Friday, August 28, 2009

Chakras = Energy Centers

I attended a day long seminar yesterday entitled "Beyond talk therapy..." It had four presentations. The first was on a EMDR and DNMS. The second presentation was a massage therapist & bodyworker with 20 years of experience who uses bodywork to release the trauma that gets stored in the body (deep tissue work). It was fascinating.

The third really got my attention. The presenter is a license therapist who uses energy work with trauma clients. I was amused when someone one in the audience asked if energy centers are the same as chakras, which of course, they are. That which was once considered too weird is now moving into the therapy room! Anyone who is curious can learn about energy therapies at She also used the energy fields of body for "tapping," which allows the client to access the limbic system and recovery from trauma. More at and

The last presentation was a yoga person whose studio focus is therapeutic yoga for students with chronic physical and mental health issues. By that time, I was relieved to do a few deep breathing and stretching exercises!

While the audience had mixed reactions to the presentations, it was awesome for me to be in a setting where my new age, eclectic wiccan views are not at cross purposes with more conservative therapeutic practice. I once was asked if I could do a chakra balancing as part of a session. Word got back to a conservative (Baptist minister's wife) supervisor who was not happy about it. Sigh.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Turing enigma: Campaigners demand pardon for mathematics genius

I found this article on my gay/christian list, and had to share. Turing was a genious and a hero that came to tragic ends.

Clipping: London Independent, August 18, 2009

He may have played a pivotal role in securing victory in the Second World War for his country six years earlier, but few outside the academic community would have recognised Alan Turing as he made his way down Manchester's Oxford Street shortly before Christmas in 1951. Someone who did notice the athletically-built scientist, however, was a young working class gay man called Arnold Murray.

Homosexuality was still illegal under the same repressive laws which had sent Oscar Wilde to jail half a century earlier. But regardless of the risk, the chance encounter was to develop into something more substantial and Murray spent a number of nights at the older man's modest home in suburban Wilmslow.

A month later, after Turing, a veteran of the then still secret Bletchley Park code-cracking team, had been giving a talk to the BBC on his pioneering work on artificial intelligence, he returned home to find his house burgled.

The culprit was an acquaintance of Murray's, who would prey on Murray's lovers, thinking they would be so afraid of being outed that they would not report the thefts to the police.

But Turing defied this convention and went straight to the police, where he admitted his affair – a "crime" for which he was spared the normal two-year jail term in favour of a hormonal treatment designed to beef up his masculine urges and suppress his homosexuality. The resulting publicity was to prove too much to bear and in June 1954, the 41-year-old was found dead in bed by his housekeeper. He had eaten an apple he had laced with poison.

The consequences which unfolded were not only a tragedy for Turing, his friends and family, it also robbed the world of one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century. Now campaigners are demanding an official apology from the Prime Minister Gordon Brown, recognising the "consequences of prejudice that ended his career". More than 700 people have signed a petition started by the leading computer scientist John Graham-Cumming on the Downing Street website, including gay rights campaigners, politicians and scientists.

"What really annoyed me about this was here was a man who died in his early 40s because he was a homosexual. He was a war hero but here was a part of our history that we were turning a blind eye to when we should be celebrating it. There were a lot of homosexual people during the war doing incredible work – if it was not for Turing we would most likely be having this conversation in German," Mr Graham-Cumming said.

Turing had already made major contributions to mathematics and the embryonic computing sciences before the outbreak of hostilities in 1939. But it was for his work among the wartime Enigma code crackers at Bletchley Park for which he will be best remembered. "Turing realised that we had to turn what was then a cottage industry of code breaking into a full scale industry. He was probably the most important person there," said Simon Greenish, director of Bletchley Park Trust.

His "bombe" machine was able to rapidly de-code the 158 million, million, million variations used by the Nazis in their commands with the creation of a prototype high speed processor. It saved tens of thousands of lives and variations on the original helped both the British and the US to eventual victory.

But although he was, by any measure, a genius, Turing was an idiosyncratic figure bordering on the strange. A runner and rower of Olympic ability, he used to occasionally run the 40 miles between London and Bletchley to attend meetings. His behaviour and high-pitched voice drew furtive smiles from colleagues who tolerated his eccentricities such as chaining his tea mug to the radiator or riding his bicycle wearing a gas mask to avoid hay fever.

After the war, and having been awarded an OBE, Turing moved to the US to work at the National Physical laboratory where he began work on creating the stored-program computer but returned to Manchester in 1948, where he continued his pioneering work in the field of mathematical biology. But the arrest and conviction in 1952 for gross indecency shattered him. The chemical castration caused his breasts to enlarge and bloated his athletic physique. He was also banned from travelling to America. What followed was described by his biographer David Leavitt as a "slow, sad descent into grief and madness" and Turing began travelling abroad in search of sex safe beyond the reach of the British law.

Professor Richard Gill, Professor of mathematical statistics at Leiden University, is among those to sign the petition. "He was one of the geniuses of the 20th century and I have the feeling he was also a pretty decent guy. How his life ended was incredibly sad. In his last years he was thinking very deeply about some very difficult puzzles which give most people a bit of a headache. He was surely going further with this work and was certainly not finished yet," he said.

But there is another twist in the story of Alan Turing. Some have been moved to question whether he saw himself as a gay martyr. His chosen mode of death echoed his favourite fairytale Snow White, from which he was often moved to quote the phrase "Dip the apple in the brew, let the sleeping death seep through". His family insisted his death was merely a tragic accident while others have even hinted more darkly at murder because the inquest was never to establish that the apple contained cyanide. Recent years have seen his reputation partly restored. A memorial statue has been erected on the fringes of Manchester's Gay Village while the city's inner ring road bears his name. An official apology, however, continues to elude him.

Homosexuality and the law: Why Alan Turing was considered a criminal

*The 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act made any homosexual act illegal, even in private. Among the most famous prosecutions was that of Oscar Wilde in 1895.

*Section 11 stated that "any male person who, in public or private, commits ... any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and being convicted thereof shall be liable at the discretion of the court to be imprisoned for any term not exceeding two years, with or without hard labour."

*This part of the Act was inserted at the last minute after being drafted by the MP Henry Labouchere. It did not fit in with the rest of the Act, which dealt with sex crimes relating to young women, but was still passed by the House of Commons.

*The amendment was described as a "blackmailer's charter" as it effectively outlawed any and every form of male homosexuality. It prompted a number of prosecutions.

*The Act was repealed in England and Wales in 1956, but homosexuality was not fully legalised until 1967.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Maid, Mother and Crone

From my email group: "How do you determine if you are a maiden, mother, or crone within Paganism? Is it age, experience both? And if so what are the guidelines?"

I've actually put a heck of a lot of thought into this question. Indeed, I've even posed part of this question on list recently. So I'm going to give you my thoughts as they are currently. Like the wind and the river, this is subject to change!

Robert Graves, in The White Goddess, theorized these archetypes. A lack of primary sources and primary research has discredited his theory. Nevertheless, it has caught on. Probably, as Carl Jung would say, because archetypes work through our collective unconscious. They become a way to reach into our souls and to connect us across language, culture or age boundaries.

To me, maiden is partly youth. It is also a time before a woman before she moves into mothering/motherhood (with or without children). It is the time of Diana, the Huntress. The place of Warrior Goddesses (maiden does not mean virgin--it means not mother). She is Persephone, Innana. In addition, while I don't agree, some see the maiden as virginal. My attitude is that we are a fertility religion and we celebrate sexuality. Thus I choose to interpret the maiden as unmarried, unpair-bonded. In an arbitrary sense, I often see maiden as teens and twenties. She is the spring before Beltane. She is the young woman in the wheel of the year who is courted, who flirts and who dances the maypole. She is the waxing moon.

Mother is the woman with children, but she much more. Not all women have children, and yet they pass through stages of nurturing. This can be the time of creativity, vibrant energy, and powerful growth. Often this begins in twenties, but can also be thirties and forties. The mother is the summer and fall (pregnancy-harvest). She is the woman of fertility and fecundity, abundance and growth. She is the woman of knowledge. She is Demeter. She is the woman who faces the loss of her daughter six months a year to the Lord of the Underworld. She is a woman touched by love and by grief, who celebrates her children and suffers birthing pains. Mothering is not required for passage through this phase. Freya did not have children, though she was a goddess of unbridled sexuality. She was also a goddess of love and birthing. She loves music, spring and flowers. She is also a goddess of war and death. She was consort to Od. She is the full moon.

Crone is the old woman. Occasionally this begins in the forties, as it has with me, when a woman determines that she has passed through the time of the mother. In my case, mothering ended prematurely, and assuming the role of the crone is comforting, fulfilling. I would argue, however, that I'm still edging into it and this stage will carry me through the rest of my life. More often, women are fifty or even sixty before assuming the role of the crone. This is the time of Ceridwen, of wisdom, of discernment. I would also argue that is the place of the Sacred Enchantress. The woman who knows and revels in her sexuality. This is also a place of post-menapause. This is the time of responsibility and taking responsibility for one's community. This is the waning moon. This is the place of death, of mystery. The chill of winter.

So yes, age and experience have a lot to do with the differentiation between these stages of life. I believe them to be highly individualistic and somewhat self determined. I've been told I'm too young to be a crone, yet my inner wisdom rejects that belief. I'm post menapausal, my children haven't lived home in many years, and in fact, I rarely see them. Because of youthful appearance, folks often say that I project a motherly affect. However, I don't feel motherly -- I believe it to be a step removed and more grandmotherly (which I am a grandmother of two).

Also, I find a lot of psychological healing in restorying my place in life as a crone. Mothering is associated with a great deal of pain and loss. While I care deeply for my clients and patients, I also keep very firm bounaries in place and do not mother them. I find that as I move into the crone aspect, I also move with more confidence, trusting in what I have learned. I also find myself moving into places of responsibility I shied away from when I was younger. But that is my journey, which is different from everyone else.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Church changes signage after controversial vote on homosexualilty

Meet the man that believes gays brought the tornado to Minneapolis. If I encounter a burning bush, I'm out of here!

Seriously, I find it hypocritical to welcome homosexuals but then denounce them and also deny them clergyship. The whole "love the sinner, hate the sin" has always struck me as arrogant and judgemental. I would never attend church where I would be welcome as an act of generosity because they love me as a sign of sin.


by Charlotte Ferrell Smith
Daily Mail staff

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As parishioners approached St. Timothy Lutheran Church on Sunday morning, something unusual was apparent.

On the signs outside the church, the word "Lutheran" was draped in black. Only the words "St. Timothy" remained visible.

"I asked that be done because I'm ashamed," the church's pastor, Richard Mahan, told the congregation later Sunday morning. "I'm ashamed of what the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has done to a church I've loved for 40 years."

Last week, leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church voted to remove a ban on gay clergy and also to recognize gay marriage within the church.

Mahan, pastor of the local Lutheran church along Corridor G, attended the conference in Minneapolis and spoke out against the change in policy. His message was widely received because he was interviewed by The New York Times and later quoted by The Associated Press in an article that ran worldwide.

Mahan's entire Sunday sermon concerned the homosexual issue, and what the church should do.

"We welcome the sinner, but we do not welcome the sin," he told the congregation. "All are welcome, but the sin is not.

"We have always welcomed gays and lesbians to our church, but according to the word of god, we do not believe they are to be ordained. I am not speaking out against the gay and lesbian community, but I am speaking out against the ordination of gays and lesbians as pastors and bishops and leaders of the church - and the blessing of same-sex marriages."

Mahan's church gave him a standing ovation as he began to give the announcements Sunday morning, but not all comments -- mostly delivered by e-mail or on Web sites -- have been supportive.

"I have been called homophobic, a racist, a hatemonger," Mahan said. "God is in control. Maybe he just wants me to stand up for what I believe in."

Other comments e-mailed from across the country took a different tone. He said one e-mail read, "May God bless your nailing this statement to the Internet door."

Mahan was one of the representatives in attendance in Minneapolis last week as the issue came up for a vote that has been anticipated for at least six months.

He said he saw symbolism in some of the things that happened there.

For example, a tornado that shook the congregation hall brushed across Minneapolis just before the vote. Mahan said he received a text message from another representative in opposition to the new policy, saying "Rich, God shot a cannonball across the bough of the ship of the ELCA to change her direction."

Then, the vote needed to carry a two-thirds supermajority, and it did exactly that - 66.67 percent of the delegates.

"Six-six-six-six!" Mahan told his congregation Sunday. "Was God saying something? Not many people were listening."

After the service ended Sunday, many members of the congregation stayed to take part in a discussion of what the church would do. Discussion at the church, where between 300 and 400 people attend each Sunday, focused mainly on whether to stay with the ELCA, branch off with another Lutheran synod or link up with another denomination altogether.

Mahan urged parishioners to pray and suggested the congregation would have to weigh the options heavily. He said nothing about the church's mission would change in the mean time.

"Let me assure you, nothing is going to change here at St. Timothy," Mahan said. "Jesus is still the same. The Bible is still the divinely inspired word of God. People may say things to hurt you. Take out the sword of the word of God. We are the church militant in the battle against Satan himself."

The assembly, the chief legislative authority of the ELCA, met at the Minneapolis Convention Center last week with 2,000 participants, including 1,045 ELCA voting members.

St. Timothy Lutheran Church, located at 900 Lawnadale Lane in Charleston, is one of 65 congregations in the West Virginia-Maryland Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

"The ELCA has lost 490,000 members in the past eight years," said Mahan, who believes membership will decline sharply in light of recent votes.

"We don't know what we will do as a congregation," he said Friday. "It's up to individual congregations whether to stay in the ELCA or pull out. This is going to split the church."

When votes were tallied last week on the ordination of homosexuals, there was a mixed reaction in the crowd. Some were solemn while others hugged and rejoiced.

Mahan said he wept.

"I love everyone," Mahan said Friday. "I love all people. This is just completely contradictory to the word of God.

"I love homosexuals, have ministered to them, and had homosexuals in my congregation," he said. "Nowhere in the Bible does it say you can have same-sex marriage."

Mahan said one gay pastor told him he attended to vote his own intention but after hearing Mahan speak on the assembly floor he was going to change his vote to mirror Mahan's conscience.

"It was the most powerful thing that ever happened to me," Mahan said.

While he may leave the denomination, he intends to stay true to his faith.

"I am not leaving Christianity," he said.

Street Tolerance

This was posted to my Christian/Gay elist. The comment was written by Lawrence, the moderator and minister of the group. The article follows.


Talk about your "fools for God." I expect any day to hear a report that Kenny Gallo has been gunned down on the street. He has several strikes against him -- he's a 'former' Mafia soldier (and it's said that there's only one way you leave that life); he was a long-time FBI informant; he's written a book about his criminal days; and now he's attempting to transform ingrained gangster homophobia into something more like tolerance, if not actual acceptance. Any one of those could put a bullseye on his back -- taken together, I'm thinking, his days are numbered.

Those of us who shrink from too much honesty in our lives (and that includes me more often than I'd like to admit) are surely put in the shade by Gallo's kind of gutsiness. Maybe only a reformed gangster could do it -- and maybe only an avowed heterosexual could survive ... IF he does. Why would a man who isn't gay himself put himself so at risk? He provides an answer, but for those of us conditioned to the fears of modern living (and who isn't?), it seems woefully inadequate, without a huge infusion of religious spirit.

Gallo doesn't use that terminology, though he does speak of redemption. And maybe religious talk isn't the place where he feels comfortable; a lot of us can identify with that. We often shrink from faith-talk even among our TLGB friends, from whom we have nothing to fear but a little doubt or disdain.

~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~
Clipping: EDGE San Francisco, Aug. 17, 2009
http://tinyurl. com/n2nubq


By Scott Stiffler, EDGE Contributor

What would a heterosexual career criminal be doing devoting himself to gay rights? If you believe Kenny Gallo, it's part of his personal redemption-- the second act of a live fully lived.

Several lifetimes after F. Scott Fitzgerald famously chided "There are no second acts in American lives," our culture's boundless appetite for hot topics is best fueled by tales of redemption and reinvention. From scandal-plagued politicians who win reelection to celebrities who go from hot to has-been to hot again; America loves to bestow upon its fishbowl residents nine lives rather than a mere two acts.

Add now, Kenny "Kenji" Gallo to that list of those who've sinned, been given a second chance and emerged from the process determined to change not only their public persona, but their purpose. Beginning his criminal career at the age of fourteen, Gallo worked with such feared criminal organizations as Pablo Escobar's MedellĂ­n Cartel, Los Angeles' Milano Mafia family, and New York's Colombo Mafia family.

Beginning in 1997, he spent eight years working for the FBI and NYPD -- wearing a wire and living as a clandestine undercover operative against organized crime. He was relocated by the federal government under a new identity and has since lived out of the public spotlight and apart from the violent criminal world of which he was once a part.

Gallo's self-imposed anonymity and low profile, however, is about to change. His memoir of life in the Colombian cocaine trade, porn industry, and the American Mafia ("Breakshot: A Life in the 21st Century American Mafia") was released earlier this month. In June, Gallo announced his conversion from gangster to gay rights activist. To that end, he has created the LGBT rights initiative "Street Tolerance," which seeks to promote tolerance of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people by reaching out to the notoriously homophobic world of gangster and Mafia culture.

Though a straight man, Gallo believes that the best way he can atone for a lifetime spent victimizing the vulnerable and the weak is to defend GLBT Americans, one of the most vulnerable and victimized minorities in American society. "As a criminal, I committed sins for which no punishment could ever suffice and no penance could ever atone," says Gallo. "It was thanks to the love of one woman who believed in me that I was able to reform myself," continues Gallo, "so it is unbelievable to me that GLBT Americans are persecuted for something as beautiful as the act of love. I owe it to the people I hurt on the street to strive to make a difference on behalf of the victimized, oppressed, and defenseless. "

Since the launch of Street Tolerance, Gallo has been speaking to criminalized teens, ex-cons, men with troubled backgrounds and violent tendencies. His message focuses on getting others to accept (or at least tolerate) others for "the way people are born. I am half Japanese. I didn't choose this; this is what happened. This is me."

Gallo acknowledges that even though his criminal background gives him status and credibility in the eyes of others, "You can't change them. You have to educate them." Speaking recently to a group of 15- to 19-year-olds in Orange County who were "real close to be getting into trouble with gangs and drugs, I explained to them that it's OK to talk about it (LGBT issues)." Gallo says he sees the current generation as being "a little bit more accepting" of LGBTs, but intolerance and ignorance is "still ingrained in the culture."

True crime writer Matthew Randazzo V is the co-founder (along with Gallo) of the BreakShotBlog, which offers insider commentary on the American underworld. His book, "Mr. New Orleans: The Life of a Big Easy Underworld Legend," offers an insider account of life within the New Orleans Mafia and will be released in November 2009.

Randazzo says Gallo has an uphill battle in his campaign to change the hearts and minds of the criminal underworld. "The American Mafia is extremely homophobic traditionally, " notes Randazzo. "Things have changed over the last couple of decades, but historically, if you were found to be a gay or bisexual man, it was a death sentence."

As for street gangs, "Hispanic and black gangs are virulently homophobic outside of a prison setting where things get a bit vague; but on the street, it's very unlikely you could be an out homosexual and a gangster at the same time."


Randazzo believes Gallo has "some chance of success in moving delinquent and criminalized teens, because a lot of people in the underworld believe homophobia is a prerequisite to being tough. He's a guy who has crossed major mafia families and made major enemies. He's extremely tough, and the fact that he's tolerant and gay friendly has the potential to reach people who are at the stage where they can be influenced."

Randazzo also notes Gallo has a unique credibility with, and opportunity to influence, "Asian American gang members and teenagers, because there are so few famous or well known Asian American gangsters." Coming from Gallo, the Street Tolerance message may be "a revelation to these kids who are trying to emulate the African American gangbanger culture. He can get the message across that it's possible to be street tough without it having anything to do with how you treat people who have nonconformist sexual or gender identities."

Gallo's mission, and message, has not come without its risks or consequences. Enemies remain from Gallo's days in the Mafia as well as the new ones he may incur through his gay rights work. Despite that, Randazzo says, "He's not scared for his life, he's not in hiding. Though I don't think this will increase the danger he's in, I've seen firsthand the amount of hostility" to Gallo's gay-positive blog postings -- which has "risen sharply, almost 400 percent."

"In the end," says Gallo, "I hope and the work I do going forward will help promote the idea that bigotry is a sign of weakness, and tolerance is a sign of toughness. Take it from a guy who has gone to war against Colombian drug dealers on the street, bedded world-famous porn stars, and fought world champion martial artists: a real man is secure enough with himself that he accepts everyone, no matter their sexual preference or gender."

[Scott Stiffler is a New York City-based writer and comedian who has performed stand-up, improv, and sketch comedy. His show, "Sammy's at The Palace ... Don't Tell Mama" -- a spoof of Liza Minnelli's 2008 NYC performance at The Palace Theatre, recently had a NYC run. He must eat twice his weight in fish every day, or he becomes radioactive. ]

Copyright 2009 EDGE Publications Inc.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Turn of the Spiral

First step: flashback

Invoke the usual "I was abused as a child" tale. My mother was diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia. Never told the school counselor, whom I saw bi-weekly, what was really happening. Use your imagination.

My Diagnosis: Attachment Disorder.

First turn of the spiral: Pregnancy

Age 19. I loved my child. Received Christian pastoral counseling. No help. I was separated from my husband, pregnant by another man, taken in by an adoption agency and emotionally abused by a "shepherding father" who felt I was a bad influence for his teen daughters. Guess he expected a nice, contrite, never been married, didn't work kind of girl who would be grateful (meaning obedient). Received yet more counseling with different counselor. I fled, keeping my baby.

Second turn of the spiral

Age 20. Divorced from first husband, remarried the day before the baby was born to another young man with no idea of what he was getting into. He said he loved me. I was desperate. Living back home with the schizophrenic mother and codependent father. Two weeks later, moved 150 miles to where my husband lived. My husband never really understood what he had on his hands. I called it alcoholism (wait, don't I need a drunk-a-log for that? But alcoholics are just like me, except I never drank).

Diagnosis: Borderline Personality Disorder

Third turn of the spiral

Age 23. I have no more parenting/mothering skills than my mother had. I live in a town where I know no one. I stay at home with the baby. And with the next one. I convince my husband to join the church of my childhood. My husband works full time, and the romantic idea of a wife and ready made family doesn't match the reality. Received marital counseling. No help.
Husband's diagnosis: Major Depressive Mood Disorder, Chronic.

Forth turn of the spiral

Age 24. Desperation. Received individual counseling. I call child protective services on myself out of fear. I have a infant and a toddler, I am exhausted, depressed, strangling on inner emptiness and still isolated. I hear the anger in my voice. No one should yell at a three-year-old like that. I hit his diapered bottom too many times. I love my children, why is this happening? My husband is at a loss and has no clue. I call child protective services on myself. Child protective services can't see a problem and send me shopping (with what money? I have none) to get me out of the house for a few hours. They determine there's no problem.

Diagnosis: Post Partum Depression; Major Depressive Disorder, Chronic; Borderline Personality Disorder.

Fifth turn of the spiral

Isolated. I don't fit the Tuesday morning Women's Bible Study Group. They are kind, but carefully distant - perhaps judgemental. The minister brought us into the church, and abandoned us after orientation classes (after I had been baptized for the forth time). No friends. No family. Out of desperation, I create MAJOR DRAMA. My husband is self-righteously hurt, and I feel guilty and justified in leaving my children in his reality, I am fleeing because I fear I might harm them, might become an abuser, even as I was abused. I surrender my children because of something I haven't done. They were not abused. I feared only that I might.

Cultural detail: Even today billboards in this state proclaim: Spare the rod and spoil the child. No wonder the church/child protective services didn't really see a problem. Or understand my fear.

Continual turns of the spiral

Married four times, divorced three times, widowed once, one broken engagement

Intermittent counseling, some help

Got my GED and then went on to college and received my degree in Bachelor of Sciences, major: English
Continued on to Graduate School

Segues: Extreme Marital abuse (3rd and 4th husbands)

Turn of the spiral

Discover Goddess centered spirituality.
Break old patterns and old habits...
Receive spiritual counseling. Tremendous help.

Move again.
Age 40: Come Out as Lesbian.

Enter into life partnership/marriage with Cameron - a healthy, stable loving relationship.

Fabulous Therapist...amazing progress. Much healing.

Return to Graduate school for a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy.

Meaningful, powerful work as a Substance abuse counselor.

Diagnosis: Borderline Disorder burned out and passed, stabilizing, happy, strong - what diagnostic tools do we have for Mental Healthiness?

Turn of the spiral

Transformation: I know what I'm called to be: Lesbian, Priestess, Therapist


I'm behind on supervision hours, as I was reminded in clinical evaluations yesterday. So Play Therapist Supervisor invited me to sit in her group supervision today. I didn't know until I arrived that the morning session had been devoted to completing the training of several play therapy supervisors and I was the Guinea Pig. She asks if I have a DVD of a play therapy session I have run.

Yes, I have a play therapy DVD. Yes, it's the one I turned in for my summer for class. Yes, I perceived it as the worst one I've ever recorded because I handled limit setting so badly.

Play Therapist Supervisor states it's nowhere as bad as I portray it. I don't believe her. She's just being nice, because she's like that, you know. So I play the DVD, proud that I'm calm while showing it to Play Therapist Supervisor, four licensed play therapists that are finishing certification this week for supervising, two Marriage and Family Therapy Interns, and one Marriage and Family Therapy student. And while I'm trying to tell them what I terrible job I've done, they are shaking their heads and offering amazing and insightful comments about how good it is. My supervisor says that I am one of her best student play therapists.

Then one of them offers a comment. He uses one of my favorite metaphors about time being a three dimensional spiral. As we circle around we reencounter old lessons, challenges ectera, but we encounter them at a new level and learn new things. He suggested maybe that's the process I was in while making the DVD and in how I perceive it. Then Play therapist Supervisor asks me: "Working from the framework as self-as-a-therapist, what old button does this video hit?"

In one blinding, clarifying moment I know why I have backed away from doing play therapy for the last three months. Because for one moment, for 1/10 of a second, I sounded like my mother as I struggled to lay down a boundary with a beautiful developmentally delayed three-year-old child. Before I got his name past my lips, I had heard my tone of voice and shifted. But all I remembered was that tone and the slump of his shoulders as I broke his trust with my "mom" voice. It had broken my heart. And although I caught it immediately, the limit then set appropriately, and reparation made, I carried that wound away with me. I clutched it to my heart, hidden and filled with pain. No true damage was done, yet my inner guilt from the past rose up to swallow me.

And in front of all those people, I looked at my supervisor, tears in my eyes, was handed a Kleenex, took a deep breath, asked for a moment, and told my story as briefly as possible. And I recognized that the past was blocking me with old pain and guilt. That I am actually good at child play therapy. That my peers think well of me and praise me. And that room full of therapists heard me, assured me, and offered this spiral of growth and healing.

Pastor Blames Tornado on Gays

All it takes is a heading like this to have me off and running again! Shesh! Have they lost their minds????

Here's the article, as found at (and their art!):

By Julie Bolcer

A Baptist pastor in Minneapolis said a tornado that damaged a Lutheran church on Wednesday was a divine sign of opposition to the proposal to lift restrictions on non-celibate gay and lesbian clergy in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, reports WCCO-TV.

Pastor John Piper of Bethlehem Baptist Church wrote a blog post on Thursday that called the tornado a “gentle but firm warning” for the Lutheran general assembly, which is currently meeting in the city, to “turn from the approval of sin.”

The storm damaged the steeple on Central Lutheran Church in the downtown area, across the street from the convention center where church delegates are meeting.

Shortly after the storm struck, more than 1,000 delegates at the general assembly passed by one vote a social statement that allows congregations to bless same-sex relationships if they wish, but does not force congregations to do so if they are opposed.

The Lutheran general assembly is expected to vote on the question of allowing non-celibate gay and lesbian clergy on Friday.


Well, alrighty then. Soon we'll be parting the Red Sea and walking on water.

Heterosexism and Sexual Orientation Change Efforts

Two weeks ago the APA finally announced "The longstanding consensus of the behavioral and social sciences and the health and mental health professions is that homosexuality per se is a normal and positive variation of human sexual orientation." The APA has long " opposed stigma, prejudice, discrimination, and violence on the basis of sexual orientation and has taken a leadership role in supporting the equal rights of lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals."

It wasn't enough when the APA took homosexuality out of the DSM in 1974. Many folks were still convinced in the deviancy of homosexuality. Current reactions to research don't promise much improvement. Too many churches and too much money depends upon enforcing heterosexism. NARTH (National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality), Exodus International, and many other religious groups are denouncing the APA report. They state that any research affirming the queer people is bogus.

Indeed, research from the 1970s clearly found that:

[S]exual orientation (i.e., erotic attractions and sexual arousal oriented to one sex or the other, or both) was unlikely to change due to efforts designed for this purpose. Some individuals appeared to learn how to ignore or limit their attractions. However, this was much less likely to be true for people whose sexual attractions were initially limited to people of the same sex.
Research shows that homosexuals cannot be changed into heterosexuals. As a matter of fact, an email I received from Soul Force this morning states: "Based on a rigorous review of 83 studies conducted between 1960 and 2007, the APA advised psychologists to avoid telling their clients that therapy or other treatments can change them from gay to straight."

Despite research findings, unfortunately, heterosexism absolutely infuses our culture, and yet many heterosexuals are blind to it. They say to me, "don't flaunt your homosexuality in front of me," and yet, as discussed in my earlier blog regarding Mother L, don't think it's a problem to prohibit me from holding hands with my loved one. Indeed, heterosexist attitudes, behaviors, and practices subordinate queer people simply on the basis of their sexual orientation.

Prejudice against queers and heterosexual privilege dominate every spectrum of society. Just as racism kept white people in power and patriarchy keeps white men in power, so does heterosexism keep heterosexuals dominate. Our media flaunts sexuality between men and women. Our movies portray it. Our songs declare it. Our newspapers and magazines portray. Simply singing "I kissed a girl and I like it" creates controversy. In innumerable ways each day, our society idealizes straightness and ignores or devalues the existence of any person or family who identifies otherwise.

According to the APA, those who attempted sexual attraction reassignment reported increased depression. When treatment failed, they also reported significant distress and negative self-image. Well, duh....

In addition, their resolution affirms "that same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality regardless of sexual orientation identity." The benefits promised by groups pushing reorientation can be gained without going through their programs, encouraging inclusive organizations to meet social, spiritual and educational needs.

All I have left to say is: When was the last time you heard a debate about whether therapy and prayer can change a straight person to gay?

Children's book stars found pet who helped couple through difficult time

This is too wonderful to not share!

From the Greenville News
By Ann Hicks • Arts writer • August 20, 2009

She's been known to stop her car and pick up just one more abandoned animal looking for help. But being helped by an animal in return is quite another twist on such a tale.

The story of Bogey, the plantation cat – as magical as a combination “Harry Potter” and “A Midsummer Night's Dream” – is told by first-time children's book author Jean Hunt in “Cat Tails and Spooky Trails.”

Hunt will meet the public and sign copies of her book Saturday at the Metropolitan Arts Council.

Shy, but determined to tell why she had to pen this, her first book, at age 74, Hunt tells how she met Bogey on the Lowcountry plantation she and her husband, Julian, bought in 2006, at a time of a profound challenge in their lives.

The Greenville couple bought the plantation to ease their daily trips to a Charleston hospital for cancer treatment. They moved into a small cottage at the site.

“This unpleasant situation turned into a wonderful, magical adventure,” Hunt says, “as this cat walked out of the woods one day after we got back from the hospital and adopted us.”

Bogey came out of the woods where he lived one afternoon and began walking reluctantly toward Hunt, who kept talking to him. Hunt was so delighted with the animal's response that she made a quick trip to the grocery store and bought a case of Fancy Feast to keep him in vittles.

That night Bogey returned to the Hunts' cottage in the company of two of his friends, a raccoon and a squirrel. The astonished Hunts watched the trio come up to the porch to eat the cat food. “It was frightening at first,” the author recalls, “because I thought the raccoon would hurt Bogey.” But her husband suggested they wait, because he felt “something going on.” Sure enough, Hunt says, the three took turns eating, then sat on the porch steps together “like three old men.”

Soon, the Hunts were introduced to the three friends' routine. The squirrel would arrive first in the morning, chattering in the tree tops, “doing all the squirrel things up in there,” Hunt says. Then, Bogey would appear, eat and run up the tree to sit with his friend uttering squirrel noises.

“Bogey would look at us while he was chatting with the squirrel,” says Hunt, who named the squirrel Wiggles and the raccoon Randy and assured them posterity by including them in “Cat Tails.”

They only fussed when Randy's urge to wash his paws in Bogey's water bowl enraged the cat, says Hunt, who watched the interaction in total amazement.

In her book, Hunt's alter ego is a 6-year-old girl named Mattie, a city girl who likes only dogs until she discovers that friendship with an all-knowing cat lets her in on the mysteries of the marshy woods.

The couple's return to Greenville from the Lowcountry, following the “good news” they received from the hospital, also meant making provisions for someone to come twice a day to take care of Bogey, who to this day lives at the plantation.

Back in Greenville, Hunt looked for an artist to paint Bogey's portrait because during those precarious months in 2006 he'd meant so much to the couple. It was to be a Christmas present to her husband, says Hunt, because Bogey “changed our whole life.”

That included the daily walks the cat took them on to the marsh and the many times Bogey, while occupying one of the Adirondack chairs on the porch, would motion with his head to the couple to observe some action such as flyovers by blue herons, wood storks or bluebirds. Those scenes reminded her of a play with characters changing every afternoon, says Hunt, a nature lover by heart. “We really took the time that cat made us take,” she adds matter-of-factly.

The search for an artist ended after someone recommended portraitist Caroline Lott to Hunt. Lott says she asked the reason behind the commission before she accepted it, and as Hunt told her Bogey stories, Lott couldn't stop listening because they were so engaging. The artist was sold on the idea, traveled to the Lowcountry and spent days taking hundreds of pictures of Bogey, the live oaks draped in Spanish moss and the teeming marsh.

She also urged Hunt to consider writing down for her family these incredible Bogey stories, including how the cat greeted them every time they returned to the cottage from another treatment by jumping on the car's hood and pressing his paws and nose against the windshield.

“You had to laugh at that sight,” Hunt says, smiling.

After Lott finished the Christmas-gift portrait, the women became a team as Hunt dictated and Lott typed each episode that the artist would later illustrate.

Hunt says she never intended to write “just a cute children's book.” But rather, “to pen one that awakens in children the love of nature and the appreciation of animals.”

The profits realized from the sale of “Cat Tails and Spooky Trails” will be donated to the Greenville Humane Society, and children attending the meet-the-author event at MAC will each receive a Bogey paw-print stamp.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sacred Space

Until this topic came up with my email group, I had not realized that folks define their sacred space so individually. I first approached the thought as I was trained in the Grove of the Unicorns. Sacred space was the ritual space in Lady A's and Lord A's ritual room. Over time sacred space expanded for me to my ritual space. When Cameron and I made love the first time, I created sacred space -- right down to planning, casting a circle, and consummating our love in a space where we embodied the energies of the Lord and Lady.

Over the years I've come to see many spaces as sacred. One of my favorite artists that creates sacred spaces is Andrew Goldsworthy.

My wife describes sacred spaces as time and spaces created to be holy. The labyrinth at church, or attending church ritual. Or any time something sacred presents itself, like when her grasshopper came and fed on her lettuce.

When I entered pastoral therapy, we discussed sacred space in terms of therapy. Dr R challenged us to create sacred space in which the therapeutic alliance becomes a place of trust and of healing. Every time I welcome a client, where ever the office is, I create a sacred space in which they may bare their soul. It's a profound concept for me, and keeps my very mindful that each time they come in, I answer the calling of my Goddess.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Afghan Women: Submission Law

When it's quite enough, I enjoy beginning my morning watching the sunrise and reading the paper. Since I start work at 5 in the morning, that ritual does not always happen with the frequent interruptions that are both appropriate and expected at work. This morning was unusually quite, however, so already read one paper and was reading the much smaller second paper (I live between two towns and take the paper for both) when I found an article describing a law that "allows minority Shiite Muslim husbands to refuse food and money to their wives if they deny them sex." Twenty percent of Afghans are Muslim. That's a lot of women to be affected by this ruling. A quick Internet search shows many people are alarmed by this law.

The argument previously came to a head in March, when Karzai signed an earlier version into law which required women to have sex with their husbands every three days "unless she was ill or would be harmed by intercourse". Critics denounced the ruling then as the equivalent of marital rape. That aspect was removed. However, this version continues to enrage activists, because men can starve their wives for refusing sex: "submit to her husband's reasonable sexual enjoyment". The post Taliban Constitution enshrines equal rights for women, but the current demonstration destroys those rights.

Karzai seeks to gain the conservative vote for elections, so just quietly sawed this into law. This week Karzai took advantage of a loop hole to pass his new law. A legislative recess gave opportunity for Karzai to sign it into law by decree. Unlike last spring, now there seems to be little response. While the law only affects Shiite women, the concern remains that now implemented, it will be easier to apply the law to all women. While passage of the law is deeply concerning, reports have it that a passage was deleted from the law preventing women from living the home only if it did not disturb marital relations! Unfortunately, the law can also be used to prevent women from working or studying. In addition the law gives guardianship of child exclusively to their fathers and grandfathers. Additionally, such a law will undercut the likelihood of current legislation passing a domestic violence law.

Female parliamentarians had thought they would get the opportunity to fight this bill before it could be made in law. Karzai's use of the loophole took them by surprise. The only positive seems to be that the law states that the man must provide financially for his wife. Nevertheless, it horrifies that we still have places where women are restricted from work and education, and compelled to provide sexual services. The immediate concern remains that this law may become "a step toward the Taliban's draconian treatment of women". While even one law like this anywhere in the world remains on the books, all women are wounded. These women are being treated as property.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Acts of Kindness

I have a new hero. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett had dismissed his security detail to attend a county fair Saturday night. When he heard a woman’s voice screaming for someone to call 911, he rushed to see what has happening. A domestic violence incident was in process, and a grandmother struggled to protect her one-year-old granddaughter and herself. The mayor tried to sooth in the perpetrator, but when he took out his cell phone to call for help, the man attacked the mayor. The perpetrator hit the mayor on the head and torso with a metal pipe, and the mayor struck back with enough force to fracture his hand. The perpetrator was later arrested. The woman and child were uninjured.

After a spate of disillusioned posts bemoaning the state of the universe, I find it refreshing to read this front page story in the newspaper this morning. I need the reminder that there are good people out there who do good things because it is the right thing to do. Certainly the mayor's political position brought the shine of the spotlight on his good dead. I find that to be a beautiful thing with the disillusionment I feel with my government officials right now.

I am also mindful of the small kindnesses that have touched my own life. Often at the beginning of the semester, Mother L has sent Cameron and I $50 each to apply toward school book money. A friend gave Cameron a car so she could back to school, instead of using it as a down payment for her new vehicle. A lovely carpenter arrived at my home last fall and repaired the outside of my trailer, which otherwise was slated to be condemned. Someone gave me a cupcake and a smile. Each small act of kindness become a ripple and a catalyst of positive change.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Connecticut Hotel Rape: Is the Woman at Fault?

When I saw this headline, my reaction was immediate and outraged! It seems that cutting across a hotel parking lot with two small children implies that the mother was negligent in protecting her own safety, and to blame for her being raped in front of her two children:

The papers filed last month in Superior Court by the Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa say the victim "failed to exercise due care for her own safety and the safety of her children and proper use of her senses and facilities."

Prosecutors say Gary Fricker assaulted the woman in her minivan in the hotel's parking garage in front of her two children, then ages 3 and 5. Fricker is now serving 20 years in prison.
What?! Rape is the only crime that the victim must prove their innocence. Rape is always the fault of the rapist. Yet, rape victims remind each of us of our vulnerability, according Invulnerability or Assumptive World Theory. If we can assign blame to the victim, then we can create the illusion of safety and control for ourselves. Another theory, Just World Hypothesis, suggests a need to see victims get "their just deserts." It seems to be a desperate attempt to see the world in black and white view when the vulnerability equates to deserving of harm. It seems to me that both views are the product of a patriarchical culture that sees the victim careless and partly at fault.

Research shows that men tend to blame the victim more than women. Furthermore, promiscuous men tend to rape more than nonpromiscious men. Of all victims, gay men tend to be judged the worst as rape victims. It's as if the victim has a duty to protect the aggressor from victimizing them!

Indeed, in this case the Marriott would rather blame the victim, than to pay a lawsuit. Certainly the Marriott has dropped their stance of blaming the victim, but they have already committed irreparable harm to this woman. And blamed their stance on not having gathered sufficient data, or on lawyer's deceased mother.

Deity is an Iron

Today the office manager of the not for profit clinic, where I am a Marriage and Family Therapy Graduate Student, asked me to see the Wiccan family of a former client. The child had been assigned to me because there would be things I might "get" that another therapist would not because - duh, I'm Wiccan. After completing the required sessions I did not expect there to be any further need of counseling.

However, today I was offered the opportunity to see the entire family. Aware of issues beyond my current level of training, I requested a male co-therapist. The office manager suggested a wonderful minister/intern. I accepted, said I would talk to him, and went my merry way. After talking to him, and he accepted, I had a moment of clarity and insight.

I just asked a Baptist Preacher Man to be my co-therapist with a Wiccan family. Oh, and I'm lesbian, which he has openly expressed as something which he theologically disagrees. Why did I do it? After yesterday I am tempted to say I've lost my mind. Maybe I did it because our God is an iron, and life is filled with little ironies. I love Preacher Man because his heart is true. We spent a semester of pastoral therapy together, and I trust him. I know a little of his back story and nothing but the greatest respect for him. And so one more time I become the Lady's emissary to spread the GLBTQ message, one human being at a time.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Wiccan, Christian, Lesbian

From CBS News:
Another major issue facing Episcopal Church leaders during their 10-day national convention, which began Wednesday, is the blessing of same-sex unions. The church legislature is expected to consider it next week.

One proposal being discussed would codify the church's unofficial policy of allowing each diocese to decide whether to ordain homosexuals and bless gay relationships. Another proposal suggests the church develop rites for couples who live in monogamus, committed relationships but do not get married.

A delegate to the convention resigned after he scattered salt—a traditional method of battling the devil—under the tables of openly gay and lesbian delegates and their supporters.

Church officials announced Saturday the Rev. Nelson W. Koscheski resigned as a delegate from the Diocese of Dallas after the "salting" brought the church's House of Deputies to a halt Friday for prayers and songs of reconciliation.

I work hard to reconcile my faith in the goddess with my Christian faith. Wounded, damaged and broken, it took many years to reenter the Christian faith. And I'm proud to be Episca-pagan. I whisper goddess in all the parts where they say god, because my image of male Diety is not positive. I keep going because I need community. I need a buidling that represents safety. I need ritual. And I deeply value attendance with Cameron because it deepens and strengths our spirituality together. But that introduces yet another quandry. Yesterday pretty much sums it up.

With little money to buy even by groceries, when our church announced a "Quite Day" at the cost of $20 each, I asked if we could pay half and both attend. Mother L agreed. We basically paid the cost of our box lunch from Panara Bread. We have been looking forward to Quiet Day for weeks. Then Friday an article was published in the local paper that talked about the battle raging in our church regarding gays and lesbians. So I approached Mother L in tears, needing to know Cameron and I will always be welcome regardless of what the bishop of our diocese decides. Mother L affirmed that she and Father M have our backs. My mistake lies in asking what can we do to help. Her response was predictable and heartbreaking: "Watch your public displays of affection. Don't sit with your arms around each other in the pew or hold hands in public. Don't sit too close to each other. When people see you together, time after time, they'll know you are together." Granted, Mother L is extremely reserved, and does not like much of anyone's PDAs. But I doubt she would have said the same thing to an adult heterosexual woman. She would have said it to a teenager.

Cameron was in so much pain when I relayed the conversation, that she immediately sought out Mother L as well. Mother L admitted she would not counsel a heterosexual couple the same way. When she was done, Mother L could see Cameron's point of view, sort of. She admits she is not comfortable with any public displays of affection. Cameron attended church with her parents the whole time she was growing up. Her father always had his arm around her mother. Her mother, in turn, alwasy had her arm around Cameron. Touch became another way to connect in faith as a family. So telling Cameron not to put her arm around me was like telling her we cannot behave as a real family.

I did a little more research, to see exactly what the Anglican leadership has to say. It isn't pretty. Indeed, its mysogenistic and condescending:

No Bible-believing Christian can say that “men are from Mars and women from Venus.” They are not distinct species but have been made for each other in their distinctiveness and complement each other. This is the burden of the earliest chapters of Genesis that are strongly and unambiguously affirmed in the teaching of Jesus himself. As a whole, the Bible’s teaching on human sexuality clearly affirms that the proper expression of our sexual nature is within the context of married love. The alternative, for those who have this gift, is dedicated singleness in the fulfillment of God’s purposes.

In the pagan world, in which the Bible was written, such a view was vigorously countercultural. Many of Israel’s neighbors tolerated both heterosexual and homosexual practices that are rejected by the Bible because they violate the holiness of God, the order of creation and respect for persons.

It is often the case that where the fundamental teaching of the Bible regarding marriage is not upheld, the status of women, in particular, suffers and they are reduced to being either a source for male self-gratification or chattel who maintain the home while men seek gratification elsewhere.

As to same-sex attraction, there may be a predisposition toward it, even if we do not know all the reasons for it. That does not mean it must be gratified. Not every desire can or should be given active expression.

There may be relationship issues with a parent or a seeking of the man or the woman “I want to be” in others of the same sex. Those in such situations need to be cared for and to know that God loves them. They need to be helped so they can conform their lives to the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Never mind that my Anglican brothers of my church leadership judges me by the Old Testament world -- the same world where the book of Levitacus dictates what food may be eaten, and the instructions for the passover feast and minutely dictated. Let's just take what we want and leave the rest. Certainly, let's not point out that Old Testament law ended, was fullfilled, by Christ's death. That Christ himself followed the law before fullfilling it with his own sacrifice for the express purpose of creating a space in which Wisdom, God and the Holy Spirit might be recreated in a world of grace, where forgiveness is available for asking rather than through blood, because he had shed his own blood for all. Yeah, I know my bible. I even believe in it. No wonder the Americans may have to break away Anglicans.

Today we went to church, and we took Mother L's words to heart. We want to reach out to our community, show them that being lesbian is another family dynamic. The whole hour, Cameron was bitterly, painfully aware of Mother L's advise. She never put her arm around me. And by the time communion came, she had tears pouring down her face. Another myth of safety has been ripped away. We have come of age. Our church, while loving us and welcoming us, doesn't quite know what to do with us. And while they support our attendance, and would defy anyone regarding our right to be present, still lacks the skill and education to know how to support us as a family. They see a lesbian couple, rather than a lesbian family.

My church is like the rest of the world, which says, "Why do gays have to talk about being homosexual. I don't talk about being heterosexual." Well, if you are the majority, your identity is assumed. Dynamics and interactions are a forgone conclusion. The dominate story fits and you don't have to protest. But I'm a lesbian. My wife is gender dysphoric. We are wives--which mother supports, even when she finds it jarring (she's never asked when/how we were married). Our world is colored by discrimination and our safety is compromised by headlines and the threat of violence.

So we will remain in our church (we've been attending for years, but only occassionally--we've now been three weeks in a row). Indeed, I'm going to confirmation classes at the end of the month, and will be confirmed as a member by the Bishop in October. Cameron's parents will even come, as they did for her! And we are the token "out" couple everyone can pat themselves on the back about being so open minded. Goddess knows, change begins must start somewhere. Let it be with me. Or US.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Cameron!

An open letter to the love of my life:

Six years ago today we began this journey together. We spent weeks planning this day, talking, preparing. We entered into sacred space, and created the magick that binds us together. In January we will affirm our vows to one another in front of our friends. But six years ago, with the Lord and Lady as our witness, we began the most powerful, wonderful, transformational relationship either of us have ever experienced.

Cameron, thank you for being there for me, during the dark of the night, when PTSD hit, and I was terrified. Thank you for being at my side, sharing my family, as my partner at our sons' weddings. Thank you for going home with me last summer and meeting my parents. Thank you for leading me to our Episcopalian church. Thank you for the beauty of your singing, the crinkles at the corner of your eyes, and the way you smile at me. Thank you for loving our furbabies as much as I do.

Your love has brightened the darkest days, comforted the darkest nights, and leant me courage when I had none. Your love has been like a warm blanket, embracing me and keep me warm. Your love has been faithful, honorable, dependable. Your love has been vibrant, brilliant and beautiful. I am privileged to live with you, to sleep at your side, to share your days. I give my heart into your safe keeping, always.

May the Lord and the Lady bless us with many, many more years.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Hep C and Social Issues

I fail to understand a world which victimizes a victim. I have several client right now, in recovery, who are positive for the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). I’m watching them die by inches, and they can’t seem to get medical care. No insurance, no money, and lots of judgement. They vary in age from 24 to 52, all have been IV drug users, and all have been clean for 2 years to 30 years. The only thing that they have in common is HCV and a lack of medical care.

It’s estimated that 1 in ten Americans are infected with HCV. That’s four million people. Of IV drug users, estimates of hepatitis antibodies run 53-93%. Methadone maintenance programs, like where I work, have a high incidence of hepatitis antibodies of 67-96%. The literature supports treatment for patients in methadone maintenance, but most never receive treatment. So I watch my client grow sick, seek treatment, and not receive it.

For an in depth look at HCV and treatment, watch this:

According to Hepatitis Central, "More people are currently living with HCV than any other chronic blood-borne infectious disease." They go on to say that the stigma becomes more harmful than the illness. Certainly seems to be happening to my clients within the medical community. Indeed, social identity theory categorizes people based upon whether they are a member of the in group or the out group. Self-esteem is related to the position to out group. Furthermore, the in group will protect itself, rejecting those who do not fit their group. So healthcare providers may associate those with hepatitis as stereotype (IV drug user, for example). Consequently, healthcare providers may discriminate against hepatitis patients. Patients pick up on the disapproval of their perceived lifestyle and social group membership. I watch them go from doctor to doctor, and be turned away time after time. My heart is breaking for them.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Java's Chair

Furchildren: Rascal, Tannis and Temptation

We had the most wonderful houseguest this weekend. Light's mother, Java, stayed for a couple of days. We even took her to Back Porch Priestess. I knew that Java had been missing out of Priestess' life too long (they had not yet met in this lifetime). They are both the kind of people that when you meet them, it feels like "there you are, where have you been?" Like you've always known them, lifetime after lifetime, and it was about damn time they showed up!

Check out Java's blog for the adventure of seeking out the needed part to fix my free glider chair. The glider was gifted to us last summer with the warning it needed repair. Of course, it went into the storage building of holding. Then Light dug it out of the storage building two weekends ago. Then her marvelous mother and Cameron fixed it for me yesterday. Of course, right now it is occupied by the furbabies, who have refused to give me a turn to sit in it. But it looks great!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Choosing a Magickal Name

My email list has been talking about choosing a magickal name, so I thought it might be fun to post my email response here:

When I first began reflecting on a name, I was required to write a paper on the name I choose. I choose the name Weaver partly because I love the image of weaving the web of life. Indeed, I ran a book review site for many years called WordWeaving (yes, still part of my email address). My sister-of-the- heart, who also went through both The Grove of the Eternal Harvest training, and later, Grove of the Unicorns, became Spinner (she's a fiber-geek, so of course it fit her). We were dedicated together, forming a permanent bond on this path. By choosing names that also go together, we were ever more tightly bonded. Our friendship still shows that bond, though our names have changed over the years.

An impasse with a Lady Luna led to the name Grace. As a first degree initiate, though I had been on the Wiccan path five years, she didn't think I was ready to be DreamWeaver. She suggested Grace, which is a powerful word with powerful meaning for me. I find it appropriate that my wife's first name means Grace.

With my third degree, I put all my names together. Others choose a completely different name, as did my sister-of-the- heart. For me, transforming my name into Grace DreamWeaver brought together the disparate parts of self into a unified whole. I love the name and I value what it says about me. It also challenges me to step out of my anal retentive, Virgo self and into the world of dreams, possibility, and magick. I am:

Lady Grace DreamWeaver,
Priestess and Daughter of the Gods

I love that phrase...LOL it's part of a traditional Unicorn quarter call...but it's empowering. For me, when I need to ground and center, stepping into an uncomfortable situation or facing something unknown or difficult, it's become a Mantra. I still here Lady Amber calling quarters, calling the Lord and Lady, using that phrase and I still feel the shiver of power going up my back.

Of course, today I would follow up with: Servant of the Goddess Bastet, She of the litter boxes, cat food, and petting (that's a bit humbling...LOL). Back to chores and homework!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Transformation and Sex Ed

The classroom lights have been turned off. My classmates have already left the building. Sex ed ended about half an hour ago. After going to get some food, I have slipped back into the building and headed for the computer lab. I feel a need to capture the energy of my experience and to share it before I go home to a dirty house, a dog begging to be walked, and the final exam that I need to complete and email to the teacher. This has been a week of transformation, not just for myself, but also for most of my classmates. We had 13 people in the class (two dropped early due to conflicts in their schedules). A local sex therapist was the instructor. She's everything I want in a teacher. Mature, on target, gentle, challenging, and ready for anything.

Let me back up just a moment and explain where I am coming from. After four marriages, three divorces and one committing suicide, I am in a committed relationship of six years with Cameron. I made a decision when I began this grad program to be openly gay and to use my presence to discomfort and challenge the heterosexual future therapists. I try hard not to offend, but I do not remain in the closet. There are a few therapists in the program, however, that make me uncomfortable enough not to have taken this class last summer when they would be there. That means I took the class with people I barely know.

My classmates ranged from twenty-something and just finished the undergrad to sixty-two and getting a new career. I was the oldest woman. I thought I was the only lesbian. The class really heightened my anxiety. Hearing about heterosexuality over and over again as we discuss erection disfunction, heterosexual couples issues, etc sometimes felt overbearing (it was, in fact balanced for the needs of our clients). We covered such topics as fetishes, BDSM, polyamoury, transgender, gay and lesbian issues. We read, we discussed, we watched videos. The instructor brought sexual aids, lube, and handouts. We role played, challenged, questioned.

Yesterday Cameron was invited to discuss what it's like to be caught in the middle of the gender continium. She made herself vulnerable to share with my class her challenges. She challenged their heteronormative assumptions. In the end, the class did a lot of soul searching and thinking. Then today SammieJoe came to talk to us. She's MTF. She's not flamboyant, or obvious, nor does she wear short skirts or too much makeup. She's also beautiful, feminine, and comfortable in her skin. She also arrived on her motorcycle wearing her pink helmet! And again my classmates rose to the challenge, asking questions, seeking to understand.

SammieJoe scared me to death. For a few hours I had to process the reality of Cameron's conundrum. I admitted to my future therapist friends in the breakroom the scariness of the something that can roll over a loved one's life, demanding transition, regardless of everything else. Today Cameron says she doesn't need to transition. But I know from listening to others that beneath the surface, the thinking can process and eventually come up with a different conclusion. And I know that no matter how much Cameron and I love each other, transition is ultimately her decision. Indeed, it has to be her decision. And while she would of course weigh the value of our relationship, she cannot ever choose me over something so profound. Nor would I want her to.

Once I named my fear today, I felt much better. And I realized how deeply my classmates lives have been touched by Cameron and SammieJoe. Several didn't even know what it means to be transgendered before this week. Others had simply never put a face to it. Our 62 year old future therapist said that he was doing a lot of soul searching because, despite what his baptist church might say, he believes in looking after his client' wellfare, and cannot see how SammieJoe could be wrong. I sit here in awe of the growth I saw in the class. The instructor praised us, saying we were one of the best classes she's ever taught. I don't doubt it. And I'm privileged to have been some small part.

Oh, I almost forgot the best part. We had to do the book report (see previous gripe about Barnes and Noble). A young woman stood up after me and said "When I went looking in my part of the store at Barnes and Noble, I couldn't find my books either." I looked up, suprised. Then she said, "I'm gay. I was going to talk about Lebian Couples, too. But since you've already done my book, let me tell ya'll about another." This beautiful, brave lesbian stood up in class to say she was gay. I am in awe. What tremendous courage -- she'll be in classes with everyone for the next two years. And she found the courage to claim her identity today.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors. NOT

Disclaimer. I am about to bash a Methodist Church. Let it be known that this experience was exclusive to the church where we went Sunday. We have had the opposite reaction at another Methodist Church ten miles away.

The original intent had been open hearts, open minds, open hands. As Peter DeGroote points out in his blog,
The decision was to replace “open hands” with “open doors,” thereby sabotaging purpose, clarity, and effectiveness. Church doors were already open; the question was (and is) how people were treated once they got inside. “Open hands” dealt with human community, “open doors” with public access to a building (the corrupting influence of mixed metaphors!
Cameron and I certainly ecountered the open door/closed hand this weekend. Light is visiting us this weekend, kindly helping us with major reorganization of our home, and we promised to take her to church Sunday. We were headed thirty miles south to our Episcopalian church, when I suddenly took a left hand. Since the door was metaphorically slammed on Cameron, she has never gotten photos of her murals for her portfolio. Light has a professional grade camera and will soon be photographing Cameron's work for an upcoming website. Without any pre-thought, I turned, we parked, we entered. Sunday school was going to be begin about ten or fifteen minutes. I figured the bustle would mask my intent.

I had forgotten just how breathtaking her work is there. She has a temple scene where Mary and Joseph are presenting baby Jesus. Simon is about to take Joseph and child to the inner court. My favorite: the prophetess Anna is about to take Mary to the women's court. Spiritual mentor between women is a powerful, but forgotten, theme of this text. I stood and wept at the beauty of the work, and the power of the Crone/Mother image.

Cameron had been greeted by the youth director, who made us welcome but quickly had to excuse herself to go put out fires. Another woman followed, who was intensely uncomfortable with me. Maybe it was pentacle. Maybe it was because she knows I am Cameron's partner. The minister quickly appeared, once she left, although I only learned his identity later. He made Light and I horribly, horribly uncomfortable and seemed intent on seeing us out the door as quickly as possible. It was a terrible, terrible experience and I was horrified.

When we got to our own church, hugged and welcomed by Father Mike and Mother Linda, made welcome by friends we hadn't seen in several months of an intense schedule, the stark contrast made me painfully aware of the contrast between the churches. It finally struck me that had that Methodist minister been doing his job, he might have introduced himself, made us welcome, invited us to the service. Or any one of a number of other people!

A few months ago Cameron came across the last check this same church had issued her several years before. In the chaos of the time, she had neglected to cash it -- about $250. Enough to have made a big difference in our current circumstances. She contacted the church, they assured her that it could be replaced by a current check. She took the old one, they said come back the next day for the new one. When she went to pick it up, Cameron learned that the minister had stopped the issuance of the new check...there's more to the story of this minister, but it's Cameron's to tell.

It breaks my heart that a supposedly open minded church could be so rejecting. I still have my membership placed with a Methodist church in Atlanta. I think its time I write a letter to move it, but also to those higher up. I am disillusioned by the church of my early childhood that I had held so dear to my heart.