Planning on decorating a tree this year?

This time every year, thousands of us go out and purchase a tree to decorate for the Yule.  After the Yule what do we do with it? In the case of artificial trees, we pack them up and put them in the attic for next year.  In the case of cut trees, they end up in the landfill  (actually, back when I lived in Santa Cruz the members of the Pagan alliance there used to keep their trees and other greenery in the backyard until Imbolc, then we’d cart this very dry stuff down to the beach and make a bonfire out of it. It was glorious!). 

This year, I propose that we all purchase live trees (in a pot – in soil).  After the secular New Year is over, we can truck these down to our nearest National Forest or Park and replant them  (check with local officials first of course). 

Of course, in our area here, a Coast Redwood (Sequoia Sempervirons) would be the ideal choice.

Worlds tallest living Xmas Tree (a Coast Redwood)- Ferndale CA 2017

Poly stuff

Polyamory:
The philosophy or state of being in love or romantically involved with more than one person at the same time. All persons involved are friends of each other.

Polyfidelity:
An intimate relationship structure where all members are considered equal partners and agree to restrict sexual activity to only other members of the group.

Line Marriage:
The is a form invented by author Robert A Heinlein. As described in his novel, “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress (tMiaHM),” basically a married couple adopts another person (male or female) and adds that person to their marriage. This continues until there are many co-wives and co-husbands in the marriage.  When subsequently, partners die off, the marriage continues, and wealth is simply compounded over many years. Wikipedia says this: “The characters argue that the line family creates economic continuity and parental stability in an unpredictable, dangerous environment. Manuel’s line marriage is said to be over 100 years old. The family is portrayed as economically comfortable because improvements and investments made by previous spouses compounded, rather than being lost between generations. Heinlein also makes it a point that this family is racially diverse.”

In tMiaHM, a young woman seeks to join the marriage.  The adult members vote on this. The outcome must be unanimous. On the night of her wedding, she sleeps with the oldest male member, then each night following, with other males according to seniority.  Whether or not she has intercourse with them is a matter of her own choosing, and the choice of the male in question. Any of them can opt out. They may only have intercourse if both agree.

Children are considered to be the “children of all,” although, every child knows who their mother is.

From 1971 to 1981, the Kerista Commune in San Francisco was a kind of group marriage, similar to  the Line Marriage described above. They in fact coined the term “polyfidelity.”  They used an elaborate rotation calendar to determine who slept with whom on any given night (Kerista was divided into small groups of five to six, called BFICs. The calendar governed each BFIC, not the entire community). The calendar was used to insure that favorites didn’t develop; that all men and women had equal opportunity.  Generally, these marriage forms exclude bisexual and homosexual behavior, but I do not believe that they have to be that exclusive.

Why did Kerista split up?  The leader of the group John Peltz “Bro Jud” Presmont,  left. Kerista’s main fault was that it was essentially a  personality cult, revolving around “Bro Jud.” However, there is a remnant of Kerista that exists on the island of Maui, in Hawaii.

Group marriage is considered anti-capitalistic. This is because a group of people will naturally use less resources than individuals will. For example, a group marriage of six adults could share a three bedroom house easily, yet society would only approve of two adults sharing a house. This is why you don’t see many multi bedroom homes anymore. Likewise, they may share a common vehicle, common appliances, etc.

What is the difference between Polyamory and Swinging?  The names give it away. Polyamory means “many loves.”  Swinging, on the other hand, is strictly a sexual practice. Swingers tend to be couples who “swap wives” and engage in casual sex with just about anyone, with no strings attached. You can’t do that with people you love, nor are you likely to.  In fact it is possible to be Polyamorous and never have sex.

Polyfidelity brings the matter to a head, for here you have a group of people who are actually committed to one another and practice sex exclusively in that group.

What about jealousy?  What is jealousy anyway? Popular culture equates love with ownership. Think about Valentines Day for example.  The little candy hearts with “Be MY Valentine.”  When you are in love you belong (are owned by) another person.  That sounds like a form of slavery to me. You cannot own another person, nor should you think of another person, or yourself, as belonging (being owned) by someone else.  Jealousy is therefore a societal  construct of slavery. Your become jealous when someone you believe you own is being used (or allowing themselves to be used) by someone else.  Jealousy is a behavior that has been conditioned into people. It’s a learned behavior. Therefore, it can be unlearned.

Compersion is the opposite of jealousy. Compersion is the celebration of the happiness and or pleasure experienced by a persons partner when they are with someone else.

“Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own… Jealousy is a disease, love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often mistakes one for the other, or assumes that the greater the love, the greater the jealousy.” – Robert A. Heinlein

Censored in my own group?

I wear a lot of different hats online.  I founded the Pagans of Santa Cruz group on Facebook.  My wife and I once lived in Santa Cruz and we had it in our heads that we would like to return there. Santa Cruz has a very active (even pro-active) Pagan community.  In the last year or so Oberon Zell, one of the icons of the Pagan movement, moved there.

I commented about this.  I mentioned that Oberon’s presence in Santa Cruz was a plus for the community and very appropriate, given that Oberon’s “Church” (Church of All Worlds, aka, CAW) was based upon the science fiction novel, Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert A. Heinlein.  Heinlein had lived a great deal of his life in Bonny Doon, just north of Santa Cruz.  His papers etc., now reside at the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) and his remains were scattered in the Monterey Bay, which Santa Cruz rests on.

In another comment, someone incorrectly stated that Oberon had “coined” the term “neo-pagan.”  I corrected that saying “Neo-pagan” had been in usage since about 1868 or so, and Oberon had perhaps popularized it.

I wondered today if there were any comments on either of those ideas. I was shocked however when I looked at the site and not only were my comments gone, but the entire thread that preceded them was gone as well.

What happened?  I know that criticizing Oberon seems to be a taboo among Pagans.  But I wasn’t criticizing him, I merely corrected an error about him, and also pointed out the appropriateness of his presence in Santa Cruz.

Has Paganism reverted to a kind of Roman Catholicism, where criticism (or “seems to be criticism”) of a Pagan elder is grounds for censorship? How about excommunication?  Why not just burn people at the stake and be done with it?

You know, as the founder of that group, I have to power to delete it. Just sayin’.

Now, my comments were off-topic.  And one could reasonably accuse me of “trolling.”  I get that.  It’s also possible that the original author might have decided to pull the thread.

But still ….  I am the founder.

Medicare Part D Fraud

(It’s been almost a month since I last posted. I’m getting lazy I guess.)

So I’m on Medicare and I get Part D, which is the Prescription Drug benefit. It allows you to buy insurance to pay for your medications. Different companies offer different plans, but the goal is to try to pay less for your meds.

When I first qualified for Medicare I was the only one of us getting Social Security. Medicare recommended that I sign up with Wellcare. My monthly premium was only $7 and they paid for all of my medications. Cool!

The following year, the premium increased to $15.

The year after that, the premium increased to $35. This was because my wife started receiving Social Security, and so our joint income increased. We now make approximately $100/month above the Medi-Cal line, so I am no longer receiving “Extra Help” which is the program for those whose income is below a certain mark.  Medi-Cal was no longer subsidizing my premium, so that explains the drastic increase. But here is where I found out the truth about Wellcare: they didn’t REALLY pay for ALL my medications. They pay – get this – about $30 per month toward my prescriptions. So only the cheapest ones are paid for. Medi-Cal (California’s version of Medicaid) paid for the rest. And that means I now have to pay for the expensive ones.

I’ll be switching companies in October, but right now I have to stay with Wellcare, which means I am paying out $10 a month more than I would if I had no insurance what so ever.

I’ve written a letter to Medicare, asking whether or not the Wellcare company is committing fraud or not. I’ll let you know when and if I hear anything.

What did I learn? Do your research.

I found out today when my monthly report came from Wellcare, that they are owned by CVS Caremart.  CVS is a giant chain pharmacy that is in the business to make as much money from human suffering as they can.  I found out this fact because I happened to look at the postage mark on the envelope. There is was – CVS Caremart. I think that might explain why they are worthless.

The new company is through AARP, so I’ll have to join – $12/year.  According to their website, I will pay $22 each month and they will pay for all but one of my prescriptions.  This is how it should be I think. The one prescription they will not pay for (none of the companies I looked at will) is for Norco (hydrocodone/acetaminophen) which I take up to 3 times a day (rarely) for chronic back pain. It is an opioid. No, I am not addicted. Most of the time I can get by with only two a day.

The only downside will be that I have to use Walgreens. I like Costco better. They know me — never ask my name when I show up there. I’ll have to reestablish a relationship at Walgreens.

This means that my monthly expenses will go down by about $125 a month. This is a good thing.

Anyroad, if you or your loved ones are insured with Wellcare, do some research. You may well be paying out way more than you have to.

Facts about “Palestinians” and “Palestine.”

Let’s start this with the Six Day War. In June of 1967 the forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria attacked Israel.  Egypt lost it’s butt, and Jordan lost a lot of land. Specifically, East Jerusalem and the west bank of the Jordan.  The important thing to bear in mind here, is that Israel was attacked, beat back the attackers and took back the west bank.

This was not the first time that Arab states had committed aggression towards Israel. A multi state attack was instigated in 1948 and again in 1973. Each time the Israelis beat their enemies back.  Also each time, the Arabs instituted waves of propaganda against Israel.

The Jews “stole” the land they say. But all of Israel’s land (including the west bank) was purchased from the Arabs prior to 1948. But the Arabs didn’t see it that way, especially after the “worthless” desert they sold to the Jews was made to blossom and flourish.

The Jews have lived in Israel since pre-historic times. The land was conquered many times by foreign invaders who sometimes exiled the Jews, but the Jews always have returned.

The name “Palestine” was given to the land by the Romans. In 70AD the Romans sacked the Temple, and most Jews fled the land.

Throughout the Middle Ages (like, whenever a pogrom hit) small numbers of Jews returned. Most settled in Jerusalem, Safed, and Hebron (the three Holy cities).

“Arabs ARE NOT and NEVER HAVE BEEN the original inhabitants of the area. If you have ever read Mark Twain’s “The Innocents Abroad”. Clemens documented the Arab migration into the area, looking for jobs from the Jewish immigrants.

The actual original inhabitants were, Jews, Druze, Kurds, Bedouins, and Samaritans. There are less than a thousand Samaritans left due to genocide by the hands of the Arabs. The IDF protects them from total extinction. The Kurds and Druze are considered to be heretics by their Muslim neighbors. The Kurds are Israeli allies and the Druze are Israeli protectorates. Otherwise they would be massacred like the Samaritans. 

Gaza is actually owned by the same five families who owned it during the Arab migration. They used to hire the Arabs to murder Bedouins to clear the land for development. The Bedouins are now Israeli citizens and the backbone of the IDF (and the hospitality industry.) As far as I’m concerned, anybody who believes the Arab claims is either a total antisemite or simply too lazy to fact check.”
— Bill Dunlap

From the 1800s when the Zionist Movement began, right up until today, the Arabs have been offered, time and time again, land for their own use to govern as they will. They have rejected these offers over and over again. WHY?  Because the only thing in their pointy little heads is that the “Jews don’t belong here, and we must drive them into the sea.”

They keep talking about a “Palestinian Homeland.”  I bet you didn’t know that one already exists. It does.

Under the British Mandate (the government prior to Israels independence) the area now known as Israel and Trans Jordan was called (by the Brits) “Palestine.” As a reward for service to the Crown, TransJordan was given to the Arabs and became “The Hashemite Kingdom of Trans Jordan.” So basically, the Brits took a large part of the land promised to the Jews (In the Balfour Declaration) and gave it to their Arab friends. Incidentally, in 1948 Jordan took the west bank from Israel, then lost it back to them in 1967, as we have already pointed out.

What I am saying here is that Jordan IS the “Palestinian Homeland.” Period. They sort of acknowledge this. Look at these flags:

 Flag of Jordan

Flag of “Palestine”

Not much difference is there?

All this not withstanding, the “Palestinians” seem to be winning the propaganda war.  The BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) has chapters in almost every University in the United States. The “Palestinians” have practically completely pulled the wool over the eyes of many people on the Left and Far Left of the political spectrum. Of course it’s also been embraced by those on the Alt-Right, particularly anti-semites, Even some Left oriented Jews have drank the Kool-Aid.  But it’s all based on lies, as I’ve pointed out.

Not to make too big a thing about this, but I personally are as far left as you are likely to find. But I stand with Israel. I haven’t partaken of the Kool-Aid.

Another popular lie is that Israel is “occupying” the west bank. The propagators for this deception actually mean to imply that Israel occupies all of “Palestine,” but they don’t usually go that far. That would be a tell. Israel does not occupy anything other than what is fairly and squarely Israel.

There is another “Palestinian Homeland.” In 1994 Israel, granted the “Palestinian Authority ” in Gaza limited self-governance through the Oslo Accords. Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has been de facto governed by Hamas, which claims to represent the ‘Palestinian National Authority ” and the Palestinian people.  Hamas is a terrorist group, and uses Gaza as a base to launch rockets into Israel.  They also build tunnels right up to edge of nearby Israeli cities and launch terror attacks from those tunnels. They also like to hide munitions in and around schools and hospitals – anywhere they can use civilians as human shields.

You’ve noticed perhaps my use of quotation marks around the word “Palestinian.”  That is because they do not exist in any reality.

My business failures

My oldest son, Joshua, is in retail management. He’s been doing that for maybe ten years. My middle son (he’s actually a twin), Jordan, is a videographer/editor for WGN in Chicago. He has won, I think, four Regional Emmy‘s for his work on “Chicago’s Best,” a program that spotlights Chicago area eateries. I’ve been binge watching it for months now. I think I’ve gained some weight!  My youngest son (Jordan’s twin), Jesse, is also a videographer/editor and he owns his own company producing video for other businesses. He is highly successful at this. He provides for his wife and three girls and owns a home.

I am equally proud of all three of my boys. But Jesse has accomplished something I’ve never been able to. He has his own, highly successful business. He is making his living doing what I always wanted to. I’ve tried a lot of things, and none of them has ever made me a living.

Back in about the mid 1970’s I acquired a Real Estate license. I worked part time at that for about fifteen years.  In that time I sold exactly three homes, and listed four. Some people say, “Oh, you have to work full time to make Real Estate work for you.”  Well during the last year I was still in Kankakee, I did work at it full time. Total sales during that period: 0.  My grandson Isaiah is selling Real Estate now. I hope he is doing better than I did.

About 1989 or so, on the inspiration of some men I met in Scouting, I took a correspondence course in Locksmithing. I was pretty good at it too. I set up a mobile business and in 1990 I purchased a half-page color advertisement in the local phone directory.  I had done the research and there were only two other locksmiths in the area. I thought with my well known surname and a clever twist (“The Keymaster“) I would get all sorts of business.  The phone rang twice. In three months.  One interesting development was that I was no longer the only new Locksmith in town. There were twenty – 20 – of us.  Since the ad in phone book was costing me a substantial amount (like way, way more than I was making), I closed up the business.

It was around this time that I decided to try Real Estate full time.

My marriage was going south and the internet was a new thing. I met Qadisha on GEnie (a pre-internet communications thing) and a romance sparked. She was a *“writer,” and she had her own *“video production house” (just like Jesse, BUT not at all). So I hoped a plane to San Francisco, where she picked me up and took me to her home in Santa Cruz.  It was a remarkable visit. About  a month later, I picked her and her daughter up at O’Hare in Chicago, and the next day, after good bye’s to the boys, I drove her across the country with a lot of my stuff back to Santa Cruz.

Once there we shopped the B&H catalog for video stuff. We purchase a lot of high-end, High8 video gear (on my credit cards). We rented a studio down on 7th Ave (by Twin Lakes) and set up shop.  We actually did pretty well starting out. Mostly, it was Weddings. We had a commercial here and there, but mainly Weddings.  We produced a commercial for ourselves and ran it on local cable.  The phone didn’t ring any oftener though, and I had to take a part-time job at Radio Shack.

Qadisha did not like doing Weddings. After a while she refused to do them. Since it’s a two person job (for the most part) that was pretty much the end of the business.  I ended up going bankrupt for the credit cards of course. That was the end of my stellar credit rating (and to this day I still haven’t recovered).

In 1998 we moved from Santa Cruz CA to Ashland OR.  My relationship with Qadisha was deteriorating rapidly, but I made the move anyway. After a few months, I had established what would eventually be called the Southern Oregon Pagan Network, a loose collective of Pagan souls. Through this I met Ceridwen, who in 1999 was living in Santa Cruz and thinking about moving up to Ashland to work at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. One thing led to another, and soon I was in love. Ceridwen came up for a visit. We hardly left the bedroom. She moved in with me about a month later.

Together we started the Rogue Valley Celtic Society. About once a month or so we would contract with Celtic musicians and hold a concert at the Ashland Unitarian Church.  We never broke even, and the last concert with Ceridwen’s friend, David Nigel Lloyd was a disaster.  We had made friends with the members of Silverhand, Chris and Lisa. They showed us where to post posters, list our concerts — basically everything we needed to get the word out.  Maybe Celtic music wasn’t Ashland’s thing?  No, because another lady did the same thing we were doing (even using the same venue) and although her music choices were more eclectic, her Celtic concerts were well attended.  Over coffee with a local writer one day, I was informed that “no one knows who you are, so no one will support you.”  In other words, Ashlanders were so nativist and elitist that they would pass up good music if they weren’t familiar with the organizers.  This endeavor ended with us in debt to a number of people.

In late 1999 we moved to a little cabin in above Grants Pass. I took a job managing a Furniture store.  In November of 2000 Ceridwen and I were legally married. In March of 2004 we moved back to California to Eureka.  As a part of other activities, we started an online business, Avalon Risen. Basically we sell items of interest to the Pagan community. We carry no inventory. Everything is drop shipped to our customers from our distributor in Middlefield Massachusetts.  Our total overhead runs a little over $20/month.  This business generally pays for our overhead, but not much else. My inclination is to give up, but since the overhead is so low, I keep thinking maybe something will break.  It’s only been 17 years now. I keep hoping.

What is wrong?  I don’t know. I’ve done everything I am supposed to do (within budget restraints) and this is true of every business I have attempted.  Could I be under a curse?  I don’t believe in curses. There is some Jewish blood in my family line (my mother’s side). I guess I didn’t get the “business gene.”  My brother got that one.

I will turn 64 in November. It seems to me like I should have hit pay dirt by now. Most people are thinking about retirement at my age.

This is not to say I’ve been a total failure.  I founded the Order of the Mithril Star (1995) and co-founded the Reformed Druids of Gaia (2006). In addition to the Southern Oregon Pagan Network (1998), I co-founded the Sequoia Pagan Alliance (2004). All of these non-profits were/are wildly successful.  None of them have ever made any money, but they weren’t supposed to. All but one of these is still operating. So, it’s not like I have no track record. It’s just that when it comes to money making ventures, I suck at it.

I could really use some extra cash. <sigh>

 


Chuck Lorre Vanity Card #240

A wise man once told me that we are all God in drag. I like that. Sometimes when I’m in a public place or sitting at a stop light, I’ll watch people walking by and I’ll silently say to myself, “He’s God. She’s God. He’s God. She’s God.” Before long I always find myself feeling a warm sense of affinity for these strangers. The experience is even more powerful when I do this while observing a person who is clearly suffering. On occasion I’ll test my little spiritual practice by turning on Fox News. Within minutes I become an atheist.
— Chuck Lorre Vanity Card #240

 

 

 


Thou art God (Revisited)

“Thou art God’. It’s not a message of cheer and hope. It’s a defiance – and an unafraid, unabashed assumption of personal responsibility.”

Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

My first exposure to this idea was through reading Robert A. Heinlein’s seminal novel, Stranger In A Strange Land. I was in my Sophomore year at Kankakee Eastridge High School at the time. My very best friend (and honestly, no other male has ever been as close to me) Louis Dolmon had gifted it to me. I have to say that this book, more than any other, changed my life.

As mentioned elsewhere on this blog, this is not a new idea. My interpretation of it may be new, but not the basic idea.

“Thou art God”, is the greeting that Reformed Druids make to one another upon meeting. Typically, we do not say “I am God.” This is because my godness is dependent upon yours.  WE are God. Collectively. Every single sentient being in the universe comprises God. No one is God by themselves. We are all in this together. You could say that we are the atoms that make up God.  You might remember The Founders, who were the protagonists in the television series, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The Founders, as individuals, were shape shifters. In their natural state they were like thick water and able to assume the appearance of anything. Their greatest joy was when they could all come together and form an ocean, co-mingling  (mixing) with each other in what they called “the Great Link.”

I think this is what happens to us, when we are “between the worlds.” When our physical body is no longer viable, we become one with everyone else in the Great Link.

What about the people we don’t like?  What about the President? Or the GOP members of Congress?

They don’t know that they are God. It’s their ignorance that causes them (and due to their actions, us)  trouble.

Do the best you can to work around them and otherwise ignore them. They’ll discover their god-ness soon enough. In the meantime we have to keep them from doing from doing as much harm as we can. This applies to terrorists, criminals and other misinformed folks as well. It means you have to love them in spite of themselves. That’s really hard

What if, say, 90% of the worlds population adopted this idea? What if a significant percentage of the Earths population came to this realization?

PEACE ON EARTH. Total equality. Total liberty. Total fraternity. No rich, no poor. Everyone has housing. Everyone is fed. Everyone has healthcare. No one is competing with anyone. Everyone takes care of everyone else and is in turn taken care of.

IMAGINE!