May your Days be Brighter and Brighter

Greeting on this bitterly cold Solstice Morn in Wisconsin!  This is a deeply Holy time for me, one who is not very religious but undeniably given to fits of spirituality at times.  Usually when Nature unveils Her Beauty and Power and Mystery.

This Solstice I leave you with these words excerpted from a sermon given last December from a Unitarian Universalist minister,  Reverend Susan Veronica Rak:

The Winter Solstice or Yule is a time of celebration and rebirth. 

We reach the still-point, the shortest day, the longest night.  And in 

that brief moment, as the dark night stretches before us, we feel a 

certain deepness.  No amount of electrical power can breach that 

profound yearning.  Technology may have removed the mystery of 

cold and deepening darkness.  Yet still our hearts are stirred by these 

connections to ancient practices and lore; the celebration of the 

Solstice roots us in a tradition that goes deep into our bones. 

 Celebrating the Winter Solstice grounds us in our ancient roots. 

There is sacredness in nature – not just the gauzily pretty idea of 

“Mother Nature” all meek and mild, but nature in its constant cycle of 

creation and destruction that brings us to this still point, this moment 

to contemplate our place in the universe.  And that may be a small 

space, a blip on the great evolutionary timeline as we know it, just one 

life in millions and millions.  

Let us embrace the darkness and the possibility as we stand at 

this still point, this turning of the year, we realize that in one small life 

lies boundless potential, hidden life and growth and possibility.  

We honor this moment, this turning, in each of us. 

“Mark the time. 

Respond with thought or prayer 

or smile or grief, 

Let nothing living slip between 

the fingers of the mind,

For all of these are holy things 

We will not, cannot, find again.” 

The complete text can be found here.
Blessed Be.
-Rob
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The Archdruid Report

A site that I had read some last year, but gotten away from was The Archdruid Report, authored by John Michael Greer… who also happens to be the Archdruid of the US. Druidism has changed alot over the millennia, it was effectively stamped out for several centuries, and, to my knowledge, its resurgence has no direct connection to the Druids of Old. But the principles are still intact: knowledge, balance, music, and Nature. As important, JMG is a significant scholar and accomplished writer, though I admit I am not overly drawn to his work on Monsters, Magic, etc.

On his blog he writes a weekly report that is typically well researched, lengthy, and typically sparks a significant degree of discussion. Topics very often hover around the coming challenges of the 21st Century, and possible Druidic responses to them.

The past two weeks he has written about agriculture, specially it current issues with declining oil resources and its the possible solutions drawing from its deep history of adaptations. Good stuff!

Links to his recent posts:

Agriculture: The Price of Transition

Agriculture: Closing the Circle

-Rob

Solstice Salutations!

Hoping that this Solstice finds you well on this dawning of a new season of Hope and Growth. As the Seasons change, so may our thinking grow richer, fuller and more meaningful.

With the passing of the Dark, may each of us pass some of our pain and hurt into the Night and on the Dawn bring forth our own blessings and truth into the world.

May your days shine brighter and stronger!

-Rob

Living the Dream

For now we are bunkering down in Johnson Creek. I just finished building 7 tomato teepes out of 7′ sticks of bamboo for most of my 30+ tomato plants (look for a post on the blog soon). We have been eatin salad for lunch/dinner for the past week straight from our garden and will need to start selling produce soon (lettuce is hard to store). We are getting a pint a day (quart on one day) of strawberries and the larger bed with the mid season plants will be in production next week. The potatoes are 2′ bushes and the raspberries and Sunchokes are 3’+ tall. Peas, carrots and beets are doing fab as well. We are adding 2 more 100 sq ft beds for next year to grow onions, more melons, and maybe squash.Coming in the mail are two pear trees, hardy Kiwi, and next week will bring the peach trees, and more strawberries for next year. Sorrel transplants are waiting on the porch, and the basil went in yesterday along with the melons, cucumbers, corn, and a bunch else I am forgetting. Goal of 750lbs of produce this year might happen yet! This will be on about an 1/8th acre of space. With 10 acres I would be dangerous!

What I am saying is that until we can move to our dream Someday House or The Compound we are living an incredibly blessed life right now and won’t be moving. Next year I will hit 10 years at my job and will have 5 weeks of vacation a year on top of paid holidays and the unbeliveable fact that I only work 4 days a week. Starting in August my work week will switch to Tues-Fri from Wed-Sat so I will have real 3-Day weekends. All that free time gives me enough free time that I felt confident enough to start a business rather than go for a promotion and lose the long weekends. And now my side business is sucessful enough that I am turning work away and will be sub-ing out some labor starting this month while still augmenting my salary by 20%. Next year I might even rent an acre of land to go deeper down the road of Market Gardening, but time will tell.

Sure living on the freeway sucks, but if you put the iPod up that melts away and eventually the sight break I have planted will block it out, at least visually, and nature doesn’t seem to care. The swallows love our yard since it is swarming in crunchy little pollinators, a nighthawk has moved into the area, and we spotted our first 13 line ground squirrel yesterday grazing in our replanted prairie.

Life is good. Even in the Suburbs on a freeway. Sometimes living in the Now is hard for me.

Now is not one of those times.

Be the Change.

Am I a Druid?

That might seem like a ridiculous question. Perhaps it is. Regardless, it is one I have been pondering of late. Following a link on M.E.O.W. last week over breakfast, I found myself on the blog of the Archdruid of the US. Heady company! Mia has had Wiccan leanings thru much of her adult life, but for some reason I had not realized that there were still (or again) Druids among us. I spent an intriguing hour or so running around the Ancient Order of Druids of America (AODA) site and then this weekend jumped over to the even more informative site of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD) for another hour or so of research.

Ever since we rejoined a Unitarian congregation this fall, I have find myself waxing more religious. I find myself using religious metaphors, quoting scriptures, and when the Jehovah Witnesses came by a few weeks ago I had them in and talked shop for over an hour before their refusal to discuss philosophy on a non evangelical level frustrated me into asking them to leave.

One result of that conversation is that in trying to explain my beliefs to them I came more to terms with just how pantheistic my worldview had become of late. Perhaps it was watching several thousand pounds of organic waste turn into life again the next year in my gardens thru my compost piles, only to soon become compost themselves. Or in witnessing the miracles of so many seeds sprouting in my gardens, and caterpillars turning into butterflies in my home, but the Web of Life has become very, very real for me. When the J. Witnesses asked what I thought would happen to me when I die, I said I wanted to (with all due respect) become part of God. In explanation I said that at the very least I found comfort in knowing that my body would become part of the trees and worms, but at most I hoped that I could finally share in the universal consciousness that links all living things… my version of God.

The OBOD site explains Druidry (they end it with a -ry and not -ism on purpose. Think Freemasonry as a philosophy/way of life vs Hinduism as a religion) like this:

It’s an attitude, an understanding, an exquisitely simple and natural philosophy
of living. For a great many it is a rich and ancient religion, a mystical
spirituality. For others it’s simply a guiding way of life. It is absolutely
open and free for anyone to discover.

Much like Unitarianism, there is no sacred text of Druidry, there is no, or very little, dogma and theology. But, again like Unitarianism, there is a unifying set of very broad beliefs and ethics. Reading through them I found almost nothing to disagree with, and much that struck deep cords of familiarity-like someone else putting pen to my ideas, or as if I had just remembered something. That is when I started asking myself that question… Am I a Druid? Or more precisely, could/should I become one? I found the symbolism of the Ogham strangely inspiring, and the sections on planting a Sacred Grove fascinating. I want to plant gardens to mimic nature and sustain themselves, planting one to sustain itself and others on a spiritual level as well is intriguing to say the least. When I plant a tree I truly believe I am healing the Earth… Am I a Druid?

I guess that will remain to be seen. I am certainly becoming a pantheist and am developing a reverence of Nature that is bigger than just environmentalism. But do I need another label? More importantly, though the sites ring true, I suspect strongly that the first time I showed up at a Beltane festival my Yankee Skepticism would be very concerned about running around and jumping over fires wearing very little clothing, but alot of woad. Meditation is good, but I am not at all sure I am willing to believe that I can achieve communion with the Otherworld by doing so. So for now I will continue to revere nature, honor the Solstices, and fight to protect the Earth, but will not call myself a Druid or be initiated into an Order.

But I bet I will whisper a prayer over the next tree I plant.

Solstice

Wishing all of you the joyous hopes and dreams of a new year welcomed in this morn by the return of the Sun. Today is a wonderful time to celebrate the cyclical rhythms of nature: Autumn slipping in spurts to Winter, the waxing and waning of the moon, gold finches turning ashen, the arrival of chipper little juncos, and the knowledge of seeds sleeping expectantly in the soil for the return of the warmth and rains of Spring.

May the next year be a little more peaceful, a little more mindful, and a little more loving.

Happy Solstice everyone!

Compromise-its OK.

What has driven me to the computer this morning is the lack of sense in the America of Today. And this is not about the erosion of constitutional rights, mercenaries fighting our wars, or the unprecedented rise of The Corporation. It is about people learning to get along-I think we may be slowly forgetting how to live in civil society. 2 items have driven this to the fore for me. This past Sunday I attended our Unitarian Church and was struck by several unfortunate instances of bad ‘progressiveness’. One of the largest failings on the Left is our apparent need to out Extreme each other, perhaps seconded by an unwillingness to compromise which is beginning to smack of liberal fundamentalism. I’ll delve more into the latter.We were sitting in a meeting after the service listening to thoughts on whether or not our congregation should begin application for Green Sanctuary status, and also a brainstorming session on ways to be more energy efficient as a congregation. The beauty of the Compact Fluorescent Bulb is virtually self evident-easily saving 4-500lbs of emissions per bulb, and repaying the small initial investment 7-10x over in its lifetime. But what should have been a no brainer languished 10 minutes in a fruitless debate over the hazardous levels of mercury in CFL’s. Do they have more Mercury than incandescents? Yes. However we are talking 4mg per bulb, and considering the largest emitter of Mercury is coal fired power stations, each CFL actually reduces mercury in the environment by a factor of 2, and if properly recycled by a factor of 5. Due to his lack of research before hijacking the discussion he did damage (several nodding heads) that I will have to repair next week instead of progressing ahead on useful items that will create change.

The kicker is that I learned something because of this guy. I didn’t know about the mercury issue until he brought it up, but the Google search to answer it took all of .25 seconds. The problem wasn’t the concern (scepticism is good) but the knee jerk reaction to a solution. I think that a very vocal minority on the left has become so used to saying NO! to everything that they are forgetting how to say yes-or at least “we’ll see”. They have become so antiestablishment that they can’t trust Honda to make a clean car, GE to make a clean bulb, or the Democrats to front a decent candidate. When I have been mulling this over the past few days I think it comes down to compromise. Electric Cars are cleaner than Hybrids, CFL’s have Mercury in them, and no electable politician can be perfect. But my Insight is a hell of a lot cleaner than a Taurus, CFL’s reduce net Mercury, and I’ll take a mispeaking Kerry over a world conquering Bush anyday. There are better options to all of these, but the likelihood of convincing people to trade their Impala’s for Hybrid Camry’s is far greater than getting them to bicycle to work. But get into a batch of liberal fundamentalists with this crazy talk and you’ll be a Sell Out.

Just because I consider the status quo wrong I refuse to believe that what I am proposing is the only Right way. While I use a reel mower I would be perfectly happy if my neighbor’s would just use less chemicals and put a catalytic converter on their mower. But the fact that for 1090 meals of the year I am vegetarian but eat about 8 ounces of meat a year in social settings where refusing my relative’s meals would be rude, is enough to get decried as having “blood on my hands”.

The cup will never be full or empty. Much like the Hell and Damnation wacko on the streetcorner will never convert the masses, if we liberals can’t celebrate progress we’ll never achieve any.

PS even if you disagree with me,

please vote today.

The democratic tradition is dying in this country and your commitment to the process is more important to me than the issues.

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