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American Gifts

(This is a poem written by my boyfriend, A. Lee Lucas who came here as a child from Trinidad)

My family came here, on the Mayflower’s deck
To practice our ways, without risking our necks.
Here since the 1600s, American as pumpkin pie.
American for generations, and this is where I’ll die.

Our ancestors braved the winter’s cold
Established our colonies and our homes.

New York, New Hampshire, Boston and Providence
This new continent, is now our residence.

My gift to you as an American is history and longevity.

Been here since the 1600s, and you think you’re set.
Our culture is older, than your alphabet.
Letters on treaties, that are never honored.
At least we’re allowed to vote, in our Reservation’s squalors.

This was always our land, and always our home.
Long before the British crown, or the dawn of Rome.  

We were nearly wiped out, but we will persevere.
Like the 7 grandfathers, or brother Bear.

My gift to you as an American is rememberence.

We didn’t disappear.  

My ancestors were expendible, according to the Quing
Didn’t want stay in the Middle Kingdom, and be nothing.

We blew up mountains, rocks, hills and stone.
We knew we would be even more expendible, if we stayed home.

Came out east to do some hard but profitable work.
Excluded us from this country, we died in the desert.

Now San Francisco, Oakland and Seattle is our generational land.
I can say “a berry is still in my belly” upon any demand.

If your family has been here for over a century, you can make those sayings..

As American as chop suey, egg rolls, and lo mein.  

My gift to you as An American, is recognition

My Great Great Grandfather Chang Ling Ho built this country.

I, Leiutenant Jonathan Chang IV of the US Navy finally got recognition for his ancestor’s contributions to this country.

We’re not even on the North American continent.
We became a part of you, by a tragic accident.

Our hula dances are older than your nationhood
We take the wiki wiki to celebrate statehood
We saw our country die, In Queen Lydia’s carriage.
We became a star on the flag, in a forced marriage.

Different customs, but we’re America’s daughters and sons
Our history and culture, is now in the English Tongue

My gift to you as an American is also longevity.  And recognition.  And history.  And also forgiveness.  

We are one out of 50, but we’re one in a million.   Sushi made with spam.  Haka before the Warriors vs Cowboys game.  

My ancestors worked hard for this country too.
But we didn’t see a paycheck, and only lived ’til 32.

African without the history, American without the privilege
They hung my great granduncle, on the railroad bridge.

We didn’t land on plymouth rock, it landed on us.
Now we ride proudly, in the front of the bus.

America isn’t free, until we are too.
This nation is somewhat free, lord we grew.

My gift to you as an American is introspection.
Some people are more free than others.  

Others need to be as free too.

I am the black ancestor who came here on a boat.
At least I got paid for all of my hard work

Told constantly I didn’t belong, from both black and white.
I worked all day, and I studied all night.

I built my business from the ground up.
Went from being employed, now I pay up.

Hard work is a virtue, you need it to run in a headwind.
Never a slave in America, but I worry about my kids.

The second greatest words I uttered, were “I do”
The greatest words I uttered were “I solemnly swear to”

Huddled, hungry, and for a long time poor.
The banana boat, is permanently marooned, on the shore.

My gift to you as an American is hard work and becoming a new American.
I’m an American too.  It just took me a long time to come home.

That’s a nice story you have to tell to the rest of the class.
But you spent a lot of money to come here, and you’re not here en masse.
This is the only country, I have ever really ever known
I think of here, when the racists want to send me back home.
I have a dream, and America also does too.
When can I ever, become as American as you?  
I guess it was my fault for my parents coming from Durango with a stroller.
America needs people like me, because I have the potential to be a high roller.
Living in the shadows of a country that is really mine, but not really.
It must be nice to take a long time to come home, to your big house in the city.

But things will change. I hope.

My gift to you as an American is being an American… of very distant Mexican birth.  

That lady up there’s related to my ancestor’s cousin!  

The border crossed us, we didn’t jump ship.
All because some American immigrants, wanted some blacks to whip.
Six flags over a land, where we lived on for centuries.
This is still our country, no matter our nationality.

We’re told to go home, by people who moved here 20 years ago.
We’ve been here longer than that, my great great gramps was navajo.

Picking the cotton and tending to the cattle.
Spaniards to Mexicans to Texans to Americans
To Dixies back to Americans, because of some battles.

This has always been my country, for many years going.
I wish people would comprehend that, but it’s rare to be knowing.

My gift to you as an American is understanding.  America is a very complicated nation.

You can wave your Southern Cross, do your Rebel Yell.
There are a lot of Gray hat folks, who are burning in Hell.
In the land of hurricanes, snakes and aligators,
Why in God’s name, do we honor these barbaric traitors?

Our country was founded on freedom, they were along for the ride.
My stomach chortles, whenever I hear “War Eagle” or “Roll Tide”.

Us Yankees gave our lives, for America to be free.
Descendent of a Yankee soldier, Always will love this country.

My gift to you as an American is loyalty.  To our principles.  To our constituion.  To America.  In that order.

When I saw the planes hit the buildings on 9/11
I waited on my 18th birthday, which was on 10/7

I signed up to be a member of the US Marines.
I quickly learned, we were all different shades of green.

I was in the sandbox, giving a Ba’athist a lead bath.  
Didn’t blow up the trade center, but Saddam did laugh.

He didn’t last long, in his tiny spiderhole.
What I saw shocked me, when I came home.

My local mosque in my town, was burned to the ground.
I guess we’re not all different shades of green, as I found.

This isn’t my America.    

My America shouldn’t be like this.  

But is is.

My gift to you as an American is learning to see the difference between governments and people.  

Both foreign and Domestic.

Salaam.   Peace.

Give us your huddled masses, and all of your poor.
The English stole our land, we were inside out Moors.
Headed out West, where we tried for some new hope.
We need not apply, they thought we were all dopes.

From Boston to New York, Chicago and Saint Paul.
They needed us for assistance, to prevent their downfall.
Play a harp, as the sun shines upon the harp’s chest.
Every March, they would rather be one of us instead.

My gift to you as an American is the American experience itself.

There’s no America without the Irish.  

We were the bad guys, let’s all jump on ol Dixie
But you run away from a black professional, rather quickly.

My heritage isn’t hate, it’s love for my region.
We did many horrible things, But I don’t think it was treason.

Philando Castile, George Floyd, and other black Yankees.
Died at the hands of the cops, up north Ain’t So Dandy.

Land of hurricanes, snakes and aligators.
Land of tornadoes, coyotes, and sunset staters.

Heritage, not hate.  I’m Dixie till I die.
We may not be perfect, but at least we don’t lie.

My gift to you as an American is honesty.

We say how we feel.

And we’re honest about how we need to grow as both a region and a nation.

Fly out to Saxony, you’ll see a proto-white American.
We’re around everywhere, our culture is reckoned.

Hot dogs, hamburgers, pretzels at ballgames and even our beer.
It’s damning evidence, to prove that we are resoundingly here.

Two wars made us have to hide our proud blood
A stupid Austrian made it impossible, for us to self-love.

My real last name is Baumeister, like the men from my ancesteral town.
But I’m mister Bowmister, they thought it would have a better sound.

De-Allemangize America, they tried to do as they could.
Chicken fried steak and barbecue sausage, are our favorite foods.

My gift to you as an American is visibility. You’re one of us, and you probably don’t know it yet.  

Pizza, ravioli, beef sandwiches, and spaghetti.
These were all strange foreign foods, until America was ready.
We were just as bad, according to them, as the black people.
We were always being profiled, and the cops were willing to pull the triggers.

Valerie Bertenelli, Joe Dimaggio, Rocky Marciano, and Franky Avalon
Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta, and the Italian names go on and on.
There’s no America, without the Irish they will always howl and say.
But there’s no dinner in America, without our board and stay.  

My gift to you as an American is badda bing, badda boom, ravioli in your bedroom.

Kicked out of Poland, Russia, Germany and Spain
Came to America, from a boat, then on a train.
I got a joke for you, 16 candles, makes a lovely light.
You dumb yutz, you forgot to wrap the 2 pack menoriahs we got last night!

That’s the humor of my people, we had to laugh a lot to try to cope.
They killed us everywhere we went, we just wanted to find a happy home.
Despite being inferior people, we manage to control the media and the money source.
We control so much stuff, even though we’re notoriously weak sauce.

My gift to you as an American is humor.  

Jewish humor is American humor.

Shalom.  

From the Japanese Hawaiians, to the Native and Russian Alaskans.
To the Midwestern Scandinavians, and the Natives in Montana.
To the Ohio Valley Greeks, and the Cajuns of New Orleans.
To the Miami Dade Cubans, and the Gulf and Midwestern Vietnamese
To the Poles of Chicago, and our Gullah in the Carolinas.

You make our country great, out of many, one, and we are finer.

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July 5, 2022 at 7:04 am Leave a comment

All Nations, All Faiths, One Prayer: Unity to Protect Earth 

Today I experienced the hottest Summer Solstice I’ve seen in Minnesota in the 25 years I’ve lived here. It’s long past time we took a stand. Prayers root us in balance & connection with the Holy Powers providing a strong foundation for the greatest fight we shall ever face.

The Order of the Oak

Summer Solstice / Alban Hefin Ritual
21st June 2022

This Solstice we are joining Chief Arvol Looking Horse’s call for unity to protect the Earth. Please join us in your sacred place / space in this connection on June 21st.

The Sigil

The Order’s sigil aligns the Earth and Sky at its top and bottom circles. Let us use that alignment to frame our Druid ritual and prayer for the protection of the Earth. The sky above, fire and flame, can act as a beacon connecting us all at this time; a unity in ritual.

You may want to open and close the ritual in your normal way, usually by calling to the spirits of the directions, of place, of sky and of ancestors. If you would like, make a biodegradable offering to the gods of the place.

Feel free to light a candle as a symbol of…

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June 21, 2022 at 8:45 am Leave a comment

Understanding & Identifying the Alt Right

This is a collection of resources for identifying alt-right & white nationalist individuals, groups and movements, understanding their propaganda and recruiting tactics. Most of this is more general. I will also be sharing ones that are specific to particular communities and subcultures. I recommend reading/watching about subcultures/communities that you don’t belong to as well, because much of the information is still relevant and these movements spread from one subculture to another, especially on social media. These ones are intended to be accessible and friendly to people of varying political views, even a-political, just anyone who is opposed to fascism! Please let me know if this is helpful or not, I’m always trying to improve my resource lists. Also note that many people who have similar ideas, rhetoric and tactics don’t identify themselves as alt-right, white nationalists, and by their very nature will have many code-words that they use, and these keep changing and there are many similar and overlapping ideologies and philosophies, likely most adherents don’t belong to any in-person group, but plenty of them have lots of guns and get “inspired” to use them.

Articles

How White Nationalism Courts Internet Nerd Culture– great analysis of recruiting tactics

The Rhetoric Tricks, Traps and Tactics of White Nationalism

YouTube videos

Innuendo Studios: The Alt Right Playbook by Ian Danskin– great analysis of tactics (list of videos)

Contrapoints by Natalie Wynn:Decrypting the Alt-Right: How to Recognize a Fascist

Does the Left Hate Free Speech? Part 1

Three Arrows: How “Cultural Marxism” Became the Scape-goat of the Far Right

Denial as a Tool of the Radical Right

 

 

November 9, 2018 at 12:53 am 8 comments

Girls Underground Oracle

Signal-boosting this  kick-starter for an oracle deck that can be used for both divination and storytelling games, based on the common patterns found in many stories about the journeys of young women/girls, such as Alice in Wonderland, Dorothy in Oz or Sarah in the film/book Labyrinth. The creator is Kate Winter, who is also the author of various books on polytheism and spirit-work and has also organized many spiritual and artistic events and groups in the past, so it’s a nice chance to give back and help with a special project. This kick-starter ends on Sept 30th, so get your pledge in before it’s too late, she’s close to meeting her goal, so we’re in the home stretch!

 

September 26, 2018 at 12:37 am 1 comment

Why Modern Druidry?

So, what do you do? This post fits well with my ideas about how many of us, once we get past a beginner practitioner level, end up with some types of spiritual specialties, and how the clergy/laity dichotomy often doesn’t “translate” well into many forms of paganism and polytheism.

A while ago I had a rationale for why we call ourselves Druids in ADF and other orders. Aside from the historical reasons, in the case of British dudes who dabbled in early archaeology and mystical esoteric nature-y forms of Christianity and on our side of the pond, college students who wanted to get drunk in the woods instead of going to chapel- Reformed Druids of North America. Much is made of Ye Olden druids all being priests, judges, advisers to kings and so forth- and if we aren’t filling those sorts of roles in modern societies, we can’t really be druids. Well, of course we have things like separation of church and state- or a different state religion. But we are all way more educated than the average human being was for most of human history. We all typically get at least a high school education. And we all have to do more to educate ourselves and figure out our religion than most people who can just walk into a church and sit in a pew and it’s all set up for them. So, essentially we all end up doing smaller chunks of clergy work, druid work as individuals. Still, is it appropriate for us to call ourselves druids?

As for Celtic cultures as a whole, both historic and modern, they have all experienced conquest and imperialism by other peoples and suppression and erasure of many of their traditions, customs and languages. The many roles of druids are inseparable from their cultures of origin, and yet that is exactly what has happened, druids have been removed from their Celtic cultural contexts. At the same time, some revival Druidry groups have been intertwined with Welsh, Cornish and Breton nationalism, and revival of music, arts and languages. I admit I was once much more dismissive of revival Druidry, til I interacted more with revival Druids and learned about their history and traditions. I began to appreciate it as its own thing, expressed in particular times and places for particular reasons.

Note: I wrote this post back in 2015 or 2016 or so, & it’s been saved as a draft since. Posted after giving it some edits. I’m still ambivalent about using the word Druid as a personal identifier however as well as how many other people use it. Hence why there will be a part 2, for my more recent thoughts.

 

May 20, 2018 at 5:39 am Leave a comment

Blogging- Why?

I think it’s good to remind myself why I do this blogging thing, especially after a long break in blogging. A friend pointed out to me that I was spending increased amounts of time reading & commenting on other people’s blogs & other social media, and that the blog posts I’d written (if at all) had gotten worse in quality over time. I’m not sure if that’s true overall, but my style and quality  of writing is certainly uneven across different posts over time, partly because different posts are written for different reasons and audiences.

I blog for myself- to pull together ideas I’m developing, bits of research. I’m also a compulsive explainer and like writing my more in-depth explanations of various concepts here, so I theoretically have a more in-depth place for people to go if they want to learn more. Usually though, they just want the short-attention span version.  I used to use Deli.cio.us to keep track of my vast link collection, then never really replaced it after the website became defunct. I’ve developed instead the habit of making resource pages for this blog which contain the many links.

I blog to share ideas & engage in conversation with other folks interested in the same subjects. I also think the role of it changes when I have an in-person religious community to participate in. The opinions of various e-quaintances matter less when you have actual in-person people to meet with! We can either overplay or underplay the importance of online communities, they are often either an easy cure-all or the cause of many of our social problems. I’d much rather see them as tools and supplements for building in person communities while understanding that at the same time, for many folks online is the best option for reasons of geographic isolation, health problems etc.

At times this sharing on this blog has brought me more confidence in myself as a writer. Sometimes the comments & hits and links feel good when I otherwise am not feeling so great about myself.

I also need to figure out what the purpose/focus of this blog is, when it’s often been all over the place, and I have the additional blog on Witches & Pagans that I’ve been neglecting, as well as couple others. I’ve also been thinking about further developing some of the posts into articles or essays for magazines and anthologies.

 

April 16, 2018 at 11:57 pm Leave a comment

Personal Updates

  • I actually have a full-time job for the first time in my life- I’ve had it since late October though there have been some ups & downs in keeping my anxiety under control enough to keep the job! It’s at a call center, believe it or not.
  • I’m still trying to figure out work/life balance, particularly with cooking and housekeeping, as well as spiritual practice.
  • I’ve been trying to focus less on political activities and more on religious and cultural activities, especially with Northern Roots Grove, the pan-Druid grove I’ve been part of for the past several years. I’ve also felt pushed out of some of my political involvement.
  • Considering re-joining ADF & attending the Upper Midwest Retreat again. I had a great time a few years ago and would like to join them again, along with some of my grovemates. I’m having some mixed feelings about the leadership of ADF, however.
  • Need to get back into blogging on Witches & Pagans as well as writing reviews for Moon Books- I agreed to do both of those things some time ago, and haven’t been very good about follow-up. That’s an all around habit I need to work on!

April 10, 2018 at 7:57 am Leave a comment

Neat Polytheistic Projects

Signal-boosting some cool stuff I see other folks doing on social media- it’s not all strictly polytheistic content, but at least of interest/relevance. Let me know if there’s anything you’re working on that you’d like to share, and if I like it I will add it to my next link round-up.

Polemical Topics in Polytheism Series– this topics are all too big for me to fit into mere comments, so I may make my own posts on them!

Sarenth’s Ritual Praxis Series -this is from an intentionally pan-Germanic perspective

Podcasts-

Bespoken Bones Podcast – this podcast interviews folks from a variety of spiritual viewpoints about ancestor veneration practices.

Brute Norse– Scandinavian archeology, history and culture

 

February 20, 2018 at 4:14 am 4 comments

Intuition

August Gaelic Roundtable Topic- Gnosis

How important is Personal Gnosis to your practice? What emphasis do you place on it when reconstructing, reviving, or generally creating your faith? Do you enjoy hearing others’ Personal Gnosis, or tend not to seek it out? How does hearing others’ Personal Gnosis hinder or help your faith? And finally (if you are willing to share), what is some Personal Gnosis that you hold that is considered “unconventional” to the greater Gaelic Polytheist community?

imbas (Old Irish) iomas (modern Irish) intuition

aisling – daydream, hope / ambition

What I’ve gotten is intuitive feelings and associations I’ve made rather than a profound dream or visionary experience.   I do enjoy learning other people’s insights, some of them sound “right” to me, others I’m not sure about. I try to not let it totally bias me in any particular direction, especially when it comes to the personality or visualization of deities and spirits. There are certain stories of experiences people have had that I find powerful enough to be convincing especially if the person’s anecdotes have an even tone to them, as in not every story they have is amazing.

My main way of cultivating this is through looking for art, music and writing that feels spiritually inspiring to me and creating my own. I’ll make a list of such items, both general and specific to particular holidays, myths, deities and spirits.

August 29, 2017 at 1:47 am Leave a comment

Why Bi? (Organizing, Activism etc.)

So Bisexual Health Awareness Month is here again, the Bisexual Resource Center even has specific themes for each week and day. However I feel as if my friends, family and other followers will be less interested than if I just write from the heart so hear goes. Why this Bi stuff? folks ask me sometimes. It’s my third year of being on the Bisexual Organizing Project board. In my personal life, being openly bisexual hasn’t seemed like much of a big deal since I came out back at age 16 and I’m 35 now! For the most part I was pretty fortunate in having a supportive family and living in an accepting liberal metro area- the Twin Cities. So while I’ve gone on to mention it and there, it seemed to not really matter that much and I didn’t think about it much after being involved in groups in college.

Then a couple years ago I went to the Celebrate Bisexuality Day event held by BOP and learned about new research that had come out showing health disparities between bisexuals and gays and lesbians. Up til this point, bisexuals had simply been lumped in with lesbians and gay men, or heterosexuals, or every statistician’s least favorite category of “Other”. Now most people are bored to death by statistics but I’m a political science major so my ears perked up. We finally had data to show what many bisexual activists and scholars had long suspected- that there were hidden costs to being bisexual that were different from being exclusively gay or lesbian. These were for both women and men (more gender options not on the table at the time) both single, partnered or married to same or different genders. Especially disturbing were the rates of intimate partner violence, anxiety, depression, eating disorders and so forth.

So that is why I insist on That Pesky Unnecessary Label. If you have reached a beautiful social nirvana, in which you have no need of any labels, congratulations! We down on planet Earth still find them handy to find like-minded people and information.

 

March 3, 2017 at 5:51 am Leave a comment

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