Newsletter for June, 1997 ce

GREETINGS

June is such a lovely month. Gardens are blooming with the promise of a bountiful harvest (yes, even gypsy's garden is blooming. Someone else is tending it for her...) And despite the heat of early summer, creative juices are flowing. That's why we have yet another newsletter format. (We can find an excuse for anything. Just ask us!) Actually, what happened was we got Corel installed, but not PageMaker, so we're doing it in Corel. But don't tell, okay? You don't want to spoil our fun.

AN INVITATION

The Pagan Rainbow Network is extending an invitation to all interested to attend several upcoming events. Anyone interested in marching with the Colorado contingent of Queer Pagans during the Pridefest parade is welcome to join us.

June 15 Annual visit to the Denver Botanic Gardens. (with a potluck picnic in the park before) June 26 Gay Day at Elitch's. (we may have several extra discount tickets for everyone) June 29 PRIDEFEST PARADE and FESTIVAL. (Civic Center Park and all along central Colfax Ave.)

THANKS AND A TIP OF THE HAT

Many thanks to Kelvin and MoonWolf of Mothertree coven for a lovely OFM complete with Maypole. Despite the late start, a lot of people stuck around for the festivities and had a rollicking good time. There was a line later to jump the fire (okay, cauldron with candle) and the party atmosphere was appropriate to the season.

JUNE OPEN FULL MOON

The June Open Full Moon will be held on Friday, June 13th beginning at 7:30 PM, at the First Unitarian Church, 1400 Lafayette, in Denver.

June is a special month for many of us. Not just because of the Summer Solstice, but for an important event that determined how some of us can live. It is the anniversary of the Stonewall riots, and the beginning of the Gay Liberation movement. For the first time ever, Queer people declared that they had the same rights as everyone else, and they were listened to. This one action proved to be a milestone, not just for Queer people, but for all oppressed peoples, including us Pagans. It showed the mainstream population that people were just that; not black people, not Indian people, not Queer people, just people.

We have a special celebration every year towards the end of June with a festival and parade. This is a celebration not just of a specific group, but for everyone who has felt the sting of oppression, be it for their religious beliefs, their skin color or their nationality. Everyone who declares that they are free and proclaims that all people are free, is welcome to join in the festivities.

The Pagan Rainbow Network will officiate at this month's Open Full Moon ritual. The PRN is a Nature-based Spiritual Discussion Forum and Social Organization for the Queer Pagan community (and supporters). In essence, the PRN provides an opportunity for Queer Pagans to discuss their various traditions and practices, to learn from one another, to socialize and to experience the unique perspective Queer people have in the spiritual realm. There are no membership requirements to join, and no particular practice or tradition is considered greater or better than any other.

We associate because we can learn from one another, and teach. We have a place to be ourselves, and to discuss topics of interest in a safe, supportive environment. And we have fun! Besides discussions and such, we have parties, potlucks, movie viewings and camping trips. We attend several Pagan festivals, visit the Botanic Gardens, play at Elitch's, and do whatever we think would be enjoyable. We extend this invitation for you to attend and experience for yourself what the Pagan Rainbow Network has to offer.

SOME COMMENTS ABOUT THIS MONTH'S RITUAL

The June OFM will be presented as ritual theater. We will cast and call from the Center, then perform an Invocation followed by a guided meditation. It's our hope that every participant will come away with a better understanding of themselves, and how we all are part of divinity.

THE KITCHEN WITCH

by gypsy

This is June, and the Summer Solstice is approaching rapidly. This is the longest continuous period of daylight of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, and is considered by many Wiccans and other Pagans to be a day of great power. In some of our traditions, it is considered sacred to the God, and in some it is considered a day of great significance for fertility both in the fields, and in the human body and mind.

In the Scandinavian countries, the Summer Solstice is a major holiday. Whereas in the Celtic and British lands, the Maypole is danced on Beltane, or Mayday, in Scandinavia it is danced on the Summer Solstice. On this day, in many parts of the northern lands, the sun simply does not set. (Of course, very near the North Pole, the sun is evident at all times for months during the late spring and summer, but such is not the case in most of the major Scandinavian cities. In Copenhagen, for instance, there is a brief period of darkness even on Solstice day itself.)

As a teenager, I had the good fortune to spend a Summer Solstice in Scandinavia. Two days after Solstice, my parents and I walked the streets of Oslo, observing the aftermath of some serious partying. These people, in ostensibly Christian nations, take their Summer Solstice quite seriously and enjoy it to the fullest. Summer in Colorado is one of our most variable seasons. (Come to think of it, every season in Colorado is one of our most variable seasons.) We can almost always count on a long stretch of extreme heat, punctuated by raging thunderstorms. At such times, while it is pleasant to cook outdoors, it is sometimes impossible to do so. With this in mind, I turned to the Scandinavians for seasonal recipes. After all, they celebrate it so well, they certainly must have some wonderful foods appropriate for the summer.

And so they do. Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland are serious about their food. (They are equally serious about their drink. This may have something to do with the long winters that invariably follow the long days of summer. But that is neither here nor there.) Their foods include luscious fruits, crisp vegetables, hearty grains, a nearly awesome array of fish, beautiful meats, and gorgeous dairy products.

And, of course, there is the ubiquitous Smorrebrod. The name means, literally, buttered bread. To the Danes, it refers to open-faced sandwiches, topped with a variety of ingredients. The sandwiches are eaten with knife and fork, and sometimes are paired with soup. Smorrebrod is ideal for summertime indoor cooking. It's light, it's cool, it doesn't involve being hit by lightning ... what more could you ask for?

The following suggestions are just a sampling of what the Danes might include for smorrebrod.

SMORREBROD

Trim crusts from breads, slice, and spread one side of each slice with butter.

CUCUMBER-SARDINE SMORREBROD

Top slices of pumpernickel with:

HAM & EGG SMORREBROD

Top rye slices with

CHEESE-STRAWBERRY SMORREBROD

This one uses the French bread. Top with

HAVARTI-WALNUT SMORREBROD

Use any of the breads. Top each slice with

Okay, now you're on your own. I'm envisioning smorrebrod made with salsa and roast pork, or corn and chicken. (A hint, put the crumbly ingredients under the full-sized ones. I learned this the hard way. The butter keeps them on the bread. Kind of like peas with honey on a knife, if you know what I mean.)

1997 OPEN FULL MOON DATES

June            13      		October		10*
July		18			November	 7
August		15			December	12
September       12			

*Note: October 10 is Yom Kippur. We will need to move that ritual, but have not determined the new date yet.

Please be aware that we will no longer have access to the nursery. Due to a lack of adult volunteers, we have removed the child care area from our lease.

AN EDITORIAL

by Alia

I'm unemployed now. This is not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination.

I had lost all joy in my work quite a while ago. Then in August, I got a manager (hired from a competitor) who was very difficult for me to work with. I would describe him as a feminist's nightmare. He touched inappropriately, made sexist comments, including calling an older member of our team "the old broad" (and occasionally "the old bitch"), and tended to be brash and abrasive. I felt abused, and told him so in front of his boss. This stopped him from calling the other member of the team "the old broad," but the rest of his behavior did not change. He had an explosive temper and wielded it like a weapon. On Monday morning, January 20th, I had had enough, and went to my Human Resources person for help. She told me she was busy until after 1 p.m. and I agreed to meet with her then. At noon, I met with my psychiatrist, and he gave me two choices: Take medical leave right now, or stay at work and he would have to put me in the hospital before two more months had elapsed. Doug, my spouse, had come to the appointment with me, and he agreed with the doctor. Vehemently. So I agreed. I contacted my team lead and my human resources rep, and went home. The doctor's official diagnosis was "Major Depression with a co-morbidity of anxiety." In plain English, I was extremely depressed, to the point of my rapidly losing my ability to function, and had panic attacks. This particular diagnosis also means that I was very angry and irritable, which put my family, coven, and friends through a great deal of strain.

That evening, I had a nervous breakdown. "Nervous Breakdown" isn't an official diagnosis, but it's a great description. The evening of the 20th, I collapsed into tears and cried until I was exhausted, then fell asleep and slept for 12 hours. I spent the next two weeks in pajamas and slippers, and only left the house for appointments. I spent the first three months of my medical leave in the basement of my house, going out only when it was absolutely necessary, and then only with company. Thanks to the caring and support of my family, coven, and close friends, (and their insistence that I start getting out of the house once in a while), I gradually began to recover. When I had recovered enough to go back to work, Doug and I discussed it, and I quit. I will be investigating a career change. We're fortunate that we can afford my time off and retraining for another career.

Why am I pouring all this out on the pages of the newsletter? I have two reasons.

First, if during the first half of 1997, I said something to anyone that upset them, I apologize. My brain wasn't functioning at all for the first three months, and I only came completely "on-line," so to speak, in mid-May, after I resigned. If I promised something or agreed to something that I haven't followed through on, please get in touch with me. The odds are good I don't remember the statement, but I'll do my best to make good on whatever I promised.

Second, I see the signs of a nervous breakdown in the Denver pagan community.

Before I blew my cork, I was angry, irritable, easily offended, and burnt out. I see the same signs in many members of this community, and in the community itself as well. Some people are talking at cross-purposes to each other instead of communicating, some people are taking offense where none was meant, and some people are irritable and difficult to get along with. (Disclaimer: I am not thinking of anyone specific for any of these statements. If pressed, I can probably come up with half a dozen examples for each. Please don't press me; I'm more interested in pointing out the problems in the community than placing blame or gossiping about any one individual. If anyone feels like I am talking specifically about them, I respectfully request that they examine their behavior to determine why they feel that way.) The local pagan community is important - even vital - to me. I don't want to see some part or the whole of the community I love rip itself apart due to fatigue and stress. I most definitely don't want to see a "Witch War."

So, what can we do? I think that's a topic worth brainstorming. Let's start by trying to be gentle with each other. A lot of people are just plain worn out. We can make use of some of the old truisms: Think before you speak; don't say anything you'll regret later. If there is a high level of conflict between two (or more) covens or people, try to find a neutral, discreet person to help resolve it. Remember to care, and that our community and religion are in the turbulent adolescent growth phase, and may require gentler care than we are used to providing. If you have ideas that you would like to offer, please let me know. I'd be happy to publish a follow up article with all the ideas I receive - none will be edited or deleted, and I will not credit ideas to individuals so the ideas may be considered solely on their merit.

My thanks to Stormbringer, gypsy, Doug, and the many other people whose comments and observations have contributed to this column.

"My effort should never be to undermine the faith of others, but to make them better followers of their own faith. Religions are different roads converging to the same point. What does it matter that we take different roads as long as we reach the same goal. In reality there are as many different religions as there are individuals." -- Mahatmas Gandhi

WISE WOMAN WAYS

by Deb Hoffman

All of my herb teachers stressed the importance of observation...to look around me and see what was growing in my yard, in my neighborhood, in the geographic area in which I lived. What's growing, how much and how easily available is often a good clue to a useful plant. In the spring violets, dandelions, shepherds purse, plantain, and a host more "weeds" grow in abundance, as if to say, "Use me! I'm fresh and green and just what you need after a long, dark winter!" One of the most conspicuous plants right now is Yellow Dock. It's that tall, weedy plant with long, curled leaves and is just now putting out big bursts of seed (in the fall the seed heads turn a rusty brown and the plant resembles tobacco). You see them everywhere along the roadway, in empty lots, on the edges of schoolyards, generally in places that seem very inhospitable. It's kind of like the plant is saying "You don't want me in your garden, but you really need me, so I'll grow anyway, and I'll always be nearby when you want me".

Yellow Dock is a wonderful liver tonic; it supports the growth and function of liver cells thus aiding the organ in its task of cleansing the blood of toxins. Yellow Dock is used extensively in the treatment of chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis. The herb has a mild stimulating effect on the bowels and thus is good for constipation. It also promotes the flow of bile and is valuable in the treatment and recovery phase of hepatitis and jaundice.

It is easy and gratifying to make your own Yellow Dock preparations. Dig the root in late summer and autumn, between August and October (although as a wise teacher once told me, the best time to collect and herb is often when you and the herb are in the same place at the same time!). The roots are VERY long and very tough...be prepared with a shovel as they tend to grow in hard, dry places. The plants have dark roots, but the inside should be a strong yellow or orange, the darker the yellow, the stronger the root. To tincture the roots, rinse them off and chop finely. Place in a jar (I find baby food jars or any 4 or 8 oz glass jars work fine) and pack lightly. Fill the jar with vodka (at least 80 proof) and get all the air bubbles out. The entire root should be covered with liquid to the top of the rim. Cover and set aside in a dark place for six weeks, shaking the jar occasionally. After six weeks strain the liquid through muslin into another glass container and squeeze the remaining plant material to get every last drop of goodness from it! To dry the roots, cut them lengthwise and dry them on newspaper in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Store them in airtight glass jars after drying.

The dried roots can later be ground for tea, made into an ointment for skin ulcers, sores or itching, or made into an infusion and used to soothe hemorrhoids. To make a tea (decoction) put 1-2 teaspoonfuls of the root in a cup of water, bring to a boil, and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes. Drink 3 times a day. For the tincture, use 1-4 mls. three times a day.

Because Yellow Dock is a tonic, it needs to be taken on a regular basis over a long period of time to see results. Generally after six weeks one should see an improvement in skin and gall bladder conditions.

A note from Hearthstone regarding this month's ritual

It is our policy to present rituals from any of the varied traditions. In the past we have noticed that rituals with gay-related themes are the most poorly attended rituals in the entire OFM calendar. There are a number of reasons why this might be, including that these rituals tend to be during the summer months when the ritual area is sometimes unpleasantly hot, and when many people are on vacation and therefore out of town. However, we know that this lack of attendance stems in large part from the feelings of many in our community who either do not understand or do fully disapprove gay involvement in what to many seems to be a heterosexually oriented religion. True, a common reliance on archetypes of both the goddess and god would seem to imply that there is no place for same-sex love in our religion. But please realize, not all love is of a sexual nature. Just because a person feels a desire to love and join physically with someone whose gender seems inappropriate to you does not mean that that person is wrong or unable to really be Wiccan. The gods, and humans, come in many forms. So, too, does love.

Denying the place of gays in Wicca is denying the history of the Craft in America. Beginning with Starhawk and continuing all the way to the present, the Craft is represented both in print and in person by gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and those heterosexuals who are not afraid of them. It is impossible, in such a short space, to list all of the important gay contributors to the formation of American Wicca. Keep in mind that just because you reject Z Budapest and have grown past Starhawk, it doesn't mean there is no gay influence on your own practice.

(Just as a side note to the gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered folk who might be reading this: We hate to break it to you, but there are straights in the history of American Craft. The influence works both ways. Just because someone wants to join physically with a member of the opposite sex does not make that person wrong or unable to be Wiccan. Just because you never liked the Farrars and have grown past Buckland, it doesn't mean there is no straight influence on your own practice.)

So please, join us for the June Open Full Moon, even if you have never before been comfortable with gay-influenced rituals. The important thing is not with whom the officiants share their beds. The important thing is that we all share a love of the Earth, of the gods, and of each other, no matter what form that love may take.

QUEER CRAFT

by John

In many Prechristian cultures, transgendered persons have held positions of honor. They were thought to be more spiritually advanced because they were more in touch with both their male and female energies. But while transgendered people were often healers, some of them were fierce warriors and revolutionaries.

Joan of Arc was executed by the Catholic church for refusing to stop wearing men's clothing. She had lead an army against the English invaders in 1429. During her trial, one of the charges brought against her was associating with fairies (a euphemism for being Pagan). In addition, Joan also admitted to sleeping twice with Catherine de la Rochelle.

In Wales on May 13th, 1839. The Daughters of Rebecca destroyed toll barriers that prevented farmers from taking their goods to market. They did this for four years. The "Daughters" were a group of cross-dressing men.

This tradition of transgendered people leading battles for the rights of the oppressed continues with the 1969 Stonewall riots. The riots are considered the beginning of the modern Gay Liberation movement. The Stonewall Inn is a drag (cross-dressers) bar in Greenwich Village. On June 29th, the bar was raided by the police. Harassment by the police was common (among other things the police would notify the employers of the people arrested often causing them to lost their jobs). Normally no one would resist the police, but this night was different. Marsha P. Johnson, an African-American drag queen, is said to have thrown the first bottle. The long suppressed anger of the Queer community exploded, and the resulting riots lasted four days and nights.

I believe the Stonewall riots have their roots in the Pagan past. One of the factors contributing to the riots was the death of Judy Garland the night before. Ms. Garland was an actress and singer who was worshipped and often impersonated by gay men. The pain they felt at the death of this Goddess was "transformed into an empowering rage."

The book I used as a source for this article is Transgendered Warriors by Leslie Feinberg, and I highly recommend it.


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