Monday, 21 June 2010

Midsummer


Maybe it's cliched of me, but I have a copy of this painting; it goes nicely with my living room decor, which is a mix of Craftsman and antique weirdness. It's really quite brilliantly atmospheric, and if you stare at it long enough, spooky as hell. The deceptively warm glow of the fairy* ring around the protagonist's feet stands in sharp contrast to the eldritch gleam of the forest depths behind her. Would you like to wander that wood alone late at night? I didn't think so. Gods only know what's lurking in there. Assuming you make it out of that fairy ring alive, that is; contrary to popular modern belief, the little people of ancient legend were not always kindly disposed toward humanity. Clearly she summoned them with her flute; but that doesn't mean they'll necessarily be inclined to let her leave.


There are woods behind my house, and I'm pleased to report that I've never seen quite that glow emanating therefrom. Of course, I also don't go out deliberately trying to stir up anything that I'm not very certain that I can deal with upon its arrival...


May your Midsummer be a happy one!



* I refuse to use any of the insufferably twee spellings such as faerie or feyrie, dammit.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

You Got Smote! Irony Edition

The 62-foot tall roadside statue of Jesus (also known as "Touchdown Jesus" and "Big Butter Jesus") has been a fixture along I-75 north of Cincinnati for several years now; I've actually driven past it a couple of times while passing through Ohio, and was delighted by the colossal absurdity of the thing. Last night, when severe thunderstorms ripped through the region, the statue was struck by lightning and burned to the ground, leaving behind only its metal framework. An act of God? More likely an act of climate change, which is the prime suspect in the uber-weird weather patterns we're seeing. It is even more ironic to note that the statue was constructed of polystyrene--that is, Styrofoam, a petroleum-based plastic; maybe Mother Nature is pissed off at the bazillions of gallons of oil still spewing into her ocean and decided to put the smackdown on a recognizable symbol? :D

Hope that church had good insurance. I wonder if He'll be back in three days?

Monday, 14 June 2010

Giving a Presentation

I'm planning on giving a talk about modern Egyptian-style paganism* at this year's Louisville Pagan Pride Day. Since I'm also the day's announcer and one of the facilitators of the closing ritual, this may be an example of "biting off more than I can chew."





* It will be a very squinty-type talk, full of facts and history and stuff, because that's just how I roll. I am constitutionally incapable of doing "workshops" that are like crafts day at the mental hospital with everyone making macaroni pictures and calling it Magick, and I also do not do well with presenting the subjective as fact, so I stick with the verifiable. :)

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

The Anubis Controversy

Frankly, I'm surprised it's taken this long for a kerfluffle to arise.

Some Denver residents are troubled by the colossal statue of Anubis that accompanies the travelling King Tut exhibition. One concerned citizen (perhaps the only one?), one Millie Lieberman, had this to say:

"The black on it represents the decaying body. To me it's a very sick and poor representation of what we're all about here in Denver," Lieberman said. "Why would they choose that, out of the whole King Tut collection, to welcome visitors and returning residents to our city?"


(Well, since the entire exhibition is comprised of funerary goods associated with the most famous near-intact Egyptian tomb ever excavated, then having a colossal statue of the pre-eminent mortuary deity seems a very obvious choice.)

A piece posted on the All About Egypt blog picks up the point that most interested me: that some (perhaps the Concerned Citizen quoted above) questioned why a pagan god could be displayed publicly when a Christian cross could not. You can probably hear my head hitting the desk all the way over there, can't you? The response is just short of epic:

City officials said the rule of separation between church and state does not apply here because Anubis is a god from a “dead religion”.


A few thousand Kemetics of various types might beg to differ on the "dead" part, but we'll let that slide. The blinding idiocy of the assertion lies not in questions of living vs. dead religions, but in the difference between an ART INSTALLATION and GOVERNMENT-SANCTIONED SECTARIAN DISPLAYS--and that is important enough to warrant a good caps-locking. No government body plopped Anubis on a plinth and commanded He be worshipped, but there are certainly disingenuous sorts proclaiming that the Christian cross erected on federal lands in the Mojave Desert was but a secular monument to dead veterans. (I wonder if they'd defend Anubis if we stuck him out in the desert to look after the dead--that was one of His functions, after all.)

So there's your teapot tempest for today: whining about a statue of a god you don't even believe in setting a bad example of what your city stands for. And yes, in a way, I'm surprised it's taken this long for someone to make a fuss over poor old Anubis, Who has been travelling round the country with the exhibition. Maybe I'm mildly irked that the biggest thing on the horizon when I visit my favorite city is the world's tallest cross; but I've never complained about it to the media.

Religious Lunacy Jumps The Shark

Saudi Clerics Advocate Adult Breast-Feeding. You know, to establish a "maternal bond" between unrelated persons of the opposite sex, so they can be in the same room together or something.

I would say "there are no words," but of course that's not true. There are plenty, many of them obscene, most merely incoherent. What is it about the desert monotheisms that breeds the crazy? Does the heat just bake their brain function out of them?

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Doing It Wrong Is SRS BSNS (x-post)

(Note: I had this lovely rant over at my other blog this morning, and I thought it applicable here as well.)

I am withdrawing from dealing, on any level, with what one might call "hardcore" or "fundamentalist" types, depending on the circumstance and/or the subculture at issue. I've finally fully separated myself from the spiritual versions of such, and I've had it with the historical versions as well. Just reading posts on message boards makes me want to punch people in the face, which I suspect would only aggravate my incipient carpal tunnel syndrome (and earn me an assault charge). I used to read certain mailing lists and message boards for the occasional nugget of useful research information, but the ratio of signal-to-noise is such these days that it's just no longer worth it. If I need to know something, I'll Google it, thanks, or go to the library. The clamor of self-styled "experts" just annoys me beyond endurance.

Honestly? I don't care. I don't care if someone, somewhere, is doing something wrong. I don't care if they're casting their circle in a different manner or interpreting some arcane bit of folklore in a new way. I don't care if some other historical reenactor is wearing a machine-stitched garment or moccasins that have cushioned soles or modern eyeglass frames. I don't have time or energy to be bothered with the tempests that people brew daily in teapots for their own twisted entertainment. I'm sick unto death of clench-butts who, waving the flag of "conservatism" or "preserving a tradition", do nothing but drive people away and ruin their experience of something that should have brought joy and pleasure to their lives. If people aren't doing something in the way that you feel it MUST be done, then do everyone a favor and take yourself off to whatever rarified place you can find with others of your level of perfection. Then the rest of the world can get on with enjoying their chosen activities and not feel compelled to punch you in the face for being a complete, utter, unbearable asshead.

I'm a Costumed Interpreter at a museum; that is one of the things that I do. Our costumes are far from perfectly documented historically accurate garments--and that's fine. Take for example the dress I'll be wearing for summer open house. It's beautiful, and it was made for me; it's apple-green heavy satin with a soft, non-shiny finish, with a squared neckline and a bustled train trimmed with cream rosettes. It also has a zipper up the back! In all the times I've worn that dress, or any of our other costumes, I have never had a patron complain of its lack of authenticity; what I usually hear is, "That's such a pretty dress!" If anyone has questions about period garb, I have encyclopedic knowledge of the subject and will happily prattle for hours until you fall asleep or drop dead of boredom--but if you don't, then I say thank you for the compliment and move right along. And yes, I do have a point, and I think I may even be coming near it.

I am not advocating the dispensing of incorrect information; but I am stating quite plainly that there are levels of authenticity, of accuracy, and of perceived "correctness," and not everyone will or can or should be expected to attain to the same level. If you are the hardest of hardcore historical reenactor who despises the presence of "the public" as detrimental to your experience of faux time travel, then don't go to an event where the public can come to watch. If you are the hardest of hardcore trad wiccan or whatever whose experience of the sacred is hopelessly sullied by the presence of those who don't take it as seriously or don't have the same perceptions of what is required, then go do what you feel needs doing in the presence of those who feel the same way. Live and let live, why is that impossible so difficult for some people? If someone is doing something that is not up to my standards (yes, I have them, and yes, they are often quite high), I simply leave them to it, and carry on on my own or with others who are at my chosen level; I don't call them idiots or try to guilt and humiliate them on the internet. And I am frankly mystified by those who do. Why? What on earth does it serve?

Oh my, look at that soapbox; wherever did that come from? ::kicks it back under the table:: If you're wondering, this rant was sparked by reading through a SEVEN-PAGE (at last count) thread on a reenactor board concerning the armageddon-inducing wrongness of a particular maker's moccasin. There are altogether far too many people in the world with far too much time on their hands, which they occupy with internet assery and focusing on inconsequentials. Couldn't you go volunteer at a soup kitchen or an animal shelter or something if you're that bored? Why not make the world a better place, instead of spreading strife and annoyance?