The Crone of Winter, by Molly Remer

Just for right now,
let the swirling soften.
Exhale into the day,
wherever you are,
whatever is happening.
Allow a cloak of comfort
to settle across your shoulders
and enfold you
with peace and restoration.
Draw up strength from the earth
beneath your feet.
Settle one hand on your belly
and one hand on your heart.
Feel the pulse of the sacred
you always carry within.
Breathe in
and know you are loved.
Breathe out
and know you are free.
Trust that you are carried
and enfolded
as you go along your way.

A chill is in the air and Winter’s Queen has spread her gray cloak across the land. She has stilled the leaves and frosted the hills, has quieted the scurrying, and placed her fingers firmly on the pause. In this waiting place, hushed and chilled, we remember the preciousness of the light of renewal, we remember how essential the warmth of connection. Just as the earth does, let us, too,
lay aside what is unnecessary and draw close to one another once more, rekindling the fire of community, offering one another what nourishment we can. Let us enter a time of deep restoration with intention. Let us listen to the call of contemplation that twinkles in these dusky hours of replenishment and renewal. Let us pause and wait with grace.

Continue reading “The Crone of Winter, by Molly Remer”

From the Archives: Thanksgiving and Service by Sara Frykenberg

This was originally posted on December 3, 2103

Growing up in an evangelical Christian church, I was taught that human beings should serve one another and put others before themselves.  These two different teachings, paired with patriarchal misogyny, have sometimes been very problematic for me.  I tend(ed) to give too much.  Too many demands with which I complied were self-negating (which after all, helped me to make other people more important than myself).  It took me a long time to learn how to appropriately prioritize my own needs, to stop mistaking self-esteem for the”‘sin of pride,” and how to say no when I needed to… Actually, I am still learning some of these lessons.

Conversely, my ritualized service to the church was sometimes confusing, awkward or embarrassing.  I clearly remember having the opportunity to serve as something like an usher during Thanksgiving at our family’s church as a child.  This involved wearing a pilgrim costume, which for me meant finding a Puritan style costume in the church’s closet that fit my overweight childhood frame.  This was not an easy task and left me feeling ashamed.  Later as an adolescent, my youth group asked us to wash one another’s feet as Jesus did for his disciples.  Now, don’t misunderstand me here— I do believe that this ritual has the potential to be very powerful and meaningful for those involved.  However, my teenage self could not identify with the symbolic gesture beyond realizing that:

1)    I thought touching other people’s feet was gross, as was having my dirty feet touched and,
2)    I knew I ‘should’ get something out of the ritual but did not, so I felt spiritually guilty or inadequate.

Overall, I often associated Christian service with guilt, inadequacy, my role as a daughter or woman or my sacrificial duty.

Despite these issues, I usually genuinely enjoy serving others and giving to other people.  I love to host people and care for them.  I like to help.  I even prefer to help.  Serving one another we can express and allow others to express love.  But this past week, one day before Thanksgiving, a dear friend of mine gently challenged me to allow myself to be served or, as she put it, “to give someone else the gift of giving to me.”  Specifically, she was referring to a pending holiday meal for which I expressed my anxiety and frustration with not being allowed to help—which somehow makes me feel like a child.  Even writing this phrase, “makes me feel like a child,” I know that I have touched deeper feelings of helplessness or vulnerability that at some point, I learned to battle with competence and over-achievement.  I do often feel like a child or guilty when other people do for me what I think I could or should do for myself; and my friend’s brief words encouraged me to explore this relationship to being served.

“Service” can sometimes feel uncomfortable for the reasons I mention above, but more so, for its connection to the coercive “servitude” required by existent hierarchies within andro-kyriarchal oppressive systems.  I have been subject to this coercive servitude, and also, its beneficiary.  As a white, middle class, Western woman I have far too much privilege that is contingent upon the forced labor and oppression of other people.  This kind of forced servitude is very wrong; and I am still learning how and where to choose other than to be complicit in this abuse.  But, there have also been many distinctive instances in my life where I have felt reciprocally and undeniably “served” by people around me, without abuse and without manipulation.

Driving to Colorado one summer to see the friend I mentioned above, my two companions and I served one another.  The individual in the back seat was responsible for cutting bagels and spreading cream cheese on them for the driver and navigator, while the navigator held the drink, food or whatever other item that the driver could not.  This may sound like a small thing, but it wasn’t.  I felt taken care of and loved in this small and traveling community.  We also had a safe word that meant, “leave me alone, I’m grumpy” on our long trip.  We made agreements to account for one another’s  discomfort and effort.  We respected one another and cared for each other.

Beginning my work as an adjunct professor, I encountered a great deal of stress and often long and awkward work hours.  Many times I felt like I needed help, but there was nothing I could ask for help with when it came to my job: I needed to grade my own papers, plan my own lectures, and yes, write my own blogs.  My husband has responded by taking care of me in other ways.  He makes me dinner, goes to the store and makes sure I take breaks.  We take turns taking care of one another, and I am grateful for him.

This past week after talking to my friend, I noticed how willing people were to touch me to soothe aching muscles.  I’m not sure how to describe what I felt, but it was like something invisible in certain spaces was suddenly visible.  I also realized that it had been a very long time since I had freely and openly received this touch.  Later during the weekend, a friend came to my house  and she made me dinner!  My husband rubbed my chest after a long night of coughing yesterday because I still haven’t completely rid myself of the smoldering in my lungs.  I was defensive for so long.  Shedding my defender allows me to rediscover all those things for which I am thankful.

Gratefulness is an action.  It can be found in those expressions that return, receive and allow for mutual loving.  I am learning new rituals that help me to remember that this kind of mutual serving and being served is sacred.  In a summer ritual, my friend and I washed one another’s hair instead of our feet.  I am still learning to ask for assistance from the goddess after freeing myself from an abusive omnipotent god, but I am starting to ask.

I am starting to pray again.

BIO: Sara Frykenberg, Ph.D.: Graduate of the women studies in religion program at Claremont Graduate University, Sara’s research considers the way in which process feminist theo/alogies reveal a kind transitory violence present in the liminal space between abusive paradigms and new non-abusive creations: a counter-necessary violence.  In addition to her feminist, theo/alogical and pedagogical pursuits, Sara is also an avid fan of science fiction and fantasy literature, and a level one Kundalini yoga teacher.

A Ritual for Thanksgiving, by Molly Remer

Find some pine trees
and a wide rock in the sun.
Settle down and feel gratitude
curl around your shoulders.
Listen to the wind
sense that there is sorrow too
in this place,
deep and old,
threaded through the
lines of sun
slices of shadows.
It tells of what has been lost,
what has been stolen,
of silenced stories,
and of fracturing.
Make a vow,
silent and sacred,
to do what you can,
to rebuild the web
to reweave the fabric.
Lie on your back in the pine needles,
feel your body soften into the ground
and become still.
Allow yourself to feel held,
heavy bones and soft skin
becoming part of the land.
Wonder how many of your
ancestors kept other people
from becoming ancestors themselves.
Watch the sunlight making tiny rainbows
through your eyelashes and pines.
Find a pretty rock.
Don’t take it.
Leave it where it belongs,
on the land that gave it birth.
Go home.
Keep your promise.

Continue reading “A Ritual for Thanksgiving, by Molly Remer”

Is the Divine the Unknowable Unknown? A Feminist Take by Ivy Helman

I attended a number of High Holy Days services (online) over the past couple of weeks. In one of them, one of the rabbis said that the divine is the unknowable unknown. I cannot remember what the Rabbi said to contextualize or explain their train of thought; I think I was too intrigued by the idea that I got lost in my own thoughts. In fact, I have been thinking about the unknowable unknown ever since.  

As I write this, I’ve come to this conclusion: if the divine is present among us and the world around us, then there is much we can intuit. In addition, there is much that we can experience the more we interact with other humans and nature.  On the other hand, if the divine is understood as a detached, distant being of a completely different essence than humanity, of course, what can we really know about such a divinity?  How would we even know if that divinity even existed? We probably wouldn’t.  Here is the difference between a  feminist understanding of the divine as this-worldly and empowering and a patriarchal conception of a distant divinity wielding power-over. Yet, interestingly, even the most patriarchal image of the divine has insisted on being relatable to human beings. Nonetheless, how we imagine the divine does matter.

In her book, Models of God: Theology for an Ecological, Nuclear Age, Sallie McFague argues that the words and ideas we use to describe the divine are important. She advocates for the use of metaphors to describe the divine, stating that we can only describe what the divine is like, not what divinity actually is. In fact, she warns the reader of long-lasting models for the divine as these can lead to idolatry, an understanding that limits divinity and, because of this, is essentially untrue. She writes on page 99 that, “[i]f we use only the male pronoun [for the divine], we fall into idolatry, forgetting that God is beyond male and female…” In other words, we are limiting the divine and furthermore speaking an untruth.  

This talk makes we wonder if she too is of the camp that we cannot understand divinity; that the divine is quite different from us. I mean if we cannot and should not have any long-standing model for the divine but only use shaky fleeting metaphors, our understanding of the divinity is genuinely limited and amorphous. Yet, there is a difference between some knowledge and experience of the divine and the idea of the divine as the unknowable unknown, isn’t there?

That being said, I find much of what she has to say extremely helpful when it comes to traditional understandings of divinity.  In her book, she implicates as problematic the long-standing models of divinity as Father and King, among others.  These out-dated models move us further and further away from the divine because they are thought to definitively explain who the divine is in relation to us.  

Let us look at Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, as an example of this in Judaism.  Here, we have a day in which we are highly vulnerable as we reflect on the ways in which we have not always treated ourselves, others, the world around us, and the divine as we should (had hoped to). Yet, we enter the synagogue and repeatedly address the divine as Avinu Malkeinu (Our Father, Our King).  Why is the understanding of divinity that we approach one of judge, strict parent, and ruler over us?  Does that not drive a wedge of sorts between divinity and humanity? Does that not make being inscribed in the book of life seemingly impossible unless we are non-human-like?

Contrary to what we often hear in shul, Judaism recognizes some 70 diverse understandings, or names for the divine. These names range from Hashem (the Name) and Shalom (Peace) to Shechinah (the in-dwelling) and Kadosh Israel (the Holy One of Israel). And there are many, many more.  

Returning to our example again, instead of the umpteen rounds of Avinu Malkeinu, what would it be like on Yom Kippur if we approached the divine as Shaddai (Comforter), Hamakon (the Present One, literally the Place), or YHWH-Rapha (The One Who Heals)? These understandings seem to offer the compassion we need on a most vulnerable day.  How much easier would it be to connect to divinity that understands us?  Perhaps we could learn a little more about divinity in that case, and we could in the process become much closer to the holy?  And, isn’t that the point of Judaism? To be holy like the divine is holy?  I think so. 

From a feminist perspective, how we understand the divine has real-life consequences which can shape how we understand ourselves and the world around us. Just imagine what Yom Kippur would feel like, if we called on the divine that day as the comforter, the present one, and the one who heals. It would feel totally different, and for very good reasons.

Who would have thought that some three weeks ago or so, I would have heard a phrase about the divine that still has me in a quandary? I mean, in the end, I suppose there are ways in which the divine is unknowable. Importantly, though, that does not make the divine wholly unknown. Rather, it is often the language we use about the divine that puts distance between us and divinity, that makes divinity less and less known.

Ivy Helman, Ph.D.: A feminist scholar and faculty member at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic where she teaches a variety of Jewish Studies, Feminist and Ecofeminist courses.  

From the Archives: Yom Kippur as Seen (With Respect) by Barbara Ardinger

This was originally posted on September 30, 2012

No matter which or how many gods we believe in, thinking about what we’ve done wrong and how we can set it straight is useful. The Day of Atonement, the Talmud says, “absolves from sins against God, but not from sins against a fellow man unless the pardon of the offended person is secured.”

 Back in the Stone Age, otherwise known as the early 1980s, I had jobs as a technical writer and editor in five different industries, including aerospace and computer development. Hey, I was trained as a Shakespearean scholar, but in those days—pretty much like today—there were almost no jobs in the academy for newly-hatched Ph.D’s. So I tried technical writing. At one of the aerospace jobs, I sat in the “bullpen”—me and nineteen middle-aged white guys—whereas all the other women slaved—on typewriters in that pre-computer age—in the typing pool. There was a major class distinction in that aerospace firm, and I was glad to be with the guys. (Yes, shame on me.) Those were the days of 9 to 5. As far as I’m concerned, that movie is nonfiction.

One of my tech-writing buddies at the aerospace company was a former Jehovah’s Witness who had been disfellowshipped because his beard was the wrong shape and he’d refused to correct it. Another was an older man who had studied with Earnest Holmes himself and had also known Manly P. Hall in earlier days. A third friend, the project librarian, was a Conservative Jew. All three of these guys soon noticed the books I was bringing to read at lunch. These included the works of Dion Fortune and Gerald B. Gardner, and numerous metaphysical authors, plus every book I could find on alchemy, the tarot, New Thought, reincarnation, trance channeling…well, you get the idea. I was exploring occult worlds and ideas. When we weren’t talking about how to help the engineers write gooder English and I wasn’t trying to figure out how a FLIR (Forward-Looking InfraRed) helmet works, my three buds and I had some majorly interesting conversations on comparative religion and the occult (the word means “secret, hidden”) aspects of religions in general.

One day the Jewish librarian brought me a book to add to my library. This was the 1973 edition of The Jewish Catalog. What a wonderful book! I still have it. It’s sitting next to my keyboard as I type this.

Back in those innocent days, I still believed the pagan myth of the nine million witches burned by the inquisition during the Middle Ages. Yes, it’s a myth—there were never that many witches on the face of the earth at the same time; such a holocaust would have nearly depopulated medieval Europe. I have since learned that it is shameful to compare a mythological holocaust with the real Holocaust of World War II. I read The Jewish Catalog from cover to cover and learned a great deal.

Now flash forward to 2002 when the owner of RedWheel/Weiser phoned to ask me to write a book for them. I immediately said yes. The book, which they titled Pagan Every Day, is not, however, a pagan tome. It’s a daybook, a year and a day of short essays on topics that include goddesses, gods, and old pagan festivals and philosophy, and also saints and holy days from Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, plus less well known religions, plus interesting historical events…and then I also named Miss Piggy as The Goddess Of Everything. I get fan emails from people saying they reread the book, a day at a time, every year and still enjoy every page.

For September 24, I wrote about Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party, which was the most amazing exhibition I’d ever seen. The next day that year was Yom Kippur. I turned to my copy of The Jewish Catalog, where I learned about an obscure custom called kapparot. Here is what I wrote. Yes, I believe that we can borrow—but not pirate!—other people’s customs, acknowledge and express our gratitude to those other people and their religions, and then adapt what we borrow to a pagan perspective. After all, we’re all kin.

September 25: Yom Kippur

 The Jewish Catalog describes custom called kapparot, which “entails swinging a chicken around one’s head as a…symbol of expiating sins. The chicken is then slaughtered and given to the poor….” Most people these days tie money in a handkerchief and swing that around their head, saying, This is my change, this is my compensation, this is my redemption.

Yom Kippur, the last of the ten days of Yamim Noraim, occurs at nightfall on the ninth day of Tishri. The rites for Yom Kippur are set forth in Leviticus 16.

No matter which or how many gods we believe in, thinking about what we’ve done wrong and how we can set it straight is useful. The Day of Atonement, the Talmud says, “absolves from sins against God, but not from sins against a fellow man unless the pardon of the offended person is secured.” People seeking recovery in Twelve-Step programs likewise turn their lives over to the care of “God as they understand him” (Step 3), make a list of people they have harmed and become “willing to make amends” (Step 8), and then actually make amends (Step 9).

Pagans can make amends before Samhain. We want to have a clean emotional field in which to rest over the winter and plant fresh seeds in when spring comes. Let’s revive that old Jewish custom. But not swinging the chicken! That’s cruelty to swinger and swingee. Tie crystals or red corn or other symbolic items in a clean white handkerchief and swing it around your head, reciting the blessing quoted above. Then go around and see the people you need to see. Speak heart to heart with them. Give them something blessed from your handkerchief. Get on with your lives, as friends or no longer as friends, but not as enemies.

BIO: Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. (, is a published author and freelance editor. Her newest book is Secret Lives, a novel about grandmothers who do magic.  Her earlier nonfiction books include the daybook Pagan Every DayFinding New Goddesses (a pun-filled parody of goddess encyclopedias), and Goddess Meditations.  When she can get away from the computer, she goes to the theater as often as possible—she loves musical theater and movies in which people sing and dance. She is also an active CERT (Community Emergency Rescue Team) volunteer and a member (and occasional secretary pro-tem) of a neighborhood organization that focuses on code enforcement and safety for citizens. She has been an AIDS emotional support volunteer and a literacy volunteer. She is an active member of the Neopagan community and is well known for the rituals she creates and leads.

From the Archives: Why Isn’t Easter Marketable? By Anjeanette LeBoeuf

This as originally posted on March 25, 2018.

A few months ago, a friend and I were having one of our many hundreds of random conversations when we started to talk about the differences in the commercialization of the two major Christian holidays: Christmas and Easter. We started really getting invested it this question and what factors lead to Christmas become the juggernaut that it currently is.

Both holidays are given official status. Christmas is a designated federal holiday due to it being permanently celebrated in the Western Christian community on December 25th. Whereas Easter shifts due to seasonal and lunar changes but is always celebrated on a Sunday, meaning it did not need to be given a designated status as Sundays are recognized by the State as a non-work day. Schools across the globe used to call it Christmas and Easter breaks. In the last 10 years, all schools have adopted the politically correct terms of Winter and Spring Breaks. Yet, they still function around the religious observances.

Christmas, it seems comes more and more early in shops. Decorations, candy, gifts, and marketing can be seen as early as September. Christmas music can start to play on radio stations and coffee houses as soon as early November.

Continue reading “From the Archives: Why Isn’t Easter Marketable? By Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

From the Archives: “Home: A New Pesach Reflection” by Ivy Helman

Author’s note: This post originally published on this website on March 11, 2018. How prescient it is. I live in Prague, about an 8 hour car-ride to the Ukrainian border. Over 300,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived here, with more arriving daily. They need homes, and this need is overwhelming our small country. Yet, we are doing all we can each and everyday to help those fleeing the war. Yet, this housing is not home, not when war still rages and when families are still separated. We need peace. Everyone deserves a home.

In ancient times, Pesach was one of three pilgrimage holidays, the others being Sukkot and Shavuot.  According to the the Torah, Israelite men were required to travel to Jerusalem to bring offerings to the temple. Supposedly, this reconnected these Israelites to their religion, to each other and to the deity.  Participating in these pilgrimages brought about a deeper sense of community. In short, three times a year, Jerusalem became a home away from home.

Continue reading “From the Archives: “Home: A New Pesach Reflection” by Ivy Helman”

Days Like These, by Molly M. Remer

Sometimes the best rituals
are those we cannot plan,
requiring only pine needles and wind,
open eyes
and a long, slow-sinking sun
settling gently into shadows.
Sometimes the best magic
of all is made with
what is exactly right now,
bluestem grass and gray feathers,
raccoon footsteps
between the trees,
laughter and joined hands,
a faith in the cycles of retreat
and renewal.
This is what we are here for,
days like these.

One crow behind the house greeted me on a frosty solstice morning. Five more slid across the road in front of me as I reluctantly left home to go to the dentist. A red-shouldered hawk glided across the road next and I spotted a kestrel perched on a wire. I drove and sang, memories of our bright candles and solstice spiral the night before behind my eyes, sun bread left rising golden on the counter at home. The dentist has devised a pulley system to hang bird feeders by each of his second story windows and I watch house finches collect sunflower seeds as I lie in the chair. I spot a vulture circling in the distance slow and graceful above the trees. The sky is blue. When I leave the office, I hear a crow’s voice call from across the street and as I drive back home to my family and our winter holiday celebrations, another red-shouldered hawk swoops in front of me, while a red-tailed hawk sits solemnly in a tree by the field, watching the ground. I’m amazed how birds, so unbound, tether me so reliably to the magic of place, to being present with the ensouled and singing world as I move within it and I am grateful.

In the late afternoon on the solstice, my family and I carry the sun bread we have made out to the field by our studio. We join hands and sing and then toss small bits of our golden bread to the sun, calling out our wishes for the year to come and offering our thanks to the spinning world we walk on, beneath this burning sun.

The kids go inside and my husband, Mark, and I walk down the road to finish watching the sun set. It sinks low and slow behind the bare oak trees, growing larger and redder as it goes. It seems to be one of the most drawn out sunsets of this year and we sit down in the frost-crisped dittany by the side of the road, our backs against the oak trees, watching. I turn to look at Mark smiling and say: this is what I am here for, days like these.

I decided to take social media break as 2021 drew to a close, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, something I’ve needed to do for a long time, and yet, something I’ve always talked myself out of. I need this for our business, I think. It is part of my work. How else will I reach people? I will just post a few more things. While, inside, the hunger to really listen, to de-fragment my mind and re-collect my soul continued to build to a peak of fervency and desire. The blessing and the curse of social media is that everything is in one place. Convenient, yes. Holds you hostage, also yes. Exposes you to more information than you can reasonably hold and process, also yes. The first day of my break, I was amazed how often I was tempted to cheat, how many ways I came up with to sneak around the limit and to just do one little thing anyway. I was also surprised to discover how much extra space there is in my mind and how liberating it is to step away from the clamor of so many other voices. As Cal Newport explains, we all need time each day when we are outside of the influence of other minds. And, I was surprised by how invisible I felt, how unseen and unheard. As the days passed, I felt it though, my scattered pieces coming home. I knew that social media was affecting my focus and my brain functioning, could feel it fragmenting my thoughts, and making my focus and attention jumpy and scattered. In these days of silence, something began to heal inside. I feel a bit invisible, yes, but I also feel whole. I feel like I am coming back online, to my own life.

What was intended only as a ten day break over the winter solstice, extended through the first month of new year and while I’m not saying I’m never going back, I find I am in no rush to re-engage, certainly not in the way I had before.

In the reclaimed attentional space within, I discovered the soulsong of a new book walking up to me, hands extended and eyes wide.

We walk again under long wings of twilight, last vestiges of day sinking purple and mauve into the horizon. Somehow we end up talking about cryptocurrency and NFTs.

Give me dirt and give me stars, I say, as our feet crunch across the brown gravel, our shoulders hunched slightly against the wind. Give me life, right here, where it is.

As we come back up our driveway, we spot a doe at the compost pile, she watches us silently as we turn to make one more lap down the dusky gravel road.

Molly Remer, MSW, D.Min, is a priestess facilitating women’s circles, seasonal rituals, and family ceremonies in central Missouri. Molly and her husband Mark co-create Story Goddesses at Brigid’s Grove. Molly is the author of nine books, including Walking with Persephone, Whole and HolyWomanrunes, and the Goddess Devotional. She is the creator of the devotional experience #30DaysofGoddess and she loves savoring small magic and everyday enchantment.

Note: this essay is excerpted in part from a book in progress, tentatively titled Walking with the Goddess.

From the Archives: There Is No Santa-The Antlered Flying Goddess With Gifts by Marie Cartier

Moderator’s note: This marvelous FAR site has been running for 10 years and has had more than 3,600 posts in that time. There are so many treasures that have been posted in this decade that they tend to get lost in the archives. We have created this column so that we can all revisit some of these gems. Today’s blogpost was originally posted December 25, 2015. You can visit it here to see the original comments.

Marie bringing in Elen of the Ways
photo by Tony Mierzwicki

One of my colleagues at Feminism and Religion recently wrote of Xmas and Feminine Wisdom. My blog, for Christmas Day continues this exploration.

Elen of the Ways is a figure primarily studied by scholar, Carolyn Wise. She wrote two core articles available on the web here and here. Wise writes that in order to “track” and find Elen of the Ways she had to peel back the layers:

…to the earliest track ways, the migratory tracks of the Reindeer and Elk. Elen moves across vast tracts of time, and land, cloaked and masked appropriately for each age.

As the Green Lady, she peers out between the trees in forests …As a British Venus… she is guardian of the underground streams that carry the sacred waters. She is the Guardian of the ancient track ways, the Leys, the Kundalini currents in nature. And as the Horned Goddess, she leads us to the first track ways, the migratory tracks of the reindeer and later, to the path of the red deer through the forests. From here she leads us to the lost Shamanism of the isles of Britain and we can follow her across Scandinavia, Russia, Mongolia, Siberia, India and beyond.

You can read more about Elen in the book edited by Carolyn Wise, Finding Elen: The Quest for Elen of the Ways. Elen is:

…part goddess, part dream, part saint, a green lady and a water nymph, primordial mother and patroness of deer, and guardian of the Old Straight Tracks and solar alignments. …Elen is as real as the roads named after her, as solid as the ancient paths that carry her presence.

What are these tracks? Part of the story can be explained by understanding that there are ley lines, or energy paths throughout the globe. These paths were “tracked” by shamans, pagans, and regular folk and still exert their influence today in very recognizable ways. People celebrated earlier this week on the Solstice (December 21) at Stonehenge. “One of the most important and well-known features of Stonehenge is its alignment on the midwinter sunset-midsummer sunrise solstitial axis,” a spokesperson said. “The midwinter sun sets between the two upright stones of the great trilithon.” The solsitial axis is part of the ley line network that connects sacred sites such as Newgrange in Ireland, a sacred burial mound which lights up only the morning of Solstice.

At dawn in Newgrange, on the mornings surrounding the solstice a narrow beam of light enters the 62-foot long passage and lights the floor. It moves along the ground, from the window box until it lights the rear chamber. This Neolithic light show lasts 17 minutes….Local expert Michael Fox told National Geographic, “Archaeologists have classified Newgrange as a passage tomb but it is more than that. ‘Ancient temple’ is a more fitting label: a place of astronomical, spiritual, and ceremonial importance.”

If light that travels around the world lighting up sacred sites and bringing the gift of light to all corners of the world starts to sound like Christmas, let’s extend that thought to understand the connection to flying reindeer. According to Caroline Wise,

…the only kind of female deer to have antlers are Reindeer. Not only does the female reindeer have antlers, but she is stronger than the male and does not shed her antlers in winter. It is an older female reindeer that leads the herds.

elen of the ways Dreaming

So as I like to tell my students, “the McDonald drive through version” of what we’ve heard so far is: Most likely, yes, Rudolph is a girl/female reindeer, keeping her antlers leading a herd of female reindeer keeping their antlers, traveling with Elen (Santa) throughout the sky giving the gift of light—the light of Rudolph’s red nose that keeps the sleigh on track—following the ley lines around the world, and lighting up the sacred sites, turning the sacred wheel towards spring.

Wise continues the thread of Elen and Christmas thus:

…Leys as shamanic flight paths was relevant to Elen in her guises of both Empress and the Reindeer-woman…the Father Christmas story is based on the shamans of the Sámi people. These people (and other reindeer societies) had a symbiotic relationship with the Reindeer. They would follow the herds along their migratory tracks. Their food, clothes, homes, tools, even needles and thread came from the reindeer. ..the Father Christmas story is based on the older, non-Christian Shamans of Lapland. …to aid their shamanic flights, the shamans needed the properties of the Fly Agaric mushroom, the fabulous red and white toadstool of fairy stories. Taking the mushroom can be risky, or at least unpleasant, because of toxins it contains. The Shamans noted that the reindeer ate the mushrooms, which grew around the silver birch trees, and suffered no ill effects.

The shaman lets the substance pass through the reindeer, neutralizing the toxins, and then drinks its urine. The active ingredients are unaffected, and the shaman enters his trance and begins his flight. Above the snow he can see the herds, see the predators, and gains helpful knowledge for the tribe. He gains wisdom of the plants and healing, as the Fly Agaric opens the gateways for him to be able to commune with the spirits of the land, the beasts, and the ancestors. He carries back the gifts of healing, and also news of the herds. When finishing his trance session, the shaman would enter the yurt through the smoke hole, and slide down the central silver birch pole with his bag of healing plants and his paraphernalia – Father Christmas coming down the chimney.

 And Christmas trees?…the Fly Agaric is found mainly at the base of the silver birch and pine trees. It can be found beneath conifers, mostly evergreens, such as cedar, and the spruce and firs used for Christmas trees. …Reindeer Shaman spirituality was holistic within its environment, a complete cosmology including the people, the herds, the landscape, the stars…Therefore the trees that the mushrooms grew around were an an important part of the whole.

Continue reading “From the Archives: There Is No Santa-The Antlered Flying Goddess With Gifts by Marie Cartier”

The Holidays Are Coming: Let’s Celebrate the Saturnalia by Barbara Ardinger

Here we are in December—and what a year 2021 has been. Let’s not even think about what we’ve survived—continuing pandemic, climate change, people with guns, violations of voting rights, the Orange T. Rex still at large. No no no. Let’s celebrate the coming holidays with the antique ancestor of the Feast of Fools. Let’s celebrate the Saturnalia.

Some background: Saturn, who was sometimes conflated with the Greek Titan, Cronus (who became a god of time), was an ancient Latin agricultural god whose name may derive from satur, “stuffed,” or sator, “a sower”; in either case, he stands for abundance. He was a working god who oversaw viniculture and farming and was the king of Italy during the golden age before the rise of imperial Rome. When Jupiter came to conquer him, he hid himself (latuit) in the region that came to be called Latium. The Romans soon proclaimed that Saturn’s body lay beneath the Capitol in Rome. Because his reign (and presumably his hidden corpse) brought prosperity to the city, the state treasury and the standards of the Roman legions were kept in his temple when the army was at home. Saturn’s statue was bound in woolen strips to keep him from leaving Rome. In addition to Saturn, the Romans honored Ops and popular gods like Sol Invictus, Mithra, Consus, Juventas, and Janus in their winter festivals.

Continue reading “The Holidays Are Coming: Let’s Celebrate the Saturnalia by Barbara Ardinger”

A Different Type of Thanksgiving, part 2 by Sara Wright

{Part 1 was posted yesterday. You can see it here}

 Soon after I began to create little traditions that I follow to this day. November is the month I begin to celebrate my love for every evergreen tree on the earth. The leaves of broadleaf trees have become nature’s mulch, yet forest green stays with us until spring, thanks to the conifers. Thanksgiving week is the time I choose to go into the forest to tip balsam boughs  thanking the trees for being, always choosing a mild day when I can enjoy being outdoors. Then I weave fragrant wreaths sitting on my living room floor listening to choral music sung in Latin, a language I don’t understand, thankfully (!) This year my indoor Norfolk Island pines are already lit with rice lights for a few hours each evening lending a festive glow to the soothing cloak of darkness.

 Recently I decided to include a dinner for this week of Wintergreen Tree Celebration and it turned out that the foods I wanted to cook were some of the favorite foods I prepared during those exhausting and meaningless thanksgivings, cooking that I did for others, including my children at my own expense. At first this idea of cooking a feast for myself, (after all the trees couldn’t join me) seemed silly until I recalled how much I loved my own food! I am an excellent cook and I can conjure up just about anything without a recipe.

Continue reading “A Different Type of Thanksgiving, part 2 by Sara Wright”

An All Hallows Story – My Father becomes a Beaver by Sara Wright


The year my father died I fell in love with beavers. All summer I watched them at dawn and dusk gnaw down the poplars, drag them to the plume, observing keenly how the trees slid so easily into the stream… as the kits grew, little furry heads accompanied their parents carrying whittled sticks in their mouths to help shore up their ever expanding lodge. I always sat quietly so some evenings around dusk the kits would swim right up to me. Occasionally one would slap a leathery flat tail before diving deep.

When the ‘call’ came on All Hallows Eve my father sounded sad and resigned. He was being operated on for colon cancer that week. The shock of finding out so suddenly choked me up with grief so intense I could barely respond. He had told no one he had cancer. We hung up. A trip to NY and to*** the hospital was distressing. I saw my dad twice. The first time he barely acknowledged me; that night he looked into my eyes and called me “his girl,” words he had never used to describe me, his daughter, during our entire life – time together. Two days later, after returning to Maine, I awakened from a dream with the words, “your father has become a beaver” just as the phone rang. My father had died minutes before.

Continue reading “An All Hallows Story – My Father becomes a Beaver by Sara Wright”

Meditation in July – Weekend of July 4th by Sara Wright

I offered up morning prayers at dawn this July morning to the song of cardinals, rose breasted grosbeaks, and just barely rippling waters. The air was sweetened by water. Peace filtered through the green – seedlings, lichens, mosses, grasses, ferns, trees, clear mountain waters. Silence, except for the birds’ benediction.

 I honored my body with a poem. I also repeated my hope that my house will get the necessary structural help she needs, that the work will be completed. At the brook I experienced my body rooting into forested soil…  I am loved here; I belong here – at least for now.

 The drought drones on, although today at least we have light rain falling, for which I am profoundly grateful, especially because the dreaded 4th of July weekend is ahead – if only the rain will continue the deafening explosions might be tempered. In case this does not happen the dogs and I are going to retreat to the silence and peace of the woodlands to spend our nights in the car, the back of which has been turned into a comfortable bed.

Continue reading “Meditation in July – Weekend of July 4th by Sara Wright”

Fourth of July: A Time to Mourn by Sara Wright

I awakened to dove gray skies and the sweet scent of falling rain. Soaking in the greening of a fully leafed out forest and the stillness of early dawn felt like a gift because these quiet moments are precious and precarious on the weekend Americans celebrate ‘Independence Day’.

As a person with mixed heritage (Passamaquoddy) I am not one of those people. Indigenous peoples of the Americas have nothing to embrace on this weekend. We are still invisible; we are still discriminated against. We are still outsiders.

Along with the emphasis on Black Lives Matter I often wonder why Red people are not included in the current cultural outrage. These are the people who were deliberately poisoned with smallpox, and also murdered and herded onto reservations by the colonists who took over this once wild and untrammeled country, systematically destroying its beauty by slaughtering the trees and animals that once grew into stately giants or roamed free. Why would Indigenous peoples or any other minority celebrate an Independence Day that occurred at their expense?

Continue reading “Fourth of July: A Time to Mourn by Sara Wright”

Beltane and Greek Easter: Mary and the Goddess by Laura Shannon

Today, May 1, we celebrate Beltane, the Celtic festival between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. Starting tonight, we also celebrate Greek Easter, with its ritual drama of life and death. 

In the Western Church, Easter never falls as late as May, but in the Orthodox calendar, Easter and Beltane more or less co-incide every few years. It’s a reminder of connections between Christian and pre-Christian traditions, both in the archetypal cycle of life, death, and regeneration, and in links between the Christian Mary and the pre-Christian Goddess in her various names and forms.

Continue reading “Beltane and Greek Easter: Mary and the Goddess by Laura Shannon”

Feminist Holy Week Vaginal Christology Daily Devotional — Part 2 by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir

See here to read Part I of the Devotional.


Thought for the day:

The Roman authorities executed Jesus for sedition because he posed a threat to their hegemony: their wealth and their oppressive, imperial domination system of exploiting others for profit. Jesus spoke out against their injustice, and his message resonated with the 99%. People were beginning to listen; momentum was growing. So the Empire snuffed out that “Rebel Scum” in their most excruciating, punishing, degrading form of execution. According to the logic of imperial domination, Jesus’ death should have been a humiliating, final defeat.

Instead, his movement lived on and on, grew and grew. The symbol of Imperial execution — the cross — should have symbolized the wrongness, the lack of Divine sanction, the complete Divine rejection of Jesus’ ideas, according to Empire. Instead, the Jesus Movement reclaimed the cross from an Imperial symbol of shame and turned it into a symbol of victory. Paul, the feminist liberationist prophet most responsible for the survival and spread of the Jesus Movement, repeatedly wrote that the Jesus Movement follows Christ Crucified. Paul’s message seemed scandalous and confusing— lifting up a symbol of horror, death, and defeat as proof of victory? Why? How?

Continue reading “Feminist Holy Week Vaginal Christology Daily Devotional — Part 2 by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir”

Feminist Holy Week Vaginal Christology Devotional, Part 1 by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir


Thought for the day:

In Matthew 21, Jesus rides a mother donkey, her baby beside her, into Jerusalem in blatant condemnation and contrast to the militaristic entry of Roman military leaders and soldiers on war horses through a different gate. The point of Palm Sunday was activism: a political protest against war and the domination systems of oppression. The symbol Jesus chose for his protest was a mother and child. When the people shouted “Hosannah,” which means “save us,” they were asking to be liberated from the terrible economic and political oppression of imperial injustice. Jesus’ message of egalitarian Common Good and a kin-dom of JustPeace brought people hope and inspiration for a better future of mutual thriving and wellness.


Divine Source, You who Conceive and Birth and Nourish all Creation, open our hearts to the Way of Salvation that will bring liberation and mutual thriving to our Earth today. To honor Christ with Palm branches, may we protect Palm forest habitats for the orangutans who cry “Hosanna! Save us!” To honor the mother donkey and her baby, may we advocate for mothers everywhere, who are the most impoverished people in our society. May we always remember that You are Mother of All, ever ready to embrace us, cradle us, tend our wounds, nourish our spirits, and remind us that we, ourselves, are the Way of Salvation, growing over and over from your Dark Soil to your Light and back, nourished and nourishing, healed and healing, always giving away the Love we receive, and becoming our true, Divine selves through the power of healing Love.

Continue reading “Feminist Holy Week Vaginal Christology Devotional, Part 1 by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir”

Will You Be My (Feminist) Valentine? by Tallessyn Zawn Grenfell-Lee

Valentine’s Day was never about romantic love in my family. Mom always gave us Snoopy Valentines. Dad would write hilarious rhymes. My stepmom created gorgeous tea parties with chocolates and flowers, and we even gave red treats to our dogs. It was a chance to tell each other how much we love each other, and it was… well, really fun! So it’s no surprise that we’ve continued these traditions, with our own kids and dogs, and we all look forward to St. Valentine’s Day.

Most people know Valentino was from Italy. That’s another thing I love. I really love being Italian. Whenever I go back to New York, I feel my family’s Italian history and heritage surging through my soul. My olive-skinned mother would get so excited for the Italian street festivals – you know, where the center of the pavement is the red, white, and green of the Italian flag, instead of double yellow? And we had to eat the street food, like sausages with peppers and onions, and pizzelle. We’d wander around listening to folk music, proudly wearing our ‘Kiss Me, I’m Italian’ buttons, and giving each other lots of kisses.

Continue reading “Will You Be My (Feminist) Valentine? by Tallessyn Zawn Grenfell-Lee”

A Christmas Lament by Karen Leslie Hernandez

T’was the night before Christmas
And all through the Country
A message was Ringing
Yet no one Care nigh.
The plague has beguiled Us.
The craze has embodied Us.
The holidays are here!
We must not adhere!
Science is fake.
Science speaks nonsense.
Science fences.

T’was the night before Christmas
And all through the world
Weeping surrounds us
As souls tumble in furl.
Souls Who chose not to listen.
Souls who listened
But those around them
Did not.
Souls who scream for something different
For relief
That comes only with death
For many, such breadth. Continue reading “A Christmas Lament by Karen Leslie Hernandez”

On Mikeitz: How Joseph Brings Meaning to My Hanukah Observance during This Pandemic by Ivy Helman

It is Hanukah.  I have discussed the reasons I have found observing it difficult in a past blog.  Namely, as an ecofeminist, I will not celebrate the violence of war or the slaughter of animals at the temple.  This year presents a new challenge: how to celebrate the miracle of the oil in the midst of a global pandemic.  For inspiration, I have looked at this week’s Torah portion: Mikeitz.  Its Joseph tale has helped me find a meaningful practice for my Hanukah observance this year: the power of a human community’s action to preserve life.

The parshah begins with pharaoh having bad dreams.  He has called on every interpreter he can think of and no one could interpret them for him.  That is until he hears tale of Joseph and summons him.  After hearing his dreams, Joseph satisfactorily explains the dreams’ meaning.  Joseph says that there will be seven years of abundant crops followed by seven years of famine.  The pharaoh believes Joseph and begins to make preparations.  He appoints Joseph to oversee them.  

Continue reading “On Mikeitz: How Joseph Brings Meaning to My Hanukah Observance during This Pandemic by Ivy Helman”

Sappy modern carols won’t cut it; Gritty Advent Hope is what we need this year. — by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir

As we careen toward ever more terrifying surges in the Covid pandemic, with experts predicting apocalyptic catastrophes by Christmas time, I find myself reacting to the vast majority of modern Christmas songs, stories, movies, and cultural norms with increasing distaste. In these scary, painful weeks leading up to Christmas, my culture has very little to offer other than distraction and superficial jollity. Ho ho ho, Santa Claus is comin’ to town.

Distraction does help, a little. It’s addictive, of course. We turn more and more to social media, with its carefully designed dopamine boosts from each “like” and “love” reaction, each funny cat video, each smug political joke, to keep us from confronting the terror and trauma of our current reality. It’s a legitimate coping mechanism, a crutch that can be useful in many ways. Continue reading “Sappy modern carols won’t cut it; Gritty Advent Hope is what we need this year. — by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir”

A Thanksgiving Litany for Living through Fractious Times by Alla Renée Bozarth

Alla Renée Bozarth, Philadelphia 11, Philadelphia ordinations
All things being relative, remember
that collective and individual histories
are cyclical but open-ended, and discern
the kind of moment you are in and part of.

Remember how to make it better
by holding on to all that is dear in life,
and becoming more prayerful and thoughtful.

When deprivation comes, return to what is essential—
first, beauty, so look for and create beautiful behavior 
and encourage it.

Continue reading “A Thanksgiving Litany for Living through Fractious Times by Alla Renée Bozarth”

Fierce Friendship and the Holidays by Stephanie Arel

It is the weekend before Thanksgiving, in the ominous year of 2020. The CDC urges people not to gather with others outside of the household on Thursday. COVID infections rise exponentially. Schools are closing, and in the much of the country, winter is foreboding.

If you live in a cold climate, Thanksgiving dinner outdoors is hardly an option. For, Chanukah, Christmas, and New Year’s, we will likely endure the same conditions. I have tried to center myself, mediate, do things to calm my nervous system, using some of my personal tools for stimulating the vagus nerve so as to not feel toxic. I think that is what the cortisol in my body is telling me: slow down, gather, go inward. But I also sense a missingness – a loneliness – alongside a desire to reach out, call people, and connect. (See the effects and remedies for social isolation here.) Away from people, traditions, anticipation of my favorite time of year, I brace for a deeper sense of loss. Continue reading “Fierce Friendship and the Holidays by Stephanie Arel”

Happy Thanksgiving by Barbara Ardinger

Will our families gather for Thanksgiving feasts this year? Will aunts and uncles and cousins come from near and far to sit around our dining room tables? Does anyone have a table that’s big enough for social distancing? As I write this before November actually arrives, it seems unlikely that we’ll have few traditional holiday events in our homes (or anywhere else) this year. Well, my friend, who cares? Let’s pretend our feasts will be just like they’ve always been.

Back before the turn of the century, I belonged to a group that met every month in my friend Sandy’s family room for companionship, study (we worked our way through two excellent books by Julia Cameron: The Artist’s Way and The Vein of Gold), celebrations of birthdays and other special events, and rituals honoring various goddesses. We also had potluck suppers. (That was when I found out I can’t even be in the same room with jalapeño chili peppers.) It was a friendly, caring group of about twenty-five women and a few men. Alas, many of these people have moved away, a few have died, and a couple have just disappeared. I miss this group. Continue reading “Happy Thanksgiving by Barbara Ardinger”

When the Tomb Feels Safer than the Garden by Tallessyn Zawn Grenfell-Lee

I have always loved Lent and Holy Week. When I was young, I enjoyed the challenge of fasting. Holy Week was the powerful culmination of it all, so I would try to make the fast even harder then, like a sprint at the end of a marathon. Chocolate quickly got boring, so once I gave up all desserts. Another year, I gave up lying. (I’m a PK – Preacher’s Kid; enough said.) And then there’s the famous year sometime in my 20s when I decided I’d better give up swearing. (PK, remember?) Both my sister Trelawney and my husband just love to remind me of how I literally swore while walking out of the Ash Wednesday service. And didn’t even notice. And when they finally explained why they were laughing at me, I, of course, immediately cursed again. Sigh. Well, I respond each time, that’s why I decided to give it up in the first place!

My kids and I have also had a lot of fun observing Lent and Holy Week. Each year, it teaches us something new about abundance – especially amid the wealth of intensity and ritual during the last week. We are not legalistic about it; we just want to learn and grow together. One year, we limited plastic as much as possible. And I’ll never forget the year we gave up paper products. That was the first year we didn’t get sore noses, because we used handkerchiefs instead of tissues. As Trelawney likes to say, we finally stopped blowing our noses on a tree. Continue reading “When the Tomb Feels Safer than the Garden by Tallessyn Zawn Grenfell-Lee”

When Every Day Will Be Tu B’Shevat by Ivy Helman.

ivy tree huggingTomorrow is Tu B’Shevat, the New Year of the Trees, or their birthday.  It is the day of the year when all trees, regardless of when they have been planted, turn another year older.  The rabbis standardized this day in an effort to minimize complexities, since in the land of Israel, fruit can only be eaten from trees that are four or older (Leviticus 23-25).  Tu B’Shevat, then, on a practical level, marks how old fruit bearing trees are.   

The holiday has evolved since then.  In the 16th century, Kabbalistic mystics developed a seder to celebrate the holiday, which involved eating certain fruits, drinking both red and white wine, saying blessings, and reading certain mystical texts.  Each type of fruit one eats has a specific mystical meaning whether the fruit is completely edible (i.e. apple), has an inedible pit (i.e. olive), has an inedible shell (i.e. pistachio) or has a covering one generally wouldn’t eat, but could (i.e. orange). To this day, many congregations observe the holiday by hosting their own Tu B’Shevat seders often ripe with such kabbalistic overtones.  Continue reading “When Every Day Will Be Tu B’Shevat by Ivy Helman.”

Week 4 – Goddess Birthing Liberation: A Feminist Advent Daily Devotional by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir

If you have not yet realized that the Christmas story is a story of liberation from oppression, it is time to realize that. I like to dust off the patriarchy and misogyny of scriptural writers to find the beautiful wisdom within the stories and songs. Here is my daily devotional for the third week of Advent, the week of Love. May our ever-birthing Goddess guide you to recognize and birth Joy, with all Creation. As the sky turns dark, may our candles shine ever brighter, together. Continue reading “Week 4 – Goddess Birthing Liberation: A Feminist Advent Daily Devotional by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir”

Navajo Night Chant and the Sacred Dark by Sara Wright

With Winter Moon’s passage and the approach of the winter solstice just a little less than a week away I am much aware of the (potential healing) dwelling place that I inhabit that also characterizes these dark months of the year.

Unfortunately, even those who acknowledge our seasonal turnings rarely honor the dark as sacred. At the winter solstice the emphasis is still on light.

As Carol Christ writes so succinctly we manage to celebrate light at both solstices – at its apex and at its return.

This attitude reveals to me an inability to be present to dark, in both its generative and non-generative aspects. The original inhabitants of this country honored the dark months of the year very differently than westerners do. Their most important ceremonies occurred during the winter months. Both aspects of the dark were acknowledged and explicated through ceremony. What follows is a history of one of the Navajo healing ceremonies that occur only during the winter months of the year. Continue reading “Navajo Night Chant and the Sacred Dark by Sara Wright”

Week 3 – Goddess Birthing Liberation: A Feminist Advent Daily Devotional by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir

If you have not yet realized that the Christmas story is a story of liberation from oppression, it is time to realize that. I like to dust off the patriarchy and mysogyny of scriptural writers to find the beautiful wisdom within the stories and songs. Here is my daily devotional for the third week of Advent, the week of Joy. May our ever-birthing Goddess guide you to recognize and birth Joy, with all Creation. As the sky turns dark, may our candles shine ever brighter, together.


Feminist Advent Devotional, Day 15:

Isaiah 35 (NRSV, revised)

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Womb,
the majesty of Gaia.

Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
‘Be strong, do not fear!
Here are your kindred.
We will come with compassion,
with holy power.
We will all heal and lift each other.’

Then the wounds of the sufferers shall be healed,
and the griefs of the broken-hearted be comforted
then the fainting ones shall leap like deer,
and the tongues of the mourners sing for joy.
For waters of new birth shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

A highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the greedy shall not travel on it,
but it shall be for the kindred of Gaia;
no traveller, not even infants, shall go astray.
No robber shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous ruler come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the kindred shall walk there.

And the kin-dom of Gaia shall return,
and come to each other with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Continue reading “Week 3 – Goddess Birthing Liberation: A Feminist Advent Daily Devotional by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir”

On My Invitation as a Jew to Participate in Advent and Christmas by Ivy Helman.

imageI attend Czech classes twice a week.  This time of year the courses focus on Christmas.  I’ve attended three different schools over the last five years, and all handle Christmas similarly.  Even though the Czech Republic is only marginally Christian, for many Czechs being Czech and observing Christmas seem to go hand-in-hand.  In fact, Czech customs around Christmas even figure into the citizenship exam.

In last Tuesday’s class, my teacher asked me how I celebrate Christmas here.  She knows I’m Jewish.  When I said that I don’t observe Christmas traditions in my home, she responded, “you don’t have to be a believer to do Advent-related and Christmasy things.  Only 20% of Czechs are, and yet we all participate in Advent and Christmas.” It was part invitation, part assimilation request.  However, the excited in-class discussion felt more like an attempt at conversion. Don’t you want to be a part of this amazingly joyful time?   Continue reading “On My Invitation as a Jew to Participate in Advent and Christmas by Ivy Helman.”

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