Sunday, December 27, 2015

Wheel of Wonder December 27, 2015

The Winter Solstice has passed, and pleasantly, on the evening of the solstice I had the honor to co-facilitate a Solstice ritual at the local Unitarian Universalist Church.  60 people showed up!  Its wonderful to now there are actually that many seekers wishing to learn and celebrate the old ways of Yule, the pre-christian holiday.  I'm glad my friend Amy and I could facilitate the experience for them.


Today was also Freya's birthday according to a seasonal observance book I found.  Freya: Norse Goddess of Love.

In the interest of stories at gatherings around the fire inside or out of the winter cold I was also thinking about the winter morris singers and dancers of England.  Much like Wassailing, these singers will go door to door sharing their songs and plays in the hopes of some drink or food in exchange for their christmas cheer.  It is said that if the Wassailing goes badly at a house they will sing intentionally off-key Christmas Carols in reaction to the situation.
One of the favorite plays of the midwinter morris revelers is the story of St. Michael and the Dragon done in fun and spoof by actors dressed as folkloric figures.  In the story St. Michael (the sun god figure)  will slay the Dragon (embodiment of winter), or in the process, St. Michael will be slain, only to be raised from the dead once again by the Faerie Doctor or other magics.  Much like the folkloric sun god/green man figure.
Winter blessings to all!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Wheel of Wonder December 13, 2015

Today is a triple day of festivities!  December 13 is Santa Lucia day, popular in Sweden. If you ever wondered about the images you've seen of a young woman in white, or red and white with an evergreen wreath, crowned with burning candles on her head?  She's representing Santa Lucia.  The story of Santa Lucia is believed by some to be a christianized version of the story of Lucina, the sun goddess.  Thalia Took writes: “Lucina is a Roman Goddess of Light, a Moon-Goddess who is especially a Birth-Goddess, for when a baby is born it is brought into the light of the world for the first time.  According to the  blog Journeying to the Goddess:  “Lucina themes are banishing, kindness, charity, health and protection. Her symbols are candles (light sources).  Lucina means light."
Today is also the beginning of the runic half-month Jera.  The Futharc/Norse Rune Jera is a rune that represents the cycle of life. With this rune we see that we must go with the flow of nature to obtain the goals we want.(info found on this blog)
Also today is a day to pay homage to Demeter:  Here is a prayer you can prelude your meal with by Dorothy Morrison to reflect that:
Great Goddess of the plants and Earth
Who tends the crops that fill its girth
We ask your blessing on this meal
and honor you with the turning of the wheel

The picture above Credit:  Cristian Bait/The Image Bank/Getty Images/Demeter

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Wheel of Wonder December 6, 2015

"The traditional rules about how to be a “real man” in America are breaking down. Economic upheaval has shifted wage earning from men to their wives or partners. The rise of men as primary caregivers of their children is challenging our most fundamental assumptions about gender. The gay rights and trans rights movements are creating expansive new definitions of masculinity. Millennials are leading a much broader acceptance of diversity.
This generation is witness to a collision between traditional masculinity and a new wave, one that values intimacy, caregiving, and nurturing. But many of us have spent our lives under immense pressure to stifle emotional expression of any kind. And we’re learning there’s a cost: Men are suffering higher rates of life-threatening disease, depression, and death. Simply put, the suppression of emotional expression in men is damaging their health and well-being.
If you’ve grown up in the United States, then you’re familiar with the Man Box, the longstanding rules of how to walk, talk, and sound like a man in America:
1. Real men don’t express a wide range of emotions. They limit themselves to expressing anger or excitement. 
2. Real men are breadwinners, not caregivers. 
3. Real men are “alphas” and natural leaders. 
4. Real men are authoritative and make all final decisions. 
5. Real men are physically tough and sexually dominant. 
These rules take hold early in our lives. Boys 4 and 5 years old are told to shake it off, man up, don’t be a crybaby, and, worst of all, don’t be a girl. This is because the Man Box devalues any form of emotional expression traditionally deemed to be feminine. A devastating result of this anti-feminine bias is that women, gays, and trans people face epidemic levels of bullying, rape, misogyny, homophobia, and violence.
The Man Box robs our sons of a lifetime of opportunities to develop their emotional capacities. Instead, they grow into emotionally isolated men who wall themselves off from the social connectivity central to healing and creating community."
-----Mark Greene, from Why manning up is the worse thing to do Yes! magazine, December 2015

Mr. Greene's words could not be more true, and he expressed this idea much better than me.  To read the rest of the article follow the link above.  Social Media Sites and Politicians trying to run for office by showing "they are not scared of anyone" (and proving quite the opposite) through spewing hate, fear, and bigotry have been hard to avoid lately.  Considering hate talk to be normal, does not help American society head in the correct direction, most of the trash talk I've heard and seen comes from men, so I was pleased to find this article today as it addresses that.  Men's roles are changing in American society, so this is an important issue. This old, all about rough and tough men way of being has no place in this modern, 21st century.  At least its less prevalent in communities of Goddess honoring traditions, that is one of the things I appreciate about modern neo-paganism and its place in the world.
 Today, December 6th is also known as the day that is sacred to Odin, so we briefly covered some ideas of Asatru, the Norse Pagan faith.  I appreciated the "Nine Charges" of the Odinic Rite:


 The Nine Charges were codified by the Odinic Rite in the 1970s.[13]
  1. To maintain candour and fidelity in love and devotion to the tried friend: though he strike me I will do him no scathe.
  2. Never to make wrongsome oath: for great and grim is the reward for the breaking of plighted troth.
  3. To deal not hardly with the humble and the lowly.
  4. To remember the respect that is due to great age.
  5. To suffer no evil to go unremedied and to fight against the enemies of Faith, Folk and Family: my foes I will fight in the field, nor will I stay to be burnt in my house.
  6. To succour the friendless but to put no faith in the pledged word of a stranger people.
  7. If I hear the fool's word of a drunken man I will strive not: for many a grief and the very death groweth from out such things.
  8. To give kind heed to dead people: straw dead, sea dead or sword dead.
  9. To abide by the enactments of lawful authority and to bear with courage the decrees of the Norns.
The picture to the left is called "Odin" by Jeff Stokely this link should lead you to his gallery on DeviantArt

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Wheel of Wonder November 29, 2015

MEETING GWYNN ap NUUD

To the King of Spirits and his queen:  Gwynn ap Nuud, you who are yonder in the forest
for the love of your mate, permit me to enter your dwelling
(Lindahl et al., Medieval Folklore, 190 re-quoted from the book of Celtic Magic, by Kristoffer Hughes)

Of late I've been experiencing dreams rife with the imagery of death, but not terror.  I attribute it to "living in the season" as I've mentioned in posts before.  Just the other day I was out at a wonderful grove I visit.  I was sitting there, surrounded by the presence of Cedars, near a cold, and fast running stream.  Some of the Salmon are returning to the place of their birth, to lay the eggs that carry their wisdom on through the young.  Its in their natural life cycle to die after fighting their way upstream for sometimes hundreds of miles just to spawn the young.  From November to February many dead fish lie along the shoreline of the stream as their bodies leave, then the dirt, water and sand bury their bones. The alder and the maple lose their leaves at this time too, skeletons standing erect over the skeletons lying below.  The ground seems frozen and cold, so thoughts of death and life are easily conveyed across the moistened landscape.  I accept it as a scene of rest before life springs up anew in the spring.  I wonder what is to be learned there...so my dreams reflect this yearning and from time to time a tall, strong, and dark haired facilitator to this learning meets me in that dreamscape of death, and I ask him questions and take in the sights.  All of these nocturnal wanderings lead me to consideration of the welsh diety Gwynn ap Nuud, King of the Faeries, dwelling beneath the Glastonbury Tor, as the shamans, historians and occasional bards relate.
This version of herne the Hunter was created by A.L Paciorek

Gwynn ap Nuud is variuosly described as the welsh god of the forests, the wild hunt or death.  Today on wheel of wonder we visited these stories as well as stories of other forest god figures like Tam Lin, Herne, The Satyrs, and the Holly king, rulers of the dark part of the year in the myths of the oak and holly kings.  Death is another beginning, a rebirth, and though most all people will agree that taking another's life in not right, as do I.   Fear of death maybe one of the aspects of being human that Gwynn ap Nuud may be able to help us overcome.  Perhaps there is some learning to be gleaned through understanding the darkness of the unknown that he so comfortably dwells within.
Holly King by RavenWillowHawk


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Wheel of Wonder November 15, 2015

Today we continue our three part Shamanic Journey.  Our first part was through the middle world of Land, today, the second part through the lower world of Sea.  In many cultures it is the crossing of a body of water that leads the Shaman, Shamanic Poet, or Shamanic Hero to the land of the ancestors, to the land of the dead.  The hero Vainamoinen from the Kalevala (runos 1-10) crosses the water to reach Tuonola, the land of the dead, in order to glean wisdom from their teachings.  I read of a story from the Iglulik of Greenland in which a Shaman has to journey to the bottom of the sea and show respect to the Spirit of the Sea there, inside of her lair, guarded by a strong and vicious dog, like Cerberus, guard dog of Hades.  The Shaman has to show this respect to the Spirit of the Sea as she had become angered by the men of the land not living as they aught to, without that respect, and without the wisdom to live as they should, they would face storms and bad hunting and lack of fish for the catching.
  Sometimes the Celtic Sea God Llyr is said to represent deep wisdom, deep emotion and oneness with the earth and universe, singularity as it were.  These various tales easily correspond to journeys to the underworld for wisdom, knowledge and healing.  Deep Magic Deep Wisdom, the depths of knowledge represented by the ocean.  The upper world, or the Sky will be the subject of the next part of the journey.

The picture above is entitled "Nereid" and is by an artist named Sussi.  I found it on this blog

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Wheel of Wonder November 8, 2015

Leaves painted in the hues of Autumn complete their wild, windy dance, rain weeps at their passing, but the ground softens to catch them as they fall, making use of their nutrients to feed the Crows, crawlers and seeds.  The cycle continues without harm or hindrance, and we Humans begin the Celtic year anew.

Happily I've been accepted into a fine circle of spirit, and Druidry is strongly on my mind.  As the seasons change so do we.  That journey of life is the very simple, but meaningful subject of reflection today.  Many people, at all times of the year will face their anxieties overcome them, or deal with them and thus redefine the point of reverence, wisdom and relevance they've come to in their life.  The darker half of the year seems uniquely magical in helping this process.  It's no coincidence that All Hallows Eve sounds so much like The Hallowing.  The Hallowing of course, is that unique and inner journey that brings us face to face with our shadowselves, our anxieties and fears, and these allies bring us wisdom that can be transformative in understanding ourselves and the challenges we need to overcome in order to live our lives to the fullest.  These experiences are often described through the metaphor of finding the treasures of the underworld and bringing them back to the middle world we live on.  May this reflective time of the year be beneficial to you as you learn and grow. (which can happen at any age we are living through, even after our pedigrees are processed and our biological growth completed.)
Its like our own Shamanic Journey through the roots and branches of The World Tree.  Today on Wheel of Wonder we started a musical representation of this triskelion journey through Land, Sky and Sea.  We journeyed across the land through metaphor and music and next we will cross the harmonic metaphor of the sea.  I hope you can join me on the journey....

The beautiful picture above the Triskelion is artist unknown to me.  If you know, please send a link.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Wheel of Wonder October 25, 2015

As the bright flame of the Celtic year and all of its experiences begins to light the dimming year, more like coals than bonfires now, I begin to see the connection between the events of the beginning of the year and the experiences I'm having now.  Cause and effect , interconnectedness, the tapestry of living, these things surround me as I look back on the passing year and look ahead on the year yet to come.  Its in this spirit of connection that I find the awe and wonder of being one with all , yet singular unto myself as well.  As I prepare for my Samhain ritual and experience, I see the cyclical nature of this dance around the sun we call a chronological year.  I appreciated the sabbat of Samhain last year and the experiences it brought me, I will do the same this year, but this time I'll observe the Sabbat differently, with a different group of people, this is the harvest of my experiences , I've sown new seeds and now I'll reap the benefits of doing so.
  For some the world holds deeper magic now than last year at this time, and for others, they've found new groups of people they have things in common with, and that's what inspires their love of living.  Perhaps even, others have had loved ones they know die , and in that way leave their lives between last Autumn and this one.  Sometimes that can enrich one's love of life as well; a reminder that this incarnation is a fleeting moment in the course of time, one to make the most of as we head into another year.  The Celtic new year begins at sunset on the 31st of October on the Roman calendar, so happy impending new year, may it bring you a bountiful abundance of amazing experiences and blessed be!

 The picture above is entitled Mabon and is by Jason Harrison, The one below is from the "Witches of the Craft" Website