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Rekindle Your Wild Joy and sense of deep Belonging through spiritual ecopsychology and the arts, incl. bioregional awareness, animistic perspectives, strategies for simple living, & low/no-tech DIY fun.

Solabration! December 19, 2014

Filed under: Adventures,Arts,Dance — BrujaHa @ 2:08 pm
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Solabration! On the eve of December 21 in Denver, Colorado, join me in celebrating the winter solstice at this engaging extravaganza.

Now in its 29th year, this fest is a well-oiled combo of things to do (dancing, eating, caroling in 4-part harmony; yes you can!) and things to witness (storytelling, “extreme juggling,” a mummer’s play, Morris dancing, Balkan singing). And it culminates with the ancestral European magic of the Abbotts Bromley Horn Dance).

I’m calling some of the dances.
Fun will be had. Hope to solabrate with you.

Full info at wsolstice.org (from where I nabbed the photos)

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The Grand March

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Abbots Bromley Horn Dance

IMG_2503.JPGMaster of Ceremonies and master dance caller Chris Kermiet crowns the Solstice Queen and King

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Happy dancers

 

Boycott Black Friday November 27, 2014

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This is a picture I took at an arts and crafts supply store — in September. Halloween decor I could handle when it was still 70 degrees out and school was just getting started, but Xmas stuff too?! “Beware the horror” indeed!

Now it’s Thanksgiving Day as I write this, and the onslaught really begins. Do you feel your body recoiling at the barrage of ads, tinny Rudolph Midnight Clear muzak, the message that you have to now get busy and jolly and go shopping? Yeah, me too. So I have a proposal. Instead of rewarding the Christmas sales juggernaut that now begins before Halloween (argh!), let’s switch it up. Slow down the holidays. Enjoy the one we’re in.

I propose a movement to keep actively ThanksGiving for the last few days of November, enjoying and appreciating what we already have instead of buying.

If taken up en masse, this could be revolutionary. Enjoying and appreciating what we already have instead of buying – if even for a few dedicated days.

Boycott Black Friday.

Here are some memes for inspiration. The last one is my favorite.

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#BoycottBlackFriday

* I found the above memes being passed around the Interwebs. If you made one of them, please let me know so I can give you credit.

 

Science Fiction Holidaze January 16, 2012

This post is for you lovers of science fiction and mythopoetic fantasy literature. As one myself, these made me laugh.

1)  When I first saw this sign, I thought it was a clever joke – but no.  Klingons kicked Stormtrooper butt in this ultimate nerd showdown held for a good cause in Portland, Oregon on New Year’s.

“New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are not holidays people typically think of to give blood,” said Steve Stegeman, CEO of the American Red Cross Pacific Northwest Blood Services Region. “We have to get a little bit creative.”

You can read more about it in the Oregonian.  I just can’t help but wonder what blood type each of them are…

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2)  Then there are the Xmas ornaments.

My dear friend Burnie, who taught science fiction and fantasy to two generations of brilliant misfits in her high school English classes, has collected Hallmark’s Star Trek ornaments for years. Some of them light up; others even talk. She is amazed to realize that this goofy collection has so increased in value that it may well now form the bulk of her childrens’ inheritance.

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Here she is, in a photo taken a few years ago by her porch with me and another close friend.

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This cool retro rocket ship night-light is what I gave her this year. The red liquid inside contains glitter that roils around when it heats up from the light. Sometimes a person needs a booster rocket to get to the proper dreamland.

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Star Trek is one thing; Lovecraft would be quite another. Would you open a present found under a tree with this on it?

Ornament made by Etsy seller Michelle Scrimpsher

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3)  Although the holiday season can bring great joy, you might be surprised by the number of folks who feel relief that it is now past.

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Happy January!

 

Merrie Christmas December 25, 2010

Filed under: Singing,Spiritual Ecopsychology,The Wheel of the Year — BrujaHa @ 3:41 pm
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Cover of the wonderful book Stranger in the Woods: A Photographic Fantasy

When I was little, I remember thinking of Christmas Eve as the most wonderful time of year. I enjoyed the lights shining in the darkness, the neighbors coming by with little homemade gifts of cookies on festive plates festooned with brightly colored ribbons, my mother’s pin with green holly and red bells on it, and the idea of magical reindeer needing a plateful of my cookies to get through their long night’s journey. But it was the carolers with their frosty breaths emerging from woolly wraps that got to me most, lustily singing on our stoop of “Peace on earth, good will to men.”

Having no sense of cultural relativity, natch, I thought the entire world celebrated Christmas – which meant that for that one evening at least, everyone everywhere on the planet was trying to be peaceful. The guns were put down; wars were put on hold; songs were being sung and tales of wisdom repeated on TV by the cartoon Linus; hot spiced drinks were passed around; people were being kind to animals; strangers were invited to share good meals. Peace on Earth; Good Will to All Beings. And nothing seemed more wonderful or precious.

I’d lay down in my bed after a good-night hug from my adoptive parents, snuggled down beneath the quilts made by the grandmother I’d never met from scraps of her childrens’ clothing, look out the window at the cold stars shining high above the trees, and imagine that for this one night at least, the entire world was breathing in peace.

I also fervently prayed to whatever Holy Mystery was out there that this peace would get deep into peoples’ cells and transform us forever, like a flower whose stem is put in colored water sucks it up all the way, thus changing the color of its petals.

This was the message of Christmas: angels, peace, wonder, generosity, abundance, love, miracles. Ignoring the consumerist vulture aspect in favor of these, what’s not to like? I don’t care if it sounds sappy – that’s far better than cynical and shrivel-hearted. The world will be far better off if more of us dare to make idiots of ourselves at least once a day in service of Beauty. And how wonderful we get to hear these stories again and again, reminding us when we most need it, at the darkest time of year.

To all of you – whether Christian, Pagan, Jew, Hindu, Muslim, Atheist, Agnostic, Orisha worshipper, Taoist, Buddhist, Animist, Discordian, Frisbetarian, et al; whether human or other:

Merrie Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

 

 


The lovely photo at the top is from Stranger in the Woods: A Photographic Fantasy.

 

Xmas Crankiness December 3, 2010

Filed under: Cranky Rants,Singing — BrujaHa @ 4:43 pm
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OK, I’m about to admit to something un-PC: at the bare onset of December, I’m already sick of Xmas.

This feeling is actually not unreasonable: in some stores, the tinsel came out before Halloween! Ruddy-cheeked Santas vied for shelf space with witches and half-eaten zombie corpses. That imagery alone is enough to drive a child to future therapy.

Is this grumpiness a symptom of middle age? I remember my parents’ contrasting response to my childhood Christmas excitement: “Again? Already?!”

They admitted that the holiday just didn’t do it for them anymore like it used to. Instead of a peaceful respite in the dark of winter, it felt like work. A burden. Cards and untangling lights and decorations and frosted cookies and what on earth shall we give the mailman? And now this story is mine too. It hasn’t even started, yet I already feel exhausted and even a bit revulsed. I feel like boycotting the whole affair. Hanukkah started yesterday and that feels like a burden too. Already?! It just doesn’t feel like winter yet. Bah humbug.

And yet I love to give gifts; love the smell of balsam fir, kisses under the mistletoe, red berries on white tablecloths and their promise of feasting. I love all of this return-of-the-light celebratory stuff: my friend Burnie’s holiday glogg, all those little lights glittering on houses and trees in the earlier-darkening eve. I still tear up over Burl Ives’ voice in that patched-up Rudolph claymation movie. I’m even a sucker for some of the…

Wait, that’s it.

I know what turns me sour (besides the commercial frenzy aspect, of course that’s a given, especially now when money is tight and the planet’s in peril from overconsumption) – it’s the songs.

You can’t get away from them. Xmas muzak is everywhere you go, loud and also so familiar you can’t really ignore it; it’s laying its eggs in your head, the gestalt earworm from hell.

You know what it’s like to be hounded by a mosquito who’s set her sights on YOUR BLOOD AND NO OTHER, zzzzeeeeeeeeee!!! all night long, and no matter how hard you jam your ear down into your pillow or how far you burrow under the blankets, you can still hear it there, buzzing around, looking for an opening to get you? Christmas muzak is like that. But unfortunately you can’t swat it. It doesn’t respond to a rolled-up newspaper, although that’s not a bad idea, now that I think about it. Maybe if hordes of us ran around in these stores, howling from the madness that hideous sound instills and brandishing rolled-up newspapers to swat at their speakers, they’d get the hint.

Ah, sweet fantasy. It’s often fun in Tinaland.

On December 1, I had lunch at a Thai restaurant new to me. The food was excellent and the décor was lovely – deep red walls, tasteful tall sprays of flowers on each table, muted lighting – plus three white glittery triangular treelike objects on the front counter, surrounded by frolicking snowmen and candy canes. This I could take. But the music! Arrrgh! Solo female vocalists doing sickly sweet Xmas carols to synthesizer accompaniment do not go well with Thai food, especially when diners like me are still recovering from Thanksgiving.

Here in Sonoma County, leaves are still turning red & golden. Many are still green on the tree. The weather feels crisp, like late autumn, just after Halloween. I am not ready for this Christmas stuff.

So is it me? Am I out of sync with time? Or is time speeding up? Or is it just that the overlap for holiday dollars is really sickening? I’m worried that I’m turning into a curmudgeon before my time.

But if so, at least I’m in good company. I was delighted to find this comment by no less a figure than George Bernard Shaw:

I am sorry to have to introduce the subject of Christmas. It is an indecent subject; a cruel, gluttonous subject; a drunken, disorderly subject; a wasteful, disastrous subject; a wicked, cadging, lying, filthy, blasphemous, and demoralising subject. Christmas is forced on a reluctant and disgusted nation by the shopkeepers and the press: on its own merits it would wither and shrivel in the fiery breath of universal hatred; and anyone who looked back to it would be turned into a pillar of greasy sausages.

Ha!  Since Xmas is not likely to go away soon, having loads of big corporate pools for breeding, maybe we should just focus here and now on changing one small thing (no, not our expectations of gift-giving – although this worthy subject might appear in a future post).

Let’s take on the songs.

Some holiday songs are truly beautiful and/or joy-inducing. In my  mind, these include Silent Night, Deck the Halls, & Lullay. These need no changing, just less secular airtime. They’re worth listening to; it’s rude to twist such beauty into passive background noise.

Others? Yikes. Have you ever listened to the whole Joy to the World? Personally, I have a hard time singing joyfully about sins and curses and nations proving righteousness. Aside from the death-of-the-old-god aspect, songs with retributive smiting in them have little to do with the return of the light (outer and inner) that is, imho, what these holidays that occur around the winter solstice are really all about.

Revisions Ho.

Here are two of my favorite postmodern carols (gleaned in 1999 from a site now long defunct):

Consumer Wonderland
By Erica Avery, 1977.  Tune: Winter Wonderland.

The TV’s on / are you watching?
Another product / that they’re hawking
one more thing you need
to make life complete
Welcome to Consumer Wonderland

In the stores / you will hear it
Pricey gifts / show holiday spirit
That’s what they call it to get to your wallet
Welcome to Consumer Wonderland

At the mall we can go out shopping
and buy lots of stuff we can’t afford
we’ll have lots of fun with our new toys
until we realize that we’re still bored

When you shop / ain’t it thrilling
until / you get the billing
the money you still owe
the stuff broke long ago
Welcome to Consumer Wonderland

The next one is dated. Feel free to change the toys to more recent greed inducers.

Carol of the Toys
By Erica Avery.  Tune: Carol of the Bells

High voices: Barbie Dream House Mickey Mouse
Beanie Babies Tamagotchis

Low voices: Too       Much       Stu-       Uff

High voices: Cabbage Patch Dolls Ninja Turtles
Super Nintendo Tickle-me-Elmo

Low voices: Too       Much       Stu-       Uff

One could also substitute alternative filk versions, such as this anthem for modern pagans by my old friend Nan Sorbets:

Have Yourself a Merry Little Solstice
By Nan Lancaster Sorbets, ~1980.   Tune: [isn’t it obvious?]

Have Yourself a Merry Little Solstice,
Let your heart be light
Someday soon
The winter will be out of sight.

Have yourself a merry Saturnalia,
Make the Yule-tide gay,
Someday soon,
Our troubles will be far away…

Here we are as in olden days,
With our olden ways galore,
Christian monks came to change our ways,
Now it’s Pagan Days once more.

OMNI says the movement’s getting stronger,
Erica the Jong
Says New York will be Pagan before very long –
So sing yourself a merrie little Solstice song.

Here we are as in olden days,
Really olden days of yore
Ancient gods who are dear to us
Will appear to us once more.

Someday soon we all will rise together,
Show those Christians how:
We’ll take back our mistletoe and holly bough!
So have yourself a merry little solstice now.

Finally, the hard-core language nerds amongst you can sing an alt in Old English! Philip Chapman-Bell offers this wonderful version of a Xmas classic (reprinted here with his permission):

Hrodulf Hrandeor
by Philip Chapman-Bell

Incipit gestis Rudolphi rangifer tarandus

Hwæt, Hrodulf readnosa hrandeor —
Næfde þæt nieten unsciende næsðyrlas!
Glitenode and gladode godlice nosgrisele.
Ða hofberendas mid huscwordum hine gehefigodon;
Nolden þa geneatas Hrodulf næftig
To gomene hraniscum geador ætsomne.
Þa in Cristesmæsseæfne stormigum clommum,
Halga Claus þæt gemunde to him maðelode:
“Neahfreond nihteage nosubeorhtende!…
Min hroden hrædwæn gelæd ðu, Hrodulf!”
Ða gelufodon hira laddeor þa lyftflogan –
Wæs glædnes and gliwdream; hornede sum gegieddode
“Hwæt, Hrodulf readnosa hrandeor,
Brad springð þin blæd: breme eart þu!”

Hrodulf the Red-Nosed Reindeer  (Modern English translation)

Here begins the deeds of Rudolph, Tundra-Wanderer

Lo, Hrodulf the red-nosed reindeer —
That beast didn’t have unshiny nostrils!
The goodly nose-cartilage glittered and glowed.
The hoof-bearers taunted him with proud words;
The comrades wouldn’t allow wretched Hrodulf
To join the reindeer games.
Then, on Christmas Eve bound in storms
Santa Claus remembered that, spoke formally to him:
“Dear night-sighted friend, nose-bright one!
You, Hrodulf, shall lead my adorned rapid-wagon!”
Then the sky-flyers praised their lead-deer —
There was gladness and music; one of the horned ones sang
“Lo, Hrodulf the red-nosed reindeer,
Your fame spreads broadly, you are renowned!”

Inspired by these creations, here follows an idea to take care of the Xmas song problem: Let’s start a rebellion by participating even more fully.

What?

Improvisational theater invites us to say “yes, and…” to any bit that’s offered. Not “no, but” but “yes, and.” Say you’re starting a skit about a couple having a tiff and you have something in mind – say, a grocery store scene — but your co-actor opens with a line about the laundry taking a long time to dry. It’s bad form to say “What? NO! You doofus, we’re not in a laundromat; I say we’re in a grocery store!” Instead, you take the offer and then turn it. “Yes, these machines sure are slow. That’s probably why this laundromat sells groceries on the side, so folks won’t die of hunger while waiting for their jeans to dry!” Then you’re open to create a whole new scene about the embarrassment of dining in your Horsie underwear, the only thing that isn’t currently in the dryer.

Back to our current real-life scenario.

Muzak is the offer? Okay.

Ms. Grinch begone.

Here’s the response:
YES. Sing along with it, loudly and lustily. That’ll show ‘em!

AND – Options:
Those who love the current songs can sing the official words. Preferably all 12 verses – that leads to surprise and delight or dismay as well, depending on what the verses say.

Or, whenever you hear a trad Xmas song that makes your teeth ache and your hair stand on end, substitute your own words. Sing softly, but with enough volume to be clearly audible to those nearby. Let ‘em hear the alternative words. Delighted laughter cures many ills; some claim it can have a positive effect against cancer, so maybe it can even combat holiday muzak.

Recent research (plus common sense observation of experience) also tells us that singing makes us feel better. No matter how we undertake it, this plot involves us actively singing. For those moments, at least our mouths will be open too far for prolonged teeth-grating to occur.

Yes, welcome Yule. It is good to remember that here in the northern hemisphere, from December 21st on, all roads lead –however slowly– to warmth and light.

 

Poe’s “The Raven,” sung to “Deck the Halls” December 18, 2009

Filed under: Arts,Humor,Singing — BrujaHa @ 12:33 am
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Edgar Allen Poe’s THE RAVEN,

Sung to the tune of “Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly”

NOTE: The following verses are a selection, equivalent to only 2+ verses from the full poem, which contains no less than 18! Now give it a go, if you dare:

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Once upon a midnight dreary,              [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
While I pondered, weak and weary,     [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
Over many a quaint and curious / volume of forgotten lore
While I nodded, nearly napping,          [Fa la la la la, la la la la]

Suddenly there came a tapping,            [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
As of some one gently rapping,             [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
Rapping at my chamber door.               [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
Eagerly I wished the morrow;               [Fa la la la la, la la la la]

Vainly I had sought to borrow               [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
From my books surcease of sorrow      [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
For the rare and radiant maiden / whom the angels name Lenore —
Nameless here for evermore.                 [Fa la la la la, la la la la]

Open here I flung the shutter,                [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
When, with many a flirt and flutter,     [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
In there stepped a stately Raven  /  of the saintly days of yore
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.    [Fa la la la la, la la la la]

Then, methought, the air grew denser, [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
Perfumed from an unseen censer          [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!             [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
Prophet still, if bird or devil!                  [Fa la la la la, la la la la]

Tell this soul with sorrow laden             [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
If it shall clasp a sainted maiden           [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
Whom the angels name Lenore —        [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”            [Fa la la la la, la la la la]

“Be that word our sign of parting,         [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
Bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting   [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
Take thy beak from out my heart, and  /  take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.” / Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

***

If you want the singing to be shorter,

sing the first 2 verses, then skip to Verse 6 to end.  Repeat the last line (Quoth the Raven: “Nevermore”) instead of singing the final Fa la las.

You could also, of course, sing the entire poem this way if you so choose.

Perhaps an evening or two could be set aside for this purpose, or a sleepover arranged, with restorative brandies or hot mulled cider at the numerous breaks.