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.

November 9, 2011

Celebrating Martinmas and Samhuiin!

"The sunlight fast is dwindling.
My little lamp needs kindling.
Its beam shines far in darkest night
Dear Lantern guard me with your light."

-Festivals, Family and Food by Diana Carey and Judy Large

Winter is here! Commence sledding, drinking of hot chocolate and cider. Hang evergreen along your entry way, light your candles, gather with family, and enjoy the indoor festivities!

November 11th is Martinmas, also known as Martinstag and the Feast of Saint Martin of Tours. 

Saint Martin was a Roman solider from France born in 316. As an adult he converted to Christianity and became a monk. He was known for being a kind man who lived a quiet and simple life. 

Saint Martin, like all Saints, has a wonderful story to tell. Before he was baptized, while he was studying Christianity, he was on his way home when he passed by a beggar on the side of the road. 

It was a very cold night and the beggar had hardly any clothes on. Saint Martin took his battle sword and cut his own cloak in half. He then gave half of it to the beggar.

Later that evening Saint Martin had a dream or vision that Christ appeared to him wearing the half cloak proclaiming to the Angels, 

"Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptised; he has clothed me." 

I cannot begin to describe how much I love this story and how thankful I am to the work of Rudolph Steiner and the Waldorf method for introducing it to me.  

Saint Martin begins his adult life as a solider for Rome. I cannot imagine the torture, the bloodshed and the horrors he must have witnessed in such a world. Instead of crawling into a cave and wishing the evil world away (which is what I am tempted to do in hard times), Martin strove for more and in this striving found Christ.

Once Martin had found Christ he had access to that wonderful Christ light. Even though he had not yet completed his studies to become baptized he was able to stop in the dead cold of a winter's night and share half of his cloak with a total stranger in need.

Martin wasn't caught up in himself and what his hardships or history were. He let grace fill in his gaps, he trusted completely and without hesitation served the Lord through giving to the most poor.

That thought can pull me through just about anything, and in the dark of winter either literal or metaphorical - you need that light to guide you.

In Ireland the tradition of Martinmas is to kill a cockerel, bleed it, and sprinkle the blood in the four corners of one's home. They also did not use a wheel of any kind since legend has it, Saint Martin was killed with a wheel.

In Northern Europe children make paper lanterns and go from door to door singing Saint Martin's Day songs for sweets. The Nordic tradition has been carried on in Waldorf schools and among Waldorf families. A lantern walk on the evening of Martinmas is traditional.

Singing for sweets may remind you of Halloween and the dates between the two traditions are not far off for good reason. The Old Scottish or Pictish form of Halloween is called Samhuinn (pronounced Sow-un) and it falls on November 11th. 

In the Old World this was the start of the new year and a return to wintertime. Fire was key to Samhuinn rituals celebrating all night by a large bonfire was common. Like the more modern lanterns of Martinmas this symbolism of fire as we descend into winter was meant to bring us comfort as the days became very cold and the nights very long and dark.

A popular chant heard on this night would be..

A null e; A nall e; Slainte!
Welcome to the new year!
May it teach me as well as did the old.
A null e; A null e; Slainte! 

Sitting by the fireside and meditating or sleeping all night was a popular way to spend this New Years night. The Pects also marched through their community singing songs and carrying sparks to light the new years fire. 

Precautions were taken at this time against bad luck to human and livestock. Juniper was burned, mountain ash decorated the house and doorposts, walls, and cattle were sprinkled with wine. 

No matter where you live in the Northern Hemisphere your days have become cool and the night has grown darker, earlier - pressing us to use our sparks (fires, lanterns, electric or solar lights) on our journey through the winter. 

And in life we all experience dark times, we just need to remember to carry our light with us.
Come check me out over at a Wise and Glorious Purpose!


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.