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Imbolc

Sometime between January 31st and February 2nd, the feast of Imbolc is celebrated; I go with the earlier date personally, as I recognize February 2nd as Candlemas of the Christian liturgical calendar.  Imbolc, one of the old cross-quarter days and a greater sabbat for witches, is also celebrated as the feast day of Brighid, goddess of smiths and poets and harpers still honored today as St. Brigid among the descendants of her pagan worshippers in Ireland, Scotland and Wales. 
Brighid

It’s a holiday best celebrated at one’s own hearth, whether that be an actual fireplace, the kitchen stove, the space heater, or a candle on the coffee table.  The lengthening hours of sunlight are the reminder of better times to come, and depending on where you live, the snowmelt might be nourishing little crocuses and snowdrops, their soft green shoots just coming visible within the next few weeks.  Imbolc is winter’s last gasp, and while there can still be harsh weather ahead, it usually does mark a turning point.  If you’ve made it this far, you can make it just a bit longer, awaiting the promise of spring.

Anticipation

Mysteries of Osiris, Day 2

First Sunday of Advent

 

I’m sure that seems an odd combination at first glance: Kemetic and Christian, mourning a death and awaiting a birth.  Yet upon reflection, I think they go together rather well.  During the week of the Osirian mysteries, we examine the heart of the story of the King who is slain and come to see ourselves in those who mourn, as we all will eventually mourn a loss in our lives.  We walk through the cycle of his death, his burial, and his eventual restoration, as he is transformed from Osiris Slain into the Foremost of the Westerners, transformed from an inert corpse to new life through the power of love.  The Mysteries continue for several more days, and I recommend you read through The Mystery of the Awakening of Osiris to get a feel for the flavor of this festival.  The Osiris and Isis myth is a compelling and enduring one, worthy of examination and reflection.

So we come out of that festival renewed, gladdened by the knowledge that Osiris is not lost, but transformed–reborn.  That leads rather nicely into the season leading up to the sun’s “rebirth” at the Winter Solstice.  Christians, primarily of the liturgical sects, celebrate this season as Advent, a word which means “to come” or “to begin.”  In recent years, more pagans and syncretists have adopted the customs of Advent; see Waverly Fitzgerald’s article on celebrating a pagan Advent , for example.  For years I’ve celebrated the rebirth of the sun as the sun god Horus; sometimes I’ve gone so far as to set up a nativity scene featuring Isis, Osiris and the infant Horus (it amuses me to make offerings to them while midnight Mass at the local cathedral plays on the TV in the background; and I wonder why my husband worries about my sanity).  As a Kemetic, at the solstice we also celebrate the shift from darkness to light as the Return of the Distant Goddess, followed by the Establishment of the Celestial Cow; and I’ll discuss these myths as we get closer to the actual days of the festivals.  Lighting candles for Advent on the SUNdays leading up to the solstice pleases me; Advent calendars with little doors to open each day please me as well.  If they please you too, here are links to some online Advent calendars:

From a Catholic perspective

A more interfaith approach, from BustedHalo.com

Decemberlady’s annual X-Files-themed calendar

Another X-Files-themed calendar

31 Days of Halloween

It’s October again. And you know what that means…

whoowhoo

Tempus Fugit

So, since I last posted here, I’ve become the new co-organizer for a local meetup and resumed my FOI studies with the Crossroads Lyceum.  The summer has passed and hints of fall’s arrival are visible all around, in the little touches of color appearing on certain trees as if a careless hand had splashed bits of paint in random patterns.  It’s a touch cooler overall, though this summer was surprisingly not as wretched as most of them have been over the past few years.  And now it’s September and we’re in the homestretch toward Pagan Pride Day (for which I am again ritual co-leader and the day’s announcer/DJ) and the autumnal holidays of Mabon (autumn equinox) and Samhain (Halloween).  I’ve even seen the first pumpkins sitting on people’s porches.  It’s my favorite time of year coming up: the season of harvest, the season of the witch, and I’ve loved it best of all for as long as I can remember.  Even as the year winds down, some things are looking up.  It’s a good time.

God Hates You!

I think the message on the local Southern Baptist Church’s marquee this morning was the most outrageous (in every sense of that word) one yet:

“To God…My Best Is Like Rotting Garbage.”

I can’t even snark something that twisted.  Seriously; that is so many kinds of wrong that it deserves a moment of silent contemplation.

I’m not sure who is sicker: the person who in all good conscience preaches such bile, or the seeker who in all good faith believes it.

(ETA: I’m seriously contemplating emailing the church and reminding them of the old adage that one catches more flies with honey than with vinegar.)

We were driving through Maryland last month when I happened to spot a construction site alongside the highway.  It took me a moment to realize that I was in fact looking at this–a “reconstruction” in progress of Noah’s ark.  I squealed with delight, and only wish I’d had the time (or the powers of persuasion to convince my husband) to stop.  I was similarly enchanted by spying Ohio’s Touchdown Jesus last summer. 

I’m completely infatuated with folk expressions of religion, the kitschier the better, and if they’re just hanging out there on the side of the road for me to admire, then I’m as happy as can be.  I adore roadside shrines, country churches, little chapels.  I squee at sightings of places like Sheffield’s Catfish House (Where Jesus Is Lord) or the God Cafe, both in Florida, or Georgia’s Family Values Inn.  If there’s a Virgin Mary in a half-sunk bathtub, I want to see it.  Vehicles covered with inflammatory, insane religious rantings make me feel like an entomologist scrutinizing a new and potentially hazardous insect species.  And if there are pamphlets available, don’t get in my way; I’m absolutely besotted with printed matter.

What all this says about me, I don’t know, but chances are there’s a diagnostic criteria for it somewhere.  It entertains me and irks my spouse, whatever the DSM-IV might say.  I’m determined to start getting more photographs of these things, which are second only to abandoned buildings in my list of favorite things to shoot.  Perhaps it’s because all of these things are just that–things, thus allowing me to remain in observer consciousness and not have to fully engage with them (and with the oftentimes odious things which they represent and/or perpetuate).  There is danger in art, of course, as there is danger in symbol; but I can distance myself from those dangers by reducing the things that carry them to mere roadside attractions, innocuous and easily forgotten as a Stuckey’s billboard.

Typealyzer

I was reading at The Shepton Witch and found a link to something called the Typealyzer, which apparently analyzes blog or web site content according to the Myers-Briggs personality testing criteria.  The results:

INTP – The Thinkers

The logical and analytical type. They are especially attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.

They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.

And I’d say that’s fairly accurate!