November 2010

Andrea de Michaelis, Publisher
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Hello and welcome to the November 2010 edition of Horizons Magazine. Last month Roger Coleman stepped down from doing the monthly Solar and Lunar Celebrations of the Ancients. I wanted to continue the tradition, but first had to familiarize myself with the basics of the many traditions. I basically went through the past columns and pulled the dates and holiday names, then Googled to find out about them. Some have dates that change, like our Daylight Savings Time that rolls back the first Sunday in November. Some were tied to full moon dates or astrological aspects. I had to do a bit of research. I pulled out all my old books on comparative religions. I made myself familiar with traditions I knew nothing about. This became less about me finding the info I needed to write a coherent solar and lunar calendar, than it was about me becoming in tune with aspects of the natural cycles that I was not yet familiar with.

If I was to write a preface and do the calendar, I'd have to be feeling it. I'd have to let readers know why I thought it was important. Not just to honor ancestral tradition, but to reinforce the belief I have that every day there is a cause for celebration. And not just a date on a calendar.
Woven together with the solar cycles are the monthly lunar cycles, which affect all life on Earth from the tides of the oceans, to the fluids within our bodies, to our emotions, to our unconscious. Many folk/ethnic/Indigenous religions and other traditions have been lost through time, destroyed by men who sought to establish a new God. Which is interesting since Christianity and most of its rituals is based on Egyptian mythology, whose source is pagan. We've heard that "all roads lead to Rome" but in reality, when dealing with issues involving the Soul, all roads don't lead to Rome; they lead to Egypt. This is especially true when you study Christianity and find it is an evolutionary development of a once great Egyptian religion. But I don't care about all that controversy. I recognize that much myth and tradition isn't about worshipping gods or goddesses, rather about recognizing and honoring archetypes in a way that can be useful in our daily lives.

Much can be rediscovered through folk customs, legends and folktales. Our ancestors found comfort in the cycles of the seas and the stars. It gave them faith that when the sun left the sky, the moon would appear. It gave them faith that when a season of snow passed, a season of sunshine would follow. They learned by the phase of the moon and the cycle of the seasons the best times to plant and to harvest. My experience is that being in tune with the natural rhythms of our Universe helps me find my place in it. It helps me feel connected and supported by the natural world around me, no matter what human chaos may be happening at the time.

When I feel myself to be separate from nature, I feel fragmented and frazzled by my daily life. If we're to change this, it helps to begin seeing ourselves and our relationship to the Earth, the moon and the sun with new eyes. It helps to look for the natural patterns and cycles, and see what relevance they might have in our lives. As a gardener and one who studies weather patterns, I find the cycles very relevant to my daily life.

At new moon and full moon, I do a moon ceremony, to celebrate the last 14 days and welcome in the next 14. Observing the natural cycles teaches that every one and every thing is valuable and sacred. You might want to Google the unfamiliar names you read here and see what some of the ancients believed, and how they celebrated the cycles. See our new Solar and Lunar Celebrations on page 31.

With the first cool spell of the Fall, it begins to feel like holiday weather to me. I equate holidays and vacations with being outside in cool, crisp air. When I was growing up, each year my brother and I started school 2 weeks late because my mom's vacation was always the first 2 weeks in September. We'd always go to the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina, tent camping and later in the converted Fageol Twin Coach bus my Dad made into a camper for us. As we'd near the Georgia/NC border, the air would turn cooler and I'd get that excited feeling in my chest that we were on vacation! With last month's first cool spell, that's how I felt.

And with holiday weather also comes holiday neurosis — lots of opportunities to notice what you allow to disturb your peace and why. Lots of chances to pivot and dissipate the many familiar things that trigger us, for better and for worse. For me, cooking has become fun, but for many years it was not. In younger days, the holidays meant that I'd be stuck in a kitchen all day being someone else's slave because I was the girl. In my 20's and 30's, it wasn't much different, but then I had to do it because I was the wife and daughter in law. It got to be where any display of family life was a negative trigger for me, making me feel trapped and controlled.

About 40, I started getting over myself. I began working to change my perception and stopped trying to control everything around me. I learned that through some re-wiring of my thought processes via introspection and self-talk, I no longer had to feel trapped and enslaved. If I dreaded every family dinner that came up, of course I was going to have a miserable time. While I'm still not a fan of the all day long holiday meal with mandatory attendance, the idea of it no longer makes me feel trapped.

I've learned the universe puts me where the Universe needs me to be. I can be there happy or I can be there wanting to be somewhere else. It's my choice. It's my choice of what thoughts to continue thinking. If I am thinking thoughts of "Oh no, not again" and "I can't stand to sit with __ all day", that's not helping. I know I have to psych myself up to want to do it. I have to be my own cheerleader.

So now when the cool weather hits, it begins to feel like holiday time. Holiday time for me now means spending some good quiet time at home. I may take a quick trip into town and stop for a few minutes at each of several friends' homes to say hi. But mostly it means time to garden and play on my own, and time to cook the yummy cool weather soups I love.

Two Fridays ago I got to cook all day and the weather was so beautiful, I felt like it was Thanksgiving Day. In a good way. I had the day to myself and had offered to cook a pal a pot roast for his birthday. I spent the morning happily cooking and checking on it every 20 minutes or so. That alone made it feel like a holiday.

Afterward, as I cleaned up, I reflected that the whole day had been very fun for me. I'd also been on and off Facebook all morning as I cooked, chatting with my buddies. With the kitchen behind me, the laptop now faces the entrance to the west trail that leads to the firepit. It's also the main trail for the raccoons, opossums and armadillos, so it's a fun window to look out of.

The weather felt like a holiday, and chatting with my friends felt like a holiday and cooking for hours made it feel like a holiday.

Holidays used to make me cringe, thinking of all the obligation to cook and clean. Now I happily volunteer to cook and clean all day.

And the only thing that changed was my perception.

Imagine that.

No really, imagine that.

Enjoy our offering this month.

Hari Om.