Monthly Archives: January 2013
Since I missed last week I thought I’d reprint an editorial I wrote. It’s currently published at The Pagan Newswire Collective
Most Pagans are aware that the eight sabbats of Wicca are an artificial construction. They combine festivals of hunter/gatherer peoples with festivals of agriculture and animal husbandry. When you add to that an international following and crazy modern scheduling you have a practice of worship that is truly Neo-Pagan.
Our quarter celebrations, the solstices and equinoxes, come to us from people’s who understood astronomy. These are real and measurable events in time and space. The tools and precision of measuring when these sabbats occur have changed over time. The events that they celebrate are fixed.
The cross quarters, however, are seasonal celebrations. They mark events of weather and harvest that happen when they happen in the local area. We know from the names we call them by: Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasad, and Samhein that these are sabbats from more northern climates. These are celebrations of a people who were dependent on an unpredictable weather.
They may have marked migration cycles. They may have marked the end of a harvest season. They may have marked blooming plants. They may have marked fertility of farm animals. But these kind of events occur at different times in different places in different years.
Our calendars come to us from the Romans and the Roman Catholic Church. When these local festivals were assigned patron saints and attributed to saints days on the calendar they became more fixed in time. Of course the church calendar has changed once or twice over the last several thousand years and saints come and go.
We come around again to Candlemas, or Brigid’s Mass. This festival on our calendar at the beginning of February was not always marked by a specific date. Even in our modern age there are those who count the days between each of the quarter events and would mark the cross quarters at exactly the halfway point. They argue that this celebration should occur on February 1, or 2 or 3 or even January 31 depending on when the Solstice fell.
In our modern world we think of the coldest days as having been the hardest for our fore bearers. The return of the light and the warming of the climate is celebrated for a reprieve from hardship. The reality is that in colder climates this can be the hardest season. Nothing is growing yet and won’t be for at least a month. The animals are all thin from their own winter struggles and those that aren’t are pregnant. The stores are limited with no hope of renewal for the rest of the winter and there is no telling how long that will be.
Back in the days before electric lighting cows and chickens did not produce year round. In those earlier times there has been no milk or eggs since before the solstice. It turns out that egg and milk production is primarily based on how much light is available. Modern farming uses electricity to keep cows and hens producing year round. In those earlier times it was the lengthening of daylight that made all the difference.
So this cross-quarter may have originated as a simple family feast. The holiday fare of a cake, or a quiche when finally there is a cup of milk and an egg to be had. This is a sabbat of promise. Times may be lean. The weather may be cold. Food may be inconsistent and hard to come by. But there is a beginning of hope that as the days continue to lengthen there will be more.
As we celebrate our sabbat, as we honor Brigid or make up our new candles let’s consider our bounty. Let’s take a moment to think about those who struggle to find enough to get them through. Surely we can find a way to share with those who’s hens have yet to lay an egg and who’s cows are too old to produce another year of milk.
I skipped posting last week. I didn’t have a particularly good reason. I just didn’t feel like it. Oh, there was a topic I considered, took some notes down. I just didn’t want to do it. Didn’t want to take pictures or dig out old photos. Didn’t want to be esoteric or write another woe is me post. Just didn’t want to.
Some of my blogger friends take sabbaticals from their blogs. They may be gone for a few days or a few weeks depending on how the mood strikes them. I’d like to think it was a sabbatical, but I’m not sure that’s true.
I think it was a temper tantrum. That doesn’t sound very “spiritually evolved” does it? I guess we all have our moments.
I felt like a pouty kid most of last week. I made chocolate chip cookies. (Well, they didn’t exactly turn out like cookies but the chocolate chip cookie roll-ups I ended up with were tasty all the same.) I may have eaten the entire batch over the course of the last week all by myself.
I didn’t take a total break from writing. I posted a review or two on LisaSpiralReads. I commented on a few blogs. I wrote feedback on a ritual. I did my morning pages. I just didn’t write my blog. My pouting can’t be considered a bid for attention since there is no one here but me and Orion and I didn’t expect him to notice. And with blogging it’s writing that gets comments, not not writing!
I didn’t exactly do nothing. Over the course of the week I’ve seen 3 doctors (two of mine one of Orion’s), managed to get the laundry through the wash, dealt with Orion getting his antibiotics back at his day program, talked through an Imbolc ritual, held a class, done some meditation work, played cards with friends and gotten dinner on the table every night. I also spent a lot of the time being a zombie in front of the tv or playing video games.
Like most temper tantrums by the time I got to the end of it I began to think this was harder on me than writing the blog would have been. Maybe it was. Still, sometimes I just need a good pout. At least I don’t feel like I need a vacation from my vacation.
I can’t say I’m rested and rejuvenated, but I am ready to face the world again. So today a blog about Nothing.
Do you ever find yourself taking an unscheduled time out? Have a temper tantrum? Pout just for the sake of pouting?
This post holiday blues thing is getting to me. It hasn’t helped that Orion and I have been passing a variety of versions of “ick” back and forth. Currently he’s complaining of a sore throat. It seems as soon as one of us is feeling better the other one is feeling worse!
I would bet there is a small portion of that “just don’t feel right” that can be attributed to over indulging. I know that New Years Eve meal – the egg nog challenge – can’t have been great for my system. All by itself I probably would have been alright. The problem is that it comes after the alcohol and appetizers. I’m not sure I can even name all the appetizers!
My attempt at a list: There was spinach dip with my Dad’s homemade bread, gravlax (also courtesy of my father) and his famous carmel corn. There was shrimp cocktail, “sheep dip” (it’s really a crab and shrimp on cream cheese but if you call it that no one wants it and there’s more for you.), and the caviar and oyster thing. There was chocolate (Lindt truffles) and my sister Andrea (or her beau – Butch) made a lovely brochette with tomato and pesto. I suspect someone threw out some pickled herring at one point or another. There were probably cookies somewhere as well.
Our host and hostess (we’re talking again about Andrea and Butch ) were delightful, helpful and a little overwhelmed with everyone trying to cook at once. It was Karina teaching Danny how to candy hazelnuts that really got everyone in the kitchen. We all wanted to try our hand at it.
I didn’t take a lot of photos. My batteries were acting up and it seems the spares I brought were old as well. Both Karina and Darcy made a point of taking photos of each course to “help” our judges. Thanks for sharing!
My Father made the first course, a rustic pumpkin soup with a side of corn bread topped with melted cheese. He used the eggnog in both the bread and the soup.
Then my nephew Zac presented the salad course. The orange and spinach salad was topped with a truly amazing citrus and eggnog dressing. The judges said his was the course they would definitely eat again. Me too! He actually won with the salad and as a “prize” got to take all the leftovers home.
Mom and Darcy (Zac’s finance) had the main dish. This was a lovely chicken with a lemony gravy but the only place the eggnog was used was to dip the chicken before breading it and frying it up. As much as we appreciated the break from the eggnog and as tasty as the chicken was, the judges ruled it was a little bit of a cop-out.
I had the side and made au gratin potatoes with egg nog, lots of cheese a little bacon and some scallions. It was good, but the sugar of the eggnog made it a little sweet. I also didn’t have the pan I wanted so the potatoes were a little under cooked.
We took a little (much needed) break before tackling Karina and Danny’s desert. She made a chocolate Frangelico pudding with eggnog and then topped it with those candied hazelnuts. It was really good! It was also really pretty and really rich. I suspect part of the reason she lost to Zac is because everyone expected her to do well. I also think that by the time we got to desert we were all too full to appreciate anything properly! When she found out the “prize” Karina was happy to concede.
Is it any wonder I wasn’t 100% the next day? I wouldn’t want to eat (or cook) like that everyday. It was great fun though and I’m finding myself missing everyone. I’ll just have to get out of the house of “ick” and appreciate the sunshine!