Monday, May 28, 2018

Creating a Book of Shadows: Links and Information

Online Journal
How to turn it into a book:


Paper and supplies: (offers all other book binding supplies) (offers hemp and recycled paper materials) (has lokta paper) Other Links:

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Story of the Yule Log, A Myth


Long, long ago, when our people could remember the days when Mother Earth never lost her blanket of snow and ice, we were more connected to her than we are now. We had no computers, no cell phones, no airplanes or radios, no cars or microwave ovens. This was in the days before the fall of the Roman Empire, before the legend of King Arthur.

These were the days when everything we wore, and everything we ate, and all that we used to shelter ourselves was gathered with our hands, made with our hands, or killed with our hands.

In those days we depended upon each other as a community, not just for the pleasure of social activities but also for our survival. Everyone in our community contributed for the benefit of the whole. If one in our group was sick, we pitched in and helped him until he was well, knowing that one day he might do the same for one of us. We protected one another, watched out for each other, and shared with one another.

Every spring, the new green shoots came out, and the new baby animals were born, and these things meant our survival. As the days grew longer and warmer, and Father Sun grew brighter, the green things matured and the fruit ripened. Gradually, the plants began to die as the days grew shorter and the nights longer and cooler. We gathered what we could of the last of the plants and stored them for the long, dangerous days ahead. Soon, Father Sun began to seem weaker and farther away, and we knew that he was dying as he did every year. The days became short and the nights long and cold. This was the time of year that those of us who were sick, old, or weak were the most likely to die. We clung to one another, depending on each other for survival more than ever.

We knew that after Father Sun died, Mother Earth would deliver us a newborn baby Sun. Gradually our Sun King would grow stronger and brighter, until the days were longer and warmer again, and once again the new green shoots would return.

But some of us were fearful. We had seen some of the women among us die in childbirth, and we saw babies born dead, or worse, born weak and destined to die shortly after birth. Some of our winters were very harsh and spring was late. A weak baby Sun could make survival difficult.

Fortunately, there were Wise Ones among us. Our Wise Ones understood many things that were mysterious to the rest of us. They could help women in childbirth and predict the weather. They could brew medicines that would help us when we were sick and weak. They engraved strange symbols on rock and wood, and only they understood what these symbols meant.

So we went to our Wise Ones, and we requested they help us help Mother Earth bring the newborn baby Sun into our world. We told them of our concerns, and they agreed to help.

They said we should build a huge fire, the greatest fire Mother Earth has ever seen. The fire would melt the snow and ice, and help our Mother with what she had to do. We would tend the fire all night and day, until Mother Earth brings the baby Sun into the world.

Our Wise Ones were indeed wise. They knew that we had to give up something to get something, and that asking for something was the first step toward receiving it. So they showed us how to throw grain into the fire, in order to ask for a year of abundance. They looked into the flames and saw the future of our group. As we danced around the fire, we rejoiced, because the warmth of the fire felt like the warmth of Father Sun, and this gave us hope.

For twelve days and nights we tended the fire, and on the twelfth day, the newborn Baby Sun rose. And again we rejoiced and sang. Soon our Sun King grew strong and warm, and as Mother Earth grew warmer the green plants began to grow. After that, we burned the Yule fire each year at Midwinter.

For many thousands of years, we celebrated the Yule fire. As time passed, we learned to grow crops and raise livestock, so we no longer depended so much on the hunt and on gathering. Our dependence on each other became less pronounced, less essential. But we continued to burn the Yule fire each year. Because we retained a sense of community, the Yule log had to be a gift from a neighbor not bought or sold, or else it was not lucky. And because we appreciated the sacrifice of the Yule fire, when the Yule log was brought into the house, it was sprinkled with our finest meade or ale, as we would give an honored guest. We adorned it with evergreens, because the evergreen symbolized eternal life. And we kept a piece of it from the fire, to bring good luck to the house throughout the year. Because we valued the passing of tradition to each new generation, we used the piece from the previous year to light the next year's fire.

Gradually, there were changes over the years, and we were encouraged to discard our old ways for new. And when many of us came to the New World, we left our old ways behind. Later, modern technology separated us further from our old ways and our Mother Earth. For some, today's Yule log is nothing more than a chocolate pastry, rolled and decorated to look like a piece of wood. They eat the
pastry but they don't remember its significance.

But, we remember. We remember.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Listening to the Goddess

This is the start of the Great Decline. It may be gentle or it may be steep, but be assured that the only way through is down. Know that if you look, you will find joy in the darkness.

Conserve your energy for constructive habits, see opportunities as stepping stones, and take inventory of your strengths so that you may deploy them in times of need. You will be resilient if you rely both on inward self-sufficiency and outward community involvement. Remember that no matter the challenges you face, your brothers and sisters are going through challenges too, and we are more likely to survive when we help one another. Heed the signs but do not be fearful. This is the natural way of things.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Confession Of A Seeker

Even as I strive for a life of order and reason
I often hunger for a glimpse of that deeper mystery
At times, I believe
that the essence of life is beyond explanation

There is a veil between myself
and that which I long for,
that which cannot be explained
That which drives me deep

Something calls from just
beyond my five physical senses
A yearning, a knowing
It comes in stillness or between sleep and waking

Sometimes from beyond the veil
one mystical note will trill
like a song of Pan or a siren's call
an echo of a recurring dream

Sometimes a hint of rare scent will waft
An essence that brings images of wild beauty
Those moments sustain me
although fleeting and soon forgotten

There is more than drudgery and senseless hedonism
More than logic, duty and routine
I search again and again for that glimpse of nameless joy
A human need as old as time

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Life As Prayer

Yesterday while meditating a thought came to me:

What if everything I did was a prayer?

Every thought
Every interaction
Every movement
Every transaction
Every conversation
Every song

Imagine this: Eating - as a form of prayer, Dancing - as a form of
prayer - listening - as a form of prayer, cleaning my house -
as a form of prayer

Setting goals, making a daily "to do" list, resting, creating,
parenting, loving, personal grooming

All as prayer

I know, it sounds unbelievably hokey - but what if it were possible?

I want to try it, just as an experiment, and see where it leads. . .

Monday, June 4, 2012


In my blog Hopeful Homeschooling, I wrote about reading the book of Genesis to my son and our conversation about dominionism. 

In politics, dominionism is a term applying to groups of conservative Christians who are doing whatever they can to shift our government to one that is run by conservative Christians according to a conservative interpretation of the Bible.  I've always found it incredibly difficult to relate to these ideals, and some people are very concerned

While reading to my son Genesis 1:26, "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth,"

It finally hit me - how the words in this one small part of the Bible - the book of Genesis - relate to everything that the conservative Christians stand for - from denying global warming to opposing equal rights for gay people. 

Some of the more liberal Christians tend to see dominionism as stewardship.  This refreshing viewpoint can be found in the Christian book, Eco-Spirituality: Toward a Reverent Life by Charles Cummings.

He writes:  "There have been several attempts to reinterpret what Genesis says about subduing and mastering the earth.  Interpretations that would justify unrestricted exploitation are no longer fashionable.  As ecologist Jeremy Rifkin puts it: 'We have misread our mandate.  We believed that to have dominion meant to exert power, to control, to dominate.'  Domination was a typically masculine or patriarchal explanation.  Domination has led us to devastation."

Clearly not all Christians believe that the earth exists solely for exploitation by humans.

Personally, I don't try to reinterpret the Bible.  I don't try to make it fit modern times so that it can be relevant in my life.  It's  a collection of ancient essays that have survived into modern times.  It seems obvious that there have been many essays, many conversations about cultural norms, social mores, origin stories, accounts of historical events and spiritual beliefs in every culture and every age.  Most of these are lost.  Of those that remain, the Bible is the most accessible, so it's no wonder that many people believe that it's the only one that is relevant.  The works of the Bible are a part of these ancient conversations but certainly not all of them.   They give us a narrow glimpse into human thought and culture of a specific group of people in their time.  The glimpse is distorted because we don't know how many conflicting views were lost or never written.  Due to translations by monks and edits by kings, the glimpse is further distorted.  As a result, we will never really know what people truly thought and believed in Biblical times.

As I read the Bible, I am aware of the layers of storytelling.  Like the game of "gossip," where a group of people sit in a circle, and one person starts by whispering in the ear of the person next to them, by the time I read the words of the Bible I am aware that the original message is lost.  The story that remains is the basis for the beliefs of a group of people today.  The Bible helps me to understand today's modern Christians far more than it helps me to understand God.

As with any conversation, I try to read the Bible with a listening ear.  As I listen, I try to understand with compassion and empathy.  I read it as a conversation - this is where we agree.  This is where we disagree.  This is where we can find similarities.  And here are our differences.  It's all good.  Yet for me, it's not particularly relevant as a guidebook to how I live my life. 

It can be baffling to contemplate the mental gymnastics a person needs to go through in order to conform with a literal interpretation of the Bible or any other holy book.  They ignore the evidence in the world around them and believe the words in a book instead.   In my view, lack  of evidence is not proof that there is no God, (in this context "God" is a universal term and doesn't imply any particular religious or spiritual belief,) but I don't take the Bible as proof that the world was created in seven days.  A day is a revolution of the earth.  Prior to the creation of this planet, how long was a day and how was it measured?  Science and spirituality are mutually exclusive disciplines.

On my fifteenth Christmas, my  beloved grandparents gave me a beautiful leather bound edition of the King James Bible, with delicate parchment pages edged in gold.  Before then, I had attended church and Sunday school, had read a paperback version of the New Testament, but had never really sat down and read the Bible.  I dutifully read it, cover to cover, and found that it was filled the contradictions and illogical statements.  Worse, many of the words raised troubling conflicts between the cold paternalistic moral paradigm represented therein and my inner beliefs in love, caring for others, equality and respect.  Little did my dear, faithful Christian grandparents know that the gift of this holy book would bring the first step in my journey away from the Christian church.  I loved my grandparents very much and I still treasure that Bible, but their faith was never enough for me.

I believe that we are in a relationship with the earth, but it is not a relationship of dominion or power over the earth.  We are made of the earth.  We are formed from it.  If anything the earth is our mother.  This planet was formed from stardust and our species evolved here as a result of a dance between the sun and the earth which could be compared to the mating of male and female to form a child.

According to Encarta, Dominion is defined as:
1. ruling control: ruling power, authority, or control
2. sphere of influence: somebody's area of influence or control
3. land ruled: the land governed by a ruler ( often used in the plural )
"the monarch's dominions beyond the sea"
4. self-governing territory: a self-governing part of the British Commonwealth or, formerly, the British Empire

We humans do have dominion over our own destiny, over our choices and values.  Each of us is a world, and we have control over our own world.  But we better serve ourselves when we also respect the sovereignty of others.  This idea of each person being unique, having dominon over their own choices while respecting the choices of others is at the foundation of my views on civil rights.  The authors of the book of Genesis had never heard of civil rights as we know them today.

In my view, the idea of of dominionism as it comes from the Book of Genesis came from the mind of men still in an immature stage of our development as a species.  Worse, the perpetuation of these ideas has caused considerable harm to mankind and our environment.  Thankfully, we have free will.  We can choose. And we do.  Hopefully enough of us will choose a better world, regardless of our faith.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Goddess Perpetuations

The following is a repost that bears repeating:

 Goddess Perpetuations

   Sun, December 14, 2008 - 10:01 PM
Karen Tate, author of "Sacred Places of Goddess, 108 Destination," had the following on her blog recently. It's a quote from her latest book.

Goddess Perpetuations for Daily Living
Submitted by Karen Tate on Fri, 02/29/2008 - 4:39pm.

1. I strive to be in service rather than in power. With service comes humility and care. With power comes corruption.
2. I strive to live in harmony with Nature.
3. I strive to employ kindness and compassion as well as ethics and integrity.
4. I strive to be strong, tenacious and assertive, using force as a last resort, and then only tempered by wisdom, care, and discernment.
5. I strive to be accountable and responsible for my actions and expect the same of others.
6. I strive to not be influenced by power and greed.
7. I strive to be generous, supportive and nurturing.
8. I strive to work in partnership with others to create mutually beneficial relationships and associations.
9. I strive to perpetuate positive thoughts and practice life-affirming actions, knowing that what I put forth will return to me.
10. I strive to be aware I am a thread in the web of life, a microcosm of the macrocosm, and as such I affect others.
11. I strive for equality and human rights for all, no matter one's sexual orientation, race, religion or gender.
12. I strive to seek the beauty, joy and pleasures of life.
13. I strive to be grateful and know abundance, with no fear of scarcity.
14. I strive to know myself.
15. I strive to embrace diversity and tolerance for in Goddess' many faces, skin colors, sizes and shapes I see richness and have no fear.
16. I strive to honor all living things, including myself, and seek to harm none.
17. I strive to see the Divine in myself and all things, including the mundane.
18. I strive to recognize there is no one way to define, embrace or worship the Divine.
19. I strive to seek my own best path to the Divine.
20. I strive to be one with the Divine.

By: Rev. Karen Tate
Excerpted from Walking An Ancient Path: Rebirthing Goddess on Planet Earth
Endorsed by the Joseph Campbell Foundation and finalist in the National USA Best Books of 2008 in the General Spirituality Category