Monthly Archives: February 2010

Patrick McCollum’s Fight for Your Religious Rights

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Patrick McCollum’s legal challenge against the State of California may sound like it just concerns the religious freedom of prisoners, but make no mistake: the outcome of his case will affect every one of us, and determine whether our Constitutional right to freedom of religion is conditional or absolute.

There have been several great articles written about Patrick recently, by Jason Pitzl-Waters at the Wild Hunt, Gus diZerega at Beliefnet, and this Llewellyn article by Donald Michael Kraig. Today I sat in for my friend and colleague Peter Laufer on his Sunday morning KOWS radio show, which gave me the opportunity to interview Patrick on the air about his case. If you have not educated yourself about the case and what is at stake, now is your chance to listen to Patrick explain it in his own words.

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Time is of the essence for making our voice heard in this case, and publicity, like sunlight, may be the best disinfectant for the insidious creep of religious discrimination not just in California but nationwide. Here again are the people to contact in the State government. Phone calls and written letters are best, and public pressure really can make a difference.

Write the Governor of California.  This is a federal case, so you do NOT have to be a California resident to make your views known.  If California prevails, similar efforts will be made in other states.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-558-3160

For the same reason write California’s Attorney General.

Edmund G. Brown, Jr.
Attorney General’s Office
California Department of Justice
Attn: Public Inquiry Unit
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550

And write the Secretary of the California Dept. of Corrections.

Matthew Cate
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
P.O. Box 942883
Sacramento, CA 94283-0001
916-445-1773

State that you want a state-wide truly fair and neutral policy that includes equal accommodations of Pagans and other minority religions based on religiously neutral criteria.

2010 New Year’s Dream Resolutions

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Yes, it’s time once again to post my New Year’s Dream Resolutions. Actually it is well past time to post them, and my handwritten notes from reading through last year’s dreams have been sitting on my desk for over a month, waiting for me to write them up.

The one waking-life resolution I made for myself this year is to relax more, and the only way I can make this resolution square with having so many projects in motion is to not push forward any project until I feel the energy for it. Everything has to take its own time this year, without me trying to force anything to fruition before its time. So, much to the dismay of my Aries mentality, everything is not getting done instantly. Dream resolutions are being written in mid-February, and that’s just the way it is.

In 2008, this is how I explained the concept of New Year’s Dream Resolutions:

This new feature is not like most New Year’s Resolutions because these are not about how to act during the day, they’re about what to do in dreams. Doing the right thing in dreams is much different than doing the right thing in waking life. It is hard to know whether a monster in a dream is an evil demon that needs to be vanquished or a gift in disguise that only needs witnessing in order to completely transform. Sometimes of course it is both, in which case you may want to consult a professional. Fortunately, I am a professional.

My dream resolutions tend to come out more like pronouncements than typical New Year’s resolutions, but that is part of the fun. This is a type of dream re-scripting, so if you try them yourself just let them come out the way they are. And here are mine for this year:

1. If you are held underground in a “DNA-resistant container,” get out immediately, maybe by turning into a tree and growing yourself out and away.

2. The lucid stream is glittering all the way down to the gravel, so go ahead and dip your fingers in.

3. Do not give your name when caught in someone else’s library—Google will find out and publicize it!

4. If you are pole-vaulting across the grass, don’t assume you will fail. Enjoy sailing through the air and you will make it just fine!

5. If you see a bunch of little kids wandering around backstage after a performance, bring them to the main hall so their parents can find them and bring them home.

6. Joking about how old you are getting probably isn’t the best opener at your high school reunion. On the other hand, you’ll learn a lot from the reactions you get.

7. Don’t just pass by the guy doing uninteresting things in a dream—he may be about to open the treasure drawer!

8. If a dead relative returns for 25 seconds to tell you your future, and it is everything you want, believe them.

9. Even if the others are hanging back, moving toward ground zero is the only way to get the footage that will really make a difference.

10. Just because you dream of restoring a beautiful theater into a thriving community hub doesn’t mean you should do that in waking life. But who knows? Pay attention, and see what opportunities come your way in waking, and in dreaming.

PantheaCon Calling

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The ramp-up to this year’s huge PantheaCon event has been remarkably mellow for me. I have been working hard on it for days now, but blessedly without the usual high-pitched whine of anxiety in the background. I attribute it partly to the unheard-of luxury of having a partner who has my back and is happy to help out—and also to my latest herbal garden experiment.

My friend Gail Julian, who teaches here, was telling me a couple months ago about the wonders of the ubiquitous California poppy as a sleep aid, anxiety reliever, and mildly euphoric nervine. It is gentle enough to use with children too, apparently, and who wouldn’t want that?

I had a patch of poppies growing where I didn’t want them to grow, so I took the next full moon opportunity to harvest the whole plants, and soak them in alcohol for a while. The result, decanted just this week, is a marvelous, very strong tasting but energetically not overwhelming California poppy tincture. It is keeping my shoulders from bunching up with stress, yet my head is clear and I am actually enjoying getting everything done. What a marvelous find! And part of the car-full of goods and services I will be selling all this weekend at the  Serpentine Music booth.

There has already been an entertaining stream of Twitter posts about PantheaCon, and if you want the scoop on what’s happening at San Jose’s long-suffering Doubletree Hotel, follow the hashtag #pcon.

PantheaCon is the largest indoor gathering of Earth religions, eclectic spiritualities, Pagans, Druids, witches and freaks eccentrics that I know about. There is a fascinating mix of practitioners, teachers, researchers, clergy, and seekers in attendance, not to mention those who just love the party.

I will try to post pictures in my idle moments between selling music and herbs, leading and assisting workshops, and socializing. If you are attending, be sure to stop by the booth and say hello. But whether you’re there on site or just enjoying the home game, have a great weekend!

A New Poem for Brigid

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This poem may not be finished—I have spent the evening taking it apart and putting it back together, and still have some tinkering to do around the edges. But what fun to have a new poem to share for Brigid! And to be writing poetry again. The stress of the past few years must be easing up. May it be so.

Fresh Powder

My mistake was thinking
I had been down this slope
before. A night spent traversing
the ridge, looking for tracks as phantom
traces of moonlight and tree shadow guided
me first to one route then another, a faint
smoothness to the land here, hints of
familiar curves waiting there,
around the bend. But
no sure match, memory
promising what the moment
did not contain. Backtracking,
confidence giving way to doubt,
the lift and heave through hip-deep
powder, a strained ascent for another run.
Then, dawning wonder: I had not been here
before. Never these woven flanks of land, never
this finely-tuned air warming to dampness in
my nostrils. I pause to listen, fingers
flexed like dowsing rods sweeping
across the mountain. Minutes
pass, possibly days.
From behind me an owl flies
low, disappearing into the shadows ahead
and my feet follow, maneuvering rise and swale
with harnessed speed. The boughs overhead give out a soft
cry, and a rustle of downy feathers, sinew and silk. Such unearthly
beauty this night, the heavens keeping watch, and so many miles before we both can sleep.

Anne Hill
Feb 1, 2010