Monthly Archives: July 2012

Lammas

Sirius is the Dog Star in the “big dog” constellation.

Although the last Wiccan holiday, the one  at the Solstice, is called Midsummer, it is this Sabbat that seems to fall in the middle of the summer as most of us experience it.  It is after August 1st that the school letters go out and shopping for the fall clothes begins.  It is the beginning of the Dog Days, and often the worst of the heat and allergies.

The Dog Days are actually an astronomical reference.  The sun moves into close proximation with the Dog Star Sirius.  At least it used to when this term was originally coined.  Our entire galaxy moves around a central core and so over time it shifts our solar system’s relationship to the other stars.

Not being a particularly athletic person, I’ve always been amazed that the hottest time of the year seems to also be associated with athletic contests.  From the caber tossing festivals in Scotland to the Greek Olympiad August is the month for athletic competitions.  I can barely breathe, much less move and yet this is the season for proving ultimate athletic prowess

In the days before air conditioning the hottest days were often good for baking.  My mother always said “When it’s this hot already warming up the oven doesn’t make much difference.”  Actually baking could make the house feel cooler as the oven produced a dry heat and reduced the overall humidity in the air.  The yeast certainly rises faster on those warm August days.

I often think of this as the forgotten Sabbat.   Between everyone’s summer vacations, all the county fairs, the Renaissance fairs and Pagan festivals it’s hard to find room in the schedule to get together and celebrate.  Maybe that’s the point of the physical competition.   People tend to find time when a sporting event is included with the picnic.  Maybe it’s why tailgating is so popular.

The holiday is also referred to as Lugh’s day or Lughnasadd.  It stems from a celebration of the end of the corn harvest.  Or more probably the barley  harvest in the Brittish Isles.  There the contests were usually for a keg of beer, or barley malt.  The yeasts don’t only work quickly in baking, it’s also a good time for certain stages of the brewing process.

August is a great month for pies.  Many of the berries are peaking, especially in the northern climates.  The early apples will be in.  Even meat pies are good as a use for the stringier meat of the older animals and the pests (squirrels, rabbits, 4 and 20 blackbirds…), and they’re a welcome contribution at a picnic or pot luck.

So have a picnic and remember that those summer days are getting shorter as the harvest begins to come in.  Enjoy the summer Olympics.  Have some corn on the cob. Eat more pie.

Cherry pie that I just HAD to make. After all, I needed a picture for the blog! 🙂

Happy Lammas!

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Anniversary

I posted my first blog on July 26 2011.  That makes this the one year anniversary week for the blog!  Yea!!!   I haven’t acquired thousands of rapt followers, a long list of blogging awards or international acclaim.  But then, that isn’t why I started blogging in the first place.

My first post was under 400 words.  (I average somewhere in the 500 range.)  It’s a very optimistic little ditty about Spirituality and daily living.  Well this blog has certainly been that, and much more.  I think what I envisioned a year ago was some sort of little weekly sermonette on very grand topics of spirituality and spiritual practice.  I’m SO glad that’s NOT what this has become.

Instead this blog has been an exercise in opening.  I’ve had to learn to express myself in an honest and sometimes very vulnerable way.  Hopefully doing that while still being (at least marginally) entertaining and readable.

In the last year I’ve covered a huge range of topics from very personal to political (in the sense of civil rights) and thrown a good chunk of Spirituality in there to boot.  I’ve blogged about the things that have touched my heart.   This hasn’t been a journal in any sense, but it has been an exercise in focusing on where I am in the moment.  Occasionally it’s even been a plug for the work I’m doing with writing a book and presenting workshops on Spiritual practice.

What I’ve found it that you can develop real friendships on the internet.  I’ve found that I feel incredibly supported by my friends who follow my blog and especially by those who write encouraging comments.  I have found that some of the hardest things to share are the most important.  I’ve found that speaking from the heart is the only way to truly have an impact on others.

So on the anniversary of my blog I will write another very short little post.  This time rather than visions of grander I offer my humble thank you.  Thank you, to all my dear and treasured readers for finding and following my journey.  May we all continue to grow and thrive in all our endeavors in the coming year.

Blessed Be.

Trolls

I realize that the more I write the more likely I am to attract trolls.  You know, those gruff insulting comments that really don’t have anything to do with what you’ve actually posted.  The kind of comments that promote a world view or an agenda that is so opposite of the point you want to make that you wonder why (or if) they even bothered to actually read the post.

Trying to be cute, but still a troll

I don’t mind “allowing” commentary that’s critical when it is thoughtful, to the point and not loaded with derogatory, demeaning or threatening remarks.  I have let through several comments that question my intention or direction.  I pretty much let anyone who has commented continue to do so without a filter, but reserve the right to screen new posters.  I filter, but pretty lightly.   I do have a much heavier “filter” on older posts than I might on current ones.

I find it incredible when someone who has never posted suddenly sends a “how could you be so horrible” comment about a blog post that’s over a month old.  What did they do?  Go scanning through all the posts looking for something to get pissed about?  Not worth my time and energy and not worth adding, at that late date, to the commentary.  Although I do recognize new readers will sometimes look through back posts, especially if something catches their eye, the conversation has mostly moved on.  On the other hand I always appreciate someone commenting just to let me know they’ve looked and what they thought.  I read all the comments.

I do appreciate WordPress for their spam screen.  They do a pretty good job of cutting out the viagra ads and the please send money contingent.  Occasionally though I still find a reasonable comment in my spam file.  Somebody who clearly read the post and is maybe not quite as glib, or as accurate a typist, as they might like to be.  Not everything that looks like a troll is a troll.

I try not to be a troll myself when I post on other people’s blogs.  My dear internet  friends and fellow bloggers, the ones I read regularly, don’t deserve trolls any more than I think I do.  But I know that sometimes when I zip off a comment before coffee or on the run I can be a little careless with my phrasing.  A comment that I think is just a funny tease could be offensive.  I can be a little short and seem judgmental.  I can mean to cheer someone on and instead come off critical and negative.

Luckily those bloggers I read and comment on regularly have enough sense to ask, “What did you actually mean by that?”  The advantage of regular reading and commenting is that you do get a feel for where the other person is coming from.  It makes it easier to allow for the possibility of a misunderstanding.  My blogging comrades have heard enough from me to guess that I probably didn’t mean to be gruff.

It’s harder with that first comment to spot where the controversy originated.  Is it in the mind of the poster, or is it how I’m reading the comment?  Did the poster misread the blog or is there really something there in that nasty comment that is worth examining?  As welcome as the praise and encouragement may be it is often the critiques that we learn from.

The blog is such a varied and personal media that it really doesn’t warrant directed and demeaning criticism.  Someone can have a different point of view.  There should be room for discussion and expansion.  But when someone is writing about “this is the way I see and experience the world” there really isn’t anything to argue about.  What they write is the way they see and experience the world.  It might be different than the way I see it, which makes for an interesting line of comments, but where is the argument?  Can’t we both be right given our perspectives?  Can we at least have a discussion rather than reverting to being trolls?

Time

Between the holiday and the heat I feel like I’ve lost a week.  Those of you who follow me regularly will have noticed that I didn’t get this weeks blog posted on Monday.  It’s not that I didn’t have anything to say.  It’s just that I didn’t feel like it.   Monday after a holiday is difficult, because in a lot of cases it’s still a holiday.  The virtues of living in America where everything is adjusted to accommodate the corporate culture.

With the 4th falling mid-week the holiday weekend was kind of neither and both.  There were fireworks, public and private, on both weekends.  There was the day off in the middle of the week.  There was unbearable heat across most of the country.

highs for 7/4/2012

I’ve never moved out of Minnesota for a reason.  I don’t do well in the heat.  Sure, when we have heat it’s especially horrible because of the humidity.  Even at its worst a Minnesota heat wave is not July in Florida!  In the southwest the heat is supposed to be more bearable because it’s dry.  It’s true.   85 degrees is almost still pleasant in the southwest.  However, anything more than 90 is pretty horrible for me regardless.

That midweek vacation day was cause for me to join some friends for an overnight in the woods.  A little spiritual retreat to connect with friends and nature.  We weren’t really roughing it.  We stayed at a friends home.  They have a lovely secluded spot a couple of hours out of the Twin Cities and across the Minnesota/Wisconsin state line.

Usually it’s delightful to be away from the noise of the city and out of cell phone range for a day or two.  Usually the lack of air conditioning is compensated for by the shade of the trees and the fresh breezes.  Not this time. It was just plain too hot!  It was too hot to walk down to the creek to cool off.  It was too hot to dig out the camera to take photos.  It was too hot to think.  When the time came to get back into the car and head home I was just a puddle of goo.

This is actually late July or early August of 09, when it was MUCH cooler. Some of the same friends though.

Thankfully my car does have working air conditioning.  I felt like I’d “woken up” about an hour into the drive home with the fan on full blast.  Of course it didn’t hurt that about then I hit the traffic delayed by city fireworks as people looked for parking and good seats.

It was surreal driving home with an occasional distraction of blasts of color and light in the distance.  It would have been fun to have just been the passenger.  Then I would have been able to watch the fireworks without having to pay attention to the road.

This was one of those times when I needed a vacation to recover from my vacation.  Because I don’t really get one (it’s a mom thing) it takes a little longer to reorient and recover.  So I feel like I’ve lost time.  I should somehow have almost another week before this blog is due.  It can’t possibly be Monday already.  Or Tuesday.  Or whatever day I finally get around to posting this.

Do you find time a little harder to keep track of in the summer?  When you take a vacation?  When you put excessive demands on your body?

Celebration!

fireworks from free clipart at bloodspot

You’re hear expecting yet another blog about fireworks and the 4th of July aren’t you?   Don’t be too disappointed when I tell you that the celebration I’m writing about is a little smaller and more personal than all of that.  Of course ANY excuse to light off a few fountains of color and noise is a good one, right?

You all know (well you do now) that I’ve written a book on spirituality.  This week I was confronted with yet another step in the reality of being a published author.  This one seems almost too good to be true.  My fabulous publishers at Immanion Press http://www.immanion-press.com have sent me a “rough draft” of what will become the cover to my new book!   It’s quite the shock to open up an email and see my name in print!

Sending a book off to an editor is daunting.  There is that amazing high of having your material accepted for publishing.  The validation that yes you’ve done it!  Then there is the critique and edit process.  You’ve heard me complain about that.  If I’m honest with myself, as those things go I had it easy.  Then there is some “sit around and wait.”

The publisher at this point can pretty much do what they want to get what you have written into a format that they like.  They can muck about with art, or lack thereof.  They can choose a font that you hate.  They can send your material off to strangers to make comments for the back.  They can put your book into a “category” (science fiction, sociology, memoir, romance) pretty much at their discretion.

I feel very fortunate to have a publisher that is willing to include me in this process.  I am asked for my ideas about formatting and artwork.  When they sent the draft of the cover the email said, “What do you think?” and they meant it.   I get a quick response to my inquiries and I get advice when I have questions about the industry.

Even though I still don’t have a publication date I have  been given some very important advice.  Create some BUZZ for your book!   

It is against character for me to talk about my projects and promote myself.  This blog has been quite the challenge and most rewarding.  Cyberfriends and fellow bloggers from across the country reading and offering their encouragement makes it a little easier each time.  I think all of you who’ve been supportive of my whining deserve to celebrate a little bit with me as well.

So, dear readers, PLEASE help me out with this “creating buzz”.  Share my blog with everyone you can think of and let them know how much you enjoy reading.  Forward the link  lisaspiral.wordpress.com.  Tell everyone you know someone who’s book is on it’s way to press!  Light a firework for me and let your friends know that you have an “in” with a soon to be published author.  🙂

I suppose it would help to know a little something about the book itself.  The book is about exploring the different ways that the Divine manifests in our lives.  It is written in broad enough strokes that it would be useful to anyone looking to build a relationship with the Divine, regardless of their religious practice.  I identify the Divine by the AWE experience.  I give examples from my life experience of Divine Manifestation and tell stories from a wide variety of religious perspectives.  The book is also is a tool to help enhance that personal relationship between the reader and the Divine.

My intention with this book is to help people come to an understanding of the Divine that allows them to fill that gap between religion and spirituality for themselves.  You might say I am on a mission to promote awe-some-ness and bring enchantment back into our daily lives.

So as a reward for reading through the whole blog, and I hope sharing it with your friends, here is the photo that has left me well and truly stunned:

Thank you all for supporting me in this adventure!
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