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Brightening/Imbolc 2024

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The Wonder Podcast द्वारा प्रदान की गई सामग्री. एपिसोड, ग्राफिक्स और पॉडकास्ट विवरण सहित सभी पॉडकास्ट सामग्री The Wonder Podcast या उनके पॉडकास्ट प्लेटफ़ॉर्म पार्टनर द्वारा सीधे अपलोड और प्रदान की जाती है। यदि आपको लगता है कि कोई आपकी अनुमति के बिना आपके कॉपीराइट किए गए कार्य का उपयोग कर रहा है, तो आप यहां बताई गई प्रक्रिया का पालन कर सकते हैं https://hi.player.fm/legal

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Suntree Retreat 2024: https://theapsocietyorg.wordpress.com/news-and-events/suntree-retreat-2024/

Season 5 - Episode 3

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Yucca: Welcome back to The Wonder Science Based Paganism. I'm your host Yucca,

Mark: And I'm Mark.

Yucca: and we are back in another year. To talk about that February holiday and the Wheel of the Year,

Mark: Yeah because this is the first holiday after a spate of activity that is reflected in mainstream holidays like Halloween and Christmas and Hanukkah and those sorts of things. And this one, you know, this one we fly solo as pagans, right?

Yucca: right? I mean, there is an associated Catholic celebration at the time, but, you know, that's that's not the whole mainstream culture,

Mark: right, it hasn't been secularized the way so many other, you know, holidays have been, that have been turned into sort of generic practices that nearly everybody does. Yeah and here in the Northern Hemisphere, there is noticeably more light now. I was noticing yesterday there was still light in the sky at quarter of six.

Yucca: Oh.

Mark: that was pretty cool, because, you know, at the solstice, the sun goes down at about 425,

Yucca: hmm.

Mark: so there was, that's, that's a big change, and it's, it's still wet and cold here because this tends to be the coldest time of the year, really,

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: But, you At least the days aren't so incredibly short and those long, long, long, long nights that we get in the deep of winter.

Yucca: Yeah, well, it's so different in different places, what's going on, right? We've talked about this before, but you know, for some people, for me, this is the most bitter time of the year. January, the beginning of February it's actually quite funny, last night, my kids really wanted to do a campfire. And We've been talking about it all week and we had finally rusted out our campfire bowl.

So we have a, because we have to be very, even in the winter like this, we have to be really careful about fire safety. So what we have is we have this Like a, a ring of stones with gravel, and then we have one of those fire bowls that's lifted up that you can put a lid on. But we had finally rusted out the bottom of the one that we had had for years, so we had to get a new one and wait for it to come.

And, you know, they wanted to do the, the, the first fire and the new bowl and all of that. And it was a full work day for me, so I get out of work and we go outside. And it starts snowing.

Mark: Ha ha ha

Yucca: And so we're out there trying to get this fire to start in the snow, and the way we ended up finally doing it was putting a hat of foil on top of the fire to get it to go.

So because once the fire started, as the snow would come close to it, it would heat up and melt and evaporate and would be fine. But when you're trying to start a wet fire, it was, it was quite, quite a an event to do so. But I was thinking about how, for us, this is the, we will quickly move into spring in a few months, but this is the coldest, most bitter, you know, we had over the past few weeks, we had single digits in Fahrenheit.

So, you know, we're, and for those who do Celsius, we're talking about, you know, negative 15 degrees Celsius, and those sorts of temperatures, the ground is frozen. But for other people, This is a holiday in which they're celebrating, oh look, the little flowers are starting to peek through the snow, and spring is here, and everything is brightening up, and I'm like, it's cold.

That's what it is here. It's cold. So, and of course, folks who are in, you know, Florida, it's a completely different experience for them, or Southern California, or Anywhere even closer to the equator is just radically different.

Mark: One of our community members was talking about how right around now is when it's most tolerable in Florida because it gets so hot and muggy in the summertime and so this, which, you know, would generally be the coldest time of the year, is actually quite pleasant,

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: That's the time when you go outside, so it really depends on where you are.

Where I am, it's been raining long enough that the hills have all greened up, and so the, and the first wildflowers are coming up. Of course, because of climate change, we've been watching this happen progressively earlier. You know, with the years and Narcissus and daffodils are up. They're they're not fully blooming yet, but they are up.

And it's and they're wildflowers like milkmaids and paintbrush and a couple of other of the early ones.

Yucca: Our daffodils won't be till April or May.

Mark: yeah, yeah, exactly. So, um, so yeah, I mean, this, this brings to mind, you know, how, how in, in atheopaganism we talk about crafting your own wheel of the year, right?

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: Because there is, unlike in a situation like Wicca, where you're kind of celebrating the climate of the

Yucca: hmm.

Mark: in the 1940s. Because all of that's changed as well.

This is more where you craft something that is that reflects what you see around you. And so it's more about connecting with the cycles of nature that are happening where you are. I really like the name that was created by a member of our community for this holiday which is brightening, because that's a little more universal.

Yes it may be freezing, but the days are longer. So, there is at least that.

Yucca: Yes. Yeah. I think that this holiday really lends itself To that crafting your own wheel of the year, much more than some of the other ones like solstice or hollows might because there isn't the same tie in to mainstream secular culture, where there isn't anything, I mean the closest thing I guess, Valentine's Day?

Right? But that really doesn't, that's, that's a few weeks later, that feels really different, I don't know, maybe some people do connect those two things, for me they've been, they've Never had anything to do with each other. That's a totally separate holiday. But there's just nothing else, really, this time of year to, to draw on.

So it really is, draw from what's going on in your environment. And, you know, maybe the Wicca influence, which works again for some people who live in a similar climate, but my climate is Very, very different

Mark: Right.

Yucca: that part of the world, so,

Mark: And mine is too, because I'm in a, in a Mediterranean, a quasi Mediterranean climate, more reflective of what like the South, you know, Southern Italy or something like that would be like,

Yucca: mm hmm, mm

Mark: because of the coastal influence here in Northern California. Yeah, so One of the things that I find about this sort of create your own adventure approach to the Wheel of the Year is that I can take elements that I like from the, the kind of traditional pagan Wiccan model of like the Irish Brigid holiday, You know, at the beginning of February you know, I can adopt some, some metaphorical ideas around that.

Like, you know, as we've talked about so many times, one of the things that I do in my Wheel of the Year is to map the course of a human life over the cycle of the Wheel of the Year. And so this holiday is infancy and it becomes associated with with dairy, with milk products. And with sort of nurturing and, and, you know, planning for the future, not that, not that dreaming, imagining, visionary kind of thing that you have at the at the solstice in the deep dark of night, but more like, um, this is like, you know, the dawn waking up early in the morning and going, okay, here's what my day is going to be like.

I've got, I've got tools to sharpen and I've got lists to make and I've got seeds to buy and all that kind of stuff.

Yucca: So much more concrete planning, can't get your, you can't really get any of those tools actually in the ground yet.

Mark: Nope.

Yucca: But you can think about, do you have the right ones? What are you going to need?

Mark: Right. Right.

Yucca: And of course, we're using the metaphor of, you know, planting and all of that, which some you might be doing, but for a lot of people, it's really metaphor about what's going on in the rest of our lives.

Mark: yes. And your thoughts about what your aspirations are for this coming cycle,

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: Those, those ideas that we talked about at the beginning of the month, at the beginning of January you know, those, those themes For the new year well now you're starting to move towards concretizing those, right?

And so you pull your tools together and maybe your tools need some maintenance, so you take care of that. And You know, you know you want to plant a garden and the ground is solid, but you can still peruse the seed catalogs and order your stuff and start seedlings indoors if you want to for things that take a long time to grow, like onions and so forth.

Yucca: Mm

Mark: Um, so, and I've been hearing that from, from gardeners in the community and in our mixers and stuff, we've been talking about, you know, people being very excited about their seed catalogs. Um, so, yeah, I, I think it's just, it, and then there's that other aspect of just celebrating the infants and small children in the, in the community, you know, doing, you know, doing stuff that's very nurturing and very kind.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: to, to them and to that part of ourselves.

Yucca: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. It's beautiful.

Mark: Yeah, it can be I do have a little bit of dissonance around some of the things that I, that I still maintain from when we used to celebrate. I was celebrating with the broader pagan community around this holiday for example, I have a little anvil and sledge that I love the ringing, the repetitive motion and the ringing of the hammer on the sledge and associate it with this time of year.

We used to do rituals because, you know, Brigid was a goddess of the forge among many other things, poetry and, you know, a lot of stuff. But we would. Take a length of chain and have one open link. And at the proper time in the ritual, each person by turn would go to the anvil and pound that link shut, creating a loop of chain that would be sort of a symbol of the magic that they were doing for this year, and they could take that home with them.

We usually had ribbons threaded through them as well, so they were colorful and pretty. And I still like doing something with that anvil, even though I'm not quite sure what it means metaphorically.

Yucca: hmm.

Mark: Um, I just like it, and I associate it with this time of year, so I keep it.

Yucca: And things like that might change over time, right? So what does that metaphor mean to you? You know, maybe when you do it, or how you do it, can adapt depending on what, where you are in your life, in terms of what life stage you're in, but also where you are in the world, because people, some people stay in the same part of the world their whole lives, and other people move from very, very different climates and change where they are, and so life changes a lot, and all of those symbols and those things change when you go from You know, Miami to Buffalo, or wherever you're talking about.

Mark: Presuming your body survives the shock. Yeah,

Yucca: move during the summer.

Mark: yeah, exactly. I was just thinking, yeah, if you, if you move from Miami to Buffalo in January, you're really asking for trouble.

Yucca: But people do it, right? And so when that does, you know, what does that mean to you? And things will shift and you're still trying to figure out you carry with you what you had from before. And you don't necessarily have to just throw that all out because you're suddenly in a different climate. It's going to take time to adjust.

Mark: Absolutely. Of course it will.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: and

Yucca: Mm

Mark: this is a good time to kind of celebrate that transition, too. You know, this is one of those light at the end of the tunnel sabbaths, where it's like, yes, it's cold, yes, the days are still really short, but they're not as short as they were, and it is going to warm up.

You know, by, by the time of the next holiday, the, the spring equinox, it will be noticeably warmer than it is now. So, and that's pretty universal, I think. So It's a, it's an opportunity to sort of contemplate persistence and the repeating of cycles, you know, because one of the things about the winter solstice, of course is that idea of making it through the longest night, you know, huddling together and, and, you know, persisting. Well, this is the point at which you kind of start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. And, and so you can celebrate that persistence as well and be kind to yourself as, as a result. Um, you know, a lot of us, we were just talking about this before we started recording, a lot of us have been going through a lot this January. been, it's been very, it's been hard, it's certainly been hard for me, and I know it's been a lot harder for other people in our community.

And The idea of a holiday where we, where we sort of look around and say, Hey, we, you know, it looks like we're going to make it. We, it was, it was touch there for a while, but we, we think we're going to make it and, and, you know, persist through another cycle. I think there's a value in that too.

Yeah.

Yucca: And another perspective on that is This is the time, this is the time that we were preparing for, for all of that other stuff, right? At least in my climate, for us, when we're in the solstice season, we've only really just gone into winter. For many people, it's mid winter, but for us, no, we really, you know, we jumped really quickly from fall into winter.

We still have A full stock of, of wood, right? We've got all our fire, we haven't been going through it yet, you know, we still have all of our stores of food, you know, both physical and, and metaphorical. And this is when things aren't quite producing yet. This is when the animals are about to calf. But they haven't quite yet, right?

And just knowing that this is the, so this is a time for us when we focus on the things that we depend on. That we are very much part of. You know, we're very bovine based, so we're thinking about the dairy, and the meat from the cows, and the fur, and all of those things that, that we depend on, that are part of the system, of, that without, we couldn't be, right?

We need those things. And so recognizing our connection to those, and how important that is, and that, once again, another year. We've been carried through, right? And we can, and we're going to do it again, but there is a place of, of kind of vulnerability and, and surrender to that this time of year. Which, there's something kind of somewhat reassuring about that.

I know you wouldn't put the words vulnerable and dependency with reassuring together, but there is sort of, they just actually really do go together nicely.

Mark: Yeah. I, I, yeah, I, I really resonate with what you're saying. Yeah, because January, February. Up until the cows and sheep started to give milk are, those are the fasting times. I mean, all, all the stuff that was perishable that you got to gorge on at the solstice, that's all gone. And now what you've got is, you know, root vegetables that are You know, covered with eyes and stuff and stuff like that.

All the goodies have been eaten now and now it's just a matter of really kind of toughing it out until nature starts to produce some food in your area again. It's not a surprise that eggs are associated with the spring equinox because, you know, birds are laying then and you could eat them.

Yucca: Yeah. The light starts to come back and, I mean, if you keep chickens, that, yeah, depending, your hen might produce a little, lay a little bit during the winter. And unless you're putting artificial lights in there, she's not going to. She's gonna wait till the spring comes back. Or she'll do a few here and there, but really you just don't get, and then all of a sudden there's enough light and it's like, you know, then you hear them making their calls.

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: Egg announcement! Everybody know! So, and same thing with the, with the, the wild birds as well. So, oh, and I love the colors. Look forward to that with spring, the flashy colors that they have.

Mark: all the mating plumage and stuff. It's so cool. Yeah and that actually reminds me, this is, this is the time when I do my spring fast. My birthday is January 3rd and I take the, and so from the day after my birthday until the spring equinox, I give up something. and it's not a penance thing, it's more of a what is it like to live without

Yucca: hmm. Mm

Mark: Um, because I think that's That has valuable lessons in it.

And I've done various things in various years, but I usually do alcohol, and that's what I'm doing this year. So, it's just, I mean, it's, it's a healthy thing, for one thing, it's good for your liver to stop drinking for a while. And more than that It's kind of a reminder. It resets any habits you might have had.

If, if it's like, okay, work is over, it's six o'clock, work is over, time for a beer.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: That sort of pattern that kind of gets locked in where it's like, some days, maybe I don't really need a beer, but I still crack one, right? So it interrupts that pattern and gives you a chance to reset and then be more conscientious about whether or not you want that beer.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: So that's a

Yucca: is the thing that works for you, but, you know, for other people, it might be something completely different,

Mark: Oh, sure. Yeah I did sugar one year. God, that was hard. Um, uh,

Yucca: I've quit a lot of things in my life, and I have to say sugar is by far the hardest.

Mark: yeah, yeah. Oh, man.

Yucca: yeah. You know, and some people might do some things like some, some actual, Like, fasting, as well. There's a lot of tradition, many different religions from all over the world have incorporated that, and there's a lot of really powerful potential with that,

Mark: Yes.

Yucca: you know, done in a mindful, safe way, of course,

Mark: Yes. Yeah. Mind, mind your health. Stay hydrated. You know, you don't have to be fanatical about it. But,

Yucca: just do your research on what you're doing beforehand. There's a lot of resources but it doesn't have to be, I know there's a lot of focus these days about it as like a weight loss technique or something like that but it can also be just Really wonderful for the mental clarity and the reminder that you get to choose these things and practicing that I choose right now, this is what I'm doing I'm not having that beer, or no, I'm not eating until noon every day, or whatever it is or if you decide to do a five day or whatever, you know, there's just Yeah,

Mark: yeah, I mean, I think it's empowering to be able to make those kinds of decisions. And and there are, let me just say right now, the odds are very good, if you're listening to this, that you don't need to lose weight. There are some people who, you know, may actually have health impediments and, and losing weight might be beneficial for that.

But the overall obsession with losing weight is a pernicious lie. And you're fine how you are. So fasting is not dieting. It's not recommending that you, that you deprive yourself in order to get smaller. That's not the point. The point is to understand that you do have choices, as you say, Yucca. And that you are in the driver's seat when it comes to things like what you put into your body.

Yucca: yeah.

Mark: So why don't we talk a little bit about how we observe this season. If you don't want to listen to this part, you can listen to last year's, or the year before, or the year before, or the year before. We just counted, this'll be our fifth. Oh no, it's fourth.

Yucca: So it's our fifth year, but we started right after so I think we were, I was looking back and we started right at the beginning of March. So I think we had just, we recorded, we had this wonderful idea when we started the podcast that we would get together once or twice a month and record multiple podcasts and then go about our business.

But that didn't end up working out. I think part of it is that it was just so nice to get together weekly

Mark: Yeah,

Yucca: and just be like,

Mark: enjoy it.

Yucca: let's just get together and talk and upload, you know, record it a day or two ahead of time and then upload it. But I think that we had tried to record. A few episodes before we launched, so that's why we were thinking that maybe it had been really, literally the week of, so, but yeah, five years.

Mark: yeah, man,

Yucca: eventful, very, very eventful years,

Mark: very eventful years. I'm, time for a tangent, tangent warning. There are a couple of eventful things that I want people to know about that are happening in the atheopagan community. The first one is, if you go to the Atheopagan Society website, Which is TheAPSociety. org. There's a banner right there at the top you can click on to register for the Sun Tree Retreat.

Yucca: Really coming up soon.

Mark: it's, it's, it's on Labor Day weekend, it's at the end of the summer, so it's not so far away. The, we're working on the program now. Our colleague Michael is putting a lot of work in on that and people have submitted presentations and workshops and rituals that they want to do that we're going to fold into that program.

But just be aware, registration is open, please go, you know, if you can't pay the whole amount now, put down a deposit just so that we know that you're coming and we can reserve a space for you. So that's one announcement and the other one is that at the last At the Atheopagan Society Council meeting, we agreed that we are going to start a scouting program for families and children.

Yucca: Mm

Mark: Um, this will be through the Spiral Scouts program, which is a pagan based scouting program, but it has a lot of the same kinds of badges for outdoor activities and camping, and Crafts and disciplines and all that kind of stuff we will be able to create our own badges, like we could create a critical thinking badge,

Yucca: hmm, mm hmm, mm

Mark: um, and families will be able to do these activities together and then we'll get together by Zoom so families can interact and kids can interact with one another as well, or if you live close enough to other People, you can be involved and we're going to open this to people that are not atheopagans so that people can do activities with, with their friends nearby. So that's really exciting and there's a survey open right now that we'll put in the show notes. To to gain information about people's interest in participation, how many kids they have that they would like to be involved, all that good kind of stuff, but it's exciting. I'm, I'm really thrilled that we're doing this and shout out to Robin our colleague on formerly on the Atheopagan Society Council, but who's really active in the community, who has done the heavy lifting on researching this and figuring out how it could work, so.

Yucca: yeah.

Mark: you. So those are my two tangents.

Yucca: Those are good tangents.

Mark: yeah. Exciting.

Yucca: are very excited about both, especially the badges.

Mark: Yeah, yeah. We get badges? Well, you have to do stuff to earn them,

Yucca: Well, that, that is, well, that makes it more special. There actually really is something about, you know, that, that, the effort and the, the earning it part. Like, yeah, I did it. Mm.

Mark: Yeah, it's interesting to me that Spiral Scouts designed itself where they don't have rank.

Yucca: Mm

Mark: don't elevate in rank the way that, like, the Boy Scouts do, where you're a Tenderfoot and then you're something else and something else and then eventually you're an Eagle Scout. There's no rank in Spiral Scouts.

There are categories of age groups. I believe we're gonna start and this is still under discussion, but I believe we're gonna start the Sun Tree Circle, which is what the atheopagan scouting program will be called. I believe we're gonna start that at six years old, because it's pretty hard to gain attention, you know, to have younger than six be able to pay attention on Zoom.

Yucca: hmm.

Mark: But we're,

Yucca: I would imagine that there would be an exception for the, you know, the five year old who really is able to do that, right? That it's more about what is the The expectations of the individual's abilities more so than what's the calendar

Mark: Right. Right. Absolutely.

Yucca: if you're, you know, five year old and eight months is, you know, they're not left out because of, because they're not quite there yet in

Mark: Right. And it's really the parent's call, you know, you know your kids better than anybody else. So it's a matter of you deciding, do you think they've got the capacity to focus, to be able to do these kinds of things? And if they do, well, bring them along. So, As I was saying, there are no ranks in Spiral Scouts.

Everybody is equal. It's very egalitarian, which we really like in atheopaganism. But you can earn these badges and do activities together so that you all earn a badge at once. Then you can put that on a sash. Or they also have this cool, like, cowl thing.

Yucca: mm

Mark: it's called a crepuscular or something.

I don't remember what it's called. But it's, it's like a, it's like a hood with a sort of a layer of cloth that hang, that's cut in an oval that hangs kind of over, down over your chest. And you can put badges on that too.

Yucca: okay,

Mark: So it's, it's just a matter of, you know, which uniform piece you choose to, to do it with.

Um, I mean, honestly, I've looked over this stuff and a lot of them are like, well, I want to do that, it sounds really fun.

Yucca: hmm,

Mark: So,

Yucca: right.

Mark: what do we do for, for this Sabbath? Oh, what do we call it? We didn't talk about what we call it.

Yucca: All right

Mark: Go ahead.

Yucca: so, second winter, Nosquilváir for us those are usually, I mean, Bridget's Day or Imblic when speaking to people in the broader pagan community, usually second winter.

Mark: Mm hmm. I have called this holiday river rain my personal wheel of the year because it really is the holiday of water. This is when all the water in the world is falling from the sky at least in so called normal years because of course we've had drought in the west a lot. In the last 15 years or so because climate is changing.

But this year it seems to be pretty good. We've had quite a lot of rain and last year of course was record rain and snow. It was, it was tremendous. So the creeks are all babbling and the hills are green and we get these big tides at the ocean and it's just It's just the time of water, and so I do a lot of celebrating of, of water in, at River Rain.

But I also like that term brightening because of its universality. In, in my books, I'm using brightening, and, and then dimming in August which is when we're coming off the summer solstice and it, the days are starting to get noticeably shorter.

Yucca: Right. Which is another one of those that I think really lends itself to being really customized and specialized to your environment. Because again, it's one that doesn't have that strong pre existing secular association.

Mark: right? Right. Yeah, and climatically it can be so different for people. I mean, where I am you can't see this because we're recording over Zoom, but my background today is the Golden Gate Bridge. In San Francisco, and San Francisco, of course, is very famous for being completely socked in with fog all summer long.

And I'm 60 miles north of that along the coast, and we are very, very frequently socked in with fog in the summertime. So, you know, the idea of the blazing sun, you know, of llamas, and it's like, well, where is it?

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: So it's just, it's different for everybody and you really have to, once again, choose your own adventure. So are there particular ritual things that you do, Yucca, at this time of year?

Yucca: Well, we do take all the furs that we have and brush them out and care for them that way because if you're, you know, sleeping up against it or being up against the furs throughout the year, they start to kind of mat and tangle and so it's just a time to take care of the things that we have.

Mark: Mm hmm.

Yucca: so that's one.

And for the last few years, we've done painting of pine cones, which has been really lovely. Yeah. So where we are, we have two different kinds of pine cones. We have the, the big ones that you would picture when you think of a pine cone from the Ponderosa pines. And those are, you know, those are big, like the size of your fist.

And then we have little Pinyon pines, and they make little pine cones that are about golf ball sized, that look like little flowers when they open up. And so we'll go around and collect those and we're starting to make some of the, we'll focus on this a little bit more as we get closer to the equinox, but we'll make little bird feeders with them Or, you know, you dip it in the whatever your fat is, the lard or whatever, and coat it with the seeds.

But when you paint the pine cones, it actually takes a much longer time than you would think, because you have to do each of the little nubs, right? And then you string them together and you get these just really beautiful looking decorations that you can hang about. And it doesn't feel Christmassy.

Maybe it's because we're not doing like red and green we're doing more like whites and blues and, and things like that. Of course, sometimes the kids want to do different, you know, every single bit has to be a different color so they've got their rainbow ones or

Mark: Huh. Nice.

Yucca: those are some of the more craft things that we do.

Mm

Mark: Cool. Very cool. I have, on my focus, my altar, I have a chalice that I, that is my ritual chalice. I use it for various things, pouring libations. All that kind of stuff. It's, it's blue and white with sort of a grapevine design around the outside. And it sits on my focus, and it's always full of rainwater. Because water is life, right? You know, gotta have it there. But since last year, it has also had a coin in the bottom.

Yucca: hmm.

Mark: Because I got this idea about, you know, water and hopes and wishes and all that kind of stuff to do a wishing well for ritual for this time of year. And so I was we, the group that were doing it, we were, you know, pitching special coins into a, a cauldron.

Yucca: hmm.

Mark: Full of water, special water, a little bit of water from Glastonbury Tor, and from Bath, and then rainwater, that kind of stuff. And so I took my coin out and I put it in the bottom of that chalice and it's been there ever since. So that's, that's another kind of ritual thing that I like to do at this time of year is create the wishing well.

Yucca: Do you fill it up throughout the year? Or are you so, okay. I

Mark: just

Yucca: be shocked if you were going to be humid enough that that wouldn't evaporate

Mark: No, no, no, no. It, it evaporates all the time. And every once in a while I have to clean, you know, scrub it to take, all of the salts accumulated from evaporation off of the chalice. But it's pretty, and it's, it's there, and I use special coins, I've got a it's a French five franc coin from before the Euros, and it's, so it's, it's silver or nickel or something around the, the out part, and then the inner part is bronze or copper or, you know, something with more gold in

Yucca: colors. Wow, nice. Oh,

Mark: I have two of these that have an amazing backstory that I won't go into, but I have Algerian coins, are octagonal, and have this amazing Arabic script all over the front of them and they just, to me they look like Dungeons and Dragons coins. You know, they look like exotic loot from some ancient time that you would find in a chest somewhere. So, I use one of those two coins when I do this wishing well ritual.

Yucca: that sounds fun.

Mark: Yeah. it is.

Yucca: Do you get together with your circle for this holiday? Or more the big four.

Mark: Used to, but we don't anymore. We engage with one another more than we used to because we do a Zoom call every Friday evening.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: So we see one another and check in and stuff on a weekly basis. But as we've gotten older, the distance travel just becomes harder and harder. And so we get together at Hallows and at Yule and and that's, and then usually one other time.

Maybe around May Day and, but the, the Live Oak Circle, our Northern California Atheopagan Affinity Group, is getting together more frequently, and we're going to do one of these rituals next Sunday, no, not next Sunday, the Sunday after, the 11th of February, so that'll be fun.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: this, folks.

Yucca: Yeah. And they're closer, easier to get to.

Mark: Well, it's still a 60 mile drive for me. And it's a little further than that for the folks from Sacramento, but then we've got people from San Jose who are in the south of the South Bay, so the East Bay is a good convening point, and it's only every six or seven weeks, so it's It's not, it's not too bad, and I drive an electric car, so you can feel okay about it.

Yucca: Nice and quiet, right?

Mark: Yes, it, it, it sings. My car sings. It goes, oh, so great.

Yucca: Mine goes so so so so so so so so. I go over dirt washboard.

Mark: yeah, yeah, I

Yucca: I think even electric car would go so so so so

Mark: I, I think so, and probably worse,

Yucca: I would not be very happy.

Mark: because they're very heavy.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: batteries are super heavy, so. Even though they have a lot of get up and go, that's just because the torque on an electric motor is so much higher than on an internal combustion engine.

Yucca: Mm. Mm

Mark: Um, yeah, it's a funny thing, I, I mean, I don't really care much about fast cars, but I do get irritated by rude drivers, and, and they seem disproportionately to be drivers of BMWs and Mercedes and Teslas.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: So, what I like to do is to, when the light goes green, I like to leap across the intersection far faster than your incredibly expensive car, sir. Just to kind of make the point that, you know, my car's quite a bit cheaper, but it'll go.

Yucca: Mm. Very mature, but

Mark: It's satisfying and completely immature. Absolutely immature. Um, you know, there you have it. None of us is perfect. So this has been great, Yucca. Thank you so much. This has been a great conversation. I wish you the best of the season.

Yucca: Likewise. And to all of you, thank you. So, here's to another year!

Mark: another year. Here we go. Off we go. All right, everybody. We'll, we'll see you next week.

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Season 5 - Episode 3

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Yucca: Welcome back to The Wonder Science Based Paganism. I'm your host Yucca,

Mark: And I'm Mark.

Yucca: and we are back in another year. To talk about that February holiday and the Wheel of the Year,

Mark: Yeah because this is the first holiday after a spate of activity that is reflected in mainstream holidays like Halloween and Christmas and Hanukkah and those sorts of things. And this one, you know, this one we fly solo as pagans, right?

Yucca: right? I mean, there is an associated Catholic celebration at the time, but, you know, that's that's not the whole mainstream culture,

Mark: right, it hasn't been secularized the way so many other, you know, holidays have been, that have been turned into sort of generic practices that nearly everybody does. Yeah and here in the Northern Hemisphere, there is noticeably more light now. I was noticing yesterday there was still light in the sky at quarter of six.

Yucca: Oh.

Mark: that was pretty cool, because, you know, at the solstice, the sun goes down at about 425,

Yucca: hmm.

Mark: so there was, that's, that's a big change, and it's, it's still wet and cold here because this tends to be the coldest time of the year, really,

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: But, you At least the days aren't so incredibly short and those long, long, long, long nights that we get in the deep of winter.

Yucca: Yeah, well, it's so different in different places, what's going on, right? We've talked about this before, but you know, for some people, for me, this is the most bitter time of the year. January, the beginning of February it's actually quite funny, last night, my kids really wanted to do a campfire. And We've been talking about it all week and we had finally rusted out our campfire bowl.

So we have a, because we have to be very, even in the winter like this, we have to be really careful about fire safety. So what we have is we have this Like a, a ring of stones with gravel, and then we have one of those fire bowls that's lifted up that you can put a lid on. But we had finally rusted out the bottom of the one that we had had for years, so we had to get a new one and wait for it to come.

And, you know, they wanted to do the, the, the first fire and the new bowl and all of that. And it was a full work day for me, so I get out of work and we go outside. And it starts snowing.

Mark: Ha ha ha

Yucca: And so we're out there trying to get this fire to start in the snow, and the way we ended up finally doing it was putting a hat of foil on top of the fire to get it to go.

So because once the fire started, as the snow would come close to it, it would heat up and melt and evaporate and would be fine. But when you're trying to start a wet fire, it was, it was quite, quite a an event to do so. But I was thinking about how, for us, this is the, we will quickly move into spring in a few months, but this is the coldest, most bitter, you know, we had over the past few weeks, we had single digits in Fahrenheit.

So, you know, we're, and for those who do Celsius, we're talking about, you know, negative 15 degrees Celsius, and those sorts of temperatures, the ground is frozen. But for other people, This is a holiday in which they're celebrating, oh look, the little flowers are starting to peek through the snow, and spring is here, and everything is brightening up, and I'm like, it's cold.

That's what it is here. It's cold. So, and of course, folks who are in, you know, Florida, it's a completely different experience for them, or Southern California, or Anywhere even closer to the equator is just radically different.

Mark: One of our community members was talking about how right around now is when it's most tolerable in Florida because it gets so hot and muggy in the summertime and so this, which, you know, would generally be the coldest time of the year, is actually quite pleasant,

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: That's the time when you go outside, so it really depends on where you are.

Where I am, it's been raining long enough that the hills have all greened up, and so the, and the first wildflowers are coming up. Of course, because of climate change, we've been watching this happen progressively earlier. You know, with the years and Narcissus and daffodils are up. They're they're not fully blooming yet, but they are up.

And it's and they're wildflowers like milkmaids and paintbrush and a couple of other of the early ones.

Yucca: Our daffodils won't be till April or May.

Mark: yeah, yeah, exactly. So, um, so yeah, I mean, this, this brings to mind, you know, how, how in, in atheopaganism we talk about crafting your own wheel of the year, right?

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: Because there is, unlike in a situation like Wicca, where you're kind of celebrating the climate of the

Yucca: hmm.

Mark: in the 1940s. Because all of that's changed as well.

This is more where you craft something that is that reflects what you see around you. And so it's more about connecting with the cycles of nature that are happening where you are. I really like the name that was created by a member of our community for this holiday which is brightening, because that's a little more universal.

Yes it may be freezing, but the days are longer. So, there is at least that.

Yucca: Yes. Yeah. I think that this holiday really lends itself To that crafting your own wheel of the year, much more than some of the other ones like solstice or hollows might because there isn't the same tie in to mainstream secular culture, where there isn't anything, I mean the closest thing I guess, Valentine's Day?

Right? But that really doesn't, that's, that's a few weeks later, that feels really different, I don't know, maybe some people do connect those two things, for me they've been, they've Never had anything to do with each other. That's a totally separate holiday. But there's just nothing else, really, this time of year to, to draw on.

So it really is, draw from what's going on in your environment. And, you know, maybe the Wicca influence, which works again for some people who live in a similar climate, but my climate is Very, very different

Mark: Right.

Yucca: that part of the world, so,

Mark: And mine is too, because I'm in a, in a Mediterranean, a quasi Mediterranean climate, more reflective of what like the South, you know, Southern Italy or something like that would be like,

Yucca: mm hmm, mm

Mark: because of the coastal influence here in Northern California. Yeah, so One of the things that I find about this sort of create your own adventure approach to the Wheel of the Year is that I can take elements that I like from the, the kind of traditional pagan Wiccan model of like the Irish Brigid holiday, You know, at the beginning of February you know, I can adopt some, some metaphorical ideas around that.

Like, you know, as we've talked about so many times, one of the things that I do in my Wheel of the Year is to map the course of a human life over the cycle of the Wheel of the Year. And so this holiday is infancy and it becomes associated with with dairy, with milk products. And with sort of nurturing and, and, you know, planning for the future, not that, not that dreaming, imagining, visionary kind of thing that you have at the at the solstice in the deep dark of night, but more like, um, this is like, you know, the dawn waking up early in the morning and going, okay, here's what my day is going to be like.

I've got, I've got tools to sharpen and I've got lists to make and I've got seeds to buy and all that kind of stuff.

Yucca: So much more concrete planning, can't get your, you can't really get any of those tools actually in the ground yet.

Mark: Nope.

Yucca: But you can think about, do you have the right ones? What are you going to need?

Mark: Right. Right.

Yucca: And of course, we're using the metaphor of, you know, planting and all of that, which some you might be doing, but for a lot of people, it's really metaphor about what's going on in the rest of our lives.

Mark: yes. And your thoughts about what your aspirations are for this coming cycle,

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: Those, those ideas that we talked about at the beginning of the month, at the beginning of January you know, those, those themes For the new year well now you're starting to move towards concretizing those, right?

And so you pull your tools together and maybe your tools need some maintenance, so you take care of that. And You know, you know you want to plant a garden and the ground is solid, but you can still peruse the seed catalogs and order your stuff and start seedlings indoors if you want to for things that take a long time to grow, like onions and so forth.

Yucca: Mm

Mark: Um, so, and I've been hearing that from, from gardeners in the community and in our mixers and stuff, we've been talking about, you know, people being very excited about their seed catalogs. Um, so, yeah, I, I think it's just, it, and then there's that other aspect of just celebrating the infants and small children in the, in the community, you know, doing, you know, doing stuff that's very nurturing and very kind.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: to, to them and to that part of ourselves.

Yucca: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. It's beautiful.

Mark: Yeah, it can be I do have a little bit of dissonance around some of the things that I, that I still maintain from when we used to celebrate. I was celebrating with the broader pagan community around this holiday for example, I have a little anvil and sledge that I love the ringing, the repetitive motion and the ringing of the hammer on the sledge and associate it with this time of year.

We used to do rituals because, you know, Brigid was a goddess of the forge among many other things, poetry and, you know, a lot of stuff. But we would. Take a length of chain and have one open link. And at the proper time in the ritual, each person by turn would go to the anvil and pound that link shut, creating a loop of chain that would be sort of a symbol of the magic that they were doing for this year, and they could take that home with them.

We usually had ribbons threaded through them as well, so they were colorful and pretty. And I still like doing something with that anvil, even though I'm not quite sure what it means metaphorically.

Yucca: hmm.

Mark: Um, I just like it, and I associate it with this time of year, so I keep it.

Yucca: And things like that might change over time, right? So what does that metaphor mean to you? You know, maybe when you do it, or how you do it, can adapt depending on what, where you are in your life, in terms of what life stage you're in, but also where you are in the world, because people, some people stay in the same part of the world their whole lives, and other people move from very, very different climates and change where they are, and so life changes a lot, and all of those symbols and those things change when you go from You know, Miami to Buffalo, or wherever you're talking about.

Mark: Presuming your body survives the shock. Yeah,

Yucca: move during the summer.

Mark: yeah, exactly. I was just thinking, yeah, if you, if you move from Miami to Buffalo in January, you're really asking for trouble.

Yucca: But people do it, right? And so when that does, you know, what does that mean to you? And things will shift and you're still trying to figure out you carry with you what you had from before. And you don't necessarily have to just throw that all out because you're suddenly in a different climate. It's going to take time to adjust.

Mark: Absolutely. Of course it will.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: and

Yucca: Mm

Mark: this is a good time to kind of celebrate that transition, too. You know, this is one of those light at the end of the tunnel sabbaths, where it's like, yes, it's cold, yes, the days are still really short, but they're not as short as they were, and it is going to warm up.

You know, by, by the time of the next holiday, the, the spring equinox, it will be noticeably warmer than it is now. So, and that's pretty universal, I think. So It's a, it's an opportunity to sort of contemplate persistence and the repeating of cycles, you know, because one of the things about the winter solstice, of course is that idea of making it through the longest night, you know, huddling together and, and, you know, persisting. Well, this is the point at which you kind of start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. And, and so you can celebrate that persistence as well and be kind to yourself as, as a result. Um, you know, a lot of us, we were just talking about this before we started recording, a lot of us have been going through a lot this January. been, it's been very, it's been hard, it's certainly been hard for me, and I know it's been a lot harder for other people in our community.

And The idea of a holiday where we, where we sort of look around and say, Hey, we, you know, it looks like we're going to make it. We, it was, it was touch there for a while, but we, we think we're going to make it and, and, you know, persist through another cycle. I think there's a value in that too.

Yeah.

Yucca: And another perspective on that is This is the time, this is the time that we were preparing for, for all of that other stuff, right? At least in my climate, for us, when we're in the solstice season, we've only really just gone into winter. For many people, it's mid winter, but for us, no, we really, you know, we jumped really quickly from fall into winter.

We still have A full stock of, of wood, right? We've got all our fire, we haven't been going through it yet, you know, we still have all of our stores of food, you know, both physical and, and metaphorical. And this is when things aren't quite producing yet. This is when the animals are about to calf. But they haven't quite yet, right?

And just knowing that this is the, so this is a time for us when we focus on the things that we depend on. That we are very much part of. You know, we're very bovine based, so we're thinking about the dairy, and the meat from the cows, and the fur, and all of those things that, that we depend on, that are part of the system, of, that without, we couldn't be, right?

We need those things. And so recognizing our connection to those, and how important that is, and that, once again, another year. We've been carried through, right? And we can, and we're going to do it again, but there is a place of, of kind of vulnerability and, and surrender to that this time of year. Which, there's something kind of somewhat reassuring about that.

I know you wouldn't put the words vulnerable and dependency with reassuring together, but there is sort of, they just actually really do go together nicely.

Mark: Yeah. I, I, yeah, I, I really resonate with what you're saying. Yeah, because January, February. Up until the cows and sheep started to give milk are, those are the fasting times. I mean, all, all the stuff that was perishable that you got to gorge on at the solstice, that's all gone. And now what you've got is, you know, root vegetables that are You know, covered with eyes and stuff and stuff like that.

All the goodies have been eaten now and now it's just a matter of really kind of toughing it out until nature starts to produce some food in your area again. It's not a surprise that eggs are associated with the spring equinox because, you know, birds are laying then and you could eat them.

Yucca: Yeah. The light starts to come back and, I mean, if you keep chickens, that, yeah, depending, your hen might produce a little, lay a little bit during the winter. And unless you're putting artificial lights in there, she's not going to. She's gonna wait till the spring comes back. Or she'll do a few here and there, but really you just don't get, and then all of a sudden there's enough light and it's like, you know, then you hear them making their calls.

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: Egg announcement! Everybody know! So, and same thing with the, with the, the wild birds as well. So, oh, and I love the colors. Look forward to that with spring, the flashy colors that they have.

Mark: all the mating plumage and stuff. It's so cool. Yeah and that actually reminds me, this is, this is the time when I do my spring fast. My birthday is January 3rd and I take the, and so from the day after my birthday until the spring equinox, I give up something. and it's not a penance thing, it's more of a what is it like to live without

Yucca: hmm. Mm

Mark: Um, because I think that's That has valuable lessons in it.

And I've done various things in various years, but I usually do alcohol, and that's what I'm doing this year. So, it's just, I mean, it's, it's a healthy thing, for one thing, it's good for your liver to stop drinking for a while. And more than that It's kind of a reminder. It resets any habits you might have had.

If, if it's like, okay, work is over, it's six o'clock, work is over, time for a beer.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: That sort of pattern that kind of gets locked in where it's like, some days, maybe I don't really need a beer, but I still crack one, right? So it interrupts that pattern and gives you a chance to reset and then be more conscientious about whether or not you want that beer.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: So that's a

Yucca: is the thing that works for you, but, you know, for other people, it might be something completely different,

Mark: Oh, sure. Yeah I did sugar one year. God, that was hard. Um, uh,

Yucca: I've quit a lot of things in my life, and I have to say sugar is by far the hardest.

Mark: yeah, yeah. Oh, man.

Yucca: yeah. You know, and some people might do some things like some, some actual, Like, fasting, as well. There's a lot of tradition, many different religions from all over the world have incorporated that, and there's a lot of really powerful potential with that,

Mark: Yes.

Yucca: you know, done in a mindful, safe way, of course,

Mark: Yes. Yeah. Mind, mind your health. Stay hydrated. You know, you don't have to be fanatical about it. But,

Yucca: just do your research on what you're doing beforehand. There's a lot of resources but it doesn't have to be, I know there's a lot of focus these days about it as like a weight loss technique or something like that but it can also be just Really wonderful for the mental clarity and the reminder that you get to choose these things and practicing that I choose right now, this is what I'm doing I'm not having that beer, or no, I'm not eating until noon every day, or whatever it is or if you decide to do a five day or whatever, you know, there's just Yeah,

Mark: yeah, I mean, I think it's empowering to be able to make those kinds of decisions. And and there are, let me just say right now, the odds are very good, if you're listening to this, that you don't need to lose weight. There are some people who, you know, may actually have health impediments and, and losing weight might be beneficial for that.

But the overall obsession with losing weight is a pernicious lie. And you're fine how you are. So fasting is not dieting. It's not recommending that you, that you deprive yourself in order to get smaller. That's not the point. The point is to understand that you do have choices, as you say, Yucca. And that you are in the driver's seat when it comes to things like what you put into your body.

Yucca: yeah.

Mark: So why don't we talk a little bit about how we observe this season. If you don't want to listen to this part, you can listen to last year's, or the year before, or the year before, or the year before. We just counted, this'll be our fifth. Oh no, it's fourth.

Yucca: So it's our fifth year, but we started right after so I think we were, I was looking back and we started right at the beginning of March. So I think we had just, we recorded, we had this wonderful idea when we started the podcast that we would get together once or twice a month and record multiple podcasts and then go about our business.

But that didn't end up working out. I think part of it is that it was just so nice to get together weekly

Mark: Yeah,

Yucca: and just be like,

Mark: enjoy it.

Yucca: let's just get together and talk and upload, you know, record it a day or two ahead of time and then upload it. But I think that we had tried to record. A few episodes before we launched, so that's why we were thinking that maybe it had been really, literally the week of, so, but yeah, five years.

Mark: yeah, man,

Yucca: eventful, very, very eventful years,

Mark: very eventful years. I'm, time for a tangent, tangent warning. There are a couple of eventful things that I want people to know about that are happening in the atheopagan community. The first one is, if you go to the Atheopagan Society website, Which is TheAPSociety. org. There's a banner right there at the top you can click on to register for the Sun Tree Retreat.

Yucca: Really coming up soon.

Mark: it's, it's, it's on Labor Day weekend, it's at the end of the summer, so it's not so far away. The, we're working on the program now. Our colleague Michael is putting a lot of work in on that and people have submitted presentations and workshops and rituals that they want to do that we're going to fold into that program.

But just be aware, registration is open, please go, you know, if you can't pay the whole amount now, put down a deposit just so that we know that you're coming and we can reserve a space for you. So that's one announcement and the other one is that at the last At the Atheopagan Society Council meeting, we agreed that we are going to start a scouting program for families and children.

Yucca: Mm

Mark: Um, this will be through the Spiral Scouts program, which is a pagan based scouting program, but it has a lot of the same kinds of badges for outdoor activities and camping, and Crafts and disciplines and all that kind of stuff we will be able to create our own badges, like we could create a critical thinking badge,

Yucca: hmm, mm hmm, mm

Mark: um, and families will be able to do these activities together and then we'll get together by Zoom so families can interact and kids can interact with one another as well, or if you live close enough to other People, you can be involved and we're going to open this to people that are not atheopagans so that people can do activities with, with their friends nearby. So that's really exciting and there's a survey open right now that we'll put in the show notes. To to gain information about people's interest in participation, how many kids they have that they would like to be involved, all that good kind of stuff, but it's exciting. I'm, I'm really thrilled that we're doing this and shout out to Robin our colleague on formerly on the Atheopagan Society Council, but who's really active in the community, who has done the heavy lifting on researching this and figuring out how it could work, so.

Yucca: yeah.

Mark: you. So those are my two tangents.

Yucca: Those are good tangents.

Mark: yeah. Exciting.

Yucca: are very excited about both, especially the badges.

Mark: Yeah, yeah. We get badges? Well, you have to do stuff to earn them,

Yucca: Well, that, that is, well, that makes it more special. There actually really is something about, you know, that, that, the effort and the, the earning it part. Like, yeah, I did it. Mm.

Mark: Yeah, it's interesting to me that Spiral Scouts designed itself where they don't have rank.

Yucca: Mm

Mark: don't elevate in rank the way that, like, the Boy Scouts do, where you're a Tenderfoot and then you're something else and something else and then eventually you're an Eagle Scout. There's no rank in Spiral Scouts.

There are categories of age groups. I believe we're gonna start and this is still under discussion, but I believe we're gonna start the Sun Tree Circle, which is what the atheopagan scouting program will be called. I believe we're gonna start that at six years old, because it's pretty hard to gain attention, you know, to have younger than six be able to pay attention on Zoom.

Yucca: hmm.

Mark: But we're,

Yucca: I would imagine that there would be an exception for the, you know, the five year old who really is able to do that, right? That it's more about what is the The expectations of the individual's abilities more so than what's the calendar

Mark: Right. Right. Absolutely.

Yucca: if you're, you know, five year old and eight months is, you know, they're not left out because of, because they're not quite there yet in

Mark: Right. And it's really the parent's call, you know, you know your kids better than anybody else. So it's a matter of you deciding, do you think they've got the capacity to focus, to be able to do these kinds of things? And if they do, well, bring them along. So, As I was saying, there are no ranks in Spiral Scouts.

Everybody is equal. It's very egalitarian, which we really like in atheopaganism. But you can earn these badges and do activities together so that you all earn a badge at once. Then you can put that on a sash. Or they also have this cool, like, cowl thing.

Yucca: mm

Mark: it's called a crepuscular or something.

I don't remember what it's called. But it's, it's like a, it's like a hood with a sort of a layer of cloth that hang, that's cut in an oval that hangs kind of over, down over your chest. And you can put badges on that too.

Yucca: okay,

Mark: So it's, it's just a matter of, you know, which uniform piece you choose to, to do it with.

Um, I mean, honestly, I've looked over this stuff and a lot of them are like, well, I want to do that, it sounds really fun.

Yucca: hmm,

Mark: So,

Yucca: right.

Mark: what do we do for, for this Sabbath? Oh, what do we call it? We didn't talk about what we call it.

Yucca: All right

Mark: Go ahead.

Yucca: so, second winter, Nosquilváir for us those are usually, I mean, Bridget's Day or Imblic when speaking to people in the broader pagan community, usually second winter.

Mark: Mm hmm. I have called this holiday river rain my personal wheel of the year because it really is the holiday of water. This is when all the water in the world is falling from the sky at least in so called normal years because of course we've had drought in the west a lot. In the last 15 years or so because climate is changing.

But this year it seems to be pretty good. We've had quite a lot of rain and last year of course was record rain and snow. It was, it was tremendous. So the creeks are all babbling and the hills are green and we get these big tides at the ocean and it's just It's just the time of water, and so I do a lot of celebrating of, of water in, at River Rain.

But I also like that term brightening because of its universality. In, in my books, I'm using brightening, and, and then dimming in August which is when we're coming off the summer solstice and it, the days are starting to get noticeably shorter.

Yucca: Right. Which is another one of those that I think really lends itself to being really customized and specialized to your environment. Because again, it's one that doesn't have that strong pre existing secular association.

Mark: right? Right. Yeah, and climatically it can be so different for people. I mean, where I am you can't see this because we're recording over Zoom, but my background today is the Golden Gate Bridge. In San Francisco, and San Francisco, of course, is very famous for being completely socked in with fog all summer long.

And I'm 60 miles north of that along the coast, and we are very, very frequently socked in with fog in the summertime. So, you know, the idea of the blazing sun, you know, of llamas, and it's like, well, where is it?

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: So it's just, it's different for everybody and you really have to, once again, choose your own adventure. So are there particular ritual things that you do, Yucca, at this time of year?

Yucca: Well, we do take all the furs that we have and brush them out and care for them that way because if you're, you know, sleeping up against it or being up against the furs throughout the year, they start to kind of mat and tangle and so it's just a time to take care of the things that we have.

Mark: Mm hmm.

Yucca: so that's one.

And for the last few years, we've done painting of pine cones, which has been really lovely. Yeah. So where we are, we have two different kinds of pine cones. We have the, the big ones that you would picture when you think of a pine cone from the Ponderosa pines. And those are, you know, those are big, like the size of your fist.

And then we have little Pinyon pines, and they make little pine cones that are about golf ball sized, that look like little flowers when they open up. And so we'll go around and collect those and we're starting to make some of the, we'll focus on this a little bit more as we get closer to the equinox, but we'll make little bird feeders with them Or, you know, you dip it in the whatever your fat is, the lard or whatever, and coat it with the seeds.

But when you paint the pine cones, it actually takes a much longer time than you would think, because you have to do each of the little nubs, right? And then you string them together and you get these just really beautiful looking decorations that you can hang about. And it doesn't feel Christmassy.

Maybe it's because we're not doing like red and green we're doing more like whites and blues and, and things like that. Of course, sometimes the kids want to do different, you know, every single bit has to be a different color so they've got their rainbow ones or

Mark: Huh. Nice.

Yucca: those are some of the more craft things that we do.

Mm

Mark: Cool. Very cool. I have, on my focus, my altar, I have a chalice that I, that is my ritual chalice. I use it for various things, pouring libations. All that kind of stuff. It's, it's blue and white with sort of a grapevine design around the outside. And it sits on my focus, and it's always full of rainwater. Because water is life, right? You know, gotta have it there. But since last year, it has also had a coin in the bottom.

Yucca: hmm.

Mark: Because I got this idea about, you know, water and hopes and wishes and all that kind of stuff to do a wishing well for ritual for this time of year. And so I was we, the group that were doing it, we were, you know, pitching special coins into a, a cauldron.

Yucca: hmm.

Mark: Full of water, special water, a little bit of water from Glastonbury Tor, and from Bath, and then rainwater, that kind of stuff. And so I took my coin out and I put it in the bottom of that chalice and it's been there ever since. So that's, that's another kind of ritual thing that I like to do at this time of year is create the wishing well.

Yucca: Do you fill it up throughout the year? Or are you so, okay. I

Mark: just

Yucca: be shocked if you were going to be humid enough that that wouldn't evaporate

Mark: No, no, no, no. It, it evaporates all the time. And every once in a while I have to clean, you know, scrub it to take, all of the salts accumulated from evaporation off of the chalice. But it's pretty, and it's, it's there, and I use special coins, I've got a it's a French five franc coin from before the Euros, and it's, so it's, it's silver or nickel or something around the, the out part, and then the inner part is bronze or copper or, you know, something with more gold in

Yucca: colors. Wow, nice. Oh,

Mark: I have two of these that have an amazing backstory that I won't go into, but I have Algerian coins, are octagonal, and have this amazing Arabic script all over the front of them and they just, to me they look like Dungeons and Dragons coins. You know, they look like exotic loot from some ancient time that you would find in a chest somewhere. So, I use one of those two coins when I do this wishing well ritual.

Yucca: that sounds fun.

Mark: Yeah. it is.

Yucca: Do you get together with your circle for this holiday? Or more the big four.

Mark: Used to, but we don't anymore. We engage with one another more than we used to because we do a Zoom call every Friday evening.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: So we see one another and check in and stuff on a weekly basis. But as we've gotten older, the distance travel just becomes harder and harder. And so we get together at Hallows and at Yule and and that's, and then usually one other time.

Maybe around May Day and, but the, the Live Oak Circle, our Northern California Atheopagan Affinity Group, is getting together more frequently, and we're going to do one of these rituals next Sunday, no, not next Sunday, the Sunday after, the 11th of February, so that'll be fun.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: this, folks.

Yucca: Yeah. And they're closer, easier to get to.

Mark: Well, it's still a 60 mile drive for me. And it's a little further than that for the folks from Sacramento, but then we've got people from San Jose who are in the south of the South Bay, so the East Bay is a good convening point, and it's only every six or seven weeks, so it's It's not, it's not too bad, and I drive an electric car, so you can feel okay about it.

Yucca: Nice and quiet, right?

Mark: Yes, it, it, it sings. My car sings. It goes, oh, so great.

Yucca: Mine goes so so so so so so so so. I go over dirt washboard.

Mark: yeah, yeah, I

Yucca: I think even electric car would go so so so so

Mark: I, I think so, and probably worse,

Yucca: I would not be very happy.

Mark: because they're very heavy.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: batteries are super heavy, so. Even though they have a lot of get up and go, that's just because the torque on an electric motor is so much higher than on an internal combustion engine.

Yucca: Mm. Mm

Mark: Um, yeah, it's a funny thing, I, I mean, I don't really care much about fast cars, but I do get irritated by rude drivers, and, and they seem disproportionately to be drivers of BMWs and Mercedes and Teslas.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: So, what I like to do is to, when the light goes green, I like to leap across the intersection far faster than your incredibly expensive car, sir. Just to kind of make the point that, you know, my car's quite a bit cheaper, but it'll go.

Yucca: Mm. Very mature, but

Mark: It's satisfying and completely immature. Absolutely immature. Um, you know, there you have it. None of us is perfect. So this has been great, Yucca. Thank you so much. This has been a great conversation. I wish you the best of the season.

Yucca: Likewise. And to all of you, thank you. So, here's to another year!

Mark: another year. Here we go. Off we go. All right, everybody. We'll, we'll see you next week.

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