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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Worshipping Water Without Waste

We've all heard the advice about how to conserve water, especially during the summer months when drought and brush fires hit even the Pacific Northwest.  Water conservation is incredibly important and intrinsic to all of life on this planet.  For those of us who work with Water as a spiritual aspect of our paths, practicing water worship can sometimes leave one feeling guilty.

So, how do we honor Water without wasting it?

We start by honoring methods of conservation to preserve what is sacred.  We also must be mindful as we perform rituals to use only as much as we need, and show our gratitude at every step.

These are a mix of familiar, practical ways of working with water, as well as spiritual ones.

1. Showering.  If you're like me, stepping into a shower is invigorating, and if I'm not paying attention to my actions, or I'm not in a rush, I feel a strong urge to stay in the water and be embraced by its fluid arms.  Thankfully, I spent a few of my formative years in California, where water conservation is drilled into the heads of middle schoolers several times a year.  Unless you're especially dirty or have an illness that demands staying in the water longer, showers can be kept three minutes (my daily target) or up to five minutes in length.

When starting up the shower, it's recommended you collect the cool water in a bucket or bin while waiting for the water to get hot, and while it's great on a garden or to water your plants, it's also excellent for any divination work, blessings, or other water work you're planning on doing that day.

2. Baths. Whether you clean or just soak in a bath, make it count.  Plug up the drain as soon as you start, turning on the hot water only until it gets hot, then begin to adjust the cold water.  If it's too hot, turn down the hot water rather than turn up the cold.  Fill the tub only to the amount you need.  Use this time in a tub to meditate, cast spells based on water, or give thanks to the water beings, gods, or goddesses with whom you manifest intention.  A bath oil at the end of the bath will help seal in the water you've enjoyed, and continue its blessings.

I use my bath soaks primarily for self-healing work.  I add epsom salts, herbs, or oils depending on what I need.  Mugwort, steeped as a tea for two hours ahead of time, is an excellent addition for women needing to balance their hormones and regulate menstrual cycles.  It's very cleansing, and if you have tea left over, it's good for a once-a-month lucid dreaming session when drunk at night.  For women needing an after birth soak, or if you're a person who suffers from cysts or tears in your pelvic floor, a postpartum sitz herbal bath* is incredibly beneficial.  When healing in the tub, I ground, open chakras, and then perform Reiki on the affected areas that need the most healing.

3. Kitchen Rituals.  The water you drink each day is a blessing in itself.  Before taking the first sip of each glass, take a moment to thank the water and to put into it the intentions for healing, continued health, or ritual.  I recommend avoiding bottled water, as its production and consumption wastes water, harms global and local ecologies, and often harms the people living near bottled water plants by destroying local aquifers.  If you find your tap water unpalatable, add a filter to your faucet, keep a water filtration pitcher (add mineral rocks for an extra boost), or add fresh fruit and herbs** to your water pitcher for a hint of flavor.

Any kitchen witchery that uses water from boiling to washing should employ basic conservation methods: save water after straining, left over teas, etc. for watering plants.  If your ritual or meal left a bath of broth, freeze it for soup or reduce into a magical sauce. (Don't forget to sing while you cook!)  The glass of water in the image was used to water my indoor plants after its intended use; remember to give back to the earth or a nearby stream as often as you're able.

When cleaning your ritual tools, set aside a bin or half sink for soaking, to minimize water waste.

4. Gardening.  From shower and kitchen come rich water that can be used to tend your garden.  Pay attention to what might have mixed into the water in question and use where most beneficial: you don't want to use a broth that came from peppers in the same soil where you're growing them!  Also, save your cooking water for outdoors, or you might have odors you didn't expect.  Your shower water is better for indoor plants.

If you have an outdoor garden and can afford either the cost or the energy to install a gray water system, such as a reed pond, you can create a luscious place for meditation and ritual while making the most of your water and attracting beneficial wildlife (here, froggy, froggy!).

Another wonderful feature to include in any witch's garden is a rain barrel both for irrigating medicinal herbs and casting late night spells.  A splash of captured rain water on your feet as blessing or into the soil where you've planted a fertility talisman is perfectly safe.  Just be certain you use potable water for any portions of your ritual that require drinking.

5. Community Involvement. Whether you're a solo practitioner or part of a group or coven, show Water you're dedicated by taking part in community conservation efforts.  Reach out to stewardship groups, societies for the conservation of a given body of water, or watershed protection groups.^  Many of these groups need volunteers, as well as donations, to help clean or maintain local bodies of water. If your local watershed is being threatened by a company, talk to your representative about stopping or constraining harmful practices.

Take time to both offer prayers and blessings to your favorite ocean, pond, lake, or river, while also picking up garbage along the water's edge.  Get others involved in your efforts, and you can begin and end each volunteer session with a call to Spirit, a prayer, or a sung blessing (you might even dive right in, if the day's warm enough).

Water provides us with life, take care of it, bless it, and it will bless you right back.  Don't forget to go for a swim!


*Use a premixed blend of sitz bath herbs, or make your own using 1/4 cup each of comfrey leaf, plantain leaf, red raspberry leaf, yarrow flower, calendula flower, sheperd's purse, uva ursi (a.k.a. bearberry) leaf, and epsom salts.  Steep for thirty minutes in boiled water, and add to a shallow bath.

**Making my own fruit waters has made summer more enjoyable.  Some of my family's favorite blends are: blackberry with sage, raspberry with mint, blueberry with peach, cucumber with lemon slices, strawberry with nasturtiums, and orange with lime slices.

^There are a host of non-profits working both on local and national levels to conserve waterways.  Those I love most in Washington include Stewardship Partners, People of Puget Sound, and Water Tenders.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs

It’s back to school time, and that has me thinking about those of us who no longer spend much time in a classroom. I’d like to encourage us to think deeply about different purposes and practices of learning so that we can shape our own back-to-school intentions for ourselves. One of the biggest ways to make a difference is to practice what's not perfect.

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Call for Submissions: Masks of the High One - a Devotional Anthology for Odin

A little more than a year ago, I put out a call for submissions for Prayers to the Allfather, a book of prayers and rituals for Odin. Well, despite a number of people being kind enough to share my CFS across the internet, I received exactly three submissions. Due to various factors in my life at the time, I just wasn’t feeling equal to writing the bulk of a book of prayers on my own (since when I think prayers, I think poetry, and I am not primarily a poet), so I reluctantly shelved the project for a while.

Then I got to thinking: maybe a prayer book is too limiting. Maybe most other pagans, witches and polytheists out there also shy away from writing prayers for public consumption, either because they feel too personal, or because (like me) they associate them with poetry and feel unequal to the task. Maybe I pigeonholed my own project into the remainder bin.

And then it occurred to me: no one (to my knowledge) has yet to come forth with a devotional anthology for and about Odin. All of my initial foot-dragging on the notion of such a project aside, I finally had to ask myself whether I wanted to be the one to step up to the plate and do this, or whether I wanted to wait until someone else did it, and have to live with the regret.

And so, here we are. Today, on August 30th 2014, I am opening submissions for Masks of the High One: A Devotional Anthology for Odin. Submissions will close on May 1st, 2015.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I don't usually work with Odin but your blog inspired me this morning and I couldn't stop thinking about it during lunch so I wro

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
The Humility of Surrender
Eleven months in, I am one month away from a year, a full year. One year since the freedom to go and to do whatever moves me left. One year since I could choose what I ate, when I slept, when I woke, what I listened to, what I watched, what I wore and when. One year is just around the corner and I couldn't be happier.
 
It's been almost a year since I walked through the veil of transition between Maidenhood and Motherhood.
 
In my typical Scorpio fashion I have jumped in full force, straight into the deep end. She is yet to be 'babysat' by anyone besides my husband, she sleeps with me at night, on me to nap, my breasts are forever at her disposal, we are pretty merged, my Maiden and I at this point. It seemed the most natural way in the world for her and I to be together at most times, it feels as if a part of my insides was birthed outside of me while remaining a part of me. Like I gave birth to my heart and now I hold her as close and as dear as possible.
 
Despite this energetic vortex that envelopes the two of us, somewhere throughout this year it became apparent to me that I was going to need some downtime, this need developed into a routine known in the evening as 'Daddy/Daughter' time, this is my time to unwind. When we decided, my husband and I that downtime was very much a necessity for me, the vision that I held was of me knitting, reading, writing, meditating, napping and drinking tea. I'm happy to say that at 11 months this is pretty much how my sacred space looks 80% of the time.
 
Daddy/daughter time didn't begin quite so crisp and clean in the beginning months for me, it began quite secularly, those nights definitely weren't my pride and joy at the time. In hindsight I now see how much I gained from them, the humility and the permission to be human, to be a mother that was not a cookie cutter of the 'Domestic Spiritual Goddess' that I was holding up for myself to attain.
 
Daddy/daughter time began with me addictively watching TV series and eating potatoe chips (often they were organicish) and drinking pop (cane sugar instead of white....) getting as many "ep's" in as I could and fervently escaping into other worlds. I posted on my personal Facebook page asking for more show recommendations when I had devoured Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey, The Tudors, Boardwalk Empire and finally Orange is the New Black. My Priestess sisters, energy community and homesteading friends suggested some nice healthy mindful practices rather than T.V. They had the same vision for a healthy, full time to self that I had had. I just wasn't there yet. I felt myself slink away from announcing my dirty little TV and snacks habit and just sank even further into the couch cushions. I sank and I feared that I may have lost all of who I thought I was. I wondered if I was going to loose my Priestess self, if I was going to be a Stay-At-Home-Mom that didn't write, hold circle, offer services to others and ate junk food and watched T.V.  I'm so appreciative that I allowed myself to sit and eat. I'm grateful that I didn't push and that I was were I was and allowed that to be okay. These months humbled me, they revealed my humanness, not only in my need to take time for self, but in my ability to experience a little sloth without loosing my soul or my calling in the process.
 
I learned throughout my development as a Priestess, that nothing, absolutely nothing is as powerful a principle in the life of a Priestess as humility.
My mentress, the Priestess Aquarius, would teach me this during every learning session we spent together. "Above all Candise, a Priestess must be humble," she would tell me during my training. It was these words that followed me when I fell into a depression during a 'dark night of the soul' three years back. Similar to, yet nowhere close to as dire, this dark night of the soul mirrored my surrender into the couch potatoe phase that I have just been through. Both of these situations called for me to fall into what was and to allow myself to be in those moments, to let go of what I thought life should look like and to flow with the River of life. My dark night of the soul began when a man who has lived this lifetime shrouded in darkness, one who had wreaked havoc on my life when I was a young Maiden re-appeared in my life temporarily three years ago. I fell to pieces as years of frozen and unacknowledged trauma rose to the surface. My first response was to 'spiritual leapfrog' through the pain. To skip over the pain, to deny it, to spiritualize it away, simultaneously I felt myself teetering along the thin line of self-destruction as my old wounds promised to take me over the edge and back into the black abyss of self-destruction that I had lived in once long ago. In that moment of choice a silent clarity descended upon me and I made a deal with Goddess, I said to Her, "okay, I'm going to fall apart now. I'm going to feel everything I didn't feel when I was abused so many years ago. I'm going to fall to pieces and I'm not going to rush to come back together, I'm just going to let it happen and I need You to carry me through this." And I did. I just fell completely to pieces. For one full year I did little more than make it to work, the rest of the time I cocooned on the couch, I barely ate or showered, I went to trauma therapy and fought the voices in my head that argued that therapy wasn't as evolved as breathworks, meditations, Shamanic journeying and communal circles (all of which I also attended). My world turned black and I wasn't sure I would ever see colour again, my pride was stripped away from me and I flowed along the river of despair until one day I was delivered to the shore. I stepped away from the river integrated, more whole than I had been before I fell apart and I was gifted with experiences that I could offer others on the shamanic path. Suddenly I had less 'answers' for others and more experience to share in. This was the heavy pill of humility that I swallowed and this experience has taught me that being real, being human is worth more than any shiny ideal of a spiritual woman that I could try to fit into could ever be.
 
So I fell into my couch once again, though this time out of burn out rather than despair and I just watched as much TV as I could, I trusted the process despite my very alive pride that yelled at me that I was loosing all of my Priestess self in this year of Motherhood. I struggled with my 'Superwoman' archetype that had envisioned me baking, cooking from organic scratch, writing, knitting, sewing, visitng friends and humming a merry tune all the way through. I judged myself, harshly, after all I only had one little baby. I had so much help from my husband. I wasn't working. She slept great. So what was my problem? Simply put I was drained. In the Waldorf tradition of thought, which is rooted in anthroposophy a woman's child is under her 'Madonna Cloak' for the first three years of life. Energetically my Maiden sucks up as much of me as she can and I need to reboot. So I sat. And I watched, and I watched and I snacked.
 
Until...
 
One night when my Beloved and my daughter returned from their Daddy/daughter time I realized that I didn't feel rested and rejuvenated as I had before, I felt saturated in surface level noise. My deep need to fall into unconscious media/junk food bliss had passed, naturally. I had trusted the flow and eventually I did loose my desire. I took at trip to the library, I took out a magical novel. I pulled out my knitting. I picked up doll making instructions for my daughter's birthday and I began to be what I had envisioned, a Priestess filling herself up with art, crafts and inspiration. It was the perfect example of being a modern day Priestess for me, finding the balance between nurturing my soul and honouring where I was. When I surrender to what is and I follow the flow of the Mother I can trust that it is okay to be human and it is okay to be other than how my ego self wants me to be. Shortly after I received my first 'energy session' client since I had been pregnant. My Beloved packed my Maiden up for their evening time together and I saged the healing room/nursery. I lit candles, I grounded down and opened up to the inflow of the Goddess and worked with the woman on my table. I felt exhilarated. I felt deeply connected to me. I saw that when I trust, when I surrender. I can have moments of least resistance that look less than evolved to me without loosing my sense of the magical, my connection to Source.
 
A Priestess is a conduit for the worlds, Heaven, Earth and all of the realms in between. It's okay to enjoy some of this Earthy realm. I didn't know this. Not for a very long time. It has been a pleasure being able to just unwind and relax some of these high standards that I've held for myself.
 
That is perhaps one of the greatest gifts beyond my Maiden that has come of my transition into the Mother phase of life. Letting go of everything that I thought I knew. In the morning I get no more then 10 minutes of my much desired yoga practice in. For months I would go from pose to pose with this sense of wound up anticipation, at what moment would she start to climb on me, fuss for me? How long could I yoga for?! Until one day truth descended. It doesn't matter how long my practice lasts, it matters how present to the practice I am. I began to bring full awareness into my warm up, giving thanks for the opportunity to do just one cat/cow if that is what that day's practice offered me.
 
Amidst the changes, feeding, singing, playing and cleaning I have found that while my time for self has lessened my presence with self is increasing. A new joy and appreciation for the freedom to choose what I engage in matched with a reverent focused sense of receiving as much as I can out of the moment has offered me a more zen like approach to my life than I have ever had. The years worth of books that I studied and the hours of meditation have all brought me to this. An awakened, living presence of the everyday interspersed with moments of spiritual practice.
 
Eleven months in and I have begun to transform in ways that I had never imagined. I look down the spiral path in front of me and stand in awe and wonder some days. I look behind me and see what the years of the Maiden taught me, freedom, authenticity, love, romance, adventure, exploration, heartache, delusion, confusion, mistrust, enchantment, awakening, passion and blossoming. In front of me I see the winding road of Mother, I wonder who it is that I will discover myself to be as I continue to walk further into this phase of my life. I wonder about the humility that is almost enforced upon my ambitious soul as I surrender myself in service to my family. I wonder about the woman that will walk from the Mother phase into her Enchantress years down that spiral path, Goddess willing. I watch other women now, women who are well along their Mother phase and beyond, I listen to them, I want to know what it was like for them in their different phases of life. I am so curious and so nervous (not knowing is not an easy place for me) and so excited to see what this sacred path will revel to me.
 
Eleven months in and I'm finally at a loss for words.
 
Grace Be With You,
Priestess of Grace
Candise Soaring Butterfly
 
 

 

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_Unknown_20140831-155038_1.pngRecently, my good friend and Daughter's of Evecolumnist, Crystal Blanton wrote a powerful piece for the Wild Hunt about Ferguson, the shooting death of Mike Brown, the riots, and the wider implication this type of systemic racism. She solicited thoughts from Pagans in the public eye about where and how we can confront, heal, and grow community when events of power, oppression, and racism plague our world. There among the many voices were my friends, New York City activist and witch, Courtney Weber and teacher and New Jim Crow activist, T. Thorn Coyle. For the piece I offered this opinion, which Crystal used to sum up the article:

"I really am struggling with this because I want to believe that love is still the law. I want to believe that humankind is better than this savagery that is power, oppression, privilege, and racism. I want to believe that love is stronger than fear, but I can’t help but know that every mother of a brown child lives in fear that her child will be the next Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin or Mike Brown. In times like this I ask how do we as Pagans lead and be vessels for change? How do we become the Goddess’ conduit?

...
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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
You can't please everyone

Since my last 9-part article here on my experiences at Pagan Spirit Gathering, I've had a big change in my life. I can't talk about most of that - sorry. What I can say is I've gained some deeper insight on the Samhain resolution I made last year about being less judgmental. I will remind folks, I say less judgy, because we're all human, but just trying to honestly walk in someone's shoes is hard for so many people to do. And I say that with the inclusion of the Pagan community.

There are notable Pagans who have spent time with me in person, people of whom I've at least made an attempt to let them get to know me and of course vice versa, at the very least on some base level of agreement, who harshly judge me. These are people who won't give me the time of day. People who, on one hand shout to the hilltops we need to be accepting of everyone, who won't even acknowledge my presence unless they are forced to. And even then, they do so grudgingly and while being back-handedly polite. Does it hurt my feelings? At this point in my life, not really. In fact, I developed a mechanism to cope with not being able to be everyone's friend/acquaintance back when I was a kid. Allow me to explain:

...
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A Message from Thor to Humanity: Stop Poisoning the Earth

The message is simple: "Stop poisoning the Earth."

How I received this message is also fairly simple, although it took me 28 years from when I decided the heathen path was my path until I heard this message. What to do about the message is a little more complicated.

I've been telling the story of my personal journey on my heathen path, and I'll resume the story in my next post. Since there is so much story to tell, and this message needs to get out to humankind, I'm pausing the story in order to post this message. The reason I decided to write this blog was so that I could get the gods' messages out to humanity.

The short version of how I received this message is this: I've always been a writer, since I was a little kid. I started writing poetry, songs, and fiction very early. I was already "hearing" characters talking in my head as a child, as many authors do. Last year, I started writing a novel based on heathen mythology. I "heard" characters talking to each other, or saw them in my mind's eye, and sometimes just sat down at the computer to write and scenes just flowed out my hands. This is the normal way I write. When I started "hearing" the gods this way while writing Some Say Fire, I did not think they were really the gods at first. I thought I was just writing a novel. When I reach that part of my personal story, I'll share all the ways I found out that sometimes it was really them talking. Most of the time it's my subconscious talking when I write. But sometimes, perhaps a few minutes of gnosis experiences out of thousands of hours of writing time, I've received what I believe to be messages from the gods to humanity. I need to get these messages out to my fellow humans, not leave them locked in an unpublished and possibly unpublishable novel.

The summer monsoon came to the Mojave Desert a couple of months ago, and a huge thunderstorm cracked the night over my house. I asked if Thor had a message for humanity. He did. "Stop poisoning the Earth." It was the same message Sif had given me the previous fall, when I first started writing Some Say Fire. In the first post I made in this blog, I quoted the scene I was given in the novel, and then interpreted it as a message against the GMO grain crops that are designed to be resistant to herbicides so that more herbicides can be used. Sif's message was specific, but Thor's was more general. That leaves it open to personal interpretation.

It makes sense that Thor cares about the Earth. Not only is he the god who gives rain to us so we can grow crops, including the kind of grain crops that are the major sphere of power of his wife Sif, he is also the son of the Earth Mother. Jord means Earth. Jord is also known as Fjorgynn, a name linguistically relating to names of Indo-European rain and thunder gods like Thor. Thor's father Odin is a sky god, so in terms of the archetypal story of the union of the Sky Father and the Earth Mother, Thor and Sif are one such pair and so are Thor's parents. Poisoning the Earth is hurting his mother. His literal mother.

What exactly does "stop poisoning the Earth" mean?

Does it mean buy organic food, so as to vote with my wallet for less pesticides and herbicides on plants, and less antibiotics and hormones given to animals? Buy certified Non GMO Project foods when they're available? I've become convinced that is one of the things I must do, even though it's difficult with a tight budget. Before, if the organic version of a producet was unaffordable, I would buy the non organic choice. Now I just don't buy the item at all. I'm losing weight, because I can't afford as much food. So, that's a plus, because that's good for my beauty and social acceptability, and not eating poison must surely be good for my health. 

I grew close to Thor in the first place because in this desert ecosystem, rain is such a rare blessing, and of course I can't grow my garden without it, I'm always utterly delighted when his storm arrives and it starts raining. It's my habit to raise a joyful toast in thanks each time.

I grow organic food in my garden, but I still have to buy food too. I don't have a farm, just a normal sized yard. I grow traditional crops of the desert southwest adapted to desert conditions, supplied by Native Seed Search. I compost my yard waste and kitchen scraps, which I have ritualized as Presents for the Gnome, making a sacrifice of kitchen scraps to the garden gnome. The gnome is a total vegan and a freetarian. The more I give to the gnome, the more the gnome gives back to me, in the form of rich black compost soil to add to the garden beds. Although he is represented by a garden gnome statue, the landwight is actually a being of vast power. The gnomic blessing of the compost soil grows healthy and delicious foods, and beautiful and lusciously scented flowers to attract the bees and the hummingbirds.

I save rainwater to water my garden. I'm thankful that's not illegal here like it is some other places in the USA. I have a bucket positioned under the drip from the air conditioner, which only condenses water when the air is humid. Condensed water is the purest I have access to, so that goes on food crops. I also manually save household greywater from the kitchen and bathrooms to water my garden. There is a bucket or pitcher next to every faucet and shower nozzle. The water I use to wash herbs doesn't go down the drain, it goes back into the herb beds. My yard has an automated watering system, but most of the year it's only legal to use it on certain days, plus, that water both costs money and is drawn from Lake Mead, which is also where our local power comes from (Hoover Dam.) Municipal drinking water has all kinds of additives that are not good for plants, like flouride and chlorine; rainwater is superior for gardening. Vegetables such as tomatoes have to have even water every day. So I hand-water a lot with buckets. In the summer, I hook up the "redneck shower" outside -- a sun-heated garden hose with a shower nozzle -- and my greywater falls directly on the yard.

So, I buy and grow organic food, and I save water. That's not enough, though. What else does "stop poisoning the Earth" mean, and what can I do about it? Drive less? I already combine trips and plan my route to save gas, because it's expensive. In fact, I do so many things to save money my friends urged me to write a book about it, which is why I wrote Skinflint Hints. Frugal living and green living have a lot of overlap. Money is a pretty good measure of how much of the Earth's resources one is using. So what else does the message mean? Buy fewer things? I already buy very few luxuries; if anything is really not necessarily I usually wait to be given it as a gift. If I have to buy something at all, buy the quality one so it won't wear out as fast and fewer things will end up in the landfill? Check. I do that already, too, when I can. Buy used instead of new? Check. Use less plastic packaging? Buy less plastic in general -- get the natural thing instead of the petroleum-based thing? Don't buy anything with plastic microbeads in it? Be careful what I throw away? Think about how easy something will be to recycle before I buy it? Think of how a thing or its packaging could be re-used into something else before I buy it? I do that anyway; it's just part of the country ways in which I was raised. Try to buy old stocks of old-fashioned, illegal non-mercury lightbulbs so as not to add more poison mercury to the trash? Use hand tools instead of power tools? Repair instead of replace? I was doing that already. I was doing most of these things already, because most ways to save resources also save money. The only thing I wasn't doing was buying more expensive organic food and looking for the rare and expensive certified non-GMO foods. Altering my behavior as a consumer is a good start, but is it enough?

What else should I be doing? Vote for less poisoning? Volunteer for a cause? Sign internet petitions? I'm not sure that even does anything except give away my email. March in the streets against corporations that poison the Earth?

Yes. All of it. Everything. That's only the beginning.

Get this message out to others? Yes. What I can do as an individual that could have the most impact is to do what I'm doing right now: pass this message to mankind on to other people. As one person, my choices as a consumer and in daily living may have a small impact, but when many people choose to help end the poisoning of the earth, there may be a much larger impact. Sharing the message is the single most important thing I can do.

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