Saturday, December 31, 2011

Shrine

I was just going through some of my old photos for a different project and I found this one. 

I love the placement of the dying hydrangea with the image of Persephone and Hades along with a simple pomegranate oil lamp, a clay pig and the incense.  It seems so serene and peaceful.  I thought I would share it on this New Year's Eve as we cross the threshold from 2011 to 2012.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Beer, Dionysos and Christmas

Every post I've put here lately has begun with apologies for not being around much lately.  I have to say I am still processing many things that have happened to me recently and am also processing some of the things I am about to do. I am about to jump headfirst into what looks like a shallow pool and all I can hope for is that I won't break my neck.

But no matter what scary things lie before me, I always love to celebrate the winter holidays with my friends and family and knowing they are around and support me means everything to me. 

Even though Persephone is very close to me all year long I can't help but honor Dionysos this time of year. One of the many divine births to happen around this time of year was Dionysos himself. Also, the very essence of him is celebratory.

I don't make wine, but I do brew beer and I do find that a contemplative and celebratory way to honor my gods. This year, I made a Yule Gingerbread Porter to share with our friends and family. I'm pleased with it - a hearty brown porter made with ginger, allspice, clove and cinnamon to make it taste like gingerbread. I hope they like it but most of all I hope they know that I made it to celebrate them and to celebrate life and love and happiness. 

Dionysos and my Yule Gingerbread Porter

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Prayers to Athena and Artemis

We just got back from our trip to South Africa that I had mentioned before. I can't even begin to articulate some of the things that happened. If you want a general recap, go to our tiny house blog.
But I wanted to offer the followings Homeric hymns to Athena, for her Wisdom and Justice and to Artemis, protector of children.
I begin to sing of Pallas Athena, the dread Protectress of the city,who with Ares looks after matters of war, the plundering of cities, the battle-cry and the fray.It is She who protects the people, wherever they might come or go.Hail, Goddess, and give us good spirits and blessed favor!
Athena, may you grant us wisdom in the decision we'll have to make and allow those decisions to be just and fair.

Muse, sing of Artemis, sister of the Far-shooter, the virgin who delights in arrows, who was fostered with Apollo. She waters her horses from Meles deep in reeds, and swiftly drives her all-golden chariot through Smyrna to vine-clad Claros where Apollo, god of the silver bow, sits waiting for the far-shooting goddess who delights in arrows. 
Artemis, may you please watch over our project and protect the children above all other things.
If ever I have poured libations in your honor, hear my prayers.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Libations to the Gods and Ancestors

Yesterday, I held a very subdued Samhain celebration.  I set up my altar for Persephone and Hades as the king and queen of the underworld and for the ancestors, as represented by a photograph of my Great Aunt and Grandmother taken in 1921.  I also had a dried pomegranate on the altar as well as a coin for the underworld and a small figure of Hecate as the maid that leads the way. I also placed two small glasses on the altar. One for the Gods and one for the ancestors. Then I cracked open a bottle of the Pomegranate Wheat beer I recently brewed and poured it in the two glasses and then a small serving for myself and my partner. We sipped the beer in silence as were privately honored those who have gone before us. I hope everyone had a blessed Samhain.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

In which I brew beer for the Goddess

As you all know, I brew beer. I brew beer because it is awesome. I brew it because I like to drink it, but also because I enjoy the art and science behind a good brew. It has a certain magic.

Recently, I brewed a specific recipe. It turned out to be delicious, which is exactly what a brewer hopes for. It was crisp and clean and just a little bit of the fruit flavors came through. But I didn't just brew it to have a tasty beer beverage to enjoy. I brewed it as an act of love and devotion to Persephone and her mother. This is why I chose a wheat beer base, for Demeter, and added pomegranate for Persephone. In one sense, it is an offering to bring about a long term goal of mine. I want to be a brewer. Not just a homebrewer, but I want to start my own beer company or brewpub. And not in the whimsical "one day I'll do this" sense, but in the "I have a plan I will execute" sense.  I want the Pomegranate Wheat to be one of my staple beers and so I thought I might want to get to practicing.  There are a lot of modifications I will make the next time I give it a try.  After tasting it, I thought of several different ways to get a more complex flavor out of the brew. But even still, it was a delicious beer bringing together the symbols of two goddesses. 

So here is to Persephone and to Demeter. May they bless my path. And may I always be able to offer them a Pomegranate Wheat Beer to thank them.   

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Equinox Celebration in Pictures

I was up in Asheville this weekend working on our tiny houseSince I was there just a day after the Equinox, I wanted to pour libations and present offerings to Persephone at her Glade.

I offered her some local Asheville beer, the Highland Brewery Octoberfest, Clawhammer. Since craft beer is one of my favorite things, it seems very appropriate for me to offer it to the Goddess.  The autumn seasonal beer was perfect.  I poured most of it out for, her but I certainly had a few sips myself.  I also picked her a small bouquet of purple wildflowers.  I placed the offerings at the base of her statue in the glade.

A really cool black pointy spider had set up shop on the statue as well.  I considered removing her, but somehow she seemed to belong and Persephone didn't seem to mind the company.  I did find out that this kind of spider is called a Spined Micrathena and apparently their are really common. And I just love their name.  Apparently, only the females make webs and all of the ones I seem to walk into with my face are Micrathena webs. 
And to to honor Persephone and the changing season, I wanted to repost this poem

Little girl running
Blonde to her autumn mother
Dancing among the daffodils
Embracing butterflies
Little girl laughing
Springtime laughing

Womanhood come little girl
Blossoming to fullness
Breasts and hips and legs
All full, beautiful
Little girl grown
Summer laughing

Then He come up
Man, misunderstood
Not the mother love
Daughter love
And with him is wed
Autumn laughing

The underworld reached
Little girl becomes queen
Queen of darkness
Last face of sweetness
Little girl is the wise one
Winter laughing

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Autumn in the Air

Even here in Atlanta, I am starting to feel the pull of the seasons. I didn't intend to be away from this blog for so long, but there are just so many other things going on. We have been making a push to finish the Tumbleweed House so it is 100% inhabitable by next Spring.We are also getting ready for our trip to South Africa, which is feel is being looked after by a very different Goddess.  But I still can't deny the beauty of the Autumn Equinox as the time where Persephone descends once again into the Underworld to be with her husband. 

I thought, to honor the turning of the season I would provide a "Greatest Hits" of the past posts on this topic.

Like the song Meet Me on the Equinox by Death Cab for Cutie. Just pretend it isn't tied into the movie Twilight.


There is also the post I did last year on the Equinox.  I had woven a crude crown of orange flowers and placed them on Persephone to honor her return to the Underworld.

And I always do enjoy a good seasonal recipe from the Greek cookbook.

And, last year I also posted this photo I took of Persephone up at the land in Asheville.

And not to mention, the Autumn Equinox marks the two year anniversary of this blog. 

So, Praise Persephone and this changing season. Rejoice in her descent. I leave you with this poem, my favorite by John Keats; To Autumn.

TO AUTUMN.
                                            1.
    SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
        Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
    Conspiring with him how to load and bless
        With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
    To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
        And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
            To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
    With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
        And still more, later flowers for the bees,
        Until they think warm days will never cease,
            For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
                                            2.
    Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
        Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
    Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
        Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
    Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
        Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
            Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
    And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
        Steady thy laden head across a brook;
        Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
            Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
                                            3.
    Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
        Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
    While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
        And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
    Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
        Among the river sallows, borne aloft
            Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
    And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
        Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
        The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
           And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Detroit 2011 Film Festival: Persephone

On one hand I like this because it was made in Detroit, which is where I am from and still have a Stockholm Syndrome-esque draw too.  On the other hand, it is titled Persephone and seems to be some level of retelling of the story. On either hand, it is freaking awesome.


Persephone from Adam N. on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Photoshopping Persephone

Not too long ago I was having a conversation with a friend over coffee and I mentioned that I have never seen Persephone the same way twice. I figured, as a goddess, she doesn't have to have a corporeal form so why not change it up a bit. My friend said that sounded like Persephone, since she is very "Changey". Each time I do see her, I know precisely who she is but the constant reinvention in my mind means I can never accurately describe her. I write stories and poems about her and all of them feature very different physical attributes.  

I just ran across this video. While the story is extremely simplified and not entirely accurate (the myth had no baring on the names of the seasons, after all), I think the Photoshop work on the statue is lovely and kind of play into my image of Persephone as an ever changing Goddess.

Friday, August 5, 2011

You can never go home again.

It was Thomas Wolfe who said that you can't home again.  This is something I think about all the time. I think about Place.  What is home? Where on earth do we belong and does it matter? 
All my life I wondered where on this planet I actually belonged. Where I was born was a circumstance, not a choice. I knew that I didn't want to be there forever. The place didn't call to me. I felt no magic. Detroit has its own kind of magic, most of which I feel is negative right now though I realize that is a biased opinion. It is actually heartwarming for me to see people who care so much about the city where I grew up, but it wasn't the place for me. Being surrounded by all the decay and all the depression was not good for me. 
When the opportunity arose to move to Atlanta I jumped at the chance. It was absolutely the right decision for me at that time.  Atlanta was a great move and this city is fantastic and there are lot of things I like about it. I was pleased by how easily I made friends here and how quickly we fit into life in the south. I knew the South was where I wanted to be, but was Atlanta my place on earth?
 
I always yearned for a place that would make me feel connected. I didn't know what that felt like so I kept waiting for it. I was concerned that my desire for place was masking another problem. Were there things about myself that made me feel inadequate that I felt only a "change of scenery" would fix? I spend a lot of time with introspection and you know what, while I'm certainly not perfect I really do like myself. I am proud of myself and my accomplishments. I am always looking for ways to improve. But having a connection to a place was not about fixing any problems, it was about filling a need. Fitting that last piece of my life story puzzle. 
Some of my favorite music is about places. It is s staple of folk music.  John Denver fell in love with Colorado. Jason Isbell sings about his home in Alabama. Cowboy Mouth is rooted in New Orleans. I want to feel that kind of draw and that kind of magic when I think of a place - my place. Everyone's place is different, but everyone has a place. People might even have more than one place. I didn't know what it would feel like but that is the beauty of it. Then, as soon as I set foot in Asheville North Carolina, I knew it was home.  It has been a great journey to come to that place. We are still in the middle of it as we build our own little house in the woods. There is magic in that place. Something I can't explain. I feel better simply being there. Certainly that doesn't mean it will fix all my problems or make everything perfect, but it is comforting to be embraced by the mountains and the trees. It is comforting to know I belong somewhere. 
They say it is the journey, not the destination that matters. The journey shouldn't stop just because you've found your place in the world. But there is certain comfort knowing that there is a place you can come back to rest your head. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Morning Theft

I heard this song for the first time last week. My partner, Matt, played an open mic at a local folk music venue. While there, another kid performed this song. It made me think of Persephone and Hades. I had no idea it was by Jeff Buckley until I Googled it. 




Time takes care of the wound, so I can believe.
You had so much to give, you thought I couldn't see.
Gifts for boot heels to crush, promises deceived
I had to send it away to bring us back again.
Your eyes and body brighten silent waters, deep.
Your precious daughter in the other room, asleep.
A kiss "Goodnight" from every stranger that I meet.
I had to send it away to bring us back again.
Morning theft, and pretender left, ungrateful.
True Self is what brought you here, to me.
A place where we can accept this love.
Friendship battered down by useless history,
Unexamined failure.
What am I still to you?
Some thief who stole from you?
Or some fool drama queen whose chances were few?
Love brings us to who we need,
a place where we can save
A heart that beats as both siphon and reservoir.
You're a woman, I'm a calf.
You're a window, I'm a knife.
We come together making chance into starlight.
Meet me tomorrow night, or any day you want.
I have no right to wonder just how, or when.
And though the meaning fits, there's no relief in this.
I miss my beautiful friend.
I had to send it away to bring her back again.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

As I embark on a new spiritual journey...

I have been away. Not because I am abandoning this blog, but I have been doing a lot of other work that has taken some time away from this writing.  Most notably, I have an opportunity to go to South Africa this November to help an organization plan a sustainable building project

Certainly, being involved with the tiny house movement and sustainable living was a big factor in this process.  But there was something else that led me to this path as well - My Gods.  In May of 2010, I lost a friend. Unfortunately I hadn't spoken to that friend in a while and his death hit me very hard.  As the seasons turned, by October I still felt the loss but I also felt gratitude for having known him. If I had never known him, I would have never met the wonderful people who live in South Africa and do much for the children there.This project may have never happened.

Persephone is certainly with me on this journey because she is always with me, but there is another Goddess  I must honor during this time.  Artemis.  I have never been particularly close to Artemis, but I feel her calling me as I begin planning for this project. She is so much more than just a Goddess of the hunt. She is also a protector of children, especially girls.  As if I needed additional confirmation of her presence, one of the organizations that my friend works with is Operation Bobbi Bear. Since the bear is one of Artemis' most sacred animals, this seems appropriate and powerful.

I do, of course, consider the project deeply spiritual. I am grateful and humbled to be involved and marvel at all the things that have led me to this place.  If you want to know how you can help, check out the Zulu Orphan Alliance website and their projects page.

Here is a poem I wrote to honor Artemis a couple of years ago.  May she bless me on this journey. 



Huntress, Artemis, you are silver moonglow
Sunlight stops his chariot to watch your dance
Hunter’s arrows in shadows of the oak tree
Artemis Bless Me

Spring-like water, mountain streams over rock beds
Wildlife; deer, bear.  Wilderness Personified. 
You are the cat and serpent, the dog, the bird
I praise Artemis

I give gifts to your temple.  Your land; wild, free
I honor you; honor your brother hand in hand
Starlight, Moonlight, Dark Twilight you are Goddess
Artemis Bless Me

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Myth of Persephone: Animated

Check out this video about the story of Persephone and Hades, made by a kid in England. It never ceases to amaze me how often this story is told and retold and how many different ways different people chose to tell it. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What does Hades do when Persephone isn't around?

I have been pondering this question. We pay so much attention to the Lady herself in this story that I begin to wonder how lonely Hades must be without his wife.  There is only one mention in infidelity in his story (and in Persephone's for that matter). I don't believe that the story of Minthe plays out year after year, so what does happen when Persephone is away.  Does Hades sit solemnly on his stone throne surrounded by dull gray and apparitions in the underworld simply waiting for months for his wife to return?  While Persephone rejoices in the sun and spends time with her Mother, what solace does Hades have? 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Trust The Process

There is a weird contradiction in my life. My friends will tell you this is true. I really love to plan things. I like to know what is coming up so I can make the best possible preparations. I know what I am doing pretty much every weekend through, say, September. And by July I'll have October and possibly November figured out.  Well, all right, I already know what I am doing in December too. I'm sure this is some form of OCD but it also some form of Day Dreaming. I like to imagine how an event will go and process all the possible outcomes to make something the best it can be. 

At the same time, when it comes to actually doing something I like to throw caution to the wind and just do it.  I know this sounds like an impossible combination, but trust me it isn't. Years ago I read a business article that made me reflect on this aspect of my  personality. I have no idea where that article was or anything else about it. It was about careers or whatever, something I might have read for my job. It indicated that there were two types of decision makers. There were people who excelled at making the small decisions and people who excelled at the big ones.

And I realized that I was a big decision maker. I have no problem making large, life changing decisions. I just say to myself "Trust the process." If I jump, everything will be okay.  For example - do you want to quit your job and move to Georgia? There was no internal debate. There was no fear. I was ready to pack up my stuff and get going.  As you know, I did just that 8 years ago and it was honestly the best decision I have ever made. Sure, I miss some folks from my home town but since moving south there have been so many good things that I could have never experienced in my life.

But small decisions - those I have a hard time with.  Waffles or Pancakes? I don't know! I like both! Can someone pick for me? Green or Blue? Um...I like both! OMG, this decision is so hard. 

Built a tiny house in the woods? Sure, when do I start? Should we put shelves on this wall? Well, the might be nice to have, but I don't know...what does that entail? 

Seriously. 

There are parts of my life where I am willing to just "Trust The Process."  There are some decisions that I suppose I think are bigger than myself. Many people would consider this divine inspiration or some type of God. When I trust the process am I trusting myself or am I trusting a power greater than myself to guide me in the right direction? I don't believe that I am not responsible for my own happiness or success, but I am willing to jump into some things with both feed because Persephone won't let me fall. 

Persephone won't let me fall. 

I didn't say she wouldn't let me fail. Failure is sometimes the greatest gift. But that is part of trusting the process. Once I decide to let something go, sure I might spend a lot of my time making charts and lists to organize everything, but by then the decision is made.  Persephone won't let me fall. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Persephone's Tears...sadness or joy?

I recently took this photo of my Persephone statue up at our land in Western North Carolina.


I always think of the summertime as the hardest time for Persephone.  The underworld is her home and yet she is torn from it and forced to live in the sun, where everyone can see her, for these months.  Persephone is nothing if not resilient.  She not only faces the sun, but it makes her stronger. There are many lessons I have learned from Persephone's journey and one of them is that Happiness Is A Choice. Perhaps it isn't sadness at all that she feels in this half of the year but joy.  The I realize my projections are not really Persephone's problem, but my own.  And isn't that the core of every problem with every relationship?  We simply don't understand one another and we don't talk to find out, even when we think we do. So this summer, rather than recognizing Persephone's sadness being away from her home, I will relish in her joy of being in the sun.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Persephone and Game of Thrones on HBO

Rather than reposting, I want to point you to my latest contribution to The Juggler

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Musings on Zeus

I had occasion this weekend to be thoughtful about Zeus.  While working on our tiny house we were slaves to the whims of the weather and our final day was rained out completely.  I know Zeus sometimes gets the short end of the stick when it comes to the story of his daughter.  He essentially sold her off into a marriage with his brother, her uncle, without consulting her mother. But the truth remains, Persephone is as much Zeus's daughter as she is Demeter's.  So this is post is about three songs for Zeus.

The first song I think of when I think of Zeus is by my all time favorite band, Counting Crows.  I know it is actually based on a story called Henderson the Rain King, but the lyrics remind me of Zeus.  He is the Rain King.  And he belongs in the service of a Queen.


The second song is "Have You Ever Seen The Rain".  While I love the original Credence Clearwater Revival version, I really love this old-school country version by Willie Nelson and Paula Nelson. I'm not normally a fan of country music, but I love classic folky country.



And, for my cheesy 90s alternative loving heart: Lightening Crashes by Live.  Though, this song is probably speaks to me more of Zeus's wife, Hera. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Last Unicorn

Recently I mentioned that I had intended to explore some topics on this blog. These are things that have influenced my life in the same way as Persephone, and perhaps they have influenced my life because of Persephone.  I want to start with The Last Unicorn.

If you have neither read the book nor watched the movie, go ahead and do that now.  I'll wait.

Okay, are you ready?

I saw that movie when I was 7 years old when it came out in the theaters. I distinctly remember being so enamored with the visuals and the story that I sat at the the edge of my seat the whole time. Of course, I was 7 so that might have been because my feet didn't touch the ground otherwise. My father had taken myself and my brother to see it, if I recall correctly.  I loved it so much I demanded that we read the book.  So the next time we were at the public library and picked up a copy of The Fantasy Worlds of Peter S. Beagle, containing the Last Unicorn. We read the book together, but I'm not sure I fully groked it at the time.

Many years later, I rediscovered the movie. Some television network or another would play it at least once a year and I made an effort to watch it every time.  I also eventually got another paper back version of the book and read it cover to cover. This love lasted through college. My college friends understood that I was obsessed with the book. It has actually lasted through present. 

Ultimately, it is a tale of a journey of self-discovery. And you know what? It isn't unlike the story of Persephone. It isn't exactly like it, either, but not unlike it. I related to every character in the story. I felt Molly Grue's gut wrenching pain when she confronted the Unicorn. I felt Schmendrick's inadequacies when he couldn't free the unicorn (and the terror when the Harpy was freed).  I felt the sadness in the voice of The Unicorn when she returned to say goodbye.   This story has moved me more than just about any other.

"I have been mortal, and some part of me is mortal yet. I am full of tears and hunger and the fear of death, although I cannot weep, and I want nothing, and I cannot die. I am not like the others now, for no unicorn was ever born who could regret, but I do. I regret..unicorns are in the world again. No sorrow will live in me with that joy-save one. And I thank you for that part, too. Farewell good magician.I will try to go home now."

A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Peter S. Beagle at Dragon*Con here in Atlanta.
I was dressed at a butterfly, and for some reason that seems terribly appropriate. I was able to have Mr. Beagle sign my battered copy of The Fantasy Worlds of Peter S. Beagle that I had picked up at a used bookstore several years before. At Dragon*Con, I was also able to see a viewing of the movie where Peter Beagle provided commentary. It was a once in a lifetime experience.

This is a story that has really affected my life. Influenced the way I think.  Without it, I don't know that I would fully understand what it means to be a seeker. What it means to treat this life as a journey. Ultimately we are all on our paths of self-discovery, it is just some of us are more aware of it than others. The Unicorn brought me to another journey; the journey of Persephone. And for that I am grateful.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Persephone wouldn't have a story if it weren't for her mother. They are inextricably linked.  Last year I posted this tribute to Demeter. This year, I wanted to post a new prayer for her.

This is an excerpt from a poem by 3rd century BCE poet Callimachus.
Hail, goddess, and save this people in harmony and in prosperity, and in the fields bring us all pleasant things! Feed our kine, bring us flocks, bring us the corn-ear, bring us harvest! And nurse peace, that he who sows may also reap. Be gracious, O thrice-prayed for, great Queen of goddesses!
Hail, goddess, Queen of Mothers!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Celebrations

One of the reasons I follow a Pagan path is that in most incarnations it is a celebratory religion. Religion here is a broad term because there are so many Pagan paths one can walk down.  I, as you are aware, celebrate the season with the myth of Persephone.

Beltane isn't part of the Hellenic tradition, but it is a lovely day that happen right in between the spring equinox and summer solstice making it very convenient to celebration.  And I love to celebrate things.  I'll co-opt holidays from anywhere.  So, I celebrate Beltane.  And since my mantra is to really get out and celebrate, I think it is important to put my money where my mouth is and follow my own advice.  I won't be spending this Beltane weekend simply reciting prayers and making offers, I plan to get out and have fun.

Today, I am celebrating Beltane Eve with one of my favorite activities, a local Beer Festival.  I find it suitable to raise my tiny glass of tasty beer to the Gods and revel with them this season.

Tomorrow, we go with friends to the Georgia Renaissance Festival. I will don a costume, which I also think is an appropriate way to honor the gods.  Though tame and acceptable by the general public, a Renaissance Festival, if you stretch the definition, is almost a modern form of Mumming.  Costumes, characters, and performances.  And don't forget the food!  I can share a meal of fried macaroni on a stick with my Gods this year.  They Gods are joyful and I delight in their joy. 

So this year, really celebrate the spirit of the season with your friends and with your favorite things.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

International Pagan Coming Out Day

Last summer, my friend Cara Schulz posted over on Pagan+Politics her idea for a formalized Pagan Coming Out Day. I thought this was a great idea. Not long after that, I received an email from her asking if I would be willing to help with the launch of the movement. She put together a team - a real who's who of the modern Pagan community (felt humbled to be included) - and we got to work on what is now International Pagan Coming Out Day.

I am very proud to be a part of this project. It is very important to me that everyone is able to practice their own religion or spirituality in this country without fear of retribution or worse. In spite of what some people are saying today, our country was actually founded on a principle of religious freedom. Thomas Jefferson was famously quoted as saying "But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

As is evident by this blog, my spirituality is an important part of my personal identity. I honor the gods of the ancient Greeks, most especially Persephone, and I believe that there is a lot of wisdom to be found in this tradition. It is beautiful, poetic and philosophical. Human culture would not be where it is today without the influence of the ancient Greeks and that is why I find their traditions and teachings still viable today. As a devotee of Persephone, I also find great beauty in the cycles of nature. As the seasons turn from year to year I find myself in absolute awe. I certainly understand the science behind it all, but I still want to connect with a divinity that I feel embodies that natural rhythm.I want to feel a part of something bigger than myself.

Why am I saying all this? Because no matter what traditions I follow or what Goddess I honor, I am still a good person. It makes me sad to think that so many people in this world are so afraid of what other people think - whether it is society, friends, or family - that they are willing to keep something so important to them so secret. When I have kept a secret in my life it is because I thought that somehow that thing must be inherently wrong. That people would judge me or I would "get in trouble." It was a lesson I learned at an early age. I don't want that the be the lesson about Paganism. I don't want it to be considered "Wrong." And I know you can't please anyone. I have certainly heard the counter arguments and people who are angry about Pagan Coming Out Day. People who say that it isn't anyone's business but their own. That is fine, then this might not be for you. One thing we're not doing is forcing people to participate. But as you are ready, as you chose to, do this thing on your own terms. I have a very good friend who has chosen this Coming Out Day to tell his family. I am very proud of him. It takes a lot of courage and he is exactly the reason I am behind this mission. I have even been surprised by some of the response I have been getting and I have never been "in". I share things about the movement on social networking sites and non-Pagan family and friends express their support as well. It makes my heart happy to see that people are willing to embrace these religious differences.

So, this May 2nd I will be celebrating International Pagan Coming Out Day at a local bar with really good beer. Pagans and non-Pagans will be there to honor our religious diversity and our choices.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Easter Beltane?

As you know, I love a good holiday.  I love them so much I will gladly celebrate secular versions of any of the major religious observances.  Easter is an interesting problem this year.  Normally, it is so much closer to the Spring Equinox.  Since the typical symbols of Easter are actually more appropriate for the Spring Equinox it was always such an easy fit.  But this year, with Easter on April 24th, it is actually much closer to Beltane. I have written about Persephone's Beltane before.

I decided with Easter and Beltane just around the corner, it was time again to consult the Hellenic Cuisine Cookbook and find and appropriate offering for the holiday feast. 

The cookbook conveniently references May Day or Protomayia in Greek.  They suggest that it is "traditionally a day for an outing for which we suggest the following menu:"

Lamb Cooked in Foil
Pastitsio (Baked Macaroni)
Dolmathes (Stuffed Grape Leaves)
Vegetable Platter
Greek Cheese Pie
Greek Bread
Coffee or Cool Drinks
Pasta Flora
Fresh Fruit

In only the way that this cookbook can do, it doesn't provide any information on some of these recipes.  I couldn't find the "Pasta Flora" at all so I had to google it. It also seems that Pastitsio is a staple and since it is one of my favorites I have posted the recipe here before.  I love the lushness of this menu, too.  The foods seem so sensual and rich, which is perfect.  I decided to share a Dolmathes recipe here, which not only would honor Persephone this Beltane but also her brother, Dionysos who embodies much of what Beltane means. 

And, true to form, the cookbook doesn't offer just a regular Dolmathes recipe.  But I did fine one titled "Vine Leaves Stuffed With Rice".  I present it to you unedited for your reading and cooking pleasure.  I can never get enough of the way these old recipes are written even if it means I go "huh?" when I try to cook one. 

Needed:
50 Vine Leaves, Fresh or Canned
2 cups Rice
3 Medium Onions, Chopped
1.5 cups olive oil
1 lemon
1 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons pignolia nuts (pine nuts) and currants (optional)
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Prepare as follows: fry the chopped onions in oil until golden brown.  Add the washed rice and rest of ingredients and about 1 cup of water.  Cover and let simmer for a few minutes.  Let mixture cool.  Rinse and drain vine leaves.  Fill each leaf carefully, using one large or two small leaves for each dolma, making sure that the shiny side of the leaves remain on outside.  A teaspoon of the filling is sufficient and do not roll too tightly to allow room for rice to expand.  Place a few coarse leaves on bottom of pot, and arrange domathes side by side and layer upon layer until all leaves and filling are used.  Add three cups of water, a little salt, oil and the juice of one lemon.  Cover with a heavy plate and let simmer for 40-45 minutes or until the rice is cooked.  Serve cold. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Concrete Evidence

I had submitted this piece to a magazine but it was not selected for publication.  Then promptly, I forgot about it.  I found it this morning and decided now was a fine time to share it.  It is about beginning the foundation of our tiny house in North Carolina - both physically and spiritually. It doesn't specifically mention Persephone, but she is my strength and inspiration. With this story of discovering my own strength, I honor her.


The mists gently cascaded over the rolling mountains. The trees swayed softly in the morning breeze.  I breathed in deeply. I was at home on a mountain in the wilds of Western North Carolina, finally.  Sometimes I think I can feel the pulse of the quartz that bubbles to the surface of the soil all over our land.  I feel a peace I never knew I was missing. 
            Over the last several years, I began a journey that has changed my life; and monument to that journey stands on the top of a small mountain deep in the blue haze of the Smoky Mountains.
            Several years before, I had moved to Atlanta, Georgia with my husband.  We had both grown up in Suburban Detroit and had known for a long time that we didn't want to stay there forever.  The opportunity presented itself to relocate to Atlanta and it seemed like a great option.  We didn't really know *where* we wanted to spend the rest of our lives and Atlanta offered us the opportunity to explore the American South East. Shortly after our move, we discovered Asheville, North Carolina and fell instantly in love.  We knew that we had a place we belonged. 
            In 2009, I found myself building a house with my own two hands. My husband had long expressed restlessness with the corporate world of 9 to 5 jobs and work that did not fulfill him spiritually.  For him, the solution to that was to explore his dream of building a house on his own. For myself, I had always wanted to live self sufficiently - I wanted to be accountable only to myself when it came to how I spent my time and how I used my own resources to live simply. Those two motivating factors were easily compatible and we enjoyed working together to realize them.  When we uncovered the mysterious properties of Asheville we finally felt ready to move forward with those dreams.  We were able to buy fifteen acres in the mountains just north of Asheville and began work on a tiny cabin.  We painstakingly began to build, having never done anything like it before.  Occasionally we had friends help us, but most of the time it was just the two of us camping and building on weekends. 
            On a weekend in May, I discovered a strength that I didn't know I had.  Our building site is inaccessible by car or truck by design.  We use an ATV to get supplies to the area.  This particular weekend we were to pour the concrete piers for our foundation. The holes had been dug several weeks prior by my husband and a friend using an auger rented from Home Depot.  We had hoped to begin the process of pouring the concrete at that time, but we had been slowly learning that projects seemed to progress at their own pace regardless of our determination.  Now, the two of us faced the task of pouring the piers ourselves in one two-day weekend.  Neither of us had ever done it before.  We spent time making sure the cardboard tubes, called Sonotubes, used to set the posts were level with one another and cut to the right height.  We transported a small cement mixer, thirty gallons of water, and twenty-four hundred pounds of unmixed concrete up to the building site.  We were forced to make trip after trip as the ATV could only carry three bags of concrete at a time.  When finally all of the components were safely at our worksite, we began to mix and pour concrete to make eight foundation piers.  By this time, it was already after noon on Sunday.  Both of us still worked corporate jobs in Atlanta so we were motivated to get this project done in time to get back for work on Monday.  Like the proverbial well-oiled machine, the two of us worked together mixing one bag of concrete with one gallon of water at a time, thankfully with the help of a cement mixer and our generator.  We would pour the mixture into a bucket and then into the sonotubes.  Bucket after bucket after bucket.  Time still marched on and while working on the seventh pier we knew that we were running out of daylight.  We both started to panic in different ways.  My partner was worried about getting everything done to perfection in spite of the time crunch and I was worried about having enough time to clean up the worksite and begin the three hour drive back to Atlanta.  Emotions ran high and tempers began to flare.  As the last light of the sun dipped below the mountains, we set the last anchor bolt in the wet concrete of pier number seven with only the illumination of a flash light.  This still meant we had one more pier to do, and we would have to mix it by hand some other weekend as we had to return the mixer to its lender.  Anxiously, we were able to clean up the worksite, pack up the car and leave the Blue Ridge mountains going toward Atlanta.  It was eleven thirty when we started the three hour drive back. We were both tired and we drove in shifts and finally made it back around two thirty a.m. on Monday Morning.  I had called my office and left a message over night. - I needed some sleep or I was going to be completely non-functional.  The gravity of what we had actually accomplished finally set in and by the next day the memory of the event began to change.
            To be completely honest, I was miserable that day. It was hard and dirty work that I had never done before.  I was frustrated by time not being on our side.  Never once was I ready to give up.  Now, there is a little house standing at the top of a mountain near Asheville, NC.  With our own determination and with the help of some dear friends, we were able to construct a perfectly level and square tiny cabin in the woods.  It isn't done yet, but we are very proud of where we are.  And still, we haven't dreamed of giving up. 


Thursday, March 31, 2011

ee cummings and my daffodils

My daffodils in North Carolina.

And now, a poem by ee cummings:

in time of daffodils(who know
the goal of living is to grow)
forgetting why,remember how

in time of lilacs who proclaim
the aim of waking is to dream,
remember so(forgetting seem)

in time of roses(who amaze
our now and here with paradise)
forgetting if,remember yes

in time of all sweet things beyond
whatever mind may comprehend,
remember seek(forgetting find)

and in a mystery to be
(when time from time shall set us free)
forgetting me,remember me

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Conspiracy Theory?

I would have never thought that Persephone would be the central figure in a little known conspiracy theory about the United States government.  But, it seems, she is.  I have conversations sometimes with folks about the fact that Paganism is not taken seriously in this country. I think ownership for that falls squarely on us as Pagans.  Average people don't even know that Paganism exists. To them it would be weird to think about people still honoring ancient traditions and old Gods. We need to educate everyone that Paganism is not only not "weird" but a perfectly valid and beautiful religious tradition.  Truthfully, weird political conspiracy theories don't really help. So which is it folks, do we have a Christian Country or is congress under the spell of Persephone, who is apparently the Goddess of Darkness?  I figure I'd rather draw attention to this very bizarre but apparently unknown issue to show just how ridiculous it actually sounds. 

The statue on top of the capitol building is actually Freedom.  As far as I understand it has never been Persephone.  But symbols are what we believe they are.  If these (hopefully few) folks believe that Persephone stands on top of the capital it seems to be to be better to educate them that their ideas about the Goddess are a little off. I've spent a lifetime studying and honoring Persephone and while she might have a bit of a dark side, I'm not certain she has ever had the reputation of the evil Goddess of evil. She represents change, cycles, beauty, youth.  The is both a maiden and a queen.  She is beautiful. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Equinox in Pictures

Action seems to be my mantra.  Don't just "practice" religion, live it.  So, today, on the Spring Equinox I spend the day getting my hands dirty, literally. 

I mentioned in my last post that one of the things that I wanted to get accomplished on this first day of spring was to bottle our newest beer.  I will start off by saying this task did not get completed.  And it was for entirely practical reasons.  We have 8 beers left in our first batch and I need those bottles.  But if you are interested in reading about the eventual progress, don't forget to check out my beer blog.  With that being said, here is the evidence of what I did do today. 

We started our day by heading out to gather our supplies.  We stopped at Whole Foods to get some organic potatoes to be able to plant in our new balcony container garden.  While we were there, we picked up some tilapia, and fresh beans to make for our Spring Equinox dinner (which Matt will be starting shortly).  We will also roast up the remaining fingerling potatoes that we didn't plant.  I also grabbed some cut daffodils to decorate the altar and the house.  Then we stopped by a garden supply store and picked up containers, top soil, fertilizer, a shovel and our plans.  We chose tomatoes, sweet banana peppers, and jalapeno peppers to go with our fingerling potatoes. 

When we got home, I started by putting the flowers on the altar for Persephone.  We also cracked open a beer, which I am sharing with her as well.  It isn't a homebrew, but I still felt it was an appropriate offering. 






Then, Matt and I got to work with our balcony garden. 




Praise to Persephone and may she bless our newly planted green growing things. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Daffodils, Beer and Potatoes: How I'm celebrating Spring

In spite of the title, this is really nothing to do with St. Patrick's day.  Though I did go out and celebrate on Thursday and enjoyed myself quite a bit.  Beer and Potatoes refer to something all together different.

Last weekend, I was up in Asheville and was excited to see that the daffodils I planted last year had made it through the winter and were beginning to bloom.  The hadn't quite bloomed yet, but I thought they were beautiful. I can't wait to go back next week and see the flowers.


But this weekend, we're in Atlanta.  Today, we are going out with friends to see the Atlanta Roller Derby. It seems like a great way to celebrate the return of the Goddess. Tomorrow, on the day of the equinox, I am going to bottle my newest beer, an ESB.  Matt also wants to start container gardening on our little apartment balcony. I know he wants to grow potatoes and poblano peppers and I think something else too but I don't remember what.  I also want to get some flowers to decorate Persephone's altar. 

I also keep reading about the Supermoon.  I've never been a very lunar oriented Pagan, but it is still always cool to see a gorgeous moon in the sky on the first night of Spring.

So, on this Equinox I encourage you to get out there.  Go outside.  Revel in the new Spring.  Revel in the return of the Goddess.  You can read your hymns and say your prayers, but don't stop there.  Do something.  It doesn't have to be bottling beer or planting potatoes, but it shouldn't just be nothing either.  Persephone is returning.  Rejoice.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

First Days of Spring

I am counting down to the Spring Equinox and the return of Persephone. I was recently introduced to this song and I think it is perfect. I don't know whether it is Persephone or Hades I hear in the lyrics. 



It's the first day of spring
And my life is starting over again
Well the trees grow, the river flows
And its water will wash away my sin
For I do believe that everyone
has one chance to fuck up their lives
Like a cut down tree, I will rise again
I'll be bigger, and stronger than ever before

If I'm still here hoping, that one day you may come back
If I'm still here hoping, that one day you may come back

There's a hope in every new seed
And every flower that grows on the Earth
And though I love you, and you know that
Well I no longer know what that's worth
And I'll come back to you, in a year or so
And rebuild ready to become
Oh the person, you believed in
Or the person that you used to love

If I'm still here hoping, that one day you may come back
If I'm still here hoping, that one day you may come back

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Who Am I?


Recently, I completed a project where I was exploring the Homeric Hymn to Demeter in the style of Lectio Divina. I use to fall back on that project when I hadn't had any other original ideas for writing. Without that discipline, sometimes I feel like I am not sure what to share. I thought it would be an interesting exercise on this blog to explore some of the things that make up who I am exactly.  There are a lot of things in my life that make me uniquely me - just as they are a lot of things in each of your lives that accomplish the same thing.  We are each made up of multiple decisions.  These things create the core of our beings.  They create our essence.  Occasionally, we rethink and reconsider the decisions and processes that brought us to a certain place and we make a course correction, but there are some things that make up the core of our beings.

These life influences can come from a lot of difference places.  It can be music that touches our souls, people who have made a difference in our lives, books that changed the way we think, and places that we call home. I want to inventory some of these things in my life and the turning points they brought about and why they make me feel like they do.

Among the things that I will be exploring will be:

There may be more things that hit me as I explore my own path.  Join me on this journey and I hope it makes you consider the places you've been, the things you love and the things you've done.