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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Petroglyphs of vulvas are engraved into rock walls, caves, and boulders all over the world. They date to the Paleolithic and into modern times. Some are deeply grooved into the stone from repeated tracings or from grinding out rock dust for conception, healing, rainmaking, and other ritual uses. In Pomo Country in northern California, such stones are known as Baby Rocks, and women performed ceremonies there in order to conceive. [See Elizabeth Quick’s very rich article on this subject.]

Here is a collage I created of Vulva Stones around the world. (Look here for identifications of the various images.) Many of these ancient signs are described in what follows. Look at  the central image, an extremely old rock engraving from Messak Setaffet in southwestern Libya. She is seated crosslegged, with her hands to the vulva, from which countless people have scraped out rock dust, grooving it deep into the stone. Her breasts are clearly marked also, but her face is a mystery, not a human face at all. Horns protrude from both sides, and above them, the beaks of two vultures or other great birds. Other full-figure examples with strongly marked vulvas exist, like the examples below from Hawaii (middle left) and  Roc-aux-Sorciers in France (upper right).

b2ap3_thumbnail_vulvastones.jpg
Inscription of vulva signs on boulders and rock shelters goes back to the paleolithic in Australia, Africa, the Americas and Europe. Vulvas are painted on cave walls at Tito Bustillo, Spain, while they are deeply carved into the rock at Le Roc-Aux-Sorciers, France (see poster). La Ferrassie in the Dordogne is especially rich in vulva petroglyphs. Some are carved on stone blocks; one bears an animal head sculptured on one side and a high-relief vulva on the other. Another boulder has a vulva prominently placed beneath an animal’s belly.

A group of vulva-incised rocks are the centerpiece of the Brazilian site Abrigo do Sol (Sun Shelter), circa 10,000 to 7,000 BCE. The stones show both surface markings and deep gouges, some of which were used for milling or tool-sharpening. Others reflect a widespread animist custom of grinding out rock dust for ritual use. On some rocks the vulvas are accompanied by other symbols such as footprints and solar signs. (See poster.) The Wasúsu people say that these signs are “tokens of a long-vanished tribe of warrior women,” all killed long ago. [von Puttkamer 1979: 60-82]

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  • Paola Suarez
    Paola Suarez says #
    Yes! Yes! Yes! Thank you Max for this powerful share. I'm in love with the images and the descriptions. It inspires me to create m

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
In My Ear: Kellianna

I thought it would be a fun idea to ask Pagan musicians what they were listening to. I want to do this one as a recurring series. So, I asked Kellianna what 10 albums has she been listening to. 

1. Songs of Honoring by Jana Runnalls

2. Apocryphal by Karin Höghielm

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Witches (along with many other denominations of Paganism) view sex as sacred. 

The Charge of the Goddess says that all acts of love and pleasure are rituals of the Goddess, and not only do I believe that to be true, it's one of the things that drew me to this religion.  In many ways, we're more open about sex (some of us say that we're more "sex positive") than the members of many/most other religions.  Similarly, we're more likely to be quite accepting of QLTBG, etc. sex/sexuality/identity, polyamory, public nudity, and various less-than-mainstream forms of sexual expression than the members of many other religions.  Our on-line discussions and our festivals and conferences often reflect this reality. 

I consider those to be some of our strengths.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Diotima
    Diotima says #
    Not every criticism has to be explicit, Max. I saw the criticism as implicit in the context. It seemed pretty clear to me that sh
  • Max Dashu
    Max Dashu says #
    I read your post perfectly well the first time. Feminazi is an offensive slur that is used to insult women on the regular. Your us
  • Hec
    Hec says #
    Max, The sentence says: "Third, I'd like to suggest that we all consider that those who want to discuss ways to make Pagan even

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
High-Tech Tarot

Okay, well, maybe it is not particularly high-tech to some of you, but for an old crone like me who seems to have an aversion to modern electronics, it seems that way. I don't pay for my apps, I hardly know how to use my smartphone, but this is something that I discovered awhile ago, and now would not be without. 

Yes, I still like the feel of the cards and yes, I still adore my Tarot of the Cloisters deck, but with the Galaxy Tarot app on my phone, if I have my phone, I have my Tarot. What's more, I can do readings, and email the screenshot right to my client. I can share specific cards, I can add my own notes, I can refer to the different aspects of the symbolism or different correlations; in short, there's not a lot I can't do with this. 

I'm not one to go all gaga over an app, but this one--along with the sister app, Galaxy Runes -- are the only two for which I've actually paid. At $4 a throw they're excellent value for money. 

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  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer says #
    Galaxy Tone is a great app on Kindle Fire! Wish they had a better deck selection, though. (Btw, was gifted a Cloisters Tarot last
Hunab Ku: 77 Sacred Symbols for Balancing Body and Spirit

"In Hunab Ku, you'll find seventy-seven images of home-multiple ways to view or earth and ourselves. These images, like the Hunab Ku itself, measure and move us and encourage us to embark upon our own sacred journey. The Hunab Ku lies at the very center of these images, reminding us to balance our intentions, to center our understandings, and to become more conscious of what ancient wisdom continues to teach all of us today." -- From Hunab Ku: 77 Sacred Symbols for Balancing Body and Spirit

b2ap3_thumbnail_hunab-2-300.pngHunab Ku is an ancient Mayan symbol that represents the joining of opposites. Hunab means "one state of being" and Ku means "God". Masculine and feminine, analytical and intuitive, objective and subjective, yang and yin, conscious and unconscious, external and internal-the Hunab Ku speaks to the abyss between opposing forces and, in fact, serves as a bridge between them. The archetype of the Hunab Ku is the "space between" that reflects oneness with God and the unity of all things.

The Mayans constructed several detailed calendars and these calendars reflected cycles of the Earth and humanity itself. After each cycle of 5,125 years, the "universe takes a deep breath and begins again", and according to the Maya Long Count Calendar, humanity is posed on the edge of a great unfolding of balance and understanding. Many have called this the Age of Aquarius, but the Mayans called it the Age of Itza-Age of Consciousness. Some interpretations have set the winter solstice of 2012 as the time marking a gateway to the galaxies where Hunab Ku-the great mover-will pulse and fill us all with intelligent energy.

b2ap3_thumbnail_hunab-1-300.pngAuthors Karen Speerstra and Joel Speerstra have presented 77 sacred symbols that create an interactive system for learning, healing, and meditation. These 77 symbols are archetypes that are universal, arising from the collective unconscious. As visual metaphors, the symbols reflect, like mirrors, the patterns that are deeply embedded in each one of us. These archetypes bypass the rational mind, arrive on the wings of synchronicity, and invite us to journey inward. Archetypal symbols like those presented in Hunab Ku can explode us into different dimensions of understanding, restoring balance, energizing creativity, and promoting healing if we but allow them entrance.

In the book, the 77 archetypal images are organized into groups of seven color palettes, each reflecting the seven chakras. Eleven archetypal symbols are associated with each chakra, depicting the energetic pattern of the image as it relates to the seven energy vortices and their corresponding issues, gifts, and challenges. The lower chakras--represented by red, orange, and yellow-connect to the physical side of life. The upper chakras-represented by blue, indigo, and violet-connect us to the spiritual side of life. In the center likes a field of green which connects to both the heart chakra and the Hunab Ku. This area marks our central union with one another and joins the images of the body and the spirit.

There are several ways Hunab Ku can be read:

* Conventionally, from beginning to end, as a mini ancient art history tour
* One color group of eleven images at a time
* As an oracle where you ask a powerful open-ended question and then turn to a random page
* Roll dice and generate random numbers for different types of intuitive readings
* Use a pendulum to dowse the Hunab Ku symbol for numbers/images that speak to your questions

Hunab Ku is an unconventional book that serves as a spiraling labyrinth of archetypal consciousness. The physical images span from Red 1 Great Bear (Solitude) to Green 39 Hunab Ku (Lover). The spiritual images span from Green 39 Hunab Ku (Relationships) to Violet 1 Unicorn (Unity). So one could move down a path towards the center (39) and then move back out towards the world again by passing through numbers 38 through 1.

b2ap3_thumbnail_hunab-3-300.pngHere are a few symbols from the book:

RED

Scorpion (Conflict)
Womb (Gestation)
Ouroboros (Unconsciousness)

ORANGE

Mother (Intuition)
Water (Movement)
Giant (Control)

YELLOW

Star (Inspiration)
Twins (Androgyny)
Wheel (Change)

GREEN

Dolphin (Addiction)
Healer (Wholeness)
Phoenix (Hope)

b2ap3_thumbnail_hunab-4-300.pngBLUE

Teacher (Knowledge)
Sound (Vibration)
Magician (Journey)

INDIGO

Moon (Dreams)
Wise Old One (Rest)
Chalice (Quest)

VIOLET

Scarab (Manifestation)
Double Spiral (Infinity)
Crown (Reward)

For each symbol there is a re-drawn color plate of a petroglyph, artifact, figurine, carving, wall mural, etc. These archetypes are from diverse areas such as the Americas, Africa, British Isles, Babylon, India and beyond. For example, Under Mystic (Violet 8), there is a picture of a stone labyrinth (1200 CE) from Chartres, France. For the Serpent (Red 7), there is a picture of the Great Serpent Mound (c. 1000 BCE) from Ohio, U.S.A.

b2ap3_thumbnail_hunab-5-300.pngFor me, one of the most fascinating elements of this 330-page book is the symbol readings in the back. Each of these readings is comprehensive, combining a series of archetypes for an incredibly accurate and insightful reading. There's an Insight Reading, Work Reading, Rainbow Reading, Courage Reading, and The Bard: Telling Your Story. The authors provide easy to read charts if you want to generate numbers by throwing dice or by assigning number values to the letters of your name, for example.

Frankly, I am amazed at the depth of this book. It "speaks" profoundly on so many levels. 

If you're fascinated by the world of symbols and archetypes-as well as chakras, energy, mythology, art, sacred geometry, oracles, anthropology, and spiritual evolution-this beautifully illustrated and exhaustively researched book will take you on an amazing journey through both outer and inner worlds. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

What's the best way to leave food offerings?

Libations are simple: one pours directly onto the ground.

Food offerings, though, are a little more difficult. If there's a sacred fire present, one can burn them, but what if there isn't? It seems rude to lay them directly on the ground. (If I offered you a sandwich and set it on the floor in front of you, how would you feel?) To set out food offerings in non-bio-degradable containers pollutes both physically and spiritually. What to do?

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  • Grant
    Grant says #
    This has been something which has been on my mind for some time as well, still now and in the past, I have always layed my food of
  • Linette
    Linette says #
    I live in the wilderness, and I have some stones I lay my offerings on. They are always well received by the local wildlife who le
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Writer Paul Tuiteann (reborn to the people) once told me, "Circles and house wards are all fine and good, but if you really want t

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_Diana2012.JPG

Diana Lucifera
Love, Beauty, Blessings, and Occult Danger
 

Diana, the Light Bearer. 
Magna Mater.
Goddess of Stregas.
You are all power, love, and beauty.
You are bliss.
You are eternity in which I reside each moment.
You are every moment.
 
This blog is not about the wonderful Diana that many American Pagans know—virgin huntress and patron of Dianic Wicca, a women-only witchcraft tradition.
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  • Arwen Lynch
    Arwen Lynch says #
    This moved me. Praying the prayer rather than simply reading it was an experience I can't quite put into words. So I'll just say t
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Oh, my goodness, Arwen, thank you so much, I've known you a long time so and know you to be a person of depth, so I'm really grate
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Francesca, your pieces always brighten my day. Thank you for the introduction to this Diana, for the powerful Prayer for Solace,

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

For the witch, the seat of magic is the mind.

Animals know. Human beings know that we know. The wise know that we know that we know: we can observe our own thought processes. And the witch is the one who can consciously and with intent aforethought manipulate her own thought processes. (Terry Pratchett, that not un-astute observer of witchdom, calls this “having third thoughts.”) The witch knows that it's not good enough to think: Oh well, that's how I think, so that's that. The witch thinks: Hmm, that's how I think; how do I think myself into thinking differently?

And that's the heart and pulse of all our magic.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

 

Well, I’m finally getting more or less accustomed to the new system on the new computer. Still a lot to get used to, and I’m afraid it is slowing me down.

 

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The Rule of 3 and how we can use it in our Community

The Pagan community is going through a period of upheaval around the issue of sexual predators in the community. It's not an easy topic and as the shock of recent events falls away, we're left with a question of, "What do we now?" In a recent discussion on Pagan Musings Podcast, I suggested that one action the community could take involves documenting situations where non-consensual sexual activities have been reported. In such cases, it can devolve into a he said, she said scenario, with neither side able to conclusively prove what happened. When this occurs, its important to have a process in place that protects everyone, while still allowing for the possibility that the offending person made a mistake, as opposed to consciously doing something offensive. By documenting such situations, it makes it easier to track what is happen and do something about it before it blows up into an even more harmful situation than it may already be. Actually, this process of documentation can apply to any type of infraction that occurs at a pagan convention or festival, but it does require that people organizing the event be willing to take on the task of documenting whatever has occurred, keeping it in a database, and also sharing it with other organizers and leaders in the community. This may seem like a lot to take on, but I think it would also help to cut down on behavior that is harming members of the community.

Recently I was reading Romancing the Brand, which is a book about marketing. However, there's an interesting rule in marketing and customer service: The rule of 3. The way the rule of 3 works is if you hear about an issue, person, problem, etc. from 3 different sources, then you take it seriously because it means there's a problem. If we were to apply this rule of 3 to our community, through documentation and through the understanding that an issue shouldn't be buried or ignored if it continues to happen, what this would allow us to do is effectively monitor situations before they got out of hand. The rule of 3 provides enough verifiable information that we can't continue to put our heads in the sand and ignore what's happening. The rule of 3 also establishes that a pattern of behavior is happening and not being changed, even though concerns have been expressed.

The rule of 3 can allow our community to proactively address problematic issues by showing a pattern of behavior that needs to be addressed in a manner that protects the community over the offender. At the same time, the rule of 3 provides a person a chance (2 actually) to change their behavior, to address the problem...which sometimes is possible to do. Sometimes a person makes a mistake or has a realization that causes them to conclusively change their lives and actions. The rule of 3 allows for that without tolerating continuing behavior that harms people.

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  • Carl Neal
    Carl Neal says #
    I agree. I work for the Judicial Department and I know that our system is far from perfect, but at this time it is the best cours
  • Carl Neal
    Carl Neal says #
    Although it is an interesting idea, and perhaps a good starting place for a conversation, I see an exceedingly sliperly slope. Wh
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    This is an article primarily focused on starting the conversation. I agree with your points in your response to it, and I think al

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Spring

Spring
what are we leaping towards
what wants to push up from cold ground
what wants to open to the sun
what is it that we need to know

What quiet, steady pulse beats
below the surfaceb2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_0576.JPG
what hope watches from the wings
what light grows broad
upon a patch of ground

Shedding
releasing
changing
renewing
growing
healing
springing

Letting go
leaving behind
casting off
sloughing
opening…

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The Golden Calf: A Rite of Private Devotion

The Golden Calf:

A Rite of Private Devotion

 

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Satire aside, in my opinion, sacred images as a spiritual technology are much underutilized in contemporary paganism. The genius o
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Re "sacred images as a spiritual technology are much underutilized in contemporary paganism." Exactly. As a poet, ritualist, and
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Thank you, am always glad to see idol worship. It is such a heartfelt practice. Yes, joke intended and, yes, I am sincere about th

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Trees are wisdom keepers. They stand in a single place on the earth’s surface and faithfully witness the unfolding of time. Like people, trees observe their surroundings, root where welcomed, reach toward nourishment, and hold close where limited.  They form scar tissue when wounded and can adapt to change.  Examining the lives of trees offers critical insights for human wellbeing and survival, showing us when life thrives and falters.

“Witness tree” is an expression used for trees that mark boundaries, act as signposts and directionals, or witness key events in history and local culture – celebratory and tragic.  Trees also witness the in-between moments that are precious and informative in their own right. Through this collaborative witnessing of trees and people, we hope to foster a world that is richer and more sustainable for both.

My dear friends Rebecca Power, John Steines, and I partnered over a year ago to create Witness Tree, an art exhibit at Commonwealth Gallery in Madison, WI – with the two of them as artists (along with many others they invited) and me serving as facilitator of group activities and community conversations.  The above is our statement of purpose, and below is a picture of our world tree gallery where we gathered for circles of story, poetry, meditation, conversation, and leaf-making.

b2ap3_thumbnail_panorama.jpg

More recently Rebecca and John joined with other tree-minded artists in a fabulous follow up Tree of Life art exhibit at the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison, WI. Again, my role was to support the artists by facilitating a community conversation at the gallery to draw people into a more intentional experience of the Tree of Life exhibit. To kick of the conversation, we guided participants to reflect on their experience of the art and then to share in single words on slips of paper how the art inspired their personal connection with trees and the Tree of Life as metaphor for the connectivity of all living things.

We then collected the words to create a word cloud as a collective representation of everyone’s experience of the Tree of Life art.  Perhaps you can imagine the diversity of art in the exhibit through this “reverse experience” of viewing the visitor’s words rather than the works of art themselves.

b2ap3_thumbnail_wordcloud_2.jpg

As you view the trees in your home place over the next days and weeks, you might collect your own words of response and create a word cloud as an alternative, or in addition, to a journal. You can create your own word cloud with the tree or other shapes at http://www.tagxedo.com/

In alliance with the trees,
Anne

Credits: Thanks to Math Heinzel for the Witness Tree panorama, Amy Fenn for creating the word cloud, and the many others who contributed to the art exhibits and associated programming.

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  • Irene bryson
    Irene bryson says #
    My name is Irene and I am new to this, don't know how I came across it but have always been interested would love to enter into th
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Thanks so much for this! Your affirming the witnesses and caretakers of transitions is a healing for me. As a shaman, I often find
Pagan savings challenge, week fourteen:  what women want

I heard an interesting story on NPR about women and investing the other day.  The points which jumped out at me were:

  • Women are more risk-averse when it comes to investing, and testosterone plays a part in the gender difference;
  • Fear of an impoverished old age -- women generally have more time as senior citizens -- adds a layer of paralysis which amplifies the hormonal factors;
  • In heteronormative relationships, women are more likely to let the man control the money, even women who are the primary wage earners; and
  • When they invest for themselves, women tend to be better at it than men.

More than a decade into the 21st century, we haven't reached gender parity in how we relate to money.  How much of that difference is cultural and how much is biological isn't clear to me, but differences there certainly are.

Whatever the reasons, each of us have different strengths.  Gender is one way to describe those differences, but what's important is to recognize that we can support one another in saving for the future (which can include investing).  Some of the ways I have touched upon in the past, such as Pagan investment clubs and community savings groups are more likely to be successful the old-fashioned way, face to face.  Groups of people working together can shore up weaknesses and amplify strengths.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs

One of the best movies ever made: 1980's "Resurrectionwith Ellen Burstyn, Sam Shepard, Richard Farnsworth and Eva Le Gallienne.  I saw it when it was first released, and it is just as beautiful and inspiring, and the ensemble acting performances are just as extraordinary, today.  After many years not being able to find it at all, you can now finally purchase it on DVD and download it on the Internet.  (But for best picture and sound quality, I recommend the DVD released in 2010 by Universal Pictures' Vault Series.)     http://www.amazon.com/Resurrection-Ellen-Burstyn/dp/B0033PSHDG/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1396846309&sr=1-1&keywords=ellen+burstyn+resurrection

 

The pivotal woman who first gave us the story of ancient Goddess worship in a peaceful world that predated the masculine war societies of the Indo-Europeans by thousands of years: "Signs Out of Time - the story of archeologist Marija Gimbutas."  A documentary by Donna Read and Starhawk, with narration by Olympia Dukakis.  Colleagues of Dr. Gimbutas have attacked her vision as being too personal - wishful thinking that is lacking in scientific proof; and, in fairness, some time is given to a couple of those detractors - one of whom gently chides her for thinking "that she had a direct line" to the ancient knowledge.  But when you hear the full account of this amazing woman's credentials and impeccably exhaustive research, you will very likely suspect with me that her detractors are wrong - and her direct line was real.  http://www.belili.org/marija/aboutSIGNS.html

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  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Hi, hon, thank you for the recommendations. I appreciate the heart honesty with which you recommend them. It is lovely and loving.
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Good, Jon's Gardener, your opinion has been noted. If you see the DVD and do not feel the same way I did, that is both your busin
  • Jön Upsal's Gardener
    Jön Upsal's Gardener says #
    It is precisely stuff like the fetishizing of dubious scholars like Gimbutas that Wicca still maintains its reputation as being a
Persephone Knew What She Wanted, Do You?

Lover, tell me if you can/ Who's gonna buy the wedding bands/ Times being what they are/ hard and getting harder all the time. . .

I. Christmas Prepping: Like Apocolypse Prep but Way Less Fun

Right before Christmas, I can never sleep.  It's like my body knows how close it is to the Solstice and wants to be awake for the return of the light.  I try to console myself -- with food, with intoxicants, with television.  My house was a mess, the boughs that I have in mason jars are dying and my house is undecorated.  

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One of the things I love about working with Kris Waldherr's Goddess Inspiration Oracle is that she includes Goddesses from many cultures, including nonWestern and indigenous ones. This deck has really expanded my awareness of different Goddesses, and I always smile when one I haven't pulled before comes up. (And though I've been working with the cards for nearly three years, I still have new ones come up!)

So I smiled when Benzai-ten, Japanese Goddess of Talents, came into my life for this week. And I chuckled when I saw her message, which is

"Your talents can bring you wealth.

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  • Susan Harper
    Susan Harper says #
    Thanks so much for reading! Benzai-ten came for me at just the right time, too! I'm delighted to have you exploring her message wi
  • Paola Suarez
    Paola Suarez says #
    Great questions and great timing with this post. I really needed to read this. Thank you Susan!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Obligatory Kenny Klein Post

I'm sure most everyone in the Pagan community that pays attention to media issues is aware of the situation concerning the arrest of Kenny Klein and the subsequent fallout in the community and elsewhere. I'm not going into it, and it is not on my agenda to do so. Everything that has been, or can be said is being communicated in a better way than I could on the subject.

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  • Ali Kelly
    Ali Kelly says #
    Just a note: Pedophilia is NOT CURABLE. A pedophile can be chemically castrated, forced to never interact with children, and mon
  • David Banach
    David Banach says #
    Regardless of his talent and quality of his music, writing, or art, the fact remains that any future reference to his work will be
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    I am sad of your decision. Depriving many people of a library of good music does not relate to the accusations. Whatever else Ke
15 Things You May Not Know About Lindie Lila

I recently asked several of the musicians and artists that I play on my show to tell me some things about themselves that most people don't know about them. I intend to do this as am ongoing feature of the blog.


My first responder was Lindie Lila. Lila was a finalist in The Magick Jukebox's 30 best Pagan Albums project, coming in at #4 with Return of the Goddess. Her music is hauntingly beautiful and genuinely comes from the heart.

I have known some people in my life that seem to ooze beauty and love from every pore. Lila is one of those people. She genuinely cares for everyone and has a spiritual connection with everyone she meets, human and otherwise.

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