Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Morning Swift Show

Autumn Equinox

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Some people think the most wonderful time of the year is Christmas but I know it is September. Gorgeous weather, cooler nights, the colors of autumn starting to show. I just love it.

The Morning Swift Show
I have a long standing tradition of waking up for the sunrise on the equinox and a separate tradition of viewing the Vaux's swifts at Chapman school in September but this year I finally combined them. For years, I've been wondering if the birds put on a show in the morning when they leave the roost so this year I combined my traditions and went to see the Morning Swift Show. September 20th was a windy morning and cool, but the sky was clear and it was evident that it was going to be a warm day. I arrived at the school about 10 minutes before the official sunrise time and there were three other intrepid souls waiting for the bird, a hipster couple wrapped in a mexican blanket and an older gentleman with a notebook and binoculars. Just after the published sunrise time the birds started to come out of the chimney, not in the swirling mass they go in with, but like a fountain dripping over the side. The birds would leap out and fall for a couple feet before flapping their wings and flying off into the new day. The Peregrine falcons, a regular visitor to the evening Swift Show, was there with a mate or a friend. Both were very successful in nabbing breakfast. As the sun rose above the clouds the rush of birds ended and I walked across the park to the dog park. Now I know what happens to the swifts in the morning, and it was fun to have the spectacle almost all to myself. 

Steiner identified the archetypical festival of this season as Michaelmas, the celebration of the God's warrior overcoming a dragon or serpent. It is the time when we face our own fears and earn a spark from Michael's iron sword to light our lanterns through the winter. But first, we get to bask in the glory that is autumn. My favorite time of year.

What did you do to celebrate the equinox? What dragons are you facing? When was the last time you got up for the sunrise? How is autumn progressing where you are? Happy equinox!

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Autumn Equinox 2011: Michaelmas Season and Michaelmas Photos

Autumn Equinox 2010: Here Be Dragons and A Dragon Tale for Michaelmas 
Autumn Equinox 2009: The Autumnal Equinox and The Earth is Breathing its Soul Back In

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Discerning No

Full Nesting Moon
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Summer is winding to an end and that always means my favorite holiday - my birthday! I had such a crazy summer that I didn't plan the annual camping trip like I have done for the last couple of years but I knew I needed to do something. I declared the whole week Alyss' Birthday Week and set about celebrating. The big party came on Friday night when I met friends at Chapman School to see the Vaux's Swifts come in to roost and then moved the party to one of my favorite Southeast Portland hipster dive bars. The swifts were fantastic as ever, putting on a really great show with spirals and swirls of birds. Anywhere a thousand people get together to be in awe of nature is a place I want to be. 

My friends and I are theme party people. Actually, my sister and I made a pact one year in college that every party we threw that year would be a theme party. We were successful even to the point of making our impromptu black out party a hurricane and rum themed get together. One of my best friends has a tradition of organizing a scavenger hunt on her birthday that has her guests running around Northwest Portland in teams finding things like a photo of someone in a tree, a fortune cookie and photo booth pictures. I knew I could not let my birthday party go on without some kind of theme or activity so I racked my brain for a week. Finally inspiration hit and I got myself to the dollar store for a pile of Mardi Gras beads.
The game I had my friends play was a simple one. Everyone starts out with some beads and if someone makes you refuse something or makes you say no or not, you give up one of your strings beads. If you lose all of your beads you can steal them back and keep playing by making someone refuse you something and I had prizes for the first person to lose all their beads and the person to have the most at the end of the game. It was perfect - some people loved it and played hard, others let their beads go quickly and enjoyed their evening. Everyone had a few good laughs.

After the party, one of my friends asked me why I had chosen that game. I thought for a minute and then did something I do rather often - said something I know to be true, but didn't know until the minute it comes out of my mouth. "Well," I said, "I have been having a difficult relationship with 'no' lately, so it seemed appropriate." Yup, hit the nail on the head with that one, Birthday Girl. 

This full moon is the Nesting Moon, the moon that asks questions about how we prepare for the future, how we help our community and how we relate to physical, emotional and social resources. Preparing for the challenges ahead, be they winter or other hard times, requires both the acknowledgement of resources and the discernment to recognize things that are a burden rather than helpful. When stocking a root cellar, you need to be able to toss out the apples and squash that are not going to keep - one bad apple ruins the barrel is not just a pithy saying. When getting ready for an adventure, you need to choose your companions and supplies with care. When going through hard times it is important to spend your physical and emotional energy on activities and people that help you, not those that burden you with their own problems or insensitivity words. 

I suspect I have not been doing a very good job of discerning the things I should say no to from the things I should say yes to recently. Rob Breszny, my personal hero and astrologer, challenged me earlier in the summer to say yes at least 51% of the time. I find this an interesting challenge because I tend to be a knee jerk no person. New things are scary and I tend to build a schedule for myself and then not want to change it. At the same time, there are plenty of things in our culture, and my life in particular, that do not need yes said to them. They are draining, harmful and distracting despite their ubiquity and downright pleasure. The Nesting Moon is asking me these questions and more, and it is the season to examine the answers.

What is the Nesting Moon asking you? Do you have a healthy relationship with "no" or do you tend to excel at discerning useful from draining? What is your favorite theme party or party game? How is Autumn showing herself in your neighborhood? Happy Nesting Moon!

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Full Nesting Moon 2011: Weddings
Full Nesting Moon 2010: Spider Moon

Full Nesting Moon 2009: Hey.. It's My Birfday!