The passing of Isaac Bonewits- my perspective.
by Bernadette MontanaIsaac came into my life approximately 2 years ago. I had always known about Isaac from reading his books and at one time, belonged to his Blackdirt group, when he lived in Warwick, NY. I wrote an email to him and asked about his services and the classes that he taught. I have a little, but very busy metaphysical store, here in Cornwall N.Y., and really wanted him to teach here. Isaac and his lovely wife Phaedra live about an hour from me, so one day, Isaac and Phae decided to take a drive up to see my store and meet the community. We wound up going to dinner and having a most wonderful conversation about the pagan community and the experiences that both Isaac and Phae have had over the years. That was it for me! His humor got to me right away. A perfect fit with this community! Almost immediately, he started to do readings and teach his “Real Magic” course at my store.
Isaac facilitated ritual for us, at our Beltane festival and quickly became part of our family. He would come up just to chat with everyone. He became sort of a mentor for me. The information and lessons that both Isaac and Phaedra have given me; are priceless. Isaac also would help me as a friend. We would go and get sushi and talk for hours about family. I have 3 sons and it was nice to have Isaac's point of view. He has his own son Arthur, so he would tell me all about his experiences as a father. He became a “rock” for me. He even had his own key to the store, and slept there once or twice. There is a rather large community here, and he would always give me advise on what to do, how to be a leader, and how NOT to go crazy at times.
We went to The Starwood Festival together (2009). I was teaching my classes on the tarot, and Isaac was teaching his class based on his wonderful book “Real Magic”. It was a wonderful time, but going home was another matter. The pop-up trailer that I had blew a tire and destroyed the rim on the way home. I think we were about 3 or hours away from Starwood at this point. My pop-up is a old one and could not find the correct rim to fit my trailer, so all of us (Isaac, my husband, me and a friend), wound up staying in a motel for the night. Nothing like a night of drinking beer and telling stories, all night long! In the morning, Isaac was already blessing the pop-up in order for us to have a safe ride home!
I noticed that Isaac wasn't feeling that well after a while. He would fall sleep a little more then usual. There are two couches in the store and he had his favorite. He liked to take a little nap from time to time. My husband brought in a bunk bed type of mattress for Isaac to relax on. Things started to change little by little. He was uncomfortable. His stomach would bother him.
This was when I heard the news. Isaac told me about his doctors appointment. He was so optimistic and upbeat, even tho they suspected that he had cancer. Cancer is strong in my family so my heart broke when I head this news. He was put on radiation and chemotherapy. Even through all of this, he shaved his head and put it on the internet with a big smile on his face! At his point, he was not coming up as much. He was very tired and was having trouble making the drive. Isaac was in and out of the hospital, and Phaedra was working day and night, and was also having to take care of Isaac. Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone came to stay with us (to teach workshops and to facilitate this years Beltane ritual), and Isaac really wanted to spend time with them. When Isaac called to say that he was too tired to see them, it really hit me. Isaac was really having a hard time with the chemotherapy and really needed care 'round the clock. Arthur (Isaac's son) came in to stay with them to help take care of his dad.
A fundraiser and auction had been organized to help Phaedra and Isaac out with their mountain of medical bills. A wonderful lady named Tracey called me for information on how to organize such an event. Isaac attended this event with Phae. He looked quite frail and tired, but even then, it was good to see him. Tracey has now become a good friend. She would go to visit Isaac and Phaedra to see if everything was ok. If Isaac was in the hospital and I could not reach him, Tracey would give me the scoop. It felt good to have such good person supporting Isaac and Phae.
He slipped into a coma about two weeks ago. I visited Phae and Isaac at their home in order to say goodbye. He passed away in his sleep August 12, 2010 at 8am in the morning. I called Phaedra to find out what she needed me to do. She asked me to come the next day. My husband and I took the drive down to see what we could do. Isaac's siblings where all there. That is when I found out about the cremation and that Phae wanted us to be there for her. It was a very small and private affair. One that I will never forget.
Isaac-thank you for the time you spent with me and my community. Thank you for all that you have done for the pagan/wiccan/druid communities. Thank you for all of your humor and laughter. Thank you for all the love that is in your heart and thank you for your friendship. You will never be forgotten-heck-it's not possible; because I have all of those silly pirate pictures of you on the internet and at the store!
With much love Isaac-I am proud to say that I knew thee well!
Bio: Bio: I am a mom to 3 sons, a dog, 2 parrots and a bunny. Own a metaphysical shop named Brid's Closet in Cornwall, NY. A 3rd degree priestess in the Alexandrian tradition of Wicca, a 3rd degree Reiki practitioner, a professional tarot reader and teaches the tarot at various stores in NY State, taught the tarot at the Starwood Festival in 2007,2009 and 2010. a pipe carrier in the Sun Bear tribe. Bernadette has also written articles for The Witches Voice in the past called What Does It Mean To Be A Pagan In Today's World and The Good, the Bad and the Tarot reader. I also write for the Sacred Mists blog, and runs The Newburgh and Cornwall Witches Meetup, and facilitates two festivals in Cornwall, The Winter Solstice/Yule Ball and The Beltaine festival.
Thor's Hammer a "gang" symbol???
Va. inmate can challenge denial of Thor's Hammer
By David L. Hudson Jr.
First Amendment scholar
Virginia officials may have violated the constitutional and statutory rights of an inmate when they denied him access to “Thor’s Hammer” — a religious pendant of central significance for his Asatru faith — a federal judge recently ruled.
Inmate Forest Fisher sued the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) and various prison officials after they denied his request for Thor’s Hammer, while allowing inmates of other religions to wear various medallions. Fisher, who proceeded pro se — without an attorney — contended that these actions violated his First Amendment to freely exercise his religious faith, the federal law known as the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and his equal-protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.
In 2005, Fisher made three requests to possess a Thor’s Hammer, which members of the Asatru faith, a pagan religion of pre-Christian northern Europeans, believe is essential to communicating with the Norse gods. Fisher followed appropriate VDOC procedure in requesting the item. However, a prison official failed to forward his request to the VDOC’s Faith Review Committee — the procedure established under prison policy. Instead, a prison official informed inmate Fisher that the VDOC “does not approve Thors [sic] Hammer medallions for inmates.” When Fisher appealed, prison officials told him that a “statewide ruling” prevented inmates from possessing the medallion.
However, defendants acknowledged in court papers that there was no official policy prohibiting Thor’s Hammers. The defendants contended that the court should reject Fisher’s First Amendment and RLUIPA claims because prison officials were reasonably concerned about institutional safety, saying they feared Thor’s Hammer might be a gang symbol.
However, in his May 25 ruling in Fisher v. Virginia, U.S. Magistrate Michael F. Urbanski took issue with the prison officials’ failure to follow their own procedure in submitting Fisher’s request to the Faith Review Committee. “Had the defendants actually forwarded Fisher’s request for a ‘Thor’s Hammer’ pendant to the FRC [Faith Review Committee], they may have had a legitimate basis on which to found such an argument,” wrote Urbanski.
“However, as they did not, their argument that institutional safety concerns and the appropriate allocation of prison resources necessitated denying his request until it had been reviewed and approved by the FRC wholly lacks merit.”
Urbanski stressed that the defendants’ arguments “flatly ignore the fact that Fisher submitted the appropriate paperwork to the appropriate institutional employee for FRC consideration, but that the employee failed to forward his request as required under the VDOC FRC procedures.”
Because of this, Urbanski ruled that there were enough disputed factual issues to merit a trial on Fisher’s constitutional claims. He also denied the defendants’ request for qualified immunity, a doctrine that enables government officials to avoid liability for constitutional or statutory violations if they do not violate clearly established rights. “The record also establishes that inmates of various other religious doctrines had unimpeded access to various religious medallions, but Asatruans, like Fisher, were denied such faith items because prison administrators were not familiar with them.”
Right wing smears scientific consensus on global warming as a "cult"
December 08, 2009 8:21 am ET — 23 Comments
Following the release of reportedly stolen emails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, numerous right-wing media figures have attempted to undermine the case for action against global climate change by comparing the scientific consensus that human activity is driving global warming to a "cult." However, as the Union of Concerned Scientists has stated, the scientific understanding of climate change is "based on the work of thousands of scientists from hundreds of research institutions" and "[t]he e-mails provide no information that would affect" this understanding.
Right-wing media converge on talking point that climate change science is a false religion
Wash. Times: "Belief in global warming" is "a form of cultism." The Washington Times asserted in a December 4 editorial: "Belief in global warming had long had a tinge of theology about it, a form of cultism that adherents and defenders elevated to a holy crusade." The editorial further stated, "The veil has been pierced, the myth revealed, the scales have fallen from the people's eyes. The pagan priests are fleeing the temple, their sacred idols are being pulled down, their holy works renounced. Their god, finally, is dead."
Malkin: "[C]limate change cult" enabled by mainstream media. Conservative blogger and Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin stated during the December 3 edition of Fox & Friends, "[M]ost of the mainstream media have been the official enablers of the climate change cult." Malkin further stated that Energy Secretary Steven Chu "compared Americans who challenged a lot of this cult mentality about global warming and climate change to unruly teenagers."
IBD: Global warming science "has taken on all the trappings of a cult." Investor's Business Daily stated in a December 2 editorial that "[w]hat has been passed off as climate science has taken on all the trappings of a cult." The editorial also asserted, "As the high priests of what Czech President Vaclav Klaus has called a 'religion' prepare their pilgrimage to worship the earth goddess Gaia in Copenhagen, complete with humanity being sacrificed, the heresy of climate truth is finally being heard."
Coulter: "The global warming cultists want us all dead." Ann Coulter wrote on December 2 that the CRU scientists are "cult members" who "plotted to get editors ousted and the publications discredited." Coulter added that, "Until now, the global warming cult's sole argument has been to demand that everyone shut up in response to the 'scientific consensus' that human activity was causing global warming." Coulter further wrote:
Even if the Earth were warming -- which apparently it is not -- the idea that humans using energy-efficient lightbulbs would alter the temperature of the globe is approximately as plausible as the Aztecs' belief that they were required to wrench the beating heart out of living, breathing humans in order to keep the sun on its path.
Sadly, the "human sacrifice deniers" lost the argument to Aztec CRU scientists, who explained that there was a "scientific consensus" on the benefits of ritual murder.
But at least the Aztecs only slaughtered tens of thousands of humans in the name of "climate change." The global warming cultists want us all dead.
AmSpecBlog: "[T]he cultist genuflect reverently before their idol, Science." In a November 28 post on the American Spectator blog titled, "The Temple Cult of Scientism," Robert Stacy McCain wrote, "The High Priests perform their statistical rituals and the cultists genuflect reverently before their idol, Science. And it's all very impressive until the truth is discovered."
Andrea Peyser: "[T]he scientific and political left .... treat global warming as a cult." In a November 30 column titled "Climate-cult con is hard to 'bear,'" Andrea Peyser wrote, "The international 'Climategate' scandal is now moving into its third week. And reaction from folks on the scientific and political left -- or is that redundant? -- who treat global warming as a cult in which naysayers must be crushed has been depressing: Total denial."
Lowry: "Church of Warmism" is a "doomsday cult." In a December 8 New York Post column, "Global warming's doomsday prophets," Rich Lowry wrote:
The phrase "doomsday cult" entered our collective vocabulary after John Lofland published his 1966 study, "Doomsday Cult: A Study of Conversion, Proselytization, and Maintenance of Faith." Lofland wrote about the Unification Church. His subject could almost as easily have been the Church of Warmism.
Its college of cardinals has gathered in Copenhagen amid professions of an imminent global apocalypse that allow no room for doubt or deviation. "The clock has ticked down to zero," declared UN climate chief Yvo de Boer. Yes, the end is nigh -- just as surely as when the Millerites gathered on Oct. 22, 1844, to witness the Second Coming, only to comfort themselves at the end of the night, "Well, maybe next year."
James Hirsen: "[T]he cult leader of global warming theory is Al Gore." Appearing on the December 6 edition of Fox News' America's News HQ, Newsmax.com's James Hirsen stated, "[W]e have to say the cult leader of global warming theory is Al Gore. He's become a Hollywood celebrity by virtue of the fact that he is -- his film won an Oscar. He's won a Grammy. He's won -- you know, he lives in a 20-room mansion outside of Nashville. He has an indoor swimming pool. He jets around preaching this global warming."
Michael Ledeen: CRU emails prove global warming "was a cult and not science." During the December 4 edition of Hannity, frequent Fox News guest Michael Leeden referred to "the religious dimension to this so-called scientific theory," asserting that "[i]t was never more than a hypothesis but it became an article of faith." He later stated of the emails, "[W]hat it proves is that it was a cult and not science. Because science has to deal with all the evidence, whether you like it or whether you don't. Cults lock out evidence that they don't like. And they locked it out."
Broad consensus on global climate change "supported by multiple, robust lines of evidence"
IPCC: "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal." The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is a scientific body established by the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organization, has established that "[w]arming of the climate system is unequivocal." The IPCC "reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide," and its reports are the product of contributions from "[t]housands of scientists from all over the world." In a statement on the CRU emails, IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri said, "Every layer in the process (including large author teams, extensive review, independent monitoring of review compliance, and plenary approval by governments) plays a major role in keeping I.P.C.C. assessments comprehensive, unbiased, open to the identification of new literature, and policy relevant but not policy prescriptive," and that "[t]his thoroughness and the duration of the process followed in every assessment ensure the elimination of any possibility of omissions or distortions, intentional or accidental."
Nature: "Nothing in" hacked "e-mails undermines the scientific case that global warming is real." A December 2 editorial in the science journal Nature stated of the hacked CRU emails: "Nothing in the e-mails undermines the scientific case that global warming is real -- or that human activities are almost certainly the cause. That case is supported by multiple, robust lines of evidence, including several that are completely independent of the climate reconstructions debated in the e-mails."
AMS: Position on climate change "based on a robust body of research reported in the peer-reviewed literature." Following the release of the stolen emails, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) reaffirmed its Statement on Climate Change, stating that it "is based on a robust body of research reported in the peer-reviewed literature." AMS further stated: "For climate change research, the body of research in the literature is very large and the dependence on any one set of research results to the comprehensive understanding of the climate system is very, very small. Even if some of the charges of improper behavior in this particular case turn out to be true -- which is not yet clearly the case -- the impact on the science of climate change would be very limited."
UCS: "For years, thousands of scientists working at climate research centers around the world have carefully and rigorously reached a consensus." The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has stated that "[t]he e-mails provide no information that would affect the scientific understanding of climate change, as many contrarians are falsely claiming. For years, thousands of scientists working at climate research centers around the world have carefully and rigorously reached a consensus on the extent of climate change, the urgency of the problem, and the role human activity plays in causing it." UCS further stated: "The findings of the USGCRP, IPCC and other scientific bodies are based on the work of thousands of scientists from hundreds of research institutions. The University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU) is just one among many such research institutions. Even without data from CRU, there is still an overwhelming body of evidence that human activity triggering dangerous levels of global warming."
Peter Kelemen: "[A]lleged problems with a few scientists' behavior do not change the consensus understanding of human-induced, global climate change." Kelemen, a professor of geochemistry at Columbia University's Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, wrote, "I think it is important for scientists to clearly state that if basic data were withheld, or if there was unprofessional tampering with the peer-review process, we do not condone these acts. It is equally essential to emphasize that alleged problems with a few scientists' behavior do not change the consensus understanding of human-induced, global climate change, which is a robust hypothesis based on well-established observations and inferences." Kelemen further wrote:
Outspoken critics often portray climate science as a house of cards, built on a shaky edifice of limited data and broad suppositions. However, it's more realistic to think of the science as a deck of cards, spread out, face up. Some data and interpretations of those data are more certain than others, of course. But pulling out one or two interpretations, or the results of a few scientists, does not change the overall picture. Take away two or three cards, and there are still 49 or 50 cards facing you.
CHRISTMAS, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule — whatever winter holiday we happen to observe, many of our celebrations are likely to be illuminated by flickering flames rather than electricity. 'Tis the season for candle rituals. Besides being the oldest means of supplying light, candles have been a central part of sacred and social traditions for nearly 5,000 years.
While they're now most commonly used for esthetic and aromatic purposes -- and as a backup during blackouts -- the candle's ceremonial flame still burns bright.
We light them in the name of hope, healing, peace, prayer, remembrance, romance and good fortune.
In Wicca, and other pagan (nature-based) and mystical belief systems, burning candles is one of the simplest forms of magic. Not the "hocus-pocus, pull-a-rabbit-out-of-a-hat" variety of magic, but rather focusing and directing mental energies to manifest a change in the physical world.
As in other religions, pagans use rituals to create a sacred space in which to connect with the divine, says Susan Hurrell, a longtime member of Winnipeg's Wiccan community. "A magical act is a symbolic form of prayer," she says. "It's a form of activated prayer. "In candle magic, you do the ritual with the candle, then you let it burn away and release the energy into the universe."
If you think about it, the birthday-candle ritual qualifies as a magical act: Make a wish. Visualize the end result. Focus your intent and blow out the tiny flames to move the energy.
"It's all about the law of attraction, cause and effect," says Denis Prairie, owner of Shifting Sands Metaphysical (719 Osborne St.). "A thought is a living thing, and you're asking the universe to manifest it."
Prairie doesn't sell birthday candles, and he won't help you cast a spell to hex your ex should your thoughts tend toward the negative. But if you're looking to bring a little magic into your life, his New Age and occult shop carries all the tools of the trade -- everything from cauldrons and crystals to pendulums and pentagrams.
"We use these tools to bring our entire consciousness in alignment with our divine plea," Hurrell explains.
In candle magic, certain oils, incense and herbs are believed to help align personal and spiritual energies. Also, colours are chosen deliberately to secure the intent behind the ritual.
To the untrained eye, the shelves at Shifting Sands might seem to belong in an ancient apothecary -- Prairie carries more than 175 different herbs, and row upon row of "mystic oils" -- but it's all part of the anointing process.
"By rubbing oil on your hands and then onto the candle, you're blessing the candle and putting your thoughts and energies into it," Prairie explains as he anoints a pink figurine candle with Adam & Eve oil (rose being the main essence) for a love ritual. Burning resin or herbs helps move the energy, he adds.
Attracting a new love requires more effort than making a birthday wish. The petitioner meditates on the lit candle at the same time every day while repeating an affirmation, usually written on parchment paper, upon which the candle sits.
A word of caution: magic should always serve the highest good for yourself and others, says Prairie, so when you're doing a love ritual, you can't name names -- say, your attractive co-worker. It's bad karma, he says, or even worse, venturing into black magic.
Adds Hurrell: "An ethical spiritual practitioner will never do a ritual for someone else without their permission, to influence the will of another."
Prairie, 56, worked in restaurant management before he opened his store four years ago. The Catholic-raised, rural Manitoba native admits that in his previous life, you'd have had to "tie me up and drag me" into a store like Shifting Sands.
"I walked into the metaphysical world very gently," says Prairie, who credits a veteran Winnipeg psychic for helping him discover and develop his own intuitive gifts. "You don't believe in these things until they start happening to you."
While he originally targeted his business to the pagan community, after the first year he noticed the market was much broader.
So who buys reiki candles, crystals and scrying mirrors -- not to mention all those little bottles of mystic oils and baggies of herbs? (During our visit, one fellow dropped $190 on an amethyst geode.)
"You'd be surprised," Prairie says. "They're just normal people who are searching for something more. My goal is to open two more stores like this."
Shifting Sands currently offers on-site psychic readings and alternative healing therapies. In the new year, Prairie will be adding a full Shifting Sands slate of classes in tarot, candle magic, shamanism and other metaphysical arts. (Check the web at www.shiftingsands.ws).
12/12/09 A VERY INTERESTING ARTICLE! Click on the link! Obama article!
PRAYER REQUEST:Please lend your prayers to Heidi and Michael during this trying time-Hi Bernadette. We were recently married & my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer.On the 14th of this month, she is going in to surgery to have a 4 inch cancerous growth removed from her right breast & then she'll have 7 weeks of radiation treatment. Would you be so kind as to pray for my wife's health, healing, & recovery.
12/11/09: A special blog, Women at the Parliament has been set up to report on "Honoring the Sacred Feminine at the Parliament of World's Religions." The Parliament is taking place now in Melbourne, Australia. It meets every 5 years in a different country and attempts to be inclusive of all world religions. Nevertheless, it took a lot of effort to have the "Sacred Feminine" and Goddess included. Our thanks goes out to the Women's Spirit Council for their perseverance in making sure this was done.
Kathe Schaafe's most recent blog post (Dec. 5) tells about several interfaith events focusing on the "sacred feminine," at least one Goddess event, the encouraging interest from many Parliament participants, and the need to move at least one event into a bigger room due to larger-than-expected attendance.