Thursday, April 27, 2017

Groovy Green Practitioner Series: Wapato, Duck Potato, or Broadleaf Arrowhead

DISCLAIMER:  ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHEN IDENTIFYING PLANTS. USE YOUR FIELD GUIDES AND LEARN YOUR LATIN NAMES. WHEN IN DOUBT, FIND AN EXPERT. NO ARTICLE IN THIS SERIES IS INTENDED TO GIVE MEDICAL OR ANY OTHER ADVICE IN THE HEALING ARTS OTHER THAN THAT OF A LAY PERSON.

Time to get your feet a little wet. If you live near a shallow wetland, marsh, or even a soupy suburb with a good amount of juxtaposition with wet ponds, you may have seen this little fella. The Broadleaf Arrowhead, or Duck Potato is a good friend to the hungry forager.  Looking suave and pronounced, this plant has some heavy history here as a food stuff, medicinal remedy, and a bit of a folk lore as far as magickal usage.
WILD FLOWERS OF NEW YORK Memoir 15 N. Y. State Museum Plate 1
First, you may have noticed that this plant is known as a duck potato. No, ducks do not toss it around after it gets hot in the sunshine as a game. It is not that kind of potato. But it IS wild food.

But be careful. Looking for this food to eat could lead to you being food to eat. What I mean is, where there is water, there could be leeches. So be careful before you just go wading into the wetlands. I am drawn to this plant due to my Creek heritage making this a plant my ancestors probably ate. (No, I do not have a Tribal Enrollment. No, I am not trying to appropriate anything. My Grandmother is 100 yrs old, and if she says we are Creek, we are Creek. We have been Creek since slavery times according to our records.)


This plant produces a tuber that can be roasted and eaten. It is a perennial, so once you find a patch, you can balance your harvesting so that you can come back and get more next year. You can find it in Michigan and all the way down through Mississippi. Gosh, you can find it almost everywhere, actually.

Did you know you could actually dry it and grind it up to use like a flour? Hmm. I wonder how that would taste, and would a duck eat a duck potato pancake? Sounds like a children’s story to me. I found that out from Mount Pisgah Arboretum.
2004 à 17:59 fr:Utilisateur:Bouba
IT IS VITAL THAT YOU MAKE SURE YOU IDENTIFY THIS PLANT PROPERTY. MICHIGAN WETLAND PLANT MISTAKES CAN BE DEADLY. DO NOT MISTAKE ARUM FOR THIS PLANT. USE A GOOD GUIDE, LIKE AT THE USDA NRCS.

For our healers, this plant can be a storehouse of use. It has a long, respected application on this continent. In Curious By Nature’s entry, they share that various uses by different nations such as the Maidu, the Chippewa, Navajo, and Ojibwa. It has been used for topical treatment for fever, as well as an antiseptic and laxative. As always, though, get some education from a bonified practitioner of the herbal arts before just heading off and setting up shop as a duck potato expert. I WILL drag you for filth (that means I will talk harshly about you with great contempt).

Now, let’s talk about the murky part. No, not the water. I mean the legends behind its usage in magicks and mysteries. I cannot verify or really push the legends that this plant is a defense against witches. I cannot really verify it is used to make a witch by drinking its tea in conjure or in indigenous societies. Why? Because I have no one to verify this. I am just presenting that this is part of its folklore. I am not going to just run around talking out of the side of my neck like a twisted duck.

BUT, I will say this. I have been told unofficially that this may be true regarding its use in ceremonial rites. I cannot prove it. Do your own research and ask around. Don’t just repeat what I say. You could be quaking up the wrong pond.

Here is a song about duck hunting. Because I married a hunter, that’s why, and it is about ducks.

Dallas Davidson – Duck Blind

Groovy Green Craft Practitioner Series: Shepherd’s Purse or St. Jame’s Wort

DISCLAIMER:  ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHEN IDENTIFYING PLANTS. USE YOUR FIELD GUIDES AND LEARN YOUR LATIN NAMES. WHEN IN DOUBT, FIND AN EXPERT. NO ARTICLE IN THIS SERIES IS INTENDED TO GIVE MEDICAL OR ANY OTHER ADVICE IN THE HEALING ARTS OTHER THAN THAT OF A LAY PERSON.

An ever-present resident in most fields, in and around Detroit, is the indomitable Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris). You may often walk across it when traipsing through a field in search of bottles to clear, or when laying back in the grass and watching the clouds. Children often see it near “itchy” patches of straw-like greenery. The cheery little pouchettes announce its presence loud and clear to those who know what they mean. Seen as a weed, it is found year round. It has multiple uses for the cook, the curer, and the cunning person.


Atlas des plantes de France. 1891

This green resident is a member of the mustard family. That family is everywhere, and is beloved and hated by landscapers and gardeners, depending on whether they are wielding a pitch, or salad, fork at the time. As an addition to the seasoning stores, it offer an unusual bite to dishes that is just unidentifiable enough to add an interesting stimulation to the palate.
When the seeds are ripe they have a fiery bite that can be utilized as a ‘wild pepper’ – StarChild
This member of the mustard family can be eaten raw or cooked. Add to salad, but do so before it bursts forth with flowers. Believe it or not, it will taste a bit like radish. So you could add it to the cream cheese in your cucumber sandwich spread to go with the dill. Just remember,  it contains alkaloids and glucosinolates, so do not try to make it a daily food. Try a tasty Korean dish called Naengi Muchim here at Walk the Peninsula’s blog.

As a side note of extra coolness for any young gardener’s into that sort of thing, it actually is a predator of sorts, as its seeds are photocarnivorous.



For our healers among us, this is a member of the Cruciferae family known to help with hemorrhages in its powdered form. Seek out training from a competent and experienced teacher to learn the proper applications of this herb so you can add it to your cache of remedy options.
“The decoction or infusion can be used in cases of hematuria, hemorrhoids, chronic diarrhea and dysentery. Cotton swabs dipped in the infusion and inserted into the nostrils have been used to stop nasal bleeding. Its anti-inflammatory actions are helpful in relieving pain in cases of rheumatism” – Home Remedies for you
Image: Alexandra Volovenco Pixabay
As always, use caution and good sense before you just go around applying any herb to anything. Don’t you have any home training? You do not just go shoving things into your face. Lord and Lady love a duck. That also goes for your Lady Garden. Pregnant persons mustn’t mess about with this lovely long leaved legend.

Do your research. Dr. Paul Haider – Master Herbalist has a good column on this plant’s uses at Om Times.

*Remember when I said you can find it near itchy plants? Well, some folks have been said to use it to help with our old friend Poison Ivy’s gift. Just saying, pay attention to where nature stocks Her cabinets.

Magickally, I suspect our good cousin the Doctrine of Signatures has been at play a bit.  It’s traditional usage to protect against poverty and use for employment might be attributed to its purse-like seed pockets being so close to purses. It is also said to help protect against maladies that induce bleeding, which is interesting since it has styptic qualities. Mother’s also can include it to help protect children against sickness during the year.

Gather the plant on a Thursday for this purpose, then, if you are doing your money making Macarena. Because it has a rosette at its base, I suggest dividing it for drying. The paper bag method, hanging from the hanger in a sunny window, would yield very good results.
Enjoy this song Shepherd’s Purse by MIKIKO A-LA-MATA.

Groovy Green Craft Practitioner Series: Pineapple Weed or Disc Mayweed



DISCLAIMER:  ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHEN IDENTIFYING PLANTS. USE YOUR FIELD GUIDES AND LEARN YOUR LATIN NAMES. WHEN IN DOUBT, FIND AN EXPERT. NO ARTICLE IN THIS SERIES IS INTENDED TO GIVE MEDICAL OR ANY OTHER ADVICE IN THE HEALING ARTS OTHER THAN THAT OF A LAY PERSON.

This uppity garden visitor is the diminutive Disc Mayweed, better known as Pineapple Weed (Matricaria discoidea). It pops up all over the cracks and cracks of your local sidewalks in many places here in Michigan. It is also fond of meadows where chamomile would like to grow. Indeed, this is only to be expected as it is often known as wild chamomile. I have found it often to be not far away from anywhere a cottonwood tree grows.
Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York. Vol. 3: 521. Public Domain
This plant has some real gumption. It seems to grow through spots that it should not be able to command. It can be found in every county of this beautiful Michigan mitten. This spirit is such that it bucked the system and decided to jump the big water over to the older countries form these shores.
This is one of the few weedy American plants that has apparently spread to (rather than from) Europe. – Herbarium, University of Michigan
By H. Zell (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
This groovy green visitor is good for munching, mending upset stomachs, and making money magicks. So grab your little linen sacks and start gathering them whilst most folks ignore the treasures in their own yards. Let us look at what this gem has in store for the teapot, the medicinal tisane, and the table altar.

Like a chamomile, it is best gathered in the earlier in the morning while it is still wet with dew. The younger the lacy leaves that you gather, the better it will be for your tastes. If you wait too long, it can turn just a might bitter. You know, like tax forms.

The plant has a distinct pineapple smell when you crush or bruise it. The taste is a bit sweeter than chamomile. Yes, that is why it is called what it is. It can be added to salads for a mellow addition to fruit and nuts. Strawberry and blackberry mix well with this in a nice acorn leaf blend to refresh the palate. GrowitCookitCanit has a fabulous recipe for Pineapple Weed Tea to pick you up when you just need a little bit of sunshine in a cup. Honey should be local, if you can get it.

For our healing handyfolks, we have a good deal of usage that may be gained from the addition of this golden and green sweetheart. According to Sarah at Midwest Permaculture, its uses include

“include treating gastrointestinal upset and gas, infected sores, fevers, menstrual pain and postpartum anemia


Hmmm, that is quite a lot from a mighty mini. However, sometimes we ignore clues in our faces. But let us look a bit at the name of the plant itself for a revelation.
`Matricaria` stems from the Latin matrix meaning `mother` while `caria` is Latin for `dear`. This gives us `mother dear`.
This name refers to the medicinal use of pineapple weed for easing the pain of the menstrual cycle, as well as for treating colic in babies. –A Tea-Lover`s Soul Weed, by Jenny Harker
Prosperity magick is right up the alley of this plant you can find near the alley. Those golden heads can bring gold, so adding this to a prosperity working is a winner. It is also known as a plant that is good for domestic and familial harmony. So add to your floor washes to lift the home life. I would even consider weaving it into your early wreathes for your windows.

Now, I know we have had some good luck with finding songs about the herbs we are covering. But this time, we are just going to have to use the feeling and properties of the herb here for our inspiration for music. With that in mind, enjoy Katrina & The Waves, “Walking on Sunshine“.

Groovy Green Craft Practitioner Series: Ramps or Bear’s Garlic



DISCLAIMER:  ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHEN IDENTIFYING PLANTS. USE YOUR FIELD GUIDES AND LEARN YOUR LATIN NAMES. WHEN IN DOUBT, FIND AN EXPERT. NO ARTICLE IN THIS SERIES IS INTENDED TO GIVE MEDICAL OR ANY OTHER ADVICE IN THE HEALING ARTS OTHER THAN THAT OF A LAY PERSON.

Time to fire up the pan and take those yummy ramps into your hands. Ramps, ramsons, or Bear’s Garlic (Allium ursinum) is a tasty spring treat for foragers. This is equally true whether you are foraging in the woods out at Lakeshore or at the local farmer’s market. They are a fleeting treasure for munchers, tonic takers, and kitchen practitioners.


Jacob Sturm: Deutschlands Flora in Abbildungen (1796)
This wild allium pops up in sandy to loamy soil in the early Spring, usually around  April here in Michigan. They seem to coincide with morel season. They are not as elusive, but you won’t find them easily down the road either. Just this week, I cooked some in chicken broth, with some sliced mushrooms, salt, pepper, and a bit of oregano. Good eating.

A lot of folks swear by this little strongly scented wonder. Botanicseye give a good breakdown of the most common attributes sought after by its lovers.
Additionally, Ramson can be beneficial in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. A juice made from the plant can be used in weight loss programs. Used externally, Ramson can be helpful as a circulation stimulant in cases of rheumatic and arthritic joints.  – BotanicsEye


I really like this plant. So much so, that I am including another video for better identification.



Allium ursinum by Archenzo Cortenova (Lecco) 02 aprile 2005
 



Now, it is very important to make sure you are gathering the right plant. Smell it. It should smell like garlic. Again, be careful in identifying this plant in the field.
Since bear’s garlic has become so popular, many people have tried to collect the plant in the wild. Several cases of poisoning have been reported in recent years, as there are a few toxic plants with roughly similar leaves, particularly lily of the valley (Convallaria majus, Convallariaceae/Asparaginales) and autumn crocus (meadow saffron, naked ladies, Colchicum autumnale, Colchicaceae/Liliales). Both plants do not show even traces of garlic odour, and similarities are in the best case superficial, or even non-existent. – Spice Pages
You will die. And then you can use the nice little flowers on your grave site next to your cairn, I guess. Paying attention now?

For our healers, this plant is high in sulfur and rich in vitamins A and C. The body does not store vitamin C, so this is a great thing to eat after a long winter. Just remember, it will make its presence known in on the breath of the person consuming it, as well as other smelly ways. You have been warned.

As far as common usage for our kitchen witchin’ friends, it is a protective plant. Like many alliums, it is used to protect against general misfortune, as well as combined with other spell components for exorcism. Sniff it, you will see why it probably would be good to fend off most nasties.

Be a responsible gatherer when you harvest it. Just cut off the tops and leave some root. That way it will be there next year.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Buttering my popcorn and my candles as I watch the Shea Moisture denoument

Well, it finally happened. The final show of what was foreshadowed has revealed itself. Shea Moisture has opened wide its entire figurative mouth in order to firmly shove its foot deep therin.

You see, the reason this is in this column is because lookism is a thing, and the circles where colorism and lookism occur are just as relevant in magickal communities. It is a real thing when the hair atop the priestess's head is not contributing to her confidence. And before you come for me with the whole "the Gods do not care how we look" banner, you can pack it up and put it in your altar box. As a real human, I know it DOES matter how I feel about my appearance when I do rituals.

Source: Pixabay


The faith and hope placed by African American practitioners in their personal products are just as germane to ritual attire as any bracelet or robe. The company that many of us turned to as a part of our Black Pagan Liberation Theology cache of supplies is particularly poignant in its betrayal. Their marketing campaign has made it very clear that the very people who helped the original brand grow, before it was sold, have been made extraneous to their demographic.

I do not use their products on a regular basis. My hair is a hot conglomeration of curls and bad decisions. But my daughter's hair has benefited from it at least a couple of go rounds. Especially when we were going out in public and "people were looking" at us. It was important to be able to trust a product that I knew had been borne of a dream by folks who understood what an important role hair can play in our psyches.

So, I am watching this mess and shaking my head. Candles are burning but they are not reflecting light off any one's hair in this home that would have this product on its strands. Why? Because the gods don't like ugly, and neither do I.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Groovy Green Craft Practitioner Series: Oh my stars, here comes chickweed time again


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stellaria_spp_Sturm5.jpg


DISCLAIMER:  ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHEN IDENTIFYING PLANTS. USE YOUR FIELD GUIDES AND LEARN YOUR LATIN NAMES. WHEN IN DOUBT, FIND AN EXPERT. NO ARTICLE IN THIS SERIES IS INTENDED TO GIVE MEDICAL OR ANY OTHER ADVICE IN THE HEALING ARTS OTHER THAN THAT OF A LAY PERSON.

This little star in the mist is known and loved by many a homesteader and natural food grazer, of course I am talking about chickweed. Our little Stellaria media is popping up almost everywhere here in Michigan. Chickens love it, healers dig it (see what I did there?), and tasty foods include it on the tables. Kitchen witches, raise your forks and your pestles and prepare to get to know this treasure in your midst.

You will find your prize located near wetter areas usually, although some folks have it as a ground cover. It is usually seen as a weed, since it is a very fertile annual and likes to increase its number, kind of like taxes and incense collections. It will pop up again if it was there last year, barring unnatural interference and prevention. But why prevent it? It has many uses.



Primarily, eat it. This plant, unless near a toxic area, and if identified properly, is usually perfectly same to eat. Yum yum, eat the little darling, but only in moderation, as its leaves contain saponins. While they are not necessarily harmful to us in normal amounts, no need to go overdoing it.
Unlike many wild edibles, the chickweed’s stems, leaves, flowers and seeds are all edible. It does hold nitrates and people with allergies to daisies might want to pass it by. Only the Mouse-ear chickweed has to be cooked.  – by Green Deane

This is the wonderful time of year when we are experiencing the pop of crocus and the songs of birds all around us, and this is a great time to enjoy a nice treat on your table from the garden.

Understanding that we can eat in season to vary our diet is important to good health and keeping in harmony with the turning of the Wheel of the Year. There is a lovely recipe for chickweed bread at Eat The Weeds.

For the healers out there, time to get your snippers out and ready your collection satchels. This is a useful contribution to your salve cabinet. It has a virtual buffet of uses for remedies.

Try to wait until after Beltane to gather it. Remember, always take a modest harvest of any wild growing things. Be mindful and respectful when you gather, and leave something for thanks. I always encouraged my students in the Black Moon Grove to do this, and they are very good about leaving plant spikes (a thank you to our Grove Leader for that lovely innovation over just cornmeal or silver).

To explore its magickal properties, keep in mind that it is usually associated with lunar energy. Mysteries and workings with relationships, fertility (seeds are prolific, so yeah….), and birds love it, so if you are working with them this is the plant for you.

Incenses made with this plant draw in those energies as well. Dry a bit for your incense cabinet. Hang upside down for easiest uniform results.

You can find some seeds here at Alchemy Works, if you cannot find it wild. A little patch in grown in a corner, or even in an old cracked teapot, can give us just the right amount of space for this bit of tiny-petaled joy.

BONUS:

Enjoy this song, “Chick Weed.aif” by Brotherhood of the Jug Band Blues.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Save our Sophie

Yesterday, what started out as a fantastic day full of promise at a dog park wound up in a fight for survival for Sophie, a beloved animal companion of three of our own. A small dog, she suffered terrifying injuries as the result of a bite to her abdomen. The severe puncture was so grave that part of her intestine was actually exposed.



Her guardians, Celeste, LeAnn, and Dame, rushed her to the Blue Pearl animal hospital in the desperate race to save her life. The surgery needed cost $4000, a huge sum for a small household. But Sophie has a secret. She has a whole Family of folks who love her and her house.

The call has gone out, and I am amplifying it here, to help the fight to save and care for Sophie. They surgery was successful, but she is not out of the woods yet. The costs that are accruing are a severe hardship.

They are asking for help from our Metro Detroit Pagan family to assist them in paying for what is a life saving operation for a life saving dog. That's right, she is a life saver. She is a dog that alerts when health crises happens.

More care is needed now. The drain and sutures will be coming out, but that doesn't mean the bills will stop. If you can help, please do. If you cannot donate, please share.

A gofundme called Save Sophie-Emergency Surgery exists to help in this effort. Many have answered the call in small and large ways. Every little bit helps.

"Any funds over the amount of the surgery will be donated to Frankie's Friends which is a new non-profit set up through Blue Pearl for situations just like these. Please help us by donations now. If we are lucky, we will be able to help Sophie and Frankie's friends. Please press the donate button now. We desperately need your help."

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Great Name Caper: Unethical capitalist douche-empirism and its run infectious influence on some parts of our pagan communities

So, let me begin by stating that no agent, representative, or corporation has in any way had any part of what I am about to write in this piece. I am grown and say what I wish. Also, if you have a problem with what I write here, if you think it cuts a little too close to your personal picket fence of skullduggery and F**kery, then good. Maybe you will gather yourself and govern your future actions accordingly so that you do not create a brands and reputations that may paint you as part of the Legion of Failwaffles that is marching forth like bedbugs across the living room of our respectable Pagan and Holistic retreat virtual homes.

Oh, and I have no problem with anyone who has an issue with commenting on my page in the comment section. I also have no problem with putting your nasty little tactics on blast if I have to do so. All the offenders that have contributed to my OPINION PIECE have nasty little skeletons, so keep your mouth in check. There are multiple butt mushroom offenders that have ignited my ire, so if you don't like me, GET TO THE BACK OF THE LINE. Keep your little legion of Soccer Moms on a leash.

There is punch, and all gender bathrooms are on the left.


I do not like bullies. I never have. I never will. I especially do not like bullies that go up to a group of children on a block and decide that the block is now theirs. Much like the Three Billy Goat story, you know?

Which brings me to my current disgust and contempt for the recent trend over the past few years that has seen the life works of prominent and respected apothecaries, herbalists, naturalists, indigenous practitioners, and other STOLEN UNDER THE COLORS OF OPPORTUNISTIC NEGATIVE CAPITALISM. Oh, did I stutter? Was that not clear?

STOLEN UNDER THE COLORS OF OPPORTUNISTIC NEGATIVE CAPITALISM


It annoys me. 
It annoys me much.

Just because something is not outright illegal, and people go about forcing the issue through might vs right does not make it the proper action. A bully with a big brother or sister could enforce their views about taking a block and with this lovely menace, can hold the geography. Or, a good attorney can play the system into letting a blatant injustice happen in a court room to a victim if they are wily enough to do it. And, an excellent opportunist can overhear a phrase seek to own it if they file the right paperwork, making sure that it basically becomes hostage to corporate interests, no matter what the ethics or detriment to others may be, in the name of cash acquisition douche baggery.


I think you are disgusting and should wipe your skulls out with toilet paper because you have a nasty mind window and it colors your view of the world. What kind of people decide that it is a great thing to capture a hundreds of years old formula and take it? What kind of folks take a name of a cultural seasonal observation that is thousands of years old and does that? What kind of person takes a two word phrase from a heroic moment and takes that from a cultural and historical moment in time? Or even better, take a set of prayerful body postures in an entire system relevant to a distinct culture and co-opt it with the name of your book club and make it about YOU?

Who raised these people?
No matter the religion or path, they will find nastiness has a price.

I have watched direct seller companies, individuals, and corp entities go feeding frenzy on small people when they manage to gobble up and steal away a traditional thing and mark it their own. This has happened repeatedly in the last few years. But NEVER have I seen such unseemly displays of cravageousness as I have seen by a select 7 of them during the last 3 years. Truly, it is enough to make mild curdle with the sour content of these hordes  of franchising and robber baron branding styles freaks off the leash and their litigious war dogs.

Douche empirism: because I feel it should be mine, my senses tell me it is. I can taste, smell, and touch the greed of my own soul, so it is just. Because I suck.

Where are your mothers?
The libraries of America do not welcome your hustle in their folklore sections.

 Ok, so let us not forget the little shrinking violets trying to be unnoticed in the corner either. Yes, you carbon-headed cut-purse. The ones who keep taking indigenous practices, changing 3 things, and making it an ancient "system" that was "improved upon" by your gracious self. Eat a hawthorn thorn. No, seriously, like go soak in some valerian to get the stink off of your ethics please. Have some intestinal fortitude and claim your own stuff and just cite your bibliography as an influence like most people. Stop trying to steal all and sundry and try to, oh I don't know, make your own thing.  You know, like NOT reselling cultural crafts and practices with your freaking brandmarker on them, marking them up, and then crowding out entire communities in their OWN SPACES by your bargain basement bilge watered down plastic pop culture shelf liners.

Too much? 
Nah, you can take it.
Just go SMUDGE yourself.
Or do something ELSE to yourself.
HARD

Knock it off. No one thinks you are cute. You may fool the folks who have no idea what you have done, but the Law of Return doesn't stop chugging along for anyone, and that train is never late. It will come to your station, and it is always on time. This is no way reflects on those who have been duped by you. Nor does it apply to the untold multitudes of cheerleaders you have affirming your right to be as SUCKY AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE AS A HUMAN to your fellow humans by ripping off cultural formulas and ideas and observances because you DO NOT WANT TO PLAY FAIR OR DEAL WITH REAL COMPETITION.

Truly, and sincerely, I mean it when I say.
Up Yours.

For those readers who find that they, too, are moved to embrace ethics in the cultural arenas when it c comes to appropriative practices, please feel free to start your own discussion groups about it and educate people. Get involved in your own places and spaces so that you become guardians of societies. The future is in your hands.

It is all of us against the legion of douche wagons.







Thursday, February 16, 2017

SEX and steel pins ( a piece written for AARGH! magazine)

Now that I have your attention, your titillation, and your curiosity, this quick piece is about counterculture and the current lack of bad ass Grrrlz who are not bogged down in movements. Where the fuck is the Tank Girl of our generation on a musical level? Where is our in-your-face fuck authority rocker femme who is not afraid to bash a monster bass line and talk politically to power with a smile and a sneer? Did the same magick that spawned Wendy and Joan (though more rock) die out when autotune hit?
I turn on the media blaster of choice at any given time and in the rush and fury of moving mouths I hear almost no rage with edge and fire other than in “established” groups. I am of an age, (that would be 46 you nosey barker), that knows music is not just entertainment. It is supposed to be all encompassing eggsy (woman here) badassery at times. I am surrounded by safety pin warriors for social justice who wouldn’t know a good fight authority song if it shoved itself up their asses.
Make no mistake, I appreciate all the spoken word, floetry, Indigenous folk, and hip hop stylings of artistic protest by the many cultures in our nation. But where is my fist pumping “fuck you” song for the administrative nightmare going on right now? Why is there no anthem with screaming leads that inspire folks my age to get my blood pumping and my focus going? Where is the musical battering ram of social commentary that my daughter can use to scream and thrash and rally (with her friendboys) that speaks to the new times?
Look, I was everything when I was a kid. And I mean everything. Because I am from Detroit. We live on music like oxygen. You could be any race, religion, creed, or gender, and you could still jam to any music and find its message. Working class is in the very grains of the soil and sidewalks of the city and its suburbs. So when I tell you I know what power music has to motivate and express the heart of generations and movements, I know what I am talking about for real.
I wore safety pins in my face and watched the Plasmatics on television, shook my ass to Parliament, grinded my hips to Prince, and hollered along off key with Johnny Cash on the tape deck. Social and political commentary discussions always had a soundtrack. My first boyfriend was in a Punk band called SockEye Salmon at St. Andrew’s Hall and played in the Shelter (translation: dive bar that had real music and was the unofficial hunting ground for local hormonal virgin slayers). I am pulling my figurative hair out waiting for that musical messiah to arise with a bass in one hand, a microphone in front of her black-lipsticked lips, and a middle finger in the other hand, belting out the angst and rage of the times. And so far I have a singer/actress named Lady Gaga in front of me singing with Metallica and making the fucking soul of Dio cry.
Rise up, Grrrlz. There are plenty of us that will support you. And that means buying your stuff, and paying for it, not just stealing it. I got a pair of black boots and an old leather jacket just aching to take a ride.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

An Editorial on Betsy DeVos

The results are in and Betsy DeVos is the new Secretary of Education. The time for Pagans to step up and advocate for parity and representation in their schools is long past and is now in our faces. Those who are educators, new days are coming, and they do not look good for those who find their calling in the championing of the public schools system.
Public Domain, Screen grab C-Span
“Democrats mounted an all-night speaking marathon railing against her nomination in the run-up to the vote, questioning her experience and ties to charter schools though their opposition combined with lobbying efforts by teachers unions were not enough to block her.” – Fox News
It is generally considered bad form to begin a piece with an immediate quotation. However, this is an editorial and I am the editor. I am from Detroit, Michigan. You  know, the place with the motors, the music, and the moxy. We also carry the reputation as the place with the failing schools system. An infamous standing that has been the direct result of the wicked designs of the ilk from with Betsy DeVos and her hell-bent-for-leather conservative wrecking crew is responsible for in full truth.
Decade after decade, the school educational funds destined for the city have been deferred, and outright stolen for other sweetheart deals and projects. When materials were not embezzled by corrupt staff, (a less common occurrence than people would like to promote), then they were undercut and slashed by the free wheeling corporate whores of millionaires sitting comfortably atop the political food-chain here in Michigan.
 
For myself, these abstract ideas and policy bludgeons against public education are in my face. Too many children have gone without not only books, and safe schools, but also basic supplies such as bathroom tissue or pencils. Despite popular belief, the budget is not supposed to be so raped of resources that they cannot provide these items for the students in the system’s care. However no mercy, not unto the tiniest tile on the meanest floor in the smallest elementary school could escape the rapine needs of the relentless attack of the conservative agenda in Michigan when it came to eviscerating the Detroit Public School System, and by thinnest of veils, empowering the less hidden systemic bigotry involved in targeting the residents and their children who reside there.
Since the district has been under control of state-appointed emergency managers since 2009, the deficit has ballooned to more than $300 million, despite numerous school closures and other painful budget cuts. – Motor City Muckraker
As a Pagan student, I completed my education throughout the 80’s under the shadow of the rising conservative juggernaut that saw the rise of the Reagan machine, a machine that has turned into almost a religion of the conservative faithful. Programs that were in place to empower and educate were continually and progressively gutted again and again. Fortunate enough to be counted as gifted, I escaped much of the brunt of cuts in quality. This was directly due to dedicated teachers who came out of their own pockets for supplies and out of their homes to support the union in protecting not just their own, but the interests of the families they served.

The onslaught in this state against education being education and not a pipeline to a career in math or science based service jobs to feed into the corporate machines at the cost sports, music, art, and trades produced a disaffected and poorly cheated series of generations. Everyone is not right brained. Everyone is not going to college. Everyone is not going to a factory. Everyone is not going to go into being a CNA. But to speak this to the powers that be is like blowing dust into the wind in a hailstorm.
Emergency managers added to the issue and the charter school wild wild west environment consumed all. Every building school that was closed was stolen from the community like the Sabine women (Yeah, I went there. I read all faiths’ stories.). Torn from the hands and control of the communities that continued to pay their taxes into their existence, the schools were delivered to charter groups, or in many cases, closed and sold outright. Others were left to rot and decay like carrion of the hopes of generations.

Let us be clear. I have a stake in this on many levels. This is why I am writing this piece.
My elementary school was the place where I learned that I was a different kind of spirituality from others. Many did not accept this, but some of the best teaches did. They did not stifle me, but encouraged me to find my own truth. There, at Elizabeth Courville Elementary school, I learned Art, Social Studies, Music, and found my world filled with wonderful books and scientific inquiries in class with a greenhouse garden. That school is now closed.
At Cleveland Middle School, I was bussed from the North End to the edge of Hamtramck. There, I encountered my first Catholic teacher, a formidable woman named Mrs. Cayce, the only African American Catholic woman I would meet until college. In her honors classroom, I learned about Literature, continued my Music education with Mr. Hagen, started forensics, and studied about the world. I also made my best childhood friend, Sheila Habel. This girl was half Jewish, half German, Catholic/Jewish/Agnostic, and all sparkly hair, Aquanette, and spiked collars. We exchanged cultural and social realities and our worlds were expanded with all the programs that Detroit Public Schools could offer. I even took my SATs there in the 7th grade. That school is now closed.
At General John J. Pershing High School, I became a Marching Doughgirl, stayed in the Honors track, and participated in the Rainbow Program under Dr. Emerald Crosby. This program sought to promote a higher standard of scholarship and opportunity. I was afforded the honor of performing a quartet, learning how to transpose, with the Michigan Opera Theater for “El Capatin“, ushered for an auditorium full of greats as we hosted the Count Basie Orchestra, and saw many of my peers earn scholarships to colleges all over the United States of America for Music, Sports, and Academics. My interactions with the student body flowed from the Young Socialists to the Young Republicans for Reagan. All manner of views and all systems of belief were on the table to be discussed and explored.
I lettered in Forensics, and read great books under the tutelage of a meditating, dedicated hippie named Mr. Kidney (as he would say, “just like the damn bean”). A few of us went to learn how to do cable television production under the Community High School program at that time at Barden Cable through an agreement with the schools. I learned Arabic and got to know my Chaldean neighbors holding conversations with the lessons from my teacher Mr. Jameel and the legendary Sister Theresa. On a bad year, I did not pass a class due to illness and had to attend Osborn High School for summer classes.
Both these High Schools are now on the chopping block.
After this, I continued my education by attending Highland Park Community College. There, I was enrolled in the W.E.B. DuBois Honors Program and met international students from all over the world and every economic status. As Literary Editor, and the founder of the charitable school organization L.E.A.F.. I met athiests, pagans, and every sort of faith, including magickians. It was here I found my tribes, and learned to distinguish kith from kind. It was here that I learned that being Pagan was more than the small slices glimpsed before then.
And it was here that instructors encouraged me to develop my full self and pursue not only liberal arts in general, but the humanities and how they related to paganism in my reality.
I engaged the community and met my first college fraternal organizations and learned how important they were to the city and the children. Their work with charities and educational programs amazed me and inspired me. I almost went to do work in Africa fighting female genital mutilation afterward, but was derailed by home responsibilities. But I can proudly state I saw many of my peers go on to distinguished universities.
While there, I tutored in the college’s Center for Instructional Support, and saw first-hand the damage that the destructive monetary and educational policies were having on incoming students. Basic Education was required in some instances just to enter the vocational programs. The dumbing down had begun in earnest. A stellar nursing program noted for the rigor in which it trained its students was our shining star.
This college is now closed due to the decision of Gov. Engler. It’s closure set the framework for the later decimation of Highland Park’s schools. Then of course, the charters, that DeVos loves, moved in like jackals. No care was given to the fact that public schools are part of the American promise to our children.
“I heard they want to bring in charters. It will benefit the private companies but not the students of people in the community. People can’t just pick up and leave. If you move schools out of the neighborhood you are basically telling people to move out of the neighborhood. So what are they saying—you have to move? – World Socialist Website
So, let’s review. My elementary, middle, and junior college are all closed. My high school, and summer school high school are on the block to be closed. The only colleges left that I attended that remain open are the American Institute of Banking and Spring Arbor University. A business and an evangelical college are all that remain of my educational journeys, in theory, that have real space in this physical world. What a telling irony, considering the current virtual coup taking place in the national power positions today. The rhetoric is as strong as police station coffee on the East Side of Detroit at 3:00 am.
Conservatives believe that a voucher system would be the most effective and efficient way to deliver school choice to millions of children. Not only would vouchers empower families to find the best fit for their children, but it saves taxpayers money as well. Currently, the per-pupil cost of public education is close to $11,000 across the nation. (And how many parents would say they believe their child gets an $11,000 per year education?) A voucher system would let parents use some of that money and apply it to a private or charter school of their choosing. Not only does the student get to attend a school that is a good educational fit, but charter and private schools are typically far less expensive, thus saving the taxpayers thousands of dollars every time a student leaves the status quo educational system in favor of a parent-chosen school. – Marcus Hawkins, AboutNews
My question is, what choice is there when the public schools referred to in this view are being destroyed, razed, and the powers that be are stopping just short of practically salting their grounds? The monies that are already allocated to the public schools could easily take care of the needs of the public schools systems if they were not diverted and pilfered. This fictive narrative of this shining land of parents having the luxury and leisure and disposable income and means of transportation to be so selective in where they send their children to be educated is not only dangerous, it is laughably absurd. A more detailed view of this can be found by visiting DeVos’ Michigan schools experiment gets poor grades.
Despite two decades of charter-school growth, the state’s overall academic progress has failed to keep pace with other states.
All of this was to illustrate the good things that a much maligned system, the Detroit Public Schools and their teaching staff, have accomplished despite disgusting slander, union busting legislation, and corporate sabotage. This all despite the fact that the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) continually uses Michigan’s School Aid Fund monies destined for Detroit Public Schools as their personal piggy bank.

The refusal of Betsy DeVos to abdjure the position of being pro public school destruction is obscene. The numbers are in and they are damning. I implore anyone who is reading this and wishes to have their voice heard regarding the measures that will be taken by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her views to contact congress, and keep contacting them. Do not let another generation see its hopes mortgaged for politics. You can watch the live hearings via PBS here.
As administrator of the Michigan Pagan Scholarship Fund, it is my duty to speak out as well. It is too late to wait until the young are out of school to play catch up. The time is when they are in their formative years to guard their dreams most. What tools they are given there will make all the difference to their futures, and ours.
Signed,
Kenya Coviak
Michigan Pagan Scholarship Fund | Detroit Public Schools Alumna


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Interviewed by Olea Hokes, I speak a little about the new Trump era

 It is not very often that anyone wants to ask me my opinion, since I run around so much with it basically hanging out like a slip at a Sunday picnic anyway. That being said, I was honored to be asked some delicious questions by Olea Hokes and have permission to share this exchange here. Enjoy, and don't be shy about speaking up in the comments. 
O.H. - When it comes to the new elected president are you optimistic or pessimistic?
Well let me start by saying everything I am about to say in no way reflects the opinions of my companies, associations, or constituents. My opinions are solely my own.
That being said...


O.H. -Lol 


This vainglorious fop is about to attempt to withdraw us from the civil and social progress that has been accomplished by two generations of citizens and allies in the Western World. He is vain, pompous,unprepared, and has the backing and game play book of several national socialist parties, dominionists, and radical right wing partisans that are hellbent on catapulting our intelligence and nation into a modern millennial state of serfdom, protectionism, patriarchal oppression, academic ignorance, and religious authoritarian creep.


The issues of racism, xenophobia, and sexist ideation are only manifestations of his control issues and are the symptoms of a controlled person out of control with their hands on the tools to engage us into a staging period that could lead to the nations of the world deciding we are too much of a wild mad dog nation to be allowed to go onward without their direct intervention.

In other words, this fool is going to possibly have us attacked and shunned as a renegade nation. He wants to dissolve the United Nations, or at least withdraw from it.

Hmmm, now, what do you think those other nations will do about that?

Also, he has given no concrete (pun intended) plan regarding the restoration of the infrastructure and how he intends to combat the protectionist tariffs and trade wars that are going to ensue with his draconian measures.
So, I would say that unless something very unexpected happens, like a piece of Skylab from the 70's falls to the Earth and burns his ass, I don't see things looking very rosey for our poseys.
Yes, I would venture to say I am a bit pessimistic
His campaign of bold and blatant misinformation has me looking for doublespeak posters.

Does he even Orwell, bro?
Photo of Norma Crane and Eddie Albert on the set of the CBS anthology television series Studio One. This was a presentation of George Orwell's 1984. The show's set designer is at left and the show's director is at right of the photo.

O.H. - In your opinion when was America great?

America was great before it was invaded and conquered through genocide, chattel slavery, and rife empire building. Now, as far as the United States of America, we are a warring nation that sits at the plate of peace with our mouths talking about how we are a peaceful folk at the banquet of humanity, but devours with bloody hands and sharpened nails.

Accepting this, that we are a nation born of conquest and guerrilla ideals, then I would say we were probably pretty damn close to our greatest during the Roosevelt years and after WWII


Only because of the baby boom and the increase in production as we spread our might around the world and instituted the post-official-slavery restructuring of the Jim Crow laws and right before we put the prison industrial complex into full implementation. 

We were very good at production, and the nationalistic bent of our expansionism propelled a time of prosperity for some, while cracks in the infrastructure of the class divisions would set the stage for the civil rights movement.

The sixties were a time of both good and bad for this country, as it lost its innocence, yet gained more of a collective inclusive conscience
O.H. - What makes a good president?
There is a lot to be gained by understanding that a president must be wise, courageous, even tempered, and versed in the ways of the halls of power.
They should be a student of history, foreign affairs and military science
A good leader should also surround themselves with competent advisers and be constantly learning about both supporters and opposition and try to find a workable meeting place between both. Otherwise they either become a door mouse or a dictator, and we have enough things that start with the prefix of dic going around in Washington D.C. politics right now that are ignorant and opportunistic glorified commercials.

Now, before I leave you, I am going to share with you a few things. Chiefly, I am going to ask you to use your minds to see something. I will share a link here to a speech by another charismatic leader who used a groundswell of support from the nationalistic disenchanted and impoverished to rise to power.

I ask you to keep in mind the speech that President Trump gave at his inauguration and how easily one could substitute his flag waving rhetoric, his grandiose self-satisfied left handed reference to the people of this nation, and all his fervor into the video I am about to share. I would also point you toward the constant referencing to God in his speeches to somehow validate his course and vision. Now,  substitute a U.S. flag for the one in the video, and our nation for the other. Lastly, with the destruction of the school systems hotly approaching, and the dumbing down of this nation's educational system, please see with new eyes the final fiery scenes.

WARNING: CONTENT IS HIGHLY PROVOCATIVE - VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED

https://archive.org/details/AdolfHitlerMayHeavenBeOurWitness

 I would like to thank Ms. Hokes for the opportunity to answer her questions and let my ravings free. For those who I may have offended, I say wonderful! Now go take that energy and research how you can prove me wrong. For those who agree, wonderful! Now go do something about it.

Courage.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Marching women bring the lightning to illuminate a nation this Saturday

In three days, history will happen. In three days, the time it many believe is the time it takes a soul to go onward to it’s next part of the journey after death, a resurrection will happen. The force and voice of the American Woman Activist will rise up and march upon the fields of political power and declare their first major sortie against legislative measures that ruthlessly thrash against the gains that women, no, citizens, made through the last four decades. This event is the Women’s March on Washington this January 21, 2017.




Never depend upon institutions or government to solve any problem. All social movements are founded by, guided by, motivated and seen through by the passion of individuals.  –Margaret Mead
This is about more than the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. This is about more than Veteran’s Benefits. This is about more than the end of protections for the environment and the creatures over which we have stewardship as humanity. What this is about is sending electrifying a nation into action to let the new administration that there is a vast mobilized force of voting and reasoning eyes and minds making itself a relevant presence in the places of power. They are moving the tip of the righteous spear to the battlefield of the People’s Houses and using a non-violent manifesto to do it. In their Mission statement, they make this clear.
We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country. – Women’s March on Washington
Our country is undergoing a most peculiar and strange saga at this time. The people spoke and elected a new vision into office. However, the people who spoke were not all the people who were able, as voter suppression, aggressive gerrymandering, and the evisceration of the Voting Rights Act paved the way to the polling stations with their bones. The blood and bones of the Freedom Riders, the activists, the visionaries, who opened the process of liberty in this republic to all through their sacrifices were crushed under the march to power on all sides of this election’s scandalous conduct and filthy tactics. Those fearless folk banded together to crush the barriers and divides which sought to negate the self-evident reality of the humanity and validity of ALL of us to exist and be treated equally.
The forces that unite us are intrinsic and greater than the superimposed influences that keep us apart. –Kwame Nkrumah
Our rite of the republic for fair and inclusive process and representation lies ravished and bleeding upon the Senate and House floors. The election commissions were turned into butcher shops against enfranchisement. And the voices of millions of Americans were silence time and time again as the political knives of men and women in shadowy halls of influence pierced the body of democracy again and again.
Indeed, a haze of the lust for rapine has seized this nation’s leadership. Corporate interests have ceased to be veiled. They no longer give the illusion of ruling from behind the curtain. The naked grinning death masks of greed and avarice show their faces in our highest chambers with bread and circuses for the fool, and the bitter exhibition of spoilation for those with eyes to see. Onward and without pause, the machine continues to grind. Those in its path crying out at its visage find themselves swept away in the haste toward an undisclosed destination point of uncertain consequence.
https://www.c-span.org/video/?421575-1/us-senate-debates-health-care-law-repeal
The destruction of the rights and the social safety nets of millions of citizens in the late evening hours will offer cold comfort in the empty flames as they consume all that is good and decent in our ideation of what it means to be an America for all. But of course, the continued sound byte orchestral performance of their talking heads coda again and again to try to drive home some sort of legitimacy to the egregious violations against humanity codified and endorsed by those of coarse compassion.
The crowd doesn’t have to know. It must believe. If we only give them faith that mountains can be moved, they will accept the illusion that mountains are moveable, and thus an illusion may become reality. – Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini
All of this goes on with the ill fitting costume of deception as the lobbyists and special interests, the fascist and the chauvinist, the exploitative and incompetent, rally the faithful with catch-phrases, promises, and the pantomime of working towards an elusive manufactured collection of irresponsible regressive actions in the name of the “greater good” of their party backers. A fruitless enterprise is one that will yield only bitter dregs for the investors in same.
A people is not defeated until the hearts of its women are on the ground. – Cheyenne saying
On Saturday, a million women may march upon Washington. On that day, over a million women will march and gather in solidarity with them all across this country. Sister Marches in multiple cities gain every day in their projected attendance. On Saturday, over a millions souls will spark the lightning of justice like the strike against the Tower in the Tarot. In their wake, they hope to bring wisdom, clarity, and with their presence quicken the consciousness of our souls.
In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other. That time is now. – Wangari Maathai
In three days, millions of women will take their place in history and seek to place a road map to steering us to the roads that lead to Life. They stand holding fast to the Unity Principles of this societal moment with hope and fire in their fingertips. Their lips hold prayers and chastisements, demands and declarations, and most of all courage. For it takes courage to be a over a millions strong when you are one in a million, for the kinetic power therein is a terrible and great awareness of the responsibility of generations of women upon whose shoulders you would place your feet. They stand and take their places in the watch against tyranny.

In the Metro Detroit Pagan community, many are going to Washington, D.C. for this moment. Others, like myself, will attend local Sister Marches. Still others will watch from home. 

On Saturday, three days from now, in the time some believe it takes a soul to choose its new place, over a million women will take theirs.

For a different perspective, please read 

The Problem with the Women’s March on Washington and White Feminism

 

Local Sister Marches

  • Sister March for Women's March on Washington January 21, 2017 • 10:00 AM Wayne State University David Adamany Undergraduate Library 5155 Gullen Mall Detroit, MI 48202 Get Details & RSVP
  • GP Walk for Peace, Grosse Pointe, MI January 21, 2017 • 4:30 PM At the Corner of Cadieux/Kercheval Roads Grosse Pointe , MI 48236-2445 Get Details & RSVP
  • We Will Not Back Down Rally - Brighton, MI January 21, 2017 • 10:00 AM Brighton Mill Pond Gazebo 200 W. Main St. Brighton, MI 48116 Get Details & RSVP
  • Women's March - Ann Arbor, MI January 21, 2017 • 2:00 PM Outside the Federal Building at E Liberty & 5th TBD Ann Arbor, MI 48104 Get Details & RSVP