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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Red Beads: A Tale of the Kalasha

Lore-master Kazi Khosnawas sits under an old walnut tree and tells a story.

Eight generations ago, before the time of Shuragali, Kalasha women wore black beads from Peshawar, but now they favor red beads. Here is why.

Shuragali was staying in the bashali, the Women's House, because she was just about to give birth, but Tiliwari lurked outside, seeking to devour her. (Tiliwari, a cruel being in the shape of a man covered with hair, his mouth red with blood, preys upon pregnant and parturant women.) Shrewd Shuragali enticed him into the bashali and pushed him into the fire, where he burned to death. Ever since then Kalasha women have worn red beads in tribute to her courage and resourcefulness.

This is a local story, says lore-master Kazi Khosnawas. That's how we know it's true.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Christmas with Dionysos

You’ve probably seen those memes that depict the many deities whose birthdays coincide with Christmas and whose attributes are startlingly similar to Jesus’. Please understand, I have no quarrel with Jesus, though I could do without some of his followers. He is one of a long line of gods who remind us that there is light within the darkness, that all cycles turn and renew, and that mindfulness and compassion go a long way toward curing the ills of this world. But he’s not the only one with those attributes, and in fact, he’s not the only one celebrated at this time of year, either, as you might have guessed.

Let me introduce you to another god who is born at Midwinter; perhaps you will enjoy his company as much as I do. He has much to teach, for those who have the patience to listen.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Deborah Blake
    Deborah Blake says #
    Fabulous! I loved reading this. I hadn't heard this story before. Thanks for sharing it.
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    You're very welcome! Glad you enjoyed it.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Midwest Nativity

Emma Wilkinson, 12 years old, awoke that night aware that someone she did not know stood over her bed.

In the heartbeat moment before she opened her eyes, she found that she knew several other things as well.

That her family, including her sister in bed next to her, all slept quite peacefully.

That she herself felt no fear.

She opened her eyes. The banked fire had burned down to coals, but Emma could see the girl quite plainly. She wore white buckskins and a buffalo robe; her face was strange, but the eyes Emma knew.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Yule is a birth, and birth is a messy business.

In the old North, women used to give birth in straw. This was called the birthing-litter or the birthing-strew: cushioning, absorbent, and readily disposable.

In fact, straw and strew come from the same verbal root, apparently meaning “to spread.” It was once customary to spread the floors of the house with straw—called halm or haulm, from the same root as Greek kalamos, “reed”—to insulate and absorb spills. Generally the halm had fragrant herbs mingled among it, but even so it must have gotten pretty rank with use. So for many years it was the practice to lay fresh strew for Yule: the Yule-halm. In Sweden this was known as Julglädje, the “Yule-joy.” (The old stuff must have been pretty bad.) Some people would sleep in the Yule-halm so as to leave their beds for the visiting dead who rejoin the family during the holy tide. Straw-dreams were said to be of great omen.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Birth Tree

In her memorable novel Reindeer Moon, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas tells a harrowing tale of a winter birth in Ice Age Siberia. As Yanan, seven winters old, is traveling with her family between winter lodges, her mother goes into labor. While the family makes camp, Yanan's mother goes off alone to find a suitable birthing-place. (Since predators are drawn to the smell of blood, to give birth in camp would endanger everyone.)

She finds herself a spruce with a good, strong trunk to brace her back against, low protecting branches, and ample duff to absorb the birth fluids. She builds a fire for what warmth and protection it can offer, crouches against the bole of the tree—squatting is the natural birthing-position for humans, with Earth herself helping to pull the baby from the womb—and prepares herself for a long night.

Thomas knows whereof she speaks. As a young woman in the 1950s, her anthropologist parents took her and her siblings to the Kalahari Desert to live with the !Kung, among the very last of Earth's hunter-gatherers. Her personal experience and careful observation of Bushman culture lend her stories of the Eurasian Ice Age a noteworthy sense of authenticity.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Imbolc ritual

There is so much transformational energy for this New Moon sisters! Where I live in the East coast of the United States we have been hurting from the Arctic winds and craving the warmth. So with that anticipation, I humbly gift you my Imbolc ritual. It is a four day ritual which starts tonight on the New Moon. Will you join me in these four days of ritual?

 

Ritual for Days 1, 2 and 3

 

-Start on the New Moon before Imbolc

-Choose whatever time works best for you. Close to or after sunset is recommended.

-I recommend setting up an altar to keep your jars in continued sacred space throughout these four days. A place where sunlight and moonlight will shine upon them is ideal.

-Materials needed: altar, votive candle, matches, small jar with lid filled with water for each participant, music player, 4-6 minute long song for meditation time

 

    • Hum while holding your hand to your heart to tune in to your body. For a group, you may put a hand to the back of the person next to you where their heart is. In a circle, hum together.

    • Welcome the directions & elements. You may do this however you feel called or comfortable doing so. Here is a simple welcome that I use for my New Moon Intention Circles:

        • Turning to the East, we welcome Air, freedom and the power of thoughts. Welcome Air from the East!

        • Turning to the South, we welcome Fire, sensuality and the power of action. Welcome Fire from the South!

        • Turning to the West, we welcome Water, emotions and the power of cleansing. Welcome Water from the West!

        • Turning to the North, we welcome Earth, grounding and the power of home. Welcome Earth from the North!

      • Welcome any Ancestors/Goddesses/Guardians

      • Light a votive candle & read the Imbolc Intention: “Imbolc--in the belly, Mother Earth pregnant with Spring and new life. What are we holding inside ourselves that we wish to see birthed this Spring?”

      • Play a song 4-6 minute long softly while  meditating on the question and holding your small jar filled with water. I recommend Shawna Carol’s Blessed Be.

      • Extinguish the votive candle.

      • Goodbye to any Ancestors/Goddesses/Guardians who joined you.

      • Goodbye to the directions & elements. Again you may do this however you feel called or comfortable. Here is what I use:

o    Turning to the East, farewell Air, freedom and the power of thoughts. Thank you and Farewell Air from the East!

o    Turning to the South, farewell Fire, sensuality and the power of action. Thank you and Farewell Fire from the South!

o    Turning to the West, farewell Water, emotions and the power of cleansing. Thank you and farewell Water from the West!

o    Turning to the North, farewell Earth, grounding and the power of home. Thank you and farewell Earth from the North!

      • Hum while holding your hand to your heart to tune in to your body. For a group, you may put a hand to the back of the person next to you where their heart is. In a circle, hum together.

         

Ritual for Day 4- Imbolc

 

-Choose whatever time works best for you. Close to when the sunset is recommended.

-Materials needed: altar, votive candle, matches, small jar with lid filled with water for each participant, music player, 4-6 minute long song for meditation time, divination tool you know how to use, paper, pencils/pens.

 

      • Hum while holding your hand to your heart to tune in to your body. For a group, you may put a hand to the back of the person next to you where their heart is. In a circle, hum together.

      • Welcome the directions & elements. You may do this however you feel called or comfortable doing so. Here is a simple welcome that I use for my New Moon Intention Circles:

        • Turning to the East, we welcome Air, freedom and the power of thoughts. Welcome Air from the East!

        • Turning to the South, we welcome Fire, sensuality and the power of action. Welcome Fire from the South!

        • Turning to the West, we welcome Water, emotions and the power of cleansing. Welcome Water from the West!

        • Turning to the North, we welcome Earth, grounding and the power of home. Welcome Earth from the North!

      • Welcome any Ancestors/Goddesses/Guardians

      • Light a votive candle & read the Imbolc Intention: “Imbolc--in the belly, Mother Earth pregnant with Spring and new life. What are we holding inside ourselves that we wish to see birthed this Spring?”

      • Put your chosen song on repeat so it plays until it’s time to extinguish your candle. Meditate on the intention and write down your answers.

      • Imbolc is also a time for divination- an in between time. Use the divination tool you have brought to ask, “What am I holding inside myself that will come forth this Spring that I’m unaware of?”

      • Hold your jar filled with water to your heart. Feel the energy of your Imbolc intentions held within it. Drink the water and feel it nourishing you. Supporting you in manifesting this Spring what will most benefit you. Take at least three deep breaths.

      • Extinguish the votive candle.

      • Goodbye to any Ancestors/Goddesses/Guardians who joined you.

      • Goodbye to the directions & elements. Again you may do this however you feel called or comfortable. Here is what I use:

o    Turning to the East, farewell Air, freedom and the power of thoughts. Thank you and Farewell Air from the East!

o    Turning to the South, farewell Fire, sensuality and the power of action. Thank you and Farewell Fire from the South!

o    Turning to the West, farewell Water, emotions and the power of cleansing. Thank you and farewell Water from the West!

o    Turning to the North, farewell Earth, grounding and the power of home. Thank you and farewell Earth from the North!

      • Hum while holding your hand to your heart to tune in to your body. For a group, you may put a hand to the back of the person next to you where their heart is. In a circle, hum together.

         

So sisters that concludes the four days of ritual leading up to Imbolc. If you choose to use the rituals above, I would love to know if anything came up for you. I am sending so much love and light your way during this time of gestation. Blessed Imbolc!

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Molly
    Molly says #
    Thanks, Paola!
  • Paola Suarez
    Paola Suarez says #
    Thank you Molly! I was inspired to share my ritual by your posts from your personal blog where you did the same. I felt brave enou
  • Molly
    Molly says #
    I wondered about the humming! It works very well!
  • Paola Suarez
    Paola Suarez says #
    Thank you Molly! We had usually started rituals by chanting Om / ॐ but the humming is a good alternative.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

In honor of the Winter Solstice and Christmas I offer this story of the birth of a god recorded by Jung. In this selection from his Red Book, Jung describes in symbolic language the consequences of the death of his god. Jung is overcome by how his god is made small, like an egg which he can keep in his pocket. He is left disoriented by the loss of his god. So Jung takes the egg containing his god, protects it, nurtures it, while it gestates into something new.

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