Beauty In Other People’s Faith

Quilts rest on the backs of pews at Peace Lutheran Church in Colfax, Washington, USA, before a special service to bless them and send them out to people in need.

I sat in the back of Peace Lutheran Church this past Sunday, a guest along with my mother in a religious space that is not our own. I was there to support my mom. She was there as part of a special blessing over quilts that she had helped make.Quilts the community had made before were sent to refugees of the conflict in Syria and to evacuees from Hurricane Sandy, and each time the community sent another batch out into the world, they made sure to say a special blessing over the quilts and … [Read more...]

Getting clear about my place: the uses of withdrawal

The view to the east from our house.

Recently I read a blog post by Michael Taft at HuffPost, called Take Your Body With You. In it, he talks about the importance of his physicality and sexuality to his spiritual path, and how he believes his commitment to celibacy and giving up all the bodily pleasures he enjoyed so much as a younger man in an effort to reach his spiritual goals was deeply wrong-headed.As a Pagan, I agree wholeheartedly about the sacredness of the body, of sex and of pleasure, and of the vital importance of … [Read more...]

Naturalizing: Bringing Our Practice Home

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My years in Ireland were like graduate school.  They challenged my thoughts on spirituality, witchcraft, and culture.  While living outside my culture of origin, I chose to drop my identifiers and preconceived ideas.  I sought to experience my culture of residence with fresh eyes and an insider perspective.  Irish mythology and folklore have shaped much of our understanding, and practice of paganism.  The very names used for significant seasonal celebrations are influenced by Irish language and c … [Read more...]

Scent is a magic carpet

Mischa and his enormous nose, when he was just a few months old.

I often wonder what my dog smells, when we're out walking. Dogs have a sense of smell fourteen times stronger than that of humans, yet Mischa will stick his nose as far up against a scent as possible.Scent and the sense of smell used to be a huge part of my life. I became fascinated with perfumes and essential oils in my late teens, then later trained as an aromatherapist. I honed my sense of smell to a tool of great accuracy and sensitivity. But now, constant low level clogging of my … [Read more...]

Connecting with the sound of place

Hollow the Tawny Owl looking into the sun

Our dog, Mischa, has a love/hate relationship with the local tawny owls. Their cries send him into paroxysms of, well, I'm not entirely sure what, but he certainly gets excited. He goes on high alert, rushes up and down the stairs, and barks in a confused attempt to communicate with these weird not-dogs.Tawnies are the owls which give us the famous "toowit, toowoo". The "toowit" - or more accurately "kuweet" - is the female's call, and the "toowoo" - or more accurately "hoo-hooo" - is … [Read more...]

Returning To America : Place As Cultural Experience

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Each time I return from abroad, I am struck by just how different things are here in ‘Murica.  Spaces are large, cars move fast, and people are pointy.  Life in the U.S. is like an oil painting, with layered color, defined texture, and not-so-subtle edges.  Contrast this with the watercolor world that is Ireland, where I have lived for the past three years, and suddenly the two cultures, though shaped and influenced by shared or similar values and forces, appear at polar ends of a cultural spec … [Read more...]

By the light of the harvest moon: autumn equinox thoughts

A moonlit night on the other side of the world. Image by Matti/Masivaan used under Creative Commons license.

Last night was the first full moon since early spring when I've been able to go out into the night and see my way by Her light.I always find the shift into the dark half of the year difficult. One of the great consolations of this time for me is the light of nighttime, whether as the wonder of the Milky Way spread out across the heavens, or the Northern Lights, taking my breath away, or the blue shimmering radiance of the full moon in the night sky.The first time I experienced the … [Read more...]


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