Pasupatidasi's Blog

thoughts, poetry, life as it is…


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augury of a groundhog

today is february second, what in contemporary culture is called ground hog’s day. there will be various ‘soft news’ stories wherein some famous mammal will be showcased and paraded around as either having seen or not seen its shadow; the augury that will portend if the weather will be starting to get more mild or have another six weeks of cold.

in catholic culture, this is st. brigitmas, who ever the hell she was, but her name means bright and so it ties in well with the more ancient meaning of the day.

today is february 2nd, one of the high holy days on pagan or wiccan wheel of the year. it is the half-way mark between winter solstice and spring equinox. it is imbolc, which loosely translated means ‘in the purse, or bag’. on this day, the seeds in the ground begin to stir, the light of day tends ever to be reborn becoming brighter until one day, at the vernal equinox, it equals then night. and then begins to out-shine it.

the four corners of the year that are most celebrated as just what they are, the solstices and equinox times are now the official markers of the beginnings of their respective seasons. but the four points between these have all been either turned into commercialised representations or been outright appropriated by the catholic church.

there’s a reason for especially the latter; the early agricultural communities and the traditions which they incorporated were constantly at odds with the mandates of the roman catholic church. these ‘heathens’ (which by the way means dwellers in the heath) were not wont to forget about the traditions that so well served them. they could accommodate a male god, their religion already had a dying and reviving god after all, who was celebrated at lughnasad. as well as a male god and co-creator with the divine goddess whose union and fecundity thereof brought all things to life. the celebration of this ‘hot couple’ was physically represented by the beltane fires and the may pole erected on the first of may.

we lose much when we are divorced from nature, as the modern world seems to make necessary. but we lose even more when we dilute the traditions that could serve to keep us joined to the natural world. those traditions rooted in a common past and simpler times are complex in their understanding of the connectedness of all things. those practices, celebrations and ceremonies that both symbolise the turning of the wheel and remind us of our place upon it.

today is february 2nd. on this day, called imbolc, we celebrated the life stirring beneath the ground and the light wakening the world to life. in the past a ‘wise woman’ or priestess if you will, would read the auguries, which in some european traditions included haruspicy (google it) a practice by which the entrails of an animal, often a sacrificial animal, were ‘read’. when the wise woman caught the ground hog, which given his usual residence was the perfect animal, she would cut him open and determine by the amount of fatty tissue whether or not the warm weather could be expected soon. this knowledge would help the early agricultural community determine when to plant.

so modern culture has kept at least one remnant of the ancient tradition, augury by groundhog.
and catholic tradition has at least ascribed the day an appropriately named saint. altho i don’t know her specific story even tho i grew up catholic.

but what’s been lost?

the true meaning behind the traditions that marked these pagan (which means dweller in the countryside) high holy days were powerful, and beneficial not only as symbols, but as reminders of the sacred, as ways for the human world to interact and join in with the rest of the natural world in its rhythm of life. instead these days we water down these symbols, turning them into commercialised media events or relegating them to some special saint’s day on a religious calendar

today is february 2nd, and i for one will mark the day with more traditional ceremonies. ones that enrich my understanding of life, and remind me to join the earth in her sacred turns.


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more meaningful

today is the famous end of the mayan long count calendar…the end of the world of the 4th sun, and a new beginning.

oh, and solstice too!

ziona and i decided to forego the trappings of the christian takeover of this season. it seemed a rather mature decision on her part. i was fully ready to drag out the old creche, the fake tree and all the ornaments. but recently we have been studying and comparing various cultures, past and present, to learn how people in different times and places celebrated life and the seasons.

both zee and i relate far more with the ‘earth religions’ of various world cultures. she is especially drawn to the european ‘wiccan’ traditions. so this year, we celebrated halloween as samhain, the beginning of the new year, and reclaimed solstice from the corporate spend-gasm of capitalism’s version of christmas.

we made a beautiful altar on a table. it was composed of a ring (wreath) of fir branches, around which we placed four candles, one in the position of each of the cardinal directions. in the center of the wreath, we placed a basket of living sage, and some seeds we hope to plant in the spring. the whole altar represents the circle of the year through the seasons.

image

no gaudi tree, no flickering lights except for the stars…no massive heap of gift wrapped presents…just the gift that life is.

for the three days during which the ‘sun stands still’ we will clean the house, gathering things to give away to a place in town which distributes all manner of things to people whose income level won’t even tolerate a trip to the local “goodwill store”. we will prepare for the ‘return of the sun’, by clearing a space in our lives and letting go of things from the past.

it has been an awesome thing! to step outside of the usual horrid display of mass consumerism and truly seek the meaning we would impose upon our life.

after the three days of solstice are complete, we will celebrate the sun’s return with feasting at my mom’s home for what she celebrates as ‘christmas eve’. we will, of course, not be empty-handed. we will come bearing gifts and a few food dishes for the table. and upon returning home we’ll light the first candle in our special spiral candle-holder, which holds eight tea-light mini candles…one for every week until imbolc, the next important holy day of the ‘earth-religion’ circle of the the year.

oh yeah, imbolc was also taken over by the christian and corporate entities. others know it as groundhog day or st. brigit’s day.

so, just thought i’d share this alternative way to mark time.
i always say “the meaning of life is to give your life meaning”
and if that’s true, fulfillment lies in the midst.


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curiosity fuels the kid

a few nights ago, by borrowed tradition, people all over america celebrated an ancient holy-day…and got to dress up as whatsoever they desired, more or less. houses in the neighborhood announced their receptivity to night callers with jack-o-lanterns and other spooky things.

our house is always the loudest and scariest on the block. both ziona and i are a bit dark and very creative, so it only stands to reason that this would be our special time of year.

it is a time of year for masks and makeup, make-believe and for some of us catching up with our inner child. for ziona, it is a time when being transgender is trumped by being otherworldly! at one point, before being allowed to live as the girl she is (my bad), she always dressed up as a girl ‘something’. whether a girl witch, a girl faerie, or something other. but the moment she was acknowledged as a girl, by myself and everyone else, the costumes became reflective of a deeper part of her being, and demonstrative of the well of creativity from which she draws.

this year she was an argonian mage. argonians are a race of reptilian creatures in her favorite role-playing video game, ‘skyrim’. they come in two genders, like most rpg’s and of course she always chooses the female mode. still we often talk about how it would be nice if they had more than just two genders from which to choose. her beautiful mind was the first to suggest this. don’t know that i would’ve come up with it.

this train of thought seemed to arise, initially, after a discussion she was having with me about what is an androgyne. it is a word she had heard me use to describe how i am quite a bit different from ‘other girls’ in that i don’t acknowledge a set of behaviours that define feminine people or masculine people. as i was explaining to her the etymology of the word, it occurred to me that even using that term seems to affirm prejudicial ideas and ascribed gender roles. so i mentioned to her that there are life forms that don’t have gender at all, or have both. like flowers.

so she posited that there are already more than two genders of humans…not only male and female…there are transgender people. and to that i added “and gender non-specific” , then had to define non-specific.

i love being a mom. especially being the mother of a young person as incredibly interesting, creative and intelligent as is ziona. she teaches me so much, just by being her pure and curiosity-ridden self! she has been responsible for a great many experiences i’ve had in this, my later life, just by her own desire to do things. like fly in a small two-engine plane, take a helicopter ride over a live volcano, stay in a treehouse in the jungles of belize.

we talk alot about earth religion people, wiccans, native peoples of this hemisphere. so this halloween she asked me why it is celebrated. she had heard it referred to as ‘the day of the dead’. and when i told her about ‘dia de la muerte’ and how it is celebrated in mexico, her curiosity piqued she required a history of the tradition of celebrating the day.

i told her about the shift to agriculture from hunter-gatherer 12 to 25 thousand years ago, and how the wheel of the year with the solstices and equinoxes were important. that the eight corners of the year included four holy-days between these major four and that the one between the autumnal equinox and winter solstice was considered the beginning of a new year by many ancient people. we talked about harvest time and gathering in for the long winter months.

by the time we were done she had one request.

“can we make roasted pumpkin seeds and a pie out of the jack-o-lantern this year?”

she didn’t want to waste a thing after our little historical journey. she wanted to have a real hallowed eve, not the commercialised version. (altho we did go trick or treating) it was a great thing to realise what she had taken away from our talk. that her curiosity had led her to a deeper understanding as to the importance of resources.

so i spent the day after halloween rendering the huge jack-o-lantern into pumpkin for pies and soup, roasting the seeds in the oven and introduced her to sabbath cakes…lovely oat and honey treats with a history especially for european wiccans. with my lovely daughter by my side, we veered into an earth honoring celebration of the time of year.

honestly, sometimes her curiosity wears me out!