Sunday, 22 December 2013

The Wheel of the Year: Winter Solstice and Yule

'Solstice gathering', by Anne Stokes (Ironshod on DeviantArt)

  • Neodruidism mindset:
"Alban Arthan (light of Arthur), the winter solstice, around December 21
Physically: Taking stock before the "hungry months"; using up any excess that will spoil
Magically: Witnessing the darkness in the longest night; celebrating the rebirth of the sun; taking stock at the darkest time; seeing what you are incubating.
Activity: Relighting a candle for the returning sun.
Deity form: The magical child. "
The Path of Druidry. Walking the Ancient Green Way (Penny Billington)- chapter 4 

Yesterday's Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year and the day that marks the beginning of Yule, caught me out of home for nearly whole day, so here comes a belated Yule post to celebrate the Solstice and the season! 
Given that yesterday I was too busy eating chocolate cake and fangirling about Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game along with my mum - a very good way to spend the Winter Solstice, nonetheless! - it was today that we put up and decorated the Yule tree (which we don't do every year, I hate being pressured and forced to do something, so I don't see festivities as activities and rituals I'm forced to fulfil). I also made my little ritual of cutting some small branches of plants of the season in our garden and decorating my 'altar space' with them. That's basically what I do in Yule (And my agnostic druidry resolutions about new goals, new inspiration and sloughing off the old). I usually choose these Wheel of the Year festivities in order to convince my procrastinating mind to bake a cake from time to time, as well xD. 

Regarding the gift-giving part of the festivity, both Christmas and Neopagan, I have to say that I strongly dislike all the Christmas consumerism vibes and general pressure to buy, buy, buy, and to reunite with the family in compulsory dinner events (as an INFJ, I strongly dislike such gatherings and all the small talk and falseness they entail as well), so I generally ignore all those parts. Depending on the year, I will choose to gift something to my inner circle, but only because we all want to, as the fancy strucks us, and never as an obligation. We humans have enough on our plate to add ridiculous guilt-processes such as society telling us we don't love people unless we spend lots of money on certain events (Christmas, Valentine's day, Mother/Father's day, you name it) :/. That's so ridiculous.

 Apart from the fact that I deeply dislike all the consumerism and mindset values forced on us at this time of the year (yes, I believe religious stuff should not be forced upon us, that is personal, let people do what they wish in their homes but don't bombard me in public spaces with carols and religious motives, jeesh), Yule is special for me because it means that the light will begin to grow from now on. Not only do I like all the Sun symbolisms in Neodruidism and Neopaganism, but I also consider it  a hopeful time because I favour light and get pretty depressed in the darks days of Autumn and Winter. Knowing that the days will begin to be longer from now on makes me happy :).

"The apples represent the sun, the source of all life. The evergreens are symbols of immortality. The stalks of wheat represent the harvest - the triumph of the forces of light and life."
A Druid's Herbal for the Sacred Earth Year, chapter 4 (Ellen Evert Hopman)

 My Yule tree, representing an evergreen pine tree, with apples, wheat adornments and yellow to represent the Sun :) Plus the violins (which remind me nicely of Sherlock BBC, although I've been using them for years), and the pagan-ish gnomes:

"Hollyivymistletoe, and other greens decorate the house. A house so recorated is prepared to welcome the nature spirits who may be seeking safe shelter from the cold and dark outside. A sprig of holly is retained all year for good luck."
A Druid's Herbal for the Sacred Earth Year, chapter 4 (Ellen Evert Hopman)

My 'season altar/adornment' for Yule: With evergreens (pine, holly/holm oak (we have both) and ivy) and fir cones. And the oak leaves from Mabon as an offering of thanks to the pine who gave me the couple of branches for the adornment. I like to dispose of the last season's leaves and branches in this way:

I thought I'd also post some pictures and info about this festivity, so here goes. 

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Doctor Who feminist reviews - 'Rose'

UPDATED April-May 2016!  Added gifs and pics, changed some of my former views and added a lot more text and detail (damn it, INFJ perfectionism xD)

My first Whovian feminist review is going to be about the first episode of the new series of Doctor Who ('Rose'). There will be SPOILERS about the plot of this episode.

                                            New!Who, 2005 series: 'Rose'


-Doctor: Ninth 
-Companions: Rose Tyler
-Episode: 'Rose' (New!Who, 2005, Season 1 episode 1)

 Brief summary of the episode in Wikipedia 

      1.   Overall:
  • Things I liked:
 -The whole time-travelling idea of Doctor Who, and the TARDIS design.

 -Christopher Eccleston's portrayal of the Ninth Doctor is pretty likeable and sassy.
 -Rose's empowered traits (iniciative, wits and sass). In this episode, she is really the one to stop the Nestene Consciousness, plus she saves the Doctor and outwits him (making him consider his former patronizing mode).
You go girl! Rose smashing stereotypes down
  • Things I didn't quite like:
-The special effects. But then again, their budget wasn't very high, so it's understandable :)  
-Sometimes the percussion parts of the soundtrack are too loud and it's hard to hear the dialogue.

-The bin-burp. I really don't find those things funny, and I think the world would go much better if we didn't teach children (and men) than it's 'funny' to be disgusting. Sue me, RT Davis.
  • Things I didn't like:
  -Mickey's interaction with his girlfriend in this episode shows a number of questionable traits, some of which can be explained by acquired sexism.   

Mickey does have character development later in the series, and never again shows this level of (acquired) sexism (the possesive moment in the car, or the "*slaps ass* 'Kit off'" demeaning comment), so I'm going to assume that the relationship portrayed in this episode is an 'objective' depiction - and even a critical view, explaining why Rose feels rather dissatisfied by it-, and not something that is condoned. Because Mickey really isn't a bad guy, so I'm going to be positive and say most of it it's acquired subconscious constructs
Mickey feeling possessive 
-The Doctor's patronizing/race-bashing comments which arise from time to time.

   Thankfully, his comments are never overly mean, and his character develops quite a bit in that respect through the first and second seasons, especially with Ten.
That's enough with the 'humans are stupid apes' nonsense, Doctor!
 -I don't like how they portrayed Rose's mother Jackie very much, even if they meant to be critical. In this episode she's shallow (but I'm not at all against her wish to date people casually, fyi - I'll talk about that problematic scene later), self-centred, conventional, and seems pretty careless when it comes to the wellbeing of her daughter (demeaning comments, not encouraging her to retake her studies, not bothering to find a job to help support her daughter, etc). 

   Although she does have good qualities - we know that she actually does care about her daughter a lot-, and she has some important character development and more depth through seasons 1 and 2. 
Gossip ahoy!
-I quite like Nine/Rose (friendship and well, yes, also ship - the romantic subtext is very clearly there, and I don't dislike that, even though I sometimes harbour a little bit of resentment over the fact that they made the first companion  of New!Who a love interest). But I hate triangle clichés - Mickey/Rose/Nine- (and unnecessary romance plots that only give the female character grief), and they didn't resolve the Rose/Mickey relationship until mid-series 2, which irks me immensely.  

Apart from the fact that I'm against the portrayal of unresolved. ambiguous relationships and potentially cheating scenarios, because that's not 'liberation' or 'equality' or 'empowerment',  people could also be getting the idea that every time a female character goes off on her own (meaning without her heteronormative boyfriend), she's going to flirt with other people  and end up either cheating on him or breaking her relationship with him. And that's a pretty problematic way to see it  (this scenario will reappear with Amy/Rory - to a lesser extent - and Clara/Danny in future seasons).

   About the Bechdel test, I think that it isn't that exhaustive in terms of feminism. There are films with empowered female characters who don't happen to interact with other women a lot. Are we going to compare a film with really empowered female role-models who don't really talk with other women with a film where two women (not necessarily awesome role-models or anything) happen to have a few lines of conversation together about something other than men? Not that I don't appreciate that people are beginning to worry about female representation, female communication, female bonding and female friendship (I think all of these are really important), but the test is a bit flawed, imo.
  •    Number of female charactes: 3 - Rose Tyler, Jackie Tyler, Caroline (Clive's wife). Main role for Rose, secondary role for Jackie and a minor role for Caroline. All three white and heterosexual
  •    Empowered traits in at least one female character? Rose is active, inquisitive, and shows agency in this episode (deducing where the Nestene Consciousness is and actively saving the Ninth Doctor).
  •    Level of sexism:  Mickey shows quite a lot of acquired sexism in his interactions with his girlfriend Rose (I'll be talking about that later). Potential sexist aspects in the portrayal of Jackie.
  •    Bechdel Test and female bonding: Yes - Rose and Jackie talk together about the explosion incident, plus jobs and other trivia. Mother-daughter relationship and interactions (if criticisable) .

-This Tumblr post also addresses this episode from a feminist point of view. We agree on most points:

-Other equality issues:
  •    Level of racism and/or speciesism: 
-Appearance of a black character, Mickey, treated as a human-being and not a 'stereotype'. Interracial relationship between Rose and Mickey. 

-Some patronizing comments from the Doctor about  humans. Rose is remarkably open-minded when it comes to class and race/species, though, and she doesn't mind that the Doctor is an alien (Rose: "Are you alien?" Doctor: "Yes. Is that all right?" Rose: "Yeah"). Mickey does have prejudices: "Don't. He's an alien. He's a thing." (understandably, he has just been attacked by aliens, so he's not exactly trusting of them, but it can still qualify as offensive).
  •    Level of heterosexism: I think the Doctor is being descriptive rather than offensive when saying "That won't last. He's gay and she's an alien".
  •   Level of classism: Representation by including a main female character who's from a middle-low working classThe Doctor doesn't mind Rose's class status. Jackie questions Rose's ability to get a good job due to her upbringing and (lack of) education, though (suggesting that she find a job at the butchers because the shop was giving her "airs and graces").
-Empahty and integritySubstantial-to-high. 

-The Doctor doesn't seem to show as much empathy as in other episodes, being rather dismissive of humans, but he still tries to stop the Nestene Consciousness in order to save humanity, and his current gruffness and closed-off manner can be explained by the fact that he's more or less recently regenerated after the end of the Time War. 
-Rose saves the Doctor (and humanity). 
-Rose worries about Mickey being in danger and the possibility that he was killed. 
-Rose is sickened to hear that Wilson was killed ("That's just not funny. That's sick!").
-The Doctor helps Rose escape the mannequins. 
-Rose phones her mother to warn her about the mannequins. 
-When Rose is assimilating all the information about the TARDIS and Mickey being attacked by aliens and she breaks down, the Doctor says "That's okay. Culture shock. Happens to the best of us".
- The Doctor, following his pacifist and anti-genocide oriented mindset, also tries to negotiate with the Nestene Consciousness instead of killing it outright ("I'm not here to kill it. I've got to give it a chance"). 

     2. Character analysis, from a feminist point of view:
  (All the transcript quotes come from this site: