Tuesday, 25 August 2009

A Short Break


It's time to rest, rejuvenate and "fill the well" in oh so many ways! But I'll be back in less than a month's time, so see you then!

Monday, 24 August 2009

A Blog Award! Squeeee!


Barbara at A Bird In My Hand has very generously passed on a blog award to me here at my little corner of the blogosphere! I am so honoured and touched to be a recipient. Thank you, Barbara!

The Bella Sinclair Award was created by Ces and named for her dear friend Bella. Please read the very moving background story of the award here. This is how Ces describes the award's purpose:

I designed this award to celebrate art in the blogs and to honor the value of friendship, sisterhood, sharing and caring. It is to be awarded to the gifted, accomplished, eloquent and talented blogger whose friendship and influence inspire us to do our best. That I named it after Bella Sinclair is because she epitomizes all of these things. She is an inspiration to many of us.

I would like to pass this award on to three wonderful bloggers who meet all these criteria as well. Another shared characteristic among all their blogs is the creative use of photography to illustrate, inform, express and inspire! I love following along on all their many adventures! Please check out their blogs if you haven't done so already:



Caroline at The Zen in You

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Moby-Dick in Haiku


Want a good laugh? Check out this hilarious satirical website that rewrites Moby-Dick in a mere 15 verses of haiku. Not only is it a short and pithy work compared to the original novel, but each haiku is accompanied by a fabulous collage illustration. To give you a taste, here's the opening haiku that goes with the above illustration:

Call me Ishmael
a white boy from Manhatto
I'm not really gay!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Moby-Dick Update # 3 (Continued)


What is the worst possible thing for humans to contemplate? That there is no meaning whatsoever to our existence, to our suffering, to our selves, that the universe is random and impersonal.

When Captain Ahab tries to explain to Starbuck why he hates Moby-Dick past all reason and good sense, he goes on and on about looking beyond life's pasteboard masks. Moby-Dick is a hated pasteboard mask disguising the truth. Then Ahab says, "Sometimes I think there's naught beyond. But 'tis enough." He fearfully pulls back from the thought that there is nothing beyond life's surface. It is too unbearable to think that there might be no meaning to the life-shattering loss of his leg.

And in Melville's famously enigmatic chapter on symbolism called "The Whiteness of the Whale," Ishmael asserts that "some certain significance lurks in all things, else all things are little worth, and the round world itself but an empty cipher." The idea that there might be no meaning to life is presented as so ridiculous that it's not worth dwelling on. And to a mid-19th century mind with an absolute belief in the existence of God and His Divine Plan centred on humans, the idea that existence could be random and meaningless would indeed be too crazy to think about even for a second.

But that idea is not crazy to modern existential thought. And I don't think that idea was crazy to Melville. I think he was a hundred years before his time and dared to explore an awful possibility that others could not even imagine. Captain Ahab rages against Moby-Dick to the bitter end but in the last analysis, he is powerless against the awful truth of Moby-Dick.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Moby-Dick Update # 3


Bet you thought I'd abandoned Moby-Dick, didn't you? Nope, I'm up to Chapter 87 now. And I've diligently plowed through a seemingly endless number of "cetology chapters" as they're called. Chapters that contain more mind-numbing factual information about whales than anyone would ever want to know. But, in the exciting part of the book, the hunt for Moby-Dick is in full swing!

So I guess it's time for me to weigh in with my two cents worth on The Big Question -- what does the great white whale symbolize? Everyone agrees that Moby-Dick represents something huge and ultimately uncontrollable by humans -- Fate, God, Evil, Totalitarianism, etc. But I think that Moby-Dick represents something even more overwhelming, unthinkable or frightening than any of those things.

I take this as a clue. In a letter about Moby-Dick sent to his friend Nathaniel Hawthorne, Melville said, "I have written a wicked book, and feel spotless as the lamb."

[Tomorrow -- all is revealed!]

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Total Eclipse of the Sun


On February 26, 1979 there was a total eclipse of the sun which, like all such events, was only fully visible at certain locations on earth. One of those spots was Winnipeg, Manitoba. Anticipation about the event ran high in Winnipeg for weeks, even months, before the Big Day. Everyone was taught not to look at the sun during the eclipse unless they had a special piece of welders' glass to look through. Disposable glasses with the requisite protection were handed out to all school kids. Everyone was positively ga-ga over the upcoming eclipse.

Well, not absolutely everyone. I was certainly not taken in by all the hype and hoopla. After all, I was a very smart 22 year old university student who was ruled by reason and who was not going to get all worked up because of some natural event, scientifically interesting though it may be to the human intellect. [Yes, yes, I know, but that's how I was in those days].

When the Big Day came, I was at home when the eclipse occurred. Looking out my apartment window, the full light of day disappeared, quickly plunging Winnipeg into the full dark of night instead. It was an incredibly eerie and awesome effect. Overcome with inexplicable excitement, I put on my winter coat and raced down the stairs in the pitch black, almost breaking my neck. I just HAD to be outside in the weird daytime darkness! I just HAD to experience the eclipse! After a little while, the light started to return. Then I had to race back upstairs to watch the corona on TV (because of course I hadn't bothered to get the necessary protective eyewear). In short order, daylight returned and the world was restored to normalcy.

Wow. I was very surprised and not a little disturbed by the eclipse's emotional impact on me. I could completely understand how eclipses must have frightened and mystified people through the ages. It was like Beholding the Hand of God or something. Not a "scientific" or an "intellectual" experience after all, but a purely emotional one, even a spiritual one. I regretted my arrogance and wished, too late, that I had gotten the special eyewear to see the magical moment when the sun returned. Silly, silly girl. I will probably never again have the opportunity to experience a total solar eclipse.

[Right after the total eclipse, a fabulous photo was published of the corona behind the Golden Boy on top of the Manitoba Legislature. I hoped to find a copy of it on the internet, but this time-lapse photo was the only similar image I could find.]


Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Perseid Meteor Shower


Every August the earth passes through the debris trail of the comet Swift-Tuttle, which causes the Northern Hemisphere's night sky to be full of shooting stars (actually, meteoric debris burning up in earth's atmosphere). In 1996, according to CBC Winnipeg, the Perseid Meteor Shower promised to be especially spectacular. The CBC advised people to view the event out in the country though, in order to avoid the obscuring effect of urban light contamination. So one night when no cloud cover was forecast, I set my alarm for 2:00 a.m., hauled myself out of bed in the middle of the night and drove about 20 miles north of Winnipeg (to River Road near Captain Kennedy Tea House) to stand under the stars and view the promised spectacle.

There was only one small thing that I failed to take into consideration. Every year, the City of Winnipeg fogs for mosquitoes in urban areas to keep the population down to tolerable limits. Of course, there is no mosquito control measures in rural areas. Complacent in my urban lifestyle, I didn't think to wear any mosquito repellent.

The first mosquitoes who discovered me immediately used their cellphones to call a few hundred of their closest friends and relatives to the feast. Those friggin' mosquitoes nearly ate me alive! And they were big, hungry bastards too. I lasted maybe 10 minutes before being forced to run back to the safety of my car. I drove home absolutely covered in bites. Itchy, itchy bites.

Believe me, the two or three shooting stars that I saw in those 10 minutes were NOT worth it. So don't talk to me about the wonders of the Perseid Meteor Shower. I don't want to hear it.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Rainbows

Everyone has seen rainbows, I know. Everyone loves rainbows, I'm sure. It's impossible to feel down or sad when you see a rainbow in the sky, no matter how small or fragmented the rainbow is. It's like seeing and receiving a beautiful visible blessing. To see a full rainbow arch is especially wonderful and to see a double arch is a spectacular treat not to be forgotten.

My favourite rainbow memory occurred one summer in the early 1990s. I was driving back to Winnipeg on the Yellowhead Highway under the big prairie sky of rural Manitoba. The weather was very weird -- one moment it rained, the next it was sunny, then it was dark and menacing, then sunny again, etc. Every time it got sunny, the sky was full of multiple rainbow fragments all over the place, here, there and everywhere. And the familiar rainbow colours were incredibly vivid and intense against the changing sky! I stopped the car on the highway shoulder to get out and look. It was a unique rainbow lightshow like I have never seen before or since.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Close Encounters with Celestial Phenomena


My recent posts (here and here) about the Northern Lights got me thinking about other encounters I've had over the years with different celestial phenomena. Three such encounters stand out in my memory, so I'll tell you about them over the next three days. Yes, I am shamelessly squeezing as many blog posts as possible out of this topic!

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Play him off, Keyboard Cat!


Remember those old movies about vaudeville where a long hook would slowly come out from the theatre's wings and then suddenly pull some awful comedian or terrible singer off the stage? Well, there's now a modern internet equivalent! Say hello to Keyboard Cat who often appears at the end of YouTube videos featuring stupid people or bad acting. Keyboard Cat plays a jaunty little tune on an organ keyboard, which is the signal for raspberries all around! Play him off, Keyboard Cat! Bye-bye, loser!

The original Keyboard Cat video was created by a crazy artiste named Charlie Schmidt, who essentially used his remarkably good-natured cat Fatso like a muppet and then posted the resulting video on YouTube. Somebody else saw Keyboard Cat's potential and appended the segment to a blooper video. Thousands of other YouTube video-makers have now followed suit. Keyboard Cat officially went viral in May 2009 and is now an internet star! Check out Keyboard Cat's Wikipedia page and also this hilarious website that collects the very best Keyboard Cat videos. And don't miss the shocking "True Internet Story" mockumentary about Keyboard Cat's life and rise to fame.

Keyboard Cat makes me laugh so hard that I pee my pants. I'm sorry, but it's true.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Wanna go bowling?


Do you like Witches?

Cats?

Bowling?

Wasting time?

All of the above?

Then do I have a free web game for you! Check out the (Original) Cat Bowling site here and let the mayhem begin! Be sure to have your computer's sound turned on for full effect!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

The Women of the WDGCC


Over the past eight years of the Circle's existence, hundreds of women have attended. Many we see only once or twice. For whatever reason, they do not become regular members and that's fine. This Circle will not resonate with everyone nor will it meet everyone's needs. But many women do become regulars. Some come for a year or two or three until their lives change and they move on. Some attend for many years and stop coming only because they no longer live in Edmonton. A small handful have attended faithfully right from the Circle's start in 2001. Women have come and gone from the Circle like the never-ending stream which feeds the Sacred Well of the Goddess.

All kinds of women come to the Circle. Young, middle-aged and old. Every race, every creed, every type and description of women. Mothers and daughters. Aunties and nieces. Friends and lovers. Every shape and size of women. Women at every stage of the spiritual journey. Women with every life experience imaginable.

I have been privileged to meet many wonderful women over the years because of the Circle. Our paths probably would have never crossed otherwise. To me, this is the greatest blessing derived from hosting the Circle every month.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Women's Drumming and Goddess Chanting Circle (WDGCC)

Since 2001, I have facilitated a monthly, public, self-care Circle for women which focuses on the Divine Feminine. Every month we celebrate a different Goddess, a statue of whom is placed at the centre of our Circle. I speak briefly about this Goddess's myths, attributes and significance to our lives as women. Then we have a blessing and purification ritual for ourselves and our instruments (drums of all kinds, shakers, rainsticks, tambourines and other percussive noise makers). The blessing ritual involves one of the four elements and is tailored to honour whichever Goddess is being celebrated that month.

We drum three times during the course of the Circle, thereby honouring the Maiden, Mother and Crone. Between these drumming sessions, we sing songs and chants celebrating the Divine Feminine and other subjects like the moon, Nature, the spiritual journey and ourselves as women. We do not drum or sing in order to reach any performance standard of musicality but rather, to express our soul spirit and our connection with the Goddess, ourselves and each other. Therefore, there is no "wrong" or "bad" way to sing or drum. The Circle is a safe space for expressing who we truly are.

The Circle closes with another simple ritual. All the women stand at the centre of the Circle. We link our arms and sway together with a gentle rhythm, singing:

By the Air that is Her breath,
By the Fire of Her bright spirit,
By the Waters of Her womb,
By the Earth that is Her body:

The Circle is open, but unbroken.
May the (peace, love, joy) of the Goddess
be ever in our hearts!
Merry meet, and merry part,
And merry meet again!

Tomorrow -- who are the women of the Circle?

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Ritual in my spiritual practice


When I first started walking the Goddess Path about 20 years ago, I did a lot of ritual, both on my own and in groups. Coming originally from a Protestant background, I think I was ritual-starved. Protestants are not big on ritual and regard it with suspicion. It smacks of Catholicism, or worse. So being hungry for ritual, I quite enjoyed learning and performing the rituals of casting a circle, calling the quarters, honouring the four elements, smudging and purification and all the other rites and rituals of goddess circling. I found ritual very powerful, affirming and moving.

Over the years, however, I have found myself doing fewer and fewer organized rituals. Once my ritual anorexia was addressed and fed to overflowing, my need to actually perform a lot of ritual diminished in my spiritual practice. I am much more inclined today to simply perform small individual acts of casual ritual rather than to participate in any large-scale formal rituals.

My main ongoing participation in a group ritual setting occurs in the monthly drumming and chanting circle which I facilitate. More on that tomorrow.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Got Pride?


The other day, a friend emailed me a link to a great YouTube video called Proud (40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots). The video is a wonderful compilation of lesbigay images from the past 40 years, starting with old black-and-white photos from the Stonewall era and progressing through the next 4 decades right up to today. Lots of kissing!! Here's the link:


Sunday, 9 August 2009

Divine Justice


"You're a thief!" the judge said. "Let's see
Your hands!" I showed my callused hands in court.
My sentence was a thousand years of joy.

--Robert Bly, excerpt from Stealing Sugar from the Castle

Saturday, 8 August 2009

I'm back with a new attitude!

I can personally attest that when you reach your 50s, all sorts of new little aches and pains start to show up in the aging bod. Stiff joints, sore feet, decreased energy and stamina. Saggy this and saggy that. Puffy, droopy face in the morning mirror. The aging process comes as a bit of a shock as this new physical reality starts to sink in.

Want to feel young, vibrant and healthy? Want to feel like a spring chicken again? There's no need for fancy shmancy medical intervention, plastic surgery or the fountain of youth! Just go visit your old Mom in the nursing home like I just did. Compared with the infirmities and restrictions of genuine old age, I guarantee that you will embrace your current aches and pains with gusto and gratitude for all the youthful vim and vigour you still enjoy. Woo hoo, let's party!