the wheel of the year, part 5: ostara

in the spirit of moveable feasts, here is my ostara post….very late.   the only problem with this, of course, is that while easter, ostara’s namesake, is indeed a moveable feast, the spring equinox (ostara’s current date) pretty much stays put 🙂 i  dropped the ball on this one folks!  —but as always, there are reasons for this, and i plan on tucking those reasons handily into my exploration of the nature of the holiday. Read the rest of this entry »

the wheel of the year, part 3: yule

hey you!  yeah,  you—the one with the arms full of bags, nerves frazzled from fighting with that crazed woman over the last ginormous bargain-basement flatscreen, and credit card maxed (again) in an effort to maintain the material status quo—yeah, you.  why don’t you slow down, chuck the jeans in favor of some pjs, pour yourself a hot cup of tea (or a hot toddy!), wrap up in a big fuzzy blanket, and relaaaaax.  take some quiet time to remember what this week in december means to you—what it really means to you.   no matter our religious beliefs, most of us rarely slow down long enough to really meditate on the depth of significance of the holiday season.  the church of consumerism doesn’t afford us that luxury.  from the time the shot sounds on the day after halloween (didn’t it used to be the day after thanksgiving??) until the last unwanted or ill-fitting gift is returned, our minds are abuzz with lists, budgets, wrapping paper, sales, and new and unusual ways to torture underpaid and under-appreciated retail sales staff. Read the rest of this entry »

the wheel of the year, part 2: samhain

janus, namesake of the month january

i mentioned in the first wheel of the year post that this may seem like an odd place to start a calendar, but it really isn’t.  rather serendipitously, i’d started my blog just before the celtic new year, samhain (pronounced SAH-wen)—better known to us today as halloween.  traditionally, our new year happens on january 1, but seasonally speaking, this is a little odd, since january 1 is smack dab in the middle of the winter.  in the first century b. c., the romans set this day as new year’s day because janus, the god for whom the month was named, was imagined as having two faces, one of which faced forward and one backward.  this simultaneously forward-backward-looking month, then, seemed the most logical place for new beginnings.  for the celts, the indigenous peoples of europe, however, notions of beginnings and endings followed more physical markers.  samhain, for the neolithic europeans, represented the end of the growing season and thus the beginning of the new year. Read the rest of this entry »