Sunday, October 31, 2010

Samhain Blessings


"But the night is Hallowe'en, lady,
The morn is Hallowday;
Then win me, win me, and ye will,
For weel I wot ye may.

"Just at the mirk and midnight hour
The fairy folk will ride.
And they that wad their true-love win,
At Miles Cross they maun bide."

--Ballad of Tam Lin.

Some would say that Friday's party was a flop, and perhaps it was, but for me it was a chance to lose my everyday persona and have a little fun.  It's a different clientele from the other years, not as fun-loving.  Not only was I the only one in Halloween garb, but many of the clients left after the meeting...before the festivities even began.  Of those that did stay, there were few that participated in the fun and games...apple bobbing , karaoke...instead they sat around and watched with  bored expressions , but those that did had a great time with a lot of laughter.   I guess many of them, growing up in the inner city, haven't really had the chance to have this type of clean and sober fun...so they just didn't know how to act.

I did want to share something with you; it has to do with one of my clients who came in in crisis.   Now, it's not funny that a client was in crisis, of course, but I want you to picture the following...Client's wife puts him out.  The marriage has been ending for awhile now, but it's reached the point of no return.  Client comes in to meet with his counselor, and he is pouring his heart out to her. Now, picture me on the other side of the table....long straight black wig with white streaks, witch hat, small rimmed glasses on the end of my nose, dark red blushed circles on  cheeks, and blackened  eyes.  He's talking, and I am listening, and all is serious.  Now, looking back on it, it was a scene straight out of a comedy show.  Thankfully, I did manage to place the client in safe and sober housing, or I probably wouldn't be joking about it today.     

Sunset on Samhain is the beginning of the Celtic New Year. The old year has passed, the harvest has been gathered, cattle and sheep have been brought in from the fields, and the leaves have fallen from the trees. The earth is slowly dying  around us. This is a good time for us to look at wrapping up the old and preparing for the new in our lives. Think about the things you did in the last twelve months. Have you left anything unresolved? If so, now is the time to wrap things up. Once you've gotten all that unfinished stuff cleared away, and out of your life, then you can begin looking towards the next year.  The following is a little banishing spell I do every year...

...Begin by making a list of things that you have to let go of such as resentments, anger, etc.  Just think about your life to see what you no longer need, then write down what you find. We're not dealing with resentments such as those you feel if you're just divorced, got you got ripped off, or if you had to leave a job due to harassment. Indeed, these oppressions are not your own making, so you shouldn't be blaming yourself for them....although it IS quite possible that some negativity on your part can be traced to the failed marriage and lost job.  What things from the past adversely affect your family's well being and would best be forgiven and forgotten.  Choose what you genuinely wish to release. Next, take a piece of yarn, string or cord, visualize each situation clearly...imagining every aspect of it being firmly bound into the knot.  Bury the knotted cord where it will be protected from the sun, wind, and rain, and let it rot away.

 This is also a time when the veils between the worlds are at their very thinnest, is a time for remembrance and honoring our beloved Ancestors who have passed on into the Otherworld.   It is a time of lighting candles in remembrance, of setting extra settings on the table, and pulling up extra chairs around the fires as we  invite our loved ones back for the evening to partake of our  Samhain supper.  A candle may be set in a window to guide them home and offerings of food were left out with the hope that this would make them feel welcomed.  Gather together a few photos and other keepsakes of your ancestors and place them on or near your home altar.  Set out some offerings of food, drink or valuables to honor the dead.  Since I live in another state and traveling is difficult for me at this time, I visit their graves via computer at Find a Grave; there  I can place some flowers on their graves and say prayers for them. Talk with your ancestors and bring them up to date about what has happened since they died on the earthly plane.  

There is a world in which we dwell,
And yet a world invisible.
And do not think that naught can be
Save only what with eyes ye see:
I tell ye that, this very hour,
Had but your sight a spirit's power,
Ye would be looking, eye to eye,
At a terrific company."
--Cox--

Blessings to you and yours on Samhain.  May your day be filled with joy, wonder, and magic.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Just 60 Years Ago

This is the time of the year to honor the ancestors.  If you are like me, you honor them year round, but there is something special about this time of year.  Those who have been with me for awhile know how special my maternal grandparents were to me. My home life left a lot to be desired, and spending time with them on the weekends, was a haven for me.  It was there that I felt love.  When grandma died in February of 1964, I was devastated, and because I was ORDERED not to cry during her funeral, I never fully mourned her until a few years ago when the tears finally began to flow.  Grandpa died in 1974, but prior to that, he had fallen and was never the same afterwards.  There was many times he didn't even know who I was.  

Grandpa was born 13 June 1894 in Brooklyn, New York.  His dad was a New York City Fireman; his mom was a German immigrant.  The marriage fell apart soon after my grandpa's birth, and he went to live with one of his aunts in Staten Island.  I remember Saturday morning trips to town.  Grandpa driving and I in the back seat.  He'd give me one dollar when we got there, and I would go my way and he would go his.  I always went to the same place...one of those cramped little stores with a musty smell that carried a little bit of everything.  That's where I'd be, in the back, still trying to make up my mind which paper doll book to buy when he came to get me.  

Grandma was born 4 August 1881 in New Jersey.  Her family I have been able to trace back to the early Massachusetts settlers. I like to think that grandma was a lot like me...a rebel.  She smoked from the time she was 20 years old and told tales of how she used to roll them.  Women just didn't smoke back in those days. And grandma was 13 years older than grandpa. It has always been acceptable for older men and younger women, but younger men and older women was frowned upon until only a few years ago.  Grandma and grandpa were married in the Presbyterian Church of Succasunna on 26 August 1916.  Their marriage spanned a total of 48 years.  The following poem always reminds me of these two very special people in my life.  I adore the poem, so painfully beautiful that it brings tears to my eyes.

The double-blossomed peach-trees with rosy bloom were gay
When grandpa rode beneath them upon his courting way,
From the white gate to the homestead they stretched in stately row,
And showered his path with petals, just sixty years ago.
His riding suit was spick and span, his jingling bridle rein,
Was polished to the limit, his top-boots shone again;
A mass of youthful vanity, from curly head to toe,
Was my darling gay young grandpa – just sixty years ago.

Upon the broad veranda, demure my grandma sat,
And hid her girlish blushes beneath  her garden hat,
Her dainty flowing muslins enfolded her like snow;
Ah! Very sweet my grandma was, just sixty years ago.
With sweeping bow and fluttering heart he told his hopes and fears,
And grandma gently said him ‘Yea’, mid blushes, smiles and tears.
When the double-blossomed peach-trees with fruit were bending low,
Good Father Flynn united them – just sixty years ago.

II
There’s a sound of mirthful revel in the dear old home to-night,
Where the merry young folk frolic ‘neath the incandescent light,
Jazzing on the broad veranda, listening to the radio,
Knowing wonders quite undreamt of in the days of long ago.
On the vine-enclosed veranda, sits my grandpa in his chair,
And the flower-scented night winds stirs the white locks of his hair;
Grandma sits and smiles beside him, happy in the young folks glee,
Such a dainty dear old lady, ever young at heart is she.

And the harvest of their labours in the moonlight stretches wide
All the land they’ve won and toiled for as they struggled side by side,
In their brave old eyes no shadow from the griefs of gone-by years,
For their hearts beat high within them – dauntless breed of pioneers.
Hand in hand they sit together, while the angels smile above,
On their long unbroken record of faith, sacrifice and love;
From the double-blossomed peach trees come the petals falling slow,
Bringing sweet and fadeless memories of Sixty Years ago. 
--Alice Guerin Crist--

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Magic

Magic is a sudden opening of the mind to the wonder of existence. It is a sense that there is much more to life than we usually recognize; that we do not have to be confined by the limited views that our family our society, or our own habitual thoughts impose on us; that life contains many dimensions, depths, textures, and meanings extending far beyond our familiar beliefs and concepts.--John Welwood

I don't know about you, but I am getting awfully excited over here. This afternoon we're having our annual Halloween party, and I am raring to go.  It's the one day a year, I NEVER miss. I'm ready to don my wig and my hat, kick up my heels, and have a little fun. Samhain is a time of magic, ghosts, spirits, creepy critters, and of witchcraft.  It is a night when the veil between the physical world and the realm of the spirits and magic are very thin, a night for us all to don our masks and costumes, kick up our heels, and lose ourselves in the wonders and magic that we thought we had left back there with our childhood.

It's sad that we forget how much fun this night can be.  We grow up and live in the real world. We lead such busy lives; false priorities demand our time.  We just don't seem to have 'time' anymore. We stop believing in things that once meant so much to us.  Some of us come home from work, turn off all the lights and hope that none of the little ghosts and goblins ring our bell....because all we want is to be left alone.  (Sigh)  And, of course, times have changed; it's a far more dangerous world out there than it was when we were young. Children are no longer free to fully  experience the magic of the night that we did as children, but the magic is still there in parties and such, but there are other ways for them to experience the sense of awe and wonder that childhood brings.

We must never stop believing in magic.  The good news is that we don't have to.  We can keep the magic alive for it still lives inside of us.  It's okay to be a kid or spin circles in the rain; it's okay  to visit the places where the fairies dance in the times betwixt and between...when it's neither night nor day...dawn and dusk.  Get into the spirit of the night by dressing in a costume yourself...watch some scary movies to get yourself in the mood, tell some spooky stories, and when you are ready...let the magic begin...on this, the most magical night of the year. Throw Open your doors and windows to let the ancestors in; light some candles and place in your window.Bob for apples, It is all about honoring family, past and present, and reviving the “Halloween” traditions.

.
If we believe in magic, we'll live a magical life.
If we believe our life is defined by narrow limits,
we've suddenly made those beliefs real.
Anthony Robbins

Thursday, October 28, 2010

John Prescott, Founder of Lancaster, Massachusetts


The skies they were ashen and sober;
The leaves they were withering and sere-
It was night in the lonesome October
...Edgar Allan Poe
Ulalume: A Ballad

The Old Settlers Burial Ground is the oldest burial ground in Lancaster.  It is located far off the main road behind Middle Cemetery; it is pretty much hidden from view  and can be accessed only by foot and wandering through the woods for a bit.  I'd like to thank my online friend,  Kat,  for taking the time on her vacation to visit the old cemetery and take these pictures for me.   Try to imagine how active this old place must be on Samhain Eve. (Click on pics to enlarge)



(This is the pathway to the old burial grounds....so well hidden you would never know it was there.  At the foot of this path lie the remains of my ancestors, the Prescotts.)

My 9th great grandfather was John Prescott, the founder of Lancaster, Massachusetts.  He was born 1605 in England and died December, 1681 in Lancaster, Massachusetts.  He married Mary Gawkroger (alias Platt) (1607-1718) on April 11, 1629 in Sowerby, Yorkshire, England. The first 5 of their children were born in England except for the fifth child Hannah who was probably born in Barbados.   There are several old tales about old John, but the following  from "The Wheeler Family of Rutland , Massachusetts" is one of my favorites.

John was a sturdy, strong man of stern countenance, and whenever he had any difficulty with the Indians, he would clothe himself with his coat of mail, helmet, cuirass, and gorget, which gave him a fierce and frightful appearance. They having once stolen from him a horse, he put on his armour and pursued them; and in a short time overtook the party. They were surprised to see him alone, and a chief approached him with uplifted tomahawk. John told him to strike, which he did, and finding the blow made no impression on his cap, he was much astonished, and asked John to let him put it on, and then strike on his head, as he had done on John's. The helmet being too small for the chief's head, the stroke settled it down to his ears, scraping off the skin of both sides of his head. They gave him up his horse, thinking him to be a supernatural being.

 

(The above photos are an overview of the old burial ground from the foot of the path.)

"One may sense from research into Lancaster history that there was something a little unorthodox about John's religious views which postponed his becoming a freeman for many years, and this may have been the real reason why they hedged at naming the town after him, in spite of their admiration of his industry. At the same time, the name of Lancaster instead of some other reference to Yorkshire, would tend to identify John with an English county of origin prior."


(This is a view from the left.)

"John's sharp shooting ability and ingenuity saved his house, barn and sawmill from being burned many times when he had no one to help him but Mary. With her to reload, one time he held off a band on Indians who were convinced there were several men inside. John was busy firing form all sides and shouting orders to imaginary soldiers while Mary reloaded for him."

(Notice the old gnarly tree standing guard in the middle of the cemetery.)

(This is the view from the rear of the burial ground.)

"In the meantime, fighting was going on around the other garrison houses - Wheeler's Prescott's and Sawyer's. This Prescott family lost two sons-in-law, Jonas Fairbank married to Lydia Prescott, and Richard Wheeler who was the husband of Sarah Prescott. Also, two grandsons were killed -Joshua Fairbanks and Ephraim Sawyer. Richard Wheeler, and Jonas and Joshua Fairbank(s) were killed at Wheeler's garrison house, and Ephraim Sawyer was killed at Prescott's garrison house. Those who were left gathered at Sawyer's garrison house and a runner was dispatched with a note pleading for a company of soldiers to come to their rescue. Captain Wadsworth's Company arrived with wagons, and after about two weeks' speculation as to what to do, finally transported the remaining villagers to towns farther east, such as Watertown, where they scattered to stay at the homes of various friends and relatives.
(The Wheelers', Prescott's, Fairbanks', and Sawyer's are all part of my family line.)

(Check out the orbs of light in the above photo.)

"With the burning of this town, of which only one house was left standing and all but a fragment of the town records destroyed, nearly every personal record of the families was lost. As a result, all clues that might have been available from personal family knowledge to link any of them with earlier generations in England were gone. The research required to replace and prove these links has been painfully slow and expensive since then."


(How about this spooky little pond located behind the cemetery?  Stephen King would have a ball.)
 
"John Prescott was a heroic figure in the early history of Lancaster and Groton. He brought with him a metallic coat of mail, which he sometimes wore when dealing with the savages; this served to impress them, as his force, capacity and judgment did his white neighbors. Nourse calls him an "ideal pioneer" a "true builder of the nation." He distinquished himself for bravery and leadership."

(Prescott family plot viewed from the left.)
"He had a numerous family of descendants, many of whom have been persons of great ability and distinction. His great-grandson, Colonel William Prescott, was chief in command at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Another descendant was William H. Prescott, the famous historian of the "Conquest of Mexico," "Conquest of Peru." At the time of his death, in 1683, his family had become one of the wealthiest and most influential in Massachusetts. John and Mary (Platt) Prescott had eight children. Mary Prescott was born in England. At the age of eighteen she married Thomas Sawyer of Lancaster, and by him became the mother of eleven children. She survived her husband, who died on September 12, 1706. By the marriage of Mary Prescott in 1648, the name of Prescott was merged in that of Sawyer; and in 1812 the name of Sawyer was merged in that of Munsey."

(Mary and John side by side stones.)


On the 250th anniversary of Lancaster's founding, a memorial stone was erected at his gravesite, which reads as follows:
 
Here With his children about him lies John Prescott Founder of Lancaster and first settlerof Worcester County Born at Standish Lancashire England Died at Lancaster Massachusetts Dec. 1681 Inspired by the love of liberty and the fear of God This stout hearted pioneer Forsaking the pleasant vales of England And encountered [sic] wild beast and savage To secure freedom For himself and his posterity His faith and virtues have been inherited by many descendants Who in every generation have well served the state In war, in literature, at the bar, in the pulpit, in public life, And in Christian homes.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Strangers in the Box



Samhain is a time to honor our Ancestors, to lay out a feast and invite them to dine, to share their presence with us when the veil is thin. 
  
Strangers in the box.  Up until a few short years ago, that's all they were....strangers. And sadly, because they were strangers, a part of my life had been missing for many years. An only child, my mom, for some reason, had kept me away from my dad's family. All I remember was my dad one day taking me to a big house where two elderly ladies sat on the sofa. I was barely 7 years old at the time, and when my mom found out, she let my dad know in 'no uncertain terms' that he was not to take me there again. I grew up feeling lonely and cheated. Then, one day I saw that Ancestry had one of its trial offers, so I figured 'What the heck!'  Little did I know that I was about to embark in a wonderful journey, a journey deep into my past, and my amazing journey began the day I found my dad and his twin brother in the 1930 census. 

Seeing their names, little boys, triggered unpleasant memories of lying in bed, only a little girl, and  listening to my mom screaming at my dad, "She didn't even raise you.  She left you to be raised by your poor grandmother. She was never a mother to you." Obviously, mom was even doing her best to keep my dad away from his own mother, but children don't know what is going on. And so it was that I realized that the Mary my dad and his twin were living with in 1930 was not my grandma; she had to have been my great grandma.
Constance Mary Hazel.  That was her birth name.  She was born in Stalham, Norfolk, England on 10 December 1880 to Richard Hazel and Harriet Mary Ann Harmer.  Richard was born 2 August 1858 in Barton Turf, Norfolk, England and died of TB on 23 May 1881.  He was 23 years old; Constance Mary was only a few months old.  I remember tears welling in my eyes when I saw that my 2nd great grandfather had died so young. I cried for the man that I never knew, the man who had once had his entire life ahead of him, now gone. But, the truth of the matter is,that he had to die for me to live, for, if he had not died at the exact time that he had, Harriet may never have remarried and accompanied her new husband to the United States.  I would not have been born for it was only through Richard's death that the tables were set for Mary and my great grandfather to eventually meet. Fate?  Destiny? It's not for me to question. The Universe has it reasons.


Mary's life here in the states wasn't and easy one.  Her stepfather died 10 years after their arrival in the states, and after his death, I've lost all track of Harriet.  Mary married my great grandfather, Ralph, and had 5 children by him. Frank, the oldest, died at aged 10.  Ralph died of TB on 30 July 1918. He was 38 years old.  When I discovered Ralph's grave, he didn't have a headstone.  Since that time, I and other family members who I have met online have gotten together, and now, I am pleased to say, he now has a headstone on his grave. No one should be forgotten.


After Ralph's death, Mary met her second husband, Lyndon, and  bore him a child.  Well, truth be told, we don't believe they ever legally married, and when he died in 1938, his family stepped in and took the house right from under Mary.  Mary died March 3, 1956. I know she has been with me.  Several years ago when hubby and I had the house where my magical garden grew, I always knew someone had a hand in it.  It wasn't all me.  Even though I'd been born and raised in the country, I was never known for a green thumb, and somehow this garden just took off.  Watermelon pits took root and grew into fabulous vines of succulent fruits.  Strawberries, sunflowers, lettuce of every imaginable kind, red peppers, green peppers, two pound cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant....the list goes on and on.  There was nothing that didn't grow.  And it was years later, when I was sent a box of pictures, that I realize Mary had been at my side for in that box of pictures, was one of Mary in her garden.I hope you all enjoy the following poem as much as I did.

   Come, look with me inside this drawer,
In this box I've often seen,
At the pictures, black and white,
Faces proud, still, and serene.
 
I wish I knew the people,
These strangers in the box,
Their names and all their memories,
Are lost among my socks.
 
I wonder what their lives were like,
How did they spend their days?
What about their special times?
I'll never know their ways.
 
If only someone had taken time,
To tell, who, what, where, and when,
These faces of my heritage,
Would come to life again.
 
Could this become the fate,
Of the pictures we take today?
The faces and the memories,
Someday to be passed away?
 
Take time to save your stories,
Seize the opportunity when it knocks,
Or someday you and yours,
Could be strangers in the box.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Scorpio

Great indeed is the power of the dragon as the sun,
Yet humbly and slowly it meanders its way shy,
Minuscule indeed is the power of the tiny scorpion,
Yet it swaggers its tail and boasts to the sky.--
Old Thai verse  
 

It is late autumn, and the leaves are falling. We╩╝ve passed the Equinox point of balance, and the air is turning crisp and cool.  The Earth is beginning to shut down as She prepares for the long sleep of winter.  Many animals, plants and insects are either dying; some are going into dormancy or hibernation. This is the season in which the Goddess journeys into the Underworld. We are entering the time of Scorpio, the eighth astrological sign in the Zodiac.  Also known as the Sign of the Mystic, it is considered a "feminine" or "fertile" sign. It is a water sign as well as one of the four fixed signs. Water must flow in order to stay vital, but here it has a fixed quality with a need to stand still.  When the pressure is high enough, the resistance will break and the water will flow once again.  

Traditionally, the planet Mars, the god of war, has been considered to be the ruler of Scorpio. Mars symbolizes that part of the psyche which impels us to act, to press forward and be courageous.  The However, since its discovery, Pluto, the god of the underworld, has been considered a modern ruler of this sign. It is the remains the domicile of Mars as its co-ruler.Pluto rules upheaval; it is the universal life force which impels evolution and transformation.  It rules breakdown and decay, but also regeneration and rebirth.  ...the archetypal Underworld...dark and mysterious which lurks beneath the surface of things.

This is the time of Samhain, the ancient festival which today has become our Halloween. This is the day that the doors between the worlds of the living and the dead stand open, and the ancestors come to visit.  Families picnic in graveyards and set places at their tables for their departed loved ones.  Hence, it is no wonder then, that Scorpio is associated with the descent into the Underworld, a connection which goes back to the very beginnings of astrology where we find Scorpio as the dark guardian of the threshold of the Otherworld in the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh.  In the tale, we are told that one had to pass through the gates of darkness in order to reach the world of light.

Scorpio is the archetype of transformation through deep, intense experience of emotional surrender...through meeting and working with our shadow.  Choices made here will determine whether or not the soul will grow.  Scorpio is that watery feeling which flows inward, and concealed within its depths, we find the secrets behind sex, death, and rebirth as vehicles of change and release, and it is through this inner transformation that we discover wisdom.  The Scorpio archetype is about the investigation of eternal mystery of life through probing the taboo depths to reach a realization of the spiritual power of water as the element of soul and imagination. 


The symbol...or glyph...of Scorpio is generally considered to be a representation of the legs and tail of the Scorpion, signifying the power of this Sign to suddenly and fatally...often with a hint of willful cruelty or vindictiveness...sting whatever and whomever may have hurt its feelings or denied its strong-willed desires. The glyph for Pluto is made up of the circle of spirit, half-in and half-out of an upward facing crescent of receptivity cross of matter. Combined, these elements represent the containment of the individual who is receptive to life’s mysteries and able to ground them into reality.

Scorpius, the constellation, lies between Libra to the west and Sagittarius to the east. It is a large constellation located in the southern hemisphere near the center of the Milky Way. In Greek mythology, it is usually associated with Orion, the Greek hunter and reputedly, the most handsome man in the world. According to some myths, the scorpion stung Orion in response to his boast that he could defeat any beast, while another tale says that it was it was sent by Apollo, who was concerned for his sister Diana's continued chastity.  Some reports say that the scorpion succeeded, while others maintain that Orion tried to escape by swimming out into the sea where he was then shot and killed by Artemis. In either case, Scorpius was placed in the opposite side of the sky from Orion so as to avoid any further conflict.

We find various references to the scorpion in Egyptian mythology. The Egyptian goddess of transformation, Isis, was liberated by the god of wisdom, Thoth, from the room in which Seth had Her at work weaving a shroud. She was given a company of seven scorpions to serve as her bodyguard, which forms a circle around her.Depicted as a beautiful woman with a scorpion on her head, Selket is the Egyptian scorpion-goddess who eases childbirth.  Her scorpion minions could strike down the wicked but, like Isis, she could intervene to save the lives of those who were innocent.


Scorpio rules that part of ourselves and the world that is still unredeemed. It represents the work that remains to be done in order to achieve perfection. It is a cosmic issue and not just a personal or human one. The psychologist Carl Jung and others increasingly addressed this challenging side of the human condition and how to work to transform it. It relates to the human soul and the depths of the subconscious mind. We are spiritual beings based in freedom. For there to be freedom there must be choice. If there was only good with no evil then it would be a weak goodness. We are destined to be masters. This means that the light and good that we embody is invincible and cannot be defeated. It is a strong goodness. It must be confronted by a powerful adversary to test and challenge the good until it is mastered. This is the process of growth and evolution that Scorpio rules.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I Just Love These Old Superstitions


It is one of the world’s oldest holidays and is celebrated in many countries around the globe, and no matter how you look at it or whatever you call it...Halloween, Samhain, All Souls....it's magical and fun. To the Celts, this is the time that marked the end of summer, the harvest and the beginning of the dark cold winter, a time which the boundary between the two worlds and became unveiled or blurred, enabling the Druids or Celtic priests to make predictions about the future. To honor and pacify their dearly departed, the Celts lit bonfires, feasted, wore costumes and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes...an important source of comfort during the long harsh winter. And, when the feasting was over, they re-lit their hearth fires from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming of winter.  

Most of us are at least a little superstitious at times. We may have lucky clothes that we wear to a job interview or a lucky food that we eat before our sports team plays. Holidays are a time for superstitions too, and Halloween itself is a celebration of superstitions.
 
In Scotland anyone who had to travel on Halloween would always carry a stick of Rowan (Mountain Ash) to ward off witches.

Witches cannot fly their brooms over running water. They can also be brought down from the skies by the peal of church bells.

Witches were supposed to have a special relationship with particular companion animals who would carry out their wishes. These "familiars" as they're known included not just cats but bats, weasels, toads and mice. They were said to be nourished by milk from the witch's body.

Witches were supposed to travel by broom as this symbolized the link between the home and the spiritual.


If you want to meet a witch, put your clothes on inside out and walk backwards on the night of Halloween.

It is also considered good luck to tie red thread to a Rowan tree on Halloween. (By the way tying a similar red thread around your finger is supposed to cure hiccups.)

If you see a spider on Halloween it is said to be the spirit of a dead loved one watching over you.

The devil is said to be able to turn himself into any animal except a donkey.

Leaving food on your doorstep on Halloween was supposed keep the hungry spirits on the outside.

In Northern Ireland oatmeal and salt was put on children's heads to ward off evil spirits on the night of Halloween.

After a boiled egg always push the bottom of the empty shell through to stop the fairy witches from using them to cross running water.

The rhyme Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jump over the candlestick, comes from the Halloween tradition of placing a lighted candle on the floor and jumping over it. If the flame goes out you will have a year of bad luck.

Have a happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Don't Believe Everything You Hear

Believe nothing because a wise man said it.
Believe nothing because it is generally held.
Believe nothing because it is written.
Believe nothing because it is said to be divine.
Believe nothing because someone else believes it.
But believe only what you yourself judge to be true.
--the Buddha--

'Don't believe everything that you hear.' my friend said as she turned and walked away from me.  I remember a day long, long ago when I'd confronted a friend about something I heard. I confronted her in the wrong way. Someone had told me that my  friend had told her something that had happened to my father over the weekend.  In my childish mind, I didn't think to question it; after all, my friend lived right around the corner from the bar so it had to be true. I was only about 8 years old; it never occurred to me that the parent of the child who whispered the hurtful words in my ear could have been in the bar at the same time.

Thankfully, I didn't lose my friend that day...although it was a few weeks before she actually forgave me. I later learned that the little girl who had overheard her parents talking about the incident and had deliberately set out to cause a rift between me and my friend.  It seemed that she wanted me 'out of the picture' so that she could be the best friend. Today I realize how really sad that is...for a child to be that lonely, but at the time, what she had done was totally unforgivable...and her actions led to neither one of us talking to her.

We don't outgrow gossip...and we all know one.  We find them at the office, in our neighborhood, on the street, at church...why, even family members gossip about each other. A gossip usually is a person without much going on in his/her own life. It might be that they focus on other people's lives because their own is just too unhappy.  Whatever the reason, gossip hurts.  It can eat away at healthy relationships. It can scar a person's image and damage the lives of their loved ones. 

So often, gossip is not true, but even if it is true, it should not be said if it is not good...and we most certainly should not believe everything we hear.  I learned a valuable lesson that day, although it took me a few years to actually put it in effect.  Believe nothing until you yourself judge it to be true. 

The great Socrates used a Triple Filter test. Whenever a friend came to him with a juicy piece of gossip, Socrates replied, “Before you tell me this bit of gossip, will it pass my triple filter test? First of all, what you are about to tell me, is it true?”

The man replied that he was not sure; he had heard it but could not verify its truthfulness. Socrates continued by saying, “You want to tell me some gossip but you are not positive that it is true.”


“Well,” said Socrates, “Is what you are about to tell me good?” “No,” the man replied, “it certainly is not good.”


“So,” Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something that may not be true and it certainly is not good. Let us give this bit of gossip the final of the three filter tests: Is what you are about to tell me going to be useful to me?”


Again the man had to confess that no, it would not be useful to Socrates. So, in his wisdom, Socrates then said, “Well, if you are not sure it is true, you know it is not good, and you tell me that it will not be useful to me, why then tell it to me?”


If only each of us would use this triple filter test when someone comes to us with a juicy bit of gossip, it certainly would stop gossip right in its tracks.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What a Moon !!!!


"
When the moon shines, Brahman shines;and when it goes, Brahman goes. Its light goes to the regions of heaven, and its breath of life to the wind."--Upanishads

Last night I couldn't sleep.  Had a few things on my mind, and they kept playing over and over again, so finally, in the wee hours of the morn I got up.  Nothing major...just those nagging little issues that just don't seem to go away.  For one thing, we have a mouse.  I'm scared of the little critters.  It's been quite awhile since we had one since my cat took care of everything, but at 19, she is hardly the mouser that she once was.  I hate those sticky glue traps because I hate that squeaking they make when they get caught, so I bought some of those sonic sound things that you plug into the walls which are supposed to chase them right out of your house.  Someone told me they take a little time, but they work well, so keep your fingers crossed.  I've been quite a wreck lately.

Then, I need some work in my kitchen. The tiles are all loosening and coming up.  Now, it is not my house....I rent...but we made an agreement that she would keep the rent reasonable if we took care of the little things that need fixing...which we have done, but I don't consider this something little....and $1200 is quite a bit of rent to pay, even though it is 'reasonable' by city rates. My son said he has a friend that would do it for a fairly reasonable rate so I told him to find out How reasonable?

Anyone catch the moon last night? She was quite a beauty.  Whenever it's a clear night and I can't sleep, I head out to my backyard.  Some of my best thinking is done there...just me, the creatures of the night...and the moon.  What a beautiful night was!!!  The air was really crisp and cold, and the bright Moon was the only thing that lit up the dark sky. It was night...the Moon's domain, and she was magnificent, adorned in all her glory.   

When I stand outside and look at the sky I feel so many things. I feel small yet connected. At night when I look at the moon I am always filled with a sense of magic and wonder. Last night there was something new about the great lady.  Now we know that they found water on her....water, the building block of life from whence we came; in fact, they say she has more water than the Sahara Desert. I have to wonder if maybe one day in the distant future, one of my descendants, unable to sleep, will go out in their backyard and instead of looking up, gaze down upon the Earth.  Will one day the tables be turned?

Whenever I gaze up into the heavens, I am amazed that the light I am seeing may have been traveling for hundreds, no thousands of years. The infinite nature of the Universe is mind-boggling to me, and it never ceases to astound me that the far out there in space, we can meet our past.  Somewhere, millions of light years away, our Earth is still being formed. Wow!!!   And yesterday came the news that astronomers have found the oldest thing  in the universe, a far away galaxy  from a time long, long ago...over 13 billion years ago. And, they say that by now, the galaxy is so ancient that it probably doesn't exist in its earlier form.  Wouldn't that be something to see?....and, on that note, I've given myself some things to think about.  


Next time the moon is full take a few minutes and stand in the light of the Moon.  Allow its magic and wonder fill you. Breathe in the moonlight and breathe out anything that no longer serves you.


Under the harvest moon,
When the soft silver
Drips shimmering
Over the garden nights,
Death, the gray mocker,
Comes and whispers to you
As a beautiful friend
Who remembers.

Under the summer roses
When the flagrant crimson
Lurks in the dusk
Of the wild red leaves,
Love, with little hands,
Comes and touches you
With a thousand memories,
And asks you
Beautiful, unanswerable questions.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Blood Full Moon in Aries

Morning all.  It's Friday.  Hip...hip...hooray.  It's a true fall morning out there.  Gorgeous dawn to a new day.  Next Friday will be the Halloween party here, and I am so looking forward to it.  Some are complaining that Halloween falls on a Sunday, but that''s okay with me.  At least I will be safe in my house and not out there trying to dodge the eggs when as I make my way home from work. Today is also the Full Moon.

The Hunter's Moon or Blood Moon on Friday, October 22nd, is the first Full Moon after the Harvest Moon, which is the Full Moon nearest the Autumnal Equinox. It is also called the Shedding Moon or Falling Leaf Moon. And, because it falls right before Samhain, a time when the veil between realms is at its thinnest, and there is plenty of energy in the air. It gets its name from hunters who tracked and killed their prey by autumn moonlight, stockpiling food for the winter ahead.   The creatures of the Earth are making ready; the squirrels are scurrying about, gathering any last bits of food before the snow hides it away, and those who slumber during the cold months have prepared their beds.  The birds have already begun their search of warmer lands to the south.  The harvest is complete and the Earth has begun to fall to barrenness.

Our ancestors witnessed the moon as it reflected the rhythms of life, the cycles of the seasons and the tides of the seas. They watched the moon move across the sky, transforming and changing - a beacon of light that shone through the darkness of night.A blood red moon signified the time for harvest or impending death, 'blood on the moon', the time of winter has come.
The Hunter’s moon in October focuses on connecting with animals or rather our totem.  

This Full Moon occurs in the astrological sign of Aries and is the second Full Moon in Aries in a row, quite a rare occurrence.
A Full Moon signifies a completion, the finalization of what we may have begun during the previous New Moon. This Full Moon will fall at 29 degrees Aries "I am" and is the second in a row that falls in the sign of the Ram... but, other than this, we find that the two have very little in common with each other. The 29th degree of any sign is an indication that we are completing something, and at this Full Moon, we may find ourselves experiencing the end of one way of thinking about things and the beginning of a different view as the moon prepares to new sign, Taurus, "I have". This second Aries full moon will energize us to look deeper into our relationships in order to learn how to take in another person's point of view and grow beyond our own; it  reminds us to seek balance between the " I (Aries) and the We (Libra)".  The key here is to blend these two opposites rather than have them in conflict. 

 The moon next moves into Taurus. There is the need here to take an active part in repairing our strained relations and strengthening those that are already on solid ground. This calls for the maturing the of the self in order to meet the needs and demands of a relationship with the ultimate goal being something more stable and grounded. There could also be some sort of final resolution made at this time as to whether to move forward in a relationship or to let it go.  So, we can say this Full Moon is asking each of us to release relationships that consume us in a negative way and to experience transformation that will lead to inner balance and harmony. It does not matter what your Sun sign is. The Sun and Moon at 00 degrees cardinal are critical and so every human being on the planet is being activated.

This will undoubtedly be a powerful Full Moon, one that encourages us to look deeper within ourselves and to release whatever is blocking our acceptance of others.
It is time that we discover new ways of compromise and sharing  It demands that we take some type action, and no matter how painful or difficult it may be, we will have to let go of the old and make room for the new. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Road Less Traveled


The great poet, Robert Frost, is probably best remembered for the phrase “the road not taken. He concludes his poem “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”

Life is often described as a journey with many roads and pathways, and there are many times in our lives when we will come across a 'fork in the road' which forces us to make a decision about which way to go.  Hmm!!!  We think, 'which way do I go?  Now, so and so took that path, and she seems very happy.  Maybe that's the way I should go, too. And then we take some time to think about it and perhaps we decide that's not really what we are looking for. We don't want to settle.  An example is a childhood friend.  When I moved away to settle in the big city, she was already married with one child and another on the way.  She seemed so happy, and I guess probably she was, but that was the path SHE chose. I, on the other hand, I was always the rebel; I wanted more out of life.  I wanted to see the world, so even though I had given some serious thought to settling down, that was not the road I wanted to take.

There is no one true path that is right for everyone. Some may believe there is, but that simply is not true. As I grew older, my mom was always nagging me about finding myself 'a good man and settling down.' 'Yeah, like you did?' I thought.  Maybe it was seeing her life and how it had turned out, how bitter she had become, how resentful of her own child she was...maybe that was my reason for choosing a different life for myself.  I didn't want to find myself saddled down with a man I had no feelings for (for the sake of the child) while spending my evenings cheating with the real love of my life. Always to-gether, but never together.  So 38 years ago, when I came to the fork in the road, I made my choice.  You might as well say I chose the road less traveled for most didn't have the courage to start anew in another state. 

We all make choices, and being human, some of these choices will turn out to be mistakes  Perhaps this might cause us to live with regrets, and as we grow older, we may also begin to wonder just how our lives would be different if we had chosen a different road. Sometimes I sit back and think about my life and all the choices of have made throughout my 63 years. I know I have made many mistakes. I wonder now how different my life would have been had I chosen the other road. Would I have had a happy life?  Or would it have been a life of regret.  Would I have been unhappy like my mom?  I'll never know, and really, who cares!!!  I've been through some pretty hard times in my life, but when I look at my hubby and my two wonderful sons, I wouldn't trade what I have for anything. This is exactly where I was meant to be. 

If we live our lives continuously looking back and wondering if the other trail would have been better, we will eventually find ourselves feeling overwhelmed, unhappy, and unfulfilled. Did I expect my path to lead me into years of unhappy, abusive relationships?  No way, but look where I ended up after it was all said done. I'm blessed to be where I am right now.  There is so much love in my life.  I know I took the right road. So, if you are wondering what might have been, take note of the blessings in your life.  Truth comes from your own heart, for what you learn and experience makes up the truth that your heart believes in.  I think Socrates said it best with his motto 'know thyself, and to thine self be true.' At some point in our lives we have to get past our regrets.
 
As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” -
Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sticks and Stones

A wise old owl sat on an oak,
The more he saw the less he spoke;
The less he spoke the more he heard;
Why aren't we like that wise old bird?
--
Edward Hersey Richards--

On Tuesday, I run a Women's Empowerment Group; it is my favorite group, and I rarely miss a Tuesday. When women come into treatment, they are so beaten down. Their self-esteem as well as their bodies has been battered. Talking about issues is healing, and I get such a feeling as I watch my women grow. Yesterday's topic was hurtful words...words either said to us or by us...words that have been blurted out before any thinking had taken place....hateful, hurtful words. In many cases, family members and friends, not knowing how to deal with addiction, sometimes use their words as weapons thinking that somehow they will get through, and their loved one will be saved...but it never seems to work that way. In fact, the very person they are trying to help is usually so hurt and traumatized that they feel the need to retaliate, and they,in turn, utter their own hurtful words. 

Name calling, bullying, bitter, hurtful words can destroy a person,a relationship. Words can sting and cut someone like a knife. Verbal attacks leave the victim crying out in pain, and poorly chosen and harsh words may easily scar someone beyond the point of forgiveness or apology. Once spoken, words cannot be taken back, and no matter how many I'm sorry's are said, the ramifications can continue to cause the victim emotional pain for many years to come.  Sometimes we may not really mean it.  In the heat of an argument, we just blurt things out, say things we don't even know we are saying.  We may not even realize that we have hurt someone until they turn a cold shoulder toward us...and when it finally hits us, we might want to eat our words, but it doesn't work that way.

I am sure you all remember the following...Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. That is so not true, but what do children know!!! When bones are broken, they can always be put back together and with time, they will heal, but when words are spoken, it can take weeks, months and even years for the scar of the words to heal. And, it is an unfortunate fact of life that every day there are children out there who are being teased, taunted, and ridiculed in schoolyards and playgrounds every day. When you are the victim, it is not a nice feeling.  All you want to do is find some corner and crawl into an hide.  It hurts; I know.  I was one of those children. Sadly, not much is done about it. Parents and teachers believe that teasing is just a normal phase of growth and that the child will grow out of it, but it is so more than that. Teasing and making a child feel left out and unwanted can scar the other child for life. Many children carry the pain around until they grow into teenagers and turn into adults. And, when a child is also being verbally abused in the home, it's a double whammy for the victim.


As adults, we sometimes just fire out words because we may be frustrated about something, and we have to take it out on someone.  We forget to think twice before we speak.  Verbal abuse never really goes away; it molds who we become. Although I am far less sensitive than I once was, it took me years to overcome this, and even today, sometimes, someone may say something that I take the wrong way, and immediately tears come to my eyes, and, before I know it, all the old feelings back again. A man may become so angry that he abuses the wife, unwittingly teaching the same thing to his son.  Someone else may become a thief, a murderer, a rapist.  To some of you it may seem far-fetched from schoolyard name-calling to criminality, but when all of this pain and rejection are bottled up for so many years, it can and does happen.

If we are to stop this chain, it has to begin with us. Before you say something you will regret, just stop and take a breath. If you need to, walk away for a few minutes; then come back after you have thought about the message that you are truly trying to convey. It takes two people to argue. Don't be pulled in. That way there will be nothing said that you will regret later.

Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.