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In Frazer’s The Golden Bough there is some exploration of the notion of the sacred king. There are a number of components to this idea. One is in the Divine right of kings to rule, and subsequently that they are the representatives of the Divine on Earth. Then there is the belief that the kings are connected to the land. As the king succeeds the land thrives, as the king fails or falls ill the land is depleted. In a system that holds these principles to be true, the logical outcome is to demand the sacrifice of the king to relieve a drought or natural disaster. Frazer took that philosophy and connected it to the agricultural cycle of reaping and sowing – death and rebirth.
I came back from spending a long weekend on the land to see my Facebook full of images of our Secretary of the Interior assessing National Parkland for its value to sell to industry for development. Moving from visiting a Prairie reclamation project at the height of success to a clearly out of control consume and profit narrative was disheartening to say the least.
On the way home I noticed the corn was starting to come in from the fields. The corn harvest is the mark for me of the Lammas celebration, John Barley Corn is dead, long live John Barley Corn. This is the representation in Wicca of the sacred king mythology. The grain God is sacrificed to feed the people.
It’s been difficult to sort out the sacred from the political. Police are shooting people, healthcare continues to be threatened in spite of an overwhelming majority who clearly want to have coverage, and our sacred lands are being sold out from under us – again and still.
I see spiritual representatives from around the world being dismissed by Big Oil at Standing Rock. I see a spiritual leader in my hometown, trying to help a neighbor in distress, being shot by police. I see places that I’ve stood in awe of nature being looked upon as a feast for mining, logging and manufacturing industries.
Included in the sacrificial king mythology is the Arthurian story of the Fisher King. This is part of the grail quest. The sacred chalice, that has magical qualities including the ability to heal, is apparently in the possession of the Fisher King. The king has a grievous wound and is failing, as is his land. Somehow he doesn’t have the wisdom, moral integrity, or desire/belief to use the grail. Percival, who was raised by a single mother in the forest away from the society of men, sees the solution but fails (out of politeness?) to ask the question that will heal everything.
We need to ask the questions. We need to keep asking until we get answers that go beyond pats on the head and being told we can’t possibly understand. Why can’t we get along? Why does the notion of “equal rights” always seem to have an “except” clause? When and how much is enough? Who has the vision for our future? Does that vision include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? For everyone?
Previous blogs about the holiday season:
This has been a season of celebrations. Mine kicked off back in October with my sister’s wedding. I feel like I’ve been running to catch up ever since.
For many people the holiday season starts with Thanksgiving. What made ours special this year was that my daughter officially took over the cooking. I haven’t made a Thanksgiving meal at Thanksgiving for years. I learned back in my 20’s that it didn’t matter what I did, my mother was going to do it too, “just in case I didn’t make enough” or because she wasn’t sure I would make “hers”. So over the years I’ve made “harvest meals”, usually in September and October, that look a lot like Thanksgiving.
Karina put her foot down. If Grandma wasn’t going to cook then Grandma wasn’t allowed to cook. Now that she’s in her 80’s that was a little easier for my Mom to agree. Karina also recognized my Mom’s need to make a contribution so she raided Mom’s pantry for ingredients and asked them to bring a couple of loaves of Dad’s bread. The meal was a hit. Everyone took home lots of leftovers. Everyone also agreed that the portions my Mom used were probably triple what the current crowd needs. Maybe next year we can cut back on how much food. (To put this into perspective Karina already cut the appetizers and deserts down to about 1/3 of what they used to be. But then several people brought deserts they’d been gifted so the quantity of sweets available was not actually diminished.)
I’ve started filling my calendar with dates for holiday parties. I’ve sent Orion off on his Weekend Venture with Reach for Resources. (He had to come home early and there was a late night in the ER. He’s fine, but my “weekend off” did not feel like a break.) There are dinner and lunch dates to catch up with friends. There’s a lot of hustle bustle that goes with the season.
Even the “Celebration of Life” event that I attended had a holiday atmosphere. One of my childhood friend’s mother died at 90. A good, full life and a testament to family ties goes a long way towards making a somber occasion a bit more festive. As is often the case, weddings and funerals become a setting to “catch up” with people you wouldn’t otherwise see. There were plenty of stories about “back in the day”.
The best celebration (at least so far) was curling up on my daughter’s couch for the Gilmore Girls marathon. We couldn’t watch on the day Netflix released the new episodes, so we planned a date. The series was an important touchstone for us during her teen years.
It gave us common ground. It opened the door for conversations about difficult topics. There was a lot of “if you ever do that” or “please react like this and not like that”. Karina made dinner. We opened a bottle of wine. There were brownies. It was a long evening, but very lovely and special.
What kinds of celebrations do you hold dear in this season?
It’s definitely autumn and this week I’m getting ready for the Women and Spirituality Conference at Mankato State University. I’ve attended this conference in years past (links to old posts at the bottom) and enjoy it for a number of reasons. I find it a great networking opportunity. (too bad I’m so bad at following up on those networking contacts.) The keynote speakers are often both educational and inspiring. I have an opportunity to see people I only see at the conference, and catch up.
I also have the opportunity to present. This year I’m only doing one presentation, and it’s one I’ve done in many different settings. When I submitted the proposal I had a plan to get my next book written and possibly even printed before the event. I went so far as to acquire a space in the vendors room to sell books. That didn’t happen.
I still have books to sell, just not a new one. I will still do a great workshop and practice that whole self-promotion thing, referring folks to my other work. But I won’t have a book on the topic of my workshop. Life has just gotten in the way again.
Which leads me to thinking about how badly I need some resolve in my life. I need to resolve to get back to work on my writing. I need to resolve to be methodical in my attempts to deal with the house (the kitchen project is back at square one due to the bank and the city being unable to come to terms and my furnace isn’t heating). I need to find space to work, to socialize, to write, to keep up with the daily grind. That’s not as easy as it sounds when you don’t have a lot of structure in the schedule.
On the plus side I’m finding that I’m not as interested in the new TV season, even the shows I’ve watched in the past. Mostly that’s because finding the sites to stream the series I like is more complicated. (Hulu no longer carries everything) I’ll take that as a blessing. I know I spend way too much time on the computer, avoiding the things I get on the computer to do. (More Facebook than writing, more YouTube than researching, more gaming community than business networking – I have a talent for distraction.) But that also means that I know where to find the time.
A lot of my issue can be solved by a “just do it” attitude. Hence the need for resolve. As we approach the Wiccan New Year (Halloween/Samhein) it seems like a good time to get these things in hand.
That’s what the workshop I’m doing at the Women and Spirituality Conference is about. I’m due for an updated version of walk the talk. This week is my kickstart. Resolve
I don’t want to sit inside and write. It’s been unseasonably warm these past few days. Sunny and up into the 50’s! That may seem entirely reasonable, but typically we would expect another 3-8″ of snow in March not greening grasses.
Many of my friends are throwing open windows during the day just to air things out. I’d like to do that as well, but then there’s that little allergy piece. The warmer weather brings out all the mold. I’m not miserable yet, but I can feel it in the air (and in my eyes and in my breathing.)
I’ve been out and about quite a bit in the past week, birthday dining. I went to tea with a good friend. My kids took me out to dinner. There were seasonal rituals with much feasting (not really birthday related, but this one happens every year in competition with my birthday weekend so I’ve adopted it.)
I picked up some tulips at the grocery store to brighten my inside. Since the kitchen is becoming more and more useless I need the “pick-me-up”. I’m anxious to spend another day buried in seed catalogs and garden designs.
The spring thaw is an important lesson in balance. It’s easy to pick up a cold when the allergies are threatening the immune system. It’s easy to dress too warm, or not warm enough. It’s easy to put off the things that need to be done and just sit in the sunshine.
It’s too early to be out planting the gardens yet. Patience is part of the lesson here. It’s probably fleeting. Chances are very good we still have some freezing days ahead. Theres an unsettled feeling. A sense of growth, bursting forth that isn’t quite ready to happen.
The equinox is still a few weeks away, so spring isn’t officially here yet. Even when it comes, experience tells me that it won’t necessarily feel like it. Still the sun is shining, the days are longer and it doesn’t hurt to enjoy it while it’s here.
Last week I made appointments and this week I followed through.
On Wednesday I gave a talk at Gilda’s Club. They’re starting a series called “Members Speak”, and the series is front loaded with members who have public speaking experience. My talk was the second in the once a month series. Timing at the end of August is tricky. Things are generally slow in the clubhouse as everyone is either taking their last vacation or getting the kids back to school. Even so, I had more than double the attendance from the July talk!
My speech was titled: “Ooops I Did It Again!”. I spoke about the differences both medically and personally that I’ve seen with two cancer diagnoses 24 years apart. I talked about the niggly voice in your head, and anyone who has had cancer knows it, that wonders what will happen if you have to face cancer again. I talked about how important reading Gilda Radner’s book was to me 24 years ago, and how disappointed I was that a clubhouse like that didn’t exist. I talked about how valuable my experience with Gilda’s Club has been this past year, as a member and a volunteer. I got good feedback. When I was done and we chatted after everyone stayed and was engaged in the conversation.
I met with a professional seamstress/tailor about what to do with my wardrobe. She’s a friend I haven’t seen in some time so it was nice to catch up. I got a tour of her gardens along with a lovely cup of tea. What was fun was going through my basket of fabrics I’ve collected over the years. We have similar tastes in fabric and styles. I’m excited to be turning clutter into function. This week we’ll go shopping for patterns and notions.
The photo gallery is from this weekend and my meeting with a web designer. This is definitely the way to do a meeting. We had perfect weather and wind for a sail, a lovely conversation, and we also determined that we are a good “fit” in terms of taste and style. She will be sending me a “to-do” list, essentially holding my hand through the process of producing an up to date website that actually serves as a promotion tool.
School starts, and I maintain that I am enculturated to also start new things in the fall. It’s when my energy is geared up and willing to take on new tasks. Some of that is the drop in average daily temperature. It’s easier to be active when it’s just a little cooler and the air isn’t as thick.
What are you starting this fall?
It’s Monday. I wrote a blog. I don’t like it. (Critical grumpy-pants!) It’s not like I didn’t have a good week! We volunteered at Gilda’s Golf benefit. We went to my friend Karen Lund’s book launch party at the Como Park Conservatory and Japanese Gardens. We saw Inside Out at the Cinema Grill. I performed 3 rituals. Maybe I’m just tired. Here are some photos.
This year when I think about fertility rituals I am also recognizing the impact of my recent hysterectomy. I’ve always been happy to include new beginnings and creative endeavors in my fertility rituals. This year required a little more depth of thought.
I have been blogging about reclaiming my garden spaces. It really has been a long time since I’ve worked in some of them. I’m grateful for the things that continue to come up, in spite of the total neglect. That persistence is part of my understanding of fertility. The strong desire to live, and to thrive.
There’s also an appreciation for the new. The first flowers, the baby peas, and planting the annuals are all a part of spring awakening. When the trees start to blossom it’s like fireworks. The allergens may make my head a little “thick”, but my heart opens up. Even the dandelions make me smile.
As I’m digging in the ground it occurs to me that fertile earth is ready. It’s full of potential, ready to accept and nurture whatever I may choose to plant. It is willing to be willing. I think this year that’s my challenge.
I’ve been through a lot, and it’s time to move forward. It’s time to open up and accept whatever is offered. It’s about being ready, being willing to be willing. Hopefully all this new growth around me will inspire me to continue to take chances and accept the challenges and opportunities life throws my way.
Previous blogs about Beltane and the first of May:
I haven’t done holiday baking for years. It’s hard to make dozens of cookies when you can’t stand for more than 5 minutes at a time. It’s impossible to make breads and sweet rolls when you don’t have the energy to do the kneading.
It seems odd that I would take on a project about sweets 5 months after a gastric by-pass. But in my twisted mind it makes perfect sense. If I’m seriously limited in what and how much I can eat I want what I choose to be exactly what I want. If I take a bite of a sugar cookie I don’t want a grocery store bakery model.
My sense of proportion has changed too. I don’t feel any need to make dozens of cookies for everyone I know. Most of the people I know have 1. Dietary issues related to allergies 2. Weight concerns 3. General health concerns 4. Bake themselves – for the same reason I want to. They know what they like!
So in spite of the surgery, and in spite of the car accident I decided I wanted to do some baking this weekend. I trimmed the tree. I gathered up groceries over the course of the week. I spent some time cleaning too. My cookie cutters haven’t seen the light of day in ages. In fact, I discovered many of the one’s I remembered moved out with my daughter 3 years ago.
Thanks to the surgery and subsequent weight loss I wasn’t so exhausted from doing the prep that I couldn’t do the actual cooking. I’ve had plenty of days like that. It’s exciting just to be able. But there was a small snag. I had to babysit this weekend. Karina’s puppy Minnie was over while she attended a conference.
Minnie could have been the one thing too many that put me over the top. And I am definitely feeling like I may have over done it a little this weekend. But the weather was crazy warm (it got into the 50’s!) which made putting the dog out at 4am a little less unpleasant.
What I hadn’t expected was for Minnie to be such a “helper”. It never occurred to me to worry about the dog climbing up on the table. I did wonder what she’d gotten into when I saw her with a nose full of powdered sugar, but thought I’d dropped something onto the floor. However, she didn’t hide the evidence of my date walnut tart.
I guess I’ll have to find something else to bring to that pot luck. I certainly won’t be tempted to eat too much. Luckily I got most everything packed away before I took the tart out of the oven and left it alone to cool. I’m just grateful Karina is the one who’ll have to deal with doggie diarrhea. That I’m not up for.
I didn’t post on Monday. I could make excuses. I took an extra shift at Gilda’s Club. I was in a (little) car accident over the weekend. The holidays have thrown off my schedule. I spent the day on the phone to doctors and insurance adjusters. I haven’t been sleeping well. The list goes on.
The fact of the matter is I just needed to take care of myself first. Still do. No excuses necessary.
Hoping to catch you all again next week.