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Archive for the ‘Rituals & Spirituality’ Category

Easter is a spring celebration of fertility and rebirth.  In autumnal Aotearoa, beset by the winds and rain of Cyclone Cook, it’s the wrong time for this festival.  Spring for us is months away, despite pots of daffodils being offered in the supermarket.

In the Southern Hemisphere this is a time of dying.  During the last week I’ve spoken at the funeral of a loved friend, and there have been two other deaths in my wider circle.  The demise of John Clarke/Fred Dagg was a poignant reminder of the Easter death of my brother, who also died while bushwalking in the Grampians.

The rich colours of the trees around me are a sure sign that the wheel of the year is turning, and a poem by Nancy Wood is brought to mind:

“You shall ask
What good are dead leaves
And I will tell you
They nourish the sore earth
You shall ask
What reason is there for winter
And I will tell you
To bring about new leaves
You shall ask
Why are the leaves so green
And I will tell you
Because they are rich with life
You shall ask
Why must summer end
And I will tell you
So that the leaves can die.”

 

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Monday 20th March is the date when night and day will be equal.  After this our days in the southern hemisphere will slowly get shorter and the nights longer.  We will move from summer to winter, from light to dark, and from outer to inner.  The equinox is a time of balance throughout the globe, one of the two times of the year when both hemispheres have days and nights of equal length.

Our ritual group met to celebrate this festival, with a meditation that encouraged us to consider what our psychological harvest might be, and how we might sustain ourselves through the darker time.  We each received a small parcel of seeds to take home and plant, in preparation for spring.

“If only the whole world could be
in balance psychologically.”

 

 

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If Chaucer is the father of English poetry, then Julian is the mother of English prose.

julian-of-norwich-small

This slim volune is easily read, impeccably researched, and relates what is known about Julian.  The author is a course director in History of Art at Oxford University who has written and presented numerous BBC history documentaries.

Julian of Norwich was born in 1343, the same year as Geoffrey Chaucer, yet he is much better known.  Her ‘Revelations of Divine Love’,  the oldest surviving book written by a woman in English, is a spiritual autobiography as relevant, comforting, and thought-provoking today as it was in the 14th century.  Julian was a mystic, and her writing is experiential rather than academic.  Because she wrote within a Christian framework she calls the divine God, yet she provides inspiration for people of all faiths.  She speaks of God as father and mother, who provides the unconditional love which is universal, including inside each one of us.  I found much that reminded me of Sufi and Pagan beliefs, especially when she says “there is no created thing between my God and me”.  Julian is quietly confident that no matter what happens “our heavenly mother Jesus cannot allow us that are his children to perish.”

The author gives the context for Julian’s book and marvels that the writing remains optimistic, hopeful, and positive, despite the death carts that must have trundled past her cell carrying victims of the plague.   She reiterates that Julian’s words, which exist outside time will always ring true whenever and wherever they are read.  I feel privilaged to have read such an excellent outline of Julian’s life, and to have had the opportunity to visit her rebuilt cell in Norwich.

“All shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

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There’s a party going on at the corner of Madras and Gloucester Streets, at the old Securities House site.

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Holi is a traditional Indian festival designed to bring people together, and the throwing of coloured powder symbolises everyone being equal.  It’s a spring festival, but like so many others that originate in the northern hemisphere it’s celebrated at the wrong time of year in New Zealand.  Entry is free, but you mustn’t take any alcohol or food.  There are plenty of food stalls, and you are warned to wear old clothes as some of the coloured powders may not wash out.  The fun and music will continue until 3pm.

holi-2-small“A bouncing castle, roly-poly
is part of all the fun at Holi.”

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The beginning of February is the festival of Lammas, or First Fruits.  It’s the start of the harvest, when we look forward to what the full harvest may be.  Our group focussed on the many things we have to be grateful for, and we each filled a ‘gratitude jar’ with symbols.  I put a fairy sticker on the lid of my jar to indicate my gratitude for the magic and spontaneity in my life.

gratitude-jar-small

What fruit is ripening in your life right now?  This pagan chant reminds us that all life is cyclical:

“Corn and grain, corn and grain
all that falls shall rise again.”

 

 

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Today we celebrated the Winter Solstice, the time when the sun is furthest away.  This time marks the beginning of a new year, signalled by the appearance in the sky of Matariki. the Pleiades.

Winter Solstice altar

Winter Solstice altar

The Solstice is the time to discard old ways and welcome the new into our lives.  I look forward to new experiences and inspiration.

“The longest night and shortest day
is when we contemplate our way.”

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Today I attended a service in the rebuilt Knox Church on the corner of Bealey Avenue and Victoria Street.

Knox Church outside (Small)

The last time I was there was for the last funeral held in the church prior to the February 2011 earthquake.  The historic church was badly damaged in the earthquake, and has been rebuilt.  Luckily the beautiful wooden ceiling was able to be restored.

Knox Church inside (Small)

An excellent addition has been the long windows, which mean the building is much lighter inside, and you can look out to the trees on Bealey Avenue.  The sun shone so strongly onto the spot where I was sitting that I had to move.  There are no kneelers in the church.  I hadn’t realised, or had forgotten, that Presbyterians don’t kneel.

“There’s something missing there, I feel
surprised to learn they do not kneel.”

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