Under the Maple Canopy

Singing Union Songs Since 2009


On Certain Faux Outrage-a-holics

Freedom of religion means that we all have the freedom to observe whatever religion we wish. That is what has made this country great for all of the time it has been a nation. However, with ignorant displays as this will detail, to Fox News, freedom of religion means freedom for Christians to practice their traditions, not freedom of religion for everybody else, and to them, there is no freedom of religion for people who choose not to believe. This we already know.

Being tolerant doesn’t mean you have to agree. It means that you recognize that other people besides you live here in this country and that your work isn’t to convert the entire country over to your point of view.

-Dakota O’Leary, “Of Fox News, Wiccans and midwives: Tucker Carlson, witch hunter

Fox News – Masters of Projection

I first read about this story over at The Wild Hunt (“The Mainstream News Media Dance with Wicca“) yesterday, but didn’t get around to watching the videos until today.  There’s plenty that one could comment about in the video.  It’s chock full of privileged, tone-deaf, insulting, ignorant, and unprofessional statements.  Among the things that most stuck out to me was this idea that Wiccans and Pagans should be outraged because they are “being used for a political agenda.”  I hate to break it to you, Tammy Bruce, but the only one using Wiccans and Pagans for a political agenda is the folks over at Fox News.

Note to the blond in the middle:  You can, in fact, wish anyone you want a “Merry Christmas” on your own time.  Just don’t be offended if I don’t respond or wish you a “Happy Holidays” in return.  Your right to say “Merry Christmas” is not in jeopardy.

Oh, and for the record?  Our family celebrates Imbolc, Vernal Equinox (Ostara), Beltane, Summer Solstice, Lammas (Lughnasadh), Autumnal Equinox (Mabon), Samhain, and the Winter Solstice (Yule).  Perhaps if you had done just the slightest bit of research you might have realized that Pagan beliefs are not a homogeneous sort of thing.

Best takedown of their “news” story? Thudfactor’s “Pagan Holidays and the Fox.”

The “nones” and what that might mean for our collective future

Jason Pitzl-Waters has been doing a fantastic job in the last few months taking a look at the “nones” and considering what that might mean for our culture – particularly for the non-Abrahamic and minority faiths – going forward. Towards the end of the most recent article, Pitzl-Waters writes:

…it’s important to keep in mind the essential “pagan-ness” of our world today, despite the best efforts of Christianity and Islam to replace all beliefs with their forms of exclusive monotheism. Polytheism, pantheism, henotheism, post-theism, and other theological variants outside the Abrahamic conceptions of divinity continue to thrive and make an impact on our world. The growth of the “nones” provides the Hindus, Buddhists, folk-religionists, and “other” faiths a chance to change the narrative of belief in this world, that Christian and Muslim one-size-fits-all salvation are not guaranteed eternal dominance, and that we can find pluralistic alternatives to the status quo.

Definitely something worth considering on the eve of what is considered a universally celebrated holiday by far too many in this country. Things certainly won’t change overnight, but it’s a start.


Merry Solstice

IMG_0611This year has been…different.  Our usual Solstice celebrations have been cancelled in favor of preserving our energy for an upcoming trip with kids and dog and all of the usual away from home stuff.  Add to that the stress of an epic bout of gastroenteritis in my youngest and I’m not exactly in the holiday mood.  I had plans, dear reader, they just aren’t happening.

The good news is that  plans don’t expire and as long as Pinterest doesn’t go belly up before next year all of my ideas are safe and sound until then.  Oh, and next year there won’t be an traveling anywhere near the holiday which will simplify things quite a bit.  No guarantees on the illness part, though, but two out of three isn’t bad.

Since things are less than exciting over here as of late, I thought I’d share some of the many wonderful posts out there on my favorite blogs for extra Solstice goodness.

Metal Gaia shares a Yule Blessing Poem.

Works of Literata shares her Yule Blessing.

The Druid in the Swamp shares a super secret Druid tip.  Ok, it’s really not all the super secret, but it’s a wonderfully simple way to celebrate the Solstice and honor the reason for the season.

Winterviews begins over at Humanistic Paganism which also shared a Winter (Summer) Solstice specific post.

Naturalistic Pantheist Musings shares a post on Celebrating Yule in follow up to yesterday’s post.

Not to be out done, The Wild Hunt gives a great synopsis of the many traditions regarding this time of year including several quotes about the significance of our wintertime observances.

Still looking for a special libation to celebrate the return of the sun?  Frugal Feeding has a wonderful recipe for Traditional Glühwein.


The husband had to work late again last night so I watched the traditional White Christmas (trailer) with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye on my own before hanging up the glittered pine cones we made last month and putting out the kids’ Yule gifts.  We went with simple this year since we wanted to save up enough money to buy them an outside playset.  Each of my children got a book and a movie.  It’s probably not all the surprising that there were complaints because they didn’t get any toys.  *sigh*  It was intentional, dear reader.  All I have to do is point to their bedrooms as proof for why they did not need more toys today.

I’m sure you’re even less surprised to learn that they gave up on that pretty quickly once the first disc hit the Blu-Ray player.  We also had donuts from the apple orchard that I had put in the freezer and reheated, a tasty lunch at Noodles and Company (at the request of the youngest), and lots of fun out in the snow.

Tonight we’re going to venture into new Yuletide territory and have breakfast for dinner.  I’m starting with the waffle recipe from our Strawberry Shortcake Waffles minus the strawberries and whipped cream.  We’ll cap off our evening with the last of the three movies and some popcorn with King Arthur Flour’s Vermont Cheese Powder. I will miss the bonfire this year (and sun bread and yule log, etc, etc), but sometimes quiet works just as well.

solsticeAnd now, to echo last year’s Yule Blessing:

As the Wheel of the Year spins again, may you and your family be filled with the wonder and magic of Yule.  Most of all, may your new year be filled with light and love. Blessed be!


Cookies for Yule – #2 White Beer Cookies

There are a handful of cookies that I make every year without fail.  The others come in and fly by with whatever whim I’m entertaining while making the list.  This cookie is one of the old standbys and if you know my husband, like, at all, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise.



Yeah, that about covers it.

IMG_0428Can I just say that these are surprisingly tasty?  I don’t know that you would necessarily expect that when being told that they are a beer cookie, but look at them sitting there all sunshine-y sweet with their orange peel studded frosting and beer-y, hop-y goodness.  They remind me of the sun that’s so noticeably absent this time of year.  The perfect winter solstice cookie.

I have made them with a couple of different kinds of beer, but trust me when I say it really does need to be a white beer.  I’d also suggest not breaking the bank with your choice because one batch of cookies calls for 2 – 16 oz bottles of beer that you reduce down to 1/3 of a cup of liquid.  This year I went back to an old favorite from Blue Moon Brewing Company (yes, yes, big boy masquerading as a craft brewer).  Their Belgian White was made for this recipe.  The citrus and coriander hints already present in the bottle is the perfect match for the citrus and coriander in the recipe.

The recipe’s originally from Food Network, but the ads on Food Network’s website hate my iPad.  Seeing as I never print a recipe anymore, this isn’t a good thing (Are you listening Food Network?).  I’m going to link you to We’re Not Martha’s adaptation instead.  Their recipe format leaves something to be desired, but I can at least see the recipe which is more than I can say of Food Network.

Oh, I should also note that I made the recipe as written.  I know, I know.  You can sit down if you’re feeling light-headed with shock.  It’s perfect just as it is.

Looking for some more traditional winter holiday ideas to go with the perfect winter solstice cookie?  Traditional here meaning pagan, obviously.  You know…the reason for the season…axial tilt and all.  My favorite, hands down, is Christian Rätsch and Claudia Müller-Ebeling’s “Pagan Christmas,” although Dorothy Morrison has some good ideas in “Yule:  A Celebration of Light & Warmth.”  Between the two of them, it’s where I get the inspiration for all of my best holiday ideas, minus some of the more esoteric parts (I like ritual, but I’m not the literal sort when it comes to that kind of thing).

Next up?  I have no idea.  I inadvertently made all of the drop cookies first and left the more labor intensive ones for last.  I predict that the speed of the shipment being sent my way from King Arthur Flour will have an impact on my choice.  In the mean time, I’m off to hide these cookies in the freezer before the husband eats them all.

A Unique Blog Award

I have to apologize for not getting to this sooner, but, well, puppy.  How long do you think I can keep using that as my excuse for everything?

“Sorry, dear, I won’t be home anytime in the next several hours.”

“Why not?”

“Oh, puppy!”

“But the puppy’s at home with me and the kids…”


A n y w a y

Last week I got a very thoughtful blog award from Wyrd Anglo Saxon Priestess (more about her at her About page). I don’t remember how I first found her blog, but I have enjoyed reading it over these last few months.  I loved the picture of her indoor grove – she has the cutest little tree I have ever seen.  Many thanks to her for nominating me!

The purpose of this award is to bring positive recognition to those bloggers who share their experiences on the less-traveled path, whether in the form of a journal or by standing up for themselves and others. Our award logo was a collaborate endeavor made with love that we are both very proud of. So without any further ado, onward to the details of the newest award to find its way to the blogsphere!

The Rules:

  • Post the award logo within your blog post
  • Thank the blogger who passed the award to you
  • Answer the seven questions below
  • Nominate five Wiccan/Pagan bloggers (If you don’t know five other Wiccan bloggers, nominate as many as you can)
  • Notify your nominees of their pending award
  • Give a short description of the blog/blogger and why you nominated them
  • Stop by Ayslyn’s Corner and Book of Shadows to add your name to the list of bloggers awarded
  • You may customize the questions as long as they are still Wiccan- and Pagan-related

Seven Questions:

How did you “discover” Wicca/witchcraft/Paganism or what you call your path?

That’s…complicated.  Then again, when is anything in life not complicated?  The long story can be found over yonder.  The short of it is, my fundagelical turned “Messianic Jew” (please, don’t ask *sigh*) brother-in-law raised a stink one year about Christmas because, well, PAGAN! (mimes clutching one’s pearls and falling over faint).  I set out on a journey to prove just how many things one could consider PAGAN! because I’m annoying and I wanted to prove a point.  The gist of it, crazy brother-in-law, is you might want to stop doing just about everything.

Odd catalyst aside, somewhere along the way we found that a nature based spirituality just fit.  That fact that we didn’t have to be theists to be accepted and that under the Pagan umbrella, one can find a multitude of diverse paths was a HUGE comfort.  You mean there’s room for the “other”?!?

Do you grow herbs?

Uh, I grow children, does that count?  No?  Ok, so I do have an herb garden and it was supposed to be like a partial herb wheel and I lovingly picked out some plants, started some from seed, and then had another child.  I’ve been waging war with the Burdock in my backyard that threatens to take over everything, can’t seem to get my elderberry bush to set fruit, and let the hops plants take over the fence.  It’s kind of sad at this point, but um, kids and puppy?

I do, however, share my city lot with two huge silver maple trees that require zero input on my part aside from raking leaves in the fall.  The one in the backyard I call Grandma Maple because she’s the largest of the two and provides the most shelter and shade.  She’s not pictured in this picture, though.  The one with the yellow-y leaves at the top is Sister Maple in the front yard and the two red maples in the bottom corners are in the park row.  These are the trees that were the inspiration for my blog title.  Trees, more than anything (except the stars and our universe), are what give me the greatest sense of the divine in life.

Are you “in the broom closet”? If not, share your coming out experience.

Yes, and no.  I mean, my mom reads here (Hi, Mom!) so it’s not exactly as if it’s some great surprise, but I also haven’t set out to specifically tell people.  I work on a need to know basis and have largely decided that most of my family members don’t need to know.

I guess that’s generally out of a sense of self-preservation.  I have a large number of fundagelical family members who would not be able to accept the husband and I no longer identifying as fellow fundagelicals with all that entails.  It’s also an issue of protecting my children from what would be zealous attempts to “share the gospel.”  If there’s one thing I think I can most provide my children, it’s the safety to explore the ideas of god, goddess, divine, spiritual, etc, without poisoning the well with one-wayers.  I know that I can counter that with comparative religion and that I can’t keep them away from the one-wayers forever, but I am determined to do so for as long as I can.

What tradition do you follow?

Um, my own?  I like the way Wyrd Preistess puts it – “Dirty American.”  We incorporate Buddhist concepts (and participate in the local Family Dharma class) and honor and read stories about Hindu, Celtic, and Greek deities as a family.   struggle with my first world, European privilege.  Am I contributing to colonialism and cultural appropriation by doing so?  I don’t have a good answer to that, though it is something I try to be mindful of.  I’m holding it in tension at this point.

Do you consider yourself a witch, Wiccan or Pagan (or maybe something else?)

I’m a Pantheist, Naturalist, Humanist, Agnostically oriented Pagan, though usually I just say Pantheist Pagan for short.

How much of witchcraft/Wicca are you able to incorporate into your everyday life?

I do not claim the title of witch nor do I practice witchcraft, though I affirm and support the right of others to do so.  We follow the Wiccan Wheel of the Year because it helps us connect with the seasons and engage with the world around us.  We also participate in many of the modern traditions associated with these holidays.  I also find an affinity with the way some Wiccans view the god and goddess in an archetypal way.

Do you have a familiar? If you do, tell us how you meet him/her and how s/he takes part in your practice (if at all)

Well, I don’t practice magick or witchcraft, but I do have cats.  Of the two, it would probably be the male cat (pictured here).  I think I could say that he functions in a sense as a familiar, although while I’m a liberal lefty, he fits S.M. Stirling’s description of cats fairly well, being a furry little Republican with an in-built aversion to change.  He follows me everywhere and likes to keep an eye on whatever I’m doing.  I’m physically incapable of doing Yoga around here without also finding his butt in my face, when I write or quilt he keeps an eye on me, and if I go outside at night to stargaze or watch the full moon he sits at the patio door and stares at me.


Musings of a Kitchen Witch because she’s insightful and well-written with a decent sense of humor.  What’s not to love?

Spiral Visions because I’m telling you, that’s one busy woman!  She doesn’t blog often, but when she does it has value.  She also doesn’t let chronic pain slow her down which is inspiring!

Works of Literata because I love what she writes and I admire her standing up for what’s right.

Which is about all I can do for nominees, which doesn’t mean that there aren’t any out there, it’s just that those I read either already got it or aren’t specifically Pagan.  But what about you, dear reader, do you have a favorite Pagan blog?

Post-Election Link Round Up

Occasionally, I post a link round up of the most interesting posts to cross the screen of my RSS reader app.  Seeing as it’s post-election Wednesday, why not, right?

Paul Ryan – Biggest Loser:  I’m not saying I disagree with Badger Democracy completely, but I’d be a great deal more likely to agree if Ryan had lost his re-election bid for Wisconsin’s First Congressional District.  Still, Zerban was the first real competitive challenger and he won Kenosha County, Rock County, and Janesville.  So much for his “hometown boy” image.  Darn you Waukesha County!  Like Joe Knilans, we are not friends.  Now, if he had lost both the VP and his re-election bid, I may very well have danced naked down the street.  Or not.  Probably not, but I would have been very happy.

Obama Voters More Likely to Encounter Trouble at the Polls:  It’s not a coincidence.  It’s not a surprise.  It’s by design and it’s a damn shame.  From the article:

This isn’t just a problem of logistics: It’s a moral issue. When someone has to step out of a voting line because they can’t afford to take three or four hourse [sic] off of work just to go vote, they are being disenfranchised. The election may be over, but this is a problem that still needs to be solved.

A Post-Christian Election? A Vision of the Future:  I agree that we’re not there yet, but I’m thankful for any glimpses of the beginning of a post-Christian election and a post-Christian privilege society.  Bring on the diversity, the equality, and the respect for a wide range of beliefs.  Bring it on.

The Lady Parts Election: Hands down the best title to a blog post I read all day.  All day.  As Edroso puts it:

I always knew this issue was a winner for the Democrats, but now I’m beginning to think that it affected everything else as well. That is, Romney’s crackpot economic and environmental policies might have had more traction with voters if so many of them were not convinced that he represented and was listening to a bunch of lunatics who were totally out of touch with how human beings live. In tough times, you might go for a small-government reformer who says he has a plan to turn things around if you trust him. Americans have bought bigger grifters than Romney; a lot of them haven’t even figured that the nice old man who unleashed the markets in the 1980s set them up for the hard times we have now.

Yes he did (again):  It wouldn’t have mattered how many electoral votes Obama had received nor that he

easily surpassed George W. Bush’s two victories — and Republicans had no problem saying he had a mandate — and is now the most successful Democratic presidential candidate since FDR (Clinton won twice, but came up short of popular-vote majorities both times).

Haters gonna hate which I guess still applies to Republicans.

Out of touch rich guy and no, I didn’t vote against my own self-interest:  Sorry random quoted Republicans and freaky fundagelicals, I didn’t vote against my own self-interest and I really did know what I was doing.  I have a college degree and can read.  Fancy that.  I’ll never understand the idea that we can build a successful civilization if everyone focuses on their own “self-interest.”  Seriously, feel free to go Galt anytime.  No really, you can go.  Just remember, most of the nice places to live around the world already have socialized health care and the sorts of high taxes and safety nets that y’all love to complain about.  I hear Somalia manages to avoid those sorts of “odious” features of civilization.  Maybe you might be happier there?

And these last two?  Not in my RSS reader, but still loving them not quite 24-hours later.

Rock County had 87% percent of registered voters vote.  Oh, and Representative Knilans got trounced.  Creamed.  Sent packing.  Hmmm….let’s see here.  Party politics or listening to your district?  Party?  District?  Party?  District?  Tell me again Joe, which one do you think would have seen you re-elected?  Congratulations Deb Kolste on your win!  It was an honor to vote for you.

-Tammy Baldwin bests Tommy Thompson.  Thank the goddess and all the deities!  Seriously.  Tammy winning is monumental all in its own right (first openly gay senator, a woman, a progressive, a strong champion of people who actually work for a living), but she sent Tommy out to the retirement fields and really, that in and of itself is a huge relief.  Tommy, did you have to go all un-hinged?

I’m going to focus on the positive for at least another day, which is really all anyone can do.  Wisconsin’s government is back in control of the Republicans and that’s enough to give this Wisconsinite heart burn of the worst sort.