Sunrise Ceremony

Something unseen prodded me awake at 4:11 this morning. I wasn’t going to argue. So off I went after feeding the cats, to a ceremony of forgiveness, honoring the Pomo women, children, and elders who’d been massacred at Badon-napoti (“Old Island’), later known as “Bloody Island.” This was the 20th year of this event, organized and hosted by the descendents of a six year old girl who had survived the slaughter by hiding in the reeds around the island. Her name was Ni’ka (Lucy Moore).

The promised storm had not yet arrived here in Lake County, CA so the curving road north was blessedly dry. I hoped the ceremony would be as well–I had no raincoat, no umbrella. I felt sleepy and solemn and spoke to my deities and ancestors as I drove, stating my intentions for participation: “be quiet, be reverent, stay in sacredness, honor the local people.” I asked my ancestors to attend the ceremony with me.

The gathering was on Reclamation Road. Once I turned off Highway 20, I felt like I was driving in Hawai’i again, on one of those rough country roads that require about ten miles an hour, fifteen at most. I arrived in the last darkness before dawn. I parked the car and took out my flashlight. I needn’t have bothered. It wasn’t long before sunrise.

I stood on the cracked asphalt road. Mr. Clayton Duncan, Lucy Moore’s great grandson, was speaking on the microphone.  I knew this because I’d heard him on KPFZ FM. We had never met. When I wasn’t looking at the speakers or singers, I was looking at the oaks on the hillsides and at the small California poppies at my feet. I wondered if I’d see them open.

There were beautiful songs, stories, and a visiting Tibetan woman conducted a healing ritual. I closed my eyes. I wanted so much to sit down, but I stood and probably swayed a bit as I listened. I had a stupid busy mind though and I had to struggle with my tendency to veer off into all sorts of needless trivia. It was better after I closed my eyes. I eventually felt entranced and a little more grounded. There was a moment when I felt my cat, Meowington, around me.

There’s a deep generosity in this ceremony. I think that’s all I can say about it right now. I need to give what happened time to work its way in. However I will also say there was deep generosity in the nourishing breakast provided to us at the gymnasium down the road, and the heart-felt circle of introductions and prayer which preceeded our meal. People had been cooking since long before dawn…

I will go again next year. I feel a lot of gratitude for this experience.

SunriseCeremonyMay18

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Witchery & Modern Paganism: Decolonization, Racism, and More

Resource list. No commentary from me.

If you’ve come across blogs with similar critiques, content, and perspective that you think I should include in this list, please let me know in the comments section. Thanks! And big thanks to the writers below.

Barber, Shannon. Black Magic, Black Skin: Decolonizing White Witchcraft. Ravishly. Oct. 23, 2017.

Branner, Cyndi. Dismantling the Widespread White Advantage in Witchcraft. Patheos. (Mar. 27, 2019).

Ferguson, D.F. The Unbearable Whiteness of Being Pagan: Some Observations on White Fragility in Esoteric Spiritual MovementsWhite feminist Paganism and the colonization of Heaven and Earth. Black Youth Project (Nov. 27, 2018).

Helrune, Seo. Whiteness is the Witchcraft Killer. Seohelrune.com. (July 21, 2018)

Magdalene, Misha. The Unbearable Whiteness of Being Pagan: Some Observations on White Fragility in Esoteric Spiritual Movements. Patheos. (Mar. 29, 2019).

Smith, Ryan. Tearing Off the Mask: Revealing the Gulf Between Fascist Spirituality and Pagan PracticeOn Black Wings. May 8, 2019.

Washuta, Elissa. White Witchery. Guernica (Feb. 19, 2019).

Hopefully more to come.

Popoki
Popoki – My badass black cat on white rug. I justed wanted her to be in this blog post.

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This

This blog takes a break from discussing the spectrosexuality survey to bring you an urgent public service announcement brought to you by Greta Thunberg.

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That Was Then, THIS is Now

When I was a child, caterpillars were a frequent sight. I played all day at tidepools at the Coronado, CA seashore and gently poked a lot of sea anenomes to make them close. I could catch (and release) small frogs at the pond on the local golf course–there were thousands. In many ways, it was an idyllic childhood even though my family was poor and my grandfather had died of a radiation-induced brain tumor after leaving the Navy, after witnessing the explosions at Bikini Atoll. Planes from North Island Naval Base flew over my tidepools several times a day, so I was never unaware of war.

But by the time I was twelve I’d become convinced that the planet had changed immensely since the last time I’d incarnated (yes, I really thought that way as a kid). I blamed television and radio rays, all modern things, and sensed a coming apocalypse. I thought it would happen by the time I was a legal “grup.” I was desperate to understand how to live my life on the earth in a healthy way. Alicia Bay Laurel’s Living on the Earth was one of my favorite books. (But I was also listening to the Velvet Underground’s first album so go figure.)

Soon teen hormones took over and I became interested in other things (including boys), such as feminism, working at a women’s clinic as a pregnancy counselor, and supporting La Huelga by leafletting for the grape boycott outside of supermarkets. Then life threw me several curve balls and I did not end up in a wooded hippie commune, as I’d planned.

I ended up…elsewhere.

In spite of my valid childhood concerns, I still don’t know how to make a fire or how to identify wild edible herbs in my area. I have no skills at all that would enable me to survive a day in the wilderness, let alone the rest of my life foraging in a semi-rural or urban landscape as an old woman living in a toxin-drenched, violent dystopia caused by the galloping climate disaster we are currently doing everything we can… to continue.

I’m more likely to end up on somebody’s plate, at that point. Waste not, want not.

So I could say to Greta Thunberg and all her generation, and to my children’s generation which preceeded hers, yes, I remember what it was like to be a young person who could see clearly that Western consumerism, pollution, and war were all features of an insane cancer that would doom us all, even the animals. And I didn’t understand why the grown-ups didn’t see what I could see. And yet, as an adult, I have not done enough.

Greta and her allies will probably not make the same mistake. They have much less time to waste on bullshit than I did and their analysis is more accurate.


Quote from Greta Thunberg’s address to the World Economic Forum last January:

“Some people say that that the climate crisis is something that we all have created. But that is just another convenient lie because if everyone is guilty, then no one is to blame. And someone is to blame. Some people, some companies, some decision-makers in particular have known exactly what priceless values they have been sacrificing to make unimaginable amounts of money, and I think many of you here today belong to that group of people.”


I’m going to leave that right here for a moment. I’ll return to Greta later.

Ecology 101 in “The Pleasant Land of Counterpane”

I spent the last three days in bed, sick with a cold brought from the Eastern states by an air traveller. During that time I binge-watched Versailles and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and ignored the new Our Planet, even though my cats favor nature programs. (You see, as a mature citizen of the most unsustainable resource-guzzling nation on the planet, I still have that luxury, that privilege, of choosing entertainment over information.) But last night, “while I was sick and lay a-bed,” I watched the first episode. The lush photography of masses of penguins, sea birds, anchovies, and dolphins made me want to weep. The melting glaciers of Greenland, ditto. I knew what the message of the show would be and that’s partly why I didn’t want to watch it while ill.

Here’s an excerpt from a future episode, one about ants and fungi in the rain forest. It holds a cautionary lesson for human beings. In the beginning of the clip, ants farm fungi and keep it free of disease. And there’s a phrase thrown in about how the fungal crop may have benefits for human medical research. The the footage switches to a deranged ant climbing a tree, finally reaching the very end of one twig “high above the forest floor.” What happens next is an apt metaphor for how we human beings function in the face of our self-created planetary disaster. Of the pathetic ant and its fate, David Attenborough says:

“Something has taken control of its movements, like a puppeteer pulling at the strings of a marionette. There’s just one final act for which the ant has no choice. It must find a place to bite down, tethering it to the vegetation. With the ant in its death grip, a parasitic fungus, Cordyceps, erupts from its body… Finally the fruiting body of the fungus bursts from its head. From this bulbous container spores will be cast into the air currents where they will claim more ant victims…”

But other bugs also succumb to this parasite. The footage is horrifying. But Attenborough comments:

“The more numerous a species is, the more likely it is to fall victim to the killer fungus. Checks and balances like these means no one species can ever dominate, so protecting the jungle’s incredible diversity…”

Cordyceps is sometimes called a “zombie fungus” because it eventually controls the behavior, the motor movements of its host, forcing it to starve to death while the fruiting bodies mature enough to emerge from its body in order to release spores.

I have often wondered why human beings, collectively as a species, are so stupid and self-destructive? Why are we not organizing, rapidly and decisively? Even in a destructive context like capitalism, economic arguments support the wisdom of a “Green New Deal” and other initiatives. Why are we lurching, like mindless fungi-infected zombie ants, toward the very things which will doom us all? In spite of all, we humans clamp down our jaws, unable to speak out at the very edge of the precipice–a death grip of consumerism.

Even the ants have learned to recognize their infected colleagues and to remove them from the colony, as a means of survival. But we are not so wise. And our infections are both internal (habits, thoughts, ignorance, selfishness) and external (policies, power structures, faulty leadership, pollution, war). Our individual and collective inactions give Darwin the lie. We do not care about our own species survival. We only care about whatever feeds our greed.

Here’s another lesson, this one on indicator species and social ecology. This video of the late Michael Rossman was taken in front of the Berkeley Oak Tree Sit of a few years ago. In spite of the tree sit and protests, the oak grove–“a real forest” as Michael says–was destroyed to build a multi-million dollar student atheletic building right next to the CAL stadium, which sits on top of the Hayward Fault. Though it is on a smaller scale, it is another example of the kind of short-sighted, destructive policymaking that Greta Thunberg calls out so accurately. (And how Michael would have cheered for this young woman, had he lived to hear or read her words!)

Medicine for the Cordyceps Twins of Capitalism and Consumerism

Unlike the ants sick with Cordyceps, I do think we have some choices, still. Even now way  past the eleventh hour we can back away from our lemming rush off the edge of the precipice. We can choose individual change, systems change, and context change. The doctor is in and ze prescribes: Animism. The awareness that all matter is conscious, therefore humans are not the be-all and end-all and we don’t get to be nature bullies any longer.

Animism can be combined with the Precautionary Principle as a practical philosophy to infuse global and local policies and decision-making, as well as strategies to mitigate and reverse as many of the features of our climate catastrophe as possible (including species decline and extinction, fuel usage, etc.). When we can give and observe the rights of rivers, forests, etc. as “a legal person,” with the understanding that there really is a consciousness experienced by that thing or natural feature and that we are engaged in a communication with it on some level (whether we sense it or not), then we are on the way to correcting our destructive hubris.


Here’s a passage and quote from a good article about legal rights of natural features:

Contrary to popular misconceptions, legal rights are not the same as human rights, as corporations have enjoyed the rights of legal personhood for quite some time.

“I always find it interesting that people don’t seem to be challenged by the idea that a fictional thing like a corporation can have personhood, but that a natural resource, which is actually much more tangible, can’t,” Macpherson said. “I think that people are just used to what they’re used to, and over time as this becomes more common, and more people are pushing for it, the idea will start to seem less shocking.”


Artisanal Animist-Infused Threefold Social Order

And we could try this. Though Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) was a man of his time with serious flaws (dude was a racist), he had some interesting insights and did some good in this world (e.g. biodynamic farming and Waldorf Schools). His post-WWI Threefold Social Order is one of his more intriguing ideas. I am not sure that all aspects are reasonable or doable in the 21st century–a far more complicated era of multi-national corporations and our climate catastrophe–but I do like the idea of infusing animism into a simplied form of his reasoning, at least as a jumping off point for consideration.

Steiner was inspired by the slogan of the French Revolution, but he thought “liberté, egalité, fraternité” should be separately assigned to each of the three general realms of human life. He felt that the economic sphere should be based on brotherhood (and we need a more inclusive word for this, I know), that the legal realm should be based on equality, and the cultural realm should be based on freedom.

I can imagine combining a working philosophy of animism (consiousness of matter) with this idea in the following ways:

Infusing liberté (freedom) with animism in the cultural realm could result in a greater respect and engagement with animals, plants, waterways, landscapes, and other natural systems as culture-creating and culture-bearing in their own right. We could allow for and respect their cultures while purusing our own within that context.

Infusing egalité (equality) with animism in the legal sphere would inform decisions to grant legal personhood to more and more animals, rivers, habitats, mountains, etc.

Infusing fraternité (non-gendered familial comradery?) with animism in the economic realm could result in more considerate and less exploitive behavior with regard to other creatures and natural features, that they are recognized as fellow citizens of this planet as well as legal persons and that they have a stake in thriving in a sustainable natural economy. Humans would return to something more in harmony with the natural order of things and no longer see ourselves as completely entitled to everything we want, no matter what effect it has on anyone else. We would have to communicate with and treat with the other terrestrial intelligences on this planet.

So these are ideas to kick around as foundational as we pursue necessary practical strategies such as renewable energy, lowering our carbon footprint, ending military pollution, and so on.

Humans: Rouge Species or Lemmings and Zombie Ants?

Right now, it’s as if humanity acts on the rest of the Earth’s species just as the U.S. acts on the rest of the countries of the world: greedy, grabby, exploitive, entitled, endlessly destructive, and heedless of consequence. A rogue nation and a rogue species if ever there was one.

While everyone alive right now (especially in “developed” countries) must take individual actions to decrease complicity and perpetuation of climate change, the elders, thinkers, inventors of this world who are working on solutions to climate catastrophe (such as the folk who present at Bioneers conferences) need to quit patting themselves on the back as elite “thought leaders” (as so many do) and spend much more time in the trenches with young people such as Greta Thunberg. Pass on what you know. Get the kids access to conventions, forums, the United Nations, and executive board rooms. Use your own privilege to grant them as much access as possible to other thought-leaders, policy-makers, Use your platform to get their voices to the general public. (And make sure it’s not just white, cis kids either, okay?)

And in turn, each young person alive today could in turn represent a bee colony, a flower species, a forest, a mountain, or a stream, and as their representative give them a voice in conventions, forums, the United Nations…

Meanwhile, someone teach these kids how to make fire without a match, please. They may need this where we’re going.

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100 Respondents to Spectrosexuality and God/Spirit Spouse Survey

Data collection is closed as of March 18.

Now comes the fun! Please go to the Survey page for a look at raw data charts of responses to questions 2-10. And stay tuned to upcoming blogs where I’ll discuss the question responses in detail, included some excerpts from the open-ended comments sections.

You might also want to read Part I–Prelimary Thoughts and Part II–Mysticism Meets Sexology, if you haven’t already.

Here’s one of the most interesting charts.


Data_Q4_190318


Stay tuned for more!


 

Bullies with Bullets: The Weaponization of Cowardice

He may have the physical appearance of a human being but he has the heart and soul of a half-eaten corndog. He is the embodiment of cowardice. There. I said it.

Unfortunately that…man…was lethally armed. He thought he’d be a bigger man, a real man, if only he could get him some fame for mass murdering innocents.

And he apparently fancies himself as a future inhabitant of Valhalla. Bitch, please! Explain to me how murdering unarmed anybodies is an honorable act that would attract the attention of any deity of merit. No, don’t bother. You can’t, because it doesn’t. Got that? Cowards who kill aren’t destined for Valhalla, Heaven, or any other desirable afterlife. Odin has no need of pathetic bullies who kill unarmed children and parents in a surprise attack. Freya, also a chooser of the slain who die in battle, wouldn’t have wasted a nano-second on the likes of you. Even deities of every underworld you can name will spurn such paltry pickings.

You have not found “glory.” You have hand-crafted an artisanal oblivion of your very own. And now you are behind bars.

Life is sacred. Our family and friends and pets and lands are sacred. And our perceived “enemies?” Even more sacred, because every “enemy” holds a mirror. The enemy is not there to be killed, the enemy is there to remind you of what you must confront in yourself–your hate, your entitlement, your petulance, your cowardice and ignorance. Those you deem “enemy” are human beings, like you, forced into a larger complexity of social, political, and economic turmoil, trying to make sense of it all.

If you could have looked into your enemy’s eyes and truly heard “hello brother” (as one of your victims reportedly said) and in that moment put down your weapons and wept, you would have awakened true bravery in your soul. You would have looked at what you’d done, and what you were about to do, and you would have accepted the shame, the guilt, the unneccesary horror you created, and the responsibility to repent and make amends. Living with yourself would not have been easy after that, but you would have taken a step on the road to actual humanity.

Enough.

Yesterday, I could not write with emotion. I felt it, but I could not write with it. Stark facts and statements was all I could manage. Today is different.

But the killer’s problems, whatever they were–and I really don’t care–are as nothing to the fact that he and his ilk are human cancer cells forming a bully tumor of white supremacy, prejudice, and entitlement. They are obvious in their cowardice, ridiculous in their collective and individual self-importance. They proudly display their appalling ignorance and lack of decency. Ridiculous and appalling, that is, until one of the cancer cells picks up a weapon and makes us scared or dead.

Just now I was caught in the trap of trying to figure out–to understand–this phenomenon of the bully tumor and the people who are entangled in it. Perhaps because I hope that if I know more about it, I can strategize for effective resistance.

But what I need to admit is that these white supremacists are merely the disposable tools of policymakers, governments, and industries who stand to gain by their eagerness to provide convenient, blood-soaked distractions while government-sanctioned carnage and pillaging continues. Terrifed by what we see on the news and the internet, we forget to identify the root cause: those at the top who–for their own advantage–uphold systemic racism, zenophobia, cultural genocide, and all forms of social, political, and economic oppression.

My country, the United States of America, is one of the most ardent players in this game of global plunder. Is it any wonder that our so-called “president” spews hate and lies on an almost daily basis? We’re one of the top five arms dealers in the world and constitute “5% of the world’s population but consume 24% of the world’s energy” (Source: “Consumption by the United States,” public.wsu.edu website. Copyright 2008, The Associated Press.) Our lust to consume knows no bounds. We are the least sustainable society in the world.

I believe the cultivation and exportation of American-style white supremacy serves a larger purpose than simply terrorizing and killing immigrants and people of color. I believe it is designed to inject terror into daily life, to paralyze the populace with fright, so that the elites of Western countries can retain and strengthen their grip on world resources, particularly those in indigenous countries. We are a country of colonists that imported and exploited slaves and tried to kill off the native peoples so we could take their land. We excell at manufacturing weapons and we arm cowards with nary a thought for the consequences. We make wars and create policies that produce immigrants and refugees. We make wars that destroy the environment so that ordinary people can no longer cultivate food and find clean water. And then, when an act of terror happens, our hypocrites in office “send thoughts and prayers” to victims of tragedies that their policies have created.

If there is something local I can do, in solidarity, I will. My own deities demand it.

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Stop Islamophobia and White Supremacy

This morning: 49 dead, 48 hospitalized from a mass shooting and attack on two mosques in Christchurch in Aotearoa (New Zealand). White supremacists planned and carried out the attacks. The gunman live-streamed the carnage.

In-depth coverage of the incident from Democracy Now. The commentaries from Qasim Rashid, a lawyer and human rights activist, and Farid Hafez, a lecturer and researcher at the University of Salzburg, are extremely important.

This is the latest horror to require a repudiating response and a strong call to action and solidarity from activist allies who oppose Islamophobia, structural and personal racism, anti-Semiticism, anti-immigration hate, and so on. (Have any of us done enough? I know I haven’t.)

Here are two opinion pieces just published in The Guardian.



“After Christchurch, Muslims need more than just your thoughts and prayers” by
Masuma Rahim, a clinical psychologist. A quote from her editorial piece:

“Your thoughts and prayers will not save our lives, while the actions of politicians and the media undoubtedly destroy them.

Every single day, people like me are subject to a media onslaught. Every single day, we are demonised, both by the people who make our laws and by the people who have significant influence over public opinion. And when I say “we”, I don’t just mean Muslims. Because it’s not just Muslims who are losing their lives at the hands of far-right nationalism. It’s Jews and Sikhs and black people. Because when fascism comes to call, it usually doesn’t care what shade of “different” you are. All it knows is that you are different, and it does not like you for it.”


And from H.A. Hellyer, a senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, “The Islamophobia that led to the Christchurch shooting must be confronted.”  A quote from this editorial piece:

“Today is Friday. It is the day of the week when Muslims will gather all around the world in communitarian prayer. Many of them in the west will be fearful after seeing the news, worried that this attack may herald a new, ongoing threat to their safety. We have to make sure they know they are not alone. That wider society will stand by them. That we see them not as Muslim communities transplanted into the west, but as Muslim communities of the west. They are part of us, and we of them. If we do otherwise, and we allow this event to pass us by without recognising the ideas that propelled it, then it is only a matter of time before it is repeated.”



I am not sure how to make an impact in my own community. Does Lake County, CA have a mosque? I can’t seem to discover one. Otherwise I would call and ask what I can do, as a fellow citizen, to show meaningful support or action.

Making a donation to some other organization is at least one way to help. Here are two possibilities. I have just donated to both.

LaunchGood fund for United for Christchurch Mosque Shootings. All money will be distributed by the New Zealand Islamic Information Centre.

 ICNA Council for Social Justice (Islamic Circle of North America).


Finally, a statement from The Troth, an organization that promotes inclusive Heathenry.

This is important as the murderer made a comment about “going to Valhalla” which may indicate a link with neo-nazis who usurp Norse symbols and mythology to justify white supremacy, as the original nazis did.

Sorrow for the families. May the murdered rest in peace. May the cancer of white supremacy and violence be vanquished. May our merciful deities assist us to do much more than we are doing now.

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Signal Boosts! Ancestral Lineage Healing Intensive & Pu’uhonua O Wai’anae

Signal Boost One

I am breathless with wonder. Through a wonderful shaping of the world’s wyrd, two of my most important spiritual practice teachers are collaborating in a workshop on O’ahu, taking place April 24th through the 28th. I am talking about Kumu (teacher) Ramsay Taum, my ho’oponopono instructor from years back, and Dr. Daniel Foor, who shares ancestral healing techniques that have become immensely valuable to me over the last couple of years. The knowledge which both men carry and share is in many ways complementary in intention. I sense a fruitful synergy in the making.

I wish I could be there myself to marvel at how these two will weave together their teachings and their own inate wisdom, along with the contributions shared by the workshop participants, but I have surgery coming up. Instead I will marvel from afar!

Daniel Foor interviews Kumu Ramsay in this video, just posted a few days ago. Please watch it to get a feeling for the two teachers and for a sample of the vast, yet intimate, terrain which may be covered.

Podcasts and audio interviews with Daniel Foor may be heard here.

I am also quite happy to signal boost this event as Dr. Foor is quite sensitive and responsive to issues of colonization, cultural appropriation, privilege, and social justice. He is a humble man and has spoken honestly about the hard learnings that come when approaching another culture or spiritual tradition.


From the workshop announcement and registration page:

“We acknowledge this event is taking place on the occupied ancestral lands of diverse Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) peoples. We encourage participants to become educated on the history of the land, including the illegal occupation of Hawai’i, and to support Hawaiian-run organizations working to support traditional wisdoms and cultural wellness.”


Signal Boost Two: And Now Please Support the Pu’uhonua o Waia’nae community.

The organizers of the above workshop encourage people to support Hawaiian-run organizations. Since the workshop is being held in Wai’anae, a community on the west side of O’ahu, what better place to start than Pu’uhonua O Waia’nae! (A pu’uhonua is a place of refuge.)

Man with happy kid in shopping cart, man with guitar outdoors, woman with young boy outdoors, text.
Image description: Upper Left-Back of shirtless Hawaiian man with glass, happy Hawaiian kid sitting in shopping cart watching him. Upper Right-Shirtless Hawaiian man with guitar, outside. Tents behind him. Lower Left: Woman and young boy facing forward. Woman hugging boy with one arm. Both smiling. Outdoors. Lower Right–Text “Pu’uhonua O Wai’anae.”

From the website: “Puʻuhonua O Waiʻanae not just the oldest and largest houseless village on the Hawaiian island of Oʻahu, but a visionary laboratory for community that I think holds significant importance for all of us.”


You can donate to Pu’uhonua O Waia’nae here. Your donation will help to purchase land and other necessary things for the Kanaka Maoli who are creating a “place of refuge” and ongoing community in Wai’anae.

And if you are willing, please signal boost the work of the people at Pu’uhonua O Waianae on social media. You can use #AlohaLivesHere and a link to their donation page, above.

Thank you so!

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