As we move past the Sabbat of Imbolc, we feel its energy of new beginnings. As we have learned from the recent events on the American political and social landscape, change can be both a wondrous and a terrifying thing. In either case, it galvanizes our sense of purpose and moves us down the path of our chosen desires. Whether we are promoting a change or resisting it, the energy of Imbolc calls us to action.
The bat is a wonderful totem for initiation and transformation. When these little Goth mascots come flitting out of their night time sanctuaries, they symbolize rebirth. Again, they symbolize both the beautiful and the frightening within the archetype of transformation. They tend to be stigmatized due to their habitat and their nocturnal ways. Since we associate them with creepy haunted houses and dreary caves, we see them as symbols of death. In reality, bats are important pollinators. Their control of insects like mosquitoes also protects us from disease. I will go into the bat in more detail in an upcoming issue (probably issue 92) of SageWoman. For now, let's suffice it to say that the bat is a really good representation of the scary side of change.
I'm not sure if it's realistic or not, but the New Year always fills me with hopes for peace. The Winter Solstice starts that process, and the cathartic idea of the new year follows up with an "out with the old, in with the new" type of energy. But sometimes, a voice that is "old" brings us "new" insights.
With all the hub-ub about diversity, immigration, refugees, and religious dialogue, I thought it would be nice to share a poem from a very renowned, very ancient Syrian poet. His name was Abu 'L'Ala Ahmad ibn 'Abdallah al-Ma'arri. Not surprisingly, he is most often referred to only as al-Ma'arri. He was born in Aleppo, and lived from about 973-1057 CE.
Mabon is sometimes called the Pagan Thanksgiving. It is a harvest festival, as well as the time of the year when day and night (light and dark) are equally balanced. For the Vegan Pagan, Mabon gives us a chance to have a Thanksgiving Holiday that avoids modern connotations of colonization and genocide (when it comes to European relations toward Indigenous Americans) and also the association with eating turkeys. As I have mentioned in past posts, about forty-six million turkeys are slaughtered for American Thanksgiving each year. Information about this can be found at the Maine based project, https://46millionturkeys.com/. So perhaps you can already see why I think Mabon is the perfect Vegan Pagan Thanksgiving. We can make the celebration about a bountiful harvest of vegan foods like yams, corn, pumpkins, squash, acorns, chestnuts, blueberries, cranberries, and more. But perhaps the star food of the vegan Mabon feast should be acknowledged as the apple.
Blessings, Earthlings! In celebration of the day I wanted to share some resources and ideas. Thinking about environmental challenges that we face these days can be overwhelming. Everywhere we are hearing that we need to reduce our carbon emissions, but it can feel like individual actions are pointless when whole nations of others, let alone our own neighbors may still be refusing to do so. But there is hope. Reducing our carbon footprint and our ecological impact involves more than just how many cars are on the highway, or what factories and industries may or may not be willing to concede to. One thing that each of us has control over, that can have a surprising impact on carbon emissions, is how many animal products we consume.
If you would like a quick and easy download of information about this positive environmental impact that you can have, check out this link. It gives some quick and basic info, followed by very detailed links to practical advice for making more plant-based choices. So check out: http://www.greenyourdiet.org/
Imbolc is one of my favorite Sabbats. Here in Maine, it may not always seem like there is any sign of spring. But Imbolc helps us to remember that, especially the way that time flies, it will be here before we know it. Deep in the belly of mother earth, the wave of new life prepares and takes root. This time of very early germination reminds us to take some time and focus on the preparation and planning key to starting new endeavors. What do we need to spend our time on, while we are cooped up inside, so we can get a jump on the very first blessings of warmer weather? Because of this “new beginnings” aspect of the Sabbat, I see Imbolc as a very hopeful time.
I always look forward to Yule as a celebration of both metaphoric and literal “light” returning to my world. In Downeast Maine, it has been dark by 4PM for a while now. And when I say dark, I mean in-the-country-dark. As a recent import said, “I’ve never seen dark like this! It’s like someone put a sack over my head!” As far as I know, no one has. So the lengthening of the days really means something here.
Like the Sabbat of Mabon, the secular holiday of Thanksgiving gives us a chance to sit down with loved ones and enjoy a meal. The bounty of the table is essentially an altar where the abundance in all aspects of our lives is symbolized. It may be bounty that we have, or bounty that we aspire to. Vegan Pagans add the component to this ritual of aspiring to be deeply aware of where each recipe ingredient comes from. Though we are as imperfect in this pursuit as everyone else, we seek to practice harmlessness toward others. Therefore a turkey’s body will not be at the center of our altar. We will seek to eliminate other animal-derived products, as well. Many of us will also take fair trade and other consumer issues into consideration. Is it all too overwhelming?