Rosemary Hasner – Ontario Rural Ruins in Art

These images are based on photographs of Ontario rural locations, some abandoned but some just old and interesting.  Mixed media photography. I like the images with the postal marks on them. A personal thing from all the years I wrote penpal letters and still really like vintage postcards. But, my favourite of all of these is the one with the plain wooden house and all the greenery in the foreground.  I like the look of it, much less spooky than the other images. I think it has a touch of fantasy and is more interesting because it’s less forbidding and doom and gloom.

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Via – Rosemary Hasner at Black Dog Creative Arts.

Lawyers Behind a Mask

The kingdom’s first generation of female lawyers is providing women with access to the law.

Source: Saudi Women Realize Their Rights – The New Yorker

I honestly would not trust or hire a lawyer I could not see. I really doubt anyone else would feel differently. How much are you really willing to risk of your own life, business or safety just to be politically correct?

Once Upon a Time in Afghanistan…

This is the illustration used to show liberated women in Middle East (and other cultures). In our culture we see these women as free, liberated and modern.

But it is just a reflection of our own culture looking back at us? Are these women really free, or are they just moving from one culture to another, each oppressive in it’s own way. #SlavestoFashion
ource: Once Upon a Time in Afghanistan…

How I Chose to be a Pagan Earth Witch

When I was about 20 I decided to look into religions. I knew the traditional Christian ways were not for me. I didn’t like they way these religions viewed women. I had just read a book where the women were put into isolation after having their period or giving birth, they were “unclean”. This was on top of growing up with the Adam and Eve mythology. From that point the Bible (written and rewritten by men) just goes on to look down on women, and worse. If I were a male, I would probably never have become Pagan. I would never have begun researching other religions and beliefs and looked deeper than the surface. Most likely I would have put religion behind me as not being all that important.

My Early Pagan Experience

I started with Witchcraft and Wicca because I found a book written in the 70’s. It’s a book I wouldn’t choose to read now but parts of it were enough to send me looking for more information from more reliable sources. I found a Pagan bookstore referred to in a book. I made the hour long bus trip to downtown Toronto and found the place. Entering for that first time was not easy. I felt daring and yet I also felt I was walking into a place I didn’t fully belong and might not be welcome. I wondered if they could see inside of me, my mind and my thoughts. Would they know what I was thinking, could they see my future and my past, my aura…? That was creepy.

The first thing that really happened was the smell. Ever since then I have noticed the same smell, strongly of incense over time, in every Pagan bookstore. I like pulling out a book I bought in a Pagan store. Even a couple of decades later I can smell it in the pages. If the smell ever goes away I don’t know. So far it hasn’t.

My adventure in that first Pagan store was intimidating. If I were less determined or less curious I doubt I would have tried another Pagan store. The people there did watch me and yet said nothing. Maybe they thought I was going to walk off with something, maybe they were just curious too, I won’t know and I didn’t ask then. I was already the shy type. I bought a book and a couple of polished rocks and I left, glad to be out of there. I was left with the feeling of not belonging and I never did go back to that store. Luckily there were others and more came along later.

Finding Where and How I Fit In

A few years more and the Internet came along too. By that time I was making my own decisions about what I believed and how I believed it. I didn’t accept Wicca as it came. I took what felt right to me and put it together with how I felt about the world and it’s people. I still believe this way; I’m very much an eclectic solitary type of Pagan. I gave myself the label of Earth Witch and I’ve stuck with that, to keep the explanation simple. To me an Earth Witch means I focus on the Earth, the natural and I don’t feel influenced by deities or magick. I believe we each create our own magick from ourselves and it is up to each of us to choose how to use it, or not use it.

I have written about my Pagan beliefs before but not shared much of my actual experience. I used to get email from young women who wanted to know more about being Pagan. The main thing they wanted to know was how to hide it from their parents. I was never behind this. For one thing, if you have to hide it, maybe you should rethink the whole thing.

I do understand that some families are very Christian and close minded or even afraid of Pagan ideas and Pagan ways. If that is the case and you are living at home, this is not the time for you to explore being Pagan. Wait until you can do it openly. In the meantime, there is no reason you can’t do simple things like have a collection of rocks, maybe some shells and feathers, keep a journal about your observations of nature, history and people. These are things you can do without upsetting your parents and family. You can be Pagan without having to prove you’re Pagan. Know it yourself and start there.

Nowadays…

For me, being Pagan is a personal thing. I mainly keep it to myself. I’ve found a local group with weekly meetings but I have yet to venture out and attend one. I think I will. Each time I have stepped out and met other Pagans I have enjoyed the experience and learned new things about history, religion and beliefs. But, I’m comfortable with what I believe now, the way my feelings about being an Earth Witch have evolved. So I’m not as eager to stir myself up as I was when I was younger and just starting to explore and discover.

Famous Women Gardeners

Famous Women Gardeners
By Gay Klok

Introduction

GERTRUDE JEKYLL
V. SACKVILLE-WEST
EDNA WALLING
LESTER ROWNTREE
ELIZABETH VON ARNIM

You may have heard of the first two but not have heard of the last two ladies. During the next weeks we will learn how these five women had an enormous influence on our modern-day gardens and I hope to open to you, with discussions and suggested readings, their fascinating gardening world and interesting lives.

These women had many things in common, though they lived and gardened in different geographical areas. They were all passionate about gardening, they lived mostly in the same period of time and they designed and planted other people’s gardens, creating a soft and romantic style. Perhaps we could say they planted with a strongly feminine style.

When we examine their personalities, we might remark they presented a masculine presence – the way they dressed, the physical garden labour they undertook and their strong belief in equality of the sexes. Although there are these shared characteristics, we will discover they all led quite different private lives!

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Russian Culture

Russian Culture
By Lindsay Kosarev

Introduction

Russia is not something you understand with your mind. To have any understanding of the logic or culture of Russia, you need to feel her soul, her history, and her people.

Living the Russian Way is designed to give the student a glimpse at a completely different life perspective and way of thinking. I am not focused on historical or political debates, as many Russians are not. Part of Russian thinking is that these things cannot really be answered. Plus, it is better to make such discussions in the privacy of your home with a couple of good friends and a bottle of something intoxicating.

In other culture classes there is a focus in polite and “cultural” Russian culture, but this not such a course. I will not be talking about the Bolshoi Theater or traditional singing, but rather real people and living culture. This course will be challenging, not necessarily in the material, but it will challenge your perceptions about life. This challenge is the point behind cultural adaption. It will be challenging because you will begin to enter into and try to feel out the elusive and mysterious Russian soul.

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hell is Just Another Four Letter Word

The concept of hell and the idea that women could be unclean when they have their period, have sex, or get pregnant and give birth were all reasons why I stopped following/ believing in the standard Christian type religions.

I don’t think I even need to go into detail about the women part. I am a woman. Being so and having the body of a woman and all it’s cycles does not make me unclean. I don’t bite the heads off penis’s or chickens. I’m not into that sort of kinky stuff. Other kinky stuff… but not that.

As for hell. How can anyone have faith in a religion which tells you to worship or face going to hell? No real power would say that. Unless it never really had any power and the only way to enforce and keep it’s power was to debase itself and threaten the very followers who give it their faith, their hope and their life. Doesn’t that seem wrong? Why would you worship something that threatens to take it’s ball and go home like a kid having a tantrum? Shouldn’t a supreme power be confident, mature and more independent than that?

Anyway the hell thing just proved to me that what people call god is not very godly. It seems to me a real power/ god would not bother with us all that much. Which is the case if you look around. We are left to our own to fight our own battles, to protect our own environment and to keep each other.

Only someone who needs praise demands worship. I don’t see a real god being that needy. Rather they would have better things to do.

It’s like giving someone a gift. If you really give from your heart you give cause it pleases you, not because you need to be thanked. I don’t give a present and then stand around expecting anyone to hang around telling me how sweet I am, how great the gift is. I already know those things.