Friday 27 February 2009

The Lord's Prayer: Great Goddess Version

Our Mother who art the Earth
Nourishing are thy ways
Thy web of life be woven
Thy ways be found within
As it is all around.

Thank you this day for our bread and sweat
And forgive us our misuse of you
As we forgive others their misuse of us
And lead us not into exploitation
But deliver us from lording it over you
And over each other and over fellow creatures.

For thine are the waters of life
The feeding, breeding, seeding ground
For now and for as close to forever
As we shall ever come.

Blessed be!

--Z. Budapest, Dianic Witch

Quite a different emphasis when the Divine Feminine is the subject of the prayer, eh? I found this version on Z. Budapest's website and I like it very much. The themes of rulership and "power over" have been replaced by ones of nurturance, respect and equality. There's even a refreshing humility in her line "for as close to forever as we shall ever come."

Thursday 26 February 2009

The Lord's Prayer: King James Version

9 . . . Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Matthew 6: 9-13

Thought I'd start this series off with the original Lord's Prayer (well, sort of, but not really . . . oh, you know what I mean). I'm very fond of the King James Version of the Bible. Despite its mistranslations and blinkered interpretations, it rolls off the tongue with the magnificence of Shakespearean English. Plus there's the secret delight of knowing that King James (who ordered and paid for the translation) was as fruity as they come. Oh wait, that's not a secret anymore. A few years ago the Bible thumpers in the States figured that out too and were quite perturbed at having his dirty homosexual fingerprints all over their most sacred book. Hee hee! How sweet it is.

Wednesday 25 February 2009

The Lord's Prayer: Intro

When I was a kid in Sunday School, one of the things I had to memorize in order to receive a free Bible was the Lord's Prayer. I also seem to recall reciting it in school every morning after O Canada played on the intercom. Anyway, it's never been one of my particularly favourite prayers or readings from the Bible (I'm more of a 23rd Psalm fan, myself). However, over the years, I've collected a number of different "versions" of the Lord's Prayer, written from different perspectives by different traditions. I'll be posting them on my blog over the next little while, in bits and spurts as usual. I hope some of them resonate with you!

Tuesday 24 February 2009

And Another Thing. . .

It's a little known fact that what Bill Clinton really said under cross-examination was "I never had Socks with that woman." Socks could easily have confirmed Bill's story and saved the Clinton Administration a lot of embarrassment, if only the lawyers had done their job correctly and called him to the stand. Now poor Socks is gone, and the truth has gone with him. Historical accuracy is the loser.

R.I.P. Socks, the White House Cat

Her Royal Highness was saddened to read that her political hero, Socks the White House cat, passed away last Friday at the age of 18 years. Born as a stray, Socks clawed his way up the ladder of success to become First Cat in the Clinton administration. Socks lived at the White House until 2001, running the country with a firm, but fair, paw. During that time, a particularly funny episode of Murphy Brown concerned his inadvertent catnapping by Murphy following a press conference at the White House. It was a favourite episode of HRH and myself.

Ah Socks, we hardly knew ye.

Monday 23 February 2009

Knowing My Place

As above, so below. Yes, Ceiling Cat, I understand and obey. Coming, Her Royal Highness, coming!!

Sunday 22 February 2009

Learning to Share

Her Royal Highness likes to drink out of the toilet bowl, behaviour seemingly at odds with her posh name. I think it's because she likes her drinking water to be nice and cold. Or she may just be too lazy to go downstairs where her official water dish is kept. Perhaps she enjoys the physical challenge of bracing herself against the inside of the big white punch bowl so she doesn't fall head first into her beverage. But whatever the reason for HRH's love of the toilet, she and I always seem to need access to it at the same time. I defer to her, of course. I know my place.

Saturday 21 February 2009


Her Royal Highness is in a snit again because it's been awhile since I have blogged about cats (in general) or about her (in particular). I must remedy this oversight and soon, if I value my life.

Friday 20 February 2009

My Terrorist

I once had a brush with an international terrorist in Winnipeg in the mid-1990s. No, it's true! Everyone shows up in The Peg sooner or later, you know.

Anyway, there was a very pleasant young Arabic or Pakistani guy who pumped gas at my neighbourhood gas station. He was good-looking, lovely to deal with and seemed to be genuinely engaged with his work and customers. I remember thinking, "Why can't more people be like him?"

Then one day I read an item in the Winnipeg Free Press about a local man who was arrested by American authorities at the border trying to sneak explosives into the States in the trunk of his car. The accompanying mug shot was none other than my friendly gas station attendant! Of course I recognized him immediately. It was so shocking!

The media didn't really make a big fuss about the story. This happened at least 5 or 6 years before 9/11 and we were all still blissfully ignorant of things like jihad, al-Qaida and sleeper cells. I certainly didn't grasp the full significance of the story until after 9/11.

I never saw any follow-up story about my terrorist, so I can only assume he was convicted and imprisoned. Who knows where he is today? Still in jail? Deported? Dead? I imagine him holed up in a cave somewhere with Osama bin Laden and saying "Well, at least we're not in Winnipeg!"

Thursday 19 February 2009

My Robbie Burns Moment

One evening, many years ago in Winnipeg, I went to pick up a friend at her tai chi class. The class was held in an old, old building near the corner of Portage and Main that was scheduled for demolition at the end of the month. When I arrived, the class was still in progress so I waited and watched from the sidelines.

As the class practised the slow and graceful movements of their meditative exercise, a small mouse scurried out from the shadows onto the middle of the floor. No one saw it but me. The mouse stopped, looked around and then stood up on its hind legs. It swayed and bowed and waved its tiny paws in the air. Then it dropped to all fours again and scurried off into the shadows once more.

Ah, wee, sleekit, dancin' tai chi beastie! I shan't forget thee!

Wednesday 18 February 2009

Nom Nom Nom in The Peg: Jeannie's Cakes

Jeannie's Cakes are available in stores throughout Winnipeg and for some inexplicable reason are staggeringly popular in that city. It's just not a real birthday or celebration unless you serve a Jeannie's Cake. They are essentially a simple white or chocolate sheet cake with some icing on top. They taste like cardboard, especially the white cakes. But Winnipeggers can't get enough of them. I blame it on the mosquito fogging that the City does every summer. Those chemicals must do something to taste buds.

(Incidentally, the above photo is not actually a Jeannie's Cake. It's simply the closest approximation I could find on teh interwebs.)

Tuesday 17 February 2009

Nom Nom Nom in The Peg: Bridge Drive-in

Summers in Winnipeg can be unbearably hot, so everyone likes to go to the Bridge Drive-In on Jubilee Avenue. Known simply as "The B.D.I." (pronounced phonetically, of course, as The Beady Eye), it serves standard ice cream treats like cones, shakes and sundaes. But it also concocts elaborate ice cream desserts with weird names, like the Goog Special. It's best not to ask what the ingredients are or how many calories the Goog Special has. Just go stand in the huge line-up, get your cone with nuts or sprinkles and walk across the foot-bridge with everyone else to the other side of the river and back.

This fabulous photo of the B.D.I. bench was taken by Allan Lorde (a.k.a. El Negro Magnifico). I found it on Flickr.

Monday 16 February 2009

on reading an account of Virginia Woolf's death

I'm thinking of a woMan who walked
into the waters of a river
with stones in her pockets

thinking of the waters
of the rivers of my life

thinking of the stones
in My pockets

woMen are born
with stones in their pockets

eMpty them       eMpty theM swiM

--Karen Ethelsdatter, 2002

Another great poem and one of my favourites. It was published a few years ago in a We'Moon Datebook. I just love the concluding line in particular, with its clarion call to Life.

Sunday 15 February 2009



--Daniel Nussbaum, from PL8SPK (HarperCollins, 1994)

Isn't this a great poem? Each of the poems in PL8SPK were written entirely from words and phrases contained on registered vanity plates in California. When I first read this poem years ago, it seemed extraordinarily weird (if fascinating). It took me some major deciphering to read it. But now in a culture of texting and even (dare I say it?) lolspeak, it looks pretty normal and hardly unusual. It's easy to read now, too! And it's still funny!

Saturday 14 February 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

Yes, I know that Valentine's Day represents a conspiracy of the greeting card companies, chocolate manufacturers and florists. But even so, can there ever be too many holidays celebrating love and friendship? No, we need all that we can get! And the true spirit of Valentine's Day is so easy to express in a positive and meaningful way without spending a fortune on conspicuous consumption -- a hand-crafted card, a home-baked treat, an email or a phone call to far-off family and friends, a hug and a kiss to those who are near. That's all it takes. There's no real need to feed the ravenous maw of the consumer society beast. Valentine's Day shines brightest as a do-it-yourself, personal expression of sentiment.

Friday 13 February 2009

Blessed Friday the 13th

Friday is the special day of the week which honours the Goddess because it is named for Freya, the Norse Goddess of Love. In ancient times, Viking weddings were traditionally held on "Freya's Day" to ensure the blessing of the Goddess on the marriage. But the most blessed of all Fridays were those that fell on the 13th day of a month. Thirteen is the number that is most sacred to the Goddess because there are 13 moon cycles in a lunar year. So Friday the 13th was doubly sacred to the Goddess and to those who honoured the Divine Feminine.

When Europe was Christianized, one of the ways that the Church suppressed the Divine Feminine was by demonizing Friday the 13th. People were taught to fear this date and to fear the number 13 generally. Friday the 13th became synonymous with bad luck and misfortune, the very opposite of the meaning it had enjoyed in pagan times.

So now let us reclaim Friday the 13th! Let's restore its rightful meaning as a day that is doubly sacred to the Goddess, a day of good luck and special blessings. May you have an absolutely wonderful Friday the 13th!

Wednesday 11 February 2009

My True Name

She Who Seeks
Is my name
Born under the sign of the Maiden
Bearing an ancient name honouring the Goddess
Whole unto myself
Living the Maiden archetype
Constellated and dominant

Daughter of the wounded Spear Maiden
Carrier of pain and anger
Hers and mine
Single-minded drive to escape and rescue
Organizer, doer, she who achieves
Charioteer's sheer force of will
Propels the chariot
Roughshod I ride

Initiate of Inanna
Descender into the abyss
Past the seven gates of the underworld
Humbled and brought low
Into the dark realm of Ereshkigal
Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Survivor of the Dark Goddess
Death, rebirth and ascent
Returning from the perilous journey
Through the land of freezing ice
Home again to myself
Twice born and changed

Labyrinth walker
Wayfarer on the spiritual path
Friend of cats
Lover of women
I tend the flame of the Goddess

(c) 2002 Debra She Who Seeks

Tuesday 10 February 2009

Your True Name

One of my favourite articles by Lunaea Weatherstone is "Your True Name," which she wrote several years ago for SageWoman magazine and which is now found here on her website. She discusses the Celtic bardic tradition of ceremonial self-naming -- "a poetic interpretation of their names, which can be used as prayer, meditation, affirmation or spell." Several examples and styles of such poetry is given, but its purpose is always the same -- to express the soul of the named one in a grandly mytho-poetic sweep of words. As Lunaea wrote, "Such a rune of naming can be used to enlighten or (conversely) confound those to whom it is spoken." The bardic style can sound pretty over the top to our modern ear, but it is nevertheless oddly compelling.

Inspired by this article, in 2002 I wrote my own "true name" poem in the bardic style, which I'll post tomorrow.

[Collage by Lunaea Weatherstone]

Monday 9 February 2009

Lunaea Weatherstone

One of my favourite writers about Goddess spirituality is Lunaea Weatherstone, a long-serving Priestess dedicated to the Goddess Brigid. She was the original editor and publisher of SageWoman magazine, for which she still writes a regular column. She has a wonderful website called Full Moon Dreams that features some of her writings, her gorgeous collage tarot deck and other creative outpourings. Her blog is called At Brigid's Forge and is always worth reading. She is wise in the ways of Goddess spirituality and her writings have been a source of inspiration to me for many years.

Sunday 8 February 2009

Nom Nom Nom in The Peg: Salisbury House

Winnipeg has a chain of restaurants found nowhere else in the country, called Salisbury House or "The Sals" for short. The Sals originated as post-war highway restaurants throughout Manitoba ("Look for the Little Red Roof" used to be their advertising slogan) but now Sals are restricted to a few restaurants located in Winnipeg. Another distinctive thing about The Sals is that they call their hamburgers "nips." Apparently the original owner came up with this term. So Manitobans (especially older Manitobans) sometimes call all hamburgers "nips" whether they come from The Sals or not. Thirty years ago when I was a university student, my favourite order at The Sals was a cheese nip and onion rings. A couple of years ago when I was back visiting in Winnipeg, I went to The Sals and ordered my old favourite. I found it unbearably greasy. So what they say is true -- you can never go home again.

Saturday 7 February 2009

Nom Nom Nom in The Peg: The Happy Penny

The food and decor were unremarkable at The Happy Penny, but it was cheap so it was one of my haunts when I was a penniless student. I have no idea how The Happy Penny got its name, but it was at odds with the restaurant's sorry history. The Happy Penny had the distinction of being put out of business twice by the City of Winnipeg's efforts to rejuvenate the downtown. The City first expropriated The Happy Penny's original location on Portage Avenue and then, after a decent interval to let The Happy Penny get re-established at its second location, expropriated that building too. This was too much for the beleaguered owners so they never opened in a third spot. Farewell, Sad Penny!

Thursday 5 February 2009

Nom Nom Nom in The Peg: Northern Pearl

My favourite place for Chinese food in Winnipeg was the Northern Pearl. Their chicken balls had a delicious hoisin-based sauce that I have never encountered at any other restaurant before or since. They had a wee bit of a cockroach problem at their original location, but the food was so good we ignored it. Also, there was a whorehouse upstairs but we ignored that too. (Apart from sharing the same building, it was unrelated to the Northern Pearl, of course).

The Northern Pearl was forced to move to another spot when their original location burned down or was expropriated (I can't remember which, now). However, their magnificent chicken balls continued in all their glory at the new restaurant. The Northern Pearl was always busy but it inexplicably went out of business over a decade ago, which was a great loss as far as I'm concerned.

Tuesday 3 February 2009

Moo-ving right along . . .

I'm off to the City of Cows* for a couple of days, so will resume blogging later this week. See you then!

*i.e. the place formerly known as Cowtown until Calgary got too large to be credibly called a "town" anymore. The "cow" part still applies though.

Monday 2 February 2009

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is the North American equivalent of Imbolc. It too celebrates the promise of Spring, not Spring itself. While not overtly pagan, it does centre on a magic animal who has the power to predict the future. And what a totemic animal for Canadians in particular! A large hibernating rodent who sticks his nose out of his cozy burrow in the middle of winter for the sole purpose of making a weather forecast! You can't get more Canadian than that. So, our lovely albino Wiarton Willie, do your best! Whether you see your shadow or not, we know damn well that winter is nowhere near over. But we love to play along anyway, because everyone wants to believe in the promise of Spring, eh?

Sunday 1 February 2009

Brigid's Cloak

Imbolc is sacred to the Celtic Goddess Brigid (who does undercover work these days as the Irish Catholic Saint Brigid). She is the Goddess of many things, including healing. There is a charming ritual associated with Brigid and the Eve of Imbolc (which is today, February 1st). As recounted by Sara Jane Kingston on her website:

Traditionally, the brat bhride, or Brigid's Cloak, was laid outside before sunset on the eve of Brigid's Feastday, 1st February, and brought back in before sunrise. Blessed by Brigid, ancient Spring goddess and saint, the dew which fell that night imbued the cloth with powers of healing and protection which lasted throughout the year.

It would then be kept in a special place in the house and brought out as needed when illness occurred. It could be wrapped around the head to cure a headache; it was widely used by midwives to help women in childbirth, for Brigid was especially known as being the patron of healers and midwives. It was used on sick animals also, especially cows and sheep for which Brigid had a special affinity.

This is why Imbolc is difficult in Canada. There is not a single drop of dew to be had anywhere in this country at this particular time of year. If we put out a Brigid's Cloak on Imbolc Eve, the next morning it will be frozen stiff under a few inches of snow, assuming that it has not blown away in the wazoo-seeking Arctic breeze referred to yesterday.

This concludes my bitching about Imbolc. Tomorrow I will blog about our home-grown substitute Imbolc ritual.