Monthly Archives: March 2013

To Pray is A-Okay!

When the ideas that would form into Treewise were first floating between us, we talked about wanting to share a variety of things in our posts – including prayers.

With the Sun gone out of sight

I welcome the Goddess with the night

Watch over me Lady while I rest

That in the morning I may be blessed

I don’t think the exact wording of this bed time prayer needs to be strict. The rhymes make it easy to remember (I hope), but is the Sun gone OUT OF sight, or FROM sight? Does the Lady watch over me WHILE I rest, or AS I rest? I think the important thing is trying to inspire a bit the magical mystery of the night, and asking it to watch over you (or your child) while you sleep. You could easily tack on a list of other people you would like Her to watch over. Quick note: I think at first glance this poem is Goddess-religion centric, but it isn’t necessarily. Balancing the Goddess with the Sun (ie Sun goes, Goddess arrives) suggests more of a duo-theistic view with a God and Goddess. Really, even Heathen (Teutonic/Northern European) pagans trying to reconstruct their beliefs based on historic accuracy could use this. In many Northern myths, the night is a Goddess that gives birth to her Son (Day) every morning.

Wyrd Sisters watch over me

Help me Accept the Past, Respect the Present, and Shape the Future

In Northern myth, the Wyrd Sisters are three women (Norns) who’s identity has mingled with the three Fates from Classical myth. Today they are commonly seen as weavers of Fate (the Web of Wyrd). I see this second prayer as more of a morning one, preparing to deal with what may come that day. The message is quite straight forward. Accept what has happened, pay attention to what is going on around you now, and take responsibility to bring about the future you desire.

I hope you enjoy these!

page-breakMike CMike C. is a geeky Pagan, living a quieter life with his loving wife in Riverview, NB

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The Season of Faith

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.” ~ Hal Borland

This has been a long winter. Though the snow did not really arrive until mid December, I have found the cold months colder than I have in many years. Snow still covers everything as far as the eye can see, and I am restless from too much time spent inside. A good friend of mine from Arkansas has been teasing me with photographs of spring gardens. Where he lives, the leaves are still falling from some trees while others are just beginning to bud, and what little snow they got this year, lasted only a few weeks. While we are shoveling, he is raking. While we are purchasing seed for our gardens, he is watching bulbs sprout beautiful flowers. It seems unfair.

This is a magical and meaningful time of year in many faith communities. There are calendars, such as the Baha’i and Iranian which begin on the spring equinox each year. Jewish Passover and the Christian holy day Easter, are also celebrated at this time. In Japan they celebrate a national holiday, Vernal Equinox Day. This day and season have been recognized by many cultures for thousands of years, with feasts, stories, local traditions and spiritual celebrations.

The vernal equinox takes place in March of each year, opposite the autumnal equinox which occurs in September. It is the date when day and night are believed to be equal in length, midway between Yule and the summer solstice. In fact, whether day and night are of equal length really depends on where you are. If you are in the far North, the vernal equinox is the beginning of approximately six months of light, but in the far South it is the beginning of an equal time of darkness. For us, here in New Brunswick, this is the time when the days, which have been lengthening since Yule, reach the midway point and begin to grow longer than the night. At this time the sun is directly over the equator. The Earth is not tilting toward or away from the sun.

This year in the Northern hemisphere, the vernal equinox fell on the 20th of March. Ironically, the sun rose on this day to reveal more than a foot of fresh fallen snow, in spite of nearly two weeks of warm temperatures. It appears, for all intents and purposes as though Mother Nature has decided to extend the deep freeze a little longer.

March can be a terrible month for snowstorms at a time when we are all craving spring and fresh air and green blooming things. After two weeks of feeling hot sun on our skin, smelling the thawing earth and hearing melting water, this seems especially harsh.

Pagans celebrate the vernal equinox with the sabbat of Ostara, dedicated to the turning of the wheel and the welcoming of spring. The themes at this time are those of fertility, rebirth, spring and resurrection. There are stories and myths from many cultures that involve the resurrection of prominent figures such as Jesus Christ, the Roman god Mithras and the Egyptian god Osiris. These individuals rise from the dead, at a time when the season is changing and plants and flowers are also rising. Soon the world will awaken, and the snow will melt. Our rivers will rise and spring flowers will begin to poke their heads upward from the frozen ground in search of sunlight.

This year, my family celebrated the equinox with a snow day. There was much shoveling to be done, supper to prepare, and no sign of the sun through heavy grey clouds. We are all gardeners and outdoor lovers. We are spring fanatics in this house, and we could not have felt further from spring. Since our families are a mix of Pagan and Christian backgrounds, we tend to double up on holidays. We celebrate our own days and also celebrate other holidays with family members. This means a lot of chocolate bunnies and Easter eggs.

Eggs are a common part of celebrations at this time, from egg rolling contests to Easter egg hunts. There is an old urban legend which states that at the exact moment of the equinox, an egg can be balanced on its end and will remain upright. This is mostly fiction however, as the right egg can be balanced, ANY day of the year. It has nothing to do with gravitational effects in relation to the equinox.

Some people dye eggs in beautiful colors, or tell tales of the Easter bunny, who in some versions of the tale lays eggs. The nocturnal hare was considered by some cultures to be connected with the moon, as its gestational cycle consists of 28 days, the same as a lunar cycle. In the wild these hares create nests. Sometimes when they abandon the nest Plovers move in and use it to lay eggs. The myth about the Easter bunny laying eggs may actually come from some confusion that arose when eggs were found in what was clearly a rabbit’s nest.

Our Ostara celebration is generally a simple observation. We have supper together and, well, this year, shovel snow. We save the chocolate and candy for Easter Sunday. On the equinox we are more concerned with frost charts, which varieties of beans to plant, and how to head off problems that arose in last year’s gardens. We are talking about things like drumming by the river and swimming in the lake.

It is hard to believe that such change is so close at hand, while the world is still blanketed in white, but this is the season of faith.

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Katie P is writer, reader, drummer and certifiable nature nut. She lives rural New Brunswick, where she spends far too much time frolicking in the bulrushes. She also blogs at Wyldwomyn.ca

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Beware the Ides of March

As I look out my window, the rain is falling. Hard. We’re expecting a deluge that already has my yard reminiscing about it’s time as a marsh. Some would say the weather is dreary enough to echo that famous warning to Julius Caesar “Beware the ides of March”. For those who are not familiar with the tale, the ides of March is the 15th of March, the day this will be posted, and in 44 BCE Julius Caesar was assassinated on the ides of March. History lesson aside, it’s an easy time to feel deluged in all that has come and all that will be. It is a dark, dreary tone foreclosing on the ending of a long dark season. But for every grey cloud, there is, as they say, a silver lining.

Spring is just around the corner, thoughts of the coming celebrations and the growing seasons; a renewal of hope dance in my thoughts. This past season has been personally a hard one with illness and stress dogging my steps.  I’m sure I am not alone in this. It seems that this transitional phase between Winter and Spring has been particularly difficult on many. In spite of the dreariness I am choosing to remain positive. I’ve started (albeit slowly) to get into some course work I had been waiting for, and my yen for summer to arrive grows with the changing of the seasons. I’ve begun plans for a small vegetable garden, herbs, and flowers as well. In light of my springing forward, if you will, into the new season here is a poem to bring about the mood. Realizing we are still quite far from Summer, the Spring brings hope of these things to come.

Summer Shine

I love that summer shine
you know it
The sun so hot
the grass so cool
you just want to sit
in the shade just right
under the willow
The clouds so high
and barely there
you wish you could dive
into the blue sky
so inviting in the day
When the night comes
the stars shimmer so clear
the moon kisses them
until they disappear
into another summer shine day
No breeze to fly a kite
the hum of insects
frogs croaking
birds chirping
today is the day
of that summer shine
The reflection off the lake
strikes the eyes
and makes you blind
to that child that splashes
the water on you
It freezes and feels so good
Tip toe over the hot road
feet in the sand
make it to the beach
When the summer shine ends
the bonfire full roars
at that full moon
They sing and dance
filling the night
with an intensity
until the next
summer shine

As a Pagan, the thought of singing and dancing beneath that full moon fills me up with hope and instills a more positive mindset. In this dreary day of rain and darkness, I hold close to me my summer shine daydreams of tomorrow. Though once was said to beware the ides of March, I welcome it with the hope of and dreams of tomorrow. How do you keep the light shining?

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Reverse Tattoo

Crowwitch is a spectacular balance of chaos and order. This energetic hockey, soccer, ringette, karate, mom works hard to keep up with her two brilliantly funny children, and enjoy some quiet time with her devoted partner in the evenings. She also maintains a personal website called Crowwitch.

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The Wheel

Life is full of changes and transitions.  In fact, it’s said that the only constant in life is change.  We each handle change in our own ways – some of us try not to deal with it at all – but as things never stay the same, we all move on in some manner or another.

ImageOne of the things that has helped me deal with change is the concept of the Wheel of the Year.  A common image in modern paganism, the Wheel of the year represents all fours seasons with each of the eight Celtic solar holidays positions around the wheel.  Think of it as a simple calendar on which you can see, in general terms, where you are along the course of the year, and where you are in relation to everything else.

Unlike a “regular” calendar, the Wheel is, well, a wheel – circular in shape, so that one transitions to the next phase of the year in a continuous loop.  The course is laid out for us, always changing, but showing us the path forward.  It also shows us the constant patterns of life – dark will come after light, light will come after dark – and that we can count on these changes as cycles to be repeated.  So even as change is inevitable, so are is the cycle of the year.  We always know what is coming up next.

These days, I think most of us are familiar with Seasonal Affective Disorder, or S.A.D., a condition that affects people in the dark half of the year due to the lack of light as their area of the globe moves farther away from the Sun.  People with S.A.D. can be depressed, tired all the time, have a hard time concentrating, and generally find the dark half of the year very difficult.  I used to suffer from this quite a bit, and still experience the symptoms from time to time.

Yet when I discovered the image and concept of the Wheel of the Year, I began to look at the dark half of the year in a different way.  I could see it was just a time of the year that we all had to pass through, and that the light was inevitably on its way.  Yule became a holiday of triumph for me: the longest night and shortest day were at hand, and now the light would return.  Slowly, perhaps, but the light would indeed return.

In most of North America, tomorrow is the beginning of Daylight Savings Time (I always think of it as the end, but that’s not actually correct).  We “Spring ahead” and set our clocks forward one hour.  This is the day of the year that I celebrate as the “we survived the Winter darkness!” day.  As promised by the Wheel, the light has officially returned, and we are now full-swing into the light half of the year.

So remember to set those clocks one hour ahead tonight, and enjoy the full hour of extra daylight we now have in the evenings!  Blessed Be.

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Angela has been following her pagan path for over 17 years. When she is not blogging or promoting Treewise, Angela knits, runs her own business, and falls a lot while trying to play roller derby.

 

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Wave Thrower

There is the smell of Spring in the (cold) air, and it makes me anxious to return to the shore.

Wave Thrower

Far off the shore an old man dwells
Beneath rounded waves and foamy swells
Father to all creatures within the Sea
And I think he’s throwing waves at me

I watch them come – some crash, some roll
Each lapping tough doth sooth my soul
He seems to know my doubts within
And assures me like some Elder Kin

So often I seek peace at the shore
Wondering how many have done this before
How long has this old man soothed my kind
That come to the beach knowing where to find

A place to hear the Old Gods call

page-breakMike CMike C. is a geeky Pagan, living a quieter life with his loving wife in Riverview, NB

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Blessings

Next weekend, my almost six month old son will be baptized in a Catholic church.

I admit to having been uncomfortable with the notion at first. It seemed, somehow, morally wrong to allow my son to be baptized in a Christian ceremony when both of his parents are pagan and object to some Christian teachings. Perhaps we couldn’t in good conscience allow it, and we certainly would never lie during the rite itself (stating our belief in and alliance to the Christian god and church, for example). It seemed too important to many members of our families, however, and eventually we relented. I realized that our efforts to protect our son from the disagreeable aspects of Christianity might be counterproductive.

Doug (my partner) and I agreed we wanted to raise our son in a pagan household. We sincerely believe what we are doing is right and good and worth passing on. How could we believe something was acceptable for us, if we didn’t think it was for our children? It only makes sense that we would include our children in our spiritual family life, in the hope they would gain some sense of what we consider sacred and good. It is our hope our children will celebrate pagan holidays with us, learn about gods, ancestors, spirits of nature and pagan ethics, and be a part of a wider, healthy pagan community.

We also want our children to have a choice. I feel very strongly about this, because I was not given a choice (although I made one anyway, however unpopular it is). The last thing I want is for religion to become a source of bitterness and tension between us.When my son is grown, I hope he will be capable of deciding for himself what is right and good, and what spiritual path is best for him. He won’t be able to do this comfortably if I have shut out other religious teachings from his life, especially those of Christianity. I want him to be able to understand the spiritual tradition of his grandparents and other extended family members, just as I want him to understand our own spiritual tradition without feeling forced to follow either.

A blessing is a blessing. My family want my baby son to be baptized out of love for him and concern for his spiritual well-being, and the ritual itself is well-meaning. Is there really anything wrong with accepting the blessings of the Christian god and church? It may not be part of my own spiritual tradition anymore, but it was at one time and it remains important to our extended family.Christianity is a part of our heritage, whether or not we accept its teachings. This is so for many pagans.

As people concerned with respecting ancestors, reaching back into history for spiritual inspiration and being tolerant, perhaps we should strive to maintain more respect for our Christian, or other, religious heritage. And, in this hard world, perhaps we should more willingly accept all the blessings that can be bestowed upon us.

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Natasha DNatasha is a busy new mom, nurse and down-to-earth Pagan living in Dieppe, NB with her family. She also blogs at Planting Seeds.

 

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