Name Your Age

People with names I associate with my school days are showing up in retirement announcements. I am accustomed to Linda and Bob aging out of the office. But now, Heather and Kyle are collecting social security.

Once Courtney and Tanner are up for AARP, I’ll know my daisy days approach.

Different Pants

Yesterday morning after I got dressed, a quiet thought came to mind. I would be wearing different pants to work that day.
What? I checked myself in the mirror. These pants were fine, in fact they are the nicest pair I own: midnight blue pin striped dress pants I got from my great-aunt’s latest closet clearing. They went well with my sweater. They fit nicely.
I would wear different pants to work. The jeans I just got from Goodwill, said the quiet thought.
No, I am wearing my pinstripes! No jeans. I like dressing well on Mondays.
THEN THERE WAS ICE ON THE STEP. I slipped, fell, landed directly on my left foot. Water and leaves and whatever grows on wooden decks all sopped into my nice pants.
Husband rescued me, iced and elevated my ankle and wrist, covered me with blankets as the adrenaline wore off. I called my sister the RN and got her advice on treatments.
Then I lay thinking, OK Spirit Guides, thanks for the note about the pants. … I GUESS I JUST NEEDED TO FALL DOWN FOR SOME REASON?!
no answer.
Then came a soft notion in the back of my mind, that I needed to learn how to ask for help.
It is popular joke on psychic folks to say, I will believe in psychics when they all start winning the lottery. Ha. So clever.
This is a psychic’s life: You receive information your guides think you need.
The jeans, which stretch and did not hamper my use of crutches in any way, were a good choice.
Thanks, Spirit Guides.

Yule 2019

Why celebrate Yule, what is it?

Yule is the Winter Solstice, when the Sun rises and sets at the furthest point south on the horizon (this is the northern hemisphere’s winter).

If you can watch the Sun rise on Yule, look for a landmark that shows you how far south it rises. Watch from a normal place, some window in your house or your front or back door. You do not have to know the directions; just notice.

The daylight is short, the night time is long, the longest night of the year. It is tradition to play drums at sunrise on Yule. I wonder if that is where the idea of the Little Drummer Boy originated? Greeting the re-birth of a new Sun.

So, this is the low point of light, the least amount of light. We fight the darkness with fire, company and good cheer!

Traditions like these teach survival, teach us how to thrive in spite of tough natural forces. We celebrate Yule to remind each other that low times pass, cycles turn, and tough times will get better…soon. Maybe not just yet but soon.

We bolster each other’s spirits, make joyful memories and celebrate each other. We have each survived since last Yule. No one is guaranteed this, so we celebrate together!

This is a t8me of generosity, too. Generosity seems divine but is actually human. Sharing is an act of free will.

There is a perception that handmade gifts are best. But, handmade used to be all there was. It is a lovely tradition, and it still counts. Homemade cookies count as handmade. ( I love cookies!) But gifts you buy count, too.

What can you make? Not just things – do you make friends? Do you make someone happy?

In the days before industrial revolution, days of farm life, winter is an easier time of year. There is nothing to plow, sow or reap. Now, this is no longer true – in winter we are as busy as any other time of year. We travel, work, shop, host, decorate, cook, organise as if our lives depended on it.

All this activity during the dark time of year causes anxiety. Darkness is a natural time to rest and recover, not a natural time for high activity. Any time you can rest during this time, do!

The Holly and Oak trees both grow slow, strong and tall. Both have ovate shaped leaves with a pointed tip, both have leaves with several points around the edge. The Holly King rules the waning light from Summer solstice to Winter, and on Yule loses to his brother the Oak King.

Holly is evergreen and medicinal, if emetics are the medicine you need! Purging is a desperate measure but was commonly used in ancient medicine. Holly also stimulates the heart, increasing the pulse. Holly produces berries for birds to eat and spread its seeds.

Holly King is jolly, with bright red or white berries and deep green leaves. The sacred holly does not die when dark winter comes, and reminds us again that life survives. Holly King prepares us for loss, retraction, retrenching before the hard winter times arrive.

Some debate what is the “dark half of the year”. It can be defined several ways:

From Summer solstice, as the days get shorter and shorter.

From Autumn Equinox, when the night hours become equal with the day hours.

From Samhain, the time of frost and deep night.

At the end of Holly’s reign, he loses to his brother the Oak King. Oak defeats Holly when the light time of year begins.

Oak is beloved of Sun gods like Apollo. Oak is also a strong, tall, slow and steady growing tree. Oak produces acorns, which are food for mammals and are spread as mammals gather and hoard them.

These two brothers rival one another for the love of the Goddess, and represent two sides of the Greenman’s power. They represent two very different male aspects, the physician and the provider.

And at Yule we build a bonfire using the Greenman’s bones to invite light back into the world. Beginning with dry leaves, grass and twigs, adding larger branches as flames catch, and then piling logs around and on the growing blaze.

Hail the new light of the reborn Sun!

Samhain, Festival of the Ancestors

Samhain is the Gaelic word for “Summer’s End”. It is pronounced “SOW-in” in Irish Gaelic, “SHAW-vin” in Scots Gaelic, and “Pumpkin Spice” in American. 😀 I stole that joke.

Like English uses H to change the sounds of C and S, Gaelic uses the letter H to turn M into the V sound. M and V are more similar than you might have realized. That is a little Gaelic language tip for you; I did not get much further in my study of that language.

Samhain is the ancient holiday halfway between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice, around the first of November. This is when in Ireland, cattle were brought back down from their mountainous summer grazing fields to the valley fields. Newgrange and other paleolithic Irish monuments mark these astronomical events.

Thanks to Irish immigrants, Samhain became the basis for what we Americans call “Halloween”, a contraction for All Hallow’s Eve. Halloween is the evening before All Saints Day. Halloween is also known as All Souls Night, when we remember our own, ordinary, not-sainted folk. Simply, it is a festival to honor those who have gone before.

Ancestor worship pre-dates the worship of deities. From what I can understand, as Stone Age people, we humans did not fear death or miss our dead relatives the way we do now. Instead, we stayed in touch with their spirits and memories.

Usually, ancestor worship itself was conducted by the oldest living relatives in the family. Those who were closer to crossing over to become ancestors themselves, and who had known the older generations were deemed best for communicating with those spirits. It became their sole occupation. Priesthood must have been a really nice retirement plan!

Modern Pagans often hold unrelated loved ones, such as teachers or even celebrities, as emotional ancestors. Those who inspire us to become better people have also fed our growth as spiritual beings. They “parent” us this way.

Who are your unrelated ancestors? Among mine are the authors Anne McCaffrey and Jane Austen, singer Karen Carpenter and my high school choir teacher, Cheryl Patchen. McCaffrey taught me keep writing and singing in spite of neglect or abuse, and that adopted family can be the best family. Austen taught me to follow my better nature rather than give in to impulse. Carpenter warned me to keep fighting mental illness. Patchen believed in me.

Did you have neighbors growing up who helped raise you? Have you thought about the word “raise”? Good people lift each other up, and as my friend Carolsue says, we live in a world with good people.

Wiccans honor our dead at Samhain. We believe at this time of year, it is easier to converse with our ancestors. The “veil” between our world and theirs is thin at this time, and also at Beltaine, the opposite holiday from Samhain.

One way to remember them is to offer their names to the Samhain bonfire. You can speak their names to the fire, or write them on paper to burn. I usually do both, reading the name aloud and then burning the paper.

Samhain is also the third or fourth harvest festival of the year; it is the Blood Harvest. I am going to let those words hang for a moment… This is the hunting season for well-fed wildlife, or time to harvest your fattened livestock. Their bones went into the Samhain bonfire, bone + fire. This is the time of frost, when (before climate change) the weather would reliably get colder. Meat stayed good longer in a cold larder, or it was cured with salt or smoke. Then it should keep your family fed thru harsh winter months. They did not have things like Spam.

And of course, it is the time of pumpkins, winter squash, potatoes, young wine from Lughnasadh’s pressing, the last of those flavorful peppers, apples and plums. There is still time to plant winter greens to keep your family more healthy during winter.

Another way to honor the dead is the Dumb Supper. “Dumb” means “not speaking”. As you enjoy your marvelous harvests in a Samhain feast, set one plate full of your dinner with a burning candle to draw those spirits who love you. Some Wiccans eat this meal in silence (dumb), to listen for their visitors’ words from the other side.

Many Wiccans include a pomegranate in their Samhain feast to honor the marriage of Persephone and Hades. Do not believe those silly English scholars who mistranslated the old Greek myths: Persephone was NOT kidnapped. Plucking a crocus was essentially knocking on Hades’ door. She was NOT tricked into marrying; offering an unmarried woman a pomegranate was the same today as kneeling and offering her a ring. Her mother’s opinion of the match was another story.

A much-loved Samhain activity is to spend time looking thru family photo albums. Perhaps dust the picture frames if you keep family portraits. Tell stories of your elders’ (hopefully funny ones as well as any other), talk about your family’s history and traditions. We are settling into the darkest time of the year, which is a great time to rest and tell stories.

Samhain is our New Year festival, as well. We chase out and confuse bad spirits by wearing masks and set skulls and bones outside our doors to warn them away. The Irish extinguish their hearth fires, then meet at the village bonfire and take home its coals to restart their hearth for the new year. The old has passed, the new are coming back soon: at the Sun’s rebirth occurs at Yule.

Since it is a new year, you might scry or read your tarot cards to gain insight for the coming year. You might converse with your ancestors by visiting your relatives’ graveyards, or simply stand outside on your porch to await their coming to see you, just as you would wait for the living who have texted to say they are are on their way.

If you choose to scry, keep in mind that all news is not good. Be prepared to receive messages of any sort. Christians interpret hearing bad news as the “Devil’s words” and view our holiday with anxiety. Bless their hearts. Wiccan faith says to accept the whole cycle of life as it comes. When you receive messages, do your best to handle the news.

And this is one reason that Wiccans set circles of protection when we scry. We need to filter out those spirits who might mean harm, or who are just full of mischief. Think of all the people you know in life. They do not change their nature when they die.

Samhain New Year is an excellent time to purge your home of unwanted or unused items, or items with some painful connection. It might be a valuable item, but if it only brings you sorrow, purge it. Purge yourself of sorrows too, using that burning ritual I mentioned earlier. Write your sorrow on paper and add it to the Samhain fire. That catharsis is magnificent.

Walking a labyrinth is another Samhain tradition. The labyrinth reminds us that life is full of twists, turns, doubling back, rushing forward, and then doing it all over again with fresh perspective.

Think of all the feelings you get when you work thru any problem! They can all be there in the labyrinth. Interest in a new thing, satisfaction in that first turning back to see where you were before. Frustration of going back and forth when you thought you were done. Confusion when you are not sure if you are following the right color on the floor. Joy of sailing forward thru a long loop, and then anxiety as you see yet another turn ahead. Relief when you reach the center. Exhaustion when you realize you are about to go thru all of that again – or maybe you love seeing it all go by again and laugh at the places you were stuck or frustrated before.

You might outline a labyrinth in your own yard, using cornmeal or flour, bricks, masking tape or ribbon. To use a bag of cornmeal or flour for this, cut a pouring spout from the top fold and use the flour to trace the design. Non-toxic, needs no clean up. The Cretan labyrinth + is a simple and most ancient design. Or, quite simply, or you can mark out a spiral using a garden hose.

Samhain is a time of immense power and change. In this season, it behooves us to connect with our past and weigh our needs and desires. Take time to appreciate where you came from, the good and the bad together. Take time to evaluate where you are and appreciate your own wealth.

Awkward Start to My Week

14 October 2019: 7:40am

Driving in reverse, turn and put car into forward, surprised to see neighbor Kevin with his dog, Max. We have met a few times when walking our dogs on the road. He had once thanked me for driving a Nissan, as he works there. 

Our driveway is a sixth of a mile long. This guy walked nearly all the way down it, past two “no trespassing” signs. I figured he was bringing Max to play with Teddy. I rolled down my window, and this conversation ensued: 

Me: Good morning! Hello doggo! (reaches to pet Max, the extremely friendly rescue pitbull). Are you coming to visit Teddy?

Kevin: Did you lease that? (pointing at my car)

Me: No, I bought it. It is used, had been a lease before. Are you here to visit Teddy?

K: I don’t even know who lives here! (waves his arms around, indicating our yard, house, woods)

Me: _I_ live here. We’ve met before, this is Max and you’re Keith?

K: Kevin.

Me: (I nod. Max tries to reach me and scratches my car door.) No, get down.

K: How come no one has memories anymore! (waving his arms again) None of this will be here in 100 years.

Me: It was my husband’s grandmother’s place, we bought it from his father and uncle. My husband, Chris. You’ve met him.

K: How big is it?

Me: 6 acres.

K: Wow.

Me: Yes, we wanted to keep it (I meant to say “in the family” but said “open” instead.)

K: For what this place is worth, you could move all this (he points at the house) anywhere you want it.

Me: Ha! THIS IS where we want it.

K: I am looking to invest.

Me: Have a nice day!

K: Good luck.

 

WEIRD way to start my week.

Autumn Equinox, or Mabon 21 September 2019

This holiday really is a Southerner’s favorite. Sure, the South loves Christmas enough to put their tree up in July, but nothing makes South happier than cooler weather. If my social media feed is any indication, anticipation of this event begins after the first hot day in May.

What is this holiday, besides a lead up to Halloween? It is our second harvest festival. Apples, grapes, gourds and nuts are ripe. Time to make jam, pickles, wine, and roast pumpkin seeds. The grain mills that were busy after Lammas have churned out flour, so it is a great time for baking pies. The Horn of Plenty spills over. People who turned their Lammas grain into beer can spill over too. #tipsy So you have both products of the first harvest, and the second harvest’s crops. Quite the cornucopia.

The Horn of Plenty was Amalthea’s horn, the goat who suckled baby Zeus when Rhea hid him from his power-crazed, baby-eating father Cronus. Zeus blessed the horn so that it would always provide food for its owner. It was later gifted to Heracles after he fought with the ocean naiad Achelous over, of course, the love of a woman. It is hard to say if Greeks enjoyed fighting more or less than they enjoyed love. But goats undeniably filled an important role in their agriculture, and I understand that our football season has also begun. #fightfightfight

At Mabon as at Oestara, daylight and nighttime hours are equal. The dust of summer is damped down by leaves and heavier dew. It can be fun to have a bonfire or enjoy lighted candles. Wiccans love to cut an apple laterally and show their children the star shape that the seed pods make. Persimmon seeds get cracked open to see if they have a “spoon” shape. I do not remember what that signifies, but people like to see it.

Metaphyisically, take a look at the projects you are working on. Can you finish any of them in a day? Can you finish them in the six weeks before Samhain? Look and those you have completed, simply to enjoy the accomplishment. In a fast-paced world, it is easy to forget what we have gotten done.

When I was a child, Autumn was a months-long season. Now, Autumn is disappearing into the heat of Global Warming and its effect of Climate Change and its mild temperatures occur briefly. Summer’s heat lingers, or the polar vortex gets pushed south and brings early frost or rain at really bad times. If nothing else compels you to act to fight Climate Change, maybe you would be motivated to Save Autumn?

Letter to City Planners

Hello ,

I am the property owner and resident at (0000) Asbury Road, next door to two properties that have been sold to the developer Landmark. I attended the developer’s meeting last week, and I have these specific concerns:

Flood plain:

Landmark’s development plan includes six homes on the western side of these properties, in flood plain of Overall Creek. They plan to raise or build up at least some of this ground. I have serious concerns about this plan.

Has there been a recent study of Overall Creek’s flood patterns, a study within the last 5 years? Overall creek flooded over 12 feet, reaching well up onto my property in February 2019. It flooded at least 10 feet once in 2018, and twice the year before that. I can show you those flood water levels on my property, if you need to measure.

Overall Creek behaves much differently now that the woods upstream are nearly gone. The riparian zones may have been preserved, but the acres of woodlands in the watershed that used to soak up rainfall are now mostly gone. The city and/or county needs to re-evaluate Overall Creek’s flood plain levels and floodway.

I do not need to tell you that flowing water is a tremendous force. This artificial elevation that Landmark plans to make will wash out. Eddying will undercut and washout my land, and possibly slump onto my property.

Moreover, the development’s lowest 4 homes at least will flood. Landmark should seriously consider the effect this would have on their reputation.

Upstream, that elevation would effectively dam the creek, flooding homes (0000 0000 0000) on Dixie Lane and in Spring Creek development. Those homes are currently in less danger from floodwaters.

Water mains: Mine and my neighbor north of me (0000 Asbury Road) have our water mains on the easternmost of the two properties that has just sold. We need the city to either relocate both of these water mains, or the new development’s HOA to maintain our easement. Those lines and mains need to be protected during and after the builders’ work on the site.

Trees on fence line: My fence around my eastern, southern and western border is dependent on the trees growing there. Any living tree that is within one foot of my fence needs to be left standing and unharmed, its roots and branches untouched and its base not covered by or deprived of any soil.

Water flow from the development onto my property: Rainwater currently flows from the developer’s site onto my property along the eastern edge, where my driveway has its lowest elevation. It then collects into a small vale and enters Overall Creek. This water flow needs to continue to occur in this location, over this approximately thirty food spread, as it does now.

Well: I have a well on my site, which we planned to use again in the near future for homesteading and animal husbandry. I am concerned that blasting next door will interrupt the karst flow of water that feeds water to this well.

Heat: The ambient temperature in Asbury Park will rise with the absence of the tall trees in this development. Please request that Landmark use light-colored roofing, such as light tan or white/light gray. Dark roofs create updrafts in winter that rob homes of their heat, and in summer a dark roof heats up the home and the air around it. If possible, please encourage the use of light colored roofs. Changing from black to light gray/white roofing made a big difference for the better in my old house.

Traffic:

The intersection of Hord Road at Old Nashville Hwy, being so close to the bridge over 840, has almost zero line of sight from that direction. Many more cars will need to exit there in the future. Can you increase reflector strips on the bridge and signage warning of the intersection? Are there other actions the city or county could take to improve the situation for drivers exiting Hord Road at ONH?

The intersection of Asbury Road and Old Nashville Hwy often has limited line of sight due to brush. Can this intersection be kept more clear, and its road sign placed to be better seen by traffic on Old Nashville Hwy? Can intersection signs be added from both directions on ONH?

The intersection of Asbury Lane onto Medical Center is already well established as a poor connection, especially if one is exiting to the left. Please make a change that will save lives and reduce the traffic flow problem from Asbury Park. I have three suggestions:

Re-work the timing of the lights at Convention Center Blvd to give people leaving and entering Asbury Lane more opportunity to turn.

Alternately, add a traffic plate trigger on Asbury Lane and a recessed light on the west-bound side, such as is used at Bell Road (in Nashville) before the intersection with the off ramp.

Second alternative, since Asbury Lane is already S curved before meeting Medical Center, please extend the Lane to meet Medical Center further east from where it now meets, and create an intersection that can host a traffic light.

Thank you so much for hearing my concerns. I look forward to attending the planning and council meetings, and hope to speak to you there.

Thank you,

(signed)

3 September 2019