Uni is the supreme goddess of the Etruscan pantheon. She is part of a ruling triad together with her husband, Tinia, and the goddess Menrva. The Etruscans were distinct culture that occupied a region north of Rome. They were most likely an aboriginal people conquered by a Near Eastern culture which was then influenced by Greek traders (as I understand it any way). Originally they overshadowed their Roman neighbors who took on a lot of the Etruscan culture, especially religiously. Eventually the Etruscans became subordinate to the Romans and essentially disappeared into the Roman Empire.
I spent a bit of time in my garden yesterday, and one emotion overwhelmed me more than any other: despair, and yearning.
Well, that’s a bit dramatic. But I’ve been doing a fair amount of thinking about the Wheel and how it relates to my practice, and the seasons too, and this season is definitely my least favourite. For me, the seasons are intrinsically connected to my practice, which is indeed earth-centred and intimately connected with the land. Working with, and not against, the land can be a challenge at times. Especially when the seasons turn harsh and the spiritual struggles that accompany, particularly the sense of ‘waiting’ can be the bane of the more impatient amongst us!
As Pagans, we're more used to being discriminated against than to discriminating against others. Those of us who run businesses or sell our wares are, especially in these economic times, generally only too happy to get a new customer. And so we're usually quite happy to read Tarot, even for the devout Christian who slips off to see us behind her pastor's back, or to perform a computer upgrade even for the atheist who thinks that devotion to any deity is a sign of mental illness. After all, we're pretty much a live-and-let live group. We're not out to convert others to our ways and we generally don't presume to determine what religion is best for anyone else. (Heck, I can think of a number of people whom I hope don't become Pagan.) Honest pay for honest work or honest wares is generally all we ask.
Our main concern with laws (such as the one that was recently vetoed in Arizona) that would allow businesses to discriminate based upon "religious convictions" has been the impact those laws could have on QLTBG, etc. people. Of course, those laws could have been used to discriminate against even those of us who are "straight but not narrow," as well. Wear a pentacle around your neck when you take your child to the farmers' market and the lady selling apples could refuse to sell your child an apple because her religion teaches her that you "shall not suffer a Witch to live," and selling apples helps you to live. If the sleeve on your jacket slips, the nurse at the 24-hour medical center could see your tattoo and refuse to sew up the cut that you got doing woodwork because he says that your pentagram offends his religious sensibilities. You finally grab a cab late at night in a sketchy part of town only to be told that the cab driver doesn't believe that women should be out, unescorted and won't give you a ride. If you get mugged a few minutes later, well, that just proves his point.
It's easy to imagine that the next step is some method that will allow the discriminating religious to easily determine whether the potential renter, car buyer, or restaurant patron meets all of the necessary requirements. (Why stop at refusing to sell a cake to a same-sex couple? What about a couple that includes a previously-divorced person or a couple not willing to specify that they are entering a "covenant marriage" where the man will "exercise headship." (Don't blame me; that's the way they talk!) What about selling nursery furniture to prospective parents who won't agree that sparing the rod spoils the child or selling a house to people who won't commit to attending your church every Sunday? To voting Rapeublican since they are generally more favorable to rightwing Christians?)...
One of the great things about Mardi Gras (and there are MANY great things about Mardi Gras) is that the people here in NOLA who make Mardi Gras happen know that the festival has its roots in Classical Paganism. Just look at the names of our parades: Bacchus, Orpheus, Proteus, Muses, Cleopatra... we know that in Roman Catholic practice, where one must atone for sin at Lent, the best sin is Pagan debauchery. That's what Mardi Gras is all about.
This year there was some very special Pagan awesomeness. The shining example, which I'll begin with, was the night of parades held by the Krewe of Proteus, and the Krewe of Orpheus....
Sirens have always been one of my favorite bits of mythology: seductive, half women, half birds who can lure people to their doom with the power of their song.
I think we’ve all run into our own version of the Sirens. Those people or things that we just can’t resist, usually to our own detriment.
As the “Muses of the Underworld”, the Sirens seem an appropriate symbol for New Orleans. In many ways, New Orleans is a Siren herself. She lures people in and doesn’t usually let them leave. The few who do leave seem to run away screaming, intrinsically knowing what they’ve escaped. A place that is steeped in death and underworld traffic, New Orleans sings sweetly to those who visit her. Some stay forever, others leave but to return over and over.