Showing posts with label ritual. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ritual. Show all posts

Friday, February 01, 2008

Purification and renewal for this weekend

Today and tomorrow are, for many, the beginnings of spring. February 1 or 2 are celebrated as the Feast Day of St. Brigid, who, according to various sources, was the attempt to christianize the goddess Brigid.

Brigid traditionally is associated with home and hearth but also with wisdom, poetry, craftsmanship, and healing.

It also is Candlemas, the day midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, and traditionally associated with cleansing, renewal, and, of course, candles. But first Candlemas was known as Imbolc, associated with the flowing of ewe's milk for new lambs -- the awakening of the world for spring.

If you've noticed, the light is coming back: days are lengthening quite visibly. In just over a month, on March 9, we begin daylight savings time again -- spring forward. The dark is over for this winter.

My friend Lunaea gives directions for making your own Brigid's Cross. She says, "The cross represents the cross-quarter days of the wheel of the year and the sun and the balance of energies and elements, and many other fine things. For me, it also represents movement, progress, and radiant strength, all good things to affirm as the light returns to bless the land."

I've got a fire in the woodstove and will light candles tonight as I honor these days both pagan and Christian, and reflect on creating, purifying, and renewal.

May light shine in your life.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Shine on, harvest moon

Last night was the full harvest moon, coming on the heels of Sunday's autumnal equinox. It is a magical time, a time of change and harvest, of reaping what you have sown over the year, and it also is a preparation for the long dormant winter.

My little group -- Cowgirls, we call ourselves, after the game Cowgirls Ride the Trail of Truth -- has been meeting about twice a month for nearly three years now to share our lives, to celebrate relationship and friendships, to provide support to each other. Our ages are very diverse: I'm not really quite sure how we were drawn together initially, other than we shared a love of the arts. Certainly our life experiences are wildly different, which makes for interesting stories.

And we share a spirituality that is rooted in Christianity -- we all have church-going histories--but has evolved into an undefined, unrefined mixture of Buddhism, Neopaganism, New Thought, and probably involving elements of several other practices. I don't know that WE know, exactly.

But last night we celebrated the equinox with a harvest feast, with candles, with prayers, and then created our own harvest cornucopias with a variety of locally-grown fruits and veggies. I'd gathered a small basket of acorns from our trees, and after holding them and reflecting on the great promise that each small seed holds, we exchanged harvest wishes for each other, using the acorns as the symbol of growth and promise.

And we celebrated Lady Moon, out here where ambient light is so much fainter than in town and the full moon seems so much larger, so much brighter. It was the perfect evening to do so, too, with temperatures still at shirt-sleeve comfort, no clouds, no sounds but crickets and tree frogs or whatever variety of wild thing makes those oddly comforting humming thrumming sounds.

It was a celebration reminding us of the divine feminine, of the energy of the earth and the cycles of life. It was mostly silent, although I'd written some ceremony adapted from a variety of traditions, and altered it further as we went through it -- but it was meaningful and rich and made me feel very blessed to have these women as my heart friends, to share my home with deer and turkeys and other animals -- including a very affectionate kitten who insisted on visiting the laps of two women who are not particularly enamored of cats (how very catlike!).

I am grateful for change that allows new growth and new possibilities. I am grateful for new beginnings and for second chances. I am grateful most of all for love that surrounds and enriches everything in my life today. Thanks be.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The longest day

..of the year is today, the Summer solstice. It's the longest day of the year, also the shortest night. It is a time for celebration, for the ripeness of the earth and warmth of the sun, for the life and bounty it brings.

Author Kim Antieau has a lovely blessing for the solstice that I'll share with some friends tonight; gratitude, affirmation, healing, blessing, giving.

More than 20 years ago I spent Midsummer in Sweden. Everywhere we went were maypoles, decked with ribbons and flowers for dancing. Everywhere we went was green -- sprigs of green leaves, branches of trees, bunches of flowers and grasses. Every boat in the water had its green boughs lashed to the front. Every house sported wreaths or boughs on the doors. The city was pretty much shut down because everyone had left for their country retreats for Midsummer.

It is dark there in the winter -- the sun comes up in the late morning and goes down in the early afternoon. The Swedes who are in cities live in an economy of space -- small apartments, little houses, and clean design.

And nearly every one of them has a retreat somewhere in the country. Boats are popular -- there is so much water! They love the green, the sunshine, the return of the warmth and light, and they celebrate it long, loudly, and heartily, dancing and drinking and singing.

This is the heart of summer, today and these next few days. Little by little, days will begin to shorten and head toward the darkness and cold of winter. It's a cycle, as is all of life, and it goes 'round in a wheel, a continous circle of cycles of lightness and dark, of life and death, of rebirth and aging.

This is a day to mark the cycle and honor the Great Wheel as it turns; to honor the seasons and cycles in our own lives; to re-evaluate and heal. Thanks be. Blessed be.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Shared ritual binds us

I dreamed of my mother last night and trying to feed her, nourish her. There was plenty of food,and somehow we ended up with two turkeys in the oven. She was very fragile, and didn't quite understand what I was trying to do. I'm not really sure, either, except that was going to be a lot of turkey.

I miss her.

I miss being in Springfield for Christmas, going shopping there for last minute gifts, waiting for everyone to get there, bringing my mother a Clementine and some Jule Kage that I'd brought from home.

I miss the rituals we'd established there, and those we'd carried over from another life.

We're creating new ones, I understand that, but creating anything is hard work, especially in the beginning. Last year, the first without Mother, was hard, but in some ways this one feels harder, a little sadder.

Author Robert Fulghum wrote about ritual, especially family rituals. As we acknowledge the events, the losses, the beginnings in our life through ritual, we also honor the spiritual in them and in ourselves.

When we have wild rice and bacon and Jule Kage for breakfast on Christmas morning, we are continuing a ritual from my childhood when we'd visit Duluth. Many of my cousins also fix wild rice. It connects us in honoring those traditions and our grandparents and parents.

There are cookies and candies that I always bake at Christmas, from recipes my mother printed by hand into a notebook of her favorites. She is there in the kitchen with me when I stir flour, butter, and pecans together for Daddy's (and Tony's) favorite, Pecan Shorts.

We all have rituals around family, especially at holidays -- things we always eat, stories we always tell, songs we always sing, fights we always have.... Ritual connects us, binds us together. It honors our dead and celebrates our living.

Our family won't be here this year -- but I know what my brother and my daughter will be eating for breakfast on Christmas. I know there will be certain cookies in their homes, and that they'll hang stockings knitted by my mother nearly 30 years ago. And in those shared rituals, we will be together.