It is time to Stand Against Hate!

Anyone that knows me will not expect many comments from me on political or social issues.  It isn’t that I do not care or that I do not keep up with what is going on.  I am just usually busy marketing community projects and my own business and keep my political views to myself.  This week I do not feel that I have the option to keep going with business as usual.  This week has shown us something more horrible than anything I could ever imagine happening in the United States.   This week something has happened that requires every American, every Human to stand up and say “NO!” to.

Last weekend, people calling themselves the Alt-Right, White Nationalists, Ku Klux Klan, White Supremacists, Aryan Nation, etc. gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia under the guise of protesting the removal of a Confederate statue with their hate-filled chants, violence and horror.  One of those people decided to drive their car into a crowd of people with the intention of hurting as many as possible.  One young woman was killed and many more were injured.

You would think that would be the worst of it.  You would think that all our leaders would put aside  their differences and come together to assure the country that this is not acceptable.  Our leaders would stand together and assure us that the evil that showed up that day was not welcome here and all that is possible would be done to protect the country from this evil.  Assure the world that this is not representative of what is in America at its heart.   For the most part, that did happen.  Until we got to the President of the United States.

Our President, the leader of the free world, the Commander in Chief of the United States Armed Forces, stood in front of the cameras and told us that there was violence on both sides.  He told us that the counter-protesters brought clubs to the protest and implied that “they started it”.  He even went so far as to say that there were some “very fine” people on both sides.  ………..  Let that sink in for a moment.  Very fine people marching under swastikas and confederate flags.  Very fine people carrying torches and chanting hateful rhetoric.  Very fine?????!!

So here I am.  What can one person do? Many would say nothing.  I’ve been told by some that there isn’t anything you can do about it so just ignore it.  I just can’t.  Not this.

So here I am standing up and saying “NO!  THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE!”

America was founded by immigrants.  America went through a long and bloody history to learn that equality has no color.

Perhaps the good people of America have become complacent.  Perhaps we have looked the other way too often when confronted with the ugliness of racism and hate.  We cannot do that anymore.

Stand Against Hate!  Do so in your own way but step outside the comfort zone and stand up.  I pledge to Stand Against Hate when I see it.  I pledge to show everyone that I will not participate or ignore hateful rhetoric.   Do not allow the hate to become comfortable.  Do not fight hate with hate.  But do not allow people to get away with posting or saying or doing hateful racist things.  Force them back into the shadows.

Click here to add Stand Against Hate to your profile picture on Twitter or Facebook.

There are many other ways to stand up against hate.  Consider donating to organizations that protect our liberties such as ACLU or organizations that work to identify hate groups such as Southern Poverty Law Center.  If you cannot afford to donate show your support on your social media.  Speak out when you see hate.  Contact your representatives in government and make it clear that you will only vote for people that stand firmly against hate.  Tell them you will not vote for people that do not call out those in power that support hate.

For quick reference here is a link to the directory of the House of Representatives with their phone numbers.   https://www.house.gov/representatives/

Here is a link to the directory of the Senate with phone numbers.  https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

Priesthood and Witches Mental health and Magic

We live in a world where often concepts of the mind and soul are ignored.  Where mental health issues like Depression and Anxiety are ignored or made light of.  As a society we are told that its “all in our heads” or that “it will pass”.  We are expected to be able to just laugh and smile at everything.

To those without anxiety disorders, clinical depression, or any other number of mental health issues it makes no sense why a certain song can bring us to our knees or cause crippling panic.  It looks like we overact to every little thing for no reason or for the smallest most insignificant of reasons.

These people don’t realize that there is an intense battle going on within our minds every day. Its expected that everyone gets sad so you will just power through it.  When a person says that certain activities like going shopping make them panic they can get laughed at or told to just “buck up and do it”.  Those who live with mental health issues often wish we would just snap out of it.  Who wants to feel paralyzed by crippling anxiety and depression?

Those without mental illness may be able to meditate, be in nature, do yoga, exercise etc to work out depression and anxious feelings.  Which is good for them, they don’t realize that  it may not work for those with actual illnesses not just situational depression or anxiety.  Many of us try to be in nature to relieve our depression.  We may try exercise and meditation.  It doesn’t always work, and sometimes the depression and anxiety can be so overwhelming that we can barely get out of bed, let alone do anything physical like exercise!

One of the many reasons why people dont get help for mental health issues is the stigma that they are crazy or that they feel they should be able to control all of their actions without the aid of medication or therapy.  They believe that it should be possible to just shake off the depression and anxiety.  They believe that since everyone gets sad and anxious and still manages to go to work etc they should be able to do it as well.

The above meme is dangerous.  It gives people who would seek help a bad idea.  At the same time when those who would seek help (therapy, medication etc) many people reply that they should spent more time in nature.  That medications are poison and should be avoided.  Often times people highlight the fact that several of these anti-depression medications have side effects that include suicidal thoughts and worsening of symptoms.  To those uneducated in medicine it seems silly to take something for depression and anxiety that could make you feel worse.  Memes liks this go around promoting this dangerous attitude.

 

Likewise you get those people who claim that herbal supplements, crystal therapy, Reiki, and prayer were all that they needed.  That if you were in tune enough with your spirits and the spiritual forces of the universe you would not have these very real health issues.  These people argue that if you were truly a witch and truly a member of the priesthood your connections to the spiritual world would make you healthy and secure in your health.

Mental health issues are not something to make fun of.  Nor are they something to state is all in the head or a result of spiritual work and awakenings.   Mental health issues can strike anyone of any religion, spiritual path, race, and walk of life.  Mental health and mental Illnesses exist everywhere.  No one person is more susceptible to mental illness than anyone else (except those who may have a family history, but that goes for any medical condition that can be hereditary).

There are those who believe that if you do work with spirits and are attuned to nature you will develop depression, anxiety, and other issues as a result of the spiritual work you have done.  They attribute issues like anxiety, depression, Schizophrenia etc to being awaken to the worlds state.  They believe that these illnesses are gifts from spirit to see the world and be able to help heal the world.  They treat the illnesses as if there was no problem with them at all.  That your spirits will care for you, and you should live with the illness.

All of these attitudes are very dangerous.  They do not count for the fact that these are very real illnesses.   They do not account for the fact that with these illnesses there are very real chemical imbalances in the brain which need medication to be corrected.  They do not account for the fact that these illnesses present very real disabilities, disabilities that can make a person go from being productive and useful to curled up in a ball cringing at every little thing.  Mental Illnesses are very real and cause very real problems in life.

These problems can not be fixed with simple prayers and crystal charms.  These problems can’t be fixed with a spell and herbal teas.  These problems have no single simple solution.   Mental health is a complex issue that impacts the mind, the body and the spirit.  This complex relationship makes it impossible for there to be a quick and easy fix.

It can take years for an individual to find the proper treatment for themselves and their particular illness.  Some of these treatments may include different types of therapy (Cognitive Therapy, Behavioral Therapy, Exposure Therapy, Etc) along with medications.  Sometimes several therapies and medications will be used at the same time.  Until all parties involved believe that the best treatment possible has been reached finding the perfect treatment takes trial and error as well as time an effort.  Everyone involved needs to be doing their part otherwise the treatments don’t work.

So what about those who have an aversion to prescription medications but would like to treat with herbal supplements and natural medicines?  There are hundreds of memes going around that discuss the virtues of herbal medicine.  Some of them list herbs others list various natural remedies to treat depression and anxiety.  What’s wrong with using some of these remedies?

If you have access to a Naturopathic Doctor and pharmacy for Herbal prescriptions than go for it.  A naturalpathic doctor is the only one who could safely prescribe you medications for your illness.  Other than that unfortunately i have to say you have to see a doctor and get on prescription medications.  These medications can and do save lives.

I’m not saying that herbal medicines aren’t useful or effective.  I’m saying that if you are going to go that route you need to understand that there is a lot to look at.  It is better to work with a trained professional in herbal remedies and natural medicine than experiment on your own.  I’m also saying that these remedies work best in trained hands and in cooperation with trained medical professionals.    If you use herbal remedies and folk medicine let all your health care providers know.

Those are steps that you can take to address the physical and mental aspects of Mental Illnesses.  How are you going to address the spiritual aspects of the illness?  This is where some people have issues.    They aren’t really sure how to deal with the spiritual side of mental health issues.  Once they have chosen to deal with the mental and physical aspect of the health issue, sometimes they can have difficulty finding ways to address the spiritual aspects of the illness.

Many pagans and witches believe in true holistic health.  They believe in a connection between the mind, the body, and the spirit.  Mental health impacts the mind, the body, and the spirit together.  So it makes sense that there would be treatments spiritually for mental health issues..  For the treatment of mental health issues the alignment is no different.  The use of therapy and medication treats the mind and the body.  The treatment for the spirit is very different.

 

Spiritual work is an important part of maintaining mental health.  It can be a powerful partner in treatment of mental illnesses.  Performing rituals, casting spells, and going to powerful church services can leave a person invigorated, feeling powerful, and cleansed.  It can be a way to connect with yourself and be motivated beyond anything you had before.  Spiritual work absolutely plays a part in healing mental health issues.

This is where spiritual work comes into play.    Treatments like Reiki, Soul Retrieval, Chakra Alignment, and Sweat Lodges are all spiritual work designed to heal the spirit and align the mind, body and spirit.  Aromatherapy and crystal elixirs would be a useful one to include with spiritual treatment.  These wok on the mind and the spirit together while Chakra alignments and sweat lodges combine the physical and the spiritual.  Reiki does all three in one.

None of these practices should be done without the practices of modern medicine and therapy.  Spiritual treatments are designed to be used along side of modern medicine.  Those are treatments and practices that can attune to the spirit and heal the spiritual aspect of the illnesses. They are used with the modern medicine and therapy to create an approach that is holistic and will heal you completely.  Modern medicine, therapy, and spiritual work together provide a holistic health plan allowing you to become your best self.

Even knowing that spiritual work can be useful maintaining it can become difficult.  The spiritual side of things can be very hard to deal with when you are at your worst.  It can be the best thing for you, but it can become the hardest thing for you to deal with. At times mental health issues can be overpowering where even the most devout priest or active witch can be paralyzed to the point of no practice.

Often times in these situations the witch and or priest may know that doing cleansing work and prayers could be some of the most useful things to help break the cycle, yet they are paralyzed  and can not get themselves to do the needed work.  For people in this situation the statements about faith and depression can cut deep and deliver a sense of failure as a witch and or as a priest.

This is where your spell casting and ritual work can be useful.  Doing a spell and ritual to break the blocks keeping you down can invigorate your spirit and release the mind.   Spells that would be good here are cleansing, protection, and self love work.  These spells boost positive energy in the spell casters life.  Starting with a few simple spells or rituals is an excellent way to get back into the swing of things.

Altar set up for healing work

This will allow you to be more open to the regular daily practice ( if you are looking for a good guide line to developing a daily practice check out :Starting a Daily Practice ).  Through the use of a Daily practice and spiritual hygiene (protection and cleansing, blocks and filters etc) one can treat and realize that your spiritual practice can be helpful tool rather than a hindrance in your mental and spiritual health treatment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why We Should Support Our Own Resources and Community

Have you heard the dust-up at Patheos, over whether or not writers should write for (and be paid a bit by) the  evangelical company that now owns Patheos?

Or what about last year’s mass closing of Etsy shops that deal in the metaphysical, because you can’t prove any of it works?

Have you ever read about someone being turned away from a food pantry because they belong to the wrong church, or being told they can only be served by a soup kitchen if they listen to a sermon by the church running it?

If you haven’t realized it by now, all of these things go hand in hand. When we are dependent on the wider community, we end up playing by their rules.

generic Main Street image

If we were better at supporting our own community resources, we wouldn’t be so bound by the rules of others.

In business, while there are benefits to using a site like Etsy or Amazon and the traffic they drive….those customers are their customers, not ours. They have the power in the relationship, and we sell our goods at their pleasure. When someone realizes that we’re not really their cup of tea, or when an anti-Pagan group gets the ear of someone in management, we can lose all the following we’ve built, with no recourse and no warning.

The same holds true for writing. Why are Pagan books hard to find in mainstream book stores? Because the community that finds our existence distasteful is a bigger part of their income, and keeping our books off their shelves is better for business.  Better to publish ourselves, or through Pagan owned publishers, and to sell through our own sites, or through Pagan stores and websites, who will actually carry a wider range of Pagan options.

And, by the way, when we’re buying from those places, we’re supporting our own community. While I am not a fan of the “poor Pagan” stereotype….even poor communities (especially poor communities) benefit when their money is spent in their community, supporting others who support them, rather than being spent in the wider community, where it’s harder for that money to come back to us.  Money is just another form of energy, and energy goes where we direct it, so let’s direct wisely.

red, yellow, green, and blue arrows making a circle

When we take care of our own community, we have more resources to do more interesting things – more festivals, more temples, more food pantries and help for those in need, more jobs for those in our community, which allows them to also route money back into our communities.  This is how communities grow, and how businesses within communities survive and thrive.

Joie Grandbois: Participant in Portland Maine’s Woman’s Rights March

Joie Grandbois is one of the members of the Maine Pagan Unity Day Association and is on the board of directors.  She participated in the Woman’s Rights March in Portland Maine.  This is her experience and reflection on the March.

Q:Can you tell us a little about yourself and why you participated in this march?

A: My name is Joie and I live in Portland, Maine. I am partially self employed as a performer, artist and teacher but I also work part-time as a paralegal and research assistant. I have many fears and concerns regarding the actions of the new administration.

As a woman I worry about my reproductive rights being taken away, as a non-traditional worker who has health insurance through the ACA which is under threat of repeal and as a member of a community that is made up of a diverse group of LGBTQ people, immigrants, women, minorities and other who are greatly at risk from the promised policies of this administration.

I could not in good conscience stand aside and do nothing. I do make calls to my representatives and voice my concerns in other ways as well, but sometimes it is important to physically stand up and be counted. To be a part of a strong visual representation of those who are not in agreement with the way things are heading.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your experience at the march? How many were there and how you felt while you were there?

A: I marched in Portland. When I was there I guessed that there must be a couple of thousand at least but then the Portland Press Herald said it was over 10,000!!! It really was awe inspiring to be a part of such a large slice of the community all coming together. It was a little overwhelming but in a good, good way. At the end of the day I felt so hopeful. Just knowing I was not alone meant so much.

Q: That’s amazing.  Can you tell us about the sign you were holding?

A:Sure. I carried a sign that had the names of several friends who could not be a part of the march. Some were disabled, others were fighting the flu, a couple had to work or had other obligations. It felt good to be able to help them be a part of the march even though they could not be physically in the space a that time.

Q: Have you been involved with any other political movements like this?

A: I was pretty heavily involved with the peace movement leading up to the Iraq war. I was very active with Peace Action Maine and Bridges for Peace (we did vigils on bridges across the state on Sundays). I have helped organize buses to DC for national marches and helped organize several other local protests and events.

I stepped back from organizing for a time as I, like many activists, started to become a bit burned out. I am still pretty active on a personal level. I’m one of those folks who calls and emails my representatives and I often show up for marches and protests of causes I support. I think as a citizen it is important to make your voice heard in as many ways as possible.

Q: I was there in 2004 when Michael Moore was supposed to visit and hold a rally for peace and voting.  That was the first and only time I have been able to be active.  It was an experience still hearing him from the conference call they had.    What advice would you give to people who want to get involved but are not sure how to?

A: There are a lot of resources out there for finding out when actions are taking place. Facebook groups, peace organizations, women’s health groups, LGBTQ organizations, group for people of color, immigrants and so many more. Deciding what you want to support can be a bit overwhelming particularly when there are so many worthy causes and actions to support and we all have only 24 hours in the day.

It also means taking a look at yourself and seeing what you are capable of. Some of us are able to take part in direct action activities like the Greenpeace activists on the crane in DC today and others may find calling their representatives or showing up for a march to be more in line with what they are capable of doing.

There is no action too small really. Any action is better than nothing. I would suggest attending an organizing meeting for the particular issue you are interested in. Bring a friend if you are worried about going alone – when I went to my first protest I had a tiny little sign made from a pizza box top. It had a peace sign painted on it and I was sooooo nervous. I just felt like I had to do something and I heard about this protest outside of Senator Collins office. When I arrive folks were friendly and welcoming. It was a small step but every first step generally is.

I would also remind folks that activism can be a heady thing. It is easy for it to become all consuming; it is exciting and a relief to finally feel like you are doing something. But remember to take time to regenerate and rest too. Burn out is all to common in the activist community and I think even more so for women as we are culturally conditioned to be caretakers.

I am remember now too, when I think of being an activist. I was one of those kids in my high school who was boycotting Coca Cola and other companies to pull out of South Africa when apartheid was still in effect. I have always considered my self a feminist since I was very young. So I have been politically active and aware for much of my life. I think maybe because of that was easier for me to take a stand on things.

For others who are new to the idea or who have only recently had their eyes opened to the troubles of the world it can be an overwhelming thing – there is SOOOO much to be fixed.

Q:  Do you think these marches and protests are going to have any lasting effect? If so how do you think we can ensure that they are successful?

A: Hmmmmmmm….yes I do. Maybe not on their own, though the images of the marches from around the world and the sheer numbers are crazy impressive, but I think it inspired a lot of people to get involved. There are a lot more folks coming out for this than I saw at peace events in 2003. I think you are seeing a lot of folks who have been pretty comfortable with things; we do tend to live in bubbles.

Sometimes it takes something becoming personal to spur someone to action – it would be nice to have everyone instantly empathize with each other issues but that sadly isn’t always the case. It can take having something personally impact someone or someone they love to inspire them to act.

My hope is that whatever brought people out to the marches this weekend, that they connected with others, that they have begun to see that issues like fighting racism and sexism, reproductive rights, protecting the environment, healthcare, equality, LGBTQ rights, etc. are all connected. We need to stand up for each other if we are going to make an impact.

We need to show up for each other. I think at least a few people likely made that connection on Saturday and will take steps to stay active.
So that is my long winded way of saying yes, I think the marches will have a lasting effect in that it showed people they do have a voice. Hopefully on they keep using

Q: Is there anything next on your agenda to continue this work?

A: For me it is continuing to make my voice heard by calling my representative in the state legislature and congress. It is showing up for events as much as I can. It is also doing things like building community, reminding folks they are not alone in this, and also remembering to celebrate the victories when we have them and to use those victories as foundation to work towards more. And it is a lot of one on one, face to face conversations. We need to continue to connect. Social media is great for organizing, but we need to go deeper than that and start more human to human conversations.

Q : Thank you for your time. Is there anything else you would like to add?

A : I’ll add that we all need to take a look at our lives and see where we can make changes. I think that one thing Saturday showed us was that while we all feel we are just one person, when we all come together we can really make our presence known. There are other ways we can do this – by being careful where we spend our money for example.

Are you spending it locally when possible?

Are you supporting companies that are doing good things for the communities they are in and the environment? You may show up for environmental protests, but what are you doing in your own life to support that.

You may be all for equality, but have you looked at what ways you benefit from inequality?

Do you come from a place of privilege?

We think of activism as something we do “outside” ourselves – we make calls, we march, we post on Facebook and Twitter, but it also has to include a deep look inside ourselves and at our lifestyles. We are after all the only thing we really have any control over and if we don’t work to change ourselves our impact on that which outside of us is reduced. Integrity means something….

Trite as it may sound, we do need to be the change we want to see in the world.

 

 

Still searching for answers regarding Moon Afrykayn Aku and Orange Blossom KOA

Common respect, honesty and justice is all that everyone strives for as human beings on this planet. When an egregious wrong is done to a person, one would assume the respectable thing to do is offer a sincere apology and to make amends to the person wronged.

On the morning of Thursday December 8th, 2016, an egregious act of disrespect, dishonesty, and injustice was committed to a mother and her three young children and to date not only has she not received a single apology, but the powers to be are attempting to cover up any wrong doing with deceit.

On Thursday December 8th, Moon Afrykayn Aku pulled into Orange Blossom KOA in Orlando, Florida with her young children to utilize their shower facilities. Having previously called and utilized other KOA facilities and charged $6, she didn’t expect to be met with hostility from a place that promotes family fun!

By her own account these are the events that took place today:

My family and I have been traveling for some time. I was recently introduced to the KOA communities. I called ahead to see how much do they charge for showers. The KOAs in KY and just outside of Jacksonville charged $6 to use the showers.

We get to this KOA and they hadn’t opened yet and the box for registration didn’t have any forms to fill out. So I parked at the office which opened in 45 minutes and started to get our things together. I took my son the bathroom and I got my other children ready to use the bathroom as well.

Ms. Aku and her family at Orange Blossom KOA

I hear the door open and a woman started yelling at my daughter. I told her we wanted to use the showers and the laundromat.

She tells me I owe her $29 for using the shower. I said but we’ve been paying $6.

She informs me she is calling the police. This woman and another guy blocked my car in while they called the police stating we stole services.

 

After the police showed up she said she wanted the $6 for me using the shower we hadn’t used yet. Then drove off telling the police she wanted us off the her property.

Orange Blossom KOA’s handling
Creative Commons usage

This is a family friendly center? I have 3 children 1, 5 and 9 years old. How was calling the police friendly to us?

If I was trying to steal a shower why would I park at the office 45 minutes before they opened?

Moon reached out to KOA’s corporate office and was met with hostility and disdain as they told her “that line was for members only” and told not to call back and hung up. I took it upon myself to do some investigation into this matter and was shocked at the undignified behavior of the staff at KOA Orange Blossom in Orlando, Florida.

When calling the KOA in the days immediately following the incident, the phone either went directly to voicemail, or employees picked up and then hung up the phone. Not able to reach anyone on the local level I decided to try the corporate offices hoping to get some insight into the matter. I was highly disappointed by the response I received.

No report filed of this incident – no paper trail
Creative Commons usage

I identified myself and explained the reason for my call and the line went dead. I took it to be a dropped call and called back, the line now going to voicemail. I had no choice but to assume that they didn’t want to comment on the matter.

I spoke with Ms. Aku and asked her what she wanted the outcome to be from this situation and she stated that she “just wanted an apology and a refund of her money for the services she never received, but was forced to pay for”. That’s not an unfair request since as you can see from the video everyone was clothed and it was more than obvious that no showers were taken.

So I began my quest for justice once again, this time more fervently. After not having my calls answered, I began calling the Orange Blossom KOA using an App that issues you a random telephone number.

After several attempts success, I got an answer and I spoke with an employee by the name of “Holly”. I explained the reason for my call and states that I would like to speak with the manager.

She told me that couldn’t comment on the matter and that it was policy to only give out the email address for complaints. She said that she could take a message but that was it. I asked her for her manager and the owner’s name since this is a franchise park, and was told that it was policy to not give out that information either and hung up the phone.

Since I was unable to leave a message, I immediately called back and none of my return calls were answered. I decided to check with another area KOA to see if they were in the business of rude impolite customer service as well.

I called Southwest KOA also in the Orlando, Fl. Area and spoke with an employee whom I shall leave nameless. She pleasantly answered the phone and once hearing the reason for my call became apologetic that Ms. Aku and her children had undergone such treatment. She stated that she was unaware of the situation, and even though it was not there facility she could take my name and pass it on to her manager Matt Koromhas. I declined but asked her what the policy was for shower facilities for the KOAs.

She stated that “Franchise parks are allowed to set their own park rules but they had a set of standard policies and rules that they must follow to be a KOA of America Franchise and use the name”.

I was interested in knowing if their standard was the repetitive rudeness I and many other customers encountered at their parks. If you do a Google or Yelp search of KOA you see mixed reviews on their site. Many speak of outlandish behavior of the staff, but the general tone is the level of rude dismissive treatment to customers. For a business that promotes “Family Fun” why is disrespect and rudeness a common occurrence.

I reached out to the KOA corporate offices again this time emailing Mike Gast their VP of Communications. I received no reply so I called him several times. On my last attempt, I was able to speak with Mr. Gast who told me he was aware of the situation and that he had seen the video.

He stated that “he could see that the woman in the video was upset because she had been asked to leave because she was on the property “illegally”. When asked about Ms. Aku’s options to do an after-hour check in, and her inability to do so due to a lack of forms being available, he stated that “This facility doesn’t have after-hour check in”.

So I pressed, asking if they didn’t have after hour check in, why would they have a box posted for after-hour forms?

He stated that “this was really an issue of a woman trespassing and then becoming upset when asked to leave”. I asked why she was charged for services that weren’t provided? Mr. Gast stated that “The Police officers interpretation was that the showers/water had been turned on”.

So I asked if they were then charging her for usage of the facilities, why were her and the children then not allowed to complete their showers? He again reiterated that “it was the officers interpretation that the showers/water had been turned on” . And since he wasn’t physically there to see how far they had gotten in their grooming he had to rely on the discretion of the officer. He also states that KOAs policy is that their facilities are for campground guests and their visitors. I guess my question for KOA is, don’t guests have the right to use faculties that they have paid for?

I am wondering how Mr. Gast is relying on an officer’s information when, in speaking to Ms. Aku, we called the police department to get a copy of the police report and none exists. A police report was never even written up about the incident, nor filed.

To be clear on the matter, Ms. Aku always intended to register as a After-hour guest and pay the $6 daily usage fee.

This is simply a case of doing the right thing and issuing a simple I am sorry which they refuse to do. In the case of Kampgrounds of America they apparently believe the right thing to do in a family friendly environment is to call the police on a mother and her children and use them to extract funds for services not rendered.

Shame on you KOA of America we are all now watching you! If you would like to contact Mike Gast and let him know you would like to see an apology issued to Ms. Aku and a refund issued his email address is M.gast@koa.net

You can watch the ill treatment of a mother and her young children here

Editor’s Addendum: Ms. Aku is a documentary film maker on a cross country trek. The film project is “The History of My Chocolate Milk”. For more information about her, please visit her site

Moon Afrykan Aku, mother of 3, threatened with Imprisonment at the Orange Blossom KOA

Moon Afrykan Aku decided to pack up her children and follow her dreams to film her documentary Breastfeeding A Nation: The History of My Chocolate Milk” to discuss breastfeeding in the Black community. This past Thursday will most likely be the most memorable day in her year-long journey across the country that her or her children will probably never forget.

On the morning of Thursday December 8th, 2016, Moon pulled into Orange Blossom KOA in Orlando, Florida with her young children to utilize their shower facilities. Having previously called and utilized other KOA facilities, and being charged $6, she didn’t expect to be met with hostility from a place that promotes family fun!

By her own account, these are the events that took place:

My family and I have been traveling for some time. I was recently introduced to the KOA communities. I called ahead to see how much do they charge for showers. The KOAs in KY and just outside of Jacksonville charged $6 to use the showers.

We get to this KOA and they hadn’t opened yet and the box for registration didn’t have any forms to fill out. So I parked at the office which opened in 45 minutes and started to get our things together. I took my son the bathroom and I got my other children ready to use the bathroom as well.

I hear the door open and a woman started yelling at my daughter. I told her we wanted to use the showers and the laundromat. She tells me I owe her $29 for using the shower. I said but we’ve been paying $6.

She informs me she is calling the police. This woman and another guy blocked my car in while they called the police stating we stole services. After the police showed up she said she wanted the $6 for me using the shower we hadn’t used yet. Then drove off telling the police she wanted us off the her property.

This is a family friendly center? I have 3 children 1, 5 and 9 years old. How was calling the police friendly to us? If I was trying to steal a shower why would I park at the office 45 minutes before they opened?

Moon reached out to KOA’s corporate office and was met with hostility and disdain as they told her“that line was for members only” and told not to call back and hung up. I then reached out to KOA and when I explained the reason for my call was hung up on, and then the calls were forwarded to VM.

This kind of ill-treatment of patrons to establishment’s cannot and should not be tolerated. Why should anyone have to pay for services that were denied to them? We need to take a stand and demand that they issue a public apology to Moon and her Children and refund them their money! The number to the corporate office is 888-562-0000.

You can watch the ill-treatment of a mother and her young children here https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=onMynusK3J0

 

It is not over yet, Energy Transfer Partners will not stop DAPL despite Army Corps of Engineer decision

Do not be so quick to celebrate, people who are rooting for the triumph of the Earth and her Water Protectors at Standing Rock. The ruling by the Army Corp of Engineers that they will not grant the easement for Energy Transfer Partners to drill under Lake Oahe. The Dakota Access Pipeline would rerouteif this were a complete win. But it is not. The forces behind DAPL having no intention of stopping their juggernaut towards completion.

In a response to the Army Corps of Engineers decision, they issues a statement that left no doubt as to their intent. The full text can be found here. The full text conveys a defiant tone that seems emboldened by the militarized actions that have bolstered the relentless actions of the pipeline interests. Indeed, a haughty and contempt filled tone laced itself throughout the jab directed at the current U.S. Administration.

The White House’s directive today to the Corps for further delay is just the latest in a series of overt and transparent political actions by an administration which has abandoned the rule of law in favor of currying favor with a narrow and extreme political constituency.

To be sure, the powers that are in place at the reigns of this industrial machine are hellbent on seeing it run over, through, and atop the lands of anyone, and everyone, that get in their way. The message is crystal clear as the waters they wish to endanger.

As stated all along, ETP and SXL are fully committed to ensuring that this vital project is brought to completion and fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe. Nothing this Administration has done today changes that in any way.

This is not the time to despair, or give up. They are willing to take the fine, after all it is only monetary. The stakes for all of those with flesh and bone in this fight are much higher.  Do not back down, we are with you. Traditional Belief, Pagan, Christian, Gentile, Jew, African Traditional, and more, many of us stand with you on this line. That, and the broad backs and fierce courage of the righteous anger of over 2,000 angry veterans give hope that this fight is not going to be lost.

Image: 927 by Unicorn Riot

For direct information, please contact. This way you can find out exactly what they have to say. Let them hear your voice.

Energy Transfer
Investor Relations:
Brent Ratliff, 214-981-0795
or
Granado Communications Group
Media Relations:
Vicki Granado, 214-599-8785
Cell: 214-498-9272
or
Sunoco Logistics
Investor Relations:
Peter Gvazdauskas, 215-977-6322
or
Media Relations:
Jeff Shields, 215-977-6056

To my fellow Michiganders in Flint, stand ready. There may be some visitors headed your way as well. RT News reports that some of those veterans may be headed your way.

A dedication to those of you, and us, who stand with Standing Rock.

 

 

 

Hiding Your Faith During The Holidays?

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No, this article is not about bashing anyone for any reason. Just to shed some light and understanding to those who may not understand. Being Pagan isn’t something everyone was born into, more often than not it was something discovered on one’s own, not through family tradition. Even those that are born witches are not necessarily Pagan, or even Wiccan, and they may not even be open about the fact that they are a witch.

In some families and communities, being Pagan is frowned upon. Since many do not understand the old religion they associate it with Satanism, which are two entirely different religions. And to say you’re a witch to some is the equivalent of setting yourself on fire, or purchasing you’re very own key to the insane asylum. The fact of the matter is, coming out the closet as a Pagan, Wiccan, or Witch to your family can be just as hard, or possibil even harder than coming out as being gay.

And during the holidays… I must confess, I am out of the closet, but still in it at the same time when it comes to my family. More than likely it’s that way for a lot of people. Some families will just write your beliefs off as though they’re just a phase, a cry for attention, a bunch of gibberish, or just some more ramblings from the black sheep.

What’s funny is that while most families may criticize or frown upon one celebrating Yule or the Winter Solstice as opposed to celebrating Christmas, yet if you were to ask them what Jesus Christ’s true birthday was, they nine times out of ten would not know. They also wouldn’t know that the term itself derived from the Pagan celebrations of rebirth.  I double dog dare any one of you to go into a church and remind them of that fact.

So, for some, admittedly like me, it’s just easier to hide your religion during the holidays. Its just much easier to just go with the flow and say Merry Christmas while with family than to subjugate oneself to the inevitable ridicule that will come otherwise. And that’s okay. At the end of the day, whatever you believe, whatever your faith, cannot be taken away from you, whether you go around boasting the news to your entire family or not.

Whatever your patron, pantheon, Goddess, or God you pray to will not punish you, nor hold doing so against you. If you do decide to celebrate Christmas with your family you can still celebrate Yule/Winter Solstice privately, or amongst friends. One thing about the Pagan community, there truly are welcome arms all around. Arms that won’t hold you with judgmental eyes staring wholes into your forehead.

Haven’t decided what’s best for you yet? The answer will come to you, only you can make that decision. While thinking it over, maybe stop at the Fire and Frost Winter Festival this Saturday. Surround yourself with like minded people for a few moments of piece, and find a gift for yourself that calls out to you.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1641187122841298/

 

 

Veterans answer the call, and stand for Standing Rock

On December 4 – 8 Veterans for Standing Rock will march to “defend the water protectors from assault and intimidation at the hands of the militarized police force and DAPL security” in North Dakota. They will stand to protect the citizens of our nation against forces which they have deemed so outrageous as needing a direct response. Veterans of the United States Armed Forces, e.g. U.S. Army, United States Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Coast Guard plan to stand side by side with water protectors on site. For them, it is a matter of honor.

 

Original image source: Bykst
Original image source: Bykst

The utilization of Facebook to rally the troops proves to be effective. The event, named  Veterans For Standing Rock, is that of former law enforcement officer Michael Wood Jr., and Wes Clark, Jr., son of General Wes Clark.  He makes no hedging about his place.

“First Americans have served in the Unites States Military, defending the soil of our homelands, at a greater percentage than any other group of Americans. There is no other people more deserving of veteran support.” – Operations Order, Veterans for Standing Rock

 

 

 

 

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This group got the green light of approval from Elders of the Lakota Sioux, and plan to work in full cooperation with them every step of the way. The vets will be on the front line and in uniform, acting as shield against the spear. They face a situation that is beyond volatile. Preceding months of engagement in this fight for water, they list mace, tear gas, sniper guns, rubber bullets, attack dogs, LRAD deployment, and pepper spray.

But perhaps the most punishing and detestable shock was the now infamous night November 20. Trapped on a bridge, water protectors were allegedly barraged with rubber bullets, tear gas, water cannons, concussion and stinger grenades. Photographs, and live feed footage of these attacks and weapons were covered by independent and mainstream media sources.

Due to subfreezing temperatures, the use of water to force compliance endangered the water protectors to very real risk of life. A statement by the Standing Rock Medic and Healer Council addressed the potential for fatalities in this statement.

“As medical professionals we are concerned for the real risk of loss of life due to severe hypothermia under these conditions”

Among the injured was Sophia Wilansky. Wilansky was bringing water to those caught on the bridge when she was hit by an alleged police weapon. Police dispute this and support that it was a weapon brought by the protestors at the site. The injuries to her arm are so severe that they expect at least 20 surgeries in the fight to save the limb. The confrontation also saw injury to one law enforcement officer.

  “authorities continue to defend our tactics.” –  spokeswoman Maxine Herr, Morton County Sheriff’s office

Civilians are also called to come forward. They should read the event page for specific information about what is to be expected at while at the camps. Those going should be prepared for cold temperatures and be reminded that they are there to serve with the protectors side by side.

It is likely they will arrive sometime around the same time as the The Bunk Bus. The escalation of tactics of pain compliance as part of the overall strategy of the DAPL, the Governor of North Dakota and the Morton County Sheriff’s Department show no sign of stopping. Medics are needed, as are medical supplies.

A registration is in place for those who intend to take part in this historic decision to muster our nation’s veterans on a grass-roots level. The form is located at Veterans Stand for Standing Rock – Roster.

To support the fundraising efforts, and coordinate your donations, visit Veterans for Standing Rock on gofundme.

 

 

A Day of Comforting: A Humaning Event

This past Saturday I attended an event at Pagan Pathways Temple which is in the city of Madison Heights, MI. They called their event “A Day of Comforting“. This was an event open to anyone that needed to have a safe space to share about their fears and emotional turmoil and pain. It was open to all peoples and we all made sure to wear a safety pin, so that folks could see a physical sign that this was a safe space, to be heard and supported and to be there for others.

We were encouraged to not only talk about our fears and such, but to also write them down or draw them on pieces of paper that was later burned. We were encouraged also to let our inner child have fun with sidewalk chalk. Drawing and writing loving affirmations, giving support , comfort and encouragement to those that passed by and read them. And a bonus thing of giving others smiles as they saw this sidewalk art and writing.

We also had opportunities to write loving, supportive words of wisdom on posters that has a word or phrase to get us started. These posters are to be placed in the front windows, so that these will be a more permanent display of love and support.

Here are a few of them. A couple are my own personal contribution to the posters.

  • Your body loves you!
  • This planet loves you!
  • All creation loves you!
  • Though I may not know you, I love you!
  • Now look in a mirror and love yourself!
  • No one is perfect.
  • We are all beautifully flawed.
  • We are all worthy of love.
  • Love yourself!
  • Face and listen to your fears, anger, pain and challenges. Its how you learn to love yourself and then also others. It’s how you learn what compassion and understanding is all about.
  • Never be afraid to be yourself! You are beautiful just the way you are! Never change for anyone!

These affirmations, and more, were shared. They will act as guiding lights of comfort, support and understanding. These words will awaken in us to be alright with ourselves and our lives. And it is this person’s hope that this will spread as far as it can go. That this will be a thing that we can practice each day. Treating ourselves and one another with compassion and understanding. They also help us while we express our more challenging feelings, to also then release and welcome healing , loving thoughts and deeds toward ourselves and others. For while we were releasing our fear and such we were also embracing love, compassion and understanding, making sure that  we were not staying trapped in the things that were causing us fear or turmoil.

So today I share this story with you. Let this story and what has been shared be a guiding light for you also!