Stone Butch Blues (Review)

Honestly, I had reblogged a post with a link to the free pdf version in Nov 2018 and promptly forgot about it while dealing with the tumblr policy update in Dec. The main body of the post has been copied below, and it pretty much sold me on giving this book a try.

Trigger Warning(s): Rape (Feinberg gives a warning before the story starts). Specifically, an incident of “corrective rape” from members of the football team in high school (Ch 4, pg 39 – 40) and allusions of rape from police officers after raids on bars against a variety of men and women (off-screen, in a sense) before and after the main character experiences it (Ch 5, pg 65 – 66).

This story has a complicated mix of oppression when it comes to Jess Goldberg and how she navigates coming of age in the 1960s and struggling to live through the ’70s and ’80s as a Jewish (read as white when it came to the civil rights movement and racism), butch lesbian who underwent some elements of transitioning to try to find more safety as a man, and who was working class and pro-union (in light of the not so distant striking of certain Amazon warehouses and that ridiculously large nation-wide US hiring event, it felt a bit surreal to read about not crossing picket lines and temp workers being used by the factories to try to do so). Admittedly, Jess wasn’t always the best partner to her sex worker girlfriend, Milli, but the acceptance, interactions with other working girls, lessons, and reality shown of the overall sex worker inclusive stance is worth a mention (after finding a sex worker’s review after Feinberg’s passing here). I chose “complicated” to describe the mix of social movements and pre-current social efforts precisely for the melding of different but interconnected political activism. It is not a history book, but it can’t be divorced from its historical context.

There were parts where it was like someone had scraped out hidden bits of rot from my heart, and I – the person who has undergone surgery to remove a sty in the past and had other not-crying-enough stys – I cried. Ugly, ‘why don’t you just @ me next time’, cathartic tears on more than one occasion. I obviously haven’t lived most of Jess’ life, and even moments where I’ve merely had the fear and threat hanging over my head isn’t quite the same as living some of these experiences. The fragility of moments where your heart hurts, but you can’t cry (the forced feminization at Old Butch Ro’s funeral, Annie’s homophobia tinting a stealth encounter with danger, the self-isolation and loneliness while trying to pass, trying so hard to avoid the ER and the hospital in general because it wasn’t safe). Hot, angry tears (institutionalization, all of the police brutality, the casual cruelty of civilians).  The not so clearcut relationship to women’s lib that comes out with Theresa and later trying to access reproductive health resources (the issue with getting help for a vaginal infection at that women’s clinic). The rediscovery of hope and living (Ruth is introduced in Ch 22, and this really stands out in that chapter’s rediscovery of feeding the senses). You can’t pin survival and being saved on one person, but damn, if you don’t hope for things to be better in the last chapters with Ruth.

Final Decision: E – Exceeds Expectations

fromacomrade:

here you can get a free PDF or an at-cost physical copy of Leslie Feinberg’s semi-autobiographical Stone Butch Blues, a seminal work of lesbian and trans fiction which is a must-read not just for communist queers but honestly for everyone ever

Stone Butch Blues, Leslie Feinberg’s 1993 first novel, is widely considered in and outside the U.S. to be a groundbreaking work about the complexities of gender. Feinberg was the first theorist to advance a Marxist concept of “transgender liberation.” Sold by the hundreds of thousands of copies and also passed from hand-to-hand inside prisons, Stone Butch Blues has been translated into Chinese, Dutch, German, Italian, Slovenian, Turkish, and Hebrew (with hir earnings from that edition going to ASWAT Palestinian Gay Women). The novel was winner of the 1994 American Library Association Stonewall Book Award and a 1994 Lambda Literary Award.

Feinberg commented on Stone Butch Blues in hir Author’s Note to the 2003 edition:

“Like my own life, this novel defies easy classification. If you found Stone Butch Blues in a bookstore or library, what category was it in? Lesbian fiction? Gender studies? Like the germinal novel The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe/John Hall, this book is a lesbian novel and a transgender novel—making ‘trans’ genre a verb, as well as an adjective…

“People who have lived very different lives have generously related to me the similarities they recognized in these pages with their own struggles—the taste of bile; the inferno of rage—transsexual men and women, heterosexual cross-dressers and bearded females, intersexual and androgynous people, bi-gender and tri-gender individuals, and many other exquisitely defined and expressed identities.”

Dark Moon Rising (Review)

Dark Moon Rising: Pagan BDSM & The Ordeal Path by Raven Kaldera (2006) [$5 pdf / ~$20 Amazon with New – Used variation]

Blurb: Throughout history, from the Hindu Kavadi ceremony to the Lakota Sun Dance, the Ordeal Path has been an honored spiritual road to the magic of the flesh, and to touching the Gods. Today many Pagans are discovering this path, by accident or by design. Simultaneously, many practitioners of secular BDSM are finding themselves having spiritual experiences in the middle of their most secular scenes. This book explores the crossover points between both these communities and practices, a cross-section which is growing steadily, baring controversial articles on topics as diverse as sacred pain, bondage, hook suspension, cathartic Pagan ritual, the spirituality of dominance and submission, and being the slave of the Gods. With contributions by noted authors and activists in both communities, and stunning photography by artist and Shibari-Do master Bridgett Harrington, Dark Moon Rising is an awe-inspiring gateway into the Realm of the Underworld…and back again.

I downloaded the $5 pdf sometime between 2012 and 2015. It survived my factory reset back in autumn of 2016, so I know I’ve had this book long enough I should’ve done a review earlier. If you use the link attached to the title above, you’ll be able to see a preview that includes the full table of contents, but I want to pull out just enough to get an idea for the organization of the book. I’ve also linked to online places where some of these articles, rites, prayers, etc. have been shared [more Articles and Rituals since I’m not listing the full table of contents].

Part I: Introduction and Definitions

The Ordeal Path: Introduction to Neo-Pagan BDSM [here]

Words Of Power: BDSM Definitions For Pagans [here]

Part II: Sacred Pain

Sacred Pain: S/M as Spiritual Connection

The Many Paths of Earthly Bondage: Bondage as a Tool Towards Spiritual Release by Bridgett Harrington

Sacred Toys, Holy Tools [here]

The Invisible Toybox: Incorporating Energy Work Into BDSM [here]

Part III: Journey to the Underworld

Journey to the Underworld: Ritual Catharsis

Staging Sacredness: The Practical Considerations of BDSM Ritual [here]

Master of the Underworld: Sex Magick from the Top Perspective [here]

The Way Of The Ordeal Master

Shadow Play and Monster Work [here]

Chaining Fenris: A Ritual for the Inner Beast [here]

Part IV: The Path of Service and Mastery

The Path of Service and Mastery: Spiritual Dominance and Submission [here]

Sacred Masks: BDSM Archetypes [here]

Dedication to Sacred Service [here]

Dedication to Sacred Mastery [here]

Oath of Service [here]

Part V: Guardians of the Castle

Guardians of the Gate: Patron Deities

Part VI: This LeatherPagan Tribe

Conclusion: The LeatherPagan Tribe

That Fenrir ritual was the inspiration for my Gleipnir’s Ingredients posts, in case anyone thought that sounded familiar. After some time in online BDSM spaces, I must admit that some of the introductory parts were already incorporated into my knowledge base, but I found the variety of ideas and perspectives at least interesting if not directly applicable to some component of my life and path. (Previously a godslave dynamic with Sigyn, but recently, I’ve been rethinking how this can factor into playing with humans.)

Kaldera does have definite Norse influences, but there’s inter-pantheon references throughout, rituals in Part III, and articles for other Deities in Part V that can provide inspiration even if those Deities aren’t your People (ex. Aphrodite, Baphomet, Babalon, Herne, Ianna, Lilith). The only personal drawback I found to the dedications in Part IV came from my limited inter-pantheon clearance, but that’ll be a personalized issue. As someone who’s already been interested in kink and Paganism separately, and as someone who’s returned to this book repeatedly throughout the years to brush up on ideas, I’d give this my highest mark (based on the O.W.L. system).

Final Decision: O – Outstanding

Death Rosary

Etsy Shop: TheWytchoftheNorth

[I’m currently having size issues with inserting a photograph, so I may edit this post later or share pictures separately. I don’t think anyone wants a picture to take up the whole screen right now.]

I was notified that the item was shipped on 9.6.16 and it arrived that Friday (9.9.16). I’ve previously ordered items while on campus, so having a few days instead of a week or so was amazing on the shipping. No damage of any kind while shipping and a sample of tea was included (Relaxed Mind from Yogi).

I’ve previously ordered existing items from Beth, but this time I commissioned an item. My Christian dead wanted a rosary on the ancestral shrine (they’re vocally Catholic), and my bio dead were pushing for some interaction with St. Brigid and St. Patrick. I’m not sure why, but I wasn’t able to find existing rosaries that were connected to the P/people involved. I know Beth can forge that connection (it can break through my headblindness), I was able to involve both saints (Hela also tagged along), and I had say in the design and materials (the comfortable fit of simplicity). Beth was polite, prompt about replying, and was a pleasure to work with in picking said materials and design.

There’s been a noticeable time lapse in receiving the item and posting this review (written on 10.30.16, scheduled for 11.2.16). It’s been a combination of letting my P/people settle into the rosary on the ancestral shrine and not interacting with it while in a depressive episode. Since my order arrived, there’s been some changes in Beth’s Etsy presence (including a second shop, The Candle Invasion), but I’d still recommend her shop.

Final Decision: O – Outstanding

Would I buy from this shop again? While I currently don’t have plans to do so in the recent future (money and irl matters), I would consider buying another item from this shop.

Weaving Memory (Review)

I bought the e-book of Weaving Memory: A Guide to Honoring the Ancestors by Laura Patsouris through Asphodel Press in late 2012 or early 2013. By opting for the pdf instead of the paperback, I didn’t have to wait for shipping and paid less than $10 ($5 + Tax).

. . .

The first section is The Dead. It covers why someone might want to do ancestor work, the basics of a shrine and the variety possible, honoring your maternal (Disir) and paternal ancestors (Alfar), communication, and toxic ancestors.

I don’t necessarily agree that an ancestral practice is the foundation of or essential for a strong faith because there are people who have strong practices without interacting with their ancestors. Some people also do run into issues with trying to honor their dead in a different religious framework than the ancestor in question, but in terms of basics, I think it was helpful.

At the time of purchasing this book, I found the chapter on toxic ancestors and steps that can be taken most helpful. Ignoring them is a valid choice, but doing elevations is another option. The advice about having an intermediary in the chapter on communication has become more helpful as I’ve gone on. I may not be getting bombarded with emotional, auditory, or visual messages, but I did get conflicting divination readings for a while because everyone was trying to give their personal opinions.

The second section is The Working. It covers possible magical / spiritual assistance (varies on your dead, but assistance with protection and warding can be possible), the wide variety of offerings for your dead, tapping into your ancestors’ strength, how to ask for ancestral vengeance on someone, keeping your dead happy, an example ritual for starting out, dying family members (ancestors-to-be) and grieving, ancestral memories, the angry / restless dead, passing an ancestral practice on to children, and honoring community ancestors.

The final section is Other Voices, which features pieces from other people. This includes Raven Kaldera (honoring the trans dead), Galina Krasskova (Living and Dying and how honoring our ancestors is one step in rebuilding Pagan traditions) and Llyne Foy (her first encounter with her dead).

There was a moment or two where word choice was personally grating, but it came back to how I don’t think an ancestral practice is required for everyone. Sometimes, your bio dead aren’t interested, no one steps forward from past generations, religious differences do matter to some dead, or a community doesn’t want you to focus on them. Some people only experience parts of this, and it may be related to what S/someone tells them to do (or not to do). We aren’t all called to be ancestor workers and to do everything on the path of honoring ancestors.

Overall, I think there’s enough of a balance of beginner material and “201” material that you don’t have to be a complete beginner to get something useful out of this book. Some may not find the Heathen (or related Norse traditions) concepts and examples as helpful, but Patsouris did include examples taking into account her Afro-Cuban heritage, so it wasn’t entirely Heathen focused. Most of the book seems like it could be useful for anyone on any path, since an ancestral practice isn’t limited to one tradition.

Final Decision: A – Acceptable

Keeper of Keys (for m’Lady)

I purchased it on Feb 15th, and it arrived on the 23rd. With shipping more than one state and going through the extra time of having packages distributed to the dorms, that’s not an overly long time for delivery.

Etsy Shop: Beth Wodandis Designs

Picture from one of Beth’s promotional blog posts:

img_4561

No damage from shipping. It arrived with an organza bag and a free sample (one of the soaps). I wasn’t 100% sure how the soap would be (being accustomed to store bought soap), but I enjoyed it. I didn’t run into any issues with ordering this item from this shop (it’s technically the first thing I bought from Beth).

In a certain part of my brain, I know I should have gotten a review for this item up sooner. The spring semester had just started up, and I was still in survival mode from the bad escalation in the winter. I was still being a bit hard on myself as to whether I even deserved to be m’Lady’s because another Yule had passed without officially accepting Her offer.

Yup, I bought this for Sigyn [it was marketed for Frigga]. It falls in the category of a day collar because I could wear it out in public without tipping anyone off, but I haven’t so far. I’ve found myself typically breaking it out to ‘look nice’ in private rituals / devotional activity, but there’s plenty of time to settle on when I’ll wear this for Her.

Final Decision: O – Outstanding

Would I buy from this shop again? Oh yeah, I’ve already done so.

Mjolnir

I ordered it on Sept 11th, and it was shipped on the 18th. It arrived in the beginning of October, which wasn’t too bad for coming from Finland.

Etsy Shop: Routarauta

Picture (from listing):

il_570xn-636876351_okm0

There wasn’t any damage from shipping. The elk thread is adjustable, which I don’t mind. I’ve been having a little user error in twisting the thread over time (probably due to having more experience with non-adjustable necklaces), but that’s a very minor issue that I’ll just figure out or ignore at some point.

There’s something about the tactile and visual aspects that I’ve found I really like. It’s simple, not heavy, and it handles satisfactorily. Y’know when you’re worried or nervous about something, and you repetitively rub or finger an object? This is good for that. (The Raido pendant was bought to be near me, while this was bought to be worn.)

I haven’t been extremely close to Thor, but it has seemed like it’s a bit easier to contact Him and tell when He’s around when I’m wearing this. When I was looking at the choices on Etsy, I kept thinking that a more detailed Mjolnir would surely be better, but there’s something about the simplicity of this that feels more like Thor. It feels a bit more like I’ve joined the common ranks of those protected by Thor, in a way.

Final Decision: O – Outstanding

If I use HP references enough, it’ll just be my thing.

Would I buy from this shop again? Sure.

Raido

Courtesy of Beth.

Image from my transaction page for buying the Raido of the brass chain rune pendants mentioned here. I’m honestly not sure if I can link to the transaction page for the full description. An example that hasn’t been bought as of writing this is here.

Rune meaning from description

Raido is the rune of riding, journeying, travel, right action, right relationship, and common sense. Magickally, it can be used to motivate, to urge forward motion both within oneself and it situations. It is often used as a travel protection charm both mundanely and for journeying between the worlds.

I’ve talked about not being able to do things with runes unless Someone indicates that I need to use a rune / bindrune when talking about Odin [if you want to go see]. So, I was a bit surprised when I found out that Someone was wanting me to get one of Beth’s rune pendants. I didn’t have to rush into buying it, so the request took some time to simmer and stuff.

I ended up finding out that Hela was the One sending this request (with support from Mordgud). I’ve also touched on not traveling between the Worlds, which holds true for the most part. However, I wasn’t originally taking into account that journeying isn’t 100% limited to purposeful, intentional astral travel. From my post talking about seasonal depression:

This [suicidal ideation] is what I mean when I use the religiously based metaphor of walking the Hel-road. It may not have been astral travel / journeying / what have you in the traditional sense, and it wasn’t a matter of purposefully wanting go with this route, but I can’t write this off completely as a means of having still done this. I may not have physically gone through with the plan and did the whole resuscitation of the body route as a sign of being turned away, but on some soul / spirit level, I was turned away from entering Helheim.

In this context, I need to work on preventing travel between the Worlds (Midgard and Helheim, specifically). So, Raido actually wound up fitting, and it’s one barrier to help keep the lines between the Realms clear and distinct. (As opposed to blurring the lines to facilitate travel.) It took getting to a certain shadow work point before I got the go-ahead on ordering the pendant, but I finally have it.

The package shipped a fair bit faster than I thought it would, so it actually arrived here at my residence hall before I could move in (and pick it up). Given that it’s the start of the semester, I highly doubt any one was surprised that a package arrived on the Monday or so before move in, though. Good marks on shipping.

No damage to the pendant upon opening. (Because of bubble wrap – a definite perk.) A nice thank you message for ordering, and a little free sample of something. I believe it’s a sample of oil – Inanna: pure essential oils of jasmine, amber, and blood orange (listing here). I’ve never tried perfume oil, but for all I know it won’t be half bad. A cute organza bag that somehow makes the purchase feel a bit fancier.

Final decision: O – Outstanding

HP reference for the win

Would I buy from this shop again? Most definitely.