Friday, June 20, 2008

The Longest Day…

“As the sun spirals its longest dance,
Cleanse us…
As Nature shows bounty and fertility,
Bless us…
Let all things live with loving intent
And fulfill their truest destiny” - Wiccan blessing for Summer

The Summer Solstice arrives today here in the Northern Hemisphere. The sun has reached it apex and the earth is at her height of growth.
The year also reaches midpoint…where have the days gone?
Here in the hills, the celebrated sun is playing hide and seek behind opaque clouds that drift in and lower the temperature to a Fall-like 68 degrees. The brightness comes from whistling goldfinches and sweetly scented lemon lilies, until the sun’s rays finally break through and we all let out a collective sigh of appreciation.
Peoples around the world have observed this potent day for millennia. Native Americans created many astrological sites across the Americas to chart the path of the sun and mark this ceremonial day. Many of us think of the stone circles of Stonehenge and Avebury and the Solstice ceremonies still observed there today.
One of the most enduring ties with these ancient rites was the Druid’s celebration of the day as the “wedding of Heaven and Earth”. This is possibly responsible for our modern notion of “lucky” June weddings. Another interesting notion that was carried over, involves the fermented honey “mead” that was imbibed to celebrate wedding ceremonies during the solstice. Because of the height of the bees’ honey production in June (that produced this euphoric drink) the Full moon of June was known as the Honey Moon… Starting to sound familiar?
Bonfires and dancing and leaping through the flames with one’s beloved were common across Europe on this night, the night also made famous by Shakespeare in his enchanting Midsummer Night’s Dream. In the East the ancient Chinese marked the day by honoring Li, the Goddess of Light. So many stories and rituals take place on this day, many are shared in the classic work by Sir James Fraser called The Golden Bough. It was a pioneering study of magic and religion, folklore and folkways by this distinguished Scottish anthropologist of the late 19th C. I highly recommend skimming it for a fun summer read. For interesting information and great illustrations of early cosmological sites around the world check out Early Man and the Cosmos by Evan Hadingham.

However you decide to celebrate this extended day and enchanted evening, may it surpass your expectations!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Green Living

Even here in the Green Mountains of Southern Vermont the heat index is breaking records as the entire East Coast sizzles.
Over the weekend, just ahead of the wilting weather,locals and out-of-staters gathered to celebrate the arts and sustainable energy,agriculture and the dairy industry in Brattleboro.
Sound a bit dull? Not in the Republic of Vermont, where petitions were signed to impeach Bush and Cheney and every other person it seems is an artist, writer, musician or political activist, as well as organic farmer.
Pamplona, Spain may have her “Running of the Bulls” but Brattleboro and the surrounding area has her more demure “Strolling of the Heifers”!
Streets were lined with the diverse populations that make up this unique community.
Young and old held on to black and white spotted balloons suggesting a bobbing herd of helium filled Holsteins ,as a soulful New Orleans style brass band set the stage.
Theatrical skits spoofing the highly contested nuclear plant entertained, as did unicyclists against GMOS in food production and kids carrying long paper worms promoting composting…
At last, the first band of young doe-eyed calves draped in flower garlands and gently led by their also very young owners rounded the corner closely followed by the heifers, resplendent in flowers as well, who sauntered Main Street to soft applause as not to panic the gentle beasts. Natural accidents did happen, as some stage fright occurred, to the delight of giggling little boys. Attendants dressed as black and white cows or Super Heroes quickly scooped and sprinkled sawdust to keep things moving. Behind them the high school band played “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” with a ra-ra beat and cowbell percussion.
Cute…but not too… as right behind, whirling and spinning like a dervish, was a giant evil faced puppet made entirely of plastic grocery/shopping bags. It reminded me a bit of Nigerian Egungun masquerades where a spiritual whirlwind cleanses the village of evil influence. Would but all those plastic bags disappear worldwide…
Here on this red bricked, old-fashioned Main Street, progressive and traditional ideas coincided comfortably, as quality of life and responsible choices were expressed by newcomers and old-timers alike. Hope for the future was doled out with the locally made ice cream served at the Dairy-Fest, as we felt inspired and remotivated to do our parts to insure a sustainable future for our region and the planet.
Do what you can today, wherever you are, to make a difference for us all… And stay cool…