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Posted by on in Culture Blogs


Och, it's the same every year.

The Yule house-cleaning, though not finished, is well under way. The gifts, though yet to be wrapped and sent off, are all bought. Now arises the prospect of the next job-lot of work, and the annual question: to Tree, or not to Tree?

Every year, I remind myself: this is a choice.

Every year, I remind myself: it will still be Yule without it.

And every year—so far, at least—I do it anyway.

Oh, the Yule Tree: that indoor Yggdrasil, that hearth and axis of the season, that island of light and color in a bleak white winter sea.

Long ago, I settled in my own mind the ethics of the matter: these, after all, are farmed trees, born for this sacrifice. (Still, though, I try each year to see at least one tree planted in recompense: the traditional life for a life.) Cutting the tree, I make the wonted prayers and offerings.

Oh, but the work involved.

Decking is the least of the matter. That's a joy, seeing again after nearly a year the old well-loved treasures, some of which have been in the family for more than a hundred years. (There's not much room in the steamer trunk of an immigrant, but somehow for these they managed to find a place.) Each ornament bears a memory, if not a story. Each ornament is a prayer.

The lights, that's the issue. Putting them on will be the work of several hours, taking them off again the same, with the added prickly discomfort attending the fact that invariably I leave the Tree up too long. Is it really, I ask myself, worth all the work?

Then there's the expense. Trees hereabouts this year are running $10 a foot. Seven or eight foot's-worth of Yule tree could buy a lot of groceries.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Movement Dreams: Dancing

Dance is a way to express yourself that, in our dreams, can symbolize things like freedom, joy, and passion. If you’re dancing in your dream, your subconscious might be encouraging you to set yourself free and relax. Think about your waking life and what sort of situations might be putting pressure on you. If you feel like your individuality is being stifled or you are overwhelming yourself with too many obligations like school activities, work, clubs, etc., this dream might be your subconscious telling you to live a little. It’s okay to let go and let loose. Let your creativity flow —you will start to feel much happier once you do!

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 The Lion's Roar - Facing Your Fears | Kathleen Ann Thompson

A Lesson in Leadership


It once so happened that an orphaned lion cub was reared by a pack of dogs. One day the lion, now fully grown, came to the leader of the pack.

“You look troubled,” said the dog. “What's the problem?”

“Respect,” said the lion. “I get no respect from anyone.”

“I'll tell you why you get no respect,” said the dog. “You're a lion, but you act like a dog. What's the first thing you do when you meet someone? You schniff im tukhis, just like everyone else.”

“What should I do instead?” asks the lion.

“Here's what you do,” says the dog. “When you meet someone, you throw out your chest, you lift up your head, and you let out a roar.”

The lion decides to give it a try. Sure enough, it works. Whenever he meets someone, he lets out a roar, and pretty soon, he's getting plenty of respect.

A few days later, he runs into the leader of the pack again.

“So, how's the respect coming along?” asks the dog.

“RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!” roars the lion.

The dog grins and sidles up next to him.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 For many Hawaiians, lava flows are a time to honor, reflect

The Real and the Store-Bought

If you want to see what real paganism—as distinguished from the store-bought kind—looks like on the ground, check out this article about Traditional Hawaiian response to the current eruption of Mauna Loa.

In a sacred version of volcano tourism, Hawaiian cultural practitioners are making pilgrimage to the lava flows that are the living presence of Madame Pele, both to witness, and to honor, the ancient Power that (literally) made their islands.

There, they make offerings of dance, chant, and prayer, as well as offerings of a more tangible kind: bottles of gin, red scarves, ti leaves, money, tobacco.

A goddess is present, and so we go to meet and to honor her. That's what the real thing looks like on the ground.


Standing With Our Backs to the World


I think of a Samhain ritual that I recently attended. The best I can say for it is that it was well-intentioned.

The ritual, rightly, began at sundown. During the Summer, from the ritual circle in its sacred grove, you can't see the Western skyline for the leaves; but now, with the trees newly naked, the setting Samhain Sun stood, splendid, upon the horizon.

A god was present, but no one paid any attention. (Well, I did: I slipped out of the circle, made the wonted observances, and—unobtrusively, I hope—slipped back in.) No, we were too busy casting our circle to notice, standing—as is, alas, all too often the way of neo-pagans—with our backs to the world.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Like tides, lives have high and low times. Sometimes you're riding on top of the wave, sometimes you're impossibly riding inside the tube of the wave and it is so cool and amazing, but sometimes you're in the trough. You can stand up and yell "Make wave!" or just wait it out and it's coming around the same either way.

If you're feeling low, and feeling like you aren't doing enough with your religious and magical practice, this advice is for you. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Tips ’n’ Tricks: Fairy Flint

Flint is favored by the fairy folk. If you want to be on the good side of the wee ones, keep flint around, and they will go about their own business and not meddle in yours. No more lost car keys or misplaced wallets after that.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Movement Dreams: Climbing Uphill

An uphill climb is usually related to some kind of struggle in your waking life. This dream could involve a hill, a mountain, a ladder, etc. How steep the climb is and how much difficulty you have making it can be a reflection of similar circumstances in your waking life. If the climb is really difficult, it could be that the obstacle you are facing or the thing you hope to achieve is turning out to be more than you bargained for. You might be trying to grow your circle of friends, join a team or club, or reach some other new goal. If it feels like things are going too slowly, maybe you need to step back and evaluate the situation and come up with a better path to get you to where you want to be. Success is in your future if you approach it the right way.

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