Friday, June 19, 2015

Summer Solstice with the Sisters: You are fabulous, and the Goddess adores You

Tomorrow (Saturday, 20 June, 2015) is Summer Solstice in the northern hemisphere, and also Pride Edinburgh 2015.  Here is something I wrote after last Summer Solstice and 2014 Pride.  - sm

Saturday was Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year.  Summer Solstice is also connected for me, both in time and theme, with LGBTQ pride festivals.  And where I live, this Saturday was also the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Festival.

A friend of mine who's a Novice with the Order of Perpetual Indulgence had asked me if I'd hench (act as a henchperson) with the Sisters for Pride.  I said yes.

So I spent Summer Solstice with the Sisters at Pride.  It was pretty fabulous.  I carried bags, took pictures, helped herd people when instructed, danced in the parade (who knew this would be part of my job?), helped a Sister with a wardrobe problem, helped set up for tea, served food, welcomed people, had lovely conversation with other henches, and shared lots of smiles with everyone there from the Order and all sorts of random other people. At the end of the day, I was very tired and very content.

It was surprisingly simple and satisfying ministry.

It was also pretty close to exactly what my soul needed.  I came home very tired physically, and spiritually re-invigorated for everything on my plate these next few weeks, including my FLGBTQC co-clerks email (I'm about to start a term as Recording Clerk) and a Roses, Too! Tradition Summer Solstice Celebration on Sunday.


In ecofeminist Witchcraft, a lot of what the Sabbats are about is what's happening in nature around us, where we are, right now. 

Some things to think about with Summer Soltice:
  • What's happening with the light?  What time does the Sun rise?  What time does it set?  How many hours of daylight and of darkness are there right now, where you live or where you are? 
  • What's happening with plants?  What plants are growing, have bloomed and are done, are blooming or fruiting now, are yet to bloom or fruit?  What foods are available that haven't been yet this year, that won't be again soon? 
  • What's happening with the weather?  What are the temperatures like?  Has the pattern of rain (or snow!) changed since Beltane or Spring Equinox?  
  • What's happening with animals?  Where are different animals where you live in their life cycles?  Who's migrating right now? 

There are other possibilities. 

One of the easiest ways to engage with what's happening in nature right now on this longest day is to track sunrise and sunset.  You can figure out ways to measure this yourself, especially if there are children in your life; you can look up when sunrise and sunset are where you live, or where you are. (You can do both!) 

The US Naval Observatory has several very useful data tools on their website,  Here you can look up sun and moon data for one day or for the whole year. also have all sorts of interesting astronomical data available, and on their web page, you can look up sun and moon data for a day, a month, a year, and more:

Have fun!


How did you spend Summer Solstice?  How are you honoring it?  

As someone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or an ally, how are you celebrating Pride? 

How are you celebrating and honoring social justice and work for social justice in your life right now?  


Remember, you are fabulous, and the Goddess adores you.

Thou art Goddess. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Beltane on Calton Hill with Beltane Fire Society

Note: This is my write-up from 2013.  - sm

I'm a Pagan and I live in Edinburgh: the big question many people are asking me is, "Did you go to Beltane Fire Society??" 

Yes, I did.  Beloved Wife insisted, of all things; I likely would have done the introvert hermit thing, otherwise.  (Big public ritual performance, eek!)  Instead, we went together, and had a blast. 

Yes, it was fabulous, amazing spectacle.  It wasn't the kind of focused ritual work or spiritual work that I would like to be my only celebration of the holiday, but I had a tremendous amount of fun, it was exhilarating, and I'm glad we went.  It was very well-run and well-organized.  We could tell the crowd was a mix of tourists (of both kinds -- spiritual and geographic) and people for whom this was serious business, and everyone was pretty respectful.

(With a few drunken, or just plain thoughtless, exceptions, but I only had to stifle the urge twice to stifle people I found obnoxious.  "This ought to be free.  It's on Calton Hill, so it ought to be free."  (*eyeroll*  Tickets were £8.50 at the door, and much less in advance; and even at the door, that was cheap for how much it costs to put this on, between security, pyrotechnics, police, etc...)  "Yeah, I went through a period where I was into witchcraft and all that, and my girlfriends and I even had this coven, but it's not like it's real religion or anything..."  (I'll spare you the rest of that overheard conversation.))

We didn't get to see a lot of detail, so for that, I'll refer you to BFS' Flickr stream:

But, yes, wow, the organization, the attention to detail, the thought that went into everything, the drama, the pageantry, the costuming, the use of massed drumming, torches, fire, pyrotechnics... 

Heh heh heh heh.  Big public dramatic ritual/ritual drama, all right. 

It occurs to me: some of my Cherry Hill colleagues are writing analytical critiques of Burning Man and such from Pagan/ritual theory/ritual studies/theaological perspectives.  I'd love to see such analyses of any of BFS' big public presentations.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Quakers Uniting in Publications (QUIP) 2015 Conference

After being part of Quakers Uniting in Publications (QUIP) for many years, I finally got to go to a QUIP conference! 

The location travels -- under the current schedule, the annual conference rotates between the US East Coast, Midwest, West/Pacific Northwest, and the UK.  So it comes to the UK every four years.  (The last year we lived in the US, the conference was in the UK.  Since then, it's been in the US.  Ah, timing.  And money.) 

This year, the conference was back at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre in Birmingham, England, and this year, things came together so that I was finally able to go.  

There were Friends there from the US, the UK, Germany, and Russia, with a wide range of involvement in different kinds of publications and parts of the publication process.  QUIP also includes Friends from a wide range of traditions within Quakerism. 

For me, it was an extra treat to be at Woodbrooke with a truly international group of Friends. 

Workshops, talks, and plenaries ranged from not-quite-my-cup-of-tea, to interesting, to fascinating.  Social media and internet work played a big part in many of the sessions.  Some sessions had interactive pieces built in, from going on-line, to breaking into small groups, to looking at blog posts pinned up on the walls.  In one workshop exercise, we'd worked on hypothetical book projects in small groups, and the presentations back to the main group had us all in stitches, we were laughing so hard. 

It was lovely to see old friends and meet new ones.  It was really good to have the chance to catch up in person with people I already know, and to get to know other people a bit.  It was also helpful being in a group where enough of us were introverts that nobody blinked when people disappeared for naps or quite solitary time. 

And being immersed in a publications-centered environment was very helpful.  I'm definitely feeling more creativity and inspiration flowing regarding not just my own writing, but creative work in general -- and especially where they intersect and interact.  I'm definitely more in touch again with the connections between printed words, books, social media, community, and Doing Things individually and together in the in-person world.  It'll be interesting to see what comes of it, projects-wise, for me...

A number of Friends who were there posted to Facebook and to Twitter over the weekend. 

For a much better sense of what took place, along with lots of wonderful pictures of people and scenery -- it was very definitely spring in Birmingham, and lovely! -- try these links:

* On Twitter at #QUIP2015
* On Facebook at


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment

This is just beautiful -- and it calls us to action.

Please read it, and if it resonates for you, regardless of how you label yourself, please sign it.

You can read the whole thing, and sign as an individual and/or for an organization, at

An excerpt:

Many of our ancestors realized what has now been supported by the scientific method and our expanding knowledge of the universe — that Earth’s biosphere may be understood as a single ecosystem and that all life on Earth is interconnected.

The very atoms of which we are composed connect us to the entire universe. Our hydrogen was produced in the Big Bang, and the other atoms essential for life were forged in the scorching furnaces of ancient stars. Beyond atoms, the molecules of life connect us to Earth, showing that we don’t live “on Earth” like some alien visitor, but rather that we are part of Earth, just as a volcano or river is part of Earth and its cycles.

We are earth, with carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus making up our bodies one day, and incorporated into mountains the next. We are air, giving food to the trees and grasses when we exhale, and breathing in their gift of free oxygen with each breath. We are fire, burning the energy of the Sun, captured and given to us by plants. We are water, with the oceans flowing in our veins and the same water that nourished the dinosaurs within our cells.

We are connected to our families, through links of love, to their relatives, and so on to the entire human species. Our family tree goes back further than the rise of humans, including all mammals, all animals, and all life on Earth. The entire Earth is our immense and joyous family reunion.

The Earth seen from Apollo 17
By NASA/Apollo 17 crew; taken by either Harrison Schmitt or Ron Evans [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, March 30, 2015

Friend of the Court Briefs in the 8th Circuit

Well, it turned out the brief FLGBTQC signed on to in the US Supreme Court case(s) was not yet the last as we had all hoped: we've also signed onto multi-faith briefs in four cases before the US 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, because filing deadlines in those cases were scheduled before oral arguments in the Supreme Court. 

So it is my privilege to announce that Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns (FLGBTQC) ( joined many other faith groups on friend of the court briefs filed on 26 March by Kramer Levin in four cases coming before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals this spring.

The cases are Lawson v Kelly (Missouri), Rosenbrahn v Daugaard (South Dakota), Jernigan v McDaniel (Arkansas), and Waters v Ricketts (Nebraska). 

As ever, the briefs are easy-to-read, enlightening, and encouraging. 

More information about the cases is available from Freedom to Marry at:
You can read the briefs here:
And also here:
Congratulations to all the signatories, and gratitude to everyone who has worked so hard on these briefs!  

Friday, March 20, 2015

Happy Eostara!

Happy March Equinox! Happy Eostara in the northern hemisphere!

  • What are the sunrise and sunset times where you are? 
  • How many hours of daylight are there today in your locale?

There are lots of places to look this information up, from the US Naval Observatory ( to TimeAndDate.Com (, and more. 

  • What spiritual lessons or reminders does Spring Equinox bring you?  

Other recent astronomical events: 

There was also a solar eclipse today, visible in much of Europe, northern Africa, and northern Asia.  We had brilliant sun mixed with scudding clouds here, but I did get some really cool views using a colander and a piece of white paper taped up to the side of the house.  That was pretty neat! 

Earlier this week, much of the UK saw some gorgeous auroras.  My city was fogged in, so I didn't get to see any, but there are some fabulous pictures at the AuroraWatch UK Flickr pool:

I hope this Equinox brings either Spring or the promise of Spring to all of you in the Northern Hemisphere who have had unusual amounts of cold, snow, or both this winter, and to anyone who is just. ready. for. Spring. 

Happy Eostara! 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

On Worship and Mutual Care

Readings from a recent meeting of my Local Meeting's Es&Os (Elders & Overseers).  This was fairly deep with us, and so I thought I'd share:

The heart of the life of the Religious Society of Friends is the Meeting for Worship. It calls for us to offer ourselves, body, mind, and soul for the doing of God’s will.

Worship is the adoring response of the heart and mind to the influence of the Spirit of God. It stands neither in forms nor in the formal disuse of forms; it may be with or without words, but it must be in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). We recognize the value of silence, not as an end, but as a means toward the attainment of the end, which is communication with God, and fellowship with one another.

In all our Meetings for Worship, we gather in a spirit of prayerful obedience to God, with a willingness to give as well as to receive. In speech or in silence, each person contributes to the Meeting. Worshiping God together, we strengthen one another, and our bodies and minds are refreshed in the Life of the Spirit. Our daily lives are linked with the Meeting for Worship, the Meeting for Worship with our daily lives.

Friends are encouraged to give adequate time for study, meditation and prayer, and other ways of preparing for worship, and to arrive at Meeting promptly with an open and expectant spirit. During the Meeting for Worship, some people may feel moved to speak, to share an insight, to pray, to praise. When we feel led to speak, we should do so, clearly and simply. When another speaks, we should listen with an open spirit, seeking the thought behind the words and holding the speaker in love. After a message has been given, Friends should have time to ponder its meaning and to search themselves before another speaks.

How do we prepare our hearts and minds for worship?

Do we meet in expectant waiting for the promptings of the Divine Spirit? Is there a living silence in which we are drawn together by the power of God in our midst? Is this inspiration carried over into our daily living?

Is the vocal ministry exercised under the leading of the Holy Spirit without prearrangement, and in the simplicity and sincerity of truth? As we listen, or as we speak, are we guided by the Inward Light and sensitive to one another’s needs? Are we careful not to speak at undue length or beyond our light?


Mutual Care

Our need for love and care, and our response to this need in others, make up a rich part of our lives. In an exchange truly grounded in love, each of us is both giver and receiver, ready to help and accept help. Neither pride nor fear keeps us from the unconditional love and care of God manifested through others. Let neither comfort nor self-centeredness blind us to need of others.

We listen to one another with openness of heart and in good faith, aware that greater wisdom than our own is required to meet our human needs. We lift up our hearts to the Source of all wisdom and power.

Are we charitable with each other? How careful are we of the reputation of others? Do we avoid hurtful criticism and gossip?

Do we practice the art of listening to one another, even beyond words?

How well are we able to love each other unconditionally?

Are we sensitive to each other’s personal needs and difficulties and do we assist in useful ways?

~ from Faith and Practice of North Pacific Yearly Meeting, Chapter 6, Advices and Queries, 1993 edition


I recently started a term on Overseers, the pastoral care and counsel group, of my Local Meeting, appointed by Area Meeting. 

I am deeply uncomfortable with the term 'overseer,' because of its association with chattel slavery.   I'm willing to be referred to as a member of Oversight, but I am not comfortable being referred to as an overseer.  And I'd much prefer if we were called something more in line with what we actually are, such as Care & Counsel.  

Local Meeting 'Es&Os' (Elders and Overseers) had one of our regular meetings this week.  Our convener asked me beforehand to bring a reading to share.  Usually these are from Britain Yearly Meeting's Quaker Faith and Practice, but sometimes from other Quaker texts or something different altogether.  I spent part of my afternoon beforehand delightfully buried in several different books.  I ended up finding much more than I was looking for in North Pacific Yearly Meeting's Faith and Practice, which remains one of my all-time favourite Faith and Practice books, for many reasons. 

What I have above is what I ended up reading.  

Friday, March 6, 2015

Friend of the Court Brief Before the US Supreme Court

It is my joy and privilege to announce that Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns (FLGBTQC) ( joined many other faith groups on a friend of the court brief filed on 5 March by Kramer Levin in four Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals cases coming before the US Supreme Court this spring.

The cases are Obergefell v Hodges (Ohio), Tanco v Haslam (Tennessee), DeBoer v Snyder (Michigan), and Bourke v Beshear (Kentucky). 

More info is available here:

Again I encourage you to read the brief.  There are some changes from the first one two years ago, based on changes in statistics and in case law since then.  The brief is tremendously encouraging to read.  Also, it seems longer than it really is because the list of signatories is so long. 

You can read the brief here:

More information, and a list of briefs, at:

And -- NEW! -- also at: 

Congratulations to all the signatories! And deep gratitude to everyone who worked on this brief, and all the briefs.

We hope this will be the last friend of the court brief we sign on to on the issue of same-sex marriage.  

 It is widely held that, should the Court decide in favor of same-sex marriage, this case will be definitive.

As Friends in Britain say, HOPE SO!  

Monday, February 9, 2015

Friend of the Court Brief in Lopez-Aviles v. Rius-Armendariz

It is my joy and privilege to announce that Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns (FLGBTQC) ( joined many other faith groups on a friend of the court brief filed on 2 February by Kramer Levin in Lopez-Aviles v. Rius-Armendariz, a Puerto Rico marriage equality case before the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.

More info is available here:

Yet again I will tell you that, as with the other Kramer-Levin briefs we've signed on to, I highly recommend reading this.  It's easy to read, and brilliant.  And super-encouraging for people of faith, and people in faith communities, who support marriage equality for same-sex couples -- and also who are working to prevent some faiths from being legally privileged over others.

You can read the brief here:

More information, and a list of briefs, at:

And -- NEW! -- also at: 

Congratulations to all the signatories! And deep gratitude to everyone who worked on this brief.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A love note from your Recording Clerk

This is an email I recently sent to the list-serv for Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns (FLGBTQC)

It's been a little over a year since Nominating Committee approached me and asked if I'd be willing to consider serving as FLGBTQC Recording Clerk.

To say I was surprised is putting it mildly.  Recording clerking is really, truly, absolutely Ministry That Would Not Have Occurred to Me.

Taking minutes by hand is painful for me.  I didn't have a laptop until very recently.  I am a terrible minute-taker in secular meetings.  I had never been remotely interested in being a recording clerk, and had in fact actively avoided recording for committee meetings.  It never occurred to me that I might have skills which are good for a recording clerk to have, or that I could be good as a recording clerk.

What changed?

Well, when I carefully asked F/friends on Nominating if there were any particular reasons they'd thought of me (I'm sure my dubiousness was thinly cloaked), I got a lot of really good answers.  The kind which sounded to me like Friends were listening to Spirit, and also like they know me pretty well, and were putting what they know of me together with things I hadn't thought of and the needs of the community.  (Go, Nominating.  This is a form of eldering: helping people recognize gifts of the Spirit they haven't recognized in themselves, and asking that those gifts be used in the service of the Spirit and the community.)

In Britain Yearly Meeting, Presiding Clerks record.  If I wasn't willing to learn to record, that meant I was cutting myself off from the possibility of serving as clerk of my Local Meeting or Area Meeting.  It meant I was deciding for Spirit ahead of time that I would never do this work.  That struck me as a Bad Idea.  

But the big thing that decided me was you, collectively.  Was this community.  I realized that if I was going to learn to be a Recording Clerk, I couldn't think of a better place to do it.  I have have been part of the Meeting holding newly-fledged co-clerks as they found their wings.  I knew you would hold me, as you / we always hold the clerking team, and that even if it wasn't particularly graceful, there would still be grace.  Lots of grace.

I began to feel really grateful for this opportunity, and excited about learning a whole new skill.

After I went on the clerks' training course at Woodbrooke, I knew I had what I needed, except for the experience of actually doing it.  And I was pretty sure I could be a good-enough recording clerk while you helped me become a better recording clerk.

The really good news is that it turns out I truly enjoy recording clerking.  Who knew?  And I really enjoyed being part of Quaker process in this particular way, a way I never have before, during our Meetings for Worship with Attention to Business last summer.

I love Quaker process.  I have always especially loved Quaker process in the FLGBTQC community.  Being able to come to our Meetings for Worship with Attention to Business has helped sustain me during some periods which were particularly dry when it came to spiritual community.

I also love nurturing Quaker process, and I love that this service is another way I can help do that within FLGBTQC.

Right now, many of us are getting ready for Mid-Winter Gathering and for our Meetings for Worship with Attention to Business there.

So, I ask that you continue to hold me, and the entire clerking team, in the Light and in love, in that same way I knew deep down I could count on you to do while I learned I could do something I had never done before.

With love,

p.s.  Thank you.