18 October 2019

The Crossroads: what does it mean?

I asked several friends, “What does ‘The Crossroads’ mean to you?” Their answers varied, but even still, there were similar themes.

Decisions and consequences, change and results. Journeys and opportunities, great potential and potentially great loss, letting go, and cycles of life, death and rebirth. Those ideas were present across perspectives. One friend said, “A threshold/ liminal place where the worlds are pinched together.” Another discussed the potential of the space also being frustrating, because to them, the unknown can be frightening, but can ultimately lead to a better place.

Another idea that people agreed upon is that a Crossroads is a place to reflect, then choose a direction – not a place to dwell. Sit, learn, listen, maybe commune with others, then make a decision to move. The option exists to choose a direction from there, and that could simply be to “carry on.”

We each face crossroads fairly regularly. Some crossroads are small, and some are glacial. Another theme that I heard a few times in the answers from my friends was that these decisions we make at each road we cross can affect us greatly as individuals and as a community at large.

When I hear the expression, “The Crossroads,” several things come to mind, but two things stick out more than the others: Supernatural (the hit TV show), and a rap song from the 90s by Bone Thugs-n-Harmony.

In the TV show Supernatural, there are Crossroads demons, and these demons grant the supplicant some request, from saving a wife from cancer, to becoming the world’s best blues player (a long-standing real-life Blues tale from the 1930s), to restoring a brother’s soul from hell back to Earth. There are a lot of rules around these demons, including how to summon them, and the contract itself, which requires the supplicant to give up their soul 10 years from the date of the compact.

The song Tha Crossroads by Bone Thugs-n-Harmony was released in 1996, and met with virtually instant commercial success. It was a tribute to the late Eazy-E, who was a supporter of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony’s early days. What a lot of people don’t realize is that this is a re-imagination of an earlier version of their song, The Crossroads. The original had more explicit lyrics, and never (or rarely?) saw radio play, but also had some lyric gems, such as, “thinkin’ back, in the days when we did some f*cked-up thangs / Now I gotta ask God if that’s the reason my homie’s gone away.” It was a staunch admonishment of the “shoot first” mentality of the 90s gang wars, which they also expressed beautifully in Change the World (not to be confused with Eric Clapton’s song of the same title).

What resounds with me about Tha Crossroads in particular is how many people I know personally who have direct connections to this song. By the time you’re my age (ahem… mid 30s), you’ve certainly lost someone in your life. A family member, a community member, or people you’re close to. When I was 15, my best friend’s boyfriend was struck by a car on his way to pitch in a baseball game, after actively working on turning his life around for the better, and was killed on the scene. My best friend was grief-stricken for months, and it took her into a spiral of so many problems. I remember very clearly at his funeral that a single (tape) of Tha Crossroads was placed in his casket, and that was one of the most meaningful things for all of us. It was a beautiful tribute to a friend and fellow rap fan, and I remember that moment every time I hear that song.

Both of these pop culture references to Crossroads serve to remind us to make the most of the time we have here on this plane. One reminds us that we have limited time here, and the other reminds us to make our decisions carefully because there may be repercussions.

These thoughts and musings on “The Crossroads” bring me to a few conclusions: life is a journey, and what we do matters. Life is short, in the grander scheme of things, and we should make the most of it while we are here, and be deliberate with our choices and our energies. Where have you been? What have you overcome to get here? Which way will you go when you come to the next crossroads? Who will you take on your journey with you? To whom will you wish farewell as your paths diverge? What will you do along the way?

How will you impact the world around you?

By Laura, Accord Editor
Special Thanks to Kait, Darren, Slinky, Lindsey, Xandra, Martin, Amanda, John, Jensen, Rebecca, Willow, Mark, Meagan, Rachel, Julianne, and Kady for their thoughts and input.

11 October 2019

The Power of Three

Soft Moon shadows linger
On ancient hilltops of long ago,
As three familiar beings
Unite to make one soul.

Treasured thoughts of yesterday
Secrets safe in time,
As three gather together
To chant their ancient rhyme.

“Mystical magic combined,
With the unity of three
To bring forth the power
By the Goddess, so mote it be!”

I am the Weaver, Enchantress, and Crone,
The giver of magical sight.
Mine are the last before they are first,
In the silent silver sliver of waning moon light.

“Mystical magic combined,
With the unity of three
To bring forth the power
By the Goddess, so mote it be!”

Mother am I to the child come to living,
Teacher am I to the children of the Earth.
My face can be seen in the full silver moon light.
I am the holder of the gates of rebirth.

“Mystical magic combined,
With the unity of three
To bring forth the power
By the Goddess, so mote it be!”

I dance unclothed and alone in the wood,
Under the waxing silver moon of the night.
Maiden am I of idea’s and imagination
Where the fairy play under the crescent moon light.

“Mystical magic combined,
With the unity of three
To bring forth the power
By the Goddess, so mote it be!”

Shadows of darkness,
Pleasure of light,
Death and rebirth,
Wrong into right.

We are the Maiden, Mother, and Crone
In three different beings we stand undone
To find the hidden remains of our hearts.
United by the power of three to become one!

by Stephie Pie

04 October 2019

Editorial - Stewardship

Let’s talk about Stewardship for a moment. This is a term I’ve heard all my life. In the Episcopal church, they talked about stewardship as a recruitment tool of sorts, and that all made sense (as much as a concept like that could mean to a child). As I grew older, I began to hear that word used in a more secular context - being stewards of the environment. And further, as I grew into Paganism, I learned more about what Stewardship really meant to me and to those around me.

Webster defines “stewardship” in a few different ways, but the most relevant here is:
"the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially : the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care."

Throughout my teens and early twenties, the concept that the care of the earth is entrusted to us all, and that we should be careful and responsible with it grew and flourished, and programs for recycling, and reminders to “recycle, reduce, reuse!” grew in numbers to such a great (and wonderful) extent that it is very nearly appalling to many people when recycling is not readily available alongside refuse containers.

Then, in the early 2000’s, we were told that the plastic bottles that some of us were diligently recycling were not actually recyclable, and that they were leaching chemicals into our water. Gratefully, this seemed to cause two things to happen: 1. Plastic manufacturers learned how to create better bottles that are less harmful to the consumer, and 2. More people got onto the “reusable bottle” train. Now with the invention of things like Yeti cups, even people in Texas can have cold drinks hours after they’re poured and not generate extra waste in the process. It’s not perfect. We haven’t eliminated plastic bottles altogether.

The statistics are still rather alarming. A quick search on your favorite web search engine will bring up a plethora of “facts” about single use plastics, some with thorough documentation, others whose documentation is lacking detail, or lacking altogether. One of our amazing CMA Members created this document which contains details about the types of plastics available and great information about their recyclability, chemical content, and other interesting information.

Another wonderful CMA Member wrote into the Accord, and had this story to share:
My grandson told me more than 20 years ago that if I threw a cigarette butt on the ground at Heartland, I’d have to pick up 20 butts as punishment. He assured me that would be extremely difficult because pagans simply did not litter and absolutely knew better than to throw CIGARETTE BUTTS on the ground. I loved that about this community. I loved it that after spending the night partying around the revel fire, there was very little trash to pick up and I almost NEVER saw any trash on the roads or around the campsites. People recycled, for crying out loud! It was amazing! There were trash cans and butt cans and bags that distinguished between “recycling” and “garbage”. That was 20 years ago. 

Everyone seems to have varying degrees of commitment to environmental stewardship. When I lived alone, I had reduced my trash collection to one bag of trash per week at most, and my recycle bin was more often full when my trash was virtually empty. The Pack it in, Pack it out rule at CMA was always an easy concept for me, even before CMA stopped providing the dumpster at festival.

Now that my life is a little more hectic, I find myself not devoting as much thought to being a steward of this world we share - generating more trash instead of recycling, making less environmentally friendly choices, particularly when it comes to lunch at work, and buying the occasional plastic bottle when I’ve forgotten my reusable bottle or mug. We definitely recycle as much as we can (if you’ve been to a gathering at our house, or at Dammit Camp, you’ve probably seen me pulling cans and bottles out of the trash and moving them to the recycle bin), but I always feel like I could do more.

I have challenged my camp this festival, and I hope you consider challenging yours, to bring larger containers of water, and leave behind the individual bottles. I challenge you to consider recycling anything that can be recycled when you return to the default world after the festival. And I challenge you to continue that practice for the following week, month, season, year - whatever you can manage. The things we do become a practice, and a practice becomes a lifestyle. Let’s live our truth, and be intentional stewards of this world we call home.

Accord Editor
With contributions from Bran and Undomiel