More than dust

I think a lot about death — not in a morbid way, as such, but as a sort of logical outgrowth of my cosmological beliefs. Think of it as a sort of religious logical proof:

IF we believe that the dead are still with us, or at least potentially with us;
AND we believe that it is to our mutual benefit to develop relationships with those many dead;
AND there are a lot more dead people out there than currently-living people;
THEN of course you’d think about death a lot, because your life is ineluctably braided through with the lives of those who have lived where you live, birthed who birthed you, loved who you love, worshipped as you worship. The dead are a part of the living.

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On embracing the Solstice Night

I often find myself at odds over what to do with the winter solstice. A lot of my fellow pagans are really, really jazzed about the narrative of the light triumphant returning after the longest night, but it just doesn’t do much for me. I get it, of course — the Triumph of the Light is a wide-ranging cultural trope, so I feel a little surge of excited joy when listening to songs about it, or ritual that use the narrative structurally — and I certainly mean no disrespect to anyone for whom the return of the light is a meaningful narrative: I’m very glad for you! But it doesn’t do as much for me, and I think I figured out why.

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Closeup on the head of a white marble statue of a child; the sun gleams brightly just at the bridge of its nose, in profile, it brightness and rays obscuring much of the statue's face.

For Earrach, Alex, and all the dead

Death is on my mind today. Long-time readers of this blog will, of course, recognize that this isn’t really unusual, since I think a lot about mortality and our treatment of the dead. And certainly with an unusually awful early hurricane season combined with seismic activity in Mexico, I’m thinking about, and praying about, the dead and their survivors in Chiapas, in Mexico City, in Texas and Puerto Rico and Barbuda and beyond. But today I’m thinking specifically about Earrach of Pittsburgh, whose funeral is this afternoon.

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Satellite view of the earth, showing the shadow line perfectly perpendicular to the equator; South America stands out bright while North America, more westerly, lies in shadow.

The Autumn Equinox: beginning, and beginning, and beginning

Three Cranes Grove celebrates the Autumn Equinox in about 5 hours. I should be doing ritual prep right now — gathering music stands, printing programs, preparing offerings, doing some final cooking for the potluck — but I find myself sitting here, instead, thinking about the Equinox and the Wheel of the Year. Blogger problems, I suppose. But it’s exciting to get think about the feastday, because it kicks off a whole series of rebirths and beginnings.

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A pilot boat, small in the middle of the frame, cuts through dark green, glassy whitecaps in the fog.

Music at the festival: growth, trance, and the gods

This past Sunday, Three Cranes celebrated the feast of Lughnasa. As we have for eight years now, we did so at the Dublin Irish Festival. That in itself is a big deal: we get a very large crowd, mostly non-regulars, who attend a pagan ritual that receives equal billing with multiple Christian services (everything from an interdenominational service to a Gaelic mass to a ‘U2Charist’) at one of the largest Irish festivals in the country. Such very public reverence for the old gods is in itself a powerful instantiation of the vision of Ár nDraíocht Féin. But beyond the questions of organizational stature and presence, this year’s DIF — our ritual and the broader festival both — had me thinking a good deal about music and the ways its presence supports and shapes my spiritual growth and wellbeing.

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Close-up on spider plantlets, a tangle of green and white bladelike leaves.

Not letting ‘better’ get in the way of ‘good’

I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about what it means to be an artist. Who gets to be an artist? Who gets to own that? What are the obligations of an artist? If they keep it to themselves, if they share to the world, what does that mean? As a writer and teacher these questions have been floating around in the back of my mind for a long time, but a few interactions recently have really amped them up for me.

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Honoring the triple fire

Tonight Three Cranes Grove celebrated Giamonios, the Gaulish end-of-winter moon. It was a small group of us, just four — we celebrated the Thargelia in honor of Artemis and Apollo as our public spring cross-quarter ritual just yesterday, so most people elected to stay home. But our intimate gathering provided a relaxed, informal resumption of our outdoor druid moons, where we cleaned out the firepit in our nemeton and rekindled our fires. At this moon we honor Belenos, god of the fiery sun, and honor the triple fire of sacrifice, inspiration, and fellowship. Our working in this small-group setting gave us the opportunity to speak from the heart: each person volunteered to speak on the fire in one of its three aspects, and I volunteered to tie them all together. So, with appreciative credit to Lisa Lea, Jan, and Thorne for their explications of the fires of sacrifice, inspiration, and fellowship, respectively — and with apologies for my rephrasing and reconfiguring of their words — some thoughts on the fire at the center of all.

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