It’s cooler today- thank goodness. Actually it’s been very comfortable, mostly in the 60s and 70s. But it’s October, and one doesn’t expect it to be in the 60s and 70s. It’s been warm and muggy, even when it was raining (tail end of Huricane Nate) it was still warm. Between the long weekend, which always throws me off (what do you mean this isn’t Tuesday? Yesterday was Monday wasn’t it?), the heat is making the length of days seem off as well. It’s getting dark at 6:30, the sun sets around 6. But as warm as it is, I don’t expect the sun to set until 8 or at least 7. What am I going to do when the DST shift comes? Logically, I remind myself that we are as far from the solstice as … when? (Stops and figures: 20 days after the fall equinox, what’s 20 days before the vernal equinox? about March 1st.) I wouldn’t be surprised by a dark supper time in February or March, but the weather feels like freaking June!
Mostly this week has been all about Twilight Covening for me. TC is a spiritual retreat down in Massachusetts put on by the Earthspirit Community. They describe it as a multi-day Ritual, despite that (as rituals are not my favorite activity) it provides a wonderful format for getting into one thing very deeply, and is very much an opportunity to break away from the demands of daily life, get back in touch with the natural world (it’s at a 4H camp on a lake), refocus on the spiritual, and reconnect with the community. It has been life-changing for many, and the rituals can be incredibly powerful. The format is that people are divided into small groups called clans (usually around a dozen people) that are exploring some subject (in the past I’ve done Divination, Herbal Remedies, RunValdr, and others), and then everyone (150-200) people come back together to participate in other rituals like the releasing fire, Dream Circle, Trance Dance, the Visioning Ritual, and others (I think there’s been a labyrinth, and this year there was Momento Mori, an Ancestor Ritual). There are “attunements” where most people chant or otherwise recognize morning, noon, twilight and midnight. The clans are each named after an animal, even the organizers are Serpent Clan (for wisdom), and I was one of the co-leaders of the Tortoise Clan. Our focus was learning from slowing down.
We were smaller than most- only 6 of us, other clans had up to 16, but Deirdre liked our concept, and I think the clan will return and grow. It wasn’t just for slowing down as we age, although that is probably why this clan is so needed, but also but also health problems. It’s hard when you can no longer do the things that made life meaningful for you, and we were trying to find ways to explore the possible benefits of slowing down. I think my favorite was the line “When you slow down you don’t have time for bullshit.” We (six old ladies) had to decide that yes, we weren’t going to clean up the language, because that’s exactly what we meant.
While I was there I also talked to Sue Arthen who’s been doing an “over 50” group for some time (I remember it as an over-40 group), and people are only just beginning to be ready to embrace the descriptor: old. I think it’s worse for women because the words describing it are hag, and crone, while men get Elder. That feels better. In previous cultures calling someone Grandmother was a sign of respect. In ours, I don’t think there’s anything you can say that won’t tic someone off! But I’m ready to call myself a Crone, and told Sue that if she wants to create a Rite of Passage, I’ll step up and embrace the term. I accept that I’m old. I am trying to remember whether when Bob said he had to admit that he was “middle aged” whether he was 40 or 50, she said “How many people do you know who are 80/100?”. Middle Aged has to go as far before the target age as it does after it. When are we old? When we are as old as our parents generation- always a moving target!
The Clan leaders come in Thursday night to get ready. I spent thursday morning cooking, because we feed ourselves “pot luck” until the bulk of the people get there. I had put down that I’d bring Chicken Fiesta. because Jane is fond of it, and Mabon Ring, because I always have. I decided to also bring a mushroom pie because Miriam liked it. As Willow pointed out, I was doing a dozen things at once, chopping, simmering, doing laundry, packing bedding and clothing and a mirror, a white board, etc. etc. etc…. Willow stepped up and made the Chicken Fiesta while I did the mushroom Couliabec. I wanted to be done by 1, but 2 would be OK. The Google maps said it would take 3 hours 15 minutes- I knew that’s always optimistic. I wanted to be sure to get out by 2:30, because sun sets around 6. With the kids helping, I just made it. In hopes that they might be getting those good estimates by better routes, I followed the directions and it took me on tiny little back roads- across the mountain to Peterboro, down past the Harpers site. I was thrilled to get on 91 and 90. Sadly, that left me driving west into the setting sun. (gorgeous sunset though). Then the stupid program told me I was there somewhere along West Street. No, I wasn’t. I crept along at about 10 miles an hour for about a mile and spotted a sign- I’d missed the entrance, it was back a hundred feet. OK, that confirms it. I shouldn’t drive after dark.
Skipping ahead, I got out by 2 to head home, and chose the option that took 90 to Worcester and up 190, which I know well. I should have freaking turned it off at that point, but no, I followed their instructions and found it taking me on 117 to Leominster- then it changed its mind and took me back to 190 to 2 to 13. I think it REALLY wanted me to go up 31, and kept trying to divert me to whatever roads would connect with that. So frustrating. When I finally turned off Center it told me my destination was 1.5 miles up Pinnacle. That’s a mile too far. I am SO fed up with the GPS. (Today Rob called and told me a story about how his mother had put in a $600 shed from Home Depot, and had to pay $1000 for a permit. After that, the town appraisers apparently used GPS to check out this shed and added $100,000 to her appraisal. Apparently they looked 3 houses down and saw a two story finished garage to calculate the value of the shed. They even mentioned the color- which was not the same color, but it took years and years for them to partially bring down the appraisal and never gave back the money they overtaxed her by. GPS is a very clever thing, but we mustn’t accept it as correct. I also read today that the administration is trying to fast-track self driving cars. Bad enough to be told that you aren’t where you want to be, but being brought there if there’s no way to argue back could be disasterous. Let’s take our time on this process, please!)
Twilight is very experiential, I’m not sure how much a can or should tell you. There were 6 of us in the Tortoise clan. Friday night was introductions, I asked the potent question “What do you want?” because so much hinges on that. Saturday we did “rock meditation”- lying with a rock on our chest, or going out to the big rocks and lying down on them later in the afternoon. We were visited by the Barred Owl clan who were studing the “visiting traditions”- Maying, Souling, Wassailing- lots of singing of traditional songs. They arrive just as the “smoke alarm” went off. Apparently it is not so much a smoke but an “airborn particulate” detector, and any time people take back to back showers, or don’t use the shower fan, or it just gets persnickety, it goes off and the camp staff has to turn it off and tell the local firemen (15 minutes drive away) to not come up. Too bad they can’t make it a bit less sensitive. Boy, it was loud! So, we all went outside, and the Barred Owls came and sang to us, and we gave them cookies and chocolate and popcorn, because you have to give the beggars something! That’s the social contract.
We were staying in the Parker Seelie building. When we first went to Rites of Spring they used the building, then they stopped because it wasn’t safe, and it kept getting more and more decrepit- it was depressing. Apparently last year, while I was sick, they revamped it- totally rebuilt it around the (still good) fieldstone fireplace. It’s heated (although we didn’t need it) and they gave us one of the spare bedrooms for our clan work. The best part was that I didn’t have to go outside to go to the facilities in the middle of the night. All but one of us was sleeping there- although I was surprised that they put one of us- who was on crutches, upstairs. We offered her the other bed in our room, but she gamely went up and down from the room she was given. We were also allowed to use my car to transport people up and down the hill between the dining hall and clan space (and to rituals). This would have been better if the car wasn’t quite so low slung- lots of rocks in those dirt roads I had to navigate around. In the evenings there were the large ritual offerings. And some of us went to the “Alternate” Visioning Ritual, that didn’t have us walking all over the landscape. I’m really not going to say much about that because it’s like the Elusinian Mysteries and you aren’t supposed to talk about it.
Our clan had our kitchen shift Saturday after supper, and even though there were 5 of us, I think we got as much done as bigger clans did because as old women, we knew what we were doing! After that, they each went to whichever rituals they wanted- I joined Jane and friends at her clan table playing Cards Against Humanity, then talking. Sunday I finally started something I’d come up with- I did a charcoal sketch of each of them. I think we forget how beautiful we are, and I tried to show them that. Sadly, I think mostly what I did was get admired for my skill as a portrait artist. Miriam had an exercise where we looked in the mirror and used face paints to try to create the “future self” we wanted. (I wanted to have my mouth and eye stop dragging down the way they still do.) I finished them Monday morning. I’d brought 5 pieces of fleece with me- mottled green, that were our “Shells” that we could retreat into when we meditated. I also shared the hunt “yoga” routine I learned in Kuaii. And, as resentment for something or other welled up while I was talking, I incidentally showed them the Dynamind technique- which Miriam immediately latched onto. I will say that we kept adapting our plans as we went to take advantage of everything from visits to new techniques to weather. We’d even put in a nap time- in case anyone needed it, but we always decided against it.
The communal soup was better than usual this year (of course, I did steal some garlic and herb mix from the kitchen to put into mine). The Visioning Ritual may be so powerful because it’s 6 hours of experiences that build on each other- but because it takes a lot less time to run the scant dozen mobility impaired folk through the same activities, we arrived at the final fire circle a good two hours before the last people got through. While I admire their drumming, and the pretty chants between sessions, I was really bored, and no amount of telling me not to is going to make me feel spiritual about boom taka taka. I sat well back from the fire. (I think it was about 70º at midnight!) and the drummers. The “feast” afterwards was shepherds pie- frugally made from leftovers of Friday’s Chili and Saturday’s meatballs with potatoes corn and beans. And they had “pumpkin trifle”- chocolate and white cake under a layer of pumpkin custard. Weird. The food is filling, but not thrilling. I did like the soups and salads, and breakfasts were nice.
So that was my weekend, I was pleased with almost everything but the GPS mess-ups. The rain even pretty much held off from the final circle- although while the Reindeer (Runes) Clan was doing their thing, we could all tell that Jane was saying (in Norwegian) something like “Thor! No more rain!”
As I understand it- the girls went to the Baronial Birthday on Saturday with Gold Key, and took our local cider to their potluck. On Sunday they went in costume to Canobie Lake Park (until they ran out of energy). But they had fun. In October they add scary houses and decorations. Sounds like fun.
Liz sent me a package with the Royal Doulton lady she’d taken. (As we all try to reduce the “stuff” in our lives we don’t need.) I am very happy to see the ladies together again. She also sent me a packet of V-mail. It’s a collection of the letters Dad (pre-dad?) sent home from WW2. They’re in a special V-mail folder, I guess mothers may have been given or bought to save those letters. I do not expect to find anything historically signifigant in them. Dad was very “lawful”, and in those days when “loose lips sink ships”, he wasn’t liable to put anything in that needed to be censored. I have only just read the first. October 18, 1943. The long trip from Maine down to Greensboro, NC, and getting his uniforms. (Please send- something I didn’t get- I think a better razor than they were issued.) He was 19. I’d always heard that he waited a long time to sign up because they deferred him for doing important farm work. I noticed that this adventure started probably after the harvest was in. I’m a little tempted to read them as the year(s) progress, but also don’t want to restrain myself- one leads to another. I will share if anything interesting comes along.
Sadly, having left Thursday and come back Monday, I’ve spent most of Tuesday trying to weed through my emails and fb. It occurs to me that I never got through all the back emails from when we were at Pennsic. While refilling the family vitamin boxes, I have now watched the new Wonder Woman movie, and most of the new Ben Hur. I am fairly unimpressed by the Ben Hur, although Morgan Friedman is marvelous and his white horses are gorgeous. (I think I’ll go back and watch the Heston one.) Wonder Woman is great, although I am suspicious that they put it in WWI instead of WW2 because otherwise the young, ernest, Steve Trevor would have been too much like Steve Rogers (Captain America). I finished Day Shift, the second Midnight Texas book, and have finally gotten into the “what you can do about it” section of An American Sickness. Sadly I think that much of the “be a responsible consumer” “questions to ask your doctor” in the pregnancy books I read first time around. You can ask, but they don’t answer. Good luck anyway. We can’t just allow it to continue the way it’s going.
Well, that’s it for tonight. I have to get up early, so if I’ve forgotten anything, I’ll catch you up next week.
Mules make a great fuss about their ancestors having been horses.
Th 12 Gumbo Day, Savings Day, Freethought Day, Sight Day, Old Farmers Day, International moment of Frustration Scream Day
F 13 Yorkshire Pudding Day, Egg Day, Silly Sayings Day, train your brain Day, International Day for Failure
S 14 Dessert Day, Chocolate covered Bugs Day, Universal Music Day, Chess Day, FRUMP (Frugal, Responsible, Unpretentious, Mature Persons) Day
S 15 Chicken Cacciatore Day, Mushroom Day, Sewing lovers Day, Grouch Day, international Day of Rural Women
M 16 World Food Day, Liqueur Day, Spine Day, Feral Cat Day, dictionary Day, international adjust your chair Day
T 17 Pasta DAy, wear something gaudy Day, information overload day, Mulligan Day, International Day for the eradication of Poverty
W 18 chocolate cupcake Day, hagfish Day, menopause Day, no beard Day, BRA Day, global Dignity Day