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Join me in Love

A Weekend of Hermes

hartmans Sunday September 22, 2019
I finished out the season at Crossroads as I often do.
Friday ritual was dedicated to work at the crossroads: work in the liminal spaces between, work with the travelers and messengers, and work with their gods. It's been a long time since I have focused on my Hermes work and long past time to offer thanks. Three and a half years ago, I made commitments to Hermes and Venus to teach and practice love, to stand as an example to others, and to work to stop the shouting and start listening. Often during that time, I have called to Venus. But of late, the messenger work has been strong and it was time to acknowledge that.
As I sat in the ritual run-through, I realized that I have not honored Hermes’s role in that communications work. My Debian work is all about stepping past the shouting and listening to each other. Two things stood in my way when I tried to honor Hermes.
First, Chuck brought Hermes to our work. He had a deeper connection with the gods’ messenger. The chasm opened between Chuck and me before I could develop my own relationship with Hermes.
Second, I have been downplaying the spiritual aspects of my Debian work. I have been worried that members of the project might be uncomfortable that I see trying to help our community as a form of worship and magic. I told a few people, but I have not focused on it.
My Debian work is spiritual. Debian has been a community close to my hart for approaching twenty years. I’ve been part of Debian longer than I’ve been dedicated to Venus. I saw my home tearing itself apart. I offered to sacrifice my time to come in and work magic to see if I could help Debian stop the shouting and gain more genuine connection. When talking to the project, I wouldn’t use the l-word, (and would not dream of saying magic) because it would be misunderstood. But in my heart, I know that I’m teaching a kind of love; the love of tribe and home. I’m offering to teach how to disagree and grow in a world with the dynamic tension that allows a loving community to thrive.
And yes, the work is magic. At one level, I am using communication tools like consensus building and NVC to build connection and understanding. I am also acting with my intent, using my will to manifest change in the community. Each time we find a tool that works, we move things closer to a culture of compassion. We are building our own rituals that can hold us together with a new level of connection.
It is working. I’ve seen others pick up some of the patterns of communication I have used. I’ve seen them succeed. Before I left for Crossroads, I received multiple compliments on a difficult message I sent. People said that I managed to present things so they felt connected to them rather than building conflict.
And so I offer thanks to Hermes. I offered my dance Friday night, and what a dance it was. And I offer him thanks in words here and now.

Saturday

Saturday we did some of the most difficult messenger work I have seen done in a ritual context. Each of us took a ribbon dedicated to harm in the world. Racism, sexism, sexual abuse, body shaming, slut shaming, and disability were all represented. The ribbon represented the harmful act as well as the impact that might result. We were invited to read these ribbons in our own voice. We were invited to connect both with the one acting and the one acted on.
I stood there mocking someone for crying, for expressing themselves. “Stop being such a pussy,” I said. How could I do this? That is not me! As I flipped over the ribbon, I realized that is no idle question. That’s the key question to empathy. That empathy is the first step to a connection deep enough to request change.
On the other side of that ribbon, I was the person denied their expression. I was denied one of the things most precious to me: denied my feelings and my internal voice. But the text on the ribbon allowed me to take a stand demanding that everyone be given voice to their feelings, without diminishing themselves.
Standing and witnessing was not easy. As the ribbons came to the focus, we might face harm we brought about or harm that was all too close to our personal experience. But we were together as tribe, supporting ourselves. And after the last ribbon was read, we began to place the ribbons and what they symbolized into the fire.
It was not just a ritual of release. As the ribbons burned, we were challenged to act to change the world. Right then, we were asked to find what we would do to bring the world closer to the one we would live in. If we do not want to always be tied down by these ribbons—if we do not want to be the ones tying others down—we are the only ones who can act for change.
Under the surface of the ritual there was much more. This was a ritual about taking responsibility for our role in bringing harm into the world. But it was a ritual about being whole in a world where we will cause harm. So, it was a ritual about stepping past judgment, stepping past write/wrong, good/bad. We will all cause harm. Sometimes intentionally. If we face that from a place of judgment, the guilt and shame can get in the way of happiness and positive change. Instead, this ritual was about acting with intent, heart open, and awareness of our impacts on others.
This too is related to my Debian work. One of the things ripping through the Debian community is the challenge to embrace awareness of those around us enough to foster respect and diversity. Earlier this year I was talking about pronouns and how asking people about their pronouns was just a form of treating people as they would want to be treated. I gave another example talking about myself and pointing out that some blind people might not enjoy their blindness being used as the way to identify them. Perhaps I don’t want to be described as “the blind guy over there.” I don’t mind as it turns out, but figuring that out is a way that you can respect me rather than objectifying me. “That’s unreasonable to expect people to do,” was the answer I got.
This ritual was about understanding why that answer amplifies harm in the world. Fighting that battle is yet more Hermes work standing ahead in Debian.

Not all Easy

The ritual work was very good. Yet I am still struggling to fit into the ritual team. I’m not a maker of physical objects. I do less physical ordeal work than most of the people around that fire. My talents lie elsewhere. It is hard to find a voice, hard to find ways that the things I could bring can be integrated.
  • I was talking to one of my mentors from the earliest times in my spirituality. I wanted to give gratitude and talk about how I was finding ways to do good work based around bringing compassion to the world in Debian. Without even understanding the context, without even asking how things were going, he told me how to do my job. I appreciate his advice, but I was hurt that there was no room for my existing success to be heard. Why does he know better than I do how to approach a community I’ve lived in for 20 years?
  • One of the primary points of the Saturday ritual was almost lost. There was no discussion of our responsibility for change. It almost turned into a simple release ritual rather than a transformational experience. One of the ritual team felt called to discuss an article about change and our role in creating it as the ribbons burned. I’m really good at that kind of integration work. Yet the way we write rituals, there is no room for me to be involved and help. I guess at one level, why complain? It’s working. Yet I know based on contributions I have made elsewhere that I can help.

What is it Like to Be a God

hartmans Friday April 26, 2019
I’ve written of divine surrender. My beloved and I have worked to call the god and goddess into ourselves and surrender to them in that sacred joining. I discussed how as that work progressed, we found that we were not always bringing in the divine, but sometimes we reached into ourselves and found that we were already the god and goddess.. I would like to capture a recent ritual in which I offered myself to the god within and let him loose. Capturing this in a blog is hard. I hope I can at least capture the sense of mystery and encourage others to find their own divinity.

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Questioning and Finding Purpose

hartmans Sunday March 24, 2019
The Libreplanet opening keynote had me in tears. It was a talk by Dr. Tarek Loubani. He described his work as an emergency physician in Gaza and how 3d printers and open hardware are helping save lives.

They didn't have enough stethoscopes; that was one of the critical needs. So, they imported a 3d printer, used that to print another 3d printer, and then began iterative designs of 3d-printable stethoscopes. By the time they were done, they had a device that performed as well or better than than a commercially available model. What was amazing is that the residents of Gaza could print their own; this didn't introduce dependencies on some external organization. Instead, open/free hardware was used to help give people a sense of dignity, control of some part of their lives, and the ability to better save those who depended on them.

Even more basic supplies were unavailable. The lack of tourniquets caused the death of some significant fraction of casualties in the 2014 war. The same solution—3d-printed tourniquets had an even more dramatic result.

Dr. Loubani talked about how he felt powerless to change the world around him. He talked about how he felt like an insignificant ant.

By this point I was feeling my own sense of hopelessness and insignificance. In the face of someone saving lives like that, I felt like I was only playing at changing the world. What is helping teach love and connection when we face that level of violence? claiming that sexual freedom is worth fighting for seems like a joke in the worst possible taste in the face of what he is doing. I felt like an impostor.

Then he went on to talk about how we are all ants, but it is the combination of all our insignificant actions that eventually change the world. He talked about how the violence he sees is an intimate act: he talked about the connection between a sniper and their victim. We die one at a time; we can work to make things better one at a time.

He never othered or judged those committing violence. Not as he talked about his fellow doctor and friend who was shot, radioed that he could not breathe, and eventually died pinned down by gunfire so that no one could rescue him. Not as he talked about how he himself was shot. Not as he helped the audience connect with grief-stricken family members facing the death of their loved ones. He never withdrew compassion.

To me I heard hope that what I try to teach can matter; it can connect. If he can face that violence and take a stand against it while still maintaining compassion, then this stuff I believe actually can work. Facing the world and making real changes without giving up compassion and empathy seems more possible: I’ve seen it done.

Somewhere in this talk, I regained a connection with my own value. People like him are helping save people. However, the violence will continue until we have the love, empathy and compassion to understand and connect with each other and find better options. In my own way I’m doing that. Every time I help someone see a different way of looking at things, I make it easier for them to start with empathy first rather than fear.

Everything I’ve written about sex is still true. That journey can bring us closer to accepting ourselves, stepping past fear and shame. Once we accept our own desires and our own need, we’re in a better position to meet in the Strength of Love and advocate for our own needs while offering compassion to others. Once we know what we can find when we have empathy and connection, we can learn to strive for it.

So I will find joy in being my own little ant. Insignificant and divine: take your pick as it’s all the same in the end.

Bringing that Round to Debian


Debian is back in the center of my compassion work. I'm running for Debian project Leader (DPL). I served on the Debian Technical Committee for over a year, hoping to help bring understanding of diverse positions to our technical dispute resolution process. That ended up being the wrong place. Everyone seems to believe that the DPL is currently at the center of most of the work of helping people connect. I hope to fix that: more than one person should be driving that work.

After the keynote I found myself sitting between Micky Metts and Henry Poole. Micky asked me what I did that I loved. “Ah, she’s not expecting this answer,” I thought to myself as I talked about my spiritual work and how it overlaps with my Debian work. It turns out that she was delighted by the answer and we had a great time chatting about self empowerment. I’m looking forward to her keynote later today.

Then Henry asked how I was going to accomplish bringing empathy into Debian. I talked about my hopes and dreams and went through some of the specifics I’ve discussed in my platform and what I’ve had success with so far. He talked about similarities and overlaps with work his company does and how he works to teach people about free software.

Especially after that keynote it was joyful to sit between two luminaries and be able to share hopes for empathy, compassion and connection. I felt like I had found validation and energy again.

Imbolc: the Time Between

hartmans Monday January 28, 2019
my project to put together a mix for each of the sabbats continues with Imbolc: the Time Between.
This focuses on Imbolc as a transitional period. It's our time to prepare for the spring and for the return of the god. Yule was a turning point, but it is still the dead of winter. We know the change will come, and this is our time to prepare and celebrate those closest to us.
I think this is likely to be the hardest sabbat for me to approach. I made several false starts and learned much along the way. I ended up splitting the music between songs of anticipation and songs that honor what is. Like my Yule mix, the songs are cold with the exception of honoring the fire that keeps us alive through the winter. In Yule the tension was between dark and light. Here it is between what will be and what we have now.
My skill, especially at coming up with something I'm happy with in a single take continues to improve.

Yule, the Dark and the Returning Light

hartmans Thursday December 20, 2018
I've released my Yule mix. Yule is a time of contrasts. It's the longest night, deep in the dark of the winter. Yet it is also a cusp where the nights begin to shorten. Even though the coldest part of the winter is still ahead, this is the turning point where we lend our energy in celebration. Together with family and friends we add our energy to the returning light and the returning god.
This is my best work musically and I'm proud of the progress I'm making. I hope you enjoy.
I've always been captivated by the myth of the god accepting mortality and dividing from the goddess at the beginning of time so he could love her. This mix opens with the goddess looking back on that event, looking back to the night before time.
This continues my project to use modern EDM and Trance music to explore traditional pagan themes.

Safety is Harder than I thought

hartmans Sunday November 18, 2018
Last Month, a former convention chair of Arisia
wrote
that she would not be attending the convention, because her rapist
was president of the organization yet again. Crystal showed amazing
courage and vulnerability as she told her story.

This was hard for me because I know the people involved. I
am reasonably sure that I've been introduced to Crystal a number of
times. I worked on a project with Noel a few years ago. I have been at
parties hosted by some of the Arisia board members who were involved in
the incident. That makes the event more viscerally real for me. Arisia
is not my primary community: I have gone in the past
sometimes, but I’ve never been on a panel or staff. However, I feel I
need to learn what I can to try to create a safer world and to try and
avoid these mistakes myself.
Because I know the people involved, I keep wondering whether I will end
up in one of these roles.
First, Arisia had been regarded as one of the better conventions for
handling incidents and consent issues. I have been in multiple
conversations where people suggested that parts of the kink community
struggling with consent could learn in positive ways from Arisia. The
training staff received in incident handling was held up as a
particularly good thing about Arisia’s approach.
We must treat people better than Crystal is treated in order to create
safe space. I am disappointed, because I thought Arisia was a relatively
bright spot in the bleak landscape of our rape
culture
. It’s just that much harder to hope that we will find a way to
create truly safe spaces for intimacy and vulnerability.

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Samhain: Meditations on the Vale

hartmans Monday October 22, 2018
I wrote about my project to put together a mix for each sabbat. My Samhain mix is live.
I'm very pleased about this mix. It's intended as a meditation to let us lose ourselves in the music as we struggle with death and the darker aspects of the cycle of life. Our struggle with loss and our own mortality is acknowledged. However, we're invited to consider what it will be like to approach the vale with acceptance and understand it as a natural phase along with the rest of the wheel. Once we are in harmony with the dark, we can connect with our ancestors.
Musically this may be the most varied mix I will produce. The songs that have been most influential in my own connection to the vale do not come from the electronic canon that I've been using for my other work. Yet the story they tell is critical to an approach to the vale. So, I faced the challenge of widening the music I drew from. The electronic sounds are there; I'm still following my goal of showing the parallels between the modern and the primal. However, I've reached beyond that to open and close the set.
I'm proud of the advances I've made with a DJ. Things felt more natural to produce, and I'm pleased with the results. I focused on managing the energy much more explicitly. When I danced through my final review, I definitely succeeded in losing myself in the music.

A Weekend Around the Fire

hartmans Thursday October 11, 2018
For the first time since 2013, I was officially part of putting on ritual at a festival. I helped with the fire rituals at Crossroads. Over the years, as I've identified myself more strongly with the community, I've worked to help out with the rituals. However, prior to this event, I was not part of planning the rituals beforehand.

It felt good. I brought in one of the core lessons from Nonviolent Communication. I talked about the role of guilt and walked through an exercise for how we might approach feelings of guilt. We can work to understand our needs that generate the feeling; we can understand both how we wished we behaved and how we're actually behaving. We can work to understand the tradeoffs and to connect with all aspects of ourselves that come forward. Then we can either choose to change or actively choose not to change. Accepting guilt as a force that can help guide us without crippling us or making us small is one of the most important self-care lessons I have ever learned. Sharing that is not something I could have done from the side; it's something that I could do only by being involved in the planning.

This was a lot easier than 2013. For one thing, I was only one of the people planning the ritual rather than someone leading the effort. Also, that was a difficult ritual. We were trying to carry forward aspects of the Fires of Venus work even though it was clear that the community didn't have a lot of energy. As part of that, we wanted to have the ritual put together by a team of people who had not put on the previous event to symbolize transition and the power given to the community at the 2012 fires. As a result, none of us had experience leading ritual of this type. While I'm quite proud of that work, putting on ritual with an experienced team who work together well is a lot easier.

I look forward to working on ritual in the future. One thing I hope I can bring to the community is a focus on looking at the big picture and integrating things together. For example, at the Saturday ritual, we decided to use breath, brain, blood and bone as the elemental symbols. That symbology has been used for a number of rituals in this space. Typically in that symbol set, bone is used as a focus on ancestor work. The invocation in this ritual was the traditional ancestor-focused invocation we use. And yet in this ritual, bone was much more about the sensual aspects of our physicality. Perhaps we used the ancestor-based invocation because it has become a tradition in our work. I actually think that we did not consciously make a decision and as a result we introduced symbolic dissonance into the ritual. I don't know if we would have acted differently had been aware, but thinking about that sort of issue, looking across multiple rituals, and understanding how elements work together is something I'm good at. I want to be careful of course: I want to find a way to offer what I have without disrupting something that is already working really well.

Wheel of the Year: Mabon Mix

hartmans Friday September 21, 2018
Putting together the dance mix for my wedding was a lot of fun. This year for the first time, there was a dance party at Beltane. I'm hoping to be part of that next year so I've been looking for opportunities to practice my DJ skills. I don't know anyone who wants me to DJ for their events, so I've decided to set myself an exercise.
I'm going to prepare a dance mix for each of the major sabbats this year starting with Mabon. As I've discussed in the past, when I don't have a fire to dance around, I still find dance and movement a key approach to worship. Without a fire, I tend to dance to electronic music rather than pagan drumming. Either can be a focus for meditation and celebration.
So, rather than just throwing on music, I'll prepare a mix and share it. It will be good practice both for my DJ skill and give me an opportunity to focus on what each sabbat means to me.

Mabon

My Mabon mix is here. Mabon is a time when we focus on sharing our community. We call to those who might join us, welcome them, and share our harvest.
My practice is focused on transformational work and in particular on self-transformation. So I have focused more than is usual on our own role in the journey home. The mix starts far from home when the shine and glitter of the material world has eclipsed community and home. It follows the journey to home and community and celebrates the connection we can find. It's entirely electronic. Certainly one of the things I'd like to play with is the power of EDM and particularly Trance in expressing traditionally pagan ideas. However, I suspect I'll end up ranging wider in some of the other mixes. Trance has such a broad canon of songs about community and being together that I chose to explore entirely from that focus.
I'm really interested in any comments you have. I'd also be very interested in any EDM tracks you think would be good in a paganish mix.

Gratitude and Happiness

hartmans Sunday September 16, 2018
I’ve never been happier. Over the past year my wife and I have worked to figure out how we got here. Whatever the formula for success is, we want to keep it up.

We eventually came to the conclusion that willful gratitude is what has brought us this happiness. People have all sorts of ways of indicating happiness. You might smile, say “I’m happy!” or in the early stages of a relationship, squee with glee, “I love you!”

All too often, we don’t focus on those signs of happiness. We’re happy; things are going well. Why do we need to analyze and dissect our happiness?

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