On Racket Lake

March 19, 2023

This is a photo of Racket Lake. It’s called that because the snowmobiles make a big racket when they speed over the ice.

Actually that’s not true.

Filters have been applied to this cropped photo to make it wuzzier and more sherbert flavorful. The lake is spelled Raquette, not Racket, and it’s supposedly named for a pile of snowshoes, raquettes in French, found at the confluence of the water. At least this is the origin given by the area’s museum, Adirondack Experience.

Since people in positions of authority are, in 2023, the most likely to be repeating a mistaken belief, I looked up the word and found raquettes to indeed be the word for snowshoes in French. Whether abandoned raquettes were the inspiration for the name is still up for grabs, but the explanation is at least plausible. If I were going to write an authoritative tome on Raquette Lake (sans the final “s,” please note), I would seek historical documents attesting to the longevity of the name and the presence of French-speaking persons in the area at the time the word arose. If a contemporary account of a such a story was extant, I would cite this derivation in my Raquette Lake exposition, perhaps simply as anecdote or with a caveat. In other words, I would employ some conscientious skepticism. The explanation I threw out first about the name is, of course, patently absurd.

Our perceptions of the world are like a cropped photo, limited by where we stand and blurred by our perspective, which is never absolutely sharp. Furthermore, our experience is a lens we place over everything we encounter, lending the landscape a color unique to us.

But a distortion of reality (and we all have them) is not the same as a delusion. When confronted with a piece of information that sharpens the focus or clarifies the color, people usually make the adjustment without difficulty. This is how a subjective understanding that is rooted in objective reality changes and evolves. Experience teaches us that we don’t have a perfect understanding of reality, so we are able to shift our view, just a bit.

A delusional picture of Raquette Lake, on the other hand, might look like this

or this

or even this

Delusions do not accept skepticism or withstand scrutiny. When confronted with evidence that doesn’t fit into a delusion, people tend to defend the delusion. The defensiveness is a clue that there is a wholly false idea imbedded in the consciousness, and people express this defensiveness by censorship. It is especially hard for people to examine a delusion if it benefits them materially or socially. As evidence increases, despite efforts to shut down discussion, some people experience greater and greater distress until the delusion dissolves. Others fall too deeply into the delusion to swim out. I call this racket, where some are deluded, others are too apathetic to know what a delusion is, and others are forced to endure lies, “Racket Lake.”

What’s in a name? as Shakespeare once said, and stoned philosophers repeat often, thinking they’ve said something new. I suppose we could call this Raquette Lake

but it’s kind of stupid, and most people who already have seen Raquette Lake (or even seen a lake) would agree only if they were forced. Language does evolve, though it’s being willfully mutilated at the moment by the gender studies departments and their black-hooded minions. Still, that’s not exactly what I’m talking about here. The con goes even deeper. What I’m saying is that this

is not this

The ice on Racket Lake is rather thin. Mass delusions are dangerous for the apostates and the appeasers and the true believers. You may face consequences from the fearful or the powerful or the powerfully fearful for telling the truth. Then again, you may continue peddling delusions without recognizing that the weather has shifted. Because being forced to play along with delusions has the curious effect of making people value the truth. Falsehoods cannot survive forever for this reason.

People who endured decades of repression in Eastern Europe under Soviet domination maintain that although they suffered from economic stagnation, bureaucratic corruption, and lack of communication with the outside world, the worst part of the experience was playing along with the disinformation: stifling their observations; pretending to believe things they didn’t believe; honoring people they detested. Those who escaped scolded us in the West for not appreciating our freedom.

Now we in the US are being coerced into accepting that men can be lesbians. That castrating children is medical care. That sex stereotypes are carved in granite as “gender” while sex itself is sculpted in ice. That being male or female is “fluid” while your ideas about yourself are your very existence.

Well, the world is heating up. How solid is the ground under your feet (and how deep is the water)? We shall see.

Not entirely ready to forgive Roseanne (but I’m going to try)

February 11, 2023

I’m not entirely ready to forgive Roseanne. I think she’s rewriting history a bit. I don’t believe that she didn’t know that the target of her Twitter “joke” was Black. Her apology doesn’t sound sincere, after seeing the clip of her show. She def had Clinton derangement syndrome and had been mean and nasty for a long time toward anyone who supported the Clintons. It was only a matter of time before she crossed the line into something completely unacceptable, like a racist tweet.

Photo: Jonathan Mauer

On the other hand, canceling her show was a bit over the top, and an overly harsh sentence can obliterate feelings of contrition. Her comment could have sparked the “national conversation about race” that Obama said we needed to have. We’re not having the conversation. People of all races are mostly too afraid to question or to discuss racism freely, while the most psychopathic among us indulge in unproductive character assassination to play for the crowd.

I don’t know Roseanne and haven’t followed her closely enough to know if she’s a racist. (I read her autobiography, which was interesting.) I certainly can’t defend what she tweeted, though I’m not onboard with the “woke” definition of racist, which seems to be any person who makes any comment which betrays ignorance of any piece of Black history or culture or sociological statistical studies. I have run across too many people who really do believe in the superiority of the “white race” to countenance the word being irresponsibly disseminated (and potentially watered down) as fodder for Robin D’Angelo’s corporate-sponsored moral industry.

And I am very upset about problems in the US being racialized in order to be non-addressed. Poverty and income-inequality (related, but not exactly the same) contribute in a big way to problems facing the majority of African-Americans, as they do most Americans, and the US really really doesn’t want address poverty. The wealthy and well-connected want to racialize it – to police language and educate individuals with no clout in the system about systemic racism. I can understand why orgs devoted to addressing political issues of African Americans would be specifically interested in Black poverty and Black victims of police brutality and Black preventable health problems. But I see what universities, corporate media, and the men who control this country’s wealth are doing here, and I call foul. They don’t really want to address poverty or incarceration or violence or infant mortality. They want to Christian it a Black issue and prescribe another anti-racism seminar for the cogs and proto-cogs in the corporate machine. They want to crow with the Twitter mob and pat themselves on the back for being “progressive.”

I guess I do want to forgive Roseanne, because I want to move on. I hope she doesn’t make any more thoughtless racist remarks, though I’m not hopeful. She doesn’t strike me as a person who lives a self-examined life, and yet she lives under a public microscope more than most celebrities. She’s old and fat and loud and disagreeable and men of all classes – but especially rich white men – don’t like her.

Which is why she’s such a conundrum when she’s also wrong.

Review: The Dangerous Old Woman

October 22, 2021

When I was in my mid-twenties, I was introduced to The Secret Dakini Oracle, a deck of cards (unfortunately out-of-print) loosely based on the Dakinis, fierce Tantric goddesses somewhat analogous to the Crone archetype in Western culture. It was when I saw the card that incorporated this photo of an anonymous old spinster that I decided I had to have this deck. The young women in my cohort loved anything related to “The Crone,” mostly because we saw it as subversive. Too bad The Dangerous Old Woman wasn’t there for us back then. Clarissa Pinkola Estes correctly states that the stories about the heroine confronting the old woman are really recorded for the young woman.

This audiobook has actually been out for about ten years, but I only discovered it this year. I had mixed feelings about Dr. Estes’s first book, Women Who Run With the Wolves, and I can only relate my impression at that time, as I remember it, because I gave my copy away. On the one hand, I loved Dr. Estes’s retelling of Bluebeard and many of her insights about the tale. That alone was worth the price of the book. I was put off, however, by the Jungian flavor of much of her prose. I wasn’t alone in this assessment, even at that time. Recently, a young radical feminist book group chose to read Wolves and gave up in frustration, deeming it “too patriarchal.” I think they were probably reacting to Carl Jung and Dr. Estes’s training as Jungian analyst.

Because The Dangerous Old Woman is immediate, heart-centered, and personal, unencumbered by psychoanalytic definitions and terms. Dr. Estes draws on stories of women in her family, relating multi-generational and cross-cultural experience to fairytale and myth, making the wise woman tales refreshingly contemporary. Dr. Estes has a marvelous storytelling voice that feels conversational, even though the material is very focused. I found the stories from Eastern European immigrant culture fascinating and exotic, yet the stories from Latina culture gave me a warm nostalgic feeling from my years of living in the Southwest.

This is a recording to be savored. I would have loved The Dangerous Old Woman when I was a young woman and found it revelatory, yet as a woman now well into the second half of her life I could only nod and say “Uh-huh, uh-huh” to the lessons Dr. Estes draws from her material. This audiobook is a jewel. Even if you had trouble relating to the author’s earlier work, check this one out.

Carol Christ 1945-2021

July 23, 2021

Early women’s spirituality thealogian Carol Christ passed away last week. Carol Christ critiqued Western philosophy, particularly Platonic philosophy, as going wayward from a primary mistake: denial of the primacy of the body, “the locus of changing life.”

From She Who Changes:

…Plato draws a sharp contrast between the time-bound world we inhabit and the eternal. Change is what separates our world from the eternal. In our world, things come into being or pass away. In our world, things are born, grow, and die. In the phase of growth, things increase or become more than they were. That which is perfect cannot change; otherwise it could become than less of itself, but this was thought to be impossible, as that which is perfect cannot become more perfect or less perfect. Plato asserts that in order to be free from change, the eternal must exist alone with itself, because relationships inevitably involve change and dependence. The highest Good or, as theologians understood Plato, God, therefore must be free of change, and therefore he must exist alone–that is, free of relationships that could cause him to become more or less perfect than he already is. For this God there is no change and no touch.

Carol Christ’s essay, Reading Plato’s Allegory of the Cave as Matricide and Theacide got to the heart of the misogyny embedded in Platonic philosophy.

In light of this, it seems certain that Plato did not “just happen” to choose a cave as the location of his “prison.”  Like the Genesis story in the Bible, his was  a “tale with a point of view.”  The point of view Plato was challenging was the view that this world is our true home, that we should enjoy life in the body, and that we should honor the mothers and the Mother who have have given us life. 

A lover of Greek culture and herstory, Carol Christ spent many years on the islands of Lesbos and Crete, conducting guided tours for spiritual feminists.

A biography of Carol Christ’s life can be found here, along with information about a virtual memorial service to be held December 20, 2021.

Alix Dobkin 1940-2021

May 19, 2021

Lesbian feminist folksinger Alix Dobkin died this past Wednesday May 19th. Alix was an instrumental leader of the second wave feminist movement. A talented songwriter with a strong clear voice, Alix began her career in Greenwich Village with other influential legends of the sixties but left that road to concentrate on inspiring the new generation of lesbian feminists. Her solo album Lavender Jane Loves Women broke new ground in politics and music.

I have seen Alix in concert probably more than any other musician. Not because I made a point of following her around like a wimmin’s music Deadhead, but because she made herself available to the women’s community, playing in places like Columbus, Ohio, where I grew up. She was actually responsible for my living on wimmin’s land, in a way. I was traveling alone and wound up in Tucson with little money left and no friends in the area. I saw that Alix was appearing that night at a local church and figured I’d meet some like-minded women there. That’s how I ended up at a women’s intentional community in the Sonora Desert.

Alix contributed significantly to feminist politics and music. I attended a slideshow she gave at a local women’s coffeehouse in the early 80s analyzing sexism in music. I still think about that slideshow; it ruined popular music for me forever.

Going to a concert with Alix was in some ways like being in a cocoon. She was so personable that I felt like I knew her, but come to think of it I probably never spoke to her. I saw her in concert in almost every place I’ve lived, and some places I was only visiting. I always met some great women at an Alix concert. We had a loving tight-knit yet accessible women’s community once, and Alix was one of the women who made it happen.

Call for Contributions

March 5, 2021

I thought I’d pass this along to women who are interested. It looks like it will be an interesting anthology.

I decided to rework my online series about women’s intentional communities into an essay for the forthcoming She Summons, also by Mago Books, the first volume of which will be out late this year or early next. That’s what I’ve been working on this week.

What It’s Like to Live on Wimmin’s Land

This essay discusses the pros and cons, joys and pitfalls, of women’s intentional communities, also known as “wimmin’s land.” There has been more talk in recent years about re-establishing all-woman living collectives in rural areas, a phenomenon that began in the 1970s and faded somewhat by the turn of the century (though some women’s communities are still around). For women dreaming about this alternative, I wanted to share some of my experience and perspective.

The Dianic Tradition: Who is it for?

February 12, 2021

A question arises frequently on social media regarding who is eligible to become a Dianic priestess. I wrote a longish essay on Dianic Witchcraft in Witchcraft Today: 60 years on. Here is a short answer to that question.

In the feminist Dianic Tradition founded by Z Budapest, who belongs in a particular coven/ritual is the prerogative of the Dianic coven and its High Priestess. That used to be the way of all Witchcraft traditions, until 1970s feminism threatened male domination. The Dianic Tradition as a whole is for all women (defined by biology, not feelings or sex stereotypes). Some covens are lesbian only. If that’s what the coven wants, we’re fine with that; we respect women’s boundaries. Sometimes an odd Dianic ritual will include men or transwomen, though I doubt any coven from Z’s line would initiate someone who wasn’t born-female. (Strange term that, but trans activists have muddied the language so that these convoluted terms have become necessary.) Dianics from Z’s line who have found themselves more inclusive of trans women have broken off from the tradition and given themselves new names (with our blessing).

There are some who have formed their own “Dianic” traditions which are completely in line with transgender ideology regarding who prescribes (those born with a penis) and who obeys (now known, in the parlance of gender ideology, as uterites, menstruators, vagina havers, people with a cervix). The practitioners of these new traditions deliberately try to confuse outsiders, to the point of naming their covens after older Dianic covens. The problem here is the deliberate attempt to sow confusion, not the deities or practices of the new groups per se. Being a priestess in the Dianic Tradition is not necessarily the same as being a worshipper of the goddess Diana. Veneration of Diana, and her Greek counterpart Artemis, goes back a long long way, and she has always had males among her acolytes. None of us own our gods. Legend in the Greco-Roman canon cautions, however, that a man who crashes a women-only ritual may incur the wrath of the goddess.

I don’t know much about the McFarland Dianics. Their founder, Morgan McFarland, did not court attention beyond her close-knit community. The McFarland Dianics, as they came to be called, received widespread publicity as a foil to Z Budapest’s overtly feminist Dianic tradition. Patriarchy always needs “good” women to oppose the uppity women they frame as “bad,” and McFarland, being neither lesbian nor emphatically feminist, fit the bill. McFarland is now in the Summerland, and her tradition has undergone many changes, as we all have, but their unsought role of “good Dianics,” as opposed to the bad ones, remains their popular distinction. No doubt, if Z’s lineage were to fade away (extremely unlikely), the Pagan “community” would go after the McFarlands, creating invidious comparisons among those women.

[Comments for this post are closed. If you have further questions, please read the essay in Witchcraft Today.]

On Sex Roles and Matriarchy

September 18, 2020

This post is an excerpt from a conversation I had earlier this week, where I take issue with the idea that sex roles are necessarily a sign of subjugation.

Some eastern Native American tribes were/are matriarchal. These tribes had less extensive sex roles than European cultures and were less rigid in enforcing these roles, but they did exist. The Delaware were one matriarchal culture with flexible but hardly non-existent sex roles.

Delaware called themselves “A Nation of Women” meaning “we follow the women’s way.” Women owned all the land, even the land men hunted on. Decisions were made by the clan mothers, who were old women, and chiefs carried out their decisions. It was hierarchical, certainly, but not patriarchal.

When European men refused to negotiate treaties with women, only men, the chiefs dressed in women’s ceremonial regalia to participate in the negotiations and called themselves “queens,” because only women could cede land. The whole band would wait on the outskirts of the place where negotiation was occurring. The chiefs would take frequent recesses to confer with the women elders during the negotiations, because they could not make binding commitments without them.

The concept of “chief” itself is a Euro-centric one, that had even stronger male connotations in the 17th century. I doubt that a European man would have bestowed that title on any woman, no matter how powerful.

Delaware women fed everyone, which was another conventional women’s role. The men did not cook or clean the game, usually. The women also distributed the food, all the food, no small thing in a time where food was the most precious material good. Women conducted trade, because women controlled possessions and their distribution. Women’s control over food was an expression not of subjugation but power.

Because young women were often pregnant or breastfeeding, and because women have less upper-body strength, some division of labor by sex would have been natural. Such divisions make less sense today than in the past. For example, when moving from winter to summer habitations, Delaware women would carry all the possessions while men kept their hands free. That was so if the band was attacked, the men, trained in warfare, could fight back immediately. European men saw the amount of heavy lifting Delaware women did and concluded they were severely oppressed.

The modern concept of “gender” is a highly individualistic one, about expressing one’s “true self.” Many, if not most, indigenous American cultures did not see what we call “gender” as an expression of personality. Rather, what we call sex roles were taken as a way of giving to the greater community, based on needs of the whole, not the individual. If Delaware chiefs had to become “queens” to negotiate a treaty for the good of the tribe, they would undertake that sex role. It wasn’t about how they felt about themselves.

American pioneer communities also saw a breakdown in sex roles, with men and women both taking on activities that were highly coded as opposite sex in the cultures they came from. This was done for the survival of the larger family unit. This idea of gender as soul expression is not the way it has always been, even for White Americans.

I wrote about Gunlog Fur’s book, A Nation of Women, on my blog. https://hearthmoonrising.com/a-nation-of-women-part-ii/

American Indian cultures do challenge core ideas about matriarchy: that is is always peaceful or always non-hierarchical or always non-gendered. No culture fits the feminist ideal of what a “matriarchy” is, though it’s a fine ideal to strive for.

A book about matriarchies that I love is Matriarchal Societies by Heide Gottner-Abendroth. She only spends part of her focus on the Americas.


She doesn’t fall into the trap of assuming all American Indian cultures fit a certain mold, though she doesn’t seem to have been aware of the Delaware when she wrote her book.

Perhaps the idea of what a matriarchy is cannot be fathomed at this point in history. Right now we seem to define it as an absence: an absence of sex roles or war or inequality or hierarchy. We can’t seem to define it in any positive way, even when studying cultures where women have power. In the 19th century, people defined matriarchy as anything better for women. The ancient Celts were called matriarchal then, though they aren’t today. We probably need to scuttle our current definition of matriarchy (or liberation) and find a better one.