Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Human Rights/Transgendered Rights

Sunday's Finger Lakes Times (February 24, 2013 page7A) reported that a bill adding transgendered rights to the human rights law is making its way through the state legislature.  They appear to have enough support to make it happen.  If so, then people who are among the intersexed folks would be protected in employment, housing, credit and likely public accommodation though that was not listed.  This is the NYS Human Rights Law I used to enforce as a specialist for the state.  It was a fun job, really.  I learned everybody's secrets and had the authority of the State of New York.  What a rush!

This bill also has provisions against bullying based on gender identity with the potential of assigning violence and verbal spewing as "hate crimes".  Apparently the government and advocates have been working on versions of the bill for several years.  After passing marriage equality legislation, they are able to focus on gender identity protections.

This is important legislation.  Sixteen states have already passed similar laws. Syracuse and NYC have already adopted anti-discrimination rules.  However, city ordinances do not have the weight and enforcement of state discrimination statutes.  Transgendered people (those in any level of transition) experience serious difficulties in trying to live ordinary lives.  People I know have been beaten at bus stops, harassed in the street, and denied jobs.  The woman interviewed in the paper is Cadence Casey.  She reports opting for a gender neutral image to avoid problems.  She cites housing as an important part of the legislative protections.  Landlord bias hits people right where they are most vulnerable, at home where one should be the safest. 

Of course the Conservatives are against this legislation.  They think existing laws are sufficient. They think we should not dream up different classifications for human beings. Ha! Our society is so polarized that the classifications humans are forced into resemble a caste system of bias and limitations.  Race and color, ethnicity, creed, sexual orientation, age, disability, sex, gender identity...all of these are classes of people experiencing discrimination and in need of legal protections.

But we have a good human rights law.  Why add to it?  Because it does not mention gender identity.
Because existing laws are not sufficient in court unless they do mention gender identity.  What? Do Conservatives think we sit around dreaming up new legislation for the sake of writing something? This law addresses a proven need in our society because people don't know how to behave without such legislation.  Simple fact.  Not hard to understand.

So hooray for New York State.  It is about time, and I am proud of you.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Words at Play: Eric's Birthday Poem

Today is my partner Eric Reynold's birthday. The picture is of him in his Medieval garb from the Web Annual Dinner last November. I usually write a poem for him on his birthday.  After 29 years being original is a challenge. No moon in June, nor red roses and blue violets will do.

One thing we share, one among many, is a love for words, definition, subtle meaning, and tricks in words.  I could not find an inspiration until I complained to my spirit muse Mannan last night who then gave me these ideas in dream.  I re-wrote and edited them this afternoon, but this is essentially what I/we wrote last night.  I did wake up and make notes.  My memory is not that good! 

So Happy Birthday Eric!

Words at Play 

I am at peace with you.
My heart winds around you.
Another 20, 30 years at most
Who counts them?
Less? Perhaps. Enough?
We’ve learned to
Want less
Seek less
Strive less… 

And are more for it:
Ah! More… 

On moors
We loved to watch wild donkeys
On fells the sheep
On downs the horses—real
And made in chalk.
But I digress with happy memories. 

We go and come back
Moor peaceful
Just us two,
Too filled
To know
Just us.
Justice,  peace.
The two of us are settled
Because no justice, no peace
No peace, no justice.
We will both,
Love beyond all that.

Dorothy Abrams 2/13/13

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sharing Credit with the Gods

In writing my soon to be published book Identity and the Quartered Circle, I took Lamia as my Patron Goddess.  Or she took me.  In either case, I re-told part of her story as she loved Zeus and partied with him in Libya where she was the Divine Queen.  When she is informed by his angry wife Hera that Lamia is not the first but only the next in a long succession of lovers, Lamia banishes him from Libya and turns in on herself. 

In this months National Geographic Magazine (February 2013) They print an article about the archaeological treasures in Libya, sorely neglected by the previous dictator, but now being restored and honored by locals and international experts.  There are few Libyans of stature in the field currently, since Qaddafi believed all such ruins were examples of western imperialism, according to the article. 

Figuring prominently in the pictures is the Temple of Zeus.  It is the only Greek ruins in the World Heritage sites in Libya.  Although I did not say it in my story, that Lamia would have overseen creating a Temple to her lover is only a short jump. The National Geographic pictures are not available on the web, so I went to the Megalithic Portal and a travel site. I was excited to see history and science come together with my re-created myth.  Of course I am not saying Lamia's existence is proven by a temple any more than Zeus' is .  However, the commonality between the story and the artifacts is encouraging. 

This happens with other writers too.  Jean Aurel years ago wrote Clan of the Cave Bear and its sequels.  In it she proposed a child born of a CroMagon woman Ayla and her captor, a Neanderthal.  The scientists poo poohed her work, saying that such a ting was impossible.  Yet lately genetic mapping has shown that there is a small but significant portion of our genes from Neanderthal ancestors.  I am sure Aurel feels vindicated.

In writing my historical novels, Witches of Fawsetwood and its sequels (as yet unpublished) I have had many such things fit together.  Eric is currently reading a group of unrelated books on the Knights Templar.  We just had a fascinating conversation about them, in which he explained that the problem with the Knights is that they are unbalanced by women.  The polarity is single sexed.  I laughed.  If I ever get to Margot's book in my series, that is exactly the theme.  She was in Palestine when the Templars were organizing.  She spends a good deal of time warning the men in her life not to become involved with them because they are not in balance, that it is a mistake to leave women out of the magical workings.When things start to fall apart, she goes to France to deal with some of the heads of the Templars herself.  I don't know what happens next.  She hasn't told me. 

For me the writing process involves a sort of psychic connection to the ideas and people involved behind the scenes.  That is as true of fiction as it is non fiction.  When I say Lamia is my Patron for Identity and the Quartered Circle, I do mean that in a literal sense.  She inspires, edits, points the way, encourages flagging energy and insists on going further than I intended.  In Witches of Fawsetwood, I think the characters (friends of mine from another life) serve the same function.  So do the Gods and Goddesses they worship.  One of the story details in the second novel, Knights of Lancaster, is about live willow weaving.  When I wrote it, I had no idea if people had ever done such a thing.  I searched it on the Internet then, to be sure I was not way out in left field.  Happily I found many references and examples.  Another one popped up on Facebook today showing a domed bower of live willow weave.

Overall, the synchronicity of these events indicates there is something going on in the creative process that exceeds the imagination or research of the writer. Once again, all things are connected.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Celtic Chakras and Swirls of Consciousness

Chakras in a spiral path, the ambiguity of a threshold holding both sides of a truth, and tales from the Mabinogian stir up an unusual mix of Celtic paganism and shamanism.  I am impressed with Elen Sentier's little book on The Celtic Chakras.  She packs a lot in there--information that is new to me. She wrote a blog post about this a couple years ago. Her bio reveals her mother was a witch from the Isle of Man. 

In writing my novels about medieval witches in Cumbria, I sensed they knew about the chakras.  I had no sources or that, other than the wisdom of my characters.   They are people from a past life, so I tend to listen and to go out on a limb for them. Imagine my delight when I came across this book!  Then to find the author's roots in the Isle of Man located just off the Cumbrian coast...I hear that bell of synchronicity again.

I think the book merits more than a simple quick read.  I like this ideas so much I think I will organize this September's shamanic intensive around The Celtic Chakras. We can learn new stories, experience journeys through the 3 cauldrons, do chakra clearings in a spiral dance, and generally expand our cultural experiences of the shamanic path. With any luck, we will enter the world of faery! The Fey already live in the sun room.  Perhaps they will appreciate the recognition.  I'll ask them first of course!