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Autumnal Equinox Ritual

Just in case anyone was interested in how we celebrate the Autumnal Equinox.

I identify as a skeptical agnostic pagan (or a SAP). In our home we have a fairly detached form of ritual. Kiddo and I attend ritual with the Earth Centered UUs a few times a year and we do our own thing a few times a year. I like the lessons and the idea of forming connections even if we aren't super devote.  A lot of people don't really get it, and it is hard to articulate as an elevator pitch. So I thought maybe showing rather than telling would be the way to go. I wrote up this ritual for just Kiddo and me. 


Autumnal Equinox Ritual

Smudge ourselves: how do we enter the circle? In perfect love and perfect trust.

Create the space: call the quarters:
We call to the guardians of the North:  Spirit of Earth and spirits of our bodies. Be with us now.
We call to the guardians of the East:  Spirit of Air and spirits of our breath. Be with us now
We call to the guardians of the South: Spirit of Fire and spirits of our individual sparks. Be with us now
We call to the guardians of the West: Spirit of Water and spirits of our living selves. Be with us now
           
Light the candles: By the air that is her breath, the fire of her bright spirit and the water of her living womb, by the earth that is her body, by the spark of spirit that resides in each of us, the circle is now cast.

Hard to tell, but Air is yellow, Fire is red, Water is blue, and Earth is Green... and Spirit is the big white one. Water is in the place of honor as this is the start of its season. 


Spoken Word: Today is an equinox ritual, today we remember that
Air moves us,
Fire transforms us,
Water shapes us,
Earth heals us,
And the balance of the wheel goes round and round,  

(point to the representations of each that have been chosen for today, the sage, the candle, the water, the salt in wood)

Pagans use all sorts of diff things on alters. I like the simple uncluttered look and mine changes every time. 


Today’s ritual is about the half way point between high summer and high winter, it is a time to think about harvest and what we are doing to take care of ourselves and the world as we head into the darker time of the year. We know that balance is important. We can't only eat ice cream... we need green beans too! We can't always watch TV, sometimes we have to fold the laundry. Our lives need balance but it cannot happen without a good foundation

Activity: Practice standing on one foot, tip toes, etc to illustrate the complexities of balance.

Spoken Word: This is also a time of reflection in conjunction (connection) with the harvest. We are very blessed in our lives but there is always room for improvement. As we get ready for the darker months, the colder months, we must make sure we are storeing up not only food but also energy to last us until the spring.

Let’s discuss the following questions:
1.     What am I reaping (gathering) in my life right now?
2.     Are there aspects (parts) of my life that might need more balance?
3.     What is changing for me right now?
4.     What things should I let go of?
5.     How can I be my best self during this time of the year of harvest and reflection?
6.     Where should I focus my attention?

My  / Ella's answers:
1.     M: I have worked on building new friendships, I have set myself up for a good school year. E: New friends and lots of Spanish words
2.      M: I need balance with my leisure time and my working time. E: Eating my lunch and playing a little while doing my homework
3.     M: My daughter is getting older, more independent. Schoolwork is a new challenge. The loss of the GCV and that community is a challenge E: Going to school every day and getting up early. And all my homework
4.     M: It is time to accept that I won’t be able to watch as much TV, read as many books, or go on as many coffee dates because of time constraints. I also need to let go of some writing projects. Lastly, it is time to clean out my closet and donate things from my summer clothes that I never wore or that don’t fit. E: I can take some of your old clothes and give some of mine to my cousin. I can give up my old school since I have a new school
5.     M: I can practice self-care and work on sticking to a schedule.  I can cut myself some slack and also not judge others for being different. E: I can go to bed on time and do my homework and play fast games and practice my Spanish
6.     M: I need to focus my attention on my school work and my creative endeavors. E: homework (sigh) and also making friends and spending time with my friends and sleeping. And eating good food.

Story: Tell the story of Persephone

Snack: Share apple slices

Symbol creation / craft: Today we will paint wooden picture frames…. At some point in the fall we will find and collect the “perfect” leaf to put inside the frame. We know that all things come and that patience is a trait best practiced.



Meditation / Charging the Craft:
"With memories of the summer, least I never forget,
And with an aspiring heart for the colder months to come,
Least I never stop striving, reflecting, and showing gratitude
I honor myself and all of nature with this symbol,
Keeping it  in my home and heart,
That I may see it and pause,
To reflect on the Ancient Mysteries,
Leading me to a better understanding of myself,
And of others, and all that is Life." 

Release the quarters:
Guardians of the North:  Spirit of Earth and spirits of our bodies. Thank you and go with peace.
Guardians of the East:  Spirit of Air and spirits of our breath. Thank you and go with peace.
Guardians of the South: Spirit of Fire and spirits of our individual sparks. Thank you and go with peace.
Guardians of the West: Spirit of Water and spirits of our living selves. Thank you and go with peace.


Break the circle: By the air that is her breath, the fire of her bright spirit, the water of her living womb and the earth that is her body, by the spirit that resides in each of us, the circle is now open but may it remain unbroken and may the peace of the Goddess be forever in our hearts. Merry meet, merry part, and merry meat again, So mote it be, blessed be.

The end!


Here is my little explanation why I use "Goddess"... ask any number of pagans and they will use any number of words or symbols. For me "Goddess" is my way of attempting to name/understand/interact with the universe. I don't know if there is something larger than us humans out there, I sort of feel like there might be... and that IF there is, that thing or energy or whatever is probably way outside our ability to understand. But, I feel better when I remember that we are all connected (that interconnected web thing that the UUs have really resonates with me). In order to even begin to think about that entity or whatever, I need to put it into a form that my brain can understand and that my heart responds to... for me that is a Goddess Maiden, Mother Crone figure / energy. I feel connected to the world and to others by focusing my personal energy on my own femininity and the cycle of life that the Triple Goddess represents.

I know it sounds weird.. and I'm ok with no one else understanding or feeling the same way. It is what works for me and it harms no one but rather helps me focus my compassion and is my own way of making sense of the world and finding something I can focus on. 

ANYway, there it is. Hope that helps some of you understand and not be so freaked out by the word "pagan".  Quick note: I don't often snap photos during, but I did today as I knew I was going to want to share
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Lastly, our finished frames waiting for their perfect leaves.






Freedom to Say "No"

It can be hard to say "no"
It can be especially hard if you have low self esteem and anxiety that saying "no" will end friendships or make you the bad guy.
It can be hard when your heart strings are pulled or when you feel a sense of responsibility.
It can feel like you are being selfish.

BUT

Image result for No

It is so darn important to be able to say "No" even though it can be one of the hardest words to utter.

One of the things I am trying to learn is how to say "No". How to disengage from toxic people, how to set up professional and personal boundaries, how to manage my time, how to think about my self as a finite resource and how to be aware of my needs.

It is a dificult journey.

I left GCV in part to be able to focus on other things. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't accept any new responsibility for another year (other than the things I had already signed up to do: school, etc.

Since then, I have said no to the following things

Organizing a clothing drive
Being a camp consoler
Running a once a week day care out of my home
Being a full time nanny
Being a part time nanny
Running a Girl Scout Troop
Being the 2nd in command of a Girl Scout Troop
Running a fundraiser
Writing a weekly blog for an established platform
Writing a recurring blog for an established platform
Being on the board of another nonprofit
Being on the advisory board for another nonprofit
Being a district representative for my daughter's school
Organizing a protest
Spearheading a boycott.


Which makes me feel better about saying yes to the following:
Teaching Sunday School 2 times a month
Joining a Parent Involvement Team
Getting elected School Site Council

So... progress!

As school starts in a few weeks and I get back to my more rigorous writing schedule, I only hope my ability to say "No" to things stays strong.


Fingers Crossed!


530 AM Feminist

I attended a boot camp with a friend last weekend.

It was one of those things where you do a bunch of cardio and weight training in a circuit while a trim little lady in spandex yells encouragement at you and you wonder how 30 seconds can last So Damn Long.

Anyway, before we started we had to fill out a few forms... basically promising that we wouldn't die during the session and that if we did, we wouldn't sue.

And of course part of the forms were "general info" that they use to then try to sell you a membership to the gym.

A few things to remember before I share with you some of the questions and my answers.

1. It was 530 in the morning. Legit. Too early.

2. I hate exercise of all sorts but I was there because I am almost always up for an adventure and I really like this new friend. Plus I wanted to ear extra helpings of French Toast later.

3. I'm a pretty hard core feminist. In case you hadn't noticed.

Ok...

What do you hope to get from working out?

Ability to humble brag on facebook without fibbing

What is your goal weight / size

155 (that's 5 lower than now) and size 8 (I am a size 8-10, it depends on the time of the month)

Why is that your goal?

I have soooo many clothes in my closet I want to wear!

If you hit your goal, how will your life be better?

I will have more clothes to wear!

When you think about your body, what sort of things do you think?

Thank god I have a body and am not just a head in a jar!

When you see photos of yourself, what do you focus on?

The lighting and the background people who might be famous. You never know. Also, do I need a haircut?

What part of your body do you like and why?

My boobs are awesome and my bladder is like a steel trap. 

What part of your body do you dislike and why?

My eyes. Glaucoma is a bitch.

Overall, how do you feel about your body?

I'm a fan

How does your spouse of partner feel about your body?

Damn lucky... not that it matters.


I don't think they will be calling me. But it got me wondering... the questions seem tailor made to make you doubt yourself and worry. I get that they might want to make sure you have realistic goals and don't think that dropping 20 pounds will magically fix your life... but seriously the whole thing bugged me.

Oh well, the circuit was difficult (which was both nice and painful) and we sweated like pigs. I got mixed up like three times and lost my place... and totally phoned it in during the final Burpee Challenge part.. (why is it called a burpee? That's gross!)

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, eyeglasses and closeup
Post workout rawr face! 

Then we went out for breakfast!

All in all, a pretty damn fun way to spend a Saturday morning.

...

and yeah... I was SORE the next day... that means it's working right?