No Unsacred Place is Closing Its Doors

April 28, 2014 by Categorized: Earth Matters, Earthly Rites, Fur and Feather, Natural Reflections, Nature in the News, Restorying the Sacred, Science & Spirit, The Sacred in Suburbia.

Good day, all. This is Lupa, editor for No Unsacred Place.

You may have noticed that we have not had any new posts for a few weeks, to include our Wordless Wednesday feature. The reason for this is that No Unsacred Place, and its parent organization the Pagan Newswire Collective, is in the process of shutting down. After four years of providing readers with a variety of blogs and bureaus, the management of the PNC determined that it’s time to put the site to rest. This is not because the writers weren’t good enough, or because we didn’t have enough readers. Rather, it’s a matter of time and effort for the organization as a whole. Running any sort of website requires a lot of personal investment, and moreso when you have multiple people involved. While the original vision of the PNC–to offer both widespread and localized pagan news and opinions–was a solid one, and the people involved were dedicated, it was just larger a task than could be handled with the resources available. So it is that the PNC is going through a slow dissolution as the various blogs and bureaus figure out in what direction they’ll go.

So why is No Unsacred Place dissolving instead of just moving to a new home? For much the same reason that the PNC is disappearing–it’s a lot of work to keep a group blog going. Both I and my predecessor, Alison Leigh Lilly, put a lot of work into rounding up some fantastic writers for PNC. I’ve been incredibly honored to be a part of this project since November 2011, first as a writer, and then later as editor, and I’ve enjoyed reading it since even before then. There’s no doubt that a lot of love and good thoughts went into the posts in this blog–almost 400 of them over the years! But as we all know, life has a way of shifting and changing. Many of the earliest writers for NUP found them selves unable to keep posting due to time restrictions, and even some of the writers that I recruited when I first became the editor late in 2012 are no longer actively posting here.  Everything has a lifespan, and NUP is coming to the end of its time.

Never fear, though–many of the writers here maintain online presences elsewhere where you can keep reading our writings:

–Rua Lupa and I are starting a new blog together, Paths Through the Forests, over at Patheos. It’s still in the setup process, but should be live sometime in May.  ETA: The blog went live shortly after we posted this–here’s the link. We’ll be talking about bioregionalism, nature-based ways of living, eco-spirituality, and more–much as we have here. Our posts from No Unsacred Place will be archived there as well (but only mine and Rua Lupa’s, not those from the rest of the writers).

–I also have my own personal blog, A Sense of Natural Wonder, where there’s more nature pagan-y goodness, along with art, opinions, and other thoughts. I’ll make an announcement there when Paths Through the Forests is live, so you’re welcome to add my blog to keep an eye out for that news.

–If you’ve enjoyed Rua Lupa’s posts on Ehoah, check out her website, which has a lot more information on this way of living.

–Alison Leigh Lilly is blogging at her website, Holy Wild.

–Cat Chapin-Bishop may be found at her blog, Quaker Pagan, which she shares with Peter Bishop.

–Emma-Jayne Saanen, blogging and art and all, may be found at her site, Urbanimal.

–Sara Amis will also have a blog on Patheos coming up soon, where she’ll be writing about traditional witchcraft, so keep your eyes peeled!

–Eli Effinger-Weintraub invites people to add her Twitter account, where she posts links to her various writings on the web.

–Glen Gordon is blogging over at Humanistic Paganism; you can find his posts here.

–John Beckett has a blog over at Patheos, Under the Ancient Oaks.

–Juniper Jeni may be found (blog included) at Walking the Hedge.

–Ravenari posts writings and some fantastic photos and other art on her Dreamwidth account.

We hope that you’ll continue to enjoy the writings and other creativity we offer at these places. And, moreover, we thank you profusely for reading our works here, for your comments and conversation, and for every reblog, retweet, and other sharing of links and ideas. Rather than mourning the loss of NUP, remember the good we were able to do with it.

And keep the conversation going, too. The more we can share ideas on how to live more in harmony with the land and with each other, the greater our pool of resources becomes. NUP was just one hub of ideas, and it sprouted several others as writers from here went on to other projects, and as readers were inspired to start their own blogging efforts. This is a time of transition for us all; let’s see what seeds may sprout from the remains of a good idea.

Be well, and thank you all.

Festivities of Natural Annual Events: Equal Length of Night and Day

March 18, 2014 by Categorized: Earthly Rites, Nature in the News.

F.N.A.E. articles are written with Ehoah phrases

Ehoah Phrases

Seasonal Occurrences

During the Borealis Equilux (this year on March 20) the equator is facing directly toward the sun, making the sun’s rays hit the two hemispheres equally causing equal lengths of day and night worldwide. At noon along the equatorial line virtually no shadows will be cast. Globally on this day, the point where the horizon crosses the sun’s disk is due east and west. Making it a good time to figure out landmarks that aid in direction throughout the year or building projects that are reliant on the sun’s rays.

Ehoah-Globus_Borealis-Equilux

For Borealis it will be going into longer days seeing the earth’s daily turning view of the sun higher and higher north; and for Australis there will be longer nights with the daily turning view of the sun lower along the north horizon. At the poles, it marks the start of the transition to 24 hours of nighttime in Australis and 24 hours of daylight in Borealis.

Global-Conditions_Borealis-EquiluxWhere the majority of earth’s population is (at and north of the Borealis Sol Axis with the addition of Southern & Western Europe) spring is coming into effect with new leaves and flowers coming in and wildlife either expecting or just receiving the next generation. The warmer regions will be bringing in their first harvest. Farther North of the Borealis Sol Axis and the other regions of Europe winter is dissipating, either just beginning its thaw or in full flow feeding the watercourses and water table.

For the Tropics, this is when the Tropical Rain Belt is beginning to reach the equator, moving toward the Borealis Sol Axis.

South of the equator it is overall getting darker, colder and the precipitation is lessening.

Seasonal Customs

In Borealis, most of the temperate climes are celebrating the beginnings of spring, where eggs are a common theme. For the warmer climes of Borealis, spring would be in full swing. Both climes have themes this time of year that celebrate life – particularly new life; and with the longest nights well behind, themes of a new day often symbolized as dawn. Because of these occurrences many regions regard this as a time for new beginnings, thereby it marks the New Year for their respective calendars.

Various activities around the time of Equilux include: Accepting the many experiences life holds in its many forms in dishes symbolically flavoured as different emotions; Bonfires and festivities on the full moon nearest Equilux; Decorating and splashing each other with bright colours; Acceptance of raucous and pranking behaviour; Getting outside for extended periods with camping and other outdoor recreational activities; Growing sprouts and starting harvest vegetation to plant; Dancing Egg; Martenitsa/Mărțișor; Courting customs and rituals by young adults to gain better chances at obtaining a spouse; House cleaning and symbolic rituals to shed away the darkness of winter, ‘evil’, or bad luck; as well as enacting rituals for fertile land and good harvest to come.
A growing custom that is well received is putting out loose fiber balls among the trees or other easily found places for birds to use in their nest building. For a festive touch these can be brightly coloured fibers or the loose shape made to look like a bird or other recognizable seasonal shape.

Not much is known of the seasonal festivities of Australis. What is known for this time of year is that it is the beginning of the kumara harvest in New Zealand. Karakia would be offered at dawn, and the first kumara dug were those that had been ritually planted as the first seeds in spring. These special tubers were cooked in a separate hangi and offered to Pani so that the tapu of Rongomatane, God of the cultivated crops, was laid to rest. With the rains receding from Australis, most regions partake in netting or trapping large amounts of fish to store for the months to come. In general, it is the main harvest season for Australis.

 

BOREALIS

CELEBRATION

GENERAL DATE

SPECIFIC DATE

CALENDAR

REGION OF ORIGIN

CULTURE

Holi

Early February – Late March

Full moon nearest Equilux (may vary depending on calendar used)

Indian national calendar and Older Regional Calendars

South Asia

Indian

Chahārshanbe-Sūri

Early March

Last Tuesday before Equilux

Zoroastrian calendar

Western Asia

Persian

Nowrūz, Kha b-Nisan

Late March

Equilux

Zoroastrian calendar, Solar Hijri calendar

Western Asia

Persian

Ostara, Alban Eilir

Late March

Equilux

Gregorian calendar

Wheel of the Year

Western Europe

German

Equilux

Late March

Equilux

Ehoah Year Wheel – Gavia, Borealis Kalendar

Global

Saegoah

Baba Marta

Early March

March 1st

Gregorian calendar

Eastern Europe

Bulgarian

Hōnen Matsuri

Mid March

March 15th

Gregorian calendar

East Asia

Japanese

Sham El Nessim

Late March to Early April

First Sunday after full Moon Following Equilux (originally on Equilux)

Gregorian calendar

North Africa

Egyptian

Ugadi, Gudi Padwa, Chaitti, Basoa

Late March to Early April

1st Day of Chaitra – Either Equilux or the first morning after the new moon after Equilux (may vary depending on calendar used)

Indian national calendar and Older Regional Calendars

South Asia

Indian

April Fools, poisson d’avril , prima aprilis, aprilsnar / Sizdah Bedar

Early April

April 1 / 13th day after Nowruz (Equilux)

Gregorian calendar /

Zoroastrian calendar, Solar Hijri calendar

Western Asia

Persian

 

 

AUSTRALIS

CELEBRATION

GENERAL DATE

SPECIFIC DATE

CALENDAR

REGION OF ORIGIN

CULTURE

Mabon, Alban Elfed

Late March

Equinox

Gregorian calendar

Wheel of the Year

Western Nations

Neopagan

Poututerangite Ngahuru

Late March

Equinox

unknown

Oceania

New Zealand / Maori

Equinox

Late March

Equinox

Ehoah Year Wheel – Sphenisci, Australis Kalendar

Global

Saegoah

 

GLOBUS
World Water Day – on March 22
International Day of Forests – on March 21
World Citizen Day – on March 20

For World Citizen Day, there is a related on going petition to the United Nations Ambassadors about achieving a globally recognized world passport #WorldPassport #WorldCitizen

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Guest Post: I Don’t Believe in Purification

March 11, 2014 by Categorized: Earthly Rites, Natural Reflections.

By Shauna Aura Knight

I’m a Pantheist. I believe that the entirety of the world, of the universe, is divine. So the idea of “making sacred space” or “purifying” doesn’t really fit into my theology or cosmology. On the other hand, a lot of the ritual facilitation work that I do is about working with people and their processes. I tend to think as psychology as a kind of magic because it works to understand people and how they work, and for me, those patterns and processes are a part of our nature, and thus, part of the divine as well.

For me, the part of the ritual that is often referred to as “making sacred space” is more about getting everyone involved in the ritual into the right mindset, the right headspace. And if I look at psychology, and architecture, and the process of pilgrimage, and the hero’s journey…and I look at that alongside the natural world and the shapes and patterns found in nature, this makes a lot of sense.

Here’s what I mean: We need process. We need steps in order to change our state of consciousness. A ritual provides those steps, those triggers, to shift our mindset.

Christopher Alexander, noted architect and author of A Pattern Language writes that “whatever it is that is holy will only be felt as holy, if it is hard to reach, if it requires layers of access waiting, levels of approach, a gradual unpeeling, gradual revelation, passage through a series of gates….This layering or nesting of precincts, seems to correspond to a fundamental aspect of human psychology.”

If you imagine any church or temple, there are layers, gateways. Or even imagine the construction of a labyrinth, with turns and twists until you reach the center. Alexander goes on to write that the “feeling of slow, progressive access through gates to a holy center may be experienced.” Also that the pattern of sacred places is formed by “a series of nested precincts, each marked by a gateway, each one progressively more private, and more sacred than the last, the innermost a final sanctum that can only be reached by passing through all of the outer ones.”
A labyrinth, in a far simpler form is a spiral. Spiraling in, spiraling out. The spiral is one of the basic building-block shapes found in nature. It’s found in the growth of seeds and the swirling of water around a drain, and it’s found in the shape of galaxies.

Caroline Humphrey and Piers Vitebsky write in Sacred Architecture that “Sacred architecture continually strives to reproduce the patterns, structures and alignments of the universe.”

I think of ritual as a spiral. We’re spiraling into sacred space and spiraling out. Or at least, spiraling into that sacred-space-mindset. We need that process, we need to jump through the hoops, to do the deep work and find the deep magic. For me, the space was already sacred, we just need to awaken to that sacredness.

For whatever reason, we humans can’t seem to exist in a perpetual state of mystic communion with the divine. I think we probably wouldn’t get a whole lot done if we were.

Humphrey and Vitebsky also write that “In sacred architecture, humans arrange the materials provided by nature to create a special space within which they can encounter the divine. This space is marked off from ordinary space outside.” I think that this idea of a sacred grove, sacred temples, or other sacred places—including that created during a modern Pagan ritual—is because we can’t just continually exist in that mindset. We have to spiral our way into it, and then return. In fact, for people, I think it’s a deeply kinesthetic process. Personal transformation of any kind seems to require that pilgrimage, that overworld hero’s journey, when it’s what is deep within us that is what is really changing.

When I facilitate a ritual, I think about all those walls we put up, and how we have to pass through them to get to the deep within, to the mystery, to pass through the veils to be able to see where we are as sacred…to connect to the divine…to see ourselves as part of that sacred.

I go through an entire process that is less for me about theology, and more about getting people past themselves and into an altered state of consciousness. For some people, movement does the trick. For others it’s chanting or singing bowls. Others trance out through looking at fire or reflections in the water. For others it’s scent. Often it’s a combination of these. I also use processes of getting people to close their eyes and connect to their own energies through trancework and meditation, as well as speaking words out, singing and dancing and adding their energy to the group working, or looking deeply into each other’s eyes to see the divine within each other. That connection and that risk of emotional intimacy is part of the process of that spiral too.

For me the idea of purification implies that I’m dirty. It also implies that there’s something outside of me that can make me clean. For me, purification is a process of becoming present, becoming centered. Not cleansing away the “bad” so much as focusing my intention, moving past those “talky self” distractions to connect to my deep self.

And props help with the process. Singing bowls, bowls of water, feathers, smudging, chanting…these are all deep signals for, “Let’s begin the spiraling in. Let’s head down into the deeper work.”

In the rituals I do in Chicago, or at festivals, I try to make space for many different theologies and traditions. I often use that typical ritual template of grounding/centering, casting a circle, inviting in the elements and other allies, but for me, it’s less about theology and more about ritual as a pattern. It’s more about that process of moving into the deep within. While I’m coming at it as a pantheist, I know that many are coming in as duotheists or polytheists or henotheists or humanists or atheists or animists. I try to make space for that as much as possible, though I’m aware that people with a pantheistic or archetypal leaning will probably resonate more with the work I do.

Ultimately, I just want everyone to be able to have that experience of the divine, in whatever way they experience that, in whatever form, by whatever name they call it. That something sacred that is always there for us, but sometimes we just have such a hard time finding it.

And so I go through the spirals and the patterns, the circumambulations to get people out of their heads and into that deeper trance state where they might be able to touch the fingertips of the divine. It’s why I work so hard to get people singing and dancing and moving and making rhythm, and opening up to risk that connection, because it’s worth it.

When people connect to that sacred, there then is no unsacred place, there’s just the journey to get there. In my own deeper mystic experiences, I have felt the beauty of how each person is sacred and has always been sacred. Our bodies are living temples. We are the love of the beloved that is the universe, the ocean of energy and matter that is all of us and the separations between us is just a momentary illusion. Our bodies are sacred and the land we stand on is sacred and the skies and the burning stars are sacred…but to stand in awe of all of that would burn us out. I couldn’t live every day feeling the heartbreak of the universe on my skin. I’ve heard it said that people who go to Faerie come back as poets or madmen, but I think that’s probably true of a visit to Faerie, or too much time spent in direct apprehension of the divine.

And so we have these processes, these spiraling journeys to get to that mindset where we can see the sacred deep within, and then return. If there is one thing about my own spiritual calling that is the most inspiring to me, it’s that moment when someone goes deep and awakens. When we are singing together in a ritual and I see them crack open, I see them connect to that something larger, touch their fingertips to that mystery they are seeking.

What do you seek? And what brings you closer to the divine, by whatever name you call it? What gets you there?

An artist, author, presenter, and spiritual seeker, Shauna travels nationally speaking on the transformative arts of ritual, community leadership, and personal growth. She is the author of the Dreamwork for the Initiate’s Path and several books on leadership and ritual facilitation. She’s a columnist on ritual techniques for Circle Magazine, and her writing appears in several anthologies. She’s also a fantasy artist and author of several Urban Fantasies and Paranormal Romances. Her mythic artwork and designs decorate many walls, shrines, and other spaces.
http://www.shaunaauraknight.com/books  http://shaunaaura.wordpress.com

Wordless Wednesday: Snowdrops After Rain

March 5, 2014 by Categorized: Natural Reflections.

Snowdrops After Rain, by Alison Leigh Lilly


Share your nature photography and artwork on the Pagan Newswire Collective Flickr group. For more information, check out our submission guidelines.

A Shallow Grave in the Woods Doesn’t Sound So Bad

February 27, 2014 by Categorized: Earth Matters, Earthly Rites, Natural Reflections.

I just finished reading Bernd Heinrich’s Life Everlasting: The Animal Way of Death. On one level, it’s an in-depth look at some of the undertakers of nature–burying beetles, vultures, fungi and their ilk. Most of us recognize that when an animal, plant or other living thing dies in the wild, it quickly becomes food for others; the nutrients in its body are cycled back into the system of life and death, eating and excreting. Not surprisingly, numerous creatures evolved to fit niches entailing the consumption and removal of remains of the dead. Some of these are so tightly set into their places, in fact, that the human removal of their particular food source has caused endangerment and even extinction. The white-rumped vulture of southeast Asia, for example, is critically endangered because there are many fewer wild ungulate carcasses to feed on, and we humans eat the cattle and other livestock that took their place. This is further compounded by certain anti-inflammatory drugs used in the cattle; when a vulture is able to get to a cow carcass, certain residual drugs in the flesh have fatal consequences.

And this ties into another layer of this book: interconnection, even across long distances and longer time periods. We are notoriously prone to tunnel vision when it comes to the effects of our species. It’s only really been in the past several decades that we’ve developed widespread awareness of the negative consequences of our actions on the land, sea, sky, and their inhabitants, ourselves included. By looking at just one slice of the world, that of the decay and repurposing of remains, Heinrich is able to startle us back into the realization that what we do does have an impact, often more far-reaching than even our best previous research had shown. As the author states with regards to the white-rumped vultures, “of course nobody thought it necessary to test whether a drug made in America that makes cows well would make vultures in Iran or China or India sick” (p. 92).

But let’s make this even more personal: the disposition of human remains. In the United States, there are essentially two legal means to ultimately place human remains to rest: cremation and burial. Even bodies that are donated to science are ultimately cremated once the medical students or researchers are done with them. And both of these methods are strictly regulated. You can’t simply place a body on a lavishly decorated funeral pyre; instead, the body must be taken to a crematory which operates under very specific regulations, placed in the crematorium and burned. It’s a much more sterile environment than an open space under the sky, and few people stick around to watch their loved ones being turned to the ashes they will later collect in a cardboard box or similarly sterile container. As to burial? You can’t just be left in the woods somewhere to become a part of the trees; instead, your choices are either private property (within certain limits) or designated burial grounds covered with carefully manicured lawns doused in chemical fertilizers and herbicides.

Both of these are starkly divorced from the natural cycles that Heinrich describes for other animal species–and for our prehistoric ancestors as well, along with any later humans who died remotely enough to not be recovered. And both of them have significant negative impacts on the environment. A read through the first chapter of Mark Harris’ Grave Matters: A Journey Through the Modern Funeral Industry to a Natural Way of Burial displays just how eco-unfriendly the standard American burial process really is. The corpse’s veins are pumped full of formaldehyde, which prevents even the tiniest bacterial undertakers from doing their natural job (in fact, the abdomen of the body is punctured and the remaining bacteria are vacuumed out). Then the sterilized, chemical-soaked body is placed into a decay-resistant coffin, and laid into a chamber of concrete and steel that deters even the most determined of worms. Heinrich states that “In the United States alone, the burials in our 22,500 active cemeteries annually eat up 30 million board feet of hardwood lumber, more than 100,000 tons of steel, 1,600 tons of reinforced concrete*, and nearly 1 million gallons of embalming fluid” (p. 195-6). Imagine how many houses could be built with the lumber and concrete, sheltering the living instead of the dead, with the funeral materials of just one year in one country.

Cremation isn’t much better. While it may save space in the earth, Heinrich points out that cremation causes “0.2 percent of the global emissions of dioxins and furans, making it the second-largest source of airborne mercury in Europe”. And he further points out that “The amount of fossil fuel required to cremate the North American crop of bodies each year has been estimated to equal what an automobile would use in more than eighty round trips to the moon” (p. 196). Yes, he said eighty, not eight. One thing he didn’t mention, and which is another primary reason I do not want to be cremated, is that all those nutrients saved up in your body are largely wasted when your remains are burned. You may have spent decades pulling in resources from the food you eat, but cremation robs the land of the return of those resources, with only a few ashy exceptions.

In fact, American culture is so against any alternatives to these two resource-intensive options that “a shallow grave in the woods” is only used when describing the careless disposal of the body of a murder victim. There’s no room here for a carefully planned-out funeral in which the deceased is lovingly placed directly into the welcoming earth, where we aren’t tricked into thinking that the remains will never decay because the dead person has a little bed in a little concrete house in the ground. And while I recognize that this form of artificial burial is meant in part to comfort the living, I find it patently disturbing.

I am decidedly agnostic when it comes to the idea of an afterlife of any sort. If there is one, great! The adventure continues. If there isn’t, though, then I would spend my last moment of awareness horrified if I felt I hadn’t made the most of this life. This includes the responsible disposition of my remains once I’m gone. I have no guarantee that there’s any life other than this one, but I know for sure that what I do in this moment can have reverberations in this world well beyond my own departure. I am not motivated by fear of a horrible punishment after I die. I am motivated by the care of the beings I share this life with right now. And I feel that the best last act I can do for this world is to responsibly return the resources I used to build my body back to their source once I’m done walking around in the flesh.

This is why I am a strong advocate for green burial (and, additionally, home funerals). We are so death-phobic in this culture that we have literally placed the care of our loved ones’ remains in the hands of others. All we get is the post-embalming model of the person who used to be, poked and prodded and vacuumed by a stranger’s hands, and all we can hope is that in the case of an open casket we can say “Oh, s/he looks so natural!” Then it’s into the concrete shaft, and once the bereaved have left the site a backhoe tosses the remaining earth back into place. Or we send the body away to a crematory and get back the box of ashes, with the dirtiest work already done for us. This gives us little incentive to think about the wider impacts of our choices, and indeed a person deep in mourning should not be expected to think about mercury pollution or how many houses are buried in the graveyard.

But that’s why I’m thinking about it now when I am not dying (and, powers that be willing, not about to step outside and get hit by a bus). I have the time and luxury to consider what my last gift to this world will be, whether there’s another one or not. It may be considered morbid by some to even think about death when it’s not an imminent reality. But that “not thinking about it” tendency has gotten us in a lot of trouble as a species. Just as we’ve had to face some uncomfortable truths about the prices for our resources and luxuries, from food to housing to transportation, so I think we also need to be approaching the realities of dying and death in this culture.

And there are movements in that direction. Death Cafes have begun to spring up in cities in Europe and the U.S.; I attended the first one in Portland last year, and I and others found it to be a good opportunity to bring up some difficult topics. Books like Heinrich’s and Harris’ and others not only make us more aware of the nasty behind-the-scenes of modern burial and cremation techniques, but offer up better alternatives that are kinder to both the earth and the body itself. And, slowly but surely, the taboo around death in American culture in particular is disintegrating, so that instead of being discussed only in hushed tones, or splattered across sensationalized horror films, death is beginning to take its place in our cycle of life again.

As for me? Should I shuffle off this mortal coil tomorrow, bury my remains at White Eagle Memorial Preserve Cemetery in Washington state. Don’t give me a coffin; just wrap me in a plain white sheet, secondhand if you can get it. Don’t bury me with mementos and trinkets; let my possessions be cycled back into the world as surely as my remains will go back to the earth. Have a physicist speak at my funeral, read Mary Frye’s Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep aloud, and let people say the last words they need to say. Celebrate my life afterward if you so choose, if it will help you mourn and heal. And then leave my remains in the ground, where the worms and burrowing insects and fungi can be my undertakers, carefully packaging out the molecules of my form and giving them to other beings in the natural world. I don’t want to be encased in concrete; I want to become trees and foxes and rivers, just as I was once apples and chickens and bright bubbling springs. Make this your last gift to me, so I can make one last gift to the world you still share.

* http://naturalburialground.org/htm/natural_burial.htm says that it’s 1,636,000 tons of concrete, “enough for a 2-lane road between San Francisco and Phoenix!”

Wordless Wednesday: Little Altars 4

February 26, 2014 by Categorized: Natural Reflections.

Little Altars 4, by VagabondTabby


Share your nature photography and artwork on the Pagan Newswire Collective Flickr group. For more information, check out our submission guidelines.

Transequilux keeps me occupied

February 20, 2014 by Categorized: Earth Matters, Earthly Rites, Natural Reflections.

As I’ve mentioned at the end of the Ritual & Ceremony of a Naturalistic Saegoah series, I wanted to keep people in the loop of what goes on for each celebration and lo doth I fall victim to my own celebration to present a electronic scroll describing it.

Transequilux is a time to prepare for the new year ahead with Equilux as the beginning of the new year. So I’ve been making so many preparations that I’ve lost track of time and figured the least I can do is post on what kind of things I’m preparing for as an example.

In hopes of causing ripples of influential change this year, I’ve been writing extensively to present the minimal information needed to maximize tangible positive impacts for a healthy planet. This will be in a magazine issue (either their up coming one or the following, but it will be printed) which will get the exclusive and I will put up a post and link here at No Unsacred Place on where you can find it when it becomes available. I will be writing more in depth on each topic presented in the magazine issue here at No Unsacred Place.

I’ve been studying and writing to present a post on how we have the calendar system we have – stemming from all the new years occurring in various cultures this time of year, and because I’m a calendar geek. But its proven to need more study to be able to have the full picture as there is a lot more fascinating history to it than I realized. I hope to be able to post this soon (Ideally in a couple of weeks at most).  I would also like to make a similar post on the Ehoah kalendars in time for Equilux.

Click to view larger image

 

Apart from all that writing I’ve been getting involved in local projects, doing a lot of experiments and even more historical study.

The experiments that are currently dominating (because I, in general, have so many going at any one time – I should be diagnosed for something, like Sciementia) is the continual strive for Human au Naturel (meaning that I want to be human as nature intended, working with my own biology instead of against it) which has recently led to the next phase after No-Poo Method (poo is referring to shampoo) into the Water Only Method. The other experiment is perfecting my needle felted mittens (which I’m likely to end up going the route of wet felting all together) – being well on their way to being the best performing natural fiber, water shedding, wind proof, breathable, toasty warm mittens.  I hope to one day make them available on the market (small scale) as income to support a food forest family run farm which I aspire to make into a Saegoah Sanctuary for studies and community involvement (hopefully becoming an inspiration and source for other Saegoah Sanctuaries to start up, becoming a resource network). I’ve also been trying to figure out how to make Ehoah Standard (I’ll get into what that is in another post) Ehoah Kalendars available for sale – which is the only reason why they aren’t already.

With all my pursuits for Ehoah (complete harmony within Nature) I’ve been gradually gaining many skills that are the equivalent to pre-industrial living skills. This recently led me to becoming involved with the SCA (Society of Creative Anachronism), being pre-1600′s historical reenactment with some creative fun. Within the SCA I hope to collaborate and develop more of those life skills, with the side bonus of being a market for our hand made goods. So I’ve been preparing to have everything I need for the up coming weekend camping event in July – the Baron’s Brouhaha (all welcome, and yes there will be medieval combat). I’ve been gathering information on all the gear I’ll need for in-period pizazz – not to mention that I was going that direction regardless so it makes for a perfect excuse. This includes garb/clothing (belt pouch, shoes, hat, tunic, trousers, + embroidery added over time, etc.), feast gear (dishes, utensils, vessels etc.), tent, sleeping gear (pad, blankets/pelts, pillows etc.), cooking gear (vessels, stove, utensils, etc.), accessories (lanterns, seating, my drums (I plan on jamming with fellow campers) etc.), and craft gear (includes alpaca fibers for own felting and wool yarn for learning Nalbinding). My spouse will be providing hand made leather goods – including period belt pouches and shoes that are made out of leather from cattle that were raised, and their hides tanned, toxic free, in North America – not easy to find. I plan on making the vast majority of our gear myself, otherwise I’d be looking locally and expand from there to at least organic/sustainable/fair-trade. The truth is I don’t need to do all this and only at minimum need some garb – which I don’t even necessarily need as the SCA provides that for guests. But I love the creative challenge and being able to find satisfaction in learning new skills and completing a well made project that I’ll definitely continue to use. It also hastens my transition away from depending on unsustainable products. If you’re in the area I’d love to meet you there.

Click Image Link to Event Information

Then there are three final projects that have community involvement.

1) I’ve recently gotten involved in the Manitoulin Food Network that is striving for providing the island with island grown food and educating the public on how to go about supplying yourself (I’m one of two coordinating the Island Grown Cookbook). So we’re working with schools to incorporate school gardens into the curriculum titled Kids Can Grow, and starting community gardens and food forests (this is where my recently acquired Permaculture Designer certificate is of help – there are two other fellow permaculture designers on the island whom we’ll be coordinating with to get more food forests in the ground for our communities). There are a few other side projects too, one I’m doing is a workshop on in home vermicomposting and providing start-up kits to those interested. If you’re interested in vermicomposting I can also do a post on how you can do your own and what mine has been like over the past couple of years we’ve had ours – post any questions you want answered in that post in the comments below.

A good friend & fellow Permaculturalist holding a part of a favorite Permaculture Tool – The Water Tube Level

2) I’ve a pilot project to grow a food forest on Cloverhill Farm by my town. The section I’m working on is a ridge that was known in pre-settler times as Poshkdinong, “The Barren Hill”. This is where I put my new found skills to the test, being intended as an example because if I can grow a food forest there, I can grow a food forest anywhere on this limestone island. So I’ve been preparing to have my designs and equipment ready for this spring. One crucial piece of equipment is the Water Tube Level pictured here.

"The Barren Hill"

Pilot Study Site: Poshkdinong, “The Barren Hill”

3) A beloved project of mine that will soon be coming off the ground – The GALIS Resource (The Great Alvaric Lake Island Saegoah Resource). It is a website for Saegoahs (seekers of Ehoah) on the island as a one stop shop so they can easily find the local sustainable resources that are here. It is meant to involve every aspect of everyday life, from food to recreation. A side benefit is that it would reveal where there are gaps in resources – providing an opportunity for someone to become a local entrepreneur, thus creating a job market and boosting local economy. At least that’s the hope, we’ll see.

GALIS Resource - Fibers

GALIS Resource – Fibers Page

Other than preparing for the year ahead Transequilux is meant for catching up with loved ones (a small tradition is writing a hidden message in wax with a visible message to reveal the rest by painting/coloring over the paper). This especially is a time for making arrangements to have quality time with old friends in the coming year (arranged to meet up with a few old friends at the Baron’s Brouhaha – we’ll all be experiencing an SCA event for the first time together, making it more enjoyable), and playing games that involve finding the hidden in the mundane (usually taking the form of treasure hunts themed on secretive/hidden species – learning more about them and how to be respectful neighbors even though we don’t normally see them).

And that’s how I’ve been spending Transequilux. Hopefully you’ve become inspired and if you have any questions or want to learn more on any of the topics mentioned, comment below! If there is a lot of interest in certain areas I’ll be sure to set aside time to write specifically on that for you.

 

Happy belated Transequilux!

(Transequilux was for Borealis (the northern hemisphere) between January 20th and February 18th – Mensis Lynx in the Ehoah Kalendar, the height of it being on February 3rd & 4th – Lynx 15th & 16th. Australis (the southern hemisphere) just had Transequinox)

 

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Wordless Wednesday: Arbutus

February 19, 2014 by Categorized: Natural Reflections.

Arbutus, by Morag Spinner


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Wordless Wednesday: Dog Was Here

February 12, 2014 by Categorized: Natural Reflections.

Dog Was Here, by Lupa


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Wordless Wednesday: Hawk 1

February 5, 2014 by Categorized: Natural Reflections.

Hawk 1, by Greg Harder


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