The Czech Tradition of Čarodějnice (Witches).

This post is a follow-up, in a way, to the post I published here on September 11, 2016, entitled “Continuing Pre-Christian Traditions in the Czech Republic,” and will be a combination photo essay* and elaboration on one of the rituals mentioned in that first post.  On April 30th, I was in the small village where my partner’s family has their summer house.  Yes, that same village that has inspired posts like this.  There, we celebrated Čarodějnice, or Witches. This holiday seems to be related to what is called May Day or Beltane in other countries. What is unique about this tradition isn’t necessarily the májka (May Pole) although it is different than other places May Pole, but the burning of the witch.

Throughout the day, everything is gendered.  The women and girls have certain tasks; the men and boys have too.  The women and girls create and decorate.  First, they create a witch to be burned on a large bonfire; the construction and shape of both can vary.  After creating the witch, the women and girls (although it should be virgins – but no one really follows that tradition) decorate the top of a cut-down, very tall pine tree with strips of brightly colored fabric and crepe paper, tying them on to create what will become vertical streamers blowing in the wind, thus creating what is called a májka.  

Continue reading “The Czech Tradition of Čarodějnice (Witches).”

Re-imagining the Ritual of Communion by Xochitl Alvizo

I remember the words so clearly: “I know what it’s like to have my body broken, I know what it’s like to have my blood spilt. I won’t celebrate anyone else’s broken body or spilt blood, and I don’t want anyone doing that on my behalf.” Sitting in the pew next to me, my friend spoke her truth in a soft and tentative, but somehow still firm, voice. She then slumped in her seat and folded up her legs, hugging them against her body. While everyone else got up to take communion, I stayed in place beside her.

There was a period of time in my life when I was not willing to participate in communion. My friend’s words stayed with me, transforming the communion table from one of hospitality to one of violence. “Celebrating” communion didn’t feel celebratory anymore. I chose not to take communion for several years. I let my friend’s words guide and deepen my reflection on the practice of communion—especially in light of the trauma suffered by all too many bodies.

Continue reading “Re-imagining the Ritual of Communion by Xochitl Alvizo”

Coming Home for Samhain by Carolyn Lee Boyd

Tigh nan Cailleach, House of the Cailleach, Glen Lyon, Scotland

Samhain is the beginning of winter according to the Celtic calendar. On this day, people brought their livestock in from the pastures and settled by their hearths to survive the coming cold until the magical renewal of spring. Here in New England, leaves are beginning to blaze red-gold, plants to brown as nutrients fill their roots, and animals to nestle underground to hibernate. Across the northern hemisphere, we should once again begin our own retreat below the the busyness of our lives to re-energize and plan for the fruition of spring works.

I’ve usually thought of winter as a time of withdrawal from other beings and the world, but maybe Celtic tradition offers us a more nuanced way of perceiving this season. A wonderful Scottish Samhain story has made me rethink of winter as a time to also reconnect and re-vitalize each other and chart our course to spring’s promise together. I cannot say what the story means to those from whose land it emerged, but I can share the thoughts it evokes in me. Settle in, get comfy, and listen…

Continue reading “Coming Home for Samhain by Carolyn Lee Boyd”

Equinox amongst the Stones

A Modern Pilgrimage to the Isle of Lewis & Harris, Part 2

In the previous post of October 14th, I introduced my recent pilgrimage to meet the Goddess, honour the physical and psychological changes that have happened inside me recently. I described the different mountain ranges that resembles the bodies of sleeping women, and an ancient well dedicated to the Celtic goddess Brighde. 

If I was traveling over the body of the goddess, the Callanish Standing Stones would be her navel. It seems as if energy is flowing out from there to all edges of the island. The shape of the site resembles a Celtic cross. Unusual is that the site consists of one large, central standing stone, surrounded by 13 stones, and with stone avenues to the cardinal directions. With its solar alignment, paraphrasing Jill Smith, the configuration looks like a cosmic dancer who juggles the sun from east to west. The “arms” are aligned exactly with the sunrise and sunset at this time of year. 

Model of the Standing Stones as seen from above, in Callanish Visitor Centre

Callanish 1, the main stone circle, is connected to 11 other sites across the island, some circles, some solitary standing stones. Together they are called the Callanish Complex. I visited Callanish 1 many times that week, and I was lucky to spend the Autumn Equinox there. 

I’ve never come across stones that were so alive and expressive. Light would bounce off differently at different times of the day, accentuating irregularities, dulling, or sharpening edges, emphasising different aspects. I saw lion and wolf heads, young maidens, hooded wanders, gargoyle and dragon-like creatures, dolphins and even a Horned Dancer… Most importantly, it felt like in each of the stone circles in the area (Callanish 1, 2, 3, 4, and 8), there was at least one stone resembling a woman’s body, and I came to think of them as the Grandmother Guardians. They had a real living presence, that became even stronger as the day-visitors disappeared.

Usually there were 2-5 people there, sometimes I found myself alone. The sunset of the Equinox, however, drew many more people. There were about twenty tourists, who were taking snapshots of this magnificent light show, leaning, or pushing against the stones, talking, and giggling. Several professional photographers tried to capture a magical moment. And there were 5-7 fellow pilgrims, whom, like me, would stay long into the night. Everyone was so focused on the sunset, was I the only one who noted the rainbow in the east? 

The below images were literally taken a minute apart – rainbow to the east, sunset and silhouettes to the west.

Rainbow during the Sunset at Callanish 1, on the Autumn Equinox, September 22, 2022
Sunset at Callanish 1, on the Autumn Equinox, September 22, 2022

Eventually the tourists and photographers disappeared, and the rest of us gathered at the heart of the circle, in the remains of an ancient burial mound. With African and shamanic drums, a whistle, a singing bowl, an old man tapping his walking stick to the bottom of his tin mug, and some rattles, we improvised a rhythmic invocation to the spirits of the stones. With the rain becoming heavier, I soon found myself alone with the stones. Now I could finally sing, dance, weave between the stones without disrupting anyone, lean into the stones, close my eyes, and pray.

I felt very aware of the ‘balance’ in the year, the point of equally long days and nights. I asked for guidance on balance in my own life: between work and leisure, between doing and resting, between the first and second half of my life, between gathering wood for the fire and sharing it, between birth and death, and how I can better look after my body and energy living with an invisible auto-immune condition in these fast and demanding times.

After the rain departed, the clouds tore open, revealing the clearest and most brilliant night sky I’ve ever seen. The silhouettes of the stones reaching up into the night was truly magnificent. Moving, weaving, pausing, I made my way clockwise around all the 13 stones in the circle. I stood at either side of the stones, outer and inner, and took my place in between them, as if I was a moving stone myself. I reflected on centre and circumference, on axis, on direction, on the wheel of life, turning, turning, turning, turning… and felt connected to similar circles across Europe lighting up in the darkness, as a radiant hub of energy-places.

Photo Collage: Impression of Night Sky, by Eline Kieft October 1, 2022

After having completed my weaving of the circle, by which time I had enjoyed half of my ginger tea for a warm kick, I decided to return to our cottage – also an act of balance. Having a cold already, I did not quite have the proper gear to stay out in the windy and rainy night. My lovely bed was calling! On my way home I saw three deer next to the road. I stopped the car and could be with them for several moments before they wandered off.

I had been so attuned to the rhythms that I woke up well before the alarm. I laid in the comfortable darkness, until it was time to return to the stones to witness the sunrise. My mom came along this time. Again, there were several photographers ready for ‘the moment’ (no tourists at this hour!). I just HAD to dance, and chose my spot at the far western end, out of line of any cameras. A dance of ground, earth, mountain, honouring the mother and my mother, weaving the light, the turn of seasons, changing, praying, calling, giving thanks, celebrating, welcoming, and letting go. Strong, soft, vibrant, still… 

Both Images of Sunrise at Callanish 1, on the Autumn Equinox, September 23, 2022

Standing against the central menhir, looking east, we finished the last of the ginger tea. So special to be able to share this together. Mother and daughter in a circle of ancient Grandmother Guardians, witnessing the sun rise on a new day. Sacred land, ongoing cycles of time, and a modern-ancient pilgrimage… 

It will take many moons to fully digest and integrate the richness of this journey, but I already know this precious experience seeped deep into my bones. 

May the magic of the land touch you too, wherever you are.

Mother and Daughter – this photo was in fact taken at another moment, against another stone, mid-afternoon on 22nd

I’d love to invite you for my series of Embodied Spirituality Masterclasses that are going to start today, 21st October! Have a look if you’re interested in reconnecting body and spirit, re-anointing the body as sacred, nature as a temple, contemporary ceremony and much more… You can still join until Christmas, so don’t worry if you can’t make the first session live, it will be available in replay!

Jill Smith is a deep well of goddess lore on Lewis:

  • Mother of the Isles (2003)
  • The Callanish Dance (2000)


Eline Kieft danced from a young age, including rigorous classical and contemporary training to become a professional dancer. She then studied anthropology, deepening her fascination with worldwide similarities between indigenous traditions regarding intangible aspects of reality and other ways of knowing, including embodied epistemologies and shamanic techniques. 

She completed her PhD in dance anthropology at Roehampton University, trained in depth with the Scandinavian Centre for Shamanic Studies and the School of Movement Medicine. Eline worked at the Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE) at Coventry University for five years, where she created a Somatics Toolkit for Ethnographers, and pioneered soulful academic pedagogy. Her recent book Dancing in the Muddy Temple: A Moving Spirituality of Land and Body was well received as a unique blend of theory and practice and a medicine for our times. 

She is now a full-time change-maker and facilitates deep transformation through coaching and courses both online and in person. Her approach The Way of the Wild Soul offers a set of embodied, creative, and spiritual tools to re-connect with inner strength and navigate life’s challenges with confidence. 


Also on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | LinkedIn

Rites of Fall, by Molly Remer

“Sometimes there is small magic
and scraps of enchantment.
Sometimes we push for more
and sometimes we yield,
joining hands
to welcome the sweet what is
as we witness the wheel’s turn…”

Each year fall waltzes in,
slow and supple,
her golden light illuminating 
the pines, 
her slowed rhythm 
tugging at our hearts and bodies, 
her red and brown cloak 
settling over the land. 
We are invited 
to yield to grace,
offering up our gratitude 
and celebration, 
releasing our stored up 
worries and concerns 
into her capable hands, 
remembering how to let things go,
how to scatter our offerings 
and our troubles into the winds. 
Now is the time to sit in the stillpoint,
to call ourselves back home,
to accept her invitation 
to sit in the center 
of our very own lives 
and choose, 
to recall our strength and to be held.
Extend your hands into autumn. 

Continue readingRites of Fall, by Molly Remer

On the Pertinence of Ritual by Anonymous

Art by Jaysen Waller

This post started as a comment to Annie Finch’s part 1 of Abortion As A Sacrament post.  Realizing it was a story that was getting too long, I’m sharing it here as a reiteration of the practical significance of ritual, and finding our way through the no-longer-charted territories of being a female human — in the sense that if we were a female of any other animal form, we would still know exactly how to navigate all the challenges.

I had a years-long pregnancy-related experience in which ritual was the only thing to finally bringing closure, though the real issue was more the other being’s feelings or intent than mine. About a year after the birth of my only child, still nursing full time and using what should have been sufficient birth control, I became pregnant and aborted at Planned Parenthood. I had been well along, not having suspected anything because my menses hadn’t yet returned. 

At the time, there was no debate in my mind, if I had added another responsibility to my already excessive load, I would have failed at everything, the most important being my daughter.

Continue reading “On the Pertinence of Ritual by Anonymous”

The Magic of the Labyrinth by Janet Maika’i Rudolph

Labyrinths are magical. I’ve always been drawn to them. About two years ago, a local Episcopalian Church rebuilt their beautiful outdoor labyrinth and opened it to the public. In concert with them, I have been delighted and honored to offer guided walks there. Doing these walks, both in leading them and in walking myself, have given me the opportunity to reflect deeply on what they mean from many perspectives: historical, personal, spiritual, philosophical, experiential.

When I walk a labyrinth, it feels like I am mirroring the universe while expanding my internal journey. Teresa of Avila agrees with me (or, more accurately, I with her). She wrote, “If we learn to love the earth, we will find labyrinths, gardens, fountains and precious jewels! A whole new world will open itself to us. We will discover what it means to be truly alive.”     


Continue reading “The Magic of the Labyrinth by Janet Maika’i Rudolph”

Rites of May, by Molly Remer

It is important that we share these rituals of celebration and affirmation with our sons as well as our daughters. Men, too, should know the power of joined hands in a circle, voices lifted in song, and sweet words of connection surrounding one another on a bright spring day…

I rose early seeking Beltane dewdrops
with which to anoint my brow.
the cupped violet stems and clover
were dry
and I found no dewdrops
in the chickweed stars.
Instead, I put out oranges
for the orioles,
ran my fingers through the dandelions,
and pressed my nose into the lilacs.
I spotted green flowers
on the mulberry trees,
found the first wild pink geraniums
and tender bells of columbine
and came face to face
with the quiet black eyes
of solemn deer in the raspberry bushes.
These things
their own kind of anointing,
their own small and significant
rites of May Magic.

As a family, we traditionally celebrate the May by making a Green Man face in our field, using natural items that we find that day. As a goddess-focused person who walks an almost exclusively goddess-centered/nature-based path, this is one of our few family rituals that centers around more masculine sacred imagery. It is a favorite for my kids—rituals involving multi-age groups should always be as highly participatory as possible. I have written several times for FAR about how my hearth-priestessing has evolved over the years, letting go of more and more control, doing less and less planning, and being more freeform, spontaneous, flexible, and playful. My four children now range in age from 7-18. We have celebrating the turning of the Wheel of the Year for their entire lives. I love how our memories of past rituals inform the present—for example this year’s Green Man had the same rock for a nose that we used for last year’s Green Man.

This year, May Day was bright and sunny with a wild wind. We circled near the driveway, building our Man on the gravel, where his features would stand out against the brown rocks. We gave him antlers formed from cedar branch and white-tailed deer and a crown of a split stump of gray oak. My oldest son trimmed off cedar branches for his beard, my husband pruned the hydrangeas of last year’s dead growth to frame his face, my sixteen year old gathered golden stalks of dry bluestem grass for a mustache, and my 11 and 7 year olds gathered pieces of grass and cinquefoil to trim his hair and beard.

We stood around him in admiration for a few minutes and then I spoke of the bounty, growth, and renewal of this time of year. We stood hand in hand and read the following blessing together (me calling a line and then all repeating it):

A sweet blessing
of the singing sky
to us.

A slow blessing
of the shining flame
to us.

 A strong blessing
 of the crashing wave
to us.

 A soft blessing
of the pulsing earth
to us.

We then offered a wish to one another in turn with a spritz of “Valiant Heart” spray (from Honey and Sage Co). For example, I spritzed my daughter (11) and wished her curiosity and creativity and then she turned to her father and spritzed him wishing him health and prosperity.

I gave everyone four rose petals (whole flowers would have worked well, but I was working on the fly!) and invited everyone to kiss each petal in turn and then offer it to the Green Man (the wind whirled most of our petals away as we released them, which was pleasant as well—our wishes, accepted), based on this past poem:

Find four flowers
and bring them to your lips
one at a time.
One for wonder.
One for joy.
One for love.
One for magic.
Make your promise
invite them in,
one by one
the spell is done.

We sang a few lines together, laughing, from one of Tom Bombadil’s ditties in The Fellowship of the Ring and shouted out, “Happy May!”  after finishing our raucous rendition:

Now let the song begin! Let us sing together!
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather,
Light on the budding leaf, dew on the feather,
Wind on the open hill, bells on the heather,
Reeds by the shady pool, lilies on the water…

We then each took a handful of wildflower seeds and sang “Call Down a Blessing” over them, each of us plugging in a blessing word in our turn.

Call down a blessing
Call down a blessing
Call down a blessing
Call down
__________before you
__________behind you
__________within you
and around you.

This song is based on Cathy Parton and Dave Para’s song, but is sung collaboratively with each person choosing a blessing to sing together in the blank space. (A recording of our women’s circle singing this together during a ritual is available here.) We then scattered to plant our handfuls of seeds in whichever place we wished to do so.

This whole ceremony took less than thirty minutes and we closed our largely spontaneous ritual by joining hands and offering our family’s usual closing prayer (learned from our own dear Carol Christ): May Goddess bless and keep us, may wisdom dwell within us, may we create peace.

It is important that we share these rituals of celebration and affirmation with our sons as well as our daughters. Men, too, should know the power of joined hands in a circle, voices lifted in song, and sweet words of connection surrounding one another on a bright spring day.

My oldest son is graduating from high school this month and this week I took him to register for his first college classes. At this threshold moment in parenting, I feel the odd psychological sensation of overlapping generational “timelines,” sometimes feeling like I, myself, have become my parents, while at the same time, feeling like I am a college student myself. But, for now, at this moment, we stand here together under a Beltane sun, laughing together around a Green Man in the stones.

Molly Remer, MSW, D.Min, is a priestess, teacher, and poet facilitating sacred 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 Holy, Womanrunes, and the Goddess Devotional. She is the creator of the devotional experience #30DaysofGoddess and she loves savoring small magic and everyday enchantment.

From the Archives: A Handy Spiritual Practice by Barbara Ardinger

Originally posted on February 7, 2021. You read the original comments here.

Here’s a simple spiritual practice that I’ve been doing for longer than I can remember. During the regime of the Orange T. Rex, I started doing it at bedtime to calm my mind so I could go to sleep. We’re hopefully living in a more optimistic and peaceable time now, but that’s no reason not to add a new spiritual practice to our lives. I hope you’ll like this one and will try it for yourself.

We’re accustomed to seeing people praying with rosaries or reciting mantras and counting repetitions with strings of beads. We can do that, too. But how about using a simpler “tool” to keep track of our mantras and affirmations—our own hands?

Continue reading “From the Archives: A Handy Spiritual Practice by Barbara Ardinger”

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.

Celebrating Our Girls, by Molly Remer

We gathered roses
and bright zinnias
to crown their heads with flowers,
these shining daughters
who we’ve cradled and fed
and loved with everything
we have
and everything we are.
We knelt before them and sang,
our hands gently washing the feet
that we once carried inside our own bodies
and that now follow
their own paths.
For a moment,
time folded
and we could see them
as babies in our arms,
curly hair and round faces,
at the same time seeing
the girls in front of us,
flowers in their hair,
bright eyed and smiling,
and so too
we see women of the future,
tall and strong boned
kneeling at the feet
of their own girls
as the song goes on and on.
We tried to tell them
what we want them to know,
what we want them to carry
with them as they go on their ways:
You are loved.
We are here.
You are loved.
You are strong.
You are magical.
We treasure who you are.
This love that carried them
forth into the very world
they walk on,
we hope it is enough
to embrace them for a lifetime,
and so we kneel and sing
and anoint and adorn
and hold their hands in ours.
We are here.
You are not alone.
You are wise in the ways.
You belong.
We are not sure if tears can say
what we mean to say,
but they fall anyway
as we try our best to weave
our words and wishes
and songs and stories,
with strength and confidence
into a cloak of power
that will encircle them with magic,
no matter
how far away
from us they journey.

Continue reading “Celebrating Our Girls, by Molly Remer”

My Encounter with the Venus of Dolní Věstonice by Ivy Helman.

Marija Gimbutas, in her book Language of the Goddess, mentions only one goddess figurine from what was, at the time of her writing, Czechoslovakia (pages 31-32).  That figurine comes from Předmosti, in the very eastern part of what is now the Czech Republic.  However, there are more, and I would like to introduce you to the one that I encountered during a visit to another part of the Czech Republic several weeks ago.

Meet what Czechs refer to as the Venus of Dolní Věstonice.  There is not a lot of information about her, so I have pieced together what I can find.  Said to be the oldest known fired terracotta figurine (some 29,000 years old), she was first unearthed in 1925.  She was found broken into two pieces at the site of the Stone Age settlement known as Dolní Věstonice, in the southeastern part of the Czech Republic.  This settlement, according to Archeo Park Pavlov, was part of the Pavlovian culture, a Stone Age culture local to the area.  

Author’s photograph of a replica of the Venus on display at Archeo Park Pavlov.
Continue reading “My Encounter with the Venus of Dolní Věstonice by Ivy Helman.”

Farewell to Carol Christ at the Kamilari tholos tomb, Crete by Laura Shannon

September 7, 2021

1. Tholos tomb of Kamilari

1. At the gate

On a hilltop between the horned peak of Mount Psiloritis and the wide blue expanse of the Libyan Sea, Ellen Boneparth, Tina Nevans and I prepare to enter the Kamilari tholos tomb. This round vaulted structure served as a communal and egalitarian burial site for thousands of years, from Neolithic through late Minoan times, and Carol brought more than 40 groups of Goddess Pilgrims here to honour those who have gone before. This is where Carol asked the three of us to perform a farewell ritual for her; she wanted no other ceremony. We each don a scarf and necklace which belonged to Carol and enter the sacred space. Kostantis stays behind to guard the gate, in case any other visitors arrive during our ritual.

2. Invocation

On this spot, hundreds of women have honoured thousands of ancestors. We ask for the benevolent presence and the blessing of all those who knew and loved Carol, living and dead. We ask permission of the spirits of the place to enter for this ceremony. We ask Carol’s own ancestors, and the Minoan ancestors of this place, to bless and welcome Carol as a beloved daughter and granddaughter of both lineages.

Continue reading “Farewell to Carol Christ at the Kamilari tholos tomb, Crete by Laura Shannon”

Chukat: Miriam, Feminists, and the Power of Water, by Ivy Helman.

This week’s Torah portion is Chukat.  It covers a lot of ground.  There are the mitzvot concerning purification with a red cow, the deaths of important individuals, and the continued wanderings in the desert, which are rife with complaining Israelites, plagues of snakes and destructions of enemies.  It would be impossible to cover all of these events well in the length of this post, so instead I will am going to concentrate on a theme: water.  I also want to explain some of the ways Jewish feminists have enriched our connection to water. 

Water is first associated with the prophetess Miriam.  Miriam is first called a prophetess in Exodus 15, when she takes the women of the community out to sing about their deliverance from Egypt by way of the Re(e)d Sea.  Her “Song of the Sea” is thought to be, by many scholars, one of the oldest written texts of the Torah.  Yet, the connection between Miriam and water starts earlier in the Torah.   Miriam is Moses’ and Aaron’s sister and the one who watches over Moses when his mother, Joheved, hides him in a reed basket on the edge of the Nile (Exodus 2:4).  She approaches the Pharaoh’s daughter to secure a milkmaid for her brother (Exodus 4:7).  

Continue reading “Chukat: Miriam, Feminists, and the Power of Water, by Ivy Helman.”

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”

Out with the Old: In with the New by Carol P. Christ

A few days ago, a Greek friend told me she was going to bring holy water from a church so that we could bless my house. Ever since I moved to my new apartment in Heraklion, I have intended to do a house blessing, following rituals I learned from Z Budapest. But with unpacking and settling in interrupted by illness, I never got around to it. I did burn frankincense early on to clear out vibes left by the previous inhabitants of my space, but nothing more. I have slowly made the house a home, but I have been waiting for the renovations to be finished before doing a final blessing. As I still anticipate remodeling the kitchen island, I did not proceed.

Before my friend arrived, I incensed the house again, musing that now that I have finished my chemotherapy and am on the road to recovery, it is high time to clear out all the lingering feelings and memories of the time I was very ill. When my friend arrived bearing a small plastic bag filled with water from a church spring, she asked if she could water the plants on my balcony. I had watered them the day before, but I didn’t mention that.

Announcing that she loved to play with water, she doused the plants, then hosed the balcony tiles and sprayed the windows which were covered with dust following a recent dirty rain. As there are balconies surrounding all of my rooms, that completed the cleansing. Watering the plants signaled the renewal of life.

Continue reading “Out with the Old: In with the New by Carol P. Christ”

Musings on The Crown by Janet MaiKa’i Rudolph

Even though I was a late-comer to the Netflix series The Crown, when I did watch it, I was riveted. Lots of thoughts ran through my mind at this picture of royalty. The concept of royalty in human history is vast and multi-faceted, however in this blogpost I am only pulling on a few threads that tugged at me as I watched this show.

I laughed as people greeted the Queen and said, “your highness.” Does that make the rest of us lownesses? And where did all this pomp come from anyway? And why is the British monarch the head of the Church of England which is a bible-based Christian religion?

Monarchy, religion and war have always seemed so connected in our culture. Indeed, during the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, she was handed “the sword of state” as if she would actually be using it. (I looked it up, true to the ceremony). Continue reading “Musings on The Crown by Janet MaiKa’i Rudolph”

Natural Ceremony, by Molly Remer

This morning,
I walked around the field
and discovered
three soft white breast feathers
of an unknown bird,
two earthstar mushrooms,
sinking quietly back into the soil,
one tiny snail shell,
curled in spiral perfection,
and the fire of my own spirit
burning in my belly,
rekindled by elemental magic
of the everyday kind,
the small and precious gifts
of an ordinary day.

Every January, we rent a house on Dauphin Island and spend the month at the beach with our kids. Usually, we pack our business along with us and work from the rental house, though this year my sister kept it running from our home studio in Missouri instead. My husband describes this month away as the “weekend of the year,” and this is, in fact, how it feels, except for unlike most normal weekends, we walk five miles by 8:30 a.m. each morning. We joke that this is one of the best ways to know we’re on “vacation.” During one month of walking, we will log more than 300,000 steps together, this time away from home allowing us to pare back the layers of to-dos that build up each year, to re-prioritize our goals, to re-sync ourselves with what we most value, and to breathe deeply back into ourselves again—our hearts, our hopes, our dreams—after the hectic holiday season. Since we are self-employed, we never wake to an alarm clock at home, but while on our sojourn away, always motivated by the prospect of finding good shells, we set the alarm for 5:00 a.m., rising to the voice of Kellianna singing “I Walk with the Goddess” as we set off in the darkness to the uninhabited beach down the road. This year, due to hurricane damage and the resultant road work and beach restoration work in progress, the only way to reach our favorite walking spot is to rise before the road crews do and get out and back before the access road is closed to traffic for the work day.

We walk before dawn, our faces glimmering palely beneath a full moon. Our shell finding has been slender on this trip, the beach often swept clean by waves, but on this day, lit only by full moonlight, I finally catch sight of a big brown moon snail shell, half-buried in the sand. My favorite type of shell and, discovered on a full moon, no less! My husband’s foot comes down upon it as I grab his arm to stop him, but then I seize it with glee, undamaged and smooth in my hand. Though I have previously written that I expect no reward for devotion, sometimes it is, in fact, delightful to receive a reward anyway, especially on a dark beach with only moonlight as my guide. We spot two glowing eyes a few feet away and a fox keeps pace with us, pausing to sit and watch as we make our steady way along the shore. The sky lightens to rainbow stripes as the first flares of dawn begin to glow with eastern fire. I stand with my arms extended, the fingertips of one hand reaching for the moon while the other hand reaches for the sun, the waves lapping at the shore, the wind at my back. I feel held, suspended in eternity, small and rapturous, balanced at a centerpoint of time, inhabiting the liminal, poised within a living strip of space between land and sea, earth and sky, wind and sand, dawn and dusk, motion and stillness. Behind me, the fox moves swiftly away across the sand under a rainbow sky. 

I reflect as I continue to walk, murmuring the Charge of the Goddess below the moon, that these are my favorite kinds of rituals, the most powerful kinds of ceremonies, the truest expression of magic in my life and days.

On the winter solstice this past year, I carried a blanket out to the field in front of our house. I brought along my Womanrunes cards so I could do an annual oracle card layout for the year. I carried my journals and my planner and some of our small goddess figurines. Rather than sit on the blanket and dream about the year to come, busily scribbling notes and ideas in my planners as I had envisioned, instead I lie flat on my back on gazing at the sky. I became aware as I was lying there, breath slow in my belly, that I could see the moon on my right hand side and I could see the sun getting closer to setting on my left hand side. Then, I became aware that the birds were at my feet at our bird feeder by the studio building. Next, I became I aware of the cedar trees above my head, at the far side of the field. Lying there, feeling the earth beneath me, the sensation struck: I’m surrounded by the elements. I’m surrounded by all these aspects of magic, right now, no elaborate solstice ritual required. Though I made sun bread with my children and we held our traditional candle lit winter solstice ceremony and spiral walk, these moments lying on my back in the field were my ritual, my ceremony, the fullest expression of a living spirituality for me. Magic need not need to be fancier or more elaborate or more planned out than this, I think. It can mean lying on your back in a field and feeling the presence of the living elements around you, carrying you, holding you, supporting, nourishing, restoring, revitalizing, and, in a way, rebirthing you into awareness.

When I rose from my blanket to work on my plans, I noticed the way the rapidly setting sun was peeking through the trees and I decided to take a picture of one of my goddesses there with the last rays of the solstice sun shining behind her. As I squatted down to take the picture, I saw that one of the sunrays was extending through the trees in such a way that it was literally pointing exactly at my blanket, right at my little pile of books and my little plans, an affirmation of sorts: this is where you need to be, this is what you need to be doing. Since it was the Winter Solstice, of course this ray of light reminded me of light coming through Stonehenge and striking the exact right point, and it thrilled me to know that if I hadn’t decided to be outside exactly at this exact moment with the sun at this position, I never would have seen the ray of light illuminating my blanket. I’m not suggesting that the sun did that for me, it was rather that I allowed myself to witness what was already there, as if the ceremony was in place, it was unfolding, it was taking place, whether I was going to step into it or not, whether I was going to notice it or not, whether I was even aware of it or not. While this may not sound like a ceremony or a ritual in the way that many people describe ceremony and ritual, for me, it was one of the most powerful rituals I experienced that year.

Ceremonies of earth and being are unfolding around us all the time and we can either be present for them or not.

I could not have planned or designed that solstice or the full moon, fox-accompanied beach walk. I could not have planned or designed these rituals of living. I stepped out into the world instead and saw what ceremony was already underway, and then took part in it. Perhaps this sounds too simple or too small. There are many books with plans and outlines, ceremonies and correspondences, the right colors of candle and the right invocations to choose. And, those things are all wonderful too. I love setting up a fulfilling ritual space and creating a ritual atmosphere for people. I love candles and singing and choosing just the right words. I write today to remind us that there are many rituals of the everyday, there are many ceremonies of everyday magic, natural magic, that are already unfolding around you. I invite you to consider stepping into them and receiving them as a gift rather than trying to harness the elements or shape the setting to your own will. I encourage you to savor and see the unplanned, small magics of living unfold as they will. These elements of the holy, these sacred sites, can be alive, within you, beneath your feet, and around you every day, waiting (or not waiting) for you to notice that they’re here, carrying you along.

May you celebrate, savor, and sink into the magic of your life right where you are.

the world creates
ceremonies for us
and we just have
to show up
for them.


A Handy Spiritual Practice By Barbara Ardinger

Here’s a simple spiritual practice that I’ve been doing for longer than I can remember. During the regime of the Orange T. Rex, I started doing it at bedtime to calm my mind so I could go to sleep. We’re hopefully living in a more optimistic and peaceable time now, but that’s no reason not to add a new spiritual practice to our lives. I hope you’ll like this one and will try it for yourself.

We’re accustomed to seeing people praying with rosaries or reciting mantras and counting repetitions with strings of beads. We can do that, too. But how about using a simpler “tool” to keep track of our mantras and affirmations—our own hands?

How to use your hand? Make a fist and extend each finger as you say its affirmation. If you’re seated, lay your hand on the arm of the chair or in your lap and tap one finger at a time. Or just find your own way to keep track.

In the next paragraphs, I interpret what the affirmations in the illustration mean to me.

Thumb: All seems well. Yes, this is ambiguous, but consider what we’ve been living through since 2016, especially in 2020 with the pandemic and the election. Perhaps things have improved now. Perhaps some things do seem well. This ambiguity is the baseline upon which the rest of the handy practice is built.

Pointer finger: All things shall be well. This and the next finger are my paraphrases of the writing of Dame Julian of Norwich (ca. 1314-1416), a medieval English anchorite. Dame Julian lived through the Black Death and the Peasants Revolt and was the author of Revelations of Divine Love, which is the first surviving book in the English language written by a woman. An interesting note about the conjugation of English verbs: the declarative (everyday) mood is I/we shall, you will, he/she/it/they will. Note that when the “shall” and the “will” are reversed—I/we will, you shall, he/she/it/they shall—we get the imperative mood. It’s emphatic. “All things shall be well” means that’s how it’s gonna be. When you say this affirmation (aloud or silently), say it emphatically.

Long finger: All manner of things shall be well. Again, my paraphrase. (What she really wrote is what she heard Jesus say in a vision: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”) Let’s look more closely at my version. “All manner of things”: not just a few things, but many things. What do you see as “all manner of things”? Your own welfare? The welfare of your family and friends? What’s happening in your neighborhood, city, state, nation? Think as personally or as generally as you want to when you say this. (You can of course change what things shall be well every time you repeat this affirmation.) Emphasize “all manner” as you think about what you want to be well. Then also emphasize “shall be well.” We’re not giving orders to the universe, of course, but we can shout if we want to.

Ring finger: All can only be well. A typical metaphysical affirmation. As you repeat it, see it as a universal goal. Try saying it five times, stressing each word in turn. ALL can only…. All CAN only…. All can ONLY…. Et cetera.

Pinkie finger: Om tare tuttare ture soha. Because I took refuge with Green Tara during a weekend workshop taught by Dagmola Jamyang Sakya many years ago, I use the Tara mantra. Translation: “I prostrate to the Liberator, Mother of all the Victorious Ones.” (Well, I don’t do the proper Tibetan prostrations. It takes me forever to get up off the floor.) Another goddess mantra is Vishwa Shakti Avaham. Translation: “Universal energy of the Divine Mother [Shakti], be present in my life.”

You can of course make other choices for your pinkie finger affirmation. Here are half a dozen ideas. Use them and/or make up new ones. Let your littlest finger be strong enough to hold a big intention.

  1. Deena Metzger’s Goddess Chant: “Isis Astarte Diana Hecate Demeter Kali Inanna.” You’re invoking seven powerful goddesses into your life.
  2. “We are the flow, we are the ebb. We are the weavers, we are the web.” (Probably composed by Shekinah Mountainwater.) We are active parts of the benevolent universe.
  3. A Beatitude. Here’s one I like: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” I have long believed that if Christians paid more attention to the Sermon on the Mount there would be less conflict in religious discussions.
  4. The opening line of a Psalm. Here’s Psalm 19 (AV): “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” Open your own Bible and select the Psalm that speaks to your heart.
  5. These lines spoken by the exiled Duke in the Forest of Arden in Shakespeare’s As You Like It: “And this our life…/ Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,/ Sermons in stones, and good in everything./ I would not change it” (II, 1, 562-65). As we’ve seen in many posts by the FAR community, we can find much good in and learn much from Mother Nature.
  6. The first line of this Jerry Herman song from La Cage aux Folles: “The best of times is now.” Here’s the whole song from the 2010 Tony awards broadcast as sung by Douglas Hodge (who won the Tony that year) and the whole cast. It’s enormous fun to watch. (Those are the Cagelles dancing in the aisles.) For a cheery and inspiring conclusion to your handy spiritual practice, learn and sing the whole song.

[Note: Many thanks to Jennifer Ardinger for turning my sketch of the hand into real art. Many thanks to Meloney Hudson for teaching me the Shakti mantra.]

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.

Clean Tent Ceremony for Imbolc by Deanne Quarrie

Deanne Quarrie

The Clean Tent ritual[1] is done among the Samoyed peoples of northern Siberia. It is a group ritual invoking blessing and protection for each of the participants, traditionally all the inhabitants of a camp or village. You may choose for whom this work will be done.

This is best done outside but can be modified for indoors. Needed in your circle:

Fire – it can be in a cauldron
A mound of dirt
5 – 2″ strips of ribbon and a 3″ red cord
Rocks to create a circle
2 large rocks for gate in the South
Pitcher of milk and ladle
Your drum if you wish
Any vows you wish to make

This ceremony is normally be done during what is called the White Moon.  This is the lunar cycle closest to the time of Imbolc. It also coincides with the Chinese New Year.  It is called the Clean Tent Ceremony because traditionally a special tent is erected for the ritual. In some cases, this ritual is performed outside using a stone circle to enclose the ritual space in lieu of the tent, which is what you will do. Continue reading “Clean Tent Ceremony for Imbolc by Deanne Quarrie”

Navajo Night Chant – Part 2 by Sara Wright

Picture of Sara Wright standing outside in natureRead Part 1 here:

The original Night Chant involved four teams who danced twelve times each with half-hour intervals in between-a total of ten hours. The dance movements involve two lines facing each other. Each of the six male dancers takes his female partner, dances with her to the end of the line, drops her there, and moves back to his own side. The chant itself is performed without variation and has a hypnotic effect on the listeners. The only relief is provided by the rainmaker-clown named Tonenili, who sprinkles water around and engages in other playful antics.

The medicine men who supervise the Night Chant insist that everything-each dot and line in every sand painting, each verse in every song, each feather on each mask-be arranged in exactly the same way each time the curing ceremony is performed or it will not bring about the desired result. There are probably as many active Night Chant medicine men today as at any time in Navajo history, due to the general increase in the Navajo population, the popularity of the ceremony, and the central role it plays in Navajo life and health. Continue reading “Navajo Night Chant – Part 2 by Sara Wright”

 Navajo Night Chant – Part 1 by Sara Wright

Picture of Sara Wright standing outside in natureWith the Winter Moon waxing on nights when stars are falling from the sky and the winter solstice passage, I am much aware of the healing and 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 as its return. Continue reading ” Navajo Night Chant – Part 1 by Sara Wright”

Dancing for Forgiveness and Reconciliation – Part One By Laura Shannon

Armenian Candle Dance with Laura Shannon, Findhorn 2015 (photo: Hugo Klip)

When I first began researching traditional circle dances in the mid-1980s, I was amazed to find that the peoples who have suffered the worst of human experience – oppression, exile, genocide, war – also produce the most vibrant and joyful music and dance. Armenian, Jewish, Kurdish, and Romani (Gypsy) dances, in particular, were passionate affirmations of life, despite the horrors these peoples have gone through in their history. The dances seemed to hold clues to the mystery of moving on with life after trauma.
This was something I was desperate to learn how to do. Barely 20 at the time, I was struggling to keep my dignity and optimism while growing up female in a woman-hating world. The trauma of a violent rape on my 18th birthday had robbed me of my joy for life – but I could experience joy again in those dances.
Early on in my research and teaching, therefore, alongside the women’s dances which were always my main interest, I began to focus on the traditional dances of persecuted peoples, which I called Dances of Exile and Homecoming. These songs and dances seemed to have an inherently therapeutic potential, profoundly moving for people from any background and any culture.

Continue reading “Dancing for Forgiveness and Reconciliation – Part One By Laura Shannon”

Her Magic in the Stone Circle by Glenys Livingstone

My ancestors built great circles of stones that represented their perception of real time and space, and enabled them to tell time: the stone circles were cosmic calendars. They went to great lengths and detail to get it right. It was obviously very important to them to have the stones of a particular kind, in the right positions according to position of the Sun at different times of the year, and then to celebrate ceremony within it.

I have for decades had a much smaller circle of stones assembled, representing the ‘Wheel of the Year’, as the annual cycle of Earth around Sun is commonly named in Pagan traditions. I have regarded this small circle of stones as a medicine wheel. It is a portable collection, that I can spread out in my living space, or let sit in a small circle on an altar, with a candle/candles in the middle. Each stone (or objects, as some are) represents a particular Seasonal Moment, and is placed in the corresponding direction. I have found this assembled circle to have been an important presence. It makes the year, my everyday sacred journey of Earth around Sun, tangible and visible as a circle, and has been a method of changing my mind, as I am placed in real space and time. My stone wheel has been a method of bringing me home to my indigenous sense of being.  Continue reading “Her Magic in the Stone Circle by Glenys Livingstone”

The Importance of Ritual for a Goddess Woman by Deanne Quarrie

Deanne QuarrieThe reason and the importance of ritual in all world religions and spiritual paths, is the achievement of a more awakened consciousness, to touch on all of the physical senses in such a way as to awaken one to a higher level of spiritual awareness. Think, for example, of the movements of the ministers on TV.  Everything moves in a certain order, and if this order is not followed, people are unsettled.

It also helps to do things in a certain order, over and over, so that they become automatic, and the procedure does not interfere with the ideals in mind.  For instance, when doing a healing within the circle, we can concentrate on the healing and not look at each other wondering what we are going to do now. Continue reading “The Importance of Ritual for a Goddess Woman by Deanne Quarrie”

The Messy, Wild Mystery that’s Stronger than Wrong by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir

I am an annoying feminist. I annoy pretty much everyone about it, because I’m never NOT applying a feminist lens to every aspect of life: science (looking at you, Larry Summers), politics (Joe Biden is a rapist), art (objectification is NOT empowerment), culture (make-up is a prison), and, of course religion. I’m perhaps most annoying of all when it comes to religion. I annoy Christians by raving about Christ The Cosmic Vagina, and I annoy secularists by raving about feminist Jesus. I especially annoy my church friends and colleagues by refusing to use the (male) word “God” to talk about the Infinite Divine Mystery, much less male pronouns or oppressive symbols such as Lord, King, or Kingdom.

Yep, I’ve been cheerfully annoying the hell out of everyone for decades, drawing vagina art during male-centric worship services, changing lyrics on the fly, slipping female words and symbols into prayers and startling whomever sits near me… I am a feminist. Not the fun kind. Continue reading “The Messy, Wild Mystery that’s Stronger than Wrong by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir”

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”

The Healing Aspects of Ritual by Sara Wright

I have been writing and celebrating ritual for half of my life. The equinoxes and solstices and the cross quarter days (May 1, August 1, All Hallows, and February 2) comprise the eight spokes of the year. What I have learned from my research is that virtually every Indigenous culture follows this calendar in a general way – What I have gleaned from personal experience is that during these ritual periods my body is opened to the Powers of Nature in very specific ways that can be positive or/and negative.

Often I experience uncomfortable physical symptoms – feel an intense buzz, am struck by severe headaches, the feeling that I am walking on air without solid ground; I have unusual experiences with animals or plants; I am blind sided by radical insights in waking life or through dreaming. I have come to expect that usually there will be some kind of sign and if there isn’t one my body/mind isn’t in tune ritually and something is amiss – either my intentions, or the letting go (death) of some aspect of myself. The older I become the more I attempt to move through these periods with increased awareness that I am a receiver and need to be paying even closer attention… Continue reading “The Healing Aspects of Ritual by Sara Wright”

The Cuisine Cards by Laurie Goodhart

Suit of Tomatoes

With every wonderful, heart-wrenching, deeply researched, and inspiring  post I read on F.A.R., I feel less inclined to share my own somewhat out-of-step contributions to this world. Nevertheless, I keep reminding myself that they are the things that I do, and I do them because I feel compelled, and have consistently been compelled in those two specific directions — art and agriculture/wildcrafting — since childhood. Also, the paintings and prints are a product of my always thinking about and feeling into both feminism and spirituality, and the fruits of the intersection of the two. So here is another offering.

I’ve always had a fondness for the visual aspect of playing cards, and collect books on them. One image of an uncut sheet of cards printed in 1585 in Frankfurt, where the black and white cards were jammed in every which way on large sheets of paper, inspired the look of these four prints, The Cuisine Cards.

They are conceived as celebrating food and cultures from various parts of the world. The face cards are non-hierarchical in terms of rank and gender. The 10 is a Table of the suit’s food, then there are the Shaper, Mover, and Taster, who, although usually carrying on in a certain sequential order, each contribute equal value to the whole experience of eating food. Two suits have all female face cards and two all male.

Continue reading “The Cuisine Cards by Laurie Goodhart”

%d bloggers like this: