Blogging for Yana

**trigger warning**

As many Pagans, I was brought to tears this morning by Cara Schultz’s post about a Pagan woman in Syria with whom she had been corresponding:

I’m at a loss for how to write this obituary, this tribute to a life lost so horribly.  The usual forms a reporter uses won’t work in this situation.  I don’t know her birth date  or the exact day she died, and because I don’t want to put others in harm’s way in Syria, I can’t even use her real name.

Cara had expressed concern about Yana’s safety (and the safety of other Pagans in the region) earlier this year: I keep hoping I will hear something, but it’s been several months and still no word.

And now comes the worst kind of word: that Yana had been denounced as a whore and a witch (by her own brother), had been taken by authorities and tortured, had been dragged into the streets, raped, and murdered.

Goddess grant her peace.

As the news spread, other bloggers stepped up to speak of the global nature of Paganism (and our responsibility to it) and the importance of interfaith work in addressing intolerance. Cara has set up a donation page on Doctors Without Borders in Yana’s name and donors have already raised over $1,000 to help those most affected by the conflict in Syria.

Tonight I light a candle and mourn. Tomorrow, I work for change, because Yana is only one of many women trying to survive in Syria.

Til not another woman dies.

Blessed Be.


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

Poetry for Brigid

It’s that time again! Here’s my entry for the Fourth Annual Brigad in the Blogosphere Poetry Slam. Happy Imbolc!


Beatrice Cenci was a young Italian noblewoman executed in 1599 (with her stepmother and elder brother) by the Pope because she was involved in the murder of her father, who had imprisoned and abused them.

Alimitra David wrote a poem, Beatrice of the Cenci, that takes place on the eve of the execution. In it, Beatrice calls out to her mother (who died shortly after her birth). As it is a long poem, I am only sharing the first and last stanzas. The entire poem can be found in Impulse to Fly (1998).


I don’t ask
that you
come to me here
to hold me and
cry as Lucretia and I
have done for
years I
don’t ask you to
come and be as
we are a

voice against his
will like my
smallest finger
against the
stone gate of
the courtyard

Mother I don’t
pray you back to
this place only
sing to me
from wherever you are

oh sing to me Mother
I will climb your voice
hand over hand
high over these
robed men who
curse me

sing tonight
for tomorrow they
will cut me loose
at last to fly from this
motherless place
this place of
fathers and
fathers and
more fathers


Mother do you
love me do
you love me
broken as I am
do you love my
feet my hands
my face do you
love me when I
hear you and

do you love me
when I can’t
listen when I
blind and deaf
in water with
no current was

it your voice in
my dream was it
mine calling names I
don’t remember when

this night will
become morning
I have heard
rumors of
morning of
sunrise and
figs ripening

Mother I call
to you not to
come to me here
only sing for me
wherever you are

Visioning and Re-Visioning

Ms. Magazine has a list of quotes from prominent women, Vision for Change, about what they would like to see happen under an Obama administration. My favourite?

LET THE SURVIVORS LEAD. The violence-against women movement has to, once again, become a movement and not just a network of social-service providers. Violence will only end when survivors are seen as potential organizers on their own behalf, rather than simply clients of social workers, lawyers, judges or medical personnel. —ANDREA SMITH, PROFESSOR OF AMERICAN CULTURE AND WOMEN’S STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN; COFOUNDER, INCITE! WOMEN OF COLOR AGAINST VIOLENCE

There is so much change that needs to happen within the VAW movement. We need to reclaim the feminist analysis and address the root causes and systems that create, sustain and encourage violence against women!