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Tuesday, February 26

Images of Childhood Paganism

From the moment my beautiful son was born, I knew I was going to raise him as a Pagan.  I didn't even know what that meant (or how to do it!) but I stumbled through festivals and bought books and joined groups and left groups and attended lectures and wandered the internet... and never did it occur to me that I didn't have to really DO anything.  I just needed to live my life as a Pagan and include my son in the wonder.

As I approach the birth of my second child, I find myself reflecting on Doodle Bug's younger years and I've been flipping through photos.  Some are just delightful reflections of having Paganism in your veins and I wanted to share them with you.




Setting up our portable altar at our group campsite during Pagan Spirit Gathering at Wisteria.


Giving Ganesha a smile at the Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary. 


A tiny Doodle Bug during an Ostara egg hunt on a local homestead. 

Apple picking for Mabon.

Pumpkin painting for Samhain.

Singing Yule carols and making pomander balls.


In case you're unaware, by the fifth day of a Pagan festival, your child will be in full "free spirit" mode.
Here, Doodle Bug was loving sarongs, glow sticks, and his Jack Sparrow pirate gear. 




Checking out the "big rock" at our Mabon campsite.


Post-Beltane nature walk.

Holding the July moon.
Holding a bearded dragon at Pittsburgh Pagan Pride Day.

Marveling at new stones at Pittsburgh Pagan Pride Day.

Trying to meditate during our Mabon cabin retreat.

Sharing stories with community elders around the Mabon fire.

Painting paper mache skulls for a Day of the Dead celebration.


Feeling out mommy's tarot deck at a Samhain celebration.

Pumpkin carving for Samhain.

Sunday, February 24

Ostara Pancakes!

Something about both Imbolc and Ostara make me excited about breakfast foods.  Perhaps it's the symbolic link about the wakening of the year that makes me link it to morning foods, or maybe the dinginess of wintertime in Pennsylvania makes me avoid nighttime celebration.  I like being active in the daylight!

In any case, I thought I'd share the idea of Ostara pancakes with you.  These are pancakes decorated as if they were Ostara eggs.  This activity is best tackled on a Saturday or Sunday morning when you have a more relaxed atmosphere due to the lack of a hurry-and-get-ready-for-school rush. 

There are a few ways of tackling Ostara pancakes.  Food coloring is one.

Amanda, from My Little Crafty Corner, used gel coloring in some divided pancake batter to dish this up to her family.  Liquid food coloring should work just as well, although the colors may be a tad less intense.  

[img source: My Little Crafty Corner]

Rebecca's Sweet Escapes shows you how to bake colored designs right into your pancakes. 

[img source: Rebecca's Sweet Escapes]

Food coloring phobic?  That's okay.  Another method is to crowd the table with diced fruit, yogurt, natural syrups, fruit spreads, and nut butters.  Let your children decorate their pancake the way you'd decorate a boiled egg.

Aarean over at Color Issue shares these delightful designs that she and her daughter came up with last year.  Click on the link to see a detailed list of what she included on each egg-shaped pancake as well as a pancake recipe that includes yogurt.

[img source: Color Issue]

Saturday, February 23

Creating Traditions

For most of us, the word "tradition" conjures thoughts of something old, something timeless.  Traditions tend to be thought of as practices that no one can remember or reliably explain the reasons for.  Turns out, it's quite the opposite.  Traditions are usually purposefully created and are rarely as ancient as we perceive them to be.  

Did you know that most family traditions only exist for the span of one or two generations?  The traditions your great-grandparents participated in are probably nothing like the ones that you participate in today.  For example, my grandmother had 9 children.  At Christmas the children's most prized gift was a full stocking.  Larger gifts under the tree were rare, but bags of cookies, small toys, books, and handmade socks were the cat's pajamas!  My mother continued the tradition of overflowing stockings as the highlight of the day when my siblings and I were young.  It was the one thing we were allowed to have before dressing for church and we savored the sweets all morning and played with the small toys during mass.  However, as the years went by our church attendance faded and our under-the-tree gifts became more elaborate.  Near the end of my time living at home our stockings were used to hold the batteries for all of our toys with a little bit of candy sprinkled on top.  When I had my son, I did not continue the tradition of stockings at all.  In the House of Mama Stacey, we simply don't hang them.

Pagans & Tradition

If you think about it, the lifespan of your average tradition makes particular sense for Pagans.  In America, modern Paganism is only about sixty years old.  Practitioners have spent those years cultivating definitions and methods for "being Pagan" along with doing research into the origins of our different flavors and paths.  This time has also been spent in the fight for tolerance and religious rights for Pagans.  

The traditions of 1950's Pagans are indeed not what Pagan families of today practice.  Mom most likely doesn't stand in the center of her family circle, sky-clad and bedecked with a glorious crown, hands raised to the heavens as the attempts to channel Brigid.  She is much more apt to be seated on the floor before the altar with a child in her lap, a cat lazily wandering in and out of circle as she teaches her little one the marvel of weaving a Brigid's cross.  And that's okay.

Left: Maxine Sanders, wife of Alex Sanders, in ritual during the 1960's.
Right: A mother and child sharing a seasonal story during a modern, relaxed sabbat.

As parents of the next generation, it is our job to fine tune things and invent traditions.

One of my favorite Pagan parenting blogs is hosted by Many Hands House, aka "The Pagan Family".  If you attend a festival anywhere in the midwest you may have even had the chance to meet Melanie, Chris and their children.  They have a reputation for down-home Paganism and are the envy of many a witchy family.  

The matron of the Many Hands clan once reflected on the evolution of traditions in her household.  She cleverly noted that our children look to us when holidays approach.  

"Your child has no preconceived notions about what should be happening .... You have creative license. But choose carefully. What you do now will be what you are doing for your grandchildren and great grandchildren." ~ Melanie of Many Hands House

We are the lead generation.  It is our job to invent traditions and show our children how to celebrate not as an isolated adult tucked inside of a coven, but as a family.  Our little ones are the second generation.  It is their job to internalize these things and, later in life, modernize and transform them for future generations. 

What is a Tradition?

When you break traditions down, they do have specific qualities.  

1.  For starters, traditions have rules.  These may be precise or vague, but they're still rules.  For instance, we don’t blow our horns and throw confetti around midnight on December 31st; this practice is strictly to be done on the exact stroke of midnight.  This is a precise rule, however timing for the American tradition of ‘spring cleaning’ is vague.  Spring cleaning can be done anytime from February to June, if one participates at all.   

2.  Further, traditions have a quality of symbolism or a ritualistic nature that is quite often void of practicality... such as the inclusion of white gloves and a sword  on a US Marine's dress uniform.  I'm sure it's been quite a while since a Marine has been challenged to a gentlemanly duel.  British cavalry uniforms still include golden spurs, even though I'm fairly certain they no longer ride horses into battle.  

3.  Traditions are invented.  They come about as a response to some sort of social change, like a parent raising their children in a new religion.  As the traditions are repeated and ritualized, they create their own history.  As time goes by, people will dig into history and link new traditions to something from antiquity as a means of creating heritage and thereby stability.  In a chaotic world, this is how our traditions ground us and extend to us a sense of security.  

4.  And finally, traditions must be purposefully repeated.  How else do they become traditions?  

Inventing Your Own Traditions

Do you have to dye eggs at the Equinox?  No, but you should have some sort of craft or activity that you and your children partake in every  Ostara.  

In her blog, Melanie went on to comment that she can't remember exactly how a majority of their family's sabbat traditions started.  She wasn't even sure what traditions her family had until her grown children visited for Yule one year and asked to make "sun sandwiches", something she and her husband had thrown together on a whim well over a decade before.  

So, as time goes by, even if you don't remember, know that your children will.  For Many Hands House, candle making and Vegetarian Irish Stew will be celebrated in their home at Imbolc for many generations simply because that is what her children recognize as hallmarks of the day.   

Doodle Bug's first year in the top bunk, Mabon 2010.
In the House of Mama Stacey, Doodle Bug knows that we spend Mabon at a cabin in the woods, crafting, baking, and hiking.  He knows that no matter what, we always spend Yule in our pajamas and host a huge day-long open house and buffet for local Pagan families to gather.  Our newest bundle of joy will grow up in a home where the first family cookout of the year is always held on Ostara.  

What will you create for your children and your children's children?

Friday, February 8

Doodle Bug's Favorite Breakfast

Healthy eating has been a focus in the House of Mama Stacey for quite a few weeks.  We go to the gym when we can and have been studying the way we eat.  I have been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes and it changed things even more.  But one thing that Doodle Bug and I can still enjoy is our morning smoothie.  It's filling and packed with protein for him as well as low carb/sugar for me. 

Here's a peek at our breakfast most mornings. 

The Doodle Bug Shake-Up!

1 Medium sized Banana [15grams of carb, if you're counting]
1/4 cup Natural Peanut Butter
12oz Unsweetened Almond Milk [1-2grams of carbs]

Dump into a blender and pulse for 15 seconds.  Voila!  This is a single serving. At times when I want a bit more carb at breakfast, I will often throw in a handful of seedless grapes [about 2-3oz].  This ups the carb count to 25-30grams.


Saturday, February 2

The Myth of Daedalus

Daedalus creating wings for his son, Icarus.
[img source: Wikipedia]
On this day of crafters, I'd like to share the story of Daedalus.  His is a story of mostly Grecian origin.  He was faithful to the goddess Athena who, similar to Ireland's Brigid celebrated at Imbolc, was a multifaceted goddess.  Daedalus drew inspiration from Athena as a goddess of crafting, innovation, and wisdom. 

Daedalus lived in Athens, so named for the goddess Athena, with his son Icarus.  Aside from being a famed architect, he tinkered and invented and sold things at the market.  He was well known as a man you could come to if you needed something repaired or a problem solved. Some myths go so far as to credit Daedalus with the invention of carpentry.   

As much as Daedalus tried to share his abilities and interests with his son, Icarus was not a thinker.  He was impulsive and heart-led with no mechanical inclination at all, however Daedalus's nephew Talus was very much a thinker.  Talus was sent to Athens one summer to apprentice under his uncle.  While Daedalus loved his nephew, he was dismayed that Talus out shined his son on every level.  There are assorted stories that show Talus's talents to be extraordinary.  He is attributed with the invention of the hand saw and scissors. 

Daedalus & his son Icarus.
[img source: Back To Classics]
One day, Daedalus was helping with reconstruction of the Acropolis in Athens.  The boys accompanied him and an accident occurred wherein Talus fell from the top of the Acropolis and died.  Many there that day felt that the accident was preventable and that out of envy over his nephew's talents and jealousy on behalf of his son, Daedalus had allowed the boy to fall.  Eventually the town turned on Daedalus and he escaped to the island of Crete with his son. 

King Minos, a cruel man and the ruler of Crete, welcomed the famed inventor to the island and invited him to stay at the palace of Knossos with his family so long as he did the family's bidding.  Minos's wife Pasiphae and their various children were in awe of Daedalus's talents and each member of the family came to him with a needs over the years. 

During a moment of doubt in his time as ruler of Crete, King Minos asked for a sign from the god Poseidon.  He received it when a gorgeous, pure-white bull came out of the sea.  He was instructed to sacrifice the bull, but greedily substituted another in its place in order to keep the beautiful creature.  This angered the gods and a curse fell upon the king's wife that she would fall deeply in love with the white bull.  Queen Pasiphae was so obsessed with consummating her inappropriate love that she ordered Daedalus to construct a device to allow her to do so.  He created a hollow wooden bull for the queen and within the year she gave birth to a creature with the body of a human and head of a bull.  The queen begged to keep the creature and the king allowed it.  However, as the unnatural boy grew he lusted for the taste of human flesh. 

Ruins of a great palace and elaborate maze at Knossos of Crete.
[img source: Martin S. at Virtual Tourist]

King Minos called upon Daedalus to construct an elaborate cage for the creature.  Thus, the famous Labyrinth at Knossos was built and legends of the horrible bull-headed creature, the Minotaur, spread.  As time went on, war was waged between Crete and Athens.  King Minos's armies won and he demanded retribution.  He required that every year a number of young men and women from Athens would be sent to the Labyrinth to entertain and feed the Minotaur.  At this point, King Minos locked Daedalus and Icarus up in a tower at the farthest corner of the labyrinth so that he could never share the secrets of the labyrinth with anyone.  

Soon, the warrior Theseus came to the island with a secret mission to kill the Minotaur.  King Minos's daughter, Ariadne, fell in love with Theseus and begged Daedalus to help him be successful.  Having designed the labyrinth, Daedalus was able to tell Theseus how to find the creature as it slept.  After the death of the Minotaur, Minos swore to punish Daedalus for having betrayed him.  Daedalus knew that leaving the island by sea was impossible as Minos was having every boat checked.  So, he hid along the rocky shores with his son Icarus and plotted an escape.  It took months, but the inventor gathered fallen feathers from birds and wax gathered from insects to create mechanical wings for himself and his son. 

Icarus falls.

Just prior to their escape, Daedalus warned Icarus of the dangers of flying too low or too high.  If he flew too close to the sea, the feathers would become wet and too heavy to support the boy.  If he flew too close to the sun, the heat would melt the wax and the wings would fall apart.  The man and his son launched themselves from the highest point on the shoreline of Crete.  They made it across the vast sea and were nearing freedom when the free-spirited Icarus soared higher and higher.  Before Daedalus could stop him, the wax melted and feathers began to fall away from Icarus's wings.  The boy plunged into the sea.  Seeing the tragedy, the god Apollo pulled the boy's body from the sea, but it was too late.

Heartbroken, Daedalus finished his journey, landing on the island of Sicily.  There, he was greeted by King Cocalus, ruler of a small kingdom along the southern coast.  Daedalus asked permission to build a temple and King Cocalus approved.   The temple was dedicated to Apollo and there Daedalus hung his wings on the wall as an offering to the god who had reclaimed his son's body from the sea.  The inventor lived quietly within the kingdom, creating puzzles and toys for the king's children and upkeeping the temple. 

[img source: Alla Expression]

Meanwhile, King Minos did not give up in his search for Daedalus.  He traveled the lands offering a glorious reward to any man who could solve the riddle of how to thread a string through a spiral seashell as he knew that Daedalus would be the only man who could do it.  Eventually Minos arrived in Cocalus's kingdom and presented his riddle.  Cocalus knew that Daedalus could easily solve the riddle and so called him to the palace.  Daedalus tied the string to an ant's leg and lured the insect through the spiral shell with a drop of honey at the other end. 

Minos demanded that King Cocalus hand Daedalus over to him.  Cocalus convinced Minos to enjoy the kingdom for a bit first, delighting him with local foods, dancing women, and ultimately a hot bath.  While Minos relaxed in the bath, he was doused with boiling water and killed.  No one knows who murdered Minos.  There are rumors that Cocalus's daughters were to blame while others suggest that the king ordered his guards to do it.  Some stories tell us that Daedalus killed Minos himself.  In the end, no matter who killed Minos, Daedalus lived out the rest of his days in quiet reflection in the south of Sicily, forever mourning the loss of his beloved son Icarus.  

Heather Jinmaku's first album, 'The Balance', can be purchased at CDBaby.

There is a hauntingly beautiful song sung by Heather Jinmaku about the mournful character of Daedalus.  Mama Stacey first heard it at a Pagan festival in southern Ohio and it is a favorite to this day.  You can preview the song via CDBaby here: Heather Jinmaku - Daedalus.  Track 3 is what you're looking for!

Phil Has Spoken!

Punxsutawney Phil, perhaps the world's most famous ground hog, emerged from his tree stump at 7:30 this very morning and conversed with the lords of his priesthood to share the glorious news that he did not (I repeat, did NOT) see his shadow this snowy February morning.  This form of weather divination, dating back to the times of the Romans, has predicted an early spring!

Phil being goofy with one of his handlers just moments after making his prediction this year (2013).
[img source: The Punxsutawney Spirit]

You can read more about this event via the Boston News or the article from Punxsutawney's own paper, the Punxsutawney Spirit.  The video below lets you spy on all the excitement that happened early this morning in Gobbler's Knob.