And then more still. Many had long since come to terms with their own encounters with Regan and moved on. In , the Mounties filed their first criminal charges against Regan: 17 sexual assault allegations involving 13 different women. By the time a rancorous day preliminary hearing ended abruptly in after the Crown decided to proceed directly to trial, the number of women making formal complaints against Regan had risen to In the end, prosecutors decided to try Regan only on a cluster of eight of the most serious charges, including rape, attempted rape and forcible confinement involving three different women.
That they did so was probably the result of something even more significant — the fact so many women, with nothing to gain and everything to lose, came forward to say they too had been sexually assaulted by Gerald Regan. Their solidarity became critical, not only in ensuring Regan was finally held to account in a public trial but also in what followed. Although details of their allegations had been the subject to a publication ban while the trial played out in the courtroom, that all changed the moment the jury was sequestered and the ban expired.
What happened after that was that almost no one anywhere accepted the courtroom verdict as the correct — or final — judgement on the conduct of Gerald Regan. Not guilty, by the divine right of kings and premiers. Ultimately, what is important about the case of Gerald Regan — and what remains important to this day — is that it marked a psychological turning point. And it was those women, standing up for other women, saying MeToo, who made that possible. As for Gerald Regan — a politician who has thought a lot about history and long imagined his own place in it — he has to know his own legacy will never escape that verdict of common sense.
Your email address will not be published. No Comments. Jim L. They were talking about the mill you seemed to switch the conversation quickly. If you read the story, you will see I documented my many attempts to convince Dr. Deagle to speak wi Great news, we've signed you up. Sorry, we weren't able to sign you up. Please check your details, and try again. Stephen Kimber. Gerald Regan and the legacy of our MeToo moment. Previous Post. Next Post. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Bay Ferries?
The Nova Scotia government? US Border Services? All of the above? Be happy. No Comments Crisis? What crisis? What health care crisis? And forever 1 Comment What would Andrew do? Or should that be the president thanks the press? Equinox: The Changing of the Seasons originally posted September Review spring and summer; plan for fall and winter. Includes Linda's Green Chili con Carne recipe. Journaling the Fruits of the Season originally posted August, Savor the summer and reflect on your life with a journal.
May Eve and Vinegar: Bringing Order to Your Writing Life originally posted April 30, Linda's suggestions for organizing your writing office and files, as well as suggested uses of vinegar and essential oils. Granola: On Cooking and Writing originally posted March, A spring message from Linda with her favorite granola recipe. The Sacrament of Bread originally posted December, A winter message from Linda with a recipe and photo of her hand-kneaded, whole-wheat bread.
Early dark. Christmas carols on the radio. That annual battle, according to traditions handed down orally even before written records, ended with the birth of the sun-child from a virgin mother. Does that sound familiar? Christ only became part of this humanity's winter celebrations about A. On that day, said the Romans, the sun god was born of a virgin. Part of being a writer is curiosity, so I've done considerable research into the origins of the Protestant beliefs in which I was reared. I emerged with considerable respect for the canny intelligence of those early Christian leaders.
Religious authorities disagree wildly about precisely when and where certain symbols and rituals first appeared, but there is no doubt that Christianity borrowed freely from earlier beliefs. Before written records, long before passports, bards of many nations traveled widely, composing poems and songs that incorporated news, legends and anecdotes from their wanderings. Arriving at isolated farmsteads or castles, they traded their talents for lodging and sustenance, repeating the most memorable stories over and over until they became part of our history.
I deplore the commercialization of this time of year, but the sales pitches remind me that those who made the virgin birth of a god the centerpiece of a new religion were smart salesmen. And yes, they were all men, determined to wipe out the older religious centered around gods and goddesses. They built on established beliefs to encourage people to adopt their radical new view of the world. To make their message important and memorable, they chose symbols that had already been in circulation for years, perhaps centuries, to add power to their beliefs.
Surely this adds to the power of the Christian story; the idea of a god born of a virgin mother is so inspiring it has been part of our heritage for more generations than we can count. The lessons we derive from the whole exciting story of Christmas are abundant, stirring us and moving us toward worship and gratitude-- and even more important if they are older than I was taught. In fact, solstice-related events are becoming more common among Christian churches, says the Rev. Paul, MN, which is holding its solstice celebration on Thursday December Jeff Strickler wrote in the December 15th Minneapolis Star-Tribune about solstice celebrations in that area.
They want a spiritual and sacred event. Ron Moor, whose Spirit United Church in southeast Minneapolis is holding its annual winter solstice celebration Saturday says, "We have a wonderful Christmas Eve service, and we have a wonderful winter solstice service. We celebrate the son-- s-o-n -- and the sun-- s-u-n. Jaime Meyer's service, he says, includes "mysterious music that Lutherans are not allowed to learn," but he laughs to show that's a joke. Churches aren't the only places marking the occasion. First Universalist Church will hold its 34th such service on Friday; Pamela Vincent, the church's service coordinator says, "We get to people," at the joyous celebration.
During the first half of the celebration, the lights grow progressively dimmer, while in the second half the lights gain intensity. The middle of the service is 12 minutes of darkness and silence. Our culture is hungry for a new beautiful, meaningful expression of our relationship with the unseen," he adds. Many symbols and rituals that are part of modern Christmas also come to us from long ago.
The practice of abbreviating "Christmas" as "Xmas" is easy to trace. Some say early Christians thought it disrespectful to write the name of Christ, so the abbreviation was considered more piously correct than saying "Christ. Our Christmas evergreen tree was regarded as a symbol of the essence of life as well as a phallic symbol by our Norse ancestors.
On evergreen trees around their homes, the Norse hung apples, nuts and other foods, as well as ornaments symbolizing the sun and stars. Prehistoric Germanic tribes "wassailed," going from home to home bearing gifts, and were welcomed inside to feast and drink to everyone's health. They also gave gifts of food and clothing to the poor. During the Roman Saturnalia, tree boughs and fruits were exchanged to symbolize a hope for good harvests.
The oldest reference I've found to fruitcake dates to Roman times, when the recipe included pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and raisins mixed into a mash containing barley. During the Middle Ages, honey, spices and preserved fruits became part of the recipe, and crusaders and hunters carried similar cakes to sustain themselves on long marches.
When the British began importing dried fruits from the Mediterranean in the s, they adopted fruitcake as well. Wreaths, circlets made of various plant materials, symbolized honor and moral virtue to the Etruscans and Romans. Building on these beliefs, Christians adopted wreaths to decorate the funerals of important people, especially saints and martyrs, because the circle symbolizes everlasting life. Druids began our tradition of hanging mistletoe in the house to bring good luck as well as to ward off evil spirits, fire and lightning.
To the Norse, mistletoe symbolized love and friendship; sprigs hung at one winter solstice often remained in the house until replaced the next winter solstice. So-- even leaving the Christmas decorations up all year is not a new idea! And those stockings hung by the chimney with care? In pagan times, Scandinavian children left their shoes by the hearth, filled with carrots or straw for the god Odin's horse Sleipnir; if the horse ate the food, Odin left small gifts and tasty treats in the shoes.
Santa Claus is a folk figure with astonishingly varied multicultural roots; apparently a number of cultures needed a kindly god-figure, perhaps to offset some of the angrier deities. Claus embodies characteristics from Saturn, the Roman agricultural god; Cronos, the Greek god; the Holly King, Celtic god of the dying year; Father Ice, a Russian winter god; Thor, the Norse sky god; Odin, the Teutonic All-Father who rides the sky on an eight-legged horse; Frey, the Norse fertility god, and the Tomte, a Norse land spirit who gave gifts to children.
Supposedly, the name came from the Dutch pronunciation, "Sinterklaas," of Saint Nicholas. Church authorities also adopted the attributes of various pagan goddesses, combining them into the Christian Mary. Crosses, incense, bells: all were part of pagan rituals before they became associated with Christianity. In fact, most of the customs, lore, symbols and rituals associated with what we call "Christmas" can be traced back to the winter solstice celebrations of ancient cultures we call "pagan.
Modern usage has twisted this original meaning to suggest non-Christian or even anti-Christian beliefs. Many cultures, both ancient and modern, arrived at a similar idea: that from the dark womb of the night, the light is born. Understanding that life was precarious and precious, they brought tribe and family together as a whole before winter made everyone focus on their own needs. In fact, the word 'holy' may have been derived from the Old English halig , which means 'wholeness', or the Old High German hulis , meaning 'holly', considered a sacred plant to our pagan ancestors.
To lure the sun to return, the Norse built big bonfires outside and burned great logs-- Yule logs-- on the hearth. Neolithic monuments such as Stonehenge in England were associated with various yearly rituals, including the winter solstice. Since my ancestry is apparently Celtic and northern European, I've concentrated on searching for the origins of customs among those traditions.
But what of the rest of the world? Again, research indicates that many people celebrate the same ideas at nearly the same time, with many similar elements.
Various mound structures in other parts of the country are believed to have been associated with similar rituals conducted by various tribes. Stone medicine wheels in Wyoming and other rock structures in the West have also been linked to solstice rites. Jews commemorate Channukka, the Festival of Lights, beginning on the 25th day of Kislev; this year the holiday falls on December Beginning on the 10th day of the 12th month of the Islamic calendar, revels begin after the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.
All through this season, people everywhere will pause to celebrate the solstice, and to search for light in the darkness. They will invite friends and relatives to feast, celebrating together their common ideals. They will live with joy and express gratitude for all the good things in their lives.
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How does the worldwide acknowledgement of this winter solstice season connect with your writing? I believe writers must keep searching, working to learn the rest of the story. Writers of family history keep investigating old records, knowing that they may uncover something that doesn't fit the family legends. To tell and understand the whole story, you must take the risk of learning more than you want to, of uncovering information that doesn't fit your preconceived ideas. So if I stand in a Christian church adorned with a decorated evergreen tree at this season, I'm glad to know something of the origins of that tree's symbolism.
Does that knowledge add to, or detract from, my appreciation? Each of us might respond differently. No story belongs only to one writer, or one tradition, or one culture. To focus only on one person's ideas or on the culture into which we were born, is to narrow our attention. If a writer's work is too narrow, its importance diminishes. Introspection is not enough. We need to probe more deeply to discover how our individual stories are linked to those of our neighbors, our friends, and even our enemies. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Julian of Norwich and Ruth to share a dark fruit cake as they discuss how their beliefs have been warped by their followers.
Celebrate in whatever way you choose! When I choose how to celebrate or write about each winter solstice, I wear like a warm cloak the knowledge of hundreds of years of people like me being joyful. As long as humans have walked the earth, we have looked into the darkness of winter nights and prayed for the return of warmth, of green grass, of soft spring air. Some of the voices rising in prayer or song in the cold darkness sing a language I cannot understand and follow unknown traditions.
I find this knowledge comforting, not alarming. We all live in a world of rapidly expanding knowledge and methods of connecting. Via the internet, and television, and dozens of communications devices, we can see how other people view the notions that we have accepted as unchangeable.
We have an opportunity to adopt ideas because they fit the way our minds work, not simply because our fathers or their priests chose a particular way to think. We might learn from viewpoints different than ours. When I look up at the dark sky, I feel ancestors standing beside me, and see our forerunners smiling down from the churning darkness behind the Milky Way. Likewise, I feel as if I am holding the warm hands of every other human on earth, acknowledging the fact that we are more alike than different. In acknowledging our resemblance, we will find hope for the survival of the species-- and writers are an important part of that work, as are artists and thinkers of all kinds.
Celebrate in December in whatever way you choose-- and allow others to do the same. Let us gather around the fire of love and hope for a better world which unites us all. No one's choice of observance can diminish my appreciation of the many meanings this season carries to us from out of time we can only imagine. May Winter be kind to you, and may you appreciate its richness.
May Spring be always in your heart. Linda M. On September 11, we got an inch of snow, the earliest since The downy green brome grass began to glitter with red and yellow stripes. Lilac leaves rustle, maroon and brown on top, yellow underneath. The oak tree glowed rust for one day and lost its leaves in a night wind. At dawn the pond feels empty without the great blue heron but the ducks still sail in the sunlight. We look up into the tops of cottonwoods to see the golden waterfall of leaves. Birds settle onto the very tips of bare branches, the sun striking through their flared wings.
Meadowlarks flock, fly, and flute. At night, showered in moonlight, we stand on the deck listening to the great horned owls in the cedar trees at Homestead House. These owls inhabit deciduous and coniferous forests up to nearly 11, feet, as well as swamps, deserts and river valleys. Wherever grassland meets forest-- in eastern Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas and southern Saskatchewan-- they thrive. Ferocious hunters, the owls can weigh two to five pounds, stand almost two feet tall and spread their wings nearly five feet.
Silently they float, then drop into the killing strike. Clenching their sharp talons in the neck of their prey, they may sever its spine. A great horned owl is Death dropped from darkness, Winter on the wing. Owls may eat scorpions and frogs, but mostly dine on mammals including rabbits, mice, rats, squirrels, opossums, woodchucks, bats, weasels, skunks and occasionally a domestic cat.
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A guest at my retreat house once spotted a wounded screech owl in a tree near the cedar where the great horned owls habitually roost. The next morning the screech owl was gone. She told herself it had flown away. Most other raptors, including red-tailed hawks, leave the neighborhood when these owls arrive.
Not long ago, we saw a great horned owl chasing a screaming red-tailed hawk away from the cottonwoods east of the retreat house. The owls gulp their food whole or in chunks, and later regurgitate indigestible bones, feathers, and fur, leaving smooth oval pellets beneath roosting trees. Schools buy sterilized pellets for students to dissect to learn about owl diets.
Their wide wings enable them to maneuver in close quarters, as among trees. The tufts of feathers that stick upright on their heads look like horns, hence the name, but they are neither ears nor horns, and lie flat when the bird flies. My first memorable encounter with a great horned owl occurred when I was eleven years old. I was gathering cattle and had ridden under one of only seven cottonwoods in a prairie pasture. Naturally, since I was already a writer, I looked for more information.
All winter they devoured rabbits, skunks, mice and cats. Because the owls are nocturnal, even people who live and work on the prairie may not see them often. In their duets, you may be able to distinguish male from female. Because his voice box is bigger, his calls are deeper. The website AllAboutBirds. When I played them, my Westies-- small mammals who could easily become owl prey-- leaped up, seriously alarmed. If you can spot the calling owl, you can identify the male: he holds his body nearly horizontally, drooping his wings and inflating his white throat patch.
The female is larger. Great horned owls vary in color, depending on their region and habitat. Generally they are dark brown on the upper parts, with mottled stripes in black and white. Underneath, they are brown to buff-colored, with thick feathers on legs and feet. Hunting for prey, the owls perch near dusk on fence posts or tree limbs. They have great hearing, aided by facial disc feathers that direct sound waves to their asymmetrical ears, hidden under the dark edges of the facial disk, split by the beak and forehead.
Owls can hear noises ten times fainter than human hearing permits; so, for example, they can hear a mouse scurrying through a snow tunnel or scuffling leaves under a bush. The owl must turn its head to look around. The superstitious of earlier ages believed the owls could spin their heads completely around, and thus identified them with demons and other symbols of devilish doings. Our ancestors lived in settlements lit by candle and lantern light. Picture a tired worker heading home through the forest, carrying his flickering lantern, shielding it from the wind. The trees creak overhead; leaves rustle.
Suddenly something cries eerily and he glances up to see a pair of yellow eyes, unblinking as they swivel to watch him. No wonder owls became symbols to fear. Perhaps such ancestral memories are why modern humans seem compelled to surround their houses with glaring porch and street lights!
The night before became known as Halloween, or All Hallows Eve. November 2 was christened All Souls day, when prayers are offered for those waiting in Purgatory until they could be prayed into heaven. For centuries, pagan and Christian beliefs existed together, intertwining in a grand tapestry of revels from October 31 through November 5. Gradually, governance by pagan matriarchy became governance by Christian patriarchy. Today, some say, the wheel is turning back. Those pagan ancestral feasts were solidly based on the connection of each people to their own particular land and seasons.
Samhain became important in the Celtic year, celebrated with thanksgiving for the harvest before the cold closed roads, drove people into their homes, and enforced solitude in darkness and often hunger. All during autumn, the people collected hay to feed their beasts throughout the winter. They selected those animals to be slaughtered for winter sustenance. Everyone pitched in to gather the harvest-- barley, oats, wheat, turnips, apples and other crops.
Peat and wood for winter fires were stacked by the hearth and under shelter outside. Families, households and settlements united to bake, salt meat, and make preserves for winter. At Samhain, the people celebrated as they said goodbye to the open skies of summer, knowing they would spend much of the winter in dim and smoky homes. As at all the turning points of the Celtic year, the gods were believed to draw near the earth at Samhain, so the people made sacrifices of their precious harvest.
These gifts, along with prayers and faith, they believed, would convince the gods to help them to survive the winter, to live until spring brought new life to the earth. So each autumn as they have for many owl generations, a pair of great horned owls settles in the cottonwoods on the north side of Homestead House.
They honor Samhain with their courting duets, fearless in the face of the coming winter as they create their future. In January or February, the female will lay two eggs, or more when food is abundant, in an old hawk nest in the trees along a watercourse east of the house. Nest furnishings are only a few of those soft feathers; the owls themselves are well insulated. Sometimes snow covers the nest and the incubating owl, or the eggs freeze and a new clutch must be laid.
After a month, the chicks hatch. Their harsh cries of hunger can be heard from the vicinity of the nest throughout the summer. Under the courting tree we find pellets-- regurgitated bundles of bones, feathers and fur-- but we have never heard or seen owlets. Just so, Samhain signals the last warm wisps of autumn as we head into winter. Rather than lamenting the loss of warmth, we need to recall the heat we have already enjoyed as we look ahead. The coming of darkness need not be a depressing time of cold and waiting. Collect the harvest of work you finished this summer; savor it.
Congratulate yourself. Then gather the notes you scribbled in odd moments during the season past. Perch like an owl above your pantry of writing possibilities. Widen your eyes to catch the faint light of a hidden concept. Listen in the night for the voices: of owls and of stories. Hear the skritch of the tiny feet of a new story as it hides beneath the leaves: then pounce and feed your writing self.
Blessed be, this Samhain and throughout the winter. By its colors-- red, orange, russet, maroon, gold-- we would know the Autumn Equinox approaches even without a calendar. The three leaves of poison ivy glow red against the dark earth. At the tops of cottonwoods, leaves gleam like candles. Tomatoes turn from orange to red and marigolds and gaillardia echo the colors.
Nature tells us in dozens of ways the summer is ending: black and white dragonflies arrive to eat the mosquitoes; pollen turns the air yellow and makes the breeze an enemy. Our senses warn us about the end of the hot season; we hear wasps zig, zag and zizzz around the screen door and they occasionally slip inside to bump against the ceiling. Ignore them and they will surely land on your shirt collar. Coyote pups try out their reedy voices in chorus just before dawn.
Birds lift in dark flocks from one field to alight in another, gobbling seeds. At a nearby garden center, we smell roasting Hatch hot green chilies, and buy a bushel to peel and freeze. Meadowlarks stomp through the drying grass, tilting their heads as they peck here and there. Two red-tailed hawks glide over the pond as the ducks tip their tail feathers in the air, gleaning something edible in the muck. The Autumn Equinox, arriving late on the evening of September 22 this year p. CDT , has also been called Harvest Home, the Second Harvest Festival and Wine Harvest: all titles that indicate the importance of the date as the second of three great festivals as summer slides down into winter.
Like the ancients, our thoughts turn in autumn to our stomachs. In my garden journal, I make notes about what went well and not so well during the past months. Pumpkins: no. As we close down the garden, we also stock up, harvesting its produce. In fact, this contradiction seems an essential part of Autumn: pare down, stock up.
Hot days, cool nights; bask, shiver. I enjoy the feel of the sun on my back for the first time since spring, but relax in a cool breeze on the deck now that the mosquitoes have vanished. Harvest Home: time to reduce, but also to accumulate. The last gift seems particularly symbolic, since it combined practicality with religious observance. Scoop the fertilizer out of the corrals and barns to make them ready for the accumulation of winter. Spread it over the fields where it will work its way down into the earth to be ready for spring planting.
We are nervous as we pitch hay off the potatoes; two years ago, we harvested enough to feed us until May. But two months of cold, wet spring weather after we tucked them under hay mulch gave them a slow start this year. Then we discover that we've provided a Harvest Home for a pudgy and active group of prairie voles. Mouse-sized or larger, they wear thick silver fur and a flick short, thick tails.
Like potatoes. They've gnawed gouges into much of our harvest and reduced others to mush. We discard the worst ones in the garden or compost, and collect the rest in baskets in the retreat house basement. Already spread in open-weave trays are enough of the red, yellow, and white onions we grew to last us through the winter.
Paring down. We unhook the hoses from the hydrants, drain them and lay them out straight to dry. I begin pulling tomato cages from the tomatoes that have finished production, piling the thick stems around my young bushes to catch snow as they slowly return to earth. Some of the tomato cages were bent or broken by huge tomato plants this year, so they will go to the metal recycle pile. I begin taking notes on the pantry and freezer. Vinegar for cleaning. We have a good supply of honey for granola and biscuits, thanks to generous bee-keeping friends. In a second freezer are stacked containers of beef and chicken stock for winter soup made from the leftovers of summer meals , along with butter, vitamins and treats for the dogs, more frozen vegetables and fruits.
I like to keep on hand ingredients for a couple of weeks of meals, recalling several times in recent years when we couldn't even get to the highway for days. My winter planning echoes what my ancestors have done for hundreds of generations, but I am grateful to have such abundance to harvest, instead of being dependent on what I might raise on a few rocky or dry acres.
And I am fortunate to have such great storage possibilities: freezers, two sizable sets of pantry shelves, and a food dryer. I wonder how the future, predicted to be dire, will change our harvest habits. The thought almost makes me wish to be snuggled into my reading chair with a quilt and hot cocoa, looking at snow piled on the deck. The watt bulbs under the homemade dryer glow all night under screens full of herbs. I put two pots of oregano into the unheated greenhouse with the peppers, still turning red.
Outside, basil, oregano and parsley will last until the first hard freeze. An unusually early, but light frost on September 11 brings several inches of snow. I cover the herbs but not the tomatoes. The cool, wet summer has hampered their development anyway, so there are more green and yellow ones than the nearly-ripe orange. We already have several quarts of my rich homemade tomato sauce in the freezer. I've never cared for any of the things people gleefully make with green tomatoes. Several times I have laboriously wrapped green tomatoes in newspaper and put them in the basement to ripen, but the results were unsatisfactory: rotten tomatoes, or pink ones with a flavor just like those insipid cardboard replicas in the grocery store and on restaurant bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches.
We've eaten sliced tomatoes and BLTs until our mouths are tender from the acid, so we bid them farewell until next August. One week, shopping, meetings and errands require us to go to town every day. Another week company arrives, sometimes two batches in a day so we babble as we try to remember what conversations we've already had.
I conduct a week-long intensive retreat with two dedicated and prolific writers. When Jerry and I are alone we play Rummykub without our usual threats and counter-threats. Now that we can-- or are required to-- pump our own gas and check ourselves out of the grocery store and library, conversations with real people become increasingly rare. We will find it difficult to get together with friends when the snow is deep, so we keep our social calendar full now. I've spent years discarding, recycling, giving away, and in some instances burning or burying the things they kept that were too small, too worn, too broken, or otherwise impossible to reuse.
Autumn seems a particularly appropriate time for these tasks. As the days grow short, instincts as old as time prompt us to make the cave-- the home-- more comfortable, to prepare it for winter. We center ourselves, preparing to protect ourselves and our loved ones against the elements as the days grow short and the nights grow cold. So as I put away summer clothes, I discard those that no longer fit and look over my winter clothes. Today I put in the pile for the second hand store four lovely wool jackets that have been too large for me since the day I bought them, so I rarely wore them.
I keep my oldest wool jacket, because it actually fits, and will go with some of the clothes I also kept. I add two pairs of shoes and several pairs of pants that were too large since I've been losing weight. First, I consider whether I've worn or used the item lately, or how it might benefit me. If I see little or no benefit to myself, I consider who else my hoarded goods might benefit. Eventually, I tried sitting down in the wheelchair. Sized for my mother, it was far too small for me. So I took it to a nursing home in Custer, where the delighted director said she knew just the tiny woman who couldn't afford one.
Driving away, I pictured a wrinkled face wreathed in smiles. And I admitted that my altruism wasn't entirely unselfish; if I need one, better ones may be available. The Autumn Equinox is my favorite time to be grateful for prosperity and security. The Wheel of the Year is turning, rolling snow our way. Celebrating Autumn, I will congratulate myself on all I have accomplished this summer, rather than considering the things still undone. I will look with anticipation at the book manuscript on the corner of my desk, ready now to revise it. I will recall that our ancestors believed that sharing won us the favor of the Goddesses and Gods during the winter to come.
Whatever my reasons, I resolve to be glad to share my harvest with friends, with neighbors, and with wildlife-- including voles and birds. I know many friends will celebrate by taking advantage of hunting seasons, stalking animals to add to their food supplies. This ancient chant is both celebration of the season and prayer for the spirits of those who die to feed us, sending their spirits free to the otherworld as their meat was harvested to see the hunters and their families through winter.
The Wheel turns, bringing Life and death, harvest and rebirth, fall and a rising. Autumn demands winter as insistently and surely as spring demands summer. Beware, though of making your autumn poem a lament. Instead, celebrate the richness and beauty of the season. Our wise ancestors symbolized their understanding of this season in many ways.
Some called it Lughnasad , the wake of the Sun-King, Lugh, whose light begins to dwindle after the summer solstice. The dying king reminds us of winter, of the end of things, of regret and farewell. Other pagan festivals celebrated the Goddess in her aspect as the Harvest Mother, fruitful with crops to feed her worshippers, and generous with livestock fattening for winter. These traditions reminded the citizens of harvest and the preservation of abundance for the coming cold. Modern Americans tend to ignore this holiday, having no particular day of celebration for the end of summer.
Lugnahsad or Lammas , celebrated on August 1, is today the least-known of the four great fire festivals of the Celtic year. I believe pausing to become aware of this day is vital to the way we will approach and survive the winter. Regret and farewell, harvest and preservation: these are the four key words of Autumn. We must take care not to focus so much on our regrets that we neglect to celebrate our harvest. Perhaps if we look at our regrets and farewells, we can see a brighter promise in them. I clip each leaf free with a thumbnail or fingernail and drop it into the bowl.
One leaf at a time, the bowl fills. I inhale the sharp licorice scent of the basil, to PRESERVE it in my memory, as I take time to look closely at the multicolored hollyhock blossoms swaying above me, their colors filed in memory to recall when the snow drifts among their dried stalks.
My dryer was built from plans available from www.
Bean Trees, The - SparkNotes
On an icy day in winter I will open the jar. As I scoop a tablespoon of leaves into the palm of my hand and crumble them, I will recall the meditative calm with which I plucked each individual leaf. Sitting on the deck in the evening, I look up from my book and watch the jerky flight of the nighthawk; no photo can do justice to the way it mounts the air, lunging higher with each stroke of the slender wings, so I must PRESERVE the memory in my mind.
My assistant has HARVESTED the old redwood deck boards to recycle into chicken shelters where her chickens will lay eggs that we will eat, completing a lovely cycle of interdependence. They have been the most spectacular of my modest flower display, since I usually grow only native perennials. But because our house sits on top of a prairie hill, I planted hollyhocks on all four sides of the house and this year many stand eight feet tall. They began to bloom from the top and slowly the blooms have opened all the way down the sturdy stems, disappearing into the huge green leaves at the base.
Under those leaves, in the cool shade, baby rabbits hide until the dogs come out for their noon and evening walks. The blooms are in an astonishing array of colors, from the palest pink to the deeper hue of strawberry ice cream to carmine and dark crimson and a maroon that is nearly black, with some pale lilac and others deep purple.
The yellows are mostly pale as sunshine at noon, shading sometimes into lemon or a rich gold. Ivory and pure white with haloed golden centers stand beside peach blooms that blend into copper, apricot and salmon. Watering hollyhocks late afternoon, almost degrees, I stand among the stalks tall as I am and let the cold water run from the hose over my arms until the flesh of my hands feels icy, especially compared to the heat on the my back. Inside, the smell of HARVEST tickles my nose with scents of drying mint, oregano and basil in the cool basement as the thermometer climbs to degrees outside.
If my clothes are a little wrinkled, well, so am I. Against those regrets, I balance all the good work I have done for other writers this year; several are publishing books resulting from our work together. Several years ago, I discovered lammas.
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In , Lammas was already producing three quarters of its inhabitants' food, water and energy needs from its own land. The village is a model for possible future ways of living as energy costs rocket and concerns about climate change grow, and similar villages exist in other parts of Wales and the U. Lammas is completely "off grid" with no water, gas or electricity supplied by outside sources. The village was about to celebrate its second birthday since winning planning permission when the building inspectors showed up to protest some of the details: grass roofs, outside composting toilets, and ladders instead of staircases.
Apparently, those issues were resolved and the community continues to thrive. Creative people have devised wonderful systems for protecting people from their own ignorance as well as from natural and manmade disasters. But in order to prepare for the changes our society will need to make as we run out of the fuels that have sustained our rapid development, we will have to compromise, and to relearn old ways of natural building and to develop new ways of living sustainably. We might be wise to pay attention to these pioneers of the future, and turn REGRET for our previously wasteful ways into action to change them.
Fire and Ice and Prairie Flamingoes For the Summer Solstice, June 21, At Summer Solstice the sun is at its zenith, so that more daylight falls upon us than at any other time during the year and life is filled with possibility. This year the solstice falls on June 21 at a. EDT or a. Two baby killdeer run down the driveway, bouncing on impossibly thin stick legs, learning how to survive just as their parents did in this driveway last year. Those who honor the solstice often celebrate with fire, the strongest element on this day because it can cook, burn, consume, shed light or purify; we look to the hot South for inspiration.
The prairie is vividly green in every direction and the fire danger is low because we have had several inches of rain in June. Solstice symbols often include brightly colored flowers and ribbons, oak boughs, and fruit or vegetables, particularly those golden in color to imitate the flames of the south.
Scarlet gaura, gaillardia, and scarlet globemallow bloom among the native grasses-- buffalograss, timothy, and western wheatgrass. In Celtic tradition the Goddess cast her bouquet of summer flowers into a hilltop fire to add her power to the sun. The cattle that survived the October blizzard are getting fat and raising calves to repopulate the decimated ranches. Stonehenge is oriented to mark the sunrise and moonrise at the Summer and Winter solstices, so the heelstone marks the midsummer sunrise as seen from the center of the stone circle.
With abundant feed, the antelope, deer, meadowlark and other wildlife populations are recovering after devastating deaths in the October blizzard as well. Most cultures mark this Midsummer with some kind of ritual dedicated to the sun and to fertility; crops are at full growth, reaching their maturity and coming closer to harvest. Most wild herbs are fully mature so Midsummer is referred to in some cultures as Gathering Day, because herbs used for magical purposes are collected at this time. I've harvested the first batch of French breakfast radishes, the first garden produce of the summer, sharp and vivid on my tongue.
Summer Solstice: celebrate by enjoying every sunlit moment of this day. Resolve to take time every day left in the summer to appreciate the warmth and fertility of the land. The male red-winged blackbirds defend their territories from other blackbirds and even hawks; if you see a hawk flying erratically with small birds darting at its back-- avoiding the deadly talons-- the attackers are likely red-winged blackbirds.
They pause to sing crescendos into the steamy air from every fence post and chimney top. See closeups of the bird and hear the vibrant song by searching on Youtube. Then go outside the city and hear real ones-- they are found nearly everywhere in the U. Because he was alleged to have been born on June 24, the Christian Church has designated June 24, the nearest Christian holiday to Solstice, as the feast day of the martyr St.
John the Baptist, another instance when a pagan festival has been adopted by Christians. On hillsides along the highways, the grass looks golden because sweet clover is blooming everywhere. The Wild Prairie Flamingoes have been grazing near the greenhouse lately and we hope they will be raising some chicks to bring a little unusual color to the surrounding pastures. In ancient times, the Summer solstice festival was marked by fires of every description in the belief that all flame strengthened the sun, drove out evil, and brought fertility to the land.
Citizens lit balefires bonfires on the heights, rolled flaming barrels of fire or set light to wagon wheels bound with straw and rolled them down steep hillsides. It was said that because the Sun God and Goddess wanted the day to last forever, rolling the flaming wheels prolonged the light for their benefit. The Norse, especially, loved to gather family, friends and even farm animals into torchlight processions from their homes to the festival site.
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Mullein leaves are spreading wide against the ground to catch the light. Soon the central candle will begin to reach for the sky. Though the plant was introduced to the prairies, it has adapted well. Indians lined moccasins with the leaves to keep out the cold and made herbal remedies of its leaves and flowers, taking advantage of its anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, expectorant and analgesic properties.
Roman soldiers are said to have dipped the stalks in grease for torches, a use that could be adapted for solstice celebrations. Blazing gorse or heather was carried around cattle and fields to prevent disease and misfortune while people danced around fires or leapt through the flames in a purifying rite.
The Celts lit fires at sunset on Midsummer Eve and kept them blazing until the next day, inviting everyone to a feast. Astronomically, the solstice represents the God at full power, at the time of summer's full growth. Even though the hottest days of summer still lie ahead, from this point onward the year wanes and the sun sets a little earlier every night. As I drive through the pasture, two-month-old calves look at the car, eyes, wide, then bounce and kick and run, hair shiny with good health from good grazing.
If the day is cloudy or rainy, light a candle for the entire day to encourage and strengthen the sun and as a reminder of its importance. On a dark Solstice some light a white candle in front of a mirror, or surround the candle with gold jewelry or golden flowers to magnify the power. Many celebrants formalize or renew their wedding vows at this time, when the power of the sun is strongest.
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Couples who have been together since Beltane may solemnize their relationships on this date. On the small piece of prairie around my house, I walk among several members of the vetch family, blooming in lavender hues, with deep purple alfalfa standing taller. Bees buzz everywhere. The focus of Midsummer magic is often on courage, fertility of all kinds, self-confidence, and career.
Celebrants speak of harnessing the power to tackle seemingly insoluble problems, or bringing light into a difficult situation. Married women who wanted to get pregnant, especially if they were older than usual, would walk naked in the garden at midnight and pick the herb St. Young girls who wanted to dream of their true love would fast during the day and put the herb under their pillow at night. Celebrants of the Summer Solstice often vow not to let the light and joy of the longest day fade from their lives as the days draw in and cold darkness moves closer. Whether you are a writer or not, consider how you can counteract the negative, accentuate the positive, and get the most from this magnificent summer.
Happy Solstice and may you be blessed by this summer. For Beltane, April 30, Spring praises fertility, filling all of our senses with rich celebration. Our ancestors often reveled in the joy of the warm temperatures by leaping over the Beltane fire, and using its flames to rekindle the fire on all the hearths in the village. Celtic tradition celebrated the union between the Great Mother and her young horned God lover with dancing and love-making. Their coupling brought rebirth, fresh new life to earth. Some modern pagan circles enact this rite symbolically, placing a knife a phallic symbol in a chalice the female or yonic symbol.
Another symbolic adaptation of this rite was, naturally, the May pole and May basket. The ancients lived their symbolism, often seizing the chance to make love in the woods with someone who was not their spouse. Any children conceived as a result of these indiscriminate dallyings were welcomed as children of the gods, since the Beltane sexual union was considered sympathetic magic dedicated to enhancing the fertility of the land.
You might jump the creative fire and relight the flames of your own writing hearth by trying something new. If you write only in your journal, write a particularly rich letter to someone you know. Find an Internet writing site and post a paragraph. Research the life of a historical figure in your community. And in the spirit of spring, get outside and make symbolic love to spring.
Exercise your five senses, indulging in new sensory adventures. Write down the results and then try to make something-- a poem or essay or letter-- from the collection of material you have observed and sensed. When I write, I usually begin with an idea, notes taken in my journal on a particular topic. I challenged myself to collect the impressions of my five senses in honor of Beltane, and then see what I could make of them.
VISION: Dusty green glows on the far hills, as green grass comes up through older grass; fluorescent green vibrates in honeysuckle leaves; brownish-green lies along the juniper branches. Silverweed Potentilla catches my eye next with its serrated silvery leaves like a cushion for the tiny yellow blossoms. And then a dandelion, hugging the ground, an invader species that has adapted so well to the grasslands.
TASTE: Then Jerry came roaring up the hill on my four-wheeler, having decided spring has sprung far enough to get it running in preparation for my many trips to the garden and retreat house. Since it started hard, I had to drive it around for a while to charge the battery. I rumbled down the driveway and along the fences, pulling out the crumpled plastic bags that had caught on barbs and been shredding against the wind all winter. For cleansing the house when I returned to it after an absence, though, I always preferred the dried branches of prairie sage, twisted together and burning as a smudge.
I keep a number of reference books for identifying elements of the prairie ecosystem. And because the book was published so long ago, before big chemical companies seduced so many in agriculture, most of the methods it suggests for eradicating these evil plants involve digging or cultivation rather than poison. But I wonder how much the attitude that any plant interfering with cultivation must be killed has COST our economy and the health of our landscapes, people and animals over the years.
How would I describe the smell of sage to someone who had no experience of it? So I knelt to feel the tiny silky blossoms of the Hood phlox and silverweed and nibbled the fringed sage. In the afternoon, I mixed up a batch of bread, kneading and turning the ball of dough as it grew elastic and springy under my fingers. The day after writing these details, I learned that I have cataracts in both eyes. The prognosis is good; the cataracts may take five years to develop fully enough to require surgery, which is a minute out-patient procedure.
A large or high waterfall. A great downpour, a deluge. Opacity of the lens or capsule of the eye, causing impairment of vision or blindness. Cataracts Dusty green flows over pasture hills; green gushes in honeysuckle, yellow blooms drift with the buffalo grass. Exhaust flavors my tongue. Waterfalls of bird song flood past me, oceans of perfume pouring over the grass. Still, a scrim like fog blurs the outlines of all I see today. Behind my failing eyes, seventy years of visions glide across the hillside of my mind. Hasselstrom Even though I made changes in word choice and order as I wrote the lines, this is really a first draft.
But as a first draft, it shows promise. And the ending seems to slide rather than leap. Several of the poems struck chords in me, but the one that stayed longest in my mind was the final poem in the book. It was untitled, a practice I usually deplore. This is the poem:. I consider writing to be my job. The fact that my job is self-created and largely unpaid does not change the fact that I regard my writing occupation as seriously as any plumber or CEO. I am working by 9 a.
I love my job, but if I am not working, I feel guilty, an occupational hazard not shared by everyone. On days when I don't feel well, or am too tired to write, my rules require that I write anyway. Sometimes I write a letter or email, but I insist I do so as carefully as I write a poem or essay. The poem suggested to me that on some days I should not insist on writing but should simply watch the rain or the snow or the birds walking through the grass with their heads swiveling to see insects. Watch the way the light changes as the sun rises and moves across the sky. To see what the world is doing outside of writing is to refill the reservoir of writing and the well from which we draw our love of life, to remind ourselves why we live.
Most of us, habituated now to the nerve-wracking complexity we call "multitasking," may have a hard time sitting quietly for five minutes, let alone an entire day. You must learn to be still in the midst of activity. I have had enough such days, some of them enforced by illness or other causes, so that I now believe that a day of relative inactivity, of choosing to Not Write, may do my writing good, may be better for my writing than continuing to pound away at mediocre words and phrases.
If you decide to have a day of Not Writing, turn off all electronic devices: Kindle, I-Pad, phone, television, even your watch if you have one. At first you may feel the silence is oppressive, but this state will not last long. Listen to the peace; sink into silence.
Most of us find it difficult to empty the mind completely; ask the Buddhists and others who meditate regularly. You might start by staring at a particular object: I like to use a crystal globe given me by a good friend years ago. Your mind will attempt to involve you in something besides silent meditation, juggling before you memories of petty tasks you should do, like dusting or editing the grocery list, or calling a friend or organizing your spice rack.
Resist these impulses. Lean back. Let your eyes lose focus. Stare at something without sharp edges: the sky, the moving ocean, grass blowing in the wind, blossoms in a cluster, snowdrifts. Breathe in. Breathe out. Close out distractions by picturing yourself inside a shimmering bubble that lets in only what you want and need.
Celebrants of the Vernal Equinox often search for freedom in the four directions. Symbolically, we look to the east to free our minds; to the south to free our spirits; to the west to free our emotions, and to the north to free our bodies. I find it useful to sit alone outside, surrounded by the lively silence of the natural world. I wait for a sense of calm to descend, like a dragonfly on my shoulder. In a pond, koi can reach lengths of eighteen inches. Amazingly, when placed in a lake, koi can grow to three feet long. Perhaps movement will help you empty your mind; take a long walk, or bicycle ride, or swim or even a drive-- with the radio off.
Look at what you see. Think only of what your senses report, what your feet and arm muscles and legs are doing. Become aware of the energy running from the earth up inside your body, out the top of your head. Realize too that energy runs from the sky down through your body and into the earth. Or take along a dog to help you see the world as a canine does: sniff carefully though perhaps not as closely! Trot with exuberance, as though your tail were a great waving plume. Prick your ears to catch every sound.
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The writer should never be ashamed of staring. The is nothing that does not require his attention. Here's the key part of this activity: if you can empty your mind long enough, allow your senses to fill you, the thoughts that arise will be more worthwhile. I can't tell you what these thoughts will be-- except that they will not be about grocery lists or FaceBook or Twitter.
Nor can I tell you how you will recognize them. The poem, whether written or unwritten, will be your own. Cathy's poem remains in my mind. On a sunny day I take sheets to the bedroom and discover a poem as I pull the sheets tight at the corners. Outside the windows, the pillows lie on the deck in the sun, soaking up spring's fresh air. The duvet and comforter hang on the railing, distributing dog hair into the wind and drawing the sun's heat.
Tonight, I will slide between these sheets smelling of prairie grass. I will relax into the comfort of darkness. The dogs snoring will tell me I am at home. I will have been privileged to have spent the day largely following my own choices, mingling household chores like laundry and bed-making with writing to friends, writing paragraphs for a book, and cooking tasty, healthy food.
These actions are today's poem. Making the day a poem when the day is pleasant is not too difficult. Is it possible to make a poem of a rotten day? Anyone might relax and rejuvenate in a gorgeous place, especially if you are waited on. This is one reason so-called spiritual retreats in exotic locations are so popular, and so costly. Considerably harder is to maintain or enhance your equilibrium in chaos; few retreats are held near expressways.
Recently, as I drove to town on the seventh day of what was apparently a complete computer meltdown, I wondered if I could create a better mood as I would create a poem. I had already accomplished a worthwhile task that morning, prompted by knowing that my computer will be like new when I get it back, i. I went through my collection of outdated passwords and created a new booklet to hold this vital information: I created a password poem. So: how could I create a hymn from chaos? Straightening my spine, I glanced into my rear-view mirrors, then out at the tan landscape of early spring.
Nothing green. But no snow, either. In a few days, more males and females will arrive and they will gather in noisy flocks in the tops of the cottonwoods and elms. A male will claim the top of the chimney on our house and declare his suitability for mating. Another will argue from the top of the nearby electric pole that no, he is the sexiest and biggest and baddest blackbird stud in the neighborhood.
The modest females, meanwhile, will be gobbling insects in the grass, biding their time, not looking at the male, and perhaps twittering to one another about their preferences. Eventually they will select mates and start nesting in the tops of thistles and mullein and willows in the gully. The nature of the world is to be calm, and enhance and support life, and evil is an absence of the.
Yes; chaos is evil. Peace is the true nature of the world. Looking around as I drove, I saw baby calves bouncing in the sun, definitely a sonnet in motion.