THE WONDER: Science-Based Paganism

The Wonder Podcast

THE WONDER explores perspectives, rituals, and observances of modern, naturalistic, Earth-revering Neopagan religious paths. Naturalistic Pagans embrace the world as understood by science (that is, without gods, magic, or the supernatural), and enhance our lives with myth, ritual and activism. Hosted by Mark Green (author of ATHEOPAGANISM: An Earth-Honoring Path Rooted in Science) and Yucca (formerly of The Pagan Perspective YouTube channel, and of the Magic and Mundane channel). All opinions are those of the speaker, not necessarily those of The Atheopagan Society. Named #3 in the top 20 Pagan podcasts for 2024! https://blog.feedspot.com/pagan_podcasts/ read less
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Suntree Retreat 2024
Yesterday
Suntree Retreat 2024
https://theapsocietyorg.wordpress.com/news-and-events/suntree-retreat-2024/   Episode from 2022 Suntree: https://thewonderpodcast.podbean.com/e/live-from-suntree-retreat/   ----more----     Mark: Welcome back to The Wonder, Science Based Paganism. I'm your host, Mark, Yucca: And I'm Yucca. Mark: and today we have a really exciting group of people to talk about a really exciting upcoming event, which is the Sun Tree Retreat, which is the second of these retreats that we've held in person for atheopagans from all over the world who can come. Held in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and it's going to be over Labor Day weekend this summer. So, I'd like to introduce our two panelists here, who were at the last one Rana and Michael. Michael: Hello. Yucca: Rana, we Mark: I can't hear you at all. Rana: Oh, thank you for having us. Yucca: Welcome. And I think both of you've been on the podcast before, right? So, welcome back. Michael: Oh, thanks. Can Yucca: Yeah. Michael: put that Yucca: So let's, let's start with the, some of the details because that's coming up really soon, right? That's Mark: It is, Yucca: two months, which is not very long. Mark: nope, not very long, especially if you have to get plane tickets and that kind of thing, so, Really encourage folks that want to go to get registered and get organized around it, because it's going to be a really good time. So, details. The event is August 30th, which is a Friday starting in the afternoon through noon ish or one o'clock or so 2nd. Registration includes nine meals. As a part of your, your registration fee you also need to register for lodging, which is very affordable and you can find all the information about it by going to the Athe O Pagan Society website, which is the ap society.org, THE ap society.org, Yucca: And the lodging has several diff oh, Michael: notes as well for this Yucca: absolutely, yeah, we'll put that in the show notes so that people can just go ahead and click on it. I was gonna say the lodging has several different options including tent camping, and yurt and Mark: guest house, you're. Yucca: I think it's dry camping, but you could, if you have an RV and you're in the area, you can do an RV too, is that correct? Mark: Yes, there are no hookups, but but there is parking for RVs. We had a couple of people, at least one couple came last time, actually in a school bus, Yucca: was really cool. Mark: was converted. It was really cool. Yucca: Yeah, Mark: So, Michael and Rana we wanted to talk some about why this event was so cool last time and what we're looking forward to going into this next one at the end of this summer. So why don't we start with kind of golden moments. Michael, you want to go ahead? Michael: I wanted to just say beforehand, you mentioned the meals, and one of the high points of it was the options available. Like, every dietary requirement was accommodated, I think. Mark: Yeah, Michael: The catering team there are fantastic, and I think people shouldn't feel concerned about food at all because the options were great the food was really high quality I think everybody felt really good about the food, so that was an important, that was a real high point so just wanted to make sure we got that mentioned. And, Mark: Yeah, great. Thank you. And, and eating together was really a high point for me. Just sitting down for meals, you know, they had these round tables that I think seated eight or ten or something like that, and different combinations of people would sit together for different meals. And so we got to know one another better in those mealtimes. So that was a high point for me. Somebody want to go with another cool thing that they remember from Suntree in 2022? Yucca: well, I remember Robin led these I'm not sure what you would really call it,  Rana: yeah, the meal acknowledgement. We have talked about them in the group, but it was really different being able to experience it together. And it was things like bringing to mind the history of our food or thinking about the systems that brought it to us today or the hands that it passed through. And we've had some discussion in Mihal's full moon. We were doing like a full moon lunch thing for a little while as well where we kind of continued that conversation and, and thinking about that, which is something that I find really enriching and really enjoy. Also want to strongly second the dietary accommodations that they had. I really, really appreciate it because I have a little bit of an odd diet and I felt. Really good and definitely did not lack for good options for food. Mark: Mihal, you want to go? Michael: yeah, what I found really interesting about the, The whole experience was how quickly we created a community in space particularly when we did our Fire Circle get togethers. And the kind of spontaneous sharing that occurred at those events was really amazing. People really just suddenly kind of created this family. in situ and it was it was great to be part of that. Just sometimes if you go to other kind of retreats it can take a while to kind of break down those those barriers we put up. Just as just as being human but it seemed within a just a few hours we'd kind of already started to create a special Sun Tree community and I thought that was fantastic. Mark: Yeah, I really agree with that. I mean, I've been to a whole lot of various kinds of pagan gatherings and retreats of various sorts. And it seemed as though we just kind of got at this visceral level that we were among, you know, people that were of like mind and similar values. And so that we were safe. Right? We were all, we were all going to play nice with one another, and so we could talk about really deep stuff in our, in our lives, and in our, our experience. And I found that really moving throughout the whole long weekend. It was, it was, it came up over and over again. Yucca: I was also really struck just by the immediate level of respect and consent that was just part of the, Everybody had going in. So I had my five year old with me and in a lot of situations in our culture, people you know, will go up and touch five year old's heads and give them hugs and, you know, all of those sorts of things. And I remember it just being great because people automatically were so great with her about asking for her permission. Like, do you want a hug? And would you like to shake hands? And that was just the culture of it. And it was just so refreshing and wonderful to just be in that space, just from the get go. Like Mark: and I mean, we had, we had laid out guidelines around consent and around conduct because, you know, we wanted to be very clear about, you know, what the expectations are, but it seemed like people read them and were like, yeah, that's civilized behavior. That's how I'm going to be. And the subject Honestly, never came up. There was never a situation where somebody felt like they had been inappropriately touched or or somehow invaded in that kind of way. And I thought that was, that was really pretty amazing. Michael: I just wanted to talk about the actual place as well. The Retreat Center is Really, really phenomenal. There's this beautiful forest. You're kind of just on the edge of Colorado Springs, so it's not too far from any stores or anything that you might need. But once you get in there, you suddenly feel like The outside world has disappeared just in this beautiful forest really a fantastic place just to go for walks just to go into the forest by yourself if you want to go for I think one of the big highlights was that we had a lunar eclipse while we were, while we were there, and being able to all, for the whole, all of us to go out there onto this big lawn and just stare up at the, at the moon together, and people howling at the moon, it was It was just a really fantastic experience as well especially just having that, we, we had the the Ponderosa Lodge, which is this big log cabin lodge that we can use for a lot of our activities, for rituals, and for our workshops. And that's a real, that's, that's a really nice space as well, there are different rooms, so you can kind of break off and do different things with people, or you can kind of come to the main room and have a bigger discussion. We had dance parties there, we had the Carnival of Change, which was a chance to kind of take on a different persona, like dress up. be a different version of yourself for the evening. So I think the whole, the whole retreat center just kind of facilitates that. There's a, there's a labyrinth there as well, which we didn't really incorporate too much into any rituals the last time around, but I think we're going to try and bring that in more this time around. Mark: Yeah, it's a beautiful spot. Rano? Rana: Yeah, the, the shared experience of the lunar eclipse was pretty special and it, it just so perfectly aligned with what we were doing. It was the same night as the Carnival of Change and it just felt like great, like the weather cooperated and we got to see this cool celestial event. It wasn't even at a super late time, like it was, it felt like a Yucca: like eight or nine. Yeah, Rana: Yeah, yeah, it felt like started our evening, kind of, or, you know, it didn't, it wasn't, you know, too far on late night or anything. The Carnival of Change itself was really fun, just to be able to play dress up together and listen to some music and, and just have fun. And I also like, like Michael said being able to split off into other little rooms and areas. It And I think for me, something that I really appreciated was the ability to have these just kind of unplanned moments where so much of our online interactions are very scheduled and it, you just show up at a certain time and there's a group of people and that's kind of mostly how it's gone. But, like, I just remember some folks were up later one night just all chatting and hanging out. And I love that feeling of if you're up late and feeling a little bit chatty or sociable, you can just kind of see who's up and just take a seat and hang out for a bit. And that's something that otherwise has felt like not really something we have access to. So it was particularly nice just to be able to connect in a more organic way, depending on how you're feeling. Mark: hmm. Yeah. Nihal? Michael: Yeah I think we, there was a lot of, there's been some learnings from that event as well, and I think there, we were really concerned about accessibility this time around, because there was a lot of movement between different areas. And so this time around we are definitely going to be making it more accessible as well. There's going to be designated drivers, so we want to make sure that everybody feels comfortable and everybody's able to take part in all the different events that we're having. So, I, I know that there's going to be a lot of more accessibility this time around, especially just in terms of shuttling people around the property. Yucca: Because there were a few hills and we were moving from the bottom of the hill back up to the dining room and then back down. Michael: Yes, yes, yeah, but I think we, Mark: and we were at 7, 000 feet. Michael: that was another, yeah  Mark: yeah one of the things that we learned from the Sun Tree Retreat in 2022 is that we had programmed a lot of the time, but some of the most memorable and wonderful moments were the unscripted times. The, the, The break periods when we could just gather together and socialize, or plan what we wanted to do for a rite of passage during the rite of passage period that we had later on, which was one of the most moving things to me. That was really an experience. So this time we've programmed in more free time. There's still plenty of workshops and, and rituals and experiences to have, but we've made it a little bit looser so that people have opportunities just to hang out and experience the place and one another. Michael: yeah, yeah, I just wanted to I might talk about the rites of passage a bit more because that was quite a unique experience. I guess we didn't really know how that was going to go because it's kind of like, it's a make your own ritual event, basically. You, you just DIY it with some help from some friends. So I think people were, they had various things that they wanted to celebrate or commemorate and or mark the end of a period in their life, or the start of a period in their life. And we all came together and celebrated those those events together. And I think what was really amazing was just the creativity that people brought to their rituals. Really very moving and even though they were very personal, I felt that We all kind of, as a community, came together and it became something for all of us. Mark: Yeah. I felt so included in all of those rituals. I felt like my being there mattered. And even if just as a witness and that. You know, that there was room for everyone to have the kind of experience that they wanted to have. And it, and we, we ended the rites of passage with a wedding, which was sweet. It's kind of, you know, the classic act four of the movie, right? And that was really lovely. So, I was, I was super happy with that, and we're doing that rites of passage process again this summer. Michael: Maybe we could talk about some of the workshops that took, that people liked. Mark: Oh, yeah. Michael: I really, I think one of the highlights was the Cosmala workshop, bead workshop, which is basically making a bead necklace that, with each bead representing an important part of, in the life of the universe, or in your own personal life, or just various different events that you want to commemorate. That's, that's kind of right, isn't it? Or was there any Mark: John Cleland Host, who is our friend and a real innovator in the whole realm of naturalistic paganism, one of the earliest people to write about it in its new resurgence. He has this amazing more than a hundred bead string. Of, that all, it starts with the Big Bang and it works all the way until, at least until the Sun Tree Retreat, because he had special beads made for the Sun Tree Retreat that he distributed to people so they could put them on their own cosmola. That was very, very cool. And some of them are signed by people like Starhawk and Jane Goodall and just really a fascinating, wonderful ritual tool and evocative piece of art. Yucca: so there were a lot of different styles of workshops too. There was a, like a history one and there was a John did another one which was like the Wheel of the Year, which he had some really cool handouts for too for that. Mark: We live the year for families, which I thought was really wonderful. You know, a lot of people in our community have families that they're working to build traditions with together, and so, and John has really, you know, pioneered some of that, you know, working with his, with his wife and his sons. And just had a lot of great ideas about different things he could do at different times of the year and was, you know, freely sharing all that stuff. It was great. Rana: There was also a group guided meditation that we did outside overlooking Pikes Peak on their big, expansive, beautiful lawn with all the ponderosa pines, which I'd never, I don't think I'd ever seen them before. I'd never been to Colorado before. And that was really lovely just to kind of take a moment to be there and be present. And there was also a body painting. Which, I appreciated the, like, especially interactive stuff because it's something we're normally restricted about online. And I really loved Mihal's presentation about virtual meals because I think food is just such an integral way to connect with other people and you can infuse it with all this symbolism. And it gave me a lot of ideas. I need to revisit my notes on that and thinking forward to the next one a little bit too, just that ability to share food and those meal acknowledgements really adds to that feeling of making meaning with other people and making community. Michael: Yeah, we had a food altar as well, which was kind of cool. An abundance of food. People brought stuff to share. And I thought that was fantastic as well. Just, uh, one, one person brought some really good kimbap, which I love. So that, if you don't know what that is, it's Korean sushi, basically. And it was just really good. Mark: Yeah, there, there was there was just a vibe of generosity and mutual support. Mutual affirmation. You know, I came away from it feeling like, you know, I've got these amazing, super cool people in my world, and they feel the same about me, and that's just good for my life, generally. Even if I'm not going to see them for a couple of years, except online, just knowing that we shared this experience together just helps me to feel affirmed in who I am and what I do. And I, I, I think I think that was the general vibe that people got out of the event. Yucca: That certainly was, I felt that strongly as well. I was, you know, riding that for several weeks after coming home. Michael: Definitely an afterglow of, kind of like, hard to come down from the high of the event as well. It took a while because it was so special. Mark: yeah, absolutely. So we want to talk a little bit about some of the offerings we're going to have this time. Some of them are repeats from last time, but some of them are new. Let me see if I can pick one. Oh, go ahead. Michael: I was just going to say, maybe everybody's had a chance to look at the program and if you, if there's any particular highlights you want to, that you'd like to talk about that maybe you're looking forward to. Mark: There's so many things. Um,  Michael: Well, should we talk, let's talk about the theme first. Mark: sure, of course. That's a great Michael: we didn't, we didn't have a theme last time, but we do have a theme this, this time. Mark: Which is Solarpunk, a chosen family reunion. The idea being that Solarpunk being a very kind of optimistic movement for the betterment of the world, the betterment of our relationship with nature rather than kind of the doom and gloom that we, that we see everywhere around us now, Solarpunk is a, It's a genre of of writing and of art that is optimistic and looks to the future as, yes, filled with challenges, but also filled with opportunities for us to grow and change and do better. And the chosen family reunion part is I mean, I certainly felt and I think that a lot of us felt at the last Sun Tree Retreat that these, these people were my chosen family. It was, it felt like, oh, wow, all my cousins and uncles and, and nephews and nieces have all shown up and now we're having this great sort of family hoopla together. It was, it was great that way. Yucca: And one of the workshops is going to be on solar punk and atheopaganism more specifically, right? That's Mark: yeah. Michael: Yeah, Hanna is going to be leading that one. Mark: Mm hmm. I'm looking forward to that one as well. And of course we'll have some some elements that will be around, you know, learning how to organize rituals or to you know, to design them. Or you know, kind of learning the observational skills about getting more in touch with the processes of nature around you. Mm hmm. That was something about the, the lunar eclipse last time that it really dovetailed with something that, that Yucca and I talk about on here all the time, which is just about, you know, paying attention, about being present and experiencing the moment and observing what's happening in nature, and That was such a dramatic event. It really, really riveted our attention for about an hour or so. Michael: We're bringing back the Cosmala again, because that was so popular, and I think, I'm sure that new people are going to want to try their hand at making Cosmolas. Mark: I've never made one. I, I'm, it's an oversight. I have to do it now. Going to do a reader's theater. I'm organizing that of a reworking of the myth of Hades and Persephone and Demeter in Greek mythology. Because, even though that's a very popular myth in pagan, kind of modern pagan circles and a lot of different groups have done reenactments of the Eleusinian mysteries that enact that story, it's a pretty terrible story, really. I mean, Hades, Hades captures the innocent daughter Kore, drags her away and makes her his wife. That's terrible. Not so cool in modern, Yucca: way of putting it, Mark: yes, that is a very polite way of putting it, yeah. So, so I rewrote it. I rewrote it to have a different kind of ending and a different set of teachings than the original story did. And we're going to do a reader's theater where people who come to the workshop can pick up a script and take a part and we'll all read it together. And and it'll be fun and hopefully people will enjoy it. So that's another thing we're going to do. Michael: Yeah, we've occasionally done death cafes online which are kind of opportunities to talk about death and, you know, I think our movement's kind of a death positive movement, and we want to kind of honor that, and so something I'm going to be leading is an Irish wake kind of experience, and, you know, at an Irish wake, it's not just mourning the dead, it's kind of celebrating life. And kind of celebrating chaos and causing mayhem. So we're gonna have we're gonna have a bit of an Irish wake experience and I'm, people are gonna be invited to bury the things they want to bury, or remember the things they want to remember. And then we will also cause some mischief as well. Mark: Sounds great. I'm up for all of that. Yucca: And on Saturday, at lunchtime, we're planning to do the same thing that we did last time. to do a live podcast episode, and that may be an opportunity for folks who can't attend in person to zoom in and connect. Yes, Mark: Yes, cross, cross your fingers for the internet connection at the Retreat Center. Yucca: that's why we say May, we're going to try really hard, technology willing, right, Rana? Rana: So, the last time we had Sun Tree, we hadn't yet started our adult salon. Which we recently rebranded as Adult Forum, and I'm really excited to be able to have that in person for the very first time. I've really valued it as a space to connect and share resources and share a little bit about our experiences and our lives. And for folks that might not be as familiar with what it is, it is a peer support space to discuss adult topics openly, and it is, we consider it kind of semi structured. We usually start with a topic just as a starting point of conversation, and then we let things naturally flow depending on what the participants want to talk about, what's on their minds, can go through multiple topics in one session. It is a confidential and non judgmental setting where we're really there to learn from each other's experiences, share our knowledge, especially if you have a range of ages. There's folks that have just lived different lives or experiences that may have things to share feel less alone. In a lot of things that we encounter in life I know. There's a real epidemic of loneliness, especially in America, and it's something I always have felt really deeply about, but don't really know what to do about it, so I appreciate being able to be a part of this space and have this space together in order to continue that kind of connection and We're going to have a way for people to anonymously submit topics or questions while we're at the event so that the people that are there attending are really crafting what it is that we want to talk about and the topics have really ranged in the past and included things like money, relationship styles, aging, death, altered states, sexuality, and more and Yeah, I've just been really looking forward to it. It is an 18 plus event, and I just, I can't wait to have that in, in person. I think it'll be a great version of it, just because we've always had it remote. Mark: Yeah. Michael? Michael: I know there's one of the FAQs we get around this is that you know, is it going to be recorded? Am I going to be able to participate online? And unfortunately, no, it's just for some of the reasons we discussed. First of all, technology, it's not always reliable, so we can't really do live stuff. I think it's possible that some of the workshops will be recorded. That depends on the presenter. And, but we don't want to, we want to also, honor people's confidentiality as well. So it's possible that we can record some of them, but maybe some of them won't be recorded. But that's why we also offer our totally online conference every other year as well. So if you can't make it in person to SunTree, we will be doing our web weaving online conference next year. So that is just a way of bridging that gap where if you can't make it in person, there is still an online space for you to take part in. Mark: Right. Right. And I, and I should point out the adult forum will not be recorded. It's, it's a totally confidential, just live action space for people to, to have discussions about sensitive stuff. So you needn't worry that you're going to find yourself on the internet talking about personal things. Yucca: Right, and for any of the presenters who do choose to have their, their presentation recorded, it would just be of them, not of the audience. So there'll be the private, privacy for the folks in the audience. Mark: Yeah, because, I mean, there are, in our community, there are people who are You know, in various stages of outness in relation to their non theist atheopaganism, right? Some are out as atheists, but not necessarily the pagan part. Some are completely solitary in, in their You know, practice of their path, and we want to be respectful of all of that. So, it's really important to us that people be able to participate without endangering something that, that is important to them. Mijo? Michael: Something that's New this time around, as well, is that we will be kind of having formal vendors. I will be sharing a sign up sheet for people in the coming days, where you, if you want to, if you've got anything you want to sell, or products or services we will have a space for you to do that. So, if you're, it could be anything, you could be selling, selling your own craft, or, I guess, doing Readings or things like this. We'll just sign up and we'll we'll reach out to you if we need, if we have any further questions about the kind of stuff you're going to be sharing with us. Mark: We should say, though, that, that the vending is going to be during a particular window of time at the event, because what we don't want is for a vendor to be there stuck behind a counter, and for the entire event and unable to participate in the various activities, right? Because they're part of the community and we want them in with us doing all the stuff. So we're going to have a marketplace slot in the program, and that's when you can do your vending and, you know, promote your services and all that kind of stuff. So what else should we say about this? I mean, we know because we've been there, it's really cool. Hope that our listeners Yucca: to just put that out there for that part of the world. It's a nice warm time of year. Last time Michael: Will the swimming pool, Yucca: May, which was a little bit iffy, we got really lucky. last Mark: we did. Yucca: I think it started snowing right after we left, Mark: Yeah, something like three days afterwards it started snowing at the retreat center, but that's not going to happen this time, because we're on Labor Day weekend and it should be pretty temperate and nice. Michael: I think there's a swimming pool there as well. Mark: Oh, that's right, it was closed when we were there before, but there is a swimming pool there. Yes, Michael: We should double check if we have access to that, but I think we will, but we should probably double check that. Mark: yes, that's true. Ha ha ha! Michael: I guess you should definitely get booked in quickly if you are intending to come. Because we're, it's coming up fast. I can't believe it's only two months away, so you really need to start thinking about getting your, making your way there and booking your tickets. Mark: Yeah, yeah it's very affordable especially when you consider that it includes nine meals and the lodging for the, the Yurt guest houses is only 75 for the entire event. So it's you know, we, we, we set price points low because we wanted people to be able to access it and we know that there are travel expenses associated. We if you, if you want to come, but there are, you know, financial issues, we have limited scholarship support, so please contact us. You can use the the Wonder Podcast queues at gmail. com, podcast email address to contact us, and we'll get back to you about that. But we'd really encourage our listeners, you know, if you like what you've been hearing on this podcast for the last five years now come and, come and meet us. Come and, and, you know, meet the community and, and check us out. Michael: It was just, I don't know if I expressed how Amazing it was, but it was just such a unique, a singular event and kind of a highlight of my life, I'd really say. It was just spectacular, and I don't know if I, I don't know if I captured that before, but I just thought it was just an amazing thing to be part of. And I think it's going to be just as amazing this time around. Mark: Me too. Yeah. I, I, I can't wait to see you all. And and other folks that, you know, I met two years ago. I'm just, I'm so looking forward to it rana, I Rana: so for me, it, it really felt like coming full circle, like I'd connected with you all, and we spent so much time together during the pandemic. so much. My personal life was also going through some transition and Suntree was actually pretty emotional for me. It was good But I don't know it's a little hard to explain But it just felt like I did a lot of emotional processing while I was there But I very much felt like I was in community I was able to finally meet these people that I had connected with and So now it just feels like I have something to look forward to You going forward knowing that we're gonna do this with some regularity. And for myself as well, it also gave me some more confidence traveling alone because I'm used to traveling with a partner if I go somewhere, especially airplane travel. And so it helped me feel a little bit more adventurous and confident feeling like I went to a state I've never been to before and met up with some people and everything went great. Like, no, no complaints. Mark: really felt that same sense of just really being able to be myself. And I was surprised by that because as one of the organizers last time, I thought I was kind of going to have to be on and sort of be a host. You know, for the whole weekend. And that really wasn't the case at all. I, I, I just felt like, you know, I was, I was welcomed there, warts and all, and there were plenty of other people to help. And it was great. It was just really a good, good time. Well, listen, thank you. Oh, Michael: Hopefully we can do the, the firewalking this time, because last time we couldn't do it because there was a burn ban, but there is potential for doing a firework walk. So people are into that, that might be available. So we'll see what happens. Yucca: Keep our fingers crossed. Mark: that would be exciting. I've never done that, and I'd like to try it. I don't know why I'd like to try it. I, but I would. Michael: That's the ultimate ritual, I guess. And for anybody who's kind of, their ears are pricking up when they hear that the person leading that has got decades of experience. Mark: Yeah. And, you know, very, very careful rules around, you know, everybody having to be absolutely sober, you know, being, you know, a lot of focus, doing this in a really sacred kind of container, so that's that's That's all to the good. Let me see. So, we're gonna put the link to the the event in the show notes. You can go, you can read the program, you can read about the event, you can see a picture of the Ponderosa Lodge and Atheopagan Society website, there's also a gallery of photos that were taken at the last Suntree retreat. So you can take a look at that.  Michael: Could you add in the show notes as well? Could you add the episode we actually recorded? Yucca: Oh yeah, let's link to that because we, yeah, that would be nice to go back and listen to actually. And what was it like in the moment? So that'll be in the show notes too. Mark: yeah, yeah, I just, I just remember we're sitting there and we're talking and people would cruise up to the table glowing and sit down in front of the microphone for a little while and talk about the experience they were having and then toddle off and somebody else would come by. It was just, it was lovely. So listen, folks Sun Tree Retreat, you don't want to miss it. Please come join us, visit with us. We, we would so love to see you. And we will be back next week with another episode of The Wonders of Science Based Paganism. Thank you, Rana and Michael. Thank you for being here. Michael: Thank you.
Golden Ages of the Past - Golden Future
20-04-2024
Golden Ages of the Past - Golden Future
Remember, we welcome comments, questions, and suggested topics at thewonderpodcastQs@gmail.com ----more---- Mark: Welcome back to The Wonder, Science-Based Paganism. I'm your host, Mark. Yucca: And I'm Yucca. Mark: And today we are talking about golden ages of the past and as well as turning to look at golden visions of the future. Yucca: Yeah. I think this is going to be a fun one. We were saying right before we hit record, it's it's a right for tangents as well. Mark: yes, yeah, I imagine we're gonna, we're gonna fall down some rabbit holes on this for sure. Where this originally came from was a conversation that we had in one of the atheopagan community Zoom mixers that happens on Thursday nights, and, or and Michael, who is a member of the Atheopagan Society Council, raised this as a topic and he pasted into the chat a sort of semi facetious myth That many in the mainstream pagan community seem to embrace, which is this idea that once upon a time way back before before the Bronze Age, sometime in the late Either the Copper Age or the Late Stone Age, that there were people living in Asia Minor and in Europe who lived peacefully and in an egalitarian society where that were not characterized by patriarchy and where things were very groovy. Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: That patriarchy came along with these bronze sword wielding invaders and the result was militarism and class stratification and eventually the snowball that led us to capitalism and to where we are today.  Yucca: Very familiar with the story and the narrative. It pops up in a lot of different forms. Mark: It certainly does. And it's a compelling narrative, right? Because part of what it tells us is it's not inherent in humans to be the way we are now, Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: you know, that having a male dominated society is not just a human thing, that it's A cultural thing that took over Yucca: Mm Mark: from something that preceded it. And so it's understandable why that's appealing, because it offers hope, right? It says, well, we could get out from what we're in now. We could move in another direction. So, there's a lot of this backward looking, kind of nostalgic glow in these sort of root myths that inform much of modern paganism. Would you agree with that? Yucca: I think so. And I think that there's also the more recent ideas of the unbroken line of Grandmothers practicing this witchy tradition that was secret, but it survived through, you know, all of the Christian takeover and, and all of this and that, that connects in a little bit with an idea that we have that something that's old is automatically good. Or, automatically has more authority because it's an older idea. Mark: Right, that it's valid, because it's persistent, Yucca: Yeah. Mark: right, because it's lasted for a long time, it must have some kind of validity. Yeah, that's a really good point, and it's definitely something that crops up a lot in arguments about religion generally, not just about paganism or witchcraft. Yucca: Right. Mark: Of course, that was Gerald Gardner's story. Right, Gerald Gardner, the creator of Wicca although he claimed that he wasn't the creator of Wicca, he claimed that he was initiated into a lineage of, an unbroken lineage extending back into the mists of time of this tradition of witchcraft. Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: maybe he believed that, maybe he didn't, but it's been pretty well established that it's not true. Yucca: Right. Mark: there's a, there's a book by the, the, pagan and witchcraft scholar Ronald Hutton, called The Triumph of the Moon, which very thoroughly and meticulously goes over all the different threads of this and establishes there's not really much there there. Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: Great book, great book, highly recommend it. So, so that's another of these, you know, these stories about antiquity. Holding a different way of being that we, that we need to grab onto and try to work our way back to, right? Yucca: Right. Mark: And I was thinking about the Norse traditions, the, the heathen traditions as well. And in that case, what seems to be lionized most is Vikings, right? There's just a whole lot about Vikings. Yucca: Mm hmm. Which I get! Very, very, like, appealing visuals, and Feelings and aesthetics, and yeah, Mark: adventurous, and there's all these sort of macho, warlike values of honor and courage and strength and duty and all that kind of stuff that are all, you know, I mean, they're very macho, but they're, but they're, they're good Yucca: I get the appeal. Yeah, Mark: Yeah, I totally do, too, Yucca: I think that those are, that those can be, can be really good values, right? I don't think we should throw the baby out with bathwater with that, but you know, there's potential with anything for abuse, but you know, those are some pretty, those have their place, Mark: Yeah, yeah. But once again, it's rose colored glasses, right? It ignores the fact that people who went Viking, which was a verb, not a noun you know, you went Viking they were farmers most of the year. I mean, they were just working the soil like everybody else and, you know, getting food. And, you know, they were farmers and they were traders and, you know, all that good kind of stuff. Which is, you know, a much less heroic kind of myth than, you know, paddling an open boat across the North Sea to, you know, to, to strike into foreign lands and, you know, take stuff. And I can understand why that part of the story doesn't really get included so much but here we are, we're on a tangent, right? But still, it's about golden pasts. Yucca: Right. Mark: So, Michael's host, Michael's, you know, quote that he put in the chat was very thought provoking because as we learn more, it becomes pretty clear that none of these golden era of the past myths is likely to be very true. There are kernels of truth Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: them. I mean, have, have there been women that were herbalists and knew natural cures for things in an unbroken line since the time of Arwen? Antiquity? Certainly. Yucca: Yeah. Mark: Yeah, of course there have. Now, were they practicing a particular kind of religious framework around that? Probably not.  Yucca: Probably changed with the time as the society around them changed, and their view of the world changed, and, right? Yeah. Mark: I mean, you know, it's like, did it make that much of a difference whether you invoked some goddess when you tied on a poultice or whether you invoked some saint? It, you know, it may, it may have been exactly the same thing. So, There's all this past stuff and that, that led to a very thought provoking conversation about kind of the nature of nostalgia Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: and this, this very human quality that we have of looking back on times in the past and seeing them fondly, even if they were terrible. Yucca: Right. Even if we lived through them, or, but especially the ones that we didn't. I saw a short video recently of she looked like You know, maybe 16, 17 year old talking about how she was born in the wrong era, that she should have been from the 80s, right? And I remember, you know, being a teenager and, and the kids around me going like, Oh, we should have been hippies. We were meant to be hippies from the 60s. And it's, I think people just do that. Yeah. Even if it's, of course, in the 90s, the 60s seemed like forever ago. Right. Mark: Yeah it's, it's very funny. I, I mean, I was born in the early 60s, so I have, and my father was in a PhD program on the UCLA campus, so I have Other than memories of events, which I have pretty vividly, like the assassinations and Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: body counts announced on Tuesdays and Thursdays on the news, and, you know, the riots and, you know, a lot of stuff like that, but I remember going to my father's lab And all of the students that were around him, and they were all hippies, they were all, they were all dressed in that particular way because they were college students in the late 19, in the, you know, mid to late 1960s. And there, there is, a flavor of that era that I can remember and that feels, I don't necessarily feel drawn to it, but I feel almost like it's something lost that I wish I could recapture somehow. the same thing is true of the 70s and the 80s. It gets muddy towards the 90s and later than that, and I'm not sure whether that's because we tend to have more nostalgia for times when we're younger, or whether It's because the internet came along and culture got a lot blurrier. Suddenly, I mean, it used to be like, you can recognize music from the 70s and 80s. By the 90s, I mean, there was a swing music movement, and there was all, there was the world music movement, and there was all this, you know, sort of backward looking. Yucca: I, I'm not sure I agree with that, because I think if I hear a 90s pop song on the radio, it instantly is, I can instantly place 90s or 2000s so that I would, I would guess that it is more of a 90s pop song. the age and how old we were when we were engaging with that, rather than becoming less distinctive. Mark: That may very well be the case. I may simply have not been paying as much attention. Yucca: right. Mark: You Yucca: Well, and just being in a, Mark: career by that point. Yucca: yeah, different life stage, and at least my memory of the way time has worked is, it just keeps speeding up. Right? When I was four, that a year was an eternity. A week was so long, and now I'm like, oh yeah, a year, like, you know, and I'm told it keeps getting worse. It just keeps going faster and faster. Mark: does, and I'm not sure whether it's a function of A year being a smaller and smaller proportion of your overall life and memory, or whether it's that we get into routines that cause months to fly by at a time. I'm really not sure what that's about, but it's a little frightening how quickly the years just start to go. And that's one of the reasons why, yeah, probably so, but that's one of the reasons why I feel it's really important to have a ritual practice to create sort of sublime moments. Either by myself or with other people, of shared observation and celebration of life. So that those, those moments stick out. I don't look at the last year and see nothing but just going to work and doing the tasks and stuff. There are special days that, that I remember. Yucca: I think novelty slows us down a little bit, and makes us pay a little more attention. Mark: Yeah, yeah. That's why traveling is so wonderful, right? Yucca: mm hmm. Mark: everything is new. You're in a place that's unfamiliar. And you point yourself towards experiences that are going to be novel, like experiencing museums and cultural events and architecture and art and, you know, being, being in cafes and hearing foreign language around you and, you know, all the various things. And so we tend to have much more detailed memory of times when we travel than we do when we're at home.  So, it seems kind of natural that these sorts of narratives would, would appeal to people. Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: And I think that they may have been part of the appeal of paganism for some people. I mean, some people get into it for a vision of a better world. Some people get into it for a desire for magical power. Some people get into it for a desire for connection with and reverence of the natural world, like us. And I think all of those are compelling reasons why people are attracted to modern paganism. And I'm Yucca: combination of those things, too. Mark: absolutely, for Yucca: Yeah. Mark: for sure. Yucca: I think, also, being There's also, for some people, an attraction to being different, right, wanting something that is a little counter cultural, regardless of what the specific values are, but just something different, because whatever it was that they were doing, was not working. And so they're looking for anything that is different than whatever that was. Mark: Yes, and, and paganism specifically works very well for those folks because they tend to be folks that don't fit in very well. And paganism is very, inclusive, by and large. It's very accommodating to people who may be neurodivergent or may be strange or may just be very unique people, right? And what I saw when I first came into paganism was that there was this celebration of the uniqueness of individuals, which is something that I have worked to carry forward in my own pagan work because I think Everybody's amazing, and they all need the opportunity to show their amazingness and to have that affirmed and lifted up. Yucca: Yeah. Well, that's a good lead in to, to thinking about the now, and I guess the golden future, right? We're talking about the golden past. So, what about our visions for the future? Mark: Yeah and, and I should say that I do think that a lot of these golden past narratives, whatever their factuality, I think they're a distraction. Yucca: Hmm. Mark: if they were true, I don't think that matters very much. Because we're not then, and we're never going back then. We're only going to be here, and we're going to go forward into the future. Time doesn't work in a backwards manner, it only goes forward. So, my focus, oh go ahead, Yucca: I, I do think though that there is some value in examining those for looking at what do we value and what do we want to bring forward. So, do we, if we're thinking about, so yes, recognizing that it's probably pretty much a myth about our, our pre Bronze Age egalitarian societies in which, War was not a thing, and there weren't skirmishes and conflict between groups. But seeing that there is a recognizing our longing for that, I think is valuable. I think it's important to, to also recognize that that may not be factual, but that there is value in that. Mmhmm. Mark: certainly, of that we would like to have a world in which there was peace, in which there was inclusiveness, in which there was a better human relationship with the natural world. Yucca: Right. Mark: And, Yucca: hmm. Mm Mark: and one of the things about those myths is that they tell us that it's possible because it happened in the past. Yucca: hmm. Mark: I just choose to believe that it's possible because I think it's, it has to be possible. Yucca: Because we can choose to make it that way. Mm Mark: Yes. And we have chosen as humans to go far afield of that. Even, even in some of the ways that we have really excelled and succeeded as humans, like through science. You know, the newest science is generally applied first to creating weapons. Yucca: hmm. Mark: It's usually applied for figuring out ways to kill people. And that is a very, very sad commentary on the divorce between values and reason. That we have become very effective at applying our reason In problem solving and to understand the nature of the universe, but the concept of ethical constraints around that is, it's very tenuous. I mean, there is a field of scientific ethics, but I haven't seen much example of that actually applying except in the experimental sense. Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: It's like, you know, no, we're sorry, you, you can't test this weird dangerous thing on live people, Yucca: Right. Yeah, we've got our review boards that we've got to get past to be able to do human or vertebrate subjects, but that's where it pretty much ends. Mark: yeah  Yucca: you want to do anything with an invertebrate or anything that isn't an animal, and it's, you know, there's, there's no red tape. Mark: yeah. Yeah. So, you know, re rethinking these things in a really deep sense is important. It's really important. And immediately that makes you subject to some accusations of being very unrealistic because you're, you're thinking far beyond the bounds of what the currently constructed society can do. Yucca: Mm hmm. Mm Mark: And and of course also being accused of being radical, right? Because To make those changes would be a radical shift in the way humanity works. Don't think either of those accusations is very persuasive, myself. Yucca: hmm. Mark: I think people are so adaptable, and we have so many examples of cultures that have not been colonized by, or have only been partially colonized by, the Western mindset that has taken over virtually everything. in the world that operate differently, that I believe we do have choices about the way that we go forward. Yucca: Mm hmm. Mm Mark: And it starts with values. It starts with making decisions about what we consider to be sacred and what we consider to be worthy. And where we draw ethical lines around not doing things that we can do, but we really shouldn't. Yucca: hmm. Yeah, agreed. Mark: Because there's an awful lot of stuff that we do that we really just shouldn't do. Yucca: Yeah. Can and should. Those are two different things. Yeah. Mark: And there is a terrible tendency, and I mean, we see this in children. Given the opportunity to make something go boom, Yucca: Oh, not just children. Mark: Yeah, I know, everybody likes to make something go boom. It's it can be really fun. But when the implications are, you know, environmental devastation and, and loss of lives we really need to resist that urge to make things go boom. Yucca: Yeah, we need to maybe get that out of our systems when it's, you know, little pop cans with and vinegar and baking soda and things like that and not do it with, you know, People and buildings and mountains. Mark: And cities, and yeah, Yucca: Yeah. Mark: So that's what I think. I think that this vision of the future starts with ideas that are around values, rather than structures. But in order to get those values really to propagate in a mass sense, it is going to take some major structural overhaul of the way humanity operates. And fundamental to that is we have to find an alternative to capitalism that works better for the planet. I think one thing that would help a lot, Would be if there were something, and I am, I'm just sort of spinning and talking while I'm thinking here, so maybe I'll end up in something really stupid, but I think international shipping is a big problem. For one thing, it causes a tremendous amount of of carbon into the atmosphere, just astronomical amounts of pollution. Yucca: Right. And so many other things. I mean, our, I think that decentralizing a lot of that would be really, really helpful. Mark: I agree. Yucca: you know, just the supply chain things that have happened over the last few years is just the tip of the iceberg with that. But if we could, return a lot of our means for survival to be in our own hands, in a more local setting, I think that that would be incredibly powerful because on so many different levels, one, just the practical, if something happens, then so many people are without a paddle, right? But also, it's really easy to control people when you control their ability to survive. you Other means to survive, right? Yeah. Mark: the exploitation of cheap labor facilitated by international shipping because producers can go shopping for the most destitute people they can find, pay them as little as they possibly can in order to produce consumer goods that then get shipped back to rich countries where people pay for them. And I mean, That's, that's not just a horror story, that is the standard operating procedure of manufacturing in the world. That's, that's, that's the way it is. Yucca: That's the origins of most of the objects around you right now. For most people, I don't know, some of you might be actually out you know, sitting in a tree with just your phone and some earbuds in. If so, that sounds awesome. But I'm guessing most people listening right now are probably in a constructed environment. In your car, in your house, you know, in a bus, something like that. Mark: Yeah, yeah. Yucca: So Mark: And there's nothing wrong with that, and I want to be very clear, I'm not shaming people Yucca: we're in the same boat, Mark: Yeah, I mean, we all have to live, you know, we're talking on computers here I've got headphones on that I am absolutely certain were made in China by someone who was not paid nearly enough for the service of having created this product. Myself, as, you know, similarly a wage slave in capitalism If that person was actually paid a reasonable wage, I might not have been able to afford these headphones, right? So the whole system reinforces itself, and no one is innocent, and no one other than the decision makers on this are really guilty. Yucca: Mm hmm. I'm Mark: You know, we, we all, we're all doing the best we can, given the system that we have, but that system needs to shift, unless we just decide we're gonna eat up the world and go extinct. Yucca: not so fond of that, Mark: I'm not either, I, that's just, you know, as, as golden futures go, that's really not one for me. Yucca: this is a topic that we did do several years back at this point. We did talk about misanthropy and I do see a a strong tendency of that in our culture today. Which is, I find, very saddening. But I, other than I don't agree with that from a value perspective it's very, it's very counterproductive. It really doesn't help us solve any of these problems, to be really down on, well, we should go extinct, it would be better for the, for everybody, or for the rest of the world, or, you know, all of that. It just, I don't think that, I don't buy that. I think it's not a very strong argument. It's kind of a, it's a cop out. Mark: Yeah, I was gonna say I agree with you, I, I don't have much truck with that either, and I think it's intellectually lazy. Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: I think it's just, oh, there's a huge complicated problem, I don't want to think about it, maybe let's just go extinct. and, and it's a very uncompassionate, non empathetic way of looking at humanity and at, you know, The crises that we confront and I hope to do better than that and I think that we collectively can do better. Yucca: I think so. And I think it relates to our ability to choose what we are going to focus and pay attention to. And I think that's some of what we were talking about before about the nostalgia. When we're in that, we're focusing on just specific aspects of the past. Right? That nostalgia for the 60s in the hippie era. Well, there was a lot of things that really sucked about that, right? But when we're longing for it, we're not longing for the war and the turmoil and all of that. We're longing for the parts that were really positive about it. And so we, we have the ability to really shape the way That we behave in the world based on what we focus on. Not that we shouldn't pay attention to that, we certainly should pay attention to the negative things, but do we focus on solutions to those things? Or do we focus on the misery of how bad it sucks to be human? Yeah, enduring those things. Mark: Right. Right. Yeah, that's exactly right. And one of the things that I find increasingly frustrating is, is that tendency to simply say, well, we're screwed. And so let's stop trying. Yucca: hmm. Mark: Now, trying is going to involve some dislocation because capitalism gives us lots of goodies. It's totally unsustainable, but it gives us goodies that if we were to move into a sustainable modality, we probably wouldn't have nearly as many of. Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: But the odds are good that we would actually be significantly happier because Instead of filling our desire for happiness and for satisfactions with the purchase of things, we would have stuff like culture and community and relationships and, and, and celebration like Pagan celebrations around the year, that kind of stuff. Spirituality art. All of those things that really are shunted to the side by the capitalistic frame, which is that all of those things, because they can't be monetized very well, aren't very important. Yucca: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. And so the challenge is moving out of that structure in a way that doesn't cause harm as we do it. Mark: Or the, the, the so called soft landing. You know, there are so many indicators that point towards some kind of collapse or crash coming not very long from now between climate change and and various economic indicators and so forth. You know, it is likely that there is going to be some real privation in our future, but Yucca: And there is. There is. Mark: he will, and there already Yucca: future. I think that there's a lot of places that we can point to in this moment and go, right here, here, here, here. Mark: Right, yeah, I mean, any Appalachian town that had the top of its mountains shaved off by a coal mining company, and then, which then marched off to, you know, do its next project in Brazil and left all those people with no work in a destroyed environment, I mean, that's a microcosm right there of exactly what capitalism does. And we need to have a more For want of a better word, holistic understanding about economic development. Economic development needs to be something that benefits people in the ways that most matter, and it is sustainable over time, rather than this endless boom bust thing that we see so often through capitalism. Yucca: Well, I think remembering the root of that word is helpful in this. The echo is home. That's what the word means, is home. So it remembering that everything that we're doing, we are doing, To our home, Mark: Mm hmm. Yucca: so, Mark: Mm hmm. Yucca: which we are part of, Mark: Right. Yucca: right? A home isn't just a house. A home is the people and the culture in that house. Right. It's all of the structures that the people depend on, that they're part of. Mark: And a part of the way that we can start pointing in this direction, I think, is through media. Because people need You know, we're so disconnected now. I mean, let me speak for myself and what I see around me in American society, right? People are very disconnected. They're often disconnected from their own families. Because of the nature of the job market under capitalism, families are atomized to the far corners of the world. Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: As people seek jobs and go and work it becomes very hard for people to build communities because they're moving around looking for economic opportunities. Yucca: Right. Mark: And they're working themselves to death so they don't have a lot of time to build community and relationships and culture and all that kind of stuff. So I do feel that getting some of those warm, fuzzy, kind, empathetic values out into media is a way to kind of start the process. Mean, I can think of a couple of examples that just sort of reminded me of. Oh yeah, people can be kind to one another, people can, people can love one another, people can accept one another for who they are. And one of them is the Australian slash adults animated series, Bluey. Yucca: Absolutely. Mark: Yeah, I mean, as a mom, you, you know about Bluey, Yucca: Oh, I absolutely do. The parents in our household will be watching it, and the kids have left the room. It's a great, yeah, it really hits home. Very sweet. Mark: It's very kind and very thoughtful, and It's the kind of thing that, that moves the sorts of emotions that I think we need to be fostering more. You know, there's so much stuff out there that's all sort of, you know, post apocalyptic, war like, you know, blockbuster drama, and superhero vigilantes, and all that kind of stuff, and I just think people need to be reminded of how good it feels to be kind. Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: the other one that I was thinking of is sensate. Did you ever see sensate? Yucca: No, I'm not familiar with this one. Mark: It's the word sense and then the, the letter, the, the numeral eight. Yucca: Okay. Mark: And you have to trust it because you won't understand what's going on until about three episodes into the series. It has Daryl Hannah in it and a bunch of people that I didn't know. But it's beautifully done. It's super queer, so it's very inclusive in that kind of way. And wonderful. It's done by the By Lana and the people who did The Matrix, Warszawski's, I, I, it's a, it's a long, seemingly Polish or Czech name that I, that I believe begins with a W. And both of those sisters are trans. When they made The Matrix they hadn't transitioned yet. So, interesting storytelling, interesting world perspective, just really worth checking out. Yucca: hmm. I've written that one down. I'm guessing that's not something you can watch with a five year old in the room. Mark: Probably not, no, there's, there's some sex in there, and, Yucca: wait for after bed. Mark: yeah and when they announced that it was cancelled, there was such an outpouring of, of rage that they made a movie to wrap it up, so that, there, the, I think it's two seasons and then the movie. Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: It's either two or three seasons and then the movie, but anyway, yeah, worth, worth checking out because once again, it's like, oh, cool, interesting, unusual people being happy with each other. This is great. And, and it's a, it's a dramatic story. It's got tension. It's got conflict. It's got, you know, intrigue and all that good kind of stuff. It's not just people standing around being happy with one another, which unfortunately is not entertaining. Yucca: Yes. Although I wish that there maybe was some of that out there. Because sometimes that's what I, that's what I need to watch, Mark: yeah, yeah, yeah, for sure. It's yeah, it's a funny thing. It's like, media can be like a companion in some ways, but what it reflects back to us can be really impactful on our worldview and on our feelings. And so getting, you know, getting a lot of the cruelty and, coldness out of what we consume. And building a market for that more kind, inclusive, warm human kind of way of being, I think is one of the things that we can do to start to shift things in the world. Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: And then of course there's activism. I mean, you need to, you need to just advocate that people not be exploited. That the planet not be exploited. And, Yucca: And of course, our, our everyday, just the way that we move through the world, right, working on ourselves about the kindness that we bring to the world, or don't bring to the world with us, Mark: Yes, yes. And that's particularly hard right now, actually, with the cultural divide in the United States, at least, where the rhetoric is so vitriolic. And Yucca: both sides, Mark: both sides, it really is. Yucca: demonization that happens, it's hard to breathe sometimes with Mark: It is. Well, and, you know, a lot of that is inspired by leader figures. I mean, there's, there's a lot that can be laid at the feet of Donald Trump simply for how abusive he's willing to be to other people. And people see that and say, Oh, well, then I can do that too. Yucca: right? Mark: It's, it's just Yucca: And I don't think it's a conscious process, for the most part. I don't think people actually say those words in their mind, to themselves, but that that is the takeaway, again, across the board, right? Not pointing to one aisle or the other, that that's, you That's a, it's something that's grown, at least my awareness of it has grown in the last few years. I think that it's something that's not just my awareness, I think that's a trend that has really really spread. Mark: Yes  Yucca: and I think some of that is enabled by the systems that we have. Especially with format that social media has right now. And I think social media can, can take different forms, but the form that it has right now is very, is about creating the us versus them mentality, because that's what gets the clicks and that's what gets the advertising dollars. Mark: Yes. Yes, and to be honest, if it were not for the fact that the atheopagan community spaces are online social media spaces, mostly. I wouldn't be on them at all. I, I know that Facebook does bad things to me. I, I can tell that Facebook is doing bad things to me, and I can tell by the way the algorithm curates my feed that it's trying to rile me up, it's trying to get me mad. I get this endless stream of, like, right wing Christian stuff. Yucca: Well, because you look at it. Mark: Well, even if I don't interact with it, it's Yucca: but it sees how long you are, even if you don't click on it, it sees how long you stay over that page. So the, if you just keep scrolling past it, don't look at it at all, it won't give it to you as much. But it sees that you linger for that half a second on it, and then it'll give you more the next time, because it worked. Right? And that, that is a content that, it doesn't actually look at what the content is, it looks at whether you engage with the content or not. Mark: This is why I love groups, because there are no ads in groups. Yucca: You can just go right in. Yeah. Mark: in and you see the posts that people have made in the groups, and that's it. The, the curated feed is something that I try to avoid as much as possible. And, I mean, I used to use Twitter for rapid news, but now that's turned into a cesspool. I'm not, not gonna Yucca: Oh, I would say that it always has been. It's had some rough times recently, but it's It's definitely a model for all of that. Yeah. And of course, I mean, it's, each of the platforms have their, their issues. But, well, this has actually been a huge tangent. We we left the golden golden age topic half an hour ago, right? Mark: Well, what would that golden age look like? To me, the balancing act there, the place where I won't go is the so called dark green resistance. direction. There's a book called Dark Green Resistance and it's, it's very problematic in a number of ways, one of which is that it's extremely ableist. It basically declares that industrialization is, and, and the products of industrialization are things that we're going to have to give up in order to get into sustainability. And so basically everybody who's disabled and needs that support or needs, you know, prescriptions or whatever that is, they Yucca: So the, the folks who rely on insulin or other things like that, too bad. Mark: They can just, too bad. They're, they're, they're washed out. And so I find that very offensive and, and unproductive. I think, and unrealistic, to be honest, because the fact is that people, Yucca: We're not going to do that, Mark: no. People do, they, you know, these are family members, they're people that we love. We're not going to do that, and we're not going to let it be done to ourselves, either. Yucca: Yeah, Mark: So Me Yucca: I, I really dislike the framing of the nature versus humanity, Mark: too. Yucca: right? That's just so unproductive because we are, we're part of, we're part of all of it and we have to take care of us to be able to take care of the whole system. Because, Mark: And, and I have another tangent, which is that our, that that conceptualization of the separation between nature and humanity actually informs some of the early environmental laws that we have in this country, like the Wilderness Act that was approved in 1964. Which discusses in its preamble the idea of lands untrammeled by man, which, Yucca: except that we've been here for 30, 000 years. Thank you very much.  Mark: In a completely racist way erases the presence of native people here for that entire time. Yucca: who have been actively managing that there isn't any news. Maybe some areas in Antarctica. But other than that, there's, there's no land on Earth that we haven't actively been managing for thousands of years. Mark: That's right. Yucca: That's not, yeah. Mark: Yeah, that's right. And there is still a divide within the environmental community between those who. are apoplectic that the National Park Service might allow these little tiny anchors to be pinned into rock so people can climb, because it's, it's inserting human technology into nature. And people who are much more reasonable, who understand, climbers are some of the best environmentalists there are. They love the outdoors, they love the wild, they love the wildlife, they, they, they donate, they, they volunteer, they vote, they do all the things that we need to do for our environment. And you're gonna, you're gonna tell them to get lost because they because you're upset about a totally invisible thing way up high on a rock face? I just, it's, it's, it ain't right. Yucca: Right. And there's a lot of other examples, you know, we can choose different fields for that. But that's definitely one of the ones that's like, really? That's, that's, that's, that's, That's the, okay, Mark: yeah, that's, that's the hill you're gonna die on. Yucca: what you're going to fight with? Okay. Yeah, because it's, okay, full disclosure, I am a climber, so, but but that's not even like arguing about roads, which you could have the argument of if they're improper, if they're not put in right, then you get erosion and trickle down effects from, like, problems with that. But yeah, Mark: there's a lot to be said for roadless areas. When the roadless area policy was implemented under Bill Clinton, it did some very good things for some large, unsegmented Yucca: absolutely, Mark: of wildlife habitat. Yucca: yeah. So, I see a lot of problems that have been created by roads. As a restoration ecologist, when I go in, that's one of the first things that we see is, oh, I haven't even walked up that way yet, but I know that there's a road that way. Right, so it's, it's something that, I just brought that up as something that I could see why people would be arguing against a road, but why somebody's going to argue against the little piece of metal in the, the rock all the way up there, Mark: makes no sense whatsoever. Yucca: most of the time you don't even know is there unless the person is actively climbing, right? Yeah. Mark: Yeah, exactly so. And, I mean, there, as you say, there are other examples of this as well. I mean, the, the terrible wildfires that ran through the Giant Sequoia National Park. Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: killed 20 percent of the giant Sequoia trees. And the reason that that happened was because fire suppression practices for a century had built up fuels such that when fire finally went through there, the temperatures were so high that these giant
Total Solar Eclipse
01-04-2024
Total Solar Eclipse
Remember, we welcome comments, questions, and suggested topics at thewonderpodcastQs@gmail.com This big eclipse post has nearly all the links:   https://naturalisticpaganism.org/2024/02/24/just-44-days-to-the-eclipse-finalize-those-plans-now-heres-a-ritual-too/#more-23086 Including these links:   *Naturalistic Pagan Spiritual Pilgrimages  *Eclipse timer app *Eclipse parties *Google map *Location idea links *Fully prepared Ritual *How to make a Cosmala **Eclipse Portals + other info at this link:  https://naturalisticpaganism.org/2024/03/25/what-are-eclipse-portals-heres-how-you-can-create-one-yourself/#more-23247   **Cloud cover forecast – check a day or two before the eclipse:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2024/03/29/cloud-cover-eclipse-forecast-maps-cities/ ************************ ----more----   Mark: Welcome to The Wonder, Science Based Paganism. I'm your host, Mark, Yucca: And I'm Yucca, Mark: and it's equinox time again. Time for that holiday that's at the midpoint between the dark of the, the dark side of the year and the light side of the year and for many, the coming of spring or the height of spring. And we're going to talk about all that stuff and how you practice rituals around it and what it means to us. Yucca: that's right. So, happy spring! Or autumn, depending on where you're listening from. Mark: Depending on where you're listening from, and as I understand it, Yucca, it is snowing where you are. Yucca: It happens to be snowing today, yep. Mark: happy hope of spring. Yucca: Yes, it has sounded like spring, and it has felt like spring. It's just today it decided it was not. Not quite there. So, but it's a wet snow too, so it's not, it's not gonna stick around. It's Mark: Huh. Yucca: as soon as there's any sun, it'll be gone. But yeah, how about for you? Mark: Oh, it's a beautiful day. It's going to be in the mid 70s today. And clear skies with some nice puffy clouds. We, here, the daffodils are already finished. Yucca: Oh, mine are just poking up there a few inches, starting to grow out of the ground right now. Okay, Mark: different, different climates we're in. Yeah, so it's been, you know, we have a number of fruit trees around the neighborhood that are blooming right now, and Yucca: no more frosts for you at this Mark: no, I don't think so. I'd be very surprised if we had any more frosts. Yucca: Okay, so it's, it's spring for you. You're into spring. It's not hints of spring, it's spring itself. Mark: Right, well, that's why on my Wheel of the Year, I call this holiday High Spring. Because spring, where I am, because we have a climate so moderated by the Pacific Ocean it, we get the earliest wildflowers around the end of January. And, you know, acacia trees bloom in the, in February, and that's when daffodils start coming up. And tulips, which never bloom unless you take them out and put them in the freezer and then put them in. Again and hyacinths and all those kinds of nice things. We have a hyacinth bulb blooming in our living room right now, making the whole house smell delicious. Yucca: Oh, lovely. Mark: yeah. Yeah, that was a score from Trader Joe's, amazingly. They had these little, little jars that had a receptacle in the top to hold a bulb. And the, the bottom part is filled with water, and so the roots grow down into there. So, You know, you take it home and a day later or something, because they've just removed it from refrigeration, it sprouts a big spike and leaves and blooms and it makes a beautiful smell. Yucca: Do you get to see the roots? Mark: Yes, yeah, it's a clear glass, yeah, it's a clear glass container, so you see the roots going down. Yeah, yeah. Yucca: Yeah. Well, this year, the, the Equinox is early. Now, of course, it's not that it's actually early, it's just that our calendar doesn't quite line up with the actual orbit of our planet, but it's, in my time zone, it'll be on the 19th, Mark: Ours too, Yucca: in the, yeah, so for folks who are in Europe and further east, it'll be the early morning of the 20th, but for those of us in North America, it'll It's the evening of the 19th already, so, Mark: right. Yucca: yeah, Mark: and I mean obviously the main reason for that is the leap year. The ex the extra day that got inserted into the calendar in order to make things work out. But I mean, sometimes the Equinox is as late as the 21st.  Yucca: 22nd Mark: yeah, sometimes the early, early hours of the 22nd as well. So this is an early one that lands on Tuesday. But as with all things, I just tend to celebrate about a week of the season. Yucca: around, yeah, and it interestingly is not technically the day of equal daytime and nighttime. Mark: right. Yucca: There's actually another word, which is equilux, Which is great, all of these fun words, right? Equinox is equal night, right? Nox, noche, but lux is for light. And that's going to depend on your latitude, but that's usually a few days before. I actually haven't looked up when it is for, for, okay. Mark: where I am. Yucca: Okay, so Paddy's day then. Mark: Yeah. Yucca: All right. Yeah. Mark: record this  Yucca: so, and that's gonna depend on, and there's, you can look up some of the cool reasons for why that is, it's based on, you know, sunrise starts at the moment that the disk of the sun starts to appear above the horizon, where a sunset isn't until it's all the way, and then your latitude and the curving of the light as it goes through our atmosphere. So. It's not perfect, but what the equinox itself is, when the ecliptic and the equatorial planes, this is the moment that they overlap. So that's why we can have an actual, say that it's night, I don't remember exactly, it was 9. 07 or 9. 08 or something like that, PM. Mark: yeah, I think 9 0 7. Where you are in 8 0 7. Where I am. Yucca: Yeah, where there's an actual moment that we say, ah, This is the moment. Mark: Yes. Yucca: And my family will set, I haven't set it yet, but we'll set the alarm and when it goes off, we'll all put our hands in the air and go, woo! And then go back to what we're doing. So I'm pleased that it's not two in the morning because then it's wake everyone up at two in the morning and go, woo! That happens sometimes with solstices or equinoxes, so, yeah. Yeah, go ahead. Mark: yeah, let's, for sure, let's, let's dive into it. What does it mean to us? What are the sort of metaphorical meanings that we apply to this time of year? What are the rituals that we, that we use? What do we call it? I think is a good place to start. What do you call this holiday, Yucca? Yucca: So normally just the equinox for us or its first spring because that's kind of, I mean, that's what it is, right? So we don't have another name for it other than, yeah, it's the equinox, it's first spring. I know that in some, some traditions people use Ostara or things like that, but that name has never really clicked for me. Mark: It's, it's a completely mythical name. It was mentioned by the, the Christian monk Bede in the 9th century, and that is the entire evidence for even the existence of a goddess named Ostara. Much certainly nothing associated with this holiday particularly, so the whole thing is really pretty sketchy. Yucca: hmm. And Mark: So, Yucca: what is it for you? Mark: I call it High Spring Yucca: High spring. That's right. Mark: because for us that's what it is here. You know, what'll happen now, the hills are a really deep emerald green right now. that will lighten up and then eventually all fade to a gold color by about June ish. We had a really wet winter this year, so it may take a little bit longer, but typically by by the, the solstice, it's all gone yellow and it's time for summer. Yucca: And for your wheel or arc of the year, what is this holiday? Mark: Oh, where I map a human life? Yucca: Yeah, Mark: cycle on to the, the wheel of the year. This is grade school kids. It's not infants and toddlers, but children, you know, prepubescent children. Yucca: childhood, kind Mark: childhood. Yucca: right? Because when you get into teens, they're, they're not grown ups yet, but it's not childhood anymore at that Mark: No, they're closer to young adults, really. They're, they're, they're adults in apprenticeship doing, making lots of changes and, and learning how to be adults. and hopefully their brains develop. Vast enough that they don't kill themselves in the process. Yucca: Right. Mark: Yeah, so, so this holiday is typically associated with childhood. And there are a lot of sort of kids activity things that we've done for celebrations of this holiday before. We've had gatherings where we invited people to come and play children's games and drink lemonade and, you know, stuff like that. Yucca: Mm Mark: and And, you know, the association with dyed eggs and, you know, candy and things like that is also a real kind of childlike thing, so we've, we've incorporated some of that stuff as well. Yucca: hmm. Okay. Yeah, so there's, this is one of the holidays that for some people, they do associate with, with Easter, right, because they're, there's some similarities in terms of time of year, they're a little bit farther apart from each other than say, the solstice and Christmas, or Holidays and so on. Samhain, but is there a, or Halloween other than like the dyed eggs and candy, is there any connection for you there? Or are they kind of like two separate things that just happen at the same time of year? Mark: my understanding of it runs kind of like this. I think the candy came a lot later, and it was originally in the shape of eggs. Yucca: Mm Mark: But dyeing eggs is a very, very old practice in Europe the spring. And there are all kinds of folk traditions about it. Have one of the beautiful Ukrainian pysanky eggs that are just, they're so magnificent. I don't know how anybody's hand is that steady to do that incredible. Yeah, Yucca: Nowhere near. Mark: neither. It's, it's really astounding. We have a goose egg, actually, that's a Posanky egg. It's a really, it's a nice big one. The those traditions go back many, many years. And a lot of those designs are spring designs. They're, you know, flowers coming up and chickens laying eggs and birds and things like that that are associated with the springtime. So I think the association of eggs with this time of year is because they were the first real protein source Yucca: Will Mark: come along after the winter, and then you have lambs it's, it's sort of like the February holidays where you're really kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel of what you've got stored for the winter. Yucca: Yeah. Well, and who's being, what animal's being born? It's going to depend so much on the species and your climate. Whereas the eggs have a lot more to do with the light than they do with the temperature. So here, The chickens are starting to lay their eggs again. They did a little bit throughout the winter. But they're probably doing the same thing where you live, even though where you are, it's been warmer for months than it is here. But it's actually about the light signals, not about the temperature signals. Mark: Yeah. And I just learned today, actually, that there are plants for which the temperature is. The, the signal is the temperature and then there are others for which the signal is the light. Both of those exist. I, I, I knew that, you know, with certain bulbs, you refrigerate them in order to get them to bloom and things like that. But I never really put it together that it was about temperature signaling rather than light signaling until today. Yucca: it depends on the species, Mark: Right, right. Yucca: And then, you know, how deep the seed is going to be versus not and all of that. Yeah. Mark: So birds birds do migrate back up north. Many of them quite early in the year. I mean, there's still snow on the ground and stuff for, for a number of them. And And they start building nests and laying eggs. And people, you know, being protein seeking animals went and would find them and would dye them and so forth. And then, of course, we had domesticated chickens and so Yucca: birds for a long time at this point, but I mean, the kind of wheel of the year that we talk about is based on agricultural society's wheel of the year, right? And so we've had, you know, we've had these animals living and partnering with us for thousands of years. And sometimes it, depending on where you were, maybe it wasn't chickens, maybe it was pigeons, maybe it was, you know, Whatever the particular animal was, but that's pretty common across much of the temperate world. Mark: Mm hmm. Yeah, Yucca: yeah. Mark: yeah, so, I mean, my feeling is not that the association with eggs and candy comes from Easter, it's more that Easter glommed on to Yucca: What was happening anyways? Mark: were already happening and they got folded up with one another and so that's what we have now. So that's why I feel, you know, perfectly comfortable with dyed eggs being a part of my, my spring celebration thing. It's also just fun to do and it's really fun to do with natural dyes. Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: You know, onion skins and cabbage leaves and beets and all that kind of stuff. It's really, really a fun thing to do. Takes longer. You got to soak stuff overnight in order for it really to take the dye. And don't forget that little splash of vinegar that It interacts with the calcium carbonate of the shell and helps to set the dye in the shell. So, so yeah, it's just, it's a fun thing to do, but it traditionally, at least in my life, it's been associated with a childhood activity, something that parents do with children. And so that fits in perfectly with the theme of childhood for, for this holiday as well. Yucca: Nice. Yeah, for us, Easter is a totally separate thing. Like, it just happens to happen sometimes nearby, right? Because it's, it's it's lunar based, right?  Mark: After the, after the first full moon of the equinox, I believe. Yucca: Yeah, so, so it moves around. This year, it, we just looked it up, it's the 31st of March this year. So, anyways, but they will go and they have a grandmother, my kids do, that they will go and do an Easter egg hunt with, right? And I pretty much don't participate in anything Easter other than, Mom, look at the chocolate that we got! Oh, okay. Great chocolate. But, but this time is really about the birds and the egg layers for Mark: hmm. Yucca: So we actually have a lot of feathers that over the years we've collected, you know, dozens and dozens of feathers and we like to string them on thread and then you can hang them up around the house. So we have the feathers that are in the windows and. Mark: Nice. Yucca: And at the moment we don't have any chickens. Plan to again, we had, we had some bear issues in our neighborhood last year, which delayed the return of chickens for us, but our one of our neighbors does so the kids can go over and actually feed them. find the chicken eggs and that's really fun for them. But it's also the, the migrating birds are starting to come back and through. And it just, it sounds, it sounds like spring out there. There's certain birds that are coming back. We still won't get hummingbirds for a few weeks, but we won't get our, our last frost won't come till mid May. Right, we'll still be freezing every night until, All the way into May. So, but there's still birds that are coming back and, and you can start to see hints of colors on some of the males coming in, and there's just so much more activity. So, one of our, I mentioned it on here before, but one of our very favorite things to do is to make comments. Bye. feeders for them Mark: hmm. Yucca: to put seed out and water in particular in our yard. And that's one of, that's my oldest job. She goes out and cleans the water dishes every day and fills up the new water. But what we like to do is take pine cones, and we have lots of different kinds of pines. We've got like the big ponderosa pines, we've got the little pinyon pines, and string them And dip them in, we usually use lard and then put different kinds of seeds on them and maybe some mealworms and things like that and hang it out in the trees. Because this is a, the next few months is the time that they really need that extra support for breeding and egg laying and raising little chicks and all of that. So, and then When they have eaten everything away, we just have pinecones hanging in our trees, and that's lovely. And it's, you know, it's not like having some piece of plastic or something that's Mark: Right. Yucca: but it's a really fun activity to do. And you can use, there's, you know, you can use different options with peanut butter and things like that, but you just have to really watch the ingredients on. What you're actually putting in Mark: Huh. Yucca: for your, for your different area and what, because sometimes there's some pretty sketchy ingredients that they put into that stuff. Mark: Wouldn't surprise me. Yeah. You know, I don't like any of that adulterated peanut butter. I just like peanuts and salt. Yucca: Mm Mark: Um, that's, that's what I always go with, and I think some of that is that the quality of the peanuts is higher. Yucca: Mm Mark: I, I think the, the sort of, you know, organic, natural, whatever you want to call it, peanut butter, is made with better roasted peanuts, and they, they just taste better. Yucca: hmm. That wouldn't surprise me. Yeah, it's not something that we buy particularly often, but I remember you know, reading warnings about, hey, watch out, there's, there's What was it, erythritol, that a lot of them are using now, that that's really toxic for dogs, Mark: Ah. Yucca: that people have often given their dogs, like, their pills or medicines and a scoop of peanut butter and they're saying, watch out because, you know, Like, you're giving them these little doses of this chemical that is, seems okay for humans, as far as we can tell, but not so good for the dog's digestive system. And then, you know, you want to watch out with stuff like that for, for other creatures as well. So, just, you know, do your research on what ingredients you're putting in. Mark: Speaking of which one thing that's very popular for this time of year is lilies. Calla lilies, regular lilies, all that kind of stuff. Very toxic for cats. Very, very toxic for them. Yeah. Yucca: as well, but cats in particular will go up and go, I'm gonna chew on your houseplant. Mark: Right. And no, you don't want that at all. Yucca: Yeah. That's a, yeah, that's a good thing to remember. Because they come in those beautiful bouquets that you get this, and faces and all of that this time of year. Mark: Yeah. I just got a bunch of pink lilies. And none of them had bloomed yet, they were all just sort of in that pod kind of shape Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: but they've all bloomed now, it happened very suddenly, and so there's this big bouquet of beautiful pink flowers, large flowers, and Yucca: cats, right? Mark: yes, so they're up on a shelf and they're away from where the cat can go and all that kind of stuff, Yucca: Hmm. Mark: yeah. Yucca: Yeah. Mark: So, ritually, what do you like to do this time of year? Yucca: Yeah, this is still in that time of year where there's, things are getting going, starting there's a, You know, they're finally warm enough to kind of get out and do a little bit that we weren't before and I am also right now, personally, this is not every year, but I am in full nesting instinct because I am due with a baby later this year, and the nesting is hitting so strong that, that the normal spring cleaning that people do, like, take that and ramp it up, like, 10 times is what I'm doing right now but normally this time of year is just a very It's got that spring cleany kind of feel to me, and so a lot of the personal work and sort of rituals that I'll be doing have to do with that. But I don't have anything that is set the same way I do for other times of year. Like, I don't have like a A specific holos, like I have a holos, for instance ritual that I do for myself. I don't really have something like that for this holiday. And that might change over time, but it's just, there's so much going on. Mark: Huh. Yucca: Just, it does, it does, it's happening, it doesn't feel like I even need to mark it because it's just so there. Mark: Got it. Got it. Yeah. I like to do the colored eggs and the and things like that. To, you know, put the, Symbolic colored eggs like wooden painted eggs and things like that on my focus. But I don't have a regular ritual that I do for the equinox either. What we discussed in the Saturday Atheopagan Zoom Mixer this morning for our ritual that we're going to do next week, we're going to do the surface tension experiment. Yucca: Ooh, okay. Mm hmm. Mark: because this is a time when there's transition between The dark of the year and the lighter half of the year. So there's this, this moment where the membrane gets broken. And so we're going to have colored water, just sort of like colored eggs, but colored Yucca: yeah. Mark: Yeah. And lay something very light, like a needle or something like that on top of the water for the, for the. Surface tension Yucca: So you're gonna have water in a bowl? Mark: in a bowl or, or in a glass, something like that. Yeah. And then at the appropriate magical time, during the ritual, we will put a little drop of soapy water in and boom, the surface surface tension dissolves, and the needles will hit the bottom of the glass. Yucca: That's wonderful. We did that with paperclips Mark: Huh, Yucca: Those are a good one because they have the, they're narrow, but then they're wide, so you get that nice, Mark: right. That's actually a good idea. Maybe I'll use a paperclip instead. Yeah, because they've got that wide area so they sort of support themselves better on the surface membrane. Yeah, so we're going to do that and then have celebratory food and all that good kind of stuff like you do on days that are special. Yucca: like that. Yeah. Mark: Yeah. Yeah. And it's the kind of thing that you do with kids, right? Is, you know, to do, to teach them about surface tension, you do this little experiment thing. So. Yucca: Another great one is if you have a coin and a dropper, so you can add drops of water onto the coin one at a time, and it makes a little bulb of water on it, and then you get to the point where it can't hold it anymore. How many drops can you get onto the coin before it bursts? You can get a lot. You can get it stacked up real high. Mark: bet. Yeah. Especially because there's that little ridge Yucca: along the Mark: around the edge of the coin. Yeah. Yucca: can experiment with different kinds of, you know, is your dime versus your penny or your quarter, or do you have a euro or some coin from another place that you can try? Those are, I Mark: Yeah. Yucca: could imagine doing something like that with the colored water too. Mark: Huh. Yeah. Yeah you could do like blue water and dripping red, red water so that it turns it purple. Yucca: and mix it? Yeah. Mark: Very, very transformational, yeah. Yucca: Hmm. Mark: I, before, before we close I wanted to announce something for our listeners who live in the San Francisco Bay Area, or near enough to get there if they want to. I have organized a book launching party. Yucca: Oh, great. Mark: It's happening at a community space called Kinfolks, all lowercase k i n f o l x which is a African American owned business and community space in downtown Oakland, California, and this will be on Saturday the 13th of April from 3 to 6 p. m., and I will be promoting it on Facebook and Discord and Thank you. Bye. All that good kind of stuff, but mark your calendar, because you know, I'll, I'll do some readings, and I'll sign books, and all the usual book launch party things, so come and have a glass of wine, or a coffee, or a juice, or something like that, and And come and help me launch this book. I'm excited about it. Yucca: That sounds fun. Mark: Yeah, Yucca: you got a place for it too. Mark: me too. First place I approached. They just, you know, they got back to me right away. They just seemed really nice and really easy to work with. And the space was available that day. Yucca: Fantastic. Mark: Yeah. Yucca: Well, wonderful. Well, thank you, Mark. Happy spring. Happy Thai spring, equinox, all of those good things. Mark: And happy first spring to you. Yucca: Thank you. And thank you everyone for joining us. We will see you next week. Mark: Yeah. Have a good one, everybody.
Spring Equinox
18-03-2024
Spring Equinox
Remember, we welcome comments, questions, and suggested topics at thewonderpodcastQs@gmail.com ----more----   Mark: Welcome to The Wonder, Science Based Paganism. I'm your host, Mark, Yucca: And I'm Yucca, Mark: and it's equinox time again. Time for that holiday that's at the midpoint between the dark of the, the dark side of the year and the light side of the year and for many, the coming of spring or the height of spring. And we're going to talk about all that stuff and how you practice rituals around it and what it means to us. Yucca: that's right. So, happy spring! Or autumn, depending on where you're listening from. Mark: Depending on where you're listening from, and as I understand it, Yucca, it is snowing where you are. Yucca: It happens to be snowing today, yep. Mark: happy hope of spring. Yucca: Yes, it has sounded like spring, and it has felt like spring. It's just today it decided it was not. Not quite there. So, but it's a wet snow too, so it's not, it's not gonna stick around. It's Mark: Huh. Yucca: as soon as there's any sun, it'll be gone. But yeah, how about for you? Mark: Oh, it's a beautiful day. It's going to be in the mid 70s today. And clear skies with some nice puffy clouds. We, here, the daffodils are already finished. Yucca: Oh, mine are just poking up there a few inches, starting to grow out of the ground right now. Okay, Mark: different, different climates we're in. Yeah, so it's been, you know, we have a number of fruit trees around the neighborhood that are blooming right now, and Yucca: no more frosts for you at this Mark: no, I don't think so. I'd be very surprised if we had any more frosts. Yucca: Okay, so it's, it's spring for you. You're into spring. It's not hints of spring, it's spring itself. Mark: Right, well, that's why on my Wheel of the Year, I call this holiday High Spring. Because spring, where I am, because we have a climate so moderated by the Pacific Ocean it, we get the earliest wildflowers around the end of January. And, you know, acacia trees bloom in the, in February, and that's when daffodils start coming up. And tulips, which never bloom unless you take them out and put them in the freezer and then put them in. Again and hyacinths and all those kinds of nice things. We have a hyacinth bulb blooming in our living room right now, making the whole house smell delicious. Yucca: Oh, lovely. Mark: yeah. Yeah, that was a score from Trader Joe's, amazingly. They had these little, little jars that had a receptacle in the top to hold a bulb. And the, the bottom part is filled with water, and so the roots grow down into there. So, You know, you take it home and a day later or something, because they've just removed it from refrigeration, it sprouts a big spike and leaves and blooms and it makes a beautiful smell. Yucca: Do you get to see the roots? Mark: Yes, yeah, it's a clear glass, yeah, it's a clear glass container, so you see the roots going down. Yeah, yeah. Yucca: Yeah. Well, this year, the, the Equinox is early. Now, of course, it's not that it's actually early, it's just that our calendar doesn't quite line up with the actual orbit of our planet, but it's, in my time zone, it'll be on the 19th, Mark: Ours too, Yucca: in the, yeah, so for folks who are in Europe and further east, it'll be the early morning of the 20th, but for those of us in North America, it'll It's the evening of the 19th already, so, Mark: right. Yucca: yeah, Mark: and I mean obviously the main reason for that is the leap year. The ex the extra day that got inserted into the calendar in order to make things work out. But I mean, sometimes the Equinox is as late as the 21st.  Yucca: 22nd Mark: yeah, sometimes the early, early hours of the 22nd as well. So this is an early one that lands on Tuesday. But as with all things, I just tend to celebrate about a week of the season. Yucca: around, yeah, and it interestingly is not technically the day of equal daytime and nighttime. Mark: right. Yucca: There's actually another word, which is equilux, Which is great, all of these fun words, right? Equinox is equal night, right? Nox, noche, but lux is for light. And that's going to depend on your latitude, but that's usually a few days before. I actually haven't looked up when it is for, for, okay. Mark: where I am. Yucca: Okay, so Paddy's day then. Mark: Yeah. Yucca: All right. Yeah. Mark: record this  Yucca: so, and that's gonna depend on, and there's, you can look up some of the cool reasons for why that is, it's based on, you know, sunrise starts at the moment that the disk of the sun starts to appear above the horizon, where a sunset isn't until it's all the way, and then your latitude and the curving of the light as it goes through our atmosphere. So. It's not perfect, but what the equinox itself is, when the ecliptic and the equatorial planes, this is the moment that they overlap. So that's why we can have an actual, say that it's night, I don't remember exactly, it was 9. 07 or 9. 08 or something like that, PM. Mark: yeah, I think 9 0 7. Where you are in 8 0 7. Where I am. Yucca: Yeah, where there's an actual moment that we say, ah, This is the moment. Mark: Yes. Yucca: And my family will set, I haven't set it yet, but we'll set the alarm and when it goes off, we'll all put our hands in the air and go, woo! And then go back to what we're doing. So I'm pleased that it's not two in the morning because then it's wake everyone up at two in the morning and go, woo! That happens sometimes with solstices or equinoxes, so, yeah. Yeah, go ahead. Mark: yeah, let's, for sure, let's, let's dive into it. What does it mean to us? What are the sort of metaphorical meanings that we apply to this time of year? What are the rituals that we, that we use? What do we call it? I think is a good place to start. What do you call this holiday, Yucca? Yucca: So normally just the equinox for us or its first spring because that's kind of, I mean, that's what it is, right? So we don't have another name for it other than, yeah, it's the equinox, it's first spring. I know that in some, some traditions people use Ostara or things like that, but that name has never really clicked for me. Mark: It's, it's a completely mythical name. It was mentioned by the, the Christian monk Bede in the 9th century, and that is the entire evidence for even the existence of a goddess named Ostara. Much certainly nothing associated with this holiday particularly, so the whole thing is really pretty sketchy. Yucca: hmm. And Mark: So, Yucca: what is it for you? Mark: I call it High Spring Yucca: High spring. That's right. Mark: because for us that's what it is here. You know, what'll happen now, the hills are a really deep emerald green right now. that will lighten up and then eventually all fade to a gold color by about June ish. We had a really wet winter this year, so it may take a little bit longer, but typically by by the, the solstice, it's all gone yellow and it's time for summer. Yucca: And for your wheel or arc of the year, what is this holiday? Mark: Oh, where I map a human life? Yucca: Yeah, Mark: cycle on to the, the wheel of the year. This is grade school kids. It's not infants and toddlers, but children, you know, prepubescent children. Yucca: childhood, kind Mark: childhood. Yucca: right? Because when you get into teens, they're, they're not grown ups yet, but it's not childhood anymore at that Mark: No, they're closer to young adults, really. They're, they're, they're adults in apprenticeship doing, making lots of changes and, and learning how to be adults. and hopefully their brains develop. Vast enough that they don't kill themselves in the process. Yucca: Right. Mark: Yeah, so, so this holiday is typically associated with childhood. And there are a lot of sort of kids activity things that we've done for celebrations of this holiday before. We've had gatherings where we invited people to come and play children's games and drink lemonade and, you know, stuff like that. Yucca: Mm Mark: and And, you know, the association with dyed eggs and, you know, candy and things like that is also a real kind of childlike thing, so we've, we've incorporated some of that stuff as well. Yucca: hmm. Okay. Yeah, so there's, this is one of the holidays that for some people, they do associate with, with Easter, right, because they're, there's some similarities in terms of time of year, they're a little bit farther apart from each other than say, the solstice and Christmas, or Holidays and so on. Samhain, but is there a, or Halloween other than like the dyed eggs and candy, is there any connection for you there? Or are they kind of like two separate things that just happen at the same time of year? Mark: my understanding of it runs kind of like this. I think the candy came a lot later, and it was originally in the shape of eggs. Yucca: Mm Mark: But dyeing eggs is a very, very old practice in Europe the spring. And there are all kinds of folk traditions about it. Have one of the beautiful Ukrainian pysanky eggs that are just, they're so magnificent. I don't know how anybody's hand is that steady to do that incredible. Yeah, Yucca: Nowhere near. Mark: neither. It's, it's really astounding. We have a goose egg, actually, that's a Posanky egg. It's a really, it's a nice big one. The those traditions go back many, many years. And a lot of those designs are spring designs. They're, you know, flowers coming up and chickens laying eggs and birds and things like that that are associated with the springtime. So I think the association of eggs with this time of year is because they were the first real protein source Yucca: Will Mark: come along after the winter, and then you have lambs it's, it's sort of like the February holidays where you're really kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel of what you've got stored for the winter. Yucca: Yeah. Well, and who's being, what animal's being born? It's going to depend so much on the species and your climate. Whereas the eggs have a lot more to do with the light than they do with the temperature. So here, The chickens are starting to lay their eggs again. They did a little bit throughout the winter. But they're probably doing the same thing where you live, even though where you are, it's been warmer for months than it is here. But it's actually about the light signals, not about the temperature signals. Mark: Yeah. And I just learned today, actually, that there are plants for which the temperature is. The, the signal is the temperature and then there are others for which the signal is the light. Both of those exist. I, I, I knew that, you know, with certain bulbs, you refrigerate them in order to get them to bloom and things like that. But I never really put it together that it was about temperature signaling rather than light signaling until today. Yucca: it depends on the species, Mark: Right, right. Yucca: And then, you know, how deep the seed is going to be versus not and all of that. Yeah. Mark: So birds birds do migrate back up north. Many of them quite early in the year. I mean, there's still snow on the ground and stuff for, for a number of them. And And they start building nests and laying eggs. And people, you know, being protein seeking animals went and would find them and would dye them and so forth. And then, of course, we had domesticated chickens and so Yucca: birds for a long time at this point, but I mean, the kind of wheel of the year that we talk about is based on agricultural society's wheel of the year, right? And so we've had, you know, we've had these animals living and partnering with us for thousands of years. And sometimes it, depending on where you were, maybe it wasn't chickens, maybe it was pigeons, maybe it was, you know, Whatever the particular animal was, but that's pretty common across much of the temperate world. Mark: Mm hmm. Yeah, Yucca: yeah. Mark: yeah, so, I mean, my feeling is not that the association with eggs and candy comes from Easter, it's more that Easter glommed on to Yucca: What was happening anyways? Mark: were already happening and they got folded up with one another and so that's what we have now. So that's why I feel, you know, perfectly comfortable with dyed eggs being a part of my, my spring celebration thing. It's also just fun to do and it's really fun to do with natural dyes. Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: You know, onion skins and cabbage leaves and beets and all that kind of stuff. It's really, really a fun thing to do. Takes longer. You got to soak stuff overnight in order for it really to take the dye. And don't forget that little splash of vinegar that It interacts with the calcium carbonate of the shell and helps to set the dye in the shell. So, so yeah, it's just, it's a fun thing to do, but it traditionally, at least in my life, it's been associated with a childhood activity, something that parents do with children. And so that fits in perfectly with the theme of childhood for, for this holiday as well. Yucca: Nice. Yeah, for us, Easter is a totally separate thing. Like, it just happens to happen sometimes nearby, right? Because it's, it's it's lunar based, right?  Mark: After the, after the first full moon of the equinox, I believe. Yucca: Yeah, so, so it moves around. This year, it, we just looked it up, it's the 31st of March this year. So, anyways, but they will go and they have a grandmother, my kids do, that they will go and do an Easter egg hunt with, right? And I pretty much don't participate in anything Easter other than, Mom, look at the chocolate that we got! Oh, okay. Great chocolate. But, but this time is really about the birds and the egg layers for Mark: hmm. Yucca: So we actually have a lot of feathers that over the years we've collected, you know, dozens and dozens of feathers and we like to string them on thread and then you can hang them up around the house. So we have the feathers that are in the windows and. Mark: Nice. Yucca: And at the moment we don't have any chickens. Plan to again, we had, we had some bear issues in our neighborhood last year, which delayed the return of chickens for us, but our one of our neighbors does so the kids can go over and actually feed them. find the chicken eggs and that's really fun for them. But it's also the, the migrating birds are starting to come back and through. And it just, it sounds, it sounds like spring out there. There's certain birds that are coming back. We still won't get hummingbirds for a few weeks, but we won't get our, our last frost won't come till mid May. Right, we'll still be freezing every night until, All the way into May. So, but there's still birds that are coming back and, and you can start to see hints of colors on some of the males coming in, and there's just so much more activity. So, one of our, I mentioned it on here before, but one of our very favorite things to do is to make comments. Bye. feeders for them Mark: hmm. Yucca: to put seed out and water in particular in our yard. And that's one of, that's my oldest job. She goes out and cleans the water dishes every day and fills up the new water. But what we like to do is take pine cones, and we have lots of different kinds of pines. We've got like the big ponderosa pines, we've got the little pinyon pines, and string them And dip them in, we usually use lard and then put different kinds of seeds on them and maybe some mealworms and things like that and hang it out in the trees. Because this is a, the next few months is the time that they really need that extra support for breeding and egg laying and raising little chicks and all of that. So, and then When they have eaten everything away, we just have pinecones hanging in our trees, and that's lovely. And it's, you know, it's not like having some piece of plastic or something that's Mark: Right. Yucca: but it's a really fun activity to do. And you can use, there's, you know, you can use different options with peanut butter and things like that, but you just have to really watch the ingredients on. What you're actually putting in Mark: Huh. Yucca: for your, for your different area and what, because sometimes there's some pretty sketchy ingredients that they put into that stuff. Mark: Wouldn't surprise me. Yeah. You know, I don't like any of that adulterated peanut butter. I just like peanuts and salt. Yucca: Mm Mark: Um, that's, that's what I always go with, and I think some of that is that the quality of the peanuts is higher. Yucca: Mm Mark: I, I think the, the sort of, you know, organic, natural, whatever you want to call it, peanut butter, is made with better roasted peanuts, and they, they just taste better. Yucca: hmm. That wouldn't surprise me. Yeah, it's not something that we buy particularly often, but I remember you know, reading warnings about, hey, watch out, there's, there's What was it, erythritol, that a lot of them are using now, that that's really toxic for dogs, Mark: Ah. Yucca: that people have often given their dogs, like, their pills or medicines and a scoop of peanut butter and they're saying, watch out because, you know, Like, you're giving them these little doses of this chemical that is, seems okay for humans, as far as we can tell, but not so good for the dog's digestive system. And then, you know, you want to watch out with stuff like that for, for other creatures as well. So, just, you know, do your research on what ingredients you're putting in. Mark: Speaking of which one thing that's very popular for this time of year is lilies. Calla lilies, regular lilies, all that kind of stuff. Very toxic for cats. Very, very toxic for them. Yeah. Yucca: as well, but cats in particular will go up and go, I'm gonna chew on your houseplant. Mark: Right. And no, you don't want that at all. Yucca: Yeah. That's a, yeah, that's a good thing to remember. Because they come in those beautiful bouquets that you get this, and faces and all of that this time of year. Mark: Yeah. I just got a bunch of pink lilies. And none of them had bloomed yet, they were all just sort of in that pod kind of shape Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: but they've all bloomed now, it happened very suddenly, and so there's this big bouquet of beautiful pink flowers, large flowers, and Yucca: cats, right? Mark: yes, so they're up on a shelf and they're away from where the cat can go and all that kind of stuff, Yucca: Hmm. Mark: yeah. Yucca: Yeah. Mark: So, ritually, what do you like to do this time of year? Yucca: Yeah, this is still in that time of year where there's, things are getting going, starting there's a, You know, they're finally warm enough to kind of get out and do a little bit that we weren't before and I am also right now, personally, this is not every year, but I am in full nesting instinct because I am due with a baby later this year, and the nesting is hitting so strong that, that the normal spring cleaning that people do, like, take that and ramp it up, like, 10 times is what I'm doing right now but normally this time of year is just a very It's got that spring cleany kind of feel to me, and so a lot of the personal work and sort of rituals that I'll be doing have to do with that. But I don't have anything that is set the same way I do for other times of year. Like, I don't have like a A specific holos, like I have a holos, for instance ritual that I do for myself. I don't really have something like that for this holiday. And that might change over time, but it's just, there's so much going on. Mark: Huh. Yucca: Just, it does, it does, it's happening, it doesn't feel like I even need to mark it because it's just so there. Mark: Got it. Got it. Yeah. I like to do the colored eggs and the and things like that. To, you know, put the, Symbolic colored eggs like wooden painted eggs and things like that on my focus. But I don't have a regular ritual that I do for the equinox either. What we discussed in the Saturday Atheopagan Zoom Mixer this morning for our ritual that we're going to do next week, we're going to do the surface tension experiment. Yucca: Ooh, okay. Mm hmm. Mark: because this is a time when there's transition between The dark of the year and the lighter half of the year. So there's this, this moment where the membrane gets broken. And so we're going to have colored water, just sort of like colored eggs, but colored Yucca: yeah. Mark: Yeah. And lay something very light, like a needle or something like that on top of the water for the, for the. Surface tension Yucca: So you're gonna have water in a bowl? Mark: in a bowl or, or in a glass, something like that. Yeah. And then at the appropriate magical time, during the ritual, we will put a little drop of soapy water in and boom, the surface surface tension dissolves, and the needles will hit the bottom of the glass. Yucca: That's wonderful. We did that with paperclips Mark: Huh, Yucca: Those are a good one because they have the, they're narrow, but then they're wide, so you get that nice, Mark: right. That's actually a good idea. Maybe I'll use a paperclip instead. Yeah, because they've got that wide area so they sort of support themselves better on the surface membrane. Yeah, so we're going to do that and then have celebratory food and all that good kind of stuff like you do on days that are special. Yucca: like that. Yeah. Mark: Yeah. Yeah. And it's the kind of thing that you do with kids, right? Is, you know, to do, to teach them about surface tension, you do this little experiment thing. So. Yucca: Another great one is if you have a coin and a dropper, so you can add drops of water onto the coin one at a time, and it makes a little bulb of water on it, and then you get to the point where it can't hold it anymore. How many drops can you get onto the coin before it bursts? You can get a lot. You can get it stacked up real high. Mark: bet. Yeah. Especially because there's that little ridge Yucca: along the Mark: around the edge of the coin. Yeah. Yucca: can experiment with different kinds of, you know, is your dime versus your penny or your quarter, or do you have a euro or some coin from another place that you can try? Those are, I Mark: Yeah. Yucca: could imagine doing something like that with the colored water too. Mark: Huh. Yeah. Yeah you could do like blue water and dripping red, red water so that it turns it purple. Yucca: and mix it? Yeah. Mark: Very, very transformational, yeah. Yucca: Hmm. Mark: I, before, before we close I wanted to announce something for our listeners who live in the San Francisco Bay Area, or near enough to get there if they want to. I have organized a book launching party. Yucca: Oh, great. Mark: It's happening at a community space called Kinfolks, all lowercase k i n f o l x which is a African American owned business and community space in downtown Oakland, California, and this will be on Saturday the 13th of April from 3 to 6 p. m., and I will be promoting it on Facebook and Discord and Thank you. Bye. All that good kind of stuff, but mark your calendar, because you know, I'll, I'll do some readings, and I'll sign books, and all the usual book launch party things, so come and have a glass of wine, or a coffee, or a juice, or something like that, and And come and help me launch this book. I'm excited about it. Yucca: That sounds fun. Mark: Yeah, Yucca: you got a place for it too. Mark: me too. First place I approached. They just, you know, they got back to me right away. They just seemed really nice and really easy to work with. And the space was available that day. Yucca: Fantastic. Mark: Yeah. Yucca: Well, wonderful. Well, thank you, Mark. Happy spring. Happy Thai spring, equinox, all of those good things. Mark: And happy first spring to you. Yucca: Thank you. And thank you everyone for joining us. We will see you next week. Mark: Yeah. Have a good one, everybody.
Interview: Mark Green - Round We Dance
11-03-2024
Interview: Mark Green - Round We Dance
https://www.llewellyn.com/product.php?ean=9780738775364   Season 5 - Episode 7 ----more----   Yucca: Welcome back to The Wonder, Science Based Paganism. I'm your host, Yucca. Mark: And I'm Mark. Yucca: And today, we have an episode I'm actually really quite excited for. It's going to be a little bit different. Mark, you have a book coming out in less than a month. So, yes, at long last, and we're going to talk a little bit about that. So I'm going to ask you some questions, and hopefully this is something that our listeners are going to be really interested in. So, can you Tell us what, what book. Mark: Well, the book is called Round We Dance, Creating Meaning Through Seasonal Rituals, and it's coming out from Llewellyn. It'll be released on April 8th which is also the day of the eclipse, the solar eclipse that's happening here in North America. And Yucca: Get your glasses, Mark: yes, get your Yucca: of totality, you'll still be able to see it if you're in the lower 48. Mark: Yep. Yeah. I have already gotten my glasses. In fact, I ordered them after the last time we talked about this. So, that's, that's the book. It's kind of a follow on book to the Atheopaganism book in some ways. But it's also meant for a broader audience. Yucca: Okay, so it's not branded specifically as atheopagan, but is it, it's branded as pagan in general? Do you say that's Mark: Well, it's, it's, it's not even really branded as pagan in general. Now, in the text of the book, I talk about Atheopaganism. And it's values and practices and ideas among other things. But the book itself is really intended for anyone who doesn't have a spirituality in their life right now and really wants one. You know, for, for folks, for example, who belong to the so called nuns. The, the people that express no religious affiliation, maybe they've left Christianity or Islam or, um, or they're, they're just atheists or agnostics many of those folks who come into our community, the atheopagan community find that they're, they want something that gives their life a sense of meaning and a sense of connectedness to what's happening here on earth and in the universe. In some cases, they want to have a value set that they can impart to their children, Yucca: hmm. Mark: You know, and ritual practices that they can conduct with their families. This book is for those folks. Yucca: Okay. Mark: You know, basically, it's a book for anybody who wants to develop a ritual practice. Yucca: Mm. And what about people who They already identify maybe as atheopagan and are just getting started or looking to deepen their practice Mark: Oh, for sure. Yeah, this, this book, it'll, it'll serve as a great resource for folks like our listeners. Who you know, they have you know, it's like we have the equinox coming up right now, right? So, you know, you can turn to the section about the spring equinox in the book and get some ideas for themes and ritual activities, recipes, craft projects And that's true of all of the Wheel of the Year celebrations. It's true of all of the Rites of Passage. So it, it really goes into some, some degree of extensive coverage of different ritual techniques and reasons for having rituals. Yucca: hmm. So this sounds a lot more like a how to book than your first book, right? The first book you were really digging into the, the what and the sort of intellectual side of things. What's this all about? And this is the how to practice. Mm Mark: That's right. The first book was mostly an idea book. It essentially told the story of how I had gone through, An internal exploration about, you know, what is a religion, and how can I get the benefits of religion without having to believe in the supernatural? You know, how could that work? And then the second part of the book, the first book was about describing atheopaganism as one implementation of a non supernatural religious path. That was focused on the, on the earth. This book is much more, as you say, a how to. It gives lots of examples and and it also talks about, you know, crafting your own individual rituals, ritual skills, like we talked about last week, a week before last. Talks about you know, personal rituals for your, for yourself when you need them, when you want to be confident or you want to be focused, those kinds of things you know, what, what some folks in the pagan community might call spells as well as the seasonal and rites of passage celebrations. Yucca: Great. So how is this structured? Because I've heard you talk about different holidays. Is it based on the wheel of the year? Or do you have a larger structure around that? Mark: There are sections that are about each of those areas. It starts out with kind of an idea section that's called a primer, and it's, talks about what spirituality is and why people have it and about rituals and then it goes into the basics about developing rituals and developing a practice for yourself. And different skills and art forms and so forth that can be used in the course of a ritual practice. And then the second part is about rituals in practice. Occasions for celebrating. Some of those are on the calendar. They're seasonal things. Some of them are like stations in life, particular passages that we make in our lives. There's a section on working with the dead and dying. Personal and healing rituals, building community for sharing rituals and then about just living a life that's consistent with the spiritual practice that's described here in very broad strokes, because everybody's going to have their own implementation of this, right? It's, this isn't a dogma book this is, this is a book of examples and ideas. To help inform people as they craft their own individual practice. And then the last section is called resources. And that is your craft, your recipes, guided meditations, recommended ritual music glossary, a bibliography, those kinds of things. Yucca: Fun. Okay. Mark: Yeah. Yucca: Yeah, Mark: Yeah. So there's, there's, there's quite a lot to it. I'm really very proud of this book. I think it came out very well. And and I've been waiting forever for it to come out. Working with a publishing company working with Llewellyn has been great. Let me say my editor has been great. And, you know, the marketing people and all those folks have been really great. But still working with a publishing company is a lot slower than self publishing. Yucca: right. Mark: know, once you've got a manuscript and you've got it all laid out, you can do a print on demand really quickly and, you know, start to get your book out there in the world. So, I actually finished the manuscript on this more than a year ago and I'm, and we're just going to see it April 8th. So, I've been anticipating this for a long time and I'm really excited about it. Yucca: Yeah. So in terms of the writing process, was that very different for you than when you self published? Mark: You know, it was because the, my first book, the Atheopaganism book, that was an expansion of what started out as an essay. There was about a 40 page essay that I wrote as the concepts of atheopaganism were developing in me, as I was discovering things, as I did research about the nature of religion and the evolution of the human brain and all that kind of stuff. I wrote an essay because that's, that's kind of the way that writing is the way that I have a dialogue with myself. Yucca: Mm Mark: So I wrote this essay essentially to kind of get my own thinking straight about, you know, what am I doing here? And what's the rational underpinning for it? And what does that look like? And so I had that essay already, and I was able to bulk that out with a lot of stuff from the blog and additional writing. It wasn't a sit down, develop an outline, and then write to it kind of thing, which this second book is. It's actually my third book. My second book is a collection of poetry called A Red Kiss. But this third book, Round We Dance. I would lock myself in my room and pound away at the keyboard day after day after day until it was finally done. Yucca: And did you have an editor that was waiting for pieces on a deadline or things like that Mark: No, they, they wanted the whole manuscript. So, we made, yeah, we made an agreement. When was it that I had to deliver it? Actually, no, it was longer ago than a year. I think it was the end of October of 2022. Yucca: Mm Mark: Yeah, it was the end of October of 2022 when I delivered the first manuscript. And then, of course, there's editing and grammatical and, you know, reorganizing various sections. As recommended by the editor, there's, so there's a lot of, a lot of pieces that, a lot of processes that go into that. But we've had pretty much the finished thing since last fall, and it's just been a manner of getting to the point where they can print. Yucca: Right. So, they've got other Mark: And the copyright, Yucca: go to the press and everyone who's test to go through it. And yeah. Mark: and you know, they've got to develop the cover art, all those various things. I collected testimonial paragraphs. For people who read the, the advance copy, the, the advance proof you know, with their feedback on it so that they could print those on the back cover, all those sorts of things. I love the cover art. You listening on the podcast, you will not be seeing it, but it's, it, it's really a very handsome book. I'm super pleased with it. Yucca: Yeah. So, what was your favorite part? If you can choose one favorite out of all of this, Mark: Favorite part. Oh boy. All right. I'm going to look at the Yucca: or maybe two, maybe a couple of favorites. And I suppose we should Mark: you know, Yucca: why, why you wanted to make this particular book, right? Because this is quite a different one than your previous works. Mark: sure, sure. I think, you know, one of the things that I really that I really like about the book is at the very beginning where I talk about spirituality and why that's important. I go into the atheopagan principles there as an example of a value set that people can embrace. for their lives to be happier and more meaningful and more kind. So those things I'm, I'm happy about. And also towards the end of the book, before the resource section when I talk about, you know, living the spiritual life engaging with the community and kind of beyond the ritual behavior building community and embodying the, the kind of practices that, and meanings that, that I talk about in the book. So, you know, both of those I think are, are good sections. I, I like them. But of course I would because I wouldn't have submitted them if I didn't. So, your mileage may vary. I really and, and Yucca, you've read the book because you wrote the foreword. Yucca: Yeah. Mark: So you may have your own opinions about these things. But let me, let me read a little bit from the introduction. I'm going to do that. Humans thrive when they feel meaning in their lives, joy in living, and connection in community. These days, those things don't just happen. They have to be cultivated. They have to be created. Too often in our modern world, we fill our time with busyness, acquisition of money or possessions. or pursuit of fleeting pleasures. Those can provide a momentary sense of happiness, but they don't last. They're empty calories that soon wear off, which is why alienation and loneliness are so often cited as top concerns in polls about mental health. I've lived some of those struggles. I grew up in a hostile environment and have suffered chronic depression since grade school. Thankfully, it's been in remission for 10 years with good medication and practices. This book is about finding more sustaining nourishment that brings deep contentedness with our lives. The celebration of moments, large and small, that help us to understand our lives as worthwhile and joyous, to feel connected with our fellow humans and creatures, to feel a worthy part of the magnificent universe of which we are a part. A powerful means to these ends is to have a spiritual practice. Maybe that involves activities you perform daily, if that's what you like. Or maybe just a handful of times every year, but having them, practices and rituals that you bring, that bring you into the sense of meaning and connectedness, can mean all the difference between a rather hollow life and one overflowing with moments of joy. Yucca: Beautiful. So that's right at the beginning, right? Right. Mark: kind of what's, what's the point of this book and who's it for? and and I'm very clear in the book that this is This is, this is a book for anybody that's looking for the answers to those kinds of practical questions about how, how can my life feel better? How can I feel more of a sense of purpose and a sense of belonging in life? And I provide examples from atheopaganism, but I'm very clear on multiple occasions in the book, you don't have to do this. You know, you can, you can use all the stuff about the crafting of rituals here to create something that's very, very different than what I have or what atheopagans are practicing. So it's a, it's a more generalized book, I would say. Yucca: Okay. So people could plug this into different kinds of traditions. They might be a member of another tradition that it's about the tools and resources, not, they don't have to necessarily buy into the non theism component of it or things like Mark: Sure. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I don't talk about theism particularly because that's not my thing but The various techniques, for example, like guided meditations and solo journeying kinds of internal meditations and the various phases of developing a ritual all of those things will work for anybody. I'm actually reading a really good book right now about ritual. called Ritual, How Seemingly Senseless Acts Make Life Worth Living. That's a great complement to this book, I think. It's by a cultural anthropologist who's specialized in studying ritual throughout the world. And I'm only partway into it, but it provides a real, it and my first book provide a real sort of theory, anthropological underpinning to why the techniques in Round We Dance. Are effective, and why we as humans are the ritual making species, and we're one of the ritual making species. There are a lot of others. And so, you know, we're built for this. Every culture on Earth has ritual practices. And we've lost a lot of that in modernity, and it's good for us to go back to some of it. I don't think it's good for us to go back to it with a lot of supernatural belief around it. That's my personal take but having those kinds of meaningful practices, it just helps people. It helps them to, to live better. Yucca: So is this a book that people could jump into with no background in the area? Could somebody give this to their sister or their cousin or something like that? Mark: yes, yes. And, and that, that is definitely, was definitely at the forefront of my mind as I wrote it. It was not intended to be something where you had to read the atheopaganism book in order to get what's going on in Round We Dance. Which is why I've synopsized some of the material from the Atheopaganism book in Round We Dance, so that it's a standalone volume. My motivation in writing it, other than simply to say to, you know, a much broader audience, Hey, you know, there's something here, there's something here that people are finding of value. You don't have to make that great irrational leap into the supernatural. in order to embrace this stuff in your life in a meaningful way. Um, but also in my mind, there's sort of a, an amorphous idea of kind of an ecosystem of, of informational resources for atheopagans and non theist pagans and so forth. My first book is an example of that, as is this podcast, the Atheopaganism YouTube channel, my blog. The Atheopagan Society, all that kind of stuff and so part of that is kind of a list of books that I, I want to wish into existence for our community that can serve as resources for people and this was the next one on the list the and it incorporates a number of the Things that I think are really important, like it talks about death and dying and working with the dead and the dying and funereal rituals, as well as like naming rituals and passages into adulthood and all that kind of stuff. And so, for example, we've mentioned a couple of times the idea of an Atheopagan Families book. And, you know, that I just think there's a real need for that book. It's just kind of hanging out there waiting to happen. And but this book was the next one. This, this was the the next one that I felt really needed to happen, Yucca: Yeah. Well, that is really exciting that it is. Just around the corner. So it officially releases on the 8th of April, right? But it is available for pre order. Mark: It is. If you go to the Llewellyn website, and we can put a link directly to the page in the show notes you can order it for pre order it's 19. 99. And you'll, you'll get it in the mail in April. Um, I, Yucca: The moment it's just a physical book, right? There isn't an audio version. Okay. Mark: That's right. And to be honest, I don't know that an audio version of this book would be all that useful because so much of it is instructions for craft projects and recipes and, you know, things like that. Where just reading it out loud, probably people are not going to get a lot out of it. Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: I don't know, maybe. mean, the first Atheopaganism book had a bunch of that stuff too, and the audiobook is paired with a PDF of downloadable resources that go with the book. that's, that's a way to approach it. What else was I going to say? Oh, I'm, I'm working on organizing a book launch party in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. And I'm planning on doing that on the 13th of April, which is a Saturday. Yucca: So that's the Mark: I don't have a location. It's the week after it comes out. Yeah. And presumably Llewellyn can get me books by then. And I can sign books and sell books and do a reading and know, schmooze with people and talk about what the purpose of it is and all that good kind of stuff. But I haven't found a location yet. I haven't really tried yet. So, watch my blog, atheopaganism. org Yucca: something here on the podcast, too, when you know, right? Mark: great. Great, good. It's it's funny, I've dropped into interviewee mode. So, oh, you'll do that. That's great. Thank you. Yucca: Yes. No, we'll make sure to include that, along with the reminders about the Sun Tree Retreat, and other things that are coming up so very, very soon, because this year is slipping away already. Mark: We are in the last month of the first quarter of the year. It's Yucca: It's almost equinox. Mark: over. Yucca: Yeah. That's amazing. Mark: is coming around. And as we record this isn't true in all places, but tonight, we're recording on Saturday, the the 9th. And tonight is when the clocks spring forward and everybody gets all cattywampus for Yucca: Yeah. Mark: of days while they're adjusting to this completely unnecessary aberration in our plot. Yucca: Which, by the way, does not change at the same time as Europe or Australia. They're all different, which is for when you, I teach a lot of classes online and it's just, this whole month is havoc because this, this country doesn't change and this country does, and it's at a different time, and it's, ugh. So, and then, in a few months we'll have to do it all again. Mark: right, Yucca: Because it's not like it's a nice even six months. So, Mark: No, and I sure wish it was. I mean, one of the things that I appreciate about where I happen to be is that the The daylight savings change back in the autumn happens right on top of the midpoint between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice. So right at hallows time suddenly you're plunged into darkness. And there's It's just kind of cool. You know, suddenly everything, it's like, welcome to the dark time of the year. Boom. There you are. It's dark. Not so much with spring. Yucca: Spring is harder. Mark: I wish that we were, it is. Yucca: Oh, yeah. Mark: Yeah. Yucca: I'm sure people can remember every year I complain about this. I just want us to do away with it. I don't care which one we stick to. Let's just stick to one of the times and knock it off with the going back and forth. And I mean, as a kid, I appreciated the fallback, because for those A couple of days before your body got used to it, it felt like you got to sleep in a little extra before getting up in the cold and getting on the bus and everything, but now I'm just like, no, no, this is just too much of a hassle. Let's, let's all do, like, Arizona. Mark: and it serves no practical purpose. It doesn't increase productivity. It doesn't It doesn't save energy. It doesn't do any of those things. The study on it is, is really assiduous and it does not do any of the things that it was proposed to do when it was first imposed. Yucca: Yeah. But we've got the momentum of it, and changing that is, that's the tricky part, and I think it's hard for one state at a time to do it. I think it just needs to happen on the national level, and then, Mark: Yeah. Well, there are a lot of states that have now passed laws, California is one of them that say that if the federal government changes it and gets rid of Yucca: Then this is what time we will be. Mark: Yes, we, we will go along with that. So, because states can independently change their mind about that. They can make their own time zone rules, which is one of the weird things about our system of government. Yucca: Well, our, our state, every year we have a bill, it makes it pretty far through the legislature, and then it ends up getting blocked by the folks from CRUCIS, because and because they're so close to El Paso, they don't want to be Like, sometimes, like, yeah, they don't want the clocks to, yeah so, Mark: politics is local. Yucca: yep. So, but yeah, I would rather we just stick with Arizona the whole time and then we'd be good. We could just be our little, our little friends. Mark: one of the only ways in which I can think I want us to, like, be like Arizona, but other than the beautiful landscape, I mean, Yucca: I was gonna mention, they have some amazing, yeah, that's a whole different conversation, but some amazing, Mark: we've had our tangent, we've already had our tangent for the for Yucca: I know, I thought we weren't because this was going to be an interview one, but we had it anyways. So, is there anything else that you'd like to let people know about the book, or Mark: You know, Yucca: coming up? Well, Mark: the book, or I closed the kind of narrative section before you get into the resources with a poem called Ecstasy, and I think I'm going to read that as kind of a close. Ecstasy, ever more open, arms flung wide, let the warm, wet wings of your chest be spread. Until barehearted there, only the longing of joy is with you. The sweetness of life's unfolding generosity. They are all there, the great and tiny miracles daily given. A breath, a golden pebble, a scarlet cloud at sunset, the voice of the cosmos singing out to cold space, out to blackness and beginnings, all whirling and singing and spinning, sacred, ever changing. The glory of the world in your heart's red petals there, where first it placed a red kiss in your mother's womb, saying welcome. And that's, that's the life I invite people to share, to build for themselves. Yucca: thank you. Thank you for putting all of the time and energy and love into writing this. So I'm really excited to see it come out to the world. Mark: me too. Well, thank you for having me on. I really appreciate the opportunity. Yucca: Yeah, thanks for joining us. We should do it again. All right. Well, I think next week will be equinox already. Mark: Yeah. Yep. We'll be talking about the equinox. So, so onward it goes. Yucca: On and on. All right. Well, thanks, Mark. Mark: Thanks, everybody. See you next week.
Core Ritual Skills
19-02-2024
Core Ritual Skills
Remember, we welcome comments, questions and suggested topics at thewonderpodcastQs@gmail.com Suntree Retreat 2024: https://theapsocietyorg.wordpress.com/news-and-events/suntree-retreat-2024/ Season 5 - Episode 5 ----more----   Mark: Welcome back to The Wonder, science based paganism. I'm your host, Mark. Yucca: And I'm Yucca. Mark: And today we're going to visit the four core ritual skills. Now, obviously, there are a lot of different things that can be useful in leading rituals and in in participating in them, but these are four clusters of activity. That if you're good at them, you're going to have a lot more success both in leading rituals and in submerging yourself into the ritual trance y state, the flow state where you can really have effective things happen in rituals. Yucca: Great. Mark: that's what we're gonna do today. Yucca: And this is more from the lens of a group ritual than necessarily a private ritual because there's a few things we'll be talking about, like the speech part, which maybe you might do in a private ritual or maybe you don't. But when you're, when you have that interaction between multiple people and what we're going to be talking about, you can apply a lot of that to your private rituals as well, to your solo or individual. Mark: Sure. I know people who are who are pagans and whose solo practice involves a lot of dance, for Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: because they're very movement oriented people and that's, that's what they do even, you know, in the privacy of their solo rituals. Yucca: Right. Mark: so yes and, and beyond that, these are good skills just to have in the world, you know, it's, it's helpful to have these. So why don't we start with public speaking, Yucca: Yeah. So, especially when you are leading the ritual, the words are how we communicate with each other and communicate these really complex ideas. We're gonna communicate other things through our body language, through movement, but when we're trying to communicate nuanced ideas, it's words. Mark: right? And this is the, the whole cluster of things that go into verbal communication, right? So it's not only speaking in coherent sentences and, you know, having an interesting modulation to your voice so that you're not speaking in a monotone. It's engaging. People are, you know, want to listen to it, but also the physical ability just to project your voice out, right? So that people that are in that space can hear what you're saying. All of those things are, are, they're learned skills. All of our speaking abilities are learned skills. I mean, we watch little kids slowly accumulate the ability to communicate about complex Yucca: Right? We start with a half a dozen sounds. Words that are instinctual, that are, I'm hungry, I'm in pain, and that's it. Everything else that, how many thousands of words do we know in each language, right? Each language's vocabulary amazing, Mark: Yeah. Yeah. And clearly, evolution has strongly favored our capacity to do this because a whole lot of brain space is taken up by our capacities to learn language and to speak. And then, of course, the whole separate factor of being able to read and write, which is a different set of skills, right? And a set of skills that we're not really talking about so much today. Yucca: right, Mark: Now, not everybody is a natural. Public speaker. I feel very fortunate that I happen to be gifted in that regard and that I can just sort of improvisationally talk about things that interest me not so much about things that don't interest me, but that's an ADHD thing, I think, Yucca: mhm. And I'm the opposite. Speaking is very difficult. I didn't speak till I was four. This is all learned and hard earned hard, it was difficult to learn to do, and I'm not comfortable with public speaking, despite doing it for a living but it's, if I was to be leading a ritual, it would be something that I would do. be practicing ahead of time. And that's just different ways of being, right? You just kind of need to know yourself that, Mark, it seems like you could just kind of go into it, you know, have a little bit of an idea and be able to know what to say in the moment. I'd have to think about that ahead of time. Mark: yeah, often I can just go into it with kind of a mental outline. If I'm giving a long address, like an hour long, Something. I'll work from a, an outline, but that's usually only a page. So it's just, I don't know, it's, it's something that, that I have an aptitude for and I feel really fortunate for that. And I also don't take any credit for it because it's just a genetic die roll. I happened to, to land that. The, so there are a variety of different techniques that you can use in order to improve your ability. To, to do public speaking, it's, it's very, very difficult for people to remain interested in watching someone read something aloud. Yucca: Right. Mark: That's very challenging. So if you can speak from an outline, like on an index card, that can be A much better way to go, but if you need to, like, write out the first sentence of every paragraph or something to kind of give yourself a launching point to go from there are just some practical things you can do that will make it easier for you to do that in a ritual context. Use a binder, for example. It looks a little more formal, and you don't have to worry about pages shuffling all over the place. You can hold the binder, you know, like people do when they're singing in a choir or something like that, and just refer down to it, and then look up to make eye contact with people in the group so that they feel engaged. That eye contact piece is very important. Yucca: Yeah. And the, and it's a practice thing as well, but the length of eye contact is going to depend on how many people you have in your group. But often Your one to three seconds is kind of that sweet spot where it's, you're acknowledging the person, but not, it doesn't become uncomfortable. You're not, Mark: Right. Yucca: having it feel like they're being examined or peered into. It's There's just that moment of connection. Now, if you've got a group of 20 people, you don't have time to make three second eye contact with every single person there. But if you have a group of four people, then that's a, you know, you just gotta have to judge it in the moment. Mark: Right. In the, in the case of that group of 20 people, you can pick individuals out of the group that you make that eye contact with and then maybe use a different set the next time you look up so that eventually everybody feels kind of included. And the, the trick with eye contact, which I know is very uncomfortable for some people, is that you can look somebody right between the eyes, straight between their eyebrows, and you're not making eye contact with them, and they won't know it. Yucca: And it's, yeah, it still feels like it. Rather than focusing on, you know, when you're making true eye contact, you're really looking at one of the pupils, right? But you don't actually need to do that, yeah. Mark: Just, just that little bit of difference at any kind of distance at all, they're not going to know. In many cases in ritual settings, we're working under low light conditions, so that makes it even a little bit fuzzier. And that's a way that you can keep yourself from becoming as self conscious as you might be by looking someone straight in the eyes. Yucca: Right, because if you are, now this is if you're leading it, you are keeping track of a lot of things. in your mind at that moment. But for the eye contact, being a participant in a ritual, there's the eye contact with the person who is leading it and with the others, and that's just a nice, that's a nice trick to have, just a nice tool, not trick in like a manipulative way, but just a nice tool for your social toolbox. Mark: Sure. Yeah, I mean, it's, it's a way to self, save yourself from a feeling of, that you're too exposed. Because that's the thing about eye contact is that it feels very exposing to both of, both people who are, who are meeting their gaze. And so if you fudge a little bit, it, it can make you feel a little bit less exposed and more confident. Yucca: right. Mark: Now I, I, oh, go ahead. Yucca: Oh, I was going to say, and it can be something on just the eye contact is something that can be very powerful when it's consensual, right? Like if some of the most powerful experiences I've had with others is just sitting and having a few minutes of just looking into their eyes. Mark: Yes. Yucca: And it can just be really, really moving just a very powerful experience. But it has to be consensual, right? And that's, that's something that we need to mention about everything with ritual, is that there needs to be consent for whatever is happening in the Mark: Indeed. And that's why it's important to give people an overview at the beginning of a ritual about what we're going to do. Now, that doesn't mean exposing every little detail. It can be fine to have things that are surprising not in a negative way, but you can have, you know, surprises along the way that transformative and go, Oh, wow, look, that's what's happening now. But you do want to make sure that everybody has pretty well signed on to going on this ride with you. That's, Yucca: Especially if there's going to be any physical contact, Mark: Oh, yes. Yucca: right? Like, if people are going to hold hands or, you know, put their hands on someone's shoulder or anything like that, that's, it's really important that people know that that's what they're getting into. Because people have very different experiences with that. They don't owe it to us to explain why they're not comfortable or are comfortable with it. That's their business, right? Mark: Exactly so. Um, and I, I referenced a minute ago something, and I'm, and I'm glad that I reminded myself about this because, okay, so, so you're listening to the things that we're talking about here. You've got your, your outline in a binder, and you're, you know, reading that first sentence or getting the reminder of what that next little statement is supposed to be about, and then looking up and looking at people between the eyes so that you don't have to feel uncomfortable about actually meeting their gaze, and then you realize that you can't see what's on the page because you're in low light conditions, and then you get out your flashlight, and And try to hold it in your mouth and read at the same time. And it doesn't work Yucca: for everyone listening, Mark literally put a flashlight in his mouth in that moment that you just happened to have right next to you. Mark: Yes, there happened to be one on my table here. So what you want to do is you want to have some sort of a light source that will clip to your binder, One of those, you know, little, you know, night, Yucca: lamps so that you don't wake your partner up in bed, sort of thing, or yeah, Mark: Very useful tool for a ritual leader to have. They make a, a little light, they've got a little shade on them so that it isn't blinding to other people. And it really gives you the light that you need without being too obtrusive. Yucca: and you can get them in kind of a, an Amber, reddish light, too, and that's really nice because that doesn't spoil people's dark vision as much as like a bright white or blue light might. Mark: Right. I actually saw a park ranger giving a campfire talk using one of those. Yucca: Mm. Mark: seemed like she was new or something, and, you know, didn't quite have the whole wrap down yet necessarily. She Yucca: memorized the entire thing. Mark: Right. She did a great job, but she had to refer to notes and didn't actually use a binder. She used a clipboard, but, you know, same kind of deal. Yeah, and, and she used that amber color. So that people could look up at the stars because part of her part of what she referenced was was stars. Yucca: Right. It was a nighttime activity that you were doing. You weren't out in, you know, the middle of the day, noon, the baking sun. Not in Mark: right. No, we were around a fire and the fire, of course, made some light, but the, but not. I mean, it's going to, that's, that's right. It's going to cast a shadow towards your face, so that's not going to do any good. And it's flickering to begin with, which just makes it very unreliable for reading. So that's a, you know, a little, a little tip that, you know, will actually do you a lot of good if you're doing public speaking in a, in a dark, Yucca: would really encourage people not to use your phones as your light when you're in a ritual setting because just the presence of a phone or a tablet or something like that can really pull people out of the present moment. And the, there's, we, we have a pretty big issue in our society where, with the what is it called? Fubbing? Where people, when their phone is out? In social situations, and somebody's looking at the phone, and then the person who's interacting with them is getting the social signal of, I'm not interested in what you're saying because I keep looking at the phone and so there's a, a lot of people have a emotional, often unconscious, but emotional response to the other person's got their phone out, they're not interested. Mark: right. Yucca: So when we're dealing with symbology and metaphor that, that can be something that's very triggering for people, is to have that phone out. Mark: Great point. I'm really glad you brought that up. And that's another reason why you don't want to have your notes on your phone or on a tablet. I know it's convenient. I know it means that you can just type everything up without printing anything out, any of that sort of stuff. But removing, removing most forms of digital technology from the ritual circle, It helps, and I'm not entirely sure why it helps, but it does. There's something about that technology that is just so riveting for people, it draws their attention so heavily, it becomes much more difficult to be present, and that, of course, is core to what we work to do in a ritual space. Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: Um, I, I'm reminded, I've just started, I've started game mastering a game for the first time in 37 years. Yucca: Oh, wonderful. Mark: had our we're playing Shadow Dark. And we started week before last, I'm gonna run another session this week. And one of the things that I, I, I told them, this is gonna be the most painful thing that you're gonna have to do all evening. I made them stack all their phones on the table. If you touch them, you take damage. Yucca: oh, that's brilliant. Mark: You, you, you Yucca: But yeah, it hurts. It can be really uncomfortable to be separated from it. Mark: Sure, because whenever people are, are distracted or bored or uncomfortable, their go to is to bury themselves in their phones. And it's, you know, we, we had a very lively, good social interaction throughout the game because people were engaged with one another rather than with their phones. So, you know, waiting for their turn. So, yeah, that was a great thing. Yucca: Mm hmm. You know, I think that there's a lot of parallels between game mastering and leading a ritual. Mark: I Yucca: So many overlaps between those skills, because on both, you're, you're, it's, both things are collective storytelling, and as the ritual leader, or as the game master, you're guiding that experience, but you're not controlling that experience. Mark: Yeah, that's absolutely true. And, and that has occurred to me before as well that tabletop fantasy role playing games or, or any genre of tabletop games are, they're a group ritual. They, they are a thing that we do, we get together, they have certain kinds of cultural conventions, like rolling dice and, you know, waiting for your turn and all that kind of stuff. And they are consensual behaviors to create a group experience, which is what a ritual is, right? Yucca: Right. Mark: Yeah. The goal isn't necessarily personal transformation, it's entertainment. Yucca: Yeah. Although sometimes, there's, you can have some pretty emotionally powerful experiences. Mark: yes, absolutely. Yeah, I've had players weeping, I've had players falling off their chairs laughing. There's, there's, there's, there's a lot there. Yucca: Yeah. Mark: So, that's, Yucca: Yeah, let's go to our next one, Mark: Yeah, that's public speaking. And the good news about public speaking is that the more you do of it, it will become easier. It won't necessarily become easy, but it will become easier. And that's true of all of these skill sets that we're talking about today. The next one that I want to talk about is singing. Yucca: which shares a lot with much of what we've just been talking about with the speaking, but has, has some additional Elements added onto it. Mark: Right. And it does different things. It taps different parts of the brain, and it's much more accessible to the emotional self than, than linear language. There's something about intoning and making harmony and the kind of poetry that tends to be associated with with the songs that you sing in a ritual state, in a ritual setting, Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: all of which, It's just transformative. It moves you emotionally, and that is, of course, a very important part of what we work to do. Yeah, Yucca: And depending on what the song is, it can still be vocal without being verbal. There's many rituals that I've been to that have just had Just had sounds, like, just vowels with the, with the tune and that, that's a nice thing for those of us who aren't really wordsy people or who find lyrics to be difficult to, to catch on to. Some people are really fast with that, right? You put it, my, my youngest, you put anything in a song and he's got it. He's got the lyrics to it. He's got the words. And like, how are you even singing? You know, we'll listen to songs in languages he doesn't speak, and he's singing along with it, right? So some people's brains work that way, and other people, I can, I can get the melody, but what are the words to that? I don't know. So it's a nice opportunity sometimes to have the songs that are just sounds that people can just join in with if they're comfortable with it or not, right? Mark: right. And that raises two really interesting things for me. The first of which is that I like for it to be a convention in the rituals that I do that if someone just can't get the lyrics or doesn't like the lyrics or whatever it is, they can just ah along, you know, they can just sing the vowel ah and still, still get the melody out there, right? So that they're participating, so that they have a role, and that's a perfectly acceptable role. The other Is that there's this wonderful practice called circle singing. I don't know if you've heard of this.  Yucca: Keep going, because it could mean several different things. Mark: it's a directed, like, like a choral director kind of program where The choral director will sing one line and will teach a group of the participants that line, and they'll sing it over and over and over again, and then the choral director sings another part for another three people that interlocks with that first melody, so what you end up with is this, and you can have, you know, three, four, even five parts if you're really good at this what you end up with is this very intricate, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun. Sort of tapestry of sound the musician Bobby McFerrin does this a lot. He used to do a New Year's Eve singing in the New Year's circle song event at the Glide Cathedral in San Francisco every year. And it's just, it's a cool way for people that aren't going to do lyrics and may only need to You know, seeing a very simple, repeated line to still be fully engaged in participating in making something that's really cool. Yucca: yeah. Just make sure that there's a group of people for each line, that you don't have one person trying to remember and carry that so that when they do so that they can Use the other person as help for when they forget the line or get a little bit confused because they're hearing the other song and, you know, so don't try, don't put one person on the spot for it who's not, you know, the professional singer. Mark: right. You can also do this with round. There are a lot of, of musical rounds that, you know, you teach one line to one group of people and another line to another group of people or you teach the whole thing to everybody and then you start them off set. So one person sing, you know, one group sings the first line, and then the second group starts singing the first line again as the first group continues to do the second line, and you just go around like that. And rounds can be very beautiful and really trance inducing to sing. Yucca: Yeah. Mark: So singing, it's, and I know there are a lot of people out there who are like, I'm tone deaf, I can't sing I can't carry a tune. That is true for some people. It is true for some people. And what you may want to do instead is to learn how to use your voice rhythmically. Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: So, instead of having to carry tones, you can just bah, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah, kind of along with whatever the, the rhythm of the musical piece is, so that you still have a way to plug in. Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: But the other thing is that a lot of people who think that they're tone deaf just haven't tried. They haven't, they haven't practiced. I, I wouldn't, Yucca: And not try, but Mark: try isn't the right word. Yucca: built the skill over that have that it has it doesn't necessarily come natural Mark: Right. Yucca: to build that skill is something that takes time and takes exposure just like we were talking about with the public speaking Mark: Yes. That's, that's, that's what I meant. I didn't like the word try either, so thank you. Yucca: but yeah it may be something that just takes the exposure and time and and really and it's going to take different amounts of time for different people right and we're all coming at it from different emotional experiences Mark: Right, right. Yeah and this actually leads us to our third skill set, which can be something that you can replace singing with. This is rhythm and drumming or percussion of various kinds. Because there are people out there that have a wonderful sense of rhythm and are terrific in a percussive sense and just particularly good at following a tune. And that's okay. That's perfectly alright. Um, the, the evocative nature of rhythm and drumming and what it does in our bodies cannot be overstated. know, a good complex drumming riff almost forces us to move. I'm a very heady person, and I grew up over medicated for ADHD, so I twitched all the time. I had lots of tics. So, you know, my body kind of betrayed me a lot, and I've always had kind of an ambivalent relationship with it because of that. The, but still, when I'm in a ritual circle and there's good drumming going on, I want to move, you know, I, I, I want to go. Yucca: yeah, that's, I share that experience. I'm also very, very much in my head a lot of the time, but it feels like it just pulls my awareness down and into my body and kind of spreads it out to a more body awareness and just brings me down to that connection and I feel much more connected with the ground and the rhythm and the, it's just very powerful. Mark: Yes, very much so, and I've, I have a lot of conjectures about why that might be, most of them having to do with a mother's heartbeat. Yucca: yeah, because we all started out hearing. Hearing it, Mark: yeah, Yucca: her pulse was there. Mark: right, all the time, and it got faster and it got slower and, Yucca: and you got the, some of the, not all of them, but some of the hormones crossing the placenta into you, so you're sharing some of those feelings with her as you're associating what her heart is doing. Mark: right. Yucca: You're also getting to hear all the gurgles of her digesting and all of that stuff too. Mark: Right. That's true. Yucca: But that heart, that ever present heart, Mark: Yes. Yes. And the sort of the, the softening sound of the lungs, breathing in, breathing out. There's probably a little bit of a stretching sound with the diaphragm Yucca: You probably feel that, too, as you're taking up more space. Mark: Yeah. Yucca: And then you probably kicked her in the diaphragm a few times and she went, Right, no Mark: out maybe, maybe not to do that again. Yucca: what your experience later on in life, we all started That way with that very primal experience of being before our minds and brains had really developed the way they are now before, at least I think, I mean, we're human beings, but, you know, even before that, but before we really did. come into being an aware person in the way that we are Mark: sure. Yucca: individuals on the outside, that's, you know, I like thinking about all of that, about thinking about that transition between going from just being a part of her to being our own people, and then, yeah, Mark: And the whole sort of unboxing experience of, you know, turning the lights on in various parts of your brain and, you know, all that kind of stuff. It's really fascinating. Yucca: yeah and just the, I think the development of how we, so this is something, we often talk about you know, growing a baby, right? And as the mothers, we are, sort of, except it's actually the baby that's growing themselves. Their body is telling themselves what to do. We're supplying all, we're supplying the home for that, all of the supplies, but from the moment that, that cell, is following its own instructions and becoming its own person. And it's just amazing the different, you know, what we do know of it and the different steps of, like, when certain things develop. Like, when they start being able to sense light, right? About halfway through, you can shine a light on your belly and they'll start kicking because they can see the light. But a week before, they couldn't see the light. They didn't respond to it because they Physically couldn't see it, and now they can, and I, it's just a, I think it's an amazing process, and we, we've just barely begun to, to scratch the surface of understanding what's, what's happening. And we all went through it. Mark: Yeah. Yucca: Don't consciously remember it, but I think it affects us later on, which Mark: Oh, I agree. Yucca: the rhythm, Mark: Yeah. I absolutely agree. Yucca: it's speculation on our part that our connection to rhythm is connected to that heart, but it seems like, this seems like a logical path to take. Mark: Yeah. And I mean, many babies when they're very young will be responsive to rhythmic music. Yucca: Absolutely. Mark: know, it's like if there's, if there's a strong, steady beat in something, they will move to it. Yucca: Yep. Mark: So that's all to say that it's coded very deeply in us to be responsive to that. You know, to the pulsing of rhythm and the ability to create that, even if it's just a steady beat, like a heartbeat kind of beat. It doesn't have to be Zakir Hussain playing the tablas. I mean, if, if you're, if you have a good sense of rhythm and you're interested in putting in the time that it takes to develop, you know, those wonderful Middle Eastern or African or Indian or Yucca: Or any, yeah, there's Mark: any culture, you know, Amazing repertoires than, you know, do that because we need more of that in the world. But just the ability, you know, I have a good rhythm sense, but I'm, I have ADHD and it's very hard for me to do things that I'm not good at for a long period of time until I become good at them. So I just have a frame drum, a simple, round. Frame drum. And I use that for creating sort of a drone y rhythm, heartbeat sound in rituals. And it makes a big difference. Yucca: mm hmm, Mark: It's a really big difference. So I really encourage all of you that are developing your, your ritual tool set, you know, to get shakers or claves, you know, the wooden things that hit against one another or Or a drum and just start, play around. It's fun. It's fun to do. Yucca: And earlier we were talking about, you know, some of the caution around phones and technology and things like that, but I do think that there can be a place for the recorded music as well especially when it comes to the drumming and keeping a beat and things like that. When you have a group of people. And you have multiple instruments. I mean, to me, that's golden, right? You have the whole group doing it. But if you're in a solo situation, or, you know, your hands are busy doing lots of other things, or whatever it is, you know, there's a lot of great things recordings of, of drumming and rhythm and things like that. Mark: Yeah. And there's been a resurgence or, or a surg I guess, which is sort of the first thing of of groups that do very sort of ritually trancey kind of music groups like Dead Can Dance and Wardruna and ung and you know, some groups like that, that really, you know, they're really exploring that. That way that rhythm can really influence us at a physical level and that stuff can be great ritual music, can be really useful. There's actually a page on my blog that is musical suggestions for ritual, and there's a long list of different possible things that you can choose from for, with different kinds of flavors and styles. Yucca: Mm hmm. Yeah. My suggestion would be, though, listen through to what, to what it is before you use it in your ritual. Because sometimes there can be a little bit of a surprise in there that was like, Ooh, that was not, that was not what I was going Mark: That wasn't what I was looking Yucca: this ritual. Yeah. Mark: Yeah. That's a good point. Yeah. Yucca: Yeah. Now that, I think. moves really nicely into our final one, which is movement itself. I have a hard time hearing a rhythm and not moving to it. Mark: Huh. Yucca: Because it's just, as we were talking about, it's just so powerful. There's, I mean, they're so connected. The Venn diagram of, of rhythm and movement to me are, they're not quite a circle, but they're pretty close. Mark: They're pretty close. Yeah. And I, I find rhythm to be such an invitation to movement and because I'm so heady most of the time, my body is really thirsty for that kind of activity. So it's, there's a very, there's a liberating quality. To, you know, moving, like moving in a ritual circle and dancing and, and, you know, interacting with a fire and interacting with other people and just all that. That sense of freedom. It feels like flying in a way. It's, it's, it's a very strong, very free, very, very filled with yourself kind of feeling like you're expressing yourself in a really full way. Yucca: and a couple of things to keep in mind if you are the one designing or leading the ritual with a group of people to have options for different levels of mobility. So some people may need to have a chair or something to be sitting in, and may not necessarily be able to do a big spiral dance around the fire or something like that. And so having natural options for them. To be able to participate is really important. Go ahead. Mark: Yes. And what I was going to say is that when you blend These ritual skills, you can give people opportunities to do things that, that are within their abilities, right, that are consistent with their aptitudes, what they're interested in doing and what they can do. So, you know, you can have some people who are sitting and drumming and other people who are up and dancing and singing, you know, or You know, some combination thereof. I remember I was at a Fire Circle ritual. God, it's gotta be seven years ago now. And there was all, you know, we were, we were in this really high point in the ritual and dancing and, you know, the drums are thundering along, you know, very intricate, super talented drummers. And then suddenly they stopped and everybody slowed down but kept moving. While someone did a spoken word piece, and it was beautiful, it was just this, this, this rapt moment, you know, when you could almost still hear the echoes of the drums because it had been so loud and so fervent and so intense and then suddenly downshift and it all went into this other place, Yucca: someone suddenly starts whispering and everyone has to lean in to listen to what is that whisper? What are they saying? Mark: Exactly. Yucca: wow. Wow. Mark: Which is why I like the, the center portion of a ritual after invocations and creation of a safe container to be somewhat improvisational, you know, that there's room for different people to contribute different things if there's time and if that's the kind of ritual that people want to do. But I've had great experiences with that sort of thing. So movement and yes, people can be very self conscious. I, you know, as I described, I had a difficult relationship with my body and I didn't start dancing until I was in my late twenties. And a low light condition helps. Yucca: Right. Mark: You know, that sense that you're not being watched by other people really helps. Yucca: And a timing in the ritual I think can make a really big difference for people because it is something that is a little bit, can be a little bit uncomfortable that. Most people are not comfortable jumping straight into dancing, right? So, it might be something that needs a little bit of warm up to get to the place where people feel like they can can do that, right? So maybe you, you work towards it with some of the spoken and then moving into the singing and then into the dancing. And just, just kind of know your audience, right? If you're working with a circle that you see every You know, every Mark: Few weeks or Yucca: then you're going to have a, it's going to be a very different relationship than this is the once a year summer solstice celebration that you're doing at the Pagan Pride Festival. Mark: Right, right. Yeah, that's a really good point. You know, obviously, making tailorings and adjustments for for whoever it is that you're going to be working with in a ritual is really key and there is a way to work with people of every level of ability, every level of ability. Of uniqueness, in terms of their aptitudes, their capacities there's, there's stuff that can be done that can help people to come into a ritual space. Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: So, it's, it's, but it, having these four tools in your quiver there's a mixed metaphor, having, having these four arrows on your tool belt, Yucca: Yes. Mark: It's a good way to start because then you have the capacity to pull out whatever seems to be the right thing for that group of people at that particular moment. Yucca: Mm hmm. Yeah. And these are things that you can incorporate into your solo practice, and that's where a lot of the practice that we've been talking about. We'll start, Mark: Mm Yucca: right, becoming comfortable with the singing or the dancing I'm saying those ones in particular because those ones are ones that I think are really hard for our culture. We have a very, very sedentary culture. We're very much expected to stay still and seated and especially in social situations. We find, we're very uncomfortable with movement overall. Mark: We're also uncomfortable with sound, to some degree. I mean, this varies from culture to culture, but, I mean, British people will tell you how loud Americans are, but having lived in Spain, Americans aren't that loud. Yucca: No, depending on which part of Spain though, right? Even Mark: Well, yes. Yucca: in Basque country, their opinion of the Andalusians, you know, is wildly different, Mark: Oh yes, Yucca: But yeah, so it depends on, on what cultural context but speaking very, very broadly of, of you know, North American, so American and Canadian, we tend to be compared to say, somebody from the Mediterranean, we tend to be pretty, we tend reserved and I'll, you know, we don't talk with our bodies as much and we don't get up and dance and, you know, that sort of thing is very difficult for us. Mark: right, Yucca: And so it might take some time getting used to doing that on your own and then practicing in a group and the more times you do it, you know, the, the The more practice you have, the more skill that you're going to build up in that. And it's okay if it takes some time, but it's worth it, I think, right? Because I think that those rituals can be really powerful and just very enriching, Mark: yeah, yeah, that's definitely been my experience and I don't claim by any means to have fully mastered any of these things even the ones that I'm naturally good at and so it's a work in progress and that's always great because it's not about getting there, it's not about arriving, it's about the process of evolving over time, which is what we're about. Yucca: right? Mark: For as long as we get, we can evolve. Yucca: Yeah, it's kind of like an evening walk. You don't take the evening walk to get to a place. You take it for the enjoyment of going out and, you know, the birds are singing and changing their tune and the air feels cool and, you know, all of that experience. It's about that. Mark: Right. Exactly. So this has been a cool conversation, Yucca. Thank you so much. Yucca: Yeah. Well, and I look forward to, in just a few short months, doing some rituals with you and the rest of the folks coming to the Sun Tree Retreat. So that's coming up. Mark: We're actually releasing the program for Suntree Retreat this week. Yucca: Mm Mark: there's, you'll if, you know, you're in the community in various ways, you'll see various promotions to, to make sure that people can download that and take a look at all the Rituals and workshops and, and things we're going to be doing. So, and shout out to Michael O'Halloran, Michael O'Halloran of our community who's done a lot of work on that program. Yucca: Yeah. Mark: So, Yucca: Yeah. Mark: thanks everybody. We really appreciate your listening to the podcast and welcome your, your input and your questions as always. We'll see you next week.
Brightening/Imbolc 2024
29-01-2024
Brightening/Imbolc 2024
Remember, we welcome comments, questions and suggested topics at thewonderpodcastQs@gmail.com Suntree Retreat 2024: https://theapsocietyorg.wordpress.com/news-and-events/suntree-retreat-2024/ Season 5 - Episode 3 ----more----   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.
Being Pagan Everyday
01-01-2024
Being Pagan Everyday
Remember, we welcome comments, questions and suggested topics at thewonderpodcastQs@gmail.com Season 5 - Episode 1  ----more---- Mark: Welcome back to The Wonder, Science Based Paganism. I'm your host, Mark, Yucca: And I'm Yucca. Mark: and today we are talking about what happens after the frenzy of the holiday season. I know for a lot of people it's kind of a relief because it's very stressful and anxiety provoking, but for others the holidays really are kind of a haven in the midst of winter, and when they end there's sort of a letdown of No more parties, no more decoration, no more booze and sugar, you know, all that kind of stuff. And it's hard because it's the coldest, darkest time of the year. Yucca: Right. Mark: So, we're going to talk about that today. Yucca: Yeah. As you were saying that, I was thinking of that feeling that you get when your body, when you've had a bunch of adrenaline in your body, and then it fades, and all of a sudden you're like, oh, Mark: Yeah. Welcome to, welcome to cortisol. Yucca: yeah, now my arms are heavy, now what do I do? Right. Mark: Yeah. I Really resonate with that right now because my work has been extremely busy. I wasn't able to take time, um, in the last two weeks of December. So, really been sprinting and there is that sort of sense now here in, you know, we're recording this on December 30th. On the Saturday, and I, so I get these three days, and I'm in this mode of what do I do? What do I do? What do I do? Because I've been so doing for so long, right? Yucca: Yeah. So I guess this is really a good opportunity to talk about the Well, transitions in general, but especially transition out of the holidays, and also the in between time. We'll come back to this in a minute, but the in between holidays, because at least those of us who follow the Wheel of the Year, we have a lot more holidays than most people do, but there's still these big chunks of time that we're in between, and what do we do during that in between? Bye. Period. I think it's a really potent, powerful time period, but in a very different way than holidays are. Mark: Yes, I agree. And then that leads us into, well, okay, well, when you're not celebrating, because you can't I mean, well, at Yucca: day is a celebration in some ways, but Mark: one level, we can be and hopefully are celebrating all the time because there's a lot to celebrate. But in the times that are between the peaks of that, how do we, how do we live as pagans every day? Yucca: Right. Mark: How do we, how do we enact that in our behavior? How do we choose it in our focus? And are what we pay attention to, um, so we'll be talking about that too. Yucca: Yeah. Yeah, I'm really happy that this is coming out on the first of the year. Seems like a good welcome to 2024 kind of thing. Mark: It does. 2024. Can you believe it? Yucca: It no. Mark: No. No. Yucca: time, it feels like a sci fi Year. Does not feel like a real, Mark: That's Yucca: we're actually here. Mark: Yeah. 2024 by Arthur C. Clarke. Yucca: starting with the transitioning out we still have our solstice celebration decorations up, but in the next few days, those are gonna start coming down, and it's gonna be, we still have a lot of wintry things out. So. Because at just the time of year we just like having our wintry things, because that's what's going on, but it's not going to be that solstice, right? It's not that, or Christmas, or whatever it is that it that folks are doing, it's not going to be that anymore. And so there's always kind of a, like a bitter sweetness to taking those things down. Mm Mark: It leaves a void in your home and in your sense of the specialness of the time. My Partner Nemea really gets a lot of psychological benefit out of the Yule tree, the solstice tree. And so we will still keep it up for another couple of weeks. Which means that we always miss the window for the Yucca: Pick up. Mark: company coming to pick it up. Which means I have to chop it into little pieces and fit it into a yard waste bin. But and I keep the trunk for next year's Yule Log, so I have to do some chopping anyway. But You know, this is a moment where the hoopla is fading, and then you're left with, well, we're back to school, we're back to work, and it's gray and cold, Yucca: And this particular year, it's fast since New Year's is happening on a Monday. Everybody's back on a Tuesday. If it was in the middle of the week, then usually things wouldn't start until the next week. But it's like, boom, here we go. Mark: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, one of the, one of the jokes that I've always made because my birthday is January 3rd is that my birthday is always the day you go back to work. It's, you know, it's always, it's like, okay, the party's over and now it's time to celebrate me. Right. And it's like, well, we're sick of parties and we're sick of sweets and we're sick of booze. And we're, it's like, we don't want to get together in gatherings. We've been doing that for three weeks. Yucca: And I'm guessing as a kid, even though you're not a December birthday, you still probably got the let's just, this is your, this is your birthday present and your Christmas present all wrapped up to Mark: You know, honestly, I don't remember that happening. Um, yeah, I don't know. I don't know.  Yucca: And I know a lot of December babies who complain about that. Mark: yeah. Well, I mean, one of the things that's frustrating about it, of course, is that it would be nice to have a holiday some other time through the year because I'm kind of sick of parties and booze and sweets and presents and all that kind of stuff.  Yucca: Yeah. Mark: you know, and I actually have had half birthday parties a couple of times. On July 3rd. Yeah, so it's like, okay, I'm 46 and a half now. Time to have a party. Yucca: Yeah. Mark: so, anyway, let's talk a little bit about that, that transition, that, that kind of coming down off the peak. Because that's a real thing. I mean, it's a neurochemical thing. It's not just, it's not just something you can necessarily talk yourself out of because there is a change in modality from go, go, go, gotta be festive, gotta be festive, to okay, I have to be able to focus for work now. I have to, you know, I have to take the kids to school all those kinds of sort of more mundane things that get you rooted back into the groove of your, your routine life. Yucca: Mm hmm. Yeah. I think there's potential in when you, because those things are all things that are things you really actually have to do. There's a physical component to those things. And there's an opportunity to take a moment just to be aware of what you're doing as you're doing that. And there's a moment right there for that intention of recognizing, okay, I'm taking down the tree. Right? Or, I'm getting back in the car, first, first day back in the car in the whole year. Just gonna take a few seconds to close my eyes and think about what this means and be conscious of the transition. Mark: Mm hmm. And because it's a Because it's a shift from the out of routine nature of the previous few weeks, it gives you an opportunity to look at your established routine and decide whether that's really what you like. I mean, there are things you don't have a choice about, you do have to take the kids to school, you do have to do grocery shopping and all that kind of stuff, but maybe there are other things in your life that are habitual that you don't necessarily want to continue, or things that you want to add, Yucca: Right? And that's, we talk a lot about how COVID has shaped and changed the world. I think that's one of the places where it really did so many people. It was like an extended period of out of the norm, and several months, years, rockiness of going back to the routine, but getting to go, is this the routine that I want? And for a lot of people, the very, very loud no, Mark: Yeah, Yucca: And not that we're necessarily able to make all the changes that we would like to, but it gave us the opportunity to be aware that it could be different. Mark: well, and the biggest example of that, I think, is that in order to conduct business at all, many businesses had to go to remote Yucca: Mm Mark: And when they went to remote work, workers found they liked it. They didn't like the expense and the time loss and the stress of a commute. They didn't, they, they'd much rather work at home if not full time than certainly part time. And now employers are sort of strong arming many workers to get them back into the office, and the workers are balking. You know. There are tech workers that have moved out of California to small towns in the Midwest, and they're like, I'm not coming to the office, folks. I'm just, I'm not doing it. I mean, I'll, I'll fly in a couple of times a year for some kind of key thing that needs to happen. But, you know, on a daily basis, everything I do is over the wire anyway. So, leave me alone. Let me do my job. Yucca: I have to say, as someone who's pretty rural, to get into town is about an hour for us. So I love it. It makes there's so many things. I have a doctor's appointment coming up this week that I don't, that I don't need. It's just a consultation, right? They don't need to actually take any vitals. So I'm not going to drive anywhere. They're not going to drive anywhere. We're just going to hop on the computer for a minute. Boom. Mark: Yeah, telemedicine is a big deal, and especially for people living in rural areas. The advent of telemedicine is a huge step up in the quality of their care. So, yeah, it's a good thing. Yucca: And education, Mark: Mm hmm. Yucca: There's so much stuff, you know, I provide it that way, my kids get it, where we can be rural and have access to people all over the world. So, anyways, that's our tangent from returning to normal life. Mark: tangent number one for this episode. Yeah, I mean, we get to reconsider what kind of life do we want to have within the constraints of the things we don't have a choice about. And that is, honestly, That's, that's the definition of freedom, really, you know. Freedom isn't absolute, I can do whatever I want. Freedom is, there are things that are out of my control that are constraints that I'm going to have to meet like having to eat, stuff like that. And then there are other things that I have choices about, and that's where you have liberty. That's where you get to make decisions. Yucca: Well, and if we go with that, you have choices on how you do the required things. Right? So, just using the, you have to eat, well, okay, but I get to choose what, and when, and, you know, all those sorts of things Mark: Mm hmm. Yucca: does a, that element is a choice, right? And we can do that with everything in our lives, Mark: Yes. Although Yucca: well, there's, again, there's certain things we do not have control over as individuals, right? Mark: what I was going to say is that when you're in a family situation and you have kids that you're making decisions for, that's another constraint because it's like, you might not want to eat until nine o'clock at night, but if their bedtime is seven, then you need to make sure that they're fed. They're just things you don't have a choice about, right?  Yucca: But how do you respond Mark: yes. Yucca: to the fact that you have these people who are dependent and they have needs? How do you, how do you then respond, right? While still meeting those needs? You get to, as a parent, you don't have to do it a certain way because grandma did it that way. Mark: Oh, Yucca: You get to, you get to, you know, and there's lots of things grandma did that was awesome and other things grandma did that, oh my goodness, let's, let's not even talk about them, but you get to look at that and say, how does this work for my life? And how does this work for theirs? And get to make those choices, Mark: it's a good time for reflection, the beginning of the year. We talked about that last week some. Just to be really clear, you know, this is my life, it's my artwork, and I'm gonna do what I can within the constraints of what I've got. You know, if I've got a 2x4 canvas, I can't paint a 6x8 painting. That's the nature of the thing. But you still have an awful lot of choices about what you put on that canvas. Um, so, so yeah that's, that's a place to start is feeling some agency. I think that one of the things about the post holiday letdown can often be feeling like you're sort of getting back into the harness and having less choices and, you know, less opportunity to just be happy and celebrate and stuff. And that isn't entirely true. It's just that you have to do it within the constraints of what your life demands of you on a daily basis. So, let's talk a little bit about that. Dark time that we're coming into. I mean, it's not so dark. The light is, well, it is dark, but the light Yucca: depends on where you, yeah, it depends on your environment. I mean, I can certainly notice that the days are getting longer, but there's, there Still really, really short right now. Mark: Yes. And where I am, it's, Yucca: we're going into the coldest time of the year. Even though it's not going to be the darkest, it's the coldest, most bitter, windiest, you know, it really is going to be true winter. Mark: hmm, hmm. Yeah. Here I'm very pleased to report from California that we're getting a lot of rain. Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: But that means that it's overcast and gray and we get tule fog in the morning on the mornings when it gets down around freezing. And it's It's, it's rarely bitter because when it does freeze, it's usually because it's clear. Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: And so the heat is radiated away from the earth and not been reflected back by clouds. But the, the, the time still feels cold and you know, you, you kind of have to bundle up and, and the days are still very, very short. Yucca: Mm hmm. And the shadow's long. That's the other thing that I always think about this time of year. Even when the sun is at its highest point in the sky, The shadows are just still long. Mark: they are. Yeah. Yucca: Yeah. So, and we're going to talk more about this time of year, especially in a few weeks we'll talk slog, right? Mark: Slug. Yucca: But you also have the stretches of time period between holidays in general, right? And some, some holidays get more attention than others. sOme of them kind of, and this depends on each person individually but some of them just sort of get, you just sort of glide over them more easily than Mark: Mm hmm. Mm Yucca: I mean, I guess that for most, most people there's a few really big ones that we can pretty consistent throughout the whole community. The winter solstice, hollows. Those are usually pretty big ones. On the other side of the year, what would you think? May? Mark: Yeah, Yucca: and maybe the equinox? But the other ones kinda Those are ones that sort of fall between the cracks sometimes. Mark: Well, the overculture, the mainstream culture, doesn't have corollary holidays at those times. And so we don't get, we don't get the help of there being a day to take off or a set of themes like the Easter bunny and chocolate eggs or, Yucca: Although May, we don't really get that either, but I think there's just such the still the powerful image of the maple and flowers Mark: right, Yucca: That's, that's still kind of hanging on there. Mark: Yeah, um, and another, another tradition that's really embraced in the pagan community is Morris dancing, the season for which starts on May Day where they dance up the sun and then it ends on the autumnal equinox when they dance down the sun. And in some cases, I mean, I've seen people that, I've seen reports of Morris teams that are now like dancing down the sun on the winter solstice, which I think is also very cool, but,  dancing around wearing bells in the snow takes a particular kind of character, I think, not one that I have. Yucca: Right. And again, depends on your climate, right? A lot of that happening in, you know, southern Britain, they don't, yeah, they might get some snow, but it doesn't stick around the way you might have snow in, say, Wisconsin. Right. Yeah. It's very different places. Mark: So we settle into our lives again and start doing the things. And I guess this is what brings us to This idea of being a pagan every day, Yucca: Mm hmm. Mm Mark: right? Even when you're not, you know, putting on your, your fancy rags and, you know, going out to a, a celebration on at the beginning of February or at the spring equinox or whatever it is, Yucca: hmm. Mark: you know, there's, there's a way of being aware of what's going on around us in the natural world and a way of looking for the beauty and the opportunities to celebrate and to be happy that. thAt characterizes a pagan life, I think, and it's always a work in progress, but I've certainly found that, especially since my pagan practice became atheopaganism, explicitly, um, I just, I have more happiness now, because, because I'm, I'm making it, I'm choosing it. And of course we have so much grim, dire, dystopian talk in our mainstream culture. I think it's really beneficial to teach yourself, you know, to get wowed by flowers and the shapes of clouds and, Yucca: hmm. Mark: you know, the, the color of the sunset and, You know, that, that new picture from from the James Webb Telescope and, you know, all those. Just cool, cool things. The conjunction of Jupiter and the Moon, you know, pretty fantastic. Yucca: Yeah, and that isn't something that is a switch you can flip. It's not where you can just say, I am going to be a more joyful, happy, grateful person. It's something that you practice and become by doing. And that's where the daily practice really comes in. Mark: Yeah, it's a muscle. You have to, you have to exercise it, and it will become stronger over time. Yucca: Right. Mark: And a daily practice for me is really important, and I don't have a super elaborate daily practice, but it's still something that I go back to every day. And it just reminds me, okay, I am, I'm on a pagan path, I'm revealing the natural world, I'm connected with all this, and this is the lens that I turn on the world. This is, this is how I understand things. And that helps me. Yucca: Yeah. And what that practice is can and will look different for every person and for different points throughout our lives. Mark: Yes. Yucca: I'm guessing that your daily practice is different than it was 10 years ago, than it was 20 years ago, probably even different than it was 5. There's probably some core elements, but there's things that change. Throughout whatever's happening in your life, what are the things you need? And, you know, maybe there are things that really do work. There are certain things that work and we come back to. And then things that become more important at different points.  Mark: And what's lovely about neopaganism is that you are not prescribed rituals, you can design rituals that fit with yourself and your current needs and your own creative aesthetic and what the, the freedom in that. And the, the precision with which a practice can address your personal needs is really amazing. Yucca: hmm. Mark: is. And you can try lots of different stuff until you find something that goes, Ooh, that's really good. I want to do that every day.  Yucca: And there is not shame at all in trying out research. Something that you didn't completely invent, right? If you find something that somebody says, Hey, this is a way to do it, you do this, this, and this, and you try that out, and you do that, and kind of dedicate yourself to being consistent with it for a several week process, or however long you decide is what works for you there's value in that. You don't, because one of the things in neopaganism is sometimes it can be a little Overwhelming for people. It kind of just seems like this free for, oh, whatever works for you, whatever works for you. Sometimes people are like, yeah, but I don't know what works for me. I need a starting point, something. Yeah. And that's not, that's not necessarily a bad thing. That's just where somebody is at that moment. And, and then they get to know themselves better as they go through this process. And that's something that we can come back to, right? Yeah. Mark: Mm hmm. Yucca: adding new things in, and you don't have to know from the get go exactly what's going to be the right fit for you. Mark: No. Yucca: You change over time. Mark: And, and. At least in the naturalistic pagan pathways that we talk about here, um, you can do it any way you want that works for you, that's fine, but you can also be inspired by other sources in other traditions, which doesn't mean stealing them, Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: but it means being inspired by them because there are a lot of things that are so called ritual technologies. Yucca: Mm Mark: That are very powerful. And, I mean, lighting candles, right? I mean, people light candles all over the world for a lot of different reasons in sacred contexts. So you're not stealing anything from anyone by lighting a candle or burning incense or, you know, that kind of stuff. But it can still be, you know, very evocative and powerful for you. You've talked about, um, the Simmerpot at your house, Yucca. And that's, I mean, that's a ritual practice, right? It's something that you do in order to create scents in the home that reflect your seasonal aesthetic and, you know, and that's another reminder of, oh, oh, it's spring, Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: you know, oh, the, the, the smell changed. Mama changed the smell. So, we're in a different time now. Yucca: And they're old enough now that sometimes they get to be involved in the choice. Mark: Oh, Yucca: they're real little, it just happens. But as they get a little bit older, it's, hey! What do you think? Which one today? What do you mean both? Okay, let's try both. That's almost always the answer. I don't know if that'll go, but sure, let's try it. So yeah. Mark: In yeah. Terry PR in the, the BBC production of the Terry Pratchett Novel Hog Father, which is the only holiday movie that I have to watch every year. Yucca: We read the Hogfather every year. Mark: Do you? Yeah, yeah. There's this wonderful line by one of the, the wizards at the the University of Uns, the unseen University of on Mor Pork, where he says, let's just take everything and mix it up and see what happens. And that's, that sounds very much like a five year old choosing what sense to put in a pot. Yucca: Yes. Mark: Don't wanna, you don't wanna miss out on anything, right? Yucca: Right. And so, you know, I try to be good first. Knowing that the everything in might be an option, you know, I limit it down to two or three options to begin with, but they still, it's still gonna be all of them. And if you ask multiple kids at the same time, they, out of principle, will choose the opposite of the other ones. Mark: Ah, okay. Individuation. It's a thing. Huh. Yucca: it was, I wish I had like a, you know, a save button in real life so I could go back and check what would happen if you did. Ask them independently, right? Like in games where you can be like, what if I chose the other dialogue? What would have happened? I wish we could do that in real life. So,  Mark: daily practices. They can be a lot of different things. I mean, a daily practice can be going for a walk in your neighborhood. Yucca: Mm Mark: You know, for a half an hour every day and just looking at what's happening in the gardens or in the shop windows, or, you know, if you're in a big, dense, urbanized city you know, just what's going on with traffic right now you know, what, what are the clouds doing are there, are there wildlife around, are there birds that are, that are around that you don't necessarily see at other times of the year that, That function of paying attention. Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: And particularly paying attention to look for reasons to be happy is a learned skill, like, like Yucca was saying, and it sure improves your life. Yucca: Right, Mark: You know, one of the things that, that I have a really hard time with the Abrahamic religions about is that they don't seem to put much focus on being happy. Yucca: right. At least not the mainstream ones. I think we could say that they're definitely bran you, you could make that argument for Sufism or Quakers or, you know, there's branches that do bring that in, um, but not as a, that's not really the theme on the, on the big scale. Mark: no well, anyway, Yucca: That's a, another conversation about the whys behind that and Mark: Yeah, and it's not our subject. Yucca: the, Mark: You, you can find another podcast to learn about, you know, what they're going for and what, what their goals are.  Yucca: Context for why it developed that way? Which is fascinating, but I personally don't know enough to actually really comment on that. I can say my guesses on, well, I listened to that, you know, that one podcast, and they said this and that, and that made sense to me, but that's not actually my field. So. Mark: Yep, very helpful when you know what you don't know. Which is, of course, one of the, the banes of the internet is that certain people are authorities on everything. You know, the Dunning Kruger, uh, syndrome, uh, Yucca: ways, right? The less you know, the more you think you do, and the more you know, the less you think you do. Mark: the less you think you do and the less certain you are about any of your conclusions. Yucca: Mm hmm. Mark: Which is why evidence is a good thing. But, just for us, I mean, Yucca: And this whole process that we've been sorting out over, over hundreds of years to try and get closer in and spiral closer and closer into truth. It's pretty great. Mark: it is. Yucca: I'm a big Mark: It is. And it spins out lots of things that are almost certainly true. There, there are things that are nailed down pretty well in terms of the way the universe works, and the way particular organisms operate, and, and that kind of thing. Now, at any given moment, there is an opportunity for some Contrary evidence to come along that shows that we don't completely understand them yet. But the fact that you're in New Mexico and I'm in California and we're talking now Yucca: Feels face to face. Mark: yes, and we can broadcast this for people all over the world to listen to is a reflection of the fact that we've gotten pretty good at predictable stuff in many ways. Yucca: hmm. Mark: Yeah, Yucca: And in other places, we've, we've got a long way to go, but. We've got a process to, a process to be able to approach it with. Mark: Yeah, to get there. Yucca: so, and when we talk about a daily practice, that's a process too. It may not necessarily be the scientific method, but you can actually bring a lot of that into your own life and that can be really helpful. Right, just some of those, the, Your observation and testing and all of that, but having the process is really the first step Mark: Yeah. And when you think about it, a lot of what people call a grimoire or a book of shadows, you know, those are great romantic names Yucca: for your lab book, for your field book, Mark: Exactly. That's, that's, that's exactly what it is. It's like, okay, I did this this time. It felt like this. This is what I would change. This is what I would keep. Onward we go. Yucca: right? And sometimes they even have very specific rules that you're supposed to follow, like writing in pen and, you know, all the things and dating it. Yeah, some, depending on what lab you're in, there's some. The rules can be pretty intense for how you do your notebook. Mark: Really? Yucca: Well, because they, well, again, depending on what the lab is, but you can later use that as evidence for patent disputes and all of that kind of stuff. Mark: I see. Yeah, that makes sense. You don't want that stuff written in pencil. Yucca: Yeah, so there's rules and now there's a lot of them have gone digital. But there's very specific rules about how you do it and even. So, one place that I worked, I had to have the supervisor initial when I crossed something out. They had to initial that it was like a second, a witness, basically, that you were crossing out in the notebook. So, Mark: Yeah. Yucca: Yeah, Mark: Yeah, like with a contract. If you cross something out you have to initial it. Yucca: yeah. But, the, when you're doing your Book of Shadow or something like that, you can come up with your own fun rules that you can do for whatever practical reason, but also Just because it makes it feel kind of special and, and, you know. Mark: Yeah. Have a special pen. There's a member of the Atheopagan Society Council who is a fanatic about fountain pens. Yucca: Ooh. Mark: And she has all these amazing fountain pens and ink, including Ultraviolet, sensitive, invisible ink. Yucca: Ooh. Mark: Isn't that cool? Yucca: like Mark: You have to shine a UV flashlight on it in order to read it, but the pages look completely blank otherwise. I mean, and there's, you know, there's all these wonderful inks like oxblood ink and, you know, all this stuff, which isn't actually made, isn't actually made from oxblood, it's just that color. Yucca: Oh, okay. It's gonna say the DM in me immediately thinks of using that pen for a secret message that you have to give the players and they can't decipher it until you give them the right the right prop or something. Mark: Yeah, yeah like a wand that glows UV, Yucca: Yeah. Mark: Something like that. That would be really cool. Yucca: You just come up with some fantasy sounding name for it instead of UV, though. Mark: Right. Yucca: Yes. Mark: Well, we used to have ultravision and infravision in Dungeons Dragons. That got turned into darkvision, which is a catch all. Covers You know, so instead of seeing a heat imprint, um, or, you know, seeing at far distance because the ultraviolet is more penetrating you just have this one magical thing that just lets you see stuff that's further away. Yucca: Yeah, you just explain it in different ways, but it makes the The rolling work, the stats work easier. Mark: It does. Yeah. Yeah. And I'm not going to talk about Shadow Dark. I really am not. We were talking before the thing, I got a new role playing game that I participated in the Kickstarter for, and it's, it looks really wonderful, and it's very simple. Very simple, modern mechanics, but a real old school kind of feel. So, that's all I'm going to say about Shadow Dark. Yucca: All right, um, well maybe that's one of those activities to do in the long stretches between holidays. Mark: Yes. If it's going to be dark, you might as well be in a dungeon. Yucca: right, yep, well this was great. Any other thoughts for the, for the new year, for our different topics today, of kind of the letdown from the holidays between. Holidays and daily practice. Mark: I, I guess the one thing that I would reinforce is to experiment, you know, really ask, ask uncomfortable questions about the routines in your life that don't serve you, and experiment with different ways to make that feel better, um, and that's, that And a daily practice, to me, really helps. The daily practice should not feel like a burden. Remember, the practice is for you, you're not for the practice. It's, it's not like, you know, it's not like Yucca: There's not some god that you're trying to please. Mark: right, or some religious institution. So this is all about you identifying. What helps you to live what feels like an optimized life. Because you know what? When people are happy, they spread it around. They, when people are happy, they empower other people. They Yucca: Just feel good to be around. Mark: yes, they feel good to be around. Yucca: Yeah. Mark: And that's something we can all aspire to, I think. So yeah, this has been great, Yucca. Thank you so much for the conversation and Happy New Year! Yucca: Happy New Year, everyone!