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.

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.