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 24, 2011

Reclaiming Yule

I am in Northern California, soaking up the tree magic as fast as I possibly can.  I'm lounging at Milk and Honey, contemplating spending too much money on fairy dust or books or jewelry.  I'm shopping at stores that sell rotisserie chicken that was pastured and happy.  I get to spend time IN REAL LIFE with a dear coven member.  And I got to go to a reclaiming ritual for Yule.  (All of which I am doing barefoot, btw.)

Let me start by saying that I feel sorry for celebrities.  The ones that sit patiently while their fans swarm around them, fawning over them, trying to convey a life story in a few words before the next eager follower pushes into their personal bubble.  I met Starhawk, and she looked so exhausted.  I wanted to share my feelings as well, but I settled for a quick thank-you and a book signing.  I hope she got to go home after that and get some deep sleep.  She has done so much for the Pagans of the world, and her eco-feminism is a model of the activism in which I hope to become more involved.

The evening began with dancing and mingling.  When we walked up to the giant hall, the sounds of drumming and laughing spilled out from the door, and a cloud of warmth and happy magic embraced us as we walked in.  Sprout immediately started dancing, stomping his feet with the drumming and shrieking in delight.  He was one of only two toddlers that I could see in the room, the other being a small girl who was also delighted with everything but who fit much more nicely and quietly in a baby carrier.  There was a table as we walked in with books and cds written by Starhawk for sale.  Some of the proceeds for the sales went to programs and classes that Starhawk started up.  The ceiling was criss-crossed with strings of lights, and there was a mirror ball that got turned on during the spiral dance (cue Sprout shrieking about bubbles and trying to chase bits of light).  The altar (at one end of the hall) was a bunch of long tables put together, with a huge jumble of eclectic decorations to represent Air, Fire, Earth, Water, and Center.  There were colors and lights and evergreen everywhere.  
The lights were dimmed, and a woman began to tell the story of Yule to two fairies who were skipping around (Sprout was totally enthralled and talking and pointing).  We were taught a couple songs and then the ritual started.  There was grounding and meditation that I mostly missed because I was trying to keep Sprout quiet, but it involved the tree visualization.  Then everyone walked in a large circle, slowly, while chanting.  More songs and stories were told, and the four elements invoked by people specially dressed as the elements--red for fire, white with feathers for air, earth colors for earth, and blues for water.  Then the man we call Pan jumped in to invoke the center of all things.  He was playful and dancing and running about through most of the ritual, and paid special attention to Nikolai whenever he could.  Towards the end of the ritual, the drumming was started up again and we did a spiral dance, long lines of people circling each other and spinning into the middle of the great spiral and then back out again to face those coming the opposite direction.  We sang this song:

We are the rising sun
We are the change
We are the ones we are waiting for
and we are, dawning...
We are the rising sun..

It was beautiful, and inspirational.  I attended a large coven gathering for a sabbat once before, where the theme seemed to be Pagan Pride FOREVER, but this reclaiming was about loving the earth, welcoming back the sun, honoring the spirits of nature and learning to live with them in harmony.  It was about being a force for change, and love.  I actually felt the power and energy raised by the circle of smiling people.  
The circle was opened with a sweet farewell to the elements, and then more drumming! Sprout loved it, and danced until he was quite exhausted.  Pan danced with him, and then we all had a merry chase trying to keep him off the stage that was behind the altar.  And then we had to keep him from tearing the altar apart to play with it.
I stood in line after buying a couple books, including the beautiful The Last Wild Witch, and Starhawk exhaustedly signed my books for me.  I am eager to look up the reclaiming chapter in Phoenix and try to find that same spirit.  It is still my intention to find a deeper spiritual connection with the desert, and accept all of my mother Earth, whatever climate she hosts.

December 21, 2011

Sunrise Solstice

Last year at Yule, I got up early, made a cake and we ate it and said "hello" to the returning Sun.  I kinda forgot about it until a friend commented on what a cool tradition our family has.  I must have had a deer-in-the-headlights look because she laughed and explained that my oldest son had been explaining our "annual tradition" just moments before.  Oh!  Good thing, because he never said a word about it to me!  Fortunately, it gave me enough time to prepare.  :)
So this year, I again rose early enough to bake a cake, set out candles and greet the rising sun.  I love this observance because with 3 young kids, I have absolutely no desire to stay up all night to keep vigil.  I stay up all night keeping vigil often enough over sick kids, kids with nightmares and other fun nighttime adventures!
It is also very simple.  I set out the cake, we light candles, sing songs that remind us of the sun and talk about the successes of the past year and hopes for the coming year.  Then we eat cake and say, "Welcome back, Sun!!"
Here's our solstice cake recipe if you'd like to make one too.

RasJane's Solstice Cake
Free of gluten, dairy, soy, nuts and sugar
1 c sorghum or rice flour    
1 c tapioca starch      
3/4 c millet flour or fine corn flour
2 tsp each: xanthan gum, baking powder and baking soda
2tsp cinnamon or fall spice blend
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c coconut oil
1 c apple juice concentrate
1 c orange juice concentrate
5 eggs
zest of 1 orange

Preheat oven to 325F and grease and flour 2 - 8"round cake pans
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.  Cut in the coconut oil until evenly crumbly.  Wisk together the eggs and juice concentrates and add the zest.  Pour all at once into the flour mixture.  Mix quickly until just combined.  Divide batter between the 2 cake pans and bake in the center of oven for 25 minutes.  Cool in pans for 5 minutes then turn onto cake rack.
We ate our cake warm.  I got up early, but not that early!  Place one cake face down on a platter.  Thinly slice the orange you took the zest from and peel.  Arrange the slices on the cake.  Top with the second cake.  You can either frost with your favorite frosting, spread with jam or serve as-is.  This is a very moist cake.   Especially if it's still warm.
Enjoy the sunny goodness while you celebrate the re-birth of the light.

December 19, 2011

Heavenly Mother in Young Women's: What you hadn't noticed about the personal progress program

The LDS young women's organization (for girls aged 12-18) has something called Personal Progress, which is a program in which the girls complete a series of experiences (small) and projects (larger) designed to help them increase their faith and skills. The experiences and projects are in 'values' (categories) such as faith, individual worth, good works, and integrity. The booklet has a list of suggestions, but girls can also design their own experiences. When a girl has completed the designated things, she is awarded a medallion.

When I was a young woman, there were 42 experiences and 4 big projects (20-30 hours each), and it had to be completed over the course of all six years, because the girl could not start on the next portion until her next birthday. At the end of every two years, if a girl had completed everything for those years she could earn one of the class medallions. If she completed everything, she could earn this "Young Womanhood" medallion --->
A pretty lady standing by some flowers. (Here I could make all sorts of comments about symbolism of juxtaposing a girl with flowers, or the apparent focus on the outward appearance of the girl depicted...but I don't really want to. I will just note that this is the old medallion, the one I got, but which very few of my peers did.)

A few years ago they revamped the program, and now there are 48 experiences and 8 (10 hr) projects--6 experiences and 1 project in each of the 8 value areas. They also took out the timetable, so girls are able to work through all of the goals at their own pace, no waiting for birthdays (and losing momentum). They have done away with the intermediate medallions, and changed the final medallion (more on that in a moment!) and they have now added honor bees.

An honor bee is a charm which the girl can earn after she has earned her medallion. She can actually earn as many as three bees, and does so by doing more goals, or helping other girls complete their experiences and projects.
It's a lovely idea, the extra charms for going the extra mile, but what I particularly noticed was that it's a BEE. You know, a symbol of Mother Goddess.

Better still is the new medallion. It is a combination of several symbols: the temple, the beehive, the laurel wreath, the rose, and the ruby. Young women are divided into three classes: Beehives (12-13), Mia Maids (14-15) and Laurels (16-17). Bees and beehives are a symbol often found in the church as a symbol of industry. The symbol for Mia Maids is a rose (something about purity or beauty I suspect, though I'm not certain). Laurels are named for laurel wreaths, as the ancient greeks used to crown champions. The temple is where a young woman wants to go, and a ruby reminds her of Proverbs 31, which says that a virtuous woman's worth is far above rubies.
This medallion is also available in the girl's choice of gold or silver, which is just nice, because some of us prefer silver (also, aside from my personal preference, silver carries female energy while gold carries male, so silver is more appropriate than gold anyway).
The temple is a symbol of Heavenly Mother.
So is the bee.
So is the ruby.
And trees (like laurels) and flowers (like roses) are often seen as symbols of the Divine Feminine as well.
In other words, this new medallion positively GLOWS with Heavenly Mother. It is FULL of Her. She is everywhere. When these girls earn and wear this medallion, it is not just a symbol that they have completed a set of projects (though that is notable): it is a symbol of their potential to become like their Heavenly Mother. To become goddesses like She is.

Now we just need to teach the girls what it is that they are wearing.

December 17, 2011

Blessed Yule

Triple Moon in tree Pictures, Images and Photos

As we near Yule, and the turning of the season from old to new, dark to light, and cycle into a new year full of possibility and opportunity, I want to reflect on this past year.  It has been full of so much heartache and fear, worry and guilt, and stress that never seems to go away.  But it has also been full of magic.  I have searched for and  am starting to find my Mother, my Goddess, the other half of my Creator.  I have formed new friendships and forged strong bonds with those who  think and feel so much like I do.  I've made local connections with wonderful people in this desert land that I never thought I could love.  I have embraced my own power, and I have largely cast off the fear of my blended path.  I am making it work, and I am feeling guidance in unexpected places that lead me nearer to Christ.  An empty spot in me has started to fill with warm and wonderful things.
My new perspectives on the gospel have led me through some doubt-ridden and twisty paths, but I am finally starting to heal my testimony, to grow a fantastic new one that has room for all the joy and none of the guilt.  I am eager to serve my brothers and sisters, and I am finding the patience to deal with flaws I find in the structure of the church.  My perspective on repentance has changed from one of fear of disappointing my Parents to one of pragmatic progression.  I know my Parents love me and accept me the way I am, and they already know my every weakness.  If I walk too close to the edge and fall, They will catch me and guide me to a better way as They look on in love and encouragement.  My search for passion and authenticity is no longer a forbidden road that causes anxiety.
I am using my magic without shame, and finding scientific explanations and wild speculation in the realm of quantum physics to see the magic and possibility in everything.  There is so much for which we can hope and dream. The beautiful women in my area that I have started to consider family have held my hands as I have ventured from my safe and warm cocoon of checklists and fear-inspired close-mindedness.  I have moved from a place where I cried in desperation to feel any kind of real spiritual connection, to a place where I have found that connection in fire and water and wind, in the voices of the trees around me, in the touch of the gentle hands of an energy worker who has nothing but love in her heart. 
The Sunday school lesson on the pure love of Christ sinks into my newly opened and joyful heart, and I run to share it with my dear friends who were not there to hear the wonderful news of an empathetic and loving Savior who wants to carry us and heal us so we in turn can heal those around us as we become sources of His light in this world.    
Many of the hardships of this year will not be going away any time soon, and there are more to come.  As the moon wanes into the end of the year, I will be purifying my heart, and inviting Christ to reside there more permanently as I symbolically cleanse the anger and resentment from the past year from my soul.  The new moon on Christmas Eve will be a time of new beginning, of self-love, of power, and courage.

Blessed be, and Happy Yule!    

December 15, 2011

The Divine Feminine and the Ruby

My birthday is in July, so my birthstone is the ruby. It's a pretty gem, intense and dark, and very expensive (more expensive than diamonds actually, last I heard). It is a very sturdy stone, second hardest on the rating scale after diamonds.
And it's red. My favorite color is pink. I almost never wear red. So I never really wanted anything with my birthstone on it...
And then I learned that the ruby and the sapphire are actually the same stone on a molecular level, they just come out in different colors. Actually they come in a wide variety of colors, but for some reasons the red (or sometimes pinkish) ones get called "rubies" and all the other colors are called "sapphires"...the blue ones are plain "sapphires" and the others are "green sapphires" or "orange sapphires" and so on.
these colors are all sapphires/rubies

This year I was reading about the properties of various gemstones. I have never really believed that a rock could have power, but the more I learn about the universe, the more I believe that the whole energy field notion actually has some merit. And so I decided to read up on the ruby, and see if I could make friends with it.
I found some interesting things.
The ruby

  • brings integrity, devotion and happiness 
  • brings and increases love
  • very protective of home and children
  • is a stone of high energy and power that promotes healing on all levels [link]
  • is a stone of nobility 
  • brings love, confidence, loyalty, and courage
  • instills stamina, vitality and strength
  • re-energizes one after exhaustion 
  • helps to reduce negative thought patterns
  • is a good stone of protection. 
  • helps you feel more like giving to others and doing so with love and joy in your heart. There is no room for resentment in ones heart who is being of service to others and this stone does not allow that to be a part of your heart. it helps you relax as you caretake others because you can trust you will not be trapped in any way in that role. It helps all to be warm, caring and help out with the needs of others. it also helps one with devotion to others. [link]
  • considered to be the most powerful gem in the universe
  • the symbol of vitality and royalty
  • contentment and peace [link]

I most frequently found the ruby associated with motherhood, home, service and healing. For these and other reasons, I and others have come to feel that the ruby's energy field is a reflection of mother, or, more accurately, of Mother.
I thought also of the fact that ruby is also the most expensive gemstone--more than diamonds--which puts me in mind of Proverbs where it asks "who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is above rubies." I have thought much on that, and about the idea that equating virtuous women (us) with rubies is actually equating us to Heavenly Mother and our potential to be like her.
Making this connection has been powerful for me, because of the ruby being MY birthstone, I now feel an additional connection to the Divine Feminine that I hadn't before. Not just a connection in terms of being more interested in Her, but a connection in terms of seeing Her in myself.

star ruby
You know something else interesting? The ruby (aka sapphire) is the only stone which may have a star in it. I haven't reached any conclusions about deep meanings in that, except I bet that there is one. (What do you think?)

Depending upon which type of gold you have the ring set in, (yellows or silvers) the ruby would bring with it these healing properties as well. The yellows carry the energy of the Sun or a masculine energy, while the silvers carry the energy of the Moon or a feminine energy. [link] Ruby rings should be worn on the left hand so as to receive the life force and have protection. [link]
It seems that I should be in the market for a left-hand, silver-set ruby ring. Don't you think?

November 7, 2011

Everything is Holy Now

I heard this song recently, and it has struck a resonating chord with me.

(and if you are the sort who doesn't want to watch a 5 minute video, in spite of the powerful message that I promise is in it, the lyrics are the italicized parts throughout this post.)

Of course I have always known that sacredness, and communion with the Divine can be found in nature; that was one of the things that drew me to paganism. Prophets throughout the ages have gone into the wilderness, upon the mountaintops, or into the forests to talk with God. Obviously assorted locations and objects have been deemed holy or sacred by various religions over the centuries too.

When I was a boy, each week
On Sunday, we would go to church
And pay attention to the priest
He would read the holy word
And consecrate the holy bread
And everyone would kneel and bow
Today the only difference is
Everything is holy now
Everything, everything
Everything is holy now

I asked my 11 year old son how much of the world he thought was holy. He thought about it for a few minutes, and said "well, there are a lot of shrines in Japan and stuff, so maybe 0.05%"
I told him about how trees are an ancient symbol of the Feminine Divine. He thought for another minute, and then said "so maybe 10-15%, because they have cut down a lot of trees, plus there are deserts and stuff."
I asked him if he thought God could be in the ocean. If he thought God could be in the mountains. If he thought God could be in the wind.
"Oooh," he said "holiness can be everywhere huh."

When I was in Sunday school
We would learn about the time
Moses split the sea in two
Jesus made the water wine
And I remember feeling sad
That miracles don’t happen still
But now I can’t keep track
‘Cause everything’s a miracle
Everything, Everything
Everything’s a miracle

Indeed, I believe so.

Wine from water is not so small
But an even better magic trick
Is that anything is here at all
So the challenging thing becomes
Not to look for miracles
But finding where there isn’t one

My son  has been studying biology this year in school. He loves to chatter on to me about mitosis and photosynthesis and the other things he is learning about. I have always found these things impressive, but when they are presented in a textbook they seem mundane...just another vocabulary word to learn for the test. But take a step back and think about what they really are. Indeed, they are miracles.

When holy water was rare at best
It barely wet my fingertips
But now I have to hold my breath
Like I’m swimming in a sea of it
It used to be a world half there
Heaven’s second rate hand-me-down
But I walk it with a reverent air
‘Cause everything is holy now
Everything, everything
Everything is holy now

It is not just that we can sense the holiness of Deity when we see that glorious sunset. The sunset itself can be holy. It is not just that we can feel a closeness to Deity when we sit in the forest, listening to the birds and streams and smelling the dirt and pine needles. The birds and water and dirt and pine needles themselves are holy. It is not just feeling a closeness to heaven when we look at a new baby, but the baby himself is holy. In fact it is not just nature and babies and "good people," but we are all holy. We all have a godseed in us, the potential to become like our Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. For small times (or lifetimes) we may not live up to that potential, we may not let that holy spark shine, or we may not know how to let it shine (some of us may not even realize that it is there), but that does not change the fact that it is there.
The sunset is holy.
The sea is holy.
The trees are holy.
The animals are holy.
Our children are holy.
We are holy.

Everything is holy now

Read a questioning child’s face
And say it’s not a testament
That’d be very hard to say
See another new morning come
And say it’s not a sacrament
I tell you that it can’t be done

Obviously this is probably a bit of a paradigm shift for you, it was for me. But to perceive everything as inherently holy, everything as inherently a miracle, that adds a whole new richness to my life and to my spirituality. When holiness and sacredness were things that had to be found, or sought, they seemed "too special," like the china that my Mother in law keeps in the cupboard 363 days a year, and only gets out for Christmas and Easter. But when sacredness surrounds me every day, it does not cheapen the holy, rather it raises my everyday to a higher plane.

This morning, outside I stood
And saw a little red-winged bird
Shining like a burning bush
Singing like a scripture verse
It made me want to bow my head
I remember when church let out
How things have changed since then
Everything is holy now
It used to be a world half-there
Heaven’s second rate hand-me-down
But I walk it with a reverent air
‘Cause everything is holy now

November 1, 2011

Our Samhain

One of the things I love about living in Alaska is the wild meat we're able to hunt and butcher ourselves. It was actually on Mabon that we got a call from a neighbor who had some caribou they had shot but could not fit it all in their freezer, and they asked if we wanted some. So we spent our Mabon evening butchering and freezing caribou.
Since Samhain is a time of giving thanks for the harvest of meat (and showing gratitude for the animals' gift of their lives for our sustenance), I thought it was appropriate to eat some of our caribou tonight.
We had actually had a caribou roast just a few days ago, so instead of cooking another one, I chopped up the leftover meat, added in carrots, potatoes, broccoli, and peas, and poured over the leftover gravy to make a savory caribou pie.

Samhain is also a time to ponder on death, and to remember our loved ones or others who have died. I had planned to make "dead bread" but we had a last minute shuffle (something came up and with very little notice we ended up celebrating a night earlier than planned), so that fell through and it was just the pie.

The boys drawing their pictures
you can see our element candles and the remainder of the caribou pie...
However, we did do something to remember our departed loved ones, and that was to write messages or draw pictures for them, and put them in the fire so that the smoke could carry our love and thoughts to them. My husband wrote to his granddad who passed away this last year. I wrote to my babies who died before I was ever able to meet them. My sons all drew pictures.

October 31, 2011

Samhain FHE

Tonight our family did Family Home Evening instead of on the night of Halloween. Tomorrow will be our activity for the lesson: Why do we celebrate Halloween?

Of course, the activity will be trick or treating in the neighborhood and setting out our carved pumpkins, and this evening we discussed the origins and meaning of Halloween, and how it connects to the LDS understanding of the gospel.

The lesson went something like this:

My 4 year old was asked and answered the question; Why do we celebrate Halloween? His answers centered on getting candy (big surprise). He did have some creative answers to why people started giving out candy in the first place, however.

I went on to explain about that Samhain is the Sabbat half way between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice. We are starting to notice the days getting shorter, we are moving into times when it seems like there is more dark than light each day. Its an indication that we are heading to the darkest day of the year. We can observe this change in the season by recognizing this change and participating in the ancient celebration. Our Halloween pumpkins are lit with candles to light up the night.

Its also the time of year that it is believed that the veil is thinnest between the living and spirit world. Its the time of year when we can remember our deceased loved ones and ancestors. We then mentioned the people in our lives who have died in our lifetimes: parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, great grandparents, neighbors and how we look forward to seeing them again when we are in the spirit world with them. Until that time, sometimes we experience dreams when they visit and talk to us. Both my husband and I have experienced this so we have stories to tell.

Those spirit we know and love are not limited to those we knew on earth but also include our ancestors. My husband described what we know about our lineage and nationalities. Having completed family history on both sides of the family pretty far back, we know stories of some of our ancestors which we hope to teach our children over the years.

We then closed with the children's song "Family History- I Am Doing It!" from the Children's Songbook.

I love the lyrics of the song. They are perfect for Pagan Mormons to connect this time of year to temple work and ancestor reverence, especially the second verse:

"Fam’ly living now and the ones who’ve died
Can all be sealed to me,
And someday I’ll meet ev’ry one of them,
I’m sure as I can be.
Oh what joy we’ll have when they say to me,
“We’re all a family.
I am yours and you are mine now,
Through all eternity."

My ward choir had been planning to sing this for their October performance but unfortunately scheduling and illness prevented it. What a wonderful way to teach children and the many modern day people who not realize that the origins of Halloween are so compatible with gospel principles.

Tuesday, I hope to do more on remembering our ancestors. That would probably be the perfect night to do the National Genographic DNA test kit I was given for my birthday... I'm open to ideas. How do you teach your children about their ancestors? What special things can you think of to do on All Hallows Day or Dia de la Muerta with your young children?

October 15, 2011

Walking the Blended Path (no really, you can)

It's hard. At times it feels near impossible. The doubts, the questions, the loneliness... Come to think of it this sounds an awful lot like parenting outside the mainstream, or even in general. So shouldn't we be accustomed to this? Shouldn't this be an easy thing to slip into? Not quite. As Mormon women we are use to community within our faith. We are use to having like-minded people all around us, to having some place to turn (physically and otherwise), to having our beliefs and practices accepted and understood by the masses more or less and even spoken about on TV 4 days out of the year. But now? Now that we have added, shifted, become something else? Now what?

Photo credit.

I think the doubt is what plagues me the most. I look around me and I don't see very many people at all combining these beliefs and practices with their Mormondom. A handful, tops. And it worries me. "What if I'm all wrong? What if this is bad?" as if more people being involved would make it all the more legitimate. But it wouldn't, so why am I doing this to myself? Plain and simple- it's change. In change we grasp at anything to make it familiar. Community, as Mormons, would offer just that.

But this isn't a post about the need for community or a call to gather more fully together. Believe it or not this is a post about making it on one's own. Because at the end of the day who do we answer to but ourselves and God? We're the odd ducks, the "different", the "others". The key to walking the blended path is to embrace that. To own it. To love it. Not to say we shouldn't ever have community but just that we can't look to others to validate our ways.

But how can we manage this?

Dig deep. Get to know (and love) yourself. Enjoy your own company. Build confidence.

We are blessed in this day and age and from where we stand now, open to so much more, to have the tools necessary to do all of the above right within our reach. Meditate. Chant. Dance. Sing. Gaze into your own eyes infront of a mirror. All of these are simple rituals that could be made more elaborate if you wish or just treated as a 5 minute addition to your day but powerful rituals that bring you into yourself, that bring you home.

Something clicked in me a little bit ago that knocked me into self-acceptance. It has been a long time coming- lots of work to not working on it at all to even marinating in my own self-loathing for who I am. I fully admit I didn't come to this on my own. There are wonderful people in this world with a gift for helping you to reach down into your soul and pull yourself to your feet and one of those people is Francesca DeGrandis. I first heard about her when I saw her book Goddess Initiation at my local Waldon's bookstore. That was near 10 years ago (my goodness, I feel old!) and since then I have used the tools she had given me in both GI and Be A Goddess through many spiritual journeys. From being Wiccan to Dianic to a devout Mormon to a crisses of faith to where I stand now. I realized the other day why that is- because Francesca is all about the blended path. She doesn't say it outright, she doesn't offer a how-to on walking the blended path specifically, she merely challenges us and teaches us to be us. Live fully as who we are and that has stuck with me.

In her latest book Share My Insanity (which I highly recommend for anyone who is an "oddity") she opens with this:

"Just trust your own definition of innovative. Originality can be an inclusive—not exclusive—concept. For example, your uniqueness might express itself in the way you manage the family’s household budget, get the kids to school on time, and raise happy children. “Us plain folk” have plenty of our own special ways." 
(emphasis added by me)

My point is that though we have to learn to stand on our own this still does not happen in a vacuum. Open your eyes, ears, and heart to the experiences and advice of others. Take what you can use and leave the rest and make sure to be aware of what it is you can use, what does work for you. Trust yourself, your own understanding of things. Don't place that same trust in others because, in truth, they don't know what it is you need. But don't shun them, either. There is a balance that has to be struck but it's in that balance that the real magic happens- when the light goes on and we begin to grow into ourselves, fully.

All of this rambling to set out a personal "how-to" on walking the blended path. Or, more accurately, what I have found to work for me...

Know yourself.
Love yourself.
Respect yourself. 
Understand that you are alone yet joined by many in that. 
Be humble enough to learn from others.
Be confident enough to learn from yourself. 
Realize the paradoxes all around you and let them work with and within you. 
Embrace your "crazy".

These aren't my rules as much as they are things I remind myself of as often as possible. And it works wonders, if you can believe it.

October 1, 2011

Light in the Sky

Thank you my little one.

I know you did not want to be awake any more than I did last night, but I also know that the time has come for you to nightwean and learn to sleep through the night, and so I was holding and rocking you as you cried, rather than just nursing you back to sleep.

And because we were awake, and because we were in the living room (due to your crying, and my desire to let everyone else sleep), I saw light outside in the sky.

And because I saw light, and because I knew what it was, I put on our coats and hats and bundled you inside my coat and took you outside.

And we walked over by the water, where we could feel the wind and smell the saltwater and hear the rolling surf and be out of the yellow glow of the streetlights.

And we looked up, in the glorious darkness of this week's new moon, and we watched the greens edged with purples of the northern lights as they danced in the sky.

photo from here, no I didn't take it, but it was taken here in Kotzebue and it is what they looked like last night

As I walked home, I fell to wondering:

If the Sun shows us Father God and the Moon shows us Mother Goddess, what is the Aurora? Is it the Spirit? Everywhere and moving and bright to see if only we can free ourselves of the little earthbound lights all about us?

And I also remembered that in one of my college literature classes we read an (otherwise horrible) book where one of the characters said that an orgasm was like a rainbow all over inside of her. As I was watching the lights move and change I was thinking how they were very sensual, and that maybe they're like a cosmic orgasm, a visual representation of the hieros gamos, you know? God and Goddess joining to create balance in the universe and make lights fill the sky!

I don't know which interpretation of the aurora I like better. Perhaps I will hold on to both. I do know that when I see them I feel a sense of awe and wonder that assures me that there is something Divine out there, and that we can touch it.

September 30, 2011

Our Mabon

Life has been busy and I did not do anything very fancy for this feast, but I did cook up a sausage squash special with these cute little squashes from our CSA box. (It's just what it sounds like, sausage, squash, and cheese smooshed together with a little egg to hold it together and baked for a while.)
And I made an apple pie.
Apples + squash = good harvest food, right?

Mabon is a time of giving thanks for the harvest, and for all our blessings. I had grand intentions of doing something with writing things we were grateful for, and maybe putting them in the fire to carry our gratitude heavenward in the smoke...
But then we got a phone call from some neighbors who had extra caribou and asked if we wanted some. We said sure. So they brought it over (and the rest of our plans got put aside for processing the meat).

It was about 4 whole caribou (that piece of cardboard the quarters are laying on is about the size of a door...)

We butchered about 2 1/2 of them and passed the rest along to someone else. ☺
My husband and the neighbor working away

Hubby and a different neighbor who also came to help...
yes of course we shared with them

September 21, 2011

Celebrating Mabon

Mabon is the second of the three harvest festivals. Lammas celebrates grains, berries, and other early foods. Samhain celebrates the meat harvest of hunting and slaughter time.

Mabon was not an authentic ancient festival either in name or date. The autumn equinox was not celebrated in Celtic countries, while all that is known about Anglo-Saxon customs of that time was that September was known as haleg-monath or 'holy month'. The name Mabon has only been applied to the neopagan festival of the autumn equinox very recently; the term was invented by Aidan Kelly in the 1970s as part of a religious studies project. Previously the festival was simply known as the 'Autumnal Equinox', and many neopagans still refer to it as such.
The name Mabon was chosen to impart a more authentic-sounding "Celtic" feel to the event, since all the other festivals either had names deriving from genuine tradition, or had had names grafted on to them. The use of the name Mabon is much more prevalent in America than Britain, where many neopagans are scornfully dismissive of it as a blatantly inauthentic practice. The Druids call this celebration, Mea'n Fo'mhair, and honor the The Green Man, the God of the Forest, by offering libations to trees. Offerings of ciders, wines, herbs and fertilizer are appropriate at this time. Wiccans celebrate the aging Goddess as she passes from Mother to Crone, and her consort the God as he prepares for death and re-birth.
Various other names for this Lesser Wiccan Sabbat are The Second Harvest Festival, Wine Harvest, Feast of Avalon, Equinozio di Autunno (Strega), Alben Elfed (Caledonii), or Cornucopia. The Teutonic name, Winter Finding, spans a period of time from the Sabbat to Oct. 15th, Winter's Night, which is the Norse New Year. [source link]

Also called Harvest Home, this holiday is a ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of the Earth and a recognition of the need to share them to secure the blessings of the Goddess and God during the winter months.

This time of year also coincides with Michaelmas (Sep 29), which celebrates the Archangel Michael's victory over the Dragon (the devil). For more on that, visit Ayla's neat posts from last year: part one, part two, and the dragon hunt!

  • red, orange, rust, brown, maroon
  • apples, nuts, squash, gourds, pomegranates
  • pinecones
  • vines (grapes, ivy, etc)
  • corn stalks

  • Gratitude for the harvest
  • Gratitude for everything else
  • Balance (the balance between light and dark, also between life and death as plants are giving fruit at the same time they are dying. It is appropriate to recognize all forms of balance at this time.)
  • Harmony
  • Self-reliance 
  • Wisdom 
  • Old age (including the transition from "mother" to "crone/wisewoman," or from midlife into old age)(here is a great site about the crone archetype)

  • Sing songs of thanksgiving and harvest home (see below)
  • Pick apples
  • Dry apples to make little wrinkly 'faces' and then add corn husk bodies to make little harvest people
  • Write down things you are thankful for on little pieces of paper. Read each one aloud, and put it into the fire to let the smoke carry your gratitude heavenward.
  • Make cider, juice, or wine
  • Make applesauce
  • Gather seeds from dying plants to use for next year 
  • Gather nuts
  • Gather herbs and dry them
  • Make grapevine wreaths (or buy grapevine wreaths and decorate them)

Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.
All the world is God’s own field, fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.

(You can hear the hymn here.)

  • Have a lavish feast!
  • Apples
  • Apple cider (there is a recipe to make your own here)
  • Apple pie
  • Squash
  • Beans 
  • All vegetables that are in season, including root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and onions
  • Grapes & wine
  • Nuts and nut breads


September 5, 2011

The Magic of Faith

Moon  Night Sky

Two nights ago I lit ritual candles and drank milk out of a special cup.  I meditated on angels and
stars.  I spent hours talking to friends close enough to me to be called a coven, as we designed rituals to bond us and use our energy for mutual benefit.
Two nights ago, I got on my knees and prayed for each of my coven sisters by name for help in supporting them in specific trials they are facing.  It wasn’t a whiny prayer or a begging prayer, but a solid prayer of faith and expectation of help.  I prayed in the name of Christ, and imagined my Brother kneeling next to me with His arm around my shoulders, approving my words and desires.

Two nights ago, I acted as a Pagan Christian.                       

Many Christians cannot reconcile the two paths I tread.  They don’t see how I need the extra ritual and mysticism to bring my mind and spirit to holy places.
Many Pagans shun Christianity because of the guilt-saturated traditions and the strict moral codes that they feel are harmful.

Here’s one way I make this work: prayer.  There are piles and piles of articles and books on the law of attraction—how to make it work and make all your dreams come true.  And there are piles and piles of spells and rituals that involve sending your will into the universe.   I certainly believe in that, and I believe that anyone can get anything they desire on this earth.  But that’s only half the story.

There are scriptures that explain you only need ask for something and believe that you’ll receive it, in the name of Christ, and it shall be given you.  How many Christians can actually pray with that kind of faith?  Too many of us shoulder unnecessary guilt or over-indulge in appropriate guilt.  We feel unworthy, blemished, imperfect, unlovable.  Our prayers are begging and pleading for things while deep down we don’t truly believe we’ll ever get what we ask for.  I've been that way, myself.  I don’t want to be that person anymore, and Pagan rituals are strengthening my Christian faith.

My prayers are mostly short: I ask for guidance in my path, I express my deep gratitude for the blessings that never cease, and then I’m done.  Throughout my day, I expect that guidance because I know my Heavenly Parents love me and want me to be happy.  You could say I have a prayer always in my heart.  Then I’ll do rituals that involve lighting candles and feeling the strength of my power and will to create something or heal someone.  I hug trees and find stillness in nature to quiet my mind so that it’s open to divine influence.  Then I go and do the work I feel pulled to do—whether it’s schoolwork, playing with Sprout, making feminist comments at church, writing she scriptures, or talking for ridiculous amounts of time to a coven member when she is in crisis.

So here is my testimony: Jesus is my Savior and Redeemer.  God and Goddess are my Parents, and they bothwant to hear from me.  The earth has a spirit, as does everything upon it.  There is a life force and energy that we have the power to manipulate, and the responsibility to manipulate with caution, generosity, Divine guidance, and courage.  We are all connected, and loving the weirdos and freaks; the gays and homophobes; the socially inept and the smooth politician; and your family, warts and all, is the only way to find the path to true happiness, whatever your religion.
These are the things I believe, and strive to live in accordance with.

Blessed be.

Tranquil Beach

August 2, 2011

Lammas 2011

I also had a celebration with just family and friends.  From again:

Tools, Symbols & Decorations
The sun, oak, birch & fir branches, sun flowers, lilies, red/maize/yellow or gold flower, love amulets, seashells, summer fruits & flowers, feather/flower door wreath, sun wheel, fire, circles of stone, sun dials and swords/blades, bird feathers, Witches' ladder.
Gods & Goddesses
(Celtic, one of the Tuatha De Danaan)
The Mother, Dana
(Lugh’s wife & queen)
(Roman grain goddess..honored at Ceresalia)
Johnny Barleycorn
Arianrhod’s golden haired son Lleu
(Welsh God of the Sun & Corn where corn includes all grains, not just maize)
Other agricultural Goddesses
The Waxing Goddess
The Waning God
Red, Orange, Golden Yellow, Green, Light Brown, Gold, Bronze, Gray
Bonfires, processions, all night vigil, singing, feasting, celebrating with others, cutting divining rods, dowsing rods & wands, herb gathering, handfastings, weddings, Druidic gathering of mistletoe in oak groves, needfires, leaping between two fires, mistletoe(without berries, use as a protection amulet), women walking naked through gardens to ensure continued fertility, enjoying the seasonal fruits & vegetables, honor the Mother's fullness, richness and abundance, put garlands of St. John’s Wort placed over doors/ windows & a sprig in the car for protection.
Animals/Mythical Beings
Griffins, basilisks, roosters, calves, centaurs, phoenix
Aventurine, citrine, peridot, sardonyx, yellow diamondsand citrine
Grain, acacia, heather, ginseng, sloe, cornstalks, cyclamen, fenugreek, aloes, frankincense, sunflower, hollyhock, oak leaf, wheat,myrtle
Wood aloes, rose, rose hips, rosemary, chamomile, eucalyptus, safflower, corn, passionflower, frankincense, sandalwood
Astrology, prosperity, generosity, continued success, good fortune, abundance, magickal picnic, meditate & visualize yourself completing a project you’ve started.
Loaves of homemade wheat, oat, & corn bread, barley cakes, corn, potatoes, summer squash, nuts, acorns, wild berries (any type), apples, rice, pears, berry pies, elderberry wine, crab apples, mead, crab, blackberries, meadowsweet tea, grapes, cider, beer

Pictures from our celebration:

My friend's two daughters really enjoyed making the corn husk dolls after they husked their own corn cobs for the feast.  They were also ecstatic to make their own shaped little bread rolls--made from freshly ground (and soaked!) wheat.  The girls also performed ribbon dances at various times throughout the two days that we celebrated, and helped with setting up and cleaning.  I explained the reason behind the festival--to be thankful for the harvest, and to be thankful for the bounty of food available to us.

On a side note, I am considering skipping Thanksgiving in exchange for observing the three harvest festivals because it has become such a holiday of gluttony.  Also, how many families share their feast with the poor, or a minority family that they wouldn't normally socialize with?  Where are the Native Americans?  Are we still thanking them for helping us to survive so we could take all their land and ignore them?  Ok, getting off my soapbox now.  I just believe that three harvest festivals with feasts attached to each should be quite enough.  Thanksgiving should be dedicated to helping the poor, and feeding the needy.

Lughnasadh 2011

I don't have anything to add to the fabulous post that preceded mine, so I'm going to focus mainly on the pagan celebration side of things.

From :

Lughnasadh, also called Lammas, is the Celebration of Harvest and begins what is called "the chase of Lugh". Lugh is the Celtic Sun God and He rains down upon the crops, living within the golden fields. This is the time of the first harvests. At this celebration we give thanks to the Earth for its bounty and beauty. It is from these harvests that we eat through the upcoming winter. Honoring the God Lugh, games and sports are played to celebrate strength and good health. The grain Goddesses Demeter and Ceres are also honored. This is a time to harvest the dreams planted earlier in the year.
In Ireland in 1169, under the jurisdiction of the last High King, Ruraidh O'Conchobhar, the last Lughnasadh games, feast and fair were held. Lughnasadh or 'Festival of Lugh' was a time of thanksgiving and reverence to the Land for it's sacrifices to us. This was a time to test and give thanks for the skills and talents that we had been given and had achieved.
It is said that Lugh (Llew, Lugos, Lugus), Master of All the Arts and Crafts, dedicated this festival to his foster-mother, Tailtiu, the last queen of the Fir Bolg, who died from exhaustion after clearing a great forest so that the land could be cultivated. When the men of Ireland gathered at her death-bed, she told them to hold funeral games in her honor. As long as they were held, she prophesied Ireland would not be without song. Tailtiu’s name is from Old Celtic Talantiu, "The Great One of the Earth," suggesting she may originally have been a personification of the land itself, like so many Irish goddesses. In fact, Lughnasadh has an older name, BrĂ³n Trogain, which refers to the painful labor of childbirth. For at this time of year, the earth gives birth to her first fruits so that her children might live....

I was lucky enough to join a local coven for the ritual.  There was a lot of laughter and dancing and whooping with joy.  The high priestess cast a large circle and asked us to add energy to the loaf of bread she carried around so it would be blessed for the holiday.  Then we all feasted on a lovely potluck dinner.  Throughout the night there was fantastic lightning and storming with rain that was at times heavy and light.  At the end of the evening we all took away baskets that had beef jerky (for the hunt), granola (for the grain), dried fruit (for the harvest), and sunflower seeds.  I spread them around the edges of the fence around our home to give back to nature and share the bounty of the harvest.  

July 7, 2011

Fasting: the aftermath

I weighed myself this morning, and found that I had lost six pounds.  Fasting for a full twenty-four hours cleansed me in different ways than I was expecting.  I haven't done it in so long, and I've never given myself permission to drink water along with my fast.  It was the perfect combination, and this whole week I've been feeling much less inclination to drown emotional difficulties in food.  I'm excited about this new development, and true to my character, I'll probably try to go overboard with it and fast every week until I lose momentum.  Or possibly I'll just stick to phases of the moon.  I like the idea of fasting with the new moon.  It's a sort of empathetic connection--the moon hides her face and gives no light, no nourishment, and so I participate in the darkness by refusing nourishment from other sources until she begins to turn back.  (I am taking artistic license with this--I am well aware of the scientific realities of the phases of the moon...)
My phases, while not in sync with the phases of the moon, deserve to be recognized.  A true connection to the nature around me, with the spirits that inhabit every last molecule of this earth, is my ultimate goal.  I seek to know the Parents by fully embracing Their creations.  Fasting has become a surprising way for me to accomplish that.  I almost look forward to another day of hunger.  I just have to decide how often I want to torture myself.  I mean, cleanse myself.  ;)

July 5, 2011

Creating my sacred space

Originally I had been opposed to a prayer/meditation altar but over a few months, I realized I could really benefit from the centering that comes from having visual representations and elements to guide my thoughts. The items I have put on my altar give me a focus on the aspects that I feel are most important to me right now--what I'm working on, where I want to go, what I value.  I realized in my altar I wanted to have a visual image of the Goddess and God. I really love the concept of the triple goddess because as I ponder a divine woman, she's not just a mother, not just a grandmother, but she has a complete knowledge and understanding and encompasses all the aspects of womanhood. In my profile, I describe how I see the Goddess.

I wanted to find something to visually depicted that. I searched for images using the term "triple goddess" and the artwork pictured below is the first that showed up. I like it more than the other pieces of goddess art that I've seen because it shows the dimensions of womanhood so well. The intensity of maidenhood, the softness and passion of motherhood and the calm wisdom of the wise woman all show how women are capable of all of those things at the same time. The wise woman has been all of those things and does not cease to be what she once was and she matures and progresses through the stages of wisdom.
By Wolfnixie13
I then turned my eyes to the male deity. Since I love the idea of a complex ageless and at every age woman, I thought viewing the Lord God as the Triple God. The concept is not as common as that of the triple goddess though you can search and find some discussion of it. However, the concept does not seem as well developed in people's minds and it was virtually impossible to find a visual representation of God as a youth, father and wise man. You'd be really surprised to hear where I found it though: in the First Vision.

Available at Deseret Book
Its not perfect, but if you remember the Mormon doctrine that we can gain all knowledge and become gods ourselves, Joseph acts as the youth who has the capability, potential to (and maybe has already) attain godhood. Then, Christ is the appropriate age for father (and I believe he was a biological father in his mortal life, AND the Book of Mormon teaches us that we become the children of Christ at our baptism) so Christ can be perfectly viewed as a divine father. Then logically, God the Father is the wise man who has attained all knowledge and wisdom. So there you go, in the most familiar visual representation Mormons have of Elohim, I see the Triple God.

At first I had my eyes set on this representation of the Triple Goddess but I'm not at a point where I can spend that much on such a beautiful statue. Perhaps the time will come that I will replace both of frugal choices with the more expensive representations that I first considered. Besides, I'd love to find a bronze statue of the First Vision rather than marble or plaster.


I printed out both of pieces of artwork shown first and framed them. I placed them on a carved wood table that had belonged to my great grandmother. Above the table, I have a metal work tree that to me symbolizes the tree of life and the progression to Godhood, Heavenly Mother, my ancestors and family tree.
The Tree of Life above my prayer table

Between the framed art, I felt prompted to put a wedding photo of my husband and I. It reminds me of the good that can be found in the temple endowment--that women are promised to become queens, priestesses, and goddesses (I basically ignore the "to your husbands" part because I reject the notion that women need an intermediary to relate to their Mother and Father. I just cannot believe that principle comes from God). To me, our wedding photo reminds me of our ability to progress and possess all the knowledge, power and ability of our Father and Mother. That's my goal in this life: to maintain the focus of where I want to go. It is my hope and my faith that together my husband and I can attain those blessings.
Our sealing at the Salt Lake Temple

But that leads into what is basically a need of mine: to remember that I am out of balanced when I think too much of the afterlife and the future. I need to find ways to be present in the hear and now. That's where Buddhist mindfulness provides me important lessons. I've also found in paganism, the ability to connect with the earth and value my time on it. I have an advent wreath placed in front of my framed pictures. The advent wreath is bronze and shaped with Celtic knots which connects to my Irish and Scottish heritage. I also decided to put in the colored candles with associate with the pagan earth elements (earth, air, water, fire and in the center spirit). I also have candles that are associated with the chakras (click on learn about more chakras and a pop-up page will come up) because I find focusing on which part of my seems out of balance is really helping in finding that balance. I've been focusing in the abstract spiritual world for so long that I need some concrete aids to help ground me.

This advent wreath is available from Terra Sancta Guild
In learning about the elements and their associated colors, I learned something very interesting. The colors for each element are pretty stable and logical: blue for water, red for fire, green for earth, yellow for air, purple for spirit. However, I learned that depending on your geography, which direction you associate with a certain element will be different. Since I live in the Pacific Northwest, I associate water (the ocean) to the west of me, fire (the desert) to the south, earth (the mountains and expanse of thousands of miles of land) to the west, air (the cool, crisp air of Canada, snow and high altitudes) to the north.

Last thing on there is my aromatherapy diffuser. I turn that on with essential oils in it based on the needs at the time. Sometimes it for emotional stability, balance or comfort (lavender, rose or jasmine) but most often lately its been medicinal to help me get over the viruses and infections floating through the house. It would be more typical to use incense but I find I need the cooling water vapor to comfort me. I'm such a fiery personality that adding more fire is not a good idea and I'll be honest, I find incense smoke irritating to my lungs. The cool water vapor is so cleansing and healing, I much prefer it.

The table is really small so I kneel in front it using a small stool. Its actually a breastfeeding stool but I find its perfect to sit on. Its like using a yoga block to sit on one's feet and I find its the most comfortable position for me that I can sit in for long periods. Kneeling the Christian way just never worked for me without causing cramps and discomfort after a while which resulting in my prayers being cut off or less focused. Being able to relax into prayer and meditation goes a long way to having that time be sacred, meaningful and productive.

With the stool for kneeling
I love how well its come together. I love the layers of symbolism and how each thing reflects a love or need of mine. It helps me stay focused in the moment. Given the many years my life was engrossed by death, suffering and the hope for the afterlife (which is a terrible way to live when you are in your twenties!),  its a huge step for me to be so connected to the material world. The world is a beautiful place, symbols are powerful and I love feeling the freedom to implement symbols that are appropriate and meaningful to me.  I don't feel the need to sit in front of my meditation table everyday but its my calming place when I need it or feel like I could benefit from the full sensory experience.  It really helps me to focus. I end up  feeling more dedicated and connected to both my body, my life and to my parents in heaven. All at the same time, I know who I am, I know where I'm going and what I'm doing here.
The close-up