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The Rime Moon

Today was the perfect day for garden clean up. Sunny and warm but not hot. Bright enough to give me a headache, by the way. We cleaned the little kitchen garden and then tackled the Italian garden.  Cleaned and renovated the beds. I watered the raise bed with its delicious spinach, carrots and radishes–I ate a sweet little French Breakfast radish.

And the whole time I was feeling the rise of energy from that waxing Moon. Mercury has gone retrograde, too, so there’s all that and the other astrological stuff that’s going on. Plus we’re in the last weeks before the Winter Solstice. Plus the Republic is in freefall. 

Add to that a nice thick layer of Tower Time and set the whole thing on a big pile of Patriarchy and you have a weekend fraught with drama, tears and a kind of mad twirling desperation. 

But tonight, at Mother Grove, the chapel was full of people who had come for companionship, for time spent with like-minded folk.  The North altar was set with Goddess figures and candles, and the circle of people faced the soft glow of it.

We sang to Hekate and talked about the uses of power and the strength of community.  We walked outside and sang the Moon into the Sky. And then I took them on a guided meditation that began with Bob Nagan driving the Cat Bus and all of us lying on the top of Mount Mitchell, pouring the power out of our hands and into the world.

It smoothed out the scritchy energy of the day and offered us all a chance to breathe and consider how the world is and how we can weather the storm. 

And that’s what we all need right now, I think. A sturdy layer of resilience, a dash of a sense of humor and a vision of how we can move forward, to survive, to thrive.

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Dreaming of Farms

As usual. As always.

I grew up in west Buncombe on what was once a pretty little farmstead, with a lovely orchard, a root cellar, a springhead. My parents were not active stewards, shall we say, and the whole place was run-down by the time I was old enough to remember it.

We had a parade of interesting animals over the years–a cow, a donkey, ponies, a horse, chickens, a myna bird, parakeets, white mice, guinea pigs, canaries and the usual dogs and cats.  One summer, we had three mama cats with their 14 kittens.

Yes, not careful of things, my parents.

But we grew a garden every year and played at self-sufficiency.  And ever after I’ve felt myself to be a country person. Most of you know I garden and have kept bees and all that homesteady jazz.

I’m off the road for a couple of months–doing retreats and classes here at home and renovating a house.  So I signed up for a class from Organic Growers School. It is called Farm Dreams and it was all day today.

We learned about the ins and outs of beginning farming and the participants were from some far-flung parts of NC.  The netw0rking part was really good and the process was good, too. A solid way to think about it and to plan for it.

We did sketches of our farms and listened to local farmers who talked about their lives and their own dreams.

I’m still processing all the info and dreaming some farm dreams of my own.

 

future cider

radishes for breakfast

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The Mote of History: Dusting as We Go

 

I volunteered for a few hours today at a local historic home, the Smith-McDowell House. It is set up with rooms indicative of the history of the family—a local and prominent one—and they decorate lavishly for Christmas. My young friend Jenna and I had the 1870s bedroom upstairs. There were two tubs full of décor and lots of photos to show us what went where.

We wore white cotton gloves to protect the artifacts and we squinted at the photos to decide exactly which Father Christmas went where. We moved some china vases into the deep window ledge as a staging area and I noticed how dusty it was. On my next trip downstairs, I asked for a dusting cloth so that I could dust as we went. I really fancied dusting the chamber pot and the wash basin and pitcher.

One of my pet peeves is to go to a museum and see dust, but I understand that most of these places are understaffed or staffed by volunteers, so there are often more pressing matters than whether or not there’s a bit of dust on the marble table. (I often wish I could take a dustcloth with me and help just a bit. When we went to George Washington’s nice place at Mount Vernon several years ago, I hung out in the walled garden for so long, they let me help with the potato digging. I helped with gardening in several places in Britain over the years. Earning my keep, a tiny bit. Feeling as though I belong to that slice of time, this mote of history.)

Microcosm, macrocosm. As I dodged around the young Twins who were setting up the Spiderweb Game in the corner of the room, I also considered what it meant to dust as you go. Why is it so hard for me to tackle a project in increments, a bite at a time? My preference since a mostly-feral child has been to bite off more that I can possibly chew. And then chew it and swallow it, and move on to the next project.

I am a biter and a swallower. And I suspect it is my nature to be so.

Looking at the coming fourteen months, I long to bite more things—fiddle-playing, singing, writing, teaching. I want to visit the places I love—Madron and Carlisle, Slane and Yorkshire, Marshall and Folly Beach—and I want to do that with the people I love.

Bite, chew, swallow.

And just a bit of dusting as I go.

 

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Setting of the Sun–a Harvest Lament

 

 

 

Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness, Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve; Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Refrain: Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves; Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows, Fearing neither clouds nor winter’s chilling breeze; By and by the harvest, and the labor ended, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

If we leave off the final verse of Knowles Shaw’s 1874 hymn, it is perfectly workable for a Pagan harvest festival. We can feel the secondary and tertiary meanings, too, just like the intended Christian audience.

Lughnasadh. Lammas. First Harvest. Depending on the spiritual trad you follow, you may call this holy day by one of those names—or by another. Many Pagans conflate the first two but they are very different celebrations of the First Harvest. One is Irish and one is Christianed Saxon. One is games and homecoming. One is bread and the in-gathering of grains.

Every year, long about mid-July, there are Pagan folk in the Northern Hemisphere who start to complain about and boycott this holy day. They’re not farmers, they write, they are urban people who don’t get this whole harvest business. Or the weather where they live doesn’t feel like early autumn. Or they don’t practice a “Celtic” spirituality. Fair enough. Since we have not yet convened the Neo-Pagan Council at Nicaea nor pay fealty to a Pagan Pope, you are pretty free to celebrate this sweet cross-quarter day as you choose. I’m not sure why they can’t celebrate the abundance that fills the shelves of their local Whole Foods or treat the whole harvest idea as metaphor, as in “time to consider what I’ve ‘seeded’ this year and whether that has come to fruition” sort of thing.

But again…no Pope. No Council.

Not yet.

I personally love this holiday and have since the days of Notre Dame de l’Herbe Mouillee, that marvelous coven of memory. We often celebrated Lughnasadh by having a talent show, what is now referred to as a “bardic circle.” We weren’t so fancy in those days. Coven members showed off some skill or art. Kate and Geneva sang Sweet Georgia Brown in Polish. I played Danny Boy on the fiddle. Teleri belly danced. The W-J children made beautiful drawings.

The sun has set now and I have spent hours on the phone and on Messenger today, listening, talking, grieving the place so many stand right now. Fear and fury walk hand-in–-hand as we step into this festival. Is this the harvest we want? The harvest we expect in these Tower Times? Did we even plant these seeds, in the long ago springtime?

But my house is quiet now, at last. I can hear night insects in their chanting and I am drawn at once to my altar, to do my own soft prayers. And I repeat the circle cast I wrote so many years ago, when the directions were all honored with paeans of grain:

North: I remember how the seed-heads, tanned from the sun, stand in the wide fields near the river. I remember the threshing of the grain and the stretching stomachs it fills. I remember the bowl, with butter and sugar, and a man dressed as a Friend. In this time of the grain harvest, I call the Ancestors and the Guardians of the North with the strength of oats! You are welcome at our table! have them repeat this

East: I have planted the flat kernels in mounds the width of my hand. I have seen the shocking green of the stalks as they rise. The oldest peoples put a fishes head in the mound to feed the proud green spears. Tall spears to hold the other Sister. In this time of the grain harvest, I call the Ancestors and Guardians of the East with the bright yellow kernels of corn! You are welcome at our table!

South: I sing now of the loaf, of the fire of the sun made edible through the flailing of the grain. I sing now of the bright fire of food that is enduring, of food that is beautiful to see. I sing of grains that feed the people and straw that makes the bricks. In this time of the grain harvest, I call the Ancestors and Guardians of the South with the banked fire of wheat! You are welcome at our table!

West: I create a necklace of the pearls of barley. I create soup from the waters of the sea and the tears of my kindred, who passed into the West. I create the living vision of a shining new world. I create a passageway for my Descendents to greet my Ancestors. In this time of the grain harvest, I call the Ancestors and Guardians of the West with the perfect jewels of barley! You are welcome at our table!

 

And now the opening, as we open to this bountiful, troubling, problematic season:

West–Sweet pearls, rich grain. Barley of my people. Though our circle be open, we honor the West!

South–Bread-maker, brick-maker: wheat of the plains. Though our circle be open, we honor the South!

East–The tall sister, the one who stands: silk and husk of corn. Though our circle be open, we honor the East!

North-Tanned for the harvest, sweet beyond measure. Oats for our bellies. Though our circle be open, we honor the North!

The circle is open but never again broken. May the Goddess fill all hearts as the grains of Autumn come to harvest. Merry meet and merry part! And merry meet again!

However you choose to honor or not honor this time, let it be rich for you, and deep, and filled with meaning. For there is no time now for fads and faithlessness. May you make room for life and for joy.

Blessed Lughnasadh! Let the games commence!

 

 

 

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What I’ll Be Doing For The Rest of the Year

o dear…

 

So…today I had brunch with my friends Mia and John, and my work-wife, Star.  Mia asked me if I had posted where I’ll be appearing for the rest of the year and I looked at her blankly. Recovering what passes for my composure these days, I allowed as how I probably should do that. Somehow I don’t have a sense that people want to know such things but Mia assures me some may very well.  With thanks to her for her encouragement, here’s where you may see me in the next six months. 

Hang on to your knickers.

June 22-25, Wisteria, Ohio

Midsummer Festival with a focus on primitive skills. Teaching traditional Appalachian herbal healing.

June 28, Ashe County Public Library

A talk on Appalachian folkways with a focus on folk magic

July 7-16, Summerland Festival, Wisconsin

Teaching some stuff, doing some ritual, hanging with friends

July 20-23, Mystic South Conference, Hotlanta, Georgia

Headliner: which means teaching some classes. I will also present an academic paper on my recent research on the roots of Appalachian folk magic. And, shockingly, I will be leading an early morning tai chi class. I know, right?

September 9-10, Organic Growers School, Asheville, NC

Teaching a seminar on Appalachian folkways

September 15-17, Delaware

Delmarva Pagan Pride (and a class at a local shop the night before TBA)

September 22-23, Piedmont Pagan Pride

Teaching and talking; class the evening before (TBA)

October 5-8, Calderafest, somewhere in Georgia

Huge Pagan music festival that you shouldn’t miss; I’m just going to goof off but will be singing in the choir for the performance of Brian Henke’s Raven King

October 13-15  Southeast Wise Women’s Herbal Conference, Swannanoa, NC

Stuff

October 26-29, Florida Pagan Gathering Samhain Festival

Headlining: teaching, ritualing

November 2-5, FaerieCon, Hunt Valley, Maryland

Teaching, dressing up like a faery, drinking to excess

I think that’s it.  I’ll be helping to train new priestesses for Mother Grove Goddess Temple and continuing my clergy work there, of course.  I plan to have my new book–Earth Works: Eight Ceremonies for a Changing Planet–off to the editor by Lughnasadh. So a new book by year’s end, if all goes well. Plus gardening, canning, teaching locally, reading tarot. You know..the stuff one does when living a rich and juicy life.

Come see me at one or more of these things. I’d love to see you.

Oh!  And witchery. Lots and lots of witchery.

 

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Something Big A-Rolling

into the woods

 

Yesterday, early in the morning, before the sun was rising, I had an odd feeling that I couldn’t quite peg.  I went to Facebook with one of my all-purpose advice balls and got an overwhelming response from my contacts there.

Since many people seem to also be feeling this unease, I thought I’d copy the postings here, for those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook.

Here it is:

Friends, I was called to my home altar in the night. Please ground, if you aren’t already. Ground deeply and get your shields up. Center yourselves as you may. Focus. Words to the wise in the gloaming of the world.

 Later in the day, I added this:

Many of you have responded to my early morning post about my late-night adventure. I’m not surprised–given who you are–that this affected you, too. I am discerning what this trigger is, so if you are “getting” further information about this intuitive alert, please pm me or respond on this thread. And…be safe, observe your world, love big. Also, fear not. #witchery #SleeplessinTowerTime

Again, there was a powerful response, both public and private. Today I elaborated a bit:

Gratitude for all of you who responded both publicly and privately to my puzzling experience yesterday. In my morning walk, as I peered at the greenness all around, I realized the feeling/premonition lingers in and around me. This is the way with some witches–we note a change, we examine it, we bring our best discernment processes to bear and sometimes we reach out to colleagues for further information. I am still deep in the discernment process, still gathering information. Thanks to all of you for your patience with my process. It is Tower Time, as I call it. We are asked to be strong, purposeful and open-hearted. Never a bad thing anytime. #witchery #LoveintheTimeofTowers

I’m still considering, pondering, wondering.  Thanks for listening.

 

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Whither then? I Cannot Say

The books have arrived.  I have three boxes of “Embracing Willendorf” that constitute the pre-publication sales (thanks to all who did that–it’s really helpful). I have a bunch of labels and a couple of good pens and will spend the afternoon inscribing books and preparing them for shipping.

A lovely way to spend a potentially rainy Appalachian afternoon.

The book party was announced a couple of weeks ago.  My friends at Asheville Raven and Crone are hosting a celebration of the new book on Saturday, May 27 at 6PM. I’ll talk a little about why I wrote this book and read some of the jucier parts.  And sign the books that folks buy. Usual stuff. I’m planning to bring a rather nice bottle of champagne, with which to toast Absent Friends.

I’m off next week to celebrate Beltane a little more.  A gaggle of Mother Gravians are going up 81 to middle Virginia for Blue Ridge Beltane.   You can click on the romantic Hares below to go to the Event Page on Facebook–

 

I’m sending in class proposals for Wisteria’s Midsummer event and will let you know if they decide to bring me in for that.  Camping in the heat again–I didn’t do well at Pagan Spirit Gathering last year. But we’ll see how I do when I have less to get done and it isn’t a nine day event.

Many more festivals and appearances coming up plus more writing. Ritual, writing and renewal–I am counting on these things to see me into the depths of this Tower Time and to keep me relatively sane.

Per ardua ad terra! (And possibly more later.)

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Awash in the Uses of Magic

But what tools do we really need to do the simple and required magics? Only this my heart and these my two hands.

I stand with the Queens as my allies, here in the Realms beyond the Veil.

I’ve gone poetical tonight.  You may blame my name or the fact that I’ve been listening to Shakespeare all evening. But I have spent some time resting today–after the excitement and hard work of celebrating Imbolc and beloved Brigid–and contemplating the deepening of my magical practice. I have been doing magic in one form or another for half a century now. The practice has become consistently more intentional and stronger over the years. And there have been many gaps in practice and certainly gaps in formal training.

So I am both simplifying and intensifying my practice as the Moon (and the year) waxes. I have found there are weaknesses in how I do what I do, so I am working to recognize and mend them. This is happening through meditation, contemplation and, of course, practice.

Practice, I hear, makes perfect. But, in my case, I will be happy if practice can achieve improvement and a better consistency of effect.

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Now What?

Stop.

Ground.

Listen.

Sense.

We are being bombarded by histrionic information. This is not an accident. It is by design.

Ground. Then shields up. Strong. Sense. Think.

What is really going on? Quiet your soul. Breathe. What is actually occurring? When you have an idea of what’s really happening, come back to your tribe and tell us what you’ve learned, please.

But right now–ground, sense, listen. Intuit.

It is neither the one nor the other, but both and neither. Look for the third way, and the fourth.

Strategy.

Wide-ranging thought.

Profound connection.

 

The days since last week’s Women’s March have been very full, emotionally challenging and charged. Social media–in my case Facebook and Twitter (I am a terrible Instagram slacker)–is full of hand-wringing as well as genuine distress. Reports are coming in from the new president’s first full week in office and every stroke of his pen seems designed to insure disaster, taking the Republic over the edge of the cliff.

Or are we well-placed to engage deeply as citizens, to stand up to the Powers that Are and stand by the citizens–the neighbors–that need us?

Yesterday, I recommended that every woman read Machiavelli’s The Prince and my friend Thrax recommended Xenophon’s Cyropaedia.  But first, may I suggest we start with the foundational documents of our tattered republic?  How about The Declaration of Independence? 

Let’s broaden our knowledge base, sharpen our compassion skills–and remember what it means to be an active citizen in a democratic republic?  “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” was queried of Ben Franklin, after the Constitutional Convention of 1787. “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.” 

Can we?

 

 

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This Week

I’ve been posting on Facebook this week, leading up to the Women’s March today. I’ve put those pieces together here so I have a record of this powerful time. This place where we can practice love…in the time of the falling Tower.

 

The Week Before the Global Women’s March

Inauguration Day:

Knowing something of US history is a comfort as we face (the presidential) transition. The republic is flawed, for sure, the country polarized, the citizenry capable of disdain and hostility towards the parts of the nation that don’t conform to their standards, whatever those are. You do yourself no favor to think this is the worst or the best thing that has ever happened. It is neither. It is not as wonderful as some think nor as dire as others do. Try not to be surlier than necessary to the folks you have othered today. A republic is a tricky beast and requires an involved as well as informed citizenry. As a passionate member of this American culture, try to be a citizen today and not an obnoxious, self-serving jerk. Words to the wise.

Later, that same day…

While you are avoiding watching the inauguration (if you are doing that), please think about what you personally are going to do in your town or county to make the transition out of patriarchy and into the world we want. Community garden? Childcare co-op? Health center? Tai chi for elders in parks? Helping children with homework? Making art–music, theatre, poetry, sculptures, dance? Assign yourself to listen to people who need to be heard? What are you going to do, dear citizen, as the Tower falls and we rebuild the world?

 

 

Monday.

This week.

Begin this week with a song of praise–to the Earth, to the Divines, to your Ancestors. Ground yourselves deeply and get your shields up, singing them into place. There—that’s better. We are standing under a waning Moon, slipping into Dark Moon next week. Many of us are anxious and even fearful about the upcoming events. I will be here all week, bossing you around on social media and encouraging you to remember who you are.

So many of you have worked abiding processes for personal empowerment–well done, you. And now we are going to practice the uses of that sort of energy. Like a well-made blade, we will wield these potent magics in service to our communities, our circles, our kindred.

If you have neglected or removed your personal Ancestor altar–today is a good day to replace and refurbish it, to feed your bloodline. To re-member who you really are.

Breathe deep. Hold fast. Fear not, in these Tower Times. These are the times we were made for. Fear not. Fear not.

#LoveintheTimeofTowers #BeTheWitch #KickItDown

 

Tuesday.

This week.

You began with grounding on the Moon’s day. You honored your Ancestors. You fed them.

Today, take this noon-time to honor the land spirits that cluster around us and the ones that go about their business with no care or thought of us. Take them something shiny. A shining dime or a bit of mirror or some mica–take that outside for them, with maybe a piece of candy.

While you are there, in the world of the world, feel the solid foundation of the dear old Earth under your feet and renew your grounding. Remember the complex narrative that is your body and honor that, too.

Exercise your common sense and keep your wits about you. For this is the Tower Time we’ve been discussing for so long–days of dismay and courage, nights of reclamation and healing.

Tuesday.

Hold fast that which is good and, as always, fear not.

#bethewitch #LoveInTheTimeofTowers #danceontheashes

 

Wednesday.

This week.

In German, it is Mittwoch: the middle of the week. It is liminal, a gateway, the hidden door in the secret garden. You have been grounding deeply this week and raising your shields. In love and with respect, you have honored your Ancestors, the land, the Divines as you experience them.

Good.

Today, with one foot in the beginning and one foot in the end, straddling the doorway…today reach out with your hands and seize this time. Mid-day, mid-week, mid-month. Balance now your expectations and your fears, your courage and your vulnerability.

Holding fast to all those possibilities, feel the dear Earth’s energy flow up and through you, strengthening you, re-membering you.

You got this, this transitting white-water.

It’s Tower Time, as you well know.

Looking forward and holding fast to the good, the real.

Fear not. Fear not.

#bethewitch #LoveintheTimeofTowers #kickitdown

 

Thursday.

This week.

The energy is ratcheting up. Edges are crumbling. The center can’t hold.

Or can it?

You know what to do, beloveds. Pull up a swift protective circle and arrange your magics according to your skills.

Gather what you need from the hedges and edges. Create your clockwork shambles and set them in motion.

Join me now, in the center, in the heart, of this great working. We stand shoulder to shoulder with our Kindred, our Ancestors, the ageless spirits of the land. We are a mighty cohort, patient, waiting.

A chord is struck. A bodhran speaks. The little pipes begin and the great pipes warm up.

We are readying ourselves for the exquisite moment.

Hold fast.

Fear not.

It is time.

#LoveinTheTimeofTowers #bethewitch #danceitdow

 

Friday.

This week.

Night has fallen in the southern highlands of the old Appalachian mountains. In my house, we are replacing the furnace, readying the gardens, preparing for our annual celebration of Rev. Charles Bryan at Burns Night.

This day has brought what we need and, for some of us, what we want. There is a wild swing amongst emotions on social media and in society. There is mourning and fury and joy and satisfaction.

Today I heard a train whistle and a love song and a woodpecker in the maple tree.

And I heard you.

We are standing at the gates, the great pipes skirling around us. We are fearless and proud, far-seeing, strategic, cunning.

There is a culture to heal and a world to build. There is healing to be found in the darkness, nestled in mystery. You are the weaver and the healer, the web and the seeker.

Tower Time. Engage it. Own it. These are the times we were made for.

Hold fast. Breathe deep. Fear not.

#LoveintheTimeofTowers #bethewitch #kickitdown

 

 

Saturday.

This week.

Dawn.

As the Sun rises on this day, my social media feeds feature words of determination, of comfort. Women are sending blessings, encouragement and sensible caution to marchers across the globe.

Very silly hats are everywhere, belying the strength and fury that strides beneath those perky ears.

Go ahead and underestimate this event, this moment, this action.

These women. Because this is different, this one. It has been building like an ancient relentless tsunami for so many generations, so many Moon cycles.

The energy surges not from the top down, not from the capitol to the wildlands, not from the civic plaza to the hearth. Reverse it. From heart to hearth to town square to county seat to state capitol to the boggy seat of the republic.

Underestimate it. We smile when you think that. We smile and plan.

We have brought a battering ram shaped like Eve and Gaia and Grandma to the gates of power. Wherever those gates stand. Even if they stand in our own souls.

It doesn’t begin today. It continues, this work of many hands and hearts. Spiral in, spiral out. A clockwork of deepest freedom, of desire, of joy.

We are come to kick it down. And to dance on the ashes. And to rebuild the world.

Breathe deep. Ground yourself in the dear old Earth.

Fear not.

#LoveintheTimeofTowers #bethewitch #kickitdown

 

 

 

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An Evening of Shakespeare

this earth, this realm

I’m sure I should be exhorting you, gentle reader, to ground yourself and set strong intentions for this new year.  But better folk than I are spending so many words on doing so that it seems hardly worth the effort to nag you who are so thoroughly chided to carpe annum.

Besides, I am resting up during this Mercury retrograde time and weary from my year of travel, I am looking for inspiration of my own.  So Shakespeare.  I love Shakespeare and have been reading his words since I was about 10. My mother was a fan and quoted some of the best bits when I was very young indeed.

I find comfort, solace and inspiration in the plays and the poems, and have been fortunate in my life to play many roles in these familiar works.  When the times in which we live offer us enormous challenges–personal as well as civic–I have always found answers in the Riverside Shakespeare, read aloud in a silent room, read silently in company.

When faced with incompetent leaders, can we not turn to the War of the Roses and visit again the victories of Henry V torn to pieces by the lesser monarchs that followed him?  Crazy leaders? Mad in their rage? There is Lear for that.

And Richard II, which I am watching now, yields this, seemingly about the nation in which I am a citizen… “This dear, dear land is now leased out…”

But I began the evening with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” All my work of late with the Fair Folk, with the Gentry–how right it feels to see the fey-haunted forests beset by asses and changlings and fumblingly-bad actors!  And how perfect for the times that are our times today. So I am comforting myself with Shakespeare tonight.

What are the things–the words, the beings, the sounds–that nourish and repair your soul in times that clang with chaos?

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A New and Hobbitty Sort of Year

I was trying to take a nap a couple of days ago and kept getting interrupted. This is my interrupted-nap face

2016 has made us stronger, more introspective, clearer on what we will and won’t tolerate. It has been an extraodinary year–the sort of time that priestesses, like yours truly, consider initiatory. I invite you to ponder what your initiation by 2016 means and whether it was a trial by fire or an endurance trial. Both? or neither? I have been transformed this year and acknowledge that it has been one of the most passionate and intensely spiritual years of my life.

I posted this on Facebook as that social media platform filled with the grief and longing of this annus horribilus. Princess Leia was dead, after all, even though we all thought she might beat this year of death. Even she could not placate it. Nor could many of us.

But the year wasn’t all grief, was it?  For some of us it was a year of wonders, of miracles, of resurrections. Perhaps it is because I am a Monkey and it is a Monkey year. Perhaps it is because I turned sixty, and that magic and frightening number seemed to liberate me from past constrictions. Perhaps because I travelled to so many fascinating places and met–and fell in love with–so many extraordinary people. Perhaps it is all of that, plus the memories of moonlit walks, transforming affections and friends who held me upright as I wept.

There is, in my deepest self, a sense of the rightness of these times that are our times, these Tower Times. I may sometimes fancy myself a brave and foolish Hobbit in a great big world. Sometimes my Facebook posts reflect my introspection and my passionate commitment to stir the batter into a place where it can all be baked into deliciousness.  

But I am, at heart, a mountain witch-woman who honors her British roots a bit too much and loves to garden and sing and dance and love with abandon. And there’s also a bit of fey in the mix. So tell me–what will you do with this fey and fiercesome year that is to come? (with apologies to Mary Oliver)

 

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Symbol. Omen.

gazingpool

gazing pool

The smoke has returned here. We had a couple of clearer and more hopeful days but today the air quality took another downturn and I am coughing and red-eyed again. As North Carolina continues to struggle with who is and is not our governor, the burning of the western part of the state feels much like symbol or even omen of what is to come.

The Old North State has endured the stranglehold on government that the Republic is about to encounter. As a Republican-owned General Assembly and a Republican governor have roiled the education, healthcare and other systems throughout NC, we have endured a steady barrage of quips from people outside the state and outside the South.  Serves us right for electing them, is the general theme. The quipsters never take into consideration that the districts are thoroughly gerrymandered now, making a fair election darn night impossible. Given a generally ineffective Democratic response, the citizens of the state have struggled and mourned, have marched and petitioned to little effect.

Now the Repubic gets to face the same thing and I don’t look forward to it. Because the opposition party is even more moribund on the national level. And the Republicans have been terribly efficient here–as though they came in with an ALEC-inspired and Koch-funded masterlist and have gone down it, item by item, checking out the accomplished items.  The Republic needs all its citizens paying attention now and making our own lists, readying ourselves and our networks, girding our loins.

This afternoon, I had a brief meeting with the Cranky Clergy group to which I belong. The group includes a dear friend who is Jewish and I looked at her, sitting across from me at the table. The clergy group is made up of all sorts of miscreants and potential radicals–Pagans/Witches, Lesbians, Jews. As I looked across the table, I thought (and said)–I think I worry about you and your congregation the most. And it isn’t the potential for violence as much as the horrific triggering that the Nazi comparisons must cause for you.

We went on to talk about security issues at our houses of worship and what sorts of disaster/emergency plans we need to draft or renew. And the whole time there was a part of me that wondered how far all of this was going to go.

In the smoke of a renewed mountain wildfire, I felt the reflection of destruction in my heart and in the eyes of my colleagues. Microcosm, macrocosm. What sorts of alliances will we need to stand together in ways that are meaningful, helpful, strategic? How can we be truly stronger together in the face of fear and potential revolution? 

I wish I knew the answers, that I could read the omens. But I can’t.

I am living in the Mystery of time and history, of love and madness.

As we all are. 

firecompressed

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A Hawk on the Lady’s Arm

blogfrenchbroad2

winter solstice in the park

 

 

Lately, in teaching and workshopping, I’ve taken to beginning each one with a solemn plea to those people in the group who consider themselves magic-workers of some sort. I explain a bit about these Tower Times and I implore them to practice their craft until they are not merely competent but become adept.  I tell them that the Earth needs them, that their species needs them, that their communities need them. Please, o please! practice magic and energy manipulation until you are really, really good at it.

Does it work? Do some of them do it? Yes, they do. Or at least they report to me that they are working hard and practicing. I am taking them at their word.

I also ask participants about the Veil between the worlds. Do they feel it? Does it seem very thin and kind of tattered? Many people concur. Gathering information really. And then I ask about their grounding techniques.  Some people do that so easily that they don’t have much technique to talk about. Others have elaborate rituals and visualizations that get them to that deeply connected place.  And some of them shake their heads and talk about how they used to be really good at it but lately it has failed them.

Failed them.

They’ve tried different techniques but nothing feels as strong as it used to. It’s as if–as many have articulated–the energetic core of the planet is no longer…solid. Yeah. Imagine hearing that again and again all over this country and in places in Britain and Europe.

I’ve been playing with another style of grounding that seems to be working for some folks and does work for me most of the time.  Here it goes–

Imagine yourself a muscular young hawk, sitting on the gloved hand of the Earth as Gaia. You dig your talons into the familiar glove, know the familiar smells and sights and sounds of being a trained raptor on the arm of a Goddess. Shake your bells. Flex your wings. Solid, solid connection.

And then the leather-clad arm shifts, lowers and then raises. You gather your wings to you and bend you knees, flexing your talons and releasing your grip. As the arm raises into the wildness of the sky, you lift off, with a thrust of your powerful wings and a lifting and then—you’re away. You can return when you choose but are not as bound as you once were.

If you are having trouble with grounding, try this protocol and see if it helps.

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Pondering the Times, and polishing the good silver

Spent all day today in meetings, one right after the other. Good meetings, strong meetings, merry meetings.

Yesterday, however, was a day of traveling and thinking and scheming.

It began in Cleveland, in the rain. I woke in a shabby but comfortable motel room to a sound I hadn’t heard in months–heavy rain, with wind. I had been up pretty late and morning was not quite a gleam so my waking brain didn’t quite ken what the noise was. It was still dark out but peering out the window, I smiled to watch water falling from the actual sky. Imagine that–water from the sky. 

I called for a cab to take me to the airport, showered and did the last of the packing. I dashed over to the motel office to check on something and the clerk offered to walk me back to my room with an umbrella. I laughed and allowed as how I’d dance nekkid in the rain, if I wasn’t in a city Not My Own. Heaven knows, the old West End of Asheville has experienced by nekkid pale self under a full Moon or under a downpour. But Cleveland is not my village and I restrained myself, as was polite and suitable.

I arrived early to the airport–which is my preference–and breezed through check-in and screening, only to be thwarted in the actual leaving. There was a maintenance issue with our plane and that dragged on and on, until they reassigned most of the other passengers. Only a handful of us would go on to Dulles on the original flight, whenever that managed to happen.  If my connecting flight was missed, I could look forward to a five hour layover in the perfectly horrible Dulles and an arrival time back home around 9pm. 

O bother.

When the flight finally left, it had only a few folks on it so there was snack mix and diet Coke for everyone! In abundance!  United was at least consistent. The first flight was delayed by a couple of hours and–et voila!–the connecting flight to Greenville was also delayed. So it all worked out.  And it gave me time to ponder this whole Kick It Down/Destroy the Patriarchy thing that many of us keep talking about but don’t seem to have the ability to speak it into being.  We’ll need to find some other strategies if we’re going to achieve this Very Important Goal. 

I took out my trusty Composition notebook and started making lists and diagrams and doodles, and shaping what was churning around in my head. In witchcraft, as in life, intention is terribly important, and it’s vital to be specific if you need a specific outcome. So “Kick It Down” can be a hashtag but isn’t really a strategy.

We can start with definitions.

What is patriarchy and what don’t we like about it?  What do we want changed and what do we want to have in its place?

Can we start locally, in conjunction with like-minded groups in other localities, and target the patriarchal systems in our own families, in our lives, in our city and county governments? Microcosm, macrocosm. 

Can we look at the strategies that have made patriarchal systems resilient and successful and use them to tear down the masters’ house or must we have new tools for old systems?  Or is it, as I always suspect, a third way of utilizing all available tools and resources to achieve the end results?

As I and others develop these concepts, I will share them here, in case any of it is useful to you in your community.  Each day, we begin anew. We pray for strength and resilience and courage and endurance. And, please, Mother! some humor and music and dancing, too.

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Hashtagging the Apocalypse..which it isn’t, btw

Britain 2013 450

 

come into my parlour…

 

 

So…the election was a shocker.  People are processing it on all sides. Social media is a minefield of vacuous positivities, calls for direct action and fear-mongering amongst the erstwhile patriots.  A delight, all around.

I think most of us need to be treated for shock with a warm blanket, some strong sweet tea and a little nap….because there is much to do.  I reposted the Tower Time documents on my Facebook page but I have some doubt that people are paying attention any more than they did the first, second…eighth times I’ve posted them, either as a group or singly.

For those of us who lived through Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, etc etc….we have a clearer vision of the things that could happen and some thoughts about the things that won’t.

I’ve been playing with hashtags–

#whatwitcheslookslike

#bethewitch

#LoveintheTimeofTowers

#carolinacassandra

#WitchStrong

But, to speak truth, I think one of the hardest things about this is knowing that so many powerful magic-workers were so clearly focused, to no avail.  Embarrassing really.

Except for this–one, two, three, brickwall.

That’s my motto for magical work.  I will give a working three attempts, with more focus on each successive try. After the third unsuccessful attempt–when I run headlong into the brickwall–I stand back and consider that it was not my work to do.

Imagine that…not my work to do.

More to come in the next days, from your friendly village witch.  Some of it you won’t like at all.  Not one little bit.

 

firecompressed

signal fires

 

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Fire and Ice, Frost and Flame

firecompressed

scrying fire

Communities are awkward, tangled-up and glorious messes. Many of us have fantasies of the intersecting Olympic rings as the model for strong and free-standing communities that are consciously linked. Whole and mingled, too. Learning from each other, sharing recipes, stepping smartly through tedious circle dances.

We belong to many sorts of communities. Family, religion, work, avocational pursuits. And every damned one of them as dysfunctional as a two-legged stool.  Such is our challenge, those of us who dream of healthy community. Such is the work required during these Tower Times when system collapse is a given and recalibration a daily amusement.

Weaving, weaving. I speak of it as “weaving” community. Weaving can be lumpy and misshapen and also sturdy. It can be filled with interesting textures and a multiplicity of colors and materials.  What weaving rarely does is rip itself apart to prove obscure points and gain status.

That’s what actual communities tend to do these days. The warps and the wefts like to fight about who is doing it correctly and the shuttle ends up feeling confused and belligerent. And they all have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts and post pictures of the general unravelment somewhere on Instagram. The loom is indifferent to the drama, having a larger view of the proceedings.

As we wade into the depths of the Samhain season, we can inquire of the Ancestors about their own community weaving and they’ll do doubt tell us they were too busy working and dying of now-curable diseases to think too much about it. They left it to the preachers and the politicians to figure out the finer points.

It seems like it should be simpler, wholesome, Waltons-like. And sometimes it is.

I was invited to speak at the CUUPS Convocation at Salem and several weeks ago, I did that. (There hasn’t been time to write about it properly but it was marvelous and I had a wonderful time.) I knew several of the people there but it wasn’t my community, strictly speaking. And yet they welcomed me with open arms and I found a little home there.

Likewise, I found myself meeting a new tribe while in Pittsburgh at their Pagan Pride Day last weekend. I was met at the airport by a woman who was fun and helpful–and all the subsequent meetings with the committee members and the members of the community were the same. My tribe in Pittsburgh! People who get me!

Both experiences gave me a renewed sense of the possibility of those circle dances and those slightly-dented interlocking rings.

And then I returned to my own social media amoeba and read the field reports from the polytheist or Pagan or Witchish communities. We aren’t doing much dancing right now. We’re doing lots of infighting and posturing, with the accompanying whining and hand-wringing.

Great oogly-moogly. It does make one weary. Between the chill of the ice and the scorch of the flame, we’re not in terribly comfy places. And we don’t seem to be listening to each other at all. There’s plenty of grief and mockery and sarcasm and pain. And the weaving isn’t tight at all and the edges and seams are all unravelled.

The season of Samhain, in the darkening of the year, is not the most wholesome place for this hard and good work. But we don’t always get to choose when and where we engage the Powers That Are. Sometimes you simply have to strike when the iron is hot.

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The Tower Time Documents, Uncut

Nota bene–these are the Tower Time essays as they are right now. Some are rough, some short, some rambling. I offer them here in one place for those new readers who are curious and for those of you who asked to see them all in one place. I hope you find them helpful.

Tower Time File

Prologue This may seem like a bit of an anti-climax after all these years of warnings and thoughts and predictions about this Tower Time business. I’ve decided to create thematic documents, so I can add information as it comes up or as experiences should be recorded. I hope these are helpful to you as we navigate the times that are our times. So please consider this a first edition.

Tower Time, Document One. A Knowing, Cassandra-like

I feel I owe you all a slightly more thorough explanation of “Tower Time,” a phrase I have been using somewhat cavalierly for a decade or more and one which I find myself using with increasing frequency.

I don’t remember precisely when it began, this quiet knowing that has grown, for me, into a certainty. It began with a pinch of insight, a glint of what was happening globally reflected in local events. It was more than a lack of harmony, of simple chaotic modern life—this feeling hinted at larger activity, a shift in the zeitgeist, a disturbance in the Force.

This early knowing pointed obliquely to the old dream of every old feminist—the Collapse of the Patriarchy ™. Since our fiercer days in the long-ago 1970s, many of us have modified our speech—often because people refuse to understand that Patriarchy ™ is a system or a set of systems and is not merely angry women being mad at and blaming men. We now talk about Hierarchical, Top-Down Systems—HT-DS, for those of you who must have an acronym for everything—and that’s the language I will use here. But for those of you who still call the Patriarchy ™ by its oldest name, you may translate HT-DS to “Patriarchy” and you will be accurate.

Tower Time is named for the card in the Tarot deck, of course, specifically the Smith-Waite deck (which is the one I’ve been reading for more than thirty years). The Tower is one of the more direct cards in any reading and it lends itself to these times.

We—you and you and me—are living in a time of dramatic transition. The West is transitioning from the Age of Fossil Fuels, not gracefully, I might add. We as a planet are experiencing the most recent in a series of mass extinctions. We have moved into a post-Industrial Age—what the brilliant John Michael Greer calls “the deindustrial world”—where we collectively have lost the willingness to grow our own food and not piss in our water source. Whether or not you believe that the climate is changing globally through human agency is completely immaterial to me but I believe it is occurring and we lack the political will and the political power to override the interests of business and industry (and, let’s face it, the dominant culture) to mitigate that in any way. The clear knowing that I felt has grown more insistent in the intervening years. It is this: we are living in times when these massive, ancient and toxic systems, that have both created civilization as we know it and doomed it, are crashing under their own weight of history and grief. It is the death throes of patriarchy that we are experiencing and it will die as it has lived—in violence and oppression and injustice and death.

I did mention that this may be difficult to absorb, didn’t I? Many people nod and express their own sense of the rightness of this information. Others refuse to believe it, pointing—quite accurately—to the many instances in history where a group of loonies has believed it is the end of the world. I won’t engage in argument with you or read long reports that have come from dubious media or academic sources. This is intuitive—that is the very nature of a knowing. You are free to believe or not, as befits your sense of the current time and your knowledge of history and as that sense dictates.

Here’s a thing I do know. This is the time we were made for and one of the reasons we’re here. Tower Time.

Religion as empire, state as empire, education as empire, healing as empire—all are recalibrating in their individual descents. Each of us is in our personal place as the Tower erupts and crumbles. Some of us stand on the top, blissfully unaware that anything long-term is occurring below our feet. Some are trapped amongst the turrets, calculating a way off. Some have flown away and are gone to wherever and whatever comes after this life, after Matter has become Spirit. There are rock-climbers who are testing hand- and foot-holds as they work their way down the walls to perceived safety. Some are among the rocks at the base and some are out of sight, gone on to do the new work.

Because there is new work and it is past time to engage in it. Our work during the collapse is to not stop there, gawking at the impending calamity. We are charged—and many people are deep into this work—with creating new systems, systems that are genuinely cooperative, nurturing, sustainable and of greatest importance, resilient. There are groups that are forming in some areas to learn new/old skills, to get going with the new times. But they often bog down in meeting after meeting, talking through modes of governance, of how to hold a meeting without Roberts Rules. Remind them that time’s a-wasting and that talk can happen while food is being planted or tended or preserved. Decisions can be made while looping rugs and milking goats. If your group is dreaming big dreams but spending most of their time arguing protocol, you made need a new group. Because it is happening now. There isn’t some future Big Event that is looming on the horizon that marks the Beginning. It’s here.

As I sat with other gardeners around a fire a few weeks ago, I realized something it–if you have been waiting for the other “shoe” to fall, for the crap to hit the fan, you can stop waiting. It’s here, friends. Time’s up. We are in it–whatever it is. Continue gathering your allies, holding those you love close, planning, working, playing and thinking. But make no mistake, it’s here. Tower Time. Put on your game face and keep your courage up. These are the times we were made for.

Per ardua ad terra!

 

 

Document Two

Going to Ground in Tower Time

Early in the Gulf of Mexico oil well disaster–when it was apparent that the problem would not be solved quickly–a small group of women gathered in the small Temple. They brought rum and watermelon and the room soon filled with clouds of rich incense. Chants for Yemaya began softly, rattles were gently rattled. As the spirit of despair was tamped down and the strands of joy and connection wove themselves into the singing and the smoke, the chants grew stronger. The dancing which was little more than rhythmic stomping began. The Beloved Crone seemed to be speaking an unknown language, as water bottles were chugged and offerings were made to Ancestors and Deities. The woman nearest the altar–the one who had issued the invitation–muttered prayers and knelt on the floor, singing the holy names. As she had promised, she flung herself full-length in front of the wooden altar and begged the Sea Goddesses for mercy. The singing and chanting continued for some time, until the participants were dry and tired, eyes streaming tears of grief and too-much-smoke.

Sometimes when we pray, we forget that prayer is not simply sending our best intention into the Universe. For those of us who see the Ancestral Goddesses as non-corporeal beings who have some authority and ability in the world of the world, the prayers and the singing honor Beloved Ones who are near us, but are not us. The invocations in which we implore them to fix our lives or clean up our messes or show us a way through are requests and bargainings. We understand that we have a part in this relationship but we do not have control. We are not the boss. We are participants in an ancient cycle of creation and destruction and re-creation.

And sometimes the answer is no. Sometimes the answer is–you got yourself into this and you and your people are going to have to fix what you broke, you are going to have to take personal responsibility and get yourselves out of it.

Our community was far away from the horror and ineptitude that was the Gulf disaster, high in the southern mountains. But we are none of us “away”, are we? We are all connected–physically, spiritually and electronically. We know that today’s oil slick is picked up by next month’s hurricane and deposited in our organic gardens, on our longed-for heirloom tomatoes.

We work ourselves into a frenzy of grief and guilt and spiritual activity. We open ourselves to the sorrow and anger, and filter it as best we can. We meet for coffee, and walks, and we talk for hours on the phone. Gentling the community in its outrage, cushioning it from outright despair. We are blown about by the winds and waves of all that assails us and sometimes the only place to go for succor, for comfort is away from the computer and the phone and the endless cups of coffee. To the garden, to the woods, to the earth.

There’s an evocative expression that has become a keystone for my work in the community of late. The phrase “going to ground” has taken on new significance as we stand in this challenging Tower Time. To “go to ground” is to run pell-mell back to the den or burrow, to find someplace safe to hide. To make a run for it. Foxes do it. Rabbits do it.

Since the earthquakes that ripped through Haiti in January of 2010, there has been a series of human-made and natural disasters that have been unremitting in their intensity and we have been subsumed in the wake of them.

How many times have I forgotten–forgotten!–the people of Nashville, TN who were inundated literally with the rising waters of the Cumberland. The seaquake and tsunami and the ongoing nuclear tragedy in Japan sets on already-heavy hearts. There have been storms and volcanoes, floods and bombers. One after another, a laundry list of devastation that can barely be acknowledged, much less comprehended.

In my community work, in my social networking, in counseling seekers with Mother Grove congregants, I have been calling the times in which we move Tower Time. I imagine that the vast foundations are cracking and we are in the top of the Tower, where we must leap outward or be crushed with the weight of this six thousand year old system in its death throes.

Tower Time–we must engage or perish, We cannot remain untouched, uninvolved because it does involve us. All of us. But the overwhelming-ness of it–how do we find the wings to fly from the Tower? How do we glide away from the mess and the pain and not look back to those falling faster and faster?

We don’t. We can’t. It is not in our nature. And so we bear the wounds and we keep on, even as we feel the spiritual life-blood leaking out, only to be replaced by ennui and despair. In our circles, we call for “grounding” : we speak the words of guided meditations in which roots grow from our feet and sink, gratefully, into the Earth.

Grounding. Going to ground.

We are furry mammals, warm animals, wounded animals. We have tried to think ourselves out of this mess. We’ve tried to ritualize ourselves out of this mess. But you know what a wounded animal does. A rabbit or groundhog or badger? They go to ground and lick their wounds. They hide in their burrow, in the very womb of the Earth and they take time to heal and regroup.

I’m not suggesting we bury our heads in the sand, that we run away from our spiritual responsibilities. I’m advising that when the going gets too much for you to bear, you remember that you are a warm animal and you have a special option because of that. You can go to your burrow to recuperate and lick your wounds. Then you can return to your community renewed as the clever and powerful badger that you are.

Finally, here’s my advice to a friend who was feeling ungrounded, displaced, abandoned by Goddess and community. I offer it here for you, with a few additions and points of clarification, if you have need of grounding. Here is a too-brief check-list of possibilities, if you are finding yourself in the midst of the falling Tower, unable to do more than gasp as the earth rises to meet you.

 

–Have you set an energy trap?

–Have you set wards? Are your shields up? If you can’t do that, let your community know and they will shield you until you can.

–How is your altar?

–Go out to your land and ask for help. Invoke your Ancestors and the land spirits. Take an offering. Bring some of the dirt in with you. Put it in your pockets, on your altar.

–Brick dust at the secondary entrances to the house–windows, back door, crawl space door. Not a line, just a drop.

–White dust at the front door–can even be baking soda. Salt works, too.

–Light a rue candle, if you have one.

–Spend time outside, sitting on the dear old Earth.

–Invite others to join you in a simple ritual of healing and grounding.

The best advice I have is “go to ground”. Earth everywhere. Dirt, dirt. Then evaluate and see where you are.

Go to ground, sisters and brothers. Earth everywhere.

It’s Tower Time.

 

 

Document Three

Cardinal Cross in Tower Time

My friend Diotima is an extraordinary astrologer.  See, I know enough about astrology to be dangerous and the rest of it sounds like adults in those Peanuts shows–wah wah wah. She somehow makes it make sense–even to me.

Here’s her take on where we are right now–

http://witchesandpagans.com/Pagan-Culture-Blogs/heartbleed-hotel.html

The world is an awfully ragged place to me right now, friends. The UN recently released an official report on the rate of global climate change and it isn’t a pretty thing. And has seemingly been met with the usual tepid response by The Powers That Are.

We’re still looking for that Malaysian airliner. We’re still digging bodies out of the mudslide.

The garden is planted a bit and things are rising up–spinach, kale, chard, potatoes, onions, cukes, lettuces of several sorts. The recent cold snap–what we call dogwood winter around here–bit the taters but everything else is fine. The apple trees are in full and fabulous bloom–including the new espaliered Stayman Winesap.  The violets are luxurious, the dandelions crisp and delicious.

But this Cardinal Cross has combined with this Tower Time and it is hard to shake the sadness some days.

The ferry in Korea has split my heart, I fear. All those children, those parents..the stern and unyielding Sea. I haven’t yet been able to wrap any sort of cord around the breakingness of my heart around this.  I am anxious for news and yet completely without hope. I can’t imagine what it will be like when they get the cranes in place and pull the ferry upright. I can’t imagine what that scene will be like–how hard that job will be, how impossible it will be to endure for those parents who are waiting, waiting.

So…per usual…I am sinking my knees into the Earth, the good rich soil of my land here.  I am smelling apple blossoms and counting peony budlets. I am not doing much writing but I am spending time at my home altar, wondering. I am wistful about the coming Beltane with its magic and whimsy.

Because we are sitting on the horns of a great shifting of our culture and we all must find the ways to hold on, to create beauty, to be kind to one another and to hold space for the grief and the hunger.

 

Document # 5

Viva! in the time of the Dead

We began a discussion on Facebook, as one does, about the nature of societal change and the onset of the much-discussed revolution.  I had just gotten up from a long nap and gathered my haunted thoughts and replied:

I talk about Tower Time rather a lot and people always ask–when is that going to happen? It is happening now and I think Tower Time and the elusive revolution we’ve all been longing for (but are also a little afraid of) is also ongoing. I take much of my information about how to be in the world from nature ( not surprising since I’m a Pagan) and this time we are in will have earthquakes and tremours and landslips and landslides. We need to reenvision what “revolution” looks like because it won’t be several “important ” actions, then skirmishes until the goal is achieved. This is tectonic and will take time.

Natural, incremental.

Unstoppable.

It’s here, we’re in it. Time for deep thinking, lateral thinking, vision.

 

Document # 6

These Are The Times We Are Made For…no, really

We are all subject to the dramas and disasters that seem to abound in this moment in time.  As always, I ask that you breathe deeply, ground yourself.

There.  Marginally better?  Good.

I have been dispensing my particular–some would say peculiar–brand of calming advice over on Facebook and I’m simply reposting some of it here.

I also ask that you re-read this earlier post, if you feel the need.

https://myvillagewitch.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/tower-time-document-one-a-knowing-cassandra-like/

Take a deep breath, friends. Ground yourself into the bosom of the Earth. Now, from this place of strength and relative safety, open your heart to those in need of your goodness, your strength. Speak gentle words to those who need them….and kick the asses of those that need that, too.

The world is aswirl with chaos energy right now. We always have choices then but the two obvious ones are ground and hold–or ride the chaos. What we do tends to be determined on how strong we feel at the moment. Going to ground like a little furry critter is always a good option.

With respect and love to my colleagues…the system can’t be overhauled. System has to be uprooted, turfed out, composted so that its rot will feed the new system. We have tinkered around the edges for far too long.

In this time of grief and fear and fury, it has been a comfort to sit with my own past and with the magic of my forebears. Blessed be the Ancestors! May They stand with Their descendants and bring us wisdom, strength, vision.

It is neither the one thing nor the other, friends. Breathe, ground, if you can. You can stand in solidarity while lamenting the burning of the city. You can hold many emotions at the same time or sequentially–fear, fury, grief, longing. You can feel traumatized and triumphant. This is complicated, this time of change and growth. You are free to feel what you need to feel as you sort through the events in our world. And if you are overwhelmed with a desire to help, look at your community and see if there are people who are hungry–because they are there. Look to see if there is land that needs protection–because there is. You can help. You can feel. It’s ok to do both.

In this case–unlike Watts in 65 (?) and Baltimore in 68–we are the seeds that are awakened by fire. It’s up to us to go into the forest that is Baltimore and Ferguson and Pine Ridge and Oceana, and bring the green. What is left when things are cleared away? The people who are dreaming/weaving/scheming these new systems have to be at the tables of Power that will gather now. They/we must demand real change–not over-paid consultants, not political platitudes. Those people are already working in those places and we–from afar–can help them feel their own authority to initiate real change. The people on the ground in all these places have been told to be patient, let the system work, calm down, wait. What is happening now is that the real people who live real lives in these real places have reached the perfect point of despair. Some of us have been there, too–and it would have taken only that rush of clear destructive energy to bring the change. Certainly there are other ways to achieve change–but they are intentionally hobbled by so many things so deeply ingrained in our culture. It is worth it–thinking this through, being articulate. Because it won’t stop in Baltimore, or Ferguson, or NY.

Sometimes what we are doing is kindling past the apathy of culture and life. Sometimes we are lighting signal fires to let the next generation know that we care about the world we are leaving to them. Sometimes fire is light, sometimes it is heat, always–in its wake–there is renewed life. I always take Nature as my teacher and I think about forest fires–the terror, the destruction, and the aftermath of livid green. It is all a cycle, you know. The Great Cycle. Creation/Destruction/Creation.

This is getting lost in the drama of the other thread. So, if you are overwhelmed with a desire to help, look at your community and see if there are people who are hungry–because they are there. Look to see if there is land that needs protection–because there is. You can help. You can feel. It’s ok to do both. Think of your friends and colleagues who have been triggered by recent events–check in with them. Check in with the people who are always strong but now are quiet. Send them your good love and attention.

That’s all for today.  Except this–

Fear not. Fear not

 

 

 

 

Document # 7

Beginning…From Here

What if you chose to be proactive in this Tower Time of ours? What if we–each of us–simply said, enough is enough? There’s a truism in the non-profit world about tackling a big, complicated problem–“how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Let’s take a bite, together, to secure our resilience in these chaotic times. A tiny step into freedom from fear, a wee dance-step into the circle we all long to create. Today, right now, I am going to my altar (in the middle of the day!) and am saying a word or two to Themselves. Time to fly, sisters and brothers. We have been too long looking down, fearing the day. We don’t have time to dillydally or fret about things we can’t fix. Time to figure out what needs fixing and see if we have the tools to do it. I suspect we do. Shall we?

Document # 8

Chop Apples, Carry Compost–a Farmer’s Meditation

Chopping apples became a meditation for me today. The kitchen was set up with various cutting boards, colanders and stainless steel bowls, and a large pot in the sink held water to wash the apples. I started this morning by sharpening two of my favorite knives. Porch to kitchen. Wash and drain. Chopchopchop. Refuse to the compost tub. Chops into bags.  Repeat.

It gave me time to clear the noise of this past couple of weeks out of my head.  Chopchopchop. I was standing at my kitchen work station and began to wiggle my feet and sway as I chopped.  A little tune came into my head and I hummed as I worked.

Chopchopchop

And because I was standing, I took time to do a good deep and grounding and check in with the good Earth. A cool breeze–and damp–drifted in the open window. I let the feel of it cool my back and my soul a bit, too.  These are complicated days to try to think through and impossible days to try to sort out feelings in.  So I let my heart drift, too–I left Charleston behind and Sudan and Greece and the red wolves and the damaged Gulf.  I felt it flow down into the good Earth to become compost for this new world we’re building.

I think about–too much about–resilience these days. As all these systems collapse, as we learn to navigate by the stars and the Sun in Tower Time, what does it mean to love the land while looking askance at the people–my species–who inhabit it. Resilience, survival. Community and food and caring and love.

Chopchopchop

There is so much visible pain, so many angry fearful people–and I have been angry and frustrated and fearful myself in these days. But this day of simple, monotonous work and the gift of grounding have brought me some healing, I think. And some re-membering of who I am and where I am.

As we approach this flawed nation’s birthday, what are you re-membering? How are you healing yourself, your community and the souls you hold dear.

Chopchopchop

May we all re-member well, friends. Even those of us who have named it are not immune to the stresses and chaos of Tower Time.

 

 

 

 

Document Nine

Lighting Signal Fires in Tower Time

I’ve written rather a lot about Tower Time. For Cassandra figures like me, there is nothing satisfying about seeing visions come to fruition. We are experiencing the roiling change, the fear, the uncertainty that is almost programmatic in this enormous shift. Many communities are easily seen to be in peril but I say to you that all communities are thus.

Yes, the Veil is so thin as to be nonexistent, so if you are feeling your Ancestors and Descendents close to you, you are experiencing that. If your garden is flourishing and feels delightful, that is because it is filled with beings of delight that you can now perceive on some level. If you are not meeting with like-minded people to figure out where we as a species go from here, you had best get started. Time’s a-wasting, as we say hereabouts. This world is shuddering and shifting and moving out–it is up to all of us to decide the human worlds that will inhabit this physical space.

Perhaps we can refrain from the word-bombs and ego-lightning and get on with the reasons we’re actually here.

Something you may find helpful right now is to ground yourself deeply and shield yourself, too. Do all the self-care we’ve been discussing ad infinitem–hydrating, exercise, nutritious food. Holding fast to the good that you are and that you know.

Remember how strong you are and what you have already been through.

We are shaky now, frightened, angry. Go to your altar and renew your daily spiritual practice. Go outside. Remember, remember who you are and where you are, and your golden wild heart. Find your tribe and sit in circle with other tribes, either literal or virtual.

A thought, in love, from your village witch.

 

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Tonight–Glass Ceilings

Yes, I am watching the DNC tonight because I want to relish this moment. Women have had the vote nationally for fewer than a hundred years. My grandmother was an adult woman when the battle for women’s suffrage was finally won.

And in these next few nights, for the first time in this republic’s long history, a woman has been nominated by a major political party for President.

A woman.

My grandmother would not have thought it possible and my mother didn’t either, and I have doubted it more than once.

A woman.

And I don’t give a fig what you think of her–this is life-changing in ways we can’t even guess yet. Now–record your ire and snark. Commence your whining and chest-beating. I care not.

A woman, after so long.

I suspect many of you have no idea what this means to some of us. We have waited and worked and never dreamed this could actually happen.

And I expect in the next few months, I am likely to make good use of one of my favorite invitations–why don’t you kiss my wide white Appalachian Irish Pagan arse?

I kind of look forward to it.

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Some thoughts on ways to be in the world

Idealogical purity…how is that a thing in such a richly diverse and delicious world? Perhaps we all need to try to see who that Other really is. We might even try that before “othering” them in the first place.

Kindness and old-fashioned good manners can take us a ways down this winding path we’re treading in these Tower times.

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Make a List

Remember I said this is Tower Time? How I told you it would be challenging and you might be scared and hurt? I hear you, dear ones. Time now to do what we know needs to be done.

See to your spiritual infrastructure.

Feel the strength of the oak in your legs, your back, your arms.

Hold in your mind the world that comes next. When you can see the possibilities of this new/old world, when you can see the orchards and beeyards and beauty of it…make a list and get to work.

Gather your tribe. Come into council.

There is work to do in the world, in this time of falling towers.

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Lighting Signal Fires in Tower Time

I’ve written rather a lot about Tower Time. For Cassandra figures like me, there is nothing satisfying about seeing visions come to fruition. We are experiencing the roiling change, the fear, the uncertainty that is almost programmatic in this enormous shift. Many communities are easily seen to be in peril but I say to you that all communities are thus.

Yes, the Veil is so thin as to be nonexistent, so if you are feeling your Ancestors and Descendents close to you, you are experiencing that. If your garden is flourishing and feels delightful, that is because it is filled with beings of delight that you can now perceive on some level. If you are not meeting with like-minded people to figure out where we as a species go from here, you had best get started. Time’s a-wasting, as we say hereabouts. This world is shuddering and shifting and moving out–it is up to all of us to decide the human worlds that will inhabit this physical space.

Perhaps we can refrain from the word-bombs and ego-lightning and get on with the reasons we’re actually here.

Something you may find helpful right now is to ground yourself deeply and shield yourself, too. Do all the self-care we’ve been discussing ad infinitem–hydrating, exercise, nutritious food. Holding fast to the good that you are and that you know.

Remember how strong you are and what you have already been through.

We are shaky now, frightened, angry. Go to your altar and renew your daily spiritual practice. Go outside. Remember, remember who you are and where you are, and your golden wild heart. Find your tribe and sit in circle with other tribes, either literal or virtual.

A thought, in love, from your village witch.

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Lillian’s Face

Lillian was my great-grandmother on my mother’s side.  She moved from Haywood county in the last years of the 19th century and came to live in the mill village where I now live.  She and her husband (but mostly she) ran a little grocery store.

As I rewrite “1916”–my play about the French Broad flood–I am thinking of her rather a lot.  I wrote the play because my grandmother’s memories of the event were so vivid.  She was almost 12 years old when the old river flooded the old community.

One of the characters in the play is named Lillian, in fact, to honor her.

For several years now, I’ve been sketching her from an old photo. In the picture, she is sitting on the back steps of the store/house and she looks exhausted. Her face is deeply shadowed, her still-dark hair pulled back, but her dress is bathed in sunlight, as are her hands and forearms.

As I peer at the picture, I can almost see her eyes behind her round specs, eyes like my grandmother’s (her daughter). Her mouth is a straight line, turned down at the ends and her eyes are squinting into the light.

I don’t know who took the picture–it was in with other family photos.

Her forearms are strong-looking, as though they had done a lifetime of child-lifting, hoeing, hand-wrung laundry. And her hands seem large and capable, the same hands I remember on my grandmother, her daughter.

I penciled in the shadows tonight, working from a triangle at the side of her mouth, then circling the deep shadows at her neck. And then there is that dress–bright whiteness against the bone-aching solid heft of her.

What must she have thought that day, when the water rose and rose, spreading over the railroad tracks and lapping towards the wooden store over which they lived? She was younger than in this picture, a little younger. Was there a moment when she thought she must gather everyone up and escape? Or did she wait, with the children, on the upper floor, watching and waiting, motionless, powerless?

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Pick Three

from Facebook, this morning…

Last night, I reminded myself that I can’t hold reponsibility–much less culpablity!–for all the world’s ills, past and present. Some of you will remember my Pick Three philosophy–choose the three areas about which you are most passionate and cling to them like a limpet.

Last night, I was reviewing my Picks and deciding whether to recommit. I am recommitting to Women’s Issues and Earth Issues. I have set aside First Amendment issues in the Picks (though I will still keep an eye on and work on them when needed) for now and am adding Appalachian issues to the Picks. It doesn’t mean all the other justice issues don’t touch me, or concern me. It means I will be actively working on those Three.

I encourage you to choose–especially if you are in danger of shutting down because you are overwhelmed. I know there are good people working on so many good causes. I stand as an ally, even if I am not in the trenches, on many of those issues. Because I can’t do all of them effectively. None of us can.

Choose to be an advocate and activist in the places that shake your soul–and no guilt about the runners-up (for there will be many). Others, like you, have taken up those needed banners. We have a culture to change.

DSC02190

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Tower Time, Document Two: Going to Ground

Tower Time, Document Two
Going to Ground

Early in the Gulf of Mexico oil well disaster–when it was apparent that the problem would not be solved quickly–a small group of women gathered in the small Temple. They brought rum and watermelon and the room soon filled with clouds of rich incense. Chants for Yemaya began softly, rattles were gently rattled. As the spirit of despair was tamped down and the strands of joy and connection wove themselves into the singing and the smoke, the chants grew stronger. The dancing which was little more than rhythmic stomping began. The Beloved Crone seemed to be speaking an unknown language, as water bottles were chugged and offerings were made to Ancestors and Deities. The woman nearest the altar–the one who had issued the invitation–muttered prayers and knelt on the floor, singing the holy names. As she had promised, she flung herself full-length in front of the wooden altar and begged the Sea Goddesses for mercy. The singing and chanting continued for some time, until the participants were dry and tired, eyes streaming tears of grief and too-much-smoke.

Sometimes when we pray, we forget that prayer is not simply sending our best intention into the Universe. For those of us who see the Ancestral Goddesses as non-corporeal beings who have some authority and ability in the world of the world, the prayers and the singing honor Beloved Ones who are near us, but are not us. The invocations in which we implore them to fix our lives or clean up our messes or show us a way through are requests and bargainings. We understand that we have a part in this relationship but we do not have control. We are not the boss. We are participants in an ancient cycle of creation and destruction and re-creation.
And sometimes the answer is no. Sometimes the answer is–you got yourself into this and you and your people are going to have to fix what you broke, you are going to have to take personal responsibility and get yourselves out of it.

Our community is far away from the horror and ineptitude that was the Gulf disaster, high in the southern mountains. But we are none of us “away”, are we? We are all connected–physically, spiritually and electronically. We know that today’s oil slick is picked up by next month’s hurricane and deposited in our organic gardens, on our longed-for heirloom tomatoes.

We work ourselves into a frenzy of grief and guilt and spiritual activity. We open ourselves to the sorrow and anger, and filter it as best we can. We meet for coffee, and walks, and we talk for hours on the phone. Gentling the community in its outrage, cushioning it from outright despair. We are blown about by the winds and waves of all that assails us and sometimes the only place to go for succor, for comfort is away from the computer and the phone and the endless cups of coffee. To the garden, to the woods, to the earth.

There’s an evocative expression that has become a keystone for my work in the community of late. The phrase “going to ground” has taken on new significance as we stand in this challenging Tower Time. To “go to ground” is to run pell-mell back to the den or burrow, to find someplace safe to hide. To make a run for it. Foxes do it. Rabbits do it.

Since the earthquakes that ripped through Haiti in 2010, there has been a series of human-made and natural disasters that have been unremitting in their intensity and we have been subsumed in the wake of them.

How many times have I forgotten–forgotten!–the people of Nashville, TN who were inundated literally with the rising waters of the Cumberland. There have been storms and volcanoes, floods and bombers. One after another, a laundry list of devastation that can barely be acknowledged, much less comprehended.

In my community work, in my social networking, in counseling seekers with Mother Grove congregants, I have been calling the times in which we move Tower Time. I imagine that the vast foundations are cracking and we are in the top of the Tower, where we must leap outward or be crushed with the weight of this six thousand year old system in its death throes.

Tower Time–we must engage or perish, We cannot remain untouched, uninvolved because it does involve us. All of us. But the overwhelming-ness of it–how do we find the wings to fly from the Tower? How do we glide away from the mess and the pain and not look back to those falling faster and faster?
We don’t. We can’t. It is not in our nature. And so we bear the wounds and we keep on, even as we feel the spiritual life-blood leaking out, only to be replaced by ennui and despair. In our circles, we call for “grounding” : we speak the words of guided meditations in which roots grow from our feet and sink, gratefully, into the Earth.

Grounding. Going to ground.

We are furry mammals, warm animals, wounded animals. We have tried to think ourselves out of this mess. We’ve tried to ritualize ourselves out of this mess. But you know what a wounded animal does. A rabbit or groundhog or badger? They go to ground and lick their wounds. They hide in their burrow, in the very womb of the Earth and they take time to heal and regroup.

I’m not suggesting we bury our heads in the sand, that we run away from our spiritual responsibilities. I’m advising that when the going gets too much for you to bear, you remember that you are a warm animal and you have a special option because of that. You can go to your burrow to recuperate and lick your wounds. Then you can return to your community renewed as the clever and powerful badger that you are.

Finally, here’s my advice to a friend who was feeling ungrounded, displaced, abandoned by Goddess and community. I offer it here for you, with a few additions and points of clarification, if you have need of grounding. Here is a too-brief check-list of possibilities, if you are finding yourself in the midst of the falling Tower, unable to do more than gasp as the earth rises to meet you.

–Have you set an energy trap?
–Have you set wards? Are your shields up? If you can’t do that, let your community know and they will shield you until you can.
–How is your altar?
–Go out to your land and ask for help. Invoke your Ancestors and the land spirits. Take an offering. Bring some of the dirt in with you. Put it in your pockets, on your altar.
–Brick dust at the secondary entrances to the house–windows, back door, crawl space door. Not a line, just a drop.
–White dust at the front door–can even be baking soda. Salt works, too.
–Light a rue candle, if you have one.
–Spend time outside, sitting on the dear old Earth.

The best advice I have is “go to ground”. Earth everywhere. Dirt, dirt. Then evaluate and see where you are.

Go to ground, sisters. Earth everywhere.

It’s Tower Time.

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Tower Time Document One– A Knowing, Cassandra-like

Prologue
This may seem like a bit of an anti-climax after all these years of warnings and thoughts and predictions about this Tower Time business. I’ve decided to create thematic documents, so I can add information as it comes up or as experiences should be recorded. I hope these are helpful to you as we navigate the times that are our times. So please consider this a first edition.

Tower Time Document One
A Knowing, Cassandra-like

I feel I owe you all a slightly more thorough explanation of “Tower Time,” a phrase I have been using somewhat cavalierly for a decade or more and one which I find myself using with increasing frequency.

I don’t remember precisely when it began, this quiet knowing that has grown, for me, into a certainty. It began with a pinch of insight, a glint of what was happening globally reflected in local events. It was more than a lack of harmony, of simple chaotic modern life—this feeling hinted at larger activity, a shift in the zeitgeist, a disturbance in the Force.

This early knowing pointed obliquely to the old dream of every old feminist—the Collapse of the Patriarchy ™. Since our fiercer days in the long-ago 1970s, many of us have modified our speech—often because people refuse to understand that Patriarchy ™ is a system or a set of systems and is not merely angry women being mad at and blaming men. We now talk about Hierarchical, Top-Down Systems—HT-DS, for those of you who must have an acronym for everything—and that’s the language I will use here. But for those of you who still call the Patriarchy ™ by its oldest name, you may translate HT-DS to “Patriarchy” and you will be accurate.

Tower Time is named for the card in the Tarot deck, of course, specifically the Smith-Waite deck (which is the one I’ve been reading for more than thirty years). The Tower is one of the more direct cards in any reading and it lends itself to these times.

We—you and you and me—are living in a time of dramatic transition. The West is transitioning from the Age of Fossil Fuels, not gracefully, I might add. We as a planet are experiencing the most recent in a series of mass extinctions. We have moved into a post-Industrial Age—what the brilliant John Michael Greer calls “the deindustrial world”—where we collectively have lost the willingness to grow our own food and not piss in our water source. Whether or not you believe that the climate is changing globally through human agency is completely immaterial to me but I believe it is occurring and we lack the political will and the political power to override the interests of business and industry (and, let’s face it, the dominant culture) to mitigate that in any way.
The clear knowing that I felt has grown more insistent in the intervening years. It is this: we are living in times when these massive, ancient and toxic systems, that have both created civilization as we know it and doomed it, are crashing under their own weight of history and grief. It is the death throes of patriarchy that we are experiencing and it will die as it has lived—in violence and oppression and injustice and death.

I did mention that this may be difficult to absorb, didn’t I? Many people nod and express their own sense of the rightness of this information. Others refuse to believe it, pointing—quite accurately—to the many instances in history where a group of loonies has believed it is the end of the world. I won’t engage in argument with you or read long reports that have come from dubious media or academic sources. This is intuitive—that is the very nature of a knowing. You are free to believe or not, as befits your sense of the current time and your knowledge of history and as that sense dictates.

Here’s a thing I do know. This is the time we were made for and one of the reasons we’re here. Tower Time.

Religion as empire, state as empire, education as empire, healing as empire—all are recalibrating in their individual descents. Each of us is in our personal place as the Tower erupts and crumbles. Some of us stand on the top, blissfully unaware that anything long-term is occurring below our feet. Some are trapped amongst the turrets, calculating a way off. Some have flown away and are gone to wherever and whatever comes after this life, after Matter has become Spirit. There are rock-climbers who are testing hand- and foot-holds as they work their way down the walls to perceived safety. Some are among the rocks at the base and some are out of sight, gone on to do the new work.

Because there is new work and it is past time to engage in it. Our work during the collapse is to not stop there, gawking at the impending calamity. We are charged—and many people are deep into this work—with creating new systems, systems that are genuinely cooperative, nurturing, sustainable and of greatest importance, resilient. There are groups that are forming in some areas to learn new/old skills, to get going with the new times. But they often bog down in meeting after meeting, talking through modes of governance, of how to hold a meeting without Roberts Rules. Remind them that time’s a-wasting and that talk can happen while food is being planted or tended or preserved. Decisions can be made while looping rugs and milking goats. If your group is dreaming big dreams but spending most of their time arguing protocol, you made need a new group. Because it is happening now. There isn’t some future Big Event that is looming on the horizon that marks the Beginning. It’s here.

As I sat with other gardeners around a fire a few weeks ago, I realized something it–if you have been waiting for the other “shoe” to fall, for the crap to hit the fan, you can stop waiting. It’s here, friends. Time’s up. We are in it–whatever it is. Continue gathering your allies, holding those you love close, planning, working, playing and thinking. But make no mistake, it’s here. Tower Time. Put on your game face and keep your courage up. These are the times we were made for.

Per ardua ad terra!