Tag Archives: celebration

Harvest, Gratitude & Balance

We’ve crossed the Equinox into the autumn season, and Friday last my Circle gathered to celebrate Harvest, Gratitude and Balance. As the day and night became equals we honored the bounty in our lives, the miracle of our journey through time, and the harvest on our tables in the following feast.

Fall Equinox or Mabon is one of the celestial holidays follow the seasons on which the lives of our ancient ancestors depended.  But, how ever far removed from our ‘modern’ life, This is still the ground truth: the elements must cooperate for the miracle of growth and life to occur. I bless the organic farmers and sustainable agriculture movement for their life-giving work.

In the ancient stories, the tale of Persephone journeying to the underworld uses a Mother’s grief to express the shriveling of the lush greens of summer. Her daughter has gone down into the Underworld taking her Maiden’s love with her.

Yet it is ultimately the third of the Triple Goddesses that rule this time: the Crone. This chant, which repeats and repeats, describes her transits thus:

She cuts the cane and gathers the grain, the fruits of Fall surround her.
Her bones grow old in Wintery cold, she wraps her cloak around her.
For she will bring the buds in the Spring, and dance among the flowers,
Her kisses are sweet in Summery heat, she sings in leafy bowers. (repeat)

to the tune of traditional English ballad  Nonesuch; lyric by Hope Athearn

These days the Witch of pop culture is appearing everywhere in preparation for Hallowmas, Samhain, Holloween, Tous Sant. I think the trope of the ugly, wicked witch describes how our culture feels today about the aging and aged woman!

But in that lies in a cruel misunderstanding of the dance of light and dark in our World: all life cycles. Our Priestess reminded us that we’re not just spining around the sun, we are spiraling through the universe, creating incredible energy as we go.

We spiral through space singing  of youth and age,  dancing between fear and joy, moving from innocence to ignorance to wisdom.

croneHow would the might oak from acorn grow, if the tree and her leaves never fell to rot and enrich the forest floor? The mushrooms wouldn’t grow, the worms no shade and the robins no breakfast. Life cannot continue without the death and decay that creates rich composted soil to receive it. Life cannot arise without the dark womb to nurture it.

Six months of light, and six months of dark.
The earth goes to sleep, and later wakes again.
O dark mother, we honor you this night,
And dance in your shadows.
We embrace that which is the darkness,
And celebrate the life of the Crone.
Blessings to the dark goddess on this night, and every other.

 

Day of the Dead

We’re approaching that holiday best known in mainstream America for cosplay and sugar binges. For a deeper look into this sacred time of year, consider this:

Honoring Our Dead, Holding their Stories

MarieCartierforKCETa-thumb-300x448-72405Next Saturday, November 1,  is the holiday Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead. This is a Mexican holiday that has currency now throughout the world—but especially in California. After all, in 2014 Latinos will surpass whites in California demographics. It is prevalent at this time in Southern California to see sugar skulls decorated—to even have children make decorated sugar skulls and honor the dead. The holiday provides a focal point for a centered observance and prayer dedicated to those who have died in the past year. It is connected to the other holidays at this time, particularly Halloween where as we Wiccans often say “the walls between the worlds are thin.”
Another tradition celebrated at this time is creating an altar for loved ones—or several altars or ofrendas. The altars can hold sugar skulls, photos and artifacts of the deceased, and marigolds. Marigolds are a symbol of death and are referred to as “the flower of death.” Marigold petals might mark a path from a home to a grave in a village so that the dead can find their way back for this holiday. Marigolds make arches and decorations in and around the altars/ofrendas for the scent of the marigold is purported to draw the dead back for the Day of the Dead reunion. The holiday has its roots in indigenous Mexican holidays and continues back possibly 4,000 years to Aztec rituals honoring the goddess Mictecacihuatl, the Queen of the Underworld.Celebration at Hollywood Cemetery. Marie with sculpture at gravesite So, this holiday has its roots in feminism, goddess worship and a sharing of oral history/herstory—as well as the decorative arts, It is a perfect union of feminism and religion representing the often under-represented—those who will not, in most cases, have “official” altars built to them. It is an asking for guidance from the spirits. But, more than that it is an asking directly for guidance from our now personal guides—those who have passed before that we now hope will return and help us in the next year of our life.  …read more at feminism and religion
Author Marie Cartier lost both of her parents in the past year, so she is feeling deeply the oncoming holiday, this time for us to Dance with the Dead.  Certainly a time to celebrate ancestors, it is also a time to look at all those who have come before us, who have made our lives possible today.
Cartier honors women who came before in her recent book, Baby, You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars and Theology Before Stonewall was published last year, with the following dedication:

To all of the gay women who came before me, cleared the path for me, and walked the path with me…butch, femme, kiki, androgynous, lesbian and transgender who dared to walk into a gay women’s bar and acknowledge themselves and their community and made a community for me to walk into.
To my mother– Joanne Marie (Curtin) Cartier– a woman who came of age in the 1950s.

How do we hold the stories and honor our dead?

Tell me about your beloved dead, those who walked before you, blazed a trail, gave you comfort and strength. Whom will you honor, and how, on Dia de los Muertos?

Today the Sun Stands Still

Midsummer Bonfire in Finland
Midsummer Bonfire in Finland

Summer Solstice

Today is the day all these giddy glorious spring days have been leading up to, the Longest Day. It’s the day all those bird-serenaded dawns that lured you from your bed at a ridiculous hour have been heralding. Longest day, and shortest night.

And so begins the lengthening nights, at first just seconds longer, but now we count the days toward winter. I know that often non-Pagans find this attention to the cycle cruel, a downer, focusing on the Dark Side. Well, yes. Not evil or the devil, just the Night that follows Day, the dark that follows light. The contrast that makes the world spin. The op-ed Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark from Akiko Busch in the New York Times says it more eloquently than I:

reblogged from the New York Times

IN mid-June, the twilight seems to go on forever, the sky awash with translucent shades of rose, pearl, gray. These are evenings of enchantment — but also of apprehension. The moment the sun reaches its farthest point north of the Equator today is the moment the light starts to fade, waning more each day for the following six months. If the summer solstice doesn’t signal the arrival of winter, surely it heralds the gradual lessening of light, and with that, often, an incremental decline in disposition.

It is easy to associate sundown with melancholy, to believe that temper can be so closely tied to degrees of illumination. The more floodlit our nights, the more we seem to believe that a well-lit world is part of our well-being. But equating the setting of the sun with that of the spirit may be misguided, at variance with some essential need humans have for darkness and shadow.

In his book, “The End of Night,” Paul Bogard notes that two-thirds of Americans no longer experience real night. “Most of us go into the dark armed not only with ‘a light,’ ” he writes, “but with so much light that we never know that the dark, too, blooms and sings.”

read more…

and blessings for MidSummer!!

Make Art, Celebrate Democracy!

It’s been called the biggest peaceful transfer of power on the planet. Today’s Inauguration celebration is the 57th such ceremony held by our young republic.For all the miseries and injustice from sea to shining sea, it’s a day to consider what we have as a nation.

 

In 2008 Artist Andrew Purchin took his easel and paints to the Mall and painted the scene ala plain aire. The experience inspired him to invite artists to join him this year.

Purchin said:

If every American made art of some kind for at least five minutes a day, Americans would become more reflective and innovative and our political climate would change for the better.

Keep an eye on his site at A Thousand Artists for the unfurling of American creativity!