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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Corn Moon Celebration

The word "harvest," immediately conjures up the calendar pages of September and October in the mind's eye – replete with dried corn husks, gourds, pumpkins, red wine, and tart juicy apples. Although all of these images are thoroughly justified, the first of the harvest fests technically begins August 1. Lammas/Lughnasadh has come and gone, but you can feel the full ripeness and end of the summer all around you. It is there in the rich green leaves and vivid colors of plant life and flowers – their lush smell from the warmth of the summer sun at its peak. The corn moon rises this Thursday the 18th. What better occasion than to gather some of your clan near and toast to the changing of seasons, then?

If you have a craft brewer in your midst, by all means, this is the time to invite them to share their bounty! Likewise with anyone who dabbles in home fermentation in the way of kombucha or wine. Definitely roast some ears of corn from a local farmer's market over an open flame, and toss some fresh Caprese salad with bursting cherry tomatoes (surely a guest had good luck in their garden this year), fragrant basil leaves (ditto), creamy mozzarella (cheesemakers step up) and drizzle lightly with extra virgin olive oil and a good three leaf balsamic vinegar. Plump blackberries or plums (anyone's backyard pickings), would certainly be appropriate at this gathering, as would any just-caught perch that the fisherperson in your group would be willing to pan-fry for the crowd. Make it a true Pagan potluck where each guest can bring to the table some of their own personal harvest for others to sample. As host/hostess, you could bake up some little "Wolf and Moon Cookies" for dessert. Here's a favorite recipe that I like to go to:

     LEMON WOLF COOKIES
     *If you don't own a wolf cookie cutter, have no fear! Just make little full moons, half moons   
     and new moons by rolling out the dough and firmly cutting the shapes out of the bottom of a 
     shot glass. If you do own one, make the wolves first, and then the moons out of the left-over dough.
     4 1/2 cups flour
     1/2 teaspoon salt
     1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
     1/2 teaspoon allspice
     1/4 teaspoon cloves
     1/4 teaspoon ginger
     2 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
     1 cup sugar
     6 oz. cream cheese
     1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
     5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
     Stir dry ingredients together and set aside.
     Cream butter, sugar, cream cheese and grated lemon peel. Mix in fresh lemon juice. Add dry ingredients a little at a time, until well blended. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for 1/2 to 1 hour.
     Preheat oven to 350 F. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface to 1/8" thick. Dip cookie cutter in flour and cut out your wolf cookies.
     Bake cookies on ungreased cookie sheets for 8-10 minutes.
     ICING
     2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
     1 1/2 tablespoons meringue powder
     2 1/2 - 3 tablespoons water
     food coloring (optional)
     Mix sugar and meringue powder in large mixing bowl. Add water and beat at low speed for 8-10 minutes until icing forms peaks. Add food coloring a tiny bit at a time, stirring until you have the color you like.
     Spread on cooled cookies or pipe designs on with a pasty bag. Keep icing tightly covered when not being used.
     (Recipe from Patricia Lynn Bradley, Bark & Bradley®, Inc., adapted by Colleen DuVall)

Sing some songs around the fire pit. Pass one chalice of the last of the home-brew that everyone takes a sip of to further bond your friendship. Finally, partake in a bit of communal moon-watching together. According to space.com, "The next full moon will be the Full Sturgeon Moon of Aug. 18. It will peak at 5:27 a.m. EDT (0927 GMT), but will appear full to the casual stargazer a day prior and after the peak day. August's full moon has also known as the Full Red Moon (because the moon can look reddish through haze), as well as the Green Corn Moon and the Grain Moon."

Resources:
Photo, "Corn And Mazie Field," by franky242 at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/
http://www.space.com/16830-full-moon-calendar.html
http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/documents/consumption/HealthDishWisFish.pdf

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Polywood

India being India, there's an entire genre of Bollywood films about gods and goddesses.

They're called “the theologicals.”

Some are overtly mythological in nature, but the vast majority tell the story of how our hero N manages, with the help of deity G, to overcome what at first seem to be virtually insurmountable obstacles.*

This, of course—as pretty much any pagan can tell you—is how things really do work in a polytheist world. Small wonder that it plays so convincingly on screen.

As America moves towards its own irresistibly polytheist future (ex uno plurimus), realistically we can expect something similar from the US film industry.

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Promise of Rebirth and Regeneration by Carol P. Christ

"[T]he Old European sacred images and symbols were never totally uprooted; these persistent features in human history were too deeply implanted in the psyche. They could have disappeared only with the total extermination of the female population." Marija Gimbutas, The Language of the Goddess, 318.

August 15 is known to Greek Christians as the date of the Koimisi, "Falling Asleep" or Dormition of the Panagia, She Who Is All Holy.  December 25 is a minor holiday in the Orthodox tradition, while Easter and August 15 are major festivals.  The mysteries of Easter and August 15 concern the relation of life and death.  In Orthodox theology, both Easter and August 15 teach that death is overcome:  Jesus dies and is resurrected; Mary falls asleep and is assumed into heaven.  These mysteries contain the promise that death is not the final end of human life.  Yet this may not be the meaning of the rituals for many of those who participate in them.

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Last winter I moved from the city to a small, rural town, seeking a deeper and more frequent connection with nature, quiet space for introspection, and a more flexible lifestyle (as the cost of living is much less out here). I arrived on Imbolc, raw from almost two years of misfortune and disconnection, and felt Brigid's presence as I was rebirthed into a warm blanket of a welcoming home, land and a new start. I gave thanks that day, and immediately went outside into the still, white blanket of snow and made offerings to the Guardian Spirits of the land, thanking them for bringing me here, and asking for their blessings. I felt immediately that my offerings had been well received. 

Almost daily I walked a few yards from my apartment into a small patch of forest where I could be alone with the Spirits, creating a path in the snow that I followed each day, and which sometimes deer followed as well (as I noted from their hoofprints). At other times, it was their path that I followed, although we never saw each other. I reveled in the clean air, the wisdom of the tall trees above me, and a place to sit in utter stillness.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Síthearan NicLeòid
    Síthearan NicLeòid says #
    Thank you Carol! It's more personal than many of my postings, but it felt right. Are you well? I hope your life and work are on a
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    This is beautiful, showing us a path to reconnection with the land, our communities, ourselves!

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Butterflies Across Nevada

The first time I traveled with Tom was October 2014, on our first trip to Front Sight. I saw tons of ravens and butterflies. One might not expect a gun club to double as a wildlife refuge, but it has a lot of open land, including large undeveloped areas where people aren’t allowed. The first day out in the open desert, I saw lots of ravens. One raven flew over the range with prey in its beak. And the butterflies! Yellow ones, white ones, blue ones, brown ones, two different kinds of orange ones, even a couple of Monarchs!

Butterflies are Sigyn’s animal messengers, just like ravens are Odin’s. I took both those signs as cosmic thumbs ups.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
40 Years of Pan Pagan Festival

Last week was the 40th annual Pan Pagan Festival. This festival is one of the longest running festivals in America. This year's crowd was about twice as large as last year's and it really was a relaxing and enjoyable festival. Held at the Rising Sun Campground between Know and Winnemac Indiana, it was a time - like with all festivals to renew old friendships and make a few new ones as well. It was a continuation of the festival movement that was founded in the 1970's and continues to this day in many different expressions.

Pagans and neopagans often come from diverse backgrounds and may or may not have others to share with. There are many solitary members and often the solitude makes the ways of their believe and practice such that the lack of direct contact or sharing makes it very difficult to maintain their faith. The festival movement was created to give people a chance to share with one another and to see that a) they are not alone in their paganism/Neopaganism, and b) that one may learn unexpected things by meeting other people of a like mind.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

clothesIt’s hot today— supposed to be almost 100 degrees (F) by late afternoon. I can’t complain too much as I have home air conditioning; I finally caved and got it two summers ago, when I realized the never-ending heat was affecting my mood, my sleep, and my ability to get anything done at home. It was a mighty battle with my environmentalist side, to be sure but in the end, my need to not be miserable and not toss and turn at night won out. I assuage that guilt by using it judiciously, and I rationalize it by noting that my home in northwest Oregon has been upgraded from USDA zone 7.25 to 9.25-9.5 in the last forty years. Global warming, friends. And it’s only getting warmer.

Yes it’s going to be a hot summer day— the epitome of a classic summer day, and it got me thinking about summer. I’m not a heat-lover, as you might have deduced above. Sunshine is okay, but anything about 75 is just too much for me. That said, I have a number of summer traditions that I look forward to every year— ways of coping with the heat and enjoying this turn of the great seasonal wheel. The seasons are important to me. They organize my world, and their energy flows through me. I wouldn’t be the same without them.

First, I change the bed linens, putting on a blue flower-patterned quilt with matching soft blue sheets and tumbling the pillows in the dryer to fluff them up and get rid of all those dust mites, which I try not to think too much about. Although if I really start thinking about dust mites, I think about the Northern Exposure episode where Maggie first heard about dust mites and is completely weirded out and has a dream and is imagining a giant human-sized dust mite in a trench coat sitting up at the diner counter next to her and musing over a cup of coffee. Very noirish.

I also change the table linens and my kitchen towels. I do that every season, trading out burnt orange leaves and pumpkins and scenes of harvest in the fall for the winter’s deep jewel tones and pictures of stags and saints and bare birch trees. Trading flowers and vines and nesting birds in the spring for birds and berries and brilliant flowers in the summer. Bath towels and mats get changed, too— usually to soft pastels in green and yellow. They brighten the small bathroom.
Salad
Of course summer means special foods, too. Bowls of melons and berries, stone fruit crostatas, corn on the cob, grilled dinners, late breakfasts, picnic lunches, and a late night lemonade as the evening finally begins to cool. A favorite this year (thank you, Amanda!) is a salad made of sliced peached, fresh mozzarella balls, and slivered fresh basil, drizzled with a fruity olive oil and seasoned lightly with salt and pepper. I could truly live on this….


In mid-spring, once the days and nights have begun to warm, I bring out my summer cotton clothes…. soft shirts and loose cropped pants in ice cream shades of pale green and sky blue and the occasional pink or lavender. The cotton takes some work; I don’t really believe in ironing, so I pull the shirts wet from the washer, dry them for precisely 13 minutes, and then hang them and shape them, pulling them with my fingers so they won’t wrinkle. Much. It’s worth the work because the cotton is cool and smooth and light and feels so good next to my skin, especially after the long pants and heavy fabrics and dark colors of winter. As for those cold weather clothes? They’re tucked away in a couple of bins, ready to emerge around Samhain.

I always celebrate the summer solstice and always include Tarot work. The turning of the solstice sun— the length of day, the vigor, the bursting forth of light and life,— is a perfect time to read the  cards. The winter solstice is a potent time, too. Why do the cards work so well on these solar holy-days? Why do they speak so easily? I don’t know, but they certainly do. I take them out of their bag, unwind their silk wrap, speak words of greeting to them, shuffle them— always seven times— cut them— again seven times, picking up the occasional card that pops from the deck as the cards move, for these pop-outs are always deeply significant— they want to be noticed— and then I pause to reflect, to imagine whatever is weighing on me, considering the insights I’d like to find, imagining the months to follow. I lay the cards out on the silk cloth, following whatever patterned spread seems best. And then, a deep breath, and a look at the images and symbols, numbers, and the age-old practice begins to speak.

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