Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Ghost Supper to be held on Wednesday Nov 18 2015

While many here in the Land of the Fresh Water Seas are celebrating the various kinds of ceremonies that honor the Beloved and Mighty Dead this season, the emphasis has been primarily placed on the observance of Samhain.  The writer will not be discussing the fact that the actual date of this holiday is not on October 31st, that is for another time.  However, what is going to be highlighted is that there are other Traditions that are happening that are unique to our climes.  In this case, the Ghost Supper that will be held on November 18, 2015 from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm, is what the readers of this column are encouraged to explore.

At the American Indian Health and Family Services Social Hall, the Systems of Care Grant will be hosting a 
traditional Ghost Supper to celebrate the time we’ve had with those we know and love that have walked on.  There will be an opening prayer followed by a teaching about Ghost Suppers by Frank Ettawageshik. There will also be song and drum with a sacred fire.  A main course will be provided and you can feel free to bring a sampling of your loved one’s favorite dish to pass if you like. 

 For those who are unfamiliar with this observance, it would be appropriate to do some research on what this is and why it is held.  In a nutshell, much like many societies' suppers which focus on the remembrance and communing of the discarnate among us, it is a supper attended by community members wherein they celebrate the lives of those who have passed through the Veil.

A Spirit Fire is prepared, therefore it is appropriate and honorable for women to wear skirts if they plan to attend.  This is in respect for the cultural practices of the People with which they are participating in this rite.  There will be a prayer at the opening. No other formal rites will be performed.

This event is open to all who should wish to attend.  Bob Davis, the System of Care Project Director, was very warm and welcoming when this writer spoke with him regarding who was allowed to come.  Questions regarding food and servings were patiently answered and assurance was given that no one would be turned away for lack of a food dish being brought.

This event, though a pot luck style, is not one where you are required to bring a massive dish to feed everyone.  In actuality, a dish of food that is enough for four or five to share would be fine.  Keep in mind that this food should be something that those spirits enjoyed in life.  If, as in this writer's case, your Dad enjoyed chocolate cake and coffee, it might be good to bring coffee or cake.  If your Aunt enjoyed smoked whiting, that would be nice as well.  Sue Franklin perhaps described the concept best, in HOUR Detroit's article by By Jeff Waraniak, when she said

 “We try to always bring a favorite food of a loved one that passed away,” Sue says. “lost my oldest son nine years ago, and every year I remember him with honor and respect and love, and to enjoy those memories of him, I’ll eat some of the foods that I knew were some of his favorites. It’s a way of holding a memory close to you.”SEMII’s fall feast features traditional foods made from local ingredients. There’s three sisters soup — a medley of corn, bean, and squash; stuffed pumpkin with wild rice, venison, cranberries, and vegetables; and staples like yams, turkey, and the crowd favorite, frybread. As part of the ghost supper tradition, other specialty foods are brought to the table."

But this is not about stuffing your face.  It is about mindful companionable gathering to with those who are here and those who have moved out of physical manifestation of existence.  An extremely helpful exposition in brief in reflection on this supper as to why a person would attend such a meal was given by Winnay Wemigwase, director of archives, records and cultural preservation for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians

 “Each of those people that show up represents a spirit that came. And it’s a blessing the more that you have,” explains Wemigwase. “My family has always taught us that you try to go to as many suppers as you can, because it’s a way of showing respect to that family and of honoring them and their relatives.” (read more here)
 When attending, please remember that as guests, manners are extremely important.  Also, as a reminder, pointing with your hands can be seen as rude, so be mindful of this.  Again, if you are not sure of something, it is always good to ask.  The event is time fluid.  This means that if you just want to pass through for ten minutes, or three hours, one time, or after 6:00 p.m., it is not a problem or a breach of etiquette. 

American Indian Health and Family Services is located at 4880 Lawndale, Detroit, Mi. 48210. Parking is in the gated lot across the street.  For more information on this event, please contact Bob Davis at  313-846-6030.

Enjoy the cake recipe.


Monday, October 26, 2015

UnVeiled-The Series is holding auditions for aspiring Pagan actors Nov 7 in Michigan

For those local Michigan Pagan thespians with stars in their eyes and a passion for performance, Pagan Pathways Temple is doing something fantastic.  They are writing a show called "UnVeiled - The Series", and open auditions are coming up November 7, 2015 from noon until 9:00 p.m.  at their Madison Heights locations.  Even now, script writers are busily composing episodes.  Want to be a part of this?  Here is how.

Principle casting for lead roles and supporting cast begins on the above mentioned date.  A list of roles and prepared material for readings will be available.  This series will be based in the Southeast Michigan Pagan Community.  All work will be on a volunteer basis, but credit will be given to participants.

The premise is intriguing.  

This open call is available to experienced actors as well as those who have never acted before this time.  This could be the project that discovers you.  Auditioning persons are asked to bring

  • Valid ID
  • Headshots (if any, not required)
  • Acting Resume (if any, not required - there will be a photographer on site) 
The event will be immediately followed by a potluck.  Pagans and potluck go together like peas and carrots, so if able, bring a dish if  you are staying for the meal.  Also, bringing a feast bundle is a conscientious touch as well

Pagan Pathways Temple is located at  28736 John R. Road, Madison Heights, MI.  They are just a little south of 12 Mile Road.  If you have further questions, contact them at 586-275-7641.  This is something exciting, so if moved, come be a part of it.  Rev. Nashan will put the welcome mat out for you.

Blessed Be.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Fighting the N Word Sigil - WARNING: contains profanity and offensive language

This piece was inspired by the conversations that this writer has been having over the last year in the Pagan Communities in Michigan.  It comes from all races.  Not seeming to understand how much they are feeding that peculiar servitor used against the African diaspora in this nation, many have continued to give it life and energy.  Whether through ignorance, wrong headed belief in "passes" because of relationships that have created a "fictive kin" style status, or through flat out thinly veiled opportunistic bigotry hidden in a smile, it continues to arise.

So, let us write the word out, shall we?  The word is N.I.G.G.E.R., N.I.G.G.A., and any other of the myriad creative spellings that have popped up.  Polite Pagans in Michigan have used the word "N.E.G.R.A."  and "Colored" in my presence at gatherings as well.  This is 2015 C.E. in Michigan.  And yet, I am looking for the rice fields and the hot springs and the cotton plants to simply materialize next to where I stood.  They then, without fail, somehow found a way to inject the variations of the N word into the conversation.  Usually to distinguish that they would never presume to use it in a derogatory way, and "don't you people use it",  "your people use it all the time",  "it doesn't have the same meaning when we use it ourselves".

So now, let me clear my throat and skim the froth from my cauldron.  Read this very carefully, and with comprehension.  Phone a friend if it is not easily understandable.
We are magicians.  We bend reality to our Will.  We make matters alter from the stuff of the ethereal manifest on this plan through ways unseen and unfathomable.  AND YET, SOME OF US ARE STILL FEEDING A GODS DAMNED SERVITOR OF HATRED WITH OUR VERY MOUTHS AND SEE NOTHING WRONG WITH IT.

Every time we use that word, we feed it and its history.  It does not change its nature because we dress it up and try to use phrases like semantic inversion.  It does not change its intent, because that is what gives this energetic creation life - INTENT- (you learned that in the beginning, right?), because we simply wish to use it with impunity and offer petty excuses for it.

This author challenges anyone to show me how using the word "C.U.N.T."  or "H.U.M.A.N.  G.A.R.B.A.G.E." or any other insult can be inverted into a good thing.  How much more vile, then, is the ludicrous assertion by anyone that the word has somehow miraculously come to mean "an ignorant person".

Such a person, or persons, sound like either fools, liars, or mental slaves.  It is not, nor has it ever been, acceptable to call anyone of an enlightened mind a racial or ethnic slur as a term of affection.  And to do so is to spit into the soul of every ancestor that came before every member of the African diaspora in this United States culture.

Let the lie go.  Do not let your former oppressors turn you into your own.  Educated people do not use this word.  That has nothing to do with formal academia.  It has to do with social and spiritual education and maturity.  How can you come before your altar with the shadows and stains of speaking this filth upon the same lips and tongue you use to send praises to your Divine?

Do you include this word in your prayers?  Is it in the lexicon of chants that you share around the bonfire and the circles?  Have you seen a ritual anywhere that celebrates this?  IF so, please feel free to comment below with time, place, and purpose of same.  We will wait.

How dare you?  Substitute that N word for the word child, priest, priestess, or any other term in your rituals and tell me how that works.  How does that feel?  How about you add a candle with an image of a lynched person on it and tell me how that semantic inversion works when you do a spirit communication with them and attempt to explain how it is acceptable for you to use that word in greeting.

And make sure you wait for an answer.  Be brave in your assertions.  Then see what it gets you.  IF you would not use the word in front of your ancestors, then do not use it.

Now, for those folks who use that word who are not of this ancestry, let's have a chat.  What is that part of you that thrills to life when you use it that you have not had a chance to do Shadow Work on yet?  Because that is what is needed.  This is not directed at the openly racist and bigoted.  You have no such inclination toward self denial.  You live in honest vainglorious bigotry.

But those that lie to themselves and let is spill like poisoned anointing oil from your tongue, what is the purpose of it?  Is it to fit in?  Is it a feeling of the taste of the forbidden?  Really, let's just be honest.  And here is a little more honesty:

Remember, "as a man thinketh".  So what does that make the user, hmmmm?  Since some of you are willfully stiff necked, this writer will spell it out.  It means that inside, there is a part of you that is filth and should be addressed.  Here's the besom and the mirror, get to work.  Have a look, if you are so inclined, to pursue some education on the topic.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Red Dress Project story - a guest feature by Janet Callahan

Sometimes, this column will feature guest writers.  This is one of those times.  Janet Callahan is a esteemed writer, activist, and extraordinary woman.  She has graciously allowed me to share some of her writing on a  powerful topic in this space.  This is her story.

There is a secret epidemic in the United States and in Canada, though only Canada is currently receiving global attention for it.
The epidemic is that of violence against Native/Indigenous women.

A Native American woman in the US is, on average, more likely to be a victim of physical assault (almost 2/3 of them report abuse) [1] than the average American woman, and nearly twice as likely as the average American woman to be a victim of sexual assault in her lifetime [2]. On some reservations, women are 10 times more likely to be murdered than the national average [1].
But beyond all that, the issue of murdered and missing indigenous women has become an issue for the UN. In Canada, a recent study shows there are just less than 1200 missing and/or murdered women whose cases are unsolved since 1952 [3]. First Nations and Inuit women make up only 4% of Canada’s population, but make up 16% of murders [4].

Even when an actress who has “made it” disappears, it much the same – no one looks for her, she barely makes the news, and her death is brushed aside as a non-issue, her body only found because her family insisted on looking for her. [5] She, too, reported having been raped as a child.
It’s not just Native women on reservations that face this violence – urban Indians, too, are often seen as exotic, and prostitution is presented to them as a way out of poverty and other unpleasant circumstances [6].

While looking up statistics for this article, I ran across statistics for Australian Aboriginal women, who turn out to be 31 times more likely to be hospitalized due to injuries from assaults than other Australian women. [7]

So, one might ask, what is being done about this? 

Since the various governments involved seem incapable of solving the problem themselves, Native women are taking on the task of awareness.

The Red Dress Project [8] is presented by an artist in Canada, who seeks to place red dresses across Canada to remind viewers of missing women. Sing Our Rivers Red [9] is a similar US based project, where single earrings represent the missing, and specifically calls attention to the fact that those standing in the intersection of LGBTQQIA issues and violence against Native women are equally at risk (probably moreso, since they are more likely the targets of gender/orientation based bias to begin with).

From a more personal standpoint: I am Native American (my mom’s side of the family is Lakota, my dad’s side of the family is German), I am an enrolled member of my tribe. Of the women in my family who are my mother’s generation and my grandmother’s generation, I know that at least half, and probably more, were victims of violence. Of my generation, again, at least half of us, possibly more, have been victims – and I’m among the oldest of us. Some of us have children now, and some of them have already been victims, before even graduating high school. Somehow, this cycle of violence has to stop.

The Little Witch's Ball press release - presented for your enjoyment here in Michigan

Little Witches Ball

October 9, 2015
6 pm – 10 pm
VFW Hall
25500 Sherwood Ave
Warren, MI 48091

This years theme is going to be “Welcome To Hogwarts” from the Harry Potter movies and books to match the grown up Witches Ball theme “Magic and Mayhem”.

This is going to be a blast for our children, we will have soft drinks – Pizza and music. We are requesting donations of candy flat ware and party decorations and of course money…all donations may be given to Gerrybrete Leonard or Merlyn Firstborn.

Want to Sponsor? Get a Link to Your site Here

Admission: Children up to 17 years old $7.50 Adults 18 years and older $10.00 Church members the prices are Children up to 17 years old $5.00 Adults 18 years and older $7.50

Children Under 10 must be accompanied by a parent.

Tickets may be purchased at the following link and your PayPal receipt will serve as your ticket.

Purchase your Tickets Here http://usoam.org/little-witches-ball/

We will be collecting food for Pagans In Need http://pagansinneed.org/

We will also be collecting Toys for Yule, so please bring a new unwrapped toy to donate.
Friday, October 9 at 6:00pm
VFW Hall 25500 Sherwood Ave Warren, MI 48091
You were invited by Gordon Ireland