cycle of life

Celebrating the Old Ways In New Times

November, 2018

Celebrating the Old Ways In New Times November 2018

Bright Blessings,

It’s close to the end of the fall season here in Central Ohio, and I have just a tiny bit more garden cleanup to do. I planted the mums and spring bulbs I wanted to, and will probably leave the wood asters to overwinter under our elm tree instead of cutting them back.

The days are shorter already, and we are about to Fall Back, which means it will get dark earlier very soon. It’s already as low as 29 degrees in the night and early mornings before the sun rises, and my arthritis is already ticked off by the cold. Before I know it, it will be snowing, and I‘ll be praying I don’t slip and fall on my round backside while I am walking the dog on the ice. Falling used to be hilarious when I was younger, but now, it hurts, and I know as I get older, it will hurt even more.

My husband is turning 55 this week, and he’s on the last phase of his preventative medical screening he has to do every few years from now on. It’s upsetting him to have to think of everything that could go wrong. We began discussing retirement as well. We will probably do the stereotypical thing and move to Florida instead of staying here in the cold Ohio winters in ten or fifteen years.

My face and body have started to change. I don’t recognize myself anymore when I look in the mirror, and I think I see new wrinkles every week. I do have some gray hair, but it’s all organized into an attractive witch’s lock, so I can’t complain. My husband has a full head of luxuriant silver hair, and I am wondering if he will keep all of it, like his Uncle John, or go bald like some men do. We don’t have the amount of energy we used to years ago. We sleep more, party less, watch what we eat and drink, and don’t go around sick people unless we have to. All of this just means that we are getting older, and truthfully, I don’t like it one bit.

It’s not as glamorous as it is in fantasy paintings of crones and dark grandmotherly goddesses. We are wiser, alright, but our backs, feet, and bodies in general are declining with middle age, and we are well aware that if we get old, well, we will get old!

Having worked in nursing homes, I know what that means. It means like a machine, our bodies will break down, and that isn’t fun. It means a lot of good things too, like finally ending the chase of youth for “Who am I, and where do I belong in this World.” At our age, we have nothing left to prove. I have found peace with myself, and I just don’t care anymore about things that used to drive me absolutely bonkers when I was younger.

In other words, when you get older, a real perk is you might have more worries, but you know what isn’t worth worrying about anymore. You know what things and people are not worth your time. You have learned how to say “No”, and not feel guilty. You know how to tell people off when needs be, and when to keep your mouth shut when it isn’t worth it to stir the pot. Middle age brings a dignity the unbridled strength and desperation to attain every desire of youth does not allow.

Our middle-aged bodies are like the garden in Fall, and moving towards the Winter of our lives means we have to accept we won’t live forever, and already, we have lost some loved ones to death. Countless friends and relatives’ lives are drastically changed by age, having children and grandchildren, and all of the things that happen over the years of having life. We weather these changes together, thankfully, and the sorrows and joys of the years we experience together serve only to make our spiritual harvests all the more glorious.

The reality that we will eventually be parted from everybody we know and love by death is not made any easier by the fact that as Pagans, we believe death is a new beginning. We don’t believe in the finality of a heaven/hell, and we believe we will all someday be reunited either in a new life on this plane, or a special place everybody goes where their beloved ancestors await them. We still grieve the loss of our loved ones, and we still fear the pain of illness or injury that triggers death. We may believe we will go someplace good, but the human animal is wired to fight to survive no matter what, and that instinct cannot be soothed away by religious beliefs.

It’s terrifying to think of losing somebody we love to death. It’s scary to think of our own death, and by the time we are middle-aged, we will have either had some pretty bad health scare of our own, or we will have lost somebody we love to death.

Pagans and Death

As Pagans, we often believe in reincarnation, and some of us believe we find our loved ones in future lives also. We speak to our dead, and don’t find it weird, unnatural, or scary to do so. It’s part of our religion, and considered very natural to speak to our ancestors, and any other spirits we encounter. We build ancestor alters, give the dead gifts, and some of us even feel bad for people who don’t include these practices in their own lives.

Many Samhain observances include gifts for the dead as well as memorial ceremonies, and rituals to honor those who have crossed the veil before us.

Mom

I was raised by a woman who sold cemetery property and directed funerals. I used to play outside the cemeteries when I was a kid, and at one cemetery, the groundskeeper was an older gentleman named William. He and I used to go for walks together at the cemetery when I was little. I went into people’s homes with Mom when she did plot and marker sales, and I colored lots of pictures, played with lots of dolls, and spent a lot of time in the cemetery offices, being quiet as a child while Mom was working.

I never once found it scary, creepy, or anything other than normal.

Imagine my surprise to find out how many people think cemeteries are cursed or scary places where monsters carry the living off to gobble them up. I sometimes wonder if these same people are unable to sleep with the lights off in their own houses.

The cemetery, and funeral home offices were always a beautiful place where people come to honor their dead, and to mourn them. Cemeteries are a permanent place where people can visit the last remaining piece of their loved ones- their bodies, and they are a place of focus for communication. There is nothing scary about that at all.

My Granny decorated the graves of her relatives for many years until she couldn’t do it anymore, and one of my Aunts took over that tradition. My Granny is now buried in that cemetery with her relatives, and my Aunt visits the graves.

Their Wishes

The focus in our Pagan circles at Samhain is often on group ritual to create a meaningful experience for attendees. Mom would have said that is because the ceremonies, including funerals are NOT for the dead, but for the living. The focus on our connection to our dead is often focused on our relationships with them, the times we had together, and maintaining communication although many of us believe they would have most likely already reincarnated.

The fact that someday we, too will become an ancestor is seldom mentioned, because let’s face it- while we honor our dead, most of us just don’t want to die, and that means we don’t like to think about it.

Part of our Samhain observances seldom mention the wishes of the dead we are remembering and honoring. Sometimes, that is because it is a VERY personal thing you just don’t want to share with a group, and it’s likely to make you much more emotional than something else, but if you think about it, that is a very good way to honor our dead.

Something Different

I include some history and interesting (to nerds like me, at least) facts in my articles monthly, but this month, I am not going to do that. I also include more structured ritual most months, but I’m not going to do that this time either.

I’ll just tell you there is no right or wrong way to honor your loved ones who have crossed the veil, and his month, instead of writing out a ritual, I have a suggestion. Do something in honor of your loved one they would have wanted, or carry out a wish they had. I can’t tell you what that is. Only you know, and while the veil is thinner, communication can be easier with the dead at Samhain, but you can do your thing your loved one wanted anytime. It doesn’t have to be at Samhain time!

If you want a suggestion for a simple group working, you can each take turns, and light a candle in your loved one’s honor, and tell a story about them before your potluck. Pagans LOVE a potluck, you know! Leaving a plate for the dead can be part of the festivities as well. You can take it a step further, and bring a food to the potluck that was a favorite, or otherwise significant of your loved one who you will be honoring.

Then, outside of the gathering, do something to honor that wish they had. For me, this is something I have already done, and will someday do again.

My mom always wanted me to be Catholic for her. Not going to happen. This Wiccan is devoted, happy in her faith, and not converting to suit anybody.

But Mom also asked me to light a candle for her at a Catholic Church if I ever had a chance to. Included in this article are two pictures of me lighting a candle for her in 2015 in a Mission Church in Arizona. Someday, I will light more candles for her.

The Cycle of Life

One day we, too will cross the veil, and there will be living people who honor us, reach out to us, and miss us every day of the rest of their lives. Each of us has to decide for ourselves how we want to be remembered, and we do that by how we live our lives now. Also, how LONG we are in these bodies are partially dependent upon us, and the daily decisions we make. We can poison our bodies, whittling years off our lives, or we can take care of them, in efforts to be with our loved ones for as long as possible. Beyond living longer, when we are healthy, we feel good, and quality of life is much better.

We can’t control our genetics, and we can’t prevent every tragedy, but we can try to influence things in our favor as much as we can.

Most Pagans today believe in reincarnation in some capacity, even if it’s not belief in The Summerlands, proper. Many of us believe, that after we cross the veil, we continue to communicate with our loved ones we left behind. For some people, the moments our loved one reaches out after they have died is beyond comforting, and sometimes, it is the difference beyond accepting our loved one will always be with us in some capacity, and being unable to accept their death at all.

Each of us who now reach beyond the veil to continue sharing with our loved ones will be an ancestor someday as well. We will remain in one another’s lives, and some of us will reincarnate together!

Have a Blessed Samhain no matter how you celebrate. May your loved ones smile upon you, stay near you, and may you reach old age happily, and with a lot of good experiences.

Blessed Samhain,

Blessed Be!

***

About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel.

Witch & Popcorn

September, 2018

Bright Blessings, film lovers!

This month, I decided to review another classic film- Steel Magnolias.

Some have not seen it, as it’s set in the 1980’s in Louisiana. The film is all about motherhood, the cycle of life, death, and birth, and the power of women to support one another no matter what. I have never met anybody who did not bawl like a baby while watching this film, and it is one of the finest films ever made.

It’s filled with big hair, snark, shade, charm, love, and laughs. You will fall in love with the Steel Magnolias- delicate like a flower, and as strong as steel!

Here is the link to a trailer you can watch:

The story follows the lives of lady friends who gather at the local beauty salon, ran by Truvy, played by the divine Dolly Parton. While it appears to be the story of Shelby, played by Julia Roberts, it turns out, it’s more about her mother, M’Lynn, played by Sally Field. She is the main representation of motherhood in this film, and she plays a mother who raises her daughter Shelby, helping with Shelby’s health issues, even after Shelby marries, moves out, and has a child of her own. Unfortunately, Shelby’s body could not handle the pregnancy, and she eventually dies even after exhaustive efforts to save her. M’Lynn even gives Shelby one of her own kidneys.

What is the mother goddess if not life giving? Whose body do we live upon, and it is the fruit of whose body that feeds us? Whose waters quench our thirst, and to whose body do we return when we die? Who takes care of our children after we are no longer alive to do so, continuing to nourish them?

The great mother goddess! M’Lynn is the perfect embodiment of the lifegiving, healing aspect of the great mother.

Truvy, too represents that. She has her own issues, as her husband is struggling with a case of the blahs after being unemployed. She never gives up on him even when he holes up at the house, and won’t go anyplace. Her son, too has teenage attitude issues, and she still loves him in his rebelliousness. It turns out, her devotion to them was not misplaced, and her believing in them shows by the end of the film, the men in Truvy’s life are men who make life better for everybody. They just needed the understanding and support while dealing with their problems. Thanks to Truvy, they came out if their struggles whole, and better than ever.

The eternal compassion and understanding of the great mother carries us. Truvy embodies this.

She further gives a second chance to the heartbroken Annelle, played by Darryl Hannah. Annelle is abandoned by her good-for-nothing husband who is on the lam from the law, and when she can’t rub two nickels together, Truvy gives her a job, and a chance at a new life. Her whole life seemed over before being taken in by Truvy, but like a phoenix rising from the ashes, everything begins again for Annelle, and she absolutely thrives.

Sometimes, the goddess takes a bad situation from us we have been holding onto, because we believe it is all we have. Once stripped of everything, we are given so much more than we ever imagined.

The comic duo of the film, Miss Clary and Miss Ouiser, played by Olympia Dukakis, and Shirley MacLaine bring the snark and shade, and keep everybody in stitches. The oldest ladies in the group, they are bound by adoptive sisterhood, and both jokingly verbally attack one another.

Initially, Ouiser is a miserable old hag who bitches constantly, and looks worse than she acts. Shelby plays matchmaker a second time in the film, this time bringing Ouiser back together with an old beau. Reluctant to give up her independence, Ouiser first INSISTS they are just friends, which is pure hogwash. Soonafter, Ousier becomes kinder, gentler, and significantly less irritable, and all because she is HAPPY. Clary remarks at one point, “Ouiser! You are in a good mood! Did you run over a small child on your way here?”

She was absent minded, careless, accident prone, and a pain to be around at times. She stressed over every little thing, and complained constantly. None of the ladies disowned Ouiser when she was at her worst. Truthfully, her worst was not THAT bad, but she WAS difficult to deal with.

The goddess in her wrathful form is only such for reason. She has a benevolent aspect as well, Ouiser shows both sides.

Like the goddesses destructive side can clear the way for the good to come, Ouiser’s dark irritability causes her to snap at Annelle and drag the truth of her situation out of her. Had Annelle not spilled the facts, the ladies would not have known to immediately band together to lift up Annelle in her struggles. Ouiser also shows the fact the goddess needs the love and companionship of others to be her best self. Her friends as well as her new beau embrace her eccentricities, and while they joke with her about it, reminding her she’s got that mean streak she needs to keep in check, they give her the love and support she needs to be her best so she can love and support others as well.

Clary is a rich older lady, and uses it to put herself in positions to benefit her community. She is a testament to the goddesses generosity, and like the goddess smiles upon her children, so did Clary.

There’s not things in the way of mysticism or lore in the film, but the magic of women channeling their inner goddesses to make their lives and the lives of their loved ones wonderful is the lesson this film has for us.

This film deals with the joys of new life through children, the pain of loss when they die, and the new hope new life brings.

Don’t take my word for how amazing this film is. See it for yourself.

Note- I am also aware there was a 2012 remake of it, and I think I have to nab a copy of that as well. It got multiple awards and got rave reviews!

Happy film viewing.

Blessed Be!

***

About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel.