What changed between the failed 2011 vote and yesterday? Planned Parenthood is losing its brand. Here are some of the reasons the debate shifted over the last four years:
We now know that Planned Parenthood has been auditedin nine states, with all nine showing overbilling and improper claims to Medicaid – totaling over $12 million.
We have heard from Planned Parenthood whistleblowers, like Abby Johnson and Sue Thayer, who have revealed Planned Parenthood’s focus on its bottom line instead of women’s health.
We have seen with our own eyes the apparently illegal and definitely callous videos of Planned Parenthood officials haggling over the prices of baby body parts. The videos – In spite of Planned Parenthood’s favorite talking point that they have been “discredited” and are “heavily edited” – have been authenticated by leading forensic experts.
We now know that Planned Parenthood has failed to report the sexual abuse of young girls at least a dozen times, often performing abortions, receiving payment, and sending them right back to their abusers.
And perhaps as importantly, Americans – and our elected officials – now understand that Planned Parenthood is not a necessary evil. Of the over 187,000 Medicaid providers in America, only 665 are Planned Parenthoods. And there are thousands of federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics, many of which provide far more comprehensive care than Planned Parenthood. Some of them, unlike Planned Parenthood, actually provide mammograms.
President Obama has already announced that he will veto this bill. But the fact that he will have to do so is an historic step. It means that Americans who object to their forced partnership with America’s leading abortionist can have hope that this will soon end. And for Planned Parenthood, it means that their half a billion dollars in annual contributions from unwilling American taxpayers is hanging by a single vote – the one in the White House.
Sometime soon, Planned Parenthood will not be able to depend on the American taxpayers to subsidize its destruction of over 300,000 unborn children every year. Yesterday’s vote paves the way to that victory.
In the aftermath of the San Bernardino shooting, some started to mock, critique, and condemn prayer. But prayer is not useless or inaction, as they would have you believe. It is the exact opposite.
1. Prayer is a privilege.
The New York Daily News cover refers to prayer as “meaningless platitudes,” but prayer is more than something we say because it sounds nice to say it. Sure, it’s easy to tweet a nice message with a trending hashtag, but genuine prayer is a privilege. We are blessed to be able to communicate with a personal God who truly cares about our needs. We can bring Him our requests and He hears us.
“This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” I John 5:14 (NASB)
2. Prayer is an act of obedience.
God wants to hear our prayers; He wants to communicate with us. He wants to be the first person we turn to when something bad happens, when we’re feeling down, or when we are experiencing great joy. He cares about every aspect of our lives, so turning to Him in moments like these should be second nature.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6 (NIV)
3. Prayer is an act of humility.
Tragedies like those we’ve recently experienced often remind us of our fragile human nature. No matter how hard we try to control the world or its circumstances, we cannot overcome its fallen, broken state. When we humbly come before God in prayer, we acknowledge Him as Creator of the universe and the One who is firmly in control, even when bad things happen.
“ … if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)
4. Prayer fulfills a need.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed during a tragedy. Whether it is sorrow, fear, or frustration you feel, prayer is the perfect outlet for your emotions. We can cast all of our cares on Him and He eagerly soothes our hearts and minds.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NASB)
5. Prayer strengthens us.
Living in a fallen world can be mentally, emotionally, and even physically exhausting. But God assures us in His Word that He works all things together for good. When we turn to Him in prayer, He strengthens us with His promises.
“He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:29-31 (NASB)
So no—we won’t shut up. We won’t stop praying. We can’t stop praying.
The Druid’s path takes discipline and courage, even in the face of adversity. Be it meditating in a winter rain storm, or holding a large public rite in a busy park, or simply doing daily meditation. It takes courage and will to face the power of the kindred; to face our true self.
The Druid’s path requires much reading, critical thinking, and a discerning mind. Without it one may be pulled off balance and believing misinformation or any old flight of imaginary fancy. Not every animal that crosses your path is an omen or message from the kindred.
It is poetry that allows us to speak of what we experience spiritually. Music and poetry give meanings and images that these simple words could never convey. It is poetry and prose that helps us to catch the ear of the Kindred and bring us closer to them.
So.. this is the altar in my kitchen. It gets shifted around if I need the space for cooking, but it always comes back to this configuration. The weird thing about it, though, is that it grew up almost completely organically this way. The butterfly box holds my Ogham acorns and the peacock book holds my Tarot deck and cloth.
I got most of the pieces in this during a trip to a thrift store, and the other pieces have found their way there over time, but this is pretty much the only setup that will happen here.
I have a couple problems with this– firstly, it doesn’t match the ADF style of altar that they recommend you set up, nor is it particularly comfortable for meditating in front of.
I have a second altar space in my bedroom that I’m going to rearrange to be my ADF altar where I can meditate and do other things, so that’s not a huge problem.
My big question is, what the fuck is this for? It’s clearly for something because it sets itself in this position like iron filings drawn to a magnet, but I have no idea what to do with it. I’ve cast a few spells here, but it’s more of a workspace than a ritual space since I don’t really do much ritual magic.
My 10 Minute (or less!) Norse Morning Devotional in ADF Core Order of Ritual
At first glance, the ADF Core Order of Ritual can seem daunting and, if one has seen some sample scripts, rather lengthy as well. That said, I love the structure, its power, and its ability to put me in touch with the cosmos and my Kindreds. I really wanted to do the ADF Core Order of Ritual on a daily basis, not only to invite that power into my life everyday upon rising, but to know the ADF Core Order of Ritual by heart. The following text is the result of that effort.
On average, this ritual lasts anywhere between 7-10 minutes. I’ve simplified portions of the ritual text while still including every step of the ADF Core Order of Ritual. Offerings are also simplified into a select few items that are manageable to restock, and easy to keep by my home shrine. The goal here was effectiveness and efficiency. It took me awhile to find the right balance, but I believe I’ve achieved my goal, which was to form a meaningful, daily practice. Now, I’m at a point where I can perform this ritual from memory (improvising when needed), while learning the ADF Core Order of Ritual in the process. This script is from a Wednesday ritual.
1. Initiating the Rite
[Three knells of a bell] [Two Powers Meditation] (Here, I draw the waters and power of the Earth up through me, and then let the Sky power shine down through me. This acts as a grounding and centering, while also serving as a first step in connecting me to the cosmos.)
Say: “The waters of the earth flow within me.” [Take a dab of water from the Well and touch it to forehead] Say: “The light of the sky burns within me, cleansing me and making me whole.” [Place hand safely over the flame to feel its warmth]
3. Honoring the Earth Mother
Say: “Hail Nerthus, Earth Mother! Be with me in my rite. Nerthus, accept my offering!” [Make offering of oats]
4. Statement of Purpose
Say: “I have come to honor the Kindreds, with gifts to give and blessings to receive.”
5. (Re)Creating the Cosmos
Say: “And so it came to pass that Odin and his brothers slew the giant Ymir, and from the giant’s body they fashioned the world. From Ymir’s blood comes the Seas and waters surrounding me, from his skin the Land beneath me, and from his skull the Sky above me.” Say: “Hail to the Fire, light of the heavens, shining Asgard. Sacred Fire burn within me!” Say: “Hail to the Well, the Triple Well, deep beneath the earth. Sacred Well flow within me!” Say: “Hail to Yggdrasil, the World Tree, whose roots and branches connect to all Nine Worlds. Sacred Tree grow within me!”
6. Opening the Gates
Say: “Hail Heimdall, guardian of Bifrost Bridge, be with me in my rite. Heimdall, accept my offering!” [Make offering of ale] Say: “Heimdall, aid me in opening the gates. May the Fire, Well, and Tree become a gate. Let the gates be open!” [Make an opening motion with my hands]
7. Inviting the Three Kindreds
Say: “Hail Ancestors, Land Wights, Aesir, and Vanir! Be with me in my rite. Mighty Kindreds, accept my offering!” [Make offering of ale]
8. Key Offerings
Say: “Hail Odin, All-Father! It is Wednesday, Odin’s Day, and I honor you. Grant me wisdom in all that I do, and inspiration in all that I create. Odin, accept my offering!” [Making offering of wine]
9. Prayer of Sacrifice
Say: “Kindreds All, accept my offering!” [Make offering of mead]
Say: “Odin, master of the runes, let the Kindreds speak to me. What blessing do I receive in return for my offerings?” [Draw one rune to determine what the Kindred bless me with for the day]
11. Calling (asking) for the Blessing
Say: “Mighty Kindreds, may your blessing flow into this horn so that I may drink deeply of fair return.”
12. Hallowing the Blessings
Say: “Behold the Waters of life!” [Visualize the blessings infusing the liquid in the horn, then drink]
13. Affirmation of the Blessing
Say: “The blessings of the Kindreds flow through my head, my heart, and my loins. Hail to the Kindreds!”
(If I don’t have anything specific planned, I often use this section as a time to light a flame for those in need.)
15. Thanking the Beings
Say: “Odin, Aesir, Vanir, Land Wights, and Ancestors, thank you for your presence and blessings in this rite.”
16. Closing the Gate(s)
Say: “Heimdall, my work here is finished, now close the gates!” [Make a closing motion with my hands] Say: “Heimdall, I thank you for your presence and aid in my rite.”
17. Thanking the Earth Mother
Say: “Nerthus, Earth Mother, thank you for your presence and blessings in this rite.”
18. Closing the Rite
Say: “I go forth with the blessings of the Kindreds. This rite has ended!”
Nature Walk during a break at the ADF Upper Midwest Retreat. The rough trail along Cedar Lake in Wright County, Minnesota had a plethora of biodiversity thriving along the dusty path. Delicate reddish-orange wild columbines stood out among much of the shorter vegetation. I was surprised to see so many jack-in-the-pulpits growing, and they’re really fun to look at. There was an overabundance of Virginia creeper as well as poison ivy, growing right along the trail’s edge in many places.
Trees of note included cottonwood (a variety of poplar), quaking aspen (also a poplar), boxelder, silver maple, white birch, elm, weeping willow, red oak, eastern pin oak, burr oak, ash, juniper, Norway pine, blue spruce, firs, and other coniferous trees that I don’t yet have the skill to distinguish.
I was fortuitous to have a bald eagle fly overhead in line with the trail I was walking down. As a druid who uses augury (also known as ornithomancy) as a form of divination, this was a particularly good omen.