Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Extremist terrorists seize control of Marawi City, Philippines


As the broken bodies of children are recovered in a savage bomb attacks in Manchester and Bangkok, a car bomb in Syria, across the ocean the Maute Group waged a full out assault on the city of Marawi in the Philippines. Flames and gunfire occupied the streets as homes, businesses, and schools suffered arson and destruction by the group. After releasing prisoners en masse, attackers set ablaze the jails. Their havoc included burning down

 The black flag of the group rose above the city early this morning. Pledging allegiance to Daesh (ISIL), they seek to create a stronghold. Horrified residents reached out on social media with real time distress and messages. President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in effect on the island of Mindanao.



seav. Released under the GFDL.

The President returns from his trip to Russia, originally slated to end on May 25. He was to meet with President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. This trip was to usher in a new level of working together for trade and other enterprises for the two nations.  Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano,  revealed his change in plans in wake of the fighting in Mindanao.

MOSCOW -- President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

Cayetano, who was recently appointed as chief of the Department of Foreign Affairs, said that Russian government officials understood the situation and the need for Duterte to fly back to Manila as soon as possible to oversee government operations against fighters of the Maute Group, a local terrorist organization allying itself with the so-called IS. - PhilStar
Constant unrest moved President Duterte to warn of Martial Law in the past. Increasingly bold attacks culminated in this offensive on Tuesday. The order now is in effect across the entire island.



Presidential Spokesperson Ernie Abella issued the statement on his behalf as follows:

 In order to suppress lawless violence and rebellion and for public safety, it is necessary to declare Martial Law in the entire island of Mindanao, including Sulu, Jolo and Tawi-Tawi for a period of 60 days.
The government is in full control of the situation and is fully aware that the Maute/Isis and similar groups have the capability, though limited, to disturb the peace; these have shown no hesitation in causing havoc, taking innocent lives and destroying property.
- Republic of the Philippines, Presidential Communications Operations Office, Malacanang, Manila


 These events happen two weeks after the U.S. Embassy issued its travel warning to U.S. citizens regarding Puerto Princesa, and in general, areas of Palawan Province, Philippines . For those with loved ones in-country, I provide the contact information for the U. S. Embassy, Manila.

U.S. Citizen Emergencies During Office Hours
+63 (02) 301-2246


U.S. Citizen Emergencies After Hours
+63 (02) 301-2000


acsinfomanila@state.gov


Military forces face this action within the same month as their completion of Balikatan 2017. This year's special emphasis training on counter terrorism and humanitarian response is expected to be implemented in this situation. This year saw the U.S. infuse $400, 000 USD into "emergency readiness equipment and aid" to the nation.  This annual training hones the skills of both nation's forces.

By Cpl. Anthony Ward Jr - https://www.dvidshub.net/image/392424, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39244485



The Republic of Philippines is also currently in negotiation with the Ukraine regarding weapons systems, military controls, and increased cooperation in technology. This same month, the government announced it would no longer be relying on the European Union for these concerns. This week saw meetings going forward toward new policy

The potential for the military and technical cooperation between Kyiv and Manila has been discussed during the talks with Secretary for National Defense of the Philippines Delfin Lorenzana during a working visit of First Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleh Hladkovsky to the Philippines, as well as meetings with the country’s top military leadership, the press service of state-run foreign trade enterprise SpetsTechnoExport reported. - KyivPost

It is unknown if the recent tack in course that sees closer ties to the enemies of terrorists in the vein of Daesh (ISIL) was, in any way, a catalyst toward the increase in violent actions. The increased pressure on these radical terrorist groups has seen violence before now. The next 60 days will set the stage for what comes next, as the expiry of the Martial Law order is set to expire or be renewed.



Blue Over Red, PRAYFORMARAWI


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Human beings are being murdered in the Republic of Chechnya because they are gay

It is happening. Humans beings beaten, tortured, detained in camps and prisons, and murdered by strangers and families in the Republic of Chechnya.  Here is a quick break down of what is going on in the Chechen world regarding the systematic campaign to exterminate and entire portion of the human population. The facts are grim.

The seeds of this reign of terror started to bloom in the early days of this March, when an application submitted by the group Caucasus, members of the GayRussia.ru project. The request was denied. However, this gave the authorities the impetus to begin their move toward the eradication of an entire segment of people.


In all, a total of four marches in North Caucasus Federal District. This notice of intent struck the chord. Though it is doubtful that the projected 300 marchers was an accurate reflection of the actual amount of attendees that would risk such a public demonstration, the government’s response seemed based upon a literal acceptance of the veracity and accuracy of this number.
Government.ru

In a letter on Russian social media platform VKontakte , the horror that was unleashed under a wave referred to as “honor killings” makes it plain.

MESSAGE FROM VKONTAKTE

(Original spelling and punctuation)
Salam alaykum all!
I never thought that I would write again here but now, when the topic of one chain and substituting one is being tortured as long as it does not pass, and still others it may concern, and I think it would be right if I warn.
There often appear posts about the bases ( refers to provocations to identify people of homosexual orientation -. Approx. EM ) and I some time ago trying to find these victims of the bases. When you do not find one, I thought it’s not true. Now I understand why I could not find one, which was framed in Chechnya. Unfortunately, many killed.
Killed not just young children and even grown men who are over 50 years old. Among them are well-known personality in Chechnya.
At various events, television releases, participated in the contest. I do not want to call them names. Most mladschemu 16 years. He was our village. Just the other day he was brought all beaten, just a bag of bones. They were thrown into the courtyard and said that he was killed. He still say he came to himself and hardly come. I do not know how they explain why they do so, they will be asked to present proof that our son or brother is.
In Chechnya, because strictly defame anyone whatsoever without tangible evidence. It is possible and to remain without pants. Especially to lay hands on the guy, and accuse him of homosexuality is generally a disgrace for many centuries. I do not know how they explain it but it’s crap happens. Source middle, military cousin of mine who just this morning told me about it. I was wrong when I said here and wrote that of the bases there. They never have and how they are now free hand. Be very careful and remove its dubious connection.
Importantly, do not remove the daily rent is probably all realtors are forced to put the camera in the apartments and in this way they get the dirt on the victims. And realtors with Chechnya will do anything just to avoid losing their business and who would dare to object to our military. Be very careful please. This is my last post here. ” – https://www.novayagazeta.ru/articles/2017/04/01/71983-ubiystvo-chesti


The republic is semi-autonomous, and has its own laws. In theory, the sanctioning of murder of persons completed an anal sex act is officially suspended, though codified by law in article 148 of the Chechen penal code. The penalties include caning in the first two instances, then execution upon the third. This same article has a history of being used to punish practitioners of alternative faiths.


In practice, it continues to rise. The current head of the Chechen Republic,  Ramzan Kadyrov, maintains a very supportive stance of honor killings and the view that persons of genders other than heterosexual males being rightfully subjected to the practice. The following actions occurred at the beginning of the following month.
On  and before April the 1st, men were rounded up, it was coined a ‘prophylactic sweep’ in Chechnya. At first, the region’s officials denied that any such roundup and detention was “lies and misinformation”. A spokesman for the leader of Chechnya, said to the Interfax news agency –

Rachel Denber,Deputy Director, Europe and Central Asia Division, American Magazine

On April 3, mass rally expressed outrage at the reporting done by news agency Novaya Gazeta’ on the current situation. Kadyrov made clear his hostile stance toward media coverage of the current human rights situation in his country, even going far enough to declare them “enemies of our faith and of our motherland.”



Retribution was promised, with stress being on the lack of limitation for the time period that might be necessary to exact such reprisals. The news outlet lost two reporters to murder in the past years, and Investigative Journalist Elena Milashina is in hiding following death threats for covering this story.
http://google-maps.pro/satellite/Argun.Chechnya.Russia#43.293028,45.891570,17
“Any homosexual Chechen can tell the story with the bases – if it happened not with him, then with his friends. One of the acquaintances of the interlocutor of the RS, Grozny businessman, sold the car to pay for the silence…”  –Sergey Khazov-Kassia, Chechnya: The Gay Outcome, Radio Liberty, http://www.svoboda.org/a/28417768.html
The 10th of April saw the international media begin to use the term “concentration camps” for the alleged detention centers in which detained gay men were housed. Stories of torture, and killings in wooded areas, or by families emerged. The world turned its eyes toward the very real consequence of living as a gay person in the nation, and its fatal implications.
“If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them since their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.” – Ramzan Kadyrov
In the United Kingdom, there came the declaration that a protest would take place near to the Russian Embassy in London. This took place on the 11th. Protests would continue to proliferate throughout the world. Outcry from human rights organizations and activists were high.
https://www.facebook.com/events/876760675796386/

A separate rally followed on April 22. Named “UK Rallies Against Homophobia in Chechnyahttps://www.facebook.com/events/675146246011541 , it sought to “get this extremely under-reported story in the news. They are peaceful demonstrations“.

Amnesty International puts the number of suspected missing and detained at approximately 100, numbers confirmed by Human Rights Watch https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/04/04/anti-lgbt-violence-chechnya . Amnesty International created an urgent action petition,

Chechnya: Stop Abducting and Killing Gay Men

against these acts. This is the English Version for download.

https://www.amnesty.org/en/get-involved/take-action/chechnya-stop-abducting-and-killing-gay-men/

International pressure is rising for Russia to act. The continued lack of movement on the situation is a cause of moral outrage. The United Nations called for action in April.
It is crucial that reports of abductions, unlawful detentions, torture, beatings and killings of men perceived to be gay or bisexual are investigated thoroughly – VOA News
http://www.voanews.com/a/russia-urged-end-torture-killing-gays-chechnya/3809377.html
In Sochi, Russian president Vladimir Putin met with German chancellor Angela Merkel. She expressed her concerns regarding the human rights crisis in Chechnya, and the climate in Russia, for humans who are gay or minorities. Her alarm over the human rights violations being reported motivated her to speak out against the actions of the regime. She asked the Mr. Putin to use his status to ensure greater protections for the rights of the people of Chechnya, particularly those being affected by the current actions of the government there.
“I asked President Putin to use his influence to protect these minority rights,” – Chancellor Merkel

A body that comes in with grass root material action in this situation is the Rainbow Railroad https://www.rainbowrailroad.ca/. They are assisting the situation by aiding those fleeing persecution and by extension seeking to save lives. They are working to facilitate the escape of persons at risk for torture, death, and worse. Currently, they count two completed “navigations” to safety, and have 30 more in process.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has named them as one of the organizations the Canadian government with whom work is being done in the effort to protect humans who are lgbtq.  Their efforts help to gain asylum. They are literally a life-line pipe-line.

Here in the United States, a group known as American Friends of Rainbow Railroad Inc set up a fundraiser to assist their efforts. The Facebook based campaign page is Helping Gay Men Flee Chechnya. The donations are to be aimed toward assisting the Rainbow Railroad with airfare, legal services, and temporary housing while the men are awaiting the granting of asylum in Canada.

As Pagans we often ask how we can make a difference on a local and world scale. The suffering of a single person is the suffering of humanity. By spreading the news of this atrocity, we can become a catalysts for action. Pagan activists are called to rally around this crisis. Whether a vigil, a prayer, a petition, a donation, or protest, all things are possible. All things are needful. All things make a difference.

This article originally published in my column at PBN News Network.







Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Groovy Green Craft Practitioner Series: Common Lilac or Syringia

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 article will talk about that beautiful and fleeting bloom that graces the garden in clusters of heavenly hues known as the common lilac or syringia (Syringa vulgaris). This flower means a lot to me, as it is one of my quintessential flowers for mourning. Indeed, I lost my Grandmother this last week as the sea of its colors are flooding the Michigan landscape. She was 100 years old, so I shall take a special moment to write on this flower in memory of her. We shall all wear purple in her memory, as she was our queen.
Jacob Sturm: Deutschlands Flora in Abbildungen (1796)
The lilac is identifiable by its cluster of blossoms, four petals each. A common folk belief among those from Ukraine and Russia is that if you find a lilac with five petals, it is very lucky, like a four-leaf clover. There are many hybrids, but all belong to the Syringa family.
Common lilac (Syringa vulgaris), as the name implies, is the best known of all the lilacs in the United States. This shrub can be as tall as 20 feet, and the flowers are fragrant and usually lilac-colored,although they can be of other hues. Leaves are somewhat heart shaped and smooth. –
For the graceful gourmand, this is the time to gather your fleeting flowers. A simple sugar made from the bruised petals is a wonderful treat for spring teas. Lilac butter on scones is tasty, as well. But I believe that for many, the syrups are the best known.
Pexels -Valeria Boltneva
For the more adventurous, might I suggest a little bit of a nip? Holly and Flora have an intriguingly easy recipe for a drink called Lilac Haze. Imagine a spring mixer with this unusual refreshment. Perhaps it could be the highlight of the Mother’s Day afternoon brunch.
Those who know me personally, know I make herbal honeys. It is a sweet way of remembrance of springtime. I shall make a honey for my Grandmother to remember her, also. I shall also include it in what I place in her coffin. Sweetness among the sorrow. Here is a simple recipe at Feral Botanicals.
True story: Grandma was a bit of a germ free person. You had to wash your hands all the time, boil her water before she drank it, and so on. However, when my daughter, Brenna, gave her an orange mint honey she made as a gift, Grandma stuck her finger right in and ate it. She doted on her great-granddaughter that much. It was her favorite gift from us. So honey shall be my gift to her. She was very fond of honey. She even used to feed a pet Raccoon from its own honey pot, as a child.
My honey jars – Kenya Coviak, All Rights Reserved

For our healers, the lilac has been said to be a good massage oil infusion. Especially for those prone to redness. It allegedly also helps with rheumatism. Making an infused oil would be a great addition to your healer’s kit. But remember, always check for allergies. There are other uses as well, and a naturopath could be a source of training in these.
Lilac leaves can also be used for fever treatment and numerous children diseases, liver congestion, weak digestion and diarrhea, cough, bronchitis, increased body temperature, kidney stones, high blood pressure. – Health Tips Source

Ok, now folklore is out there. It is not hard to find the story of Pan chasing a nymph named Syringa who changed herself into the lilac. She was not having any parts of Goat God Boy. When he thought he was grabbing her, he wound up holding a bunch of reeds. 
 
He sighed then, and when the sound of it merged with the wind in the reeds, it made music. Hermes suggested he make an instrument, and this became what we now call the Syrinx, or Pan pipes. You probably have guessed what hollowed out wood is traditionally used for them by now. Yep, the lilac. 
 
You can also carve other things out of lilac wood, you know.
 
 
 
Here is a sweet article on the lilac by Olga Ikebanova at Frangrantica.  It is not surprising that in aromatherapy, the scent of lilac is also used to treat depression. It is often through stories and allegories that we remember the properties of a herb, flower, plant, or tree.
 
Let us speak of magick now. This is an interesting plant. On one side of its story, it is used for flirtation, beauty, and love. On another face, it is used for protection and banishment. Still another property is that of transitions from life to death, remembrance, and dealing with ghosts. This sweet shrub is truly a precious gift.
 
Jennifer Shepherd at the Lipstick Mystic shares some useful insights in the use of this shrub for protection of the home. I know a witch who planted it specifically at her home due to a ghost problem, so it seems to be a tried and true measure against unwanted energetic invasion. It can also be made into a wreathe for a ward (that is my suggestion).
 
Because my Grandma was a lover of dolls, I shall share with you an activity for this flower. Take it as you will. I give it freely here, in memory of her.
 
Gather up two pillow cases full of the flowers. From one, boil the blooms until they reduce to half in a large pot of water. Then use this liquid to dye a white pillow case. The color will surprise you.
 
Reserve a small saucer of the flowers from the other pillow case to make into an oil. Fill a small glass jar with them and cover with grapeseed oil, or some other oil without a heavy scent. Let sit for about 2 weeks. OR place into a double boiler on low for a few hours until the scent is strong in the bottle.
 
Next, dry the other blooms until brittle. Do this in brown paper bags. That way the moisture will wick away.
 
Now, get out your sewing kit. cut a simple doll pattern from half the pillow case, a front and back, and sew it together – leaving the top open. Stuff the doll with the dried flowers, which you will scent also with the oil.
 
Make an apron, or dress, and a bonnet for it from the rest of the pillow case. Now give it to a child, or keep it yourself. This is a good protection against unwanted dreams. It is also a pick me up from sadness. Enchant as you would any other object, with good energy and wishes.
 
Here is a lovely rendition of a “Lilac Wine” cover performed by Miley Cyrus.
 
This piece is dedicated to the memory and life of Earlene Bentley North-Horner (1917-2017).
 
 

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