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The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Summer Solstice

 

On a sweltering day here in Bucks County, PA, as I am sitting in air conditioned comfort, while my  Jeep is getting pampered (well, at least  serviced), an annual planetary phenom is taking place. Summer Solstice 2012 is bounding forward in color and vibrance, heralding the longest day of the year.  For many, it is considered the first day of summer, bring with it lazy, hazy, crazy days…. but for those of the Pagan tradition, it is an important holy day. Sol + stice derives from a combination of Latin words meaning “sun” + “to stand still”. It seems as if, when the sun is at its highest point, that it is standing still.

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According to George Thomson, priest of the Wiccan Church of Canada’s (WCC) Temple in Hamilton, Ont., today’s Wiccans celebrate in similar ways to their ancient counterparts, in some respects.

“The festivals go back to agrarian times when people were dependent on the land to sustain all their needs,” he says. “So they would feast on the newly harvested grains and meat from first cows slaughtered.”

Likewise, at celebrations Thomson will attend on the solstice this year — which begin June 20 at 7:09 p.m. in Hamilton, 4:09 p.m. in British Columbia, 5:09 p.m. in Alberta, 6:09 p.m. in Saskatchewan and Manitoba and 8:39 p.m. in Newfoundland — there will be a circle, a ritual and feasting on foods appropriate to the season, such as berries, bread, grilled meat and fruit wine.

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Wicca — and many forms of paganism — revere two deities, a god and a goddess, and give both many personalities and names. Part of both ancient and current solstice celebrations, according to Thomson, is the presentation of a mystery play, wherein the Sun King and the Winter King battle each other for dominance and the hand of the goddess. They win in turn when seasons change at both solstices (winter and summer) and both equinoxes (the first day of spring and the first day of fall). These observances would have been very important to people who depended on the land for sustenance and today, serve to remind us of our agrarian roots, though we are deeply rooted in the technological age.

“The change of season reminds people that there are limited resources and that we must care for the planet,” says Thomson.

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If the ritual is outside, Thomson and the other WCC members will light a balefire, as Celts would have in times of old.

“All the fires in the house would be put out and relit with torches dipped in this balefire, considered holy, to purify and celebrate the sun.

“They would also light two fires and the livestock would be driven between them to purify them with the holy fires. This ritual also had a practical purpose because ticks and other bugs would fall off from the heat,” he explains.

He goes on to say that the fires would burn through the night — from solstice eve and all through the day — until they went out and the ashes would be scattered on the fields to bless them and ensure fertility of the crops.

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I love ritual and symbolism and for me, Summer Solstice offers the opportunity to immerse in fire and passion, dancing with new energy. Letting go of Winter darkness, shadow thoughts that I had allowed to freeze me over into near emotional paralyis at times. Now, I am basking, head back, all chakras generating, absorbing and transmitting.

On Saturday, I will be attending a gathering at the home of my friends Stephen and Kathy Redding as I have for the past few years. They live on the  gorgeous grounds of Happy Tree Farm and I think of Stephen as being like The Lorax who ‘speaks for the trees’. Every time I set foot on the property, I feel as if I am transported to wonderland.  The theme this year is :

Our Place in Creation :Celebrating the goodness and satisfying the challenges life places before us

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Friday June 22-Sunday June 24

Music, potluck meals, dancing, drumming, swimming in the lake that has magical, healing properties, communing with kindred spirits, a roaring bonfire at night.

And then on Saturday night, I will be enjoying the music of my dear friends Faerie Elaine Silver and Deva Troy as they combine their beautiful voices at Pebble Hill Church which is an interfaith community in which I have been involved since 1984.

Welcoming the rays of illumation into all areas of life. Blessed Be.

A Summer Solstice Ceremony at 6:30 p.m. and “Honoring the Light” concert at 7:30 p.m. with Faerie Elaine Silver and Deva Troy at Pebble Hill Interfaith Church on Saturday, June 23rd
www.stephenredding.com
www.pebblehillchurch.org
www.elainesilver.com
www.devatroy.com
http://youtu.be/yGlNtJgyA4k  Summer Solstice Song by Lisa Thiel  (Litha)

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Possibilitarian

Art by Kelly Rae Roberts.

 

“Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see possibilities — always see them, for they’re always there.”– Norman Vincent Peale

I was raised with no limits thinking, by parents who modeled finding solutions for nearly any issue that faced me.  I love the idea of infinite possibility, senses wide open to all that could occur on any given day, and yet there have been times in my life when I would feel stuck in the muck, mud and mire, unsure which direction to turn. When that would occur, I would, figuratively speaking, throw up my hands and ask “Why bother?”  The answer was always another question:  “Do you want things to get better, stay the way they are, or get worse?” In my unconscious, go with the flow….whateveh….attitude, things would sometimes indeed take a turn for the worse. It  felt like the proverbial snowball, picking up speed as it would roll downhill and run me over.  It was when I got tired of picking myself up off my tush and shaking off the symbolic cold, white stuff, that I realized that prevention is better than repair. These days, I no longer see things as impossible; rather, turning it around to ‘I’m possible’.  The  Norman Vincent Peale quote reminds me that if I am only gazing at the level of the problem, I can’t see beyond it to a solution. When I literally raise my sights, I can view an answer that may have been there all along. There was also a time when I would avoid conflict at all costs; and it did indeed cost me. I traded honest relationships, sleep, peace of mind, self confidence and personal integrity for the pseudo-safety that came with not rocking the boat. These days, I go into most situations, assuming cooperation and that the solution is always available. Creative thinking always unearths answers. Asking “Hmmmm…I wonder if…..I wonder how…?” evokes solutions that awe-me-over.

www.kellyraeroberts.com

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Relinquish

Since I claimed my identity as Bliss Mistress, friends have been sending me all kinds of quotes on bliss. When I inititially saw this, my thought was “That Deepak dude really knows his stuff.”  Like all of us, I imagine that he has had to face this dynamic over and over.  I know I have…just about on a daily basis.  Although I wouldn’t think of myself as a control freak, I do like to have a sense of structure and have been know to want things ‘my way’. As the Serenity Prayer has helped to keep me sane and vertical over the years, I am grateful that I can let go of the steering wheel in my audacious auto, relinquish control of my ‘vehicle’ and leave the driving to the Divine. I don’t always know the difference between what I can and can’t contol, so perhaps its best to do what I can and then surrender, which has been a theme of late.

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The second component, about approval..that one is as prevalent and perhaps even more insidious, since it has been with me most of my life. Unlike many people I know, I grew up in a family with bunches of love, tons of praise and oodles of affection. I wonder now why I should be the exception to the rule. As a quirky result, I was so (even if unconsciously)  afraid of losing it, that I learned to ‘tap dance’ and endear myself to people. I call ‘her'; the one craving center stage attention “Little Shirley Temple” who was everyone’s sweetheart. That might explain my penchant for movies featuring the curly top child entertainer who grew up to be a diplomat. She was ambassador to Ghana, The Slovack and Czech Republics.  I can  still do a great “Good Ship Lollipop”(:   I am learning to refrain from putting too much stock in other people’s perception of me and yet there are still plenty of times when I base my actions on what someone else might see in me, or what I would want them to see in me.

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The third comes into play when I ‘make people wrong’ for doing things differently than my values tell me they ‘should’ do. One day, I had a conversation with my friend Ondreah during which I asked if she would listen and hold space while I kvetched and expressed my pet peeves which are really solidly held judgements. She said yes and I was off to the races….about  people who are smoking, drinking to exccess, doing drugs, being abusive, expecting other people to take care of them and clean up after them, who justify war and violence, who litter, who attempt to legislate what a woman can do with her own body, who steal and commit other crimes….. It really felt good to vent and then let it go.

Although it may feel challenging to relinquish control, release the need for approval and sit with all of the differences that may impact relationships, I noticed that it is far more rewarding and make for a more bliss-filled me.

ttp://youtu.be/1r4bbgv1If8  On The Good Ship Lollipop by Shirley Temple

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Vulnerability

 

Words are powerful. Tonight someone used a word to describe me that no one has ever used before and in my mind it was not complimentary, although to her, it might have been, or even neutral.  Although I don’t  identify myself that way, it set wheels in motion that took me to a place I clearly needed to go. The word she used evoked an image of toughness and hardness, masculine,  rather than the soft, warm and fuzzy persona I prefer to exude. I admit to strength and resilience, born of necessity after being widowed at 40, raising an 11 year old son to manhood, supporting us both with several jobs simultaneously, keeping us in the same house all these years. Many’s the time I have deflected the nurturing from others that I put forth in my personal and professional caregiving roles. In the past 4 1/2 years, since both my parents have also passed, I have girded myself even further, playing social worker and minister within their hospice journeys and officiating at their funerals, as well as handling my mother’s estate. Alth0ugh I have grieved, I have also felt emotionally shut down at times; in a sense, putting a bookmark in the bereavement, a rock in the flow, so as to be able to function in my various and sundry roles. Tonight, the flood gates opened as I am on the verge of leaving my full time social worker- in -a -psychiatric- hospital job that I have held for 11 years, so that I can live my Bliss with my writing and speaking. Tomorrow is my last day there and during my tenure, I have supressed and submerged many of my emotions in service to my patients and their families. I have the feeling it will be a weepy day as I end one chapter in my life and begin another. I am willing to refrain from reading to the end of the book and instead, with courage, peruse one page at a time.

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Vulnerabilty doesn’t come easily to me. It implies a need to trust that the other person has my best interest at heart and would not intentionally cause harm and would  be willing, in most cases, to agree to provide comfort when needed. Much easier to be the giver, the safe haven, the comforter that wraps around them, than ask for that myself. THAT is one reason I am a Cuddle Party facilitator, since we teach what we need to learn. In the workshop, there are opportunities to ask for what you want and to be able to hear ‘yes’ and ‘no’ with greater grace and acceptance. By doing so, vulnerability is on the line, bringing with it a chance for extraordinary growth. When we don’t receive what we think we want from someone, it offers the gift of our own beauty, strength and resilience. Thank you to that person whose description of me is contributing to my healing and being real and vulnerable. May we all be willing to be seen, known and lovcd.

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I enjoyed watching this video with sister Social Worker and Storyteller Brene’  Brown sharing her TED Talk  take on The Power of Vulnerability. The concepts she put forth mirror my own experiences of desiring a sense of connection and belonging and despite appearances of being supremely self confident, I too question myself and my worthiness/willingness to receive.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCvmsMzlF7o

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