Wednesday 30 September 2009

Personal Revelation # 1

1. I adore Leonard Cohen.

One day when I was about 15, I found a record album called Songs of Love and Hate in our local pharmacy's discount bin. In solidarity with the advancement of Canadian culture [yes, that's how I thought in those days but gimme a break, it was the early 70s], I bought it. My first thought after listening to it was "Geez, this Leonard Cohen guy can't sing worth a shit!" But his song lyrics were very intriguing and I just had to keep listening. Then I started reading his poetry and novels. And I grew to love his music, especially once he got a jazzier sound with more complex instrumentation and percussion, along with fabulous female backup singers to offset his still rather monotonous bass-baritone voice.

As he aged and matured (or perhaps as I aged and matured), I found his music got more spiritual, more political and more humorous. The man's a genius, what can I say? It's beyond me how anyone can think that Leonard Cohen can't sing or that his music is depressing. They're just not listening.

Tuesday 29 September 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award!

Thank you so much, Sarita over at A College Girls Days, for thinking I am a Kreativ Blogger! I am flattered. Sarita is a Kreativ Blogger herself and her blog is fun and interesting, so do go and visit some time!

Here are the official rules of the Kreativ Blogger Award:

1. Thank the person who gave this to you.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that no one would really know.
5. Nominate 7 other Kreativ Bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of those blogs letting them know you have nominated them.

Okay, so this is where I'm going to place my own unique stamp on these rules. Most people fulfill them all in a single blog post. That's fine. But I don't like long posts. I like short 'n snappy posts. Therefore, I will post one Personal Revelation per day until all seven things are revealed. Then on a final post, I will nominate another 7 blogs for the Kreativ Blog Award too.

Unrelated topics may stray into this posting schedule as well. I'll try to keep them out, but sometimes I'm just weak and they muscle their way in.

Monday 28 September 2009

Trailer Park Boys!

I know I come across as, like, kulcherd and edumacated and shit like that, but it don't stop me from fuckin' LOVING the Trailer Park Boys. Ricky, Julian, Bubbles -- they're fuckin' Canuckian HEROES, you know, so fuck off you fuckin' McKenzie Brothers, eh? (And if you don't fuckin' know who the Trailer Park Boys are, check out their fuckin' website here). Everyone on that TV show may be a fuckin' foul-mouthed dope addict, alcoholic, petty criminal or skank, but that's just fuckin' LIFE, okay? Half my shit-faced relatives could be Trailer Park Boys and the other half only THINK they're better. And I also just fuckin' LOVE that sweet Randy, even if he has a big hairy gut and trades blowjobs for cheeseburgers. You do what you fuckin' have to do in this fuckin' world, just like Ray scammin' those mofos down at the fuckin' Workers Comp, you know?

So I'm gonna get me a BIG mofo bag of zesty mordant chips and go see the new Trailer Park Boys movie, Countdown to Liquor Day, that's playin' RIGHT FUCKIN' NOW. I know it's just gonna be fuckin' AWESOME!

Sunday 27 September 2009

The Holy Grail

St. Joseph of Arimathea apparently brought something extremely valuable with him to Glastonbury -- the Holy Grail. This was the cup or goblet used at the Last Supper by Jesus and his disciples. It was also used the next day by St. Joseph to catch Christ's blood while he was being crucified. So the Holy Grail is one of the most sacred of Christian relics and possesses great miraculous powers.

Where exactly the Holy Grail ended up after being brought to Glastonbury is a bit of a mystery. Some legends say St. Joseph buried it at the base of the Tor and thereby caused the sacred Chalice Well spring to start flowing. Another myth says it was entrusted to the wounded Fisher King for safekeeping. Other stories imply that it simply disappeared to parts unknown. King Arthur and his knights certainly spent a lot of time and effort trying to find the lost Holy Grail.

All I know is that WE didn't come across it during our trip!

Saturday 26 September 2009

Wearyall Hill and the Holy Thorn

According to myth, St. Joseph of Arimathea escaped the persecution of Christians after the crucifixion by sailing to England with a small band of followers. Arriving at Glastonbury by sea (which had not yet receded), the fatigued travelers landed at a spot soon named Wearyall Hill. St. Joseph disembarked and expressed gratitude for his new home by thrusting his walking staff into the ground. Miraculously, the stick turned into a flowering thorn tree native only to the Middle East.

The Holy Thorn grew for many years on Wearyall Hill until it was cut down in the 1600s by a fanatical puritan (legend says that he was blinded by a flying splinter as he did so). However, slips were saved from the fallen tree and were replanted in various spots around Glastonbury. Today there is still a descendant of the original Holy Thorn high on Wearyall Hill. Like its predecessors, it flowers every Christmas. The Queen receives a sprig of the sacred flowering tree each year as a gift from Glastonbury.

As we found out on the day we walked up Wearyall Hill, it's very windy at the top, just like the Tor which can be seen in the distance. As a result of the ceaseless wind, the Holy Thorn leans off-kilter. The tree is protected by a round metal enclosure -- presumably to prevent anyone else from trying to chop it down? The old pagan tradition of tying ribbons or strips of cloth on trees when making a wish or a prayer is practiced even on this most Christian of trees. Most of the ribbons are tied to the round metal enclosure. Look at them blowing straight out in the constant wind! We tied our ribbons here too and my Rare One took this photo for posterity.

Friday 25 September 2009

William Blake's Jerusalem

The legend that Jesus visited Glastonbury with his uncle inspired the great English poet William Blake to write a poem about it in the early 1800s. His poem is a clarion call to build Jerusalem (heaven on earth) in England. During World War I, Sir Hubert Parry set the poem to music and created the beautiful and beloved hymn Jerusalem --

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark Satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold;
Bring me my arrows of desire;
Bring me my spear: O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.

Today, Jerusalem is the unofficial national anthem of England. It's often sung at sporting events and is always featured as the final song of the "Last Night of the Proms," a huge patriotic concert held annually in London each September. If you want to hear Jerusalem in its full glory, go to YouTube and search last night of proms jerusalem, then scroll down to the 2009 video -- it's in HD and the picture is very clear. (For some reason, I can't seem to link directly from this post.)

[Painting of "Glad Day" by William Blake]

Thursday 24 September 2009

St. Joseph of Arimathea

Christian Glastonbury is inextricably connected to the story of St. Joseph of Arimathea. According to the Gospels, he was a rich man, a wise and honourable counsellor who was a secret disciple of Jesus. After the crucifixion, Joseph went to Pilate and bravely requested possession of the executed criminal's body. Using fine spices and an expensive linen shroud, he buried Jesus in his own personal tomb.

According to legend, Joseph of Arimathea was actually the uncle of Jesus. He was a rich tin merchant who traded far and wide. It is said that he even sailed as far away as Cornwall, a major tin mining area. Moreover, it is believed that on one trip he brought along his young nephew and together they visited Glastonbury. Apparently, therefore, the so-called "Lost Years of Jesus" involved a trip to England! This legend conferred great status on Glastonbury, it goes without saying.

And that's just the start of the legend of St. Joseph of Arimathea! Stay tuned for more!

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Nom Nom Nom in The Peg: Nothings

Last week there was a delightful article and video in the Winnipeg Free Press Online Edition concerning "nothings," which are light, airy cookies similar to puff pastry. At one time in Winnipeg's vibrant Jewish community, production of these cookies was a competitive sport among Moms. Doughy, leaden, burned or collapsed nothings marked their mortified bakers as failures. The article and video concern a belated attempt to learn how to make this traditional Winnipeg favourite by a daughter whose Mom is a champion baker of nothings.

Nothings are unique, temperamental, perhaps even a bit magical, according to this daughter:

They have only four ingredients -- flour, oil, sugar, and eggs -- and you could whip up a batch of them in 10 minutes, or at least my mother could. They have no leavening agent -- no baking powder, no baking soda, no yeast -- and yet they'd blow up in the oven like golden beach balls. And they are the only dessert I've ever seen that you bake by putting in the oven and turning it off. Then you leave them to cool "until tomorrow," according to my mother, who at 86 still makes them every week.

The article and video illustrate the daughter's frustrating struggle with nothings. The video is absolutely hilarious and very Winnipeg in its sense of humour. Check them both out here.

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Mabon (Autumn Equinox)

Today is the Autumn Equinox, that magical date when sunlight and darkness are equally balanced. Mabon is a harvest festival, a time to give thanks to the Goddess for the life-sustaining bounty of the earth. And pour a special libation to the Green Man, whose nurturing husbandry has also fostered this abundance. The great lessons of Mabon are gratitude and thanksgiving -- attitudes we would do well to cultivate every day of the year.

Gratitude can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

--Melody Beattie

[The beautiful artwork "Autumnal Equinox" by Edward Aparicio is found here.]

Monday 21 September 2009

Glastonbury Tor (Part 2)

It was cool, overcast and windy on the day we went up the Tor. Our climb was broken by periodic rain showers, which we could actually see coming across the plain toward us, so we were never caught by surprise. Because my Rare One and I are not the athletes we once were (or, in my case, never was), we climbed slowly and rested frequently as we made our way to the top. It was extremely windy at the summit and we sheltered in the Tower against the wind and the lashing rain. But what a magnificent view of the surrounding Somerset area! It was like being on top of the world!

It was such a powerful experience to stand where so many untold generations had stood before and, like them, be impressed with the view and the sanctity of the summit. Climbing the Tor felt like a real achievement in my spiritual journey! Going down the other side of the Tor, we were sheltered from the wind, the rain stopped and it was a pleasant descent.

Farmland is at a premium in England. The Tor is a working agricultural field. It often has cows roaming about, mooing, eating grass and leaving souvenir cow pies for the tourists. However, the cows were nowhere to be seen on the Tor that particular day, being smart enough to stay out of the inclement weather.

Sunday 20 September 2009

Glastonbury Tor (Part 1)

The most prominent physical feature of Glastonbury is the Tor (which means "a high rocky hill.") Green and treeless except at its base, Glastonbury Tor rises majestically above the town and is visible for miles. Thousands of years ago in Neolithic times, terraces were sculpted in its sides, presumably to act as a labyrinthine processional path up to the summit where rituals were held. Today, there also exists a more direct route to the top, straight up the side of the Tor! This modern route has added some helpful features like rough stone steps and the occasional bench to aid weary climbers.

In pagan times, as Mara explained to us, the Tor was sacred to the Divine Masculine, who was often honoured in high places of air and fire. This association continues today. At the very top of the Tor is a single stone tower -- St. Michael's Tower -- all that remains of a medieval monastery. The Tower is dedicated to the Archangel Michael, as is often the case with Christian structures found on high hills or mountains. But on the wall of the Tower is also found a small carved relief of St. Brigid milking her cow, a nod perhaps to the pre-existing (but now Christianized) Goddess of this area.

The Tor in ancient times was surrounded by water and actually was an island until the sea eventually receded. The Tor was called the Isle of Avalon and was believed to be the mystical Otherworld where the dead live forever among lush apple orchards in a land of endless summer. Others characterized the Tor as the Portal to the Faery Realm where many marvels await. In either case, the Tor has always been regarded as a sacred place, a numinous threshold between this world and another.

[Tomorrow -- our climb up the Tor]

Saturday 19 September 2009

One Year Blogoversary!

Today marks one year since I became The Accidental Blogger. How time flies, as they say. It certainly doesn't seem like I've been doing this for a whole year. But the important thing is that it's still fun and I still have lots and lots of stuff to blather on about. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read, follow or comment on said blather over the past year! I appreciate it.

Friday 18 September 2009

Glastonbury -- Avalon of the Heart

It is to this Avalon of the heart the pilgrims still go. Some in bands, knowing what they seek. Some alone, with the staff of vision in their hands, awaiting what may come to meet them on this holy ground. None go away as they came.

--Dion Fortune

In ancient times Glastonbury was called the "holyest erthe in England." It is a location equally sacred to Pagans and Christians and is also central to the Arthurian legends. It is reputedly the mystical Isle of Avalon where King Arthur, the Once and Future King, awaits his return to the world. Two powerful ley lines -- the Mary and Michael lines -- intersect at Glastonbury, the experts say, confirming its special spiritual status.

Glastonbury is where our tour had its "base camp." From here, we ventured out on day trips to see other sights and visit other places, returning again each evening. But of course, we also thoroughly explored Glastonbury itself -- the Tor with its tower, the Chalice Well spring sacred to the Divine Feminine, the ruined Abbey destroyed by Henry VIII and St. Joseph of Arimathea's miraculous thorn tree on Wearyall Hill. (Stay tuned for individual posts about all these places).

[The marvelous silk art is "Avalon -- Isle of Apples" by Joan Medina of Phoenix Springwater Creations]

Thursday 17 September 2009

Celtic Spirit Journeys

Celtic Spirit Journeys organizes various pagan-oriented tours throughout the British Isles. We signed up for the one called Mystical England: Journey to Avalon. The tour was led by Mara Freeman of The Chalice Centre. Mara is an Archdruidess, a bard, a teacher, a skilled tour guide and a leading authority on Celtic spirituality. She wrote the 2001 book called Kindling the Celtic Spirit. The breadth and depth of her knowledge and spiritual expertise is truly amazing!

The tour was well organized, superbly led and worth every penny! I highly recommend it to anyone who might be interested in such a pilgrimage.

Wednesday 16 September 2009

Return of the Wayfarers

Then nature stirs them up to such a pitch
That folk all long to go on pilgrimage
And wandering travelers tread new shores, strange strands,
Seek out far shrines, renowned in many lands . . . .

--Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales

We're back! Guess where we've been!

My Rare One and I have been away on our own special pilgrimage to some sacred Goddess and pagan sites in England! Unlike Chaucer's pilgrims, though, we had all the comforts of air travel, an organized tour group and a small bus to get around. Over the next little while, I'll blog about some of the great places that we saw and wonderful experiences that we had. But don't worry -- I'll maintain variety, too, by interspersing some posts on other topics. I'm still reading Moby-Dick, you know.