Winter Solstice is the day when light is reborn out of the darkness of winter.
Our days start to become longer and lead us back to the beauty of spring and the warmth of summer, stretching towards their peak at the Summer Solstice.
Most ancient cultures celebrated this return of light and life with feasting, music, light and fire, and for many, it was the true beginning of the New Year.
It was so important to the pre-Celt ancients of Ireland that they spent over 30 years building a monument to the returning sun: Newgrange.
Older than Stonehenge and the pyramids of Giza, it was designed so that on the Winter Solstice, the rising sun shines directly along the long passage into the inner chamber and for 17 minutes illuminates the chamber floor and the symbols etched on the back wall.
It’s hard for the modern mind to fathom spending 30 years to build a monument for a 3-day event. What did they understand that we don’t?
Are you asking the right questions? This occurred to me recently when I was feeling a bit sad for no apparent reason.
Instead of staying stuck there, I stopped and asked myself, “What am I really upset about? What’s really going on here?” And the answer came. There’s always a deeper reason affecting us.
In truth, some of the turning points in my life, and in the life of some of my friends, have come from asking the right questions.
Here’s a list of what I consider some of the best.
Thanksgiving prayers are common to most religious groups. Native Americans had entire ceremonies just for the purpose of expressing thanks – sometimes they lasted for days.
This Thanksgiving Prayer comes from the Seneca Nation and is at least 500 years old.
It is traditionally done around a fire, with spiritual food on the altar. I have adapted it to be used as a Thanksgiving Prayer on our national holiday:
THANKSGIVING PRAYER FROM THE SENECA NATION
And now we are gathered together to remember the Great Mystery’s first instruction to us: to love one another always, we who move about on this earth.
And the Great Mystery said that when even two people meet, they should first greet each other by saying: “Nyah Weh Skenno” which translates to “thank you for being” and then they may take up the matter with which they are concerned.
[Nyah Weh Skenno more literally means: “thank you for being alive in the here and now and not adding to the confusion of the world.]
“The magic of family meal time comes not from the food on the plate but from who’s at the table and what’s happening there. The emotional and social benefits that come from family dinners are priceless,” said Elizabeth Planet, CASA’s Vice President and Director of Special Projects.
Christmas and Thanksgiving have always been my favorite times of the year: time with family and joyous celebrations. From my 20s on, I lived in California and my family was on the East Coast so I chose Christmas as the time to go East to visit, and spent Thanksgiving with friends in California.
It was always a great day, but there was one very interesting phenomenon that happened most years: everyone was very attached to having dishes from their childhood Thanksgivings. That meant we often ended up with multiple duplicate dishes, just made with different recipes.
I recall a Thanksgiving dinner for 8 that had two large turkeys, four different bowls of cranberries and an assortment of other dishes that could have fed 40. I knew at the time it was because each of us wanted to recapture the magic of our childhood Thanksgiving, but only recently did I start to give it more serious thought.
To me, Veterans Day, celebrated this Monday November 12, just isn’t enough to honor what our veterans have done for this country.
Although I am a pacifist, and was an active anti-war activist during the Vietnam War, I was ashamed of the way our veterans were treated when they returned home.
And I am still deeply saddened by the lack of support and care our veterans receive today.
Yes, war is horrendous, and perhaps if women were running the world there wouldn’t be any wars. But those who did their duty and fought for us deserve better than one day to celebrate them.
This is a guest post from reader Ellinor Halle of Norway – excellent advice to live by.
Have you heard of book called ”A Course in Miracles?” It’s a great book which can change your life.
I have been practicing “A Course in Miracles” for many years and it has really helped me to go past the fear that prevents us from being ourselves no matter who we are with.
The Course works with the God-given energy that is inside us all, called the Holy Spirit in the book.
When you follow the workbook each day, it helps you to connect to that energy inside us. Then the voice of fear that belongs to the nightmare of childhood (our thoughts that are babbling away, or our ”ego” according to the book) becomes more and more quiet.
“In our culture, whenever we receive a gift of food – whether someone buys us groceries or makes us breakfast or takes us out to dinner – we say that it extends our life. And as we accept that food, we breathe a word of prayer so that the dividends of that gift might be multiplied into the life of the person who gave it.” Bear Heart in The Wind Is My Mother
CEREMONIAL GIFT OF FOOD
Viewing food as a gift is one reason that most Native American ceremonies I have attended include a pot-luck afterwards: we are practicing the gift of life extension by feeding one another.
But before the people eat, a “spirit plate” is prepared and offered to either the Ceremonial Fire or Mother Earth. This represents a thank you for all that we have received and a prayer for the continuation of life and that all the nations on earth have enough food and water always.
Many Native American ceremonies also include Spiritual food on the altar. In the Lakota tradition it may be water, corn, berries and meat that are placed on the altar during the ceremony.
They are placed there as a prayer that the Eagle Nation will come and take the essence of that food to the places in the world where there is not enough food or water. So the food on the altar is a prayer that all the Nations have enough to eat.
Do you ever wonder why you try to follow the conventional wisdom of recommended dietary guidelines and your health still declines? The brilliant documentary “Forks Over Knives” and the book “The China Study” provide the answers.
“Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health” has been getting a lot of well-deserved positive press lately. The bottom line: we would all be healthier if we eliminated meat and dairy products from our diets.
The film presents excellent research to support the claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by eliminating animal-based and processed foods from our diets.
This is a story about it never being too late to find your voice in every situation. I only just found mine.
Yes, I teach and write about being all you can be, going for your dreams and being fearless – but some lessons take longer to learn than others. Or they come in stages. And as I’ve said many times, we teach what we need to learn.
Given a choice, I always choose a female health practitioner instead of a male. I have had incidents in the past of male practitioners making sexual advances so I figure, why tempt fate?
My primary physician is a man and I am very comfortable with him in all circumstances. But again, all things being equal, I will usually choose a woman.
And yet sometimes we are not given choices, and how often do we just go along with what is happening without expressing what we want?
“Pure water is the world’s first and foremost medicine.” Slovakian proverb
It seems to be an axiom of life that we take for granted those things that are always present. Our bodies are made primarily of water, as is planet earth. Yet how often do we think about our relationship with water? Or how to protect it and use it?
It is universally accepted that there can be no life without water.
It is the first thing we use every morning and the last thing we use each night. It comes to us in the form of lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, springs and sacred rain.
Ancient prophecy told of a time when we would have to buy our drinking water – that time is here. So that indicates to me it is time to stop taking it for granted.
After a long, hard climb up the mountain, the spiritual seekers finally found themselves in front of the great teacher.
Bowing deeply, they asked the question that had been burning inside them for so long:
“How do we become wise?”
There was a long pause until the teacher emerged from meditation. Finally came the reply: “Good choices.”
“But teacher, how do we make good choices?”
I had a recent meltdown that caused me to ask whether Americans [including myself] are spoiled and take for granted all that we have.
Upon arriving at my hotel after an eight-hour drive to Northern Wisconsin, I was shocked, SHOCKED to find I had left my overnight bag at home.
The overnight bag that contained everything I need to make myself presentable each day!
I’m usually very cool, calm and collected, but this was a catastrophe of a high order for me.
But here’s the irony: Within half an hour, I was able to replace all my makeup and hair supplies at the Walmart next to the hotel.
I had the means and opportunity and I was still upset. How’s that for spoiled?
It was a good reality check as to how far I still have to go in my spiritual growth. And I know I’m not alone.
The following is the Hopi Prophecy of June, 2000 from the Hopi Nation:
You have been telling people that this is the Eleventh Hour, now you must go back and tell the people that this is The Hour. And there are things to be considered…
Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know your garden.
It is time to speak your truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for your leader.
Ever wonder how the classic Hitchcock thriller “Psycho” is related to clearing the clutter? Probably not, so read on.
If your nerves were on edge while watching “Psycho,” here’s why: every time director Alfred Hitchcock cut to the house on the hill, something was different.
In each shot he would change the location of the door, or the number or placement of windows, or the number of panes in each window.
The shots weren’t held long enough for the viewer to be conscious of what the changes were, only that something was “wrong” with that house. The result? An uneasy feeling throughout the film. That’s why Hitchcock was such a master director.
Feng shui is the ancient art of balancing energies in a space to bring health and good fortune for the inhabitants. Just as we want and need a healthy, balanced body, we need and should want a balanced living environment. This is what Feng Shui provides.
Developed in China over 3,000 years ago, today it is known and practiced throughout the world. It deals with placement of a building on land, location of doors, windows and rooms and objects within the rooms.
I am a believer because I study and teach about energy so feng shui makes perfect sense to me.
Most people in the Northern Hemisphere are happy around the time of the Summer Solstice. The days are long and, if you’re not in the desert, the earth is green.
Beauty, fruits and vegetables abound. “Fun in the sun” is an oft-used phrase.
But how can we go deeper on this longest of days?
More wisdom from Bear Heart in the Wind Is My Mother on what to do when bad things happen in our lives:
Not long ago a woman called me and I went to see her in the hospital. She was a very young mother who had just given birth to a child with no arms. He had webbed feet and scars on his face and she was wondering, “Why me? Why me?”
I had to talk to her a long time, pray with her, to show her that there was a blessing somewhere in her situation.
In our culture, when such children are born we say they are specially blessed. The Creator had a reason for bringing that child into the world and we are helping the Creator when we make the child as comfortable as possible in every way.
It’s said there is a special blessing when we help someone like that, although that’s not our reason for doing it. My people don’t even talk about the reasons, we just try to help.
I told her the story of a similar situation where a little boy was born without arms and the doctors asked her husband to stay by his wife’s bedside as she came out of sedation so he could tell her.
I hope that the healed life is the goal of each of us: to work toward emotional healing, physical health and spiritual fulfillment.
Emotional healing includes learning what didn’t work and to no longer repeat our past, self-defeating patterns.
This lovely piece by Portia Nelson sums it up nicely.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN FIVE CHAPTERS
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost . . . I am hopeless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
In the following excerpt from The Wind Is My Mother, Bear Heart instructs on how to walk your talk:
“Nokus Ele’, or Bear Paw, the Seminole elder who put me on the ant hill as part of my training, was a medicine man.
“A member of our tribe wanted to learn something from Bear Paw and extended an invitation to him, saying, ‘I want you to stay overnight at my home.’
“So Bear Paw spent all night at this man’s house then got up early in the morning and waited until his host finally got up, too.
“The man said to him, ‘Breakfast is ready now, why don’t you come and eat.’
“In my tribe, people usually talk after the meal so when they had finished eating, the host said, ‘I’d like for you to tell me anything you think I ought to know.’
“James, earn this… earn it.” Dying words of Capt. John Miller to Private James Ryan in the film, “Saving Private Ryan”
Officially, Memorial Day in the United States is a day for remembering and honoring all Americans who died in any war.
Unfortunately, Memorial Day weekend also marks the beginning of the summer holiday, with people focusing on shopping, family gatherings, picnics and sporting events. So we sometimes forget the real meaning behind the day.