supreme Court decision on Dobbs was leaked, she had quite a bit to say about it in a piece in The Atlantic, and she reiterated many of the points in the article yesterday. But she also talked about the writing craft a bit. She's a big procrastinator, she says, but once she starts writing, she's all in. She likened it to going swimming in the cold lake waters in Toronto, where she's from. First you dip a toe in the water a few times, but eventually you realize you're just going to have to jump in and get it over with. She said at that point you say, "It's not so bad" -- but of course you're often telling that to your friends to lure them in. As both a writer and someone who grew up swimming in Lake Michigan, I can confirm both the experience and the lure.

She's also written a trilogy of dystopian novels. She says she is sometimes asked why she doesn't write any utopian novels to kind of balance it out, and she said -- and it's true -- that if everything's going along perfectly, where's the story?

"Where's the story?" makes a nice segue to the session I attended today: George R.R. Martin, famously the author of A Song of Ice and Fire, the series of fantasy novels upon which the Game of Thrones TV series is based, and which fans have been after him to finish since long before the TV show began airing. He wryly commented today that it appears he'll be writing the books until he dies. 

Lynne Cantwell 2022
(Again, the folks on the screen are a lot less blue in real life.)

Martin is a busy guy (to ASoIaF fans' endless chagrin: "Put that other stuff aside and finish the books!"), and he talked about some of his projects today. One of them is a TV series called House of the Dragon, a prequel to Game of Thrones based on his novel Fire and Blood. It's set to premiere on HBO on August 21st. He's also been involved with Robert Redford (yes, that Robert Redford) in creating a series based on Tony Hillerman's Leaphorn and Chee novels. The show is called Dark Winds and it's set to premiere June 12th on AMC. I'm pretty excited about this one -- it was shot on the Navajo Nation, which sprawls across New Mexico and Arizona, and Martin says they made sure to involve Native Americans as both actors and behind the scenes.

Martin didn't have a lot of writing advice -- he talked more about Hollywood, which makes sense as that's where his focus is these days -- but he did mention that every writer hates the question, "Where do you get your ideas from?" (Can confirm that, by the way.) He says the late sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison had a great response. He'd tell people that his ideas came from Schnectady. But then he stopped saying it because too many people believed him.

One Hollywood tidbit: Martin claimed that the high-concept pitch for Game of Thrones was "The Sopranos meet Middle Earth."

Atwood flew in from Toronto, but Martin -- and his interviewer, Douglas Preston, who is a prolific author on his own -- had a much shorter commute: both of them live here in Santa Fe. And they're both investors in a new excursion train operation called Sky Railway. Martin talked about how he used to have a toy train that went around the Christmas tree while growing up, and how having your own actual train is so much cooler.

It made sense, given the local connection, that attendees at the Martin session this morning got a little treat. It was yummy. (Yes, that's Frida Kahlo on my sock.) 

Lynne Cantwell 2022
And with that, we segue back to a poem about food by Atwood, which she read yesterday morning. I'm posting it here without permission and hoping her publisher doesn't come down on me for it (or, at least, comes down on this blogger first, since I stole the images from their post). Atwood's in her eighties, and she says it feels to her -- with war and shortages and so on -- like she's been through it all before.


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These moments of bloggy trains, coconuts, and TV shows have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed!

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Weaving a rebozo.

Even though there are plenty of hot social topics in the news this week, I decided to take a break from that sort of thing and post about my new weaving project: a rebozo for my costume as a volunteer at El Rancho de las Golondrinas. But wouldn't you know it -- the use of rebozos is in the midst of a cultural-appropriation brouhaha. 

I'll explain all that in a sec. First, I want to tell you what the heck a rebozo is. 

Dama con rebozo - Juan Rodríguez Juárez
Museo Nacional de Historia, Mexico City

The striped wrap that the woman in this painting is wearing around her shoulders is a rebozo (one that's a lot fancier than the one I'm making). Basically, a rebozo (it's pronounced reh-BOH-zoh) is a long rectangular piece of cloth. Wikipedia describes it as looking like "a cross between a scarf and a shawl." It originated in Mexico, but it's unclear when; a number of indigenous cultures use similar woven articles. The earliest description by a European was written by Friar Diego Duran in 1572. Other influences on rebozo design were probably the Spanish mantilla (you might have seen pictures of these lacy shawls -- Spanish women would stick a tall comb in their hair and drape the mantilla over it); a Moorish garment called a rebociño that's similar to a mantilla but shorter; and, much later, the Filipino mantón de Manila (flamenco dancers wear these).

Anyway, back to Mexico. Women used the rebozo as sort of an all-purpose garment: over the head, for protection from the sun; around the shoulders for warmth; and as a carrier for all sorts of things, including babies.

In fact, the rebozo has experienced a resurgence over the past several years, both as a baby carrier and as an aid to women in labor. Here's where the cultural appropriation thing comes in. There's a movement among some doulas against White women using rebozos to aid women giving birth. One blogger calls the rebozo a "sacred garment" and says there have been cases where inexperienced White doulas have actually harmed their clients by using a rebozo in techniques they haven't been properly trained in.

I don't know anything about rebozo-related birthing techniques, so I can't speak to that part of the critique. But a rebozo -- a utilitarian piece of cloth -- is a sacred garment? Where did that come from?

The only thing I can think of is this: During the Mexican Revolution, women called Adelitas used their rebozos to carry both babies and weapons past checkpoints. Because of this, the rebozo became a symbol of women's strength and feminity. Frida Kahlo wore them. Mexico's then-First Lady, Margarita Zavala, wore one when she met with our then-First Lady, Michelle Obama, in 2010. 

Today, rebozos come in all sorts of patterns and colors, often with intricately-woven fringe.

Mine isn't going to be anything like that.

The rebozo came to New Mexico with Spanish settlers in the 17th century -- back when it was a simple rectangular shawl, used both as shade from the sun and as a carry-all. This is the historical period I'm going to be representing, so there won't be anything fancy about my rebozo. Here I have it started on the table loom: 

Lynne Cantwell 2022
It's going to be light blue with very basic fringe. With any luck, it'll be about 21 inches wide and about six feet long when it's done. The yarn is 5/2 cotton -- if you're a knitter, that translates to laceweight -- and I'm making it very drapey, to make sure I have enough yarn to finish the thing.

I'm hoping that no one reading this accuses me of cultural appropriation. Granted, I'm not Hispanic. But my rebozo's intended use is as part of a historical reenactment. I won't be using it to carry a baby, and I certainly won't be employing it to help any pregnant women give birth.

I'll post a photo when it's done, hopefully next week.

***

These moments of weaving blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed and stay safe!


Sunday, May 8, 2022

Happy Domestic Infant Supplier Day?

Yeah. It's about abortion. 

Today is Mother's Day in the United States. This past Monday, somebody at the Supreme Court revealed the high court's take on motherhood by leaking to Politico a draft of the majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. The final opinion isn't due out until June or so. But this draft makes it clear that a majority of justices voted initially to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that made abortion legal across the country. 

Written by Justice Samuel Alito, the draft states that "Roe was egregiously wrong from the start." It goes on to say: "It is time... to return the issue of abortion to the people's elected representatives." Many pundits have interpreted that to mean that the Supremes want to kick the issue back to the states; in other words, state legislatures would be able to restrict, or end, access to abortion for their residents. And legislatures in conservative states are champing at the bit to do it.

But perhaps the most inflammatory statement in the draft -- other than that it would overturn Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which upheld Roe -- is a footnote that contains a quotation from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. If you've been wondering what that tweet in the screengrab above is about, here you go:

Nearly 1 million women were seeking to adopt children in 2002 (i.e., they were in demand for a child), whereas the domestic supply of infants relinquished at birth or within the first month of life and available to be adopted had become virtually nonexistent.

Yes, that's right: the Supreme Court appears set to champion the business of forcing women to bear babies they don't want so that others can adopt them.

Here's a link to the CDC report, which was released in 2008. The quote in the Supreme Court draft brief  can be found in the conclusion on page 16. The report is a statistical survey of adoption in America. What it doesn't do is suggest that women who can bear children ought to get cranking.

In fact, there are adoptable kids in America right now. Of the 400,000 or so kids in foster care on any given day, about a quarter of them are available for adoption. Why aren't those million women taking any of those kids? Well, as the CDC report states, women looking to adopt want a kid younger than two who is not disabled and isn't part of a sibling group. Note, please, that the average age of kids entering foster care is eight. 

Moreover, one-third of the available-to-adopt kids are of color. Now, I know there are white folks who would adopt a child of color; I know a few of them myself, and kudos to them. But the fact remains that a lot of people looking to adopt are in the market for cute white babies.

In any case, ending legal abortion isn't going to produce enough babies for every person looking to adopt to have one. The CDC says about 630,000 legal induced abortions occurred in the United States in 2019. But not all of them would have resulted in a live birth if they been carried to term. Women decide to abort for a multitude of reasons, after all.

Moreover, the Guttmacher Institute says there are fewer abortions now than there were when the decision in Roe was handed down. That's partly because fewer young women are becoming pregnant; in 2017, there were just 87 pregnancies per 1,000 American women between the ages of 15 and 44 -- the lowest level ever recorded.

Ending abortion isn't going to solve the adoption supply chain issue. Women will still end unwanted pregnancies; they did it before Roe, and they'll do it again if Roe is overturned. They just won't be able to do it as safely as they can do it now. Which ought to piss off every American woman, particularly those who claim to be pro-life.

One other thing: I saw a comment this week that the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg thought Roe was a bad decision. I had trouble believing it, so I looked it up. What Ginsburg thought was that Roe was decided on the wrong grounds. Instead of making it a privacy issue (that is, the decision on abortion ought to be between a woman and her doctor), Ginsburg thought it should have been based on the idea that women have the same rights as men.

I understand why she thought so. But here are two things to ponder: 1) the Supreme Court at the time Roe was decided was comprised of nine men (eight of them white) and zero women -- the likelihood that they'd accept an equal rights argument was probably vanishingly small; and 2) the right to privacy established by Roe was used later in a whole host of cases -- everything from the availability of contraception to interracial marriage to gay marriage. Would those decisions have broken the same way without Roe as precedent? It's hard to say. But with Roe gone, it's not outside the realm of possibility that these other rights could be in danger, too.

Anyway, getting back to the draft opinion in Dobbs: The leaker may have done us a favor. Assuming the vote doesn't change between now and when the final opinion is handed down, we have more time to remind everyone about the rights we're losing. The best way to fix this is for Congress to legalize abortion across the country -- and the only chance we have of that, given the current mess in Congress, will be to increase the percentage of Democrats in both the House and Senate. Keep that in mind when you get ready to vote this November.

Oh, right -- and happy Mother's Day.

***

These moments of righteous blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed! And remember to vote!

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Pretty blankets.

I may have mentioned that I'm going to be volunteering at El Rancho de las Golondrinas here in Santa Fe this summer. It's a living history museum situated on the Camino Real, the royal road that led from Mexico City to Santa Fe, back when the Spanish were intent on conquering what's now the Southwestern United States. 

The museum covers a couple of hundred years of northern New Mexico history, from the Mexican settlement of the area in the 1700s to the turn of the 20th century. The building showing the earliest years is the placita, the little plaza, which depicts what life was like when the ranch was a paraje, or an official stop, on the Camino Real. Settlers had to make almost everything themselves, of course, being far from civilization as they were, and among the things they did was weave their own cloth. As you might imagine, that caught my interest. So that's the part of the museum where I'm planning to volunteer.

To prepare, I've been reading some stuff about the history of weaving in New Mexico. Churro sheep first came up from Mexico with Coronado in 1540, but the conquistadores weren't interested in making clothing from their flock -- instead, they ate them. It wasn't until Don Juan de Oñate arrived in 1598 that sheep were used for anything but food. That's when weaving began to take off. 

The Pueblo Indians were already weaving when Oñate showed up, but they grew and wove cotton, not wool, and their looms were different from the kind the Spanish brought with them to the New World. Weaving became a big part of the local economy, with tens of thousands of blankets being sent south to Mexico as trade items by 1840. 

I won't get too far into the weeds here. But as I was reading one of the handouts, some of the terms stood out for me. Saltillo-style weaving, for instance. I'd heard of saltillo tile -- the large terracotta tiles used in flooring across the Southwest -- but Saltillo weaving? What did it look like?

Dear Reader, I have googled and found photos, and now I will share them with you.

So the earliest weaving patterns were horizontal stripes. (I've stolen most of these photos from this webpage, and I hope Centinela Traditional Arts doesn't come after me for using them.) 

A striped blanket.
Horizontal stripes are stupid easy to weave. Even I can do them. You just go back and forth across the loom with one color 'til you decide to switch, and then you go back and forth with the new color, and so on. The earliest blankets were made with undyed yarn -- churro sheep come in shades of black, brown, and white -- although sometimes the yarn was dyed with natural materials. Chamisa, for example, makes a yellow dye. But not all natural dyes were local. Indigo blue had to be imported from Mexico. Cochineal red is made from little bugs collected from cacti -- no, really -- and it was also imported.

So the early blankets went south, and Saltillo blankets came north in trade. Those often had stripes at either end and a triangular motif in the middle. New Mexican weavers began to adopt and modify the style. 

Blanket with Saltillo elements, including the central medallion.
When the Santa Fe Trail was established in the 1820s, trade in New Mexico turned away from Mexico and toward the eastern United States. That's when commercial dyes became popular. By the mid 19th century, local weavers -- including many Navajo -- had moved away from natural dyes and began developing their own designs. One non-Indian style of weaving developed in New Mexico during this period is the Vallero. I found this example here. Isn't it dazzling?
A Vallero-style blanket.
As amazing as these later blankets and rugs are, I expect I'll stick with stupid easy designs for my own weaving projects. But I'm hoping to learn how to dye yarn at Las Golondrinas this summer. I'll let you know how it goes.

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These moments of dazzling blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed!

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Steve Martin and -- cultural appropriation?


This weekend on Facebook, I shared a YouTube video of comedian Steve Martin's first performance of "King Tut". It's been 44 years since the song aired on Saturday Night Live, which is kind of an odd anniversary to mark, but I guess somebody mentioned it on Twitter, and it was off to the races.

Apparently, in the intervening four decades and change, the song has become controversial. Back in 2017, students at Reed College in Oregon got upset when they had to watch the video for an introductory humanities class. Members of Reedies Against Racism complained that the bit was racist. "That's like making a song...that's just littered with the n-word everywhere," one student told the college newspaper.

Some Millennials today don't get the joke, either. One tweeted: "I'm sure my parents found this hilarious in the 70's but I honestly dont get it." (sic) 

Okay, then. Let me explain it to you: It's satire. Moreover, it's a satire about consumerist culture.

Context matters. At the time the song aired on SNL, a major exhibition of grave goods from King Tutenkamen's tomb was touring the United States, sponsored by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. More than eight million Americans saw the exhibit, which included the boy king's spectacular funereal mask. 

People around the world went wild for everything that had anything to do with Egypt. And as American, uh, entrepreneurs are wont to do, there were a ton of tacky Tut-related items offered for sale, up to and including women's t-shirts featuring a graphic of golden falsies with the legend, "Hands Off My Tuts".

The video that circulated on Twitter this weekend apparently included only the musical performance, without Martin's opening remarks -- in which he talks about how all the Tut tchotchkes inspired him to write the song. And then the music starts, and he goes into his usual manic schtick (backed by a band billed as the Toot Uncommons that included members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band). It's a hilarious bit. Here, see for yourself:


Would the skit make it on the air now, in this day and age? Maybe not. It's not as cool these days to dress up in another culture's clothing, even to poke fun at something wholly American.

But is this skit cultural appropriation? Is it racist? Come on. 

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By the way, if you haven't seen Martin's most recent work -- Only Murders in the Building, co-starring Martin Short and Selena Gomez -- you owe it to yourself to grab a free trial of Hulu and binge the first season now. It's very funny. And then you'll be all set for season two when it drops on June 28th.

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These moments of bloggy Egyptomania have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell (who does have a condo, but it's not made of stone-ah). Get vaxxed!

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Redefining city centers in the wake of COVID.

The New York Times ran a column by Ginia Bellafante this week called, "Wait, What if People Did Just Stay Home in Their Pajamas?" 

Bellafante writes that big-city mayors who are pushing the return of workers to their offices in central business districts -- in this case, New York City's Midtown and Lower Manhattan -- to "get back to normal" may be missing a different, and more sustainable, renaissance. 

Downtown office districts have been virtual ghost towns for the past two plus years, and city officials are pushing people to return to work in their high-rise office buildings, or else small businesses -- coffee shops, lunch places, food trucks, and so on -- won't survive. In essence, people are being guilt-tripped into returning to the office.

But people have become comfortable (for the most part) with working from home. Not only do their commutes no longer suck, but with the savings they've realized from sitting home in their jammies, they've been able to support businesses in their own neighborhoods. Bellafante cites as proof the hundreds of restaurant openings in Brooklyn and Queens over the past couple of years.

Hybrid work isn't going away, she says, and in fact the trend has been shifting in that direction for several years; the pandemic shutdown simply hurried it along. But city planning and governmental policies haven't yet shifted to support it.

I maintain that a big reason for it money. As alert hearth/myth readers know, I used to work in an office building in downtown Washington, DC, and I have some idea of how much corporate money has been sunk into the pricey real estate in city cores. It's a lot. A lot. If businesses largely abandon those buildings, city real estate tax revenues will crash, and we may end up with a lot of cityscapes that resemble the picture up top. (It's the background I used for the original cover of Scorched Earth, by the way.)  All those post-apocalyptic stories in which the characters poke around in abandoned cities? That scenario could be closer than we imagined. Already our suburbs are dotted with derelict shopping malls and big-box stores. Why not skyscrapers, too?

But it doesn't have to be that way. Some commenters observed that empty office buildings could be repurposed -- as housing, for one thing. Maybe the whole idea of a downtown business district needs to be rethought, to cater to people who live there, instead of office drones who only spend eight hours a day there, buying coffee and eating lunch out.

I recognize, too, that this whole discussion centers around only the lucky folks who can work from home, and not the people whose jobs have required them to show up to a physical workplace all along -- those "essential workers" who we loved when they were risking their lives to bring us groceries and teach our kids and save our family members when they were hospitalized, and who we maybe haven't thought much about since then. Even if downtown office buildings were renovated into apartments, what are the odds that essential workers could afford to live in them? I mean, does anybody build any apartments that aren't luxury units anymore?

I don't have a solution. I don't think anyone does -- not a practical one, anyway. But we're going to have to grapple with this at some point. We might as well start thinking about it now.

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These moments of post-apocalyptic blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed! Get boosted!

Sunday, April 10, 2022

The spirit of a place.

I still buy paper wall calendars every year. And nearly every year, I think about picking up a Spirit of Place calendar, but I never do. The photos of striking landscapes are lovely -- don't get me wrong. But despite the name of the calendar, they don't really convey the spirit of the place -- at least, not to me. For that, I think, you have to be there. 

pegasustudio | Deposit Photos

Have you ever walked into a place that felt totally welcoming -- as if the place itself was glad you had come? Or maybe there was a time when a place you entered didn't welcome you at all. Both have happened to me a lot over the years.

Here's an example: Many years ago, I had a job interview in Chicago. I'd been to the Loop plenty of times, but rarely for a job search. As I walked from the train station to the interview, I felt a coldness and heaviness that I'd never felt there before. I did the interview, and as I left the building, I decided I might as well spend the rest of the day doing tourist stuff. Immediately, the feeling of coldness lifted. Now the city welcomed me! 

I didn't get that job, nor did I ever get a job in Chicago. Of course I was anxious on this occasion, as one is before a job interview, but I don't think the feeling of coldness was due to interview-related nerves. I think the city's spirit of place was telling me I wasn't ever going to make a home there.

Some time later, I walked into a different radio station for an interview, and right away it felt like I'd come home. The energy in that space felt comfortable to me. That job, I got.

Then there was the time when a realtor was showing me homes in Alexandria, VA. We saw a bunch of houses that day, but there was one that I couldn't leave fast enough. The vibe was just awful -- foreboding, even. I wondered whether the owners had had a huge fight (or worse) before leaving that day, and the bad energy still lingered.

I've learned to trust these feelings, both the "come on in!" and the "get out!" variety. And I relied on it when I was looking for a place to retire. Not totally, of course -- I had a list of more practical requirements, as well. But of all the places I visited in Colorado, none felt totally like home. Then I came back to Santa Fe and realized this city had been slyly courting me for years.

I've also incorporated the idea into my writing. In Maggie in the Dark, the first book of the Transcendence trilogy, Maggie Brandt is practically yanked off the highway as she drives past the Great Circle Earthworks in Ohio. The spirits of that place whack her upside the head, and the experience sets the story in motion.

A photo of a stunning landscape can stun and even enthrall. But to really feel the spirit of the place, I think, you need to be there.

What about you? Have you ever gotten a strong vibe from a place, either good or bad?

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These moments of spirited blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed!

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Taking another week off.

Yes, I just took a vacation. Yes, I'm taking another one this week. No, I'm not sorry.

See you next Sunday.

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These moments of vacationing blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed! Get boosted!


Sunday, March 27, 2022

Streaming: the death of movies?

I guess that by posting tonight, I'm competing with the Academy Awards. So I might as well talk about the thing everybody's going to be talking about anyway. No, not Will Smith smacking Chris Rock for dissing his wife. I mean movies in general.

A Facebook friend posted earlier today that he hadn't seen any of this year's ten Best Picture nominees because he has trouble hearing these days, so he waits for them to come to the small screen. I couldn't help but wonder where he's been. I've seen six of them -- and I saw them all via one streaming service or another. 

SergeyNivens | Deposit Photos
One thing the pandemic has made easier is seeing first-run movies without having to leave home. At least one of the big film studios decided, while everything was shut down, to release their movies via streaming in lieu of opening in theaters. Then movies were released simultaneously to theaters and a streaming service, a practice that seems to be hanging on. I'm sure the theaters would like the studios to walk that back, now that folks can get out and see a movie again; it hurts their bottom line when moviegoers stay home. But I think it's going to be tough to put that djinn back in the bottle, especially now that a movie produced by a streaming service -- "CODA", produced by Apple TV -- has won the Academy Award for Best Picture (beating out "The Power of the Dog", which I was rooting for, but I digress).

Writing in the New York Times earlier this week, Ross Douthat claimed that the Oscars are losing relevance because the movies they're meant to honor are slowly disappearing: "The ideal Oscar nominee is a high-middlebrow movie, aspiring to real artistry and sometimes achieving it, that’s made to be watched on the big screen, with famous stars, vivid cinematography and a memorable score. It’s neither a difficult film for the art-house crowd nor a comic-book blockbuster but a film for the largest possible audience of serious adults..." His emphasis is on the big screen experience. He laments that almost nobody went to see the nominees in theaters this year; "Spider Man: No Way Home" (which, by the way, I also saw via streaming) has earned four times the U.S. box-office take of all ten nominees combined.

Douthat goes on to suggest, among other things, that fans of Seeing Serious Cinema at the Cinema recognize that the art form needs their patronage, in the same way that fans of opera and ballet support those arts -- that is, classic movies should be shown in theaters more often, and students should be encouraged to study classic films the same way they study classic literature (never mind that they already do; "film studies" classes have been around for at least a couple of decades).

I think maybe Douthat is missing the point. The biggest reason people stopped going to the movies -- aside from the pandemic -- is that the experience has gone downhill. A moviegoer shells out big money for the ticket and bigger money for a snack, and is then surrounded by others who might chat through the show. And if your million-ounce soda goes through your system too fast, you can't hit the pause button while you go to the restroom. And then there's the lack of closed-captioning mentioned by my Facebook friend. Operas have gone to seat-back closed captions; if movie theaters want to lure older adults back, maybe they should do the same.

Or maybe we should just bow to the inevitable. I used to love going to the movies. When my kids were in high school, we had a tradition of attending midnight openings for movies like "Lord of the Rings" and the Harry Potter flicks. (The rule was they had to go to school the next day.) But ticket prices are in the stratosphere now, and the big screen experience truly isn't that much more engaging than watching a film at home.

Then again, I'm reminded that radio was supposed to be dead long since; way back in the '50s, TV was going to kill it off, or so everybody said. And yet radio, in one form or another, has stayed with us. I expect the movie business, too, will be with us for many years to come.

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I'm taking another break next weekend. See you back here Sunday, April 10th.

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These moments of cinematic blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed!

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Springing forward with intentions of justice.

Yurumi | Deposit Photos
Happy spring! The vernal equinox occurred at 9:33 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time today. It was at 11:33 a.m for those of you on the East Coast, and, uh, 4:33 p.m. for -- no, wait, I'm wrong. It happened at 3:33 p.m. in Western Europe; y'all don't switch to Daylight Time 'til next Sunday.

This business of springing forward and falling back seems to be getting more unpopular every year. The U.S. Senate actually passed a bill last week -- the Senate! passed a bill! -- to keep Daylight Time all year round. It turns out that the vote was a parliamentary maneuver engineered by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Kyrsten Sinema (D in name only-Arizona), and that nobody objected because they had more important things on their minds -- like, for instance, Ukraine. Regardless, it now goes to the House of Representatives, where it may not even make it to the floor for a vote. 

The sudden nod to year-round Daylight Time was met with the usual grumbling about how, if we're going to stop messing with the clocks, it would be smarter to stick with Standard Time because reasons. Most of the arguments seem to center around little kids waiting for buses in the dark on winter mornings. (I saw one guy in a comment section who seemed aghast that kids in Alaska would lose more morning daylight. Apparently he was unaware that Alaskan kids already go to school in the dark -- and come home in the dark, too.)

Anyway, here's the point I'm ambling toward: As today is the spring equinox, it's also Ostara for many Pagans. I've blogged a few times about the Pagan observance of the holiday, but I don't know whether I've ever explained my own practice (other than to say it looks a lot like Easter but without the guy on the cross).

This year, I attended an online ritual conducted by the CUUPS chapter in Albuquerque. Our magical working was to set intentions for the next few months. We wrote our intentions on a piece of paper, made it into the shape of a kite, decorated it, and wafted it through the air. It was fun. I have my kite pinned to the corkboard above my desk. 

But one thing I've learned about intentions is that they're easy to set and forget. For a magical working to take, you need to do more than just write down your goal; you need to do what you can to manifest that goal in the physical world, as well. And even then, sometimes it doesn't work. Magic doesn't make a thing 100 percent certain -- it only increases the odds that it will happen. But the nudge can tip the odds in your favor, particularly if you follow up with action in the physical world.

Lynne Cantwell 2022
So just to reinforce my intentions, I colored some eggs this morning and marked some of them with symbols to represent what I hope to do. While I went through the process, I mentally reviewed my plans for getting each one done. 

I took special care with one egg -- the one at the right side of the front row. It's blue on top and yellow on bottom, and my intention for that one is this: justice for Ukraine.

Why justice and not peace? I think we're beyond that now. Vladimir Putin is a madman who invaded Ukraine unprovoked. I don't think he has any intention of agreeing to the sort of compromise that would be necessary for true, lasting peace. Ukraine needs for the Russian troops to leave, yes, but Russia also needs to be made to understand that it cannot invade another country again. Ever. 

And once the Russian troops have gone home, Ukraine will need to be rebuilt. 

So: justice first, and soon. Then we can all work for peace.

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These moments of bloggy intentions have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed!

Sunday, March 13, 2022

How things have changed -- and not all for the better.

 Yesterday, Facebook provided me with this memory: 

My comment when I shared it: "Narrator voice: She never went back..." 

In other words, it's two years to the day since I last worked in an office building full-time.

A lot has changed since then -- and yet, a lot hasn't changed. We're still dealing with the virus, although now we have tools to battle it: vaccines to prevent it and medications that have been proven to make breakthrough cases less severe (unlike the quack "cures" that have been promoted in certain quarters -- worming treatment for horses? Seriously?). We also know more now about how the virus doesn't spread. For one thing, it doesn't live long enough on surfaces to do much damage. (Hint: You can quit wiping down your groceries with disinfectant, if you're even still doing that.) Transmission, we know now, is typically airborne, which means good ventilation is key -- and yes, masks work.

Something else that hasn't changed: The pandemic is still being politicized. Probably the most recent incident is the "people's convoy" making a daily nuisance of itself around the Capital Beltway in Washington, DC. They're supposedly protesting mask mandates -- which, by the way, have been rolled back in virtually every state now that omicron's on the wane. The protest was doomed to fail from the start anyway; the organizers hoped to block several lanes and slow traffic to 45 miles per hour. Little did they know that you're lucky to get up to 45 miles per hour on the Beltway on a weekday. Now, after several days of driving around DC, some of the participants are getting frustrated by regular drivers giving them the finger and cutting them off. I have a suggestion for them: Go home. The Beltway always wins.

On a serious note, we have a new thing to worry about: Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and whether Russian President Putin is crazy enough to, say, fire off any nuclear weapons. The West, led by US President Biden, has avoided direct intervention to keep from giving Putin an excuse to push the button. But human rights advocate and former chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov tweeted a chilling comment the other day: 

It's starting to feel like World War III is coming, whether we want it to or not. In fact, it may already have begun.

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These moments of bloggy reflection have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed! And have a sunflower or ten thousand.  

Sunday, March 6, 2022

How Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, got its name.

I fully intended to bring you some dramatic photos from my vacation last week. But then I got to my hotel in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, and couldn't muster the energy to complete the itinerary I'd planned. So instead, I give you a couple of middling photos. Here's one: 

Lynne Cantwell | 2020

In case my less-than-stellar photography skills have made the sign hard to read: this is the entrance to Ralph Edwards Park. 

Why does the town have such an unusual name? And why did the city fathers name this park after a game show host? Well, thereby hangs a tale.

You see, the town was originally named Hot Springs, thanks to its location along the Rio Grande (yes, that Rio Grande; no, it's not near the Mexican border) where thermal springs first popped up more than 50 million years ago. The water comes out of the ground at about 115 degrees Farenheit and it smells just fine -- no icky sulfur smell. Native Americans were the first to visit the springs, as far as anybody knows; when white folks began working the gold and silver mines nearby in the 1800s, they enjoyed the warm waters, too. As automobiles became a thing, the city began to capitalize on its so-called healing waters to bring in tourists.

Fast-forward to 1949, when the radio game show Truth or Consequences began planning for its tenth anniversary on the air. The powers-that-be hit on the idea of a contest: if a town somewhere in the United States would agree to change its name to Truth or Consequences, they'd send host Ralph Edwards there to do the anniversary show. The city fathers in Hot Springs decided to go for it, and the residents agreed in a special election in March 1950. The day after the election -- April 1, 1950 -- Edwards and his wife came to town to do the show. It got the newly-named T or C loads of publicity -- although some folks thought the whole thing might have been an April Fool's joke. 

Edwards seemed to like it there; he came back every year until the late 1990s for the city's annual Fiesta, often bringing Hollywood stars with him. The grateful town named that park after him.

Ralph Edwards is gone now; he died in 2005. But the hot springs are still there, along with hotels,  restaurants, and shops. I stayed for a couple of nights, and yes, I availed myself of the healing waters. 

Lynne Cantwell | 2022
I don't know if my soaks healed anything, but I had a relaxing visit and I intend to go back.

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These moments of restful blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed!

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Taking a week off.

 As I mentioned last week, I'm out gallivanting today - so no new blog post from me. See you next week!


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These moments of bloggy gallivanting have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed!

Sunday, February 20, 2022

My Pagan path in an elevator pitch.

Maroon Bells | Lynne Cantwell 2017

I got name-checked on the Patheos blog of a Druid priest this week.

I've mentioned John Beckett here before. I've occasionally used one or another of his posts as a springboard for a blog post of my own. I've also taken some of the online classes he has offered; I'm not a Druid, but his classes are all ecumenical, if I may repurpose the term to mean practices and beliefs that are common to all varieties of Pagans. I did my best to enumerate the types of Pagans in a blog post a few years ago. 

But I still get questions about what Paganism is. A lot of them come from folks who have quit one or another Christian sect (I seem to have collected a number of ex-Mormon friends) and made a 180-degree turn into atheism. As if there are only the two choices: believe in Jehovah or believe in nothing.

So I asked John how to talk to these friends about Paganism -- keeping in mind that Pagans don't proselytize (no, really -- we don't). His answer is in the post that I linked to up top.

He calls these types of folks "religiously ignorant." I think that's a little harsh -- I'd go for "religiously uninformed" -- but his blog isn't mine. Regardless, the point is that because of the ubiquity of Christianity in the West, for the vast majority of folks, that's their only religious reference. So, as he says, first people want to know what you believe, and second, they want to know what your holy book is. Alert hearth/myth readers will see the problem immediately: Paganism has no holy book and no single set of beliefs. 

The next thing they often want to know is what you have to do to keep from going to Hell. When you say Pagans don't have a Hell, it doesn't compute. Pagans strive to live morally, of course, but not because of some heavenly reward awaiting us. The reward is here, in this life.

I encourage you to read John's post for his overview. If you're looking for more in-depth info, I could recommend a book or two. But if you want to know what I believe? Well, I guess I'd better write an elevator pitch for you. Here goes:

I believe there are a whole lot of gods. I've spoken in meditation with several of them, and I am confident that they are separate persons -- neither facets of a single overarching deity nor figments of my imagination. I have relationships with a few gods, and if you've read any of the Pipe Woman Chronicles, their names may be familiar to you: Lugh, who can do anything; Brighid, blacksmith, healer, and poet; Morrigan, both a warrior and the personification of the land; and Mokosh, the Slavs' Mother Earth, who spins the thread of life.  

I believe in animism: that not just humans, but everything on this planet, is a person who deserves respect. I believe that none of these persons is more special than the other -- which is to say that humanity has no special, elevated place on this earth. Our job is to learn to coexist, not just with each other but also with animals, with plants, with the air and the water, and yes, even with the rocks. 

I believe that magic is a thing, and that it works. I've seen it work.

I believe that to believe in Hell is to live in fear. I look forward to going to the Summerlands when I die, and I know I don't have to believe a specific thing or live in a particular way to get there -- the Summerlands are open to all.

I'm happy with this path. It feels right to me. It makes my life richer. It makes it make sense.

If you've chosen a different path and you're happy with it, that's awesome. I would suggest, though, that you ask yourself how you found your path. If it's simply a wholesale rejection of the path you grew up following, then consider whether your former path is still controlling you. If that's your jam, then great. If not -- well. Maybe shop around for one that has no relation at all to the one you rejected.

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The legislative session ended at noon on Thursday -- right on time. I've been cocooning since then (other than a trip to the grocery store), readjusting to being retired, and I'm just about ready to rejoin the world. 

So I'm taking a break from the blog next week. See you back here in two weeks. Might have some new  pictures for you then.

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These moments of bloggy pathfinding have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed!