Tuesday, September 29, 2015

On the Day of Hestia Tamia, let us open our storehouses for S. Baxter Jones

There is a prayer devotional in The Pagan Book of Hours:  Breviary that brings to the heart the needful rightness of welcoming strangers.  In this space today, I ask that you open your hearts and minds and altars to the presence of S. Baxter Jones, and give him hospitality.  For none need comfort and support quite like this traveler in perilous shadows as he fights for his home against the forces facing him now.

His story has been featured in several places, yet this man is one of our Michigan own.  Not Pagan, Neo Pagan, but human, his story reaches beyond the need for soup can religious labels and reaches into the heart of what it means to be a ward of the Gods.  There is no greater mission than this, to reach across and lift up those who are oppressed among us.

And yet, his story seems to be missed in the righteous wailing and moaning of those who are enamored with far away bodies and stories of those who are in another land, while here this body is suffering.  Our faces turn away to the tales of those writ large who capture the minds and media of the loudest.  Yet in the stillness, the truth abides and can be seen for those who would but open their eyes, who have ears that hear.  So it is this spirit, it is time to hear a voice that has been lost among the cries of the whirlwhind.

 Mr. Jones, a Detroit public school teacher for 22 years, lost his home to foreclosure in 2011 when he fell behind on his mortgage payments after suffering disabling injuries in an automobile accident. Wells Fargo, servicer for Fannie Mae, refused to grant a forebearance and/or modification for Mr. Jones while he was obtaining disability benefits in violation of federal regulation.

In 2013, Mr. Jones’s offer to purchase his home at market value was turned down by Fannie Mae. Despite Fannie Mae and the FHFA’s recently announced Buyback policy allowing Michigan homeowners to repurchase their foreclosed home at market value, they are refusing to reconsider this denial.

It is to Hestia that it would seem to be the mindful devotion as we set our lights and lamps, as Mr. Jones has decided to go on a hunger strike.  While we fill our bodies with sustenance, he hungers not only for food but for rightful justice.  The fast removes him nutritionally as a representation that highlights his removal from the due and correct share of fair societal treatment as he seeks to regain the home being ripped from him at 8789 Rexford, Jackson, MI 49201.

Today is the Day of Hestia Tamia, and it is on this day that this writer asks that you lay out a feast, not for yourself, but for someone else.  Today, let your fingers rise and leaven this burden, like bread, and make the calls, send the emails, and write the letters.   Let today your Twitter fingers become like the grain as it is threshed, flying high and landing with weight.  Today, let the hunger he feels be your own, and sit at that bare table so that it can be filled with that light and goodness that those who read this column are embers for in the torch against the cold.

To sacrifice to Hestia is to put that food
In the bellies of others than yourselves.
To sacrifice to Hestia is to bring in strangers
From the cold and the wet, and offer them food
And drink, no matter how little you have.
To sacrifice to Hestia is to remember the Law
Of Hospitality, and how the Gods all love that Law,
And that the stranger most soiled and tattered
May be a vessel of the Gods in disguise.  --

The Pagan Book of Hours:  Breviary

Call Katrina Jones, of Fannie Mae at 215-575-1400 or email katrina_jones@fanniemae.com, so that the Gods may find that we are still good and right.  Make known that we demand, require, and stand firm that S. Baxter Jones must be evaluated under the FHFA Buyback Program as is lawful. 
Please refer to FHFA file# H-15-1408"

 Set your hospitality table and let forth the stranger into your home.  Open the storehouse of your hearts, and light your brown candles.  And let us make a pleasing welcome of our deeds.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Parsley, Sage, Marijuana, and Thyme - why herbal identification training is sorely needed

Bright Blessings.

So, occasionally this column will focus on human interests stories, or person anecdotes.  These are presented as such, and are not in any way to be confused with the normal news.   This story is one of those anecdotes that deals with the burdens of being an aspiring herb wife and Pagan.

Over the freeway, and through the streets, to my Mother's house, this writer went.  To deliver a bundle of freshly picked herbs, my mission was one of pleasant joyfulness.  Upon placing a brimming small basket full of greenery on her cocktail table, the bundles and bunches were sorted and identified for her usage in her culinary pursuits.  Sage, parsley, thyme, oregano, Tiger Teeth peppers, mint, and a few odds and ends from the garden were sampled, sniffed, and set to the side.

After a few days, a phone call split the mundane pace of my day.  It was from downtown Detroit, and on the other line was a laughing, yet slightly offended, mom.  As she related the following, the story became more and more absurd until even this writer was puzzled as to how the minds of folks work.

You see, dear readers, an acquaintance had come to her home had spent some time chatting and enjoying the afternoon in her living room area.  During this visit, this friend noticed the bundles of herbs.  After being informed that they were grown by the daughter, this writer, she inquired as to their types.

As my mother proudly listed each one as best she remembered, the person started acting strangely.  Picking up a bundle, she pointedly asked if this bunch was marijuana.  You know, cannibis.  At this, one can imagine the look of incredulity that passed across my mother's face.  The acquaintance became quite insistent that it would be this, as the daughter is strange anyway.

After a moment of weighty silence, she was asked quite directly what would make her think that any daughter would gift her mother with a bundle of "weed" when she was clearly bringing over herbs.  Reevaluation of the mental faculties of this person took place on the spot.  The eternal mantra of the unpleasantly surprised came forward, "What is wrong with you?", and she was courteously encourage to consider her stay a tad bit overlong.

The fact that the writer is "strange" was code word for "witch" in these circles.  But seriously, when does that make one the local Cheech and Chong dream delivery franchisee?  The fact is, there are so many people who never take the time to look at what herbs, or other foods, look like before they are processed lead to this messiness.  Seriously, sage is not cannibis.

And if she is mistaking it for something she has had before, it is time to reconsider her sources.  Though to be frank, she does not seem the type to be featuring a bong display on her tatted lace doily collection.  While it is encouraging that she attempted field identification with limited training, it is most unfortunate that that was the first intuitive leap she would make.

Gentle readers, this writer encourages you to take to the highways, the hills, the byways, the streets, and the recreation centers to share your knowledge of actual herbs.  Please spread the word that just because it is on a stem, and has flowers and greenery that is not grass or hostas, does not mean it is a drug.  Shaking of the heads, indeed, were shared over this phone call.  Please don't let it happen to your friends and loved ones.  Only you can inspire a potential wildcrafter my fellow Detroit peeps, only you.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Happy First Anniversary, Pagan Pathways Temple

By nubobo (1st Birthday Cake (1歳の誕生日ケーキ)) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Happy Anniversary wishes are in order.  It is almost a year since Pagan Pathways Temple opened its brick and mortar doors to the Pagans in Southeast Michigan.  And what a year it has been.

Community town hall meetings, classes, workshops, and Wiccan services have all been held in its walls.  Weddings, a community thanksgiving, and a community center aspect that has hosted children's activities has made this home to many.  When there is no where else to find answers for the new seeker, this wonderful board and its leader, Rev. Nashan, have opened their arms and hearts to all who would come in peace and sincerity.

And now, wow, a full year has gone by since the opening.  The smiling face, beaming with pride and happiness, that was Nashan's is still easily brought to mind.  It was a celebration for all as they opening ritual raised a joyful noise with the music of "Happy" lifting all spirits in joining with their accomplishment.  

But as this writer always says, "The work is only done, by those who do the work".  And while they have been working their bodies and minds well beyond the limits of reasonable expectation, there are still many who have not heard of their existence, nor their message of inclusive Paganism.  They hold space for us, and for that, we give them honor.

So without any further delay, it is with great awe that the words of the good Reverend Nashan are shared here from his announcement regarding the anniversary celebration on September 12-13, 2015.  A good day to make a good memory and associate with the building of something good and right.  A good day to come out and contribute to the continued existence of this place. 

"Greetings all!

Well the official countdown has begun. 11 days until we begin our celebration of one complete year of service to the community that we Love. I would first like to thank the Pagan Pathways Temple Board for all of your hard work this year and your hard work in putting together this 2 day event. You guys inspire me! smile emoticon Love you.

I would also like to thank our dedicated staff of volunteers who (often times without being asked) take the time out of their schedules to work our events, clean the temple, act as temple keepers, and just get everything we need to get done, done. You guys Rock so hard!

Now we have a number of things coming up, but None as big as our Anniversary celebration. We have 2 days of fun and fellowship in store for you all and we sincerely hope you come and celebrate with us both days.
The schedule of events will be posted here on FB and on our website shortly so check back here soon.

Our goal is no less than 200 people each day showing up to hang out with us. We want to spread the word far and wide that the Temple is open and here to stay! So bring a friend. Bring that certain someone who has meant to get down to the temple, but just hasn't had that chance.

Join us as we change the world!

Blessed Be



Pagan women of color media project is seeking submissions