‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for March 20th

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

How weak-willed are we at times when we’ve made a decision and know we must stand on it. It is so much easier to give in to the easy way of doing things.

We are almost a “house divided against itself,” and the strain of staying with a decision seems almost our enemy. But we never gain much stature by giving in to ourselves against our better judgment. And we never get anywhere by scattering our efforts.

Making a decision is difficult enough without losing one’s determination in following through. Laying down the responsibility is somewhat like warning children to behave themselves and then permitting them to continue to misbehave.

How long has it been since you’ve proven to yourself that you mean business in carrying out a plan?

A man of wisdom has written that we have firmness of character when we have the ability to say “no” to the wrong as well as to those things which are good but stand in the way of our progress.

Always remember that to want something that is good and right is the blessing. God gave us the ability to desire or we would never have thought of using it. But God also gave us the ability to cry, to feel pain, and the freedom to choose whether we go on or quit.

In our lives we face many decisions. Some are hard to make because we know we must turn our backs upon something that seems harmless at the moment simply because we know it would not be good in the long run.

But there are also decisions that are more challenge than decision. They are the good things that are placed before us, and our will to follow through is tested. When defeat seems sure, then is the time to begin to fight. When others are quitting, then is the time to throw more strength into the battle. Anything worth having is worth working for, and is of lasting value.

Very often these sieges must be made silently and without seeming effort. And yet we know we cannot get something for nothing. We have s service to perform. We can make it a drudge, or we can make it a delightful experience, according to our faith. Be persistent. Unless you do not particularly want your dreams to come true, you can’t afford to know the meaning of apathy. You must continually be on the scene with the muscles of your mind toned.

It isn’t difficult to have a dream. But it often ceases at that point. The willingness to follow through, the determination to look impossibilities in the eye and trudge on must be practiced before that dream can amount to anything. All along life’s road there are those who would discourage you, very often in ignorance, not realizing the effect of their words upon you. It is then that you must muster the strength to believe that theirs is only an opinion while your plans are based on the principle that all good things come to those who hustle while they wait.

It is too bad that they cannot see your invisible companions, persistence, faith, and a worthwhile plan. Smile and walk on.

There is a Divine Being with whom we can place all our obstacles, all our doubts and dears – and then our work begins. We give lovingly of friendship, of any kind of help that we are capable of giving, of positive words and thoughts and understanding.

Give without thought of return. For while we are giving with loving selflessness, life shapes for us our heart’s desires.

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Available online! ‘Cherokee Feast of Days’ By Joyce Sequichie Hifler.
Visit her web site to purchase the wonderful books by Joyce as gifts for yourself or for loved ones……and also for those who don’t have access to the Internet: http://www.hifler.comClick Here to Buy her books at Amazon.com


Elder’s Meditation of the Day By White Bison, Inc., an American Indian-owned nonprofit organization. Order their many products from their web site:
http://www.whitebison.org

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day – March 20

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – March 20

“You have wandered away from your teachings. You must concentrate on your spiritual teachings…Don’t be sidetracked.”

–Henry Quick Bear, LAKOTA

Why are the Elders always telling us to know The culture and listen to the teachings? When We go off track, why do the Elders say, return to the teachings? The teachings tell us how to live in harmony with the Laws and principles of the Great Spirit. Living means Life – a good life, a happy life. Many of us have grown up without the teachings and the culture, that is why we don’t know how to live. To improve on relationships, to treat our children with honor and to respect our Elders, we need to live by the old teachings again.

Great Spirit, today, show me how to live.

March 20 – Daily Feast

March 20 – Daily Feast

Someone said the test of courage is not to give up but to rise up and take dominion over melancholy moods. To give in to mood swings from sadness to anger makes finding stable ground even more difficult. In fact, it probably cause more, nu ne lv na, which in Cherokee means mischief or harm, than any other thing. When talking to someone trustworthy does not ease the stress, then writing it can make a world of difference. Writing it to ourselves can bring out many causes for sadness or anger that we didn’t know we were harboring. A daily journal has been the source of help in learning what we store away unconsciously, only to come out and whip us at the most unlikely times. It is a way of cleaning house and making corrections in the privacy of our own minds without having to tell the world.

~ Do not hurt your neighbor, for it is not him you wrong but yourself. ~

THE SHAWNEE

‘A Cherokee Feast of Days’, by Joyce Sequichie Hifler

Ostara’s Spring: Celebrating the Little Bit of Pagan in All of Us

Ostara’s Spring: Celebrating the Little Bit of Pagan in All of Us

BY: Debra Moffitt

When spring rolls around there’s an itch to get outdoors,  celebrate Mother Earth and enjoy the season. Ostara, the Pagan festival that comes to us from traditions that  pre-date Christianity, formalized it. It fetes the arrival of Ostara, the  spring. Ostara is personified by the goddess who represents the dawn, the coming  of new light and rebirth through many of the rituals, decorations and gifts that  we’re familiar with to this day. They include colorful Easter eggs, rabbits, and  baskets filled with sweets. Due to the popularity of these symbols in ancient  times they were coopted by Christianity from “pagans” (which to them meant  anyone who’d not adopted the religion) into what we know as Easter celebrations.  Many of us continue to celebrate the season with a little bit of pagan  influenced décor and delights.

The festival of Ostara falls around the equinox and is related to spring  festivities that celebrate renewal, planting new seeds and fertility. These  rites of spring come to us from the Celts and Saxons before they were conquered  by the Romans some 2,000 years ago. The spirit of Ostara festivities aimed to  inspire gratitude to the earth and environment in a beautiful and meaningful way.

Ostara (or Eostra) is an Anglo-Saxon goddess who represented dawn, and her  name derives from the Germanic word for “east.” She’s depicted as a young woman surrounded in light and budding trees and flowers. The Ostara festival falls on  the day of the equinox, the day when light and dark are equal. It also marks the  time when more light will begin to come in, days will be longer, nights shorter  and food will be more abundant. At a time when people had to store food to last  the long harsh winters, this festival was particularly anticipated as a time of  renewed hope.

Inspired by the equinox where light and dark of the physical day are equal,  Ostara is a time to celebrate life and balance. On this occasion it was believed  that taking water at dawn from springs and drinking them would restore balance  and be beneficial for a body. Villages celebrated with bonfires and often ate  the remaining ham that had been stored up over the winter. With the promise of a  new beginning in the fresh blossoms in trees and green sprouts of bulbs from the  ground, new nourishment was available and a sense of possibility restored

The name of this Pagan goddess is connected to one of the most sacred  Christian holidays. Ostara’s (Eostra’s) or the traditional Easter festival was transferred to the celebration of  Christ’s resurrection to incorporate the Christian meaning of Easter after  Anglo-Saxons and Germans converted to Christianity. This merging between “pagan”  and Christian festivals occurred throughout Europe, and remnants of it, like the  Easter eggs, remain visible to this day in both European and American cultures.  The “pagan” cultures didn’t deny divinity; they simply celebrated it in a way  that was more closely connected to the earth and Nature in forms like Ostara who  became a deity they worshiped as they saw her powers manifest every spring.

The symbols that surround Ostara include eggs, rabbits and spring flowers  which speak of the fertility and new life she brings. The egg, especially, has  always been a sacred sign of fecundity. Eggs carried the power of becoming, of  creation. Some ancient legends believed that the Earth was hatched from an egg,  and of course eggs abound in birds’ nests at this time of year. They became  natural associations with fertility, birthing and creation. The egg or lingam is  still much revered and often placed on altars in Hindu culture. Rabbits, too,  were associated with the spring festivals because of their great fertility. They  produce a large number of offspring and breed many times during the season.

Modern Pagans celebrate Ostara with feasting and fun.  It’s a joyous celebration that may be combined with rituals to promote balance,  plant new seeds both literally and figuratively, and prepare for a wonderful new  season of rebirth. Even if you’re not Pagan, everyone can enjoy the ancients  rites and rituals of spring that connect us both to the earth and to our  possibilities to grow spiritually. You may want to get some soil and plant seeds  for lettuce; prepare a kitchen herb garden or bring some potted plants into the  house. Bringing in spring colors will help you to connect with spring energy and  move you into a place where you begin to tap into the energy of renewal. Colors  like lilac, pastel pinks similar to the cherry blossoms and bright tulip colors  will add touches of freshness to interior spaces. In ancient times, when  planting took priority as a way to sustain a community, clearing away debris and  weeds was an important step before spring planting. What needs to be cleared  from your house and life to bring in that essential balance so that the seeds  you long to plant can grow? This is an ideal time to take a moment to  contemplate what needs to be brought into balance in your life.

 

Source:
Beliefnet

Celebrating Spring Equinox

Celebrating Spring Equinox

The spring equinox is one of the four great solar festivals of the year. Day and night are equal, poised and balanced, but about to tip over on the side of light. The spring equinox is sacred to dawn, youth, the morning star and the east. The Saxon goddess, Eostre (from whose name we get the direction East and the holiday Easter) is a dawn goddess, like Aurora and Eos. Just as the dawn is the time of new light, so the vernal equinox is the time of new life.

The Coming of the Spring

Although we saw the first promise of spring at Candlemas in the swelling buds, there were still nights of frost and darkness ahead. Now spring is manifest. Demeter is reunited with her daughter, Kore (the essence of spring), who has been in the Underworld for six months and the earth once again teems with life. The month of March contains holidays dedicated to all the great mother goddesses: Astarte, Isis, Aprhrodite, Cybele and the Virgin Mary. The goddess shows herself in the blossoms, the leaves on the trees, the sprouting of the crops, the mating of birds, the birth of young animals. In the agricultural cycle, it is time for planting. We are assured that life will continue.

Gilbert Murray in Five Stages of Greek Religion writes about the passion behind the Greek celebration of Easter:

Anyone who has been in Greece at Easter time, especially among the more remote peasants, must have been struck by the emotion of suspense and excitement, with which they wait for the announcement, “Christos aneste,” “Christ is risen!” and the response “Alethos aneste,” “He has really risen!” [An old peasant woman] explained her anxiety: “If Christ does not rise tomorrow we shall have no harvest this year.” We are evidently in the presence of an emotion and a fear which, beneath its Christian colouring and, so to speak, transfiguration, is in its essence — a relic from a very remote pre-Christian past.

Resurrection from the Dead

Murray then goes on to recount the myths of the Year Gods — Attis, Adonis, Osiris and Dionysus — who like Christ die and are reborn each year. These gods are always the son of a God and a mortal woman. The son is a savior who saves his people in some way, sometimes through sacrifice. He is the vegetation, dying each year (at harvest) to be reborn in the spring.

In ancient Rome, the 10-day rite in honor of Attis, son of the great goddess Cybele, began on March 15th. A pine tree, which represented Attis, was chopped down, wrapped in a linen shroud, decorated with violets and placed in a sepulchre in the temple. On the Day of Blood or Black Friday, the priests of the cult gashed themselves with knives as they danced ecstatically, sympathizing with Cybele in her grief and helping to restore Attis to life. Two days later, a priest opened the sepulchre at dawn, revealing that it was empty and announcing that the god was saved. This day was known as Hilaria or the Day of Joy, a time of feasting and merriment.

Sound familiar? Easter is the Christian version of the same myth. Even the name Easter is stolen. It comes from the Saxon dawn-goddess Eostre, whose festival was celebrated on spring equinox. The date of Easter is still determined by the old moon cycle. It is always the first Sunday on or after the first full moon after the spring equinox.

On Good Friday, Christ is crucified, a willing sacrifice. Altars are stripped, candles extinguished to represent the darkness of the grave. But on Easter, light springs from darkness, Christ rises from the tomb. If you’ve never attended an Easter vigil, I highly recommend it. (I usually go to a Russian or Greek Orthodox church, so I don’t know what the ceremony is like in other Christian churches.) Shortly before midnight all the lights are extinguished and the thronged church is dark and silent. Everyone is holding an unlit candle. The priest lights the Paschal candle, which has been ritually blessed and inscribed with the year. He then lights the candles of those nearby, who light the candles of their neighbors, until the church is ablaze with light and filled with song.

According to my Catholic missal, one of the prayers used during this part of the service (which is called the Service of the Light) goes like this:

We pray you, therefore, O Lord, that this candle, consecrated in honor of your name, may continue endlessly to scatter the darkness of this night. May it be received as a sweet fragrance and mingle with the lights of heaven. May the morning star find its flame burning, that Star which knows no setting, which came back from limbo. Christ is like the morning Star because he descended into Death (the Underworld) and emerged again, like Attis, like Kore, like Inanna and Ishtar.

Eggs and Seeds

Eggs are one of the symbols of this festival since they represent new life and potential. Folklore tells us (combining two themes of the season) (and Donna Henes has demonstrated in public egg-balancing ceremonies in New York City) that eggs balance on their ends most easily at equinox. Z Budapest in Grandmother of Time says that eggs were dyed red (the color of life) on the Festival of Astarte (Mar 17). The beautifully decorated eggs from the Ukraine (pysanky) are covered with magical symbols for protection, fertility, wisdom, strength and other qualities. They are given as gifts and used as charms.

Seeds are like eggs. While eggs contain the promise of new animal life, seeds hold the potential of a new plant. In ancient Italy in the spring, women planted gardens of Adonis. They filled urns with grain seeds, kept the in the dark and watered them every two days. This custom persists in Sicily. Women plant seeds of grains — lentils, fennel, lettuce or flowers — in baskets and pots. When they sprout, the stalks are tied with red ribbons and the gardens are placed on graves on Good Friday. They symbolize the triumph of life over death.

Celebrating

Blend ideas from the many traditions described above to create your own ceremony to honor the spring. Decorate with budding twigs, flowers, willow catkins, sprouting bulbs. Red and green are the colors of this festival. Red represents blood, the blood of sacrifice and life. Green symbolizes the growth of the plants. Honor various spring deities with their flowers: Narcisus and Hyacinth with those blooms, the red anemone for Adonis, violets for Attis, roses and lilies for the goddesses.

This is the traditional time for a great spring feast and the decoration of the table is as important as the food. There are many traditions from which to choose: Nawruz, Passover, Easter, St Joseph’s Day, Maimuna — all are variations on the theme of the spring feast, in which every item is symbolic.

Helen Farias in her seasonal newsletter, Octava, points out that certain foods are associated with springtime festivals: cheese, butter, eggs, pancakes, wheaten cakes, hot cross buns. Since this is a time when young animals are being born, milk is now available for making cheese and butter. In Poland, according to Dorothy Spicer in The Book of Festivals, a little lamb made of butter or sugar is placed in the center of the Easter table, which is laden with food and decorated with eggs, red paper cut-outs and festoons of green. Eggs symbolize new life, of course, and wheaten cakes, grain. In Italy, colored eggs are baked in braided loaves of bread on Easter, combining the two symbols. Hot cross buns, a traditional Easter food, may be very ancient. A wheaten cake marked with a cross was found in Herculaneum, preserved since 79, and may have been used in the spring rites.

Decorating Eggs

This is one of my favorites ways to celebrate spring. I’ve decorated eggs with nail polish, with food coloring and vinegar, with commercial egg dyes and with natural dyes. Pauline Campanelli in The Wheel of the Year describes many natural substances that dye eggs. One of my favorites is boiling a single onion skin with a few eggs to get a soft orange. A handful of onion skins produces rust, a half teaspoon of turmeric gives a sunny yellow and beet juice and vinegar make pink. If you boil eggs with vinegar and several of the outer leaves of cabbage and allow them to cool overnight, the eggs will be a bright robin’s egg blue, but they must be handled carefully since the dye comes off easily.

A few years ago, I finally purchased the appropriate tool, a kitska (I got mine in the art supply department of our local university bookstore), and started making pysanky (Ukrainian Easter eggs). You place a bit of beeswax in the funnel of the kitska, then melt it over a candle flame and draw on the eggshell. It helps to have a lathe to hold the egg if you want absolutely even lines. Begin with a white egg and put wax on all the areas you want to stay white, then dye the egg yellow and cover all the areas with wax which you want to remain yellow, and so forth through orange, red and a dark color (brown, purple or black). When the egg is done, place it in a low temperature over for a few minutes to melt the wax, which is then rubbed off to reveal the intricate designs and glowing colors of your egg. I love the delicacy of the designs, the smell of the wax and the candle, and the trance-like quality of the whole process.

This is a great project for doing with a group. In the Ukraine, only women created these special eggs and they did so at night, when the children were asleep. If you want to use the eggs as talismans, they should be raw and whole (not blown out). Decorate them with symbols of the qualities you wish for yourself and your family and friends in the coming year. For example, draw sprouting leaves on an egg and bury it in your garden to help stimulate your plants.

Blessing and Planting Seeds

Several years ago, my family celebrated with a very simple but effective ritual, based on the ceremony suggested by Nancy Brady Cunningham in Feeding the Spirit. Each person chose a seed or bulb that was meaningful to them. We blessed the seeds with a prayer from Campanelli: Now is the dark half of the year passing Now do the days grow light and the Earth grows warm I summon the spirit of these seeds Which have slept in darkness Awaken, stir and swell Soon you will be planted in the earth To grow and bring froth new fruit Blessed be! We sat quietly and visualized our plants in full bloom. Then we invoked each of the four elements necessary for the plants’ growth. We placed the seed in a pot of soil and patted down the earth, poured water on it, breathed on it to represent air and held the pot over a candle (or up to the sun, if outside) to represent the element fire (the warmth of the sun).

Add another layer of meaning to this ceremony by choosing seeds which represent the things you want tog row during the new year- — wisdom, understanding, patience, etc. Visualize those qualities coming into full bloom in your life as you plant your seeds.

Sources
Budapest, Zsuzsanna E, The Grandmother of Time, Harper & Row 1989
Campanelli, Pauline, The Wheel of the Year, Llewellyn 1989
Cunningham, Nancy Brady, Feeding the Spirit, Resource Publications 1988 [I believe this is out of print]
Farias, Helen, Octava no longer exists but some of Helen’s writings on seasonal holidays can be found in back issues of The Beltane Papers.
Murray, Gilbert, Five Stages of Greek Religion, Doubleday 1955

Article Taken from

School of the Seasons by Waverly Fitzgerald

Spring Equinox: When does spring start?

Spring Equinox: When does spring start?

Today the northern hemisphere is celebrating the first day of spring, an event marked by the spring – or vernal – equinox.  Humans have been celebrating this day in various forms for thousands of years, but what actually is an equinox?

In the most basic terms an equinox is when the length of the night and the length of the day are roughly equal. There are two equinoxes (one in March for the beginning of spring and one in September for the beginning of autumn)  and the word itself comes from the Latin for equal (‘aequus’) and night (‘nox’).

The ‘opposite’ of an equinox is a solstice – another pair of biannual events which occur in the middle of winter and summer when the Sun appears at its lowest or highest point in the sky. Each of these four days occur at roughly equal time periods, marking major transitional points as the Earth orbits the sun.

These transitions (and the season themselves) are caused by the Earth’s axial tilt. Axial tilt is best understood with the help of a quick thumbs up.

Hold your hand in a thumbs up position in front of you and tilt it backwards slightly (at a jaunty 23 degree angle if you want to be precise): your fingers are now pointing in the direction of the earth’s rotation and your thumb indicates the north pole. Your hand is still upright, but spinning in a skewed direction.

This tilt means that different parts of the planet are exposed to different amounts of sunshine as the Earth orbits the Sun. It isn’t entirely clear why there is a tilt in the first place; some astronomer suggest it could be to do with the uneven distribution of matter (most of it in the Northern Hemisphere) while others say the Earth was knocked off its axis by an early collision with another celestial body.

Humans living thousands of years may not have known the details of this astronomy, but over generations they certainly learnt that the Earth gets warmer and colder in pretty regular cycles, with the spring equinox marking one point when the Northern Hemisphere begins to shrug off winter’s cold.

Warmer temperatures thaw frozen ground to make it easier for planting crops, increased rainfall waters these and animals that hibernated over winter emerge from their dens. There might not be anything mystical about the coming of the spring time, but in purely biological terms the Earth is indeed coming back to life.

For this reason it’s no surprise spring coincides with Passover in the Jewish faith (commemorating the release of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt) and Easter in the Christian calendar (celebrating the resurrection of Christ after his crucifixion). As the American comedian Robert Orben said : “Spring is God’s way of saying, ‘One more time!’”

Source:

Big News Network

Sorry for the delay……

Sorry for the delay. The phone rings and the “cable” internet still disconnects. We have had Comcast out here about 4 times now(all they do is scratch their rumps & go “hmm…”).  It still disconnects & doesn’t reconnect till you are off the phone. The phone has rung all morning and I am ready to jerk the thing out of the wall. But anyway, back to business…….

A Little Humor for Your Day – ‘Top Internet Commandments’

The Top Internet Commandments

12. Thou shalt not downloadeth porn on thine work computer, lest ye be cast out.
11. Thou shalt *** EARN *** REDEMPTION *** FAST!!!! ***
10. Thou shalt not make for yourself a graven image of that which is copyrighted.
9. Thou shalt not pop up any unwanted windows before me, for I shall smite them immediately with a hasty click and read them not.
8. Thou shalt use no browser other than Internet Explorer, for thy Gates is a jealous Gates.
7. Thou shalt not forward chain letters. Instead, send these commandments to ten friends, and help save the life of a small child in Bogota!
6. Thou shalt not act like a hot 18-year chick in a chat room when thou art a pudgy, pimply-faced Trekkie.
5. Spam not, lest ye be spammed tenfold.
4. Thou shalt not spill your kinky guts and then click “Reply to all.”
3. Thou shall not call thyself “Richard P. Smith” online when “Chesty LaRue” sounds so much better.
2. Remember thou the Neimann-Marcus cookie recipe and keep it holy.
1. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife/husband, for thou might get found and stalked on ye old internet. Better yet, ye door might get door on and ye nose gets punched. OUCH!