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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The High Priestess Effect

They call it the “high priestess effect.

You've been there before. It may not have been the worst ritual in the world, but it was somewhere Down There among the Bottom Thirteen. People walk out of the circle feeling bored, irritable, imbalanced.

All but the high priestess, that is. She's giddy with excitement. She thought the ritual was masterful, one of the best ever.

Premise: If you want to know how a ritual really went, don't ask the high priestess.

The sad fact of the matter is that when you're leading a ritual—especially one that you wrote yourself—your perception of the ritual will be both qualitatively and quantitatively different from those of the other folks present. You have a level of investment and engagement that they simply don't. That fact must inevitably shape the experience.

It's not quite fair to put these parallax views down to incompetency: not entirely, anyway. Perhaps it's a matter of experience, really. Experienced priestesses—priests too, of course—know about the High Priestess Effect and understand that they need to temper their own reactions accordingly. The experienced priestess (or priest) knows that, of all the people in the circle, his/her experience of the ritual is the least important. The right to your own experience is one of the sacrifices that you make when you enter the priesthood.

Moral of the Story: From inside and outside, the same ritual looks very different.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Worst Insult

Really, I didn't mean to insult the guy.

A library book that I'd ordered had come in, but I couldn't find it on the reserve shelf. Finally I gave up and went to check with a librarian.

The cute straight guy with the big beard came over to help me. The book had been misfiled on another shelf, but he managed to locate it right away.

“Thanks: I could have looked all day and not found that,” I say, taking the book and shaking my head. “Librarian's intuition.”

There was an awkward pause. I'd intended a compliment, but instead I'd just insulted him.

I'd been riffing, of course, off the phrase “women's intuition.” Inadvertently, I'd just compared him to a woman, which of course—as every man knows—is the most insulting thing that you can do to another man.

Gods. Two (I'm intuiting here, myself) feminist guys, and it's still an insult for one to compare the other to a woman. I'd probably even insulted his choice of careers by implying that it wasn't sufficiently manly work.

I'm sorry, but that is so f*cked.

It's an old, old story. Famously, in ancient Athens, a youth was tried for having murdered his lover.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Don't worry Steven, we're human beings I'm sure that no matter what we'll keep finding new ways to f*ck things up and say stupid s

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Why I Don't Like Bernie

Well, I've finally figured out just what it is that I don't like about Bernie Sanders.

Here's the thing: I'm a storyteller. When I listen, I always listen for the underlying story.

When it comes to overarching narrative, Bernie's story is just like the Buffoon-in-Chief's. For them both, the guiding narrative is the same lying, Abrahamic story that has wreaked so much ill in the world down the centuries: Us versus Them. Black vs. White. Good Guys v. Bad Guys.

All their ideas come with an enemy attached.

The enemy may be Muslims and brown people, or it may be corporations and rich people. But they're still the Bad Guys of the old, simplistic story, and they're still out to get Us.

For all its cultural omnipresence—pick a Hollywood movie, any Hollywood movie—moral dualism is not a universal story. More importantly—to me, anyway—it is not a pagan story.

It's not that pagan stories lack conflict; it's conflict that makes a story interesting, after all. Look at the great pagan epics: the Iliad, the Táin, the Mahabharata. They're all about wars. But look more closely: Who are the good guys here, who the bad? In a pagan world, conflict arises naturally because people have differing needs and obligations, not because one is good and one is evil.

Oh, in deep ways Sanders and the Troll-in-Chief are very different, of course. One is a not-very-bright, self-serving, cynical bully; the other is intelligent, capable of compassion, and actually believes what he's saying.

That's why I'll vote for Sanders if it comes to that. Of the two, he's by far the better human being. Our only real hope, this time around, is that Democrats (and democrats) are smart enough to realize that voting against is far more important than voting for.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I read in "The Road to Serfdom" by Friedrich A. von Hayek that centralized planning requires an enemy to justify itself, and expla

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Mom and the Neighborhood Bengal

The last time my mom ever sat on the back porch, enjoying the sunshine, she said she wanted to have her ashes scattered by the cat graves so she could see Beni one more time after she dies. A few minutes later, she saw him. Or at least, she saw a cat that looked like him.

Mom had just switched from oncology care to hospice care. She had previously said she wanted her ashes scattered other places, including a specific park in Sonoma where we used to live, and a park here in Henderson with a memorial tree, and the redwoods in California, and up on Mt. Charleston. She was looking at the part of the yard we call the Shadow Garden, after the first cat buried there, when she made this statement, so I wasn't sure if it might just be a passing fancy. But I was sure she really wanted to see Beni-Wan Cat-Obi again, another of the cats buried there. She often said he had been her favorite cat.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Unexpected Value of Devotion


The Unexpected Value of Devotion

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Thirteen Below

Dance, children, dance

as I sing a song of Summer:

children dance, children dance.


The thirteenth of February: Old Imbolc Day. Temperature: 13 below.

Swathed in wraps, the kid and I sit on the front porch waiting for the school bus, singing songs of Beltane.

Call it defiance.

Call it delusion.

Call it sympathetic magic.

We're not the only ones singing of Summer. In the back yard, a redbird trills, proudly delineating this year's breeding territory with a magic song.

Here in Paganistan, our cardinals winter down south in balmy Iowa, but round about Imbolc (New Style), the males come back and start the New Wheel turning. On the front porch, we sing along, turning a Wheel of our own.

Or maybe it's the same one.

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Find Your Celestial Essence: Astrological Herbs

Floral waters and flower essentials express emotional benefits differently and each has special healing application, As we can tell from the mass popularity of Bach’s Rescue Remedy, they work wonderfully to abet emotional health, mental outlook and positivity. The specific of these curatives can be pretty direct For example, the flower Impatiens helps those who struggle with impatience. Magical, right?  Below you'll find one flower essence for each of the 12 signs. Read yours and learn what can work for you:

Aries: Impatiens Renewal for  Rams

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