Have a fantastic Halloween!
They have tried very hard to ban Harry. Time after time. According to the American Library Association, Harry Potter is the number one most often banned/ challenged book of the 21st century. Why all the hate? Especially in a world where I personally have never met anyone who did not love Harry.
The banning craze that developed around Harry Potter books supposedly has its origin in the fear of witchcraft and sorcery. Apparently, many people are concerned that Harry is promoting the occult, and beliefs like Wicca and Paganism that have NO DAMN BUSINESS in the good old You Ess of A . ( Call in the National Guard!!!! Witches and Wizards and Students! OH MY! )
This hatred of witches, of course has its origins in the bible. ‘Thou Shalt not suffer a witch to live’. So says Exodus 22:18.
I read that in the original Aramaic language this passage should have been translated as ‘Thou shalt not suffer a ‘m’khashepah’ ( translated as ‘evil doer’ connotation of murderer) to live’. No mention of the word ‘witch’. (The word ‘witch’ by the way, originally meant ‘wise ‘.)
But the good folks over at Bible Translation Service, Inc. (also known as Puritans Rope ’em and Grope ’em — or The Spanish Inquisition Burning Machine) decided to throw in the word ‘witch’. Just for fun.
That one little mess up of a word caused the deaths of approximately 100,000 men and women throughout Europe and the Americas between the years 1450 -1700. Witch genocide still takes place in Africa and the Caribbean.
But back to Harry. Is the fear of witches still so prevalent in the US that people go up in arms over a children’s book? Is America still that Puritanical?
Personally I think there may be more to it. Harry’s story itself may be what upsets people.
Harry is a disenfranchised orphan who is left to the mercy of his evil relatives until he discovers his unique and special abilities at Hogwarts. He happens to be taught by witches and wizards but that is not really the point. The point is empowerment. Harry undergoes a fantastic transformation. He becomes capable, powerful, whole. And the idea of the disenfranchised becoming empowered is enough to scare the be-jesus out of the Powers That Be.
Harry is the every man, the working girl, the average Joe (or Jo) who somehow unleashes potential within him/herself. And if Harry can do it, maybe we all can do it. This is the true gift of Harry and also the reason why they would ban him.
But in the end Harry wins! That is because you cannot keep the light down. Go into any public library in the US and chances are you will see Harry. Go into any bookstore and you will find him, sitting on the bookshelf, peering through his little round glasses. Maybe even riding a broom in a game of Quiddich. He says “Come with me. Do not be stifled by their small view of you! Unlock your wizardly powers and be free!”
Yep. The most subversive stuff in America.
The following poem excerpt was written in 1956 by Allen Ginsberg. (Obviously there is NOTHING contemporary about it, because — you know, things are like, different now.)
America I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.
America two dollars and twenty-seven cents January 17, 1956.
I can’t stand my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb weapons deals.
America when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave? When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites Independents?
America why are your libraries full of tears?
America after all it is you and I who are perfect not the next world.
Your machinery NAFTA trade is too much for me. I’m sick of your insane demands.
You made me want to be a saint slut-shamed me into chastity.
Are you being sinister or is this some form of practical joke?
I’m trying to come to the point.
I refuse to give up my obsession.
America stop pushing I know what I’m doing.
I haven’t read the newspapers for months, everyday somebody goes on trial for
murder. My mind is made up there’s going to be trouble.
I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations.
America I’m addressing you.
You’re always telling me about responsibility. Businessmen are serious.
Movie producers are serious. Everybody’s serious
I am talking to myself again.
Asia is rising against us.
We haven’t got a chance.
We’d better consider our national resources.
Our national resources consist of twentyfivethousand mental institutions.
I say nothing about our prisons nor the millions of underprivileged who live in
our flowerpots under the light of five hundred suns. We have abolished the whorehouses of France, Tangiers Nevada is the next to go.
how can I write a holy litany in your silly mood?
America you don’t really want to go to war.
America it’s them bad Russians.
Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen. And them Russians.
The Russia wants to eat us alive. The Russia’s power mad. She wants to take
our cars from out our garages.
Her wants to grab Chicago. Her needs a Red Reader’s Digest, her wants our
auto plants in Siberia.
America I still haven’t told you what you did to Uncle Max after he came over
I’m addressing you.
Are you going to let our emotional life be run by Time Magazine Access Hollywood?
I’m obsessed by Time Magazine Access Hollywood.
I watch it every week.
America Sacco & Vanzetti Trayvon Martin should not have died. America save the Spanish Loyalists Syrian Refugees.
America I am the Scottsboro boys Central Park Five.
America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.
America is this correct?
My ambition is to be President despite the fact that I’m a Catholic Jew
I’d better get right down to the job.It’s true I don’t want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts factories, I’m nearsighted and psychopathic anyway.
America I’m putting my queer LGBTQIA shoulder to the wheel.
— Allen Ginsberg ‘America’
A call for peace, free education, elimination of student debt, adequate health care, green jobs and radical authenticity for the USA.
I first met the Devil in a pub called the Boar’s Head on Old Cork road. The night, as I recall, was all hallows eve. Having spent my last farthing on ale I tried to barter the barkeep for one last drink. My mouth watered but he refused me. “Go on home boy,” he ordered. “Get you a good night’s sleep. Come the morrow all the world will be brighter.”
He was wrong. My world was darkness. I had no intention of retreating home to my bare and filthy hovel where paint peeled off the walls, rats basked in the waste bins and I had drained every ounce of my whiskey bottles dry. I knew not where I’d wander, yet the barkeep bid me leave. And so it was to my great fortune that before exiting through the pub’s swinging door I encountered Lucifer himself.
There he stood, hands crossed at his chest, a blithe smile on his face. He was oddly graceful, a strange dignity about him.
“Your days are numbered Jack,” he told me. “A life of thieving, gambling, drinking and whoring. What have you to show for yourself? Well now. It seems time has expired and I’ve come to take you to the iron gates.”
The Devil. He may think himself wise, but I, Sneaky Jack Skrumpington, was much wiser!
“You don’t look like the Devil to me,” I challenged. “If you are true, then prove it. Change yourself into a shilling!” One shilling, I reasoned, would buy me a fresh pitcher of ale.
Lucifer scowled. He laughed at my challenge, and yet, he could not resist a good dare. In an instant he transformed himself into a shiny silver coin which I did not hesitate to snatch. I quickly hid it in my pocket, right next to my rosary’s shiny cross.
Everyone knows the Devil cannot abide a cross. He was thus under my spell. Yet I was not entirely unmerciful. I made a bargain with him. In exchange for his freedom he would give me the sum of one million ducats and another ten years to live upon this earth. He agreed. After all, he had no choice.
During my next ten years I lived a life of decadence. I dined at the finest of inns, drank wine under crystal chandeliers. I slept in silk sheets upon feathered beds, beautiful women accompanying me at every turn. I spent much of my time gaming, cheating and winning, caring not a fig for those I left in debt. I steadily increased my ever growing fortune.
Finally it all came to an end.
It was upon all hallows eve, ten years later when the Devil returned to claim my soul. He found me sprawled beneath an apple tree, sleeping off a long drunk.
“Skrumpington!” he barked. “Your time has expired.” His lips formed a wide smile, green teeth reflecting the light of the moon. Although he attempted his best of horrifying theatrics, commanding streaks of lightning across the sky and claps of thunder, he did not scare me. I knew better.
“Lucifer,” I pleaded, kneeling before him. “Can you not give a damned man one last request? Do it! Do it, so you prove yourself a creature of mercy, not the evil demon they paint you! Do it, so you prove yourself a being of justice, not the slithering snake they claim. Forget not, Lucifer, you were once a son of light!”
He stared at me. This remark had struck a chord. I moved my face close to his. “Aye,” I whispered in his hairy ear. “Once, dear Lucifer, you sat at the right hand of the Father. You were his favorite, were you not? The brightest star of the heavens, Luz the light. Oh, but that was long before your great sin of pride, wasn’t it? You banished yourself from the heavens, fell from grace into your own lonely cavern of hell. Surely you remember?”
I stroked his neck, moved my hand across the small of his back. He quivered at my touch. “Show me now you have not lost all your goodness,” I urged. “Grant me but one last request.” I moved my lips to his cheek, kissed him gently and tasted the salt of a single tear that fell from his eye.
He nodded, for even the Devil had some shred of decency. Besides, he knew a pacified soul would be more useful to him. He clutched my hand. “What then would you have from me Jack Skrumpington?” he asked.
“Only a simple apple,” I answered. “Ripe and sweet, picked from this very tree.” I pointed to the top bough, heavy with fruit.
Lucifer nodded and like a lizard he shimmied up the bark, entrenching himself between the branches. He reached up to pick the largest, reddest apple the tree bore.
I wasted no time! In one instant I pulled my knife from its scabbard. Quickly I carved a cross in the trunk of the tree. Lucifer’s eyes widened in terror. He was now stuck on the branch of the tree, unable to descend, for everyone knows the Devil can never approach a cross.
I grinned up at him. He spat down on me. “Skrumpington,” he hissed. “You have deceived me again!”
“I will release you,” I said. “If you make me but one single promise.”
His body writhed and wrinkled, now blending into the wood of the tree. He wheezed, struggling to breathe as the tree’s tentacles closed in around him. His eyes were frightened and white. A knot in the bark swallowed him whole, then spit him out again and he hung like a folded fish on the branch.
“Very well Skrumpington!” he gasped. “What bid you this time?”
“This time…” I sighed a sigh of deep satisfaction, strolled grandly in a circle, watching him the whole time. “This time you shall agree to never take my immortal soul, regardless of whatsoever evil deeds I may perform.”
He nodded slowly.
“Swear it!” I commanded.
“I swear it, Jack Skrumpington. I will never take your immortal soul.”
He was a defeated thing, weak and gray, his body now sliding like a stretched lump of clay . I almost felt sorry for him. Almost.
For what remained of my life I continued my ways of debauchery, drinking and whoring myself into an inevitable grave. I was a liar, a user and a sycophant. I frequented gambling dens and houses of ill repute. I lived only for myself and my own gain. It would later be said of me “Jack Scrumpington never once performed a selfless act nor did any kindness toward his fellow man.”
Yet time waits for no one and even I was not immune. My body grew old. My back bent, my bones ached with arthritis. Finally my unbridled whoring caught up with me and the syphilis pox set in. My hands shook. My walk became a staggered, struggling gait. My penis withered like a crumpled twig. My liver became diseased, bloated with cirrhosis, swollen from years of hard liquor. Yellow jaundice enmeshed my flesh. Death, when it finally came, was a mercy.
I then found myself at the gates of Saint Peter.
The Saint shuffled his feet, looked at me and shook his head. “Can’t take you Jack,” he said sadly, “for never in your life have you performed a single selfless act. Not once have you done any kindness toward your fellow man.” Peter leafed through his book of souls, double checking as if there might be a chance he would still find my name. But no. He closed the book. “Sorry Jack.” He shrugged. “Not once.” He caught my eye with a look of genuine sympathy as he locked the white pearl of the deadbolt.
The wind gusted. I felt a chill up my spine. Winter was coming and it would be a long, merciless one. Ice formed on the pavement beneath me. I wore only the sack cloth I had been buried in. My teeth chattered.
What to do? What to do? I’d go to the Devil! Of course I would! At the very least, it should be warm in hell. Yes, it would be an eternity of misery, the lake of fire, but I’d embrace it, punishment for the damage I’d done in my waking life.
Lucifer peered through the gray mist that surrounded his iron gate. Upon recognizing me, he furrowed his brow and shook his head. “Oh no,” he said. “I’ve no want for you here, Jack Scrumpington. I promised I’d never take your immortal soul and I’ll not take it. A promise is a promise.” He clasped his hands together and bowed his head. “I may be a lot of – er – unsavory things. But Lucifer Luz is a man of his word!” He stomped a foot and pounded his own chest.
Not fit for heaven, not welcome in hell. I was the lowest of souls, left to wander on the brink of nothingness. I turned away from Lucifer’s gate. The thick mist clouded my eyes. I stumbled like a blind man. The night was black as pitch. I could see not one outline, not one shadow.
Just then I felt Lucifer’s warm touch upon my shoulder.
“You’ll need something to light your way,” he said, not unkindly. He then handed me a hollowed out pumpkin. A lone candle burned at its base, blackening the inside rind.
“Take this lantern, Jack,” the Devil said. “May it guide you through the darkness.” He then handed me a knife. “You may want to carve some designs in it. Allow extra light.”
It was an act of unmerited kindness, considering what I’d done to him.
In that moment I felt guilt for the first time. I was sorry I had treated him so badly. I realized my skewed values. But alas, it was by then, too late.
With Lucifer’s knife I carved a face in the pumpkin, triangle eyes and nose, even a smiling toothless mouth.
From that day on I was left to wander through the land of spirit. I am usually unseen but sometimes, upon all hallows eve you might find me. It is then the veils are lifted and humankind may enter our realms. Look for me in the alleyways, in your dark streets of trick-or-treaters. I am the ghostly figure who carries a lone pumpkin of candle light to brighten my sad path.
They call me Jack of the Lantern.
Autumn is, by my own hand and bidding, the bleakest of seasons. It is then I make the world wither and die. Would you expect less of me? My beloved daughter Persephone is taken from me once again. She must return to the abode of the dead, forever at the mercy of her husband Hades. And I, the great grain goddess, go into a state of grief, near madness. I make no secret of this. As I suffer, the world around me suffers as well.
Leaves drop from their branches, fruit rots on its vines. Fields go barren, animals grow lean with starvation. The sun, once vibrant and gold, flickers intermittently, its warmth sporadic. The days grow shorter, the nights eerie and long. Dank cold sets in, gales of rough winds churning. Soon all the rivers and ponds will freeze with black ice, fish trapped beneath. All things must die. This is my only revenge, to cut sunlight from the world of the living.
I blame Hades, of course. It was he, the dark lord, who kidnapped my daughter, making her his child bride. Though he may be ruler of the Underworld, he is not fit for a wife such as she!
I still remember that day in the Sicilian fields. My daughter Persephone had been gathering grapes, sweet and purple as heather. How she loved to pluck them! It was her utmost joy. The innocence of childhood still bubbled within her. She knew nothing of the world. She was, as I recall, quite young.
Then suddenly, the land gaped open in a hideous crack. I heard a blood curdling shriek as Sir Hades galloped up on his horse, a black stallion. In one fell sweep he scooped up my baby.
Down, down, they rode, into the abyss of the earth, mud sputtering. I chased them but Hades’ stallion outran me. Tar lurched as they entered the bowels of hell. I watched, powerless and bereft. The gap of land sealed, trapping them beneath. My beloved Persephone was gone, leaving only the sun dappled fields behind, her basket of grapes tipped over and spilled on the grass.
I sunk to my knees and wept.
What Hades did to my child in the Underworld, I dare not imagine! The gory details are too hideous for a mother to ponder. I only know that somehow he bribed my girl with pomegranate seeds. Yes bribery! Leave it to a rogue like Hades to concoct a shrewd scheme. Somehow he convinced Persephone to eat a full six seeds, thus binding her to the darkness.
Six seeds, ripe and perfect, all ingested by my child. And each of those seeds insured that she could never be fully released from the wretched prison of the Underworld. Yet there were also six seeds left uneaten. Thank the heavens for that. Therefore we reached a compromise, Hades and I. It was agreed that for six months out of the year my child would reside with the dark lord, but for the six remaining months she’d return home to me. To be clear, it was NOT a generous compromise. I objected adamantly. However, my brother Zeus insisted it was the best that could be arranged.
And so, it is for this reason I wreak winter’s havoc upon the earth, depriving all living things of food and sustenance. As I suffer, so all must suffer!
Today is the autumn equinox and Hades has come to claim her. Thus we are parted, my daughter and I, until springtime.
I curse this land.
Gentle human, lend me your ear. Has my mother Demeter been bending it with her tales of woe? Has she told you of how, for six long months she will be separated from me, her baby daughter? How today, at autumn’s equinox, I am banished to the Underworld where I must reside with my evil husband until my joyous return in the spring? Oh, I can just hear her, voice whining like a sad violin! Spare me of it! The story she tells could not be further from the truth.
The day my lord Hades rescued me from the drab labor of the Sicilian fields was the happiest day of my life. Do you know what I did in those fields? My uncle Zeus forced me to pick grapes. Grapes! To be made into wine for his vast banquets. I toiled for hours in the blazing sun, my hands raw under the vines, my back burnt red-brown. I was no better than a common slave. Oh, how I wished that fruit would wither upon its vine! And then, in further humiliation, I was made to crush the grapes with my own feet, slithering peels wrapped between my toes. When Hades finally rescued me I was nothing but a sad waif, smelling of concord and sugar, purple stains etched in my hands and heels.
I still remember, clear as crystal, the day my dark lord came for me. Riding upon his black steed, he emerged like a knight from the red caverns of the earth. Never had I seen a man more stunning, more virile or more handsome! I abandoned my work, craning my neck to get a closer look. My heart raced. I was by then a woman, having reached my eighteenth name day, though my mother still thought me a child. Hades said nothing to me, all communication smoldered within his eyes. I understood. When he extended his hand I knew my life would be changed in that instant.
My lord Hades was the kindest, gentlest of all the gods, and when he asked me to become his bride I did not hesitate for one moment. He offered me a pomegranate which I eagerly bit into, pink succulence twirling on my tongue. Hades then cautioned me about eating the seeds. He advised I leave some behind on the table, so that I could still be permitted to return to earth if I chose.
Return to earth? However could he think such a thing? I had no interest in earth! I wanted only to live in his world, far away from my prying mother and my tedious uncle. But alas, the dark lord insisted:
“Leave six seeds uneaten,” he said. “Do this not for yourself but as an act of kindness toward your mother. She misses you tremendously and grieves each day you are gone. Do it also as a generosity to humankind, for Demeter has made the earth barren in your absence. If you agree to visit with her for even a part of the year she will replenish the grain and fruit. Humankind and their animals will therefore never starve.”
His manner was so humble, his voice so true. I could not refuse him. Nor could I be responsible for the starvation of humankind and their beloved animals! And so I spat out six pomegranate seeds, lining them up neatly upon Hades’ table. He nodded solemnly. “An agreement will be reached,” he assured me.
My dark lord and I were married that day on the shores of the River Styx, Charon and Cerberus presiding. With no reservations I pledged myself to Hades, his eternal bride.
Because of the agreement, every year at the vernal equinox I must return to the land of the living. I visit Demeter for six months. During this time she makes the earth rich with wheat and barley, apples, grapes, even pomegranates, and all manner of fruits and vegetables. The sun beats down upon us and the rivers run cool.
By summer’s end the fields are tired, overwrought from their busy production. The land needs a rest, and I too need a rest from my mother’s over-protection and my uncle’s stern hand.
When the autumn equinox arrives it is the most glorious of all days! The earth brandishes its jewels, landscape scattered with ruby leaves. The sun lowers to golden haze and the temperature grows cool. It is then the cavern of the Underworld opens and Hades greets me once again.
I then return to my true home, where I rule in splendor for six months.
In the Underworld servants dote on me and Orpheus serenades with his lyre. Charon brings his passengers, the newly dead, to the shores of our river. There I greet them with joy, welcoming them to our abode. I am respected and loved. Best of all, my uncle Zeus can never make me crush grapes again!
However, I am unhappy with this bothersome six month contract. I vow to dismantle it!
And I will.
Sometime in the 21st century I plan to present my case to the Council of Olympus. The weather upon planet earth will then became chaotic. Winter will seem as summer and vice versa. Tornadoes and hurricanes will wreak havoc upon the land. There will be tsunamis, earthquakes and blizzards, causing much destruction.
I must warn you, gentle human, do not to be alarmed. There is no warming of your globe, nor have you brought this inclement weather upon yourselves. It is only me and my lord Hades, attempting to bargain with Demeter. Hot tempered, she shall take her vengeance out on the earth.
But fear not. When I renegotiate my contract all will be well. The earth shall be restored, replenished and free of chaos. It is then my mother Demeter and my Uncle Zeus will finally release their hold upon me. It is then I’ll take my true and rightful place where I will live in bliss, year long, by my husband’s side.
As above, so below. The world shall be at peace and so shall I.
Equal parts dark and light, equal parts day and night. As the sun wanes in the North so do we. The long
sleep jumps from the tilt of the sky.
Crops harvest, land rests, hot beat of summer gone. Painted now in cool splashes. Citrine
amber, scarlet. Rich jewels to ripen and brighten
the oncoming night.
Have a Blessed Mabon.
Today, September 21, 2016 is the official International Day of Peace. However, if we really want peace (and rest assured, many DO NOT!) then we must be acting in terms of peace in our every day lives. This means: Breathe peace, think peace, BE peace.
My county, the U.S., has been at war for 13 years. My government spends about a trillion-billion-gazillion dollars on war. (Really, I daresay most economists could not even keep track of it. The numbers are too humongous for any human being to actually fathom.) So I come to the conclusion that my government must like war. Otherwise why spend all that money promoting it?
This perplexes me. I mean really? Really??
(PLEASE BE WARNED! Graphic pictures will follow! It ain’t pretty but it is REAL.)
They choose war. Therefore they choose this.
Not to mention THIS.
And of course THIS.
(Jeez, good thing I’m not being censored by Zuckerberg, eh?)
War is ugly. Nothing sleek nor stylish about it.
It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that war has never done any good and never will. Just study history and you will find this is true.
No one in their right mind would choose what I have just shown you. (Unless of course you were a Wall Street crony, far removed from such violence, and war was a guarantee that your stocks in Haliburton would shoot up and make you a gazillionaire.)
There is, however, a difference between being pro-peace and being anti-war. Pro-peace means putting our focus on PEACE. Anti-war means actually putting the focus on war, and therefore (inadvertently) creating MORE war. (That is why the ‘War on Drugs’ has created more drugs and the ‘War on Terror’ has created more terrorists. Have you noticed?)
Each of us, in our daily lives can choose to be peaceful. We can be more accepting, more patient and kinder. This may mean taking a step back. It may mean learning to accept someone who has a different belief system or lifestyle from your own. It may mean tuning out the snarky media who likes to promote hate and intolerance. It may mean getting more sleep, eating healthier food, learning to breathe, learning to love.
In the end, I trust that humankind do not really want to blow each other’s faces off. In the end, I trust that our planet has enough resources to go around with many untapped and more being discovered each day. If a trillion gazillion dollars can be spent on War, then the same amount can be spent on Peace. Gardens are cheaper than bombs. Serenity is cheaper than PTSD.
When John and Yoko did their commercial for peace, they called it ‘Bed Peace’ and spent a week in bed talking to the press about peace. (Note guitar, flowers and, oh yeah, hair 🙂 )
The idea was to get the media to actually focus on Peace (also music, love and nature) rather than War. To this day, I do not think the world has understood this concept — focusing on what we want, rather than what we do not want. John and Yoko urged us to ‘Give peace a CHANCE.’ Just step back and give it a chance. This is not some airy-fairy, hippie sh*t. Nor is it some pie in the sky dream. This CAN BE OUR REALITY.
I do not think humankind has given peace a chance. I think we are too busy believing the lies and the hype promoted from those that would like to control us.
But we can begin now to change our thinking and shift the paradigm that insists upon war.
Peace further explained: