Saturday, October 5, 2019

Hemp Seeds and Politicans

No, we haven’t resolved our business banking challenges. 

Yes, Congress has passed the Safe Banking Act (for cannabis and hemp businesses), but the Senate hasn’t yet.

No, we can’t grow our operations here in Merced County. 

Yes, we’ve already moved ¼ million in sales a year north to another enclave in another town.
Yes, we’ve replaced 4 of the 5 people who quit during the shit-storm, but those jobs were created for women two counties away, because, you know, it’s still a ‘no’ to having a business permit from the county.

The hold-up on business banking is because we don’t have this permit.  We have banks in North Carolina, Nevada, and Arkansas who will take us as clients if we just had that little piece of paper.  So our growth and progress is being stalled by Merced County.  

A politician from Washington DC came to see us this week.  Someone keenly interested in hemp for the planet and the people.  I won’t say if it was a congressman, a senator, or Trump, but it was one of them . . . and the entourage.

“Hook up with a University”, the visiting important person said.

“I would love to do that, Senator, Congressman, President” (can’t say), “But the problem is the Universities themselves are engaging in a tremendous amount of corruption in regard to researching hemp and cannabis.”

“How’s that?” person-of-political-influence says.

“I will give you two recent examples.” I explained.  “One is our very own UC Merced, where a $5 million grant from an anonymous pharmaceutical company was endowed on them to prove that cannabis smoking leads to cigarette smoking.”    

The politicians roll their eyes.

“Yes, and it’s soooo very interesting that $5M was awarded but $3.5 million made it to the study group.  So there’s shit upon shit here.”

The politician nodded.

“Next example.  New York Medical Research facility.  Asking to purchase a bulk lot of our CBD oils for their study. Further questioning determines that they care far more about their money than the study, and want to give chronic pain users 3 mg a day of CBD.  Or 6, if they feel generous.  3 mg in the morning and 3 mg a night.  That is 1/10th of the starting dosage for people in pain.  I explained that the dosage was far too small and didn’t take into account the size of the patient.  They didn’t care.  We said ‘no’ to supplying them because they are trying to prove CBD won’t help, by giving the least amount possible.”

The politician person was perturbed, but not surprised.  Sadly. 

Every attack on us this year was solved by throwing money at it.  That’s how capitalism works.  The cease and desist, ka-ching, the movement of wholesale to another enclave, ka-ching, the quitting of two finance people who both left me surprise bills, $12K vendor bill and $8K legal bill, ka-ching, lost health insurance (it turns out Anthem Blue Cross doesn’t take payment in cash), stacked up taxes that couldn’t be paid (will be paid, but even being late on all this is something we didn’t engineer!), opinion paper from the attorneys -- ka-ching.  Mastercard compliance needs us to have an office in London and it can’t be Southampton where Matt is, where the money could benefit someone in the enclave, NOOOO, it must be a WeWork office and no one in our shop benefits from that . . . .the lawyers, the fix-it guys, the list goes on.

Every job became a work-from-home job and 4 of the 6 sisters were moved off the farm in order to stay compliant with our farm mortgage, to keep homeowner’s insurance.

All of these things together caused financial chaos we are still reeling from.  We never shut down our store, we never have had any problems with our credit card processors, and we only paid salaries in cash for one week.  We never switched to cash sales as the universe seemed to encourage us to do.  

As I told every tax bureaus and professional who would listen, ‘If we have to go cash, that’s the same as shutting down, because I can’t put the sisters at risk!’

Three things are in the works to help us set ourselves right after the storm.  One, my ex-husband is likely to come through with a settlement from our court hearing in September.  Even though I have to fight for every dollar he hid, I do like to say to people ‘Do you like the farm?  My ex- bought it for us!’  And now, I am hoping this last court round awards enough to pay the debt we incurred this year and perhaps build us a greenhouse.  I can just hear it now.  “Do you like the green-house?  My ex- bought it for us!”

He’s a master at using the courts to delay, as evidence by the fact that this is our 12th year of litigation . . . . so plan A, though sweet, and just, has to come with Plan B and Plan C.

Plan B is to raise $30K by selling our metaphor dolls and if we can do that, we take some stress off the business.  They are kind of expensive, but all hand-made by the Sisters.  They are called ‘metaphor dolls’ because they are metaphors for throw-away women.  We find them naked and forlorn at flea markets, clean them up, give them spiritual, choice-filled, purpose-driven lives, and (unlike the real weed-nuns), they smile allllll the time!

Plan C is the hemp seed crop that will be harvested in front of Dutch filmmakers the end of the month.  We are designing the seed envelopes now.  All these seeds came from clones from Big Bertha, who sprouted suddenly, out of line, on her own, without intention, in the backyard in the Spring of 2018.  By the Fall, she was the tallest and grandest and she was the plant that Nesta crawled inside on Ollie’s music video, Sex, Weed, TV.  She was amazing and forgiving, and we abused her for film because she grew out of line.  There is a lesson in here.  She wasn’t important to us – because she grew out of line. 

I remember the day that Rudy said, “Sister Kate, look” and he pointed to a little plant on the ground that was struggling to meet the sun, only about six inches tall.  “How did that get there?” I asked.  He shrugged.  “Just happened, I guess.  Random seed, wind, it happens.”

We just stood there for a moment staring at her.  “I guess you should put a little fence around her so that no one steps on her.”

“She’s out of line.” Rudy said, pointing to the rows of plants that were geometrically symmetrical.

“So am I.” I said dryly.  “Most of the time.”  Rudy must have liked my answer, because he took real good care of her and she grew up to give us over 12% CBD and less than ½% THC, as well as thirty clones that became our long season crop for 2019.  

By the way, we didn’t set out to make a seed crop.  Because of the hemp ban, because of the cease and desist, and because of the loss of banking, all in the same month, we really thought we were going to have to shut down the business and move entirely to another county.  One doesn’t put a crop in the ground if they are planning to leave.  It was mid-July before we planted and we decided that because a plant crop would not be abundant, and because all the plants were clones of Big Bertha, we would engineer for a seed crop.  That’s how we got here.  Hoping to make lemons from lemonade.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

On the Path to Hollywood

When Jackie Huntington first reached out to us, over a year ago, to ask if we would consider being in and hosting on our farm Ollie and Nesta, to make a music video, we listened to the music and immediately fell in love with Ollie.  We didn’t know who the artist was, when Jackie first approached.  We guessed Taylor Swift or Halsey.  We debated about it for weeks, as we listened and thought about it. 

More than one good, strong, Sister came to us as a result of watching Jackie’ Refinery 29, her short documentary on us.  There isn’t much Jackie could ask of us, that we would deny her.

We often accept requests from odd places (the Charlo Green show), and sometimes regret those decisions, but in this case, I convinced reluctant and saintly Sister Sierra that the song isn’t really about having sex and smoking weed and getting couch-locked.  I convinced her that the song is about what happens when one doesn’t have a purpose-driven life.  She accepted that and we agreed to hosting and playing our part in Jackie’s production.  (Merced county should thank us for the people we bring into the valley.  People who rent camera equipment, trucks, and stay in hotels, eat at restaurants, and fuel their cars, locally.  Just saying.)

Our next interaction with Ollie, and her manager, Evan, was in the release party for the Sex, Weed, TV music video in December.  We got to know Ollie a bit better on that trip.  And our next interaction was just this past weekend, as we came to Hollywood to rehearse and perform as the Supremes to her Diana Ross.  Ollie is a sweetheart and it was touching to form a circle before our performance and pray together, for blessings from Mother Goddess, for her success, and so the Sisters didn’t trip and fall on our asses with all the cords and equipment on the small stage. 

It just so happened that on our way down to Los Angeles, we stopped in Santa Barbara to attend the film festival and answer questions after the two showings.  I was so thankful to have Sister Alice and Sister Sierra by my side, happy to sing with me for the audience, a Randy Rainbow song, ‘All About His Base’.

Our first showing was sold out and our second showing was very well attended for 8:20 a.m. on a Sunday morning.  Breaking Habits (the movie) was well-received.  The audience had great questions and it was fun to answer them with Rob Ryan standing next to me, the award-winning producer of our documentary film.

“The film shows a picture of you with two boys, where is your other son?”  Easy.  He’s an engineer on the coast and has kept his social media distance since his university days, when I was Sister Occupy.  He has a career to protect, is all. 

“Can you speak numbers? Numbers of Sisters?  Numbers of sales units?”  Easy peasy, as well.  I did.  I gave her the best numbers I had readily available in the filing cabinet in my head, annual history of gross sales, salary ranges, and explained how I now have to guess at the number of sisters because other orders are growing and other sisters have been given the authority to bring in others, in other countries, like Canada and the U.K. and New Zealand.

“Is there anything about the making of the film that either of you would like to share?”  (Don’t go there, Brother Rob, I whisper, and he smiles, relieved that we don’t have to pick at the still-tender sores of the difficulties we traversed to get to this point of standing on that stage, taking questions from a kind, considerate, and educated audience.)

Good Deeds Entertainment informed us that the highway 101 was closed in the early afternoon of the day of our red-carpet walk, and that the red-carpet walk has been postponed.  Their representative also asked if we could stay another night.  I was so relieved.  I feel like I personally prayed away the red-carpet walk.  “Glen Close had to turn around go back to Los Angeles, but she’ll be here tomorrow night and the red carpet is on for tomorrow night if you can stay . . .”  I was so relieved we had to be in Hollywood for a rehearsal and couldn’t stay.  I wanted to confess that I prayed away our red-carpet walk (as much as I would have liked to meet Glen Close), because it’s unhumble and, frankly, stupid, in my opinion.  I get that Hollywood does it, and I get why they do it, and it’s not stupid at all for Glen Close, it’s logical, but it’s illogical for sister servants to be doing that kind of stuff.  I would rather smoke five joints on tv and pass out on a red carpet, then walk one.  Maybe my other sisters don’t feel the same, but I made it go away, anyway.  Or Mother Goddess did.  Same result. 

When we finally arrived at the Bardot Theater in Los Angeles Monday night at nine p.m. for our performance, we had all had sick stomachs all day, and alternated trying to get our attention off of the upcoming performance, and gathering to practice.  Our job was to sing Nesta’s lines in the “Sex Weed TV” number and the chorus for “Please Don’t F*** Up the Whole World, Mr. President”.

We had to rap these lines:

                All I ever do is trying hearing you out when you have a problem you know you can bring it to me.

That’s the first line.  No punctuation.  No pause, one breath, one long sentence with three little ones in it.

                Tired of 9 to 5, too much time this regular life is taking from me.
                I gotta slide, when I’m low, I know you’re coming like medication for me.
                High, take a ride, I am so over this week.

A nice man named Mark, whisked us out of the crowd and gave us a personal tour of the theater.  We saw the den where the rat-pack once hung out, the stage where the Jerry Lewis show was filmed, where the Hollywood Palace was filmed, and where Judy Garland performed.

We had time to kill and after practicing on that same stage for a half hour, we went into the room that was a private lounge for those very stars, not more than forty years ago. 

After all the excitement of practicing on a world-famous stage, touring the behind the scenes bungalow of the stars, we sat quietly in Jerry Lewis’ dressing room and wondered how we got here.  

“They say, look at what you were doing when you were seven years old, and that’s your destiny or calling.”

“What were you doing, then?” I asked Sierra in response to her profundity. 

“Oh, I was wanting to learn guitar, but my mother was troubled and she used it as a weapon against me so I wasn’t much encouraged.  But I liked music.” Sierra answered.

“I was gathering up the neighborhood children, with a white pillowcase on my head to mimic Sister Cecilia and organizing musical talent shows.” I confessed.

“Funny thing,” said Sister Alice wistfully.  “I was organizing my dolls and teddy bears to be my audience and stage-props as I performed musical commercials.” 

We laughed.  And then it was quiet again.  The brothers were somewhere out of earshot.

“But now we have gone from singing about sex, weed, and tv, to saying the ‘f’ word and shouting ‘asshole’,” Sister Sierra mused aloud, ever protecting our image – ever-protecting our name.

“Do you think people are really bothered by that, when our president is putting children in cages?” Sister Alice countered.  "We aren’t supposed to swear even when swearing is called for?”

“It feels like a slippery slope,” I said.

“What, you think if someone lays out a line of cocaine here, we’re going to lean forward with rolled up dollar bills?”  Alice asked, making the two of us laugh at the image.  “You girls worry too much,” Alice lectured.  “We are taking on the tough issues, and the Goddess has our backs.”  She was right.  “And anyway,” she added, “This is Ollie’s show.  We are simply back-up to her music.  When we do our own music, we don’t use any of those words.”

We spent the next ten minutes walking up and down staircases that seemed to go somewhere, but it was an optical illusion.  It seemed every route led to locked doors.  We started to get frightened that we would miss the performance and made our way back near the main stage where we started, to get help getting out.

We formed a prayer circle for a second time, Ollie, Sierra, Alice, me, and said a final quick prayer that gave us the courage to bounce onto a stage that had hundreds of people cheering us.  Maybe not hundreds.  It just felt like that many.

When we sang, we put our hearts into it, for Ollie, for Evan, for the musicians and musical appreciators gathered.  It was a magical experience for all of us, and this time, we are very happy we swallowed the fear and walked right into it.  Ollie and Jackie have promised to join us on the farm sometime in the next two moons, for a quiet retreat, as the anti-dote to the glamour and glitz. 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Sister Mary Batshit Crazy

While I was living in Amsterdam, I wrote a book called ‘Thigh Freedom’, and what I remember from that is that my heroine of the story smoked a joint and the publishers made me write that out.  That was only fifteen years ago.  Now I fend calls with offers for movies, films, documentaries, animated series, on the very subject.  Now foreign governments ask us to come speak at their conferences on the subject, mainstream media asks us to smoke a joint for their cameras before they leave.  The Chamber of Commerce visits the farm and they all take selfies with the plants.  How much the world has changed!

‘Thigh Freedom’ (by the way) is a modern-day story where the heroine is trapped in a miserable marriage (I had to do something with all that divorce angst) and she reads a novel about her ancestral heritage and learns that pre-Christianity, according to Celtic lore, the month of May is the month where all married women get to exercise their ‘thigh freedom’ and cavort with other men – only married women with other married men (so as not to upset whatever was going on with the young courting folks). 

It was custom and culture and if babies sprung from such unions, they were raised by the woman’s family, along with the other children, without a thought to genetic origins.  The idea captured my imagination (just for being so radical), and I wrote a modern-day story where the heroin decides that every tenth year of marriage, for the whole year, would be her thigh freedom year.  It seemed more practical.  More adapted to current times.  And she embarks on a journey which ultimately lands her back with her husband, living happily ever after.

In my own divorce situation, there was no happily-ever-after, so I poured my energies into that book as a form of therapy.  When the interested publishers told me that I had to take all references to weed out of the story, I lost my ‘zin’ for publishing it and it has sat on a shelf, since.

Xaviera Hollander, a friend from Europe, loved the book and encouraged me to get it published, but I didn’t have time.  I was distracted by a raging custody battle and the re-settlement of my children in America after nearly a decade in the Netherlands.  

Eighteen months after returning to America, I found myself poor and frightened in a strange city, as I chose poverty and escape from Kentucky over staying trapped in a state that was presented to me as a temporary landing place.  My ex- talked me into moving to Kentucky from Europe (good God!), by convincing me that we would only live there temporarily.  But when I got to Kentucky, he informed me that I am penniless, he seized all my business funds, I should go ahead and divorce him, he said, because he had all the money and had decided to make his retirement permanent (with three children in middle school), and decided I could support us on my own.  He knew I would file for divorce -- he stole over a million dollars from my business, a business I founded and worked in, while he stayed at home and played house-husband with a housekeeper, cook, a gardener and a driver.    

In the end, he wanted the divorce to happen in Kentucky where the courts favor their Kentucky boys.  I call Northern Kentucky ‘the penis fly trap’ for the way the men of that place trap Yankee women.

This was only one of two very dark and frightening periods of my life.  It was in this period, that Xaviera called and offered me an advance for ghost-writing a book for her.  It was a sex tip book for men, using the best of the best quotes from her 32 years publishing her ‘Call Me Madame’ column in Penthouse magazine.  Her tips for men are wrapped up in the philosophy that women have three clits:  a brain clit, a heart clit, and a body clit.  The heart clit has to be made to feel safe, the brain clit has to be made to feel ‘unsafe’ or challenged, and the body clit will follow.  That’s the nutshell of the wrappings, but there were great quotes from modern-day celebrities on the subject of sex and love.  My personal favorite is Sharon Stone’s:  Women may be able to fake orgasm, but men can fake whole relationships.  Boom!

Just this fall, I published my own story, the Accidental Nun.   A two-year project that took four years to come to fruition.  The sex-tip book with Xaviera was purely for the money.  The ‘Thigh Freedom’ book was purely for the therapy.   The Accidental Nun was an attempt to de-mystify my journey.  Two of those books made it to market.

Like many other people, I have wounds I carry and try to heal.  I have been betrayed twice by men I completely trusted, an ex-husband who stole from me, abused me, and then by a brother who pretended to rescue me, but made me homeless in a fit of temper and then stuck with it.  All of that formed me, however, and gave me the courage to set out and create a Beguine Sisterhood. 

Although I am living a life of celibate devotion, I still love men.  I wouldn’t want to build anything without them.  I wouldn’t want to live without them in my life.  We have Brothers here now who take their jobs with us seriously.  They are grounded, respectful, protective.
I see the actions of my ex-husband and my brother a sickness in our society, where men beat their chests and make women and children homeless over pride.  All over a false sense of pride.  I want our children to have it a little better.  I want a world of less suffering.  And I certainly don’t believe that men have cornered the market on bad behavior.

On the farm now, after much turmoil, peace and serenity have finally arrived.  I didn’t realize when I set out on this journey five short years ago, that a large part of my job would be sorting out the bat-shit crazy from the regular-every-day crazy in order to keep us marching forward, harmoniously and peaceably.

Our first two farm managers had severe drug problems that were well-hidden from us.  I call them Brother Tweeker 1 and Brother Tweeker 2.   It works like this, I hired them when they had both been poor for a long time and, thus, were clean.  And they were fine for two to three months.  As soon as financial stability came, however, they began indulging in hard drugs (not together, these were consecutive hires).  One we called out as soon as raging became a part of his normal activities with the sisters.  It appears he raged when he ran out.  And he wasn’t particular about who or what he raged about. 

The man who replaced him, Brother Tweeker 2, had the same thing going on, minus the rage.  First two to three months – just fine.  Then financial stability comes from working and then come the hard drugs.  He didn’t rage -- he just started doing bizarre things like showing up on the farm on a Sunday afternoon and putting a lasagna in our oven (!) when it was 105 degrees outside – without a word to anyone, with just a nod, like it was normal and expected.  They weren’t crazy. They were addicts.

The bat-shit crazy came from the wanna-be sisters who came through here.  Over the first two years, I had to dismiss many Sister Mary’s.  Sister Mary Natzi Vegan, Sister Mary Full-On Wiccan, Sister Mary Got-Any-Oxy?, Sister Mary – May I Sleep with Your Son? Sister Mary Polyamorous, Sister Mary Platitude, Sister Mary can’t wake up and Sister Mary can’t shut up. Of all of them, the last was probably the most intolerable to me.

As we stand at the precipice of launching our second sister farm, I can’t help but wonder how the other sisters who will be managing the crazy they must juggle -- their own and others.  These are very crazy times and the energies of the planet reflect that.  Yet, it is vital to the growth of the sisterhood that we manage the people well.  That we select the right people.  We cannot be sidelined by individuals, when we have a global calling.  We will be criticized for our focus.  So, what?  Some will say, why didn’t you help rehabilitate those addicts?  Why didn’t you put medicine on those women?  The answers to that are easy for me.  Firstly, they didn’t ask.  Secondly, we do not exist to conform to the individual needs of the enclave.  We have a higher calling.  And we can’t be distracted by anyone other than our own people, when and if they need us. 

We spend all day, every day, getting the word out about CBD, taking calls from sick people, helping them figure out their path with the natural medicine.  We need strong people around us to help us fulfill the mission.  We are all broken a little, and we all need a healing place to live and work.  We require a healing place to work.  But that doesn’t mean we are Lourdes.  We don’t do miracles.  We are ordinary women who are on a serious mission.

Speaking of Lourdes, this past summer I had the opportunity to impersonate my own sister.  It was a hot August Saturday.  We try not to work on weekends, as we consider that a form of slavery.  It happens, sometimes, but it’s not our normal.  Our normal is the farm is very quiet on the weekends.  This Saturday, the doorbell rang to the abbey.  I was in shorts and a wife-beater t-shirt.  I quickly put a scarf on my head (as if that made up for the rest of me showing) and answered the door.  I saw a big tour bus parked outside and people with walkers and canes getting out. 

The bus driver apologized and told me his tour wanted very much to stop here to meet the sisters and he complied.  I had no idea how they got our address, so I was stunned at first. 
“The Sisters aren’t here today,” I said in wonder, trying to figure out how many people were on that bus. 

“Where are they?” an elderly Asian woman asked. 

“I don’t know.” I said, extending my hand to the bus-driver, to the old Asian woman who was, apparently, the ring-leader.  “I am Sister Kate’s sister, Shari, visiting from Wisconsin and I don’t know.  I think they went into the city to run errands.”

The woman had to adjust her cane a bit to extend her hand.  “Very nice to meet you, Shari, but we really wanted to see the Sisters.”

“I’m sorry, they aren’t here.” I said again.  The woman was very aggressive and persistent, making me repeat over and over again, that the Sisters weren’t on the farm – that no sisters were on the farm, and that I didn’t know where they were.  When she asked the fifth time, I said in exasperation, “I really have no idea what those bitches do on the weekends, I’m just watching the dogs for them!”  She finally admitted defeat.  I guess that was just un-nunly enough to do the trick.

I gave them the office number, asked them to please schedule their visit and sent them away with a tin of salve each, so they weren’t too terribly disappointed.  My sisters and brothers who are right now starting or figuring out how to start their own sister-farm, are you ready for this?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Hadewijch in the Castle

We believe that we have plugged into a sacred, healing energy stream that is flowing thickly around the planet.  Like reaching up and pulling on a cord of a moving train or tram, we reached up and connected to a higher calling, a pulse of holistic healing, a pulse of returning to ancient ways, that is a comforting drum-beat, growing bigger and louder and more significant to our lives with every passing day.

What we are doing with our new age order of Sisters is not something we created.   It is something we plugged into.  Everything about us is cultural appropriation.  We appropriate everything good that our ancestral mothers learned and practiced. 

We believe in the family values of the stoner culture.  Stoners have had to hang together and protect their own culture for one hundred years of persecution.  Stoners have had to make sacrifices to get along with people and society, a society where conventional wisdom says that cannabis is bad and cannabis smokers are bad.  Stoners have always tolerated this baloney, because they look kindly and patiently upon the ignorant and think, ‘yes, it was once conventional wisdom that the earth is flat.  It was once conventional wisdom that women have smaller brains then men.  It was once conventional wisdom that if you masturbated you would go blind.  But we live in an age of science and your old-paradigm views are adorable in a na├»ve, throw-back kind of way, but untrue none-the-less.’

Stoner values respect and revere the ability to protect boundaries and familial privacy.  Stoner values hold transparency in high regard and secrecy in suspicion.  Stoners respect knowledge and science.  Stoners are generally compassionate, to people and to the planet.  

We also hold fast to the belief that those who attempt to grow weed and attempt commerce in the cannabis space will be foiled if they go against compassionate principles applied to people and the planet.  Those who are ok with fracking, will not be rewarded by their efforts with the plant.  Those who are ok with caging children, those who protect and defend Trump and others of his ilk in other countries (Doug Ford, Therese May), those people can’t grow cannabis and be successful in the healing space.  Those who want to be billionaires just because they want to brag and be like Trump, you will fail.  The plant will not serve you, I promise.  She will choose who she serves and who she doesn’t, and you will fail if you try to cultivate her with false or shallow intentions. 

Those who judge others without trying to understand them, they will not be rewarded by this industry.  And those who are mean to women, they will – especially - be locked out of reaping any rewards on the backs of the magnificent female cannabis plant.

It was springtime in the castle and those whose lives centered around the Beguine sisters, those who farmed, made plant medicine, those who worked day in and day out to alleviate suffering among the town-folk, farm-folk, land-owners and serfs – were busy putting away their tools and chores.  It was hours before their normal quitting time, but if was a special feast-day. 

It was the feast of young Beguine sister and her man, in their mid-twenties, and expecting twin babies.  It is the custom of the Beguines to prepare the first-time parents with gifts and supplies from the tribe.  Dignitaries had gathered.  Some of the Sisters were nervous.  It was an ominous sign that the feast was to be of mixed people.  It wasn’t normal.  It wasn’t custom.  Yet, the abbess had her head turned by the tax collector who wanted to be part of the celebrations and especially, wanted to bring the business of the feast to his relative.  The tax collector had insisted on helping arrange the feast, inside the castle, at the Bear and Steer, a local tavern and eatery owned by his brother-in-law. 

“It is not customary for us to have a public celebration in the castle.  It is custom to have them privately, on the farm,” explained the Abbess that day in the foyer of the house on the farm – that day the tax collector had unexpectedly stopped in.

“You know, it hasn’t escaped my attention,” said the tax collector to Sister Hadewijch, “That the castle governors don’t know you are growing cannabis to put in your potions.  If they knew, they would put a special tax on you or, even, they could shut you down.” He threatened.  Sister Hadewijch sighed and agreed to have the baby shower in the castle, in a public place, in a place where ‘others’ might be.  “And I’m going to invited everyone from my office” said the tax collector on his way out the door.

Hadewijch sighed.  Somehow, she knew there would be trouble.  She didn’t know what form, she just knew there would be. 

It turned out to be the fact that the very-pregnant mother smoked cannabis at the baby shower that brought the town to buzzing.  It brought out all the righteous indignation of those who know so little.  The Sisters and Brothers weren’t back on the farm a fortnight before word came that the town was buzzing about the cannabis consumption that happened inside castle walls (gasp!) and by the mother with the babies in her belly, no less!  Right in the alley behind the Bear and Steer, right before Goddess Mother and the world!  Double gasp!!

The Beguine elders who paid for the celebration, the elders who agreed to make this celebration open to non-tribal members, hadn’t considered the mother-to-be’s eating disorder.  They hadn't considered that the town-folk had no reason to know that the young mother requires a small amount of THC before each meal to stimulate her appetite. 

“Do you think our taxes will be raised because of this?” asked Sister Sierra.

“Do you think those wankers are going to get vengeful?” asked Sister Alice.

“Nonsense,” said Hadewijch to the gathered Sisters and Brothers.  “Do not fear these people and do not hold these people in contempt for their ignorance but look kindly on them as if they are mis-informed children.  You don’t get angry at a child for not understanding algebra, do you?  We are a complicated order.  We are not simple, as many would like us to be.  We are like a beautiful onion with many layers to be peeled off.  We are foremost, compassionate healers.  We were gathered to celebrate more than the coming of the twin babies.  We were gathered also to celebrate the healing of the mother-to-be and the father-to-be under our own tender care, using our own natural ways.  These townsfolk don’t know that the father, four years ago, admitted himself to a recovery clinic nearly dead from overdosing meth?  Or that his meth habit was actually a step better than his addiction to cutting himself?  These town-folk don’t know that the mother-to-be is severely anorexic due to family trauma and malnutrition experienced as a young child . . . nor that cannabis allowed her to keep eating what she must through-out her pregnancy to nourish those children and bear them to birth successfully.  The town-folk don’t know any of these important facts.”

“Will you tell them, Sister?” asked a young postulant.

“No, I will not.” Hadewijch answered quickly.  “They must learn these things on their own.” 

The Elder Beguine paused and took a sip of water from a pewter mug.  Setting the mug down, she continued, “They will not know our personal stories.  They will have to find their own way to the truth.  The town-folk will never know that those babies were scheduled to be aborted.  That the mother believed she would die in child-birth, something an old, white-man castle-doctor told her years earlier.  She believed her anorexia would overtake both of them, that she would be unable to eat, and that she and they would die (at best) or they would be born deformed (at worst) and that only the herb calmed those fears and gave her the certainty and strength she needed to go forward with the pregnancy.  Only the Sisters’ assurances that we would not judge her or fault her for continuing to use cannabis as her medicine through-out the pregnancy convinced her not to abort the babies she was sure would come deformed.  The Sisters all know first-hand how she relies on the THC to stimulate her appetite before each meal.  She smokes so that she can eat like normal folks do."  Hadewijch stood up from her place at the table.

“What about the tax collector?” asked an Elder Sister. 

“The tax collector has put us in jeopardy,” Sister Hadewijch said plainly.  “I will have a word with him, at some point.  If there are no further questions, I have much work to do and one of you should be checking up on our soon-to-be-mom.  It’s nearly 4:20 and we want her to eat a full dinner.”

When our young Sister arrived at the hospital eighteen days before the due date of the twins in her belly, she admitted naively and calmly to the check-in nurse that she had smoked a joint the day before.  I wasn’t with her.  I would have warned her that this is Merced.  This is a place that once, not long ago, a mother having weed in her system was reason for the health insurance to be cancelled and for Child Protective Services to be called in.  My millennial Sister knows the law and knows her rights as a medical patient.  She told the truth.  Her truth caused the hospital staff treat us all like trash until the babies’ toxicology report came back and showed there was no THC in their systems.  The mother smoked a high-THC joint the day before, but no THC was registered in the babies immediately after birth.  That fact made curiosity over-ride hostility with the medical staff in obstetrics.   

“Hadewijch, why are they being so mean?” asked the young man earnestly.  “Why do the castle-keepers not allow me to be with my wife, now, while they are poking and prodding at her?  Why can’t I be there to hold her hand when they give her the epidural?”

The old woman’s sympathy showed all over her face.  “I am so sorry, son,” she said.  “But we are but humble farmers and we do not have the sophisticated, fancy equipment these folks have.”  Hadewijch spoke with her hands, gesturing all the equipment surrounding them where they stood.  “Having twins is not something that should be done at home, with a mid-wife.  Those babies have taken all of the calcium, magnesium and iron out of her system.  She has preeclampsia, high blood pressure, and is at high risk of dying.  The babies are perfectly healthy, and all this we wouldn’t know if we didn’t have access to their hospital, their technology and their technicians.  You cannot expect people who are of science, who are of technology, who let those things define them completely, you cannot expect them to have compassion.  They are not un-compassionate, they just have strange, un-compassionate ways.  I see it like you do!  I see it, but I don’t care, and you mustn’t care either because #1, these are not our people and #2 right now, our people, our Sister, your wife, needs the tools and knowledge they have to spare her life and the lives of those twin babies in her belly.  We are using them, don’t forget, my son.  We are using them.  We do not have to like them or accept them, we must just use them.”

Hadewijch had noticed every slight.  When a nurse asked ‘where’s the papa’ and Hadewijch answered, ‘her husband is out making a phone call’, the other nurse corrected her, saying “they aren’t married, they just live together”.  As if she was on auto-pilot and couldn’t ever miss a chance of putting her two-Christian-cents out into the universe.  The only weddings that mattered were the ones of their culture.  She wished her young Sister had been more careful in answering.

Hadewijch noted how they refused to let anyone be with the young, frightened mother, only twenty-four years of age and fearful of dying.  Afraid of giving birth to monsters because she dabbed THC concentrates during the first three months of her pregnancy, not knowing she was pregnant.  Her eating disorder made her cycle irregular and she was accustomed to not having her period more than having it.  She didn’t learn of her pregnancy until she was half-way through and it was too late, then, to do anything about the concentrates she consumed months prior.

Now she lay frightened and scared and they make her more so by subjecting her to an interview by nazi nurses who don’t give a flip about making her more uncomfortable, by daughters-of-science who won’t allow her to have her loved ones by her side. 

Hadewijch saw it. She saw their bully tactics, which seemed brutal to all of them, to her, to Father/Brother Dwight, to the expecting young parents, in stark contrast to the gentle and respectful healing they practice in their tribe.  But she didn’t judge them for it.  She prayed for their enlightenment.  She thanked them for what they did know.  How to run a blood pressure machine.  How to check the urine for danger signs.  How to measure the baby’s heartbeats.  They have tools.  And they know things that will help our Sister through this, she reminded herself and the nervous father-to-be.  We are in their land, seeking their help.  We must respect their ways.  It is our way, she reminded them both.

After the healthy babies were born, doctors and nurses came by to chat more respectfully.  Someone finally asked the new mama why she had smoked cannabis and finally, my lovely young Sister/Daughter was allowed to explain about her eating disorder.  Those who were once hostile suddenly became compassionate.  I told my young Sister that perhaps, going forward, she should lead with that information. 

It was two weeks ago today that the babies were born and in two days, it will be two weeks since they left the hospital to live in a cocoon of love, tended by their parents, their Oma and Opa, their Tante and Ohm.  Kept secluded in a little apartment, far from noise and hustle.  They gain weight and color and their mother gains her health back.  And we are back, all of us, to working and mingling with people who respect cannabis as a medicine – one people, one tribe.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Taking on the Angry Vegans

Taking on the Angry Vegans

There are three ways the American people are polarized:  The first is in regard to the Word.  (Some believe, some do not.)  The second is in regard to spirituality.  (Some are, some are not.)  The third is in regard to being vegan.  (the Vegans are angry at all of us) 

The first polarity is ridiculous.  The second is necessary.  The third is tiresome.

Just as we exist to bridge the gap-between the non-believers and the believers, just as we exist to bring peace between those two groups, we also exist to bridge the gap between spiritual people and the non-believers, and to broker peace between vegans and the carnivores.   These are all highly polarized groups. 

Followers of the Word

There are those who believe the Word and those who don’t.

Oh, did you think I was talking about God?  Don’t be ridiculous. 

I am talking about the Word of the cannabis plant.  I’m talking about the knowledge that the cannabis plant is the secret to salvation. Salvation of the people, and salvation of the planet.  The medicinal compounds hold the secret to healing the people, and the industrial hemp holds the secret to replacing plastics and getting on with healing the planet.  It’s THAT word.  The Word that can end the hurtling journey toward extinction.  That Word. 

If you still want to talk about the Word of God, you have to realize that we see you as if you are standing on the railroad tracks, reading your Bible, while a high-speed train is bearing down on you.  We aren’t going to have that discussion with you, not now, not while the children of the planet are in great jeopardy, probably – not ever.  Not while sixty species go extinct per day.  Not while McDonalds and Taco Bell are still paying thousands of people to figure out new ways for you to eat meat. 

“It’s not enough” demands Ronald McDonald, pounding the table, “It’s not enough!  The buns must become meat!  The aprons must be made of meat!  The very plates we serve the meat on, must be made of meat!”  He is a truly diabolical task master.

If you want to talk about your relationship with Creator Goddess, then let’s start by talking about the one and only truly great gift she gave us, Planet Earth, and why we are trashing that gift.  Let’s talk about why we made it cultural (and we’re exporting that culture around the world, rapidly) to have extinction on our plate for every meal and every snack???

If I spend all the money in the world building my children the greatest, coolest, more exotic and exciting place to live and they spent all their time killing the plants to feed the pets to kill the pets to eat them, I  wouldn’t be happy.  Yet, this is what we are doing with the planet given us as a gift from our Creator.

The other day, as I was coming home from the gym, I had a Christian talk show on the radio and the minister was so compelling, that I was still sitting in the driveway listening to him, a full twenty minutes after pulling in.  He was systematically laying out the extinction of Christianity and how it came to be.  And everything he said was truth.  Until the end.  I thought the punch line should be, ‘So now, with Christianity on the brink of extinction, we have, the Weed Nuns!’  Wouldn’t that be remarkable.     No, his speech ended with the conclusion that Christianity is going extinct because we are at the eve of the rapture.  Click.  I turned it off and carried on with my day.

The one sentence the Baptist preacher said that stuck with me was this one: 

“We (the Christians) are sitting making daisy chains in the dark night of the globe, while the great masses of people are finding ways to cope without us.”  Hence, the sprouting of weed-nuns?
People have traded up arguing about invisible gods and invisible fetuses for real talk about highly visible and effective plant-medicine.  That’s an upgrade in the planet’s conversational IQ.

Spiritual vs. Non-Spiritual

In re-cap, the first bi-polar group is those who believe in Cannabis’ medical powers and those who have never tried it (the dis-believers). 

The second group is those who are spiritual and those who are not.  I let them be.  I think the planet needs our cynics and disbelievers when it comes to religion.  They are quite beautiful and quite necessary.  They are here to make sure no one drinks the cool-aid and every religion should welcome the non-believers as witnesses to the religion’s ‘do-no-harm’ ethics.  (They all have that ethos, few follow it.)

We only honor the disbelievers of spiritual and unseen things.  (Bill Maher disbelieves all spirituality and we love him.  That is his job.)  On the other hand, we do not honor people who disbelieve science, facts, and physical things happening right here, before our eyes, on the physical plane.  Climate change deniers, be gone from us.  Libertarians, be gone too.  We follow best example.  We want our children to have the same quality of life they would have if they were Dutch, German or Canadian.  We don’t want them to continue this system of being second-class-citizens of the developed nations. 

Vegans versus Not-Vegan-Enough

There’s no other way to address this issue but to say plainly that Angry Vegans are not helping the plant-based diet cause.  We know you are angry!  We get it!  Someone though it better to raise livestock for slaughter over something less slaughter-ish, like, say, eating beans.  We agree.  It was stupid.  It is stupid. And one day, we promise you that the Sisters here in Merced will get drunk enough to break into Foster Farms and free the chickens.  We will do that.  We’ve heard real nuns do shit like that and we want to emulate them.  It’s on our bucket list.  Promise.

After three years of failing at veganism, this past January, as new years’ resolutions swirled around us, we decided to take a much more practical approach to our dietary restrictions.  And a religious approach.  ‘Religious’ means ‘have fun with it for no apparent planetary reason, just imaginary reasons’. 

1.       New Moon to Full Moon – Strictly No Meat, with exceptions:  see #3, #4, #5, #6

2.       Full Moon to New Moon – Meat Is Permitted Daily, once per day only and not to be mixed with cheese, eggs or other animal by-product foods

3.       Holy Sacred Meat is Bacon*** is an exception to all rules, but in moderation / as a seasoning / never more than 2 slices of bacon in a 24-hour period

4.       All food rules are waived if you are sick or pregnant

5.       We are Activists and in Service Daily to the People, we cannot afford to go to bed hungry.  If your stomach is growling at bed-time, you are allowed to eat meat.

6.       You are allowed to eat meat that was prepared prior to the new moon and would be thrown away if not eaten (make no waste of sacrificial meat)

7.       Never mix meat with the milk or dairy or by-products from the same animal

8.       Meat is allowed at restaurants when traveling, but only once per trip (if in moon cycle)

Why is bacon the sacred exception?  Because Sister Kate’s Chinese astrology sign is the Pig.  This is just as reasonable as saying twenty million Catholics will eat meat on Friday.  Their reason was because the Catholic church invested in fisheries.  At least my reason has no economic motive.  

We are Beguine revivalists.  Our ancient mothers had to have eight children to see two of them turn eighteen years old.  That means they buried three of four children they gave birth do.  We think that had a lot to do with diet.  We don’t think ‘no meat’ is the way.  We certainly think WAY LESS MEAT is the way.  And we think every family and tribe should find its own path to a plant-based diet.  We think the more creative that path, the better.  Here’s the thing, though.  You can’t hate on people for not being vegan purists.  If you do, you lose the battle of moving more plant-based.

What happens when you go two full weeks without meat?  You can’t go back to eating meat once a day, you’ll get sick.  WE learned.  So even though it is allowed, most of us stay plant-based most of the time.      But if someone gets angry and ragey, we tell them to go eat meat.  It means, go satisfy your animal spirit needs in some other way.

We are angry activists, because happy activists are shitty activists.  There is a place for anger and for ferocious animal energies.  We think we need our meat.  We think the animal energy helps us be the ferocious women we need to be now, in this dark night of the globe.  But we recognize that meat-eating is ruining this planet and the trends have to go the other way.  We believe our way is a helping hand in sending the trend in a new direction.  We don’t mind that the vegans are angry with us.  They too, have their place and anyway, without angry vegans, we would have way fewer recipes.

                Corn and grain, meat and milk, on the table before us.
                Hands and hearts come together to nourish and restore us.
                Bless our food and bless our folk and keep us in your grace,
                Ensure this sacred walk we take respects this sacred place.

                                (women) In Goddess we trust.
                                (men) In Goddess we trust.