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.

March 28, 2011

Ostara

We had a great Ostara this year.  It was our first time celebrating with others and it was a nice change.  I have been taking classes through Lyceum of Trees which have been wonderful.  The group hosts regular Sabbats and Esbats that are open and often kid-friendly.  We were a little late getting to the party as G also had a birthday party to attend for one of his friends.  So, we missed the egg dying with natural dyes (boo) but everyone was so sweet and reset an egg hunt for my kids.   Here they are hunting for eggs.




I love this last one.  E figured out pretty quick that the eggs had CANDY inside.  Forget this gathering for fun stuff.  He had to stop right then, empty his pockets and start eating immediately.   And since big M couldn't eat the candy and G just wasn't as interested as his younger, sugar addicted brother, E made a right haul.  Below is the haul.  Yeah, we had to drag him away.  Guess what his favorite holiday is now?
Our friend Gina and her kids  loaned us some books, so we read the story of the Rabbit in the moon.  After eating some candy, we enjoyed the potluck.  Mmmm, yummy food!
Then, with a slight break in the rain, the Lyceum elders conducted the Ostara ritual.  We held our eggs and thought of something good we wanted to bring into our lives. Ostara is about the coming spring full of growth, potential, things taking root.  This is literal as we watch plants start growing again, but also figurative as we begin thinking of new projects and areas of our lives we want to improve.  So we held  our wishes in our eggs and promised to take them into ourselves as we ate the eggs.  I'm bad at describing it, but it was beautiful, I promise.  :-)
At home, we talked some about the newness that Spring provides.  I love Spring.  I love watching the flowers start to bloom.  I adore trees in bloom!  We have sung "Popcorn Popping" about a million times. More or less.  And I am thinking about the garden.  I planted some kale, spinach and kolrabi.  I am waiting for the new moon when I will plant the rest of my seeds. I'm running a little late, but better late than never I guess.  Those seeds will hang out in the greenhouse until the temperatures rise a bit and the rain stops pelting so hard on a near daily basis.
Anyway, Yay! for spring.  May all the good you are hoping for take healthy root in your life, and may the warming sun give you strength in your endeavors.

March 21, 2011

Separating Easter from Ostara

(cross-posted from my blog)

Most kids I know think of Easter as a day of chocolate bunnies and boiled eggs. Many of them get dragged along to church, and a number of them even know the story of Jesus being resurrected. But when push comes to shove, I'm pretty sure that if you ask a kid about Easter, they're gonna go back to eggs and bunnies.


My parents wanted to separate Jesus from the candy, so on Easter Sunday we went to church, told the resurrection story, and had no candy whatsoever. The next day, we would hunt for eggs and baskets for our Family Night. I remember at one point when I was 10 or 11 I complained that all our friends got candy a whole day before we did. My mother calmly pointed out that if she waited and bought the candy on monday, it was all half price, and she would be able to get us twice as much. I was sold! I actually went on to tell friends about it for several years--how no, we hadn't gotten our baskets that morning before church, we would have to wait for Monday, but it was ok because we would get extra candy that way. Clearly I thought along the same lines as most other kids in terms of where my focus was.

So I was already accustomed to separating celebrations of the Resurrection from celebrations of springtime, but it still felt a little sloppy... By which I mean that doing it on two adjacent days still felt like it was all one holiday, whereas I wanted a more defined separation.
And then I learned about Ostara.
Most of the things we think of as Easter symbols (eggs, flowers, bunnies, chicks) are actually from Ostara (even the name was snagged from "Oestre" which was a germanic goddess of springtime). Ostara is a celebration of rebirth and new life, so it does fit in spendedly with the themes of Resurrection, but they are not the same thing. One celebrates seasons and cycles, the other celebrates Christ's sacrifice for the eternal salvation of humankind. I don't want to mix them up.

So we separate the two separately.

On Ostara, we celebrate springtime and new life. We dye eggs, make egg/bird/bunny shaped sugar cookies, do spring cleaning, and have a big dinner with spring greens, eggs, poultry, or lamb. We may also get some seasonal candies to share with the family, but we don't have baskets or sneaky bunnies or any of that.


Then, on Easter, we celebrate Christ and the resurrection. No eggs or bunnies. We make a dinner of fish and honey because that's what Christ ate with the apostles, We also make resurrection rolls which are a family favorite.

A note about Ostara and Easter.  Easter's date is actually based on Ostara, because Easter (which is dated off Passover), always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after Equinox. This year, the full moon fell one day before Equinox, so the two holidays ended up being a full month apart. Last year they were only a day apart.

March 20, 2011

Spring and New Beginnings

x-posted on our family blog. Edited to fit better here.


Today is the Spring Equinox when the sun begins to regain it's strength in the Northern Hemisphere and the Earth awakens under it's rays with new growth and life.

Awake, thou wintry earth -
Fling off thy sadness!
Fair vernal flowers, laugh forth
Your ancient gladness!
~Thomas Blackburn, An Easter Hymn

In our family study using the symbolism within nature to learn of Christ we see this as the time Christ (the sun/son) is growing strong under his Father bringing us the light which is knowledge, truth, hope, and of course our salvation. It's now that we prepare to go into the Easter season where we will witness Christ's crucifixion but not in darkness or with despair. We do not rejoice in his death but rather that he died and was reborn. As the Earth is warmed and awakened by the sun so are we warmed and awakened by The Son and his teachings and sacrifice for us. We are reborn through him.  

Generally when we think of Spring we think of eggs and flowers and newborn baby animals; bright colors and pastels and all with good reason- Mama Earth is warming and life is springing from her. The theme for Spring even more so by nature itself than the theme of the man-made New Year is new beginnings and rebirth. As such it is the perfect time to start fresh, to be reborn in the year. This year Rob and I have made a resolution to live more righteously and fully. We are reborn in our commitment to a whole life. 

BLESSED EQUINOX AND SPRING TIME TO ALL!

March 18, 2011

Circle, Coven, Grove: Observing the March Full Moon

Available for sale on Etsy.

The ritual provided in Circle, Coven, Grove for the March Full Moon is to bless the seeds that are going to be planted for the coming growing season. Seeds in this ritual can also be symbolic of the seeds of personal growth. The beginning of spring is a powerful time to plant the seeds for positive change. Just as the March new moon was a time to banish patterns and behavior that hinder positive change, the full moon is a time to bless the habits and behaviors that can grow positive traits.

This year we are lucky that the full moon and the equinox are back to back, so I don't feel the need to choose which blessing is done tonight or that I ought to do both at the same time. As always, my plans are shaped by the developmental needs of my children and their need to be respected at their level as they participate. For this reason, the plan is to bless the seeds for our garden on the night of the full moon and then ask on the night of the equinox for the Lord and Lady's blessing on our efforts to grow as kind, wise individuals.

The author, Deborah Blake, provides the text for the blessings of the seeds that I likely will not adapt very much though I am pondering on whether to associate God the Father will the light of the full moon. The moon is commonly associated with the female aspects of deity so the blessing provided in the book only reference the Lady and her light. I have not yet worked out in my mind the distinctions, separation of the male and female and most often view them as a unit without much understanding of their differences. I am pursuing this topic of study. Any reading materials you can refer me to?

And lastly, you've read about our plans for our garden and that we've been looking forward to planting and starting seeds for a long time now (or so it feels). I'm so excited to be getting closer! If only the seeds I ordered were here already. I thought they would be here be now so I'm just hoping they will be in the mail tomorrow...

March 17, 2011

Saint Patrick's Day -- Divine Marriage between Pagan wisdom and Christian revelation

 
I cannot take credit for the posing in this picture, I totally stole it from my friend Ron, best photographer I know!

St. Patrick's day has come again and I'm feeling more at peace this year. Green beer, celebrating Irish-American culture - it's as innocent really as Thanksgiving yet like Thanksgiving I know that it's based on a lie. The younger me would have railed against that lie. I would have shouted from the roof tops of the injustice of St. Patrick being celebrated when the "snakes" he drove out where actually a metaphor for the divine feminine and old wise women in Ireland. A tradition stolen from my ancestors, women eventually burned at the stake.

However a new tradition of Christ took root and what am I but a devotee of that Divine Marriage between the Pagan wisdom and Christian revelation?

But last year I thought, let's just bake Irish soda bread, eat Shepard's pie, wear green and be happy, and thankful, to be Irish! And that's how we celebrate now. We can hold space for the reality as well as the cultural practice, the ideal and the actual - it's the balance of everyday life. A path we all walk in one way or another.

Whatever your St. Patrick's day path, we wish you joy and blessings!

Check out my blog for our family's Shepherd's Pie recipe :)

Serpent Mythology

Today is St Patrick's Day.  The day we celebrate the miracle of St Patrick ridding Ireland of the snakes.  Growing up, I had always assumed that was a literal miracle.  Who wouldn't want to chase out creepy snakes, right?  I have since learned though that the snakes were symbolic of the native, goddess worshiping religion.  In my reading, I have been fascinated to learn of the prevalence of the serpent as a symbol of the Goddess, eternity and fertility.
Most Christians think immediately of the Creation Story when we think of serpents and serpent symbols.  Indeed, for much of modern, Western history, the serpent has been symbol of the devil, temptation, evil, and the Fall.  So, when we see pictures of snakes or hear of stories revering them, the conclusion is "devil worship".  But this is inaccurate.  Pre-Christianity, the serpent was a powerful, and nearly universal, symbol of deity, fertility and strength.  The serpent has been seen as both male, female and androgynous; as cosmic or earth-bound.
A cosmic serpent is the Ouroboros. It was a part of Greek and Egypt beliefs.  The Ourobouros was an eternal symbol.  With it's head biting the tail and encircling the earth, it had no ending or beginning and encompassed everything.  By consuming itself, the Ouroboros is a symbol similar to the Pheonix, creating life again from death.
Image credit
In Norse mythology, J√∂rmungandr is the serpent son of Loki, who grows so large he encompases the Earth.  He and Thor are enemies and part of the final battle will be Thor's face-off with the "World-Serpent".

In the Kundalini tradition, Sakti is the serpent representing feminine power.  Kundalini yoga is an ancient practice designed to waken the Sakti and allow her to unite with Siva at the crown chakra, representing pure consciousness.  Sakti is illustrated as a spiral or an elaborate knot.
And who could forget the Caduceus.  The North American symbol of medicine, doctors and hospitals?  The exact origins of this symbol are not exactly clear from my research.  It appears there are several stories related to the Cauceus, some positive, some negative.

St Brigid's Day was celebrated last month.  One of the symbols of Brigid (the bride) and of her followers, is the serpent.  In fact, this symbolism  is so strong that we still celebrate the end of her people every year in March.  But most people don't realize it.  I didn't until I studied more about serpent mythology.  The story goes that St Patrick chased the snakes out of Ireland and that is why there are no snakes on the island today.  In reality, there probably weren't any snakes in Ireland when St. Patrick lived there either.  The snakes are a reference to the followers of the old religion.  St Patrick baptized most of the leaders and prominent citizenry to the Catholic church.  The followers of Brigid were either forced to hide their beliefs or leave.  Much of their practices were actually absorbed into the church.  Brigid was remade as a saint.  Her holiday was renamed Candlemas and her symbol of the 4 seasons/wheel of the year was called a cross and said to describe the Passions of Christ.  The symbol of the serpent was completely turned around and came to represent the devil and his temptations.

Jenni just reviewed the book, Dance of the Dissident Daughter.  She shared with me this quote:
To my surprise, I'd learned that in ancient times the snake was not maligned or sen as evil but rather symbolized female wisdom, power, and regeneration. It was associated with the ancient Goddess and was protrayed as her companion. The snake was perhaps the central symbol of sacred feminine energy.
...
That day as I gazed at the picture of Eve and the serpent, I remembered Goddess and her connection to the snake, and inside I heard a resounding click...Questions followed one another in rapid-fire succession: how had the snake, of all creatures--an animal no better or worse than other wild beings-come to embody the full projection of evil within the Jewish and Christian traditions? Why was the snake selected to represent Satan in the origin myth? Could it be that the patriarchal force chose the snake in hopes of diminishing women's connection to feminine wisdom, power, and regeneration? Was it a way of discrediting the Feminine Divine?
In the context of that time and history, the idea made gut-wrenching sense. In fact, later I would read many such theories by scholars, theologians, and historians. 
...
Holding the picture of Eve and the serpent that day, I realized how significant and sad it is that in the story Yahweh forever placed enmity between Eve and the snake. Taking symbolic history into account, we might say that Yahweh placed enmity between Eve and her deep Feminine Source, her wisdom and power. 
What did it mean spiritually and psychologically for a woman to be at odds with that source? Wasn't this another way of portraying women's severed connection with their feminine souls?



This aspect of the creation story has bothered me, well, forever.  But since I have learned more about the Goddess and the Divine Feminine, it bothers me more.  Stories are powerful and the creation story has had great influence in the world.  I hope to review the book, Eve and Choice made in Eden soon.  In it, Beverly Campbell postulates that this story has done great harm to women and our place in society.  By relating women to evil, much has been done to women in the name of purification.
So, in honor of the serpent and the Goddess, I'd like to start a discussion today.  What influence has the creation story had on your world-view?  Does the knowledge of the original symbolism of the serpent change your view of St Patrick's day?  What other thoughts does this bring to mind?  Do share!

March 16, 2011

Book Review: The Dance of the Dissident Daughter

(cross-posted on my blog)

There is a great review of this book at With Your Mutual Approbation, so I won't repeat what she said, (you should just go read that review too!) but I will add some thoughts of my own as well as a few quotes.

The book has four sections, chronicling Kidd's journey "from christian tradition to the sacred feminine." The sections are Awakening, Initiation, Grounding, and Empowerment. The book is a little like a diary, or a documentary of her personal journey of discovery. She has excerpts from her journal, she talks about art she created, dreams she had, rituals she did, and her conversations and research during the time (it covers several years). She draws from MANY sources, some of which clicked for me more than others. Art, history, theologians, psychology, mythology, and feminism combine in her own personal melting pot of putting in all the pieces and creating a new self and a new view of the world.

I think the greatest point of this book is that it approaches the idea of the Divine Feminine from a Christian perspective. In other words, it does not discount Christianity, it merely broadens the view.

I feel like I have been or am doing some similar things (pulling from many sources to make a new paradigm), however my own feelings and conclusions aren't all the same as hers. I think she makes some good points though. In the first half or so of "Awakening" I thought wow, this could be me writing this; but then in the later part of that section, plus most of "Initiation," I felt like I really didn't relate. In those parts she was pushing back against the repression she felt in the patriarchal society, particularly the patriarchal church. The LDS church is pretty patriarchal in practice, but it is NOT so much in doctrine (ie, we already have a belief in  Heavenly Mother), so I don't feel nearly so repressed or disenfranchised as Kidd did. As the book got into the "Grounding" part I started relating again though, and really liked many of her conclusions.

Kidd's experiences combined feminism with spirituality, and while there is a lot of room for overlap, I feel that there is also lots of room for separation. So I took the intellectual stimulation and lapped it up as food for thought...but without feeling any obligation to agree with any particular part. I was intrigued by her interpretations and insights in some areas, and more or less apathetic about others. In the long run though, I found it difficult to put the book down, and would heartily recommend it to anyone (especially any woman, but really any one) who is open to thinking about things from a broader perspective.


Here are a few quotes or ideas from the book that I particularly liked:

"I often went to Catholic mass or Eucharist at the Episcopal church, nourished by the symbol and power of this profound feeding ritual. It never occurred to me how odd it was that women, who have presided over the domain of food and feeding for thousands of years, were historically and routinely barred from presiding over it in a spiritual context. And when the priest held out the host and said, "This is my body, given for you," not once did I recognize that it is women in the act of breastfeeding who most truly embody those words and who are also the most excluded from ritually saying them" (15).
An LDS acquaintance recently made the point that women literally shed their blood for others in menstruation, the marriage bed, and childbirth. (Those, along with lactation and menopause, are the five pagan "women's blood mysteries" and are considered sacred, which I think is appropriate. How wonderful would it be to raise daughters to think of their bleeding as sacred rather than as a curse?!)
In a later part of the book, Kidd mentions that the phrase "El Shaddai" (used in the Old Testament as a name for God) has usually been translated as "the almighty," but in fact 'shad' is also a Hebrew word for breast, and the 'ai' ending is feminine. So another reasonable interpretation is "the breasted one," or nurturing mother. And how many times in scripture does God speak of gathering us "as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wing"? Indeed, I must agree with Ms Kidd that the Old Testament is actually FULL of positive female references.

"The question then occurred to me: Well, [if] the Divine is ultimately formless and genderless, what's the big deal? Why all this bother?
"The bother is because we have no other way of speaking about the Absolute. We need forms and images. Without them we have no way of relating to the Divine. Symbol and image create a universal spiritual language. It's the language the soul understands. 
"And yet--and here's the crux--the images that have pervaded our speech, thought, and feeling about the Divine have told us the Divine is exclusively male. They have told us there is only one form and that form is masculine. Indeed, the image, language, and metaphor of God as male has been used so exclusively, for so long, that most people seem to believe that God is male. 
"How many times had I heard someone say "God is not male, He is spirit"?" (137-140).
The author is writing from a mainstream Christian perspective, and of course LDS theology does not quite align with this--we believe that God the Father IS male--but we also believe in the existence of God's wife, a Mother and Goddess, His partner and equal. And so, while I would word the issue differently, I still have to ask--if this is a true thing, why won't we talk about it?

I particularly liked a part where the author wrote about Matroyshka dolls (russian nesting dolls). She had a dream where a wisewoman archetype (who appeared in a lot of her dreams) gave her a doll, and showed her essentially the wisewoman (goddess) within herself. Later she learned that 'matroyshka' means 'mother' and she was struck by the idea of a mother within a mother within a mother. I was thinking about that, and how a woman's eggs are inside her when she is born. In other words, when a woman is pregnant with a daughter, it is not only her daughter but also her granddaughters who are within her. Just like the mother doll. And if you go back through enough mothers, we come all the way to Eve, and to Heavenly Mother. She talked about sitting in the "Great Lap" of Heavenly Mother, just as a child would sit in the lap of an earthly mother or grandmother.

Kidd concludes with some thoughts about why we benefit from having female authority as well as male, and it is because the two sexes simply do things differently. Men are naturally inclined to create hierarchical pyramids, whereas women are more likely to create weblike networks. Men compete, women build teams. It is not that one way is superior or inferior, it is that they both have their place, and neither should be pushed out by the other. As women, living in a predominately male-organized culture, we benefit from finding or creating female authority patterns in our lives, because we understand and relate to them better. Just as I felt a greater understanding of the atonement when I thought of being a mother sending my son to die (rather than the oft-repeated "God sent his Son"), so too we can grow closer to God the Father (as well as God the Mother) by acknowledging the presence--and differences--of each.

"I think women understand that 
we create change 
as we live out the experiences of our souls 
in the common acts of life" 
(222).

March 6, 2011

Sacred Menstruation - A Christian View




Menstruation! Yikes! This is a very heated topic but I found myself dying to mentally marinate on what sacred menstruation must be for a Christian woman.

First, a little background on me for those whom don't know. For about 10 years or so I was a pagan, new age, Goddess worshiping, wiccan leaning, feminist type. I earned my Master's degree in Women's Spirituality and the head of my program was Judy Grahn - a woman famous for her book Blood, Bread and Roses; How Menstruation Created the World.

Therefor, I always saw that special time each month through those eyes. My connection with the Goddess, with Mother Earth, with the moon cycle, ritual magic and all things feminine. Since becoming a Mormon and hence a Christian I haven't really revisited the topic in my mind - until now.

I found myself wondering tonight, if I no longer worship Mother Earth, no longer pray to a Goddess but instead pray to my Father in Heaven and worship Him (while still adoring my Heavenly Mother and the earth) how then does the sacredness of menstruation manifest in my life today? How do I view my moon blood in an empowering way that is consistent with my beliefs?

Well, I started in the obvious place - the scriptures!

So most of the menstrual talk in the scriptures happens in the Old Testament. This is the bit that can be off putting. It talks of uncleanliness and so forth but let's think about it deeper. First here's a quote from Leviticus.

"And if a woman have an issue, [and] her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even. And every thing that she lieth upon in her separation shall be unclean: every thing also that she sitteth upon shall be unclean. And whosoever toucheth her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe [himself] in water, and be unclean until the even. And whosoever toucheth any thing that she sat upon shall wash his clothes, and bathe [himself] in water, and be unclean until the even. And if it [be] on [her] bed, or on any thing whereon she sitteth, when he toucheth it, he shall be unclean until the even. And if any man lie with her at all, and her flowers be upon him, he shall be unclean seven days; and all the bed whereon he lieth shall be unclean." Leviticus 15:19-24 (KJV)

So right away you're thinking, wow, that's harsh! All that business of being dirty, that's not appealing and certainly not empowering.

The first thing we should hold in our minds is that Leviticus was written a long time ago and includes A LOT of rules that were originally designed for our safety that we no longer follow. For example; it forbids the consumption of shell fish. Now back in the days before the common household fridge, not eating shell fish was usually a good idea.

So let's look at menstruation. What is menstruation? It is blood. What does blood do? More specifically what does blood smell like? To you, it smells like blood, but to the lions at the back gate in ye old times, it smells like lunch.



And there you have it, simple as you can get. Those laws about not touching a woman, or anything she had touched, or worn - it was mostly for their own darn good. To protect the rest of humanity from the woman who smelled like a three course dinner for everything with sharp teeth within a 100 mile radius. That bathing in water bit is sounding like a better idea now eh?

Let's look at another...

"And if a man shall lie with a woman having her sickness, and shall uncover her nakedness; he hath discovered her fountain, and she hath uncovered the fountain of her blood: and both of them shall be cut off from among their people." Leviticus 20:18 (KJV) 
Wow, fountain of her blood. That sounds like a heavy flow. Do you think they wove extra long maxi's with wings on their looms? :)

But in all seriousness there is a lot of talk in Jewish law about not having intercourse with a menstruating woman or seven days thereafter. Seems silly to us right? But wait. Back then men traveled a lot. They hunted, farmed, traded in other villages - all manner of things PLUS they usually had to walk to get there so their commute was really l----o----n----g.

So imagine you are an ancient Jewish man. You need to go to the market for a few weeks this month and try to sell your wares. Your looking at your day planner to pick a time. If you can make love to your lady whever you please your likely to schedule that market trip based on some other need, such as when the goats need milking or when your son needs a ride to his friends house.

But wait, if you can ONLY have sex with your wife half of the time (one week for menstruating and seven days thereafter totaling about two weeks per month) you might be inclined to schedule your trip around your lady. AND let's see, having intercourse about two weeks after menstruation begins puts the happy couple where? (Those of you with Cycle Beads are anxiously nodding your heads here) Right in the middle of baby making season!

So our ancient Jewish man is most likely to stay home and get his wife pregnant. It was a whole baby making survival thing! Make sense now? OK, good, let's move on.

Here's one of the passages I really like, and it is found in the New Testament which makes it a little more relative for us Christians.

"And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:
For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.
But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour." Matthew 9: 20-22

OK, so most of us don't have a diseased condition around our issuance of blood (yet a lot of us do) let alone do we suffer as this poor woman did for 12 years! Can you imagine?! But what I LOVE LOVE LOVE about this passage is how we see that the healing touch of Christ, the love of Christ, our wholeness made through Christ applies to us daughters of God during our periods too! 



That thought is like the coziest, warmest, fluffiest, blanket I can just wrap around myself. I don't know about you but it makes my heart burst with joy! What a wonderful Savior we have! 

"Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole."
 His word testifies to us that He is here with us, comforting us, strengthening us during this time in our lives, just like any other!

And what an important time it is in our lives! Our menstruation is a monthly reminder to us women of the life we give to our families. We have the awesome ability to become closer to our Savior by being like Him; by giving our bodies over totally for the life of another human being (or in most cases beings)!
This is our monthly renewal, our monthly blessing, our monthly visit with our Redeemer when our bodies mimic the blood sacrifice given by our Savior! We bleed for days, we hurt, we grow tired, we may even at times feel forsaken, and goodness knows I have prayed to have to have the cup menstruation taken from me in my darkest moments BUT we go on! We experience our own personal, mini, resurrection! And it is through this wonderful, womanly event that our bodies were/are able to create new life on earth!

*deep breath* Yeah, it's that awesome!
So what examples do we have to look toward in this time? Who are our fellow women in scripture that we can meditate on?

The first that comes to my mind is our Heavenly Mother. I think this is a wonderful time to think about Her and ponder what She must be like. Does the female half or our Heavenly Parents menstruate? Will our resurrected bodies menstruate or is menstruation only an earthly experience? Does menstruation fit into our idea of a perfect body without blemish?

In my mind there is something very fleshy and earth about menstruation. I suppose I wont know until I reach heaven but my guess is that menstruation is part of our earthly experience, and that even a perfect, cramp-free period is most likely not part of our afterlife.



Mary the mother of Jesus must have menstruated because she bore children. Her moon blood seems especially sacred since she was chosen to carry and birth Christ. Her experience would be the closest thing I could think of to scared menstruation in the Christian experience especially since she eventually went on to see the child of her womb suffer and die for our sins.

So....do you want to get a little more controversial? Take my hand, it's OK, we wont go off the deep end but let's wade into the water a bit further here. What about Mary Magdalene?

And no I don't mean the prostitute, I mean the as the wife of Jesus.

Did I lose you?

I hope not.

OK, so, as a Mormon I believe Jesus was married. Here's where I'm getting my ideas from (hint: it's not the Divinci Code!)

I wont go into all the details but I will sum it up by saying  in the early Church many spoke of Jesus as being married. Orson Hyde, Joseph Fielding Smith, J. Ricks Smith, among others believed Jesus Christ was married - most likely to Mary and Martha and that he had children. The current leaders say that the belief that Christ as married has never been official church doctrine. So, having said that, I suppose it's open to debate but let's get back to Mary Magdalene. 

So, assuming the early leaders of the Church were right and she was the wife of Jesus Christ how does this relate to our menstruation topic? Well, Jesus and His wife most likely would have obeyed Judaic law such as what we read in Leviticus. And this also puts Mary in a different light at the foot of the cross. What role did her womb play in Christ's story? Did she bare Him children? What might that experience have been like for her?

*another deep breath*

I don't know about you but that felt heavy and full of material for deep contemplation that we can dive into every month but for now, let's move on!

So how do we go about our wifely and motherly duties when we are menstruating? For me that has always been an interesting question. I feel very drawn to sit and reflect, take long baths, be in the company of other women, go out and gaze at the stars - but as they say, the show must go on!

Proverbs 31:17 says of a good woman...

"She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms."

This would seem an urging to continue to run our homes as best as we are able during our cycle. Proverbs 31 tells us that a virtuous woman rises early and prepares the household meals, that she mends, and sews, and cleans and is not idle.

But reality is reality and with our modern lifestyles, diets and toxins, menstruation is not what it use to be. We don't find accounts from ancient societies of women being in a great deal of pain of discomfort during menstruation. Certainly some may have been, but I believe the tiredness, moodiness, pain, etc. associated with this time is a modern creation born of an unhealthy world.

So, if you feel tired, weak, or experience pain I don't see anything wrong with ordering a pizza for dinner and putting your feet up. I think what we women should avoid is complaining and self pity.

Remember...

"Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole."
 
 I read a wonderful quote over at Passionate Homemaking a few weeks back. In regards to how we should treat our husband's, it said; "Don't complain, period. And don't complain about your period ;)"



I think this strikes an important point -our husbands don't understand menstruation. Their reactions may vary from grossed out to perfectly comfortable with the topic but if we complain to them endlessly on a subject matter that they cannot control nor do they understand we will gain little sympathy and may be in danger of making ourselves a monthly annoyance in their eyes.

Certainly sympathy can be sought, assistance asked for, but I think it's a good idea though to keep in mind that if we become helpless and hard to be around every month this may cause unwanted stress in our marriages - and who needs that?

Wow, we have gone all the way round on this subject I think! Have I forgotten anything? Left anything out? If you survived all the way to the bottom of this post, thank you! This was some mental marination! I know I have a lot to think about now and I hope you do to! 

I love comments! <3

March 4, 2011

Circle, Coven Grove: March New Moon

Last month on the New Moon, my husband and I reflected on moving into a new home and what spirit we wanted there. A ritual found in the LDS church is dedicating a home to the Lord. Like the temples are dedicated to be "a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of glory and of God, even thy house," we wish to have our home to a house of prayer and faith where the spirit of our Heavenly Parents can be present.

One of the words that we felt very drawn to when it came to dedicating our house was harmony. We want harmony to be a characteristic of our home where the people of our house "should have hearts knit in unity and love", and where our children will, "love one another, and serve one another." (Mosiah 18:21 and Mosiah 4:15).

Often when it comes to encouraging harmony, habits and pre-set patterns need to be overcome and its more of a matter of stopping certain behaviors than starting new behaviors. Due to this and the season of Lent (Mardi Gras is coming up this week), its very fitting that the ritual described in Circle, Coven, Grove would be a Banishing Ritual.

The way the author describes a banishing ritual is as follows:

"Sometimes there are things in our lives-- or in ourselves-- that get in the way of forward movement and our ability to achieve our goals. The new moon is the perfect time to get rid of some of those roadblocks by using a banishing spell.

Banishing spells are fairly simple, really. Instead of asking the gods to help you bring something into your life (prosperity, health, love and so on), you are asking them to help you to get rid of whatever it is that stands in your way. Decrease as opposed to increase, if you will.

The same principles apply, however. If you want to get rid of something (whether it is extra pounds, debt, loneliness, fear, or negative influences in your life), you first have to be specific and focused in your intent, and then you have to follow up with appropriate actions in your everyday life."

An example of a banishing ritual can be found at The Exponent. Kmillecam describes how she used a banishing ritual to the toxic behaviors and and beliefs she learned in her childhood.

Tonight for the New Moon, my family will perform a banishing ritual where each of us can choose something to banish that will help us as individuals and a family move forward and continuing growing in harmony and love. For my husband, it may be that he chooses to banish the lingering effects of pneumonia that had him hospitalized in January. For my son, he may choose to banish the sickness that has periodically been keeping him down this winter. For my mother, it may be to banish the temptations of unhealthy eating and inactivity that perpetuates her health problems. For my daughter, it may be that she banishes her destructive and hurtful reactions to negative situations. Though being under two, that may be what I want for her more than she wants for herself!

To be honest, I'm still thinking of what I will need to banish. I'll need to do that soon! Many things come to mind but I will need to decide on which is most applicable for this time. If anything the opportunity to reflect is going to be an important exercise to me.

Another way to look at the March New Moon is that we near the Equinox, the earth is banishing the long days of winter and is moving toward long days and welcoming in the warm of the sun. In the Pacific Northwest, we are anxiously looking forward to more sun and especially the planting season!

My Voice Moon

Last week I sang in church. (Actually I sang "Be Thou My Vision" since it's been on my mind all month.) I have a theater background, and I enjoy performing. When I sing in church though it's different, because it's not about me. When I am preparing a piece for church I do ask God to help me sing it well, but I also ask that I can be a conduit for the spirit--a mouth for the Lord's voice to come through to the congregation. When people tell me that I sang well I do appreciate it, but when they tell me that it was "a beautiful song" or that they felt the spirit, that's when I know that they weren't just listening to me. And that's the whole point.
waning crescent from my front yard
 The idea of being a conduit for God--opening my mouth but (hopefully) letting His voice come through is an intriguing one. The LDS church encourages this in the cases of priesthood blessings, missionary discussions, and gospel lessons, but have you ever paused to think what it would be like if you could channel God's voice (or at least His message) in informal settings too?
What if I spoke to my kids the way God would speak to them? What if I spoke to my spouse that way? What if I spoke to my friends, neighbors, and (perhaps most importantly) what if I spoke to myself that way?

In our stake conference a few months ago, one of the speakers shared a quote that has stuck with me. I have looked for the source so that I can quote it exactly and give a reference, but either I have the wording off or it's not available online, so I'll just restate it as best as I can. He said "Fathers, lower your tempers;  Mothers, lower your voices." I remember nodding along to the first half of the statement, and then feeling very chastised by the second half. Because, in my case, my voice is usually the outlet of my temper. I'm a very verbal person, and respond to most things in a vocal way.

So this month I am resolving to lower my own voice, and to try to let the Lord speak through me.

Merry New Moon!
~
Blessed Be.