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.