Tag Archives: family

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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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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Breathing In

While I sit at my computer, I gaze at the scene outside. Beautiful evergreens with a covering of snow stand tall upon a blanket of white. It all appears so fresh, so new. Stepping out of the old year and into the new can be overwhelming. Soon I’ll be another year older, inching my mortality away while breathing it all in deeply.

It is a beautiful sunshine filled day. The wind is cold; we have a fire burning in our woodstove. In the coming weeks my days will be filled with appointments, drum lessons, karate, ringette, and hockey. There will be tournaments, birthdays, homework, and tests. A crush of life. As anxiety filled as it can be, I look forward to it. The sound of my children’s laughter as it floats through the house, the smell of something delicious baking in the oven, bubbling over on the stove as I left it to let the dogs out. THIS to me is life.

Distractions have been aplenty for me in the past year. My life always seems to be a mix of chaos and order, and all shades of the rainbow. As a mother, this time of year has always been a mixed bag for me. My children return to school after the holiday break, I have to return to work, bills need to be paid. It can be a depressing time. But it doesn’t have to be this way. It can be every bit as beautiful and wondrous as any other day in any other season.

Breathing in deep and inhaling all the abundance is refreshing. Sometimes life can be daunting. The challenges life brings and drama that accompanies it can be draining. As a parent, taking a step back and looking at the entire picture as opposed to the moment at hand can not only help, but bring things back into view. One of the most important things delving into Paganism has taught me – breathe deep, meditate. For a busy, stressed out parent (especially this time of year), these are two of the most important lessons. Breath deep – literally expand your lungs, bringing in more life giving oxygen, gather in the life around you. Clear your mind, your heart, and your body. Only then move on to the next challenge.

My challenge this season is to continue to remember to breathe deep, taking in all the nuances around me and not allow myself to be overwhelmed. My challenge is to remember that nothing will cause the end of the world. As my gaze floats back to the trees and wind outside, my mind fills with the possibilities of what will be and can be. I breathe it in. Do you?

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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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Take a Dose of Nature and Call Me in the Morning

As a new mother and Pagan, I often find myself worrying about how my actions and inactions will affect my child’s future. Like many parents do, Doug and I often talk for hours about how we want to raise our son, and what we consider the most important lessons for him to learn from us. We are both firm believers in the concept of Wyrd (well, Wyrd as we understand it) – all things are interconnected, and our individual threads weave together to shape our fates and the fates of everyone and everything around us. With this knowledge in mind, I am keenly aware that I want to set a good example for our son and the best way to teach him strong, noble values and how to be a good human being is to embody those values and be a good person myself.

One thing that Doug and I are very concerned about is our family’s connection with nature. Doug, a long-time member of the Scouting movement, loves the outdoors and is nowhere happier than in the woods. I am a fierce lover of wildlife and I am endlessly fascinated by the biology and chemistry of living things. Nothing brings me such peace as I feel in the forest or on the beach, surrounded by trees or waves and hidden creatures. Nature is an important part of our spirituality – for us, it is the basis of our spiritual beliefs. And yet, despite considering ourselves nature-loving pagans, we are as guilty of crimes against nature as much of humanity. We drive a gas-guzzling minivan, we don’t recycle enough, we spend more time surrounded by technology than surrounded by nature, we aren’t active enough in environmental conservationist efforts, we don’t always buy local and support good farming practices….the list goes on. Every now and then we are reminded that we must become part of the solution, not the problem, and nothing has driven this point home to us more than becoming parents.

I’m not just a new mom and Pagan – I’m also a registered nurse. At work, I see suffering, sickness, despair and death on a daily basis. I also see extraordinary love, strength, kindness and compassion. The hospital where I work has a healing garden – a beautiful outdoor space accessible to patients and their families which serves as a place for them to “recharge” and, well, heal. I see it in patient’s faces when they come back from a trip to the healing garden – they have just a little more hope, a bit more strength, a happier glint in their eyes. It makes me wonder how much healthier we all would be if our doctors prescribed more nature in our lives. Take a dose of Nature and call me in the morning.

We’ve decided that, to start incorporating more nature in our lives and impart a love of it to our son, we are going to take one dose of Nature per day. Ideally, we would get outside every day and appreciate the land firsthand. We could take a hike, sit on our back porch and watch the clouds, feed the birds, plant a garden, visit the zoo, or clean up a park or roadside. At times when being outside might not be possible or desirable (I can hardly be expected to take my 3 1/2 month old outdoors in a blizzard), we will try to incorporate nature into our daily routine in other ways: watch a documentary, read about nature, buy local produce or meat, recycle, donate to nature conserving organizations, or talk/write about it. I will be documenting our progress in a special family journal, describing our daily doses of Nature as well as how this challenge is affecting our family. I welcome any of you who choose to join us in this challenge.

How do you incorporate nature into your lives as followers of earth-based spiritualities? How do you teach love and understanding of nature to your children? Share some ideas with us about ways to get our daily dose of Nature.

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Natasha D

Natasha 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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