And suddenly, I’m very aware of gender bias in Neopaganism.

The whole Pantheacon “thing” really gets under my skin.

On the one hand, there are things about it I don’t think I’ll ever understand.  I’m unquestionably male in appearance and in outward personality.  I’ve never had to cope with many of the issues that those friends of mine who are transgender have had to cope with.  I’ve never had to look at the face in the mirror and feel like the person staring back at me “is not me.”

On the other hand, a significant part of my spiritual and cultural identity is decidedly transgender: my feminine higher self is always there, guiding my hands and words in often very subtle ways.  She is honored and cherished, and with some adjustments over the years is happy and content with the balance as it sits.

I am a member of a spiritual group that has sought out my divine feminine self, and nourishes her.  She holds a special place in their ritual structure.  They accept the fact that She is in a male body.  They accept that when she speaks the words may be coming from a male mouth.  And they honor and cherish both the male container and the female self.  They look beyond the physical into the spiritual, and see the Creature inside for what and who she is. And all are happy and content with the balance as it sits.

In a moment of clarity while meditating about the “Z Budapest Situation” last night, I bolted out of meditative state when I heard my internal voice say the following line:

As the athame is to the male, so the chalice is to the female.

.. and I realized the inherent sexual and gender bias in that very statement and in the way the Great Rite has been played out, time and time again, in just about every Pagan tradition I’ve ever been affiliated with.  And suddenly, I’m no longer content with the balance as it sits.

In the pagan display of the Great Rite as presented here, there’s no place for transgenderism.  There’s no place for non-heterosexual intercourse.  There’s two clearly defined roles: of the athame, the male, the phallus.. and the chalice, the female, the womb.  The implications are profound.  You either have a penis, and are male.. or you have a vagina, and are female.  And the only valid display of the Great Rite is a penis inserted into a vagina.  That is the Only Sacred Thing: there is no opportunity for two athames to interact, or two chalices, or any other combination.

I don’t know where I’m going with this thought, other than I’m actually now a little bit ashamed of myself for not seeing this sooner.  And I’m left with a lingering uneasiness that maybe it is time to reclaim a new ritualization of this act.. one that accepts that human sexuality isn’t black and white, isn’t just about the Pure Male penetrating the Pure Female.  One that can accept the paradigm of homosexuality, of transgenderism, and of transhumanism.

Trust me, there will be more.

EDIT: a slight change to the wording in a couple places was made at 1:15pm for prosaic flow.


If you have a webpage hosted somewhere on, please call me ASAP. Dreamhost (one of the companies I use for hosting) has had a database compromise, and they have reset all user logins to new passwords.

Note this does not effect the listserver.

We created SOPA/PIPA, citizens of the Internet.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say something that I’m sure is likely to be an unpopular opinion amongst people I know.

We have nobody to blame but ourselves for SOPA/PIPA.

For years I’ve watched as the Internet has been a hotbed of blatant copyright infringement.  I’m not innocent myself in this, and I acknowledge my role in creating this monster.  But at the end of the day, we’re the ones that have given the media industry the tools they need to argue for the blunt force instrument coming from the SOPA and PIPA Acts worming their way through Congress.

Because by in large, those of us who spend our days building the infrastructure of the Internet.. and those of us who act as gatekeepers and moderators on forums.. have played a very tedious game of lip-service to the content industry’s complaints: and we must admit that while some of them are patently (pun intended) ridiculous, there are valid concerns hidden in the industry’s hubris. Some of us (and some way more than others) have made the “I don’t drop the Bomb, I just make it” argument like that really absolves us of any ethical responsibility when the tools we build are used for criminal copyright violations.

We all know what a joke it is to whine “But Usenet.. and Napster.. and BitTorrent.. and RapidShare.. and (insert technology of the week).. all have valid legitimate uses other than copyright infringement!” because no sooner are those words out of our mouths we open up Transmission and grab the latest Doctor Who episode.  We have never made any compelling story about what legitimate uses these services have outside the seedy underground of the Internet.. because, well, they don’t have any outside a few fringe groups precisely because most of the use (by bits per second) is violative.  How many of you can honestly say that you’ve used BitTorrent to download more open-source software and public domain media vs. “unauthorized copyrighted content?”  If the number of peers and seeds of Linux Mint vs. a recent Doctor Who episode is any indication, it’s laughable to even consider this argument.

So, we honestly didn’t expect the content industry to eventually strike back, and strike back hard with all the might that their billions of dollars can bear?

We picked this fight.  We had the power in our hands to use the Internet to better ourselves, to create a new society based upon open sharing of knowledge and communication.  Instead we used it to download Britney Spears and The Biggest Loser.  We created an Information Superhighway, and all we did was use it as a high-speed getaway van.

When the last unfiltered packet is passed along the backbone, we will only have ourselves to blame in the end.

This Is Important.

So, first off, I admit that I’ve been guilty of a lot of whinging and whatnot on here over the past few months.  To be perfectly honest, life has been full of challenges for me over the past couple of years, and while I’d like to think I handled them all with a certain amount of grace and style, it hasn’t been easy.

But now I’m reaching one of those thresholds that nobody ever wants to reach: having to choose between staying in the city I love and living on the streets, or moving in with a good friend 1,000 miles away and completely starting over from square one.

It’s not like I haven’t tried desperately to find work here.  There just isn’t any work for me.  Even my attempt to find a pizza delivery driver job near my home has proven to be a challenge.  I’ve heard “I’m overqualified” so many times.. I just want to scream “if I’m so damn overqualified why am I literally starving?”  I’ve had employers string me along for months, only to hire somebody else (or to have the job disappear in a puff of smoke).  I’ve sent out hundreds of copies of my resume, and more often than not I don’t hear anything in reply.

If that wasn’t enough, the contract work I’ve been doing for a few close friends’ companies has largely dried up.  Some of that is seasonal: not a lot of projects get started this time of year because of the holidays or what-not.  I thought I could make the little money I earned this year that way last, but that money has finally run out.

The point is, I have no more choices.  The time for me to find work was a month ago: that hasn’t happened, so now I’m left with no other choice but to put anything I care about into a storage unit and go whereever I can find a roof to cover my head this winter.

As a result of this uncertainty, I’m letting people know in various circles that you likely won’t see a lot of me for the next few months, or maybe years, who knows.  I’m going to have to withdraw from most of my “extra-curricular activities”.  I need to focus on simply getting a job, whatever that job is.. and saving enough money at that job so that I have some financial solvency.  I also need to figure out how to resolve some of the issues I have with my teeth and my overall health, and that’s going to take either a job with passable health insurance (good luck in today’s job market) or a significant investment of what little money I can scratch out.

For many of you, this might seem sudden.  I’ve not been very vocal about my financial challenges, mostly because I know that many of you are one step away from where I’m at: having to pick up bottles and cans on the street to buy food for your pet (which I literally have been doing the past month) and scrounging small change for transit when you need to get around (or begging close friends for gas money).

For others among you, you’ve been generous with supporting me the past few months.  I am in debt to many of you for getting me by.  But as we approach winter, I’m reminded of the True Meaning of Christmas (hurr): that the gifts we exchange and the merriment of the holidays are here to remind each other that we can make it through the winter by sharing what we have.. and that in reality, the Winter of 2009 really has never quite ended for me.   Summer of 2010 provided a small reprieve, in that I was able to scrape enough money out of the sale of my house to survive for a year on my own and pay many back debts.. but since that time, it’s been very lean.

So, in short, the only way I’m going to survive this Winter is to hibernate.

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be talking to many of you privately about what this means for the particular group you are in.  I’m in a position of trust for more than one group, and I’ll need somebody to take over my responsibilities while I figure out what all of this means.  Please have a little patience with me while I work out some of these details: consider that I am also going to be moving during this time with scant little resources, and I’m focusing on taking care of my immediate personal needs (like food and shelter) before I worry about other activities.  But I will get to everybody before I disappear into the wilds of Montana.

And this is also a final call to action.  If ANYBODY has a job I can do.. regardless of how menial and petty, now is the time to come forward and talk to me about it, regardless of how “overqualified” you might think I am.  I am pretty desperate right now, and would be happy to do any job that I can physically do and will put food on my table reliably and consistently and pay my rent.  I just recently rewrote my resume, if you’d like a copy of it please ask me (I haven’t posted it to the website yet because of formatting issues with the HTML version I’m still resolving).

I know a couple of you will ask me if there IS anything you can do.  Yes, I will be posting something in the next couple of days that will outline what needs to happen over the next 30 days and ways people can help.  Very few things will likely involve much capital outlay.

I love all of you, and thank you.  And it does literally break my heart to have to do this.  But I’m out of options.

I don’t have enough money to pay my hosting bill.. and it’s a few months behind.  If anybody can help, I’d appreciate it.

Donate towards my web hosting bill!

EDIT: Thanks to everyone who helped, the bill is now MORE THAN PAID…

Status update…

For those who have asked.. no, I’m not doing very well right now. The past week I’ve been in a lot of dental pain, and been having some money trouble on top of that (mostly caused by lack of planning on my part and emergency dentistry). So, I’m not doing very well, no.

Oh, and I got home last night around 8:00pm. This completes my 2011 Road Trip. I’ll probably post a summary of things I didn’t get around to commenting on in a bit.

Travel update, abbreviated edition..

Went to “Southern Faire” today.  Haven’t been in years.  Love the present site.  Went looking for a couple of people I knew, didn’t see Gaffer at all, but saw the booh of a couple of others I knew and left word.  Had a good time, even if it was brief.  And I certainly had my notebook out.  Got some ideas I should steal …

End of an era…

So, I had an interesting experience coming home today. As I’m walking along the Oregon City Promenade, I notice immediately that the usual sounds of the paper factory just south of downtown… with its constant huffing and puffing and whirring and clanking, was silent. It was an eerie sensation, as I stood there on the bluff looking down on it, I had no idea that I was actually witnessing the end of an era.

Oregon City has long been a mill town. Heck, part of the reason my apartment building exists was to house workers at this very paper mill. Tonight, it sits quiet. A victim of globalization, if you read the story in the newspaper. It’s apparently cheaper to buy recycled paper from China than to recycle it locally.

Even though I’ve lived in Oregon City for less than a year, I can sense the loss. Not just of the around 200 jobs (probably all reasonably well-paying factory jobs, no less). But the loss of a small piece of this town’s legacy. Like so many manufacturing towns all across the country, the closing if this factory not only means the loss of a few jobs: it also represents the loss of a piece of this sleepy town’s soul.

With the closing of the Blue Heron Paper Company this town just becomes another Portland exurb, eventually absorbed into the fabric of the Big City just like Kenton was at this time 100 years ago, or like Beaverton has become in the past 30 years. Our city government is eyeing the property, on the south edge of downtown with some wonderful views of Willamette Falls, keen on redevelopment. They see Oregon City being the next “transit town” for Portland.. doubly so if through redevelopment they can lure either the yet-uncolored Milwaukie light rail line or the extant Green Line to our humble little Oregon City Transit Center. A revitalized and redeveloped downtown Oregon City would certainly be a tempting carrot to dangle in front of the TriMet board, that’s for sure.

But are we selling our town’s soul to save it? I don’t really know. I just know that tomorrow morning when I walk down the Promenade I’ll be hearing the traffic of 99E instead of a whirring Industrial Revolution relic. And it won’t seem like the same Oregon City anymore.