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I'm telling my archaeologist friend about my visit to a local Hindu celebration.

“I got to help carry the 'idols' in to the altar,” I tell him, drawing air-quotes. Smiling, I add: “My Jewish ancestors must have been reeling in their graves.”

(The three deities, who live at the pujari's house, traveled to the Lutheran church where the celebration was to be held in the back seat of his four-by-four, covered with a cloth because they were “asleep.” As we bore them, one by one, into the sanctuary, he preceded each god, ringing little cymbals and chanting a responsorial praise song. Music accompanies gods wherever they go.)

My friend smiles.

“Ah, but your Judaean ancestors must have been dancing in theirs,” he says.

This is no more than truth. One of the most common finds in pre-Exilic Hebrew houses are are little clay terafim of gods and goddesses.

As for “idols” and “idolatry”: of all god-images, the most dangerous by far are Books. Books have wrought more wrong in the world than any statue ever did.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Autumn Magic with Hawthorn

As leaves begin to fade, hawthorn berries blaze into bright red for autumn. In Ireland and parts of Britain it was believed that ash, oak, and hawthorn growing in the same place made the invisible world of the faeries visible. It was also believed to mark a threshold into the faery realm. For centuries, hawthorn has been an important component of Britain’s hedgerows and the flowers used in Beltane celebrations.

            The name hawthorn evolved from the Old English word, haegthorn, “hedge thorn.” It is also known as haw bush, fairy thorn, Maybush, quickthorn, whitethorn, wishing tree. Usually called haws, its oval, red fruit is also known as pixie pears and has a five-pointed star on the bottom.

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Last modified on

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Fathers' Day

My daddy died when I was 26. 

At the time, I thought I was so grown up, but now that I am in my mid-60s (how the hell did that happen) I realize how very young I was when he passed. Not like some of my friends who lost parents in their teens, not like the kids I babysat for whose dad died of cancer when they were barely out of nappies, but I was still young. My daddy never knew me as an adult.

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Last modified on
Honoring the Ancestors: It's a Minoan Thing

Here's a little something I wrote in honor of the Ancestors:

Step into the light
Wearing your ancestors
Like a cloak
Like a crown
Bearing their power
Into the future
Generations of love
Stand behind you
Upholding you
Hear their voices
Urging you on
Feel their wisdom
Guiding your thoughts
Their hands
Holding yours
Never fear
You are not alone

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Last modified on

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Winter solstice this year falls upon the 21st of December. The still point of the year, it has been marked and honoured around the world for thousands of years. In Britain and Ireland, we have several monuments dating to the neolithic period which are aligned to the winter solstice, either its sunrise or sunset.  Newgrange, or Sí an Bhrú as it is more correctly called, in Co. Meath, Ireland is a neolithic passage grave, and was built an astonishing 5000 years ago around 3200 BCE. It is aligned to the winter solstice sunrise, and each year a beam of light enters the passage and illuminates the chamber within. The symbolism of this simple act is astonishing, speaking to us today in much the same way as it must have so long ago. To bring light to the darkness, to bring life to death at the darkest time of the year- to find renewal once again.

Try this exercise to pull in the magic of this time. Outside just before the dawn is ideal but otherwise  you can do this indoors. Prepare a candle, unlit before you, and take some time to sit in stillness and darkness. Breathe deep and slow, let your body relax and sink into the earth. Be held by the rock and soil of the land that rests beneath you where ever you are- be it outside or in your home. Feel held by the land. Take some more breaths and send your inner vision deep into your heart… what do you find there? Sit with all you find within yourself, breathing slow and letting all sorrow or stress fall into the earth. Feel into the darkness for a while, surrendering all that needs to go. When you are ready, and you feel you have given it the time you need, imagine in this darkness, far ahead, that the sun is rising. Slowly it pours sunlight across the land before you, its rays touch your heart, bringing life and light back, bringing healing. Fill your heart with light and light the candle before you. Spend some breaths meditating on the light and all it brings.

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Last modified on

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I'm always alert to names that look or sound like my name. I have an unusual name that many people find hard to spell, pronounce, or guess the gender. If I didn't answer to Eric Lao, Erica Lane, or Erwin Laley I'd miss my turn at the dr.'s office sometimes. So my immediate reaction on seeing the name Erinle scroll through my Twitter feed was, "Me?"

Not me, of course. But perhaps someone some of my ancestors may have known. It's been almost a year since I took a DNA test and discovered my African ancestors. I don't plan to actually follow any African religion, since I have plenty with my own religion, but I do want to learn about my ancestors' ways. I can only guess which traditions my ancestors may have followed, but I can take a more specific guess than I could have before the days when a DNA test can tell me the names of the countries my ancestors came from. One of those countries is Nigeria.

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Last modified on

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Thoughts About My Ancestor Mystery

I've been cogitating about my previous post, Solving an Ancestor Mystery with DNA, and what the new information means to me. Firstly let me state that the Cherokee Freedmen were culturally Cherokee regardless of DNA, so when I talk about the revelation that my supposed Cherokee ancestor was "really" African, I'm not implying that anyone else's Freedmen ancestors were not "real" tribespeople. I'm only talking about me, and my personal ancestors.

There must have been a good reason why my dad's family were not living in a Cherokee tribal community at the time of the earliest living memories to which I was exposed growing up, and the stories I've previously heard about why that was are now suspect. It seems likely that my Freedmen ancestors left because they could, because they were freed. My dad's early spiritual teachings to me were Native American in character, not African, referencing the corn spirit and other spirits native to this continent. His teachings set me on an animist spiritual path in harmony with the land spirits, which I continue as an Asatruar. He never specifically stated what tradition he was, though.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Oh, cool! Does Finland have a tradition about that?
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    When you mentioned that you call your drum Grandmother Elk I immediately thought of Finland.

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