Friday, 26 December 2008

See you in the New Year!

I'm taking a little break from blogging over the holidays. See you in the New Year! Best wishes to everyone for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2009!

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light

How can you not love the Christmas nativity story? Is there a more profoundly radical idea than that the Divine will manifest itself among the most humble in society? Even today that idea should shake us to our core. The nativity story, with its angels, shepherds and wise men, has something beautiful for everyone. Plus the Great Mother in an undercover role!

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Christmas Eve

So it's Christmas Eve tonight! My Rare One and I plan to watch It's a Wonderful Life on CBC television. Her Royal Highness the cat plans to curl up on her cat tree in the living room and sleep through it. Will we curl up on the loveseat, sip hot chocolate and eat popcorn with our full attention on the movie? No, we'll decorate a gingerbread house while we watch it. My Rare One is a bit of a multitasker that way. But it does mean that we get to enjoy two great holiday traditions simultaneously!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Snow Shoe Hares

This gorgeous painting was created by Molly Roberts, a very talented fine arts student in Milwaukee, WI. She writes about her art and life in a beautifully presented blog called Her Speak. From her blog, you can access her Etsy site called Doll Machine Gallery.

I love rabbits, always have, always will. And of course, rabbits are a very potent symbol of the Goddess (think Eostre!). When I see a wild rabbit crossing my path, it's almost like a little personal message from the Divine Feminine. So when I saw this painting on Molly's Etsy site, I simply had to have it! It arrived at my home on the Winter Solstice, like a special blessing on a sacred day.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Hanukkah Lights

Last night was the first night of Hanukkah. Here in Edmonton there is a huge outdoor menorah on the grounds of the Alberta Legislature. So last night, local dignitaries (premier, mayor, etc.) and members of the Jewish community braved the incredible cold and assembled to light the first (electric) candle. Like all midwinter festivals of light, Hanukkah is about light in the midst of darkness and hope in the midst of despair. Be it so!

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Winter Solstice

Today is the Winter Solstice, longest night and shortest day of the year. The sun returns and now will grow stronger each day until our period of restful hibernation ends with spring. My favourite Solstice chant is by Anne Hill and perfectly captures this time of introspection and renewal:

Deep, deep, deep into the heart of the winter.
Deep, deep, deep into the womb of the Mother.
Deep, deep, deep where there is no other
Song but the song of my soul.

Solstice blessings, everyone!

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Handel's Messiah

I have not been a believing or practising Christian for 30 years, but that doesn't stop me from loving Handel's Messiah. Seeing a performance every year at Christmas has been one of my long-standing holiday traditions. Tonight my Rare One and I are off to the concert hall again to see this year's rendition. I'm looking forward to it very much.

I still often find great beauty, spiritual meaning and emotional poignancy in selected Christian stories, music and art. Although I am no longer a literal believer, Christianity will always remain my cultural heritage. It is inextricably tied up with my childhood memories and personal spiritual development. When the right note is struck, it can still have profound spiritual resonance for me. Sam Keen, in his book Hymns to an Unknown God, really captured this lingering connection of the heart when he wrote:

The truth of the spirit . . . is better conveyed in song and poetry than by propositions. The best of the Christian tradition, which continues to nourish me, is expressed in the music it inspired. Often, my mind is uncomforted by any set of beliefs that can stand the test of doubt, but when I listen to Bach's "Sheep May Safely Graze," my soul lies down beside still waters and a mysterious Lord is still my shepherd.

Friday, 19 December 2008


God, I know just what they've been through --
Princess Di, Britney, Lindsay and the rest.
I'm stalked continually by photographers --
one in particular is relentless, just relentless.
Always with the camera phone!
I have no rest, no refuge, no escape.
She waits for me at the cat tree,
lures me with my favourite treats,
always ready to leap out at me --
Is this the terrible price I must pay
for being so beautiful?

(c) Debra She Who Seeks 2007

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Childhood Friends: Girlygirl

Girlygirl lived beside us. She was a very pretty girl with long curly blonde hair and blue eyes. There's an old black-and-white photo of us sitting together on the front steps. She's wearing a frilly little dress with bobby socks and mary janes. I'm the dark-haired one with the short pixie cut, tee shirt and pants.

Girlygirl's Mom used to run around in their backyard wearing only a bra and panties. She always had a glass in her hand. So Girlygirl's house was another one that my mother forbade me from entering. And of course I disobeyed, but again only once. Even though it was the middle of the afternoon, Girlygirl's Mom was still wearing her bathrobe. She sat at the kitchen table, smoking a cigarette and drinking booze out of a coffee cup. She made my teddy bear drink out of the cup too. She laughed and laughed. Everything she said was slurred. The house looked like a tornado had gone through it.

Girlygirl and her parents moved away shortly afterwards and went to live on a farm way out in the country. I don't know what happened to any of them.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Childhood Friends: Cling Wrap

Every morning during summer vacation, Cling Wrap would arrive at our house by 8:00 a.m. and sit on our front steps, waiting to play with me. There was no getting rid of him. He never wanted to go home. He was a quiet boy who was always ready to play such favourite games as house, pioneers, Robin Hood and Tarzan. I'm afraid I bossed him around terribly. He didn't mind.

One day we had a big fight and I told him to go home. But he wouldn't, of course. His name wasn't Cling Wrap for nothing. My solution was to throw stones at him until he left our yard. My Mom caught me and I got a spanking for it. So I learned not to use that method of persuasion again. Cling Wrap was back the next morning, waiting on the front steps as usual.

Although Cling Wrap was always at our house, my Mom forbade me to ever go inside his house. I disobeyed her once. The inside of Cling Wrap's house was dank and dark. All the curtains were closed. His father was lying on the couch, dead drunk. This was his usual daily routine. His mother was out supplementing their meagre town welfare benefits by cleaning other people's houses. For the first time, I understood why Cling Wrap preferred to spend as much time as possible away from home. I never went inside his house again.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Childhood Friends: Tomboy

In the mid-1960s, two-parent families were the absolute norm in our little one-horse prairie town. Tomboy was the only kid I knew who lived in a single-parent family. Her Mom was a free-spirited artiste who did wild things that no one else did, like paint murals and pierce her children's ears (even the baby). The family lived in our town for a couple of years and then moved on again, when Mom found a new man.

Tomboy was the most wonderful girl I knew. She taught me how to jump off the roof of the back shed and how to cadge free chocolate milk from the creamery. We both adored Anne of Green Gables and spent countless hours acting out that book's adventures. Tomboy was Anne and I was Diana. My crush on Tomboy was such that I willingly assumed the second banana role, something I would never have done for anyone else. In our own private Avonlea, there was no Gilbert Blythe. We never missed him. We kindred spirits spent our time at the Lake of Shining Waters (which appeared to everyone else to be a culvert on the cemetery road).

When Tomboy moved away, she and I swore eternal friendship and gave each other a lock of our hair. I kept hers in my Sunday School Bible. We were faithful pen-pals for many years. Tomboy remained a boyish girl until she graduated from high school. Then, completely out of the blue, she became a born-again Christian and a total femme. She married shortly thereafter and I never heard from her again.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Old Man Winter

Old Man Winter has chomped down on Edmonton with his icy fangs and is shaking us like a terrier shakes a rat. Hmmm, a bit over the top, I know, but DAMN it's cold! Since Saturday, the mercury has frozen at -30 C (-40 with wind chill, yay!) And apparently this frigid weather is going to continue right through the holidays. The entire prairies are trapped for the foreseeable future beneath a dome of Arctic air. Pity us, all ye who live in temperate climes.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Sankta Lucia

Today is the feast day of Sankta Lucia (St. Lucy), the thinly Christianized version of the ancient Nordic Goddess of the Winter Solstice. She ensures that the sacred light returns to the world every year at the very zenith of darkness. Under the old Julian calendar, her feast day was actually held on the Winter Solstice, the longest night and shortest day of the year. But under the reformed Gregorian calendar which we use today, her sacred day got shifted backwards to December 13. On this day in Swedish culture, the oldest girl in each family embodies the Saint/Goddess and gets to wear the Lucia Crown of Light. Moving about the dark house at sunrise, she awakens her family with the blessing of light and the bounty of the Goddess (coffee and special buns).

So ends the longest night
With light that She's bringing,
She is the Queen of Light
Joyfully singing!
Clad in her garment white,
Wearing Her Crown of Light --
Sankta Lucia! Sankta Lucia!

The special saffron-raisin buns distributed by Sankta Lucia are yellow like the sun and are called "Lucia cats." So the following picture is appropriate, if perhaps a little too literal!

Friday, 12 December 2008

Women's Spirituality

The most recent issue of Sagewoman magazine (No. 75, 2008) has a new column by Z Budapest, one of the women who helped create the women's spirituality movement in the early 1970s. Writing of those days, she says (p. 67):

We were creating our own religion, our own rituals, our own prayers and sacred dances. Our own holy days. Our own priestesses. Everything between birth and death was now in our domain. We were saying, in effect, "Move over old man god, your time is up. Take your desert-born religions with you. Take your woman hating-tenets, take your male rule over women and bury it. We are free now. We no longer believe in you. We don't care about your 'good books,' we care about our own souls. We judge you from now on, as you have judged us. We are on to you, and you have lost us forever."

Women's spirituality still has the wonderful headiness of that freedom and creativity. It's one of the things I loved most about this path when I first began to walk it 20 years ago. Today it's something I simply take for granted because it's ingrained in me. But this quotation reminded me of how exhilarating it was when I encountered that freedom and creativity for the first time. How different it felt to be the active author of my own spiritual beliefs and rituals, instead of being the passive recipient of teachings and rituals handed down from one generation to the next!

Wednesday, 10 December 2008


Lakshmi came to her
the woman who extravagantly wrapped her tree
in a thousand sparkling coloured lights
so that in the midst of winter's frigid darkness
the delight of beauty would not be lost

Lakshmi came to her
the goddess of the festival of light
attracted by she who knew the importance
of celebrating light when all is dark
she who had learned this hard lesson from life

Lakshmi came to her
not once but twelve times
an entirely unexpected profusion of goddesses
arriving unknown and unannounced
to bless her life with abundance

Lakshmi came to her
gold coins flowing from her fingertips
the sacred lotus in full bloom
to dwell in the garden of her life
beneath the shining tree of light

(c) Debra She Who Seeks 2008

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

All Hail Her Royal Highness

My cat is miffed that I have not been blogging about her lately. This tribute to her divine heritage as a Daughter of Bast should defuse Her Royal Highness's snit. Plus an extra bit of gushy food for supper tonight. And some extra petting. Maybe a new catnip mouse.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Childhood Friends: Jay Dub

One year at school, local evangelists gave everyone in my class a little New Testament Bible (a practice now quite rightly prohibited for reasons that would never have occurred to anyone forty years ago). Anyway, the first couple of pages contained a picture of our then-still-new Canadian flag and the words to our national anthem. My friend Jay Dub very carefully ripped those pages out of her copy. Jay Dub was a quiet girl who kept pretty much to herself. She and I chummed around at recess, but her mom didn't let her bring friends home to play after school, she said.

Of course I asked Jay Dub why she ripped out those two pages. She explained that Jehovah's Witnesses recognize only God, not the State, as the controlling authority in their lives. So it was blasphemous to have the flag and national anthem in the Bible. I was completely gob-smacked by this information. If not for Jay Dub, it would never have occurred to me in a million years to question the presence of patriotic material in a Bible. Although I still did not agree with ripping out the pages, I did understand why someone else might want to. This was my first exposure to the idea that there could be different opinions about Christianity. I see this now as a very spiritually significant event in my life. Thank you, Jay Dub, wherever you are today!

Saturday, 6 December 2008

The Montreal Massacre

It's hard to believe that 19 years have passed since December 6, 1989 when 14 young women were murdered at L'Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal by a crazed misogynist gunman. At the time, absolutely everyone knew the gunman's name because of its constant repetition in media reports. But the women's names were rarely mentioned or highlighted. So the women who organized memorial rallies in virtually every city across Canada made a point of reading aloud and emphasizing the women's names, so they would not be twice victimized by being anonymous characters in their own horrific story. It is the gunman's name which is not mentioned at the continuing annual memorials, so that he is denied any personal recognition -- even the notoriety of infamy -- for his evil hate crime.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Childhood Friends: Feral Girl

Feral Girl lived down the street from us in a shabby house with a severely alcoholic father, a mother who no one ever saw and many, many siblings. Although she was a year older than me and in a different grade, I would often encounter her at the train tracks on the way to and from school. She was one mean, angry kid. I was scared of her. One day she tried to hit me with this crappy old baby doll she was carrying. Instead of fighting, I decided to compliment her doll and I pretended to admire it. This tactic completely threw her. She was deeply suspicious of my reaction, but she didn't try to hit me with the doll again. A light bulb came on! Over our next few encounters, I made a point of being friendly to her, ignoring her rudeness and hostility, trying (in essence) to tame her with kindness. She remained deeply suspicious of me for quite a while, but eventually we did genuinely become friends. We often walked to and from school together. I quite liked her. I hope her life turned out better than it began.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Childhood Friends: Flea Proof Girl

Flea Proof Girl had several disabilities like club feet and bowed legs as well as other, more private, physical ailments about which we were never completely sure. But she also had a shining spirit and an incredibly positive attitude in the face of relentless teasing and bullying at school. Her main tormenters were boys who would pretend to be horrified if she touched them. They would run away from her, yelling "Flea proof! Flea proof!" to counteract the cooties they allegedly feared catching. But it was just meanness, pure and simple, that motivated them.

Flea Proof Girl made a point of chasing the boys as best she could, threatening to touch them, but always with a smile and a laugh. I still marvel at her resilience. But who knows how much she cried at home? How much support and advice did her parents have to give her to get through each school day?

Despite her disabilities, Flea Proof Girl could jump rope like nobody's business. She whupped me regularly in skipping rope contests. I learned from her that disabled people need no condescension from anyone. I competed against her as hard as I could. And I was genuinely glad when she won.

Flea Proof Girl died of medical complications when she was ten: a short life, but a life that touched many, I'm sure.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Childhood Friends: Intro

I grew up in a small one-horse prairie town, which was (and probably still is) exactly the same as all other small one-horse prairie towns. I was ten years old in Canada's Centennial Year, 1967, which was a really big deal at our school. We had to sing Bobby Gimby's "Ca-na-da" song constantly. We had to colour endless copies of the Centennial logo. Worst of all, we were forced to memorize all the provincial flags and official flowers. I still remember them. Anyway, I want to tell you about some of the interesting kids I knew then. Most of my childhood friends were outsiders and misfits. That probably reveals some horrible dark truth about myself more than anything else, but so what! I don't know how long this series of posts will be or if they will all be consecutively posted but off we go, down memory lane!