“Just days before parliamentary polls in Pakistan, leading Prime Ministerial contender and anti terrorism crusader Benazir Bhutto was shot dead during an election rally in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, near Islamabad. “She has been martyred,” said party official Rehman Malik. The Associated Press, citing Malik, reported that Bhutto was shot in the neck and the chest before the gunman blew himself up. ” from the news article: “Making a Martyr of Bhutto” (http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/makingamartyrofbhutto)

I had seen the news about her assasination on the news this morning, and it shocked me, more so because one of the world’s few powerful female political leaders had been murdered. On top of that, she was an elegant woman, a powerful speaker, and one who looked like a woman — with makeup and long painted fingernails and occasionally garish jewelry. For the world, she was a moderate, one who could have helped balanced that country’s upheavel and provided comfort to the many many poor.

But, she was not — IS not — a martyr. A martyr deliberately gives up her life for the greater glory of ‘god.’ (God is in quotes because it may be for a cause or other thing of great value, not just religion. It’s more rare, but it happens.) A better word might be sacrifice, but because she was an unwilling sacrifice, I do not like it much better.

Sadly, she was mostly a victim and we — the world — is  poorer for her death.

My ritual was quiet, both in feeling and after effect.

Each season I ‘switch’ my altar around. This is not a huge affair, but a cleansing of the tools and a switch of the altar cloth to one that reflects the season. For winter it is a silk square (about 32″ on a side) with an intricate brown/gold pattern on a cream background. It has a vaguely Arts and Crafts feel.

(As a contrast, my Autumn cloth is a dark blue scarf (about 36″ square) with a blue/purple/green pattern on it.)

Mercury (a statue) indicated that He wished to be in the center of my altar, so I complied. My iron cauldron and athame share the center with Him. My wand and candle lie to the South, chalice in the West, my pentacle (a slab of sliced agate about 6″ in diameter) in the North and the incense holder in the East. My jaguar statue chose to sit atop the pentacle, facing South. Also on the altar is a wooden box containing a few items related to some spellwork that is coming to a close soon.

After arranging the altar, I doused the lights and began.

Calling the circle brought a hush to the house, as is usual. I couldn’t even hear the typical nioses from the neighborhood — the sound of the rain deepened and filled the air. The elements of the south were unhappy about not being represented except through my wand, a quirk of the energy taht doesn’t always come up.

Speaking with the God/dess (or, listening to Him and Her) was moving. I was reminded of the turn of the seasons and their effect within me. A year ago I decided to further some small changes, and they brought amazing and profound changes in my life. This Yule I considered those changes and contemplated what still needs to evolve.

A strong sense of calm filled me, and stayed with me (even to now).

Minnesota bans mercury in mascara. (go here for the original story.) And here I didn’t think such a law was needed.

Mercury, for those of you who don’t know, is also called quicksilver. Once widely used in thermometers and other scientific apparatus, concerns about the element’s toxicity have led to such instruments being phased out in in favor of alcohol-filled or digital instruments.

Mercury and most of its compounds are extremely toxic. In cases of spills involving mercury (such as from certain thermometers or fluorescent light bulbs) specific cleaning procedures must be used to avoid toxic exposure. It can be inhaled and absorbed through the skin and mucous membranes, so containers of mercury are securely sealed to avoid spills and evaporation. (Thanks to Wikipedia for source material.)

So, mercury in mascara means coating your eyelashes and mucous membranes with the stuff. Who exactly thought it was a good idea to put mercury in mascara anyway?

It’s been a  month since we brought Sasha home and all is going well. She visited the office for a day, and loved it. How not? Everyone who visits her brings kibble and is incredibly impressed at her ability to sit, shake ‘paws’, lie down, and roll over. (Any tips on how to train her to ‘play dead are appreciated!)

Sitting Still

We had one big adventure when she discovered that the M:tG card boxes we were using to help her get into and out of her playpen were filled with cards. How far does 300 cards spread? The picture says it all.

Filled with Pride

She’s growing so quickly it is almost a little frightening. At 8 weeks she was 6.6 pounds. At 12 weeks, 15.6 pounds! Here’s a pic of her at about 10 weeks — midway (and learning to jump onto chairs!)

10 weeks

Thanksgiving was lovely. The whole family (the west coast contingent at least) was here to celebrate. Connor (no surprise at only 20 mos old) was more than a little upset at Sasha’s relentless “I want to lick your face” behavior, but didn’t actively cry. He just got right into an adult lap and surveyed the wriggling puppy from safety. (No good pictures of them together, or even of Connor. )

By the end of the trip he was just turning his back on her when she jumped up, knowing an adult was going to order her down — and that she’d obey . . . eventually. They did well together. Sasha was, in fact, incredibly good about having people in the room paying no attention to her, and in the next room making noise, and getting up at all hours to feed and other things. I was more than a little surprised at how well it went with a just-ten-week-old puppy.

Here’s a great picture of the feasting table than J. took:

Turkey Day 2007