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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
All's Well that Ends

We had lunch at a Chinese restaurant today. We had a fun waiter with whom I conversed about chopsticks (we had brought our own, as we usually do). When we left the table, he wished us a happy New Year and we responded in kind.

And then I laughed.  Because it's likely that neither of us actually celebrate tonight as the start of a new year. O, yes, culturally-speaking, everyone celebrates today as "New Year's Eve."  But the reality is that I celebrate the new year at the beginning of November and again at the Winter Solstice.  And he will celebrate the lunar new year in several weeks.

But the pull of tonight's liminal status is hard to ignore. And it is awfully nice to wish someone a kind of blessing that will last for a whole year: Happy New Year!

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    If you are going to start from scratch, do so with the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston, 2005.) Completely yummy, that one, and
  • Diotima
    Diotima says #
    Thanks for that, Anne. I watched Dr. Who once or twice long, long ago, and remember thinking it was dreadful, though I've always b
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Dr. Who is an acquired taste, if you aren't a natural nerd you probably won't enjoy it. I'm an on-again off-again fan myself. But

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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In the midst of seed catalogs from the mail box and fresh vegetables from the plastic-covered rows of the little kitchen garden, the agricultural year has turned another notch on the great Wheel of the Year.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
I Sit Exhausted on This Longest Night

My big plan was to finish up some loose ends so that I could truly enjoy my first winter holiday season in town, not working retail. Daughter was coming home, holiday cards were mailed away...even the weather was nice.

Did your December deviate from the plan, too?  There have been unexpected rituals, several funerals, more than one friend or circle mate whose life took a turn for the...challenging.

We did manage a Witches Night Out a couple of weeks ago but that seems like it happened in another life. Oy vey, as they say.

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  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Thanks for that. Blessings to you!
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    I don't have any big words, just silent support from across the pond. You're in my thoughts and prayers, as is everyone else who h

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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The old agricultural year is winding down to its usual conclusion. This time of the Long Dying is still vibrant here in the southern highlands of the Appalachian mountains.  Today began in thick fog and reached a temperature nearly 20 degrees higher than the average for this day. Warm, light breeze, perfect for outside work in the garden.

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    It has been unseasonably warm here, too -- but we are getting monsoons of hard rain which I can't really object to, since we had a

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I am elsewhere than my old mountain home and am revelling in walks within these piney woods. Pine stands smell and sound odd to my ears. There is a deep bed of old needles under my feet and the smell is close but clear.

The birds behave differently here, too, as do the squirrels. There doesn't seem to be much gathering going on--except for me gathering pine cones. These are large and perfect, suitable for all sorts of projects.

And the spirit of the land--or should I say the spirits of the land?--are different, too. Different Ancestors, different Cousins. We do an interesting dance of getting-to-know-you and it delights my senses.

A brief note tonight, friends, on the importance of touching base with the land, wherever you may be. It honors the place you are visiting and it honors your home place, too. If you are a person who leaves small offerings to your own Silent Kindred, you might consider doing the same when you visit.

Think of it as a special kind of "hostess gift".

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

the south altar, dressed for the wake


Several years ago, I met a big loud Irish-American man who told a good tale and couldn't be trusted as far as you could throw him. He was one of those wounded braggarts that seemed so common in the Pagan community in those days--an obnoxious exterior that shielded a deeply flawed and troubled person, a person who wouldn't have been so bad, if he hadn't been raised so rough.

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  • Diotima
    Diotima says #
    And bless you, my dear, for always being there to do what needs to be done for your tribe. "The owl flew low tonight. The hare kne
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Priestessing really is a service industry. :>) Thanks, dear one. Your kind words--and beautiful quote--brought a few tears.
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Thanks, dear sister. May she be well remembered.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

the Brigid altar at the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology conference, 2010

 

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  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    So very sad to hear this.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

I went out this evening to have a quick drink with a friend, in honor of Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night. She's waiting on her visa so that she can join her English husband in the UK. We talked about kids and adult children and college loans and the Rollright Stones.

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O, yes, it is nearly Samhain. Oya is crashing north- and westward, Her winds clearing the path, driving the waters ahead of Her. And I am composing an invocation of the Morrighan and have purchased a perfect, fat pomegranate. It is so tempting to tear it open and taste the sweet wild seed-fruits, to quench my thirst as Persephone did and doom myself to a dual-life. 

The lore surrounding Persephone's descent into the underworld has come down to us in some interesting ways. One is the abduction scenario--Hades rises from a great cleft in the Earth and pulls her into his black chariot. She leaves her mother Demeter behind, bereft at the disappearance of her only child. Persephone serves as Queen of the Underworld and in the course of her time below, she eats six seeds from a pomegranate. These doom her to a bi-coastal existence--six months above ground with Mummy, six below with her husband, the Dark King.

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At Asheville's Mother Grove Goddess Temple, there is a small chapel room. It is permanently set with a main altar in the North, three other directional altars and a niche (which is actually an unused doorway) that holds a tiered Ancestor altar.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Every year I keep a piece of paper on my home altar and after November 1st, I write down the names of people who die during the course of the year. And by people, I mean the beings that touch my life in ways profound and/or familial.

Generally they are the names of folks I know or the loved ones of folks I know. Sometimes they are people that I don’t actually know but whose lives have intersected with mine. For example, Wangari Maathai went on the Samhain list because of her amazing work and because of my deep admiration for her courage and strength.

Our little cat, Luka Jones, is on this year’s list, along with my father-in-law, my friend Donna’s husband, my cousin Wanda and so many, many more.

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I thought I’d share this poem I wrote a couple of years ago. It was inspired by Pinkola Estes’ telling of the La Loba story–the woman who sings over the bones.

 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

As the land begins her journey to the stark hardness of winter, I find myself turning from the softness of worked Earth and rainwater and leaning into the hardness that is to come.

There is surprising comfort in that–in the security of that rigidity as well as the sense of permanence in our impermanent world.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

Yes, I feed my Ancestors.

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  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    As part of their Samhain celebrations, my wife and her coven always do a Dumb Supper. I don't partake myself, as my faith has its
  • Tess Dawson
    Tess Dawson says #
    I enjoyed this Byron. What you do sounds very similar to the kispu rite in Canaanite and Amorite tradition. A living family would

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

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This posting is for those of you who haven’t done an Ancestor altar before and are interested in participating in this particular form of veneration. I am making the assumption that you are living in such a way that creating this altar is something you are doing in the public area of your dwelling-place. I realize this is not true for everyone and that you may have a tiny altar on the shelf in your closet, just west of your snow boots.

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When I want optimum yield from my garden, I feed the soil with composted vegetable matter, old manure and yummy organic fertilizers.

When I am hungry, I make myself something healthy and/or delicious because I know this machine doesn’t run without fuel.

So this time of year, (and really, all the time–who am I trying to fool?) it feels to me as though there is hunger around me in the unseen parts of my world. I feed the land spirits–those non-corporeal energy beings that I refer to as The Cousins–and I feed them first, even before I start lobbing coconut cake at my matronal Ancestors.

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My grandmother–my mother’s mother–was a great wearer of costume jewelry. She had dozens of pairs of clip-on earrings–earbobs–and many had glorious great necklaces to match.

She worked in retail for many years, starting out in a local hardware store and finishing her working life at an Eckerd’s Drug Store where she specialized in the tobacco and photography departments. She was always beautifully turned-out from the top of her bobbie-pin curled head to the tips of her high-heeled shoes.

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