Jan 10, 2006
Happy New Year!
Today's blog is from my sister Maggie, who is a very bright light in this world. She and my niece landed in Killiminjaro
this morning and are preparing to climb Mount Meru: read on!
Dear friends and family,
By now, some of you know that in just a few days I will be flying off to Africa with
my 19 year old niece Melaina, to climb the second highest peak (Mt. Meru) in Tanzania. Agreeing to do his climb and
spend 2 weeks in very poor villages in the Mara doing holistic service projects, has changed my life...and I haven’t
even left yet.
The decision to climb the mountain sprouted from a commitment I made at the beginning of last year with
myself, my life coach and my community to play bigger in life and to make conscious choices that make a difference in the
lives of others. Out of this commitment, a metaphor emerged that became my mantra all year long: “Stepping
out”! For me that has meant taking huge risks, stepping out of my comfort zone, not hiding out anymore,
telling the truth, playing bigger, being more my authentic self, being fully self expressed, not being afraid of how big I
am and how others might judge me. My commitment to this possibility has been complete, steadfast. Nothing has
been able to get in my way. I have stepped out of my box. Way out. And now, having gotten into the best
physical shape I have been in nearly 20 years, I will be stepping OUT and UP to climb a gigantic volcano, over 12,000 miles
away from my comfortable little abode, in my comfortable little neighborhood in Santa Barbara.
As the clock
ticks toward the moment I will actually get on my plane to leave, I have been asking myself why I haven’t shared
my process with all of you. If I really am playing bigger, why haven’t I told everyone in my life about
my transformational endeavors, my climb and my volunteer work in these remote villages? Mainly, I didn’t want
to sound like I was bragging. Also, I didn’t want anyone to feel as if the only reason I was contacting
them was to push them to donate money to the several causes I am climbing for. Basically, I was avoiding being judged.
Having realized my hesitancy to share my adventure with you, I decided to act in alignment with my commitment and possibility
and take yet another risk. If you judge me, so be it. I am climbing and working in these villages because I said
I would, because I truly am committed to making a difference in the world and because I want to model for my seven year old
son Orion, what it means to set a goal and doing what ever it takes to see it to fruition. If my commitment and determination
has inspired you, I invite you to take a stand with me to make a difference outside of your own box and make a donation to
one or both of the organizations I am climbing for (more information to follow).
While drafting this letter, a friend
called to say goodbye and ask where he could send a donation. He was surprised that I hadn’t communicated this
information before. What struck me most in our conversation were his parting words: “I would love to climb
that mountain with you and volunteer in African villages and work with AIDS orphans, but I can’t. The way
I can, however, participate and be a part of your adventure, is to donate to the causes you are climbing for.” When
he said that, I had real evidence that I was still holding back a part of myself and I knew I needed to send this letter out.
I now see, that it would have been irresponsible of me to have not shared this with you.
a huge lesson: It’s not just taking a stand or acting on an issue that makes a difference. The real difference
happens when I am willing to be vulnerable and share what I’m up to so that others are inspired to take action in their
own lives. That’s when the whole exponential magic and planetary change occurs.
Humbly offered in
love and passion, Maggie
for those who want to know more information about the organizations I am climbing for, their respective websites are:
Make sure to move around in each website if you want more information
than what is provided on the page about the fundraising climb.
Global Resource Alliance, Inc. is an all-volunteer
501(c)3, non-profit organization headquartered in Ojai, California. It was founded to provide financial and technical support
to community organizations in the world's least developed regions working for social, economic and environmental change. GRA
believes that each person on earth has a right to the resources necessary to enjoy a life of dignity and an environment that
fosters personal growth and development. Through sharing, cooperation, accountability and grassroots participation, we believe
that this vision can become a reality. The goal of the fundraiser is to raise money to expand GRA funded
programs in Tanzania aimed to help communities take responsibility to create their own path out of poverty. The funds will
be specifically used for projects that promote alternative healthcare, organic gardening, sanitation, clean water, education,
technology, microfinance and assist in the care of AIDS orphans and people living with AIDS. After the 4 day climb up
Mt. Meru, Melaina and I and a group of other volunteers from around the world will travel to the poorest regions of the Mara
to assist in all of the above projects and to chaperone AIDS orphans on a safari in the Serengeti.
BEBA is a local Santa Barbara non-profit whose mission is to support families to resolve prenatal,
birth and other early trauma, both physical and emotional, while facilitating the development of compassionate relationships,
the healthy growth of children, and effective parenting. My family received huge value from the work in Ray Castallino’s
clinic after a very traumatic cesarean section at the birth of my son, Orion. I am currently an active board member
for the organization. The goal of the fundraiser this year will allow BEBA to continue meeting the needs of children
coming into the world through challenging pre and perinatal experiences. It will also allow us to expand services to low income
Oct 12, 2005
Reading the newspapers and listening to the news is so very intense and discouraging. Floods
in Guatemala, Earthquakes in the Himalayas, Hurricanes and their aftermath, Avian Flu, ongoing violence in Iraq
and around the globe and a goverment that has failed it's people.... It is hard to stay positive, but I will keep choosing
to believe in the power of "We The People". I wish I could do more and write more to express my heart, but I seem to
have writers block these days. I know I put my friend Starhawk's postings up a lot here but still keep finding her words
an inspiration to me, so I am pasting her last message here. Please read the post below, which heartens and saddens
me all at the same time. I wish I could be there with her and my buddies in the "Green Earth Cluster" in Louisiana,
but have to be here where I have committed myself to my job, home and community in SW Florida. I have been sending money to
aid their efforts in grass roots disaster relief. For now it's how I can help. I to be able to retire from my
nursing job in the coming year or two so that I can have more time to be hands on in the streets. Until then I will continue
to do what I can. If any of you are inspired to bypass the bureaucracies of Red Cross, FEMA and the like let me know!
Much love to all
Sunshine after Floodwater: a Report from New Orleans
I’m sitting at the block party in front of the Algiers clinic set up by Common Ground,
the grassroots organization we’ve come to New Orleans to support in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The
clinic is set up in a storefront mosque in this black neighborhood on the West Bank (which oddly enough is on the east side
of town) which escaped the flooding. At a table next to me, four people of three or four different races are playing
dominoes. Across the street, kids are having their faces painted, and I’ila is helping a group paint prayer flags with
their wishes and dreams. A white activist I know as a deeply serious person is intent on getting just the right composition
of dish soap to make giant bubbles. Miss Beverly is dishing up red beans and rice from a big pot, and down the street
Aaron is barbecueing jerked chicken. Rain is dancing with a boy of about thirteen who just plainly adores her, and a
mix of medics and volunteers from all over the country are chatting, relaxing, and enjoying the sunshine.
idyllic quality of this scene, like a poster picture of racial harmony and community, is all the more remarkable because a
month ago this community was on the verge of a race riot. Immediately after Katrina, when much of the Louisiana National
Guard was in Iraq and the police failed to keep order, white vigilante groups were roaming the streets, shooting at any young
black man they suspected of being a looter. Black citizens were arming themselves in response, and the neighborhood
was on the verge of a race riot.
Then Malik, a neighborhood organizer, Green Party member and former
Black Panther, put out a call to some of his long time allies and the activist community in general, for help and allies.
Scott Crow, a young white organizer from Austin, came down and sat on the porch with Malik to defend against the vigilantes.
When the immediate threat eased, they turned to meeting other needs—for food distribution, water supplies, medical care.
Out of that effort came the Common Ground Collective. And long before the Red Cross, FEMA, or any official aid
arrived, they were distributing supplies and helping people to remain and return and resist coercive evacuation.
duck inside the clinic for a tetanus shot. A big room is divided into screened cubicles and office spaces. The
woman at the desk smiles at me, a young volunteer comes over, takes me aside, and quickly takes my vitals. He’s
been here for a month, and looks tired but proud. The clinic is a month old and in that time, with no federal or state
assistance, has served over two thousand people, many of whom have no regular medical care because they can’t afford
it and there is no permanent clinic that serves this neighborhood. It’s warm and friendly—in contrast
to the official clinics which, when they finally did open, are under armed guard.
remember when I last had a tetanus shot, and the medic and I joke about the fact that I’ll surely remember this one—my
There are two National Guard in camo fatigues wandering through the crowd, and Baruch
tells me they are guarding us from the police, who have been systematically harassing clinic personnel along with the general
citizenry. Across the river, police arrested three of the young volunteers who were helping Mama D, who is cleaning
up her 7th Ward neighborhood so that when people return, they will have something to come back to. Two were white, one was
black: they beat the black kid severely, kicking him viciously in the chest, and stole his money. They were in jail
with lots of people who were arrested simply sitting on their own front porches. In the French Quarter, someone videotaped
a group of cops viciously beating an old man, and this makes the news and provokes outrage. But there are a hundred
incidents like it, every day, that no one sees.
Racism is like the black mold eating away at the long-submerged
houses. It permeates everything, and it spreads, corrupting everything in its path. The police, the slow and neglectful
response of officials, the differing values placed on human life according to color and class. So often, it’s
below the surface, lurking as spores of privilege, a deeply unconscious sense of entitlement, or lack. But the floods
have wet everything down, and now it is visible, and growing. Unchecked, it destroys strong foundations and sturdy structures—and
that what we’ve seen happen here, some of the basic structures of government, of simple human decency, collapsing.
that’s why we’re here, really—to try, at least in a few places, to root it out, to save some of the beauty
of the old structures and to make it possible to rebuild anew. Mold abatement.
Sunlight kills spores.
Rain and Joshua are dancing, Miss Beverly presiding over her cauldron of beans and rice, the bubble mixture is finally right,
and the bubbles float over the scene, iridescent spheres as ephemeral as a rainbow after a flood. And even if it’s
just for this moment, the sun shines down.
It has been so long since I have blogged here. I have been extremly busy with my work and life here in SW Florida.
The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina has been heartbreaking to witness. My dear friends in the Pagan Cluster are now mobilizing
to give grass roots relief there. I am hoping to join them in NOL or Mississippi. There is much I want to say and will try
to write a commentary soon. Meanwhile I am posting an article by my friend Starhawk. Please read and enjoy.
A Pagan Response to Katrina
As Pagans, as worshippers of nature, how do we respond to an event like Hurricane Katrina, one of the most destructive
natural disasters in the history of the United States? What does it mean to worship; something that, with one breath, can
wipe out a major city? Do we see this as punishment, retribution for some Pagan sin? As an object lesson in the reality
of climate change and global warming? As an overheated Goddess batting away some of the oil rigs contributing to her fever?
Of course, no one can speak for all Pagans. There is no overall Council of Pagan Thealogy to hand down an
official dogma. But here is my own answer, as a priestess, teacher, writer, activist and thealogian.
Pagan religions are not punishment systems. We don't worship Gods of retribution, but a Goddess and or Gods and Goddesses--
of mystery, in many aspects. The Goddess has immense power, both creative and destructive: the power that pushes a root out
from a tiny seed and sends its shoot reaching for the sky, the power of the earthquake and the volcano, the rain that feeds
the crops and the hurricane. We respond to that power with awe, wonder , amazement and gratitude, not fear.
The great powers of nature have an intelligence, a consciousness, albeit different in magnitude and kind from our own.
Everything in nature is alive and speaking: the deep, crystalline intelligence of the rock heart of the planet, the fungal
threads that link the roots of trees into the nerve-net of the forests, the chattering birds and the biochemistry of plants
and mushrooms are all communicating. Our spiritual practice, the practice of magic, is about opening our eyes, ears and hearts
to be able to hear, understand, and communicate back. And those powers want us to communicate with them. The Goddess is not
omnipotent and she is co-creative with human beings. She needs human help to create fertility and regeneration. The elements,
the ancestors, the spirit beings that surround us want to work with us to protect and heal the earth, but they need our invitation.
Nature is also human nature. Our human intelligence, our particular, sharp-pointed ability to analyze, think, draw conclusions
and act, our esthetic/emotional capacity to thrill at a beautiful sunset, our deep bonds with those we love and our empathy
and compassion for others, are all aspects of the Goddess Herself. Indeed, she evolved us complicated, contradictory big-brained
creatures precisely to experience some of those aspects. Or to put it simply, she gave us brains and she expects us to use
As a Witch, as a priestess of the Goddess, I make daily time to meditate and listen, ideally in some place where I have
direct contact with nature. I rarely use an indoor altar any more and more, instead I sit in the woods, or at least, in my
garden, quiet my thoughts, open my eyes, look and listen. And what I've been hearing lately, in company with every other
person I know who is in tune with the deep powers of the earth, is anguish, distress, deep rage, and dire warnings. The processes
of environmental destruction, in particular, the overheating of the earth's climate, are already underway. A few weeks ago,
when we were preparing for the Free Activist Witch Camp that Reclaiming, our network of Witches, offered in Southern Oregon,
I asked,Is there any way to avert massive death and destruction. The answer I got was an unequivocal NO.
The process has gone too far, was the answer. The image that came to me was river rafting and shooting the rapids..
There was a point where we as a species could have chosen a different river, or a different boat, or a different channel.
But now we're in the chute. We can’t turn back. We can't stop.
There's a command in river rafting, used in extreme situations: Paddle or die. If you paddle, you have some power-not
enough to change the flow of the river, but enough to steer a course and avoid crashing on the rocks. If you give up, the
river will most likely flip your boat, and you will drown.
When we emerged from the woods, a little-reported item in the news media, hidden away on the back pages, informed us that
vast stretches of the tundra were melting in Siberia. If we were collectively using even a minimum of our human intelligence,
this news should have been trumpeted on the front page with all the alarm of a terrorist attack, for it is far more dangerous.
Global warming increases the intensity of storms. Turn up the fire under a pot of water, and the bubbles will be bigger,
faster and stronger. Hurricanes draw their energy from the heat in seawater. The Gulf of Mexico is abnormally warm&;and
hurricanes have doubled in average intensity in the last decade and a half. Hurricane Katrina was a natural phenomenon, but
Katrina's progression from a Category Two up to a Category Five as she crossed the gulf was a human-caused phenomenon, a function
of our choices and decisions, our failure to steer a different course.
The forms and names we put on Goddesses, Gods, and Powers help translate those forces into terms our human minds can grasp.
And so the Yoruba based traditions that originate in West Africa have given the name; to the whirlwind, the hurricane, to
those great powers of sudden change and destruction. Santeria, candomble, lucumi, voudoun, all include Oya in some form as
a major orisha, a Great Power. Offerings are made to her, ceremonies done in her behalf, priestesses dance themselves into
trance possession so that she can communicate with directly with the human community.
No city in the U.S. has more practitioners of these traditions than New Orleans. On the night the hurricane was due to
hit, I made a ritual with a small group of friends to support the spiritual efforts that I knew were being made by priestesses
of Oya all over the country. We were in Crawford, Texas, at Camp Casey, where Gold Star mother Cindy Sheehan, whose son was
killed in Itaq, camped near Bush's ranch to confront Bush with the painful reality of the deaths his policies have caused.
Many of the supporters there were from New Orleans, worried about their homes, their friends and families. The overall culture
of the camp was very Christian -we found no natural opening for public Pagan ritual, although a number of people did indicate
to me quietly that they were ‘one of us. But our little group gathered by the roadside, cast a circle, chanted and
We prayed, speaking personally in the way humans do: “ Please, Mama, we know what a mess we’ve made,
but if there is any way to mitigate the death and the destruction, to lessen it slightly, please do.” That same
night Christians were praying and Orisha priestesses were ‘working’ Oya, and the hurricane did shift its
course, slightly, and lessened its force, down to a Category Four.
And New Orleans survived. Not without loss, and death, but without the massive flooding and destruction that was feared.,
We all breathed a sigh of relief.
And a day later, the levees failed, and the floods came. They failed not from an Act of Goddess, but from a lack of resources.
The Bush Administration had systematically cut funding for flood control and for repairing and increasing the strength of
the levees. The money went to Iraq. Much of the Louisiana National Guard was also in Iraq. FEMA, the Federal Agency responsible
for responding to natural disasters, had been gutted, defunded, refocused on terrorism, and its directorship given to a Bush
political crony with no experience in disaster response.
Now, weeks later, New Orleans remains under martial law. Official efforts at relief have ranged from inept to brutal,
and the lack of planning and concern for human life, the punitive quality of the official response, seem deeply linked to
prejudice and racism which devalues the lives of the poor, especially if they’re black.
But ordinary people of all faiths have responded to this disaster with caring and compassion, with massive donations
and relief efforts, and with shock and rage at a government which so completely fails to embody the values of human decency
and respect for life that it claims to represent.
The Goddess does not punish us, but she also doesn’t shield us from the logical consequences of our actions.
Katrina’s destructive power was a consequence of a human course that is contemptuous of nature. A Native American
proverb says, “If we don’t change our direction, we’re going to wind up where we’re
headed.” Katrina shows us a glimpse of that awful destination.
And she also shows us hope. We can change, and if we truly awaken to the need, maybe we will, before it is too late.
The outpouring of concern and efforts to help, the hope, determination and vision of some of the citizens of New Orleans who
remain, the grief we feel for the dead and the losses and the compassion that a huge tragedy evokes are the tools we need
to set a different course, one that honors nature and human life, that uses our human intelligence to restore and regenerate
the natural world, awakens our compassion, and kindles our passion for justice. When we set a new course, all the powers
of life and growth and regeneration will be flowing with us. And when we ally with those powers, miracles can happen.
Some Pagan Resources:
The Pagan Cluster;the group of Pagan activists I work with, will be sending a team to the area in October. For information
and donations, see:
The Blanket Project is an ongoing spell of compassion with the goal of providing handmade blankets to survivors, symbolizing
the intention to blanket the country with compassion and caring. For information, see:
http://www.theblanketproject.com <http://www.theblanketproject.com/> or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
An organization of Pagan police officers and emergency service providers, they have already made one supply run to Missippi,
reports are on their webpage as well as information on how to donate.
Hurricane survivors who have remained in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans are determined to remain, rebuild their
city with environmental awareness and a social conscience. They have set up the first functioning medical clinic for ordinary
people, and have other projects in hand. They desperately need funds.
The Veterans for Peace bus that was at Camp Casey in Crawford, TX has now gone down to Covington, Louisiana to do relief
work. They also need donations of money and computer equipment.
Make a donation to Veterans For Peace Chapter 116 http://www.vfproadtrips.org
Tax deductible cash donations can be send to:
Veterans For Peace Chapter 116
28500 Sherwood Rd
Willits CA 95490
Cell PH 707-536-3001
Happy New Year to all. I have just resurrected this site from my archives. I took the site down for a few months while
searching for my new job. It is good to be back up and running. To read my blog pages from last year and 2003 click on the
Hollyblogs link at the bottom of this page. This year will be very different from 2004, which was for me a year of intense
activism and travel. This year my energies will be focused here at home in SW Florida here with my nursing job and the new
Progressive TV Show I will be helping to produce.
I hope that each one of us can help in some way.
Have a peaceful and productive New Year!