Thursday, December 29, 2016

December 29, 2016, has the U.S. learned nothing?

It is December 29, 2016, the year social media became collectively conscious of the ubiquitous presence of Death's hand and the reality that the powers that be tell convenient lies they call talking points. At Standing Rock, the water protectors stand on frozen grounds facing the overpowering forces of greed and corporate expansionism at any cost while standing strong in a movement founded in prayer. They, and their allies, stand strong. They endure on a day when the Lakota Sioux remember the massacre at Wounded Knee in another time and place.

They make their place in the ongoing legacy of living history that some of them, their parents, and maybe grandparents may have witnessed when the bloody tensions that sparked a civil defiance occupation by the AIM movement that led to two Native persons losing their lives, and a U.S. Marshall being seriously wounded in February of 1973. Yet, still, the U.S. government seems to have learned nothing of the endurance of their heritage against oppression and the "manifest destiny" "kill em all" doctrine.
The formula just keeps repeating. Isolation, vilification, blockading, attacking, and color of law tactics paired with military weapon support. This time, the Lakota have no weapons of war, yet the formula still persists. The ultimate extermination of their voice, their agency, continues.
The prejudice, bigotry, and racism still continues. Common human decency was brought into peril when it came to the systematic breakdown of compassion in this fight. As seen here:

Will we see a repeat of what happened in 1890? Will bodies lie frozen in the snow when the armed forces that serve DAPL finally snap now that the media is blinking and looking toward celebrity deaths? The water protectors are still fighting the good fight, do not forget that they still stand in prayer and in the face of repeated offerings of violence.

But some of us show that promise of progressive spiritual and honorable change. Veterans, outraged by the dishonorable and disgraceful abuse of power and disregard for the rights of the water protectors mustered to form a shield against the spear of political and profiteer abuses under the color of law. They joined the lines and were a symbol of hope and growth.

We must never forget the short step into the dark that this nation is on the verge of taking again. That foot is always poised against the valiant in the face of tyranny, despite the vision of the founders of this nation. Let us hope the tree of liberty need not be nourished with blood again, as the man said.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Fun things to do to celebrate Winter Solstice

Merry Solstice!!

This year, I have decided to look toward the fun celebrations that can bring cheer during the days surrounding the Winter Solstice. I usually cover all the traditional rites and gatherings, but ... naaah.
I do what I want this year. So here are some things you can do now that the Battle of the Kings will take place tonight, and we turn the Wheel.


  • Wednesday, December 21 -6:00 pm - 11:00 pm, Solstice Celebration & Seed Sowing Party, "You don't have to wait until spring to start your summer garden. Come learn about winter sowing & the magic microclimates that you can create in the snow ... Bring your favorite perennial or biennial seeds to share and a washed milk jug or similar recyclable. Supplies will be on hand for those who do not have them and come ready to plant for 2017.",
    Cultivate Coffee & TapHouse, 307 N River St, Ypsilanti, MI
  • Wednesday, December 21 -8:00 pm - 10:00 pm, Winter Solstice, "Join us as we celebrate the return of the Sun this Winter Solstice, also known as Yule! There will be a brief discussion on what Winter Solstice/Yule is as well as a simple ritual to honor this occasion.  This is a wonderful time to manifest what you would like for the coming New Year as well as giving thanks and gratitude for the passing year. There will be munchies and drink. If you would like to bring something to share with others please do", Ingress Yugen, G3467 Flushing Rd, Flint, MI
  • Wednesday, December 21 -5:00 pm - 9:00 pm, Winter Solstice Celebration, "This year's feast will feature foods grown in the AIHFS garden. There will also be a giveaway. Everyone is welcome to bring a new, homemade or gently used item to contribute! Donations are welcome to help cover event. Please bring your feast bundles! (plate, bowl, cup, utensils) ...  for more info, call Nickole Fox 313-846-3718 x1400", University of Michigan-Dearborn Campus. 
    The address for the University is 4901 Evergreen Rd, Dearborn, MI 48128. The Building info is: University Center, Kochoff Hall, 1133 University Center, Dearborn, Michigan. (once you get on campus you can look for signs to the University Center/Kochoff Hall)
  • Wednesday, December 21 -6:30 pm - 8:00 pm,Winter Solstice Charity Event, "Free Charity Event! Join us as we honor the longest night of year, giving way to the ever lengthening days. We will celebrate the sun with 108 sun salutations, followed by light snacks and beverages. Brand new coats and boots will be collected for the Light House Mission of Pontiac. The Light House Mission helps homeless mothers and children get back on their feet. Help keep a child warm, and feel the heat of the sun. No yoga experience is necessary. Space is limited. Please register online or in studio.",Empower Yoga,41620 6 Mile Rd, Northville, Mzi
  • Wednesday, December 21 -7:00 pm - 9:00 pm, Winter Solstice Celebration, "Join us for a beautiful celebration of light. We will meditate in a darkness, sing and dance... pray together and eat afterwords. Please bring a dish to share.", The Coptic Center, 381 Lake Michigan Dr NW, Grand Rapids, MI
  • Thursday, December 22 - 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm, Champagne! And All That Sparkles, "Indulge in an All-Sparkling tasting in the heart of the holidays ...We’ll serve crunchy munchies ideal with crisp bubbles – white pizza and popcorn for sure." Plum Market, 6565 Orchard Lake Road, West Bloomfield, MI $20
  •  Thursday, December 22 -7:00 pm, Beginning Salsa and Foxtrot, "These are great classes for beginners!", Loretta's Boutique and Ballroom,  
  •  Thursday, December 22 - 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm, Winter Solstice Celebration, "
    The service will be a time to allow peace and calm within as we celebrate the earth's turning with poetry and music. You are invited to bring a small item from the natural world as an offering for the focal table.", Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 4230 Livernois Rd, Troy, MI
  • Thursday, December 23 -12:00 pm - 2:00 pm, Free Christmas Dinner sponsored by Detroit Helping Detroit, "We are happy to provide a Holiday Dinner for our cities less fortunate. Several hot Turkeys and Glazed Hams will be on hand with all of the fixings. Everyone is welcome to attend. We will also give out Christmas gifts and hygiene kits and clothing items ... could use some extra donations. Call 313-784-2842 to arrange a pick up. thanks!" ,Tumaini Center, 3430 Third St., Detroit, MI
There are a lot of events going on, but these are a few that you might not know about. Some are just for fun, some are charitable, and many are about holidays. There is even a Christmas one that is such a good cause that it was listed here. After all, the Solstice is the Solstice.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

PBN Blues Series: “I Want a Little Sugar In My Bowl” Nina Simone

As a vendor of various supplies for every sort of human need and condition, Pagan and Spiritualist business folk inevitably meet is the question of sex magick. Yessss, sex, that lovely passion that is shared by the majority of the human population. In all its forms, the desire for that physical form of release merits so many forms of potion and possible working that a shop could specialize, theoretically, on this area exclusively given the right place. In this case, we are discussing the magick for drawing sex.

But knowing what form of work is key. Your client may say they want romance, when in fact they simply want a night of fun. Or the opposite case may occur, and they ask for help in achieving the conditions to be ready for a fling, when what they truly long for is a committed relationship. While it is true that you are a merchant, it is good business to read your customer so that you recommend the right products for the situation.

So let us get to our scenario of the day.

All splash, no substance

Zoe P. comes into your shop in a rush of energy. She enthusiastically floats from candle to candle, shelf to shelf, looking at every item that even remotely seems to be related to love workings. The belly dance scarves and sensual oils join her overflowing basket and she bounces towards your counter. As you ring up her purchases, she starts to bite her lip and places her hand on the next to last item before it can be added to the total.

Being an experienced worker, you know that this is usually when the “extra” items are sought. You patiently wait for her request that you know is coming. She looks you in the eye with a wry smile and asks if you have any items specifically for sex. To be exact, she is looking for a way to get more sex from her partner, who has ceased relations with her for the last three months and counting.

Her façade of cheeriness begins to crack, and her voice drops a bit. Zoe P. tells you that not only has the sex stopped, so has all touching in her relationship. NO physical contact is taking place outside of the occasional hand holding and kissing. Her sex life, actually, is dead.

You look at her and tell her to seek a new partner. Being the all-knowing and benevolent shop-keep you are, you give her an attraction candle and tell her to find the picture of the nearest coworker and have at it. She should be busy in no time.

She hesitates, and buys your suggested item. You bag her purchases, satisfied that you have made a hefty sale for the day. You never see her again.

Tell me what you want, what you really really want

Zoe P. comes into your shop in a rush of energy. She enthusiastically floats from candle to candle, shelf to shelf, looking at every item that even remotely seems to be related to love workings. The belly-dance scarves, Love Drops candles,  and orange blossom oils join her overflowing basket and she bounces towards your counter. As you ring up her purchases, she starts to bite her lip and places her hand on the next to last item before it can be added to the total.

Being an experienced worker, you know that this is usually when the “extra” items are sought. You patiently wait for her request that you know is coming. She looks you in the eye with a wry smile and asks if you have any items specifically for sex. To be exact, she is looking for a way to get more sex from her partner, who has ceased relations with her for the last three months and counting.

Her façade of cheeriness begins to crack, and her voice drops a bit. Zoe P. tells you that not only has the sex stopped, so has all touching in her relationship. NO physical contact is taking place outside of the occasional hand holding and kissing. Her sex life, actually, is dead.

Zoe P. has really just laid it on the line for you. Because of the level of sharing she has opened between you, you cautiously ask her if anything has changed in the last three months. Was there a new job, possible infidelity, arguments, etc.? She tells you that recently, she lost a lot of weight — 100 lbs. Six months ago underwent a makeover for her 40th birthday. New clothes, wardrobe, hair color and cut, and a membership to a CrossFit training group has completed her transformation. Essentially, she is a new woman.

You ask her if her partner seemed to taper off their activities around the time of her transformations. Has this person begun to pull away?  Zoe P. thinks for a moment, and tells you that yes, they have. She then confides that as she changed, he seemed to become shy about letting her see him unclothed, and stopped taking photos next to her when they went out on the town.

You tell her that, of course, you cannot be sure but you feel that maybe her partner feels “unsexy” next to her new image. You suggest some things for communication and self-esteem be substituted in her order. Gentle reassurance, rather than brash one-off sex-pottery seems to be a wiser course for a long term goal. You also recommend some Aphrodesia oil, to kickstart things. To get things in the mood, you suggest she actually uses lyrics from I Want a Little Sugar In My Bowl by Nina Simone  as an incantation for her working with the Rose Quartz/Pan Incense set she adds to her basket.

Zoe P. finishes her purchase, now a very different set of items, and thanks you. The bounce has returned to her demeanor a bit, and the quickness of her steps staccato in the store. A very happy customer walks out of your door with a purchase that feels more “right” to her. But she still bought the hip scarf, of  course.

A look at the novel, "Scythe" by Neal Shusterman

Let's talk about the novel,

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe)

I have to admit, the cover of this novel is what drew me in at first. I saw this before I even noticed that the author, Neal Shusterman,  is the same one who wrote the dystopian series "Unwind" that held me captive for weeks. Those two factors led to me being compelled to place it on my reading list.

For those who are looking for the presence of deity in this novel and the mythos of the reaper, this is not the novel you may seek. At least it is not in the traditional sense. But if you are looking for the presence of the human spirit in a world ruled by our technological advances in spite of our journey away from our inner spaces, then this is definitely worth the read.

It focuses on two teen protagonists, and their apprenticeships into the society of Scythes. In a world where disease and death are no longer facts of life, society has created a novel way to regulate the population. These young people find themselves chosen to take on the prospect of joining the "solution" as apprentices.

This world of the future is ruled by the Thunderhead, and evolution of sentient world cloud technology, that takes the place of world governance from the hands of humanity. Life, in all its aspects is now monitored by this entity. But with the ability to live forever, the question of death becomes delicate.

"When it was decided that people needed to die in order to ease the tide of population growth, it was also decided that this must be the responsibility of humans. Bridge repair and urban planning could be handled by the Thunderhead, but taking a life was an act of conscience and consciousness. Since it could not be proven that the Thunderhead had either, the Scythedom was born."

This heavy burden is relegated only to a single facet of human society dedicated to this purpose. They are the best of us, the most compassionate. They hold the ultimate authority and trust and power. What could go wrong?

I highly recommend this book for the societal, and spiritual, questions is poses. The juxtaposition of the relevance, and irrelevance, of the humanities as part of our reason for being is subtly thread throughout the story. I look forward with great anticipation to the next novel in this series.

It is not over yet, Energy Transfer Partners will not stop DAPL despite Army Corps of Engineer decision

Do not be so quick to celebrate, people who are rooting for the triumph of the Earth and her Water Protectors at Standing Rock. The ruling by the Army Corp of Engineers that they will not grant the easement for Energy Transfer Partners to drill under Lake Oahe. The Dakota Access Pipeline would rerouteif this were a complete win. But it is not. The forces behind DAPL having no intention of stopping their juggernaut towards completion.
In a response to the Army Corps of Engineers decision, they issues a statement that left no doubt as to their intent. The full text can be found here. The full text conveys a defiant tone that seems emboldened by the militarized actions that have bolstered the relentless actions of the pipeline interests. Indeed, a haughty and contempt filled tone laced itself throughout the jab directed at the current U.S. Administration.
The White House’s directive today to the Corps for further delay is just the latest in a series of overt and transparent political actions by an administration which has abandoned the rule of law in favor of currying favor with a narrow and extreme political constituency.
To be sure, the powers that are in place at the reigns of this industrial machine are hellbent on seeing it run over, through, and atop the lands of anyone, and everyone, that get in their way. The message is crystal clear as the waters they wish to endanger.
As stated all along, ETP and SXL are fully committed to ensuring that this vital project is brought to completion and fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe. Nothing this Administration has done today changes that in any way.
This is not the time to despair, or give up. They are willing to take the fine, after all it is only monetary. The stakes for all of those with flesh and bone in this fight are much higher.  Do not back down, we are with you. Traditional Belief, Pagan, Christian, Gentile, Jew, African Traditional, and more, many of us stand with you on this line. That, and the broad backs and fierce courage of the righteous anger of over 2,000 angry veterans give hope that this fight is not going to be lost.
Image: 927 by Unicorn Riot
For direct information, please contact. This way you can find out exactly what they have to say. Let them hear your voice.
Energy Transfer
Investor Relations:
Brent Ratliff, 214-981-0795
Granado Communications Group
Media Relations:
Vicki Granado, 214-599-8785
Cell: 214-498-9272
Sunoco Logistics
Investor Relations:
Peter Gvazdauskas, 215-977-6322
Media Relations:
Jeff Shields, 215-977-6056
To my fellow Michiganders in Flint, stand ready. There may be some visitors headed your way as well. RT News reports that some of those veterans may be headed your way.
A dedication to those of you, and us, who stand with Standing Rock.

Article was previously published in

Thursday, December 1, 2016

CJ Grimm - a "made in Michigan, Pagan approved" rockman

Just in time for the holidays, I am finally releasing my interview with CJ Grimm. Musician, composer, performer, businessman, and all around wickedly cool gentleman, this man cuts a classically intriguing figure. Dashing in his own right, he glides through the crowds of Pagan Michigan with his equally stunningly dark beauty, Morganna Grim, as they seem to move in their own space of Flashpoint Noir. Let's get started.

Who is CJ Grimm, and what is the Terror Network?

CJ Grimm, is a stage name that I came up with when I was getting started in industrial bands in 2012. It just kinda stuck, and I felt like it gave a bit more depth to my stage persona. Off-stage I can be kinda shy, but once I get that guitar in my hands, I become something else.

C.J. Grimm - ReverbNation
How would you describe your style of music?

Eclectic? Schizophrenic? It's kind of mash-up of every genre I’ve ever played. That's the problem, though, when you don’t just subscribe to one genre, you almost feel its your duty to represent each of them equally.

It kind of crosses genres a bit, so what influences do you feel have come into play with the development of your style?
Ha! all of them. My top three guitarists of all time are Jimi Hendrix, Kirk Hammett (Metallica) and Carlos Santana. I also really dig Richard Z.’s (Rammstein) style. A lot of my songs tends to lean towards heavier bluesy type stuff and into metal a bit as well. I always try to temper one with the other.

Listen to "Behind the Walls"

Vocally, what front men do you feel you share a vibe with in performance and presence?

Definitely James Hetfield (Metallica). Once you put on a guitar and start growling into a microphone, you better pay homage to Papa Het. Before it was always me without a mic, and you could kinda see shades of Zakk Wylde (Black Label Society, Ozzy), Richard Z., and even some Munky (Korn) but now, trying to play some of my riffs while singing at the same time, you have to invoke a little bit of Hetfield.

And your bandmates, how would you describe your collective soul? How did you all meet? How often do you play venues?

Back when I was in bands, it felt like maybe twice a month. I used to be in some pretty hard gigging bands. No tours though, we just played the hell out of Southeast Michigan. right now, I’ve only played the one show by myself. kinda gotta start back at the bottom, ya know?

What's is going on right now as far as a label?

Haha, that's in the works, so i don’t want to jinx anything just yet. I’m currently in talks with someone who I know to be a fantastic business man, and would love to see this partnership come to fruition.

You are on Reverbnation, what do you like about it?

I’m not all that tech savvy, so I love that its REALLY user friendly, haha. I can upload music, pictures, videos, show dates - the whole nine yards. Back when I first started playing, we barely had Myspace or any other social network platform to really get out there. Now-a-days, its so easy if you know what your doing.

Tell us about your fan base.

Mostly just friends right now, and a few people that remember me from previous bands, but I’m also getting new people after the last show. Thats one of the biggest problems when you start a new project - I’ve been a gigging musician for 13 years now, and every time you start something new, you’ve got to start all over again. so far though, the new fans that have been digging my music are just awesome.

Describe for us a typical show.

Nerve-wracking - the whole day is almost a ritual for me. I wake up, put myself together, and practice my set. gotta make sure everything is ready for people to not just hear, but see as well.
Image: CJ Grimm - Reverbnation
You gotta remember, you’re not just playing music, you’re putting on a show. You’re not just a musician, you’re a performer - an entertainer.
After all that, its packing up, getting to the gig, and then its hurry up and wait. Gotta wait for the other bands to back-line, gotta do the sound check. It's when people start filing into the venue, that's the hard part for me. I’m going through a million different things in my head -did I bring the right guitars, did they need new strings, what the hell was the set list, did I do this or forget to do that - I’m juggling all these things in my head, but when fans come up to you and want to talk before the show, you gotta push all of that to the back of your head, and be the cool guy that they’re expecting to see, not the worrying emotional wreck that you are on the inside.
Then there's that moment - that moment when you just hit the stage, stop worrying and let it all go. You pour out your frustration, anger, whatever you’ve been holding onto all day, it's cleansing really. And then after that, I feel ten times better.
 And what is the after-party time like?

ha! it used to be “stay up, party, get rowdy”, now its, “holy shit i hurt everywhere, wheres my comfy clothes, is it bed time?”

Do any of your gig experiences feed into your inspiration for your songs?

Not particularly.

Speaking of inspiration, what inspired you to pursue this dream?

I know it sounds cliche, but being able to really express myself, I guess. It's such a release to just pick up a guitar and let go. It's therapy.

You performed at Michigan Pagan Fest this year. And you made some new fans. Tell us about that experience.

Man, it was unreal. I really wasn’t expecting a big response, mostly because i wasn’t sure how they were gonna respond to my style, but the crowd loved it. I don’t wanna say that I “became a rockstar” but they definitely made me feel like one.

Where can we catch your next performance?

Not really sure yet. Life’s been so busy lately that while i would love to have a gig every weekend, it doesn’t pay the bills. Right now, I essentially have two jobs, one in a factory, and the other is making jewelry with Poking Dead Things. It's hard to fit what most might consider a hobby in between those things. Yay adulting!

Time to put you on the spot. What is your favorite track right now? And why?

You’re asking me which of my children is my favorite… honestly, I’d have to say this cover I just did. It's a mash up of "Freak on a Leash" by korn, and "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails. I maintained the drums and programming from NIN, most of the guitars from Korn, and then I threw in vocals from both. I didn’t sample anything either, so it was a real stretch on my abilities.

And is this the one you would most like to promote for radio play?

Haha, I’d love to, but I would probably get sued.

Do you have an agent that handles your bookings right now? If someone wants to book you, who do they contact?

Not just yet, the only real way to get a hold of me is either through my band page on Facebook, or on my e-mail,

What are the three things most important to you when it comes to your music right now?

Inspiration, Passion, and Patience.

Writing music isn’t just something that happens, you have to be inspired to write a song.
That's the easy part. With my process, most of the time when I’m first writing the song, I’m also recording it. Every note that I hit has to have the passion behind it, or it has no life to it at all. George Carlin once said, and I’m paraphrasing, “its not as important to know which notes to play, if you don’t know WHY they have to be played”.

And the tough part is the patience. When I’m recording, it can take me anywhere, from a first take to the seventy-fifth take, to nail a part. It would be so easy to just say, “oh that's good enough, lets move on”. But good enough isn’t good enough. If its not just right, then you gotta keep going. That persistence, and endurance is what makes a song great.

What is your dream concert location?

Somewhere huge where I can have lots of pyro, hahaha!

Honestly, I love the smaller more intimate shows. I like it crowded, more standing room only. It's those shows where you can tell that everyone is suffering just a tiny bit that you can tell they REALLY want to be there and get into the music.

For the singers who are just starting out, what advice do you have?

Never give up. Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain - those guys didn’t have the voice of an angel, yet they were able to shape generations. If any of them had given up because their voice wouldn’t win them American Idol or some bullshit like that where they measure perfect pitch instead of passion, the world would be a very quiet dull place.
You’re out there to connect with people, not impress them. You’re trying to give a part of yourself, and see if someone feels the same. So never, ever give up.
Since this initial interview, CJ Grimm has thrilled local Pagans with even hotter performances. This includes a shredding set at Pagan Pride Day Detroit 2016 for the closing. He has also, in the tradition of the Blues Brothers, "gotten the band back together", and we look forward to Terror Network coming to a venue near you.

If you don't know this man, you need to know his music at least. He is one to watch. His music is perfect to set your Pagan gift-giving apart from the crystal clique cornucopia crowd for the Solstice.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Veterans answer the call, and stand for Standing Rock

On December 4 – 8 Veterans for Standing Rock will march to “defend the water protectors from assault and intimidation at the hands of the militarized police force and DAPL security” in North Dakota. They will stand to protect the citizens of our nation against forces which they have deemed so outrageous as needing a direct response. Veterans of the United States Armed Forces, e.g. U.S. Army, United States Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Coast Guard plan to stand side by side with water protectors on site. For them, it is a matter of honor.

Original image source: Bykst
Original image source: Bykst
The utilization of Facebook to rally the troops proves to be effective. The event, named  Veterans For Standing Rock, is that of former law enforcement officer Michael Wood Jr., and Wes Clark, Jr., son of General Wes Clark.  He makes no hedging about his place.
“First Americans have served in the Unites States Military, defending the soil of our homelands, at a greater percentage than any other group of Americans. There is no other people more deserving of veteran support.” – Operations Order, Veterans for Standing Rock



This group got the green light of approval from Elders of the Lakota Sioux, and plan to work in full cooperation with them every step of the way. They face a situation that is beyond volatile. Preceding months of engagement in this fight for water, they list mace, tear gas, sniper guns, rubber bullets, attack dogs, LRAD deployment, and pepper spray.
But perhaps the most punishing and detestable shock was the now infamous night November 20. Trapped on a bridge, water protectors were allegedly barraged with rubber bullets, tear gas, water cannons, concussion and stinger grenades. Photographs, and live feed footage of these attacks and weapons were covered by independent and mainstream media sources.
Due to subfreezing temperatures, the use of water to force compliance endangered the water protectors to very real risk of life. A statement by the Standing Rock Medic and Healer Council addressed the potential for fatalities in this statement.
“As medical professionals we are concerned for the real risk of loss of life due to severe hypothermia under these conditions”
Among the injured was Sophia Wilansky. Wilansky was bringing water to those caught on the bridge when she was hit by an alleged police weapon. Police dispute this and support that it was a weapon brought by the protestors at the site. The injuries to her arm are so severe that they expect at least 20 surgeries in the fight to save the limb. The confrontation also saw injury to one law enforcement officer.
  “authorities continue to defend our tactics.” –  spokeswoman Maxine Herr, Morton County Sheriff’s office
Civilians are also called to come forward. They should read the event page for specific information about what is to be expected at while at the camps. Those going should be prepared for cold temperatures and be reminded that they are there to serve with the protectors side by side.
It is likely they will arrive sometime around the same time as the The Bunk Bus. The escalation of tactics of pain compliance as part of the overall strategy of the DAPL, the Governor of North Dakota and the Morton County Sheriff’s Department show no sign of stopping. Medics are needed, as are medical supplies.
A registration is in place for those who intend to take part in this historic decision to muster our nation’s veterans on a grass-roots level. The form is located at Veterans Stand for Standing Rock – Roster.

To support the fundraising efforts, and coordinate your donations, visit Veterans for Standing Rock on gofundme.

Monday, November 7, 2016

An editorial about being an ally and what that means at Standing Rock

The Standing Rock Youth’s movement against the corporate, and armed, heavily funded destruction of their Sacred space and their Spiritual rights and agency calls to the masses for support. The hearts and hands of the world have followed their eyes as they react to the actions that are taking place in the action zones of engagement. Water protectors continue to see their ranks grow as sojourners from across the continent arrive and stand in prayer with them against the interests the jeopardize their water and destroy the graves of and relics of the indigenous peoples in this region.

In the rush to be allies, there is a need to be mindful and aware of the role that those who come to the site as allies play. In other words, allies are to be there to aid and direct attention to the goals of the Standing Rock Sioux. This means many things to many people, but the facts of the matter are that allies do not seek to spiritually colonize the movements they are there to support.

A public Facebook post by A. Nason, from Fort Yates, North Dakota hit this chord in such a way that it resonated to my very bones.
Back at Oceti Sakowin. What I’ve experienced today has been painful and gross. White men took over the Indigenous lead direct action training. I was talked down to again and again by non-Indigenous folk, acting like they own the camp because they hold down their own tent.

Then there was a call for all available women at the camp to go to the Spirit Fire for a meeting. Curious, I went. It was led by 2 white women, looked like the usual type you would see at the festival circuit or Burning Man. They made a circle and asked what “we as united women feel united by under the goddess, because we’ve seen what men have been doing and it’s so divided.” They policed how we talked, told us to not talk out of turn and to hold comments for later. Another white woman told the Fire Keepers, the men tending the spirit fire as it is their traditional role, to “keep it down and stop talking, because women are having a meeting.” My blood boiled, but I kept waiting. I had to walk away for a bit, but when I returned an Oceti Sakowin woman was speaking, and she felt the same pain I did. She told the women at the circle how disrespectful they were being by not honoring the ceremonial request to wear skirts, and that this is her home and make space for the other Indigenous women from this land. She asked me to speak up after, she could feel my energy.

I told the white women in this circle that they must keep Indigenous women centered here, especially the women from Oceti Sakowin. And where were the elders? Why aren’t our elders holding this? I told them how colonized this felt, how by telling us Indigenous women how to speak and when to speak that they’re perpetuating the harm that is continued to be done to us. I said how gross this made me feel.

I’m disgusted by the Burners and same types at camp. I’m not surprised that they showed up and are trying to take over our movement and our ceremony, but I’m not any less disgusted.

Indigenous folks coming up, guard your heart and spirits. POC allies, please hug us and love on us. We need it. White allies, collect your people. Center us. Keep Indigenous women and two spirited people at the center of this. Keep all Indigenous people in the main focus.

My heart is sick.

From Facebook, November 1, 2016
So, this is a letter to my Pagan folks and my neo Pagan folks, and my spiritual folks, hell, my folks. Please understand and take your time to read the following words repeatedly so that their meaning is not lost on you.

No matter your race, nationality, color, gender, politics, spirituality (Yes, I am looking at YOU my tree-hugging, Goddess worshiping brethren and sistren), economic status, or personal sense of entitlement, understand that this IS NOT ABOUT YOU OR WHAT YOU WANT TO DO AS YOUR PERSONAL MISSION.

This is a divinely inspired movement by the Standing Rock Sioux that has filled with miracles and signs at every step of the way, and our personal ways and agendas have no place in the center of it. We are allies, NOT the leadership. THEY, not WE, have set the tone and the mores of this place in accord with THEIR society and culture. This is a Holy movement, yes I believe it is, and it is not in need of colonization and capitalization.

Let us remember what this is really about. It is not about “sticking it to the man”. It is not about being an anarchist. It is not about the counterculture. It is not about your Indigo this, or your Crystal that, or how many Lynn Andrews books you have read. It is not about how many Kenn Day seminars you have attended, or how many times your heart was broken by the Bernie Sanders movement.  To remember what it is about, visit the original site of Rezpect our Water and read the letters there about how their drinking water is in imminent danger by this project.


If you are going to the camps to stand with the protectors, keep your mind right. Be ready to spend hours in prayer. Be ready to do your fair share of work. You are entering a society, not a hippie festival or an anarchist camp. Get your hands dirty; be of help; bring a skill; bring supplies if you can; do not seek glory, seek solidarity and prayer.


That is what is taking lead in this. Spiritual warfare is the way, not hands and fists and weapons. Bring no weapons other than faith, and a willingness to serve.


This is their home, their lands and their Ancestors. This is not a photo opportunity. This is not a chance to get your continuing education credits, or activist street credibility. Leave your ego in your driveway. Respect the Traditions that are in place here and be mindful of what it means to be a Stranger and an Ally.


If you are a magickal practitioner, or Pagan, you may wish to brush up on your manners. This is not a magical situation, but the book “Magickal Manners: A Guide to Magickal Etiquette” by Puck Shadowdrake is a good place to look in your metaphysical book shelf for a refresher about encountering other cultures and being a GOOD PERSON, not a hot dog or a culturally insensitive shame-bucket. Manifest that goal of aid, make sigils, use Andrieh Vitimus’ chaos book, do something useful in your own Traditions.


If you cannot go to the site, but want to manifest change, then do it at home. Advocate, share posts, educate, and donate. Do circles and coffee nights about the situation and brainstorm on what can be done by those who are interested in assisting. Follow through on these ideas. Do Magick! Pray! Repeat!


When the People were blockaded from the DAPL site, an eagle appeared and led them to an alternate route. When there was fire, the wind blew AWAY from the camp all night til it was extinguished. A golden eagle appeared and allowed them to approach and stayed for a while. The Buffalo Nation appeared in great numbers to help the water protectors. Canoes from several states made a route to render aid. Nations all over the world have heard the call and the injustice and representatives have arrived in great number on the lands where the Battle of Greasy Grass sought to extinguish this people.


Donations of material support, cash, and supplies are needed. Travel expenses, legal expenses, and the funding of projects directly involved with this movement need continual support. Whether sending online through a personal Paypal to any of the sites, sending medical supplies, or natural healing aids, it is all part of the effort. If you can do this, do so. Allies are everywhere, not just the front lines.


Many have forgotten the power of Singing. The power of the words and the emotions behind them can move mountains and melt stone hearts. They feed the souls of the warrior and the midwife, the child and the elders, the single and the group. Learn the songs, and use your own, write your own, sing them and make the world hear.


These are the times of miracles, wonders, leaders, and the making of the new Mighty Ancestor stories. We do not have the right to take from that. All we have the right to do is what is good, right, honorable, and pure … as allies. We are not the stars of this story.

Remember that, fellow allies. Stand with the Standing Rock Sioux, not on top of them.

Miigs from a Soul Sister with Creek Nation ancestry.


Originally published in PBN News Network

Thursday, October 27, 2016

A letter to Osijek

Today, I received a message from one of my former students in the Black Moon Grove Tradition. Though not one of our teachers, he still walks our Path and lives his way in it. While traveling his spiritual pilgrimage through the South this week, he encountered a call for help.

The call came from far away, from Osijek, Croatia to be exact. If you know about our Tradition, then you know that this is not unusual for us to receive messages from every place or person. It is part of our Call, and Human Trafficking is on our list of what we address. We are a “Hunting” Grove.

Matt., as I will call him here, was alerted to the plight of this young man via the interwebs. As best he could, he attempted to assist him, and reached out for resources in doing so. This is his way. While this, he found out something horrible but true not just there, but everywhere.

Matt. found out that trafficking is not escaped easily, nor is it even believed by most authorities. It is the phone call in the dark that goes unchecked. The shadowy worlds that whisk from place to place are almost untraceable to law enforcement. Victims and survivors reach out to what turns out to be empty air, for within the blink of an eye the aid that was promised can miss them by moments.

The young man in question has been to the authorities. He was not believed. He is in fear of his life. He is not believed. All we can do is send him to the Croatian Red Cross Osijek (GDCK Osijek), a local branch of Croatian Red Cross. We have no international hotline to have him call.
We hope that someone in Osijek will see this. The branch offers protection and shelter for human trafficking victims. It is highly unlikely he will see it, though. But we can try. Mattimages. is going to be able to send this link, and because it is in a Pagan news site, it will seem like this person is just surfing the web. Although I do not have any idea what their access is to the web, or how often.

We know you are trying to get to Hungary. So that should tell you we are speaking to you. Please take this information and screen save it.

Here is your information.
Contact person: Tijana Salaj

This is a lousy substitute for actual assistance. It is horrid. It is inadequate and makes us all shamed that there is nothing else we can do as citizens of the world. Why is there no outrage at the sexual slavery that exists side by side by the continued chattel slavery of the world in every continent?
Thanks to the Polaris Project, we at last have the Global Human Trafficking Hotline Network. Visit the site here at
Readers, here in Michigan, we have the Michigan Abolitionist Project, among others, if you want to get involved.  Boots on the ground time, step up. We cannot keep ignoring this.
To report a tip, connect with anti-trafficking services in your area, or request information, call The National Human Trafficking Resource Center at: 1-888-373-7888, or send a text to BeFree (233733).

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A memorial of DeAnna Gray, a safe friend for a solitary Pagan child

I awoke this morning like any other day. The hurried chaos of rousing a household into motion and the scurrying to get breakfast ready. The air was cold, so I put on the oven to heat the kitchen. In Michigan, we wait til the last of fall to turn on the furnaces. The altar boxes seemed like shadows were unusually soft around them, his and mine, but I paid no special heed to what that might mean.

In truth, I had paid no heed to my dreams this weekend, even though they were messengers, since I was going to analyze them later….always later. This October has been full of dreams, as is customary with the season of the last of the death harvests. Those who have passed away are nearer to us, and seek to reach out to let us know they are there. It is also is a time of goodbyes.

DeAnna Gray, gofundme photo
DeAnna Gray, gofundme photo
Then, on the drive into work, it came. That inevitable “it” that comes in these sort of stories. In this case, “it” was a message request from an unknown person on Facebook. Now, this is not so unusual. I write a lot of things that can cause some interesting reactions from strangers. But for some reason, today I accepted.
In my inbox, there was the image of my friend. Not a friend I see everyday, mind you. In fact, we probably have not directly spoken to each other in over 10 years. We just had not run in the same circles, especially after I moved away from the city proper. But there was her photograph in my electronic mailbox, the image of DeAnna Gray.
DeAnna Gray, the name itself is so small on the page, but evokes so much. She was so much more than those collections of syllables and letters. She was the very first person who accepted me as I am. Accepted me as someone different, and said it was okay.
DeAnna Gray and I met in first grade, after having been tested and placed in classes together. All through school, we were in advanced studies and music and even shared time in the “package lunch room” at Elizabeth Courville Elementary School in Detroit. She was one of the girls who would crochet with the crafty girls with the fuzzy yarn and the fuzzy ribbon in her hair. She was also the one who dried my tears when the boys put a lizard tail on my cornet case because I said I was a witch.
DeAnna was the one in Mr. Peterson’s class who would help me with my art. Our teacher was a hippy with a VW bus, and we had great fun together. She was there the day I tried to draw my first witchy painting and simultaneously look at the scandalizing pictures of Prince in a black G-string behind the clay buckets.

She said that it was okay to be different. She said it was okay. She knew what it was like to be different because she was tall. And boys did not like tall girls, so it was the same. She stood there in corduroy pants and a sweater with little characters marching across in horizontal lines and said it was okay. And she held my hand.

DeAnna Gray’s signature on her folder with the happy little apple face on her name card on a string is in my mind now. She was so neat and her desk was never messy like mine. She wrote well, and we sometimes would smile at each other. She was not a cool kid, but she was in the respectable groups. I was always an outcast, but that was to be expected. In social studies we even had a project together where we laughed as we shut down the boys, especially Steven Walker, when he asked if I could turn him into a frog. She had her cross and I had one too, but mine was enchanted with something other. And that was okay.

In the playgrounds of middle school, DeAnna had taken to being more to herself. We all experimented with makeup in the classroom of the only African-American Catholic woman I had ever seen. Lolita Curtis gave me my first book on magick, and I was outed again. The class bully tried to come at me, and quiet DeAnna stood up, all tall and straight, and stood with me as I stood my ground. We did not fight that day, words are better than animals. Dogs use tooth and claw, and we were ladies. And when Mrs. Linton and the lunch ladies encircled me to exorcise me and pray at me because they said I was full of demons for my beliefs, she gave me her mystery meat and a cookie afterwards (vanilla crème).

We were not best friends. We were friends, though. In high school, she and I had classes together again. In Detroit Public Schools, back then at least, you stayed with you pack. Honors kids with honors kids, vocational students with vocational students, etc. I grew up watching her refine that “D” in her signature from a large letter block print to an eloquent signature. A presence that seemed to always be around with a shoulder, a smile, or even the answer to where I dropped my cornet valve oil – again.

On days nearing the end of our high school year, I got used to seeing her in the neighborhood on 7 Mile Rd. We would sometimes see each other, usually when I was walking home by her mother’s work, M&M Shrimp Shack. Her mom was really nice as well. Her mother knew about the little foster girl with the belief in magick. She was a Christian, but she always treated me sweetly. Blood will tell, and though her mom could sometimes be a bit hard, she never treated me with unkindness in the way that many others did in this city of churches. Especially since I lived right on church row, that meant a lot to me.

Many days, she saw me and would be one of the only ones  nice to me, DeAnna had a great big heart. In the winter, she would sometimes offer me a glove or burgundy mitten. Of course I would not take it, but it was good of her. She would get annoyed by me wearing my band gloves as hand protection. I would joke that I was just really committed and she would shake her head and smile in that lip gloss way she had. But I remember her kindness as she stood in the slush and rain those days.

Her eyes were the kindest eyes I have ever seen. That is not to say she never got mad. Oh boy, could she ever. But they were always the sweetest I have ever seen. They are not gray, but I will be adding a gray candle in memory of them to my altar this week, my ancestral one. Because she is precious to me and I seek to honor the understanding that she had. The understanding was that everyone does not have to believe the same thing to be right.  She touched my life in shades that were not lies of black and white, but full of kind grays … like DeAnna Gray.

GoFundMe Information for her Burial.

Unfortunately, on Oct 21st my siblings and I lost our beloved mother Deanna Gray. She was a very loving person with such a giving spirit. To know my mother is to have loved her. Her selfless acts of kindness was enough to win over the hearts of any and everyone who came in contact with her. We are now asking for your help to give back to someone who gave so much. With your help we would like to give her the home going she deserves. Please help us send our angel home properly. My family and I would like to thank everyone in advance for the well wishes and support. God bless you all, thank you. Help spread the word!
Unfortunately, on Oct 21st my siblings and I lost our beloved mother Deanna Gray. She was a very loving person with such a giving spirit. To know my mother is to have loved her. Her selfless acts of kindness was enough to win over the hearts of any and everyone who came in contact with her. We are now asking for your help to give back to someone who gave so much.
With your help we would like to give her the home going she deserves. Please help us send our angel home properly. My family and I would like to thank everyone in advance for the well wishes and support. God bless you all, thank you.
Help spread the word!
I do not do gofundme stories as a general rule. This is my exception. Because I loved her, and still do. I do this because she me my world safer and kept me sane and strong when others would have torn me down. So I share this here, and if you are so moved, please help her family to send her off as befitting one of such kindness.
The campaign is

Burial for Deanna Gray

I ask that if you are moved by the memory of Deanna, and it is in your practice, that you light a gray candle with some pink roses on your altar this weekend. Let us send her family some loving energy. Let us send some love to DeAnna as she takes her journey home.

Hail the Beloved Dead.

This story is also published at my column on

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

On the encountering of a witch who thinks they have a racial pass

There is no racial pass. There is no racial pass. There is no racial pass. One more time, there is no racial pass. There is no racial pass given to magickal practitioners who move in the the spaces of the urban magician to form their lips to say the word "nigg--" or "nigga". Whether you put any prefix in front of it, it does not negate the filth that follows. There is no racial pass.

There is no racial pass. No amount of branding or fictive kinship exists to endow the right of any person to take license to use that word as part of their identity. It does not matter that another of diasporic identity may use it casually, like a fool, to describe themselves or their comrades. There is no magickal reality to the  existence of a racial pass being given to anyone to use a racially insulting, derogatory, bigoted, or degrading terminology. There is no racial pass.

There is no racial pass that anyone with any emotional intelligence or cultural awareness of the history of this hemisphere may use to excuse the use of that nasty and horrid verbal lash. There are no "cool point" levels to attain that lead to a super sacred status that allows it. There is no person of any worth to themselves, or to the diaspora, that deserves to not be checked about its use.There is no racial pass.

There is no racial pass given to celebrity or fame or rank. There is no racial pass. There is no racial pass that exists that would excuse me betraying my conscience and staying silent on this matter. There is nothing that would wipe the stain of it from the reflection I see, no solvent that would clean my confession.

There is no bond of friendship, peerage, or membership in the modern wave of urban folk spirituality practitioners that would override my honor in this matter. It is out of love that I write this. The only way for there to be no gap in our grasps of each others hands is that we remove the feel of the filth between them that this word and its derivatives pour over everything like slime from the spiritual charnel pits it created. There is no racial pass.

There is no racial pass that says that if a single person, or group of persons, tells you that the usage of a slur is acceptable by them that has any validity. There is no universal pass that states because segments of a historically murdered, persecuted, oppressed, and hated group use a vile term in conversation to refer to themselves of others that exempts ANYONE from recognizing that its usage is wicked and evil.

There is no racial pass. There is in reality, no "card", black or otherwise, that is a license to use it for anything - especially as a brand. The pain and suffering and deaths of my ancestors, parents, grandparents, and descendants is not a charm bracelet sparkle that one can put on their hashtag wrists. My familial historical outrage is not for sale, it is not a fashion statement. There is no racial pass.

There is no racial pass. The need to be raw, edgy, to refer to your street authenticity is what you say is truth, but it should taste a lie. There is no equivalent linguistic contortionist's justification for any other people's magick being so casually linked to the language of those that would destroy them. There is no correlation to the synaptic reactions experienced in the terms for other Traditions of magick and folk lore that feel the same. Granny magic, Hex magic, Celtic magick, do not fire the same responses. Calling yourself a "witchnigga" is not the damned same. There is no racial pass.

There is no racial pass. Creativity is not an excuse for outrage for outrage's sake. There is no room for misunderstanding on matters of this gravity. There is no corner shadowed enough for me to hide in that would hide my villainy for not writing on this.This is about more than a hashtag and your right to craft it.

I do not believe in censorship. Artistic freedom is essential in a democracy. There would be no Eugene O'Neill, Laurie Anderson or Tupac Shakur if we had censorship. But I do believe artists have a responsibility for what they say and do. - Dr. Cornel West

There is no racial pass. There is no racial pass that states that because you put a "ga" on the end of the word nigg-- instead of an "er" that is somehow transforms into a wondrous term of universally acceptable colloquial speech. There is no excuse or rationalization for proliferating that term as anything other than a hate-filled, malicious weapon. That word is a servitor of the basest rank that has risen to the heights of murder and even attempted genocide in this nation. The LIE of semantic inversion being applied to it means NOTHING. It is NEVER acceptable. There is no racial pass.

There is no racial pass. It does not matter that I think you are otherwise a good person. When you refuse to see anything wrong when someone plainly explains what is very wrong, then you have chosen to cling to wickedness. Willful defiance in the face of reality in this case is not insanity, it is the practice of the privilege of the so-called "racial pass holder", and it is odious and offensive to everyone. There is no justification. There is no racial pass.

There is no racial pass. The fact that this term lives in a place of power, in a set of society of witchcraft and magick. The fact that the term "hood" is loose enough to use, but you took it to another step and publicly put that word "nigga" your brand. I do not care how many times that word has been used around, about, or to you, it is not ok. It is not the next logical step in cutting edge urban identity as a witch. It is not the tongue in cheek, it is the fist in face. There is no racial pass.

There is no racial pass. By using the "ga" you seek to take it to a different place. That word is a weapon. There is no place to take it that leads to anything good and upright. Words have power, and that word is a weapon. As far as taking it to a different place in the conversation of urban practice, a quote from a writer comes to mind.

The rule is that if they have a weapon and want to take you someplace else, it is so they can kill you slower" - Laurell K. Hamilton, The Harlequin

That is what is happening to the diasporic peoples with the powers in their hands. That is what is happening to the witches and conjurers and others who are entrusted with these traditions as the people who are visitors in these spaces have begun to mine them. They who would destroy us use these terms. If you are not among them, then why use their weapons. WE are not your magickal Patrice Lumumba's, and we will not stand by while our collective traditions are belittled and assassinated by those words. There is no racial pass.

There is no racial pass. To the self hating proliferating people who continue to push forth the notion that this word is ever good in any sense, I say to you the same. There is no racial pass. To use this term on our friend, or enemy, is to align with the strap, the lash, the blade, and the club used to bash our people. You are no different than the slave who would turn in their fellow as he escaped. You are the other half of the tumor that grows in this practice. You will not be forgotten, and if you are lucky, you one day will abhor that which you do now. If not, we shall cut you from us like a rotten wound's tissue and leave you on the bloody floor of our past. For you, too, there is no racial pass.

There is no racial pass. No one has the ability to grant clemency or privilege to use that word to any other person, especially any person who is not of the lineage of those who have inherited the legacy and continued reality of all that it means. It is decidedly one of the most vulgar abuses of privilege I may have witnessed by anyone in my movements through the local magickal societies, and I am shocked. There is no racial pass.

There is no racial pass.

Monday, October 17, 2016

That pesky first amendment and why it matters right now

So many of the issues in this election year of 2016 CE are hot buttons of emotion that one of the major rights that we have as a people being ignored is a travesty. It seems that the requisite action of any organized corporate or governmental organization engaged in controversial situations is to gag, deter, and arrest (usually unlawfully) the press. The citizenry’s rights to freedom of the press are in the United States Constitution. This is the truth, despite the odious creep and overreach of the forces that are hellbent on destroying that right with spurious interpretations under the color of law that seek to suppress the reporting that gives us the truth, without bias, from the front lines.
The journalist, the reporter, the press in its many forms, not the entertainers, are the “fourth estate”. They are the watchmen at the gate, the ear in the chamber, the eye on the arena, and the flow of information to the people. The press keep us honest, they find truth, they give facts, and yes sometimes they give opinions. Some of those opinions challenge what many would wish to hear, especially those in power, those in scandal, and those engaged in illegal, unethical, or egregious behavior. Money talks, and it buys the strong arms and stoic silence of those in the places of power who bear the duty of protecting the reporters.
With  the major news organizations being owned by very few entities, the flow of information finds itself colored, curtailed, and forced to find independent media sources that offer multiple outlets. Alex Jones, a media personality with a provocative brand that endears him to some, and outrages others, coined the term “dinosaur media” when referring to the traditional large name print and network media. In some ways, the hierarchy of the pay-your-dues brand of journalism has become the very crushing walls that are destroying many of the generational divided future news writers. In others, it is that very system that produces quality journalism relied upon to serve.

Source: unsplash
Image: Hector Martinez
However, the medium and the messages have expanded, and those on the front lines are under fire at all levels. Unless they become the talking head of delivering prepackaged news copy for our digestion from channels branded now as entertainment, it is more difficult to find the courageous photojournalists and writers who embed themselves in the news sites that matter physically. The threat, and implementation, of coercive and legally questionable tactics create a climate of fear and apprehension that has direct influence on what stories and facts you, the public, get to see.

One example is the situation at the Standing Rock Sioux and the DAPL parties. Smoky rooms and smoke and mirrors are at full steam in this situation, intimidating, arresting, and barring the free press from doing their constitutionally protected coverage of this event. From the groundbreaking small media company Unicorn Riot, to the esteemed Democracy Now, reporters are under politically motivated attack. Readers, there is something very  wrong going on here, when our government is using these tactics to hide what they are doing, and we should watch them closely because  What we are seeing is the encroaching death of the right to a free press.

To give some history on the events referred to here, let us first look at what befell the reporters from Unicorn Riot while covering a news stories. So far, four journalists were arrested while providing coverage of stories related to this news event. Two were arrested on September 13th, and two on October 7th, all clearly displaying press badges and self identifying.
During a September 13th direct action at a DAPL construction site, two Unicorn Riot journalists were targeted and arrested while reporting during a live broadcast. Our reporters were both wearing their press passes and stating “I’m press” at the time of their arrests…..
On October 7th, in Lee County, Iowa, after live streaming an action (from a tree perch outside DAPL property) during which two women locked themselves to a horizontal directional drill, another Unicorn Riot journalist was arrested and taken into custody. They have been charged with criminal trespass…  the same day as court was happening for one Unicorn Riot journalist, another was getting arrested by a Lee County Sheriff’s deputy for once again, allegedly trespassing while documenting a non-violent direct action that stopped pipeline construction. – “Four Unicorn Riot Journalists Face Charges for Covering #NoDAPL”, Unicorn Riot
Next, the story of Amy Goodman, world respected and known journalist. She, too, dared to commit the crime of press coverage at the site of the contested pipeline, and the actions of the authorities and gathered water protectors. She took photographs, and broadcast live on social media, the uncensored events that took place there with the mantle of the reporter on her shoulders. The now infamous footage of the dog attacks at the site did not sit well with the silent and tacit agreement to not cover this story by major media outlets.

This footage led to an arrest warrant being issued for criminal trespass, which has been changed to charges for participating in a riot. This fictive narrative by the powers that be seeks to now levy charges that could, if convicted, place this writer behind bars for up to 45 years. A transcript of her report can be found here at Democracy Now.

This morning, she broadcasted live regarding this case. Find the video at Democracy Now by following this link.

Citizen journalists, investigative journalists,  and documentary filmmakers face difficult decisions and potential consequences for their work. They are on the front line. The protections afforded to big name media are not always recognized in their cases and anti SLAPP laws are not universal throughout the nation.  When the constitution was framed, it protected even the pamphlet maker. Now it would come into question whether live streams of content are equivalent in their protection.
Near v. Minnesota, ratified the Blackstonian proposition that a prior restraint — a legal prohibition on the press’s ability to publish information in its possession — will almost always violate the First Amendment. Near is a landmark, not just because it was the Court’s first decision to invoke the press clause, but because it established a fundamental precept of constitutional law — that once the press has gotten its hands on information that it deems to be newsworthy, the government can seldom, if ever, prevent that information from being published. –
On October 11, Deia Schlosberg, documentary filmmaker, arrested  in Walhalla, North Dakota, covered a story on a climate change protest which shut down four states where pipelines were carrying tar-sands oil from Alberta, Canada, into the United States. The film,How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change” was to include the direct actions of these activists. However the film footage was confiscated, she was held for two days without access to counsel, and she three felony counts of conspiracy have been charged against her for covering this story.
We need more investigative journalists, and we need to defend them. We need more news, not less. We need more stories and those to write them. Locally, here in Michigan, there is an opportunity to learn more about this on Sunday, October 30th at the “2016 Detroit Watchdog Workshop” by Investigative Reporters and Editors. Hosted by Wayne State’s Dept of Communication.  The irony of this is not lost on this writer, as this same institution has gone to certain lengths to silence award-winning columnist Steve Neavling’s Motor City Muckraker site’s ongoing reporting regarding the institution.
Suppression, intimidation, and the color of law are all being used to cut our press to minimalist writers fed their information after approved by the very persons that might stand the most to lose. This wave of censorship and stonewalling will only lead to the further erosion of our First Amendment right to have a free press. If you are not afraid of that this will mean yet, you haven’t been paying attention.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Damn Right there is something in the water: a personal salon

The air is brisk, and the sun is shining against an artic blue sky on an autumn day here in Michigan. The corn is in the kitchen hanging on racks to dry as I open my finish setting my table for a salon. There is plenty of room for you at the table. I have made elderberry muffins and lemon fantasy tea. It is my own blend of lemongrass, orange mint, lemon balm, and lemon verbena. Things may get a bit tart today.

Shruthi Gowda.jpg
Image: Shruthi Gowda

The placemats are cerulean blue and there is a beautiful arrangement of rosemary, cedar, lavender, flowers, and hyssop sprigs in the centerpiece. The tea is hot and the scent of orange thyme is filling the room.

*sits at table with pot in her lap to shell beans. This is an informal affair*

Right now, there are unprecedented milestones and miracles happening at Standing Rock and in Michigan. The stories that come from these times will be whispered and retold for many generations. We are the new ancestors, you know. What we do during these times will help to nurture the coming ones who will learn.

Being from Michigan, the water and I have a deep relationship. I can no more breathe the scent of the lakes as a non-spiritual experience than I could not openly laugh when someone tells me that all conjure comes from Ireland and Chicago. That relationship has fed my soul, aided my  works, and healed my spirit. Water is life. It has been my life, and will always sustain my life.

It is for that cause that I feel compelled to host this little salon today on the fifth of October. This is the day before the birthday of my deceased Dad, and I believe that the tears that fall as I type this are just as connected to the “over-spirits” of all Waters as the most expensive Evian, or the cheapest bottle from the dollar store down the street. All of it has me buoyed up in my emotions, and all of it can heal and sustain.

*shells a speckled butterbean pod, and drops three in the pot*

Mistress Belladonna

Right now, the forces of destruction in this world are intensifying their assaults against humanity by poisoning and imperiling one of the most intimate connections we have to the soul of creation.

Image Kenya Coviak, all rights reserved14199598_10210832649436624_1779227710621488767_n.jpg

In Flint, Michigan, a sort of evil epic saga of greed, corruption, and vicious opportunism led to the destruction of the systems that conveyed life giving waters to the people of this state. In another area, under our lakes, there is a great pipeline that sleeps like a beast waiting to strike. It’s ancient stays and bonds awaiting release and failure so that it can lay waste and destruction to the life above and below those freshwater waves unchecked. Wells of radioactive waste lie in wells inland, and on shoreline of our freshwater seas, catastrophes ticking away like bombs of devastation. In the the lands of the Standing Rock Sioux, a monster of a pipeline is threatening to transport possible death through sacred soils and under water bodies that have sustained them for generations.

What do each of these things have in common? They are all outrages against us as humans, and against every plant, animal, and spirit in the areas in which they take place. They threaten not only the physical landscapes, but the psychic energy and systems of the spiritual essences that these flows and bodies contain and share with us. In other words, they are violent attacks against the very souls of creation that we live in harmony (we wish) with as we survive and pray to our respective systems of belief.

*Teapot sends up a bubble from nowhere*

I think often of my daughter and her future these days. Will she live in a world that has the first generation of young adults that cannot trust the seeds they plant or the water that grows them? Exactly how long of a timetable does she have before every drop is privatized. Will there be a world in which her gathering water in a bowl for her aloe plant will lead to a knock on the door by police for illegal collection of rainwater? Will she have to pay for the safe water not contaminated by heavy metals to water her seedlings? Hell, will there even BE seedlings to plant? Will there still be Michigan Okra?943431_10201495737339657_1541476245_n.jpg
Image:  Kenya Coviak, all rights reserved

I look at the sky, and know that somewhere, right now, there are Water Protectors fighting for my future. I look at the sky and know that here in Michigan, there are brave folks who are petitioning, holding rallies, and are on the front line to remedy Flint and keep it from happening again. I see the sun and feel the wind on my face and smell the rain and the scent of poplar and know that no matter what they do, they will face opposition in the name of greed and ambition.

Image: Kenya Coviak, all rights reserved

People have many relationships with water that we take for granted as always being there. The rite of baptism, ritual washing, and purification. All these rely on water. What happens when all the water is defiled? What happens when it is not a living thing anymore?

When we sing water songs, or when certain cultures sing Water Songs, almost universally there is an awareness of the majesty of it. The mysteries of the deep and the faint babbling of the brooks seem to sing to us of faraway places and the times when we were not so distant from our beginnings. We recharge in those places. We tell myths and creation stories about it in many cultures. And some of us have familial stories about our animal that we are related to that lives in the water and the land. (I am not allowed to further into this publicly)

*Looks at photo of Dad and remembers he needs a cup of McDonald’s coffee by his picture. Pours you another cup of tea and offers you a peach tart now that your muffin is gone*

I mean, really. This has gotten way out of the land of basic business chicanery and ventured into the obscene. It is an absurd drama to watch, as politicians bargain with corporations as they both condemn the pools, rivers, and lakes to destruction. Fracking, drilling, subsidized theft by large conglomerates that obtain water rights of small communities over the residents, the list of infractions is endless. What do they think is going to happen here?

*Teapot has now cracked, sending one long tear of golden fluid down the side*

What exactly do they propose we do when all the waters are dead and dying in the future?

When it comes time to wash the babies in the waters to bless them, what shall we use? Shall we use Gatorade? Shall we use some sort of lotion? Will we have to call the “Culligan Man” to bring over a special delivery?

When the Dead have their sacred rites performed, what then? Will we try to consecrate hand sanitizer? Or will we use frack polluted waters for purification? When there are water initiations by the other faiths in their waters, what shall they do, put on wet suits?

There is no magic purifier pill. There is no magic additive that will restore the fish and the frogs and the shellfish to their ancient states once they have been poisoned. It takes generations for them to recover, if they do. GENERATIONS.

Which begs the question.

How many generations do we have left to restore what has already been lost?

*throws bean husks in compost plate to put into garden. Gives you a small paper bag of pecan/lavender cookies to go, and puts a small bottle of Potawatomi beans in your hand*

Thank you for coming today. It is not often that I open my salon for just you and me. So I hope you enjoyed it. Do come again. Be sure remember to scatter those seeds. You never know where they will take root.