Movie notes .

Sep. 20th, 2017 06:57 pm
sasha_feather: Black, white, and red image of woman with futuristic helmet (Sci Fi Woman)
[personal profile] sasha_feather
Logan Lucky - in theaters, PG-13

A heist movie about Southern, redneck-type folks who plan and carry out a complicated robbery. Very little violence (one bar fight), little in the way of bad language, no explicit material. Pretty light, fun, and clever. Channing Tatum is the mastermind of the heist; his brother is played by Adam Driver. Daniel Craig cleary had a lot of fun playing a bomb expert with a thick Southern accent. This movie didn't have a lot of substance, but it was fun. My main irritation is that Adam Driver plays a guy with a partial arm amputation from a war wound. How much money did they spend on CGI for this, and also he took away a great opportunity for an actual disabled person to play this part. There are a couple of jokes involving the prostetic that didn't feel mean to me, but might feel mean to someone else.

Silver Linings Playbook

I loved the beginning and middle of this movie. Bradley Cooper is tremendous in it-- he takes a character that could be (and sometime is) creepy and unlikeable, and makes that character sympathetic. I liked that they showed some of the realities of mental illness. I liked the friendship between his character and Jennifer Lawrence's character. I did not like the ending, which seemed to wrap everything up in too neat of a bow-- a happily ever after sort of ending, when you know it isn't going to be so easy for anyone.

What Happened to Monday - Netflix

A dystopian film set in the near future, in an unnamed European city. People live under an oppressive government, the main crux being a strict one-child policy. Seven identical sisters live in secret, sharing one legit identity as Karen Settman. They each get to go out one day a week, the day they are named after. At the end of the day, each catches the others up on what they need to know to keep up at their high-powered job. One evening, Monday doesn't come home, and the others must find out what has happened. Noomi Rapace plays all of the sisters. It's fun to watch them being badass and fighting, but there is quite a lot of violence and mayhem. Content notes for child harm and death; violence; gore. I enjoyed this film quite a lot.
[syndicated profile] thewildhunt_feed

Posted by Cara Schulz

TWH – Autumn celebrations are often designated as times to “reap what you sow” and for many Pagans, Heathens, and Witches that means harvest time for plants with both magical and medicinal purposes.

The Wild Hunt spoke with both amateur and professional herbalists to see what’s their favorite plant to grow and what’s an easy, beneficial plant for a beginner to grow.

Calendula [Pixabay].

Medicinal Herbs

Musician Bonnie Hanna-Powers says she grows calendula in her garden. She says it’s easy to grow but does prefer good soil.

“This year I grew my plants from transplants, in one garden, and from direct sowing the seeds in another,” says Ms. Hanna-Powers. She says that she had better luck with transplants than the seeds.

After harvesting the flowers, she dries them on a screen in a well ventilated room. Then incorporates them into topical skin preparations. “It’s a good all around skin herb because of it anti-bacterial and wound healing properties,” says Hanna-Powers.

She also enjoys the smell. “It gives any preparation a pleasant, homey scent. It also makes a beautiful flower for the cutting garden.”

Author Chas Clifton grows cannabis. It’s legal in Colorado to grow, and he says that CBD oil is available even at places like farmer’s markets. Clifton is interested in growing specific varieties for higher levels of CBD and to mix with other herbs like henbane and datura.

“I grow henbane for use as an entheogen, sometimes mixed with cannabis,” says Mr. Clifton.

He notes that author Dennis McKenna wrote in his memoir The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss that datura is a hallucinogen, but not a psychedelic. “I am still trying to decide if he is right or not, but cautiously,” says Clifton.

However, Clifton says that he is increasingly turning toward native, tougher plants like nettles. He cooks with them and also uses the roots to make a tonic that he says is good for male urinary systems.

Philadelphia Witch Karen Bruhin says she doesn’t have the gardening space that rural and suburban Witches enjoy. Her go to plants are horehound and chamomile.

She says both plants are easy to grow, with the chamomile reseeding itself and the horehound spreading like a mint plant.

“For the horehound I simply wash it and use it in a homemade simple syrup for cough medicine,” says Ms. Bruhin. The chamomile, on the other hand, is washed, dried in an oven, and stored in airtight containers to make soothing tissues.

Heathen Chuck Hudson forages, rather than grows, his herbs in New Mexico. He looks for Yerba Mansa and Osha root.

He says Yerba Mansa is a very old native medicinal herb, but it is becoming popular and harder to find. He dries the roots and leaves and stores them is a cool, dry place.

Mr. Hudson says that Yerba Mansa works as a mild anti-inflammatory agent and has astringent, diuretic, and anti-fungal properties. However, he also cautions that it should not be used internally by pregnant or nursing women. “Externally it’s a wonderful wash for insect bites poison ivy blister. The fresh leaves made into a poultice is great for sore muscles.”

Hudson adds that, when he harvests a plant, he leaves an offering for the Land Spirits and builds a little stone house for any spirits to live in in case her disturbed them by harvesting the plant.

“I along with some close friends are trying to revive the faith/health healing part of the Heathen faith,” says Hudson.

Rowan [Pixabay].

Magical Herbs

Minneapolis Witch Tasha Rose grows the plant that is her namesake. “I have, for my entire life, had wild roses everywhere I have ever lived. They follow me around. Roses are by far my favorite magical and medicinal plant.”

She says that wild roses are very easy to grow and will take over a place if you’re not careful to cut them back. Ms. Rose says that she uses every part of the plant. In spring she harvests the petals to make rose water. Currently, she’s collecting rose hips to make a tea that she says aids in absorbing nutrients.

As for the magical components of the plant? She turns the brambles into small wands and bosoms for her children and dries the thorns for magical workings. She uses the thorns for protective spells and for binding and banishing work.

Wild Hunt writer Liz Williams favorite plant to grow and use for its magical properties is one the UK is famous for, the rowan.

She says that, while many in the UK make jelly from the berries, she prefers to dry them and make protective charms. “The berries [are] strung on a thread and hung above a door, or bracelets and necklaces. We also sell the dried berries for use in protection incenses.”

Williams says that the Rowan berries are known to be a charm against negative magic, which is why they are grown throughout the Celtic fringe of Britain.

Minnesota musician and Volva Kari Tauring, like her fellow Heathen Chuck Hudson, prefers to forage for her magical plants rather than grow them.

She looks for hops and sweet woodruff. However, foraging for herbs rather than growing them can mean you come up empty some years. She says that the two herbs were abundant last year, but so far this year, they are no where to be found.

When she does find them, Ms. Tauring dries the herbs and uses them in dream pillows.

Hellenic Lykeia says her two favorite herbs wouldn’t survive the tough Alaska winters. Yet she values them so much that she grows them indoors in pots. Rosemary and lavender are fairly tough when grown outdoors in warmer climates, but are finicky plants to grow inside.

“[I] have to be careful to give them a lot of light, but not directly in front of a window where the direct light tends to scorch them a bit. Also I tend have to remind myself not to kill them with love. Scant water is best.”

She says both plants are used for purification and warding off evil. “Both are key ingredients in my Apollon incense, and the purification bath tea that I make as well as an anointing oil of similar purpose,” adds Lykeia.

She also uses them in various charms “to protect doorways and to protect their wearer when made into a sachet.”

Aloe vera [Pixabay].

Plants for beginners

What if you don’t have the greenest of thumbs or your knowledge of herbalism is very light? Is there a plant you could start out with?

New Hampshire Herbalist Naomi Schoenfeld says a good first plant is Aloe Vera, both for how easy it is to grow and for its beneficial uses.

Rosemary Gladstar, one of the persons credited for the herbalism revival in the US, agrees. In her book, Medicinal Herbs: A beginner’s guide, she has this quote, “If you can’t grow aloe, then try plastic plants.” Ms. Schoenfeld says aloe soothes burns and speeds healing when you break off a leaf and apply the gel to the burn.

“Taken internally it can bring that same healing power to digestive irritations and inflammations, such as ulcers, and help with constipation,” says Schoenfeld.

Another reason Schoenfeld recommends the plant for beginners; it’s safe and there’s very little someone could do wrong with it.

Shelly Tomtschik, a Pagan Herbalist living in Wisconsin, suggests yarrow. She says it’s easy to grow in a pot and is very versatile. Tomtschik says that if you find some growing outside, you can just scoop some up and put it in a pot, and it’ll do well.

“I use it most often in a tincture for colds and flus, but the tincture can also be made into bug spray. My husband can’t wear DEET, so yarrow tincture works really well, combined with witch hazel,” say Ms. Tomtschik.

Another use for yarrow, says Tomtschik, is as a bandage, “Fresh, the leaves can be used as a bandage and stops bleeding quickly, even for, or especially for, deep cuts.”

Most herbalists will tell you to use caution in using or ingesting any herbs, especially if you are looking to self treat any medical conditions. They says that herbalism has different layers of skills and most people can learn enough to tend to the basic needs for themselves and family. They caution when in doubt, consult an herbalist.

Herbalists who have chosen it as a life focus can have incredible amounts of knowledge to share, experience with specific problems such as autoimmune disease, and time spent in apprenticeships or working directly in clinical settings.

In the U.S. there is no licensing body or government oversight of herbalists. But that, Schoenfeld explains, is a good thing.

“If herbalists were licensed, we’d be restricted to suggesting only very specific approaches permitted by the licensing bodies, much the way that medical doctors are finding their professional opinions coming secondary to insurance company decisions, and many traditional herb uses might be blocked,” says Schoenfeld.

The downside is that there isn’t a credential people can ask for in order to find a good herbalist. Schoenfeld says that most of the time people find good herbalists by word of mouth.

Another place persons can look, at least in the US, is through the American Herbalists Guild. They maintain a registry of members who meet training standards and length of time spent in practice.

[syndicated profile] paganbloggers_feed

Posted by Grace E

In my experience with pagan communities, we are seen (and often see ourselves) as irresponsible, unable to be on time [pagan standard time, anyone?], with this sort of ‘hippy dippy’ culture. This isn’t something to be proud of, in my opinion. We have the power to affect great and real change, but we can’t even get to a workshop on time nor have we managed to create established churches, seminaries, or land spaces except for the rare few. It’s so frustrating that ‘calendaring’ seems to be a foreign concept, and I so appreciate events like Pantheacon that specifically say “we do not run on pagan standard time”.

In the same vein, this graphic that I saw reposted on Facebook had me rolling my eyes so hard they about fell out:

First, my literal, fore-front Self was like: “’Just meet me under the sky somewhere’? Do you have any idea, conceptually, of how large an area that is on this planet or how many people I would have to sift through to find you?? The surface area is 196.9 million miles squared. I’ll assume we aren’t talking about inside of caves since they’re not within view of the sky. There are 7.5 billion people alive right now, so we have a 1 in 7.5 BILLION chance of meeting each other. What. The. Fuck. If you don’t make specific plans, then, clearly, the chances of us showing up at the same time in the same place are infinitesimal.”

Obviously my second thought was that this couldn’t possibly have been meant literally. It’s figurative, more metaphorical in nature. Let’s not have an itinerary and a plan and a reason, let’s just get together at a predetermined time and place and then ‘go on an adventure’ and ‘experience life’. Yea… that’s some trite, romanticized bullshit is what that is. It literally means nothing. You don’t even practice yoga without setting an intention for your practice, so don’t tell me to go out somewhere random to breathe the air.

Are we going out to meditate? To specifically have an adventure? To talk and share hopes and dreams? AWESOME. Let’s go. Want to go nap somewhere? I’m down! But this phrase of go “somewhere and be alive”? Like, as opposed to be dead? What do you mean ma’am? Be impeccable with your word!

Don’t think I forgot the first sentence. You aren’t good at making plans? That’s why we invented calendars, date books, phone apps, and a general sense of standardized time telling. Write it down. Record it. Do that 2 or 3 times if you need to, so that it sticks. Wear a watch that gives you digital calendar reminders. Anyone can do it, with perhaps a bit more effort depending on your situation. Making an excuse like that is ridiculous and makes you sound painfully lazy.

This weird belief that setting goals, making plans, creating intentions, and then actually following through on them somehow makes you less pagan or less witchy drives me batty. Where in the hell did it come from? Why are people so surprised when someone is successful and they’re told it wasn’t just a passive ritual for abundance but a ‘beat the pavement’ mentality that got shit done? You can’t win the lottery if you don’t even buy a ticket… People ask published authors how they ‘did it’ and are actually bemused when told to write as if it were a full-time job, with no time or patience for silly things like ‘writers’ block’. You have to put in time and effort!

People who can’t commit, who are habitually late…*incoherent sound of frustration and rage*. It doesn’t appear to be generational or gender related, so why this insane lack of disrespect for others’ time? Why do you not value the 5-10 minutes I am habitually waiting for you? Do you genuinely think I have nothing better to do or that you’re that important? The sheer arrogant entitlement of why some people think it’s OK to walk into ritual late & disrupt the process, or expect it to start late because they weren’t present – blows my mind.

I’ve been guilty of being late, of course! I think we all have. But I don’t make a habit of it, and more than that, I feel truly sorry that I’ve kept someone waiting or disrupted an event. If you aren’t the sort who makes it a habit to be late, or who claims they can’t calendar and that’s why they didn’t show up at a friend’s wedding, or never keeps plans with friends because it’s ‘too structured’ – well, this wasn’t aimed at you. I’m sure some of you are guilty of this stuff on the regular, though, and you may or may not be offended. I’d be open to a discussion if you want to leave me a comment! And hey, if I’ve given voice to some of your pet peeves in this little rant, comment and let me know that too!

And now, we can all continue on our merry way being on time, calendaring appropriately, following through with plans, and making shit happen.

 

Food! Glorious Food!

Sep. 20th, 2017 10:11 am
lsanderson: (Default)
[personal profile] lsanderson
Celene da Silva and her daughter Sabrina delivering Nestlé products in Fortaleza, Brazil.
How Big Business Got Brazil Hooked on Junk Food
As growth slows in wealthy countries, Western food companies are aggressively expanding in developing nations, contributing to obesity and health problems.
By ANDREW JACOBS and MATT RICHTEL

Nestlé Targets High-End Coffee by Taking Majority Stake in Blue Bottle
By MICHAEL J. de la MERCED and OLIVER STRAND
The deal highlights the continued hot streak of artisanal coffee, whose rapid growth and fanatical customer base have continued to draw big business.

Nadine Malouf making kibbe in “Oh My Sweet Land,” written and directed by Amir Nizar Zuabi.
Review: In ‘Oh My Sweet Land,’ Dinner Is Served. Don’t Come Hungry.
Set in a real home, an unnamed woman cooks while she relates piercing tales about the horrors in Syria.
By ALEXIS SOLOSKI

SQUARE FEET
The Food Court Matures Into the Food Hall
Food halls — typically a mix of local artisan restaurants, butcher shops and other food-oriented boutiques — are becoming popular as consumers demand more options.
By JOE GOSE

After a day spent hauling flood-soaked belongings from their home in the Nottingham Forest of Houston, Linda and Jon Fabian sit on their lawn with a few glasses of wine.
Harvey and Irma Wiped Out Our Kitchens. Still, We Cook.
America has never lost so many stoves and pantries at once, but home cooks are intent on finding a way — any way — to make meals.
By KIM SEVERSON

Yotam Ottolenghi on Creating Recipes and His Cookbook ‘Sweet’
For the British chef, author and self-described baking nerd, there is no limit to the number of times you can make a cake in order to get it right.


The world’s best chocolate cake? Maybe so.


Pistachio and Rose Water Semolina Cake
By YOTAM OTTOLENGHI
Recipes: Pistachio and Rose Water Semolina Cake | World’s Best Chocolate Cake

At her home in Tanana, Alaska, Cynthia Erickson and some young volunteers decorate a lemon-blueberry cake from a mix that she jazzes up.
In Alaska’s Far-Flung Villages, Happiness Is a Cake Mix


The store-bought box, one of the few dependable food items in a place of scarcity, is tricked out for dinners and fund-raisers by many a “cake lady.”
By JULIA O'MALLEY
Recipe: Mom’s Famous Rum Cake

These zucchini and tomato tartlets with a Cheddar crust, which call for turning up the oven to roast the vegetables, are perfectly timed for autumn’s arrival.
Roasted Summer Vegetables Tucked Into Tartlets


September’s cooler weather means it’s the perfect time to bake with late summer zucchini and tomatoes.
By MELISSA CLARK
Recipe: Zucchini and Tomato Tartlets With a Cheddar Crust

CITY KITCHEN
Fresh sardines, are delightful, and well worth knowing. For an extra flourish, it’s fun to cook sardines on large fig leaves.
Canned Are Grand, but Fresh Sardines Are Deliciously Simple


These small fish are healthy, sustainable and easy to grill at home, whether over hot coals or under the broiler.
By DAVID TANIS
Recipe: Simple Grilled Sardines

INSIDE THE LIST
Alice Waters
Alice Waters’s Grilled Cheese Is Not Like Yours and Mine
In her best-selling new memoir, “Coming to My Senses,” the chef recommends a French mountain cheese and homemade sauerkraut for a childhood staple.
By GREGORY COWLES

Jellyfish Seek Italy’s Warming Seas. Can’t Beat ’Em? Eat ’Em.


With climate change, jellyfish are booming in the Mediterranean, to the point that researchers say there may be little to do but to live with them.
By JASON HOROWITZ

Nathaly Nicolas-Ianniello, a former journalist covering ecological issues, opened NA/NA in the 11th Arrondissement of Paris in 2015.
A Life’s Many Acts Culminate in the Kitchen at NA/NA in Paris
The chef Nathaly Nicolas-Ianniello, a former ecological journalist, serves dishes like ganache with black sesame miso to adventurous Parisians.
By MELISSA CLARK

EAT
The Secret to Amazing Mango Kulfi Comes in a Can


Quick mango kulfi.
The idea that fresh is always better is both simple and false.
By TEJAL RAO
Recipe: Quick Mango Kulfi

ON DESSERT
The salt in the chocolate bits is the surprise, and it’s also the great reconciler.
An Ideal Sundae


Like many of life’s great things, ice cream concoctions are best when governed by rules.
By DORIE GREENSPAN
Recipe: Hot Fudge and Salted Chocolate Bits Sundae

Pinot noir grapes ripen in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.
The Oregon Trail
The latest winemakers to settle in the region are bringing new perspectives, fresh energy and heartfelt enthusiasm to the country’s most exciting wine area.
By ERIC ASIMOV

More on Natural Relations

Sep. 20th, 2017 02:08 pm
[syndicated profile] paganbloggers_feed

Posted by nicholashaney

(Image Credit: Here)

 

I received a really good question on my last post, so I wanted to follow up with a second part and address the question that was raised. Sarenth asked the following question;

Will you be exploring more of the positive aspects of our relationship with the world around us in future posts? I think that if we’re going to rethink our relationships with ourselves and the natural world, then really digging into the ways that we can positively affect the world is of vital importance.”

I think this is a great point and something I would like to explore in more depth. I’ll admit, my last post was a little murky, and started to touch on some of the more theoretical aspects to my animism. If you are interested in those topics, be sure to visit my expanded post here.

With that out of the way, I want to look more deeply into Sarenth’s question. It is true, that we as a species have a lot of really unhealthy relationships with the Earth. It would be easy for me to go on at length about fossil fuels, pollution, and a whole host of other topics. But I think Sarenth’s point is an important one, and I would like to run with it.

There is a lot we can be doing to bring about a more positive relationship with each other and the planet. I have been recently writing a great deal about the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Social Democracy, Animism and Project Drawdown.  I am just getting started with that series, and have not yet had the chance to create a master index. The short version is that there is a heck of lot we could be doing to build better relationships. Some of these are individual actions, some are community actions, and some are a lot bigger than either of those. Some solutions are changing in policy, some in our mentality, and some in technology.

The fact is that the work ahead is bigger than any one individual, a lot bigger. While as Sarenth rightly points out that there are no small actions; this is something that has to happen at every conceivable scale if it has any chance of working.

As I said, there is a lot that can be done. I won’t even have the space to scratch the surface here. With that in mind, I want to focus my attention on Project Drawdown. In short, Drawdown is one of the most comprehensive plans to fight climate change and to build a more sustainable world. It has quickly become one of my go to sources, and one of the most cherished books in my collection. I highly recommend you pick up the book, because it goes a lot deeper than the online sources. Personally, I’m of the opinion it should be required readings for pagans.

As such, that is going to be my go to for this blog as well, keeping in mind that there is so much more. One of the things I really love about Drawdown is that many of the solutions are scalable; they can work for households as easily for cities or entire countries. While there is no such thing as a perfect solution, the fact is that we can do better. So let’s look at some things we can do, as presented by Drawdown.

First, have a look at the solutions by rank. It clearly lays out what solutions will have the greatest effect on carbon reduction and creating a more sustainable world. Be sure to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the table, and compare the numbers for Net Cost vs Net Savings. The collective cost to implement most of these solutions is nearly $30 trillion dollars, but doing so could save nearly $74 Trillion by 2050. Not to mention it would remove 1051 gigatons of carbon dioxide from the air.

Now, let’s look at a few select solutions that I pulled out based on scale;

Individual Solutions

Micro-Wind

Micro-Wind is any kind of wind generation that produces 100 kilowatts or less. Overall, the impact isn’t very much on the grand scheme of things. However, these fall into small scale solutions that even individual family’s can afford. It could help offset cost for electrical bills, as well as help the environment. Maybe one household isn’t very much, but imagine if it is 1,000 or even 10,000 households. The benefits stack.

Rooftop Solar

Rooftop Solar is in the same kind of box that Micro-Wind is. With a little bit of personal investment, or even subsidy programs, this is something that can be available to many households. The prices for solar are dropping all the time too, so this is something more people will have access two in the coming years.

Composting

This one should come as a no brainer, and it one of the many solutions that is immediately scaleable. From individual backyards to industrial scales, composting is something we could all be doing. It would help return vital nutrient back to the Earth, keep waste out of landfills, and keep carbon out of the air too.

Plant Rich Diets

This one is naturally more effective at scale, but there is no getting around that our food systems are pretty messed up. Now, I’m not saying for a second that we need to all be vegetarians or vegans, but cutting some meat out of our diets really would go a long way. Notice that this particular solution is ranked #4.

Household Recycling

Do I even have to harp on this one? Recycling is the process by which we can reclaim materials, from plastics to metals. Working to keep the materials process circular can save a lot of unnecessary new material extraction, and can also keep a lot of unneeded waste out of landfills.

Communal Solutions

Micro-Grids

Micro-Grids are pretty straight forward, and it is really hard to estimate the exact impact overall since it intersects with that of building a more renewable energy system. However, it is a great community level project that allows off-grid (or far from grid) communities to pool energy resources. Even in the case of on-grid (the macro-grid that is) communities, such strategies can be implemented in order to construct more localized renewable power systems.

Green Roofs

Green roofs are scaleable too, which means they can implemented from smaller villages to our largest cities. These kinds of ideas can range from simple grassy roofs, to fully implemented gardens or micro-ecosystems. The benefits go without saying, and provide not only insulation but heat management as well.

Regenerative Agriculture

Regenerative agriculture can be anything from personal gardens to large urban gardening initiatives. These practices intersect a lot with the ideas behind permaculture, and help to keep both the earth as well as the people healthy. This particular solution is ranked in the top 15 solutions according to Drawdown.

Larger Scale Solutions

Wind Turbines

Let’s face facts, sometimes we have to think big. Onshore wind farms rank as the #2 solution according to Drawdow, and often involve the collective resources of utility scale endeavors. This solution alone would remove nearly 90 gigatons of carbon from the air and have an estimated net operation savings of $7.4 trillion dollars. The environmental as well as economical benefits cannot be understated here.

Solar Farms  

Solar farms fall into the same kind of category as scaled up wind turbines. Solar farms at the utility scale rank as #8 on the Drawdown solutions list. They would remove almost 40 gigatons of carbon from the air, and have an estimated net operational savings of $5 trillion US dollars.

Afforestation 

Temperate Forests

Tropical Forests

I have to admit I have a great loves of forests, so I combined several different solutions all together. Tropical forest management, Temperate forests, and afforestation rank as solutions number #5, #12 and #15 respectively. The impacts of properly restoring and managing complex forest ecosystems I cannot stress enough, not only for today but to also ensure sustainable forestry practices into the future.

Electric Vehicles 

If we are going to build our electrical generation grids on renewable energy, the next best thing we can do is get fossil fuel powered vehicles off the road. Several cities as well as countries are now pushing EV mandates, and some have even implemented timelines that will entirely phase out gasoline and diesel vehicles. This is a big and important step, and electrifying our transportation system is vital for a more sustainable world.

Future Solutions

What kind of sci-fi author would I be if I didn’t at least glimpse into the future? Heck, in some cases the future is already here…

Living Buildings 

Living buildings are already in development, and they take the concept of net zero buildings one step farther. As the link points out, a living building should grow food, use rainwater, create more power than it use, and protect vital habitats. The idea is create an entirely biophilic and holistic structure that meets most of it’s own needs.

Can you imagine an entire city constructed of living buildings?

Building with Wood 

Right in line with living buildings is the idea of building with wood instead of concrete and steel. Both concrete and steel have heavy environmental costs in both their extraction and manufacture. Several projects are already in the works that replace these materials with wood, or more specifically laminated timber products.

Laminated timber has several environmental benefits, even if it is somewhat costly to produce at the moment. Wood sequesters carbon, which remains in the timber. In addition, the processes for making laminated timber release fewer greenhouse gases than concrete or steel.

More than this, laminated timber is also very flame resistant, and very strong.

Nuclear Fusion 

Okay, I couldn’t end this piece without at least one mention of fusion energy. It has been a science fiction staple for decades, and it is a technology that is getting closer to reality all the time. Most nuclear plants now operate on fission, the breaking of larger atoms into smaller pieces, which releases energy. Fission is a dirty process, from toxic waste, to the risk of meltdown. Not to mention Drawdown lists nuclear fission as a “regret” solution. One we have many regrets about already.

Fusion on the other hand, creates larger atoms from smaller ones, usually hydrogen. This is the exact same way that stars create energy.

It is one of those technologies that would create nearly limitless cleaner energy, but it is not quite here yet…

I do hope I have provided you some food for thought. There are many, many ways we can change our relationships to our environment and our planet. While this piece is a far cry from being comprehensive, it is a start. It is important that we talk about all of this, and educate others. It will take a collective effort to shape a sustainable world, and I think we pagans are uniquely positioned to do just that.

Thanks for reading!

Source/References;

Drawdown

Drawdown Solutions

Drawdown Solutions By Rank

A Cybernetic Animism

 

Shaping A Living World: Part 1

Natural Relations (Part 1)

pameladean: (Default)
[personal profile] pameladean

This is very long and detailed, so I’m going to try to put in a cut tag.

All right, I can't get that to work, not if it was ever so. I'm sorry.

 

On Tuesday Raphael and I went to Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge. The forecast was for a sunny, almost windless day with a high of 87. The air quality was moderate. I complained about this the day before and Raphael asked if I'd prefer not to go. But Sherburne is actually a good place to go on a less than perfect day, because there's a seven-mile wildlife drive with stopping points for viewing whoever happens to be around; also a tiny oak savanna (1/10-mile loop) trail and a prairie trail with an oak grove in the middle with a bench (1/2-mile loop). And it's September; hiking season will be over at some point.

We got a late start but arrived with about five hours of daylight ahead of us. Sherburne is near Sand Dunes National Forest, and its soil is also sandy. It's a lightly rolling landscape full of marshes, pools, and prairie, broken by lines and clumps of trees. You drive through a short stretch of mature restored prairie to reach the actual wildlife drive. It was awash in blooming goldenrod and blue and white asters and rich brown grasses.

 We stopped at the Oak Savanna Trail and had a sandwich, read the list of plants presently blooming (six kinds of goldenrod, four kinds of white aster, two kinds of blue aster, rough blazing star, and boneset) and then walked out on the tiny boardwalk. We examined what looked like an abandoned bald eagle's nest through one of the spotting scopes provided, and then started looking at spreadwings (yet another kind of damselfly) in the tall grass that the boardwalk runs through.

 Here is an image of a spreadwing that one might see in Minnesota, though I don’t know if that’s what we did see.

 http://museum.unl.edu/research/entomology/Odonata/lere.html

 A flicker of motion in the distance caught my attention, and I looked up to see three sandhill cranes landing across the prairie near the road we'd come on. "A family," said Raphael, looking through the binoculars. "See the juvenile?" I did see the juvenile, which did not have all its red in yet but was almost as large as its parents. The cranes started walking through the grass, not unlike herons stalking through shallow water; occasionally they would bend their long necks down and poke around in the grass roots, and occasionally one of them would make a sharp dart and come up with food and swallow it.

It was hard to decide whether the cranes were more awesome through binoculars or just as tall shapes against the pale road and prairie, bending and straightening, wandering apart and together again. If you didn't look through binoculars you could also see meadowhawks darting around, the spreadwings rising to catch tiny insects and settling again to eat them, the unexpected wind shaking the oak leaves and the grass and the asters. From time to time a darner moved across the larger prairie, veering after prey or just powering along.

At last a truck came fairly fast along the road, raising a cloud of dust, and the cranes paused, considered, opened their huge wings and rose up, gawky but graceful, and flew away low over the grasses. We went back to looking at smaller wildlife

I was trying to spot a spreadwing through the binoculars when I saw what looked like an animated tangle of brown grass. I said to Raphael, “There’s some kind of mantis there!” and when Raphael expressed astonishment, I added, “It’s very stick-y,” which allowed Raphael to come up with the actual name: It was a stick insect. It took a few moments for me to describe its location and for Raphael to see it, and then I had trouble finding it again through the binoculars, but it was busy clambering around against the wind, so we did both get a good look at it. It was only the second stick insect I’d seen in Minnesota. The other was at Wild River State Park. That one was much larger and was rummaging around in a pile of leaves at the edge of the parking lot. This one was fascinating because its camouflage was so great, and yet it did have to move around, so you could differentiate it from the grass if you worked at it.

We’d arrived in the deep of the afternoon when smaller birds are quiet. We heard a few goldfinches murmuring, and a phoebe carrying on, and a chickadee. We left the boardwalk, admiring the asters waving in the non-foreseen but welcome breeze, and walked around the oak savanna loop. The little oak saplings tangled among the other shrubbery were already starting to turn red. White asters poked their flowerheads through leaves belonging to other plants, to startling effect. Autumn meadowhawks floated and hovered and darted, snatching up gnats from the clouds around them. We had seen a monarch butterfly in the asters while we were eating our lunch, and also a dark-phase swallowtail wandering over the grass; now we saw a painted lady butterfly.

We made an attempt to leave, but a darner landed on a drooping dead branch of an oak tree right in front of the car. The sun was behind it and we couldn’t get a good look without tramping heedlessly into the prairie, so we didn’t, but its silhouette was lovely against the brilliant sky.

 We drove on, past tall browning and reddening grasses, clumps of goldenrod, clouds of asters. Darners flew up from the sides of the road and zoomed away. We found at the turning that the refuge had reversed the direction of the wildlife drive since we were there last, which was momentarily confusing; but we found our way, and stopped at the Prairie Trail. I pointed out some thoroughly spent plants of spotted horsemint. We’d seen it in bloom, if you can call it that, at William O’Brien. It’s a very weird-looking plant. Here’s a photo:

 https://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/flower/spotted-horsemint

 This observation continued my inability to accurately provide the names of things; I’d just called it horsemint and Raphael reminded me that that particular weird plant was spotted horsemint. There are other horsemints, but they don’t look so strange. As we stood looking over the rise and fall of the little prairie, with folds of alder and sumac, and lines and whorls of different grasses and goldenrod, all truly starred with the blue and white asters, I said that I loved how big the sky was at Sherburne. Raphael noted that it was a slate-blue just now; we assumed that was the haze of the wildfire smoke all the way from the west coast, a somber reminder of far too many things.

 We took the grassy path, startling small grasshoppers out of our way and stirring up meadowhawks from the tall plants and shrubs. We saw a monarch; we saw a painted lady. Passing through a little grove of young alders, on almost every tip of the dead trees intermingled with the living there was a meadowhawk perched. They swept upwards, snatched a gnat or fly, landed to eat again. Raphael showed me how to identify a female autumn meadowhawk: they have a definite bulge just below the thorax, which was easy to see against the sky. Darners zipped past from time to time. If it was a green darner we could usually tell even from just a glance. The others were mosaic darners, but harder to identify in passing.

 I think it was as we approached the oak grove that we started seriously trying to identify the grasses. We’d known big bluestem, aka turkey-tail, for years. After seeing it labelled repeatedly here and there, I could pick out the charming clumps of little bluestem, just knee-high, with their pale fluffy flowers lined up and catching the light. We’d looked at an informational sign at the trailhead, but its drawings of Indian grass and switch grass didn’t look right. Raphael pulled up the photo of the sign about grasses at the visitor center at Wild River, which had struck both of us at the time as much more informative than other attempts to depict native grasses; and we could suddenly identify Indian grass after all. It has a long, narrow rich brown seed head with varying degrees of spikiness; some are quite streamlined and others are tufty and look as if they need combing. And we felt more confident about the switch grass with its airy spreading seed heads.

 Raphael pointed out a beetle on the path, maybe a Virginia leatherwing, and then realized that it looked like a moth. A little research when we reached the oak grove and sat down showed that it was a net-winged beetle, and the entry even mentioned that it looked quite a bit like a leatherwing.

 The bench we were sitting on was made from boards of recycled plastic. At some point Raphael had had enough sitting and went ahead a little way just to see what was there. I’d noticed when I sat down that there were verses from the Bible printed on the back of the bench in some kind of marker. On the left was the passage from Matthew that begins, “Come unto me you who are weary and heavy-laden,” and on the right the passage from John that begins, “For God so loved the world.” These might have been written in different hands. But the passage in the middle was definitely in a different hand, and began, “We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine.” The ending of the passage was a bit smeared and I couldn’t read all of it, but at the bottom the name “hunter s. thompson” was clear enough. I followed Raphael and relayed the beginning of the passage. “Hunter s. thompson!” said Raphael, going back to the bench with me. “It’s from <i>Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas</i>.” Raphael looked this up too, and showed me the unsmeared passage on the cellphone.

 Giggling a bit, we went on our way. We were now well around the loop and into the straight stretch back to the car. From the other side I’d pointed out a lovely layering of grasses, goldenrod, a narrow cleft of willow scrub, and a candy-red line of sumac. Now we came to the sumac from the other side. On the path in front of us was a butterfly. “What is that?” said Raphael. “It’s a Red Admiral,” I said confidently, but it wasn’t. It was another Painted Lady. Raphael consolingly told me that they were both Vanessa, very closely related, but the Red Admiral is very common in Minnesota and I was chagrined that I’d misidentified something else as that.

 We came to a little stretch of boardwalk over a marshy area. On a shrub was a shimmery amber-tinged odonate. I pointed it out to Raphael. It turned out to be another autumn meadowhawk, though it looked as if it ought to be an Eastern Amberwing, or at least a Band-Winged Meadowhawk. It had perched on a bit of red-stemmed dogwood, just to be extra-cooperative. We went on through the cattails and willow, past a minute patch of open water and up onto the grassy path again. Raphael pointed out that where the path climbed back out of the tiny marsh there was a nice view over the rest of the open water and the winding marsh with more willow, and cattails, and a shrub we should have known but didn’t. (I briefly misidentified it as more red-stemmed dogwood, because it was my day to misidentify everything; but it had deep purple stems and leaves just starting to turn reddish.)

 On our right for the end of our walk was the brilliant sumac and the cleft of alder saplings, all their leaves fluttering and twinkling in the wind and sunlight; on the left a long slope of prairie grasses interrupted by goldenrod and asters. More darners sailed by. The sky had lost its smoky cast and was a fine late-summer deep blue. We came back to the car and Raphael began to drive away, but I exclaimed at the sight of a big clump of stiff goldenrod covered with pollinators. We didn’t get out, but looked our fill from the car. Big bumblebees, a Ctenucha moth, beetles, ambush bugs. Once Raphael started reading it, I had to edit this entry to correct the Ctenucha moth's name and type, so have another link, since they are very handsome:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ctenucha_virginica
 
There’s one more trail you can actually walk along, near the end of the wildlife drive, but there was a sign at the beginning saying that it was flooded. Before that we drove past long stretches of marsh, open water, and rolling prairie, all patched with clumps of trees. From time to time there would be a wider spot in the road, sometimes a formal space big enough for three or four cars, with a bench or two, or a platform over a low spot with spotting scopes and some informational signs about the wildlife; others just a metal platform with railings, where you could stand and look over the water. We tentatively identified the spot where we’d once common moorhens, which are not so common that we weren’t deeply excited. We’ve also seen muskrats and various ducks in these locations, and once there was a gigantic cloud of mosaic darners all brown and yellow – I seem to recall that some of them were lance-tipped darners, but I may be wrong. This time we heard water birds making a ruckus, but couldn’t see them. Darners came by in about the density that they had been all the while. Over one platform we saw what turned out to be a northern harrier; these guys have an amazing acrobatic flight, and they’re reddish on the underside and bluish on the back. I excitedly called this one a kestrel, which would be smaller and have the colors reversed: bluish on the underside and red on the back. We also very clearly saw a nighthawk with its white wing bars, though the sun was still up.

 We also saw some cedar waxwings fly-catching from a tree with a dead top, and heard a yellow warbler.

 At last we came to a stretch of water, islands, and snags so large that it had two separate viewing-spots. From the first we saw several groups of large white birds. I thought the first were swans, but they were white pelicans. There were also some swans, however. We came finally around a curve of the gravel road to an observation station in a little oak grove, overlooking the far side of this large sheet of water. This is where most of the dead trees are, and here, to our delight, we saw as we’ve seen before several times a very large number of cormorants. The sun was setting by then, off to our right. The sky was pink and the water reflected it. Many cormorants were roosting already, but some were still coming out of the water; they would land on a branch, sometimes settling and sometimes glancing off several different trees before finding one that suited them, or one in which the other cormorants accepted them. It was hard to be sure. Then they would spread their wings out to dry, looking as if they were practicing to be bats for Halloween.

 We found the swans and pelicans we’d seen from the other viewing station, though it was getting pretty dark by then. Cormorants still flew up into the trees and spread their wings. Through binoculars you could see the ones that had folded their wings now preening their breast feathers. Some of them had pale necks and brown fronts rather than being entirely black. I mentioned this to Raphael, who looked it up in Sibley and confirmed that those were juvenile cormorants.

 It was getting quite dark by then and the mosquitoes were starting to think about biting us in earnest. We drove past two more pools; beside one two groups of people we’d seen pass earlier, a third car I didn’t recognize from before, and a man using a wheelchair were standing and gesticulating. We pulled up and got out. The water and trees were lovely in the twilight, but we didn’t see any wildlife. The solitary man went away in his wheelchair, the unfamiliar car left, and we followed, watching the varied texture of the grass and flowers fade away into the dark.

 

Pamela

chestnut_filly: (Default)
[personal profile] chestnut_filly posting in [community profile] amplificathon


Title: The impatience of youth
Author: [archiveofourown.org profile] LiveOakWithMoss
Reader: [personal profile] chestnut_filly
Fandom: The Silmarillion
Pairing: Aredhel/Elenwë, background Fingon/Maedhros
Rating: M
Summary: "Our favorite girls being jackasses. Or: in which I enjoy cock-blocking Aredhel and Elenwë way too much."
Length/Type: 10:47/mp3
Music: "Despacito" by Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee (¡ojo! que no es la versión Bieber tampoco!)

Mediafire link.

--

Ko-fi link

Fake news, astrology edition

Sep. 19th, 2017 06:55 pm
[syndicated profile] thewildhunt_feed

Posted by Terence P Ward

TWH –It’s a given in some Pagan circles that at least a basic understanding of astrology is common knowledge. Given the incredible diversity represented within the intersecting Pagan and polytheist communities, it stands to reason that there are also community members who are almost completely unaware if not outright skeptical, of its tenets.

It is perhaps because of that wide variation that fake astrology news circulates under the so-called “Pagan umbrella” as easily as elsewhere.

Is there now a new astrological sign in the heavens? Did that downgrade of Pluto cast doubt on the legitimacy of astrology? While neither of these issues is breaking news — being one and eleven years old, respectively — the questions linger because they represent common misunderstandings about the nature of astrology itself.

Even asking what astrology is lead to a complex answer, according to astrologer Diotima Mantineia, because there’s two broad categories, sidereal and tropical. While each entails a knowledge of celestial bodies and their relative positions at a given time, they differ in how that information is organized.

Western astrology, arguably the most popularized style, is a form of tropical astrology. That is the type about which these questions generally arise, and that is the type Mantineia focuses on when trying to demystify the process.

Western astrology is called “tropical” because it follows the path of the sun throughout the year, during which that path drifts between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.

This week’s equinox is when the solar path crosses what’s called the “celestial equator,” which is simply the idea of extending that imaginary line up into the sky. It marks the halfway point in the astrological year, which began on vernal equinox.

Perhaps one reasons Pagans and polytheists are assumed to know about astrology is a widespread familiarity with non-standard calendars.

Regardless, a basic knowledge of astrological principles is helpful in evaluating the questions of legitimacy and change that do pop up on occasion. Mantineia believes that if scientists who seek to challenge astrology had that understanding and perhaps did a better job applying the scientific method to astrology, the conversation might be a very different one.

In the meantime, she agreed to assist in exploring these bits of fake astrology news.

An extra constellation

Has the drift of stars in the sky had an impact on astrology? “You need to forget about the constellations,” Mantineia said, because “they have nothing to do with the matter at hand except that they lent their names to the signs.”

The signs of the zodiac are in fact 30-degree arcs of sky, and that their eponymous constellations may have drifted isn’t actually a big deal, she explains.

In her post on the astronomy of astrology, Mantineia uses a postal analogy, writing that “you may live in a house on Big Barn Lane, and back when Big Barn Lane was originally named, there was, in fact, a big old barn right there marking the intersection. The fact that the barn was dismantled years ago and moved to the other side of the property, where it was rebuilt as the new owners’ home, does not change either the name or the location of Big Barn Lane.”

That’s the reason that the constellation Ophiuchus isn’t going to get a sign: there are only 12, no matter how many recognizable constellations are on that annual solar path, which is called the ecliptic. The 30-degree pie-slice remains the same, just like the yard on Big Barn Lane which no longer features a big barn.

Astronomers often don’t understand that, as evidenced in this quote from a blog post on constellations at nasa.gov:

The constellations are different sizes and shapes, so the sun spends different lengths of time lined up with each one. The line from Earth through the sun points to Virgo for 45 days, but it points to Scorpius for only seven days. To make a tidy match with their 12-month calendar, the Babylonians ignored the fact that the sun actually moves through 13 constellations, not 12. Then they assigned each of those 12 constellations equal amounts of time. Besides the 12 familiar constellations of the zodiac, the sun is also aligned with Ophiuchus for about 18 days each year.

Implicit in that passage is the assumption that astrology tracks the apparent passage of the sun through constellations found along the ecliptic, when in fact tropical astrology tracks the passage of the sun through the sky.

A bone of contention for Mantineia is that astronomers are quick to criticize astrology, while at the same time demonstrating ignorance about it. With training as a scientist, she recognized that what little research has been done into astrology has lacked scientific rigor, because bias is left unchecked and ignorance is allowed to fester.

In short, there are 12 signs equally dividing the sky, and that will remain true no matter what stars happen to be visible in that sign right now. Ophiuchus is not a sign, but if it were made one, the name would have to replace another one for that 30-degree arc of sky.

That persistent misunderstanding is connected to the notion that it is those very stars which are directing an individual’s life, but that’s not how Mantineia sees astrology at all. She agrees that correlation is not causation, but “this fact is simply not relevant to the work I do as an astrologer.”

What matters is the correlation between celestial objects and an individual’s life, she says, leaving the question of causation to philosophers and theologians. “A reliable correlation is really all we need to have a practical, reliable, workable astrology,” she wrote in a critique of astrology’s critics.

Underworld influences

In the early part of the century, astronomers discovered Eris, a rocky mass in the neighborhood of Pluto but 27% larger. Rather than proclaiming a 10th planet, the resulting debate concluded with a new definition of “planet” that didn’t include Pluto, which didn’t even get the label for a hundred years.

Discordians have noted the chaos Eris unleashed on astronomy, but did this impact astrology, where Pluto was also recognized as a planet?

The answer is now, and that’s largely because the term “planet” is used much more broadly in astrology, and Pluto still qualifies. Essentially, planets in astrology are the heavenly bodies that move around the sky, and include what in astronomy are called planets, demi-planets (like Pluto), sun, moon, and asteroids. That differentiates them from stars, which appeared fixed by comparison.

“Small, large, dwarf planet, doesn’t matter,” Mantineia said. “What we are looking for is correlation, and we have found the correlations over and over again with Pluto.”

Observing correlations, if it is not already clear, is what astrology is all about. While Mantineia agrees that understanding how astrology functions would be interesting, it’s not necessary to know that information in order to make it function.

She even has found evidence that Carl Sagan, the celebrity astronomer of his day, agreed with that point. While he was a skeptic of astrology, Sagan, in 1975, declined to join many colleagues in blasting the discipline. “The statement stressed that we can think of no mechanism by which astrology could work,” he wrote in a letter to the Humanist.

“This is certainly a relevant point but by itself it’s unconvincing. No mechanism was known for continental drift” when it was first proposed, he went on, but the principles of plate tectonics were in force long before they were recognized, much less understood.

What makes Pluto a special case is its relatively short history in astrology. Its existence has been confirmed for just 87 years, but its journey through the zodiac takes nearly 250. As astrology is based on observing correlations between planetary positions and life on Earth, the slow progress of Pluto across the sky means that those particular correlations are generational in nature.

“Pluto in Leo generation [1939 to 1957] . . . . tend to be concerned with creativity, self-expression, and, if other elements of the chart agree, can be somewhat self-centered and navel-gazing.” For those born when Pluto was in Virgo, there is “a tendency to be more concerned with group efforts, being in service to the whole, and [they] . . . can be somewhat judgmental and critical.”

The best way to see patterns relating to Pluto, Mantineia said, is how it’s in relation to other planets in a given chart. Those aspects, as they’re called, allow deeper meaning to be gleaned through the relationships, much like a tarot reader might consider several cards together in a spread.

More ancient astrologers simply observed fewer planets, but that doesn’t mean that the correlations weren’t already in existence. Any planet not visible to the naked eye, due to the structure of the solar system, is likely to be more generational in nature, making the missing information more slow to change regardless.

Studies may show

If and when a rigorous, bias-free study of astrology occurs, questions about the mechanisms of astrology may be revealed, which could lead to a better understanding of its role in causation, if any.

Mantineia has written, “I suspect we will eventually find that there is not immediate causation so much as a clear reflection of an underlying framework of energy,” but it could be some time before that and other assertions about astrology are tested.

For the moment, those interested are encouraged to recognize when scientists wrongly wrap themselves in a mantle of expertise, but also to be wary of oversimplifications made by amateur astrologers, such as “Cancers are moody,” which references only the sign in which the sun is found.

“There are about 3,000 individual variables in any given chart,” Mantineia points out, and those generalizations are as inaccurate as any misunderstandings promoted by popular scientists of the day.

Let him go, let him go, God bless him

Sep. 19th, 2017 11:06 am
laramie: (Default)
[personal profile] laramie
Week of September 11 - 18
I made some very small progress advancing the story on 'Yuletide' and a lot of progress preparing the POD version of 'Thanksgiving.' Reviews have been coming in for 'Team Guardian' - thirty of them now, and mostly four & five star. Even the couple three-star reviews don't seem to have anything really bad to say. Yay! I'm hoping this will make a difference in future promotions.

My most consistent efforts of the week went toward finding translators on Babelcube. At this point I have an agreement with a German translator and a Spanish translator, and am on the waiting lists of Portuguese & Hindi translators. This is a slow process. I'm looking at another service now for translating books to Chinese and publishing to the Chinese market... I'll let you know how that goes.

On Saturday I heard the very sad news of Dave Romm's death - a shock to the local f/sf fan community. It's been thirty-eight years since I first met him. I still find it hard to believe he's gone. I participated with Dave, Jerry Stearns and other local fans in starting the Shockwave radio show on KFAI back in 1980(?) I moved on, but he and Jerry stuck with it and created a legacy of shows over the years. Dave became a Baron - of a small country, the name of which I can't recall offhand. He was a frequent master of ceremonies at Minicons over the years. He brought an outgoing personality and good humor to the whole community - he will be greatly missed.

My favorite memory of Dave is of the occasion he, Richard Tatge and I all went out one Holiday season to look at the light displays. Dave drove, Richard sat in back as we went through the residential streets of Minneapolis and admired the festive lights. Along the way, all three of us whistled Christmas Carols in chorus.

My heart has been heavy, but the chores remain. I've kept up with the basics.

In odd bits of time I continue reading about estate planning for authors. I'm still flummoxed about who might be capable and willing to be a literary executor for my works. My niece Elise is a lawyer, but I don't know if she has any interest in the publishing world. I hope to live many more years before the issue arises, but Dave's death came as a reminder of how suddenly life can be cut short.

Harry Potter: Common Woodbrown

Sep. 18th, 2017 03:46 pm
revolutionaryjo: A girl waving in silhouette. (Default)
[personal profile] revolutionaryjo posting in [community profile] amplificathon


Text: Common Woodbrown
Author: faviconimochan
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Remus Lupin/Sirius Black
Rating: Mature
Length: 3:42:47

Author's Summary: Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look there. In 1985, Remus Lupin realizes that Sirius Black is innocent. Now, he just has to prove it.

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Download: At AO3
Zipped mp3 file (203 MB) | Zipped m4b file (104 MB)

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[syndicated profile] paganbloggers_feed

Posted by Liz Tetu

On the first of September, many members boycotted Tumblr for the day because of the social media platform’s approach to, or rather failure to approach, white supremacist activity on their site. The months of recent RL hate groups collectivizing in cities like Charlottesville has started a site-motivated (and people-approved) monitoring and blocking of hate materials and those who spread them, hopefully nipping these sorts of gatherings in their rotten buds. This means that the profiles of those who imagine that white supremacy is a thing (instead of white privilege) and perpetuate its violences are being banned from the manifests of Facebook, Twitter, even OKCupid. But not Tumblr.

My initial feelings involve frustration towards Tumblr. Because of the visual nature of Tumblr posts, the san serif and monospaced fonts that are easy on the eyes, and the if-not-always-open-at-least-conscious-ish queer sociopolitics of the people on the site, I find myself on the social media platform whenever I have Internet access. The site is also host to gender nonconforming-friendly Norse Pagan resources I use that are run by my English-writing peers around the world.

Looking up resources for my practice as a version of Norse Paganism on a typical search engine too often leads to racist interpretations of Norse tales, defenses that the path should only be undertaken by white people, and once even brought me to a white supremacist site despite my search settings. (I don’t link these pieces of evidence, and I will never link anything like them, because this site does not deserve the fate of being tied to them. Traffic to these kinds of sites needs stop so this trash can fade into, and ultimately be disintegrated by, the Ethernet.) It’s disgusting that there are so many actively racist people who claim to share a religion with me.

The use of a form of the adjective “active” is very deliberate here, as Norse Paganisms are not the only practices with racist happenings. Neo-Paganisms are many things, one of them being very white in origin and presentation. Non-white Pagans and Witches are consistently pushed out of conversations and spaces, many having to resort to practicing solitary or through mostly digital means. Of the Chaos mages, Shamans, and Witches of color I know (most of who are Black, Southeast Asian, and Indigenous), few consider themselves “Pagan” or their practices related to “Pagansisms,” with good reason. Think of how often elements of Vodun, Shinto, and “East/South Asian philosophies” are casually incorporated into modern Pagan rituals and values; of how many resource guides there are for semblances (read mockeries) of Mayan, Aztec, Hawaiian, and amalgamated North American Indian ceremonies and principles written by white Pagans and Wiccans; of how many global cultures are misappropriated in the search for a relatable deity and/or magic for white mages. (You only have to recall some of the magical names of friends and famous folks to start to get what I mean.) Racism isn’t just in the actions of one individual; the consumption of racist materials is how this form of discrimination is still prevalent in these states and beyond.

Once for Witches & Pagans (#33, 2016), I wrote that diffusing the racist interpretations of “non-white spirituality” amongst the Pagans and Witches I met with at high school, therefore everyday interpersonal racism, was not a “battle” I was “the best suited to handle.” In less than a year, I’ve come to the realization that my readiness does not matter—I have to do this now. We have to do this now. The display in Charlottesville and around the states work to display how critical white recognition of both our active and passive continuations of racism is in beginning to step up to accountability and step back from the domicile of racism so that those we oppress can tell us our role in dismantling it, because we’ve proven to be absolute shit at seeing the structure of persecution based on non-whiteness.

In violence prevention/intervention, I’ve learned that the best way to inspire change in violent behavior is to plan what we have to do about it, affirming a new end over exacerbating a past we as white people will get defensive over very quickly. We have to do something in order to demean something that is undoing us.

As a white Norse Pagan, I have to speak up against the inevitable racism I’ll encounter. This means recognizing the ways the religion I practice is racist, the ways people in this religion have been racist, and how I have been racist and talking about it over dismissing these facts. This means scrutinizing the sources I’ve been using (whether these are translations of Snorri Starluson’s translation of the Edda or a WordPress blog or anything else) for racism or messages being interpreted in a racist manner by modern followers and pseudo-followers. This means discussing race in my religion beyond non-white exclusion. I have to understand that I don’t know the experiences of Norse Pagans of color but may be the only one who can talk about these topics with white Norse Pagans with minimal social sanctions. Most importantly, this means providing my full attention when non-white Norse Pagans can and do speak up.

As a white Pagan who used to blatantly incorporate elements of Indigenous and South Asian spirituality and metaphysics into my practice, I have to speak up about the ways I have practiced (and even continue to perform) racism and its consequences. This means recognizing the cultures I have misappropriated, whose spirits I have sullied, and how I have participated in cultural and spiritual domination. This means educating myself on these cultures and the effects of white religious subjugation on them that continues into today. I have to disengage from these rituals even when I find I truly respect them as they really are. Most importantly, this means letting go of the operational racism I’ve been using to do my spirituality.

As a white Pagan, I have to hold myself accountable for the racism that has marginalized and alienated Witches of color from Pagan communities. This means recognizing how non-European religions are approached as novelty ways to do magic in neo-Pagan communities. This means my beliefs are just as involved in race as they are sexuality, gender, class, nature, technology, and “freedom.” This means knowing of and celebrating spaces specific to Pagans of color and respecting that the “all-inclusive” fests do not meet the same needs for these magic-users. This means knowing that those places are not meant for me. I have to understand that the dynamics of a person of color following a deity or path not of their racial culture of descent means a much different thing than a white person adhering to a non-white practice and that practices like this amongst white people are much more problematic. Most importantly, this means not getting defensive and evasive when I’m called out for being racist.

As a white person, I am accountable for the continuation of racism in the states of America and around the globe. I can call myself “anti-racist” and be able to point out some of the racism white friends and strangers do, but as long as I can’t speak up in the moments these transgressions occur, my silence is approval. I have to speak up. There’s such a violent history of whiteness in the Americas that underscores the fact that I need to be understanding and supporting BlackLivesMatter (#BLM / #blacklivesmatter) and the variances I’ve seen like “BlackAndTransLivesMatter” and “BlackWomen’sLivesMatter” as well as other movements like “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women” (#MMIW) in Canada and the states. I need to be familiar with how other religions like Islam and Judaism experience violence because of race-based assumptions. I have to be a resource for what racism looks like and how to begin to dislocate it.

For white Pagans, there are at least 250 words that you see yourself in. Add this to your creeds and notes, Chrome Books of Shadows and handbound journals. Put yourself in the center. Recognize your role in the universality you’re living out.

Just remember that accountability is not absolution.

In the meantime, there have been no visible repercussions on Tumblr for white supremacist users. The best option we have is to block them, but they’re still there. And now there’s evidence that these same people are using Discord, a group gaming app, to recruit and spread their filth. This is ridiculous.

Is there really something so mindboggling about respecting another person?

[syndicated profile] thewildhunt_feed

Posted by The Wild Hunt

The United Religions Initiative (URI) held its global summit leadership meeting in Sarajevo, beginning Sept 11. The weeklong meeting brought together URI representatives from around the world and from many different religious backgrounds. The organization’s goal is to “promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.”

Rev. Donald Frew was at the Sarajevo meeting as a representative of Covenant of the Goddess. Frew has been working in interfaith circles for decades, sometimes even as the lone Pagan voice at the table. He wrote, “I truly believe that interfaith is our last, best hope for peace.” He called URI’s efforts one of “the largest grassroots interfaith effort on Earth, involving several million committed, engaged individuals all around the world.”

In terms of grass roots, URI has cooperation circles operating locally throughout the world, working toward a common goal of peace.  As such, Frew is not the only Pagan, Heathen or polytheist involved with URI both internationally or locally.

Photos and reports will be coming in from attendees at the leadership meeting and will appear on the organization’s Facebook page. Frew said, “No matter what is going on the world, it’s impossible not to have hope when [URI leaders] get together.” He added that the “presence of so many young people — a next generation eager to take what we have to give and go further than we can imagine — inspires us to work all the harder to live up to their expectations.”

*   *   *

[courtesy]

Erin Lale, a Heathen writer and blogger at PaganSquare, has launched something called the Heathen Visibility Project. Lale explains, “When it comes to written material, Heathens are pretty loud. We have lots of books (like mine) and blogs (like mine) and articles and so on. We don’t have nearly the number of images of contemporary Heathens doing Heathen things, or people publicly identified as Heathens doing regular life things.” Searches for Heathen imagery, she explains, often turn up “Nazis waving the runic letter O” or stills from a Thor movie.

Lale wants to see more creative commons imagery of modern Heathens “doing Heathen things.”  In a second blog post, she explains how to make this happen and how anyone can participate in increasing the number of searchable photos on the internet. She encourages people to upload and make available modern Heathens doing everyday things and participating in community. However, she also notes, “Many people attending rituals and other Pagan events don’t want to be photographed, because they are worried about being identified as non-Christians. For that reason, if we want to increase Heathen visibility, instead of trying to photograph real rituals and events we will probably have to stage them.”

*   *   *

Fans of Dirge online magazine have learned that the site is no longer in operation as of Sept 15.  Editor-in-Chief Jinx Strange wrote:

“The factors leading up to this decision are far more numerous than I want to get into in this space, but suffice it to say, it’s a confluence of conditions, many of which are far bigger than me. The bottom line is that after three years, I don’t believe this to be a financially viable outlet for the content we’ve been producing, and I simply have no interest in publishing click-bait here, or articles that aren’t of the highest possible quality simply for the sake of online publishing.”

The publishers of Dirge will continue the lifestyle site Dear Darkling, and Dirge will remain publicly available as an archive for readers into the foreseeable future. In the last post, Strange said, “Dirge has changed me, and changed my life and I am so grateful to everyone who participated in that in any capacity. I’m ready to move on. A dirge is just a transition, after all.”

In other news:

  • The Pagan Federation International hosts a global forum for its members to share political actions and other similar activities. PFI’s international coordinator Morgana Sythgove writes, “As an activist organisation (not a religious organisation as some people think) PF and PFI members are often seen at rallies, demonstrations, signing petitions etc for environmental issues, human and indigenous rights issues, and other issues concerning the Earth – our home. Please feel free to promote a cause here which you feel is in much need of support.” The forum is located on the PFI site and is publicly available to anyone interested in actions being taken by members of the global Pagan community.
  • If you are in Tennessee next week, Tuatha Dea will be holding its first local drum circle in three years.The band travels the country performing and holding workshops at various Pagan and non-Pagan events. It is not often they do so in their home town of Gatlinburg.
  • The latest issue of  Druid Magazine has been published. This edition includes an interview with TWH editor Heather Greene. It also includes an interview with Damh the Bard, a tribute to the newest American Druid camp MAGUS, and a number of articles that explore in detail the American Druid experience.
  • Thursday is the UN’s International Day of Peace. Will you be honoring this day? If so, how?

Hi there!

Sep. 18th, 2017 07:50 am
scarlettina: (Default)
[personal profile] scarlettina posting in [community profile] 2017revival
Name: [personal profile] scarlettina
Age: 55 (Good G-d, how did that happen?)
Location: Seattle, WA

Describe yourself in five sentences or less: I’m a New York transplant living in Seattle with two cats and way too many books. I am creative and opinionated and still express myself like a native New Yorker, which makes some Seattleites uncomfortable despite my best efforts. I am a theater geek, a movie buff, a lover of tabletop and board games, a reader, a writer and a jeweler.

Top 5 fandoms: I’m a second-wave slash writer (second-wave as in: the first wave was in the early 1970s, the second in the mid-’80s to early ’90’s; everyone else came after) who hasn’t written fanfic in a while, but when I was doing that it was Star Trek, Starsky & Hutch and, more recently, Doctor Who (see my fanfic journal at [personal profile] scarlett_key). I have loved watching and discussing Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, so many more. How do you pick just five?

I mostly post about: My personal life, which also tends to be sprinkled with bits about politics, the science fiction community, movies, theater, books, travel, cats, my family, writing and observations about life in general.

I rarely post about: sports, math, the giant hornbeam tree in front of my condo, jackalopes, and my collection of porcelain hands (yes, really).

My three last posts were about: I occasionally do the Friday Five so this morning’s post was answering last week’s questions, two particularly striking dreams, and discovering the pile of get-well cards I received when I was in the hospital last year.

How often do you post? I currently post about once a week, though I’m aiming for better.

How about commenting? I try to comment on at least half to two-thirds of the posts that I read.

The Scream Over Annwfn

Sep. 18th, 2017 07:00 am
[syndicated profile] godsandradicals_feed

Posted by lornasmithers

From Lorna Smithers: an essay on 'the mysterious ritual frenzy' of the scream over Annwfn and its modern manifestations.
[syndicated profile] paganbloggers_feed

Posted by Kimberly Kirner

I’ve been pondering, over the course of the last month, my relationship to a “calling” by the Spirits I Serve.  There is a deep knowing, in my own experience, when a spirit calls you and claims you.  I felt that I could run away, but regardless of how long I ran, They had infinite patience and devotion in their pursuit.  I knew that I belonged to Them, and They belonged to me, in a way that is difficult to explain and not always comfortable – but is integral to our mutual development and spiritual work in the world.  I imagine that others, most often called by gods, but some called by nature spirits like me or by ancestors, experience something similar if they are called.

As John Beckett pointed out in a recent blog post, not everyone is called by a spirit, and not everyone who is called is called to the priesthood.  While I disagreed with some of the way John carved out the priesthood in its responsibilities from a global cross-religious perspective, I thought that the core of his message was useful: we may be called, but not to the priesthood.  (And, a corollary, we may be called, but not by a god.)

In contemporary paganism or polytheism, this can be confusing.  There are few visible roles in most neo-pagan communities.  The primary role that we see is the priest: the ritualist, the organizer, the “Big Name Pagan” who authors books and blog posts, the workshop presenter.  Priests are public figures.  They facilitate spiritual and religious experiences for other people.  Their responsibilities, training, and authority vary by religious tradition in the world, but what unites priests cross-religiously is their simultaneous service to spirits and to a human community.

But what if we are called not to be priests, but monks or nuns?  What if we are called by spirits, but not to public religious leadership?  What if our spiritual work in the world is inward-facing, not outward-facing?  What is this Spirit-Led Work?

The Spirits I Serve called me to specific purposes in this life, but none of them involve priestly duties.  Some of my soul’s purpose (and its work with Them) is embedded in my professional work, because the Spirits I Serve are interested in human development and do not care if that development is directed toward Them.  Some of the purpose is found in contemplative, solitary practice – it is the work of self-transformation and holding a center, an essence, of divine connection in the world.  I’m not alone in this calling; there are people called to this type of practice from many religious traditions in the world and diverse pagan and polytheist orientations.

Cabinet with art, sacred objects, and items from nature
One of the two shrines in my sanctuary at home. My goal for this year is to have twice-daily practice with periods of contemplative prayer in this sacred space.

Pagan and Polytheist Monasticism

Almost a year ago, the Pagan and Polytheist Monasticism Facebook group was formed.  This allowed some 150 people so far, who largely practice from deep devotion toward their spirits and gods in an inward-facing, contemplative way to discuss their beliefs, experiences, and practices.  Monasticism is conventionally thought of as a religious path in which monks and nuns renounce worldly pursuits in order to pursue a deeply spiritual life, usually involving long periods of silence, devotional work, contemplative prayer or meditation, and embodied activity in nature (through mindful walking, farming, or simple chores).  For most pagan and polytheist monastics, like some monks and nuns, we do not fully renounce worldly pursuits.  This is impossible without strong economic support from a larger community of householders engaged in the world.  But in addition to this logistical problem, many monks and nuns (even in religions that offer full renunciation of the world) select to engage more deeply with the world than the average person, balancing this with long periods of contemplation and devotion.  There are Buddhist monasteries that run rural schools and development organizations and Catholic monks and nuns who march all over the world to bring awareness to the need for demilitarization and peace.  There are those who are doctors, nurses, aid workers, and teachers.  The critical pieces of monasticism, in my estimation, are devotion, discipline, and contemplation.

Devotion

Monastics, like many priests, share in an often-fierce devotion to the spirit(s) that called them.  This might be a god or pantheon, nature spirits and forces, or ancestors.  The difference is that their devotion is usually inward-oriented.  The demand the spirit makes of the monastic is to give their life to deepening a relationship, not necessarily aiding others directly in connecting to that spirit.  Rather than a life of organizing and writing rituals, teaching workshops, and writing books – the monastic has a foundation that involves long periods of what appears to the outside world as doing nothing.  It is in the not-doing that the monastic can enter a state of being, of union, rather than a state of action.  This does not mean that a monastic cannot lead ritual, or that their services are never open to the public.  But that is not the main function of the monastic’s spiritual life.  We might think of the monastic’s primary purpose as one of the development of divine union, a maintenance of a spiritual “place” of connection between the spirit world and the human world, a cultivation of a constancy in this union.  The monastic serves as an essence of the meeting point between divinity and humanity, usually stripped to its simplest form.  This is why, in part, monastics in many traditions wear a simple garment, practice in permanent sanctuaries, and maintain a strong but simple rhythm to their lives.  The simplicity cuts out the noise of the world, the rhythm of the monastic life builds a strong foundation for consistent connection to the divine.  In other traditions, when monastics lead ritual, it is typically through letting the public in, not in disrupting the monastic rhythm.  This is unlike the priest’s function, which is primarily to serve a public religious community, and therefore to generate rituals, services, events, and teachings that resonate with a broad public.

Discipline

One of the most prominent features of monastics is the concept of discipline.  This is, more than devotion, what sets monastics apart from both general practitioners and even many priests.  Devotion, in the monastic, is channeled through a disciplined routine that generates a consistent rhythm of life.  That rhythm of life rarely changes and dominates the monastic’s everyday existence.  It is within that rhythm, that discipline, that monastics describe their liberation.  In acting in a disciplined way, arising from devotion to the spirit they serve, they provide consistent doorways throughout every day through which the divine can enter.  In that constant offering of the most precious things that humans have – our time, bodies, and attention – there is the essence of the true sacrifice, the sublimation of the small-self to the higher-self, the divine-self, the soul’s work.  This routine is usually combined with certain vows, which usually serve to generate a simple, conflict-free life.  In my own experience, discipline is by far the most difficult ideal to uphold.  Life likes to intrude, and our minds like to resist our spiritual work by inserting what feels like pressing worldly concerns.  For a householder (married, with a job and responsibilities) like myself, it is infinitely challenging to maintain discipline.  At the same time, it is infinitely rewarding.  Not only does some success yield greater results than no success, so it’s worth the effort – by living life in this way, I am called to extend myself compassion, over and over, for falling short of meeting the Spirits I Serve in Their full vision for my life.  Learning to be compassionate with oneself, to accept failure with equanimity and resilience, to maintain effort even when one doesn’t feel like practicing – this builds a deep wellspring from which monastics ripple into the world.

Contemplation

At the heart of monastic discipline is periods of silence and contemplation.  The core of monastic life is in listening to the divine, not reaching outward toward it.  We seek to open for the divine touch, regardless of our mood, our circumstances, or our sense of inspiration.  It is practicing hospitality to the spirit that called us.  Maintaining long stretches of silence heightens one’s sensitivity to divine wisdom.  Offering periods of contemplative prayer or sitting meditation is an invitation to the divine, both immanent and transcendent, to be with us.  In my experience, there is no greater gift we can give to any spirit-being than the offering of our silence and time.  Other offerings are relatively easy and cheap: it takes little to pour out some whisky or light a candle.  It takes a lot of effort to consistently overcome our internal resistance and sit in silence before the spirit world.  Sometimes, this is rewarded with a feeling of union and ecstasy, or a key message of wisdom, or a feeling of deep well-being and peace.  But sometimes, we sit and nothing happens.  Our mind wanders, we bring it back.  The moments tick by.  We squirm and realign ourselves.  And this is fine.  It is actually that squirmy, uncomfortable silent period that is the greatest offering we can give to the spirits.  Because it is the most arduous and it requires the most altruistic effort.  If we open the doorway to the spirit world but then slam it when they do not come bearing gifts, we are not being truly hospitable in the first place.  Contemplation, if done out of devotion for one or more spirits, is much more than seeking wisdom or self-knowledge – it is a sacrificial act.  Doing it many times each day for long periods, as monastic life ideally demands, is an incredible challenge that integrates devotion and discipline into periods of being rather than doing, so that Being – the Divine Mystery – might be realized.

The Still Center

The mystery of monasticism is both in the relationship between the monastic and the spirit world and in the relationship of the monastic to humanity as a whole.  I have always been a mystic, but for a number of years after I became more public in my Druidry, I thought because of my level of devotion, I ought to be a priest.  Even when I was Christian, I considered the Episcopalian priesthood.  It was only recently, in the last couple of years, that I have understood that it is the monastic life that calls me, not the priestly one.  This makes sense when I consider my soul’s work that is tied to the Spirits I Serve, and the ways that They relate to humanity.  They are not beings who wish for worship or recognition or even thanks.  They are ancient, from a time before the Earth was embodied in her current form and before the sun became our crystallization of light.  Their work with humans is something other than rites.  Their work is in interweaving Their pulse with the rhythm of humans, until we remember that we are a union of the stars and the soil.  That work is not done primarily in a workshop or a ritual.  It is done in silence.

For any form of monasticism, therein lies the great mystery: it is in the disciplined not-doing that Being can emerge into humanity.  The monastic holds the center of that union between human and divine, having faith that they were called to that difficult, disciplined rhythm so that it might ripple outward into the world.  There is a prayer in the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids for peace:

Deep within the still center of my being, may I find peace.

Silently within the quiet of the Grove, may I share peace.

Gently and powerfully, within the greater circle of humankind, may I radiate peace.

This is the heart of the monastic work: devote oneself to a rhythm that opens one to stillness, share this silently among other practitioners, radiate this gently and powerfully in human consciousness.  And have faith that it matters.  Even when it feels like the world is unraveling around us, sit in silence.  Even when it feels like the to-do list is a mile long, sit in silence.  Even when it feels like we are entirely alone, and even the spirit world has abandoned us, sit in silence.  Offer the sacrifice once more, open the doorway, and wait.

Parker and the Marauding Job

Sep. 17th, 2017 04:05 pm
reena_jenkins: (also for podficcing)
[personal profile] reena_jenkins posting in [community profile] amplificathon


Title: Parker and the Marauding Job
Author:
[archiveofourown.org profile] angelsaves
Reader: [personal profile] reena_jenkins
Coverartist: [personal profile] reena_jenkins
Rating: PG
Fandoms: Leverage, Harry Potter
Pairings: gen
Warnings: Alternate Universe - Harry Potter Setting, getting the gang together, Heist, Harry Potter AU, Alternate Universe - Hogwarts

Length: 00:14:22

Author's Summary: In which, for reasons that don't need exploring at this juncture, the Leverage crew is attending Hogwarts. Sterling has taken over for Filch, and he's got the Marauder's Map in his clutches. Obviously, they have to liberate it. (Short, silly, and unbetaed.)

Download Link: You can download this podfic as an mp3 right over here (thanks for hosting me, [personal profile] paraka)

Indulgent

Sep. 17th, 2017 03:38 pm
reena_jenkins: (also for podficcing)
[personal profile] reena_jenkins posting in [community profile] amplificathon


Title: Indulgent
Author:
[archiveofourown.org profile] nirejseki
Reader: [personal profile] reena_jenkins
Coverartist: [personal profile] reena_jenkins
Rating: PG-13
Fandoms: The Flash (tv'verse), DC's Legend's of Tomorrow, Harry Potter
Pairings: Mick Rory/Leonard Snart
Warnings: Alternate Universe - Harry Potter Setting, Harry Potter AU, Alternate Universe - Hogwarts

Length: 00:30:03

Author's Summary: Len and Mick have at least thirteen stories about how they met. None of them are accurate, but all of them are more believable than the truth, which is that they met in the Hogwarts library, of all places.

(aka snippets of Len and Mick at Hogwarts).

Download Link: You can download this podfic as an mp3 right over here (thanks for hosting me, [personal profile] paraka)

Happy autumnal equinox

Sep. 17th, 2017 02:53 pm
[syndicated profile] thewildhunt_feed

Posted by The Wild Hunt

TWH – This year, the autumnal equinox falls on Sept. 22 at 20:02 UTC in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the moment that officially signals the start of fall. At this time, there will be an equal amount of light and dark, after which the nights are longer as than days as we head toward winter.

Outside of religious life, this season is very well celebrated. It is punctuated by harvest celebrations, craft shows and arts festivals, outdoors sports, pumpkin picking, scarecrow contests, corn mazes, and the aromas of spice and apple cider.

From ancient to modern cultures, the harvest period was a time of both work and celebration. Many of these celebrations are marked by thanksgiving, whether religious or secular in nature.  Thanks are given to deities, ancestors, family, friends, community, self, and nature.

It is also when the UN celebrates International Day of Peace (Sept. 21).

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” – Albert Camus

[Public domain.]

In some modern Pagan traditions, this is the second of three harvest festivals, with the first being Lughnasadh and the third being Samhain.

Autumn equinox holidays come in many names. For Wiccans and Witches, it is sometimes called “Harvest Home” or “Mabon.” In Druidic and Celtic-oriented Pagan groups, it can be called “Mid-Harvest,” “Foghar,” or “Alban Elfed.” In modern Asatru, it is sometimes called “Winter Finding.”

The Greek term for it is “Phthinopohriní Isimæría.” In Old English it was called “efnniht.”

Then, there are those who just simply prefer to use “autumn equinox” or “fall.”

At the same time, our friends and family living in the Southern Hemisphere begin the journey to summer. Sept. 22 will mark their vernal equinox and the beginning of spring. The days will begin to lengthen and become warmer as light triumphs over dark and the Earth reawakens from its winter slumber.

Here are some thoughts on the harvest season and the equinox:

“No matter what you choose to call it, the autumn equinox has long been one of my favorite sabbats. It’s a time when I can almost hear the wheel of the year turning, and signs of change are everywhere. There’s so much to harvest in the garden, and the sunflowers that stood so tall and proud back in August are now heavy and tired, ready to share their seeds with the waiting earth. ” – Jason Mankey, “8 Ways to Celebrate the Autumn Equinox/Mabon

*   *   *

“The young mother-maiden swings a picnic basket, and lays down a blanket, bread, and cheese. The old crone pulls a bottle of cyser mead from her carpetbag, and pours it into glasses. They clink and make a toast to Mabon, or the autumn equinox — the day when the light and darkness are most equal.

“I imagine the goddesses speak of the things that happened in the past six months.” – Astrea, “Mabon, Honor the Dark Goddess

*   *   *

“The trees are turning golden, their leaves taking on the autumn hues. The smell of wood smoke is in the air, and another cycle is turning, ever turning, the endless wheel of existence. Spinning, like our galaxy, through time and space, always changing, always flowing; the awen of Druidry.” –  Joanna van der Hoeven, “Reaping and Sowing

 

Happy harvest to all of those celebrating, and a very merry spring to our friends in the south.

January 2011

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