Pray to the Moon when She is round,
Luck with you will then abound,
What you seek for shall be found
On the sea or solid ground.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Minor Rant: That Big Umbrella & the Confusion It Brings...


Community Mandala: Many individual visions manifesting  (Within distinct boundaries -- not a picture of reality)
Community Mandala: Many individual visions manifesting
(Within distinct boundaries -- not a picture of reality)


I haven't had a good major rant in a long time, but after expressing my irritation to a friend/mentor, she suggested that I consider not expending too much energy pointing out what I do not like as it gives those things more power, draws attention to them & strengthens them all the while wasting my own energy...

Hence, the minor rant.

I signed on to help recruit speakers for, let's call it, a "spiritual symposium." I made a whole bunch of assumptions about what symposium means. I also made a great many assumptions about what "spirituality" & "religion" mean. I really thought I had a grasp of what I needed to do & I became excited, perhaps overly so, about helping make this event happen. I aimed for passion, experience, expertise & diversity. Among the presenters I had approached &/or secured were: 

  • A Sifu/Qi Gong & Kung Fu Master, to discuss some of the basics of Qi Gong energy work
  • A Master Shibari Artist, to speak about the magickal use of fiber art throughout history
  • A Hellenic Devotional Polytheist & published author, to discuss the basics of the Greco-Roman pantheons & modern Hellenic practice
  • A Hedgewitch/Herbalist, to present local wortcunning information & demonstrate making tinctures & salves
  • A Goddess-centric UU Minister & seasoned women's circle leader, to speak about Modern Goddess worship
  • A Wiccan Priestess, to present an introduction to Faery Magick
  • The Bodymaster for the local O.T.O. encampment, to give an introduction to the O.T.O. and the A∴A∴: & their relationship to/role in the history of Thelema
  • A modern shamanic practitioner & Reiki therapist, to provide instruction about basic meditation or journey work...

And there were several more, but I am going to stop before I get disgusted to this becomes a major rant because all this was ultimately rejected by the event Organizer because:

  • "People" (whoever these "people" are) are not interested in learning about things that they don't already recognize & know something about
  • "People" also find the "theoretical" topics & lectures (i.e., the spiritual & esoteric subjects) boring or perhaps even intimidating & therefore will not attend an event with too much "intellectual" content
  • These same "people" do not have the attention span to tolerate any presentation that approaches or exceeds an hour in length
  • And "people" are not interested in lectures anyways, they "want to make stuff they can take home & put on their altars" or really, just anything they can make...

Along with all this was the redundant, tiresome assumption that anything about "green living" = pagan. And, that all people who identify as "pagan" have "altars" they like to fill with stuff.

Since I do not have an altar (there are some assumptions there I don't think I need to point out), I am not into just making (or buying, collecting, accumulating, etc. which is one of my ways of "being green") stuff for the sake of having stuff & I was pointedly accused of being "more intellectual" than the "people," I had to (graciously) withdraw myself from the project (ironically, I had already completed my part which was presenter recruitment) & cancel all but two of the presenters above. 

I had to excuse myself anyway because somewhere in the last meeting I cast aside my muzzle & shared my opinion.

Which made for some awkward moments.

And a follow up apology.

But, such is the Catch 22 of the big "umbrella" where we have people who identify as some form of "neo-pagan" or alternative spirituality, revival religion, or Earth-based whatever... The spectrum is then cast from the Earth-worshipping Eco-hippie, to the Daoist/Vedic/Heathen/Celtic/You-Name-It Druid, to the secretive Trad-Witch, to the most narrowly particular of devotional polytheists to far-flung neo-shaman, to the most eclectic CUUPS member, to the "Crafty Craft-ers" who get their spirit on making crocheted Cthulhu dolls. Oh, & there is everything in-between & un-decided.

And usually I revel in the diversity. But this week, not so much.

Or, maybe it's that I don't appreciate it when other folks cannot appreciate it.

And make assumptions.

Which, admittedly, I did too. But at least I feel good in making my assumptions on the side of diversity, education and not grossly underestimating the "people."

And I could whine about all the wasted time & effort that took me away from more important things (like writing!), but I won't because I received some valuable instruction on the troublesome habit of assuming. (I never seem to nail that one.)

And I could now go on & on about people who thump on their "green bibles" yet drive the largest vehicles on the American market (with no commercial or practical reason for that size rig) or people who think pagan = Wicca or that magick is only effective if performed "their way," or those who never want to get deeper than the "tools," or, or, or...

But I won't.

Because, as I said, this is a minor rant. 








Wednesday, February 4, 2015

"It's a gift..."


"From her to you to me to you ..."

http://theopengyre.tumblr.com/post/108442926870/nox-mandala-4mf-jr-04-02-15
Nox Mandala, a gift of gratitude from The Open Gyre, 2015.














A gift of gratitude, added today to the Devotional Gallery dedicated to Nyx.

It's interesting. 

The most beautiful, exotic & unusual gifts I have received in the last months have all been for Nyx. 

A bracelet of Venetian glass, hand-picked & carried back from Italy, 
A black medicine pouch of suede & dentalium shells, made by an Alaskan Native artist, 
A shimmering mandala of teeth, coins & poppies, 
A brilliant, pink, chunk of salt excavated from the Salar de Uyuni... 
All of them, so beautiful. 
All of them, for Her.

Humans married to their rational skepticism or religious dogmas dismiss the Old Ones, but those of us who have been touched, cherish Their Wonder. 
And it shows.



Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Poetry for the Esbat: Step Forward or "Take This Train, Dear" Moon


An Ice Leopard (Alaska's Leo) Steps Forward.
An "Ice Leopard" (Alaska's Leo?) Steps Forward.

Today I received a message from my dance teacher Joana, an impressive, intuitive & inspiring (if not a wee bit intimidating) Lioness of a creature which began with the words, "Take this train, dear...

"This Train" is the Full Moon in Leo; apparently a prime window to find the courage to make vital changes, develop goals, follow our hearts, express ourselves, free our Spirits. Not being well versed in astrology, I will take her word on this. My sense is she has her own grasp of the Moon & the skies & everything else which Works in Wondrous Ways, so I take this message to heart.

Everything has been out of balance -- many priorities, particularly my own expressive endeavors (like writing, photography, art) as well as my my partner's favourite things (like love of reading, sleep, etc.) have been swept aside by the fray of daily life & the desire to facilitate the passions & dreams of (mostly) our people. I have overlooked this until now because there has been so much growth & success in these (mostly external) arenas.

Ah, but what a toll, what an unbalanced mess it has become. As I cast my gaze over the bits of our life strewn across the hours, days & weeks, I see a disjointed assemblage of disorganized, un-prioritized activity. Spinning, spinning, spinning from one event, meeting, social, class, meal, errand to the next.

I haven't even had time to get depressed by the dark & frigid Winter...

It is social overdose. (On so many levels.)

Where went the quietude of the Esbats?

***

I recently purchased myself a children's book about the Full Moons, Long Night Moon, by Cynthia Rylant. I think it was the stillness of its pages that attracted me. The book tells me that this is the "Snow Moon." My child's school lunch menu tells me differently: it says the February Moon is the "Bone Moon" or "Starvation Moon." Funny, for a lunch menu. 

Either way, both ideas imply a spartan atmosphere, a cold, quiet landscape. A time & place where we find & cling to only the most precious & essential things... to ensure our survival.

New snow, 
a clean slate,
a place from which to step forward...

And so, with this sentiment in mind, the poetry for the Esbat, simple, ancient, meditative, reflective. Like the Moon.


Full moon --
stepping through the snow
the sound of the stones.

Chiyo-ni (1703 - 1775)




Stepping forward. Where will you find your priorities? Your Bliss? Your Self?
Stepping forward. Where will you find your priorities? Your Bliss? Your Self?


Blessings to you this Esbat, my friends.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Euthanasia: Priceless Gift from the Gods.

Yes. I said it.


Copperplate Nr. 21 from John Flaxman's Iliad, 1973. Hypnos & Thanatos carry the body of Sarpedon.
Copperplate Nr. 21 from John Flaxman's Iliad, 1973.
Hypnos & Thanatos carry the body of Sarpedon.


I don't pretend to have any answers regarding the "True nature" of the gods. I simply choose to relate in my own personal, often very private way. 

Besides, I am not so sure it really matters much, as long as we are true to how we hold Them in our hearts. 

Whatever They may be -- spirits, ideas, incarnate beings, constructs, archetypes or concrete entities -- there are times when my gratitude for the gift of Their existence (regardless of Their "True nature") is so immense I find myself at a loss for words, gesture, offering.


❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎


Fear & Suffering are my biggest hangups.

I cannot bear either. I can bear them even less when someone I love is in Fear or in Suffering.

When the condition of Suffering becomes permanent & incurable, having the option of calling upon the merciful intervention of the children of Nyx, the brothers Hypnos & Thanatos (in that order) is nothing less than priceless. 

Why do we withhold this from ourselves when we give & gain so much relief & comfort from employing Their temperate, humane skills for our beloved nonhuman companions? 


❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎


I tell a friend that I have just helped the Skeleton Cat die -- in my arms -- because her hindquarters were wasted & she could not walk, or use the bathroom without assistance while an aggressive tumor was working its way out in several directions from behind her eye. Yet her wits were still 100%... my little fighter. 

I could not bear it.

My friend tells me, "That's what happened to my dad. It was hell.

Dad had to live on in Suffering.


❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎


Whether we choose to recognize it or not, the choice to die at the right time, as each individual deems it, is a gift. (It ought to be a right.)

"Drugs are bad," our culture says -- yet we force our people, our beloved ones, to live their last days, weeks, months, years dependent on opiates & other narcotics because we will not permit them the final dignity, the gift, of choice, of mercy, of endings. 

In the refrigerator we have a pharmacy bag filled with tiny, abandoned syringes, each one bearing a Skeleton Cat sized dose of feline-formulated morphine. They will never be used -- she has left them behind.

❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎


This is obviously not a casual decision. Making this call on behalf of my beloved, my best girl, was traumatic & one of the most crushing tasks of my lifetime. But it was still a gift

She was a gift. 

Her merciful death was also a gift, not that I would choose to trade. 

Except that I did. 

For her welfare, for her dignity & because I love her enough to give her that immeasurable & unpopular gift. 


❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎


I very rarely petition the gods, but I made two special requests this past month: First, I asked Mother Nyx for Her ancient, dispassionate wisdom. "Please, please help me recognize when it is the right time..." I asked, fearing my emotions would cloud my judgement. Second, when I knew it was the right time, I asked that Hypnos & Thanatos kindly guide my baby girl into the soft, quiet Darkness of the Abyss.

What ensued, on all accounts, was a gracious, waveless series of events culminating in the uncomplicated, compassionate end of my beautiful friend. How do I thank the gods for this?


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

ASMR: The Only Reason Smudging Works (for Me)



"ASMR" by illustrator Joanna Krótka. Website: http://www.joannakrotka.com DeviantArt: http://asiulus.deviantart.com
"ASMR" by illustrator Joanna Krótka.
Website: http://www.joannakrotka.com
DeviantArt: http://asiulus.deviantart.com



"Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is a neologism for a perceptual phenomenon characterized as a distinct, pleasurable tingling sensation in the head, scalp, back, or peripheral regions of the body in response to visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, or cognitive stimuli. The nature and classification of the ASMR phenomenon is controversial, with strong anecdotal evidence to support the phenomenon but little or no scientific explanation or verified data". -- Wikipedia

Since I was a child, I have always had this peculiar experience when someone approaches me from behind & speaks softly over my shoulder. This is the sort of thing that occurs on occasion in a traditional Western classroom setting where students are expected to work quietly & independently while a teacher &/or assistant moves about the room... looking over their pupils shoulders. I vividly recall watching someone who had come to help in our 3rd grade classroom move down the rows -- speaking to each child softly -- with great anticipation. I knew she was working her way towards me & it would soon be my turn. She would whisper something about my work, it didn't matter what & then...

As a child it did not occur to me that this might be unusual. I only wanted that feeling.

That feeling is what many people refer to as ASMR -- Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. I had no idea it had a name or that anyone else ever had this experience until I found mention of it in one of Jody Whiteley's videos. (See ASMR Stats. I have discussed Jody Whiteley in some detail in Sleeping with Jody.) Some people describe the sensation as "tingles." I find that the response varies from trigger to trigger. With a softly spoken phrase over the shoulder comes an almost numbing sensation that begins at the front of my skull & rolls back like a wave down my neck & spine. Other triggers evoke a more tingly, even ecstatic, full-body, slightly out of control sensation, one of which I will mention later.

I remember asking my mother about this once. She worked in psychiatry the majority of her life & I thought perhaps she knew something about this experience. She didn't. (This isn't surprising really since there seem to be very little clinical information about this phenomena & that which exists is very recent.) She also said she didn't recall having these experiences herself. I realize I never asked my dad, or my sister, or any other family member for that matter, but it might be worthwhile -- perhaps there is an inheritance to be found here.

Jody Whiteley's blog & videos sent me off on an exploratory mission across the ether. Here I found forums, articles, videos, music, etc. all describing or promoting that feeling I recalled so well (yet wasn't sure I had felt in a very long time). In the course of this ASMR hunt, I discovered the videos of Maria GW at GentleWhispering. Here, I made a fascinating connection. In the following video, you will see Maria (beginning at approx. 10:20),  using a 3D stereo microphone, blow/wave an oil burner around her audience:


Total trigger.

And doesn't it bear an incredible resemblance to "smudging"?

I thought about this at length. Smudging, particularly when someone waves a big, fat, smelly wad of White Sage around my face does not do much for me & honestly, I have always found the process somewhat counterintuitive. (That is, its efficacy as a cleanser or as a deterrent to spirit-beings is dubious to me, unless they are mosquitoes.) But, I go along with it because I am a social animal. On the other hand, I have had always had a fondness for the 'ghetto-fabulous' mode of full body smudging (even self-smudging) with charcoal or a joss stick & feather, simply because it gives me that feeling

I have begun to wonder if some of the "magic" of the smudging ritual & how it "works" to put us in "that space" for ritual, is because it works on a sensory response like ASMR, or perhaps it is ASMR. If that is so, is there a tendency for people with stronger ASMR affinity to be more attracted to certain types of ritual, particularly immersive ritual with soft sounds, smudging, tapping, etc.?

It would make a wonderful research project, particularly as a survey of the pagan & metaphysical communities.

It might also be an incredible basis upon which to formulate ceremony.

I have been meaning to write about this for nearly a year now, but Life, you know... However, I felt a renewed desire to make it happen because I recently made yet another connection. When I am immersed in specific music, especially if I am dancing, the ASMR response can become nearly overwhelming. My entire body will tingle, I become covered in goosebumps, waves of sensation roll across my scalp & occasionally I even experience irregular breathing... doesn't this bear an incredible resemblance to ecstasis?

For me, it seems to happen most often with electronica (although that may just be a matter of habits), particularly with dubstep drops -- & apparently I am not the only oneThere's a great deal more to say about all this, but for the sake of brevity, I will leave off here. But not without an offering. Below is the song which prompted this writing. If you are of the impatient sort, the first & biggest drop begins shortly after 2:20, but I suggest taking in the music in its entirety, especially if you know you have ASMR. The anticipation makes it that much sweeter. 





And if you have ASMR, or think you might & want to leave me a comment or send me a message about your experiences, please do! I would love to hear from you. 


Saturday, January 10, 2015

cRaZy Fool. cRaZy Alive.


Consider the last event which called to your attention the basic reality of being ALIVE.


Moma Fauna, on Ice.
Moma Fauna, on Ice.

Was it an extreme sensory experience? One of great trauma or pleasure? What is it that brings us pause, muzzles the monkey-mind & reminds to treasure this basic gift?

Consider the most spectacular Sunrise on the Turnagain Arm, a sliver of Alaska's larger Cook Inlet. The temperature is 6º F/-14ºC, but the winds along the steep slopes & water-turned-ice make for a more chilling sense of cold. I am standing on the beautiful & very frozen ocean below the very bluffs from which we had such hopes of seeing the Northern Lights. I am here to take a photograph of myself with a book -- a book written by a woman I admire enough to perpetrate this act of sheer madness. 

I am wearing a crocheted dance halter, complete with beads, fringe & a full makeup & jewelry compliment. I am also wearing tall, baby-blue Sorrels, knit fingerless gloves & stocking hat complete with ear flaps.

It is nothing but cRaZy. 

If you think about it, it is the precise costume of The Fool -- dressed for adventure, yet painfully ill prepared. I am stepping off the bluff into the abyss...

This entire production lasted perhaps 30 minutes from beginning to end, my time of extreme exposure even less. But it was enough time for my large ring made from a bent silver spoon to freeze to my finger. It was enough time for me to have to ask my partner to press my phone screen for the last few shots because the phone no longer registered my touch as among the living.

No longer registering as among the living. How quickly, how easily this can happen.

Yet there was no terror about this -- it was in fact, exhilarating. Framed by the sweeping, impersonal majesty of this Landscape, bitten by the cruel, unyielding climate, I felt more alive than I usually do when I resister as living.

The Fool tells us to take the plunge, experience the consequences & ride the Arc of Zero anew, back around, full circle. Do it again. Again.


When did we fall off the Circle onto the straight line?







Monday, January 5, 2015

Sage Moon, Silly Me


Waxing Moon, January 2015.
Waxing Moon, January 2015.

Lessons come, whether we knowingly seek them or not.

I did not make offerings this month, primarily because I was annoyed. Annoyed at the Moon.


Moon: fixed, bewildered, "Where are the offerings?"

Me: petulant, accusatory, "Where are the Lights, Ms. Moon?"


We have been fruitlessly chasing the Northern Lights across Anchorage for the past couple years. With a sudden coldsnap came crytal clear skies & the promise of their spectacle. The Aurora Borealis; heavenly, spectral rains emitting galactic silence. They are among the most incomprehensibly surreal things I have ever seen & not heard. 

At the advisement of our Aurora Alert app (oh, those insipid smarty-pants phones...) we geared up & set off for the bluffs overlooking the mouth of the Turnagain Arm. Blustery as always are these bluffs -- this visit, their blustery waxed bittery thanks to the chafing, stinging cold. The children, such troopers, were driven onward by the promise of finally experiencing what they have only seen in pictures -- a sky filled with solar ribbon candy, sheets of sparkling, coloured stardust falling to meet them. 

But, THAT MOON.

Aurora chasing.
Aurora chasing.

Standing on the bluff, tediously nipped by the winds, we could see the futility of our foray & everything else, thanks to THAT MOON. 

Moon-tans, maybe Moon-blindness in the making.
Moon-tans, maybe Moon-blindness in the making.

Gah! That Moon!


But the next morning She humbled us with Her gloriousness, so much so that Hubby felt compelled to drag me from bed in the darkness of the 8 or 9 o'clock hour to witness Her night's finale as She drifted behind the neighbor's house on the much-further-than-opposite side of the sky from which She rose...






And in Her descent, She was ferocious.






And yet the lesson was not yet over. (Over the years, I have realized this is how She works, yet I always seem to forget.)


This morning in the gloom of daybreak, She persisted even until the Sun's tendrils tentatively felt their way over the mountainous horizon. There She was, fat & sassy, slung low over the airport for everyone to see. 

Moon: Fat & sassy as seen from the hoarfrosted edge of Lake Hood.
Moon: Fat & sassy as seen from the hoarfrosted edge of Lake Hood.

And despite the insanity of trying to perpetrate photography in the mannerless cold, I felt an irrational desire to chase Her further.



Still dissatisfied, I parked in a government lot at the furthest point of the lake shore drive to get one last series of shots. But as I stepped out of the car I saw it.




Wonderland.







There was no way to capture the resplendence of this fleeting place with a lens made from inorganic matter. A row of hoarfrost laden Birch in the earliest dawn -- perhaps more akin to twilight -- illuminated by high pressure sodium lights anchored at the strangest angle. It was like being inside a hanging garden of ice-bound fractals. I felt dwarfed & lost among them. And I wished I could fly, not like a bird, but like a moth...

However, had I been a moth I would have frozen instantly.

I could have lingered indefinitely on the ground in the crunchy snow surrounded by that fantasy land, forgetting myself, save for the fact that the cold was seeping through my jeans into my knees. So I reluctantly made my way back to the car & there She was, bold & almost blood red, as if to emphasize that Her point had been made.

Shivering like mad, I set the camera on the roof of the car & willed my frozen fingers to push the button.




Yes, Lady Moon, you too are worth chasing.

Every damn time.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Cultivating Tradition: Mother Hulda's Night

Welcoming Mother Hulda's Ascendancy, 2014.
Welcoming Mother Hulda's Ascendancy, 2014.

tradition |trəˈdiSHən|nounthe transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way -- Apple Dictionary

To cultivate tradition is to work with repetition & consistency. Not really my forte if the truth be told, yet here we are, three years in the making of a new tradition: Mother Hulda's Night

What is this about, really? What began as an act of intuition shows layers of meaning, symbolism & import. There is a strengthening of familial bonds, a sense of shared ceremony -- one which includes the children in essential roles, a recognition of changing seasons & the passage of time, a recurrent reinforcement of values through the wisdom of fables -- the lesson books of the Ancestors.

I believe this one works in part because of its simplicity & clarity. It must be available to happen when Hulda makes her move, there is no room for elaborate elements or preparations. We must be ready when she is.

Two more years of memories, each a reflection of the other, yet always the differences brought about by the passage of time.

***

In 2013, Mother Hulda's enduring, fat flakes arrived on November 10th. The Changeling had the honor of being "officiant." Hulda's welcoming ceremony didn't change much from the inaugural event in 2012...

First, pyjamas. Next, the same filigree, wheel-trimmed bowl with candle nestled in freshly fallen snow,

The Changeling with Welcome Light for Mother Hulda, 2013.
The Changeling with Welcome Light for Mother Hulda, 2013.


Followed by a short procession to the windowsill (a new one for us in 2013) to place the votary as a sign of heartfelt Welcome,


 


Then to bed for the reading of Grimm's "Mother Hulda," illustrated by Arthur Rackham.


Illustration from "Mother Hulda" by Arthur Rackham.
Illustration from "Mother Hulda" by Arthur Rackham.*


And when we are finished, we talk about the new snow, Winter & the story -- what it means to be helpful, conscientious & thoughtful of others. We all lay back to imagine Mother Hulda shaking her fluffy white bedcovers & thusly, we go to sleep.

***

In 2014, Mother Hulda's enduring, fat flakes arrived on November 29th, but because we were not at home that night, we celebrated her arrival on the evening of the 30th. This year the Little Lad (who isn't so little anymore) did the honors...

Little Lad with Welcome Light for Mother Hulda, 2014.
Little Lad with Welcome Light for Mother Hulda, 2014.

And because this is tradition, you know what came next...


*To read the story (in a variety of languages), visit "Mother Hulda" at the Grimm's Fairy Tales website.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Good Morning Moon.

Another morning with the Moon. November 2014.
Just another morning with the Moon. November 2014.

Steeped in Darkness we are.

"Good morning, Moon!" This may be among the few blessings of this time of year in the far North.

We wake in complete Darkness, save for human luminaries, of course.

We deliver the children to school in Darkness, save for human luminaries, of course.

And we pass the sliver of daylight hoping the Sun might make headway through the clouds, if even for a brief moment. Then we relish it. 

Or at least I do.


Making Time with the Winter Sun. Moma Fauna.
Making Time with the Winter Sun. Moma Fauna.

The merciful Whomevers have thrown us a bone & it has been unseasonably warm. And despite the ominous undertones of that climate indicator, I am thankful for the respite from sub-zero temperatures because I just wasn't made for this.

I am a desert critter, but I am here for Love.

And with that thought, I will whisper to the Moon secrets & stories of Love because She is Here is Her Fullest presence at this time, all day, most every day.

And it is most appropriate that I return to writing with Her at the forefront because She was & is the impetus for this whole Thing, whatever it is or will become. 

And I would offer some POETRY this day, but it seems I just uninstalled my Poetry Foundation App in a fit of spaztic finger flailing & since I seem to have merged like the Borg with my little know-it-all phone, I am now at a loss for (other people's poetic) words.

Maybe then, just one. 

Love.


Blessings & Love to you this Esbat, my friends.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Poetry for the Esbat: "Unto the Hunter's Moon..." (2014)


Demons with cards under a full Moon,  from Patrick Valenza's "Whispers from an Inkwell."
Demons with cards under a full Moon,
from Patrick Valenza's "Whispers from an Inkwell." 


We can call it many things; The Blood Moon, Sanguine Moon or in my own previous labelings, the Blood & Bone Moon. In more southerly climes, one may still call this the Harvest Moon, but it's already a little late for us in this bioregion. There is snow on the mountains & we wake in the dark with frost coating most everything outside.

There are those who call it the Hunter's Moon & that makes sense to me because I have noticed that the Moose begin to look both increasingly sexy & decidedly more tasty at this time of year. The bucks begin to resemble long legged sausages & the ladies have such great looking haunches that I struggle with this weird quandary of wondering which I want more -- to have a rump & thighs like that for myself, or to gnaw on said rump & thighs. And thus, the Hunter's Moon.


A plump moose buck lounges on Autumn afternoon.
A plump moose buck lounges on Autumn afternoon.


This is also the time of gearing up for the end of October festivities. I have grappled with Samhain plenty, repeatedly even. And last year's Samhain (which fortunately I had no computer to with which to write about it) was such a colossal misadventure, that I am calling it quits on Samhain. Just give me Hallowe'en, please. 

Cards from Patrick Valenza's
"Whispers from an Inkwell."
This Moon's Poetry for the Esbat reflects this sentiment, an embracing of of the fairy tale, the folklore & festivity that is Halloween. This is not the modern, over commercialized, Hallowe'en box-store caricature of the holiday, but the truly spirited cultural celebration of the unknown, the dark places with the safety & security of a shared venture into the theatre of ambiguity. It is about traditions, about becoming what we are not & using that ruse to enter those places we "shouldn't" go... 

It's also an aesthetic adventure, if you do it well. 

And I am not throwing the baby out with the bathwater, I am simply quite done with other people's versions of this time when the leaves turn & frost nips & strange spirits venture forth to brush elbows with the rest of us. I am done. No more psychodrama, no more tacky materialism, no more reconstructing of the "ancient past," please. I just want to dive into the celebration, swim deep & revel in each moment.

Cards from Patrick Valenza's  "Whispers from an Inkwell."
Cards from Patrick Valenza's
"Whispers from an Inkwell."
With this admittedly old fashioned sentiment in mind, I have found a piece submitted to Harper's Weekly in 1910. I suspect the commercialization of Hallowe'en was minimal at that time (at least the vulgar gore was). The poem speaks to the festive aesthetic, the celebration & the mystery. It reminds me of Palmer Cox's Brownie books which I like to read to the children whenever possible. One of the poem's strengths is that it does not neglect the importance of our Lady Moon's influence in all things Hallowe'en & even mentions the monkier "Hunter's Moon" -- perfect for this Esbat. 

I have also included some images of Patrick Valenza's not-exactly-Tarot deck, "Whispers from an Inkwell" which also capture that olde-tyme feeling, albeit a bit less festive than agonized (a mood generally characteristic of Valenza's work).


Hallowe'en, by J . K. Bangs
Published in Harper's Weekly, Nov. 5, 1910


Bring forth the raisins and the nuts--
To-night All Hallows' Spectre struts
Along the moonlit way.
No time is this for tear or sob,
Or other woes our joys to rob,
But time for Pippin and for Bob,
And Jack-o'-lantern gay.

Come forth, ye lass and trousered kid,
From prisoned mischief raise the lid,
And lift it good and high.
Leave grave old Wisdom in the lurch,
Set Folly on a lofty perch,
Nor fear the awesome rod of birch
When dawn illumes the sky.

'Tis night for revel, set apart
To reillume the darkened heart,
And rout the hosts of Dole.
'Tis night when Goblin, Elf, and Fay,
Come dancing in their best array
To prank and royster on the way,
And ease the troubled soul.

The ghosts of all things, past parade,
Emerging from the mist and shade
That hid them from our gaze,
And full of song and ringing mirth,
In one glad moment of rebirth,
Again they walk the ways of earth,
As in the ancient days.

The beason light shines on the hill,
The will-o'-wisps the forests fill
With flashes filched from noon;
And witches on thier broomsticks spry
Speed here and yonder in the sky,
And lift their strident voices high
Unto the Hunter's moon.

The air resounds with tuneful notes
From myriads of straining throats,
All hailing Folly Queen;
So join the swelling choral throng,
Forget your sorrow and your wrong,
In one glad hour of joyous song
To honor Hallowe'en.




Blessings & delight to you this Esbat, my friends.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Art. Symbol. Life. The primal self.


An impromptu moment among friends. Ad lib art creates a powerful, primal symbol. Image credit PH/CK.
An impromptu moment among friends.
Ad lib art creates a powerful, primal symbol.
Image credit PH/CK.


The photo above is of a friend in my godfather's yard which constitutes an ever growing sea of sun-bleached, scavenged "crap" -- or treasures, depending on how you define these things. 

The photo is an impromptu moment in the lives of some people -- together they are enjoying a Place & special event very dear to my heart & whole being. 

The photo also captures a moment of extempore art.

And this photo presents a powerful, primal symbol.

Over the few days since this image came into my view, I find myself returning to it again & again. It is the sum of it's parts that make it compelling. Were this a photo of the friend, or of the elk alone, it would not have the same power. His placement in the cluttered "wasteland" is also relevant, but the man-body with elk-head is the key

It is the key to an immediate, visceral reaction. I doubt that many humans would gaze upon this without their guts telling them something. However, the reaction & consequent interpretation is up to the viewer's symbolic associations. Folks like to argue that we humans have a set of shared, universal symbols, but I am not sure that we do anymore. I think technology, world religions, cultural dispersion & other things have changed our perception of said symbols.

What do your entrails say to you about this? 

Mine harbour longing. And they wish to see & know something that lies just beyond, around the corner, outside the borders of the camera's viewfinder or, perhaps it is that which one might find through the gateway of the man-elk.




Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Pray to the Night Gods: New Ceremonies & Devotional Galleries


Plate with Cuneiform Script: Pray to the Night Gods Clay; Early 2nd millennium BC, Ancient East. Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
Plate with Cuneiform Script: Pray to the Night Gods
Clay; Early 2nd millennium BC, Ancient East.
Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg


Sometimes it feels a bit lonely. 

Academically at least, I know I am not the only human who prays to the Great Night Gods. There are always others on this crazy planet -- the small pool of people who have been doing it across the millennia. I figure that all of us who honour any of the many & varied Night Gods ultimately find that deep, inexpressible yet compelling reason for engaging Them. After all, Their adoration continues on, whether we have had a tradition passed down to us from our families & culture, or whether we came to Them on our own, feeling our way about as we create & discover new, personal ways to honour Them. 

The Autumn Equinox has passed & the Termination Dust has capped the mountains. Now is the time for Darkness to settle & linger over this land. Time to move inward. Time to honour the Night Gods during their most conspicuous attendance. 

I have begun composing a special divinatory dreamwork ceremony, a Rite for Morpheus & the Oneiric Brood. It will probably take some modeling & inspiration from this ceremony, but much of it will be my own. I think. It seems to make sense to me that this ceremony occur monthly or so, throughout the dark window between the Equinoxes. Perhaps it should extend beyond. I will discern that when the time approaches. It is all open to adjustment & adaptation -- this is how we get it right. This is how we cultivate tradition. 

In honour of the Night Gods & the darkening season, I have finally added the third piece of the devotional galleries here in the journal. These galleries are a continually evolving, inspirational project for anyone who appreciates art, literature or any of my particular Night Gods. They are a perpetual work-in-progress & a personal joy to create.






Saturday, September 27, 2014

Public Animas Ceremony Part 6: Offerings. (Poetry Appendix)

Continued lessons from the Public Animas Ceremony: An Invitation to Passion.


As promised, this entry includes the 'poetry offerings' chosen & presented by the Animas Ceremony Officiants. This last entry should cover the last of the details & subsequent entries will bring the bigger picture into perspective. Finally. 

I could go on about the people behind these choices & why I love this poem or that, but I am choosing to let them alone here as I have plans to discuss people in more detail & I find that poetry is,  more often than not, best left to speak for itself...

In order of recitation:


The Invitation
by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, (selected verses) read by Kimber

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for 
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool 
for love, 
for your dreams, 
for the adventure of being alive.

I want to know if you can be with joy, 
mine or your own;
if you can dance with wildness 
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us to be careful, 
to be realistic
remembering the limitations of being human.

I want to know if you can live with failure, 
yours and mine, ours
and still stand at the edge of the lake 
and shout to the silver of the full moon, 'Yes.'

It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire 
with me and not shrink back.

I want to know if you can be alone
with yourself 
and if you truly like the company you keep 
in these empty moments.



Untitled 
by E. E. Cummings, read by Nat

sometimes i am alive because with
me her alert treelike body sleeps
which i will feel slowly sharpening
becoming distinct with love slowly,
who in my shoulder sinks sweetly teeth
until we shall attain the Springsmelling
intense large togethercoloured instant

the moment pleasantly frightful

when, her mouth suddenly rising, wholly
begins with mine fiercely to fool
(and from my thighs which shrug and pant
a murdering rain leapingly reaches the 
upward singular deepest flower which she
carries in a gesture of her hips)



Reason and Passion XV
by Khalil Gibran, read by Corwen

      Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and judgment wage war against passion and your appetite. 
      Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody. 
      But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers -- nay, the lovers -- of all your elements? 
      Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul. 
      If either your sails or our rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, on the sea.
      Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion; that it may sing!
      And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and, like the Phoenix rise above its own ashes. 
      Among the hills, when you sit in the cool shade of the white poplars, sharing the peace and serenity of distant fields and meadows, then let your heart say in Silence, "The gods rest in reason." 
      And when the storm comes, and the mighty wind shakes the forest, and thunder and lightning proclaim the majesty of the sky, then let heart - say in awe, "The gods move in passion." 
      And since you are a breath in the gods’ sphere, and a leaf in the gods’ forest, you too should rest in reason and move in passion! 



The Emerald Tablet
by Hermes Trismegistus
Isaac Newton Trans., adaptation by Xinther, read by Xinther

Of all things said tis' true without lying or falsehood:
That which is below is like that above, 
And that which is above is like that below,
Doing all the miracles of one thing only.
So do all things have their birth from this One by adaptation;
The Sun its Father, the Moon its Mother,
The Wind its breath, and the Earth its Nurse;
for the father of Perfection is here!
If only converted to Earth will the force be entire.
The force to separate the Subtle from the Gross, 
The Power to blend the Superior and Inferior from above as well as below;
By this means you shall have the glory of the whole world
and thereby all obscurity shall fly!
Penetration into all solid matter and overcoming every subtle force;
So the world was created.
And come admirable adaptations and marvelous conjunctions;
For I am Hermes Trismegistus!
Having three parts of  Wisdom and Philosophy of the Whole
and that which I have said is now accomplished.



The Laughing Heart 

by Charles Bukowski, read by Alli

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.


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