Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Several weeks ago the family drove to Temple Bar, a marina and campground on Lake Mead in Arizona, scoping out the perfect campground for Yule. We found a site near a little hill that can be climbed in a few minutes. At the top of the hill is a clear view of sunrise between mountain ranges.
I had fantasies of our well-bundled little family hunkered down near a big fire, all of our cold weather gear in use. Temperatures might be in the 30s, but it would likely be dry. I imagined us imagining what it was like at the solstice thousands of years ago. We would make a holiday feast in a dutch oven, and rise just before dawn to climb the hill and softly drum the sun up.
But for the last couple of weeks, the boys and I have been fighting off our annual visit from the winter crud. I've had to slow down. It's the 16th of December, and the room the tree goes in isn't ready. The holiday decorations are still packed away deep in a closet. We have yet to begin our holiday shopping. Yule is this weekend, and I have been barely able to keep up with normal activities.
In years past, I usually tried to overdo things at Yule. There's the solstice, and there is the commercial Christmas holiday with Santa, and elaborate feasts. There are parties, celebrations, and public rituals. In years past, I used to bravely hope to sing in the choir on Christmas eve in the UU church, despite the twinges of remorse that I feel while singing the Christian Christmas hymns.
At least, that's the winter holidays as I imagine them in my head.
Every winter for the last several years, the kids and I come down with the flu or a cold that morphs into upper respiratory infections. I wash the doorknobs, light switches and faucets, hoping that I can prevent the spread of germs that seem to reinfect each child just as his symptoms subside. Nothing seems to help. We end up backing out of some of the commitments we've made because the children are sick.
This year we even got flu shots.
I think I understand now.
My friend Katlyn's words come back to me: "Yule is a time of dreaming." Every year I repeat those words, and every year, I talk about dreaming but do nearly everything but.
The seed is in the earth, resting.
When discussing volunteerism, I have recently told friends I feel as if I have given everything I can, my seed has sprouted, grown tall and been cut down. Nothing is left, the seed is spent and gone.
This week, we are committed to attend a couple of festive occasions - a holiday dinner for Michael's work, a Make A Wish party for the kids.
There will be no elaborate Yule celebration at Temple Bar. Instead, we'll be spending the longest night warm and cozy at home. We'll have a fire in the fireplace, treats on the table, stories to read, and Yule music playing. We'll have cats and children in our laps. We'll drink herbal tea, then sleep deeply, surrounded by pillows under piles of blankets. Maybe, if we are feeling up to it, we'll get up an hour before dawn and drive somewhere far enough away from town to watch the sunrise.
Or maybe we'll just stay in bed.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
I've been tagged by Cindi Epona’Bri, and asked to tag others. I'll post this on my Tribe and LJ blogs, so that others can respond.
Here is what she said:
"Chasmodai is a fellow Pagan and her faith is close to what my own is. One common element that Islam and Pagans share is taking care of our fellow man, and showing charity to others. I liked that you are trying to share your sabbat celebrations, that is something I would like to do more of. What are you planning for Samhain?"
This year, our Samhain activities will span about two weeks. Here is the schedule so far:
October 25, BoneDance, http://vegasvortex.com/details.php?id=14
October 31, We are taking the kids to Disneyland, dressed like pirates, (dh and I will be pirate igcognito)
November 4, The kids and I are making a haunted gingerbread house and preparing for our Feast of Remembrance.
November 6, Feast of Remembrance, (this will be a private family observance)
Normally we attend at least one community Samhain ritual but this year, for the first time in 15 years, we'll be skipping that. I'm having second thoughts - I would love to attend a ritual at my friend's house, but I made a promise to my kids.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
I have an idea. Rather than bailing out Wall Street, why not bail out the middle class?
Use the 700 billion to pay down existing college loans and mortgages of single home families. If an individual has no college degree, use their share to pay their tuition. If they have no mortgage and no home, help them get established with an affordable mortgage. If their home and tuition is paid for, or they have more than one home, they don't need a bail out.
The credit and mortgage companies would be infused with cash to use for more loans. The middle class would be able to afford to pick up the tab, since we all know they are going to anyway.
Monday, September 22, 2008
This is a edited version of a blog that was posted on September 22, 2008.
Eight minutes ago, right here, the earth was in perfect balance:
So, after a moment of silence, here was the rundown of the big weekend:
Friday: Did the "mom thing," and cooked like a mad dog all day, into the night. Furiously ran around trying to find all the little odds and ends we might want for the weekend, like the Captain Bogg and Salty cds and the pirate flashlights.
Did not get everything cooked that I bought provisions for, so the insanity will continue today.
Saturday, up at 2:00 a.m., in order to arrive at Balboa Park when the San Diego Pagan Pride festivities started. I slept in the car while DH drove, but I had stayed up to finish organizing things and he had gone to bed hours earlier. So we both ended up with about the same amount of rest.
We arrived just as the opening ritual was starting. It was very nice, immediately recognizable as A.D.F., and well done. As usual with outdoor rituals, it was hard to hear everything over the sound of trucks and planes and non participants who don't realize how their voices were carried. It was a bit touching too to see the little indications that there were people there who knew and valued each other, like ad libbed comments that brought a chuckle from the community even though Michael and I hadn't a clue what they were referring to.
We visited the San Diego SpiralScouts booth, and the kids played games like bean bag toss and ring toss, and then we wandered around looking at the wares. There were many well-stocked booths. I was impressed with how well-organized and professional everything was.
The crowd wasn't huge, but it was still early. We heard a talk about hypnosis given by Donald Michael Kraig. I figure anytime a guy stands up and gives a free talk, the least one can do is "look" at the wares being offered, so I wound up buying his book "Modern Magick." I wasn't very far into it when I found a "blind," which means it's one of "those books," that contains deliberately misleading information to keep the casually curious from learning the "secrets." I was bummed and felt like a huge idiot for shelling out 20 bucks for the book. I guess I could rise to the challenge and try to see how many blinds I can spot, but honestly I won't even go into a full rant about this right now. For a change I'd like to find a new, straightforward magickal book that won't insult my intelligence.
We watched Wendy Rule perform, which is probably the main thing that inspired me to want to be in SD that weekend. I bought a cd, (I have about five or six of her cds now, and each one is a masterpiece IMO ). She's always very sweet, professional and polite. I have a huge amount of respect for her. http://www.wendyrule.com/ ; My youngest enjoyed her performance too. He was riveted.
We visited the San Diego Museum of Man next, http://www.museumofman.org/ ; and I was especially thrilled with the Ancient Egypt exhibit. Some of the mummies and the cases blew me away. I want to see them again. I was very excited to see that the bottom of one case was painted with a large figure that looked like either Isis or Hathor, and I wasn't 100 percent sure which, and wanted to find out more. There was a definite Isis on the lid, but the figure on the bottom looked to me like it might possibly be Hathor. I didn't see anything in the symbols and writing below the picture to indicate who it was, (I mean like "house of Horus") so I'm not sure, but it reminded me of other funerary images of Hathor. DH took photos, but for some reason they aren't on the camera. All the photos from the weekend are there but those. :(
I've never seen a real Egyptian exhibit like that one before. Of course I've seen pictures in books, documentaries, and reproductions, etc.,
but this was different. There is no comparison. One could see that human hands made these symbols, painted with brushes. It reminded me of the time I attended a baby shower, and visited the nursery that was being prepared for the child who would soon sleep there. The walls were painted with beautiful murals straight from a children's story, and you could see the brush strokes and feel the love and care that went into preparing that nursery.
I was struck by the thought that if people saved their entire lives to be buried this way - elaborately wrapped and painted with symbols. Then I considered their world view in everything they did. What did they do when a baby was born? Some Egyptologists seem to think that their beliefs were completely centered on death and that this was the totality of everything they did religiously. I can't see how that is possible, any more than a fundamentalist Christian's belief in heaven is the sum of their beliefs. Perhaps the concept of death was prominent, and of course death rites were elaborate and very expensive. But consider how much people pay for weddings these days. It seems to me that that evidence of their beliefs about death have survived because they intended these things to be preserved. That doesn't mean that they didn't also have beliefs pertaining to how they went about their daily lives. After all, they have found evidence that they cast spells. So their beliefs weren't just about death and the afterlife.
It makes me wonder how people might view us 10 or 20 thousand years from now, if only a tiny bit of the artifacts from our daily lives remain. Like stryofoam. Would they think stryofoam played a more significant role in our culture and beliefs, because that's all that's left?
There were things for the children, like some rooms where they could get a taste of how things were different then. They could dress in clothes similar to what the Egyptians wore, prepare "pretend" food, barter, play on a pretend barge, play music, and get a taste for the process of preparing a mummy.
After that we went to the campground. It wasn't on the beach, as I had previously thought. DH arranged it. We were at Dos Picos Regional Park, San Diego County. It was actually quite nice, in a grove of oak trees. They were moss-covered giants, dropping acorns the size of a child's thumb, long and tapering to a point. (DH knew I would approve.) Our campsite wasn't crowded too close to anyone else. The amenities were nice too, flush toilets, showers, electric hand driers and outlets. We fell asleep to the sound of acorns dropping, landing on the tent above us on on the ground around us. It was as though we were being blessed with a promise of prosperity.
The next morning, Sunday, we drove to North Island and let the boys play on the beach. After admonishing the boys "no swimming" due to rip currents, the youngest had to fall down accidentally on purpose, in order to fully experience the ocean. (He's a good swimmer for his age - in a swimming pool, so he knows just enough to get into trouble.)
We started to head home shortly after noon, stopping once for ice cream, (and of course the obligatory potty breaks,) eating the remains of our Mabon feast in the car. We arrived home in time for the boys to have a warm bath before bed, to wash the last of the sand away.
Next weekend, we hike at Zion. Tomorrow, the boys and I start our "Samhain book." More on that later.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
DH and I talked about this last night. I told him that the amount of time and effort that we have been putting into the public group Sabbats must go instead to those two little guys we had just sent upstairs to bed. This is not just an "it would be nice" thing, but a necessary thing.
We haven't figured out yet exactly what this will look like. Maybe it will happen out in Nature, or at home. Maybe decorating for the season will amount to changing the tablecloth on the kitchen table. Maybe the ritual, if there is one, will be simplistic and take five minutes.
I do know that this year we will have our Mabon meal on the beach, on a picnic blanket, while we talk about the origins of the food, and about what we are thankful for. DH looked for a harvest festival in Southern Ca. this weekend, but none are scheduled.
I do have one idea that I would like to float with DH. For each Sabbat, I'll like to start a family scrapbook, or a binder, or a lap book,
It might contain stories, recipes, songs, and pictures of the kids celebrating previous Sabbats. Maybe we can help the kids decorate it with a collage of seasonal images. Maybe these artifacts would grow each year with the children.
The background that led up to this:
For many years I went to Sabbats held at a private home with a beautiful community of deeply spiritual people. As wonderful as it was, something was missing because the experience wasn't shared with my children. They would go to a babysitter while DH and I celebrated, unless he elected to stay home. I still consider myself a part of this beloved community, although I don't see them as often as I would like.
For a while, I tried having family Sabbats at home, inviting parents and children from the local community. It didn't last through one turning of the Wheel. While it was rewarding, it was exhausting and expensive. Samhain was especially nice - one parent facilitated a discussion among the older kids about their family Samhain traditions, while the younger kids colored seasonal pictures, and then they carved jack-o-lanterns in the backyard.
I asked the parents if they could help with future gatherings. They simply couldn't. One said she would contribute financially but couldn't help organize or host one in her home. I understood and respected her position, but I realized that it wasn't enough. With three children; one an infant, one an adolescent and one a disabled toddler, my hands were already full.
Next came the CUUPS thing, which I've already blogged about. A major reason that I jumped at the chance to do the Sabbats with them was that it was our intention to be family-friendly. There was a large facility, so I didn't have to entertain in my home, which is something I don't enjoy. There were plenty of people who were willing to join efforts. We worked our tails off, and it was very rewarding.
Recently I realized with a jolt that during the planning, rehearsing, and ritual, my children sit in a nursery and watch DVDs. (Okay, in fairness, sometimes a hired babysitter follows through with an organized Sabbat craft.) That wasn't my vision. If you've been reading my blog you know what happened after that.
A SpiralScouts chapter was formed, and it's nice, but while it is an interfaith organization, it really isn't intended to be "about" the Sabbats. Nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't fill that particular need, so something else will.
1 cup stone ground cornmeal
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup milk
¼ cup melted butter or salad oil
Grated rind of one lemon
1 cup blueberries, (fresh, or well-drained canned
or frozen and thawed)
1.Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix
2.Add egg, milk, butter, or oil and lemon rind. Stir just
enough to blend. Lightly fold in blueberries to avoid
3. Fill greased muffin pans two-thirds full and bake in a 400
degree Fahrenheit oven
Apple Walnut Slaw with Grapes:
6 cups shredded cabbage
1-1/2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
3/4 cup raisins
1 cup sliced seedless grapes
1/2 thinly sliced red onion
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup soy milk
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper to taste
2 medium apples, chopped
(To decrease the preparation time of Apple Walnut
Slaw, use a 16-ounce bag of coleslaw mix for the
shredded cabbage and carrots.)
1. In a large salad bowl, toss the cabbage, carrots,
walnuts, raisins, grapes and onion.
2. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, soy milk,
honey, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
3. Pour over cabbage mixture and toss to coat.
4. Gently fold in apples.
5. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
Filling: Sauté ½ pound chopped fresh mushrooms
and ¼ cup minced onion in 3 tablespoons butter
or margarine. Combine with 2 cups cooked chicken,
finely chopped, 3 tablespoons minced parsley, ¼ tsp
dried tarragon, salt and finely ground pepper to taste.
Pastry: Thaw two 10-oz packages frozen patty shells,
(6 per package) On a floured board, roll out each patty
shell to about an 8 – inch circle or to 1/8 inch
thickness. Add about ¼ cup filling in center of circle.
Fold over, moisten edges of pastry with water and press
together with a fork to seal. Position on ungreased baking
sheets and pierce top of each turnover with a fork. Bake
at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until golden, about 20 minutes.
From: The Complete Book of Picnics
Mabon Harvest Morning Muffins
35 min 10 min prep
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup grated apples
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 12-muffin tin
or line it with paper liners. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend the eggs, sugar and
oil until well combined. Stir in the grated apples and
In a separate bowl, sift the flours, baking powder, salt and
cinnamon. Blend the dry ingredients with the apple mixture
until just combined.
Spoon the batter into the muffin tins and bake for 25 minutes.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Love this movie:
Reading this book:
On Being Human Religiously, by James Luther Adams
Inspired by the Barack Obama Ad on You Tube "Plan For Change"
Listening to Sacred Sounds by Jorge Alfano
It started with a trip with the youngest to the local library. He checked out as many DVDs as they would let him have: X-Men, Superman, Huckleberry Finn, etc.
Saturday afternoon we baked chocolate chip cookies. The youngest is at the perfect age to enjoy cracking the eggs, mixing the batter, etc.
That afternoon, DH barbecued. All that day, the boys played with Legos on the floor and watched their DVDs. Often, DH was on the floor with them, and sometimes as they rolled on the floor they reminded me of a family of polar bears.
I mostly read all weekend, cocooned in pillows, nursing massive quantities of fluids, gingerly monitoring the progress of kidney stones transiting through my body while surveying the fun the guys were having. (Not much happened with the stones, and as I write this there has been progress but the fat lady isn't ready to sing yet. Pray for me.)
The book was one of the best I've read this year. "Whispers" by Ronald K. Siegal. I laughed, flinched, shuddered, shook my head in amazement and disbelief, and several times told DH, "You gotta read this!"
The boys also did some homework, because one turned in messy work that was returned home, and the other had unfinished classwork. The message: "What you don't finish at school you finish at home."
Saturday night we had one of our "slumber parties" again, where the boys got to stay up as late as they could manage, sleeping in bags on the family room floor. They love that.
Sunday we poured hulled sunflower seeds into the pancake batter, which from now on is the ONLY way we make pancakes in this house, lol! The youngest is now tall enough to flip the pancakes like a pro, which is a major milestone. There was so much leftover barbecue that I still don't have to cook and it's Tuesday already. In fact, we need to swear off meat until our Mabon picnic on Saturday. We are going to be vegetarian for three days.
Sunday afternoon the boys jumped on the trampoline, and did a little cleaning up.
After the boys went to bed, DH and I watched "Mean Creek," a frightening movie that raises interesting questions about the inherent worth and dignity of schoolyard bullies, the process of dehumanizing people before victimizing them, the role of family and parents in the lives of adolescents and teenagers; and how youth are portrayed in the media.
We ended the weekend with shamanic drumming session under the waxing moon. I experimented with trying to draw the fairies I could see in my mind's eye as they flew swift and low over wild, misty land. When it was my turn to drum, my hands tired before DH was done journeying. Hopefully my stamina will increase easily.
It's hard to convey in words how connected we were to each other. The activities were so mundane, so unambitious. I felt insulated and serene. There were no expectations. I kept marveling at how much I love my boys, at how precious each moment is with them, and how many opportunities we are given to explore love as a verb, an "action word" as my youngest would say. There are so many ways to love. I want to try them all.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008, 94° F | 70° F, Humidity: 22%, UV: 5 out of 16, air quality: ozone Good, particles moderate, current moon phase: waning gibbous 98% of full
Every day, I'm cutting strands, letting go. Last night the CUUPS council, from which I only resigned weeks ago, had its monthly meeting. I am conscious of a change in boundaries - whatever happened, whatever was decided, is no longer my concern. I do care of course, and I am concerned -but it "ain't my business no moh"
I resist the fleeting temptation to call up a friend and get the "scoop." Boundaries.
My work with the CUUPS chapter was about working WITH a group to find its identity, which is separate from my own identity or the identities of the individual members. It was about focusing on the common denominators from within the the membership - what direction were the members most willing to support on a collective basis? How to pick a direction that would cause as few people as possible to lose interest, to feel left out? What is the GROUP vision, and how do we fulfill it? At the same time, how do I speak my conscious, and contribute in meaningful ways, speak my truth about what I believe will work? Each of us needed to compromise, figure out what the deal-breakers were and what we could live with.
My own personal spiritual path had to wait. The group did form its own identity, its own customs, liturgy, and traditions. Together the members developed one of the most effective ritual formats I have personally ever seen. But I set aside my own personal interests because they were not the interests of the group. I know that now that I have stepped back, the group dynamic will change and this will alter the culture. And that's the way it should be.
Now that my efforts aren't going toward the chapter, I can indulge the interests I've set aside. These are unfolding slowly.
My family and I will go out of town to a Pagan Pride celebration in another city this weekend. I am looking forward to it - the drumming, enthusiasm, the atmosphere. I'm expecting to meet a lot of friendly, neat people, relax and have a good time - with none of the baggage that I might experience locally. I'll miss seeing good friends, but as I told one of them recently, "I need a break."
I'm still cutting strands, and I still feel vulnerable.
So, what are these interests, these fascinations that I didn't spend much time on, because it didn't fit the community program? They are wide, diverse, and continuously shifting. A sample follows. I list these not because people who read my blog might find them particularly interesting, but because I'd like to track them myself, as they evolve.
1. I've long been fascinated by Qabalah. I don't know enough about it to describe coherently to anyone else, only that when I delve into it I find it pleasurable, challenging and rewarding. For me, it isn't concrete, the way something like cooking is concrete. Break an egg, drop it into a pan, apply heat. Qabalah to me is an abstract way of understanding and interacting with life and the universe - but in a deeper way than one does by interacting strictly with the material world.
2. Celtic and Western European Shamanism. Native American shamanism might be more accessible because Native American shamans still exist today. But for me, the cultures of my ancestors are more relevant. What modern people might think of as the childlike superstitions of an inferior culture, I see as a way of interacting with the universe the way they experience it. And because most modern people don't experience it that way, I believe we have lost something important. While I appreciate modern technology, I also think it's valid and worthwhile to experience nature and spirituality in these very basic and practical ways. I like to think that modern humans can find a balance - live in the modern world, and still practice basic principles of shamanism.
Two of my favorite movies that touch on shamanism are:
Khadak 2006 A young Mongolian nomad has been told that he is destined to be a shaman. He has epilepsy, and during these episodes has visions that might help him and his people.
Kukushka (The Cuckoo) 2002 In this movie, a Lapp woman takes in two soldiers during World War Two. She leads an isolated, traditional life, and there is a wonderful scene when one of the soldiers comes near death, and she travels to the underworld to retrieve him.
I have a long book list on this topic, and I've read a few of them, but I haven't delved into this subject nearly deeply enough. DH and I occasionally practice shamanic drumming together, and I'm hoping that we can start to do it more often, since I personally find it very fulfilling. I've incorporated some animal medicine into a few full moon rituals, but now I'd like to take it deeper as well.
3. Free Soul: I first saw Pete Sanders at a Whole Life Expo in late 1994 or 1995. He was teaching a short workshop based on his book, "You Are Psychic!" He gave a brief lecture, led us through a guided meditation, and before bringing us back, suggested that we open our eyes and look around. I did, looked at the lecturer, and saw a bright blue aura around him! The experience changed my life. That, and reiki, led to experiences that made me feel for the first time, that there really is a "God," even we don't know what that is, because I "knew" it, felt it, experienced it empirically.
I began to play with "reading auras" for a while, until I began to worry that it wasn't real, that it was just schizophrenic hallucinations or something like that. As soon as I began to question it and fear it was just insanity, I stopped seeing them. It was like flipping a switch, and they were gone. Maybe I am crazy. But I want to return to this, explore it more deeply.
Starhawk said something about the difference between magick and insanity. She said it's crazy to jump off a roof because you think you can fly. I think that maybe if a person can see auras, not be plagued or troubled by them, but welcome them as a part of the overall life experience, without becoming dysfunctional in reaching life goals or having relationships, then maybe it isn't such a bad thing.
I have the DVD, "Sedona, Soul & ESP Discoveries: The Free Soul Method," by M.I.T. Trained Scientist, Pete A. Sanders, Jr. When I watch it, sometimes the skeptic in me sees a flimflam man, a snake oil salesman, a carnival barker, using pseudo science to rope people into his $200.00, two-day retreats. He offers all sorts of lectures and workshops, sells audio CD sets, and advanced programs where one can become an instructor of his methods. The cynic in me says it's just about putting his kids through college. And yet, I know that he once opened a door for me that I slammed shut out of fear. I think these programs might hold the key to that door. And I'm not afraid anymore. I think it's worth a shot, even if the only thing I learn is something more about myself.
4. The Wheel of the Year - I was able to do some of this with the CUUPS group because we offered the public Sabbat celebrations, but now I yearn to express this through family traditions, kitchen witchery, and hearthcrafting. I yearn to live by the Wheel, not just express it outwardly in public rituals. I want to help my children feel the magic of the Wheel, the way I felt the magic of Christmas as a child. The magic needn't happen only at Christmas - there is magic in every moment of the cycle.
5. Wicca - I have never stumbled across a Wiccan tradition that I can embrace fully. Perhaps there isn't one. There are always these little "deal breakers," required beliefs that I simply can't go along with. It reminds me of when, many years ago, I looked into Catholicism as a potential source of faith, and the pastor who counseled me said that I must be able to believe, without any doubt, that the Eucharist was in fact the body and blood of Christ. I couldn't do it, but that didn't stop me from having meaningful meditations on Mary. Likewise, there are many aspects of the Wiccan religions that I find deeply rewarding.
This is just the beginning. I've barely scratched the surface. I've felt tension because something deep inside of me was burgeoning. This is what my subconscious meant when I wrote "new beginnings, "new start", and "spirituality" during that full moon spell a month ago. I want to explore, to "fly" in the metaphorical sense.
Here are some websites I thought were interesting today:
Current Mood: introspective
Current Music: Terry Oldfied "Out of the Depths"