Monthly Archives: September 2013
I don’t know why, but it seems October always sneaks up on me. Maybe it’s that “start-up” thing I get going in September. I never feel quite in the groove before October rolls around. Maybe it’s that Orion’s birthday is in October (the second) so it’s not just the beginning the month, but an event that catches me unprepared.
This week, besides Orion’s birthday, I’m on Blog Talk Radio – The Priestess Show, talking about Ancestors. (The first Friday of the month ALREADY?) The universe is being particularly helpful to me on this one. I was invited by a friend to attend the opening performance of the Black Storytellers Alliance festival. This year’s theme “Leaning on the Ancestors.”
It was truly a privilege to participate in this event, and the audience does participate! These were master storytellers. Their stories come out of their experiences and their history, but they embrace and welcome the whole of the human experience. The storytellers came from all across the country, and even (although he currently lives in Maine) from Brazil.
The event began with drumming, the drummers mostly children from the community. They did impressive work, shared the spotlight and encouraged the audience to clap along with the beats. Then libations were poured out to honor the Divine that has gifted us with our lives, our ancestors and our descendants. This piece was beautifully done. I’ve seen many versions of this and both my friend and I were impressed with the grace and eloquence of this little ritual. But then, these are storytellers aren’t they.
There were family stories and old fables with new twists. There were stories of imitation and of recognizing our own worth. Every performance acknowledged the ancestors as a source of power and wisdom. These are the shoulders upon which we stand.
Orion and I also attended a community equinox ritual. This too acknowledged our history and our futures. We made wishes for ourselves and our community. We cast our coins into the wishing well, but then were taught that we are the well, the water the change makers. We are the one’s with the power to make our wishes manifest.
Because making wishes has consequences we were also given charge of someone else’s wishes. We each got an old roman coin (about 2000 years old). So now I carry, not only my wishes, but the wishes of those who used this old coin to achieve their own desires. Ancestors and Descendants. I am blessed.
Orion and I went to the apple store at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum last weekend. It was a little bit disappointing. The season is at least two weeks behind and there wasn’t as much variety in apples available as I’m used to. I know I’ll hit a few more orchard based apple houses in October as I drive back and forth to all the events I’m attending. Still, I found what I needed. I even found a treasure, hawthorn jam, before we were on our way.
Driving home on the freeway I noticed something along the side of the road. A wild turkey! It was all by itself blithely pecking along the edges of the roadway. Seeing the turkey, so out-of-place and yet so comfortably at home shifted my mood entirely. I was delighted.
Thinking about the turkey made me realize how often the Universe sends something my way that makes me change the way I’m looking at the world. Sometimes it’s a bounty, like finding money on the sidewalk. Sometimes it’s running into an old friend by accident. Sometimes it’s a bit of whimsy, even something I’ve seen many times before but just never noticed. Sometimes it’s something like the turkey, so incongruous that I am struck with delight.
Taking on the shadow doesn’t mean giving up or shutting down. There are lights in the world to guide my way. There is always a hand offering hope in the darkness. Remembering to be grateful for the challenges as well as the gifts helps to make me more aware, more open to the hand of hope when it appears.
As we approach the autumnal equinox I am finding myself torn. On the one hand I feel this “start-up” energy that comes with the beginning of school and the bounty in the gardens. On the other hand I recognize the shortening of days, the approaching darkness.
After this coming weekend our nights will be longer than our days. This is great for romantics, evening walks in the cool sunset and not too late nights under the stars. This is not so great for mornings, getting up before the sun makes getting up that much harder.
Spiritually, the dark side of the year is an opportunity to explore the “hidden” parts of ourselves. This can be working with darker aspects that we don’t like to acknowledge or just spending more time in quiet meditation. It’s a time to work through old issues and clear out the attics of our souls.
It’s also a time to nurture ourselves. Those tender seeds sprouting from that fall planting need time to gain strength before they break through into the light. There is the nesting that comes with the harvest season. The gardens are put to bed, fruits and vegetables canned. I have an urge to bake, keeping the house warm without turning on the heat.
This is my third blog on the autumnal equinox. I’ve written about Choice and I’ve written about Balance. This year though I am headed into the darkness. I’ve reached an age where it’s important to me to be honest with myself about myself. I have to look at making some changes to my lifestyle, pruning away the things that interfere with my ability to truly prosper and grow.
These are small seeds I plant in my heart this season. The dark is scary and compelling. There will not always be a light to guide my way. I’ve commented on several of your blogs how facing fear, taking the risk and moving forward is the best way to grow confidence. Maybe I’ve been talking to myself all along.
Blessings on your equinox. May the balance shift in your favor.
Several of you noticed that I accidentally posted a review for my other blog lisaspiralreads here. The two blogs are both under my WordPress account and I was flipping back and forth and onto my desktop and who knows where and apparently lost track of where I was posting. I’ve acquired a few new followers because of it. Welcome!
I did (briefly) consider counting that as my post for this week. But I really wanted it to count on the other blog. Lisaspiralreads is a challenge to myself. I made what I suppose was a New Year’s Resolution to review 50 books over the course of the year. I don’t think I would have picked White Horse as representative of either blog.
I read a lot, and quite a wide variety. I don’t review every book I read. I tend to wait for a series to be fully published before I start in and read the whole thing through. Why review every book when I’m reading the series? I don’t review every trashy romance novel I read. I don’t review the books I get bored with and never finish. (Because it’s rude to review a book you can’t even get through?)
It’s been a really interesting challenge. I’ve found myself reading more non-fiction than usual. I’ll pick up a lot of non-fiction, but usually I’ll read a few chapters and skim the rest. I’ve found myself more open to suggestions. I’ve read books that I’ve come across reading many of your blogs. Most of my books come from the library, so I’m going more regularly.
My my library system allows me to maintain a list of books on request. When they become available I get an email and I can just drop in and pick up a stack. There are many of us who are “regulars” in the request shelves. One of those “regulars” is often about 2 number markers down from me, and often on the same shelf. I browse their waiting books like I read your blogs, just to see what’s new.
This library user probably got my attention because they had books I’d ordered in their slot. Since I don’t really remember my number I often find my books by title, and then confirm the last few digits rather than actually finding my spot. I figured if they liked some of the books I like, I might enjoy some of the books they like. I’ll often check out what’s waiting for them and then stop at a terminal to log in and add myself to the waiting list.
I don’t know if this person is a man or a woman. I have never seen them and there’s no way the library is going to give me a name. Still I feel like I have a relationship. A reading buddy, like a blogging buddy. Someday I hope we’re at the library at the same time. It would be Kismet.
An apology to my regular readers. This was supposed to post at my book review blog lisaspiralreads.wordpress.com
by Alex Adams
Atria Books New York, NY 2012
This is another post apocalyptic novel. In this case, what destroys the majority of the population is a gene modifying drug, White Horse. Zoe works as a janitor for a pharmaceutical company. One day she arrives home and finds an ominous clay jar in the middle of her living room.
The story is told flashing back and forth between THEN and NOW. The story of THEN starts when Zoe finds the jar. The cats in her East Coast city apartment building disappear, her friends start dying and Zoe begins to wonder if she (the jar) is the culprit. She finds a therapist, Nick, to talk to about the jar. She tells him it is a dream.
The story of NOW is the story of Zoe’s journey across a landscape desolated by death. People either die from the plague, are immune to it – like Zoe, or survive as abominations. Mutations happen randomly and often send these survivors into psychosis. The abominations are more animal than animals. They are aggressive and filthy and dangerous. Zoe is traveling across Italy and Greece. Nick has left to find his parents and Zoe is traveling to find Nick.
At the core of this novel is an exploration of what it means to be human. Zoe strives to maintain her hold on what she considers human values. She is kind to strangers, even when it is dangerous. She defends and tries to protect those weaker than herself. She will fight, but when push comes to shove struggles with dealing a murderous blow.
There are people who are monsters before they become abominations. There are animals that become loyal friends. There are people, like Zoe’s parents, who recognize they are sick and make a pact with the neighbors about locking each other up when it goes too far. Could it be that there are also people mutated by White Horse who retain their humanity? It is a question that haunts Zoe on her journey.
This novel is dark and gory, but it is also compelling. The writing is very well done. The transitions between THEN and NOW are seamless. The turns of phrase are occasionally brilliant. In a “throw away scene” that illustrates her family dynamic Zoe he narrator says “My blind date’s ego is made of yeast, and the hotter it gets, the more he puffs up.” This typical delightfully vivid observation and sarcastic tone make me envious of the authors talent.
I was content at the end. The cover flaps indicate this is meant to be the first of a trilogy, but I am not left wanting more. I would be happy to read more of this authors work, but from my vantage this story has been told. Perhaps her next novel will prove me wrong.
It’s an odd season for renewal, but it’s necessary. When you think clearly about it, harvesting is a part of renewal. You are clearing the way for new growth in the spring. My first step in that whole “back-to-school” mindset is of course the last dash vacation of Labor Day weekend.
Orion and I spent the weekend up North with my folks (his Oma and Opa). That means a lot of things. There is that daughter sense of wanting to make things easier for my aging parents. I make a point of keeping up with our laundry (or my Mother will do it.) I try to wipe down the bathtubs and showers when I use them (especially the parts that get dusty and I know my Mom can’t quite reach.) I run interference in the ongoing power struggle between my folks, giving my Dad occasional validation and my Mom a break from the constant whine.
There is also the daughter sense of “take care of me!” Mom and Dad cook (because food is love) and I will love whatever ends up on the table in spite of myself. I will gladly take Mom’s gas card and fill my tank. I’m happy to let Orion and Dad have “bonding time” over Orion getting his morning bath, and dressed. (Hey, they’re both morning people and it’s usually done before I roll out of bed.) Orion and Dad have a thing, that started way back when Dad went to Language Camp as Orion’s aid. That’s where Opa comes from, and of course Oma goes along with it.
And that is the core of my vacation. Mom and Dad are busy. This weekend involved marching in a parade and going to the Union picnic (that’s two days of stuff). The nice thing is Orion LOVES to tag along. So I sent them off on Saturday to the parade without me. I puttered. I could do this at home when Orion is at his day program, but here there’s always something (like dishes) pressing. There I really can kick back and if I wander off not feel pressured to be back before Orion gets home. It was amazingly refreshing.
I also would like to note that Mom and Dad are not connected to the internet. Because of a family emergency I ended up on-line via my phone to my cousin on Friday evening, but by Saturday I was done. I did pull out the computer Saturday evening for a bit of writing, but didn’t touch it for the rest of the time I was up there. It wasn’t a total tech detox. I am back on the internet within an hour of getting home – getting this blog together and checking my mail. But it was a reminder how much nicer it is to read books than Facebook messages all day.
I’m very lucky to still have my parents. It’s a treat to spend time with them. It’s a treat to let them spend time with Orion and be left alone. It’s a privilege to help out in the small ways that I can. And it’s a great place to go for renewal.
Have a great week and a bounteous harvest!