Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Dark of the Year: In Praise of Past (Part 1)

Part 1 * Part 2 * Part 3

During this time of year, the dark of the year, we as Pagans have a fairly unique opportunity within our spiritual wheel of the year. We have the opportunity to grow, spiritually, internally, rather than externally. The Wheel of the Year shows us how to use the energy of Nature to develop in a healthy cycle.

The Dark of the Year is the time of introverts, when humanity as a whole goes from exuberant, exo-energetic creatures to inner-focused beings who welcome the dark and calm of semi-hibernation. We don’t sleep the season away like the bear, but rather we enjoy a certain lethargy of the body, which allows us to grow our mental and emotional selves. We embrace the Yin in the world, the Feminine in ourselves, the dark/cold/wet/gestational parts of Nature.

In animals, a “false” hibernation is often called torpor or languor. I, for one, like “languor,” or “languid.” The word (words are power, remember) calls up in my mind an image of sensuality, of liquid, passive, flowing, small movements. Isn’t that what we crave during the Dark of the Year? Lying in bed, snuggling with family and blankets, lounging around the home with warm, liquid foods and drinks. Celebrating life and survival while death (dark, cold, wet weather) prowls around the periphery.

Death and gestation are two faces of the same coin. They bracket life like not-quite-identical bookends, giving us the time of dark and wet and quiet before we start going, going, going as life demands far too often. The season of winter, the Dark of the Year, allows us to pause in this rat-race of work and family and action, action, action. Winter is a small death that gives us a moment to breath, mentally and emotionally.

So how do we take advantage of this time when we can get back in touch with ourselves and those closest to us during the major holidays of the season of the Holly King?

Samhain is the Final Harvest in the Wheel of the Year. This is the time when we finalize our homes, families, selves, and plans in preparation for the Dark. We get that last little bit of psychological food in our metaphorical bellies before we chill out for the season.

It is also the Death of the Sun/Oak King, a god that represents produce/production/action/Yang. He is that force that gets us out of the house on the first Spring day, who has us doing sports, crafts, and vacations with rock climbing, water slides and snorkeling. Now, he’s dead, giving his body as the Final Harvest to supply our Languor during the Dark of the Year. His death gives us permission to be languid, to do nothing more (physically) than get by.

Samhain is the time for looking back and celebrating death and those who have died, apropos for the festival of the Death of the Oak King. It is the season for remembering what and who has come before. It is the time for embracing those people who have changed you, for better or worse, and have passed on, either in death or simply by moving out of your life.

It is especially appropriate to look back at the “life” of your personal Oak King, your activities for the year, and remember them and how they have changed you over the course of the year. It is a good time for assessing what you’ve done and how that is working for you, or not. It is a time of recollection and evaluation. It is time to appreciate how you have grown, by your own motivation or by the influence of people and circumstances.

Many blessings during your Languor in the Dark of the Year!

Part 1 * Part 2 * Part 3

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Don't be friends with fat people

This is more of an annoyance than anything else... You look at a "Top 10" ways to keep on your diet/cut calories/lose weight in one week type of list, and there is always something like it. It's the advice that you eat like your companions, so don't eat with fat people.


The size of your waistband is
directly proportional to
the number of days
you will live when
Starbucks runs out of foamed milk.
There are many reasons this is a load of crap, and the least of them is that it's dead wrong. That advice makes many assumptions that may or may not be the case.

Assumption #1: Your fat friends are fat cuz they have no will power/self regulation about eating.
This is wrong simply because apparently whoever came up with this gem has never heard of the concept of different metabolisms. Never mind the slew of metabolic disorders that can result in someone who eats only 1500 calories a day ballooning to over 300 lbs. That's right, some people cannot eat the same foods as those skinny-minnies and keep their weight stable. Some people can eat just enough to stay alive, but put on weight. And as much as modern society doesn't want to believe it, some people are just weight gainers.

In fact, historically, humans BRED for that. You heard right. We bred obesity into our genes. How? Well, back in the eras of Raphael, feudalism, and regular food shortages (most of human history) the attractive ones were the ones who had the resources to pack on a few extra pounds. Those who had caloric reserves carried around on their thighs and butts were more likely to weather famines. So, who has babies and passes on their genetic joys? Chubby, survivor chicas!
Yeah, NOW I feel like
downing a pint of B&J's...

Assumption #2: When you see someone eating more, you will eat more.
Or maybe you just give yourself permission to fill up instead of maintaining an iron fist on your eating so that YOU don't look like the over-indulging one. Maybe?

Assumption #3: You are just one subconscious stimulus away from ending up on the Biggest Loser.
That's right, your body and mind are conspiring against you being the stick-thin hottie you know you can be, if you can just turn off those stupid "you're hungry, EAT!" signals. Or maybe you should take a lesson from this:
This is the picture of a

A show that I forget the name of that got cancelled pretty fast had this character, a young, pretty actress who was trying out for a part in a movie. This part required her to gain about 30 lbs., so she started eating, and eating. This character was also the token bitch, and while she was eating someone commented that she was being a really nice person during this time. The response was (paraphrased): "Yeah, I thought she was a mean person, but it turns out she was just hungry!"

I died laughing. But seriously, I get grumpy when I'm hungry. Stormie gets grumpy when he's hungry. I can safely assume that many people (if not all) get grumpy when they are hungry. Don't be grumpy, hang out with fat people (cuz they MAKE you eat).

Enough with the assumptions. Two points to make:
Really? Now maybe you don't want to listen to me, seeing as I'm capable of surviving any famine Mother Nature can throw down, but is life so unbearable as a non-model-skinny person that a couple extra calories once in a while is going to be enough to throw away what is very likely a decent friendship? Really?

And, is that the kind of superficial biased attitude that we should in any way allow our kids to grow up with? By limiting our friends either by their weight or by the weight they will "MAKE" us, doesn't that mean those little observing everything, missing nothing rug rats should be picking up on the message of "Don't be friend with fat people."

I'm telling you, I'm an awesome friend.