Today commemorates the martyrdom of followers of Bacchus, as on this date in 186 B.C.E., the Roman Senate outlawed and attacked those who practiced the rites of this God--one of the few non-Christian driven persecutions of polytheists. (Rome was generally very tolerant of foreign cultus). Read more about that here.
House Sankofa has expanded this day, not only as a day to honor, pay homage, and make offerings to the Bacchic martyrs, but as a day of remembrance for all of our Polytheistic martyrs, all those who did not 'go gently' into the dark night of monotheistic conversion. HIstory is written by the victor and in this case, for two thousand years we've been living under monotheistic occupation. Read between the lines of the Christianized historical accounts: the conversion of Europe was a bloodbath.
Today, I honor the Bacchic martyrs, but I also honor my Saxon ancestors, 4500 of whom gave up their lives defending their ancestral traditions, resisting the conquest and religious colonization trumpeted by that bastard Charlemagne (may he ever and always be cursed). Today, I honor those who resisted in the name of their ancestors, and in the name of their Gods. May they be remembered. May they inspire us. Praise them.
House Sankofa had its Spring Equinox ritual today and it went beautifully. There was drumming, ritual dancing, prayers, celebration, and a lot of offerings all in honor of the Goddess Bast. We rarely honor the Kemetic Gods in our House (They rarely push for us to do so), but every so often divination or discernment will show that one of the Neteru wishes communal veneration. For this reason, we'd initially intended to honor both Sekhmet and Bast at our Summer Solstice celebration, but divination shortly beforehand showed that Sekhmet wished that rite to Herself, so I promised that our Autumn Equinox would be for Bast and today we as a House filfilled that promise. It was a beautiful and joyous rite.
Because we're spread out across the country, not everyone could attend but many of our folks from far away sent in prayers for Her and I utilized these as a primary part of the ritual. This way, even those who couldn't attend in person were present.
Unusually for us, we also had a large number of guests attending so it made for some rather feisty and dynamic energy before, during, and after the ritual that really seemed perfect for this particular Goddess. After the ritual, one of our folk, L., led a two hour workshop for everyone in emotional clearing techniques and we enjoyed our potluck. After every one left, later in the evening, I saw a small brown snake. I take this as a very good omen. It clicked energetically in the way that omens do. I've never seen snakes on my property, and the snake is a symbol of powerful wisdom. I took it as the perfect end to a glorious ritual day.
Happy Equinox, folks. and as always Dua Bastet!
Usually I do major sacrifice for the Gods around the two solstices, but this year a windfall came unexpectedly into my lap: one of my colleagues had the opportunity to acquire two four-legged animals (what we tend to call sheep, goats, pigs, etc. -- any large farm animal with --you guessed it--four legs) for half the price they usually would cost. I jumped at it and arranged with that colleague--my friend A.T-- to do the actual offering.
Normally I would do my own sacrificing, but I'm recovering from a shoulder injury (which is seriously problematic when working with larger livestock) and my colleague A.T. is a *much* better sacrificial priest than I. I'm good but I have little to no rapport with animals. He has the gift of serious animal mojo. He can lull the most contentious or frightened animal to calm serenity. His ability to communicate with them is pure magic. For anything larger than a chicken, i am more than happy to cede to him the role of knife-carrier. It's more important to me that the animal not suffer, that the sacrifice be done cleanly, respectfully, and with all necessary protocol than that *I* be the one doing it. A.T. graciously agreed to do both sacrifices asking only that I provide the appropriate prayers and ritual structure, which I gladly did.
So over the past two days, House Sankofa gave one animal to Odin (it was sacrificed Wednesday night with all appropriate prayers and ritual, butchered properly and some of the meat given to the one on whose property the rite occurred. Usually He gets full immolation and nothing is shared, but He didn't require that this time) and today one animal was give to Dionysos.
Both rituals went beautifully (in fact, the one to Odin proceeded with what A.T. termed "almost mathematical efficiency") and the little four legged given to Dionysos today, all on his own accord, decided to nosh on a grape vine on the way to being sacrificed. I took this as a rather good omen given that he was being given to the God of the vine.
Sacrifice is important. It's one of the holiest and most sacred of our rituals. When we engage in sacrifice for our Gods, we are entering into the flow of a very ancient, very, very profound contract We are entering into something tremendously powerful, something that reaches to the very core of our traditions. This is what brings renewal. This is what brings grace and blessing to the community. This is one of the things that nourishes our Gods and in turn nourishes us. It completes a sacred cycle and there is very little if anything that may serve as a truly adequate substitute.
For this reason, I give thanks for those clergy, of all our various traditions who have dedicated themselves to the task of learning and restoring these rituals and protocols. I give thanks to the Gods and ancestors for those who teach and those who do, for those who take up the knife so that our Gods may have the offerings best suited to Their glory. I give thanks for our sacrificial priests (and yes, I am one, but I give thanks to those who taught me, to those from whom I continue to learn, and to the Gods for Their continued patience). I give thanks to the farmers who provide the feast for the Powers. I give thanks to the fire that carries the fullness of the sacrifice away via immolation and I give thanks to those who dress and prepare the sacrifices for feasting, when that is appropriate. I give thanks to the knife and the ones who craft it. I give thanks for the animals and I give thanks for the land that catches the blood as it is spilled. These things are sacred. The hands of the sacrificial priest are sacred, and the process and cycle itself. For these things, I am grateful. I know how they nourish wyrd. I know what it means to restore these rites after two thousand years of our ritual places lying fallow.
So yesterday and today were good days. They were blessed days and that is my wish: that Odin and Dionysos may each be pleased, each be nourished, each be reverenced and that through the process of sacrifice and veneration, Their blessings may flow.
House Sankofa had a wonderful Solstice ritual today. We had eight guests and one of our House members even drove in from Michigan. It was certainly a full House in every possible sense of the world.
Here, you see the altar, with many of the offerings laid out (not all, there was a huge bowl holding about five pounds of raw venison, several bowls and plates of meat, much alcohol, sweets, and other food dishes also laid out before the ritual was finished. We don't ever take photos during our rituals -- to do so in our House would be seen as inappropriate, but we permit pictures before the ritual begins and after it is completed. This is a photo about 10 minutes before we began.
The weapon in front, an offering, is a 100 year old spear from the Congo. :)
Happy Solstice, folks.
Tomorrow is House Sankofa's Solstice ritual. I have been preparing all week and tonight I started laying the altar for the ritual itself. I don't usually lay all of the offerings out until the ritual proper, but as you can see here, I did put a few of the not immediately perishable items out, as well as funky plates (a gift from a House member) for ancestor offerings.
An altar is a living invocation, as it unfolds, as it is created it is a welcome, an open door for more and more of the Presence of the Deity or Deities in question to manifest. It's a calling, a prayer, a celebration. Even though this altar is only half finished, the palpable sense of the Holy Power being honored tomorrow is there.
Happy Solstice, everyone; and don't forget to give a thought to honoring the Moon God -- it is another supermoon (!) after all. :)
Happy Beltane, Everyone!I know we have two days yet before Beltane proper, but my House celebrated it's Beltane this past Saturday. We had a lovely ritual wherein we honored Freya. You can see the a picture of the altar in progress two days before the ritual here
. The photo above was taken about two hours after the ritual was completed. She was festooned with offerings and that, as far as I'm concerned, is how it should be. I was very, very proud of my House: they didn't stint on gifting Her. We had a wonderful ritual, a good potluck, and an informative workshop. May your own Beltane be filled with blessings.
(This post is probably not work safe due to repeated use of one of my favorite words, among other things. )
Emphasis on the coming, folks. Beltane, or Walpurgis if you prefer is right around the corner…little over a week now and I hope y'all are ready. This is the time to whip it out, love your bits, and tap whatever and whomever you have in your life to tap. And do it with joy and celebration while you're at it too. Fuck fiercely, my friends and call on the Gods and Goddesses of sex, love, eroticism, sensuality, and pleasure when you do it. Those Deities, by the way, (Deities like Freya Who will be honored at House Sankofa's Beltane) are also Deities of abundance and wealth. Think there might be a connection?
Beltane is about sex. Well, ok it's not just about sex but it is about loosing creativity and readying the land for summer growth, and the explosion of life that comes with the turning of the seasonal year to spring. It's a seasonal festival all about fertility and fire, abundance, and rampant, unadulterated, unapologetic creativity. It's about coming and the burning in the loins, and the earth's seasonal orgasm that brings a flood of life into being as spring turns to summer and the land yields its bounty to the blazing beauty of the sun. In our parlance, simple creatures that we are, it's about fucking.
I used to poo-poo those who worked primarily with sexual energies. I really did. It's so terribly easy to get distracted by pleasure, to allow it to pull one from one's purpose rather than to harvest and channel those energies toward furthering one's ritual and magical goals. I suppose with anything one must be careful, but pleasure --specifically sexual pleasure--seemed particularly prone to pulling people away from devotion to the Gods. It's true, pleasure doesn't have the raw, brutal frankness that pain can bring, but it does raise a shit-ton of energy; and it's fun, and just as the darker, more brutal energies are important, so too is it important to embrace the energies of lust and life and love. Why? Because we live in a fucked up world, that's why. We live in a fuck-phobic world. We live in a culture so infiltrated, permeated, contaminated by prurient, anti-sex, fundamentalist (monotheistic) attitudes that it's no wonder we're ready to kill each other and do so every day. (Just turn on the news).
Our culture is amazingly anti-sex. I"ll go ya one further. Heathenry is amazingly anti-sex, or rather it's anti-interesting (non-vanilla) sex. I was, for instance, once all but forced out of a group not because of anything that I myself had done (although plenty of people objected to my approach and praxis), but specifically because of my *friendship* with a noted BDSM activist and educator. I routinely get harassed partly because I do ordeal work, but over and above that (and I'll admit to the non ordeal worker, ordeal can be discomfiting in and of itself) because my detractors automatically (and inaccurately) twin ordeal with BDSM and kink. Plus we talk about it, and unapologetically too. We don't shroud it in a veil of secrecy and shame, as though it's something dirty. I suppose it's ok for Heathens to have sex, but let's not actually enjoy it or bring the sacred into it. This is what happens when you draw your dominant demographic from white Protestant fundamentalism and never really do anything about that monotheistic influenced mental filter.You bring these same ridiculous attitudes right on into your new religion. But I suppose that's a discussion for another post. For those of you who would like an example of how anti-sex (and misogynistic) our fine nation is, check this shit out:
Doesn't it just make you proud to be an American? I swear when next I travel, I'm going with condoms and bondage gear in my luggage. Just. on. principle. Shit like this happens all the time. Women especially are penalized for enjoying their sexuality. Then, what to me seems even worse, I see people who are never touched. I'm not talking sex, i'm talking simple physical contact. I see people every day who haven't been hugged in a decade. I see people who are starving physically and emotionally for basic human contact. There have been scientific studies done proving that if infants are denied human affection--skin to skin affection--they can die. Why should it be any different for adults? Even if they don't die in body, they can wither away inside in their hearts and minds and spirits. Moreover, I see people who have never touched themselves and now I am talking sex and I think it a moral crime to fill someone with guilt and shame for the pleasure their own body can give them. We should love our bodies. We have to live here after all. Let's take some pleasure in that…in our own bodies and those of our partners' too.
Bits are great: lady bits, man bits, trans bits, in between bits, intersex bits, all variations of bits - and by bits, in case you haven't figured it out, I mean genitals. It's one of the things that mother Nature got fabulously right. And you know what? Let me self-disclose in the spirit of Beltane. I particularly love cock. Bring on the Maypole, baby. Let's just get that out of the way right now. I love the man bits especially. I love the fact that our bodies are capable of so much pleasure and I especially love how the power sexual activity raises can be used for our own health (I've a Tantrika friend who swears that an orgasm a day keeps miasma and sickness away) but also to challenge the dominant social paradigm. Sex magic, bitches. We has it.
I talk a lot about fighting the dominant, monotheistic filter, the lens through which we view the world, inculcated in us with the rise of monotheism, driven by the doctrine of discovery, and virulently protective of its hegemony. I believe there is a sentience there. I believe it to be malevolent to all creativity, spirituality, and life. I fight that filter with every ounce of my being, every day, with every bit of work that I do. Often it fights back. Those of you who've walked this road know what i'm talking about. Those of you who haven't seen it yet, haven't really come face to face with it in any conscious way, take heart, you can still fight it and some of that fighting can be done on your back (or your hands and knees, or quite a few other tasty positions).
You see, the filter isn't subtle. If one engages long enough in this fight, if one looks long enough at the field of battle it becomes readily apparent what some of our strongest tools with which to drive it back and break its hold on our world might be. It's told us time and time again throughout generations. You want to know the weapons to use to fight it? Look at what it proscribes. Look at what it condemns. Look at what it tells us not to do. (You think sex doesn't top that list? We have a nation permeated with monotheistic values and a world where 80% of the wealth lies with 20% of the people…and those numbers are a decade old, it's probably more imbalanced by now--and yet our politicians are bitching about abortion, birth control, gay marriage, and sex. Because you know, consenting adults having sex is more of a threat to our personhood, future, and nationhood than starving children and world peace). The filter tells us precisely how to fight it. All we have to do is pay attention.
So here's my little plan to fuck the filter right in its face. Here's a little something almost everyone can do, and some of it is even fun.
Step one: honor your ancestors. One of the first practices condemned when monotheism became the law of the land was that of making regular offerings to the dead. The spirits of our ancestors are our protection. They are our strength. They sustain and protect us and they are a wall of power and sense through which the filter has no purchase.
Step two: honor the Gods and Goddesses of your people, of your heart, of your land. Celebrate a multitude of Deities. Pour out offerings to Them, pray, honor Them in any way you can.
Step three: fuck like there's no tomorrow.
Yeah, you read that right. Enjoy yourselves. Feel. Allow yourselves to get into the guts of the experience and feel. Don't stay numb. Don't pretend. Don't settle for mediocrity--especially not in bed. Get down (go down) and enjoy yourselves. Suck the ..um..marrow out of life, and by doing so, celebrate it. If you don't have a partner, or don't want one, don't despair. You have your fingers. You have toys, lots of toys. you can still have a steaming good time and you can still work some powerful magic. For those a little more adventurous, (and a little more skilled in the ins and outs of magic), you can take the energy raised during sex and channel it to a specific purpose. This is sex magic.
Public service warning: ok now, all those fundamentalist Heathens out there who prove every day and in so many ways why birth control needs to remain legal, you might want to step away from your monitors now, go to another page, go drink some mead. We wouldn't want your delicate (WASP) sensibilities to be damaged. Sex and woo talk follow. If your'e jonesing for something to read, try Catullus 16. Go on, I dare you.
Innocent eyes safe? Ok then, back to our selected topic.
Sex magic is a powerful tool in the fight against the filter and there's no better time to get your "feet", yeah "feet", wet than at Beltane. Tap into the currents of erotic energies that the land itself is unleashing at this time. When you're having sex, feel the energy flowing around you and through you. Feel the energy building as you near orgasm. If you're bold and really want to work it, bring yourself right to the edge of orgasm but don't allow yourself to tumble over that boundary. Do that again and again and finally, when you're ready, when you feel like you've taken all you can there, allow yourself orgasm and focus that release into whatever working you wish. If you and your partner can climax at the same time, that's ideal but not necessary for this to be an effective means of magic.
The secret, by the way, to making the best use of every drop of power spilled, is to create the energetic and mental framework, the focus of the spell before you ever touch yourself or your partner. Have it laid out and set well in advance. If you work with sigils, have your sigil ready to go. Do not wait until the moment of orgasm to decide where you're sending the energy. You will be fucked. Literally and magically. All that good, sweet, energy will be wasted. It also works best if one partner is the power generator and the other the technician who focuses the power raised. Most relationships have their power dynamics whether the couple admits it or not. Admit it, acknowledge it, figure it the fuck out before you …you know, fuck for world peace, and get on with it.
For those wanting to do some off the charts sex magic, Beltane is the perfect time to do so. Want to celebrate the way some of your ancestors might have? Well, have a couple as part of the ritual process, go off and have sex, channelling all the energy raised to a previously agreed upon group goal. Have them perform what is euphemistically called the "hieros gamos," the sacred marriage. The couple chosen become embodiments of the dual energies of kundalini, the cosmic exhalation and inhalation, the thrust and moan, the push and pull, that form the pulsing heartbeat of the land itself at this time. Want to get fancy? Have more than one couple doing this at the same time. If you want to get really old school, do this out on the dirt, in your garden, in your fields and feed the energy into the land. have everyone else, while you've got your sacred couple doing this rite, go off and masturbate, right up to the edge but without tumbling over into orgasm. then have them go and work in the garden, work in the land, work in the dirt, feeding the energy that would have culminated into orgasm, into the rich lushness of the land, that the land instead might be readied, wet, and fertile. There are dozens of ways to do this type of working. If you have no goal in mind, feed that energy consciously in offering to one of your Deities. I've never found Freya, for instance, to object to a gift of pleasure. Energy is Energy. Power is Power and sex holds within it the power of transformation and creation and that is no small thing with which to work.
So bring on the lube. Bring out the whips and chains. Bring out whatever gets you hot. If vanilla sex is where you're at: great. Have lots of it. If you're kinkier than fuck, get down with your bad self and enjoy. So long as everyone's of age and everyone's consenting, have at it. Most of all enjoy it.
My advice for Beltane? Go off and have a fine fucking day. and I mean that. Literally.
Because sex is fucking sacred. It's ALL sacred and it's about time we remembered that.
House Sankofa had its spring equinox ritual this past weekend. It actually wasn't a spring equinox thing so much as a celebration of the Orisha Oshun. You see, being a mixed House, we try to honor all of our respective lines equally and since we'd just done a powerful Mani ritual and since Oshun's feast day is March 25, I decided that instead of a traditional Ostara rite, we'd have a ritual to celebrate this amazing, generous, and gracious Orisha.
We laid out a lush altar, all in Her sacred color (yellow). There were several different kinds of flowers and offerings of various food stuffs, honey (all tasted before it was offered---in one of Her sacred stories, Oshun was poisoned by Her favorite food: honey, so now it must be tasted in Her presence before being offered), candles and as part of the offerings made *during* the ritual, along with carefully written petitions and prayers of thanks, She was given jewelry, amber, perfume, and many other good things. I have a river running out behind my home and the end of the ritual, all the offerings were taken down to the riverbank, where a small shrine was made to Oshun. The offerings were then consigned to the waters.
Oshun has been so incredibly good to so many of us in the House and indeed to the House itself; it was a real joy to celebrate Her blessings in this way. She is very well loved in House Sankofa.
After honoring Ellegua as Opener of the Way, making offerings to the ancestors, we prayed and sang to Oshun. then everyone came forward offering their own prayers of thanks, their petitions, making offerings, etc. We made a traditional offering to Her: squash cut in half, hollowed out, filled with honey into which petitions and five shiny new pennies were placed by everyone making an offering. Usually we'd have used a pumpkin for this, but it's out of season for pumpkins so we went with the next best thing.
here is part of the prayer we offered (first in Yoruba and then English. I'm only typing the English here. This is actually a compilation of three prayers):
Hail the benevolent Mother Oshun,
She Who digs up sand, digs up sand
and keeps money (resources) there for Her own people.
help me accomplish mine.
The One Who resides in the deep,
and yet performs various occupations,
the Goddess of the river,
Oshun alters bad destinies.
Ladekoju, the One Who defends somebody's cause
the untiring defender,
the unseen defender,
the unfailing defender.
Hail the benevolent Mother Oshun.
Then, before we ended the ritual, I talked about the young Syrian girl Yana who was denounced by her own brother for being a polytheist, dragged from her home to be beaten, raped, and killed because of her devotion to her gods. I asked that Oshun help make the girl's passage to her ancestors sweet, that she strengthen her, and protect her and all those who are killed in this struggle to restore our polytheisms. We asked her blessings on our martyred dead and that She strengthen those of us who continue the fight.
Then final prayers and offerings were made, Oshun reverenced again and we ended the ritual.
At that point, everyone got to enjoy Wyrd Dottir's workshop on "Eostre/Ostara and Olvir of Egg". We always try to have good workshops after our rituals, because it's so seldom that everyone can get together in one place. Anyway, the day was successful. Ashe and may Her blessings flow.
With Imbolc a day away, I wanted to post something in honor of the Goddess Brigid, a Goddess so loved by Her people that Christianity couldn't get rid of Her (so they canonized Her!). I have a soft spot for Brigid in my heart as the priestess who trained me oh so long ago was, in part, dedicated to Her. She (the priestess) was a silversmith and when she was ordained, while her primary vows were to another Goddess, she offered her creative work to Brigid. So Brigid was one of the first Goddesses with Whom I became acquainted. Beyond that, I find that She holds a rather unique position with respect to Christianity: She was canonized and Her adoration was woven into the fabric of Irish Catholicism. This makes Her an excellent bridge for those transitioning from Catholicism to some type of polytheism--a transition that I have seen some find very scary. She has the power to embody the old, familiar, and known while at the same time gently leading one back into the arms of their ancestral ways. That is tremendous healing power and not to be underestimated. Conversion after all can be a type of emotional, psychic, and spiritual trauma. So I always make a point around this time to give a nod to Brigid. Truly She is a magnificent Goddess. This prayer is for my Celtic polytheist friends and others who happily honor Her all year round. :)An Imbolc Prayer to BrigidExalted One, Fiery Arrow,
Who teases beauty
from the burning flame,
Hear our prayers.
Giver of sacred waters,
We praise You.
We exalt Your name
with our creative endeavors.
Friend of women,
Who blesses birthing
and comforts the dying,
We offer adorations unto You.
Goddess of inspired speech,
Bard of Bards,
Poet of Poets,
We celebrate You in our rites.
of the Greenest of lands,
Who protects Your people,
We hail You.
Gracious Goddess, Who for love of Your people built a bridge across traditions, for You we sing, for You we bring gifts of fire and You we honor as our ancestors honored You in the green groves of Eire: with joy and delight, great Brigid. Hail the Goddess of the sacred fire! Hail the Goddess of the healing waters! Hail the Goddess mighty in words! Hail, Brigid. (The image here is one of my favorite of this Goddess. It is by Joanna Powell Colbert and may be purchased here: http://www.gaiansoul.com/shop/art-prints/print-brigid-at-the-forge/
It's time for another links round-up. There's quite a bit of interesting material having recently been written. First, isn't this a cool picture of the Goddess Brigid? With Imbolc, Her feast day right around the corner, I figured it's a timely and appropriate image. (It's a common domain image, but the artist wasn't listed so if anyone knows who did this, let me know and I"ll give credit). I like how She looks so firm and fierce and there's something about the association with fire, and the reds and golds used here that speaks of tremendous creative power. I had a friend who used to call Her the "Hammer of the Heavens" because when She decided to inspire a person, that's precisely what it felt like! Hail, Brigid, a truly magnificent Goddess (so much so, Christians just had to deal with Her and they did, by canonizing Her! This amuses me). Anyway...onto our links.
Check out this excellent article on polytheism by Elizabeth Vongvisith, author of "Trickster, My Beloved": http://twilightandfire.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/a-few-things-to-consider-about-hard-polytheism/
Another excellent article on polytheology, this time from "Anomalous Thracian". This is part ii, but you can access part I from the site too: http://www.witchesandpagans.com/Pagan-Paths-Blogs/on-the-backs-of-the-gods-part-ii.html
There is a new children's book out that I highly recommend, a charming tale called " Shango's Son." You can find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Shangos-Son-Dr-Winmilawe/dp/0983931801/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358913788&sr=8-1&keywords=Shango%27s+Son
. We need more books like this for our children, in all our respective traditions.
my friend Sophie is doing a series on the Archangels. Her latest is here: http://sreicher.weebly.com/1/post/2013/01/56-adorations-to-uriel.html but if you check out her blog, you'll see several other posts about them too. Interesting stuff.
My friend E. sent me an interesting article on Groundhog Day customs: http://groundhog.org/groundhog-day/history/
. With Imbolc right around the corner this seemed timely.
Here's an interesting historical article on the Sacking of Vikings at Limerick: http://www.medievalists.net/2013/01/20/the-sack-of-viking-limerick/
Finally, here is another interesting historical article, this one on the remains of a feast to honor a dead shaman recently found in Israel: http://www.livescience.com/8522-remains-ancient-feast-honor-dead-shaman-discovered.html
. Imbolc is coming up in a week, and Charming of the Plough is not far away either. What is everyone going to be doing?
That reminds me, last year i wrote a series of Adorations for my Pagan and Celtic Polytheist friends, adorations to Brigid. For those who might be interested, here's that link too: http://krasskova.weebly.com/1/post/2012/02/for-my-pagan-and-celtic-polytheist-friends-72-adorations-to-brigid.html
Now, I really am done, though if anyone wants to share their Imbolc or Charming of the Plough plans, I'd love to hear them.