Thursday, March 31, 2011

April Fools' Day

"The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year."--Mark Twain


March is about to take its leave, and April will step in to take its place.  That means it will be that wacky time of year again! April Fool's Day is just around the corner, and it's the perfect time to pull a great prank.  I have to admit it; I've been known to be a bit of a prankster in my day...like the year I sprinkled itching powder on hubby's shirt or left the gum that turned one's teeth blue on my desk.  Hey, it was part prank and part done to see who was taking things off my desk without asking...and the blue easily rinsed off.  Now, hubby, though, he was fit to be tied, and I really felt so bad.  Actually, I had never believed that it was going to be so itchy.  The poor man ended up late for work because he had to jump in and take another shower.  

I know, I was pretty evil back then, but I have mellowed with time...and hubby did manage to get dinner and movie out of me.   Today, I have not only mellowed, but things have changed.  It was always fun to tell someone their slip was showing and then watch them as they twisted and turned to get a look.  Today, no one seems to wear slips anymore.  I can't even buy one because none of the stores sell them. Putting a sign on someone's back is classic. It's usually a paper sign surreptitiously placed there perhaps with a piece of scotch tape with something absurd written on it.  Today my pranks have been reduced to calling in sick, then showing up at work, telling someone there is a stain on their shirt, or calling my co-workers on prank dial. com.  
 
The idea of springtime practical joking and merriment has roots in ancient times  when most of Europe changed from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar. This calendar reform caused much confusion, and years passed before the new calendar system completely took hold. Someone who failed to note the switch was branded an April Fool, given that they were likely still celebrating the old new year holiday, held just after the time of the vernal equinox in late March.  The new calendar moved the new year to January 1, but for years there was a small group of people who mistakenly celebrated on April 1. Of course, these traditionalists were made fun of; eventually jokes were played on them by sending them on fool's errands or tricking them into believing ridiculous things.



April’s Fool Day has also been associated with ancient festivals such as the rejoicing festival, Hilaria, which was to celebrate the resurrection of the god Attis in ancient Rome.  People would dress up in various guises for a day of carnival, feasting, and drinking. The Holi festival in India celebrates the arrival of spring. During this celebration people play jokes on each other. Tricks and hoaxes in England can only be played up until noon. Anyone who tries to continue the jokes into the afternoon are believed to bring bad luck upon themselves. In France,  the victim of the prank is called an April Fish while in Scotland they are called an April Gowk (gowk is a cuckoo or another word for a fool!) 

April Fool's Day
is a day to make fun and that spirit of fun is usually at it's peak that day.  April Fool's Day jokes and playing pranks on your friends and co-workers are what this day is all about.  But, it is important to remember that having fun is one thing, but playing pranks that hurt  someone's feelings  as a no-no. The goal is to bring smiles to people's faces, not tears to their eyes.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Thanksgiving


We return thanks to our mother, the earth,
which sustains us.
We return thanks to the rivers and streams,
which supply us with water.
We return thanks to all herbs,
which furnish medicines for the cure of our diseases.
We return thanks to the moon and stars,
which have given to us their light when the sun was gone.
We return thanks to the sun,
that has looked upon the earth with a beneficent eye.
Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit,
in Whom is embodied all goodness,
and Who directs all things for the good of Her children.

Iroquois


I am in for a very busy day today.  Just dropping by to say 'hello' and wish everyone a great day.  May joy and happiness be your companion.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Rune of the Four Winds



By the Voice in the corries
When the Polestar danceth:
By the Voice on the summits
The dead feet know:
By the soft wet cry
When the Heat-star troubleth:
By the plaining and moaning
Of the Sigh of the Rainbows:
By the four white winds of the world,
Whose father the golden Sun is,
Whose mother the wheeling Moon is,
The North and the South and the East and the West:
By the four good winds of the world,
That Man knoweth,
That One dreadeth,
That God blesseth--
Be all well
On mountain and moorland and lea,
On loch-face and lochan and river,
On shore and shallow and sea !
By the Voice of the Hollow
Where the worm dwelleth:
By the Voice of the Hollow
Where the sea-wave stirs not:
By the Voice of the Hollow
That sun hath not seen yet:
By the three dark winds of the world;
The chill dull breath of the Grave,
The breath from the depths of the Sea,
The breath of To-morrow:
By the white and dark winds of the world,
The four and the three that are seven,
That Man knoweth,
That One dreadeth,
That God blesseth--
Be all well
On mountain and moorland and lea,
On loch-face and lochan and river,
On shore and shallow and sea !
Fiona MacLeod

Last night I got out some of my old coursework on the  four directions or airts and came across the above poem that had inspired me when I was working with my Druidic trainings on the Celtic Medicine Wheel. This
is the ancient spiritual symbol for the totality of life, and represents the seasons and the path of the sun around the earth. It gives us a holistic method of balancing the four parts of our lives: body, mind, spirit, and heart.  Knowing the four directions and their elements and paying attention to them has a grounding effect in our lives. 



The East, where the sun rises, is a place of new beginnings which guards the time of birth and development.  It is the season of Spring.  The elementthat is associated with the east is the air, and we are inspired by Spring's fresh breezes blowing through our hair and across our skin. The fairy sylphs, or air fairies, are associated with this direction.  They are characterized often as having wings. With Spring, comes freshness, healing, lightness and potential and we are cleansed and purified by the sensations of renewal and rebirth.

The South, the place where the sun is the warmest.  The direction of the South has to do with the element of fire and the symbolism contained within this element. Fire can be seen as the spark of life itself, particularly in its intensity, heat and expanding properties.  It represents the season of Summer, a time when the earth is flourishing in abundance and growth and all beings have an opportunity for a more carefree and playful existence. The salamanders of fire are the fairy beings of this direction. They may appear as fire dragons or serpentine fire forms.

The West, where the sun sets, is a place of maturity and the place of vision.  The west is traditionally seen as the direction  that our old patterns die to make way for new life. This is the direction of peace and reflection. It is the season of Fall. Water is the element that corresponds with this direction because of its associations with purification, healing, depth, mystery and the unconscious dimension of the psyche.  The fairy beings of this element include the undines, the Selkies, and the water nymphs.

The North, where only the midnight sun shines, is a place of endings, commonly thought of as the place  of death and still-abiding. The element
The element of the earth brings us to the North with its grounded, solid, manifesting qualities.  From the North comes the cold and the long dark night. It is the season of Winter which reminds us that we must always be prepared for the harsh realities of life.  The fairy folk of this direction include the gnomes, trolls, and various other Earth Elementals.  The North is associated with the material things in life.

These are the four winds as they relate to the directional seasons on the Celtic Wheel of the Year. Go outside, stand  or sit in the center, and face each of the directions in turn. With your eyes closed, meditate of each direction, feeling its particular gift and opportunity:

Face the East to think of new beginnings, of hope and of creativity.

Face the South when you need purpose and direction in life.

Face the West to reflect on the day, it's strengths, weaknesses and it's joys. Face the West when you feel the need to draw on the strength of your past and when you feel the need to draw on the strength of another. 
 

Face the North when you need prosperity and aid in financial matters.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday Morning Rambles

What is time? The shadow on the dial, the striking of the clock,
the running of the sand, day and night, summer and winter, months,
years, centuries--these are but arbitrary and outward signs,
the measure of Time, not Time itself. Time is the Life of the Soul.
--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow--

Here it is again.  Another Monday....and a cold one, to boot. It was in the twenties when I left, but felt more like it was in the teens what with the wind chill.  Thought Spring was here.  The poor forsythia that just started to bloom is looking like it is already fading away.  Another week of work to look forward to.  Another 35 hours before I can kick off my shoes and say, 'Job well done; now take some time for you.'  Weekends pass by so quickly, even when we try to squeeze in an extra day. Somehow it just never seems to be long enough.  There never seems to be enough precious time.

I never really much thought much about time before, not when I was younger.  Days passed by, and I never gave them much of a thought.  I had an eternity of time ahead of me.  But now, as I grow older, I realize how quickly  life passes us by, and, until we find ourselves confronted with our own mortality,  most of us don't take the time to appreciate the great gift that we have been given.  This past week I grew another year older, and instead of mourning the youth I left behind, I, instead, celebrated and allowed myself to feel the joy and love that surrounded me. I allowed myself to feel, and the memory of that day will be with me always. 

Time is priceless and fluid.  It never stops to rest, never hesitates, and never looks backward.  It is a gift we were given on the day of our birth, and once it passes, we remain with our memories, but we can never get that time back. Birthdays always make me think of my mother, and oh, how I would treasure just one more moment with her, to put my arms around her and let her know that all is forgiven and to let her see that I have not lived a wasted life...but I am sure she somehow knows.   I like to think that she is finally proud of the woman I have become. 

No matter how hard we may try, we cannot stop the hands of time on the clock of life.  Each yesterday is beyond our control, and we cannot undo or redo a single act or erase a single word we may have said. That is why it is so important now for to love yourself, your soul mate, your family, and, yes, even your work, and  realise that each one has value. Take the time to pause and wonder at  the things you see today.  And take the time to say an "I love you," "I'm sorry", or "I forgive you" that may you forgot to say so that one day you may have no regrets.

Pardon one another so that later
on you will not remember the injury.
The recollection of an injury is in itself wrong. It adds
to our anger, nurtures our sin, and hates
what is good. It is a rusty
arrow and poison for the soul.

Francis of Paola





Friday, March 25, 2011

Song of Proserpine



Sacred Goddess, Mother Earth,
Thou from whose immortal bosom
Gods and men and beasts have birth,
Leaf and blade, and bud and blossom,
Breathe thine influence most divine
On thine own child, Proserpine.
If with mists of evening dew
Thou dost nourish these young flowers
Till they grow in scent and hue
Fairest children of the Hours,
Breathe thine influence most divine
On thine own child, Proserpine.

- Percy Bysshe Shelley -

I'm very late today, I know.  Took off work and spent most of my time in bed.  I'm just tired today and needed some rest.  Yesterday I noticed that amidst all of this strange weather, the forsythia is beginning to stir.  Spring is finally arriving.  The picture above, the lilacs, reminds me so much of when I was young.  Grandma had the most beautiful lilac bushes; they were her favorite flower.  Ah, the fragrance, the memories that the scent of lilac instills.  Isn't it funny how little things such as a photo or a scent can trigger memories of times long past?

Wishing you all a magical weekend filled with wonder and awe, and may Spring reach out and touch all of you.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Twenty Years From Now

 Twenty years from now,
you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do,
than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbour.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.

~ Mark Twain ~
When I was young, time seemed to move so slow.  The week leading up to my birthday seemed like an eternity, but now, as I grow older, birthdays arrive in a flash and pass by in what seems to be a moment.  And, as time continues to move forward, and the years are creeping up on me, I couldn't help but sit back last night. the anniversary of my birth,  to reflect and wonder about what was and what could have been. 

Last night as I pondered the fact that I had moved yet another year closer to my retirement age, I thought back to what I accomplished in life, and realized that although I have not quite accomplished what I had set out to do, I am where I want to be at this point of my life.  I've made many mistakes but that is because I am human, but I have also come a long way from the young woman who was never supposed to amount to anything.  

Yesterday's birthday turned out to be something special.  Aside from the love I felt from my family, I was given such a wonderful surprise at work, so unexpected, so filled with a sense of love and friendship that I had never sensed before.  For us, our birthday is a paid holiday.  We have the option of taking the day itself or another day in its place.  This year I decided that I didn't want a fuss made over my birthday so I decided that I would go to work and then take a day in April when my birthday was long gone.  I don't know why; it's just the way I felt this year. I just wanted the day to pass by quietly.


So, you can imagine my surprise when I walked in to the most amazing greeting and flurry of birthday wishes, something I never expected.  I was especially taken aback when lunchtime rolled around, and they treated me to a fabulous Mexican lunch, the most delicious and chocolaty cake I ever had, and gifted me with a $70 Chase gift card.  I haven't felt so touched in a long time.  It made me realize that things aren't really as bad as they may seem; it is how we perceive events that matter.

And so, although I may be another year older, I will embrace the future  and cherish my memories. Yes, it is true that the passage of time is something we become well aware of as we age, and while every year seems to go quicker, there is really nothing we can do about it, except learn to live in the day and enjoy each minute of our life to the best of our ability.

We're the bridge across forever, arching above the sea,
adventuring for our pleasure, living mysteries for the fun of it,
choosing disasters, triumphs, challenges, impossible odds,
testing ourselves over and again,
learning love and love and LOVE!

 Richard Bach (from "The Bridge Across Forever")

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

A birthday is just the first day of another 365-day journey around the sun. Enjoy the trip.--Author Unknown

Today, I am 64 years old; well, actually, not quite, not until 12:06 pm.  I have a sister-in-law who gets angry if you wish her a Happy Birthday.  She cannot deal with the process of aging, so I learned a long time ago to just let her be on that day.  Yet, I'll not tell a lie.  There was a time that I wasn't so comfortable with the aging process, but that was then and this is now.  Besides, no matter how uncomfortable I may have been, I've always loved my birthday...and not for the gifts. They are mere material things.  Indeed, to me, birthdays are symbolic; they are a chance to celebrate one's life....  which is such a precious gift. 

64 years ago today, my mother labored to bring me into this world.  I was her only child, and although we spent most of our time together at odds with one another, I am forever thankful for the gift she gave me, the most wonderful gift of all...life.  Thank you, Mom.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Aries

Now the zephyrs diminish the cold, and the year being ended,
Winter Maeotian seems longer than ever before;
And the Rain that bore unsafely the burden of Helle,
Now makes the hours of the day equal with those of the night.


-Longfellow— 


I love Aries, and not because I am an Aries; actually, having been born on the cusp, I've always leaned more towards being a Pisces.  And, if you should ask anyone who knows me, they tell you that surely you must jest.  Actually, I love Aries for everything it brings...Spring, rebirth, new beginnings, blue skies and the gentle rains that encourage growth. 

Aries, the Ram,  is the first sign of the zodiac.     A fire sign, it is one of the four cardinal signs that represent action (Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn).   Aries represents the beginning of a new cycle; hence, it is indicative of the birthing stage and can include some of the themes that we associate with this stage for as we begin a brand new cycle of the Zodiac, we also initiate the season of rebirth within ourselves.   Life is beginning to
rise up through the soil as seeds begin to germinate deep within the earth. Spring lambs are seen scampering in the fields.  It is the sign of Spring, a time of new beginnings which evokes thoughts of renewal and new hopes for the future for all of us. 

It's ruling planet is Mars.  Roman Mars himself was originally a god of wild nature and the herds, and a wolf was his early symbol.  Mars is the outermost of the personal planets and represents pure energy.  Aries is irresistible force and the principles of resurrection and individualization.  Mars is a dry, hot and masculine. The Mars color is bright red. Mars metal is iron, and its day is Tuesday. The Mars number is 9 which represents inspiration and the perfection of ideas.   Mars is action and how we assert our self The planet Mars is the planet of war, violence danger, action and discussions. It denotes impetuosity, passion, expansion.

In the Greek myth of Aries, we find the young hero, Phrixus, and his sister, Helle, on the back of a ram, fleeing from their wicked stepmother, Ino.
During the journey, Helle lost her hold and slipped off the ram's back, falling off into the sea at a point now which was later named Hellespont,  which today separates Greece and Turkey.  But Phrixus managed to escape and later sacrificed the ram in tribute to Jupiter. He hung its fleece in the grove of Ares where it turned to gold and was later to be pursued by Jason of the Argonauts.  The golden fleece had the power to restore life to the dead, an noticeable allusion to the creativity that is restored to the earth upon the Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere.  The Aries
symbol represents the spiral horns of a Ram. 

The constellation Aries marked the vernal equinox from 1800 B.C. to 1 A.D.; the Mesopotamians believed the world was created when the sun was near this constellation.  Throughout the ancient Mediterranean region, the ram figure was associated with the constellation Aries or Arietis to the Greeks, Kriya and to the Egyptians, Arnum.  The Assyrians saw this star group as an altar and sacrificial ram. For the Mesopotamians the constellation stood for military power. Among the Hebrews it was known as the lamb that overcame death. The Sumerians called the sun, Subat, meaning the Ancient Sheep or Ram and the planets were known as the Celestial Herd.   Aries, the ram, was known to the Arabs as Al Hamal, the  The Chinese knew Aries as the dog, Kiang Leu. Later they knew it as  the White Sheep.

Aries’ energy is good for the soul. It’s a time to shake loose all those stuck places in ourselves. You won’t hear an Aries say, ‘I can’t do that.’ Aries is fire that moves through the soul, the fire that creates new life, new experiences and new psychological patterns. Aries is the pioneer who initiates change and blazes new trails.

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.
-Still I Rise, Maya Angelou -

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday Morning Rambles

In those vernal seasons of the year, when the
air is calm and pleasant, it were an injury and sullenness against Nature not to go out and see her riches, and partake in her rejoicing with heaven and earth. --John Milton

 Good morning on this rainy, cool Monday morn. Wish I could say that Spring had really arrived, but it is definitely in the air.  The Winter chill has decided to hold on a bit longer, but that's okay.  The forsythia will be blooming soon enough.   Now it is a completely new season for our earth and for our self, a time of new beginnings and second chances.  Had a great day yesterday-- albeit a rather noisy one.

Yesterday was Purim, one of the noisier of the Jewish holidays, and , I found that by early evening, I could not take any more of the noise; thankfully at sundown it ended. It had begun at sunset on Saturday and continued through sunset on Sunday.  Purim marks the Jewish people's deliverance from a royal death decree as told in the Book of Esther.  It is a custom for some, especially the children, to dress up in costumes. During the reading of the Megillah, (Scroll of Esther) when Haman's name is said, people jeer and make noises with Purim noisemakers or gift baskets, to friends and loved ones, and to make special donations to the poor. It is also traditional to hand out food baskets or food gifts.  

All and all, the streets and sidewalks were packed with people, and it looked like loads of fun, but the one part of the festivities I found so difficult to deal with is the cars and vans that drive around the blocks blasting, and I mean BLASTING, this scratchy music from a speaker that has seen better days....as well as the doorbell being rung pretty much throughout the day  and the car horns as children stop cars to collect donations for the poor.  One thing I have learned in the 12 years I lived here is Do not try to take a nap on Purim.  Please, for any Jewish readers, I don't mean to offend, but I really see no sense in all of these noisy cars because, from what I see, no one seems to be paying attention to it to begin with.  I'm wondering if this stems from the olden times when wandering minstrels used to wander the streets on this day.


Later, when all quieted down, and after hubby and I had our evening meal, I bundled myself up and went outside into the backyard.  It was so still and quiet; the air was cool, crisp, and fresh. I felt so good as I simply closed my eyes and breathed deeply of the refreshing air, reflecting on what I hope to accomplish during this new time of the year.   What is it that I really want to do?  And what is it that I no longer have room for in my life?   I do know that I want to learn more about the Norse and the Vikings who were also a part of my ancestry.  And, I hope to find more peace in my job by letting go of the negative energies that I have allowed to break through my barriers.  It is time to create a shield between myself and all those feelings that can be found there.

Spring is such a youthful season, and, at this time of year,  I always find myself remember the Springtime of my youth, of the awe and wonder I felt as a youngster watching the world come alive around me. It was such a magical time.  I smiled as I pictured myself racing down the hill of my grandmother's yard and being chased by the chickens as I reached the bottom.   I always felt safe when I was in my grandmother's garden. It was clearly a place of refuge, it was home.  I remembered rolling about in the grass staring up at cloud spotted blue skies....helping grandma as she planted her seeds.

I've also decided that I want to try my hand at gardening again.  I once had the most magical garden, but alas have been unable to replicate it here.  Perhaps there is just too much always going on here. Kids running in and out of the yard to retrieve their balls do not exactly accommodate the growth of a garden.  Needless to say, I am not about to invest all the time and money I did the first few years I was here for it was all in vain, but I would like to try my hand at some container gardening on my back porch.  It would be nice to grow some herbs and flowers.  Perhaps I will.

May you all have a wonderful day.

Putting In the Seed

You come to fetch me from my work to-night

When supper's on the table, and we'll see

If I can leave off burying the white

Soft petals fallen from the apple tree.
 

(Soft petals, yes, but not so barren quite,
Mingled with these, smooth bean and wrinkled pea;)

And go along with you ere you lose sight

Of what you came for and become like me,
 

Slave to a springtime passion for the earth.
How love burns through the Putting in the Seed

On through the watching for that early birth

When, just as the soil tarnishes with weed,
 

The sturdy seedling with arched body comes 
Shouldering its way and shedding the earth crumbs.

 Robert Frost


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Welcome Spring

As I sit here typing this post, the birds are singing a joyful tune just outside the window.  It's somewhat cool, a bit of snow is in the forecast, and the buds have yet to appear on the trees, but there is no doubt about.  Spring is definitely here.  This is one of my favorite holidays for the simple reason that I love Spring.  Although I do love autumn and winter (to a degree), I welcome Spring more than any season of the year.

The Spring Equinox signals the time of year when the days are getting longer, the growing season has begun, and animals give birth to their young. It
has been an important time of the year for many cultures throughout history.  Daylight has continued to grow since the Winter Solstice.  Equinox literally means equal night; hence, the Spring Equinox is the time when the day and the night on the equator are of equal length. This is a blessed time of the year when the promise of fertility from Imbolc has burst forth into new life.  This is a time when the land is becoming rich, fertile, and green again as the days grow longer.  The fields and forests begin to fill with newly born creatures.  This was a very special time of the year for our ancient ancestors as the Earth warmed and fresh food became more abundant. 

In fact, the celebration of this time of year goes back many centuries.  Dating back to Assyrian times, it is named for Eostre (Eastern Star), the Teutonic goddess  of dawn and fertility who is similar Ishtar, Astarte, Asher, Inanna,  Aphrodite, and Venus.  The Anglo-Saxons saw it as the dawn of the year and honored the Goddess Eostre so deeply that their worship of her continued even during the burning times. The Christians, knowing that they could never destroy her,  incorporated her holy day as their own and renamed it  Easter.

There have been a few recurring symbols throughout history which represent this event. One of these is the egg. Eggs are an old symbol of birth and renewal and the potential of the new season. Many people celebrate this time by coloring eggs.
  Another common symbol is the rabbit. Rabbits are very quick at reproducing and renewing themselves, so humans have always looked to them for fertility guidance. Finally, flowers have been a common motif throughout history. This is the time of the year when flowers finally begin to bloom after spending the winter dormant. The lily, appropriated as a Christian symbol of death, was a symbol of life in Pagan Greece and Rome where it adorned Ostara altars and temples.  


Spiritual traditions all over the planet celebrate the spring with hunts for eggs, rabbits, and other symbols of birth.  Welcome the nature spirits into your garden and charge the seeds you will soon be planting. Do a spring cleaning of your home, altar, and mind.   If you live in an area where the flowers have already begun to bloom at this time of the year, then a great way to celebrate is to go into the fields and pick a bunch of flowers.  Another great way to celebrate is by wearing the traditional colors of the Spring Equinox. These include pastel colors and green.







Friday, March 18, 2011

Super Full Moon in Virgo

The change in the weather is reflected in the Native American's name for the March Full Moon.  As the warmer temperatures cause the ground to thaw, the  earthworms wiggle their way to the surface and are pecked by the birds for the Full Worm Moon. To other, more northern-based tribes, this Moon was known as the Full Crow Moon because the cawing of the crows was said to signal the end of winter.  Other names for this moon include the Full Crust Moon  because the snow covering the ground now  becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night and the Full Sap Moon because it marks the time of tapping maple trees. To the early settlers, it was also known as the Lenten Moon.

On the last day the Sun transits Pisces, the Moon waxes and becomes full in Virgo. The Full Moon in Virgo on March 19th will be at 29 degrees Virgo. It is a particularly important Full Moon because it falls the day before the Spring Equinox. This is considered as the first day of spring, this significant process balanced through 12 hours of day and night on the earth axis connecting the centers of earth and the sun. It will also be a Supermoon; that is, the moon will be closer to the Earth than is has been since 1992. On this night, the moon will appear to be about 14 percent larger and much brighter than usual, but despite its brightness, the Supermoon also has a dark side. In the past, they have been linked to natural disasters such as earthquakes or floods, but although they have been connected, it does not necessarily mean that anything will happen. At any rate, higher than average tides can be expected.

The Full Moon is always a period of endings and bringing a new phase into our lives. This means it is time to evaluate life and find where there can be a balance between our needs and outs. Virgo is ruled by Mercury, the planet of communication, as is Gemini. The energy of Virgo, an earth sign, is down-to-earth, responsible, practical, and critical. While the Moon is in Virgo, it a good time for learning something new and for completing projects, particularly smaller scale projects that require organization and attention to detail. Due to Virgo's association with health, food and fitness may be concerns during this time. It is an excellent time to heal imbalances in our physical bodies through prayer, dreamwork, or meditation.

As we approach the Full Moon later this week, be aware that it may bring some changes to your life as well.  This will be a time for you  to acknowledge and address whatever emotions that you still have been unable to resolve.  Critical thinking will be highlighted, but  caution must be taken to avoid being overly critical or judgmental.   Virgo likes to know things or at least to be able to figure them out. 

Since October of this past year, every full moon has fallen at 29 degrees of the sign.  The 29th degree of a sign is one to be recognized as a crucial point to consider because it is the end point of the sign and is the most intense and complete manifestation of that sign’s energies. It is also the point of most wisdom from the accumulated experience of the transit of the planet through that sign.

On the day after the Full Moon, the Vernal Equinox will arrive, signaling another turn in the Wheel of the Year.   The Sun moves into the sign of
Aries, moving over the equator into the Northern Hemisphere. The primal,aroused life force is eager to act, to create. Our impulses begin to take over, so it is helpful to have a long-range guiding vision, dream or ambition to help keep the priorities straight and one’s efforts in alignment with one’s goals. 

You came, the vernal equinox
Brought on the solstice in a day;
Crocuses in their beds of box
Straight changed to tulips, striped and gay. 
--Henry Charles Beeching--

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day


Happy St. Patrick's Day. Tis a wonderful day to be Irish.  Or, should I say, Tis a wonderful day to stay home. Alcohol has become such an integral part of St. Patty's Day that it's not uncommon to hear revellers planning on how drunk they will get.  It's always such a rowdy night here in the city,  not that anything bad has ever happened to me; I just prefer to be safe in my home and away from all the madness. Now, don't get me wrong. I am not a prude.  Heck, there was a time when I'd be out there partying with the best of them, and I have also had more than my share of March 18th hangovers.  But then I grew older and wiser and realized that alcohol, just as nicotine, was never my friend.  Hence, it has been twenty years since I had a St. Patty's Day drink.

More mystically, perhaps March 17 really is the day of the Gods of Drinking, and any holiday on that day will thrive as a celebration of drink.  Long before St. Patrick, this was the date of the Bacchanalia, and of the related festival The LiberaliaBacchanalia was the festival of the Greek god Bacchus, the god of wine.  During the festivals there was a tumultuous procession of men and women, drinking, some riding in a cart and casting scurrilous jests and abusive language at the bystanders, and some carrying the phallus, the emblem of the generative power in nature.  Liberalia was tamer than Bacchanalia but still both days were celebrations with drinking befitting the Gods in question.  (Sound familiar?)

In ancient times, when one civilization conquered another, they would also appropriate their religion by incorporating the other cultures gods into their parthenon. And, along with appropriating these gods, the dominant culture would also incorporate the traditional festivals celebrating that god. With monotheist religions such as Christianity, the god celebrated in these festivities was to be replaced by a patron saint. St Patrick was a Romano-Briton. Was there some connection between him and Liberalia? After all, many of the Pagan holidays have been Christianized. 
If you have plans to party on St. Patrick’s Day, have fun and make sure you include a plan for a safe and sober ride home using a designated driver or taxi.

St. Patrick, the holy and tutular man
His beard down his bosom like Aaron's ran:
Some from Scotland, some from Wales, will declare that he came,
But I care not from whence now he's risen to fame;
The pride of the world and his enemies scorning
I will drink to St. Patrick, today in the Morning!

He's a desperate big, little Erin go brah;
He will pardon our follies and promise us joy,
By the mass, by the Pope, by St. Patrick so long
As I live, I will give him a beautiful song!
No saint is so good, Ireland's country adorning:
Then hail to St. Patrick, today, in the morning!

(Traditional Song)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Third Eye

Many teachers will tell you to believe; then they put out your eyes of reason and instruct you to follow only their logic. But I want you to keep your eyes of reason open; in addition, I will open in you another eye, the eye of wisdom.--Sri Yukteswar

Yesterday while having lunch at work we ended up with a conversation about ghosts and spirits.  We were seated in the lunch room when suddenly,  the door opened, but no one was there.  I playfully said, "Oh, it's only our friendly ghost."  We then spent some time discussing the little bit of history I did manage to find about the building, which, by the way has intrigued me from the day I first walked in. I do know that the building was a social security office, a bank, and a boy's home in the early 1900's.  Further than that I have been unable to go, but I do know that something happened here, and ironically, even though others somehow sense the building has a ghost, I am the only one who has experienced her first-hand.    

To begin with, I am always the first one at work.  That might very well be the reason these occurrences keep happening to me.  For example, one morning I was at my desk and heard footsteps heading to a co-worker's office.  'Good morning, Denice', I called out.  No response.  Somebody is in a mood today, I thought to myself.  You can my shock when I went to the ladies' room and saw that she had not come in yet; in fact, I was totally alone on the floor.   Another time, I was walking by her office on a day she was out and heard a quite a bit of knocking and banging about in her office.  I went to my supervisor who has the key, and when she opened the door, nothing was there.  Probably just a mouse, she said, but I knew a mouse could not make all that noise. And these are just two of the many experiences I have had.  

I enjoy these discussions of the supernatural, and by now, I am all into it. Now I start talking about home, and the whiff of perfume I sometimes get when I am in bed...and the radios blasting in the middle of the night, never the same one two nights in a row, or my cat stopping whatever she is doing to stare into the bedroom.  In fact, I have been able to see and sense things since the time I was a child. My co-worker, a super religious woman from the Philippines looked at me and said, I think you have the Third Eye. To be honest, I had never thought of myself as particularly psychic, let alone with an active Third Eye
 
Many native traditions and mystical practices refer to the ability of seeing or being aware of energy fields at higher levels. This abstract awareness is much more subjective and does not involve the normal level of mundane consciousness, which is mostly concerned with self identity. This seeing refers to the sight of the Third Eye.  Historically,  the Third Eye was mystical in nature. The Third Eye has long been related to psychic reader ability.  Now, I am an astrologer, but have never dealt with psychic readings, but then I was asked, How do you interpret a chart?.


Interpreting a chart is not just a matter of delineating every planet in every sign in every aspect.  Anyone can resort to this cookbook style of doing a reading, but does one really get a sense of who the person is? I prefer using one of my spiritual faculties...intuition.  By relying on intuition, I find I can receive deeper insights into the individual.  Usually, after setting up the chart, I will concentrate on the chart until something stands out, and then I will take it from there.

Have you ever felt like a situation is the same one you have been through before? Do you think of a person, the phone rings two seconds later, and he is on the line? Did you have a gut feeling to pass on a great opportunity only to find that it wasn't so great and would have cost you dearly? You might have considered these things coincidences or you might have said you were lucky but in reality, they may have certainly been a great psychic insight you did not know you had. A third eye opening!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Ides of March

Soothsayer:  Beware the ides of March.

Most of us grew up with superstitions.  My parents were not superstitious at all so most of the superstitions I learned and believed in were those I learned from my peers in school; hence, many were embellished to be far more powerful and frightening than had my parents passed them down to me.   You know how children are.  When they find a believer, they make the best of it. A few of my childhood favorites are seven years of bad luck for breaking a mirror, bad luck for walking under a ladder, opening an umbrella indoors and having a black cat cross my path will also produce bad luck. In  fact, superstitions are part of our heritage, transporting us to a distant past that links with the roots of our culture. 

The ancient lore of our forefathers are still very much alive, many having remained unchanged for hundreds, perhaps even thousands of years.  But, there was one superstition that really frightened me, "Beware the Ides of March."   My fear of that day was so great that I even found reason not to go to school.  Of course, today I know better, but there are many people in the world today who believe this is a bad luck day.  The problem was, I didn't know where the superstition had come from.  Our teachers would mention the Ides of March, but never really got into its origin, and because it was in such a different time, we had no computers to go to to research those topics we did not fully understand.  

The word ‘Ides’ comes from the Latin word meaning divide. The date was meant to fall in the middle of the month, at the rise of the Full Moon.
The Ides of March was just another day in the Roman calender.  Dates were given each month that were sacred to the God, Jupiter, and these days were usually the fifteenth or thirteenth of every month. In March the Ides was on the fifteenth, and it was a day of celebration that bloomed
from Pagan worship. It was the day of the Full moon, and it was widely celebrated throughout the Roman world. The day that was plucked out in order to celebrate the festive event was March 15.  It was also celebrated in May, July, and October, and when the Full Moon landed on the other months, followers could raise their stalks of wheat when day 13 arrived. The patron god for the event was said to have been the famous war god,  Mars, and his followers often held great parades that had a military theme.

What many people remember when they hear the Ides of March, is the assassination of Julius Caesar.  It is this event that gave the term a bad name.  According to the legend, a soothsayer warned Caesar that he was going to be in grave danger until the Ides of March passed. Ironically, that was, in fact, correct. In three days Caesar was planning to leave Rome on a mission to avenge the death of the Roman general, Crassus at the hands of the Parthians. The journey would have taken him out of the reach of the senators who were plotting against him, and he probably would have returned a much more powerful man. So, the senators decided that if they were going to strike, it had to be soon. 

Caesar had spent the evening before with Lepidus, and, as the men enjoyed dinner and drinks,  the conversation somehow turned to the best way to die with Caesar admonishing that it should be swift and unexpected.  That night, his wife, Calpurnia, had a dream.  She saw his body bleeding from numerous wounds. On the morning of his death,  she pleaded with him to stay home.

When he reached the senate there was little hope for Caesar. He took his seat and was approached by a group under the guise of presenting a petition, but instead of law-making,  the senators attacked. They ripped Caesar's purple toga from his neck and attempted a quick kill. It failed and what ensued was a rampage without mercy for Caesar did not go quietly.  When at last he gave into death, they continued their assault sometimes cutting each other in the process.

The senators had no popular support for their deed. Caesar had been immensely popular with the public. Much to their distaste he was allowing foreign blood into the senate and was as close to a king as Rome had seen.  Eventually, though,  their act caught up with them, and 300 senators were to be killed in the following months

It is their deed that earned the 15th of March its reputation. The Ides of March would never again merely be the days of a Full Moon.  Please feel free to share any of your own superstitions or ones you’ve observed in friends and family. Do you avoid picking up a coin on the ground if it’s tails up? Have you ever thrown salt over your shoulder? Does dropping a spoon on the floor hold any special significance for you? We’re a curious breed, we humans.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Red Hat Society

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me,
And I shall spend my pension
on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals,
and say we've no money for butter.


 This weekend, I spent much time going within.  The death of my client, and the word I received before I left work on Friday that another client had been passed away, left me in a state of disbelief that two could be lost within a week, but also feeling the crunch of my own mortality. I am a child of the 1960s, and in a few days I will be 64.   We used to believe that one could never trust anyone over thirty for they were considered the establishment.  Well, look at me now.  I am more than twice that age.  When did it happen?  I remember how it was when I was in the prime of my youth that I never thought about getting old.  The world was my oyster, and I had so much living to do.  Growing old only happens to others; it will never happen to me....

....but what does it really mean to grow old?  What is the criteria we use to measure that someone has really grown old? Because the truth is, I have known people in their twenties and thirties who acted as if they were already in their seventies or eighties, and I have  known people in their eighties and nineties who acted as if they were still in their twenties.  So, what is it that makes a person old?  I believe we do it to ourselves.


I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired,
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells,
And run my stick along the public railings,
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people's gardens,
And learn to spit.

When I think of oldness,  I am reminded of my grandparents.  To me,  they seemed old, but I also have to remember that theirs was a different time, a time when one grew old and retired...or was it that I was so young, that I remember them as old?   Today we work right up to our 70's,  and 80 year old men and women graduate from college.  Although one may show signs of aging, one does not have to grow old.  I truly believe that age is a state of mind.  You may never be able to stop your body from aging or the birthdays from rolling around, but, the fact is,  growing old is as much in your mind as it is in your body.
  
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat,
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go,
Or only bread and pickle for a week,
And hoard pens and pencils and beer mats
and things in boxes.


And you know what I learned about myself this weekend?  I don't think of myself as old.  My body may try to make me believe that I am--my hips are wide, my knees are round and ache with every step I take--but my mind still has much to learn. I look in the mirror and see the wrinkles in my face, and but I know that the trade-off is wisdom.  And, you are only as old as you feel.  So, I got myself dressed and went for a good long walk, something I always used to do, but always find an excuse not to do it anymore....my back hurts, I'm too tired, I don't feel like getting dressed.  We do these things to ourselves and then wonder, "Why do I feel so old?"


But now we must have clothes that keep us dry,
And pay our rent and not swear in the street,
And set a good example for the children.
We will have friends to dinner and read the papers.

I choose to grow older, but not yet to grow old, regardless of what the calendar years say.  Yes, it's true, I will be turning 64, but I still feel young enough to choose the good, and reject the bad. I choose to grow old, but in my own time and my own way, and to do so as gracefully and gently as I can.  Oh, and by the way, I absolutely love wearing purple.



But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me
are not too shocked and surprised,
When suddenly I am old
and start to wear purple!


--Jenny Joseph--

Friday, March 11, 2011

Go Forward With Courage


When you are in doubt, be still, and wait;
when doubt no longer exists for you, then go forward with courage.
So long as mists envelop you, be still;
be still until the sunlight pours through and dispels the mists
-- as it surely will.
Then act with courage.

Ponca Chief White Eagle (1800's to 1914)

Dear friends, I thank you for kind words yesterday.  They really mean a lot to me.  As another week comes to a close, I feel a need to take some time this weekend to re-examine my life and values for once again I have been brought face to face with the fragility of my existence.   It's been a bittersweet week, and I'm really tired, physically and emotionally drained. 

On the upside,  I got word that two of my clients who I referred to do an internship program have done so well that both are going to be hired by the company.  This is a whole new life for them, both of whom have been incarcerated for most of their adult lives.  It is this that makes the job worth it.  And then, on the bitter side, there was the senseless loss of my other client.


And then there is the devastating news coming out of Japan and the possible destruction of the western coastline and Hawaii.  May we pray for the safety of those in Japan and for those who are facing the coming Tsunami.

In a few moments it will be time for me to go in to run the Community meeting; usually, I try to make it fun and light-hearted.  After all, we've had a hard week at work and with the weekend upon us, I like to see them go out on a happy note, but today it will be different.  Today I HAVE to let them share their feelings; they HAVE to let go of their pain  or it will fester away in them.  Today will, indeed be a day of healing, a day for client and counselor to come together as one.  

May you all have a wonderful and blessed weekend. 

Before closing, I'd like to share the reading I have chosen for today's meeting:  

If love is reserved for things that never die, love is doomed to die.  If flowers fade in a minute or two, will not stones wear to sand in time?  Even this earth, this garden of life, one day will be like the dust of stars.  We must walk gratefully, carefully on it now.  Now is the lifetime that passes here, now is the best of all days; now is the flower's eternity in the sun, our chance of a lifetime.

This is all we have, this moment.  Within it, anything can be done, any dream fulfilled, if we only use it well.  Why hold back?  There is nothing to stop us.

What can I do to use this moment well?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I Lost a Client Yesterday

Some people are so afraid to die
that they never begin to live.


--Henry Van Dyke--


 I lost a client yesterday.  He was happy-go-lucky 41 year old man who persevered and survived traumas so devastating that just listening to him share brought tears to your eyes.  He was a victim of childhood emotional and sexual abuse; in fact, the physical abuse was so bad that he suffered from traumatic brain injury, a result of having his head being banged against the wall and being beaten in the head with a pipe when he was growing up.  For awhile, he lived in a cardboard box.  Yet, through all of this, he always had a smile and a kind word for everyone. He loved people and enjoyed being with them.  He always carried a book bag full of candy which he gave out to everyone.  He never let life get him down.

I sat with him for what was to be our last session on Monday, and by Tuesday night he was gone.   From my understanding, he and a friend decided to go to Coney Island and swim in the icy waters just as the members of the Polar Bear club do.  The friend got sick, and said he he had changed his mind, that he wanted to go home, but my client refused to go.  Instead, he waited for his friend to leave and dived into the ocean, and didn't come out alive.  They found his body yesterday at 7 am, washed up on the shore miles and miles away.  Yesterday, his brother had to go and identify the body.  To me, it was such a silly thing to do, but who knows what another is really thinking.  Such a senseless loss!  

I am having a hard time dealing with this.  Life can just be so unfair.  Here is someone who spent his entire life suffering from the worst abuse imaginable, and just when he begins to turn his life around, he is taken from us.  Fate?  Destiny?  Do I believe?  I believe we were here before, and we will be here again.  And, as a reincarnationist, I also that we chose the circumstances of our lives before we are born.  They say that the day of your death is known by the inner self on the day of your birth,  and it is always you who makes the final decision to exit.  No one has ever died who was not ready to die, just as no one lives who did not choose to be born.  Life is sacred and should never be taken lightly.  But still, I cannot help but question...why????

Everything dies in one way or another. Each moment that passes means the one before has died. We have lived that moment to see the birth of a new time.  Spring replaces winter, summer comes from spring, then summer gives way to autumn, and autumn dies to winter.  Life is a continuous, never ending cycle. We will have life again, whether in heaven, the Summerland, through reincarnation, or even hell. Our lives will begin again.

"You live on earth only for a few short years
which you call an incarnation,
and then you leave your body as an outworn dress
and go for refreshment to your true home in the spirit."

~ White Eagle ~