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Girl Scouts learning about labyrinths, world peace, global warming, yoga, avatars, incense, Zen gardens, and feminism

Haven't been a big fan of Scouting, not since I dropped out of the Cub Scouts...though as I've learned a bit about the history of Seton and the original Scouting movement, and it's possible connection to the Pagan revival, my opinion has improved.

But now that I've learned from WorldNetDaily that the Girl Scouts are

learning about stone labyrinths, world peace, global warming, yoga, avatars, smudging incense, Zen gardens and feminist, communist and lesbian role models.

In "Amaze: The Twists and Turns of Getting Along," girls from the sixth to the eighth grade will read a quote from Buddha and be encouraged to explore mazes and stone or dirt labyrinths – symbols rooted in pagan mythology and popular within the New Age movement as meditation tools.

They will be briefly introduced to Polish poet Anna Swir, known for her feminist and erotic poems, and Jane Addams, an ardent feminist and pacifist who received a Nobel Peace Prize.

The text features a quote from Harriet Woods, former president of the National Women's Political Caucus – a bipartisan group that endorses pro-abortion female candidates who run for public office.

To cope with bullying, girls as young as 11 are encouraged to "take a peace break," make a Zen garden, take martial arts, do yoga and visit a website to learn the sun salutation poses.

The book features a strong emphasis on feminism and world peace, concluding with the following message:

Life is a maze. Navigate its twists and turns and you'll find true friendships, meaningful relationships, and lots of confidence to boot. So, go ahead, enter the maze. The goal is peace – for you, your world, and the planet, too.


Many of the female role models mentioned are feminists, lesbians, existentialists, communists and Marxists.

All I can say is, go Girl Scouts!

a cool koan

The Zen Master held up a bell. "What is this?", she challenged the students. "If you say it is a bell, I will hit you thirty times, and if you say it is not a bell, I will hit you thirty times!"

One stood up and took the bell from her hand. He rang it -- ding-a-ling-a-ling! Ding-a-ling-a-ling! And he said: "When I was a boy, the snowball truck -- you might call them snow cones -- came through the neighborhood on hot summer days. The driver rang his bell like this. We would cry out to him and he would stop to give us shaved ice and flavored syrup, providing sweet and cool succor to those suffering in the heat. Truly he was a Bodhisattva, and this bell the herald of his presence."

The master took back the bell and, lightly, smacked the student on top of his head. "You talk too much," she said.

a thought: keeping your levels straight

Thought for the day: when dealing with philosophy or spirituality, you have to keep your operational levels straight. It is true, as every spiritual teacher will confirm, that on the deepest level you and I are the same, we are one; but if I go into a bank and say that I'm you, we call that identity theft.

There's a famous Zen story:

Hogen, a Chinese Zen teacher, lived alone in a small temple in the country. One day four traveling monks appeared and asked if they might make a fire in his yard to warm themselves.

While they were building the fire, Hogen heard them arguing about subjectivity and objectivity. He joined them and said: "There is a big stone. Do you consider it to be inside or outside your mind?"

One of the monks replied: "From the Buddhist viewpoint everything is an objectification of mind, so I would say that the stone is inside my mind."

"Your head must feel very heavy," observed Hogen, "if you are carrying around a stone like that in your mind."

(Do you suppose a proper Zen answer would have been to go pick up the stone, bring it over, drop it on Hogen's foot, and then ask him if the stone was inside or outside of mind?)

The reason why a man has thousands of troubles...

From the Yin Chih Wen, or The Tract of the Quiet Way:

Hsieh Wen-Ching says: "The reason why a man has thousands of troubles is because he clings to the idea of self: therefore, he schemes and contrives in ten thousand different ways. He alone wants to be rich, he alone wants to be honored, he alone wants to be easy, he alone wants to be happy, he alone wants to enjoy life, he alone wants to be blessed with longevity; and to others' poverty, misery, danger, or suffering, he is altogether indifferent. It is for this reason that the life-will of others is disregarded and Heaven's Reason neglected. Only be cured of the disease of egotism, and your heart will be broadened even to the vastness of infinite space, so that wealth, honor, happiness, comfort, health, longevity could all be enjoyed with others. And, then, the will to live will have its way, everything will have its natural longings satisfied, and Heaven's Reason will be displayed in an untold exuberance.

Starwood workshops with Tom Swiss

Hello friends! Festival season is upon us. I'm about to head off to the Free Spirit Gathering, where I will be hosting the Bardic Circle and leading a "money washing" prosperity ritual. The latter is based around something I saw at a Shinto shrine the last time I was in Japan.

In July I'll be headed for the Starwood festival, where I'll be presenting the following workshops:

Feeling Good with Acupressure and Shiatsu

Shiatsu (Japanese for "finger pressure") and acupressure are forms of Asian Bodywork Therapy, which use pressure and stretching to relieve pain and stress. According to the theories of Chinese medicine, these techniques help balance the flow of qi, or vital energy, in the body. We will discuss and practice the use of acupressure points for physical, emotional, and spiritual balancing, and also learn a simple self-shiatsu routine. If time permits we will also do some partner work. Please bring a mat or towel to lie on for stretching.

Poets and Pagans

The Magick of Large Fire Circles

This is something I wrote up back in 2001, during some intense on-line discussion of the nature of the fire circle at FSG. An edited version appeared in the program guide for several years. If you'd like to borrow it for your event, please feel free so long as attribution is maintained.

The Magick of Large Fire Circles
by Tom Swiss

Fire. Drumming. Dancing. All are older than history, older than modern Homo sapiens. Putting them together is probably one of our oldest magickal activities.

You may have held fire circles in your own coven, circle, or grove. However, the large circles held at gatherings -- bringing together scores, even hundreds, of people of many different paths and traditions -- require a bit of extra thought and consideration for everything to go smoothly. Please consider the following guidelines for participating in large fire

The Fire Circle Triangle: Physically, fire requires a triangle of elements -- oxygen, fuel, and heat -- to burn. Fire circles also rely on three elements: fire tenders, drummers, and dancers.

Fire tenders start the fire and keep it fed, and are responsible for fire safety. They often have to maneuver through the circle carrying heavy bits of wood. Give them the right of way and much love, for without them the circle is cold.

Drummers (and chanters, and other makers of joyful noise) take the heat and light of the fire and turn it into sound that reaches our hearts. Do not block them from the fire's warmth, and give them space and much love, for without them the circle is silent.

Dancers take the energy of the fire and the drums and transmute it into motion that moves our spirits. Do not crowd them into the fire, or block their path around it. Give them space in which to move and much love, for without them the circle is still.

stone cairns in the Patapsco

Spotted these stone cairns in the Patapsco on Sunday, from the bridge going into Ellicott City.

Whoever did this, I love you!

Spanking play 'brings couples together'

New Scientist reports on a study of hormonal changes associated with BDSM play:

Brad Sagarin at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb and colleagues measured levels of the stress hormone cortisol in 13 men and women at an S&M party in Arizona, before, during and after participating in activities. During S&M scenes, cortisol rose significantly in those receiving stimulation, but dropped back to normal within 40 minutes if the scene went well. There was no change in those inflicting the activity.

At an S&M event in Colorado, testosterone was measured in 45 men and women. It increased significantly in receiving women only. Donatella Marazziti of the University of Pisa, Italy, says the boost may help women cope with the aggressive nature of S&M activities, or that it could be another sign of stress. In both studies, couples who said the party went well also reported increases in relationship closeness


Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield, UK, adds that almost any shared activity is likely to promote interpersonal closeness. "It doesn't have to be tying up your partner or placing clamps on their nipples, it could be something as simple as cooking a meal together or even doing the housework as a duo," he says.


Scientific American has a fascinating article about the frequency with which people experience hallucinations of dead loved ones:

Why Buddha Touched the Earth -- Zen Paganism for the 21st Century

For several years I've been working on a book about the philosophy and spiritual path I call "Zen Paganism". I'm happy to say that the past few months have been very productive. I've now got over 50,000 words, and hope to have a complete first draft within the next six months.

I've placed drafts of several sample chapters (about two-thirds of the book) on-line. Take a look:


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