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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Military

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
What is your greatest hope for 2014?

As 2013 draws to a close, there’s a good deal to reflect upon. Many members of our Community have passed on, relationships have changed and babies have been born. Within the military, quite a few changes have occurred as well. In February, the retiring Defense Secretary Leon Panetta extended gay benefits to service members and their families as best he could due to DOMA still being on the books at the time. And when DOMA was repealed in June, the Pentagon was able to use the words marriage and spouse with the inclusion of gay and lesbian couples. Sadly, it took until last month overseas  military installations were open for things such as ration privileges due to where they were stationed, such as in South Korea. And too, while many more states, even Utah, are now marriage equality states, it is still not enough to make marriage equality federally recognized as the law of the land (read: Constitutional amendment).

Also, I would be amiss if I failed to mention other forms of equality within the military, especially pertaining to women. Not only are women open to train for full-fledged combat positions (though we won’t see women in direct Infantry until probably 2016), but also, rape and assaults within the military are finally being taken seriously. Men and women who have been attacked are reporting at an all-time high, which may actually be a good thing for a couple of reasons: For one thing, victims feel justice will actually be served instead wrapped in red tape, so they are reporting them. And for another, the reports that do occur are actually making it onto official ledgers to be counted.

For our veterans however, pension trimming is still in the works. While it’s true the compensation is bloated, as people live longer and more families have dealt with unfathomable losses, it is my opinion those who were promised cost of living increases should be grandfathered in. That’s what people signed up for. Yes, veterans are able to retire before their 40th birthdays, which doesn’t look good to the bean counters on paper, but the 20 (and more!) years these men and women served are deserving of every penny. And I say that across the board, even for those who since have moved on to lucrative civilian careers or even won the lottery. It’s no different than Social Security; you put into it, you get out of it, whether or not you can afford to live without it.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Give a moment to our Military Dead

Today, heading to school, I caught a glimpse of the most heart-stopping sky: it was a sea of roiling clouds, a dark cantata of a dozen shades of grey, spewing forth streams of silver reminding me, as I shivered in the chill air, surrounded by the riotous crimsons and golds of leaves in their death throws, that the time of the Wild Hunt is upon us. 

With November comes the cold, the first promise of winter. With November comes Odin, for to many of us who venerate Him, this is His month, and with Odin comes the Wild Hunt. With November also comes Veterans Day and hard on the heels of the ancestor festivals of late October, it's a good reminder to take a moment to honor our military dead. 

We all have them. We're here because of them: our military ancestors, our warrior ancestors, those hard-focused men and women who did what was necessary to ensure their people's survival. good or bad, path chosen or taken up out of cruel necessity, each of us has soldiers and fighters in our line. The least we can do is take a day, as the land itself churns up memento mori all around us, to remember those who suffered, sacrificed, died...or who suffered, sacrificed and did not die but returned home to families and communities forever alien to the hum of their people, forever changed and scarred by their experiences in war. It is right and proper, I think, to pay homage to these men and women. Some of them were little more than children. Each year, during the fall term, when I'm hard at work teaching a class of mostly freshmen, Veterans Day rolls around and I think about what it commemorates. I think about our two world wars, and how the first wiped out nearly a generation of men...many younger than the boys and girls sitting in my classroom. i think about what it meant for my grandparents' generation, the absences torn in the fabric of their communities and families and I know that while we may or may not agree with the purpose of a war itself, we can honor those who served precisely for their service. 

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  • Theresa Wymer
    Theresa Wymer says #
    "Anthem for Doomed Youth" by Wilfred Owen What passing-bells for these who die as cattle? Only the monstrous anger of the g

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Asatru and the Art of Nuclear Physics

Let's talk about zeal.

Though I am a member of several online forums, I rarely post to them- more frequently I use them to shamelessly raid the knowledge others have worked so hard to amass and then posted for the world to see.  I am not an archeologist, but I love reading the recent reviews of newfound Viking era settlements.  I am no theologian (despite short forays into the field), but the people with advanced degrees in religious study who can break down the Eddas and Sagas from both a historal and spiritual way are of endless fascination to me, as are their conclusions.  Like an Average Joe reading Psychology Today or Popular Mechanics, it is a great chance to get a wee bit smarter and maybe even find something applicable to my daily life.

For every windshield there is a bug.  In this case, the horsefly getting smeared across the glass by my unforgiving wiper is the overzealous "seeker of the path".

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In a foreign warzone, some of the trappings of a traditional Asatru holiday are forgone out of necessity. 

There is no alcohol available, fires become a security concern as well as a highly regulated event when they are permitted at all, and feasting is limited to carry-out plates from the chow hall if you are fortunate and Meals Ready to Eat if you are not.  Hard copies of Eddic Sagas and study materials take up too much space and weight where both are premium commodities, and the infrastructure (and safety) doesn't support portable options like smart-phones to use as the ever-present resource they have become back home.

What we are generally left with is near-beer, companionship, and memories of our favorite components of our lore.  I can say without reservation that my Winter Finding experience was the best heathen holiday I could have asked for.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Heathenry in Afghanistan

I arrived in Afghanistan in the last week of August, just as many other members of the American armed forces do- a long flight, a refueling stop, a processing station in the former Soviet bloc, and then to one of the main airbases from which we are all parsed out to our respective assignments.  I ended up in the city of Kabul, with the mountains a short trip from the city and a lot of unpleasant flatlands in every direction.

Before I left for Afghanistan, I knew that I would want to connect with the pagan/heathen minority when I arrived- as I have said, I am not much for ceremony and ritual, but it is good to have someone to talk to when you're staring down the barrel of several months in a foreign land.  I began by reaching out to a great organization called Open Halls Project, a Facebook group owned and operated by Josh and Cat Heath with the goal of supporting heathens in the military.  The result was connection with one heathen on the exact camp I was going to- a relatively unlikely event given the size of our faith and the number of possible camps across Afghanistan.

By pure serendipity, I ran across another heathen assigned to the same location, who introduced me to a third.  For the first few weeks, even with our intense work schedules and commitments to the lives we suspended back home, we managed to cross paths twice and converse. 

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  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    Thanks for sharing your experiences again! Looking forward to updates on your adventures. May you and your company come home safel

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Feeding the Needy through Pagan Pride

Good morning everyone and welcome back! And yes, I hope those of you who have the day off are having a relaxing Labor Day. We're getting ready to get our grill on, with one dish already prepared and a few others in priming stage. We always make too much when we grill, so we make sure what we make, we actually will eat the leftovers.

With that said, it's fitting to remind myself about the people who don't have the luxury of not liking leftovers. My dad would tell us stories of real hunger, like the time he sneaked out into the kitchen to eat a raw potato. I have my own stories too; some of which we had nothing to eat, times where a loaf of bread was dinner, the times where we triple checked the couch cushions so we could roll enough pennies for chicken pot pies, and yes, the times we, as a family with small children, would walk several miles to our uncle's pizza shop to beg him for a free pizza.

And oh my yes, let's not forget the donations we received from the food pantries. Sometimes it was okay, but oftentimes, the stuff we got was awful. There were always canned green beans (which, to this day, I can't stand - not even green bean casserole), canned pumpkin (WTF are we supposed to do with THIS?), a giant brick of government cheese (which I'll attest makes the best grilled cheese sandwiches ever), a huge box of powdered milk (even mixing it with real milk was still awful), that restaurant-sized can of peanut butter and a few other odds and ends. A good trip was when there were things included like the ever-popular favorite: Spaghettios. That was a special treat - something most American kids took for granted we never had on our own - and honestly, we did not savor eating it. Yes, we woofed it down and wanted more, and that was knowing full well that was something we wouldn't count on seeing again anytime soon.

Some people question why poor people are always poor, and I would like to provide a link to a couple articles that puts things into perspective in a way I never could have.



- The 5 Stupidest Habits You Develop Growing Up Poor

- 5 Things Nobody Tells You About Being Poor

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Unconditional love is pure magick

Hello everyone, and welcome back to another posting! And yes - Happy Lammas everyone! What plans do you have for today? For us, it's a special one, as our beloved furbaby made it to his thirteenth year after having a few scary moments. He's getting old, slowing down, sleeping more often, but there's still those times where he dances around and plays just like when he was a kitten.

So to make today a special day, I contacted my local supermarket to see if their sushi chefs would be willing to offer their art for him and make him a birthday "cake". I thought they'd think I was a crazy cat lady, but nope - they thought it would be a cool thing to do! So after I stop by the office to get my commission check, I'm paying them a visit. I'm thinking salmon and extra tuna. And yes, his vet said "people food" is okay as the occasional treat, as long as it's plain. So don't worry, it will be sans the ginger, wasabi and soy sauce. Oh, and his present - a new collar we special-ordered with the digital camo. (Stupid clothes! haha)

It has me thinking how much it must pain those fighting overseas must feel to be separated from their furbabies, too. And yes, the love is definitely mutual. We've all seen the videos countless times, of when someone returns home, and the families rejoice. The ones with the moms and the ones with the children are always wonderful, especially the surprise ones. But I will say, the ones where the dogs see them for the first time - those are always tear-jerker moments. Let's watch a few:

(I like the wait over two minutes in for the tail to start wagging. The anticipation was killing me!)

(In this one, the dog was only a pup when he left for Afghanistan, but oh yes, she remembers him alrighty!)

(And of course, this is the one everyone's talking about. Those whimpers and barks! "Don't you ever leave me like that again!")

The welcome homes for people is different. Even for children, it's different, because they can at least be told Dad is gone but will be cominghome. They can talk to them on Skype, write letters and make phone calls. For our animal companions, they don't know. So when Mom, or Dad, or Big Brother or Sister come home, the reunion is nothing short of beautiful - coming from sentient beings who give pure, unconditional love. It's that kind of love that can turn even the coldest heart warm.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
What I learned from PSG

Hello everyone, and welcome back to another posting! This month, I wanted to take some time to share with you all just a smidge of what I experienced at this year's Pagan Spirit Gathering. Honestly, I would need about twenty generalized categories to even come close to tapping on all the fun I had and knowledge gained, so it's a good thing I'm pretty narrowed down here.

One of the nice things about PSG, in comparison to other Pagan festivals I've attended, is the community love and support for our Warriors. At PSG, there are many areas dedicated for people to commune together, combining that reverence and mirth notion depending on the need. One of the areas, just past the entrance gate, is the Warriors Center. Each morning, active duty and retired military personnel gathered to meet with one another, with last Thursday morning being a special gathering: The Warrior Blessing Ritual.

I'm going to be completely honest here - I've been Pagan for nearly two decades, and I've never had that "peak moment" during rituals, in groups or alone, so many gleefully share. I joke it's because I'm like M&Ms with the hard candy shell but with the sweet center. I've never even been moved before during a ritual, at least not fully. Sure, there's been parts of rituals I've thoroughly enjoyed, and there have been many, many times where my spellcasting worked - sometimes a little too well. (Kind of like the time I really wanted to have a summer off, and I broke my ankle at work just before Memorial Day and collected workman's comp until the cast came off just past Labor Day. Fun times! Oh yes that was! Uh huh.). But this ritual, all I can say is WOW! There wasn't a dry eye in the house, and when I say I was moved, I'm talking that scene in Old Yeller.

I posted quite a few pictures this morning over at Pagan Newswire Collective, which you can see that article by clicking here. But what I would like to share here is the one on one time I got with many of the Warriors themselves - their stories and back stories.

One of the folks who led the ritual had served for 29 years, much longer than even required in order to retire with full benefits. Out of curiosity, I had asked him not so much why he served so long, but how he was able to do what he did while also honoring his beliefs. The simple answer I got was he separated the two to the best of his ability. Many of us separate our jobs from our home lives, as very few of us work where we live and vice versa. For me as a civilian, keeping a military career separate from my daily living seems like a daunting task to say the least. However, I can see how it might make things easier to compartmentalize, especially when the vocal majority in charge have been bad about being tolerant of anything other than evangelical Christianity during his service and even today.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
In Memoriam for Memorial Day

 

As I write this, it's early Friday afternoon and I'm just back from running errands and I'm about to start preparations for a House ritual tomorrow and my Memorial Day observances Monday.  When I was out and about today, several people wished me 'happy holiday' and you know, we all work hard, and I understand the anticipation of a three day weekend, or an unexpected day off, so I returned the greeting but I couldn't help but think "this isn't  a holiday. It's so much more than that." and I wonder if anyone gives any thought anymore to what Memorial Day is really about. 

Memorial Day is a big deal in my devotional world. For those who may not know, it's a day in the US  specifically set aside to honor all those who died while serving in the armed forces. It used to be called Decoration Day, and people would go to military cemeteries, or the section of cemeteries set aside for the military dead and decorate the tombstones with flags, wreaths, and flowers. Now, we have bar-b-qs and go shopping and maybe watch a parade. I find that sad. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_emb-551.jpgFor my inaugural article here at PaganSquare for the newly minted military section, I had a lot of ideas on which direction to take, but I couldn't quite decide where I wanted to set my focus. Some of you may be familiar with my writings on the Pagan Newswire Collective's Warriors and Kin in which I have been faithfully posting there each week for a little over three years. Sometimes, I ramble a bit (who am I kidding, I ramble a lot!), and sometimes I readily admit it's hard to come up with that hard-hitting journalism that seems to come naturally to so many other writers over at PNC and within the Pagan community as a whole. I call myself a hack, but I write from the heart, and I hope you enjoy what I offer.

So where did my mind wander for this article? Well, the last Monday in May is a national holiday – Memorial Day, which I found to quite apt. It is a holiday many Americans equate with the unofficial beginning of summer thanks to the rediscovered warm weather, complete with backyard barbecues. But it means something a whole lot more – an honoring, solemn day of remembrance for all those who have served and have passed.

For our Heathen brethren, this Memorial Day will mean something a little bit more, as the Veteran's Administration now officially acknowledges them by offering the Thor's Hammer emblem. Yes, this is another victory for Pagans as a whole, but just like how many people forget the meaning behind the holiday while they're enjoying charred burgers off the patio, many folks either forget or are unaware the way an emblem joins the list. You see, someone who has served has had to die and the next of kin makes the request. And that request, as many of us recall, can take several years, a lot of hand-wringing and plenty of petitions and calls to action.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Trine
    Trine says #
    What a lovely first post, I'm glad to see you here. I've never been in the service, nor have any of my immediate family or friends
  • Lori Dake
    Lori Dake says #
    Thanks Trine, Feel free to share your POV anytime. Outside of visiting Canada and Mexico as a kid, I've never been out of the cou
  • Stephanie Rodriguez
    Stephanie Rodriguez says #
    Well put, Lori. While we should all be able to share and celebrate our differences, the ultimate goal of equality is for them to b

Peter Dybing gave Sunday's keynote speech, "Stirring the Cauldron of Pagan Sensibilities."  A worthy pursuit to my mind.  In an animated talk, Peter emphasized that Paganism was not a monolithic institution.  He also spoke of the need for boundaries, avoiding what he called "the 2 a.m. crisis."  During feedback, I reminded folks that one of the required courses for degree-seeking students at Cherry Hill Seminary is Boundaries & Ethics.  I took the proto-class from Cat Chapin-Bishop back around 2000 and found it one of the most valuable classes I've ever taken.

He itemized several issues and then compared the attitudes about them of older Pagans and to those of younger generations.  He said that older Pagans generally held tightly to beliefs whereas younger ones welcomed debate.  I think this is true of any social phenomenon when it achieves some years; however, I don't think it's universal.  I count many Pagans, myself among them, as being open-minded, adaptable, and willing to engage on current issues, far from being hidebound.

It was helpful for me to hear, even though it's obvious, that we bring with us the cultural attitudes of our times.  I know that the feminism that underlies my being, religious and otherwise, has informed my views and practices.  I know that my experience pre-Second Wave Feminism is very unlike the experience of women who, for instance, grew up in a world where reproductive choice is a given.  And that's just on one issue.  I know that the zeitgeist of my formative years differs from the zeitgeist of subsequent generations.  Sometimes hearing something stated clearly from another person gives the fact a more crystalline ring.  Thank you, Peter.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

It's funny when I think about it. Each of those days always begins the same, I spend the whole morning in hesitant anticipation. I often consider creating a scheduling conflict or just "oversleeping." Anything to postpone the appointment. But I always seem to arrive on time, often taking my seat in the waiting room only seconds before he turns the corner and calls me back to his office.

He's quite frank with his questions, gentle but direct, he frames them in a way that require explanations to be answered. He noticed when I became uncomfortable with where the conversation was going, it's always obvious because I rub my silver pendant with my thumb. So he shifted gears and asked about my spirituality, if and how that played a role in my experiences in Iraq. Did my experiences there cause me to question my beliefs? Did I have a crisis of faith?

"No, but I knew someone who did."

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