Michigan Pagan Fest brings the power June 22-25 2017

Diane Lonsway raises up the primal forces for Michigan Pagan Fest 2017 with her theme of “Root, Soil, and Stone” this year. The primal and elemental “materia magicka” of presenters and performers from far and wide that promise to engage, influence, and educate attendees. The woman who describes herself in words such as “laid back, humble, smart, can be funny, people-pleaser” brought home the goods with this year’s line-up.

Michigan Pagan Fest Official Banner – Event Page

Headliners include Witchdoctor Utu, Dragon Ritual Drummers, Amber K , and Azrael Arynn K. Local Headliners include teachers Lady Bona Dea  Max Maya, and Baba Ted Juaw. This festival just continues to draw so much talent that it is almost inconceivable that it has not expanded to a week. Her programming is always rock solid.

Do you wish to see for yourself? Then take a gaze upon her schedule and be amazed.

 

(Full disclosure, I will be teaching this year at this event. Honestly, I get around.)

Plenty of opportunities for self-reflection abound, as this is also a campground based festival. This means that there is always time to play, read, relax, and enjoy the social activities that the Michigan Pagan Communities offer. Secure and safe, the family feeling and good vibes permeate the entire area.

Image: Pixabay

Showers and indoor bathrooms make this a fun time, even for the novice at festival camping. Local hotels are giving a special rate for Pagan “festies”, and a staff of volunteers are there to answer questions. Diane is never far away, either, so you can also thank her for a great event in person.

Do not forget, that shopping and “ooh, shiney” is part of the experience. Vendors with wares that delight, dazzle, and inspire amusement populate the shopper’s area. The famous raffle bar rides again, as does the charity/food drive for Pagans In Need. Organizations that make a difference in the community are also slated to be in attendance. Who knows, you may find a calling to volunteer.

Food is available on site. However, you can definitely bring your own to heighten your experience….such as roasting marshmallows and having ring chants. I like Ghirardelli chocolates on mine. Just saying.

Image: Public Domain

The children will have fun at the workshops created just for them. Last year, they even had a children’s ritual. My own daughter, being the early teen Empress she is, was more fascinated with fawning over the soaps at Twisted Willow Soap Company and chasing after a passing puppy, of course.

(This was all part of a failed plot to enamor me toward dog adoption. Umm, no, allerergen level 100 here)

New this year, Blue Crow Talent joins the bill. This is the only local Pagan friendly circus in Metro Detroit. They have major chops, were founded in Detroit’s circuit, and are set to play in Las Vegas, baby! I LOVE THESE FOLKS.

(I love Las Vegas, too. But I can never tell you about it. Not even my husband can get my epic adventure there as a traveling saleswoman on vacation. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.)

 

Speaking of fiery experiences, don’t miss the Peruvian Fire Ceremony with James “TwoSnakes” Stovall.

All event goers are expected to observe proper ritual fire protocol. This means being respectful to the Fire Keepers, and to what it represents. Do NOT throw trash into the fire. I cannot stress this enough here. Use your best Pagan Manners.

In this spirit, it would also be a good time to suggest you bring your feast bundles if you have them. These are kits that you make yourself. They include a large cloth napkin, washable utensils, and bowl. This is easier on the environment than just tote, toss, and trash.

Michigan Pagan Fest is located at the Wayne County Fairgrounds. If you get lost, call (734) 697-7002.  The address is 10871 Quirk Road, Belleville, Michigan  48111.

Hope to see you there. Here is a chant for you to enjoy around those marshmallows. Remember: I love chocolate.

 

 

Remember, the most compassionate person is often the most dangerous person in the room

The name of this piece may seem provocative, even outrageous. The wisdom behind it is hard won and with merit. In political and power circles, this piece of information has been invaluable.

Merriam Webster defines compassion as “ sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it“.

How can a person experiencing this be dangerous? Many would believe that if a person is compassionate, it would stay their hand from harming another person. They might also extend that belief to encompass the idea that this person would seek to be protective.

This, while commonly held as conventional thought, is not always the case. I submit that it is very likely not the case most of the time in circles of power. The compassionate person holds greater powers than acknowledged.

Original Image: elti-meshau (public domain)

Those of us, who stood in the company of ruthless men and women, stand acquainted with the raw potential of violence and oppression that is possible at any given moment. I have observed such brutality executed with such swiftness that it did not seem real. Being unable to act, a crippling rage at my own powerlessness to assist the victims ground itself into my psyche.

In my life, it moved me toward deeper studies of religion, philosophy, culture, and martial thinking. The allure to being able to ease suffering tread arm-in-arm with my want to hone my particular skills as magickian, counselor, and courtier (still working on that). This was not in pursuit of protection, but defense.

To turn a heart that is cold-blooded away from its intended wickedness of action by a simple collection of ideas being implanted at the opportune times is beyond valuable. Understanding the motivations of the power decision makers allows a way to move them away from positions that bring harm to the oppressed. Researching laws and protocols allows a person to not only find where the bodies are buried, but make sure the new ones are not made in the political back alleys of societal and cultural games.

But what of physical violence in this cause? When you push a good man or woman too far, even a coward can destroy a force. When that person is moved by a sense of compassion coupled with wisdom, the body count can shift to a higher tally on the side of the bad guys. That person had a plan the moment they entered the room that covered how to protect the victim and themselves to the extent they can. They execute this mercilessly, due to the righteousness of their goal.

To spend hours in contemplation upon the goodness of man, the idea of peace, and the filmy concepts of justice and mercy, give fire to the blood. Some may never be called to place their body in front of a bullet, which takes the power from the gun-woman in deciding who will be shot. Many will never and sit whisper an embarrassing revelation to a legislator in the hallway at the water fountain right before a draconian vote against the poor. Few would ever get the opportunity to destroy a career bent on destroying an ecosystem. But all these actions, and more, are done not in malice. They are acts in compassion.

To dream of a perfect world is an act of revolution. To do magic, actions, and prayer to make it so, overriding the wishes and hopes of those who would spread harm – power. To hold compassion for all parties in this – love and darkness strangely mixed.

And sometimes, that is the most dangerous power of all.

Why is Detroit having its first conjure and folk magic festival?

Detroit is not like any other city in the world, and its magical residents can surely attest to this. We do things differently here. We do not keep our practices insulated and encapsulated like so many jars on an apothecary’s shelf.

Our energies and beliefs blur and move and merge in a dance that is both wonderful and terrible in its beauty. When we go to a shop, we are like a bohemian style magical band of hippies, taking what is needed, ignoring the rest, always willing to try something by chance and direction. So now we are trying something new.

Detroit is going to have a conjure and folk magic festival.

Detroit has its own spirits, its own legends, its own conjure and folk magic. We sit as an international port on the seas of fresh water. Our city of the strait is the gateway to foreign lands and immigrants have brought with them their traditions, their magics and their customs to merge with those of we who are here. The indigenous Peoples who ARE STILL HERE couple their narratives and spirits into the land with the folks who walk the centuries-old trails that are now covered in asphalt and bricks.

We practice Hoodoo here. We practice Vodou here. We practice Wicca here. We practice Ceremonial Magick here. We practice Ifa here. We practice Brujeria here. We practice Santeria here. We practice Lucumi here. We practice Candomble here. We practice Obeah here. We practice Espiritismo here. We practice Juju here. We practice Angel Magick here. We practice Necromancy here. We practice Spiritism here. We practice Hexencraft here (yes, we really do). We practice all types of renegade, wilding out Hedgewitchery here. We practice Demonolatry based magicks here.We practice Kemetic Mysteries here. We practice Palo here. We practice Lodge Teachings here. We practice Psalmistry here. We practice the teachings of the Aetherius Society here. We practice more than I can ever hope to name, and we do it all here in Detroit. We do it all in Michigan.

And we mix it together in ways that should not work, according to “authorities”. Our special brand of Detroit magick, conjure, and lore is our own. We have elements of the French, German, Greek, Polish, People of the Three Fires, and those who migrated here from all over the world cooked up in our own form of “City Chicken” style goodness. That is to say, we practice our own form of taking things and forming them into what we wish them to be for us, despite how they appear.

(City Chicken is made of pork, see what I mean?)

It was not uncommon for me to accompany my friends to a “candle shop” and get a stew of different magical traditions in one trip. In one case, my companion sought to increase her income for her exotic dance career. She purchased Honey of Love for her perfume and lotion, to add in. She picked up some love drops oil to add to her Pink Oil in her make up bag. She picked up some orris root powder to add to her baby powder.

Next, she bought a Money Candle and had it “dressed” with powder and glitter. Yep, I know. Glitter. Deal with it. This was added to the candle with an invocation, as the counter person carved a sigil into the wax. For an extra dollar, she lit it at the shop and left it to burn there in their “workings” room.

She then picked up a new tarot deck and some crystals. A candle to Oshun and some blessed oil was added to her purchase. She had a psalm paper blessed, bought a new Devil’s Trap seal, and a brass ring with runes inscribed along the inside. To finish her purchase, she grabbed some crushed shells and some Devil’s Shoestring “because of the scheming chicks” who were after her top spot.

This was normal. This was not a thing. This same girl gathered every full moon to worship Diana and to give an offering of cool water and wine to Aradia. She also petitioned Persephone that evening for a personal favor. And not a single damn was given. Not a single eye was rolled.

Because in Detroit, we do what we want. We embrace it all and tolerate whatever floats you boat, as long as it does not bump ours. What we do not do, however, is have any problem with recognizing that what we are doing is indeed a blended sort of thing, and is not “proper”. We just roll with it.

After so many generation of this mingling, it is bound to happen that folks forget where the dotted lines and boundaries on the magickal maps were located in our landscapes. We forgot how to not merge in some cases. Purists be damned, we got this. Innovation is what we are known for here.

However, this led to things being lost and pushed aside. Practices altered and then faded. Wording changed and sometimes completely disappeared. Our tradition mixing would soon give birth to new ones and so on.

Innovation and adaptation our forte. While this is all classically Detroit in its nature, it has its pitfalls. One of the main ones is that special nuanced flavor of each tradition and belief path being unique. Much is special about each “way” and religion and belief system. While we hold each as our baseline, many times they are so intermingled here that it is almost impossible to find strings in that tapestry.

This is why I decided to create the Detroit Conjure and Folk Magic Festival event this year. It happens on August 12, 2017. This will be held in Green Acres Park, in Hazel Park, Michigan. In years past, I was honored and blessed to be able to help run the Pagan Pride Detroit’s celebration of Pagan Pride Day Detroit there, so the place is familiar to many in the state.

The reason for this event is personal. I did not do it to make tons of money. I do like money, but that is not the primary goal of this event.

This festival was born in order to feature practitioners who are really part of the culture and “family” of the traditions and magics they are teaching. It is my sincere hope that by bringing forward folks who are bringing their unique flavor to this event, we will start dialogues about what is special about our bleedings, and what is special about appreciating what is different.

Image: Kenya Coviak

Appropriation as a habit is an ugly truth to post 70’s magic here in the United States. We take things, make them our own, and blend them into our practices without a thought as to why it is key to acknowledge the places form which we glean. We burn sage in shells at events in Pagan festivals with no thought as to why this is problematic, or why we should be talking about it.

That is not to say you cannot do this, but under what vibe? If you are doing it as part of your personal practice, yeah. But why that shell, why that plant? This is the kind of thing that I want to encourage folks to explore. We Sing the songs of others, yet silence their voices. Why?

In Detroit, I have been fortunate to see the resurgence and preservation of respect for the need to be mindful. I see folks who use the magicks, without regard for any of this, and make their lives better. They do not know, nor care, from where it came. That, too is acceptable. But when we speak of teaching and presenting, that is when we need to really make sure we are letting each path shine so that folks can ask questions of folks who KNOW for sure what is part, what is pilfered, and what is parrotted. To see the grace in which we have held another’s path in order to glimpse their walk in our own.

I have three goals for this event. They are my guiding principles. So I shall share them here.

  1. To present a spirit/magick based event for the region based on Detroit led interests. This includes people, paths, and practices from all over, not just in Michigan.
  2. To host, and hold space, for cultural topics that offer insights into the cultures that are the proving grounds and catalysts of the magicks that are part of our world today in an open zone.
  3. To provide a family friendly experience where attendees can learn; share ideas; and meet others of like and unfamiliar traditions and views, while having a good time in a safe environment.

 

We can have magic
But where did it vibe from
We can have culture
But what is it without magic
We can have family and friends
But what are they without spirituality and culture
All go together
At least in my f*cked up little vision
– Kenya Coviak
I invite you to come out to our city in the Fresh Water Seas this August 12, 2017 to experience some Detroit hospitality. The music and performances are free, as is general admission.We support Jit Culture as well, a special place in my heart beats for this hometown dance form. In featuring Jit Street, we hope to help spread the culture, and preserve it.
Rituals and classes for the public, young and old, will delight and intrigue those who make the choice to learn something new. Some may even reinforce what you know. A few will probably shock you by how much you thought you knew.
For those with a deeper need for practical applications and more in-depth knowledge, the Conjure College will provide opportunities to master new skills and concepts. This part is by paid admission only. Ticket holders get to get their hands and minds into a practitioner’s “kitchen” so to speak. Training by experts on what works is key.
Speakers from four states share their knowledge and expertise with our little city with the big roots. In picking Green Acres Park, I made a commitment to continue a tradition of magical festivals there. That is where I “cut my teeth” in holding them, so it is my home. It is a green space with beautiful trees made for sitting under, thinking, and celebrating. I could think of no better place to host this event when so many from around the Great Lakes area will set their feet here upon grounds that have been home to many years of magick …. and love.
I hope to see you there. I hope to see you, with your folding chairs, and your notebooks. I hope to see you in your floppy hats with your children in tow. I hope to hear from you if you cannot make it there.
But most of all, I hope. I hope to present to you why our city is like no place else. I hope to show you, in this little town just outside its border, why it is a shining beacon on the strait.
We do it our own way. I am Detroit born and bred, right off 7 Mile Road. 7, kind of a foreshadowing hunh (what’s up, numerology students)? I love folks on both sides of 8 Mile, there is magick everywhere. On this day, we are going to give you a piece of what makes us different.
Oh, and one more thing. Expect the unexpected. This is the Detroit, after all. We do things differently here, since 1701.
At the end of the day, I have to say that ultimately I give love, honor, and thanks to everyone who made my life the rich ride that it is.
I love all of you. No matter if you take your magick as a purist, blend it up, or shaken not stirred. It is all about respect.
What up, doe?

Groovy Green Craft Practitioner Series: Star of Bethlehem or Nap-at-Noon

DISCLAIMER:  ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHEN IDENTIFYING PLANTS. USE YOUR FIELD GUIDES AND LEARN YOUR LATIN NAMES. WHEN IN DOUBT, FIND AN EXPERT. NO ARTICLE IN THIS SERIES IS INTENDED TO GIVE MEDICAL OR ANY OTHER ADVICE IN THE HEALING ARTS OTHER THAN THAT OF A LAY PERSON.

Behold, the star that shines among the verdurous landscapes of Spring. The eyes shall be gladdened when they espy the tiny visitor that frustrates gardeners, but THIS graceful sweetheart has hidden qualities. We are talking about the Star of Bethlehem or Nap-at-Noon ( Ornithogalum umbellatum). A gentle bulb which loved being here in the United States so much, it escaped private gardens and went wild. Why play a bit part when you can be your own star, right?

Some folks think the bulb on this is delicious, but they are brave of heart. As a matter of fact, they should make sure they have a sound heart. This plant can affect it.

The bulbs apparently are edible though they contain heart stimulants with a digitalis-like reaction. Another possibility is that it follows from an ancient belief that doves were of a single sex and produced milk to feed their young; thus bird’s milk meant “a wondrous thing.” – University of Arkansas System,Division of Agriculture | Agricultural Experiment Station

 

By Björn S… (Garden Star-of-Bethlehem – Ornithogalum umbellatum) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
You will delight in seeing its six white petals that end in points like rays. A green stripe runs along their underside.  A member of the lily family, it captivates the eye. Simple, yet elegant, it is also INVASIVE.

 

Let us be clear. DO NOT PLANT THIS PLANT IN THE WILD. IT WILL NOT LEAVE. IT WILL ENDANGER OTHER SPECIES. THIS PLANT IS SOMETHING OF A STONE COLD BI***..

Star-of Bethlehem is non-responsive to several herbicides. Research studies at Purdue University found that paraquat provided 70 to 78% control. –https://www.na.fs.fed.us/fhp/invasive_plants/weeds/star-of-bethlehem.pdf

No one wants to deal with what will happen when you release invasive species into an ecosystem. Do no be a part of that jerky nation. I WILL judge you, and you will  not be able to share my corn bread.

I am not sure if I would share my cake either, since the petals of this flower are used to bake bread. No, I will not give you a recipe for that. Don’t roll your eyes at me, they might stay that way.

Some folks find that they enjoy nibbling on the bulbs that are fully cooked. I said fully cooked.

Let’s  look at that again: FULLY COOKED.

Raw bulbs have nasty side effects such as … death. Ok, so there is stuff that happens before that degree. Toxicosis is not cute. That whole excessive drooling, violent vomiting, swollen lips, tongue, throat and skin irritation is a real bummer. Not to mention the fact that not being able to breathe is not in fashion on beautiful spring days, Darling. Curiously, though, people do take the plant for treatment of congestive heart failure, according to the folks over at WEbMD.

Jan Kops – www.BioLib.de

Seriously, this plant contains alkaloids and cardenolides which are not our friends. Your children, you, and your animals could suffer if they eat this plant. Such a pretty little poison.

But to be candid, that is a real possibility if you mess around with this plant. It is not a ramp, but folks do try to think it is just because it has a bulb.

(See, this is why we cannot have nice foraged things.)

Ok, healers, I did not forget you were reading along, fingers poised on your pestles. Simmer down a bit and watch this lovely little video on its potential. In a plant essence, it is used for the uplifting of the despondent and those in grief, shock, or recovering from an emotional upheaval. It can bring gladness. It sure did for the Crusaders when they had to dry and eat them in a bout of starvation. Even Rosemary Gladstar trusts the qualities of this uplifter. (Yes, I made that word up. So what.)

Now, let’s talk a bit of the ethereal thing called magick. If you have been paying attention, you know what the properties and fok thought is about what qualities this plant has as a healing agent for emotional upset. Perhaps a candle made with the flowers, or a powder made from the petals might be used. I do not recommend burning.

The real thing you need to remember is that it is primarily good at addressing trauma of the mind and heart. A healing poppet might be useful. Or perhaps a gentle wind and ribbon wind catcher with the stems woven in and enchanted. It is really up to you.

I would venture to say that perhaps this resilience is tied to the plants seemingly stubborn ability to not be removed or stamped out of existence. The spirit of defiance is strong in this one. May that spirit of defiant joy be with you as well.

 

 

Groovy Green Craft Practitioner Series: Eyebright or Euphrasia officinalis

DISCLAIMER: ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHEN IDENTIFYING PLANTS. USE YOUR FIELD GUIDES AND LEARN YOUR LATIN NAMES. WHEN IN DOUBT, FIND AN EXPERT. NO ARTICLE IN THIS SERIES IS INTENDED TO GIVE MEDICAL OR ANY OTHER ADVICE IN THE HEALING ARTS OTHER THAN THAT OF A LAY PERSON.

Let us take a moment to feast our eyes on a lovely plant spirit known as Eyebright, or Euphrasia. Now, normally, this is where I put the officinalis on the end of the plant’s name. But in this case, I am going to pump my brakes a bit, because something a little different is going on here in Michigan. For foragers, it is important to know what we are looking at and identifying.

Eyebright has as its genus the word Euphrasia. But in Michigan, unless it was planted specifically, you probably (I said probably) will not find the officinalis epithet being appropriate to what you will find commonly growing.

I SAID PROBABLY. STOP CORRECTING ME. I CAN HEAR YOU, YOU KNOW.

What you will more likely encounter is Euphrasia Stricta. You will usually find these more along the upper peninsula. This is its glamour shot below.

By Bernd Haynold (selbst fotografiert – own picture) CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], 

 

Notice how it has the same petal shapes as its cousin, but is not quite the same in stature. Look closely. The plant does not  stand the same way as the officinalis.

This is a fairly easy species to identify, with glabrous leaves and with more definite (almost hair-like) bristle tips on the teeth of the leaves and calyx than the other two species, although the bristle tips are a little less pronounced than on some Ontario material. The plants often present a rather “skinny” aspect, with longer internodes and smaller leaves than other species, and a close look reveals to the naked eye a somewhat bristly aspect from the prolonged teeth. – Herbarium University of Michigan

This plant is one of the stand by herbs for eye issues. Indeed, you will need a good set of peepers to find it. Check along areas like old railway paths, meadows, pastures, roadsides, etc. Think travel, for this plant has traveling shoes and is trekking on down from Canada to us. You will catch the flowers begin to appear usually around July.
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:246_Euphrasia_officinalis_L.jpg
This sweet thang grows to about a half a foot high. It is also parasitic, as it grows  and depends on nutrients from the roots of other plants. You will notice its pronounced resemblance to an eye. Yep, our old friend the Doctrine of Signatures rises up again to lead us. The bloodshot eye appearance is kind of a clue to how it may be employed.
This is not really a kitchen herb. Although traditionally, it has been ingested in wine. I am NOT telling you to go get drunk and think that you can avoid a bloodshot eye hangover by combining them. You are not slick. I WILL make fun of you.
But if you are determined to just cram things into your mouth, then you can add the greens as a bitter addition to salads. Just a few. If you find you do not like them, then that is fine. That is what you get for putting everything in your mouth.
You can blend it in milk and apply it to irritated eyes. Learning the different ways of preparing the herb in common household blends and compounds is always a useful skill. Milk, oil, butter, and fats have been used this way for centuries, and the pantry stands ready to be used to its full glory as we re-embrace the old ways.
DO NOT PUT THIS ON YOUR EYES IF YOU HAVE CONTACT LENSES IN. I SHOULD NOT HAVE TO TYPE THIS, BUT I LIVE IN PURE PAGAN MICHIGAN. SOMETIMES WE GET WATER IN OUR EARS AND IT MIGRATES TO OUR MINDS.
For the herbal healer, you just hit the next best thing to commercial drops when it comes to soothing. Once, when visiting a remarkable herbalist in Hemlock, Michigan, my eyes were almost sealed shut from an extreme allergic reaction. With permission, she made a soothing poultice of eyebright and within an hour, I had relief, reduction in swelling, and the banishment of my redness.
She also gave me some to take home. Since I have chronic asthma, it was more than courtesy. This herb is also commonly used to help with bronchial issues. I will never forget this experience. Which is rightly so, since eyebright contains flavanoids and beta-carotene which help with the memory.
Here is an excellent suggestion from “A Modern Herbal” ‘s site.
An infusion of 1 OZ. of the herb to a pint of boiling water should be used and the eyes bathed three or four times a day. When there is much pain, it is considered desirable to use a warm infusion rather more frequently for inflamed eyes till the pain is removed. In ordinary cases, the cold application is found sufficient.
The word  euphrosunee,  means joy and gladness. It calls back to the happy little bird, the linnet. Folklore says that the bird cleaned its eyes with the plant, and the Greeks took the hint. After all the nights of wine like most of the ancient world, I am sure they were really happy for anything to clear up morning-after eyes.
The eye is suggestive of life, of divinity, of intellect, piercing acuteness (acies); and again, of truth, of joy, of love: but these seem to have been disregarded, as being mere indistinctive accidents, and the primary idea which, by the common consent of almost all nations, has been thought most properly to symbolise this organ is a spring—fons, πηγή. -, Notes and Queries, Number 193, July 9, 1853 A Medium of Inter-communication for Literary Men, Artists, Antiquaries, Genealogists, etc
For the magician, this ties in smoothly. Why? Because this herb is often used to see accurately into a situation. It is also used to aid clairvoyance and divination. Used as an incense, it can assist the Seer in their pursuit of knowledge.
I said knowledge, not wisdom. You can see stuff and not understand what you see. You can see bamboo and sugar cane all day, and not have the wisdom to know which tastes better, OR, which one to NOT set on fire. Just saying.
It can also be brewed as a tea to aid in this. But before you start guzzling eyebright expresso shots, make sure you are not allergic to it first. You could experience swelling, constipation, and other nasty things. Do some research before you start using it, like any other plant in this series.
Using it as an herbal powder will also garner positive results. Do this to dress an candle. Or even add to a lamp. Be imaginative. Be safe. Be blessed. I am rooting for you.
I hope you comment about your experiences with this plant below. I am always excited for feedback. Please do.
I’ll keep an eye out for you.
Please enjoy “Angel Eyes” as performed by Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra (Ol Blue Eyes).

Human beings are being murdered in the Republic of Chechnya because they are gay

It is happening. Humans beings beaten, tortured, detained in camps and prisons, and murdered by strangers and families in the Republic of Chechnya.  Here is a quick break down of what is going on in the Chechen world regarding the systematic campaign to exterminate and entire portion of the human population. The facts are grim.

The seeds of this reign of terror started to bloom in the early days of this March, when an application submitted by the group Caucasus, members of the GayRussia.ru project. The request was denied. However, this gave the authorities the impetus to begin their move toward the eradication of an entire segment of people.

In all, a total of four marches in North Caucasus Federal District. This notice of intent struck the chord. Though it is doubtful that the projected 300 marchers was an accurate reflection of the actual amount of attendees that would risk such a public demonstration, the government’s response seemed based upon a literal acceptance of the veracity and accuracy of this number.

In a letter on Russian social media platform VKontakte , the horror that was unleashed under a wave referred to as “honor killings” makes it plain.

MESSAGE FROM VKONTAKTE

(Original spelling and punctuation)

Salam alaykum all!

I never thought that I would write again here but now, when the topic of one chain and substituting one is being tortured as long as it does not pass, and still others it may concern, and I think it would be right if I warn.

There often appear posts about the bases ( refers to provocations to identify people of homosexual orientation -. Approx. EM ) and I some time ago trying to find these victims of the bases. When you do not find one, I thought it’s not true. Now I understand why I could not find one, which was framed in Chechnya. Unfortunately, many killed.

Killed not just young children and even grown men who are over 50 years old. Among them are well-known personality in Chechnya.

At various events, television releases, participated in the contest. I do not want to call them names. Most mladschemu 16 years. He was our village. Just the other day he was brought all beaten, just a bag of bones. They were thrown into the courtyard and said that he was killed. He still say he came to himself and hardly come. I do not know how they explain why they do so, they will be asked to present proof that our son or brother is.

In Chechnya, because strictly defame anyone whatsoever without tangible evidence. It is possible and to remain without pants. Especially to lay hands on the guy, and accuse him of homosexuality is generally a disgrace for many centuries. I do not know how they explain it but it’s crap happens. Source middle, military cousin of mine who just this morning told me about it. I was wrong when I said here and wrote that of the bases there. They never have and how they are now free hand. Be very careful and remove its dubious connection.

Importantly, do not remove the daily rent is probably all realtors are forced to put the camera in the apartments and in this way they get the dirt on the victims. And realtors with Chechnya will do anything just to avoid losing their business and who would dare to object to our military. Be very careful please. This is my last post here. ” – https://www.novayagazeta.ru/articles/2017/04/01/71983-ubiystvo-chesti

The republic is semi-autonomous, and has its own laws. In theory, the sanctioning of murder of persons completed an anal sex act is officially suspended, though codified by law in article 148 of the Chechen penal code. The penalties include caning in the first two instances, then execution upon the third. This same article has a history of being used to punish practitioners of alternative faiths.

http://www.sova-center.ru/en/misuse/news-releases/2017/03/d36596/

In practice, it continues to rise. The current head of the Chechen Republic,  Ramzan Kadyrov, maintains a very supportive stance of honor killings and the view that persons of genders other than heterosexual males being rightfully subjected to the practice. The following actions occurred at the beginning of the following month.

On  and before April the 1st, men were rounded up, it was coined a ‘prophylactic sweep’ in Chechnya. At first, the region’s officials denied that any such roundup and detention was “lies and misinformation”. A spokesman for the leader of Chechnya, said to the Interfax news agency –

Rachel Denber,Deputy Director, Europe and Central Asia Division, American Magazine

Ramszan Kadyrov Image: government.ru.

On April 3, mass rally expressed outrage at the reporting done by news agency Novaya Gazeta’ on the current situation. Kadyrov made clear his hostile stance toward media coverage of the current human rights situation in his country, even going far enough to declare them “enemies of our faith and of our motherland.”

Elena Milashina IWOC award
Image: U.S. Department of State

Retribution was promised, with stress being on the lack of limitation for the time period that might be necessary to exact such reprisals. The news outlet lost two reporters to murder in the past years, and Investigative Journalist Elena Milashina is in hiding following death threats for covering this story.

http://google-maps.pro/satellite/Argun.Chechnya.Russia#43.293028,45.891570,17

“Any homosexual Chechen can tell the story with the bases – if it happened not with him, then with his friends. One of the acquaintances of the interlocutor of the RS, Grozny businessman, sold the car to pay for the silence…”  –Sergey Khazov-Kassia, Chechnya: The Gay Outcome, Radio Liberty, http://www.svoboda.org/a/28417768.html

The 10th of April saw the international media begin to use the term “concentration camps” for the alleged detention centers in which detained gay men were housed. Stories of torture, and killings in wooded areas, or by families emerged. The world turned its eyes toward the very real consequence of living as a gay person in the nation, and its fatal implications.

“If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them since their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.” – Ramzan Kadyrov

In the United Kingdom, there came the declaration that a protest would take place near to the Russian Embassy in London. This took place on the 11th. Protests would continue to proliferate throughout the world. Outcry from human rights organizations and activists were high.

https://www.facebook.com/events/876760675796386/

A separate rally followed on April 22. Named “UK Rallies Against Homophobia in Chechnyahttps://www.facebook.com/events/675146246011541/  , it sought to “get this extremely under-reported story in the news. They are peaceful demonstrations“.

Amnesty International puts the number of suspected missing and detained at approximately 100, numbers confirmed by Human Rights Watch https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/04/04/anti-lgbt-violence-chechnya . Amnesty International created an urgent action petition,

Chechnya: Stop Abducting and Killing Gay Men

against these acts. This is the English Version for download.

EUR4660232017ENGLISH

International pressure is rising for Russia to act. The continued lack of movement on the situation is a cause of moral outrage. The United Nations called for action in April.

It is crucial that reports of abductions, unlawful detentions, torture, beatings and killings of men perceived to be gay or bisexual are investigated thoroughly – VOA News

http://www.voanews.com/a/russia-urged-end-torture-killing-gays-chechnya/3809377.html

In Sochi, Russian president Vladimir Putin met with German chancellor Angela Merkel. She expressed her concerns regarding the human rights crisis in Chechnya, and the climate in Russia, for humans who are gay or minorities. Her alarm over the human rights violations being reported motivated her to speak out against the actions of the regime. She asked the Mr. Putin to use his status to ensure greater protections for the rights of the people of Chechnya, particularly those being affected by the current actions of the government there.

“I asked President Putin to use his influence to protect these minority rights,” – Chancellor Merkel

A body that comes in with grass root material action in this situation is the Rainbow Railroad https://www.rainbowrailroad.ca/. They are assisting the situation by aiding those fleeing persecution and by extension seeking to save lives. They are working to facilitate the escape of persons at risk for torture, death, and worse. Currently, they count two completed “navigations” to safety, and have 30 more in process.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has named them as one of the organizations the Canadian government with whom work is being done in the effort to protect humans who are lgbtq.  Their efforts help to gain asylum. They are literally a life-line pipe-line.

Here in the United States, a group known as American Friends of Rainbow Railroad Inc set up a fundraiser to assist their efforts. The Facebook based campaign page is Helping Gay Men Flee Chechnya. The donations are to be aimed toward assisting the Rainbow Railroad with airfare, legal services, and temporary housing while the men are awaiting the granting of asylum in Canada.

As Pagans we often ask how we can make a difference on a local and world scale. The suffering of a single person is the suffering of humanity. By spreading the news of this atrocity, we can become a catalysts for action. Pagan activists are called to rally around this crisis. Whether a vigil, a prayer, a petition, a donation, or protest, all things are possible. All things are needful. All things make a difference.

Groovy Green Craft Practitioner Series: Common Lilac or Syringia

DISCLAIMER: ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHEN IDENTIFYING PLANTS. USE YOUR FIELD GUIDES AND LEARN YOUR LATIN NAMES. WHEN IN DOUBT, FIND AN EXPERT. NO ARTICLE IN THIS SERIES IS INTENDED TO GIVE MEDICAL OR ANY OTHER ADVICE IN THE HEALING ARTS OTHER THAN THAT OF A LAY PERSON.

This article will talk about that beautiful and fleeting bloom that graces the garden in clusters of heavenly hues known as the common lilac or syringia (Syringa vulgaris). This flower means a lot to me, as it is one of my quintessential flowers for mourning. Indeed, I lost my Grandmother this last week as the sea of its colors are flooding the Michigan landscape. She was 100 years old, so I shall take a special moment to write on this flower in memory of her. We shall all wear purple in her memory, as she was our queen.

Jacob Sturm: Deutschlands Flora in Abbildungen (1796)

The lilac is identifiable by its cluster of blossoms, four petals each. A common folk belief among those from Ukraine and Russia is that if you find a lilac with five petals, it is very lucky, like a four-leaf clover. There are many hybrids, but all belong to the Syringa family.

Common lilac (Syringa vulgaris), as the name implies, is the best known of all the lilacs in the United States. This shrub can be as tall as 20 feet, and the flowers are fragrant and usually lilac-colored,although they can be of other hues. Leaves are somewhat heart shaped and smooth. –

For the graceful gourmand, this is the time to gather your fleeting flowers. A simple sugar made from the bruised petals is a wonderful treat for spring teas. Lilac butter on scones is tasty, as well. But I believe that for many, the syrups are the best known.
Pexels -Valeria Boltneva
For the more adventurous, might I suggest a little bit of a nip? Holly and Flora have an intriguingly easy recipe for a drink called Lilac Haze. Imagine a spring mixer with this unusual refreshment. Perhaps it could be the highlight of the Mother’s Day afternoon brunch.
Those who know me personally, know I make herbal honeys. It is a sweet way of remembrance of springtime. I shall make a honey for my Grandmother to remember her, also. I shall also include it in what I place in her coffin. Sweetness among the sorrow. Here is a simple recipe at Feral Botanicals.
True story: Grandma was a bit of a germ free person. You had to wash your hands all the time, boil her water before she drank it, and so on. However, when my daughter, Brenna, gave her an orange mint honey she made as a gift, Grandma stuck her finger right in and ate it. She doted on her great-granddaughter that much. It was her favorite gift from us. So honey shall be my gift to her. She was very fond of honey. She even used to feed a pet Raccoon from its own honey pot, as a child.
My honey jars – Kenya Coviak, All Rights Reserved

 

For our healers, the lilac has been said to be a good massage oil infusion. Especially for those prone to redness. It allegedly also helps with rheumatism. Making an infused oil would be a great addition to your healer’s kit. But remember, always check for allergies. There are other uses as well, and a naturopath could be a source of training in these.
Lilac leaves can also be used for fever treatment and numerous children diseases, liver congestion, weak digestion and diarrhea, cough, bronchitis, increased body temperature, kidney stones, high blood pressure. – Health Tips Source
Ok, now folklore is out there. It is not hard to find the story of Pan chasing a nymph named Syringa who changed herself into the lilac. She was not having any parts of Goat God Boy. When he thought he was grabbing her, he wound up holding a bunch of reeds. 
He sighed then, and when the sound of it merged with the wind in the reeds, it made music. Hermes suggested he make an instrument, and this became what we now call the Syrinx, or Pan pipes. You probably have guessed what hollowed out wood is traditionally used for them by now. Yep, the lilac. You can also carve other things out of lilac wood, you know.
Here is a sweet article on the lilac by Olga Ikebanova at Frangrantica.  It is not surprising that in aromatherapy, the scent of lilac is also used to treat depression. It is often through stories and allegories that we remember the properties of a herb, flower, plant, or tree.
Let us speak of magick now. This is an interesting plant. On one side of its story, it is used for flirtation, beauty, and love. On another face, it is used for protection and banishment. Still another property is that of transitions from life to death, remembrance, and dealing with ghosts. This sweet shrub is truly a precious gift.
Jennifer Shepherd at the Lipstick Mystic shares some useful insights in the use of this shrub for protection of the home. I know a witch who planted it specifically at her home due to a ghost problem, so it seems to be a tried and true measure against unwanted energetic invasion. It can also be made into a wreathe for a ward (that is my suggestion).
Because my Grandma was a lover of dolls, I shall share with you an activity for this flower. Take it as you will. I give it freely here, in memory of her.
Gather up two pillow cases full of the flowers. From one, boil the blooms until they reduce to half in a large pot of water. Then use this liquid to dye a white pillow case. The color will surprise you.
Reserve a small saucer of the flowers from the other pillow case to make into an oil. Fill a small glass jar with them and cover with grapeseed oil, or some other oil without a heavy scent. Let sit for about 2 weeks. OR place into a double boiler on low for a few hours until the scent is strong in the bottle.
Next, dry the other blooms until brittle. Do this in brown paper bags. That way the moisture will wick away.
Now, get out your sewing kit. cut a simple doll pattern from half the pillow case, a front and back, and sew it together – leaving the top open. Stuff the doll with the dried flowers, which you will scent also with the oil.
Make an apron, or dress, and a bonnet for it from the rest of the pillow case. Now give it to a child, or keep it yourself. This is a good protection against unwanted dreams. It is also a pick me up from sadness. Enchant as you would any other object, with good energy and wishes.
Here is a lovely rendition of a “Lilac Wine” cover performed by Miley Cyrus.
This piece is dedicated to the memory and life of Earlene Bentley North-Horner (1917-2017).

Groovy Green Craft Practitioner Series: Boneset or Sweat Plant

DISCLAIMER:  ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHEN IDENTIFYING PLANTS. USE YOUR FIELD GUIDES AND LEARN YOUR LATIN NAMES. WHEN IN DOUBT, FIND AN EXPERT. NO ARTICLE IN THIS SERIES IS INTENDED TO GIVE MEDICAL OR ANY OTHER ADVICE IN THE HEALING ARTS OTHER THAN THAT OF A LAY PERSON.

Something is quietly growing in your fields right now, Michigan. It is slowly greening and popping and getting stronger. Tiny leaves of one of the most bitter plants are expanding and reaching towards the sun so that they might one day turn into common Boneset, or Sweat Plant (Eupatorium perfoliatum). If you have ever had it, you know what it tastes like. If you ever do, you will not forget.

By Bigelow, Jacob [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Migrants from the South recognized this familiar plant when they hit the lands up here as one of the plants they grew up knowing (and dreading). Those nearer to the wild places will be able to remember where the patches are from last year, it is a showy flowery resident. A perennial, it is part of the Sunflower family and seems to bring the heat of the sun to the body by sweating out sickness and fever. Actually, it is a great big ol’ girl.

Our cooks will have to sit this one out, as it is not what you would serve at an afternoon brunch. Actually, you would not serve it as a food at all. Especially since ingesting it raw in large amounts can cause serious problems. Those with liver issue should steer clear of this plant unless under a doctor’s care.  This plant has sesquiterpene lactones,and  polysaccharides and flavonoids. Though it is not a rule, per se, do not go gobbling it down for more than 2 weeks at a time.

You will not see it bloom until around July, but it is good to remember where you see it for next year. The florettes are identifiable by

large, numerous, white or purple flower clusters, which appear at the ends of the branches, are comprised of 10–20 florets (small flowers). Boneset has a faint aroma and a very bitter taste. – Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine

 

Our healers will make be able to make use of it for pain relief. Of course, they will only do this if they are versed in its usage.

Richard Whelan gives a great insight into its usage insofar as dampness in the body in his article in his piece regarding it as a medical herb. It is already bitter, no need to add bitter regret to its employ. Don’t be a goose.

The butterflies will love you if you grow this plant. Your arthritis will, too. Your taste buds will not. Did I mention it is bitter?

*Pssst. It is bitter. Just saying.

You can find a great recipe for a tea at Alchemy Works here.

Speaking of alchemy, you can use it for great magicks. Fending off evil, and breaking curses is really up this plant’s alley. Think of it as a Daisy Death Dealer of Doom to hexes. It is great in a wash, and even more long-lasting in a pouch spell. Personally, I like to fume a room with it and then do a wash, but that is just me.

Here is a great song to think of when you look for her, “Fever” by Peggy Lee.

 

 

Groovy Green Craft Practitioner Series: Puttyroot Orchid or Adam and Eve root

DISCLAIMER:  ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHEN IDENTIFYING PLANTS. USE YOUR FIELD GUIDES AND LEARN YOUR LATIN NAMES. WHEN IN DOUBT, FIND AN EXPERT. NO ARTICLE IN THIS SERIES IS INTENDED TO GIVE MEDICAL OR ANY OTHER ADVICE IN THE HEALING ARTS OTHER THAN THAT OF A LAY PERSON.

I had to debate with myself on the ethics involved with covering this plant in this series. Because, truly, many people do not have any sense of propriety and stewardship when it comes to our tender plant people. They will rip and pillage and leave nothing behind in their lust for acquisition of materials. So it is with great caution that I discuss our friend, the Puttyroot Orchid, or Adam and Eve root (Aplectrum hyemale).

This orchid is lovely, and modest, and has a long history with foragers, friendly healers, and casters. The roots are edible, so there is a strong appeal to try them.

Potato-like roots/corms boiled and served with butter” –   J.D’s Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants & Fungi

But I urge caution and reserve. Why? This plant is endangered in many areas in the United States, and once you eat it, you have removed another from existence. So make sure that you don’t take the only one in the area if you happen upon this lovely.

Also, this is a survival food. It is not popcorn. It is not a snack.

Barnes Dr Thomas G, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Identifying it will have to wait til later in the year, unless you are very observant. You will only see the flowers emerging, the leaves will not have their usual appearance. The old leaves are nice and brown right now.

But if you are fortunate to be in the right areas, usually near a wood-line, you will find them.Puttyroot has a very unique kind of appearance with veins that run lengthwise and have a silver hue in the fat leaves. The blooms soon will be adorning the stalks with a pleasing combination of tiny bursts of yellow and magenta. These altogether sweet appearances of color are not easy to see against the leaf fall.

In ideal conditions, Puttyroot sends up a single striped, accordion-pleated leaf in late fall, about 3-8 inches (.75 – 2 dm) long and 1-3 inches (.25 – .75 dm) wide. The leaf dies back by the time the single flower stalk blooms in May or early June.  The flower stalk height can vary from about 6 to 20 inches (1.5 – 5 dm). – The Natural Web

This plant is better suited to what its common name would imply. Macerate it and use it as a putty to mend things. Stick some broken pots together. Stick some other natural materials to mend with this stuff.
Since you probably found a broken glass in the woods from horrible people who leave their stuff everywhere anyway, try to fix it with the glue this plant can make. Then remove the glass. Remove the glass anyway. Don’t be trifling.
For our remedy slingers, train with an herbalist and learn how to prepare a tea for migraines.  Or maybe you will learn how to work on boils. You know, stuff you can use instead of trying to find a reason to eat everything you read about in a series.  Even better, perhaps you can use the plant’s legendary property for eloquence to explain to the DNR officer why you are digging up his woods?
Now, here we come to the section that most folks will know about if they practice herb magick. Yep. Adam and Eve root is used in magical herbalism. The most common use is for relationship spells. It is a drawing plant and usually is sold as an oil or as a powder. It is very rare to find a good intact root. This is part of the plant that makes up not only herbalism in general, but are very important to Appalachian and African American practices.
A flora of North America : illustrated by coloured figures, drawn from nature v. 2, 1822
If you would like to explore more about Appalachian magic via a reputable presenter, I suggest Becky Beyer. You can link to a podcast here at “Appalachian Plant Lore with Becky Beyer” on  New World Witchery to hear her talk about it. I do recommend you get out there and get your hands dirty, though, just to become a real practitioner. But don’t be irresponsible and greedy and  part of the group of folks endangering the plant.

Groovy Green Craft Practitioner Series: Wapato, Duck Potato, or Broadleaf Arrowhead

DISCLAIMER:  ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHEN IDENTIFYING PLANTS. USE YOUR FIELD GUIDES AND LEARN YOUR LATIN NAMES. WHEN IN DOUBT, FIND AN EXPERT. NO ARTICLE IN THIS SERIES IS INTENDED TO GIVE MEDICAL OR ANY OTHER ADVICE IN THE HEALING ARTS OTHER THAN THAT OF A LAY PERSON.

Time to get your feet a little wet. If you live near a shallow wetland, marsh, or even a soupy suburb with a good amount of juxtaposition with wet ponds, you may have seen this little fella. The Broadleaf Arrowhead, or Duck Potato is a good friend to the hungry forager.  Looking suave and pronounced, this plant has some heavy history here as a food stuff, medicinal remedy, and a bit of a folk lore as far as magickal usage.

WILD FLOWERS OF NEW YORK Memoir 15 N. Y. State Museum Plate 1

First, you may have noticed that this plant is known as a duck potato. No, ducks do not toss it around after it gets hot in the sunshine as a game. It is not that kind of potato. But it IS wild food.

But be careful. Looking for this food to eat could lead to you being food to eat. What I mean is, where there is water, there could be leeches. So be careful before you just go wading into the wetlands. I am drawn to this plant due to my Creek heritage making this a plant my ancestors probably ate. (No, I do not have a Tribal Enrollment. No, I am not trying to appropriate anything. My Grandmother is 100 yrs old, and if she says we are Creek, we are Creek. We have been Creek since slavery times according to our records.)

This plant produces a tuber that can be roasted and eaten. It is a perennial, so once you find a patch, you can balance your harvesting so that you can come back and get more next year. You can find it in Michigan and all the way down through Mississippi. Gosh, you can find it almost everywhere, actually.

Did you know you could actually dry it and grind it up to use like a flour? Hmm. I wonder how that would taste, and would a duck eat a duck potato pancake? Sounds like a children’s story to me. I found that out from Mount Pisgah Arboretum.

2004 à 17:59 fr:Utilisateur:Bouba

IT IS VITAL THAT YOU MAKE SURE YOU IDENTIFY THIS PLANT PROPERTY. MICHIGAN WETLAND PLANT MISTAKES CAN BE DEADLY. DO NOT MISTAKE ARUM FOR THIS PLANT. USE A GOOD GUIDE, LIKE AT THE USDA NRCS.

For our healers, this plant can be a storehouse of use. It has a long, respected application on this continent. In Curious By Nature’s entry, they share that various uses by different nations such as the Maidu, the Chippewa, Navajo, and Ojibwa. It has been used for topical treatment for fever, as well as an antiseptic and laxative. As always, though, get some education from a bonified practitioner of the herbal arts before just heading off and setting up shop as a duck potato expert. I WILL drag you for filth (that means I will talk harshly about you with great contempt).

Now, let’s talk about the murky part. No, not the water. I mean the legends behind its usage in magicks and mysteries. I cannot verify or really push the legends that this plant is a defense against witches. I cannot really verify it is used to make a witch by drinking its tea in conjure or in indigenous societies. Why? Because I have no one to verify this. I am just presenting that this is part of its folklore. I am not going to just run around talking out of the side of my neck like a twisted duck.

BUT, I will say this. I have been told unofficially that this may be true regarding its use in ceremonial rites. I cannot prove it. Do your own research and ask around. Don’t just repeat what I say. You could be quaking up the wrong pond.

Here is a song about duck hunting. Because I married a hunter, that’s why, and it is about ducks.

Dallas Davidson – Duck Blind