Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Deck Review: Tarot de los Muertos

Tarot de los Muertos

Many of us wouldn’t even look twice at a Tarot deck called “Tarot of the Dead”. And I’ll admit that I was skeptical about it at first mainly because I was afraid it was too morbid. However, I was intrigued by the whimsical way in which the deck was presented.

It is a standard 78-card Tarot deck whose suits are pens, coffins, pistols, and (movie) reels.  All of the cards have blue or yellow squares with blue or yellow numbers or letters: Roman numerals for the Major Arcana, letters or Arabic numerals for the pip cards (A-10), and letters for the Court Cards. Nearly the entire color scheme of this deck is muted greens, purples, and blues, with plenty of white out of necessity.  The text on the cards is written in both English and Spanish; I couldn’t stop thinking about Mexico’s Day of the Dead as I went through them the first time.

Before you say “no way”, hang in there for a few more minutes. This deck is just starting to get interesting. The Major Arcana have taken their inspiration from that the Rider-Waite images, but the first twist is that all of the figures (except for one) are skeletons. This includes the animals as well. The skeletons are pictured doing things that humans and animals would do. For example, in the Chariot, a skeletal charioteer is being pulled by two large skeletal beasts. Many of the other Rider-Waite images, such as the blue canopy and the crescent moons on the shoulders of the charioteer, remain. Also, this deck has modernized the images while still trying to remain true to the original Rider-Waite.  In this deck, The Fool and his (skeletal) dog are not walking off a cliff, but hitchhiking; a car waits nearby to pick them up. The Emperor sits in an office talking on the telephone in front of a computer.

The pip cards (ace through ten of each suit) were a little bit of a letdown for me because of their simplicity. The Six of Reels, for example, just has six reels on the card with the number 6.  There are no figures of any kind. The aces are a little more interesting, and they are the only pip cards in which you may see the element they are representing. The Ace of Pens, for example, has a pen with fire coming out of it.

The Court Cards are probably the greatest departure from the Rider images. The Page of Coffins, for example, has a skeleton in a coffin twirling a spoon. Those of you who use reversals will be pleased to see that if you turn the card upside down, there is a different image: a skeleton peeking out of a coffin.  Both the pips and the Court Cards can be read upright and reversed; the Major Arcana are not designed to be reversible, however.

My favorite card in this deck is The Magician. This skeletal figure is seated at a red table, keeping the red and white color scheme of the original Rider-Waite Magician’s clothing, writing with a pen while a movie reel plays onto a screen behind him. A pistol in a holster hangs off the front of the table, and a skeleton puppet sits in a small coffin not too far away. All of the elements are represented and the infinity symbol appears over the Magician’s head.

This deck is clearly not for everyone, and I wouldn’t recommend it for people just learning the tarot. But if you feel somewhat comfortable with the tarot and want to embrace your dark and playful side, you’ll want to buy this one. Astrologically speaking, Scorpios will especially gravitate toward this deck because of its theme, but some braver Pisceans might do well to check it out also.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tarot Blog Hop: Exploring the Shadow Side at Samhain

Blessed Samhain to all of you! Make sure to check out Elinor Predota's before mine in the blog hop!

There is always a shadow.

No matter how amazing, talented, or kind others say you are, the shadow never goes away. And that’s a good thing, because it keeps us honest.

Samhain is a time when we look at many things around us that scare us. But this time we look inside ourselves.

As part of my spiritual studies, I’ve created two shadow masks. The idea of the mask is to take the part of you that makes your angry or fearful, one that keeps you from succeeding to the greatest extent possible in your life, and give it shape and form. That way, you bring the “shadow” out into the light so you can deal with it.

If you’re sitting there asking yourself why anyone would choose to do such a thing, I’ll be honest and say that if you’re doing it correctly, you say that to yourself at some point. It’s supposed to make you uncomfortable at first, but later, it makes you more at ease with the “shadow” that you might prefer not to acknowledge. It forces you to really deal with it.

Unless you are absolutely nuts, you only deal with one Shadow Mask at a time. And you’ve got to be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. You start smaller and work your way up toward the larger issues that plague you.

I’ve shouted at my mask. I’ve kicked it and stomped on it. I’ve thrown it around. I’ve had somewhat pleasant conversations with it and have spewed my venom at it. But you can’t obliterate it until you have finally conquered it.

My first one took me a few years to finally destroy, but I did so knowing that it would not be my last. Actually, my mask was only a part of a larger mask that I’m working on now. I’m almost done with the second, but I’m far from finished. I plan to really attack my shadow with the 3rd mask, but I’m not done with this one yet.

Since I started doing this work, I’ve definitely seen a difference in my life. I feel like I can now go further and be the person I’ve wanted to be.

My Witchcraft students go through the same exercise, and as their teacher, I can’t see asking them to do it unless I am as well. So I share my mask with them and talk about it. Let me tell you honestly…having to explain to others what your mask is all about is a real test of your courage. But kind of like jumping into cold water or riding roller coasters, the more you do it, the less painful it gets…in some ways. Will it ever be easy? HELL NO. And I’ve accepted that.

This Samhain, embrace your shadow as part of you. Then bring that ugly thing--that thing that pains you or keeps you from blossoming in your life--into the light and deal with it.

There is always a shadow, ladies and gentlemen. But you decide if it controls you, or if you’re its master.

Thanks for tuning in! Please proceed to Jordan’s blog, the next stop on the blog hop!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Empress Josephine

My Josephine passed away Saturday morning. I came out of my room to find her in her usual spot, but she had already gone.

Josephine was my first cat. I never had pets growing up, and when Jen and I got married I became a “cat daddy” to Jen’s cat, Madison, who lived for 19 years.

About a year after we got married, I started wanting a cat of my own. That cat was Josephine. She was my Valentine’s Day present from Jen in 1997. I named her Josephine because in my mind, she was an empress. We got her through the Grateful Paws Rescue in Kent Island, MD.

We found out later that Josephine was born a Scorpio cat; she came into the world on November 2, 1996. She became my familiar.

Through all of the changes—Jen and I have made 10 moves in our 17 years of marriage—Josephine was a constant, faithful companion. She adjusted well and change never bothered her.

She was never mean to people or other cats, and as time went on she became more and more calm and outgoing. She also had a great singing voice…at night she would play with her toys and just sing her little heart out.

She also enjoyed magickal work. Josephine enjoyed “helping” me do tarot readings and was constantly watching what was going on in the house. 

We called her “The Cat Who Watches”, and we realized eventually that the laser pointer was no fun for her because she was always looking right at the person holding it, as if to say, “I’m not stupid…I know where that light is coming from, and I won’t be able to catch it, either!” She was way too smart for us to pull anything over on her more than once.

I’m totally still in shock. Josephine was getting older and had some kidney and thyroid problems, but they were treatable and we gave her the best care we could. I wasn’t ready for her to leave—I thought we still had a few months left, or maybe a year—but it was time for Jojo.

Josephine helped me become more compassionate. I never had much to do with animals before I married Jen, but I learned so much from her. She enjoyed the simple things in life, and she tried so hard just to be sweet and nice, even with twice daily medication and subcutaneous fluids 3-4 times a week. I wish more people were placid like her.

I’m still not ready for this…I’m going to miss her so much.

I love you, Josephine, my little empress. I will never forget your amazing voice and your pretty, hypnotic eyes.  I hope you enjoy the Summerland, and I hope you’ll come back and visit me someday. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Birthday Greetings from Saturn and Neptune

Saturn: Good morning, John. On behalf of Neptune and myself, we wish you the most fulsome and hearty congratulations on the occasion of this, your 41st birthday. It is our sincere hope that you enjoy this day and the year to follow.


Neptune: Is that it?

S: Yes.

N: Wow. Could you be any more lame?

S: We discussed this, Neptune. We were concerned about your uncontrolled nature taking over and saying something inappropriate.

N: My memory is pretty good, Old Man. My recollection of the conversation was that I tried to give you ideas on what to say to John and you cut me off with “I will brook no resistance on this matter,” or some shit like that.

S: I was right. You’re already swearing.

N: Dude, your birthday greetings sound like words. How about making them sound like you really want him to have a great day? When I heard what you said, you know what I thought?

S: No, and I don’t care to, if you don’t mind.  

N: Tough shit, Mr. Stodgy, I’m going to tell you anyway. My first thought was, “Ask your doctor which hemorrhoidal ointment is right for you.” When you tell someone “Happy birthday!” it should be joyous, not scripted.

S: I understand how you feel, Neptune, but I don’t appreciate your unfair characterization of me. I was going for lofty, dignified, and polished. That’s what he deserves.

N: Dude, have you met John? He is probably pissing himself laughing at you right now.

S: Look, I was hoping we could work together on this one. “For we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds, and split asunder.” JFK said that.

N: If by us working “together”, you mean that I blindly agree to everything you want to say, you’ve achieved it. And NOW you’re quoting JFK? In the immortal words of Samantha Harvey, “BITE ME, SPANKY!” This isn’t a fucking term paper; it’s a PERSON.

S: I’m appalled, Neptune, truly appalled at your lack of decency. Saturn-ruled people go for conservative and dignified, and that’s what I’m giving him.

N: When will you get it through your head that humans are NOT one-dimensional? I’m sure there’s at least several hours a day when John doesn’t think about being “conservative and dignified”.

S: Allright, Neptune. As much as it pains me to ask, what would YOU have said?

N: Probably something like, “John…dude, you fucking rock! And I hope your birthday fucking rocks the house! Go out and have a few drinks and live it up like you’re not 41, because age is just a number!” Isn’t that so much better than, “John…you are another year older, and as Father Time I cheerfully recognize that fact and remind you that you’re even closer to death than last year!”?

S: You just don’t understand. I don’t do emotion.

N: And I do, which is why I agreed to work with you so John doesn’t think you’ve even more ridiculous than he already does. He should listening to the Beatles’ birthday song like once an hour for the whole day and have that spring in his step because it’s his special day. And shouldn’t Pluto be here? Pluto rules Scorpios. Or Mars? Did you ask either of them to be here?

S: I didn’t think it was necessary.

N: Huh. I see. Well here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to let the Sun know that you’re overstepping again, and I’ll talk to Pluto and maybe Mars about their birthday greetings. Perhaps they want in.

S: Please don’t say anything to anyone. I wasn’t overstepping…I just get very particular about what I feel my obligations are.
N: And you felt obliged to cut everyone else out except you and me? Sounds selfish to me. I’m taking off now, you arrogant windbag. John…if you’re still listening, YOU ROCK! Have a birthday shot for me!

S: I'd like to urge you not to get shot, John, today or any day. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Deck Review: The Zombie Tarot

The walking dead are everywhere in America today, and no, I’m not talking about high school students…I’m talking about zombies. We’ve had a fascination with them for many years but in recent times that interest has become more and more honed. Shows like “The Walking Dead”, games like “Resident Evil”, and books like World War Z fuel our insatiable hunger for brains. I meant zombies.

Anyway, the Zombie Tarot is not brand new, but it’s been shambling around in my mind for quite some time. I was lucky enough to receive it as an early birthday present and I just can’t get it out of my brain for some reason.

I have to give them props just for the BOX, folks. They eschew the standard packaging and go with a container that is much larger than the deck itself, but you get a look at the style of the deck before you even get it home.  We’re not talking about modern zombies here…it’s 1950s kitsch all the way. When you open the top of the box and look around the edge of the inside, it looks like a case of bullets.

The little white book—which is, in this case, black—is pretty good, with one card per page. It’s designed to sit right in the box with the cards, and has an interesting story about how you should make the Zombie Tarot your weapon of choice in these difficult times when everything—and everyone—comes back to haunt you. Some information on the suits and reading is also provided, and it’s just enough to be dangerous but not too boring. Because let’s face it: People want to get right to the zombies.  

The deck itself is a little smaller than the Rider-Waite and is easy to hold in your hand. The cards aren’t going to need much breaking in, either; they are fairly easy to shuffle. One of the drawback about some of the newer decks is that to me, if you can’t fit it easily in your hand, you’re less likely to pick it up. I love, for example, “The Gilded Tarot Royale”, but it’s too big for me to pick up easily.

It has 78 cards and stays true to the standard suits except in one area. Pentacles have been replaced by “Hazards” in this deck, represented by a biohazard symbol. Wands are actually bones, cups come across as skulls, and swords are…well, things to defend yourself with in the event of a zombie apocalypse, so no translation is required. On the pips, the number appears in the top left and bottom right corners of the card, with the appropriate symbol in the other two corners. This make card recognition easy.

 Court card names are King, Queen, Knight, and Page, with the pages all being represented as children. This reinforces the idea of youth and/or immaturity—my best friend Sam and I go back and forth on this—present in the pages. The first letter of the title of the person on the card replaces the number that appears on the pips, but they retain the suit designation in the same corner.

I think what impressed me the most is that the deck does a fantastic job translating the RWS themes in many respects, while staying true to its undead motif. The Empress, for example, has a woman kneeling next to some flower pots. I think it’s the woman from “Mommy Dearest”, but don’t quote me on it. Anyway, she has her arm around what probably was her child, now a revenant. In a fantastic addition, the little girl is chained to something out of frame.

[Just as an aside, what is it about zombies that make people want to confine them? I know they used to mean a lot to you, but SERIOUSLY:  Don’t you people know that they’re NOT going to get better?!?! Time and time again I see this. Just sayin’. And for the record, Jen, if I turn into a zombie, please do NOT chain me up to the television and try to hand me an Xbox controller. Just put me down. THANKS!]

The Five of Cups pictures a woman and child in a cemetery. The woman is crying next to a grave, while the little boy holds a box of tissues. Various zombies roam around behind them. Once again, the themes come through: Death, grief, and loss, all of which can affect us at any age.

The Queen of Wands, who is—or used to be—a nurse, is holding the bottom half of what was her right arm in her left arm, complete with bone protrusions. The right arm is holding what appears to be a femur. Her uniform is no longer completely white, either, but it’s just gory enough without going over the top. And that can be said of many of these cards: They don’t try to gross you out, but they reinforce the theme very well.  

My favorite card, hands down, is the Two of Cups. You are looking at two pretty 1950s place settings at a dinner table from above, with two different meals and two sets of hands. At the top of the card is a pair of women’s hands, holding a knife and fork ready to start eating a very nice-looking meat and potatoes meal. Her partner across the table was not so lucky…the left one is missing most of its flesh, while the right picks up a kidney or other organ. In the center of the bottom plate is a slightly bloody brain. Again, it shows the togetherness theme of the 2 of Cups; even after one of the parties has gone on to the world of the undead, they still have meals together. I have to wonder if the woman will be the guy’s dessert.

This probably marks the first time that I have felt the need to sit down and do a review on a tarot deck after just 12 hours of having it in my hot little hands. It makes my brain bleed to think that I’ll actually have to put it down. If that’s not a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is. Go and buy this one so you’ll be prepared when the apocalypse happens.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Book Review: Self-Hypnosis and Subliminal Technology: A How-to Guide for Personal-Empowerment Tools You Can Use Anywhere

 I’m always a little wary of books that propose to give you simple tools to make a person more empowered. In many cases, I’ve found the explanations unclear and the focus more on the author than on the reader. Thankfully, Eldon Taylor’s most recent offering, “Self-Hypnosis and Subliminal Technology”, is not one of these.

Mr. Taylor’s background is in lie detection; he was a practicing criminalist in the 80s, when he stumbled across some research on using subliminal audio during hostage situations. That led him to take a long, hard look at subliminal self-help programs, which seemed like the launch point for his career in writing books about harnessing the power of the human mind.

What I think I like most about this book is that it presents ideas and concepts simply in a way the reader can associate with. If you’ve done meditation in the past, you’ll find that many of the techniques for slowing down brain wave activity very familiar, including deep breathing exercises.

Many of us struggle as we learn to meditate. OK…let’s be honest: Many of us continue to struggle as we try to make entering a meditative state more automatic to relieve stress on the fly. Taylor breaks the process down for us, and gives us audio files to work with so we can try it on our own. If you “can’t meditate”, you really need to pick up this book.

Before you pick it up, though, I’d try to get rid of the “can’t meditate” message in your brain, because if it’s present, then this book or any other book isn’t going to help you. Just sayin’. And this is coming from the guy who thought that entering a calmer state was total crap ten years ago.  

I have many students who complain that they are distracted while they attempt to meditate. There’s an exercise in this book for dealing with distractions, which I found to be an excellent addition.

Pushing beyond the boundaries of “meditation”, Taylor teaches us to hypnotize ourselves for self-improvement and self-awareness. We all have areas in which we would like to improve, but our past—and the emotional ties to negative events—keep us from growing past a certain point. We can also include habits that we know are bad for us that are hard to kick in this category.

We’ve all seen or heard of hypnotists who do stage shows and make people do crazy things. Taylor mentions it in passing to make a point, but he’s not talking about something as frivolous as entertainment. If your mind can overcome a fear, allow a fantastic, positive idea to take hold, or need to do something in life that makes you truly uncomfortable, then you will be successful. Taylor summed up this idea perfectly in a recent interview: “Basically, if you do not believe you can succeed, then this belief will prevent you from becoming the best you can be.”

This book is real, and by saying that I mean that Taylor doesn’t promise “10 days to a happier you”, or some other outlandish claim. (I think “French in 10 Minutes a Day was the one that really galled me, after studying the language for more than 20 years!) If you’ve been heavy for years, you’re not going to lose the weight in 10 days. Americans all want the quick fix, and I’ll go on record as saying that this book is NOT a quick fix. But it provides a simple, powerful toolkit to assist you in making life changes. 

I wish I had had this book many years ago before performing a recital publicly for the first time. I probably would have approached the whole thing with a lot more confidence. And I will definitely look it over again before going in for my next tattoo. I managed my fear the first time, but some reinforcement never hurts.

I highly recommend this book, and hope you’ll take the opportunity to check it out. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Healing Power of Water

Of the four elements, water can be the most elusive. It’s our emotional selves, our intuitive side, and our inner calm and peace. It’s also the one that suffers the most when we ignore it, and in our fast-paced world, water can get out of balance quickly. The problem is that we usually don’t feel it until it’s too late.

Water can also be the most destructive of all the elements, which surprises many people. Too much and we break down and sob uncontrollably, and too little, which is just as bad, leaves us unemotional semi-human automatons who lack compassion and empathy.

The past two weeks in my life had been crazy. I was working long hours to meet a deadline at work, and adding nearly two hours of commute time every day to boot. I worked nearly 18 hours over a holiday weekend and went nearly two weeks without a whole day off. I was tired and irritable, and the only real break I got was the occasional hour in front of my Xbox at night before collapsing into my bed early.

My mini-vacation to the beach couldn’t have come at a better time. I got up Friday morning not really believing that I didn’t have to work. It wasn’t until I got into the car and drove the nearly four hours to Virginia Beach that I started to feel a little bit of water trickle back into my desiccated body.

The first thing I did was throw open the sliding glass door of my beachfront hotel room and just sit there, watching the waves and listening to them crash on the beach. Slowly but surely, I started to relax, and about an hour later I finally had left my old self behind in northern VA.

I kept that sliding glass door open for nearly an entire night—it did get a little cold—just so I could soak up as much of that fantastic, revitalizing energy as I could. It was truly hypnotic.

The next morning, we had more water-related activities in nearby Norfolk, VA, home of the country’s largest port and an enormous naval base. We ended up aboard the USS Wisconsin, a battleship that served in WWII, Korea, and Desert Storm. It was overwhelming. I thought about all those people who made its missions successful, and then remembered that this was their home and their fortress for their long sea trips. I stood in awe as I looked at the guns, which fired shells that weighed more than a Volkswagen beetle more than 20 miles.

After spending several hours there, we went over to the Norfolk Naval Base, only to find out that they cancelled the last tour of the day. While I was a little disappointed, we headed back to VA Beach to check out the statue of Neptune, a huge, imposing figure anchoring the boardwalk. He towers over the people walking by, reminding everyone of his power. He was a sight to behold, and if you ever go to VA Beach, you need to make visiting him a stop on your tour.

By the time Sunday morning had rolled around, I was relaxed and ready for some fun, so we ended our mini-vacation at Busch Gardens. I was all ready for the water rides, but sadly, my personal favorite, the Roman Rapids, was closed for the season. So I pinch-hit with a flume-like ride about Pompeii. I guess Neptune decided I did the right thing, because I was graced with a car all to myself on the ride.

I got back home last night, realizing that I have to make more time for water in my life. I felt so relaxed and at peace, and as much as I’d like to, I can’t count on any one place to be peaceful in. So part of my goal for the next year is to take tranquil with me by being more balanced with water.

As always, thanks to Neptune for the lesson. Considering his fairly regular appearance on this blog, you’d think I’d know by now, but it’s always good to have a reminder. 

Perhaps he can explain to me how a Neptune-ruled city has a law against swearing. Are you fucking kidding me? REALLY?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

"Be Prepared" To Evolve

So I’m standing outside a local burger joint last weekend, waiting for it to open up. It’s like 5 to 11 and I’m just leaning against the wall to the right of the doorway. A few minutes later a group of Boy Scouts and their Assistant Scoutmaster get out of a nearby car and hustle up to the door. They crowd around, and as soon as the doors are unlocked, they run into the restaurant and get in line ahead of me.

That pissed me off. I was there first, right? I would have been able to be a little more forgiving if an adult—a Boy Scout leader—hadn’t been with them. But I thought the man should have reined them in and told them to wait. Isn’t part of the Scout Law “courteous”? Hmm, maybe they needed a refresher on that one.

So I sat in line, and before I knew it 30 more Scouts walked in behind me. It made me think of my own Scouting experience many years ago. I was involved for maybe two years—I think Tenderfoot was as far as I progressed—and I did learn a lot and do fun stuff: Camping, canoeing, tying knots, and other cool outdoorsy stuff.  The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) also gave me my first leadership role; I was a Den Chief to a Cub Scout pack during my tenure, which was challenging in its own right.

Eventually, my interest waned. I realized my thirst for the great outdoors was easily quenched at the beach, especially after spending a night in a self-constructed shelter to earn my Wilderness Survival merit badge. What a bitch that was…I got a cough that I couldn’t shake for 3 weeks. I also had a Scoutmaster who was more interested in making sure he had enough cigarettes and beer than our overall experience, so while I did try to change troops, it wasn’t enough to keep me involved.

The Scouts have recently been in the news again for barring an Eagle Scout candidate from receiving the award because he revealed his homosexuality. If you’re out of the closet, they won’t let you in as a member or as a leader, or even as a volunteer. The BSA is a private organization, and while I personally disagree with the stance, they have every right to allow who they want as members and leaders. At least they don't ask what your sexual orientation is. 

With that position in mind, I wondered what my experience would have been like if I had been a practicing Wiccan while I was in the Scouts. The official BSA position is that they accept members of all faiths. “Reverent” is part of the Scout Law, too. So I was hopeful that at least some spiritual tolerance would be part of what Scouting was about.

I was disappointed to read a story about two boys who were asked in a Scout meeting what religion they were, and answered honestly that they were Wiccan. They were asked not to return to the troop. I’m not sure why this happened; the BSA explains that part of being “reverent” is to respect the spiritual beliefs of all people. I guess they meant “Respect the beliefs of all people who have similar beliefs to  yours”?  Asking the boys to leave didn’t seem too respectful to me, especially after they were being honest—“trustworthy”—in their responses.

Keep in mind—this is one troop in one small town in America. Other people might have other experiences, but it seems that Baden-Powell’s spiritual beliefs—“No man is much good unless he believes in God and obeys His laws”—have carried on to the present day. Many troops—over 60% if Wikipedia is to be believed—are sponsored by religious organizations. Most of these are Christian religions of various sects. I suspect, however, that Wiccans or Witches may make what seems to be a primarily Christian organization rather nervous.

Speaking of Wicca, a Wiccan man started an organization for young men of all faiths called the Spiral Scouts. It hasn’t really taken off, but that’s an interesting sideline.

Unfortunately, BSA’s intolerance goes even further. Atheists and agnostics also need not apply for membership. Granted, I haven’t met many ten-year-old agnostics, but to me it’s as valid a spiritual choice as any other. And I’m sure more than a few volunteers have been turned away as well. I guess people who don’t believe in a higher power are not “morally straight”, either. Incidentally, it’s ironic that the BSA believes that homosexuals are not “morally straight”. Take a moment to chuckle at that phrase.

The BSA has done a lot of good for a lot of young men, and I had friends growing up who lived Scouting. One of them made Eagle and I was very proud of him. I guess finding out all this stuff really disappoints me. In theory, it all sounds good—“We welcome anyone”—and while I’ll admit that the incidents I have cited will not happen to every boy, I look at the spiritual message that would be sent if someone was thrown out for being different—gay or Wiccan or whatever. In practice, humans have to make the decisions and impressionable young minds are there to witness it. That doesn't sound like a plan for success for me. 

To me it is such a shame that a fantastic organization like the BSA would cease to be because they didn’t evolve. Once again, if Wikipedia is to be believed—this article is actually sourced—the BSA has experienced a 20% drop in membership since 1999. It will be interesting over the next few years to see if they soften their stances on any of these hot-button issues, but I doubt they will. If I had children today, I think I’d have to keep them out of Scouting because of all the nonsense.

Many in Scouting would likely say that it has been going on the same way for 100 years, so why change anything? Because the world moved on, as Steven King would say. Perhaps the BSA can help young men “be prepared” for the world outside of troop meetings and jamborees just a little bit more by opening their minds a little.