Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Time is a Circle

When you start looking at time as a circle you realize that every point on that circle is a necessary part of the whole. You can't have day without night, joy without sorrow or youth without age. Without winter the world is a dry, overgrown, overhot place.

Today is the start of the Death Moon, the first month in Annette Hinshaw's soli-lunar calendar. She starts her year with the Death Moon just as in Celtic (and Hebrew, among others) days begin with sunset, not with sunrise. The Death Moon has an ominous name but is not inherently uncomfortable. It is the first dark after sunset. It is a time of relaxing after a big harvest season and a time of putting the last bits of the summer to rest before the long winter. If you can relax into the change of seasons, the change of pace (and have lots of warm socks!) this can be a fascinating and magical time of year.

This last week I've been very aware of the sounds of this season. We had a few blustery but dry days and the sounds of the leaves on the pavement and the wind in the branches sounded loud and jarring. Every time I'm outside I hear the honking of geese as they fly in their ever changing vee patterns across the sky. Oddly, here in Western Oregon the geese do not necessarily fly south this time of year as some will be spending the winter on the islands and wetlands north of town. At 7am this morning the sky was getting light but the sun was not yet up, the hour of deafening birdsong in the spring and summer. This morning I heard one lone robin and a few crows. The robin was probably young and getting in some last minute practicing before the winter and next years mating season.

This time of year always seems the coldest to me. I'm not used to wearing all my winter clothes and I'm stingy about turning on the heat. It gets dark early, making my evening dog walks either a night time adventure or more likely just skipped all together. The change in season puts us in mind of the darker parts of life like death and disease and economic misfortune (or maybe that's just the news).

But the Death Moon, like winter itself is not all dark and dreary and sad. Here in Portland we've been lucky enough to enjoy the last few gorgeous autumn days with brilliant gold and red leaves. I'm looking forward to the fun of Halloween and shortly after that we get to start thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is the time of year to take stock of your pantry and your craft supplies, making sure you have what you need for those long, dark nights. It's a time for popcorn and movies and snuggling together.

Popcorn is a wonderful evening treat for these first dark nights. The corn seems to transform from compact little kernels to fluffy white treats through some kind of magic. The butter fat and spicy chile powder helps you stay warm and eating out of a bowl together is a cozy evening activity.

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Spicy Popcorn

1/2 cup un-popped popcorn kernels
4 tbs butter
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4-1/2 tsp mild chile powder (I like New Mexico)

Pop popcorn either in an air popper or in coconut oil on the stove top. While it is popping melt the butter in a toaster oven, small saucepan or (gasp) the microwave. When the popcorn is popped and the butter melted place the popcorn in a paper bag. Drizzle some of the butter over top, sprinkle some salt and chile over it and shake the bag to distribute the seasonings. Drizzle the rest of the butter and more salt or chile as necessary (sprinkle a little bit of garlic powder or hot chile powder too!).
Pour into a large bowl and share with one or two of your favorite people.

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Like the sunflower plant that has to die back for it's seeds to finish ripening, winter is necessary for spring to come again. It may be cold, and it may be dark, but would you enjoy the long evenings of summer without it? What are you doing to honor the change this month? What is keeping you warm?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Wheel and the Disk

Hi, my name is Alyss and I am starting this blog to help myself get more intouch with the sacred cycles of the lunar cycles and the yearly solar cycle. I have been studying these cycles for a number of years now both as a naturalist and as a follower of nature based spirituality.

I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest where we are blessed with real seasonal change but rarely the extremes of any one season. I have always reveled in watching the leaves change in the fall, the flowers come up in the spring and looking for more subtle signs of change inbetween. In college, while studying the science of ecology and environmental studies, I discovered neo-pagan, goddess worship and other earth based spiritualities and read voraciously. Using the writings of Annette Hinshaw, Anne Hill, Starhawk, Waverley Fitzgerald and others I began cobbling together my own form of spiritual practice. It is based on watching the seasonal cycle and celebrating the natural rhythms of the moon and the sun through food, ritual and fun.

Through my studies I have found that so many of our modern holidays are based on ancient seasonal holidays. Since discovering this path I have always been a young adult living with other young adults and "religion" hasn't been a major topic of discussion. That hasn't stopped me from hosting full moon potlucks, carving pumpkins with my friends or having an annual spring party, disguised as a St. Patricks day beerfest.

Over the course of the year I hope to include posts that mark new and full moons, quarter and cross quarter days and other events in the lunar or solar cycle. I also hope to post on the signs of the seasons as we travel through these cycles and events or activities I engage in to celebrate them. I hope that this will encourage me to continue practices I do now, rededicate myself to practices I have let slide and develop new ways of celebrating. I have a feeling that this will evolve over the course of the year and I hope to find some visitors to
share the journey with me.