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    The Neon Pagan

    A Nagging Question Ancestor worship is important. Without our forebears, we wouldn’t be here. We wouldn’t exist. Think of all the living and dying that had to go on, just so you could have that Friday evening ice cream! It’s only fitting that ancestor rites should play an important role in our Pagan ceremonies. I guess I’m just forever the contrarian. Lately I’ve been wondering why I revere my ancestors. Take my great-grandmother’s grandfather, for instance. He ran an iron forge in Western Maryland that used slave labor and was notorious for its inhumanity to its workers. I have a baby daddy great-great grandfather and a baby daddy grandfather. One…

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    The Neon Pagan

    It’s getting to be “Pagan Pride Day” season, at least where I live. My state has three PPDs, one in the north, one in the central, and one in the south.  Have you ever been to a PPD? They are interesting, to say the least.         The haiku artist Nick Virgilio once wrote: “Easter morning/the sermon is taking the shape/of her neighbor’s hat.” Doesn’t take a literary lion to figure that out. People go to religious gatherings to check out other peoples’ attire. PPD slides neatly into this fold. Now, I’m not being critical. It’s great to be able to have a gathering where you can wear…

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    The Neon Pagan

    “I Pledge Allegiance.” Maybe. It Depends.   As a public school teacher, I’m pretty used to heavy doses of evaluation by my superiors. Seems like every time I turn around, someone is in the back of my room with a clipboard (more recently, an IPad), weighing me in the balance. My philosophy on teacher evaluations is pretty simple: If I’m doing my job, I pass. If I’m not doing my job, I shouldn’t be there anyway. Invariably, I pass. This most recent eval was no different. I passed. But the evaluator had one stern lecture up her sleeve anyway. She had been in my classroom during home room, and one…

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    The Neon Pagan

    Enjoy Responsibly Last summer I went camping at a swell InterFaith retreat in the mountains of south central Pennsylvania. I sat by a first-rate swimming hole and watched a little boy, probably eight or ten, as he tried to build a dam across a stretch of Sideling Hill Creek. Every time he got the rocks to the point where they might hold back the water, something went amiss, and the current rushed through. The boy got frustrated. “Hold still, rocks!” he commanded. He re-arranged them, and, as if talking to a dog, said to the rocks, “Stay.” The rocks didn’t stay. No matter how the boy exerted himself, his construction…

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    The Neon Pagan

    “Oh, the weather outside is frightful…” It’s that time of year. The white stuff, aka snow, is forecast, falling, changing to a wintry mix, cancelling school, snarling traffic, causing roofs to collapse, and putting shovel-wielding workers at risk of heart attack. The white stuff is also pulling children out of doors to exercise, giving harried teachers a day off, blanketing everything in an eye-popping mantle of glistening crystal, and providing much-needed slow-release moisture for plants and aquifers. Love it or hate it, snow is going to fall. We can plan for it, but we can’t stop or alter the inexorable accumulation.  Snow is a fact of life in many temperate…

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    The Neon Pagan

    Yesterday I did it. After meticulous examination, logistical speculation, scenario determination, and plain old wishful thinking, I put a bird feeder on my second floor window pane. Of course, it’s a bird feeder in name only. In a matter of weeks, perhaps even days, the pretty little feeding station will garner the attention of the resident squirrel population. Then it will become either a squirrel feeder or a wreck on the concrete below from which squirrels will eat the contents through shards of shattered plastic. I had a pole feeder with a squirrel baffle in my back yard when I first moved in, but when I saw the neighbor’s cat…

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    The Neon Pagan

    Mum’s the Word   If it’s October, it’s time for me to prepare to be a mummer. Actually, I’ve been paying towards being a mummer since June. Rehearsals start in November. Final payment on my costume (we call them “suits”) is due at that time. I live near Philadelphia, and one of Philly’s grand traditions is its New Years Day Mummers’ Parade. In this lengthy, lively, and colorful affair, “mummers” of many stripes entertain the hung-over citizenry of the City of Brotherly Love. There are several divisions of mummers, depending upon talent, tenacity, and sobriety. At the top of the heap in all three categories stand the string bands, whose…

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    The Neon Pagan

    Where’s the Worm?   I’m just back from the organic market, Whole Foods in this case, with just a few items I can’t find anywhere else. I remember when our local Whole Foods first opened. I was so excited! Finally, real organic produce! Vegetables with splotches and blotches and bruised dents and odd shapes! Apples with worms and cracks and little raised white pimples! Tomatoes with scars! Small, thin-skinned oranges, some the size of billiard balls! You’ll scarcely believe me, but I was deeply disappointed when I first walked into that store and saw all the picture-perfect groceries. The first question I had to ask myself was, “Where does this…

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    The Neon Pagan

    Ahhhhh. Summertime. Time to make those vacation travel plans! Well, ideally, yes. In reality, I haven’t got a brass farthing for travel. I’m a public school teacher with a daughter in college. Looks like my vacation will consist of sitting in the back yard, observing closely as the little yellow flowers on my tomato plants wither and turn into shiny green bumps. Maybe I’ll make a game of it. Assign each budding tomato a name and a personality. Oh, but then they’ll be hard to eat! Who says staycations are easy? If I had some computer savvy and some clout in the Pagan community, it wouldn’t have to be this…

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    The Neon Pagan

    Neil Gaiman told me to be a dandelion. My daughter went to hear Neil speak, and she asked him to inscribe a book for me.  “Buzzy,” he wrote, “be a dandelion!” (Buzzy is my nickname.) I asked my daughter what Neil meant by that. She gave me a convoluted response about caring less about making money and replicating the species than sending seeds of creativity out into the world. This was amusing information, coming from a daughter whose college tuition requires payment so she is eligible to see Neil Gaiman speak at her school. Silly me, for replicating the species. However, I am blissfully happy to be a dandelion. Gladly,…