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?