Opening theme by Wayne from Maine
Spiral Dance, A Pocket Full of Thyme, Through a Sylvan Doorway
Loreena McKennitt, Lady of Shallott, The Visit
Frenchie and the Punk, Oh Gypsy, At the Carnival Eclectique
Three Weird Sisters, Boys Want Sex in the Morning
OMNIA, Love in the Forest, Wolf Love
Amanda Komisarek, Herbs for Life
Heather Alexander / Alexander James Adams, Sword and Staff, WinterTide
Featherscale, The Ballad of Thomas Meagher, Gypsy Heart
Arthur Hinds, Sing, Poetry of Wonder
PaganFM! Prayer list
Morning Glory, Priscilla, Sara, Heather, Dino, Mallory, Murphy, Nancy, Clarice.
In the news
In London, right now, one of the most ancient Pagan traditions is being re-enacted. 2088 years ago, athletes in Greece began honoring Zeus, believing that feats of physical prowess, making their bodies strong, brought them closer to their God. That tradition continued for many centuries – with the consensus being that they ended in 393 when Christian Emperor Theodosius 1 ended all “Pagan cults and practices”. As the Olympic Games honored Zeus, they certainly weren’t “Christian”.
Over the centuries, there were attempts to revive the games, such as in France in the late 18th century.
Liverpool held an Olympic Festival between 1862 and 1867, but our modern games officially began through the efforts of Evangelos Zappas, a Greek-Romanian philanthropist., in 1856, he offered to fund a revival of the Olympic Games. The the first modern Olympic Games were held in 1859, in an Athens city square. Zappas also funded the restoration of an ancient stadium, to host future Olympic Games.
The 1896 games were the first held under the Olympic Organizing committee, and with a few exceptions, were held every four years (in the beginning, some were held 2 years apart) until the games were cancelled in 1944 with World War II.
The winter games began in 1908, for figure skating and Ice hockey – games which could not be held in the summer.
I think that some of us have “issues” when we see athletes giving honor to their God – think Tim Tebow for one. But when we look back, and think that the whole idea of Olympic competition has, as its origin, the idea of honoring Zeus, a Pagan God, maybe that’s an invalid criticism. We can look at it as a somewhat overt and unabashed religious promotion – but if that’s what our idea of sport competition came from, maybe we are being just a bit hypocritical if we poke fun at people for praying or thanking Jesus or whoever the God might be.
Maybe Pagan athletes, rather than silently (or otherwise) criticizing Christian athletes for their overt worship, might learn a lesson, hark back to the origins of the Olympic Games, and honor our own gods and goddesses. Maybe we don’t need to be as overt as some, but we can make known the history of the Olympics, and when we compete in whatever sport we may engage in, honor our own deities.
All moon void of course data courtesy of www.drstandley.com
Today is Thursday, August 2, 2012. It’s the 215th day of the year. The moon was full yesterday, and is currently in Aquarius
The moon will be void tomorrow, August 3, at 4:39 am, and will enter Pisces at 3:19 pm.
It will be void on Sunday, August 5 at 11:19 am, and will enter Aries at 10:41 pm.
The moon will be void on Tuesday, August 7 at 9:29 pm, and will enter Taurus at 9:29 am on Wednesday, August 8.
The Moon reaches last quarter next Thursday, August 9, at 1:55 pm.
So right now, in the Wiccan / Druidic / Neo-Pagan world, we’re entering the season of Harvest. Lammas or Lughnassadh is our first harvest festival. While Wicca and Neo-Paganism are, by definition and practice, new religions, Lammas-tide and Lughnassadh have been celebrated for many centuries. And while these two holidays come to us from British and Celtic traditions, most aboriginal religions had some sort of harvest celebration and ritual, so the celebrations that we engage in at this time of year, while perhaps different in form, are nearly universal. And even among us Pagans, there are differences – some celebrate on August 1, or August 2 or August 7, or on the first full Moon in Leo. The actual date isn’t really important except for the group celebrating, nor, except for the particular group, the form. What is important is the underlying theme.
Historically, on Lughnassadh, we are celebrating a festival instituted by Lugh himself, in honor of his mother Tailtiu. Depending on the source, Tailtiu could have been the daughter of a king of Spain, or an Earth Goddess, Mag Mor. She was married to Eochaid mac Eirc, who was the first King of Ireland to institute a system of justice.
Tailtiu is famous for leading her people in the clearing of the forest around what today is called County Meath in Ireland, which is some of the best farmland in the nation. Completing that work was such a difficult task, that it damaged Tailtiu’s heart, and on her death-bed, dying of exhaustion, she asked that funeral games be held annually in her honor. Her son Lugh celebrated the first such games on August 1with races and games of martial skill, and this is where these celebrations derive from. To this day, the Irish town of Teltown bears the name of Tailtiu in honor of Lugh’s foster-mother.
There are many tales of Gods and Goddesses who sacrifice themselves to feed their people – from Celu here in the “New World”, to Tailtiu, Ceres and Attis in the Old. In these celebrations we discover that neither life nor death is a permanent state – that both are transformations. Many who look at early European Goddess-worshiping cults see the symbol of the double-bladed axe and presume it to be a weapon of war, but it wasn’t. Rather, this was a tool for preparing a field, but it had a deeper symbolism – it was modeled after the wings of the lowly butterfly – a creature which is capable of transformation and regeneration.
Our ancestors noticed and understood the cycles of plants and animals and the Earth. Everything dies, everything is re-born. The butterfly lays an egg – the egg becomes a caterpillar, the caterpillar traps itself in a cocoon, where it dyes and is reborn as a butterfly, and the cycle continues on.
A nut, an acorn, a seed, is planted in the Earth, and from that Earth arises a plant or a tree. The seed is buried as a seemingly lifeless thing, and from it new life sprouts forth. That could well be one reason that we bury our loved ones when we die – it is symbolic of the hope that we will once again, as the seed, live again.
I’d like to take you on a little journey tonight. (music – voyage of Bran – set to repeat)
Take some time to relax – we’re going to go on a journey that begins at the end of this life.
Right now, imagine that it is the end of your life – you are laying in your bed, you are not afraid, and you know that this night shall be your last. You know that the next Sunrise you see will not be with the eyes that you’ve grown so used to.
While in your bed, look back at the life that you lived. What are the seeds that you have planted? Do you have any children? Grand children? What was the career you pursued in this life? Were you a teacher, a writer, an engineer, a bus driver, a cook, a homemaker? How many people did you touch in your life?
In our lives, time we come into contact with another person, it is like a stone being dropped into a pond – the experience sends ripples throughout society. One kind word makes another person happy, and they will likely offer kind words to others. And one negative comment can ruin someone else’s day. While laying on your bed, waiting for the end of this life, consider the words you shared with others – imagine they are on a scale – the kind words, the words of encouragement, the words of love and joy are on one platter – while the negative words – the hateful words, words of anger and jealousy are on the other platter. Where does that scale balance? What will your words say about you as you travel to that distant place between lives?
What did you reap in this life from the seeds that have already sprouted? What sort of relationships did you have with your children, with your grand-children? Were those times filled with joy?
Do you have any regrets? Is there anything that you feel you left undone? Are there words that are yet unsaid to those whom you love?
Now, in our journey, we will move past the death bed. Now we are at a reception after the funeral. Who is there? In this safe place, we can listen to those speaking about us. What are they saying? Is it a joyful time? Is it a time when people are celebrating a life well-lived? Or is this more morose? Are people here just because they are fulfilling an obligation owed to someone who has passed? As you listen in on the conversations, think again about the seeds you sowed in this life – the people you encouraged, or the people you discouraged – the things you created, or the skills you may have wasted.
Now might be a good time to remember the words of John Greenleaf Whittier who said “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: it might have been”. Are people looking at your life looking at what might have been, or are they looking at all that was?
And now we move forward again – from the funeral reception, into the Summerlands, as you are preparing to return once again to Earth. If you are deciding what lessons, what experiences you might have in this new life, what are they? What is it that you are carrying with you into the next life that are seeds from the previous one? What is it that you might go through again because you did not make sufficient progress the last time around?
Not every seed grows – but every seed does something. Those that do not grow will decompose and fertilize the land around them. Our seeds are more potent than that – they can grow, or they can fertilize, or they can poison. Which of our seeds grew? Which fertilized? Which poisoned? Coming into our new life, what are we going to do with these seeds?
And now we return – we’ve looked into the future, and back from the Summerlands, back into our bed, back through a journey in time, we’re now in our present-day bodies. And with us, we carry the memory of our journey. But it’s not a journey that is fixed. We are still walking our own path, and while we can’t change our past, we can learn from it. We can take our past as seeds, and we can choose what to do with them. We can change direction – we can even change the nature of the seeds we have sowed – we are that powerful.
We might have experienced abusive relationships in our past – these are seeds. So what can we do with such seeds? Well, we could bemoan the life that is behind us. We could be bitter toward those who have harmed us. And we could use these experiences as a reason for our present failings. And we might feel justified in doing so. We might find a therapist to confirm our right to feel the way we do. Or we could move on. We could recognize that the past is past. We can, if we choose, forgive those who have harmed us. Right about now, some might be saying “But look at what they did!” I understand that, and I’m by no means suggesting that we forget – forgiveness is not about forgetting. I’m not suggesting that we no longer hold an individual accountable for what they have done to us – that’s not what forgiveness is about either. Forgiveness means, simply, that we let go of our resentments toward those who may have harmed us – we recognize they are human, and like us, on a journey. Like us, they are probably going to make many mistakes, and we had the misfortune of being on the receiving end of someone else’s failings. We know that all accounts will be settled – theirs as well as ours. And we make a decision to no longer be concerned with their transgressions – unless they try to hurt us again – at which point, we deal with it. We don’t need to have such people in our lives – that’s not forgiveness either. We simply choose not to drink from the cup of resentment anymore – we realize that there are far more nourishing cups from which to satisfy our thirst, and we take refreshment from these instead.
We can look now, with eyes that have gained a different perspective, and look at our relationships, our family, our friends. So many of us wait until we are on our death bed and think of what we might wish to have said in the past. Well, now, we’ve been there, we’ve thought of these words. So what is holding us back from saying them today? If it is something that is so important that we may regret not saying it while on our death bed, is there any reason to avoid saying these things while we are yet alive, while those who need to hear them are still with us?
Words unsaid, deeds undone, challenges unmet, obstacles unconquered – these are the un-planted seeds of our lives. All we need do is take the seeds from the drawer and plant them in fertile Earth. We should look carefully at the seeds – there may be some words better left unsaid, some deeds better left undone, some challenges not worth meeting, some obstacles better avoided – but we should at least consider whether they are seeds to be planted, or, perhaps left as compost to fertilize our imagination. But they should be dealt with before we leave this life.
You might want to take some time and write down your thoughts; what – as you lay on your death bed, did you cherish, what did you regret? Maybe you will do this exercise again in the future – compare notes and see if the direction of your life is changing. The person that you cannot forgive yet – will you come to a place of forgiveness in the future? Will that part of our self emerge from the chrysalis in some yet-to-be seen day?
This is our harvest – our life. We are constantly planting and tilling and reaping. We can plant our own seeds, or we can simply gather up what blows on the soil. We can irrigate our fields, or we can wait for the rain which may or may not appear. We may not yet have fields – we could be like the land in Ireland before Tailtiu cut down the trees and tilled the Earth. It’s up to us.
Whatever it is that you do for Lughnassadh or Lammas, take some time to connect to your own life – try to discern not only what it is that you are harvesting from your gardens or your herb walks, or your urban foraging – which, by the way, can be a great experience. Between my office and my home – as I walk each day, I go by wild grapes, mullberries, mint, and a number of other edible plants. But spend some time trying to eat local produce, and contemplate your own life as you do so. We reap from our gardens, from the Earth, and we reap from our lives. It’s a good idea to contemplate these connections as we live our lives.