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Tues. Dec. 5, 2017: St. Nicholas Day

December 5, 2017

chocolate santas

 

Actually, St. Nicholas DAY is tomorrow. Tonight is the night — the night where we put out our shoes, and tomorrow morning, discover them filled with treats. Before you say “ewww” — sometimes there are special shoes (I have actual wooden shoes bought in Volendam, Netherlands), or, at the very least, the treats come in little bags. So, no, they’re not all sweaty and gross.

St. Nicholas Day is a family tradition that I’ve chosen to keep and celebrate in my own life, even thought I’m not much on saints and what they represent in organized religion. It’s something my family celebrated ever since I can remember, something my parents celebrated when they grew up in Europe.

Nikolaos was actually a Greek bishop in Myra, Turkey, and buried in San Nicola, Bari, Italy. He was called “The Wonderworker” and known for helping the needy.

The whole “filling stockings” came about as the legend of a poor man with three daughters who hung their stockings by the fire. St. Nicholas dropped a bag of gold down the chimney and it landed in a stocking, providing the dowries for marriage. From then on, any gift from an unknown giver was attributed to this bishop. He was also known at the patron saint of children and sailors.

As a living man, he was exiled from Turkey by the Emperor. In 1087, his bones were stolen by Italian sailors and reburied in the church bearing his name in Italy.

It’s likely sailors took the legends with them when they returned home, and that’s how the stories spread through Europe. In some traditions, Sinterklaas (as he’s known in the Netherlands) has a sidekick, the dark-skinned “Black Peter” helping him deliver toys, candy, and oranges to those deemed “good.” And coal to those deemed “bad.” Remember, in those days, oranges were rare in many parts of the world, and sailors depended on them to stave off scurvy. Another indication that sailors contributed to the evolving legends.

That evolved further into travelling by sleigh, and horses transformed into reindeer who then began to fly. The UK started calling him “Father Christmas” and moving his gift-giving to later in December.

There are dozens of conflicting legends from which to choose. It’s fun to read an array of them to see where they differ, what’s similar, and how they are a snapshot of what was needed by the people of the time.

Our family celebrates St. Nicholas and Santa Claus as two different figures. St. Nicholas comes on the night of December 5th and fills the shoe left out for him. Santa Claus (who I consider the personification of the Spirit of Giving), delivers the big stuff on the night of the 24th.

Both figures are a reminder that there is still kindness in the world, how it is important for each of us to personify the Spirit of Giving whenever we can, and that we need to remember to give thanks.

Next post will be for the Winter Solstice, December 21.

Blessings!

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Nov. 16, 2017: Night of Hecate

November 16, 2017

Nov. 16, 2017
Day Before Dark Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Reed

Before we get into the Night of Hecate, just an aside pertaining to Kami of the Hearth. When I opened my book of daily meditations for Nov. 8, it named Oki Tsu Hime as the Japanese goddess of kitchens for that day’s meditation! I love synchronicity.

Back to Hecate.

I think of this time of year as the “Season of Hecate” starting on October 1 and going through mid-November. This is the time of the Crone, the time to put the yard to bed for the winter, the time for divination and to honor the dead (when you’re in the Northern Hemisphere).

Also, as I’m getting older and preparing to enter Cronehood myself, I find myself turning more to Hecate. She’s a Triple Goddess, but known best for her Crone aspect, and often called “Queen of the Witches.” It’s not just about the oft-touted “wisdom of age.” It’s also about hitting a point where you’re tired of dealing with other people’s crap. It’s about boundaries. It’s about turning inward. It’s about sharing and supporting others, but at the same time, not wasting time on those who want someone to do it all for them and not put in any work themselves.

Hecate is honored at the crossroads, both literally and metaphorically. I have quite the crossroad a quarter of a mile from where I live — even has a graveyard on one corner. Of course, should I try to leave something there, I’d be hit by traffic!

Hecate is also connected to keys, and is considered to give the gifts of knowledge, intuition, and magic. (I choose not to spell it “magick”. That’s a personal choice; others do to differentiate it from the type of magic done by illusionists. I just call that type “illusion.” Again, personal choice).

I started some key magic on the full moon that I will complete tonight, in honor of Hecate, and with her assistance (I hope). No, I’m not discussing it publicly at this time — part of the whole “be silent” part of the work. Not because there’s anything hinky about it, but I have to give it the time it needs to prepare and to manifest, and to take my own actions to make sure it does. Discussing it in a tender stage, unless you’re brainstorming with those with whom you’re doing the ritual, is counter-productive. It’s like talking too much about the book you’re going write — if you talk about it too much, the energy dissipates, and you don’t write it.

So, as I pass each crossroad in my travels today, I will honor it. I will visit the astral crossroads in meditation tonight, LISTEN to anything Hecate decides to share with me, and complete the ritual from there.

Then, I’ll take the actions I need to take to make sure it manifests. I’ll let you know when it does!

I wish a blessed Thanksgiving next week to all who celebrate it.

Tomorrow is Dark of the Moon, which we’ll discuss in a future post. Saturday is the New moon, which we’ll also discuss in a future post.

The next full moon is on December 3. I will post a meditation over on Cerridwen’s Cottage to build on the work we did last month. It’s most likely to go up the Friday prior to the moon.

The next post here will be on December 5, when we talk about traditional holidays and ideas to update and or align them with changing beliefs. Why December 5? It’s one of my favorite celebrations — St. Nicholas Day!

Blessings.

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Kami of the Hearth and Experiences with the Two of Pentacles

November 8, 2017

Kami of the Hearth
According to Z. Budapest’s book, The Grandmother of Time, November 8 is a day to celebrate Kami of the Hearth. I’d never heard of Kami of the Hearth, but I like working with hearth and kitchen energies, so I thought I’d add her into my personal calendar.

I did some research. According to the Japan Talk website, there are eight million kami. They are spirits honored in the Shinto religion. Another site I visited said it can take up to ten years to learn certain Shinto rituals, because they must be performed perfectly.

Well, that makes it a little more complicated to decide to honor Kami of the Hearth a week before the designated day!

Looking at the Japan Talk site again, it seems Inari is the closest Kami to what I consider the hearth — she takes care of “rice, tea, fertility, and worldly success.” The fox is her totem — which also happens to be one of my totems. Patricia Monaghan has similar information about Inari that in her Book of Goddesses and Heroines.

The debate then became, do I honor Inari or a nameless “kami” of the hearth? Could I possibly honor both? Could I create simplified rituals to honor them, and then grow those rituals over time?

That’s what I’m trying to do today. I’m going to give thanks to Inari and to the unnamed hearth kami. I’m keeping my eyes open — when I visit Asian stores in the coming months, I will look for Japanese fox figures and small shrine buildings that I can use creating a larger, more permanent shrine to Inari/kami.

I will read more about Shinto practices, although I won’t train for ten years or be able to learn the “perfect” ritual. I will honor the spirits as best I can in the tradition I’m creating, and it will be, as life, a work in progress.

Two of Pentacles in the Tarot
Every Samhain, I do a reading using three decks whose layout mirrors a clock face. November is twelve, December one, January two, and so forth, with the thirteenth lunation in the center.

I use the Goddess Oracle, pulling one goddess to work with during the month. Then, I choose one deck as the “action” for the month and another deck as the “energy” for the month.

Last year, the Steampunk Tarot was the Action Deck and the Celtic Dragon Tarot was the Energy Deck. The upside is that you get to work intimately with those decks all year. The downside is that you can’t use the decks for any other readings that year (at least, in the way I’ve set up my altar and energetic work with those decks).

This year, I’m using the Witches’ Tarot as my Action Deck and the Medicine Woman Tarot as my energy deck.

When I did my reading on Samhain, my November goddess was Kuan Yin (Compassion). But both the action and the energy card were the Two of Pentacles. And, in my daily advice reading, the Two of Pentacles keeps coming up (I’m using the Tarot of the Four Elements for that).

Obviously, I need to balance this month.

That is absolutely correct. I’m working with two new clients, and my schedule has changed to accommodate them. I thought I was on a steady track with some other writing, and that’s been thrown into jeopardy.

Even though each card is a Two of Pentacles, each is a slightly different shade of meaning. Each image is different and striking.

In the Witches’ Tarot, the figure is a buff man holding a barbell with two pentacles painted on it, being offered green cash by several hands. It deals very much with physical force, energy, work. Which makes sense, since it’s the “action” card for the month.

The Medicine Woman card, called the “Two of Stones” shows a woman kneeling by flowing water, washing stones. It’s about one’s relationship to resources and reciprocity. Again, it makes sense as the “energy” card for the month. Redefining my relationship to the material work, neither giving too much, nor holding back and being untrue to myself.

And Kuan Yin reminds me to have compassion, as much for myself as for others.

The Two of Earth in the Tarot of the Four Elements deck shows two growing trees, each with a pentacle in the middle. It reminds me of the need to work together, and not rush into a new business relationship or make decisions too quickly. Find the kindred spirits and work slowly. Based on the disappointing news that changes the direction on a good many things received Monday evening, that, too, makes sense. A reminder not to make long-range decisions when upset, but work with others, review options, and make informed decisions.

Digging deeper, Gail Fairfield’s Choice-Centered Tarot tells me I am choosing a new physical, financial path. That is certainly true with the new work coming in, and with the decisions I have to make based on Monday night’s information (not trying to be cryptic, just can’t discuss it yet). It’s also a reminder to conserve energy, to use it wisely, not blow it all out or hold it all back. Again, ties in to the positional meanings of the cards for the month.

Janina Renee, in Tarot: Your Everyday Guide goes even further, pointing out the need to take on additional responsibilities, and the sense that we often feel pulled between our inner and outer lives.

Some other decks depict the Two of Pentacles as someone balancing on a tightrope, or holding one pentacle aloft and the other closer to the ground. Those would be different shades of meanings.

The decks I’m working with turned up cards that have the direct shade of meaning that makes the most sense in the situation. That’s why I believe, when faced with choosing decks in a reading situation, you are drawn to different decks at different times, and the deck with the most relevance has the strongest pull.

These cards are a comfort, that I can work my way through the month’s challenges in a positive fashion, while also reminding me that it will take work. In other words, much as I’d like to curl up in bed until the New Year, that is not an option on any level.

The next post will be on November 16, Hecate’s night.

Namaste!

 

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Full Moon – Nov. 4, 2017

November 4, 2017

Forest Lake

This month’s full moon is interesting, because it comes close to Samhain. It’s the first full moon of the new cycle, yet its seeds were planted in the cycle that just ended.

I’m considering this a “Transitional Moon.” The ritual I’m doing tonight will incorporate the elements of what I worked on in the Samhain ritual, intentions for the coming year (personal ones, and also ones that encompass joy and justice on a larger scale) with transitions from the old cycle to the new cycle and the fulfillment of what I started on the last full moon, and what I continued to work on while the moon increased.

The longer I do this work, the more I’m grateful for the strict training I had early on, and yet the more I do spontaneous ritual. That means that I think through the shape and what objects, colors, scents, et al I want to incorporate into the ritual, but I don’t actually write down the ritual and memorize it ahead of time. I speak in the moment of ritual. I do write it down later, in my Book of Mirrors (which is different from my Book of Shadows — that’s fodder for a different post).

Because I’ve been doing this work for nearly two decades, my practice has evolved where spontaneous ritual works well for me. Without the grounding of my previous training, I doubt it would. The imagination and creativity can flow because it has a solid foundation.

Rather like writing. If you don’t build a solid craft house, your imaginative work can’t fly.

If you’re interested, there’s a full moon meditation over on Cerridwen’s Cottage. I’ve been talking for years about posting Meditations for Gaia. Instead of starting at Imbolc, which is always my intent, I’m starting with this, the first full moon after Samhain. Enjoy!

My next post will be on November 8, where we celebrate Kami of the Hearth.

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Samhain 2017: Endings and Beginnings

October 31, 2017

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 Tues. Oct. 31, 2017
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

This blog has been fallow for quite awhile now. I quieted down because I had trouble articulating the inner work I did. So much of a spiritual process is experiential rather than theoretical when you attempt to live your path.

I’m starting up again in an attempt to articulate this particular part of my personal journey. The writing journey is tied to it, and yet, in some forms, separate.

When will I post? I hope to post on turns of the moon and particular days that have meaning for me. I can’t promise it will be “every” day of a particular week, but I hope to post once a week or once every two weeks.

Since I moved from New York City to Cape Cod, many things have changed (understatement). As of March, I will be ready for my Croning Ceremony. I don’t mind many things about aging, although I resent losing physical strength. A good deal of that is on me, since I haven’t maintained weight training that would have helped. I need to add that back into my routine.

But my yoga and mediation practices have grown in beautiful ways. They have provided ballast through difficult and frightening times. I hope both continue to grow as I enter this new phase of life — chronologically, I am an “Elder,” yet I feel I know less (in some respects) then when I was much younger. Or maybe I’m wise enough to know how little I’ve always known!

But at least I’m curious enough to find out.

I suspect I’m in my second Saturn Return (the first hit early, and I think the second has, too). That would explain a lot of 2016 & 2017! I would have to re-run the transits in my chart and overlay them on my birth chart.

I have a garden here, which I couldn’t have when I lived across the street from the Port Authority Bus Terminal on the Deuce in New York. I’ve learned a lot about gardening (although never enough), and grown many of my own vegetables and herbs. My herbal knowledge has grown, although not as fast or as wide as I anticipated.

I moved here with certain expectations. Living here was my goal for years before I actually did it. At first, it was Wonderland. It seemed the reality of living here far surpassed the fantasy. But, gradually, they moved further and further apart.

Much of that is on me. I’d never been a civilian before. I spent my entire working life in the theatre. What did I know about the world outside of the arts? I only visited when I had to. Far too much of my dissatisfaction with my life here has been because I worked hard to be a “good sport” and to try to fit in (which makes no sense; I didn’t try to fit in during grammar school or high school or college, so why now?), and to meet other people’s expectations instead of my own. I capitulated far too often when I should have negotiated harder for a compromise.

NONE of the capitulations paid off. Not emotionally, not creatively, and certainly not financially.

I’m in the process of changing that. It makes certain people around me uncomfortable. Too bad for them.

I achieved many of my dreams throughout my life, especially on a creative level, because I wouldn’t capitulate. Or, sometimes, even compromise. I need to take back some of that youthful determination and meld it with some of the life lessons I’ve learned in the interim.

That is my focus for the next cycle. To use garden terminology, I have hacked away many parts of my life that are no longer working, and mulching, fertilizing, and preparing the ground for new plantings. Some will work, some will not. That’s all okay. Because I have every intention of enjoying every moment of the process.

Today, at this time of closure and fresh beginnings, let yourself release what no longer works. Remove clutter from your life — the human clutter and the object clutter. Make room for something fresh and new that can improve your life on all levels.

I will do my ritual tonight, and preparation for the coming year. I will cut away and put forth new desires. I will give thanks for all I have learned, and ask for blessings to use it wisely.

I’m planning my next post for November 4, the Full Moon.

Blessings on this night of Samhain and for the coming year!

 

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Blue Moon

December 30, 2009

December 30, 2009
Moon: Almost Full
Retrogrades: Mars and Mercury

On New Year’s Eve, we will have a Blue Moon. That’s the second full moon within a calendar month (at least, that’s been the popular interpretation for the past 50 years — there are some recent disputes), and for it to fall on New Year’s Eve is even more unusual. Because it’s so unique, it also has power. So, even more than usual, be careful what you wish for! Be very, VERY specific. Think through the consequences. The likelihood of fulfillment is higher on a Blue Moon — but the consequences are also stronger and faster.

I’m also designating this a “Wishing Moon”. “Wishing Moons” come around every three months; you make a list of wishes for the coming cycle, and then you go out and you take steps to make them happen. When the next Wishing Moon comes around, you take out your list, see what you’ve accomplished, what’s still in progress, what you had to let go. You burn the list, and you create a new one for the next cycle.

This is a PRIVATE list. If you want to share it with people in your circle, or a trusted friend, go ahead. But the Wishing Moon list is not something you post on the internet or discuss publicly, the way you do goals when you work publicly for accountability. These are the goals and dreams of your heart, the things that need to be kept close and private and nurtured as they take form.

So — tomorrow’s Blue Moon is also a Wishing Moon. Take some time to reflect and make choices to make the coming cycle, the coming year, the coming decade the best ever.

The next Wishing Moon (by my calculation) is on March 29.

May you have a peaceful and joyous New Year, and may it usher in a decade of abundance of all good things.

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Winter Solstice

December 21, 2009

On this Winter Solstice, may you embrace your Dark Night of the Soul to come out to light and joy on the other side.

May the new decade we are about to enter be one of renewal, joy, and abundance of all good things.