Dear, Patient and Persevering Children of the Earth,

It’s Summer Solstice Time!  Also known as Mid-Summer or Litha.  A time of relaxation, long days and gentle nights.  After the harsh winter and cold, wet spring we are all needing to get out in the sunlight.

The fertile Earth is once again pouring forth her bounty, feeding our bodies and souls with birdsong, gently rustling trees and crops coming to fruition.  

This has always been a time to relax and enjoy the infinite abundance of Life.  It’s time to visit friends and relatives to catch up,  play games, picnic and enjoy being alive together.

This year, our Midsummer happens as the planet Uranus is entering the sign of Taurus.  For approximately the next 8 years, Uranus (sudden change, breakthroughs, innovation) will be shaking up Taurus (security, habits, possessions, money).

The last time Uranus was in Taurus was from 1934 to 1942.  This time it’s from 2018 to 2024.  You don’t have to be a scholar of history to know what was happening to people’s sense of security at that time.  We were in the heart of the depression, WW2, the rise of fascism, millions displaced. 

But Uranus doesn’t show up just to bring trouble —it’s the Light Bringer, the Awakener, the archetype of Change for the Better. 

Change is coming.  Whatever security foundation feels shaky in your life, It’s important to connect with your family, your friends, your community and begin to take care of each other.  Isolationism never solved anything because, in truth, we all need each other, we are all connected.

As a Pagan, I take my teachings from Mother Nature— right now she is giving away everything she has, sharing her bounty with everyone.  We can all share ourselves, even if it’s just a smile.

When asked what ordinary people can do to promote world peace, the Dalai Lama thought for a moment and responded:  Have more parties!

Happy Summer Everyone!
Mary


   _____________________

Not This, Not That

Nor anything,
not the eastern wind whose other name
   is rain,
nor the burning heats of the dunes
   at the crown of summer,
nor the ticks, that new, ferocious populace,

not the President who loves blood,
nor the governmental agencies that love money,

will alter

my love for you, my friends and my beloved,
or for you, oh ghosts of Emerson and Whitman,

or for you, oh blue sky of a summer morning,
that makes me roll in a barrel of gratitude
   down hills,

or for you, oldest of friends:  hope;
or for you, newest of friends: faith;

or for you, silliest and dearest of surprises,
my own life.

                           … Mary Oliver

   _____________________

Open these links for more information about the Summer Solstice:






Dear, Sustainable and Ever-Renewing Children of the Earth,

Happy Spring!  The Vernal Equinox has arrived!  Three months after the Winter Solstice, we say goodby to old man winter and hello to the newborn Spring.

Equinox is the time when Day and Night are of equal length.  In the northern hemisphere, Day will increase for the next three months until Summer Solstice gives us the full warmth of our Sun.

People have always celebrated this time of year as a time of resurrection and rebirth.  In the Pagan world, this is the celebration of Eostre or Ostara.  The fecundity of rabbits the abundance of eggs, the greening of the land and blossoming of flowers are all Mother Nature's way of showing us there is Eternal Life.

Bonfires and feasts, waking at dawn, shaking off the stiffness of months living inside buildings... however you choose to celebrate Spring, remember that whatever you have mourned the loss of, whatever darkness you have found yourself stuck in, now is the time of year to remember Life eternally renews itself.

If you've been sad, worried, stressed or come through your own dark night of the soul, take a walk outside and let the natural world heal you.  Whatever your beliefs are, go outside and breathe in a little Life.

Blessed be,
Mary

_________________________________
Allow
           ...by Dana Faulds

There is no controlling life.
Try corralling a lightning bolt,
containing a tornado.  Dam a
stream and it will create a new
channel.  Resist, and the tide
will sweep you off your feet.
Allow, and grace will carry
you to higher ground.  The only
safety lies in letting it all in --
the wild and the weak; fear,
fantasies, failures and success.
When loss rips off the doors of 
the heart, or sadness veils your
vision with despair, practice
becomes simply bearing the truth.
In the choice to let go of your
known way of being, the whole
world is revealed to you.

_________________________________


Please click this link for information about the online class I'm teaching!
https://www.inspiredinquiries.com/p/sky-magic-spr

Check out these links to learn more about the Equinox and how it's celebrated around the world.
https://www.almanac.com/content/first-day-spring-vernal-equinox
https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-ostara-the-spring-equinox-2562485
https://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/sights-to-see.html




http://maryswanson.net/secure/images/gallery1/93-TPkIhIG43PMo.jpg




Dear, Darling and Much-loved Children of the Earth,...

Happy Winter Solstice! It's time to celebrate the birth of the Sun! 
Just when it seemed nights would continue to lengthen, The Wheel of the Year turns and we find ourselves facing... more Light!

We may not notice it at first--we may assume that the nights are just going to get longer as we head into the "dead of winter". But the opposite is true. The day after Solstice, our day is minutes longer and keeps lengthening till we get to Mid-Summer. 

If you walk outside into Nature, you'll see that the vegetation isn't dead at all, it's resting. In a few weeks, little nubs will appear on the end of branches. Even now there are animals, birds, root systems, continuing their cycles of Life. 

In the Pagan world, we take our lessons on how to live through the teachings of Mother Nature. 
The message She sends to us at this time of year is simply this: It is in the darkest hour that the Light returns. 

For as long as there have been people, we've celebrated Solstice as a time to come together, make merry, share what we have, and delight in our love for each other. It's no different now.

When the outer world gets scary, it's time to take some Sacred time, some time away from the ordinary onslaught of whatever is barraging us, get quiet & connect with whatever you call God. 

If you go outside and look up into the night sky, the awesome truth of our existence reveals itself: 
This world is much larger and more mysterious than we can ever comprehend. And yet, somehow, we are held.

Especially in these dark times, when there is so much fear on the land and in our hearts, 
the Truth our ancestors celebrated is still true. It is in the darkest time that the Light returns.

This Solstice, we could take some quiet time and let ourselves imagine 
how the Light could return in our own, individual lives. 

Because it always does.

Still loving the light in you--
Namaste,

Mary


 
__________________________________________________________________

Love Comes Quietly

             

Love comes quietly,
Finally drops around me,
On me, in the old way.
 
What do I know,
Thinking myself able to go alone
All the way?
 
                          by Robert Creely
 
 
__________________________________________________________________
 
 
 
Please check out these links for more information about Solstice, Celebrations & Astronomical Events:
 
 
 




Dear, Steadfast and True Children of the Earth,

It’s time for the Autumnal Equinox!   On Friday, September 22nd at 4:02 pm e.s.t., Day and Night are of equal length.  We are turning toward the “darkening of the light” as days grow shorter and nights longer.  

Throughout human history, this has been a time of sharing and thanksgiving.  The harvest is in, our storehouses are full and it’s time to take a moment and reflect on what is asked of us.

Everywhere we look, we can see that the Earth is giving away her abundance.  Apples and pumpkins are ripening, seed husks are falling open as the leaves turn brilliant colors and begin to fall.  All of Nature seems to be giving itself away.

Mother Nature is showing us what to do when we face a darkening of the light.  Whether that’s in the physical environmental sense or in our own, personal, emotional lives.  When we face fear or uncertainty, the thing to do is connect with others and give what we have to give.

In this time of upheaval, the ancient ways are solid and reliable.  Giving thanks for what we have and giving what we can is a path we can all walk.  It will take us where we need to go.

Namaste,

Mary

________________________________

Poem

I lived in the first century of world wars.
Most mornings I would be more or less insane.
The news would pour out of various devices
The newspapers would arrive with their careless stories,
Interrupted by attempts to sell products to the unseen.
I would call my friends on other devices;
They would be more or less mad for similar reasons.
Slowly I would get to pen and paper,
Make my poems for others unseen and unborn.
In the day I would be reminded of those men and women,
Brave, setting up signals across vast distances,
considering a nameless way of living, of almost unimagined values.
As the lights darkened, as the lights of night brightened,
We would try to imagine them, try to find each other,
to construct peace, to make love, to reconcile
Waking with sleeping, ourselves with each other,
Ourselves with ourselves.  We would try by any means
To reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves,
To let go the means, to wake. 

I lived in the first century of these wars. 

                     - Muriel Rukeyser

________________________________

Read on for announcements and more information about the Equinox

________________________________

It's been a while since you've heard from me.  During the interim I've moved from Vermont to Evanston, IL. ( I love it here so much I've started calling it Heavenston). 

You can always find my current address and phone number under the "Contact" button on my website (maryswanson.net) and... 

here are the new numbers:

847-563-8713
718 Noyes St. #A-2
Evanston, IL 60201

My website has been rebuilt and I'm excited to let you know that you can now download classes directly from my site!  

And speaking of classes...  I'm so happy to announce a new, year-long class I've developed with my dear friends and amazing co-teachers, Jena Owen and Laura Tabet:


Sky Magic:   http://www.inspiredinquiries.com/p/skymagic 

In this 12 month class we approach the cycle of the year through the astrological archetypes.  Each month I introduce a new archetype through lecture and guided mediation, Laura takes us deeper into the psychological meanings and Jena shows us how to let our unconscious play through easy and fun journaling and art projects.

You can jump on the cycle at any time.  You’ll have access to the whole year at any time.  We start with the Autumnal Equinox and the archetype of Venus.  Love, balance,  and knowing what you’re in affinity with.

________________________________


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheel_of_the_Year
http://www.mirror.co.uk/science/autumnal-equinox-2017-season-change-11205728
https://www.thoughtco.com/all-about-mabon-the-autumn-equinox-2562286



Autumnal Equinox - Friday, September 22nd at 4:02 pm e.s.t.





Dear, Careful and Kind Children of the Earth,

Here we are again…Winter Solstice:  the shortest day, the longest night of the year.  Winter Solstice:  a moment of stillness before the light of our Sun begins its long return.  All life on this planet takes note of this unavoidable physical fact:  the darkest time heralds the return of the light.

Everywhere in the northern hemisphere there are celebrations.  Family and friends are coming together to express appreciation and love, to share what they have and to offer their wishes for peace and prosperity.  As long as there have been people, there have been celebrations of the Sun’s return.

In the Pagan world, the longest night of the year is also a time to step out of our routines and acknowledge the Great Mystery:  that we are held by something much bigger than we can ever understand.

It’s a time of letting go of Fear, a time of stepping into Trust. Faith. Belief.

It’s a Sacred time in the old sense of the word: Sacred has its roots in the idea of being set apart from the everyday.  Every culture has a way to make this time of the year Sacred, of taking a break from the material world and renewing our Faith in what really does hold life together:  Love, Compassion, Kindness.

And all of us, on Winter Solstice, have the opportunity to witness what our bodies are experiencing:  darkness does not increase forever.  Eventually, the light returns.

If that’s not a reason to celebrate, I don’t know what is.

May your Solstice take you where you need to be.

Peace,

Mary

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time  I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
…by Wendell Berry                       

   

Check out these sites for more information on Winter Solstice:

http://earthsky.org/?p=2951

http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/december-solstice-customs.html

http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/winter-solstice.html



Autumnal Equinox

By Mary Swanson

The Autumnal Equinox is here!  The first day of Fall is here!  This is the time when Night and Day are of equal length.  The long, hot summer is coming to an end.  In the Northern hemisphere, we’re turning toward the longer nights and shorter days.

We feel this change strongly in our bodies at this time.  We’re all aware the sun is setting a little earlier than it did a month ago, there’s a little nip in the air, leaves are beginning to change, apples are ripening and children are back in school.

This is the time of year when we take stock of what we have and make decisions about how we want to go forward.  It’s a time or sorting, planning and preparing.  But most of all, it’s a time of sharing.

In the Pagan tradition, we look at Nature to teach us.  Right now, Nature is giving it all away.  Everywhere you look, seed pods are breaking open, root crops have matured, the fruit is hanging off the vine.  Every earthly thing is Sharing.  It’s Harvest Time, a time of gratitude, thanks giving and sharing.

This Fall Equinox is followed quickly by the Harvest Moon.  This year it will be Full on September 27-28th.  It is a “Super Moon” which means it looks like it’s really big.  (Giving us lots of light to bring in the Harvest)

This year the full harvest moon will also be a full Lunar Eclipse. (at 4 degrees 40 minutes of Aries)  We’ll be able to see it in its entirety in the eastern half of the US.

In the language of Astrology, Lunar Eclipses signify an intensification of whatever’s happening.  A lunar eclipse in Aries signifies an intensification of our own need to take right action.

I can’t look at the news reports of the refugees pouring into Europe or the refugees fleeing the fires up and down the west coast without remembering how important it is to share.  Fear is a normal emotion…but so is the desire to share and take care of.

Whatever your circumstances, there’s always someone who’s living more precariously.  Here’s an easy link to Unicef.    https://www.unicefusa.org


Or, you can look up your state and country participation in refugee resettlement.  People right near you need blankets, coats, anything you have too much of, there’s a need for.

Or, you can simply share your love.


Song
Here is calm so deep, grasses cease waving.Everything in wild nature fits into us, as if truly part and parent of us.
The rivers flow not past, but through us, thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, Making them glide and sing.

The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls,and every bird song, wind song, and tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song,our very own, and sings our love…John Muir



Read on for more information about the Equinox:



http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=52248

http://www.archaeoastronomy.com/seasons.html

http://www.holidayinsights.com/other/fall.html

Summer Solstice 2015

By Mary Swanson

Summer Solstice 2015 Sunday June 21st at 12:38 pm edt

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Dear, Adaptable and Ever-Changing Children of the Earth,

Summer Solstice is here!  The longest day and shortest night of the year.  The Great Wheel is turning and it’s the perfect time to step out of your routine.  All work and no play does serious harm to your nervous system and this Solstice is perfect for creating some new neurological pathways.  Expand your brain by looking at something you’ve never seen before.  Cleanse your endocrine system by laughing at something silly.  It’s Summer!  Time to fill up with light!

For as long as we humans have been standing up on our own two feet, Summer Solstice has been a time of Celebration.  Visiting friends, cooking outside, participating in large gatherings… all the fun activities of Summer take us out of our ordinary routine, relax us and allow us to make new connections.

There are thousands of ancient sites all over the globe that mark the Summer Solstice.  Our ancestors created these Sacred Sites as places to connect to Deities, to God, to the Great Mystery.  Sacred literally means “set apart for the worship of a deity.”  Whatever your relationship with the Mystery is, or how you define God, this is a perfect time to offer your respect and gratitude for this marvelous thing we call Life.

This Solstice, the Cosmos is giving us a beautiful Jupiter (Benevolence) trine to Uranus (Change).  Trine aspects are easy flowing and after our long, long Pluto square with Uranus, this can truly feel like a breath of fresh air.  With this aspect there’s a kind of trust that starts to happen again, a little bit of hope and sense of possibility is dawning.

Take this time to notice the simple pleasure of being alive.

Namaste, you light-filled being,

Mary


Summer Fruit
Full round apple, peach, pear, blackberry.
Each speaks lie and death into the mouth.
Look at the face of a child eating them.
The tastes come from afar and slowly grow nameless on the tongue.
Where there were words, discoveries flow,released from within the fruit.
What we call apple–dare to say what it is,
this sweetness which first condensed itself so that, in the tasting, it may burst fort and be known in all its meanings of sun and earth and here. How immense, the act and the pleasure of it.

…Rainer Maria Rilke

Check out this link to find more about the SKY MAGIC class I’m teaching this Summer!

http://jenaferjoy.com/skymagic-summer/

 

and check out these sites for more information about Summer Solstice:

http://earthsky.org/?p=3300                                                                                              http://www.mysticmamma.com/summer-solstice-northern-hemisphere-rituals-ideas-and-significance-june-20th-2013/

 

Mystic Mama has some really great rituals

  

Spring equinox 2015

By Mary Swanson

Dear, Amazing and Resilient Children of the Earth,

Spring is here!  The Vernal Equinox has arrived.  At Equinox, Day and Night are of equal length. Winter is pulling back and from now until the Summer Solstice we’ll feel the warmth and strength of the sun increasing every day.

Just as the birds are sending out their songs again, we humans feel like doing a bit of crowing! Just as the little green shoots are breaking through the soil, we’re wanting to get outside, breathe deep and feel the sun on our skin. Life is coming up fresh and new at Equinox and each of us can participate in that.

Our ancestors celebrated the first day of Spring with feasts and bonfires, symbols of fertility and praise for the resurrection of life.  In every culture on earth there is a celebration of rebirth at this time of year.

This has been a long winter in Vermont.  Months of sub-zero temperatures have been wearing everybody down.  Now,  everywhere you look you can see life coming back to the trees and bushes, rivulets of water cascade down hillsides.  Birdsong is nearly miraculous after the silence of deep snow.

In the language of Astrology, this is a time of great change.  As we step through the portal of this Spring Equinox we’re being guided by a spectacular Pisces New Moon/Solar Eclipse about 13 hours before the exact moment of equinox.

The next time a solar eclipse happens on the same day as the Spring Equinox is on March 20, 2034.  After that, this combination of events will occur only twice more in this century.

On March 16th, we came through the final Uranus/Pluto square. For the past three years we have all been experiencing a kind of revolution.  In the macrocosm of world events and in the microcosm of our own lives, we have been experiencing the tumult & chaos of established power (Pluto) being challenged by the need for change and growth (Uranus).

As we celebrate this first day of Spring, we do so with a strong wind at our backs.

During these past three years of turmoil we have all gone through our own personal meat grinders– letting go of what we thought we needed to survive, in order to enter into our new lives.  Solar eclipses tend to reveal things that have been hidden & signal deep and profound change.   The completion of this Pluto/Uranus transit signals a new world order, whether we’re talking about the world out there or the world inside.

May you be experiencing a resurrection.

Namaste,
Mary


"For Longing
Blessed be the longing that brought you here
And quickens your soul with wonder.
May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire
That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.
May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease.
To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.
May the forms of your belonging- in love, creativity, and friendship
Be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.
May the one you long for long for you.
May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.
May a secret Providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling.
May your mind inhabit your life with the sureness with which your body inhabits the world.
May your heart never be haunted by ghost structures of old damage.
May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.
May you know the urgency with which God longs for you.
John O’Donohue, from To Bless the Space Between Us~All rights reserved."


“Robin” oil on canvasboard by Mary Swanson

check out these links for more information about Equinox and the Solar Eclipse:

 

http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/total-solar-eclipse-vernal-equinox-spring-new-supermoon/44013327
http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/ostarathespringequinox/a/AllAboutOstara.htm
http://www.schooloftheseasons.com/spring.html

 

 

Winter Solstice 2014

By Mary Swanson

Dear, Gentle and Resilient Children of the Earth,Winter Solstice is here again!  
The longest night of the year is here.  There is cause for great celebration and rejoicing: the Sun will come back just a little earlier the day after Solstice and nights begin to shorten.Here, in the great pause (Solstice literally means “the-sun-stands-still”) is a perfect time to take a deep breath and reorient yourself.  It’s time to make “Sacred Time” which is time out of your ordinary routine.  In Sacred time we have the ability to look at a larger picture, to literally look up & connect with the great Mystery in which we exist.

Throughout all of time, people have taken Sacred time at the Winter Solstice to take care of each other, to rejoice in Life itself and to give thanks for all that supports us.

On December 15th we had the seventh and next to last Pluto/Uranus “Gate”.  For three years now, Pluto (Power and abuses of Power) has been challenged by the need for freedom and change (Uranus). Whether we’re looking at the world stage or our own belief system, pressures are nearly unbearable.

But if you look closely, there are little break-throughs happening everywhere… and what is breaking through is the light of new ways & new ideas that can solve the tensions created by change.

All we have to do is notice them.

Blessed be,

Mary

More Information on the Solstice:


Longing And Belonging
by Jon Jackson
There is something which longs for me,
Longs to belong to me.
A life which enters with each breath,
Yearning to absorb the splendor
Into my soul.This lover pursues me, sustains me.
This lover knows that I still cannot see,
And, so, pursues me with smell, and taste, and sound.
Anything, to get my attention,
To wake me up.To dance  with my heart,
Surrounding me with healing arms.There is something so close to all that I am,
Which sings a love song when I can’t sleep.
There are messages in the rain, in the sun.
The moon reflects it’s glowing light,
And spins around, saying, “Look at me!
Here I am!  And now you can see your way!”And, of course, I take those steps,
Accepting the rose that appears in my hand,
And hoping the doorbell is going to ring.
While something waits patiently by my side,
Keeping me warm, and knowing the beauty.- Jon Jackson 
Enjoy my reading of a Winter Solstice StorySingebiss and the North Wind
This story was found at: http://healingstory.org as retold by Fran Stalling.

JOIN US (online) for the Winter Quarter of SKYMAGIC – starts December 23rd

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Dear Everybody–
I am so excited about this class!!  If I weren’t teaching it, I’d be taking it.  My dear friends and collaborators, Jena Owen & Laura Tabet have me dancing in the aisles.  All the ways I love to connect deeply into life are in this class:  learning about mythology, astrology & psychology and how they intertwine, group meditations and sharing, art journaling, shifting my own energy and perspective. Each month is a ritual that takes us out of our stuck places!  I really, really hope you’ll join us!!

Find out More and Register at: http://artandmagicclub.ning.com/skymagic

L
ove,
Mary 


Autumnal Equinox 2014

By Mary Swanson


Dear, Powerful and Gentle Children of the Earth,

Summer Solstice is here!  The longest day of the year, “Mid-Summer” has arrived at last.  All over the northern hemisphere, people are responding to the urge to get outside and enjoy this amazing world we live in.

As long as there have been people, people have celebrated this time of year.  After a long, long, long winter and bone-chilling spring, the Sun at it’s fullest calls upon us to go outside and feel it’s warmth and invigoration.  Longer days mean more time to be out and about and Summer Solstice is a time of family gatherings, camping with friends, hittin’ the road and pow-wows of all denominations.

We’re having this Solstice during a Mercury Retrograde.  In the language of astrology, retrogrades are about slowing things down and taking another look.  Mercury is all about communication & travel, whether that’s on the physical or intellectual plane.

So take a little time for yourself this Solstice, to think, to feel, to find a way into your own experience of life.   Take a pause from all the necessary tasks while you let yourself feel the Sun.  And Air.  And Earth.  And your own being.

No matter how intense or pressured your life feels right now, Mother Nature is waiting for you to come out and, if not play, at least let her make you smile.

Love and more love,

Mary

PS My new Vermont # is 802-989-7222 (more info on my website maryswanson.net)

PPS Check out my new collaboration at http://artandmagicclub.ning.com   It’s a wonderful community that’s building!!

_______________________________________


Arms Full of Wildflowers

Gratitude means showing up on life’s doorstep,

love’s threshold, dressed in a clown suit,

rubber-nosed, gunboat shoes flapping.

Gratitude shows up with arms full of wildflowers,

reciting McKuen or the worst of Neruda.

To talk of gratitude is to be

the fool in a cynic’s world.

Gratitude is pride’s nightmare,

the admission of humility before something

given without expectation or attachment.

Gratitude tears open the shirt

of self importance, scatters buttons

across the polished floors of feigned indifference,

ignores the obvious and laughs out loud.

Even more, gratitude bares her breasts, rips open

her ribs to show the naked heart, the holy heart.

What if that sacred heart is not, after all, about sacrifice?

Imagine it is about joy, barefoot and foolhardy,

something unasked for, something unearned.

What if the beat we hear, when we are finally quiet

is simply this:

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you

… Rebecca del Rio
_________________________________


Check out these sites for more information on the Summer Solstice:

Summer Solstice 2014  Saturday, 6:51 am edt

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/summer-solstice-2014-what-its-significance-how-it-celebrated-around-world-1453360

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/06/07/when-is-summer-solstice-2014_n_5456782.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/0/22956681

http://www.tarot.com/astrology/equinoxes-solstices

Vernal Equinox 2014

By Mary Swanson

Dear, Kind and Caring Children of the Earth,

The Vernal Equinox is here! The first day of Spring is here! The time of year when day and night are of equal length is here. The sun is getting stronger, the days are getting longer and it’s time to shake off our winter doldrums, go outside and breathe a little fresh air!

Even if it’s still cold and snowing where you are, sap is rising. If you take a walk in the woods, you’ll see all kinds of life coming through the remnants of nature’s compost. The ends of every branch and twig reach out with new growth.

This Equinox finds us at the 6th gate of a long-grinding and seemingly endless period of recalibration. In the language of astrology it’s called Pluto square Uranus. It’s been going on since June of 2012. Some are more affected than others but we’re all going through a process of change. We’re letting go (Pluto) of what no longer works and opening to new ideas (Uranus). It’s not easy. But each time we do it, a kind of magic happens: Sudden, unexpected breakthroughs.

Whatever you’ve been having to let go of, take a walk outside and see what’s trying to get your attention.
Life may be trying to reach out to you.

Namaste,
Mary
ps The photo was taken by Janna Fournier in Big Sur, CA
pps As some of you know, I’ll be heading back to Vermont in June of this year. You can always find me under the “contact” button on my website: maryswanson.net


Hokusai Says

Hokusai says Look carefully.
He says pay attention, notice.
He says keep looking, stay curious.
He says there is no end to seeing.

He says Look Forward to getting old.
He says keep changing,
you just get more who you really are.
He says get stuck, accept it, repeat yourself
as long as it’s interesting.

He says keep doing what you love.
He says keep praying.
He says every one of us is a child,

every one of us is ancient,
every one of us has a body.

He says every one of us is frightened.
He says every one of us has to find a way to live with fear.

He says everything is alive –
shells, buildings, people, fish, mountains, trees.
Wood is alive
Water is alive.
Everything has its own life.
Everything lives inside us.
He says live with the world inside you.

He says it doesn’t matter if you draw, or write books.
It doesn’t matter if you saw wood, or catch fish.
It doesn’t matter if yo sit at home
and stare at the ants on your verandah or the shadows of the trees
and grasses in your garden.

It matters that you care.
It matters that you feel.
It matters that you notice.
It matters that life lives through you.

Contentment is life living through you.
Joy is life living through you.
Satisfaction and strength
are life living through you.
Peace is life living through you.

He says don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid.
Look, feel, let life take you by the hand.
Let life live through you.
–Roger Keyes

Here are some links to more information about the Equinox:

http://belsebuub.com/articles/the-spiritual-meaning-of-the-spring-equinox
http://www.infoplease.com/spot/riteofspring1.html
http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/errata/a/equinox_eggs.htm

Three months ago we experienced Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. Now, Summer is ending and Fall Equinox is here, when day and night are of equal length.  We can all sense the change of season.  Everywhere around us the Earth is giving of herself.  Apples fall from trees, leaves give back their light in the gorgeous fall colors and late crops are being brought in from the fields. It’s Harvest Moon, Halloween and Thanksgiving time. Our ancestors have always know the importance of coming together at this time of year to celebrate, give thanks and share.For Pagans, the Autumnal Equinox is celebrated as Mabon–  A time to celebrate and share, of course, and also a time to reflect upon the truth that all things must come to an end– that death is part of the cycle of life. We can watch Nature letting go, dying back, bursting open.  Change is happening.  This is the realm of the Crone, the Crossroads and navigating the terrifying darkness of the unknown.

–We all experience fear.  Fear, the neurobiologists tell us, is the strongest human emotion.  And fear of the unknown is the strongest human fear.

In the language of astrology, we’re deep in the long transformation of Pluto (Power) and Uranus (Innovation) learning to work together.  For all of us, some more shockingly than others, our “chickens have come home to roost.”  We’re all dealing with choices we’ve made as we’ve responded to life’s challenges.  Somewhere in our lives, something’s falling apart or ending.  Somewhere in our lives, change is trying to happen. How can we cope with the change?  What do we do with the fear?

It’s scary, the letting go when you can’t know what happens next.  As scary as ghosts in the trees and witches on broomsticks.

This time of year, Mother Nature shows us her face as the old hag, the Crone.  Intimidating and very wise, she shows us how to navigate the Crossroads.  She shows us how to draw inward and stay connected to what is most nurturing even as she gives away everything.   It’s the perfect time to go outside, into the lengthening night and take a deep breath.  And then allow the possibility that though you can’t see how,  yet…  everything might turn out just fine.

Kind of like trusting Spring.

Happy Changes Everyone,
Mary



The Thing Is
by Ellen Bass

The thing is..
to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hand,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you again.


Read below for more information about Equinox & Mabon______

What is an equinox? The earliest humans spent more time outside than we do. They used the sky as both clock and calendar. They could easily see that the sun’s path across the sky, the length of daylight, and the location of the sunrise and sunset all shift in a regular way throughout the year.

Our ancestors built the first observatories to track the sun’s progress. One example is at Machu Picchu in Peru, where the Intihuatana stone, shown at right, has been shown to be a precise indicator of the date of the two equinoxes and other significant celestial periods. The word Intihuatana, by the way, literally means for tying the sun.

Today, we know each equinox and solstice is an astronomical event, caused by Earth’s tilt on its axis and ceaseless orbit around the sun.

Because Earth doesn’t orbit upright, but is instead tilted on its axis by 23-and-a-half degrees, Earth’s Northern and Southern Hemispheres trade places in receiving the sun’s light and warmth most directly. We have an equinox twice a year – spring and fall – when the tilt of the Earth’s axis and Earth’s orbit around the sun combine in such a way that the axis is inclined neither away from nor toward the sun.

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Earth’s two hemispheres are receiving the sun’s rays equally now. Night and day are approximately equal in length. The name ‘equinox’ comes from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night). Image credit: Przemyslaw Idzkiewicz.

But, since Earth never stops moving around the sun, these days of equal sunlight and night will change quickly.

Where should I look to see signs of the equinox in nature? The knowledge that summer is gone – and winter is coming – is everywhere now, on the northern half of Earth’s globe.

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you can easily notice the later dawns and earlier sunsets.

Also notice the arc of the sun across the sky each day. You’ll find it’s shifting toward the south. Birds and butterflies are migrating southward, too, along with the path of the sun.

The shorter days are bringing cooler weather. A chill is in the air. In New York City and other fashionable places, people have stopped wearing white. Creatures of the wild are putting on their winter coats.

All around us, trees and plants are ending this year’s cycle of growth. Perhaps they are responding with glorious autumn leaves, or a last burst of bloom before winter comes.

In the night sky, Fomalhaut – the Autumn Star – is making its way across the heavens each night.

Does the sun rise due east and set due west at the equinox? Generally speaking, yes, it does. And that’s true no matter where you live on Earth, because we all see the same sky.

No matter where you are on Earth, you have a due east and due west point on your horizon. That point marks the intersection of your horizon with the celestial equator – the imaginary line above the true equator of the Earth.

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At the equinoxes, the sun appears overhead at noon as seen from Earth’s equator, as the illustration at right shows. This illustration (which is by Tau’olunga) shows the sun’s location on the celestial equator, every hour, on the day of the equinox.

That’s why the sun rises due east and sets due west for all of us. The sun is on the celestial equator, and the celestial equator intersects all of our horizons at points due east and due west.

This fact makes the day of an equinox a good day for finding due east and due west from your yard or other favorite site for watching the sky. Just go outside around sunset or sunrise and notice the location of the sun on the horizon with respect to familiar landmarks.

If you do this, you’ll be able to use those landmarks to find those cardinal directions in the weeks and months ahead, long after Earth has moved on in its orbit around the sun, carrying the sunrise and sunset points southward.

New Albany, Indiana. Photo credit: EarthSky Facebook friend Duke Marsh

So enjoy the 2013 equinox – September 22 or 23 depending on your time zone – a seasonal signpost in Earth’s orbit around the sun!
http://earthsky.org
Mabon Lore Autumn Equinox, around September 21, is the time of the descent of the Goddess into the Underworld. With her departure, we see the decline of nature and the coming of winter. This is a classic, ancient mythos, seen the Sumerian myth of Inanna and in the ancient Greek and Roman legends of Demeter and Persephone. In September, we also bid farewell to the Harvest Lord who was slain at Lammas. He is the Green Man, seen as the cycle of nature in the plant kingdom. He is harvested and his seeds are planted into the Earth so that life may continue and be more abundant. Mabon (“Great Son”) is a Welsh god. He was a great hunter with a swift horse and a wonderful hound. He may have been a mythologized actual leader. He was stolen from his mother, Modron (Great Mother),when he was three nights old, but was eventually rescued by King Arthur (other legends say he was rescued by the Blackbird, the Stag, the Owl, the Eagle, and the Salmon). All along, however, Mabon has been dwelling, a happy captive, in Modron’s magickal Otherworld — Madron’s womb. Only in this way can he be reborn. Mabon’s light has been drawn into the Earth, gathering strength and wisdom enough to become a new seed. In this sense, Mabon is the masculine counterpart of Persephone — the male fertilizing principle seasonally withdrawn. Modron corresponds with Demeter. From the moment of the September Equinox, the Sun’s strength diminishes, until the moment of Winter Solstice in December, when the Sun grows stronger and the days once again become longer than the nights. Symbols celebrating the season include various types of gourd and melons. Stalk can be tied together symbolizing the Harvest Lord and then set in a circle of gourds. A besom can be constructed to symbolize the polarity of male and female. The Harvest Lord is often symbolized by a straw man, whose sacrificial body is burned and its ashes scattered upon the earth. The Harvest Queen, or Kern Baby, is made from the last sheaf of the harvest and bundled by the reapers who proclaim, “We have the Kern!” The sheaf is dressed in a white frock decorated with colorful ribbons depicting spring, and then hung upon a pole (a phallic fertility symbol). In Scotland, the last sheaf of harvest is called the Maiden, and must be cut by the youngest female in attendance.

Mabon Activities * Make grapevine wreaths using dried bitter- sweet herb for protection. Use ribbons of gold and yellow to bring in the energy of the Sun, and decorate with sprigs of dried yarrow or cinnamon sticks. * Make a Magickal Horn of Plenty. * Make Magickal Scented Pinecones. * Make a protection charm of hazelnuts (filberts) strung on red thread. * Collect milkweed pods to decorate at Yuletide and attract the faeries. * Call upon the elementals and honor them for their help with (N-earth) the home and finances, (E-air) school and knowledge, (S-fire) careers and accomplishments, (W-water) emotional balance and fruitful relationships.

 

http://www.earthwitchery.com/mabon.html

 




Dear, Hopeful and Courageous Children of The Earth,

It’s finally here… Midsummer, Solstice, Litha, The First Day of Summer.  The Longest Day and Shortest Night are upon us, calling us out of our well-worn old ruts to try something new, blow off the dust, join with some other people and have some fun.

Throughout all time people have celebrated this time of year.  Outdoor bonfires, sharing the bounty of food, staying up late in the gentle night… we all celebrate in our own way the good fortune of being able to enjoy our friends and families.

In the pagan world, Midsummer is a time to rejoice in the life-giving warmth of the Sun.  remember the little folk, the invisible ones and make offerings of gratitude.  Everyone can use a vacation, even if it’s just for an afternoon.

Namaste,

Mary


Allow

There is no controlling life.
Try corralling a lightning bolt,
containing a tornado.  Dam a
stream and it will create a new
channel.  Resist, and the tide
will sweep you off your feet.
Allow, and grace will carry
you to higher ground.  The only
safety lies in letting it all in —
the wild and the weak; fear,
fantasies, failures, and success.
When loss rips off the doors of
the heart, or sadness veils your
vision with despair, practice
becomes simply bearing the truth.
In the choice to let go of your
known way of being, the whole
world is revealed to your new eyes.

by Danna Faulds


The Summer Solstice

Each year, the timing of the solstice depends on when the Sun reaches its farthest point north of the equator. This occurs annually on June 20 or June 21 in North America, depending on your time zone.

The word solstice is from the Latin solstitium, from sol (sun) andstitium (to stop), reflecting the fact that the Sun appears to stop at this time (and again at the winter solstice).

In temperate regions, we notice that the Sun is higher in the sky throughout the day, and its rays strike Earth at a more direct angle, causing the efficient warming we call summer. In the winter, just the opposite occurs: The Sun is at its southernmost point and is low in the sky. Its rays hit the Northern Hemisphere at an oblique angle, creating the feeble winter sunlight.

The Sun is directly overhead at its most northern point at “high-noon” on the summer solstice, creating more sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere on this day then any other. See your local Sun rise and set times—and how the day length changes!


www.almanac.com

LITHA – CELEBRATION OF THE SUMMER SOLSTICE


Litha – Celebration of the Summer Solstice
By Jennifer Bones

The summer solstice has long been a time of celebration and festivity for cultures dating back to ancient times and stretching through the present day. For those of us on the Northern Hemisphere, this day falls approximately on June 21st. During this time the Earth is tilted closest to the Sun giving us greater exposure to the Sun’s light and, subsequently, the longest day of the year.

The themes of Summer Solstice are sex, love, creativity, energy, luck, health and wishes. “Solstice” comes from the Latin “sol” meaning sun, and “sistere,” to cause to stand still. As the summer solstice draws near, the noonday sun rises higher and higher in the sky each day. On the day of the solstice, it rises an imperceptible amount, compared to the day before, thus appearing to “stand still.” In the magical sense, Summer Solstice brings us to the halfway point of the Wheel of the Year. The sun is in full reign, reaching a peak in the sky and shedding beams of truth. The brilliance of the sun allows us to see things clearly, banishing shadows and releasing the past.

This day has special meaning to all societies. For those who follow Faerie Magik, this is an especially meaningful event as it is said that all the faeries come out to celebrate this day with all the creatures of the forest. An elaborate feast is held with endless goblets of ale, festive music and dancing. If you’re familiar with faerie lore, you won’t be surprised to learn that these Summer Solstice parties are clothing optional and last until the wee hours of the following morning. Shakespeare centered his faerie-packed tale of love and trickery, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, around this mystical day.

Of the modern religions, it is the Pagan & Wiccan societies that celebrate this day with the most passion. This holiday is most commonly known as “Litha” (the ancient Germanic name for Summer) and it is believed to be the time when the Sun God is at his strongest. He is also the God of the Forest and is often depicted as seated at on a green wood throne. During the time in which Christianity and Paganism was merging, images of the Sun God wearing masks made of leaves were included in the architectural features of many early churches. This God has become more commonly known to modern Wiccans as The Green Man.

Herbs are at their most potent state during this time. Now is the time to gather and dry your herbs for use during the rest of the year. Be sure not to wait too long past Litha or the plants will begin to seed and lose potency. Gather roots as the Moon wanes and leaves & flowers as the Moon is waxing. Thank each plant as you harvest it, keeping in mind our debt to Mother Earth and Her children.

The many sacred stone circles found around the globe (e.g. Stonehenge) were believed to have been built to celebrate this time. On a practical level any agricultural society would hold this time in very high regard. Not only does this longest day of the year offer a welcome break, it also marks the transition from cultivation to harvest. The significance of this day was not only practical but also held a much deeper, spiritual meaning. If you are lucky enough to live near a sacred stone circle plan a picnic and bring whatever supplies needed for your individual spells and rituals.

Alternatively, one can create their own stone circle by selecting stones that you are able to feel a vibration from or are otherwise attracted to and placing them in a circle. Choose eight large stones and place them equidistant at each spoke of the wheel. Fill in the spaces with smaller stones. Cast your circle as you normally do prior to performing any spellcraft.

This is the time of year to write down any wishes you have and tossing them, along with a Litha inspired offering into a well, spring, or cauldron. For example, simply hold a small stone along with a special feather or sprig of herbs in your right hand and meditate on the wish (or reasons to be thankful). Once you have filled up the stone with your meditation, toss it with intention into the water. If a cauldron was used, empty the contents into a stream or other body of running water when the spell is complete.

Litha has long been a time for unadulterated joy and pleasure. Lengthy and detailed scripted rituals seem to contradict the spirit of this season. Rather, we should celebrate with intention but with an open heart. Focus on how grateful one should be that the Sun continues His tireless journey each year providing so much to all of us. Pick a few themes (below) and simply set out to have a great time. Rise early with the Sun and plan a bonfire for later that night to further lengthen this day. In other words, party ‘till you drop!

The following themes and recipes are utilized in Pagan ceremonies, rituals, and spells:

Herbs – basil, chamomile, daisy, elder, pine, St. John’s wort, tyme, yarrow, frankincense, fennel, lavender, and lily

Essential oils and incense – frankincense, lemon, lavender, sandalwood, lotus, jasmine, rose, wisteria, and myrrh

Colors – yellow, white, red, blue, green, tan

Decoration – anything reminiscent of the sun (yellows, reds, oranges), dried herbs, potpourri, fruits, summer flowers

Gemstones – any green stone (e.g. emerald)

Foods – mead, fresh fruits and veggies, lemonade, cookies and cakes decorated to honor the Sun, and of course plenty of ale

Spellwork – Litha is the perfect time for any magick but is especially good for Animal Protection and Marriage & Vow Renewal spells

Litha Incense – 2 parts Sandalwood, 1 part Mugwort, 1 part Chamomile, 1 part Gardenia petals, several drops of Rose oil, several drops of Lavender oil, several drops of Yarrow oil

Orange Honey Butter – 2 Tablespoons grated orange zest, 3 Tablespoons confectioner’s sugar, ½ cup unsalted butter, softened, 1 – 2 Tablespoons honey, Combine ingredients and chill until ready to eat. Yum!

Easy Honey Mead – This recipe can be considered cheating but if you’ve ever tried to make honey mead at home, you’ll appreciate this recipe’s simplicity. First heat 1 part water with 1 part wildflower honey until the mixture is smooth and the honey’s completely incorporated. Sprinkle some rose petals into the mixture and let it cool. Strain the mixture (optional). Mix 2 parts honey water with 1 part grain alcohol and serve chilled over ice. (Alternatively, mix 1 part honey water with 1 part vodka).

Jennifer Bones is a long time practitioner of the Nature / Pagan religion. Her writings span from spiritual fiction to historic studies of women’s issues. She is owner and manager of her current website, http://goddessgiftshop.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jennifer_Bones

Main article: Wheel of the Year

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