10/29/2014 archive

Samhain: The Thinning Of The Veil

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Samhain is one of the eight festivals of the Wiccan/Pagan Wheel of the Years that is celebrated as the new year with the final harvest of the season. It is considered by most practitioners of the craft to be the most important of the eight Sabats and one of the four fire festivals, Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh. Beginning at sundown on October 31 and continuing through the next day, fires are lit and kept burning to recognize the shortening of days and the coming of winter’s long cold nights.

Many of the traditions practiced in the US have come from Ireland, Scotland and Whales. The carving of gourds and pumpkins used as lanterns, the wearing of costumes and masks, dancing, poetry and songs, as well as some traditional foods and games can be traced back to medieval times and pre-Christian times.

Two Roman festivals became incorporated with Samhain – ‘Feralia’, when the Romans commemorated the passing of the dead, and ‘Pomona’, when the Roman goddess of fruit and trees was honoured. The Halloween tradition of bobbing for apples is thought to derive from the ancient links with the Roman fruit goddess, Pomona, and a Druidical rite associated with water.

It is also the time of the year that we reflect and honor our ancestors and especially those who have departed since last Samhain. According to Celtic lore, Samhain is a time when the boundaries between the world of the living and the world of the dead become thinner, allowing spirits and other supernatural entities to pass between the worlds to socialize with humans. The fires and the candles burning in western windows are believed to help guide the spirits of the departed to the Summerlands. Like all Wiccan festivals, Samhain celebrates Nature’s cycle of death and renewal, a time when the Celts acknowledged the beginning and ending of all things in life and nature. Samhain marked the end of harvest and the beginning of the New Celtic Year. The first month of the Celtic year was Samonios – ‘Seed Fall’.

The Catholic church attempted to replace the Pagan festival with All Saints’ or All Hallows’ day, followed by All Souls’ Day, on November 2nd. The eve became known as: All Saints’ Eve, All Hallows’ Eve, or Hallowe’en. All Saints’ Day is said to be the day when souls walked the Earth. In early Christian tradition souls were released from purgatory on All Hallow’s Eve for 48 hours.

We decorate our homes with candles, gourds and dried leaves. Meals are traditionally lots of veggies, fruit, nuts and breads served with wine, cider and hearty beer. We make a hearty stew that is served with a whole grained bread and deserts made with apples, carrots and pumpkin. One of the sweet breads that is traditionally served is barmbrack, an old Irish tradition. The bread is baked with various objects and was used as a sort of fortune-telling game. In the barmbrack were: a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a small coin (originally a silver sixpence) and a ring. Each item, when received in the slice, was supposed to carry a meaning to the person concerned: the pea, the person would not marry that year; the stick, “to beat one’s wife with”, would have an unhappy marriage or continually be in disputes; the cloth or rag, would have bad luck or be poor; the coin, would enjoy good fortune or be rich; and the ring, would be wed within the year. Today, the bread usually contains a ring and a coin.

What ever you believe or not, Samhain has meaning for us all since the Wheel turns for all of us. So light a fire or a candle and dance with us as the Veil Thins.

The Veil Is Getting

As I went out walking this fall afternoon,

I heard a wisper wispering.

I heard a wisper wispering,

Upon this fine fall day…

As I went out walking this fall afternoon,

I heard a laugh a’laughing.

I heard a laugh a’laughing,

Upon this fine fall day…

I heard this wisper and I wondered,

I heard this laugh and then I knew.

The time is getting near my friends,

The time that I hold dear my friends,

The veil is getting thin my friends,

And strange things will pass through.

Blessed be.

Carving Pumpkins 101

First published 10/27/2012

Rather than try to explain how to carve a pumpkin here is a video that is a handy 5 minute guide.

How to Carve a Killer Pumpkin with Leah D’Emilio

And for the more ambitious and artistic pumpkin carvers among us, here is some inspiration with seasonal music.

Amazing Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Michelle Goldberg: The Women’s Equality Party Is a Joke

According to the website of New York’s nascent Women’s Equality Party, the organization was “[i]nspired by the spirit of Seneca Falls and those who came before us” and “brings together the strength of New York’s women leaders to help elect candidates who support the issues that matter most to us.” In actual fact, however, the Women’s Equality Party, which was founded by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in July, seems inspired by nothing so much as his desire to undermine the progressive Working Families Party. Cuomo’s attempt to hijack feminism for his own petty ends is such a craven move it could have been dreamed up by the scriptwriters at VEEP. It would be bleakly funny if it didn’t pose an actual danger to an organization that has always fought for New York’s women.

One of the great ironies here is that Cuomo’s feud with the Working Families Party stems, in part, from his refusal to do enough for women in New York, despite his staunch support for reproductive rights. Like many on the left, the WFP, a coalition of unions, activists and community organizers, was incensed by Cuomo’s tacit support of a weird alliance in the New York State Senate, in which the Republican minority teamed up with a small faction of breakaway Democrats to wrest control from the Democratic majority. That’s a big reason why Cuomo’s vaunted Women’s Equality Agenda, a 2013 legislative package that’s now a centerpiece of his campaign, never went anywhere.

Meanwhile, his economic policies have hit New York’s women, who are more likely than men to live in poverty, especially hard. According to the National Women’s Law Center, about six in ten of New York’s minimum-wage earners are women. Cuomo fought efforts at a meaningful raise in the minimum wage, only changing his stance when the Working Families Party forced his hand.

Ana Marie Cox: What Al Franken’s Normcore Senate Race Can Teach Other Democrats

Despite a snippy debate Sunday, the senator’s run a staid campaign-and hasn’t distanced himself from Obama. The pundits may be bored, but he’s winning a state the GOP hoped to pick up.

Observers have noted that Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) has made strenuous efforts to distinguish his second career as a politician from his previous stint as a comedian by being as boring and staid as possible. So no wonder that the snippy exchanges that characterized Sunday’s debate between Franken and Republican challenger Mike McFadden was described in the media as a “free-for-all.” One local blogger’s headline captured the frenzy: “Franken, McFadden raise voices, interrupt one another during Senate debate.”

One must keep in mind that, in Minnesota, they think ice fishing is exciting. (I say this with much love for my adopted home state.) In the era of Tea Party stunts and dramatic fan-based delays, the debate was moderately fussy. Its most dramatic and politically risky moment came when Franken offered “the Green Bay Packer model” as an alternative to the corporate structure of the NFL-and then McFadden asserted that Minnesotans might not care about football! Its other distinguishing feature was relative substantiveness, aside from a pointless 10 minutes arguing about whether we should ban all the nonexistent flights from West African countries.

Debate theatrics-such as they were-aside, not many people will be paying attention to the Minnesota Senate race returns next Thursday. Franken will win in a walk. He’s currently up 10 points in the average of current polls over McFadden; 538 gives Franken just 4 percent chance of losing. And the lack of interest or excitement or doubt about that race is exactly why we need to think about it.

Mary Turk: US college students face high debt, shattered dreams

While Germany makes university tuition free, the US allows for-profit colleges to prey on low-income students

On Oct. 1, Germany’s Lower Saxony became the last German state to make college free to all, including international students. Briefly breaking from a national tradition of free universities, Germany began charging a small amount of tuition in 2006, but that experiment failed. German leaders now say the tuition-based education is unjust and unfairly privileges students from affluent backgrounds. “Tuition fees degrade the educational opportunities for bright young people from low-income families,” Gabriele Heinen-Kljajic, state minister for science in Lower Saxony, told the state parliament in September.

By contrast, tuition in the United States at public and private colleges has risen steeply over the past 10 years. Even worse, private for-profit colleges have proliferated around the country, with enrollment growing by 225 percent from 1998 to 2008. These colleges prey on low-income students, leaving many deep in debt, without a degree and in low-paying jobs that bear little resemblance to the descriptions in for-profit college’s recruitment pitches and late-night television ads. [..]

Today students from low-income households face a colder, meaner college world. Low-income students are more likely to enter college without adequate preparation and to drop out before completing a degree.

Zoë Carpenter: The Campaign to Gut the Right to Abortion in Tennessee Is Getting Shady

“This is the Women’s Center. We need an ambulance ASAP,” a woman’s voice says on the thirty-second television ad. Emergency lights flash across the screen. “You’re listening to an actual 911 call,” says the narrator. “Tennessee has compromised the health and safety of certain women. Some Tennessee abortion facilities are not regulated like other surgical centers. This has to change.”

One of the year’s most heated battles over abortion access is playing out in Tennessee, where voters are considering a constitutional amendment that would open the door to a flood of anti-abortion legislation. With early voting underway and the election a week off, supporters of the ballot measure-known as Amendment 1-are amping up a campaign built around misinformation and fear. Voters have reported meddling by poll workers. And some abortion opponents are trying to use procedural trickery to lower the threshold of “yes” votes needed to pass the measure.

The fight over Amendment 1 has been more than a decade in the making. In a 2000 ruling striking down a slate of abortion restrictions, the Tennessee Supreme Court declared that the state’s constitution contained a fundamental right to privacy, which covered a women’s decision to terminate a pregnancy. As a result, Tennessee lawmakers have not been able to impose the kind of anti-abortion laws, disguised as safety measures, that other southern states have in recent years, such as mandatory waiting periods.

Jessica Valente: Why are some men so angry?

From Gamergate to mass shootings to domestic violence and the NFL, the common denominator is male rage

There’s a Margaret Atwood quote that I can’t get out of my head these days: “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”

Last Friday, a young man from Washington state walked into his high school cafeteria and shot five people, killing one young woman. Early reports from other students indicate that the shooter, who reportedly shot himself, was upset over a girl. In early October, Mary Spears was shot to death in Detroit, allegedly by a man whose advances she rejected at a social club. In April, a Connecticut teen stabbed his classmate to death when she rejected his prom invitation. Turning men down is a risky business.

But the madness doesn’t stop there. From Gamergate to mass shootings to domestic violence and the NFL – the common denominator is male rage. Women are not committing most acts of mass and individual violence (pdf), nor are women lobbing out most death threats online or raping most college students. Violence – and the threat of it – remains a decidedly male domain.

But why are men so violently angry?

Amanda Marcotte: Fine, Sarah Palin. Here’s some attention.

I’ve been ignoring the entire story of the right wing grifter Sarah Palin’s family brawling at some party in Anchorage, mostly because what’s there to say except to note that if it were a prominent black family, it would be the only story on The O’Reilly Factor for at least a month? But now Sarah Palin’s incessant need to present her family as perfect and to suggest that anything that goes wrong for them must be the fault of the evil liberal cabal has gone too far. Her self-pitying comments and defenses of her spoiled daughter are so over-the-top with self-pity that it’s almost a parody:


Looking at the reports, it strikes me as bitterly ironic that the same people who tell us there is a “war on women” have no problem laughing at the recording of my daughter crying as she tells police about being assaulted by a man. I’d like to say shame on the media and those on the left laughing at her or at any young woman in a similar situation, but I no longer think they have any shame.

Shorter Sarah Palin: Who cares about the millions of women denied reproductive health care access or safe haven from abusive partners, when my daughter got into a drunken fight at a party?

The self-centeredness of this is no big surprise. Palin has always thought the world was about her and her family and the rest of us are just bit players, with liberals who are out to get her family because we’re evil due to being mustache-twirling cartoon villains who don’t need a motive outside of “evil”.

But it’s interesting that even in her whiny defenses of her family, Palin still took the time to imply that domestic violence, sexual assault, equal pay and reproductive rights are not serious issues. And also to imply that the only reason that liberals and feminists claim to care about these issues is not because we do-after all, her comments suggest these are minor issues compared to some woman who happens to be her daughter getting into a fight at a party-but because we’re just pretending these are serious issues to scare women into voting for Democrats.

TBC: Morning Musing 10.29.14

I have 3 articles for your perusal this morning.

First, an accurate treatise on the state of ‘we the people’ in this country:

So Long, Liberty: 10 Ways Americans Have Lost Their Rights

Our most fundamental rights-to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness-are under assault. But the adversary is Big Wealth, not Big Government, as conservatives like to claim…


These changes didn’t just happen. Wealthy individuals and corporations made it happen – and they’re still at it. Meanwhile, Corporate America’s wholesale theft of your individual liberties has been rebranded as a fight for … the corporation’s individual liberty.


On This Day In History October 29

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

October 29 is the 302nd day of the year (303rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 63 days remaining until the end of the year.


On this day in 1787, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni” makes its debut in Prague at the Estates Theater. It is an opera in two acts with the music by Mozart and with an Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. It is about a “young, arrogant, sexually prolific nobleman who abuses and outrages everyone else in the cast, until he encounters something he cannot kill, beat up, dodge, or outwit.” The opera is sometimes characterized as comic because it combines comedy, drama and the supernatural. It is among the top 20 operas performed in North America.

Just Change the Name Already

My suggestion: The Potomacs

Just change the damned name. It ain;t that hard and they’d be able to keep the logo.  

TDS/TCR (Brisket)


The Ebola Beat

Now for something completely not about Ebola

The real news, the Web exclusive 2 part extended interview with Wendy Davis, and this week’s guests below.

2014 World Series Game 6: Giants at Royals

So you think the Royals have home field advantage?  Think again.  Trailing as they do 3 – 2 they have to sweep both home games or they are done for the season whereas the Giants are only have to win once.

Nothing has changed at all and I still think Bochy is an idiot for not pitching Bumgarner 3 times (yet).

Now shallow commentators grasping at straws and trying to spark up some of that 1985 magic (though why you would want to is beyond me) will point out that 8 of the last 10 times a team has trailed 3 – 2 with 2 at home to play they’ve gone on to win.  And I say- past history is no indicator of future performance.

If you want to root Blue put your hope in the fact that Ventura is just about the hardest throwing pitcher in Baseball and Peavy is entirely ordinary.  If Bochy leaves him in to get in trouble he’s just an even bigger idiot than I already think.

Sunday was another enjoyable blowout if you favor orange.

Bottom 2nd, Leadoff Single, Single, Sacrifice, RBI Sacrifice.  Giants 1 – 0.

Bottom 4th, Leadoff Single, Single, RBI Single.  Giants 2 – 0.

Bottom 8th, Leadoff Single, Single, 2 RBI Double, Error, Runner Advances, RBI Single.  Giants 5 – 0 Final.  They lead the Series 3 – 2.

Starting tonight for the Royals is Yordano Ventura (R, 14 – 10, ERA 3.20).  Post Season he is without a decision with an ERA of 4.42 based on 18.1 Innings Pitched with 20 Hits, 3 Home Runs, and 9 Runs scored.

He will be matched for the Giants by Jake Peavy (R, 7 – 13, ERA 3.73) who is also without a Post Season decision with an ERA of 3.68 based on 14.2 Innings Pitched with 12 Hits, 1 Home Run and 6 Runs scored.

It looks like a pick ’em on paper but Peavy was totally outclassed in Game 2 and this is a re-match.  The Royals won 7 – 2.

So we shall see if we extend to tomorrow.