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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in family rituals

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Why Rituals Matter - My Public Grief

It was Monday, January 5th, 2015. I was working on a blog about daily practices when my brother sent me a message on Facebook. It simply and succinctly said "If you want to see dad, you better come now". If you've ever gotten that call or email, you know that life completely slows down and goes really fast all at the same time. I've tried to describe the feeling to folks that haven't had this experience and the closest thing I can compare it to is suddenly finding yourself underwater trying to have a conversation with a world full of people that are still on dry land.

The next twenty-four hours were a blur of phone calls and airports and moments of snatched sleep and worry and sitting awkwardly between two strangers and hurtling through the air at several hundred miles an hour. When I finally breathed fresh air again, I was seven thousand miles from home, in New Zealand, and just like that winter had turned to summer and the east was in the west and the moon was upside down.

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  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Natasha, I think honouring him in the traditional was is so wonderful.
  • Natasha Kostich
    Natasha Kostich says #
    Thank you so much for sharing your grief publicly. I lost my wonderful father five months ago and while I am a Pagan I have chosen
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Oh Pixie, it is hard isn't it. I simply love that you've taken the urn and made art from it. Talk about transformational! Gwion
  • Pixie
    Pixie says #
    My partner was in hospice and died in November and I'm also attempting to make death/dying and grief more public, so I made a crem

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

I dream of a sacred fire b2ap3_thumbnail_December-2014-127.JPG
where a family circles,
arms linked
as one.

Shared dream,
shared harvest,
shared blessing,
of family, spirit, hearth, and home.

Light the fire
with your children.
Sing with your partner.
Create a temple
of your hearts,
hands,
and bodies.

A simple seed corn ritual is a lovely addition to your New Year's Eve or New Year's Day celebration. It can be completed with a group, a family, or on your own. After reviewing your year and celebrating your accomplishments and successes, consider what you would like to save from this year’s “harvest” to plant in the new year. Take a piece of corn from a pretty dish, close your eyes, and let the seed corn share its dream with you. The above lines are what my seed corn (actually, a piece of unpopped popcorn) had to share with me.

What have you harvested to plant in the new year? What dream are you dreaming?

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  • Courtney
    Courtney says #
    I tried this and was surprised when I got an answer right away! Thanks for sharing!
  • Molly
    Molly says #
    I'm so glad! Thanks for telling me!

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Of Ancestors and Devotion

So here I am at Samhain-tide again. Like many Pagans this is the "big one", our month when we get to be as witchy as we want and it goes mostly unnoticed because everyone out there in the Western world is hanging up skeletons and foam cut outs of owls and black cats.

It's also the month where I find myself running from pillar to post, organizing and priestessing all sorts of Samhain-related events. As is often the case, I'm part of the organising team for the 35th annual Reclaiming Spiral Dance in San Francisco. I'll be part of North Bay Reclaiming's Samhain ritual and this year I'll be at a four day retreat in the Mendocino Woodlands called "Mysteries of Samhain". I'm fortunate to be a busy witch.

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  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Thank you Annika - It's that lovely liminal space, you know. Not this. Not that. Now
  • Annika Mongan
    Annika Mongan says #
    Thanks for the post. I love this season, too, especially the fact that I sometimes pass as "normal" during this time. Also fascina

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Family

     As I sat with my family before the celebratory Lughnasad feast, I looked around the table at the faces of those most dear to me: my husband, hardworking, honest, loving, driven, an incredible father. My seventeen year old son, quirky, awkward in his form, intelligent in ways I can't begin to comprehend, fiercely loyal and protective, especially of me. My four year old son, the child I never expected to have, a joyful, funny, curious, wiggly little boy who can't walk anywhere: his little feet constantly patty-patty back and forth from one task to another. And finally my fifteen year old daughter, my only girl, gifted with faerie-like beauty and a voice that has been described to me as 'like listening to a baby angel.' Incredibly talented, creative, and utterly unselfconscious, she dances into each day like the wild faerie child I knew her to be at birth.

     What did we talk about that evening? Truthfully I don't remember. The freshly-baked bread was sliced, the roast chicken, redolent with herbs from our garden was carved. Stuffed zucchini and sliced cucumbers dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar were placed on the table, candles lit, prayers said. We ate, we laughed; the children told anecdotes from their day, my husband discoursed on the ins and outs of his current work project. Dessert, a pear crostada that the four year old proudly helped make, was served, eaten with even more gusto than dinner, if possible, then, table cleared, we gathered at the front door so my husband could speak the ritual words of welcome to the season of Lughnasad:

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  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    Lovely, reminds me of Jewish Passover home celebrations. Do you have special prayers for your Sunday family gatherings too. You co
  • Nicole Kapise-Perkins
    Nicole Kapise-Perkins says #
    Thank you so much for your kind words Carol! I tried not to be pedantic, but I really wanted to stress how very important family m

Welcome friends to the New Year.  If you are familiar with Goddess or earth-based spirituality you no doubt know or have been hearing for over a month about the Winter Solstice and the returning of the light. We have heard that our northern European ancestors called the holiday of Winter Solstice, Mother’s Night, when the female ancestors and Goddess were celebrated and their guidance sought out by the people. We know it is the time to celebrate the Roman God, Saturn, as well as Mithras and Jesus. We tell tales of the Yuletide Goddesses such as Lucia and Holda and how the Druids celebrated their “festival of liberation,” a time when the soul is set free to dream a new world. The returning of the light from Winter Solstice forward for a time, is not just about whether we see more darkness or light in the sky. The light actually symbolizes the potential for life and new beginnings.

That said, let me share a little story with you with a new perspective on the season. A myth I don’t think gets so much play at this time of year. It’s about the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu, a Shinto Goddess whose sacred sites are on the island of Japan.

Her myth shares similarities to the Greek Goddess, Demeter, and her bawdy and unrestrained counterpart, Baubo. You see, in her sorrow, Amaterasu, like Demeter, withdrew from the world causing the land to become barren and bleak. In her grief, Amaterasu secluded herself in a cave. No amount of coaxing could get Amaterasu to come out and restore fertility and vegetation to the land. Until, like in the story of Demeter and Baubo, Amaterasu was also coaxed out of hiding and despair by her counterpart in the myth, Uzume. Legend has it Amaterasu peeked out from the cave, her curiosity aroused by the laughter and clapping inspired by Uzume’s dance - but this wasn’t just any dance. You see, like Baubo, Uzume was “lifting her skirt, “ a nice euphemism for showing her genitals or yoni.

Why? You might ask. Well, on the exoteric level, it might seem funny or lewd to watch someone dance an erotic dance, or strip tease, if you will. I can’t forget the woman on the stage popping ping pong balls from her yoni in the movie, “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.” Or the curious Japanese men holding their mini-flashlights hoping to get a glimpse of the yoni of female performers spreading their knees on stage. The yoni then and now holds great power and mystery. These stories of the dances of Baubo and Uzume are not meant to be lewd. They are, in fact, meant to be sacred. They are from a time when procreation and sexual union were still considered sacred and sex had not yet become something shameful or taboo. A woman’s body held the mysteries of the cycles of life and death. You might recall those sacred statues in museums highlighting the public triangle, that part of the woman’s body known to be the gateway or threshold of fertility and new life - until Christianity turned what was normal, natural and sacred on it’s head.

Baubo and Uzume’s yoni dances were the catalysts jump-starting Demeter and Amaterasu to once again spark new life. Think about the last time you really had a belly-laugh. Did you not feel alive and vital? Seeing the dances of their counterparts brought Amaterasu and Demeter such joy that life was re-kindled. Vegetation sprang forth once more and humanity could once again eat, sustain itself. People and creatures would live and not starve.
In the story of Amaterasu, it is said that as she peeked from the cave to look upon Uzume’s dance she caught sight of her own image in a bronze mirror and as became she dazzled by her own radiance, light and fertility was restored to the world. Some scholars believe this myth reflects the regenerative force. It is the power and awe inspired by the yoni across cultures as a catalyst for creation, change, healing or protection. Let us remember also, that women, as life givers, were associated with Goddess, herself, the Creatrix of the world and everything in the universe. Life springs forth from women’s bodies and women bleed without dying. Simply put, without the yonis in these stories, without the yonis in our stories, life ceases to exist.

Specific to the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu’s, story, and in many other spiritual traditions, as well as in science and nature, there is usually no life without light.

That brings us back to this season of the returning of the light. The days and nights are of equal length with the days continuing to build in length and the nights shortening until the Summer Solstice in June. We too are coming out of the darkness and building momentum and energy, or gather light within ourselves, to do things and to manifest our desires in the world.

If we are in sync with the cosmic forces, this is the time for our own awakening and transformation, and our evolution as people and spiritual beings. Each turning of the wheel at this time of the year enables us to renew ourselves, be who we always hoped we’d be and hopefully see things more clearly as we grow in wisdom. We have the juice to re-invent ourselves, if you will. The light helps us see the world and ourselves more clearly and our role in the cosmic dance. Light shines forth, offering illumination that might give us clues to our destiny and purpose in life. This is the time that we take the ideas and seeds we planted in the dark fertile ground of winter and we nurture them to burst forth in the world.

So with all that explained, can you see why this is the time of year when we make resolutions? Can you see how that tradition is based on actual natural, cosmic and spiritual laws? Let us use this time to fill our vessel with the light that nourishes our potential, fills us with life, with incentive to accomplish positive change.

I would be remiss while we are talking about light and motivation to not mention the Goddess or Saint, Brigid of Ireland. She is both fire Goddess and Goddess of the healing waters. What do you get when you mix heat and water? STEAM. And what’s steam? Steam is a force that propels you forward. Think too of Brigid’s steam as a catalyst around this time of year that helps us renew ourselves, transform and succeed in the resolutions we make.

You have the natural energies of the universe working with you in these months leading up to Summer Solstice to see your resolutions through. Here are a few suggestions to help you accomplish your goals:

1) Make sure your resolution is reasonable.
2) Do not try to make to make more than one change at a time.
3) Tie a string to your wrist to act as a trigger to keep you focused on your goal.
4) Have a deadline to accomplish your goal.
5) Have a plan how you’re going to accomplish your resolution.
6) Do research or enlist help if you need it to accomplish your resolution.
7) Keep a diary of your progress and success.
8) Show gratitude for your accomplishments


So as we go forward, it’s also important to remember our thoughts are powerful tools of manifestation so nurture your attitude and thoughts with love. We must be the change we want to see in the world - cliche as that might sound. We must resolve to live our lives according to how we would like to see society change. So as we look within and outside ourselves, let us be filled with a certainty that the light will shine forth in the coming months providing transparency, healing, balance and enlightenment not just to ourselves but to humanity. Let us ride this roller-coaster of a paradigm shift not white-knuckled and in fear, but resolute to be filled with hope and excitement for the new world we can create together.

Excerpted from Goddess Calling:  Inspirational Messages and Meditations of Sacred Feminine Liberation Thealogy available for pre-ordering on Amazon.

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