Friday, April 29, 2011

The May Queen is Waiting


The new earth quickens as you rise.
The May Queen is waiting.
Feel the pulsing ground call you to journey,
To know the depths of your desire.
The May Queen is waiting.
Moving through the night, the bright moon's flight.
In green and silver on the plain.
She waits for you to return again.
Do not keep Her waiting.
Her temper stings if you refuse to taste Her honey.
Surrender as enchantment brings
The first light of dawning.
Move with Her in sacred dance, through fear to feeling.
Bringing ecstasy to those who dare.
Living earth is breathing.
Loving through the night in the bright moonlight,
As seedlings open with the rain.
She'll long for you to return again.
Do not keep Her waiting.

-  Ruth Barren -
 
I have been so looking forward to this weekend. Beltane, May Day, Walpurgis Night. Whatever you call it, it is bound to be a special time. I'd love to spend some time planting my herbs and flowers but it still gets pretty windy here, and since they will be in containers, I'd best wait until the weather dies down. At any rate, I plan on filling my house with some fresh flowers and getting outdoors some even though it is a cooking weekend for me. I plan on taking Monday off as a mental health day so that gives me a long weekend to celebrate and enjoy. Anyone have any special plans?

Wishing you all a safe and happy Beltane.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Happy Arbor Day on April 29 th

He who plants a tree
Plants a hope.
--Lucy Larcom, from 'Plant a Tree' --

(All pictures are of the trees on my block.)
 
Tomorrow is Arbor Day.  It is a uniquely Pagan-like day, especially for those who are close to the earth. The first Arbor Day took place on April 10, 1872 in Nebraska, and by 1894,
.every state in the union was celebrating Arbor Day by planting trees and caring for trees. It was in 1970, though, that President Richard Nixon proclaimed the last Friday as April Arbor Day. There is no better way to celebrate this day than to plant a new tree for just one tree can both beautify and help to cleanse our environment.


In its origin,  Arbor Day was more material than sentimental. The reckless spoilation of the great forests early alarmed those men who saw in it a great and direct loss to national wealth, as well as an even greater menace to climate, and, as a consequence, to agriculture. In the treeless prairie states of Nebraska and Kansas,  the lack of forests was felt, both in the scarcity of necessary timber for building purposes, and in the irregularity of rainfall. Trees were needed to conserve and increase material wealth. States more favored by nature saw in the examples of the prairie states a threat of similar necessity should they fail to keep what they already possessed. For them the observance of Arbor Day was in the nature of insurance against the future.

(This is a very strange tree.  Click on picture for a better look. The leaves are red and there are little red bell shaped flowers hanging downwards. Sorry it is not a better picture.   Does anyone know what it is?)

But the planting and the care of trees soon became popular not for material reasons alone. In pioneer days a forest seemed an obstacle to agricultural development rather than an assistance. Trees were regarded too often as enemies to progress and civilization, useful only as fire wood. Their beauty was not appreciated until, with the development of towns and cities, men ceased to think only of material development and began to care for the appearance of their surroundings. Then it was seen that trees were beautiful and contributed much to the attractiveness of any community. In the light of this awakened perception,  trees were planted as ornaments, and it is to this belief in the beauty of trees that Arbor Day appeals.

 
When April winds are blowing,
And clouds are full of rain, 
When sunbeams flit between the mists,
Comes Arbor Day again!
O, busy are we children—
There is so much to do!
The planting never will be done
Unless we're working, too.

We do our work together;
The sun, the winds, the showers, 
Are helpers that our Father sends,
And all are friends of ours.
So, when the sunbeams brighten,
And April breezes stray;
When raindrops find the daisy's root,
Once more 'tis Arbor Day!

The oaks and the pines, 
and their brethren of the wood,
have seen so many suns rise and set, 
so many seasons come and go,
and so many generations pass into silence,
that we may well wonder what "the story of the trees" would be to us
if they had tongues to tell it, 
or we ears fine enough to understand. 
-- Author Unknown--
quoted in Quotations for Special Occasions by Maud van Buren, 1938

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Moving


I don't think I have mentioned this before, but my office will be moving at the end of May or early June.  Our company has bought a building in the Chelsea area, and they plan to combine several programs there--the detox, a 400 bed shelter, the main office, a cafeteria for the clients, the outpatient mental health program and my program.  Saves them money on rent, to be sure, but I'm not looking forward to it.  Perhaps if I saw some of that saved money in a salary increase, it may not be so bad, but I'm not too keen on being up on the 10th floor with all of the shelters on the lower floors.  Personally, if I'd designed the building, both of the outpatient clinics, those programs where people come in an out all day, would be closer to the ground level than those who will live in the shelters, and the clients in the detox who never go out.  

And,  if that's not bad enough, I've shared an office now for almost five years, and you all know how miserable that has been.  The one thing that excited me about the move was the fact that I would finally have my own office.  Not so.  It seems that in the new building, I will be sharing a cubicle with THREE people, including my current roommate.  See, the dunce who designed the building decided that both of the outpatient programs should be on the same floor.  Hence, not only do we have to share these cubicles, but there is only three meeting rooms to hold an individual session with a client.  Not too bright in my book.  Of course, I am well aware that medicaid only pays $77 for an outpatient visit while the funding sources for the shelter and detox pay far more.  That's where the money is, and money is always what it is about. 

And, I will admit, I love this building and area where I work now; there is an ambiance.  There is a history in this place and one can just feel the presence of those who have been here before.  At one time, it was a bank; at another time, a social security office.  And somewhere in the distant past it was a home for wayward boys.  When I can look out my window. I can see the Lower East Side Tenement Historical Site, and sometimes, when I close my eyes, I can actually visualize the hustle and bustle of the New York City of my ancestors who lived here when it was still New Amsterdam.   In the basement is the strange tunnels which connect one to every other building in the area.  Some say they are a remnant of the Underground Railroad; others say they were built during the time of the speakeasies to enable speedy retreats.... 

...and, of course, I can't forget about the ghost/spirit who welcomes me almost every morning.  I've no idea who she is and why she has chosen to stay, but she has never frightened me.  Right from the start I knew she meant me no harm.  Sometimes I wonder if perhaps she is one of those poor souls who lined up in front of this building on that day, June, 14, 1904, to enjoy a picnic excursion on the General Slocum and never returned. Over 1300 died that day.  Could it be that she returned to the last place she knew before she embarked on her fateful journey?  And yet, I have always thought that this was once a hotel.  Could she once have been a guest? 

At any rate, I am beginning to wonder if this might be the beginning of the end for me at this job.  I've voiced my concerns about the lack of space to meet with clients, and my boss agrees with me, that we will probably lose quite a few with the move and will no longer get referrals from the Lower East Side. He has joked around that there will be plenty of floors to meet with clients, but I just cannot picture myself running from floor to floor, client in tow, looking for a vacant room.  I will just have to wait and see.  

Thanks for listening to me today.  Just had to get this out.  As time gets closer, I get more and more anxious about what is to come.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Taurus

I mark, stem Taurus, through the twilight grey,
The glinting of thy horn,
And sullen front, uprising large and dim,
Bent to the starry Hunter's sword at bay. 



 Taurus is the second astrological sign of the Zodiac, and as the first constellation of the equinox, Taurus denotes the primordial energy sacred to the deities of rain and fertility.  Taurus is a fixed Earth sign; it is a negative 'feminine' sign which is ruled by the planet, Venus.  Taurus falls during the year's mating season, and the ancients saw the bull as a highly erotic and sensual creature, one of great fertility.  Thus, Taurus is also associated with the Greco-Roman goddess Aphrodite and sometimes also the goddesses Hera, Juno, Ishtar, Isis, Freyja, and Frigg and the gods Pan, Dionysus, Bacchus, Xolotl, and Quetzalcoatl. The astrological glyph for Taurus represents the head and horns of the bull, while other mythologists have also pointed out that the horns of the bull resemble of the crescent moon.  

Ruling Planet:  Venus
Primary Colors:  Blue, Violet
Birthstone:  Diamond
Animal:  Rabbit
Bird:  Robin, Magpie


Astrology originated in ancient Babylon some 4,000 years ago, and Taurus the Bull was one of their sky signs. In fact, it is very possible that the constellation Taurus was one of the first to be invented. In ancient Akkadia it was known as the Bull of Light, and before the time of Abraham, or over four thousand years ago, the sign of the Bull marked the Vernal Equinox. On the walls of a tomb excavated at Thebes, Taurus is shown as the first of the Zodiacal signs, and the representations of the Mithraic Bull on gems of four or five centuries before Christ prove that Taurus was, at that time, quite prominent in the astronomy and religion of Persia and Babylon.

In Mesopotamia, Taurus symbolized Marduk, the Spring sun, and in Persia, it symbolized Mithra, the primordial bull who ascended to the sky after his battle with the spirit of evil and darkness. The Egyptians regarded Taurus as the emblem of a perpetual return to life. They identified it with Osiris, the Bull god, the god of the Nile, and worshipped it under this figure by the name Apis. Reference to the astrological books of the Jews shows that they, too, considered Taurus the leader of the zodiacal signs.

In fact in all the ancient zodiacs that have come down to us Taurus apparently began the year, and it seems to have been regarded as a Bull in all of the ancient Mediterranean countries, and also in countries far distant from Europe, and from the scenes of Hellenic mythology. For example, in  Greek mythology, Taurus is often associated with the Bull that carried Europa over the seas to that country which derived from Her its name. She was so beautiful that Zeus fell in love with her. He assumed the form of a snow white Bull and mingled with the herds. Europa, charmed with the sight of such a beautiful creature, climbed upon his back, and the god took advantage of the situation, carrying the nymph across the seas to Crete.



Or sweet Europa's mantle blew unclasp'd,
From off her shoulder backward borne;
From one hand droop'd a crocus; one hand grasp'd
The mild Bull's golden horn.


--Tennyson, Palace of Art--

The Bull was an important object of worship with the Druids, and their great Tauric festival was held when the sun entered this constellation, a survival of which has come down to us in the festival of May Day. To the Egyptians and in Egyptian astronomy, the constellation Taurus was a sacred bull associated with the renewal of life in spring.


The energy of Taurus is steady and determined. Taureans tend to be slow, methodical, practical and reserved. They are also stolid, tenacious and determined. Possessing tremendous willpower and self-discipline, they are inclined to stick to traditional methods...hence, the term bull-headed.
 

The brightest of Taurus' stars can be seen as the orange giant sun Aldebaran, a somewhat strange looking star that forms the eye of the bull, and is somewhat close to our Solar System at a distance of 67 light some odd years .   Its ancient name, from Arabic, means the follower, as the star seems to follow the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters star cluster, across the sky.

Also very prominent in this constellation is, a blue star that forms the tip of Taurus's northern most horn. 


Taurus Positive Traits
Reliable with lots of patience
Extremely kind and loving
Strong determination
Very security minded 


Taurus Negative Traits
Prone to jealousy
Can be Resentful and Rigid
Greed and self indulgence issues

Monday, April 25, 2011

Respecting Each Other's Paths...A Rant

Tolerance is understanding.  It is open to new light.
Those who are tolerant are always eager to explore viewpoints other than their own.--Wilferd A. Peterson

The other day I posted a harmless little piece about how Easter was for me when I was a little girl; it wasn't meant to materialistic in any way.  In essence, it was about the long-time tradition of Easter outfits and had nothing at all to do with religion. It was about a time, long, long ago, an innocent little memory that I chose to share, a simple remembrance of my childhood.  Yet, someone chose to twist what I had written and decided that they should pray for me because my priorities aren't straight.  In other words, he/she was instructing me that church is not for socialization and looking at others pretty clothes, and basically, I should be ashamed.  This post had nothing to do with church and religion; indeed, it was more about the changes that occur over time....

...but this just goes to show you how far intolerance will go.  Before I begin, I'd like to clarify something.  I do not talk religion on my blog or elsewhere. I have no need to because I respect everyone else's viewpoints.  Several years ago, when  I chose to become an ordained minister, my choice was Interfaith because I believe that there is good in all.  I believe in tolerance.  And, during my studies of other religions, as well as Paganism, I found that the core values or the essential teachings of all these religions are remarkably similar.  The single most common theme amongst all the great religions of the world is tolerance and love for others.  

We live in an age where we are supposed to be tolerant, not only of other faiths, but of others in general; yet, when you look around all you see is a lot of fighting and protesting. Where is the tolerance?  Sadly, more often than not, others feel it necessary to impose their faith onto others by trying to make others that do not share their views feel less worthy just that person tried to do to me.  They tell others  that they have to conform to their beliefs, principles and ideas...to accept that you are a sinner and need to ask forgiveness. 

As I see it, the problem is that everyone seems to expect everyone else to be tolerant of their values and beliefs, yet they don't think they have to be tolerant back. Maybe this is because they truly believe they are right, and it's a hard for them to accept anything that goes against their  belief.  But just imagine how beautiful religion could be if  Christians, Pagans, Muslims, Jews, or any one of a plethora of religious groups can join together to take care of families in need, to organize food drives.

In my opinion, respect means allowing another person the right to be who they are and believe what they want to believe without interfering or condemning. And that goes for blogging as well. These are our little havens, our space where we feel safe to post about whatever we may.  We welcome comments, but we don't welcome someone who is overly critical and mean.  I follow many blogs and love to comment, but sometimes it happens that I disagree in some way with what they said on their blog;  in this case, I will pass on commenting rather than say something disagreeable on their blog.  And furthermore, if I happen upon a total strangers' blog and find that there are differences in their beliefs and mine, I'll just move on rather than taking the time to render a nasty comment. I don't even know the person, so who am I to criticize.  

So, hon, please don't waste your time praying for me.  I'm already further along spiritually than you are.  I am at peace with myself for I know and practice tolerance for all...and that, my friend, is what spirituality and religion is all about.  If anything, I should be praying for you, that one day you will find the same peace that I have and not be so closed-minded that you have to come to someone else's blog and try to dictate how they should live.   Remember....

A closed mind is a dying mind.

-Edna Ferber-
(Forgive the rant, please.  Intolerance is something that really gets under my skin.  And it especially irritates me when someone feels they have the right to come into my space with their catty remarks.  I respect others and I expect the same in return.)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day

If urban sprawl spread so far that most people lose all touch with nature?
Will the day come when the only bird a typical American child ever sees
is a canary in a pet shop window?
When the only wild animal he knows is a rat -
glimpsed on a night drive through some city slum?
When the only tree he touches
is the cleverly fabricated plastic evergreen
that shades his gifts on Christmas morning?
-- Frank N. Ikard--
North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference, Houston, March 1968 ~

Just as Her symbols have disappeared, so has any record of Gaia's feast days. Thus we can honor Her on any day we choose. And what would be more appropriate than Earth Day Today is Earth Day. Dedicated to the Earth Mother Gaia, this day marks the time we remember our responsibility toward the environment.  Of course, this is something that we should remember every day, but this day serves as a reminder to those who tend to forget. On Earth Day, people all over the world celebrate our planet and bring attention to the need to care about our environment.   

The following hymn to Gaia was written over 2500 years ago:

Gaia, mother of all,
I shall sing,
the strong foundation, the oldest one.
She feeds everything in the world.

Whoever walks upon her sacred ground
or moves through the sea,
or flies in the air, it is she
who nourishes you from her treasure-store.

Queen of Earth, through you
beautiful children,
beautiful harvests,
come.

It is you who give life to mortals
and who take life away.
Blessed is the one you honour with a willing heart.
He who has this has everything.

His fields thicken with life-giving corn,
his cattle grow heavy in the pastures,
his house brims over with good things.
The men are masters of their city,

the laws are just,
the women are fair,
great riches and fortune follow them.
Their sons delight in the ecstasy of youth,

their daughters play
in dances garlanded with flowers,
they skip happily on the grass
over soft flowers.

It was you who honoured them,

sacred goddess, generous spirit.
Farewell, mother of the gods,
bride of starry Heaven.

For my song, allow me a life
my heart loves.
And now I shall remember you
and another song too.


The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970 to draw attention to the need to care for our planet.  Littering and pollution were becoming a problem in the United States and other places around the world.  People clear land to make room for farms, roads, and homes, and the animals who have homes on this land have become endangered.   In fact, many plant and animal species have or are in danger of becoming extinct due to this clearing of large areas of land. People were being wasteful and very few people recycled.  And, with so many people using so many materials, the number of garbage dumps and landfills has become huge.  On Earth Day, people celebrate our planet and bring awareness to the said state of Gaia.  

"First in my prayer, before all other deities,
I call upon Gaia, Primeval Prophetess . . .
The Greek great earth mother."
-Aeschylus-

But, the message of Earth Day is too important for only one day.  As her chilldren, we must help Mother Gaia all of the time.  Every day is Earth Day. 

It is imperative to maintain portions of the wilderness untouched
so that a tree will rot where it falls,
a waterfall will pour its curve without generating electricity,
a trumpeter swan may float on uncontaminated water
- and moderns may at least see
what their ancestors knew in their nerves and blood.
-- Bernand De Voto, Fortune, June 1947 --

Thursday, April 21, 2011

In Your Easter Bonnet


Before I  moved to the home I reside in now, I lived in a predominantly Christian neighborhood.  People there went to church every Sunday. One Easter Sunday I was heading out to the store just as many of my neighbors were heading out to the church service , and I was quite shocked to see a group of young girls heading off to church wearing jeans...and then I saw a few more. Later I saw a family; dad in a shirt and pants, mom in slacks, and the two little girls dressed in everyday play clothes. It wasn't cold out that day; in fact, it was one of the warmer Easters on record.  Besides, when I was a little girl, it didn't matter what the weather; I was dressed for Easter Sunday. 

It is remarkable how times have changed. When I was coming up, Easter always called for buying new clothes, and on Easter Sunday,  my friends and I would all be outdoors showing off our Easter outfits. For me, it was one of the highlights of my year.  I always felt so special.  Mom made sure she always decked me out in a new dress, new patent leather shoes, gloves, a little purse, and the best part, of course, was the Easter bonnet.  Of course, even if it snowed, everything  had to be in some springlike pastel shade like lilac, sky blue, pink. 

And before church, I always had my picture taken in the front yard, always the same pose, the same smile, and oh how I smiled, the same spot  in the yard...by the hedges, facing towards the back yard.  You don't know how much I looked forward to that picture!  I always felt so special, so proud, so pretty, standing their all decked out. I guess that was because it was one of the few times I really got some much-needed attention from my mom.  After the photo shoot, it was off to church for mass and then off to grandma's house for dinner and, of course, another chance to show off. 

In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,
You'll be the grandest lady in the Easter Parade.
I'll be all in clover and when they look you over,
I'll be the proudest fellow in the Easter Parade.
On the avenue, Fifth Avenue, 
the photographers will snap us,
And you'll find that you're in the rotogravure.
Oh, I could write a sonnet about your Easter bonnet,
And of the girl I'm taking to the Easter Parade

Words and music by Irving Berlin

There are several reasons for the custom of dressing up on this day.  To begin with, Jewish men and women always wore their best clothing to the feast of Passover, and since the early Jewish/Christians often combined Passover with Easter, many of them took to wearing their finest clothing to their church services.   

Another element in dressing up for Easter comes to us from Pagan traditions. Our ancestors always welcomed Spring with huge celebrations, bonfires, feasting, and joyous singing in dancing. In their minds, they were blessed to have just survived another tough winter, and this was a time to be thankful for the passing of the dark, cold days and the days of brightness and sunshine that had returned. The new clothes that they wore at these celebrations was one of their ways of welcoming hope and the new life that arrived with the warmer days. The Easter bonnet got its start as a wreath of flowers and leaves, the circle being an expression of the roundness of the sun and its travel through the heavens which brought it back for the return of Spring.

In later times, when the people from these old cultures became Christians, the missionaries offered up a brand new reason to dress up for Easter.    Putting on one's finest attire was a way to acknowledge their new life that came from being reborn in Christ.  Thus, the wearing new clothes for Easter became a way to display one's belief in the new faith.  


At any rate, to me, Spring, Easter, and dressing up signifies the beginnings of all things new, a time of renewal and regeneration of the Earth.   The tradition of the new Easter outfit symbolizes the putting away of winter and the bringing new freshness and vitality into your life.  I may not attend church services anymore, and I may not even get dressed up anymore, but Easter, to me, will always be a special time, and in my memories, I will always be that little smiling girl proudly posing in the front yard.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Little Bit of 'This and That'

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-


Courage is doing that which we fear. We are courageous when we stand anyway or when we turn the ordinary into extraordinary. We will all face fear and need to do things we don't want to do in our life, to let go of the old so we can bring in the new. We need to have the courage to either walk away or face it head on.  Courage is a choice.  Not all of my decisions have been good ones; I've made plenty of mistakes.  But, I will never have to regret not having the courage to try. 

The title of today's post was actually the title of the first blog I attempted; it has long since been deleted.  The blog was exactly as the title says, a little bit of this and that.  Each posting included quotes,
Lore of the Day,
flower or plant of the day, etc.  Sometimes even a recipe and household tips.  It was totally too much work so it was banished in favor of Moontides.
 
I wanted to share a few photos with you.  I'm still practicing here with my camera so bear with me.  Yesterday I had planned to walk you with me on my way to work, but, alas, because of Passover, the Jewish people had already set out their garbage, and lots of it, because this is their time of Spring cleaning.  One day I'll snap some photos, but it looked so darned ugly out there.  I did manage to get a picture of the first stairway I have to climb to go to work each day.  You've all heard me complaining about how difficult it has become; now you will see why. 

Now, when you reach the top there is a short walk through the turnstile and another set of stairs.  They've gotten funny here with people taking pictures of subway stations since all the terrorist threats, so I didn't want to take a chance.  I know people still take pictures, but with my luck, I'd get caught just as I clicked the picture, and an undercover officer would confiscate the camera I've waited so long for.


This is our fish tank at work.  The orange spots are the fishies.  Don't know why they look like this.  Guess because they are always on the move.  That ugly thing in the center is the pump.  


These are the little guys who put on the show during the training the other day.  They are just too funny to watch.  


And this third little guy facing away from the rock is the one who kept falling back into the water the other day.  As you can see, he's quite independent, usually swimming about or sitting on the rock by himself.

Tuesday, April 19, 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 --

Am I disappointed in the things I didn't do?  I'll admit, yes, sometimes I do sit back and wonder about the things I didn't do and what might have been. Things left unsaid.  Things left undone.  My first love.  What if?  Would we have been happy?  Or, what if I hadn't dropped out of school?  What if I had completed and then gone on to college?  But, I wouldn't have.  Girls from my small town just didn't go on to further their education.  The only further education they got was learning how to take care of the children and their man.  I wasn't ready for that back then.  

So, I threw off the bowlines and sailed away from the safe harbor finding myself lost in the biggest metropolis in the world.  Did I think about giving up and going back home?  You bet I did, especially in those early days when I had no money for food and lived on Ragu sandwiches.  Did I regret my decision?  In those early days, regret, yes; give up, no.  The way I see it now is, all of the early suffering, all of the trauma and turmoil I went through, I wouldn't be the person I am today.  


So, here it is, almost 40 years later, and when I look back, I do not wonder how things could have been different.  I can honestly say I am not disappointed by the things I didn't do because I know that I did what I had to do in order to grow.  I know, today, that had I chosen to follow my classmates, I would have lived a life of what if's.  Each path I took led me to another, bringing me to where I am today.  To change the past, would be to change the me that I have become.  I think, if I had to pin one thing down that I am disappointed in, it is the things that were left unsaid.  

Twenty years from now, will you be disappointed in the things you didn't do?



Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday Musings


Didn't get my hair cut this weekend. We had some dreadful weather, and if I am going to pay to have my hair cut, then I'd like the style to at least last until I get home. That's how windy and rainy it was here, and on Saturday it was cold. Thought I even saw a few snowflakes on the way home from the supermarket on Saturday, but I know it wasn't that cold. My imagination was working overtime.

Did all my cooking on Saturday. Sunday I took it easy. I am finding that Sunday is the hardest day for me to stick with this diet. I eat the same amount during the day, but I feel a hunger that I don't feel on the other days. Perhaps it is because I am not as busy and have more time to think about food. 

Started reading Spirit of the Ancestors by Susan Schuster Campbell. It's all about connecting with your ancestors. In the book, she discusses and shares ways to communicate with and honor  your ancestors.  Many cultures have  a tradition of remembering the deceased with a physical gesture such as offering food or drink. One old African custom she talks about is the Ancestor Party. Accordingly, it can be an elaborate meal with many guests or a simple meal taken alone...and it doesn't matter whether it is breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It's not the meal itself that counts, but your sincere intent to honor your ancestors. The celebration need not be perfect; your effort will be appreciated because it is yours.
 

Even though your ancestors from generations in the past are not present in your life today, each of your successes validates them. Each of your ancestors whom you have never known played an important role in the person that you are today. So, as you prepare, think about your ancestors, the music of their ethnicity, the foods that represent their heritage. If they were physically coming to your party, what tablecloth and dishware would you choose? Remember, it is not necessary for you to have known them in life. Families have a deep connection. And you will find that, as you plan, images, foods, music, and scents may come to mind. Add some fragrant candles and family photographs. 

Depending on your preferences, you might put a symbolic place setting at the table or simply raise a glass to offer a toast on their behalf.  One idea is to put small tastes of each food on the plate and afterwards put the plate in the garden for the birds and other animals.  It is believed that the ancestors may send unexpected guests to your door when an ancestor party is underway.  On this day, none should be turned away.  

Before moving on, I'd like to share with you a wonderful website I happened upon.  Here you will find a virtual shrine where you can light a virtual candle or make a prayer to your ancestors. 

For the Ancestors 


In keeping with thoughts of dinner parties, recently I was tagged by 
to participate in a Dinner Challenge.  I am to  choose 6 people, living or dead, that I'd like to invite over for dinner. They can be friends and/or family, famous or infamous people. All that is needed is what the individuals might add to the group.  

When I think of my ancestors, it is really hard for me to make a choose one over the other, but if I had to choose one, I guess it would be my great grandmother, Constance Mary Hazel, because having never had the opportunity to meet her, I would welcome the opportunity to sit at the table with this strong woman who, by raising my dad, ensured that I would be born. 

Liz Greene,  my ultra-favorite astrologer, who I would love to do a reading for me, and hopefully I would be able to pry one out of her at the dinner party. 

Dion Fortune, a woman ahead of her time who was never afraid to discuss her beliefs, who inspired others to follow in her footsteps.   I'd like to thank her for her courage.

William Butler Yeats, my ultra favorite poet.  Perhaps he would honor us with some beautiful words.

Joseph Campbell, a very special writer and author who opened my eyes to mythology.  Hopefully, he will tell us some wonderful tales.

And finally, my Mother, so that I might have the opportunity to tell her I love and forgive her and miss her every day of my life. 

Now, I am supposed to nominate others to join me at dinner, but here is where I veer off.  I'd be honored to share dinner with each and every one of you, so all of you are invited. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Pink Full Moon in Libra

Tonight brings us the first Full Moon of the new spring season in the Northern Hemisphere.  According to the Farmer's Almanac, the April Full Moon is known as the Pink Moon, supposedly because of the herb moss which looks to be a dusty pink under the Full Moon light.   Other names for this month’s full Moon  include the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg, Grass, or Easter Moon. In the southern hemisphere, this is the first Full Moon of Autumn. For those living in the southern hemisphere, this is the Hunter’s Moon.

The Druids called the Spring Moon of April, the Seed Moon because this Moon signalled the time for planting.  And, for the Druids, this was also the first Moon of the New Year as their year ended with the dead of the winter and began with the planting season, the time when the world once again came alive with warmth and greenery.   

Each Full Moon is an opposition of the Sun (our conscious self) and Moon (our emotions and subconscious desires), and each are about some kind of awareness within our relationships.  Libra is an Air sign ruled by Venus.  When the Moon is full in Libra (balance), it opposes the Aries Sun (independence).  Under Libra, we have a desire to connect with others while Aries values independence so this Full Moon requires that we find a balance between the 'self'  from the powerful Aries influence this month and Libra's  need for peace and harmony and connection.  Hence, this Full Moon puts a focus on our relationship with others and balancing 'my' needs which may be conflicting with 'your' needs.  The two must be balanced if healthy relationships are to occur.

During this Full Moon you might wish to take some time to examine where your own relationship is out of balance.  Ask yourself in what areas you  are you letting your own needs come before the needs of your loved ones, and in what areas do you find yourself giving too much while neglecting your own needs? 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Pueblo Blessing



Hold on to what is good, even if it is a handful of dirt.
Hold on to what you believe, even if it is a tree that stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do, even if it is a long way from here.
Hold on to life, even if it is easier to let go.
Hold on to my hand, even if I have gone away from you.

--Pueblo Blessing--

Wow, another week gone.  I just cannot seem to catch up anymore.  This is my cooking weekend, so tomorrow morning I'll be up and out early, then slaving over the stove all afternoon.  But, it's always such a good feeling when I am done and know I don't have to cook for another two weeks.  You would never know that I used to cook for catering.  I am a great cook, and there was a time that I loved cooking...even made my own noodles, but somewhere I lost that love and now it has become so tedious to me.

Sunday I might go to the beauty parlor to have my hair cut.  Notice I said 'might'.  It's been twenty  years since I stepped into the shop, been trimming my hair myself.  But, I just feel as if this look is getting too aging on me.  Might also change my mind before then.  I'm kind of scared.  There is a reason I stopped going, and that's because no matter where I went I always came out in tears.

I have been totally engrossed in watching the little eaglets grow....the miracle of life and nature.  Mother Nature truly is astonishing, and I feel blessed for the opportunity to see her at her best.

For those who may have missed it the other day, I'm posting the link again.  It's truly a joy to see.


Here's hoping you all have a wonderful weekend.  Hopefully the weather holds up, and we can all get a touch of air.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Good News


Three pounds.  I'm  take some time today gonna toot my own horn, but I am just so proud of myself.  Down to 203 pounds.  A long way to go, but I am not going to complain.  It's really a great start.  I was kind of nervous before I got on the scale.  On the past diets I have been on, if I didn't lose anything, I would become so discouraged that I would just say the heck with it and go on a big splurge, never looking back.  This time is different, though.  This time I am fighting for my health.   

Motivation is the key.  I know what I have to do.  I stopped smoking to feel better, and I really did for awhile...until all the food I substituted for the cigarettes began taking its toll.  Sure, in the first few days or even weeks of my quit, the food helped me not to smoke...and at that point, you do what you must not to smoke.  But, after the first couple weeks, when the cravings abate some, one is supposed to ease up on the food, but I didn't.  I just kept on eating whatever I wanted, and it was not all healthy food either....chips, cake, candy and recently those darned cadbury eggs. Ballooned up from 145 pounds to 206 in about a year and a half.    
But, I don't want to scare anyone out there from stopping smoking, and now I am afraid that I might be.   You don't have to gain all that weight.  I have an addictive personality and tend to get addicted fast.  Food became my new addiction.  Do stop smoking. That is one of the best decision I ever made in my life....after all those years.  I started smoking when I was in high school  because I wanted to fit in...and in those days, it was cool to smoke.  Why, we could even smoke on school property, and were provided with smoke breaks.  No one knew back then how bad it was for you.  I was 14 years old when I started and stopped at age 62.  That is a whole lot of years.
  


I know how it is, and, believe me,  I don't mean for this to turn into a lecture.  That is not what my blog is about.  When I was in the throes of my addiction, no one could tell me anything.  We always think that we are immortal, that it will never happen to us, but then it does, or to someone we love.  When I came home from work that day and found hubby struggling to find enough breath to get a sentence out, I knew that it was time to quit.  Of course, it took me three months longer than him, but eventually I did it, and today I am proud to say I am smokefree for:

One year, nine months, one week, two days, 16 hours, 32 minutes and 36 seconds. 9730 cigarettes not smoked, saving $4,767.86. Life saved: 4 weeks, 5 days, 18 hours, 50 minutes.  (My stats this morning)

So, as I always say, if I can do it, you can.  Think about it.  You'll never regret your decision.







Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Lesson of the Little Turtle

The greater the obstacle,
the more glory in overcoming it.
--Moliere--

Monday we had another of those super boring trainings with that super boring trainer that I have had four times already. And believe me, none of us were smiling like those students in the picture.  I know some of you probably remember me mentioning it last year. It's always the same thing...the same stories, about himself, of course, narcissist that he is, and the same corny jokes. I can relate the entire course word for word. It was one of those afternoons that you sit and watch the clock and count the seconds until it is time to go home. Ironically, though, the greatest lesson of the day came out of a fish tank in the form of a little turtle.
  
About a month ago, we inherited a rather large fish tank at work, but we just could not seem to keep any fish in it. Within a week or two, they would all die. It was getting so frustrating. Then, one of my clients asked if we'd like to fix it up for turtles instead. It seems that he had three turtles that he had raised since they were quite tiny, but he no longer lived with his wife, couldn't have them where he was living, and his son just wasn't taking care of them. Hence it was that Franklin, Paulie, and Rebecca entered the scene and provided me with enough entertainment to make it through the afternoon.

Picture, if you will, a rock ledge large enough for only two at a time.  They love climbing onto this rock and looking around, but according to my client, this is also something they have to do.  They have to get out of the water several times during the day to keep their shells hard.   During the training Rebecca (the smallest) and Paulie (the middle child) were relaxing on the rock, and Franklin (the big guy) wanted to be up there, too. Poor little  wanted it in the worse way, but there is only room for two. So, he would struggle, I mean really struggle to crawl up there and climb onto their backs...and he would no sooner get there and start to look around that one of them would move a little, and Franklin would go flying off into the water. But, did he give up?  No...the little guy kept going back around and trying again...and again...until finally, there he sat, king of the rock. You could almost see the pride in his face.

I was thinking about it when I got home, and I real we could all take a lesson from that little turtle. Never give up no matter how impossible it may seem at times.  There will always be difficulties, problems, and troubles to overcome in life; this is a part of being human, and nature is our best teacher  Giving up is never the solution to the adversities we encounter.  Motivation and determination are the key to never giving up on things you wish to do.  I don't know about you, but things that come easy to me are not appreciated as much as those I had to work for, and by facing and dealing with adversity, I  learn to appreciate life more. 

And since we are on the topic of nature, I wanted to share something with all of you.  Some of you may have seen it already.  A dear, dear friend   
Akasa Wolf Song sent it to me the other day and I am addicted.  I cannot stop watching. It is so totally fascinating.   Keep the browser open all day and on up until I go to bed.  Hope you enjoy the following as much as me.


See every difficulty as a challenge, a stepping stone,
and never be defeated by anything or anyone.

- Eileen Caddy (from 'The Dawn of Change') -

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Do You Believe in Karma

There is a destiny that makes us brothers -
None goes his way alone;
All that which we send into the lives of others,
Comes back onto our own.

~ Edwin Markham ~
Yesterday I overheard a couple of our female clients talking.  It seems that another client had somehow taken advantage of the kindness of the one client, and she was feeling quite depressed.  "Don't worry about it.  Remember, what goes around comes around.  She'll get what's coming to her."  I wondered, do they even know what karma is or do they say it, just to say it?

What goes around comes around is a saying that I have heard since  my earliest memories.  It was one of my mom's favorite sayings. Not that she believed in reincarnation and karma, but she did think that no matter what someone did to you, just knowing that they would get their would make me feel better.  So, as a child, whenever a classmate wronged me, and that was quite often,  I would sit around and wait for the same ill fate to fall upon them, but it never seemed to come around.  I know that makes me sound like a mean, vindictive child, but the truth was, I was the oddball of the class, and my classmates were very mean to me.  Teasing really hurts and its effects can haunt you for the rest of your life, but enough about that.  I have already veered far off the original topic of this post. 

The Bible says,  What ye sow, so shall ye reap!.  For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.  Karma means action or acts of the will.   but a common misperception of karma is that it is a predetermined fate, that one will get what they deserve and there is not a thing they can do about of.  And, while there is a widespread familiarity with the idea of karma, it is all too often only associated with negative consequences, yet new acts of kindness, generosity, and selfless service will also come back to us.  


Karma means action or acts of the will in Sanskrit. The Hindu believe that Karma governs all action, vibration, thoughts, and all dimensions of time and space. For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.  Karma is a chain of causation which stretches way  back into the infinity of our past, and henceforth, is destined to stretch into the infinity of our future.  As humans, we build our own destiny through our thoughts and actions.  When one is positive, the destiny will be positive.  Negative actions bring negative energy.  Compassion begets love.  Love begets love.  In order to be compassionate, we need to love one another because without love we cannot develop compassion. 

Discussing this topic has stirred up some memories, so before closing so I can get my butt in gear, I'd like to share a little history with you.    I think it must have something to do with growing older. The first time I was ever introduced to the concept of karma and reincarnation was in my late teens when I discovered the works of Annie Wood Besant,  activist, mystic, and one of the original theosophists and supporter of Helena Blavatsky.  It was Annie who introduced new terms like etheric body into the theosophical literature, and despite it being somewhat difficult reading, I just could not get enough.  And if I had to pinpoint that very moment that I stepped forth on my chosen path, it would be when I had been introduced to the Theosophical Society and Annie Besant.  Of course, it would be many, many years before I found my true path of Druidism, but it was way back then that I discovered that there was more out there besides traditional religion...and I have never looked back.

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." - Dalai Lama.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Musings

God is the experience of looking at a tree and saying, "Ah!"
-- Joseph Campbell --


 I pass the above tree on my way to food shopping every week.  For some reason I am drawn to it; I just feel a special closeness to her.  It's obvious when you see her up close that she is not one of the newly planted city trees.  Indeed, her  gnarly branches speak to me of a time long, long ago.  Each week I tell myself that I must snap a picture of it, and each time I go shopping I forget to bring my camera.  Yesterday I made a special trip just for this purpose.




I can only hope that this doesn't happen to her.  This was once a magnificent old tree.



Had a nice weekend.  Bought all of my pots, soil, and seeds--basil, oregano, chives, and parsley--and I even bought some marigold and sweet pea to plant.  Didn't get started yet.  My son has to get out there and give the porch a good cleaning, and besides, here in Brooklyn, there is still quite a chill in the air at night.  I want this all to go right.

So, I spent this weekend organizing, tossing out papers, packing heavy winter things that I know I will not need again this year, and getting out and rinsing some spring items.  I am pretty proud of myself all that I managed to accomplish.  And all of it counted towards some heavy duty exercise which I am sure really helped with my diet.


My diet is going great, and I am just so proud of myself.  I'm really determined this time.  I'm far too overweight.  I eat lunch now when I am hungry and am no longer involved in that craziness of "What are we going to eat today?"  I usually eat no later than 1 pm....a healthy soup, a Smart Ones, or a chicken and vegetable dish I had made, portioned, and frozen when I want a change in lunch.  Snacks have included blueberries, strawberries, and grapes, but I discovered that, by the end of the day, I would be doubled up with cramping.  Upon doing some research, it turns up that we who suffer from IBS must add certain fruits slowly into our diet...and these included blueberries and grapes because their skin is hard to digest.  

Just waiting anxiously now for my first week's weigh-in.  Hopefully there will be some movement on the scale.

When you enter a grove peopled with ancient trees,
higher than
the ordinary, and shutting out the sky
with their thickly inter-twined branches,
do not the stately shadows of the wood,
the stillness of the place,
and the awful gloom of this doomed cavern
then strike you with the presence of a deity?
-- Seneca --