Monday, September 28, 2015

Of Signs and Seasons

Well, hello there! You're reading this because-once again-the Christian Fundamentalist wingnuts were wrong about the full moon/supermoon/blood moon being a sign of the end of the world.

But oh how they tried to convince us! John Hagee, the founding pastor of the infamous Cornerstone Church in San Antonio,Texas, authored a book titled Four Blood Moons: Something Is About To Change. In his book, Hagee attempted to forge a link between the full lunar eclipses and the fabled "blood moon" described in the Biblical book of Joel, 2:31:"The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come." Hagee has created his own version of  the ancient history/ apocryphal future of Israel as it applies to modern Christianity. Using a theory poised by fellow  pastor Mark Blitiz of El Saddai Ministries, Hagee equates the dates of past lunar eclipses with what he sees as significant historical events in Jewish history. It all looks good on the surface until you do more exploring and delve deeper into the actual written text of the Bible verses they reference, because yes, the two reverends have been cherry-picking the Bible-something those of their ilk has made into a hallmark of their respective faith traditions.

There are several references to the "blood moon" in the Bible, most notably in Revelations, Ezekiel and the Gospel According to Matthew as well as Joel. To be sure, the sight of the moon turning from silver to red and disappearing in the sky would be a frightening sight to the ancients. The phenomenon is still impressive to us today, although the majority of us now approach it from a scientific angle and not one of taboo and superstition. The reasonably intelligent among us know that there is nothing more going on than a particular aspect of orbit between the Earth, Sun and the Moon, and dust particles in the atmosphere. The fallacy of Hagee and Blitz's religious hocus pocus is that the same Bible they quote also states that not only will  the sun and the moon go dark, but  "the stars shall withdraw their shining" (Joel 2:10). The whole thing will be proceeded by a cataclysmic earthquake of a magnitude that not only the Earth, but the heavens will tremble. Ezekiel 32:7-8 is unmistakable in stating this will be a final, Universal Darkness:"...And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord GOD...". Even to a layman, it is obvious there is a vast difference between the phenomena of a lunar eclipse and what is being described in the Book of Ezekiel. Yet Hagee and Blitz have chosen to omit the parts of the text that doesn't fit their agenda.
Once again, an example of cherry picking sacred text and bastardizing it into saying something entirely different than what was intended by the original writers in order to control the masses. The wingnuts have been so insistent they are right this time around that the Elders of the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) actually issued a statement telling it's members to carry on as usual because nothing supernatural was going to take place on the Night of the Blood Moon.2015 

Let's move on and change the subject...

The Autumnal Equinox is one of two times during the calendar year when the day and night are of equal portion.This occurs on or around September 21-22; the next day the darkness is slightly longer, and this increases in measure until the Vernal Equinox.( Pretty much all of us know this is reversed in the Southern Hemisphere; that's why the terms September Equinox and March Equinox and becoming popular in some places because it's less generally confusing.) The Agrarian calendar- the calendar of the seasons followed by farmers, also known as the ancient Celtic calendar by some-marks the times of planting and harvesting. The ancient Celtic calendar names three harvests- a grain harvest, a vegetable harvest, and a final harvest that includes the culling of livestock for meat. A majority of practicing Pagans refer to the first harvest as Lughnasadh and the third as Samhain; it's the name of the middle harvest that's a bit problematic to some. It is called different names according to the version of the Wheel of the Year you are using. Harvest Home and Alban Elfed  are but two of many names.

The version of the Wheel of the Year we generally consider most standard refers to it as Mabon, a reference to Mabon the son of Modron from Welsh mythology. Occultist and author Aidan Kelly interjected the name into the calendar in his book Crafting the Art of Magic [1991] so it's use is not as ancient as we supposed...and there is the rub for some who say the name for the holiday is not authentic. It can only be traced back as far as the 1970s, when, I suppose, the early NeoPagan movement needed a word that gave the Sabbat celebration an ancient feel and concept. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, and in fact I don't personally think it is, considering that NeoPaganism is commonly based on the reconstruction of ancient religious traditions. ( I'm probably going to get some argument on this point because some, as always,will disagree...I mean no disrespect...But this is my opinion, and my blog.)

I have an affinity for the song Harvest Home, which I believe fits this time of the year much better than at our American Thanksgiving. I like the old-fashioned image of farmers threshing and gathering in the fields, tying corn into upright shocks," ...All is safely gathered in, ere the Winter storms begin..." So I prefer the name Harvest Home-but I am not married to it. I honestly don't care what we call  the day, because I think it is far more important to celebrate the essence of the season. In NeoPaganism there has been a reoccurring group of individuals who fancy themselves as Craft purists, and their insistence that the rest of us do as they do is nothing short of forcing dogma. This movement surfaces for a time, stirs up a lot of controversy, then settles back into the flow of things. The ripple of disturbance they cause only lasts for little while, until our community finds something else to hammer on.You can't say we aren't a macrocosm of the larger Pop Culture at times. It is so with the dynamics of most groups.

So, I'm going to do this: I'm making up my own holiday that reflects the feel of the season, one that evokes the image of the last of the vegetables being harvested from the garden and farmers baling grains in the fields, and while I'm at it I'm making up a god who changes the colors of the leaves and who is the patron of my holiday. I'm calling it...Autumnus. So, here's hoping all of you have a Blessed Autumnus!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Do You Hear What I Hear?

In the mountains this time of the year we awake to find our little town enveloped in a thick blanket of mist. The fog often creeps silently through the streets during the wee hours, distorting the glow of streetlights and hiding all but the steeples and the tops of telephone poles. The recognizable is obscured and the landscape changed into a soft, melting ooze of shape and color.

Summer, too, fades and then softens. Already the trees are beginning to turn in the cool of night, the edges of their leaves turning brown and curling and their bodies spotting as the vitality of Summer drains from their veins. Our Spring was colder with more rain than usual and that rain-too much of a good thing-stunted the new growth of plants and grass. A single crocus dared to poke it's tiny head out of the ground and lived but a day. The azaleas were stronger in their presentation, but they,too died off after only 10 days. Wild violets appeared on unusually leggy stalks, and the sweet peas which grow in abandon here were less noticeable. The mountain dogwoods were the only blossoms to stand up to the shift of temperature and moisture, and even their ranks appeared thin. Summer finally came, but it has seemed unusually short this year.

Autumn, on the other hand, is knocking at the door already. Back a couple of weeks ago my friend Austin commented about feeling the vibration of the Earth, that certain thrumming that heralds the opening of the Veil that continues to build until Samhain. I have felt it too, the steady crackle of electricity in the background; it is especially noticeable to me at night, and particularly when the town is shrouded in fog. I think the new resident feline does, too, because even though the nature of a cat is nocturnal, she is more restless than she should be. We were up at 4 a.m., both of us, staring out the living room window into the thick fog, knowing that something was out there, silently waiting.


Like a lot of Pagans I know, I am better able to connect with my spiritual side after dark. Maybe it's just the power of suggestion, but my psyche seems more open between midnight and the first light of dawn. Without meaning to sound dramatic, I am what the occult author Konstintinos refers to in his books as Nightkind, a particular type of individual who connects more solidly in the dark ether than in the daylight. Because I am more open then, my sensitivity to the vibration of things around me is measurably heightened. I do most of my studying and spell work at night, when I feel I can focus clearly on the ask at hand. I save the daytime for the practicalities of the mundane life - cooking, cleaning, shopping, social exchange with the neighbors. The nighttime is mine. The cat thinks so, too; she seems to be more interested in me at night.

We live in a small valley, basically in the middle of nowhere and sound echoes at night. Crickets and katydids sound ten feel tall, and I am able to distinguish the difference between the twittery bats and night birds. The whistle of the train that runs just on the other side of the mountain has a rich, throaty echo, a long, low moan that I love to hear. There are times when it's so quiet you can practically hear the stars shining. And then...There is that buzz just below the level of normal hearing that's more vibration than auditory. It surrounds the town and enshrouds it. Maybe it's simply the sound of the Earth in repose as it regenerates and restores herself.  Whatever it is, it draws my attention more at this time of year, and the only thing that interrupts it at night is when a leaf breaks free from a branch and lands on the sidewalk below the window with a subtle clink. Perhaps it's just the sound of Autumn as the seasons change. Maybe it's something else.