Sunday, 29 May 2011

Calendar Entry #11: Offerings to Hapi and Amun

We continue our journey through the Cauldrons Calendar feast/festival/holidays.
Offerings to Hapi
Hapi is the Nile god (not to be confused with Hapy/Hapi - the son of Horus).  Worshipping of Hapi occurred in both temples and on the river Nile itself.  The annual flooding of the Nile was a very important part of life both in ancient and also modern times.  When the Nile floods the floodwaters deposit nutrient-rich sediment on the plains, creating fertile soil.  The annual floods were attributed to Hapi in ancient times, and offerings of food were thrown into the river because the people knew that if the floods were insufficient then there was a risk of famine.  Prayers and offerings for Hapi were for the floods but also the other blessings the river brought like fish, lotus, papyrus.  Things that the Egyptians used in daily life. 
Follow this link to read the longest surviving hymn to the Nile flood; a literary composition in Middle Egyptian, of uncertain date.
Offerings to Amun

Amun depicted with cow offerings from
the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut

Amun rose to become one of the most important god figures in Ancient Egypt.  He was the patron god of Thebes, and when Thebes became the capital during the Eighteenth Dynasty, Amun became more nationally recognised.  
Offerings have been recorded as being made in the form of grain, floral arrangements as well as cows.  
Hatshepsut claimed the right to rule by declaring that she was the daughter of the sun god Amun.  The Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut in Deir el Bahari on the west bank of the Nile near the Valley of the Kings is full of pictures of him receiving her gifts, although subsequent rulers had evidence of her removed from the temple. 

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Calendar Entry #10: Receiving of Ra

We continue our journey through the Cauldrons Calendar feast/festival/holidays - well we would if I had found anything.

Today is slated on the calendar (and all over the interwebs) as being the day Ancient Egyptians celebrated the 'Receiving of Ra'.  Unfortunately, though I've read over 100 pages of text, visited numerous sites over the last couple of days, and consulted all the books I have here with me in Sydney (only a small portion of my personal library unfortunately) I've been unable to find anything more than what the great and powerful (lol) Wikipedia says - "The Holiday of 'The Receiving of Ra' was celebrated on May 26 in the Gregorian calendar."  Gee that's a revelation.

Now I could have gone into a This Is Your Life kind of spiel about Ra, however it wouldn't really sit well in this series of posts and I've decided to do a Gods and Goddess of the World series where I'll look at Ra and his incarnations more fully than I would for this post.

If anyone out there has any actual information about the Receiving of Ra celebration - as in, what they did, why it's called what it is, what it's celebrating, then please leave a comment.  I would really appreciate it.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Calendar Entry #9: Lag B'Omer

We continue our journey through the Cauldrons Calendar feast/festival/holidays
The grave of Rabbi Simeon Bar Yochai in
Meron on Lag B'Omer - Jonathan Stein
Lag BaOmer is a Jewish holiday celebrated on the thirty-third day of the Counting of the Omer.  According to the Torah (Lev. 23:15) Jews must count the days from Passover to Shavu'ot.  This period is known as the Counting of the Omer. 
There are two reasons to celebrate this day. 

1.  Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai lived in the second century of the common era and was the first to publicly teach the mystical dimension of the Torah known as the Kabbalah.  He was also the author of the Zohar. On the day of his passing, Rabbi Shimon instructed his disciples to mark the date as “the day of my joy."  It is a commemoration of the mystical teachings he left behind. 

2.  The Talmud states that in the weeks between the Jewish holidays of Passover and Shavu'ot, a plague killed thousands (some sources state 24,000) of students of the great sage Rabbi Akiva.  This was because "they did not act respectfully towards each other.”  On Lag BaOmer it is said that the deaths ceased and the plague was over.  Rabbi Akiva only took five students after this, one of them being Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.

Lag B'Omer is therefore a celebration of the teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and a day to remember to love and respect each other. 

Celebrations include outings, bonfires, parades as well as the first haircuts for children.  The burial place of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, in Meron, is the venue for an annual event, where hundreds of thousands of Jews gather to celebrate with bonfires, torches, singing and feasting.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Cauldrons Is On The Move!

As many of you know, Luana is now living in Sydney. I keep making jokes about her opening the Australia branch of Cauldrons, but I don't think she finds it funny. Or rather she finds it very funny and then changes the subject :)

What some of you may know, is that I'm on the move too now. My family and I are moving to North Canterbury where the ground doesn't shake with every passing car and we won't get woken up during the night by 2.8 magnitude aftershocks.

We're moving to a 14 acre lifestyle block where we can follow a dream of being mostly self-sufficient. I may blog about our successes and failures if anyone is interested. The added bonus is that I will be able to grow more of the herbs that Cauldrons offers, and continue to keep the prices reasonable. Many don't realise just how much of our herbs range is grown by me, but now, that should increase.

What The Move Means for Cauldrons

This move means that pickups and the shop will not be quite so easy. Pickups will still be welcome for those who wish to make the trip to Amberley, but I don't know if or when we'll get a shop sorted. Otherwise, everything should remain just as normal. Luana will still look after most of the internet based stuff, and I'll still be able to pack up and post or courier orders out.

There is going to be a period of about 2-3 weeks when Cauldrons will be closed. From May 21st to approximately 7th June I'm not sure if I'll have internet access, so any orders placed during this time will not be processed until after this date. I will make the date clear when I have more information myself. This will be made clear on the website, and there will be no refunds for those who still order in this period unless we are out of stock on an item. When the February Earthquake struck, I had several orders sitting on the deck waiting for courier pick up. Most were happy to wait until I got electricity (and therefore computer and email access) up and running again, but there were a few who demanded a refund, and even one who then went on to post negative feedback on Trade Me. (I guess there's always got to be one!) I don't want a repeat of this, so I want to make this clear before it happens.

I will still try to make it to the Expos and will try to keep the Coffee Meets running. I will be at the Holistic Expo on May 21st with both the stall and doing readings. Burwood Scout Hall on Travis Road in Burwood, and the $2 entry fee will be going towards the Rise Up Christchurch Telethon on the 22nd of May. We will also be carrying fundraising T-shirts that say "E tu, Kia Kaha Christchurch" printed by Blox Apparel, with proceeds going to the Earthquake fund. Come along and say hello!

Open Sabbat Celebrations

Every so often I like to hold an open Sabbat, this will most likely continue. I'm planning a great Winter Solstice for those who wish to come along. I still need to go and find out about getting a permit for a bonfire. It will mean though, that it's probably a better idea for those who come along to stay the night, and we'll make room for this. Those who are interested in joining us can email me on for more information.

Cauldrons PaganFest

This will still go ahead as planned. I'm having a few minor issues with the venue, but hope to have them all ironed out soon and we'll start promoting it in the near future.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Calendar Entry #8: Visakha Puja

We continue our journey through the Cauldrons Calendar feast/festival/holidays - this time we've got a Buddhist celebration.  

Statue of Buddha, Roberto Orgera
Visakha Puja or Vesakha Day is an annual Buddhist holiday also colloquially referred to as 'Buddha's Birthday'.  This day, however, isn't just a celebration of the Buddha's birth, but of a Buddhist Trinity, three important events that occurred in the life of Lord Buddha on the same day - the full moon of the sixth lunar month, typically May or June each year.  These three significant and separate events were the birth of Buddha, the day he achieved enlightenment (NIRVANA) and the day he passed away, at age eighty.

Today Buddhists will traditionally visit their temples where they will participate in activities that may include singing hymns in praise of The Buddha, The Dharma (his teachings) and The Sangha (his disciples), or listen to the Buddha's teachings by attending the reading of the Holy Scriptures ceremony or taking part in a candle lighting ceremony or procession in the evening.  Some temples may have a small statue of the baby Buddha in front of the altar, in a basin of water.  This allows devotees to pour water over the statue, a symbolic cleansing of one's bad karma.

The Buddha gave instruction on how homage was to be paid to him before he died.  It is not enough for devotees to merely leave offerings of flowers, incense and lights (to symbolise the decay that life, even the Buddha's, is subject to) when observing this day. Things die, and wither, but The Dharma is eternal.  Devotees will best pay homage by truly and sincerely striving to follow his teachings, using this day to reaffirm their determination in leading noble lives and practising loving kindness that will bring peace and harmony to humanity.  

Monday, 16 May 2011

Calendar Entry #7: Feast of Goddesses

We continue our journey through the Cauldrons Calendar feast/festival/holidays - here we have another Ancient Egyptian based celebration. 

Naos, Isis Temple, Philae Island, Egypt - Rémih
The Feast of Goddesses is also known as the Feast of the Netjerts (Goddesses) in Their Temples. A heightened energy goddess day this celebrates every aspect of the feminine in reverence and gratitude.  While I haven't found anything specific about what you did on this day, I would guess it may have been something to do with the Netjerts feasting in their own temples... at a quick guess. <:-)

There were daily rituals held in the temples where the Netjer(t)s were fed and attended to.  This was done in an inner sanctuary or naos of the temple.  While the temple workers prepared the food, it was a purified Pharaoh or High Priest who opened the naos and tended to the Netjer(t).

The food that was served before the Netjer(t) was taken away when the Netjer(t) was thought to have satisfied himself/herself, which (s)he did not consume in a material sense of the word, but on an esoteric level.  It was believed that the Netjer(t) consumed only the spiritual essence of the meal, which allowed the food to be distributed to others, passing first to the other statues in the temple, then to local funerary chapels for the sustenance of the dead, and finally to the priests to physically eat.  This was called the reversion of offerings.

When there was a festival or feast, these daily rituals were set aside for the other festival observances.  Though many of the festival's interactions with the Netjer(t) were carried out by the priests alone, the food at a feast would have been much more substantial than for daily ritual and it is likely that rather than just dividing the food amongst the priests, the other festival attendees would probably have participated in the reversion of offerings. 

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Calendar Entry #6: Festivals of Hathor and Bast

We continue our journey through the Cauldrons Calendar feast/festival/holidays.

Festival of Hathor - Beautiful Feast of the Desert Valley

Hathor, as the Mistress of the West, emerges
from a hill representing the Theban necropolis.
By all references that I've found this festival is most probably referring to the Beautiful Feast of the Desert Valley, of which Het-Hert (Hathor) played a major role.  It was observed during the third season of Shemu (sometimes written as Shomu). On our modern calendar, that would occur sometime in mid-May. This festival, also known as heb nefer en inet was an annual festival in Thebes that dates back at least as far as the Middle Kingdom (a period in the history of ancient Egypt stretching from the start of the Eleventh Dynasty to the end of the Fourteenth Dynasty, between 2055 BC and 1650 BC). 

This was essentially a festival of the dead, and was held in the desert to the west of Thebes, an area sacred to Het-Hert in her funerary role of Lady of the West.  During the festival, which lasted several days, a statue of Amun (Amun-Ra in later times) was carried, from Karnak temple,  in a grand procession across the Nile River from east to west to visit mortuary temples on the opposite bank.  This journey was symbolic;  Amun-Ra, through his oracle statue, traveled to the west to pay his respects to the Akhu, the blessed dead.

Limestone relief of the Beautiful Feast of the Valley,
found within the enclosure of the Temple of Het-Hert at Deir el Medina
The Beautiful Feast of the Valley was a joyous celebration of death, similar to Dia de los Muertes in Mexico, although one source suggests that it would have had more of a Mardi Gras feel to it, in which banqueting, dancing and other festivities at the necropolis sought to bring joy to all the dead interred there.  During this festival Het-Hert was constantly present, being the patroness of the festivities.  The deceased were presented with items attributed to Het-Hert - the sistrum and Hathor's necklace.  Many graves have been found containing offerings to her.

The Ancient Egyptian word 'nfr' (transliterated to nefer) means not only beautiful but has also connotations of wholeness, vitality and perfection. There are prayers carved in the Temple of Het-Hert at Dendera, made during festival times where people address the goddess asking for bodily health and vitality. 

Festival of Bast

The cat goddess Bast – Ancient Egyptian
sculpture in Louvre museum
This was also a day to celebrate the Festival of Bast.  However, there are some sources who quote that it is the festival of Hathor and Bast.  Unfortunately, the information regarding a joint festival seems to be the same copied and reproduced on the many websites around.  No books or other sources, that I have been able to access, have confirmed that there was a joint festival.  Most sources say that on this day are the festivals of Hathor and Bast - plural, indicating that they are separate.  This is how I am going to treat them.  

The festivals of Bast were some of the most popular in Egypt, because of the music, dancing and wine.  Men and women sailed together along the Nile, singing, clapping, shaking rattles and playing flutes.  As they passed people or towns, everyone would start to sing and cheer together.  In Bubastis the festival began with sacrifices to Bast.  The Temple of Bast stood in the centre of town so all could see it.  Worshippers came from all over Egypt leaving offerings, bronze statues, amulets and mummified cats in her temple - thousands of cat remains have been found in underground crypts where the temple once stood. 

Calendar Entry #5: Day of Purification of all Things

We continue our journey through the Cauldrons Calendar feast/festival/holidays. 

My research hasn't been able to uncover anything specific about the Day of Purification of all Things.  One would assume it would be very much what it suggests.  Purification was part of life in Ancient Egypt, the purpose was to empower the senses in different ways, such as the power of insight.  Purifying the whole body was an essential part of holy practices.  There were divine lakes for purification in their temples.  Egyptian priests bathed several times a day, and the priests often shaved all the hair from their bodies to allow them to be purified as much as possible.

Myrrh, Lotus and Sandalwood oils were widely used in Ancient Egyptian purification rituals and the ankh has also been thought by many scholars as being an aquatic symbol representing water in these rituals.

Many of the Gods of Egypt are depicted bearing an Ankh.  Sometimes they would extend the ankh to the Pharaoh, indicating both the gift of life and the purification of the subject.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Calendar Entry #4: Going Forth of Neith Along the River

Statue of Neith
Current Location:  Louvre Museum
We continue our journey through the Cauldrons Calendar feast/festival/holidays. 

Unfortunately due to some issues that occured with Blogger this post wasn't posted yesterday as it was meant to be.  So this is the entry for May 10th.  

Going Forth of Neith Along the River

Neith (also known as Nit, Net, and Neit) is an ancient deity in Egypt, even back in the time of the First Dynasty.  She is one of the oldest Egyptian goddesses and was an early goddess of creation, weaving and the loom.  Her name also may be interpreted as meaning water. In time, this meaning led to her being considered as the personification of the primordial waters of creation.

Neith was the patron goddess of Sais (Greek) known as Zau in Ancient Egyptian.  Most of the city has been destroyed and removed, leaving only a few blocks.  This includes the Temple of Neith, where the adyton was said, by Proclus (412 - 485AD) to be inscribed with,

'I am the things that are, that will be, and that have been.  No one has ever laid open the garment by which I am concealed.  The fruit which I brought forth was the sun.'

This has led many to believe that she was a Virgin Mother goddess as well as being the mother of Ra.

Going Forth is a common phraseology that was used extensively to refer to religious festivals in Egypt.   One source writes that at different times throughout the year the deity of a temple would travel to visit another deity or temple following a sacred path.

Neith was considered to be one of the aspects of the Great Goddess of the Nile Delta region so when we look at this festival title - Going Forth of Neith along the River - we can assume that this may refer to a sacred path or journey along the Nile.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Antiestablishmentarianism: Why teenagers and Politics are a Bad Mix

Written by Debbie

Noun1.antiestablishmentarianism - the doctrine of opposition to the social and political establishment - The Free Dictionary

Riot Control - Steve Crane
A group of teenagers of my acquaintance have become antiestablishmentarians. Everything they say is about how school is a brainwashing institution purely designed to force you to conform and suck up all the lies the government feeds you. Or about how the government is a corrupt system filled with dodgy deals and deliberate misinformation for the gullible masses.

Now the thing I’ve noticed with teenagers is that they are trying hard to find a way to define and individualise themselves from their parents and families. Music seems to be the main way that they choose to do this. They like this style of music, which means that they can’t like that style as it’s totally different (even if secretly they do), and the fashion associated with their chosen style becomes important.

At the moment, with this group it’s all System of a Down, Green Day and Rage Against the Machine. I like these three bands, really I do, but I seem to get a different message from the music than what they do. For the teenager closest to me, the message is to rise up and reject all forms of authority, as all authority is about control and lies. I hear that I should question it all, and think for myself, not to blindly accept the propaganda (from anyone).

Unfortunately, these teenagers don’t seem to realise that they’re trading in one authority for another. In the Rage Against the Machine song Killing in the Name of, Tom sings “Now you do what they told ya,'” and further on “now you’re under control,” is added to it. These teenagers don’t see that they’re still doing what they’re told, but instead of being told by the Omnipotent Authority/Evil Overlord “They”, they’re being told by the dulcet tones of Serj Tankian, Tom Morello and Billie Joe Armstrong.

These teenagers don’t seem to be differentiating between countries. One thing all of these bands have in common is that they’re American, it’s the American system and Government that they protest against. Whether most of their political agenda is justified or not, I don’t know. I’ve never cared enough to look too deeply into their systems, although the movie Wag the Dog certainly made me wonder about a few things. We don’t live in America, we live in a lovely little country in the South Pacific called New Zealand. Our system of government is totally different, and in the last 20 years, we’ve gained a great deal of transparency in that government.

In a recent discussion with one of these teenagers, she mentioned that any ‘system’ is bad. I can sympathise with this, in my teen years, it was 70s punk for me (by the way, I mean real punk, angry political music yelled down the microphone by tone deaf lunatics, not a cute pop princess bouncing around singing about how she doesn’t like your girlfriend). I remember the thrill of anarchy as a concept, while at the same time being secretly slightly afraid of it, until I reached an age and a detachment where I could think about it all logically. I don’t believe true anarchy can exist for any length of time, not even as an ideal. Order will always come out of chaos. The order might be the strong dominate the weak, and any opposition is destroyed. She said “Isn’t that what we have now?” It made me think “is it?”

No, I don’t believe it is. We have over the past 10 years become a Nanny State. Our kids are not allowed to take risks and we are so wrapped in cotton wool that it’s very difficult to hurt yourself. The weak (and the stupid) are so protected that to try to dominate them is either an exercise in mind game manipulation (which sadly does happen) or a recipe for prison time.

Globally however, that might be a different story. I’ve heard American Military friends laughingly describe themselves as ‘the World’s Cops’, and the United Nations seems to be a colossal joke. The strong do dominate the weak in this sense.

I asked my favourite teen if she would be able to have an intelligent debate with me regarding her politics, if she was open to a discussion about it, or if she had her mind made up and that was the end of that. She wasn’t sure - on some level, I think she’s clinging to these new ideals and is afraid of anything that might shake them.

We discussed the school issue. She is very smart, but lately, her political views have created a rejection of the institution that is education. She told me that school was created to keep people off the streets. I asked where she’d heard that - could she back that up with anything? No.

I explained that education for the masses was a hard-fought for and hard won right, that it had only been the case for maybe a few hundred years. I told her that not so long ago, education was purely for the Priesthood of the Christian Church and some of the nobility, and that quite a revolution had happened when the common people started to learn to read. This was a breakdown of the class system, and gave the lower classes a bit of power.

She relented a little on that score, but said that current education only gives the student one narrow view, and that ideals are taught (brainwashed) into children with the knowledge they learn. I asked for an example. Religious education came up. “Why is it only Christian education? Where is the Hindu, or the Islam, or the Paganism?” I can’t help feeling impressed by that somewhat, because these were the exact questions I asked the school when enrolling my children. The answer is - it comes down to which faiths are willing to share their religion with Primary School children. Most schools would gladly welcome someone from any faith to share a little about religion (without preaching because that’s illegal) with the kids. Most won’t, don’t know about that opportunity or just aren’t interested in it.

Serj Tankian - PanARMENIAN
Anyone who doesn’t take part in these classes is ostracised she tells me. I question her on this a little. She tells me that the children who were not in the class seemed to be singled out by teachers, and picked on by other kids as a direct result. I read not so long ago about what is and isn’t acceptable for this kind of thing on the Human Rights Commission’s website. I remember feeling jealous of the one girl who got to sit out our Religious Education classes way back when I was in Primary School, I don’t remember seeing her picked on or stigmatised in any way, shape or form. But perhaps this was purely my perception of it, and this is a different city, perhaps this has changed somewhat.

Meanwhile, her stance on education sees a formerly very capable student rebelling against her teachers, acting out against school rules that she views as being purely about conformity and nothing to do with learning (like uniform rulings), and refusing to do homework or even some schoolwork. Her friends are all older, they are high school drop outs living on benefits and it scares me that she has a romantic idea that this is somehow a better life.

I’ve tried to convince her that Serj Tankian, who she refers to as her God, would respect a decent education, and that the only real way to change a system is from within. That got a spark of interest, and some of her friends have told her that she should be in government. I agree, and suggested that she look at studying Political Science or even Philosophy.

I’m told by those in the know that this is a normal phase that most teenagers go through. In this case however, the teen involved doesn’t do anything by halves. She gets a new passion and she jumps in boots and all, there are no half measures. I’m hoping that she’ll come out of it the other side without too many regrets, and I really hope that she is open to discussion about these concepts.

I’m not an expert on any of this. I’m a mother with two teenagers and one teenager-in-training. I once was a teenager myself, and still remember most of it. I have friends with teenaged children, and I have supervised teens in a workplace environment, although fortunately only one at a time.

My favourite teen mentioned above might be my daughter, or she might be yours. How would you deal with it?

Monday, 9 May 2011

Calendar Entry #3: Yom Ha'atzmaut & Thargelia

We continue our journey through the Cauldrons Calendar feast/festival/holidays.  
Yom Ha'atzmaut 
Yom Ha'atzmaut is Israel's Independence Day and it celebrates the declaration of the state of Israel by The Jewish Leadership led by the then future Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, on 14 May 1948.   It occurs annually on or around the 5th of Iyar.  Iyar is the 8th month of the civil year and the 2nd month of the ecclesiastical year in the Hebrew calendar.   
Due to the custom of beginning celebrations at sundown on the previous day, it was decided in 2004 that if the 5th of Iyar is a Monday, then the holiday will move to the Tuesday.  Therefore, while Yom Ha'atzmaut should be set for Monday, it is actually observed and celebrated on Tuesday 10 May this year.


Thargelia is an Athenian festival to celebrate the birthdays of Artemis and Apollo, held on the 6th and 7th of Thargelion.  Now unfortunately my research has shown that the actual timing of this would put the dates later in May, around the 20th and 21st or the 24th and 25th depending on where you look.
The festival is mainly for Apollo, and is basically an agricultural festival where first fruits were offered to Apollo, but it was also a time when the city of Athens, or rather its inhabitants, underwent a cathartic rite of purification.

On the first day of the festival two men (there are some references that state a man and a woman) were chosen to represent the men and women of Athens.  They were usually criminals or outcasts or deemed the ugliest.  They took on the role of the pharmakos (scapegoat) and after being fed, dressed/decorated in figs and led through the city (there are some reports that say they were beaten with green sticks during this procession) they were then cast out or exiled.   It is said that during times of great strife (such as a plague or famine), the pharmakos were actually put to death.  Accounts vary, but they were either burnt on a funeral pyre with their ashes scattered at sea, stoned to death or thrown into the sea alive.  The sacrifice of the pharmakos (either in being expelled from the city or in death) was meant to purify the residents of Athens of their communal guilt.

The second day of the festival was a much more celebratory affair.  There were offerings of thanks to Apollo, a procession, and an agon or competition of sorts, where the winner was awarded a tripod that he had to dedicate in the temple of Apollo.  This was also the day that families would undertake the solemn registration of adopted children, where the children were officially given the genos and phratria of their adoptive parents.  From what I've read, although not extensively, it looks to be sort of like hapu and iwi, or clan and tribe of the family.  I'm not 100% on that so if you've studied Classics and can clarify the terms, then please do.  :)

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Samhain, As Celebrated By Us

Saturday 30th April was Samhain for those of us in New Zealand.

Having been off Sabbats for a while, it was nice to have one of our group ask if she could do a ritual. The night before, I picked a pumpkin from my garden to make pumpkin soup from for our dinner after ritual. Two of our group were visiting, and on a whim, we decided to make a Jack O'Lantern with our pumpkin, not having any idea just how hard it could be to scoop firm pumpkin flesh out of a too small hole (the lid). This is why our pumpkin got four faces. Still, we had a fun night carving pumpkin faces while watching the Royal Wedding.

The ritual rocked. We each wrote a letter to the people we were hurt by, or upset or angry at. We laid it out as if we were speaking to them, and these letters were burned in our ritual fire, releasing the negative emotions that were eating at us. Then one at a time we went around our circle, offering good wishes and blessings for each other. All the while the others not currently involved were singing and chanting:

We are the old people,
We are the new people,
We are the same people, stronger than before,
Stronger than before,
Stronger than before,
We are the same people, stronger than before.

We are the old people,
We are the new people,
We are the same people, wiser than before,
Wiser than before,
Wiser than before,
We are the same people, wiser than before.

The singing and chanting got a bit silly (and headbangy) as the energy flowed more strongly around the circle, but it was a lot of fun and a very moving ritual.

After feasting, we kept going back to the ritual area as it got dark. Boris (as we'd named our pumpkin) looked awesome with his candle burning through his faces. It was kinda eerie to see his face through the trees. This was also the best time for some dark mirror scrying, some had surprising visions while others saw nothing.

This was our first Sabbat celebrated as a group with a ritual, and it was a success. Luana's cloak hanging on the trellis ensured that she was there with us.
Now we look forward to Winter Solstice!

Calendar Entry #2: Day of the Children of Nut

We continue our journey through the Cauldrons Calendar feast/festival/holidays.

AKA - Day of the Living Children of Nut.

There are several myths surrounding the birth of Nut's children.  One starts with a prophesy.  Ra was told that although he was powerful, there would be another ruler of Egypt after him, a son of Nut.  Fearing that her children would try to usurp his throne Ra cursed Nut so that she couldn't give birth during any of the 360 days or nights of the year.  Heartbroken Nut went to Thoth for help.
Being the God of Wisdom, Thoth won some light from the Moon, and used it to make five new days (which obviously gives us our 365 days in the year).  It was during these five days that Nut gave birth to her five children.  Osiris on the first day, Horus on the second, Set on the third, Isis on the fourth and Nephthys on the fifth.  These days became a time of celebration all over Egypt.

Nut has been depicted as a woman with a water pot above her head with the hieroglyph for sky, or we may see her starry body bending over Geb the Earth deity, held up by Shu.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Someone in the distance sings: It's the End of the World as We Know It.

Natural Disaster by Leonardo Da Vinci
There have been many movies made about the end of days.  (Hell, wasn't there even a movie called that very thing?) The Day After Tomorrow touches closely on the day things go pear shaped, as well as that god awful thing starring John Cusack called 2012.  What both of these movies have in common (aside from some seriously bad writing) is the message that we, as the dominant species of this planet, have stuffed up and are responsible for Nature's fury against humanity. 
Before you think I'm about to start An Inconvenient Truth stylised rant, let me get to the point.  Well it's more of a question.  Do you buy into the craziness that the world is shitting itself and will come to an end sometime soon?
Let's look at the evidence before we make a snap judgment. 
The Mayan Calendar ends on 21.12.12.  There is no disputing this.  Personally I've always been of the opinion that it was because thousands of years ago a Mayan monk, who was being punished for looking a little too interested in the Chieftain's daughter, got all the way to December 21 in the year 2012 and decided that it was a good place to stop.  His hand was sore, from writing (and other activities spurred on by the scantily clad progeny of the Chieftain) figured that the advanced race of people in 2012 would know what day should come after the 21st of December and all the days thereafter, so decided that he needn't continue. 
However, conspiracy theorists would have you believe that the world is going to end on this day, because that's when the Mayan calendar ends.  They don't subscribe to my theory of the monk and his penchant for pretty young girls.  Instead they believe that because there is no December 22nd written on that calendar, that there will be no December 22nd for us.  Whatever they think will happen is varied, but basically we should all party hard, drink enough to make our livers hate us, get it on with the secret object of lust that you know you'd normally be ridiculed for even talking to by your so called mates, and try as many of those other depraved acts you've always wanted to do but knew you couldn't face yourself in the morning if you did.  (Please keep your fantasies of Sally the goat to yourselves, I beg of you). 
I'm not inclined to accept that premise.  The world is going to end on a specific day just because the calendar does?  What, are they saying the Mayans could predict when the world was going to end but couldn't avoid the annihilation of their own civilisation?  In saying this, I do acknowledge that there does seem to be something rather wacky going on in our little corner of the universe.
Let's start with earthquakes, seeing as they're foremost in our minds.  Since the year 2000 there have been a number of rather large quakes.  Some have been more destructive than others, regardless of the magnitude.  Christchurch, being hit with two biggies is obvious, but recently there has been Haiti: Jan 2010, 7.0; Sumatra, Indonesia: Dec 2004, 9.1; China: May 2008: 8.0; Chile: Feb 2010, 8.8; and the devastating one in Japan: Mar 2011, 8.9.  All these have caused significant amounts of destruction and led to loss of life.  And while I've only mentioned a few, there are many more felt everyday.
The earthquakes lead on to our next disaster, the tsunami.  When I was a little girl I had never heard of a tsunami actually hurting people on a grand scale.  Now there have been two significant ones in recent history.  2004's Boxing Day tsunami caused by the quake in Indonesia and the tsunami in Japan causing more destruction than the quake itself. 
Hurricanes, cyclones and tornadoes seem to be making more headlines as well.  Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005 while Cyclone Yasi has flooded and destroyed many a home in Australia's state of Queensland while states in the US south have recently been torn apart by tornadoes.  The force of these disasters led to the destruction of homes and businesses as well as leading to the death of many of our fellow man.  
Now I could keep listing natural disasters but what would that achieve?  Does this mean that we really are looking at the end of the world?  The Hollywood movie machine would have us believe that coming up to the end, the world becomes more and more unstable, and conspiracy theorists would probably say that there is evidence of this with the large number of natural disasters we are being bombarded with.  But is that evidence real or an illusion?
Are we experiencing more disasters, more earthquakes, more hurricanes and cyclones than ever before?  According to the US Geological Survey (, the number of earthquakes has probably not increased, nor have their magnitude.  What has happened is that our level of technology has advanced, along with the number of seismic monitoring stations; therefore we're able to detect more of them.  This doesn't mean that they're more frequent now than before, just that we're more aware. 
I hear an argument coming from the cheap seats.  These disasters are more destructive now than in the past. More people are dying.
Well let's look at this.  The earth hasn't changed.  Mother Nature hasn't suddenly gotten PMS and become bitchier.  People have changed. Throughout the centuries the way we live has changed.  In earlier times people lived in single storied dwellings, so that when a hurricane hit, or the earth rumbled, there wasn't the same level of destruction as we see with our current high-rise buildings. 
In addition, population density means that while there may only have been a handful of people who lived in disaster struck areas in the past, more people are hurt and more fatalities are counted because there are simply more people in the same area of land.  Think about the Haiti or Pakistan earthquakes.  Millions of people live in those areas; hence the numbers of affected people are significantly higher than Christchurch. 
·         Pakistan 2005 - population: Approx 170 million, death toll:75,000
·         Haiti 2010 - population: Approx 10 million, death toll:316,100
·         Christchurch 2011 - population: Approx 400,000, death toll: 180ish
Where we live has also changed.  With increased populations people are spreading out into those more disaster prone areas.  Additionally by overpopulating some areas we're making it so that when a disaster hits, it hits us hard.
 After reading this you may think that I'm sure the world is fine and that we're just a bunch kids holding on for dear life to the merry-go-round called Earth as it spins out of control.  That we're merely passengers in our own lives, not affecting the planet with how we live.  That is not so.  I have strong environmental beliefs, but this blog article isn't about that.
It's about the doomsday predictions that people are beginning to believe because they are scared.  That's all it comes down to really.  It's what conspiracy theorists and doomsday advocates love to peddle.  Fear. 
In the past ignorance was our greatest ally.  We didn't know that the disasters were occurring so we had nothing to fear.  The world's media, through 24 hour television, keeps them plastered in front of us, so while it may happen on the other side of the world, we're no longer unaware. It doesn't mean that more disasters occur, just that, like with the earthquake technology, we're more aware of them.
Unfortunately, the conspiracy theorists and doomsday nuts use anything they can as evidence of their theories.  The end of the Mayan calendar, the increased news coverage given to natural disasters, the seeming increase in intensity of these disasters all play into the fear flavoured kool-aid that they're trying to market. 
My question to you readers is this, do you buy the brand of fear they're selling? Do you think the world is really coming to an end?

Monday, 2 May 2011

Calendar Entry #1: Yom HaSho'ah

I had meant to do this on each day to correspond with the Calendar.  I totally forgot until just now, realising that I had missed a day.  So here's the entry that was supposed to be for  Sunday May 1st.

Yom HaSho'ah

This day is otherwise known in English as Holocaust Day or Holocaust Remembrance Day.  It is observed as Israel's commemoration for the millions of Jews who passed during the Holocaust and has been a national and public holiday since it's inception in 1953.

At 10am a siren sounds for two minutes at which time people stop what they are doing, stand at attention to pay silent tribute for those who died.