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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Archers on Horseback

My ancestors rode across the steppes
rode beneath the rolling thunder.
Between them and the land
their mother
there was no divide
but the trampling of hooves.
The dancing of shamans
rumbled the earth below
and shook the skies above.
Fire carried the departed
back to the stars
and archers on horseback
led an age of gold and valor.
And now I sit and languish,
riding only a rusty beast
in an age of entropy, of the artificial
mourning the past, fearing the future.

What would my ancestors say?





© Meredith Everwhite 2024 - All Rights Reserved

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Archer
    Archer says #
    Beautiful!
  • Meredith Everwhite
    Meredith Everwhite says #
    Thank you, Archer! Ha, appropriate name!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Holy and Sacred Chocolate

Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus was certainly right when he gave the cacao tree the genus name Theobroma, which means “food of the gods.” Those of us in the throes of winter take comfort in wrapping our cold hands around a steaming mug of hot chocolate.
        The Maya, Aztec, and Olmec regarded cacao as a sacred plant. In Mayan and Aztec mythology, the plant was a gift from the feathered serpent god. The seeds were used as offerings to deities, often sprinkled with blood from priests who ceremonially cut themselves and was given to victims prior to sacrifice. A cup of chocolate would provide more solace and a last cigarette.
        The Aztec belief that cacao was an aphrodisiac lingered in Europe after it was introduced in the sixteenth century. In Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrations, cacao is placed on home altars and at gravesites to share with loved ones who have passed and ancestors.
        Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as white chocolate. After cacao seeds are shelled, they are ground into a liquid from which the fat (cocoa butter) is separated from the cocoa powder. Later in the chocolate making process the two ingredients are reunited. Cocoa butter is the basis of white chocolate along with milk, sugar, and a few other ingredients. BTW, you’re not seeing typos, the spelling cacao refers to the raw beans and cocoa, a product made from the beans.
        Magically cacao is associated with happiness (that’s no surprise), love, prosperity, and sex, which is why it makes perfect sense to give your lover a box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day or any occasion. As part of a spell to attract prosperity and wealth, wrap a cacao bean in the highest denomination bank note you have in your wallet. When celebrating an esbat, place a piece of round white chocolate on your altar. And there’s nothing better to ground and center your energy after magic and ritual than eating a piece of chocolate. Blessed be.

 

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Ancestor Day

This year, my kindred decided to combine Disablot and Alfablot and hold Ancestor Day. Disablot is supposed to be for the female ancestors and Alfablot for the male ancestors. Yes, Alfablot means elf sacrifice, but the line between the elf mound and the grave mound was fuzzy for the heathens of historical times. Even though it's traditional, separating the ancestors by gender just didn't feel right to me, and I asked the rest of my kindred if they would like to combine the two days into one Ancestor Day. Everyone liked the idea so we planned it.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Flowers to Honor the Dead

Samhain, Day of the Dead, All Soul’s Day: From October 31st to November 2nd is a time to remember and honor our ancestors and loved ones who have passed. This is a time to invite their spirits to come close, as the barrier between the worlds of the seen and unseen is thin. For millennia, flowers have been used to honor the dead, perhaps because they represent the fragility of life. But also because of their beauty, often for their symbolism, and for practical reasons at funerals to mask odors.
          Lilies are an iconic funeral flower. The Greeks and Romans used them at funerals to memorialize the deceased. Lilies were depicted in Egyptian hieroglyphics and dedicated to Isis. In England, white lilies were believed to ward off evil influences and were grown in gardens to keep ghosts away. As a symbol of hope and peace, they represent the wish that the deceased continue into a good new life.
          In the Roman ceremony of Rosalia, rose petals were scattered on the graves of loved ones, symbolizing the start of a new state of being. Rosalia evolved into a springtime feast to honor departed loved ones and to offer their spirits food garnished with rose petals. The Greeks also strew petals over the graves of loved ones and made wreaths of rose canes (branches) to place on graves.
          While the ancient Romans regarded the anemone as a lucky flower, in later centuries in other parts of Europe it was regarded as the flower of the dead. A wood anemone was sometimes worn as an amulet for protection against sorcery. The wood anemone is also known as devil’s bite and evening twilight.
          Carnations were used in funeral wreaths by the Greeks and Romans. In Italy, it was associated with death well into the Middle Ages. When placed on a grave, carnations were a symbol of love for the deceased. Carnations are also known as pinks and gillyflowers.
          In France, Italy, Spain, and Germany the common chrysanthemum was a symbol of grief and used to honor loved ones. It became known as Fiori dei Morte, “flower of the dead.” Because of this association, it was sometimes considered unlucky to take chrysanthemums inside the home.  
          In addition to purple being a color for mourning, lilac flowers were often used to line coffins and placed on graves to add beauty and offer solace. Elderflowers were associated with death and funerals. They were buried with the deceased or sprinkled over the grave to aid a loved one’s passage into the otherworld.
          For a time in Italy, periwinkle was regarded as a plant of the dead and used for children’s funeral wreaths. Periwinkle’s power was used to detect witches, break spells, and heal demonic possession. It also served as an amulet against the evil eye and ghosts. Periwinkles are also known as blue stars and sorcerer’s violet.
          Considered the flower of the dead by the Aztec, marigolds are used on altars for Day of the Dead observances in present-day Mexico and represent the tenuousness of life. According to legend, the reddish-brown splotches on the flowers were from the blood of people killed by Spanish conquistadors. Aztec marigold is also known as African marigold.
          Samhain, Day of the Dead, All Soul’s Day also marks a time for introspection in preparation for the new cycle that begins at Yule, a symbolic death before renewal.


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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.

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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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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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