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Metamorphosoup

photo by Bonita Blumenauer

photo by Bonita Blumenauer

In the Twin Cities we are blessed with a wide variety of performance art options.  Some of my favorite events are community based, like the May Day Parade.   At this end of the seasonal cycle Barebones Productions puts on its Halloween Extravaganza.  This is an evening event, outdoors in a park late in the fall in Minnesota.   For the 21st annual production Barebones presented Metamorphosoup.

In line at the entrance

In line at the entrance

This year the weather has been perfect for this kind of event.  Last night when I attended the temps were in the cool, but comfortable 50’s.  Much better than some years, but still nice to be bundled up. This year’s presentation seemed shorter than some.   There is often a theme or story associated with the production.   This year seemed more pageant than play.

pre-show entertainment

pre-show entertainment

The audience entered through the mouth of the great whale and found their seats on hay bales under the trees.  Actors/street performers dressed in Halloween visions of carnival characters directed people to seating and kept us engaged.   There are 5 performances with a total attendance around 8,000 people (maybe more this year due to the fine weather).  We watched the new moon setting over the trees as we waited for full dark, for the audience to settle, for the main show to begin.

Fire spinners dancing  photo by Bonita Blumenauer

Fire spinners dancing
photo by Bonita Blumenauer

Complete with puppets, aerialists, fire spinners, dancers, singers and musicians we watched the cycle of birth and death and rebirth play out before us.  This was the story of the cosmic soup, the great cauldron of creation.  This was a pageant of evolution and destruction, of limited resources and greed, and the bounty of stone soup.   There were moments of profound loss and grief and moments of awe and joy.  There was an acknowledgement of ancestors lost and of remembrance.

all things come from the sea photo by Bonita Blumenauer

all things come from the sea
photo by Bonita Blumenauer

That description hardly does justice to the wonder that is the Barebones.  There were dinosaur puppets, bones perhaps not to scale, but certainly representative of the size and scope of actual dinosaurs.   The great wave of water brought the scene to the ocean filled with floating luminescent creatures lighting up the darkness.  Fire spinners dances in glorious numbers, circles and forms.  Each time they appeared the fires beneath the great cauldron seemed to glow brighter and the cauldron grew bigger and bigger.  In the end there were the ancestors, and the stars.

The plesiosaur came out after the show.  This is an animated puppet on a grand scale.

The plesiosaur came out after the show. This is an animated puppet on a grand scale.

Even after the presentation there is still production happening.  This is not just a play, but an event, a community ritual.  There is a beautiful Hungry Ghost Altar set up around the tree for people to spend time honoring their ancestors, beloved dead and unknown dead alike.  There is paper to leave notes and messages, candles available to light, offerings made with the great tree as witness to all that happens at its feet.

The Hungry Ghost Altar

The Hungry Ghost Altar

The Jack Brass Band(the Brass Messengers on other nights) played music into the night.  The brass band echoing on the wind is reminiscent of a New Orleans style funeral procession, somber on the way in but joyous and celebratory on the way out.  Sisters Camelot had hot food available for those who stayed and needed a warm-up.  There was also some merchanting, another source of funding for this amazing production.

photo by Bonita blumenauer

photo by Bonita blumenauer

 

This is one of my favorite ways to celebrate the season.  The bounty of the harvest, the acknowledgement of loss and change and transformation, and the honoring of the ancestors all tied up into a community event.   Happy Halloween!

 

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Spring

Spring means being pestered by the fairies!

Spring means being pestered by the fairies!

One of my dear readers actually said she was looking forward to hearing about my Beltane celebrations.  See what happens when you comment?  It’s been a whirlwind of a week since I last posted.  The weather has almost been as crazy as the schedule!  Here’s the recap with editorial commentary about the season.

finding woodruff peeking out from under the snow

finding woodruff peeking out from under the snow

When we celebrate Beltane in my Wiccan tradition we make a may wine for the chalice.  Traditionally this starts with a Rhine wine but I’ve found I like a lighter voignier.  We infuse this with strawberries and woodruff.

Woodruff blooms in England at this time of year but it’s always at least up in my yard.  I maintain that woodruff is one of those smart herbs, something you can predict planting weather by watching.  This year as I went out in the May 1st snow to gather my herbs it was barely peeking out of the ground.

a ball team I could cheer for!

a ball team I could cheer for!

Too early!

contortunists

contortionists

After a snowy morning we spent the evening at Circus Juventas.

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German hoops

German hoops

How can you not think of spring with butterflies coming out of their silk cocoons and bright colors rolling across the floor?

butterflies springing forth

butterflies springing forth

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These kids were spectacular and it was definitely a great way to spend an evening.

A mood altering cacophony of colors and lights.

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941712_466430953438690_1617446858_nThursday was Pagan Coming Out Day.  Because it isn’t safe for everyone with alternative religious practices to tell their families, or their employers, or sometimes even their children, this day serves to encourage those who can to “come out”.  By identifying publicly as Pagans we demystify the religion.  When it stops being a scary myth and becomes about someone you know it’s easier for people to begin to accept the idea that we’re out there for real.

Cara had t-shirts made with the logo on the shoulder.

Cara had t-shirts made with the logo on the shoulder.

The great thing about making this an event is that it’s provided a support for people choosing to stick their tows in the water.  It’s also become resource center for Human Resources departments asking questions about how to deal with employees claiming unfamiliar religious holidays.  We had dinner out with one of the organizers at a local family friendly pub.

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snowblossoms

snowblossoms

It snowed yet again on Friday.  Most of what I got was gone by the afternoon, but just east of here there was as much as 12″ on the ground.

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May wine on the altar

May wine on the altar

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The coven celebrated the holiday on Saturday with flower crowns and may wine.  One of our devoted coven members got up at dawn for fishing opener.  We had fresh trout for feast, caught standing in 6″ of snow left over from the day before.

May crowns hanging from antler plaques

May crowns hanging from antler plaques

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Aztec Dancers

Aztec Dancers

Sunday was the Heart of the Beast May Day Celebration. (I talked about this last week.)  It was a beautiful sunny day in the park.  Eventually coats came off as we welcomed the sun.

Here comes the sun!

Here comes the sun!

I have it on good authority that the weather has truly turned and spring has arrived.  We will have rain rather than snow and warm sunshine to light our digging in the dirt.  I’m looking forward to spending some time outside!

 "King of the May"

“King of the May”

May

April 27, 2013  70 degrees and snow.

April 27, 2013 70 degrees and snow.

It’s almost May.  My Facebook is filled with photos of my Pagan friends in flower crowns.  Many of them celebrated Beltane (the May Day festival – see last year’s post) over the weekend.   Somehow I’m still a month behind.  I’m about ready for dyed eggs and daylight savings time.  I suspect our crazy weather has something to do with that.

Seasonal celebrations are always a conundrum in this climate.  It’s not THAT unusual to still have bits of snow on the ground (in the shade) at this time of year.   Usually though we’ve at least had a week’s worth of HINTS that spring is coming.  The latest ice out date (before this year) on the Twin Cities lakes was April 28 in 1965.  This year it has just been cold and snowy.

Those aren't white caps, it's ice on the lake.

Those aren’t white caps, it’s ice on the lake.

Then suddenly we finally have had almost a week of warm weather.  Unseasonably warm.  Almost like we skipped spring altogether and moved straight into summer.  A few weeks back you got a post with last year’s daffodils, up in late March early April.  This year I’m grateful to see buds on the Hyacinths this morning.

Beltane is a celebration of the blooming flowers, the burgeoning spring.  Those flower crowns are supposed to be made of wildflowers plucked at dawn in the morning dew.   Our last frost is usually somewhere between May 1-10.  In spite of our summery weekend, this year promises at least one more of those “iffy” nights.  So we greet the May, which in Minnesota is the month of planting.

April 29, 2013  Hyacinth buds

April 29, 2013 Hyacinth buds

The rule of thumb I grew up with “Tomatoes don’t go into the ground until Memorial Day weekend.”  The most optimistic of us will plant a few things early “just in case”.  We might get lucky and then we’ll have a bounty.  I don’t have anything, even peas, in the ground yet.  We had a foot of snow on the ground a week ago.  The yard is muddy and there are puddles of standing water because the earth underneath isn’t warm enough yet to take on that much moisture.

The way that we can be sure it’s May is that this coming weekend is the May Day Parade.  The extravaganza is put on every year by the neighborhood around Powderhorn Park and In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater.  There is usually some kind of geo-political theme (in honor of the political associations with May Day).  Often it’s something like what’s happening with our water, or genocide in Africa, or global warming.  These are far reaching themes and ultimately are eco-centric.

The Pagan elements of the day are also honored.  The parade marches into the park and ends with a performance where all seems lost.  Then the crowd is roused into calling forth the sun.  The sun rises on an island in the middle of the lake and is ferried across in a canoe flotilla where it is welcomed and celebrated.  Usually the flotilla is led by the family of ducks who make there home on the lake.  Often the sun pops out from behind a cloud at the same moment the sun is raised on the island.  It’s truly a magical celebration of spring.

photo from the HOBT.org website "Tree of Life"

photo from the HOBT.org website “Tree of Life”

Month behind or not, I’m ready to welcome spring.  I’m almost eager to wait for Orion’s bus outside in the mornings.  I’m itchy to dig in the dirt, even if all I manage is outdoor pots.  I’m ready to see the flowers in bloom.  Welcome the Sun!

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