Friday, January 14, 2011

The Quaker Year

New Milk Moon

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Happy New Year! It’s 2011! I hope everyone had a lovely New Years Eve and has been enjoying what this new year is bringing your way. I went out with some friends to a dance party and had a lovely time. I don’t make new years resolutions, but I do make goals and one for 2011 is to be very aware of my alcohol consumption. I enjoy letting loose and being a part of the party I am ready to stop getting “accidentally intoxicated” and also sick of wasting my time being hung over. I only had one glass of champagne on New Years and it has been so encouraging to know that I can go out, have fun with my friends, be silly and goofy and still get home safely and at a reasonable time, and be fully functional the next day. Happy 2011 indeed!

Last year at New Year’s I pondered the idea of naming years like we name months in this calendar. One group that gave a “name” to their years are the American Indian people of the northern Great Plains. The Sioux and other Northern Plains tribes used a system called Winter Counts where a pictograph was chosen for each year recorded on a hide or piece of fabric. The pictographs, which spurred the memory of the storyteller who kept the count, often represented diseases, successful or tragic raids or wars, or natural events. The earliest Winter Count in the Smithsonian museum is called the Battiste Good winter count after the Lakota man who kept it in the late 1800s. On that Winter Count the year 1708 is called Many Kettle Winter after the tribe’s first interaction with the English that resulted in them aquiring both guns and iron cooking kettles. The year 1751 was called Killed Two White Buffalo Cows year, after the very rare and auspicious event of getting two albino bison in the same winter.

I love the idea of naminga year so put some thought into the important events of these last 12 months in my life. I traveled to Pennsylvania in the summer and in the autumn my sister moved back home. I did a lot of creative writing over the course of the year, enjoyed the second year of my garden and Lucky died in October. But none of these things match my involvement at West Hills Friends church for being pivotal and influential on my life. I started attending this Quaker church in December of 2009 and went almost every weekend over the whole year. I started a practice of daily praying during Lent and have done a fair amount of bible reading as well as some serious study of Quaker testimonies and history. I made real and meaningful connections with other people in the community and even have the start of a few good friendships. In December I had the thought that I might be willing to say “I am a Quaker” rather than just that I attend a Quaker church. 2010 has clearly been The Quaker Year.

Both the Lakota people and myself in thinking about 2010 name the year as it is closing out but I would like to think about naming the year as it begins. Rather than just review and reflection that requires some divination. Ketzirah over at Peeling a Pomegranate did some wish dreaming (gwishing as Havi at The Fluent Self might call it) for her 2010 and came up with a theme and some affirmations she calls her Dream Decree. I looked for inspiration for my own wish dreaming for this upcoming year in the mysterious Sabian Symbols, a set of images and descriptions for each of the 360 degrees in the astrological zodiac. The symbols were clairvoyantly “discovered” by an astrologer and a spiritualist medium in 1925 but like other complex oracles tap into a very deep understanding of the world. Using Lynda Hill’s online oracle I randomly picked two symbols for my year 2011.

The first symbol I chose is Cancer 23: This Symbol shows the gathering together of those of like mind in order to exchange or share ideas and information. My secondary symbol is Aquarius 3, “A deserter from the navy stands suddenly aware of a dawning truth: Freedom is never the result of compromise.”

The first seems a perfect, almost too easy fit for what I see of 2011 so far. I just started a Masters of Arts in Teaching program with the goal of becoming a public school teacher. The program uses a cohort model of a strong small group that studies together throughout the 16 month program and has the overall program objectives of getting teachers to “Think critically, transform practice and promote justice.” Uh, yeah. That fits.

The second symbol at first glance seems a warning about the constriction of rules and how they may come into conflict with strongly held beliefs and necessary freedoms. It seems to speak to the path I am taking towards a very regulated profession that requires personal passion and creativity, and the reservations and conflicts I feel about that. I also see a warning to be careful what I do, or fail to, engage in. It is asking me to practice my will force, not just the heart and mind forces alluded to in the first symbol, in whatever I choose to be a part of this year.

With these rich images, as well of those of Rob Breszny and his Free Will Astrology horoscope to guide me I have come up with my dream decree for 2011:

The only thing standing between this moment and the life I dream of is my own work in rooting out and collecting that which has been provided for me. My participation is required and what I create in collaboration with other seekers moves the world forward.
  • I will be the Deputy Director of Green Lights and Purple Hearts. I will be courageous and diligent the exercise of my will.
  • I will be the Puzzle Master Supreme and Minister of Marvelous Mysteries. I will be restless and selfless in the pursuit of meaning.
  • I will be the Field Commander of Free Lunches and Poetic License. I will be loving in the cultivation and expression of my feeling life.

2010 was the year of Beautiful Quaker Mysteries. 2011 will be the year of Building The Future Teacher. What are you gwishing for 2011?

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Full text of the sabian symbols I pulled for 2011:

CANCER 23: THE MEETING OF A STUDY GROUP OR LITERARY SOCIETY: This Symbol shows the gathering together of those of like mind in order to exchange or share ideas and information. The search for meaning should always be made in order to enrich not only yourself but those around you. Finding the best way to describe something creates the opportunity for greater access by the collective. Shared higher knowledge. Print media, newspapers, libraries, written word. Critics. Diaries, records and minutes of meetings. Talk back radio.The Caution: Falsifying of ideas. Propaganda spread by media. Intellectual smugness which excludes non-establishment thought. Chatting instead of doing. Being critical.

AQUARIUS 3: A DESERTER FROM THE NAVY STANDS SUDDENLY AWARE OF A DAWNING TRUTH: FREEDOM IS NEVER THE RESULT OF COMPROMISE You may find that the rigorous restraints and rules of the situation are no longer bearable. A decision to opt out may be moral or to maintain free spirit. There are always consequences for not playing the game. Are you prepared for them? Someone could feel they are being taken away from home and family for a reason they don't really understand. Rebellion. Leaving situations although allegiance had been pledged. Wrestling with one's conscience. The Caution: Not being prepared to play by the rules of any socially structured game. Withdrawing support when one should be involved in a physical, mental or emotional way.

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Milk Moon 2009: New Milk Moon

This post is about New Years day which I also wrote about in the New Milk Moon post linked to above as well as the January 2010 post New Year!


Anonymous said...

This is so awesome! Everything you write is so amazing. I'm so excited for your new year, and your seeing the fruits of the last. I have so much to tell you! I worked with a shaman yesterday - by Skype!! - for soul retrieval/extraction. It was so so cool.

Cyfaill said...

I'm just soaking it all in. so much of what you have to say here (and in the whole blog) is just what I need to hear now. Funny how that happens. Thanks for the feedback on my blog, too.