Something to ponder: a thought about faith

IF: ‘faith’ = your belief system (aka your ideological framework)

 THEN: it is something you will always have, even when and if it changes.

In which case…

why not make it the most loving and conscious faith you can?!

(inspired by something I wrote in my morning pages a year ago – it’s fun being able to review now I’m over a year in!)

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The Season: a southern hemisphere pagan considers Christmas

Today you get my ponderings…

One of the odd things about being a southern hemisphere pagan is how traditional Christian festivities no longer line up with the seasons that inspired them. While I am celebrating Alban Hefin (the Summer Solstice), my society is celebrating Christmas. Easter is here is a time of quiet repose before the coming winter, rather than celebration of Spring’s renewal. We have to wait till after 9 pm to let off our Guy Fawke’s fireworks – the daylight lasts so long. And Hallowe’en at Beltane time is just weird – trick or treating in broad daylight doesn’t have the same effect!  Maybe that’s why it hasn’t really caught on here…

I grew up here in New Zealand, so the Christmas-at-Summer-time thing doesn’t bother me too much – even if it does make some carols seem a little odd (White Christmases only come in nightmares here!) I associate Christmas with heat and warmth, long days and pohutukawa blooms. Like this:

Since becoming a pagan almost two decades ago, I’ve noticed the Christmas trappings fit less and less easily the more in tune I get with the wheel of the seasons.

Christmas as a sun festival is fine – that fits well.

Gathering with family and friends for laughter and presents and food works, too.

It’s the Yuletide traditions that don’t fit so well: heavy meals and hot ovens, evergreen trees, putting up lights (that can’t be really appreciated till well into the night), singing songs about welcoming the newborn light. None of this really makes sense for the weather or the turn of the earth’s cycles.

But, you know something? I do much of it anyway! Not the hot ovens (that’s why the gods made barbecues and cold ham!), but decorating trees, singing traditional (northern hemisphere) carols, enjoying the lights even if my kids have to stay up late, and the fat guy in a rather heavy suit for the weather still delivers presents 🙂

I have yet to work out more seasonally appropriate traditions to replace the old magic – even if my Christmas tree decorations do include sun faces…

I would like to build on the magic of this season and make it even more seasonal. Working out how and what is definitely a work in progress (ideas and suggestions welcome!), even if I know the why.

Anyway, it’s Christmas Eve, and you’ve probably got much better things to do than read my ponderings 😉

I hope this season is a wonderful time for you and yours; filled with love, joy, laughter and wonder.

Happy Christmas!

 

The Season: Preparation…

Today’s guest post is by Aurora J Stone who blogs beautiful poetry at ‘Gray Bear in the Middle

I find the most challenging aspect of these Winter Feasts and Festivals is finding an appropriate way to prepare.

I grew up a Christian. I grew up in an Evangelical Anglican home. My father would not allow our Christmas tree in the house until Christmas Eve. We kept Advent. I admit it was easier when I was growing up in the fifties and sixties, because the rampant monster of commercialism did not seem so obvious. Though we had the tree and the presents, but first we had church.

However, the fullness of time I left the faith of my father for the Faith of my Fathers (and Mothers), when I began to answer the call and quested after a modern way to live more in tune with the old ways of believing. Ways connected more closely with the natural world, where the teachings and lessons were found in Nature, the dancing leaves of the trees, the mysterious languages of the animals, the silent presence of the rocks, the ephemeral drifting of the clouds, and the waxings and wanings of the moon, not between in the covers of a book or the walls of a building. This led me in time to Druidry whose song I heard most clearly and whose path I knew I was bound to follow out into the landscape and from there my soulscape.

This radical change in perception, of religious and spiritual orientation, of course meant I lost the spiritual calendar I grew up with and held to for nearly a half a century. I lived as much by the liturgical calendar as the societal/cultural one. It was disorienting not to have set rites and rituals that were familiar from long use, not to have time organised and plotted so all I had to do was plug in and go with the spiritual flow, almost without thinking.
At the same time it was liberating and exciting. I began to understand in my blood and bone the meaning of the seasons and the days that the Druid/Pagan calendar sets aside to honour the cyclical steps on my spiritual and religious path. I admit I struggled. I admit days suddenly happened. In part over the past decade this has taught me that I am responsible to the gods and ancestors and spirits of the land that has welcomed, claimed and taught me the ways of belief to which I now hold body and soul, heart and mind as being the true expression of how I perceive and life the spiritual life.

One year I found a way to prepare for Yule, the Winter Solstice and the Season of Greatest Darkness. I borrowed from my Advent understanding and devised a ritual to make the deepening darkness and the slow return of light, extinguishing candles instead of lighting them and after the Deepest Night relighting the same candles in turn to mark the change in the balance of light and dark. The past few years, for personal reasons, I have let this ritual slip. Yet this year I have been more aware of its absence than in others of recent time. I think this is a good thing. It does not make me feel guilty I have not yet begun to prepare, only aware that I have missed an opportunity I will not have as much time for another year to think about particular things in a discrete context. So, I am called to greater mindfulness as I go forward. I am bid pay attention and pull back from what is madly swirling around me to heed what is gently pulsing within me.

This year I begin my preparations later than I would like, but I am preparing. I am setting aside time for reflection and sitting with the darkness and perceiving its power. One thing I know: Until I allowed myself experience the rich cold darkness of Winter in all its wonder and depth and mystery, I did not experience the joy and breadth and glory of the vibrant hot light of Summer.

* * *

Do you have some thoughts you’d like to share about this time of year? Send them to me at verdant at paradise dot net dot nz and I’ll publish them – there’s still time 🙂

Natural beauty

This photo was taken from my house last full moon.

Scenes like this take my breath away – and help me remember there’s so much more to this world than just my little everyday life.

No wonder people through the ages have believed in magic…

… if we just take time to look and breathe, our world is imbued with wonder.

What is important?

As I alluded to in this post, over recent weeks, I have been reassessing my priorities and re-focusing myself.  This, quite naturally, has led me to the question:

What is important?

Now I know a bit about what is important to me.  In fact, I’m picking regular readers could write this list for me (in no particular order):

  • my family
  • belly dance
  • creativity
  • living simply
  • textile crafts/making stuff
  • feminism
  • reading
  • the world we live in
  • nature

And this is all very fine and well, but I do have to question how much of this list is important to more than just me.  And while there may be many people who share some or all of my interests/passions/obsessions, I feel that my list is really just the surface level of something deeper: WHY is this stuff important to me?  Digging below the surface hasn’t been all easy, but it has helped me realise the real question I wanted/needed to answer (Note: it is more straightforward finding the answers once you’ve got the right question!)  And that question is:

What is important?

While it may look the same as the question above, it both is and isn’t the same.  Let me explain: ‘Important’ comes at different levels – personal, local, global and probably heaps more.  For awhile I’ve been asking this question at a personal level.  The time has come for me to consider it at other levels, which essentially boils down to this question:

What is truly important for living responsibly and fully as part of this world?

Now answers to this may vary from person to person, especially in the surface results.  But I am looking for core answers/values to underpin my surface.  I haven’t got all my answers yet, and I would be very interested to hear your ideas and musings on this.  I do have a few ideas already (and I intend to explore these each in greater depth in future posts), including:

  • compassion
  • connection
  • curiosity
  • recognising ‘enough’
  • justice
  • passion

What do you think?

Is there anything you would add to this list?  Or leave off?

Please lets talk about this. Let’s discuss, agree, disagree and discuss some more . Then we can then DO this – live our lives meaningfully, repsonsibly and fully.

Comments, please 🙂

Nature enter me

By various means, it has been brought to my attention just how important nature is to me.  Not only does the natural world shape my spirituality, it also underlies my personal aesthetic (as anyone viewing my Etsy profile can discover!) and indeed is the heart and soul of my worldview.

I’d kind of known this all along – I did choose the alias “verdant” after all.  But it seems that as part of my overall process of becoming conscious of life, much of my underlying foundational wotsits are being brought to the surface – brought to light, perhaps?

I’m not sure why it took me so long to put the jigsaw together and consciously realise this – I’ve had the pieces in my hand for a long time.  As a child I loved listening to the birds at sunset and was sure they were telling me fascinating stories, but frustratingly I just couldn’t quite hear right.  As a teenager, I often spent part of the evening accompanying our cat, Buffalo, on her wanderings in the garden.  By her example, she taught me to look below the surface and see the little worlds that make up our bigger world.  As a young adult, it was my love for the natural world that led me to explore Celtic spirituality and discover paganism.  And now, as an older adult(!), I am remembering once more to live and breathe nature.  That it is autumn here, my favourite time of year, doesn’t hurt.  I love the smells of autumn…

I am a part of nature – we all are.  We cannot be apart from it (from her) – without the natural world, what could we possibly be?  (apart from dead?!)

So, while I go make a cup of tea to drink in my garden, I will leave you with the wonderful lyrics of the song that titles this post:

Through falling leaves I pick my way slowly
Talking aloud – eases my mind
Sunlight filters through – I feel my head is drifting
So full of thoughts – I thought
What am I going to do?
I need some thoughts that are new

Doo doo doo…
Dee dee dee …
Nature – enter me

Up in a tree a bird sings so sweetly
Nature’s own voice – I hear
Rustling whistling leaves turning breeze to speech
Call to me now – ease my mind
I’ll turn something new
My mind’s laid with dew  I’ll turn something new
My mind’s laid with dew

Nature – enter me

What I’m reading this week (version 10.03.11)

A bit random this week – which probably tells you something about this week!

Blogs

Hugo Schwyzer on sex ed [http://hugoschwyzer.net/2011/03/08/against-shame-against-douthat-for-pleasure-based-sex-ed/] and mens’ rights  [http://goodmenproject.com/ethics-values/how-the-mens-rights-activists-get-feminism-wrong/]

PZ Myers on the dangers of feline evolution [http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/03/be_afraid_be_very_afraid.php] – not entirely serious!

The Ultimate Goth Guide [http://ultimategothguide.blogspot.com/] – which also recommends one of my favourite blogs, Gothic Charm School

Deborah Merriam at Sustainable Slow Stylish on her epic wardrobe purge [http://sustainableslow.blogspot.com/2011/03/are-you-wardrobese-my-wardrobe-purge.html]

And my friend Sylvia, aka Ziva, has just started her new tribal belly dance blog [http://zivadoestricks.wordpress.com/]

See, I told you it was random!

Books

Continuing to read Ecofeminsm and the Sacred – I want my own copy!   So much of this resonates with me and sounds like my own spirituality and general approach to life –  it’s nice to know some other people think that way too.  Other parts are challenging me about some of my own assumptions and points of view in a good way – a ‘making me think’ way.

10 minute clutter control by Skye Alexander – some inpsiration to get my stuff sorted