Monthly Archives: July 2008

Enter the Haggis

As disgusting as the title sounds, this is a great band from Toronto. My friend sent an mp3 to me saying “I want this song played at my funeral.”

I completely agree. I’m leaving money in my will, and these lyrics, so everyone knows what to do while having that drink I just bought them.

Old John from his deathbed cried:
“Think I will wait ’til tomorrow to die
Sun is shining, birds do sing
This, sir, is no day to go”

Up and out the door

I’ve had a life that’s full
Everyone’s been good to me
So fire up that fiddle, boy
And give me one last drink
When the sun comes up
I will leave without a fight
But the world is mine tonight

Took young Molly by the hand
Spun her ’round and back again
Clicked his heels, bowed his head
Never a tear in his eye

Carried on ’til five

So raise a glass to the dear departed ones

Room was full of all his friends
Never a funeral, this was the end
Drank to all who lent their hand
Everyone drank to John

I’ve had a life that’s full
Everyone’s been good to me
So fire up that fiddle, boy
And give me one last drink
When the sun comes up
I will leave without a trace
But the world is mine today

You really need to hear it though.

Convocation ’08 Feedback!

Wow! I just* heard from the Programming Chair at Convocation with feedback for my two presentations at Convocation 2008. They asked:

Was the teacher knowledgeable?
Would you attend similar events?
Did you feel that you understood what was being presented?
Was there enough time allotted for this session?
Would you recommend this class to others?

Creating Community in Cyberspace got mostly 5’s across the board (5 being the best), and 4s with the comments:

“would definitely recommend”

“would probably recommend”

It was well presented with much needed information imparted. The open dialogue in class was very useful as well. More programs like this one are needed.”

Magickal Group Dynamics: Identifying the Three C’s that Cause Strife also received all 5s (no comments)

Life Cycle of the Magickal Group also received all 5s and attendees said:

“Lisa is a great presenter, providing very important information on group dynamics.”

“would definitely recommend”

I’m all excited because this is the first time in the nearly 10 years of presenting that I have ever received actual feedback from the programming folks. (Of course, its nice that the feedback itself is so positive :-))

*not really, they sent the email while I was on vacation and I’m only now getting a chance to clear out my Inbox

Full Moon in Capricorn (July 18, 2008)

I’m preparing for this upcoming full moon, something I rarely do unless Working with my coven or class. The planets are aligned oddly at this time with Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus all retrograde. It’s like our luck has turned sour, our commitments to larger endeavors is being tested and our self-reliance weakened. At least, mine has.

It seems like this is a good time to do a Working to reacquaint myself with my spiritual side. Not to renew my faith — that is ongoing and deep — but to examine the evolution of my personal values in order to strengthen them in the face of adversity.

That looks really good on paper (or in text as the case may be) but how to translate the idea to symbols so the inner child is entranced and comes out to Work (although she thinks its play when I do it right)?

One step would be to trace my values from their genesis, honoring those people along my journey who helped me ‘get right’ with the world and my Self. Remembering them with honor and thanking them for their part in my development would be an integral part of the Working. Then, I think I need to honor my SELF for having the strength to learn from adversity and to mark my successful work to release criticism and negativity (its not finished, but honoring the tremendous work done is appropriate). In doing so, I will be expressing my connectedness to and compassion for others in my life, and who have been in my life.

One physical step I feel called to enact is to indulge in a little self-care. Perhaps a mild workout (one based on stretching and isometrics rather than cardio), and then a long shower followed by a self-massage with essential oils (aromatherapy!. Gets me in my body in a positive way and out of my brooding head. (I’ve been brooding a lot lately, thanks Saturn.)

I found a fascinating essay about this full moon and its attendant energies at: and I urge others to read it. It rang very true for me, and thats rare for astroscopes.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Hubba hubba. No wait, I’m not there yet.

Most of us have read Midsummer Night’s Dream (aka MND to save my poor fingers). It’s a good story, full of comedy and romance; a favorite of many people. Prior to 2008, I’ve seen two different productions of it here at OSF, in fact, each very very good. That said, we haven’t seen anything like this production before.

It’s all about the sex. and passion. and love. and hormones (oh, you cannot forget the hormones.) yum.

We open with the Duke of Athens and his soon-to-be Amazon wife. In silver sharkskin, seated on huge (12 feet at the top) over-stuffed thrones like curvy check marks. His dark glasses shield his eyes from the glitter of the heavy gold chains around his neck. Yes, the Duke is a 50s New Jersey wise guy speaking Elizabethean English spoken in that specific accent. Hippolyta’s response, in an Eartha Kitt-like growl-purr sets the sexual heat thrumming. We’re laughing and turned on — how often does that happen in public?

The young lovers are brimming with adolescent hormones. It’s easy to see how sneaking off to elope in the woods on the night of a full moon is a better idea than marrying the one you don’t love. (Its a great plot device if totally impractical.) If the old lovers (ugh, what a thing to say) are the 50s, then these kids are the 60s. Early 60s. You can almost hear the Beatles and the Birds playing their songs as they dance around in their basic white outfits, the girls in minidresses and the boys in … well . . . collared shirts and slacks.

The play-within-a-play group of fools rolls onstage in . . . a dayglo VW bus, complete with flower power sigils and rocking out to 70s rock-n-roll. (and was that a haze of maryjane smoke?).

But the joy, the thing that makes this play come ALIVE, are the fairies. Because they are fairies — raunchy, sexy, gorgeous young men in tight fishnet shirts, leggings, 4-in high rubbersoled boots and . . . tutus. Moth comes into the dark night and flirts with a spotlight as the music goes 80s and he . . . vogues. All of them come out and play: think chorus line gone 80s. But the scene stealer is John Tufts playing a truly devilish and delightful Puck. Gorgeous!

Mincing and menacing all at once, they steal (most of) the young lover’s clothes and are horrified when Titiana falls in love with . . . an ass! Sulky agreement accompanies their duties to Bottom as he calls for sweet hay and a soft place to nuzzle. Kevin Kennerly’s Oberon is darn good (a little overplayed, but thats in comparison to the excellent actors around him) and Linda Alper’s strident mother act (he’s stealing my B-a-a-a-a-by!) performance is perfect.

We laughed, we danced in our seats, we had a truly magnificent time. This is the best performance of MND I have ever seen, and in the top ten (in 12 years) at OSF.

The Clay Cart — beautiful, but uninteresting

The Clay Cart is a 2000 year old play originally written in sanskrit. The description thrilled me: “Bursting with music and dance, color, action, and romance . . .” and I was eager to see what the always-innovative OSF created for our delectation. Sadly, it was disappointing.

The acting was good, the staging exquisite. The production clearly treats the audience as another person in the play, consistently breaking the ‘fourth wall’ and using innovative prop devices (such as walls made of people and pillows and a portrait made of the actor holding an empty frame (see photo)) to involve and engage us. The scene design is innovative in it’s luxurious spareness (actors stand up from their pillows at the edge of the stage to hold sticks at waist level to represent doors) and there is a deft touch of comedic lightness in most scenes. It was fun to watch.

But the story is hard to get truly engaged in. It’s definitely Shakespearean in its flavor — a story that juxtaposes romance and political upheaval, characters that span all strata of society, lovers kept apart by the opposition of others and by the escalation of unlikely circumstance. I can see why it was chosen this year, Bill Rauch’s inaugural year as the artistic director (Rauch has directed this play in various incarnations previously). I found myself just not caring about whether the noble but now penniless Brahamin succeeded in taking the good-hearted courtesan as his second wife, winning her free from the truly awful King’s brother in law. Somewhere in there a Brahimin thief is redeemed by buying the courtesan’s slave girl and making her his (free) wife, and both the evil king and his evil brother in law are overthrown by the secret king in exile.

This performance gets an A for execution and a D for story — an overall C production.

Wiccan Book Meme

from lupabitch, with modifications:

Bold what you’ve read
Italicize what you own, but haven’t read

High Magic’s Aid – Gerald Gardner
Witchcraft Today – Gerald Gardner
The Meaning of Witchcraft – Gerald Gardner
An ABC of Witchcraft Past and Present – Doreen Valiente
Natural Magic – Doreen Valiente
King of the Witches – June Johns
A Witches’ Bible: The Complete Witches’ Handbook – Janet and Stewart Farrar
The Witches’ Way – Janet and Stewart Farrar
Eight Sabbats for Witches – Janet and Stewart Farrar
The Witches’ Goddess: the Feminine Principle of Divinity – Janet and Stewart Farrar
The Witches’ God: Lord of the Dance – Janet and Stewart Farrar
Diary of a Drug Fiend – Aleister Crowley
Aha! : Being Liber CCXLII – Aleister Crowley
777 and Other Qabalistic Writings of Aleister Crowley: Including Gematria & Sepher Sephiroth – Aleister Crowley
The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess – Starhawk
Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today – Margot Adler
Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner – Scott Cunningham
To Ride a Silver Broomstick: New Generation Witchcraft – Silver Ravenwolf
The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries – Zsuzsanna Budapest
Diary of a Witch – Sybil Leek
Complete Art of Witchcraft – Sybil Leek
Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft – Ray Buckland
Sea Priestess – Dion Fortune
West Country Wicca – Rhiannon Ryall
Earth Magic: A Dianic Book of Shadows – Marion Weinstein
The Underworld Initiation – RJ Stewart
A Book of Pagan Rituals – Herman Slater
Wicca Covens – Judy Harrow
Golden Bough – James Frazer
The White Goddess – Robert Graves
Aradia: Gospel of the Witches – Charles Leland
Triumph of the Moon – Ronald Hutton
Covencraft – Amber K
Fifty Years in the Feri Tradition – Cora Anderson
The Wheel of the Year: Living the Magical Life – Pauline Campanelli
A Witch Alone – Marian Green

Wicca: A Comprehensive Guide to the Old Religion in the Modern World – Vivianne Crowley
Real Magic – Isaac Bonewits
Evolutionary Witchcraft – Thorn Coyle
The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets – Barbara Walker

Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft – Raven Grimassi
The Paganism Reader – Chas Clifton
Her Hidden Children – Chas Clifton
The Wicca Spellbook: A Witch’s Collection of Wiccan Spells, Potions, and Recipes – Gerina Dunwich
When, Why … If – Robin Wood
Everyday Moon Magic: Spells & Rituals for Abundant Living – Dorothy Morrison
Creating Circles & Ceremonies: Rituals for All Seasons and Reasons – Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart

The Power of Myth – Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers
The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion – Mircea Eliade
The Raw and the Cooked: Mythologiques, Volume 1 – Claude Levi-Strauss
The Witch-Cult in Western Europe: A Study in Anthropology – Margaret Murray
The God of the Witches – Margaret Murray
Book of Shadows: A Modern Woman’s Journey into the Wisdom of Witchcraft and the Magic of the Goddess – Phyllis Curott

Other Books that should be on this list:

Outer Temple of Witchcraft: Christopher Penzcak

Inner Temple of Witchcraft: Christopher Penzcak

Magickal Connections: Lisa Mc Sherry




Othello: A fluttering glide in madness

Othello is a difficult play for the modern woman — most of the time we just rage “why don’t the two of them just talk to each other fer chrissakes?!” Desdemona is often portrayed as naive and just a little stupid (careless inbreeding?) while Othello himself is a savage, incapable of reasoning and overly emotional.

In 1999 I saw a production of Othello here at OSF that blew me away. I disgraced myself in that I spoke out loud (and quite loudly) towards the end of the second act “I get it!” For the first time I saw Othello as a man in love for the first time, and just like any callow adolescent he was completely unable to make rational decisions about his emotions. Like a deaf man who suddenly has his hearing restored, the emotions are overwhelming. When they are positive — as they are early on in all new relationships — he is effusive and glories in how good it feels to be in love. But when things begin to go sour he has no prior experience to tell him this is normal, it will pass, it will get better. Finally, Othello made sense.

Nearly a decade later, Othello is back at OSF. This production took a different tack: Othello is mad.

The play itself provides for this interpretation: Othello falls down in an epileptic fit after being told that Cassio has confessed to having sex with Desdemona (apparently this line is frequently cut, I didn’t remember it from previous versions I’d seen), his demeanor gets increasingly ‘twitchy’ and he makes abrupt gestures as his speech becomes increasingly ragged. Ironically, his clothing becomes neater and more dapper as the play moves on. An indication of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)? Peter Macon plays Othello with expansiveness and joy. Its nearly painful to see this goodhearted, ferocious warrior turn into a man tormented by his own dark jealousy. It’s clear, however, that his jealousy comes from his own lack of self-esteem when dealing with ‘civilized’ people (“Rude am I in my speech / And little blessed with the soft phrase of peace” Act I, Scene 3, 81–82.)

Iago . . . that gleaming icon of evil is a delight to watch. Played by Dan Donohue with sly deviltry and exquisite timing, Iago turns out to be a a lot funnier than we’re used to seeing (Donohue’s physical acting is some of the best in the company). As always, the audience is left to wonder at his motive’s — is all of this *really* from being passed over by Othello in favor of ‘untried’ but clever Cassio? Here, we are given a glimpse that jealousy (ah symmetry!) may be also a factor in Iago’s hatred of the moor: “’twixt my sheets … (the Moor has done my office” Act I, Scene 3, 393–394.”

Desdemona is not Shakepeare’s best creations, but Sarah Rutan does her best, playing her with strength and a deep love for this foreign man that never falters, even when he kills her. Her physical acting was also superb, the body language matching the emotions and words generated with exquisite appropriateness.

This is a play of contrasts: Othello strides about in tight-fitting clothing in dark colors that he covers over with a gorgeous (sensual) robe in sunlight gold and (at the end) a cream-colored overcoat. Iago wears only gleaming black leather from his long overcoat to his boots. Briefly we see him in a plain linen shirt over his breeches, but that is quickly discarded for a bare torso as the action roars to its death-filled end. The final image, in fact, is nearly cinematic in its effect: the newlyweds lie upon one another in the marriage bed, wounded Cassio stands to the left, having just ordered Iago away to be tortured. Iago turns and moves to center stage, his reddish hair blond in the light, his skin milk pale under his overcoat, and the blood of his fresh wound drawing the eye into what suddenly seems like the only color on the stage.

Iago takes a half step forward, reaches out and the lights go out.