Wednesday, November 24, 2010

birthday greetings and travel plans

Just a quick blog to say "Thank you!" to all those hundreds of people who wished Gavin a happy 80th birthday and inquired after his health. Yes, he still has all his bits and pieces and it all seems to be in reasonable working order. Nothing has actually fallen off yet.

On another subject: We're visiting the Mystic Life Sanctuary in Louisville to celebrate winter solstice with them on December 21. Come one, come all (as the saying goes). It's your opportunity not to drive so far to meet us; and of course we greatly enjoy meeting you.

We want to thank Mystic Life for sponsoring this trip and paying our travel expenses.

Have a wonderful thanksgiving--br grateful

Friday, November 19, 2010

Happy Hallowe'en?

Yvonne muses:

In a popular presentation that we do, "Ninety-Nine Ways Good Witches Go Bad", we make a point of how dedicated (or not) the fictitious group are. Example: we find more and more that self-styled pagans don't bother with the real dates for celebrations of the Craft's sabbats and esbats.

What did our spiritual forebears fight and die for? Don't we care? Can't we be bothered?

Everything on this planet--its earth, its waters, its living creatures including humans--everything is influenced by the pull of the moon. We all know (at least I hope we do) not to go out partying on full-moon night; rather, that's the night to stay home and do our own house or coven rituals, our own form of observance.

The Hindus say that we in the west have it wrong: that we ought properly to be observing our holy days three days after the appropriate phase of the moon.Why? Because thousands of years ago they observed that the tides of the oceans demonstrate what is called a hysteresis; that is, the tides lag the moon's actual position. Hindus compare the concept to sitting in a bathtub and sliding your bottom several times, toward the back end of the tub, then toward the front end, then toward the back end again. A watch with a second-hand will prove that there is a perceptible lag between (a) your bottom's reaching its most forward point and (b) the bathwater reaching its highest point on the front wall of the tub. The hysteresis between the moon's position and the ocean tides, then, takes three days. Currently, then, we are saying, "Any day between the full (or new) moon and three days after is okay for a ritual." Of course the ritual should be done as the moon is crossing the zenith at your location; that is, about midnight for full moon and about noon (standard time) for new.

As a double Aries, I get really upset when people fail to understand the importance of doing rituals on or near the best day. It curdles my insides. Why else would anyone keep an Old Farmer's Almanac in their bathroom?

So, pagans, Wiccans, and anyone else who cares, you don't want to do that to me, do you? If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right. Think back to our early spiritual ancestors, who watched the heavens as a matter of survival. When they honored Nature's gifts, they didn't time the occasions by a calendar devised by some pope in Rome. They scheduled their reverent observances by the real--the visible--positions of the heavenly bodies. It makes my insides churn when someone says to me, "Happy Hallowe'en!" I'm not yet to the point where I can just scrape it off my shoe and get on with life. What are our traditions worth, anyhow?

Blessed be those who think. Yvonne

Friday, November 12, 2010

Idols and Avatars - Rita and Triloka

    With the growing interest in India and Hinduism, it behooves us all to try to understand a little more about the Hindu religion, which by sheer number of temple adherents* is probably the largest religion in the world.
    From the Vedic religion(s) Hinduism took two basic principles:
1. Rita: Everything must be ordered; everything and everyone, including the immortal gods, must       obey the rules of order. Related words: rite, ritual, right (as in the right and proper way of       behaving, and in human rights).
2. Triloka (literally three places): Here we learn that the earth/cosmos is divided into three planes:
    a) the earth itself and the sea;
    b) the air and sky;
    c) the heavens, where the immortal gods and goddesses exist.
    The only immortal god who moves among all planes is Agni, the god of fire and lightning. The other immortal gods cannot function in planes other than their own. This means that they cannot be interventionist gods on the earth plane, and they cannot be human. Thus images of them make them clearly non-human by (for instance) giving them lots of extra limbs and sometimes multiple heads or faces.
    When you go to a Hindu temple and see images of Shiva and his goddess-partner Shakti, you do not pray to them. You meditate on their meaning and on how you can gain enlightenment to get off the wheel of samsara (reincarnation) and moksha (escaping the wheel).
   We all occasionally need a little help in our lives; to get that help Hinduism uses idols and avatars, accessible on the earth plane. Since they are on the earth plane, they can act in the earth plane. Such an idol is what we Wiccans call a stone god or a container of energy. You put your energy into it by "worshiping" it, and you can get the energy back out when you need it.
    An avatar, in contrast, is the earth plane counterpart of an immortal god. Probably the best-known avatar is Krishna. He is connected to Vishnu: he is an earth-plane avatar of Vishnu. Another avatar, one popular in the pagan movement, is the monkey-god Hanuman.
    When the Christian asks his bishop, "Why does ‘God' allow evil on earth?" the bishop often has no real answer. The Hindu, on the other hand, has a very simple answer. Idols and avatars on the earth plane are human constructs; they have all the positive and negative attributes of humankind. It is not the immortal gods in their heaven that cause evil on the earth; it is the people.
Blessed Be    G&Y

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* Adherents: people who attend temple or church services on a regular basis