Merry Meet and Welcome!

Merry Meet and Welcome!

We hope that you will find our content to be uplifting and educational. Please keep in mind that this is not a space for debate or criticism but rather a place for respect, curiosity and learning.

You are encouraged to take what you can from what we share here. If you want to know more, do not look to the contributors of this blog to teach anything beyond what we post. Seek out what feels right for you, trust the Spirit to guide you and have faith in our heavenly parents who are the givers of all pure knowledge.

December 27, 2012

Finding An Accord on Christmas

Its no secret that I was more Pagan than Christian before becoming Mormon, and it was only via the complimentary encompassing of Paganism and Christianity into one traditiom that led me to renouce the faith of my youth and to become converted. One minor detail of Mormon theology that I especially appreciated was the acceptance of the fact that Mormons known that Christ was not born on December 25th.

On Christmas Eve as a teenager, I recall listening to the UU service celebrating the manger scene. It was a stark contrast to a few minutes before when the reverend mentioned the historical evidence that Christ was born at another time of the year and that placing the observance of Christ's birth on December 25th was a purposeful and malicious attempt to trick heathens to convert to Christianity. Of all denominations, the Unitarians ought to have known better than to perpetuate an injustice that occurred centuries ago and brush aside the injustice that is perpetuated by overlooking it. It was with disappointment but not much surprise to see that Mormons do the same; however I can accept their desire to attempt to fit in with other Christian denominations.

And yet, this frustration stayed with me each and every year--my sadness at the injustices experienced by my ancestors in the name of religion and the difficulty of distancing myself from the cultural traditions taking place around me. I wasn't even sure if that was what I wanted. So it was, that the last few years, I have experimented with different ways of observing the season. This year, I think I have found a blend of traditions that strikes a balance and brings light and merriment to the dark and cold of the season in a way that I can feel at peace with morally and spiritually.

Historically, the celebration on the Winter Solstice was to bring light to the darkness, and celebrate the signs that the depths of winter would not persist evermore. Fires, evergreen trees, singing, dancing, feasting all bring merriment and activity to a time that can be very bleak and depressing for those in more northern areas. American Christmas traditions do well at these activities and make it easy for the entire month of December to be a time of good cheer. Adding traditions from other cultures creates a number if Holy-Days to bring spirituality and mirth to the season.
Our St. Nikolaustag Celebration

This year, the Descent family added Hanukkah (with a celebration of all the LDS temples that had been dedicated this year), Advent on each Sunday preceding the 25th and St. Nikolaustag (complete with new boots for the children that were filled with chocolate and switches) to the typical celebrations of Yule and Christmas. Next year, we will likely include Santa Lucia Day, the traditional Swedish holy day and Twelfth Night for a complete month of candle lit feasts, fires in the fireplace and reminders to seek joy and gladness in the dark periods of life.

The common thread that I am finding between the nature based celebrations, the cultural traditions and the religious Christian observances is that all are intended to celebrate light in the darkness. When Christ is viewed as the light and the life of the world, and his whole life is honored and celebrated, rather than placing all the emphasis on his birth, I find December and early January the perfect time to celebrate the role he plays in the lives of all people ever upon the earth. In teaching about Christmas to our children, we emphasis the Christlike loving and care shown by Santa Claus, and how he was a religious man who wanted to spread joy to those who were underprivileged. We emphasize his example of showing love for the children and gift donations in the children's honor to Heifer International, and the local Food Bank.

As I reflect on my need to find hope and light in the darkness, my heart is turned to those who do not have the shelter and protect that I enjoy from the elements at this time of year. Winter creates a more intense need in the lives of the homeless and undernourished as money for food might go towards heating bills at this time of year.

With the focus on Christ's life and the shared symbols of light and everlasting life, Christmas works as a Christian Holiday for me and I am able to put to peace my objections through blending traditions, while giving respect and obeisance to the injustice experienced by ancient pagans.

A Christmas tradition adopted from my husband's family is the reading the Luke 2 on Christmas Eve in the languages spoken by those in the house. For us that is English, German and Spanish so each night preceding Christmas Eve, the chapter is read in a different language at the time we typically read scriptures before going to bed. For the night of Christmas, I wanted to compile a list of scriptures that encompassed Christ's mission to the earth and the outcomes of his sacrifice. Our Christmas Night devotional included the following:

Isaiah 9: 6-7
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Price of Peace. Of the increase of government and peace there is no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom to order it, and to establish it with judgement and with justice from henceforth, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of Host will preform this."

Isaiah 53
Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God , and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment:and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death: because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. But it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in the the land. He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."

Mosiah 15: 1, 5-9, 18-23
And now Abindai said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people.

And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father, being on God, suffereth temptation, and yeildeth not to the temptation, but suffereth himself to be be mocked, and scourged, and cast out and disowned by his people. And after all this, after working mighty miracles among the children of men, he shall be led, yea, even as Isaiah said, as a sheep before the shearer is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. Yes, even so he shall be lef, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father. And thus God breaketh the bands of death, gained victory over death; giving the Son power to make intercession for the children of men-- Having ascended into heaven, having the bowels of mercy; being filled with compassion towards the children of men; standing betwixt them and justice; having broken the bands of death, taken upon himself their iniquity and their transgressions, having redeemed them, and satisfied the demands of justice.

And behold, I say unto you, this is not all. For O how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings that is the founder of peace, yea, even the Lord, who has redeemed his people; yea, him who has granted salvation unto his people. For were it not for the redemption which he hath made for his people, which was prepared from the foundation of the world, I say unto you were it not for his, all mankind must have perished."

2 Nephi 9
"O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of that awful monster death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit."

John 8:12
"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."

Those verses contain my favorite scriptures teaching the significance of Christ's mission and when read in that order, they have a power that I find thrilling.  I look forward to our next Christmas where we can repeat these traditions that we are creating. It is clear to me that enjoyment my children derive from our festivities and it is my hope that they will remember them fondly as they grow and mature.

June 10, 2012

Mother Wheel Bloggers at Daughters of Mormonism

A few months ago, three of our Mother Wheel bloggers participated in an episode on Daughters of Mormonism discussing the symbols of the LDS temple garments. Through our journeys on the Mormon Pagan path (or Morgan if you will), we have felt led to finding meaning in places where we did not think to find it. It started with trying to find Mother in Heaven in the temple. We actually first found her in the garment, which them prompted the episode as we further expound on what other meaning can be found there and how Morgan thought can come alive there.

Jenni, Descent and Dryad are joined by sister Morgan blogger Like Unto Eve. They describe a ritual that helps wearers of the garment connect to its symbols and meaning outside the temple as well as an alternative interpretation to the meanings of the symbols. The quarternity is described and then speculation abounds.

It was actually from this episode that Mormon Moon Circle was conceived. The facebook group Wildly Speculative Feminist Mormon Theology was also conceived at that time. In addition to the garment ritual designed by Mother Wheel bloggers that is shared in the episode, Jenni shares a menstruation ritual in the comments.

You can also find Descent's and Jenni's panelist interviews along with descriptions of their Morgan Pagan paths in their episodes:

Jenni's episode: "Not in Conflict"

Descent's episode: Connected to this Life Part 1 and Part 2

Jenni was also featured as a panelist on the following episodes:
Finding Her Everywhere: Symbols of the Divine Feminine
Good Girl Syndrome Part 1 and Part 2
Garments- To Cover Our Nakedness

Descent was also featured in the following episodes:
 "Be Yourself (within certain parameters)" — Depression & Mormon Women Part I
"Walking the Labyrinth" — Depression & Mormon Women Part II
"Elementally You" — Depression & Mormon Women Part III

For another DoM episode with a decidedly Mormon Pagan bent, listen to:
Eve as a Balance of Christ

Daughters of Mormonism has stopped recording new episodes but the world of Mormon women's podcasts is just beginning and Mother Wheel will have more information to share as new podcasts are developed.

May 18, 2012

May Mormon Moon Circle

Please join us tomorrow night (Saturday May 19th) for Mormon Moon Circle. We will get started at 7 pm PST (that is 6 pm AK, 8 MST, 9 CST and 10 EST). After we gather, we will join in a prayer circle and guided visualization. We hope you can join us!

April 20, 2012

Announcing Mormon Moon Circle

The creators of Mother Wheel have been thinking about ways join together in real time as community; with Mother Wheel bloggers and readers coming together with others who share a similar Mormon Pagan bent. The idea came to us to connect one esbat a month with this communal gathering.

Free wallpaper available here.
We apologize for the late notice since tonight is the new moon. We will be meeting for our first public Mormon Moon Circle tonight and we hope that you will join us.

We are currently gathering in a facebook group where we can chat about all thing Mormon and magickal and join together in ritual and prayer.

As our circle expands, we will likely find a different format that handles a large volume of people and is more user-friendly. If you have ideas for how to accomplish this, please join us and offer your suggestions.

Mormon Moon Circle will take place each new moon (on the eve nearest the zenith of the esbat*) starting at 7 pm PST (that is 6 pm AK, 8 MST, 9 CST and 10 EST).
*The complete new moon will be tonight at 12:19 am on the West coast of the US. Since technically after midnight is Saturday, the eve of the esbat is Friday (tonight).

Blessed be and merry meet!

March 10, 2012

The Triquetra of the Year

One day this winter, I took a walk after it had snowed in my area. It wsa nearing evening so the light was low, the snow was sparkling and all was quiet. As I was walking, I sensed the sacred but for some reason felt that it was not the presence of God I was sensing but the presence of Mother. That confused me, initially. Typically, when I think of Mother, I think of verdant abundance, spring time, harvest and summer--not the cold, austere, harsh days of winter.

That caused me to pause. If I imagine Mother as a Maiden in Spring and Mother in Summer, than of course Winter, with the snow all around me, meant that I was surrounded by the twilight years of wisdom. Mother was there, in her Crone aspect, teaching me and reminding me that each woman needs a period of her life to slow down from the exuberence of youth, the toil and passion of motherhood, and find peace in stillness--that we are not alone when "change and decay in all around I see" (Abide with Me! Hymn # 166).

This line of thought introduced to me a new way to look at the Wheel of the Year. I love celebrating the changes in season through observing the patterns of the sun, as well of the moon. In observing the sun (a symbol of the masculine god), we celebrate the solstices and equinoxes and seasonal festivals. In observing the moon, we see the waxing and waning of the moon. Yet this new way, of dividing the seasons into correspondences with The Triple Goddess, lends a way to find the Goddess in the seasons.

TriquetraCommonly, the celtic knot symbol of the Triquetra is seen as a symbol for God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. The symbol has become a symbol of masculine leadership though before that time, it was a symbol of the the Triple Goddess: Maiden, Mother, Crone. Being on my blended path of equally worshipping my Father and Mother God, I am happy to accept the symbol as both.

Seeing the seasons in terms of being ruled by one aspect of the Goddess, the triquetra becomes a symbol for this feminine correspondence to the wheel of the year. I recognize that this model only has three seasons which I too find fitting to the way that autumn and winter work together. In my own experience and observation, motherhood is distinct its its seasons. Young mother is very different that more mature mother, yet not quite crone. Perhaps that stage deserves its own phase, but that is a another post for a different day.

Now, the wheel is turning and we are approaching Spring. I see signs of the Maiden Goddess around me with birds singing, trees blossoming, and flowers blooming. The quiet, stillness of the year is ending and we are heading into a stage of youthful exuberance and starting over. I love this new way of seeing the year and I hope you will like it too.

Blessing the Quarter Days

Quarter days are the mid-point Sabbats between the seasonal festivals in the Wheel of the Year. Quarter days also correspond to the spokes of the wheel that fall on the solstices and equinoxes which mark the progression of the sun throughout the year. In truth, quarter days are my favorite Sabbats to celebrate because they are very tied to a physical event: the longest/shortest days of the year and the days when night and day are close to equal in length. I love the symbolism of these events and I love celebrating them.

Winter Solstice
In December, my family and I had a wonderful Solstice celebration. Unfortunately, not only did we not get pictures, but I also didn't blog about here it! So better late than never, let me tell you about our Solstice observance.

This year we separated all of our Christmas decorations into two categories: decorations that celebrate characteristics of winter (the snow men, evergreen trees, reindeer, etc.) and those that celebrate the birth of Christ. None of the Christ decorations were put out before the Solstice in order to fully respect the history of Yule, as a once pagan then turned Christian holiday.

Our Solstice celebration consisted of turning of the lights in the house off at sun-down, lighting a fire in the fireplace and then lighting candles throughout the house. We gathered together in the living room, snuggled up and discussed what the Solstice meant. We talked about how in many places where it was winter, that people were cold and didn't have enough food. Many people throughout the world feeling sad and discouraged all year but it can be particularly difficult when its the coldest, darkest time of the year. We talked about how at Christmas time, many people think of others who have less than they do and want to help in whatever ways they can. We talked about charitable giving and how we participated in our community and in global aid.

After the lesson, we did a little ritual where we wrote on strips of paper our prayer for ourselves and for the world. My children's wishes were profound in their sensitivity and wisdom. For our family, they prayed for more sustainability in our living arrangements and more time together as a family outside being producers rather than consumers. For the world, they prayed that all the living things on earth would feel safe and have their needs met. We then put our prayers in the fire and asked that the light from the flame would carry our prayers to the places where they were needed.

After reflecting on our observance, I realized that the theme we had touched on was wishing and welcoming light into the world at the winter solstice.

Spring Equinox
When thinking about how to prepare for our upcoming equinox celebration, I thought back on our Solstice observance. If we were wising light to the world then, what would we be wishing into the world now at the start of Spring? The answer I came up with was beauty.

Our plan for the Equinox (this monday/tuesday) instead of burning our wishes in the fire, to plant our wishes into the ground. My son is very excited to sow wildflowers in our garden. At Bountiful Gardens, we found both a butterfly and a hummingbird mix. Since spring is a time of renewed beauty and life (and because life is beauitful), it just seems fitting to wish for an increase of beauty in the world around us. Not superficial or artifical, but that which is lasting and connects people together, that relieves suffering and invites simplicity.

Since a pattern has been established, I thought ahead of what we might wish to manifest at the coming quarter days later in the year. It naturally follows that the Summer Solstice would be a time to manifest abundance to the world (and the equitable distribution of that abundance!) and the Autumnal Equinox as a time to manifest preparedness to the world.

Summer Solstice
Likely our Summer Solstice observance this year will be to celebrate the abundance of our vegetable and flower garden. What we are sowing now at the spring equinox, we hope will yield something to celebrate then. We will then follow the pattern of the previous quarter days and wish blessings of abundance to not only our family but to all the families of the world and discuss how we can be involved in making that happen.

Autumnal Equinox
The autumn equinox is traditionally a time to begin to prepare for winter and for this reason, I would like to focus our equinox observance on the necessity and importance of being prepared and wishing that the collective wisdom of the world will shift to preparation and shift away from short-term self gratification, consumerism and greed that takes from the poor and the needy and is used instead to increase profits and luxury for the wealthy.

These are our plans for this year and I wonder what the next year will bring, and how these themes will develop. It is very nice to have plans ahead of time! So very often, I'm pulling things together at the last minute.

February 18, 2012

One Eternal Round

"In our worship there are two elements: 
one is the spiritual communion arising from our own meditation; 
the other, instruction from others . . . 
of the two, the more profitable . . . is the meditation. 
Meditation is one of the most secret, 
most sacred 
doors through which we pass into the presence of the Lord." 
~President David O McKay

Last Friday night, I sat in a darkened room, listening to "Holy Now" on repeat, and visualized a ball of light within myself. I watched and felt that light extend through my root chakra and into the earth, and through my crown chakra and into the sky. I drew in energy from my Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, and extended out metaphysical arms of that energy and light to connect with other women, forming a circle of "holding hands" even though we were in 4 separate states. We then prayed for each other, sharing our words via skype (because we are so far apart). Then we sent our prayers and energies out into the world, to all nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples, asking for blessings of peace and healing, and pledging to do our part to enact those things within our spheres of influence.
That prayer circle was intensely spiritual. And I never would have thought to participate in such a thing if I had not opened the door to integrate paganism and eastern spirituality with my faith practice.

When I was a teenager, we had an exchange student from central america come to stay with our family for three months. She was Catholic, and we took her to mass each week. I remember sitting in those services and thinking "this is really different from my church, but it's beautiful." I loved the beauty, I loved the ritual. I discussed it with my parents once, how I wished that we had more ritual in our church. They smiled and said that when I went through the temple I would get to participate in more ritual. So I looked forward to that day.
When that day came, they were right, some parts had ritual that I found exquisite and meaningful...but some parts really did not. I was more than a little disappointed. I still craved ritual as an enactment of meaningful spirituality.
When I was in college, as part of my research for my role in Macbeth, I learned about modern Wicca, and was fascinated. The intentionality, formality, and simplicity of their ritual style, calling upon elements and communing with nature, appealed to me.
A little over a year ago, I adopted a more intentional, more mindful, more open integrated mormon-pagan path. About six months ago, I joined a coven with three other women. These women are my sisters, my coven, my fellow "morgans" (mormon-pagans). I meet with my coven each week for a group chat on skype (we often talk more than once a week, but our scheduled chat is important and we all make efforts to make sure we are always there). We are all active, caring, involved mormons. We are all also finding things from outside the mainstream church very helpful to us in our spiritual journey.
Samhain (Oct 31-Nov 1) is the pagan new year, a time of endings and new beginnings (which is why they believed that the veil between life and death was thin, and thus spirits of the dead could walk among us). Last Samhain, in the spirit of new beginnings, I changed the "religion" entry on my facebook profile. Now it says

Universalist Mormon Pagan
Embracing truth wherever it is found. 
Seeking the wisdom of my Mother, Father, Savior, and Spirit. 
Observing seasons, esbats, and Sabbats. 
Rejoicing in the restored gospel. 
Keeping my temple recommend. 
Feeling fulfilled.

I made this change in solidarity with the others in my coven. I don't know whether anyone actually looks at what it says in a person's facebook profile, but there was something about the act of putting it out there into public space that felt good. As Jena explained,
When it comes down to it, Paganism has made me a better Mormon. Lighting a candle while I pray makes me feel more focused and keeps my mind from wandering so much. Adding ritual elements to my day-to-day makes me feel more connected with God. Is it "critical to my salvation"? No, but I don't think it hurts, and it makes my faith rituals feel more intentional. I miss that in mainstream Mormonism. I feel like we've had some of the beauty scrubbed out of our general practice. Incense and oil were burnt in the ancient temples of Israel to purify and sanctify the space and to lift prayers to Heaven...[but] we've become so much about practicality and uniformity in modern times. Things like beauty in architecture and adornment, scent, sound... we rarely use more of our physical senses than sight and hearing in our services and rituals, and I think that makes our correlated practices... sterile. Homogenized. Pasteurized. Devitalized. Boring. Uninspiring.

For me, bringing in these new elements has given my faith vitality again in a time when I desperately need it. It makes it easier for me to feel like I'm in touch with Divine power, like I can receive revelation and inspiration, be guided and protected. I feel a little bit more spiritually alive, and I crave that. I have always craved it.

"The spirit is a present-moment reality. Meditating, pondering, and contemplating are powerful spiritual disciplines. They take us to the present, where the spirit is experienced directly--to the only state in which we can commune with the Infinite."

In the pagan worldview, everything is interconnected, and everything is blessed. In other words, we are all part of one eternal round, and everything is holy. I find that when I believe that I will find this holiness, this magick, then I do find it. When I believe in it, I am able to experience it.
Interconnectedness & Blessedness
Everything is Holy Now:
Elements, Celestial Bodies,
Wonders of the Natural World
Seasons, Cycles, & the Wheel of the Year
Perhaps it's because I'm aware of what is around me, and perhaps I actually attract it. I don't know. What I do know is that I'm taking my spirituality into my own hands, and the result is magickal ♥