Offering to Brigid

Blessed Imbolc! In the spirit of Idle No More, my annual offering to Brigid comes from Lee Maracle, First Nations poet and author.

Bent Box (My Song)


My song hails

from a bent box

drums of earh tears

enjoys the unbending

of woman spirit

issued through a voice


in androgynous souls.

This voice

penetrates silence

cracks barriers.


I can build

a bent box, shape its womanly contours

build fire from moss

light lives

sing man-song

birth children.

But I cannot penetrate

the dark hidden pleasures







(Wiccan) Prison Chaplain(s) Update

Well, there’s an update on a story I blogged about last month – Wiccan Prison Chaplin? Nope.

The federal government is cancelling the contracts of all non-Christian chaplains at federal prisons, CBC News has learned.

The 20 part-time chaplains will be let go and their duties picked up by 80 full-time chaplains, all but one of whom are Christian, and the remaining 80 part-time Christian chaplains.

That’s anyone of a non-Christian faith: Muslim, Jew, Sikh, Wiccan… it doesn’t matter what you believe, or what the Christian faith thinks of your path, that`s the only option you have. Maybe someone could get the mysterious “Office of Religious Freedom” to weigh in on the situation?

Monday (Political) Actions


(Image from

It’s the first anniversary of the Occupy Movement, and as I write this protesters are being arrested in the streets of New York as part of #s17. (Exact numbers are vague, but at least a dozen include prominent activist Molly Crapapple, have been detained. #freemollycrabapple)

Holding Hands Across the Land for Democracy, Calgary In Canada, activists are marking the return of the federal Harper government to Parliament by hosting Holding Hands Across the Land for Democracy actions. (Calgary’s action is at 11:45 at the Famous Five Statue, in case you’re in the area. I’m hoping to make it down after my morning meeting.)

If you’re in need of a little musical inspiration, well, this has been my “repeat, repeat, repeat” song of the morning – Michael Franti at Occupy Wall Street, 2011:



Wicca Prison Chaplain? Nope.

Elemental Hope inspires acts of Righteous Rage.

If we were hopeless, we would not keep fighting back.

(Mary Daly, Quintessence, 197)

The media jumped on the story this afternoon that Corrections Canada was seeking a Wiccan Prison Chaplain to minister to prisoners in British Columbia. But before that information could take off in the Twitterverse, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews (or, more accurately, one of his staff on his orders) had pulled the tender, claiming that it “wasn’t a good use of taxpayer’s dollars” even though CC staff had said it was a tender based on “growing need” in the system. (But hey, it’s not like the Canadian government believes in evidence-based research or statistics anyway. So, so many things are wrong with this situation.

* The minister’s office complained that it wasn’t consulted. That’s not how the system works, Minister Toews. (It’s a “government” not a “management”. Look up the difference.) The people working in Corrections Canada are professionals making informed decisions, and you shouldn’t have been allowed to undermine that for your own ideological reasons.

* The tender was based on need – but who pays attention to that when rhetoric gets in the way? (For the record, I’m a taxpayer – when are you going to get around to spending “my” money on things I support, hmm?)

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

* Wicca/Paganism is a legally-recognized religion in Canada. How is this decision justifiable in light of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees freedom of all religions? This isn’t California, which only recognizes “five faiths” when it comes to the prison system.

Do I expect Minister Toews to reverse his decision, or (even better) to acknowledge that he was wrong in his actions in the first place? Not really. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be invoking Elemental Hope by writing a letter to my MP, getting involved in the local by-election and volunteering with Pagan Pride 2013. All Acts of Righteous Rage, they bring us closer to the truth: another world is possible, if we work to make it so. So mote it be!

Stand Up, Speak Out, on #Bill38

Just a quick post from the #C38 #13heroes rally/protest outside PM Harper’s office in lovely (rainy) SW Calgary – photos of the crowd (about a hundred, from what I’ve read) and signs.





Someone asked me tonight if participating in these kinds of actions is having any impact. Sometimes I ask that myself as I drag myself (and Xander) to (one more) event. But the I remember one of my favourite quotes from The Fifth Sacred Thing: “One act, and about a thousand hours of meetings.” That’s how we’re changing the world. That’s how we’re changing those who don’t see what we see. That’s how we’re changing ourselves. So mote it be!

So, So, Solidarite!

It was a great night for a street gathering. Add some pots and spoons, a red flag or two, and viola – Casserole Night in Calgary! Approximately 200 people (we heard estimates of 150-250, so I’m going with the average) came out to show their solidarity for the Quebec Students Movement. and to show opposition to Quebec’s Bill 78. Others protested where they were, whether Ogden or Brentwood or Killarney.

And that’s just Calgary. Over 60 other solidarity actions were happning in Canada, the US, Europe – and who knows where else. People were banging pots, wearing red, shouting their support – hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of people standing up to support the Quebec students, because what they’re fighting is not simply “tuition increases” but the austerity movement that continues to tell us that we must give in, cut back and be content with what little we have.

“Another world is possible,” we chant, we write and we sing. But another world is only possible if we stand up and create it. This is just one action among many, and it connects with what has come before (liberation movements, anti-globalization) and what is yet to come. Standing in solidarity with one group and seeing the connections between all our struggles is a wonderful moment, and I’m looking forward to dancing to more of the revolution to come!

Write for Rights

December 10 is Human Rights Day, and I spent part of my time today writing letters as part of Amnesty International’s Write for Rights campaign. I’ve been a monthly donor to AI for a while and have been aware of the letter campaigns, but this is the first time I’ve sat down to write a letter… and well, it’s not easy, but it is satisfying.

I picked three cases to focus on:

1. Jabbar Salavan, imprisoned in Azerbaijan for using Facebook to criticize the government,

2. Natalia Estemirova, murdered in 2009 but the perpetrators have not yet been brought to justice

3. Nasrin Sotoudeh, imprisoned in Iran for her work as a human rights campaigner

My other letters were to the Canadian government asking that Bill C-4, the Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada’s Immigration System Act, be withdrawn because it will unfairly punish refugees and migrants who are seeking protection in Canada.

As of this post, people have written 12621 letters to governments around the world. It’s not to late to join in and write #4rights – even a greeting card with a few words of support can make a difference in someone’s life.

Why I Keep Working for Change

Today was the National Day for Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women and, as every year, I gathered with others to “mourn first, then work for change.”

Tonight I lit the purple candles (made by volunteers from the Women’s Resource Centre) on my alter, honouring those who have lost their lives to violence and sending energy to those who continue to work for change. After a day of questioning whether we were having an impact, I felt at peace.

And then I turned on the internet…

Jim Hillyer: MP Celebrates Gun Registry Vote with Finger Guns

Pipeline Days of Action – Day One

Today is the first day of actions against the Keystone XL Pipeline (which would transport oil from Alberta to Texas). It’s expected that 1,500-2,000 will gather at the White House over the next weeks (August 20 – September 3); they’re asking that President Obama refuse to approve the deal. (Read more about what they’re asking for at 24 Hours From Jail by Bill McKibbon.)

Yes, it’s a long shot. (I can’t believe I’m still protesting this stuff.) Yes, it impacts me. (I live, work and breathe in Alberta.) Yes, we need to develop better alternatives to oil and be willing to use them. (Not all of us want to be martyrs for the cause.) es, I think that standing up and saying “not in my name” is one of the most empowering things a person can do. (How else does change happen?)

There’s a lot of great information about the pipeline and its impact – try Yes! Magazine’s continuing coverage, for example, or this article from TruthOut – and pictures from the protests are being posted at the flickr stream. Also, you can vote in today’s CBC’s poll – Are you in favour of the oilsands pipeline?.