We share some fascinating examples of how cultures from all over the world have looked to the sun, moon and stars for guidance in crafting meaningful liturgical calendars. Ali wishes everyone a Happy Diwali before delving into the mysteries of the Hindu lunisolar calendar, and Jeff ponders the lost zodiac of the ancient Celts and how the Coligny Calendar and the Gundestrup Cauldron can give us clues to how our ancestors might have seen the stars. In our Pro Extension, we bring you the stirring conclusion to the saga of the ages — and we find out why exactly everybody hates hipsters.
As I practice commitment to my Work and this seasonal cycle, I realize that I am centering myself in time and space. I am at the center of the ongoing cyclical spiral of the Wheel, where time ebbs and flows according to the great song of the world, the stories we have told since the beginning of memory, where space is defined not by our walls and doorways but by the beating pulse of the earth. Between these celebrations, I slip and slide out of sync with the cycle, concentrating in my daily practice on centering within myself and within my home, until the next ritual, the next holy day brings me back into alignment with the universe.
We explore the paradox of sacred space and our relationship with holiness through the places that we set aside for reverence and usefulness. Drawing on parallels with art and the philosophy of aesthetics, we delve into the process of “framing” as a way of highlighting the spiritual aspects of the ordinary world around us. What does it mean to say that “everything is sacred”? How does our relationship change when we transform space into place? We look at the profound ways that our pattern-seeking brains shape our understanding of sacred space in religious and secular ritual.
Water is so obvious because it is almost everywhere — and where it isn’t, we notice its absence immediately. Water connects us. It is essential, a need all of us share and one that none can escape. What do I know about where my water comes from? What do I know about what’s done to my water before it comes flowing out of my tap? What do I put in my water before it disappears down my drain — soap, shampoo, cosmetics, laundry detergent, fragrances, fertilizers, pesticides? What do I know about my water table, and how fragile is it — is my neighborhood in danger of drought?
Theologians and scientists agree: ritual is good for the human soul. But I don’t like ritual much. It’s probably my Zen upbringing. If ritual is poetry in the realm of acts, then perhaps my poetic-action aesthetic is too used to the haiku or koan: short, unrehearsed, improvised, intentionally subversive. But one thing I do like about ritual is the creation of a sacred space. Rituals tend to start by casting a circle or otherwise setting a boundary in space around the participants — or else they take place within a sacred space that has already been established (like a stone circle or a cathedral). Within that boundary, the normal world and normal time is suspended, set aside; and the cosmos is re-created in miniature, resized to fit the human imagination.
I grew up in the woods. I would come home from school, drop off my books, and immediately disappear into the acres of wooded park across the street from my house until dinner. I knew every inch of those trails, all of the oldest trees, which berries I could eat and which leaves would give me a rash. I would watch hawks hunt and squirrels gather and deer pace cautiously through the underbrush. Just before dinner, I’d spend five minutes in the bathroom scrubbing dirt and sweat and sometimes blood from my hands and face. It was magic, it made my life magical, and it put me in touch with something beyond myself but also immediate, at my fingertips, just behind the green and across the creek. I sensed a certain kind of potential there, the edges of that false boundary we’ve created between us and Nature and a way to pass over it or through it and experience the Other Side.
Jeff and Ali return from mid-season break to share stories of solstice celebration and fun! We tell the sun-drenched tale of our first ritual here in the Seattle area, hosted in a shady oaken grove by a delightful gathering of local Druids, we explore the fiery legends of sun and solstice throughout the cultures of the world, and we sit down with a special guest, fellow Druid Scott Schumacher (of Northern Druid Podcast) for our very first interview here on FF&C!