“2011 in review” and some notes on the Journey 12/31/2011

Dear Friends,

So, Happy New Years!!

(actual post after the bump)

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,400 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

(…and we’re back!)

I am kind of surprised at the number of views, then again who knows how many of them were actual readers and how many are “oh, ok, not what I was looking for…” … still interesting to realize that my words and works and ideas are out in the world like this.

I am taking a brief break on all but my most basic practices between Solstice and the New Year… engaging in my personal practices, but not doing the daily offerings… I did observe the Noumenia, and made some offering to Hecate on one of the nights of the astronomical New Moon.

The Fabulous Jonathan and I are doing well, even if our schedules are at cross-purposes much of the time lately.  He is actually beginning his own Journey stepping back into his Witchcraft and looking at new projects in the coming year.

I am involved in some new projects at Church and helping out some friends, and am sorting out what I want to do with myself and my time in the coming year.  Look for more posts here in 2012 as I work on my writing…

Peace, and New Years Blessings,

Pax / Geoffrey

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Happy Solstice to all!!

~ Our Altar Space, decorated for Yule~

(click on the photo for the full effect…)

Hello Dear Friends,

So the Sun reached it’s Southernmost point, relative to the Northern Hemisphere at around 12:30 am-ish on December 22nd for us here in Florida.  I was awake for it but had decided to observe the Shortest Day and Longest Night throughout the 22nd…

So the that morning I got up, did my daily spiritual routine, worked at the Motel, then it was off for some drinking and conviviality with the boys at a local Cigar Lounge I frequent…  good times and good (if sometimes warped) conversation, not a bad way to spend a part of The Longest Night.

Then home to light some candles, make an offering of some spiced wine to the WitchFather, and enjoy some quiet time thinking of the Passing and Coming Years.

I am also trying to resist the siren song of The Fabulous Jonathan’s splendid baking talents…

“You want to make some cookies for our friends for Christmas?” he asked…

“Sure, that would be cool!” I said…  I was picturing a simple basket of home-made cookies for folks…

4 types of cookie, 4 Rum and Bourbon Ball variations – including Amaretto and Chambord and Black Cherry infused Bourbon, and some Peppermint Bark later…

Well, we have some very lucky friends this year!!  Jonathan did it all, and I have been informed that I ~WILL~ be helping next year!  My work schedule and some projects I’m working on didn’t leave me with much time to help with the production line… although it has given us some grand ideas for our eventual coffee house…

Mind you we may have to start in early November to get the full production line out and send to our many friends next year… with luck we will be able to afford to ship next years batch out of Florida…

  Jonathan is also responsible for our Yule Tree this year.  I was willing to settle for the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree seen in the photo at the top of this post… Jon had grander ideas.

It’s been a tough year this year, for both of us, and I feel both lucky and blessed to have someone in my life who is eager and willing and able to put so much of his time and energy into spreading joy and beauty in the world!

I hope that whatever Light you uphold, you have a joyous Yuletide and an Auspicious New Year!

Peace,

Pax / Geoffrey Stewart

PS- I took the photo of the altars, thus the questionable image quality, Jonathan, who is the Photographer in the family took the rest of the pictures, he’s a bear of many talents folks!

Post- Post Script ~ So as I wrote this out and contemplated the past and the present Dawn has kissed the sky… The Sun Returns…

“The Choice to be aware is often an act of courage.”

Dear Friends,

So this month’s homework from the Worship Associate’s class at 1U Orlando is to research and bring to the next class readings suitable for readings/meditation/prayer in a Service.   I ended up choosing the topic of mindfulness, in part thanks to the following paragraph I found in Ordinary Magic: Everyday Life as Spiritual Practice ed. John Wellwood…

“Mindfulness practice trains us to drop into the body again and again.  What we find when we look around in the body are sensations.  All the drama of our thought, feeling, and action begins with sensations.  Through mindfulness we train ourselves to be in the body to receive them.  To be present with sensations in our body is not an act of will.  It is a kind of equanimity or grace.  In such moments we feel our activity belonging to life.  We wash the dishes as a holy act.  We turn the key in the lock and know what the wrist is doing.  Feeling our body turn away from the cold weather, we catch ourselves and consciously rise up to meet it.  The choice to be aware is often an act of courage.”  ~ Denise Taylor in the essay Coming Home to The Body

This quote resonates with me lately, even though I am at best intermittent with a formal meditation practice.  I suspect that being blessed with the challenge of ADD means that my Monkey Mind is on steroids.   Mindfulness though, that’s another story.

Sometimes it is simply focusing on my breathing for a few quiet moments during my day, remembering those six breaths.  Sometimes it is setting everything else aside and focusing on my daily offerings and prayers and spiritual practices.  Sometimes it is paying deep attention to the act of preparing and drinking my tea, or a the meal I am enjoying.   Sometimes it is focusing for a few moments in our crazy-quilt schedules and holding The Fabulous Jonathan in my arms and telling him I love him.

Often it is my commitment to listen to news sources and to be reasonably informed on current events, and sometimes it is choosing NOT to post or re-post something on FB when I feel stirred to comment… waiting for a while to see if this is a knee-jerk reaction or something I truly need to express.  I started this commitment to being informed many years ago while working a somewhat dead-end fast food job durring the first time I lived away from home with some friends, upon noticing that the U.S. Flags were at half-mast and I had no earthly idea why!?

I hadn’t known of the Oklahoma City Bombing until two days later!

From that day forward, I have tried to be aware of what is going on in the world beyond my door-step and workplace… even if it’s just scanning the headlines for a few minutes each day.  The flip-side of trying to be informed is that current events, especially the last couple of years, can sometimes seem overwhelming.  Tragedy and tyranny and greed and fear and ignorance and bigotry and extremist ideologues  tearing the world apart instead of seeking common ground to build a better world….

Which is why that quote and it’s final sentence, the title of this post, continues to resonate and echo within my heart.  This commitment of mine has worn me down mightily the last few years, and some days continues to do so, eroding places in my heart and mind and soul like a sand castle at the shore.

Yet an essay I read not so long ago, Food for Transformation by P.D. Ouspensky in the anthology The Inner Journey: Views from the Gurdjieff Work ed. Jacob Needleman, has been of great help to me.  The essay basically discusses Gurdjieff’s teachings regarding the idea that we humans take in 3 types of Foods… The regular food we eat, the air we breath, and Impressions….

“It is not difficult to agree that air is a kind of food for the organism.  But in what way impressions can be food may appear at first difficult to understand.  We must however remember that, with every external impression, whether it takes the form of sound, or vision, or smell, we receive from the outside a certain amount of energy, a certain number of vibrations; this energy which enters the organism from the outside is a food.”~ P.D. Ouspensky, quoting G.I. Gurdjieff in the above-mentioned anthology

Now ever the years, I have often encourage friends to find out what creative arts ‘nourish their souls’ or ‘feed their souls’ as a way of working through difficult times.  I have often turned to favorite books or poetry, or treasured novels, or music, or movies, to renew my spirit and help me through a difficult emotional patch… what is that if not bolstering my spiritual or mental diet?

So I am working on both my physical and spiritual diet each day.  Seeking nutrition for body and soul, I also choose carefully what offerings I cast out unto the waters of the Internet, that I may be blessed and inspired by what returns back to me.  I open myself to inspiration and to readings and to exploring my spiritual journey, which practice impels me to keep paying attention to current events to keep being aware, to keep sharing news and information, to sometimes comment (while trying to comment from a loving heart).

What inspires you?  What feeds you?  What energizes you?  Follow those threads my friends, and may you be well and your own journey blessed!

Peace,

Pax / Geoffrey

Gratitude is the Attitude

Dear Friends,

So another thing that came up, for me, in and amongst the delightful discussions at U.U. Worship Associate class last night was the realization that all of the prayers I use regularly, and the ones that I’ve written, have been purely aspirational…
I do speak prayers of gratitude, sometimes, usually when making an offering, but… I think I need to work on that.

Thank you for your time,

Pax / Geoffrey

 

Chest Colds, Spiritual Practice, Worshipfulness, and Confronting One’s Inner BS; Oh My!

Dear Friends,

So I’ve been kind of quiet on here lately, after the spate of postings to rekindle my writing and creativity.  Some of that has been being busy in my everyday life, busy at work, busy with other projects and writings, and busy fighting off a sinus-chest cold that hit me rather hard in the last week or so.

The enforced downtime of that last bit of busyness has actually been something of a blessing, in that it forced me to review and experiment a bit with my daily practices and offerings.  I’ve cleaned and re-dressed my Religious/Spiritual bookshelf, which I had been using the top of as an Altar starting around Samhain, and putting representations of the elements on each of the shelves in order that they appear in the Chakras on the body.  It’s coming together rather nicely and I will try to get pictures up as soon as I can find a camera or a cooperative friend’s camera.

The top of the shelf contains a place for The Beloved and Honored Dead, for The WitchFather (whom I also address as Herne), and for Hecate.  I also have a small offering cup that sits on the windowsill above the kitchen sink that serves for making offerings to the Spirits of the apartment/place/home.

Currently I’ve settled upon starting with Grounding and Centering, breathing into my Chakra’s from Base to Crown, doing my Chakra based variation of Cleansing Life Force, I’ll pray the Flower Above Me prayer, then making offerings to the Spirits of the Hearth, to the Ancestors, To Herne, and to Hecate.   Other prayers and practices may follow, depending on the timing and what’s on my plate for the day.   I am also still journalling and still all too often neglecting my physical exercise… I need to integrate my Body into my practice… I take a breath and remind myself that I am ~still~ in process and can begin that needed integration.

Other projects and goings on lately have included The Fabulous Jonathan and I deciding to go on a Yuletide Baking and Goodie-making blitz… including Rice Krispy Treats, Rum and Bourbon Balls, and other cookies and delectables.  I am also treating myself to a new method of exploring my Unitarian Universalist path by taking Worship Associate training.

Worship Associates assist the Minister in performing the Service and also provide feedback and assistance where needed.   There have been two classes so far.  The one last night/tonight (it’s not ~really~ last night until I’ve actually slept) was about Prayer in a U.U. Worship Service context and how selecting readings and adapting them to a U.U. context; we also reviewed some of our observations about what you find when you come to a Service at 1U Orlando.

“We have the same sort of mix of Hymns and spoken pieces and readings and Sermon you may be used to.  In our Worship we hold up our shared ideals and seek inspirations from the Worlds Religions, and Philosophies, and from Science to explore the deep and difficult questions of our times.  You will find hope and idealism, you will find loving and welcoming community.  You will find uplifting music, inspiring words, and people striving to make a world where the inherent worth and dignity of each and every one of us can flourish.”

That was my personal take on the question of “What will I find at a Worship Service at your Church?” which was our primary homework from last month.  It was really interesting to discuss the different answers and perspectives, I found it quite interesting to see the similarities and differences in our answers and the discussions that flowed out of them.  It’s interesting talking about Prayer, for example, with one of my Atheist brethren from Church, and how she believes it does work although more through focused energy and not because of whom/Whom it is addressed to; especially in the context of both of us being in the Worship Associate class!

I love how I am challenged to grow within the context of my U.U. experience.   Not that this work is easy, but it’s rather like the emotional and mental equivalent of doing some simple stretching exercises after many years of sedentary living… tentative, tough, yet also a pleasant feeling and rewarding.

One of the other areas that I’ve been stretching lately is in regards to Christianity.  I’ve always thought of myself as tolerant, and Gods know I’ve been known to call out anti-Christian sentiment and bigotry in Pagan environs.  Yet I am recently realizing that I have a cynicism regarding Christianity and Christians, an expectation of Bigotry and Intolerance, that is pretty damn bigoted in and of itself.

Bloody hell being introspective, sometimes.

So I think I will be lurking at the Christian Portal and Patheos, and also looking for some other Christian resources that are Non-Christian friendly… especially important given how much of a self-fulfilling world view you can get from the Internet thanks to ad-sense technologies!

I’ve got to get to bed now, I have all sorts of stretching to do tomorrow… and the dreaded laundry!

Peace, and Blessings,

Pax / Geoffrey Stewart

Occupy The World

Dear Friends,

I am coming upon this video almost a month after it was released I do not always agree with the actions of Anonymous, but ~this~ bit of free speech deserves to be shared.

I find the Occupy movement to be rather inspiring because it is people standing up for social and economic justice, for equality, for fairness, and for decency.  I may not be able to occupy a park, but I can gladly spread the word, and lend what hands I can.

Peace, and Revolution,

Pax / Geoffrey Stewart

PS- Tip of the hat to Lisa, whose fabulous blog I found this on…

Transcript of the Video…

“Greetings citizens of the world. We are Anonymous. Since the occupation of Wall Street began we have been watching closely as countless people in cities around the world have taken to the streets in peaceful support of the movement. A show of support for a humanity free from the benefit of the few at the expense of the many. Free from corruption in our political and financial institutions, and free from the injustices caused by corporate personhood and the oppression of others. This is not the Arab Spring, Egypt, Greece, Tunisia, nor The American Autumn.
This, is mass global awakening.
The lies and corruptions that have attached themselves to our system like a parasite have been exposed.
A way to rid our world of this parasite uncovered.
The cure lies in all of us.
This is only the first wave of our brothers and sisters to awaken to the lies and corruptions taking place around them. You, my brothers and sisters bear the weight of carrying this message to the masses. You must continue to hold your ground and stand up to help educate others to these injustices. The practice of active non participation in the things we deem evil, peaceful protests, and large scale community education efforts are things each one of us can continue and teach others to help aid in the fight. This will assure us victory against tyranny in our world.
We have already seen signs of this process beginning to take hold. With the successful transfer of 4.5 billion dollars on Bank Transfer Day, and 690,000 new accounts created at credit unions in the U.S. alone, we have taken the first strike against the banks.
This will not be the last.
Occupy protests continue to grow despite the puppet media, who is bought and controlled by politicians and corporations continuing to lie about numbers involved in the protests. They have said there is no clear message and otherwise down played and belittled the protests as a whole. Yet our message has still gotten out.
Political and corporate backed entities continue to try to adopt and corrupt the movement. Trying to turn it into a tool for their own purposes, yet they fail.
Worse yet, incidents of police brutality and the revocation of the rights of our citizens are growing more common place. Corrupt elements hidden within police forces around the world have begun to inflict terror and beat the otherwise peaceful protestors into submission. Mayors, and governing officials in cities around the world have begun to send in their dogs in an effort to stamp out the growth of revolution. They have taken notice of our actions and they are scared!
These crimes against our citizens do not go unnoticed, and must not be allowed to quell our efforts in seeking freedom. We must maintain peaceful despite these atrocities and not feed into their efforts to bring us down to their lowly level of existence.
The instigators of these actions are unaware that they are defeating themselves, for we are already at the third act of the famous quote; “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you. then you win.”
There has never been a more exciting time to be alive in all our lives.
It is important that we not be bored or let idle time pass, for the seeds of revolution against worldwide injustice have been sewn. Yet without enough nourishment they will not survive and grow to full fruition.
Citizens of the world, the power for change is in our hands. We must continue to expose the truth to the masses.
Know your own power; inform others of the immediate threat of corporations, banking institutions and the growing takeover of world governments. Maintain true to the foundations of the Occupy movement. Fight greed, corruption and corporate control of our democracy.
Continue to denounce the involvement of entities with political and financial affiliations in the movement. Express your free right to assemble via global, large scale peaceful protests.
Our efforts must not simply continue.
Our efforts must grow.

Corrupt governments, police, corporations, banking institutions and those who oppress others. You cannot kill, or buy an idea.
You are the parasite, not our citizens who gather in peaceful protest against injustice in our world.
You are outnumbered, and surrounded.
The revolution has begun, and the end of your reign is near.
We will not stand for your atrocities and injustices any longer.
We are Bradley Manning, we are Scott Olsen. We are your brother, mother, and best friend.
We are people.
We are free.
We are one.
We are Anonymous.
We are legion.
We do not forgive.
We do not forget.
You should have expected us!”