Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mardi Gras Greetings

Today is Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, so large numbers of people in Europe, South America, and select parts of the U.S. will be experiencing the culmination of a short but intense season of masked balls, parades, parties, and other carnivalesque activities before they commit themselves to a period of fasting or giving up various personal indulgences for Lent. Some American communities, clubs, and other organizations try to imitate Carnival with Mardi Gras celebrations and such, but because most of us don’t follow that with a period of self-imposed deprivation, it’s not as energizing an experience as it is for people in countries where they take it seriously. For example, for the sake of convenience, various local organizations will have Mardi Gras celebrations on the weekend after Fat Tuesday—obviously, they’re not in sync with the psychic energy wave, which is all about the highs and the lows. Feasting followed by fasting, followed by an eventual return to normal, adds dimension to life. (Here in Michigan, Fat Tuesday is Paczki [pronounced poonchkee] Day, named after the rich donuts that are a part of the Polish heritage in certain Michigan cities; however, our grocery stores and bakeries will continue to sell paczkis for at least a week after Fat Tuesday).

Like Halloween, Mardis Gras enables people to experience “the principle of the Fantastic,” which can be a way of remaking oneself. If a person suffering from some sort of malaise gets out and takes advantage of seasonal feasts and fasts, especially the ones that allow you to dress up and frolic in fantasy costumes, it’s like hitting the “reset” button for the body-mind. After the highs and lows, the person returns to a reinvigorated homeostasis. I think this is worth experimenting with if you are trying to get out of a rut, but you don’t need to indulge in alcohol, which is dangerous to yourself and others, because you can try better, high energy outlets, such as dressing up in costume for singing, parading, dancing, and theatrics. In traditional societies, all of those high energy activities were also a way of reinvigorating the earth and putting on a performance for the gods and spirits—as I have remarked in previous commentaries on the Feng Shui of Halloween.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Candlemas Hags

In my last post, I mentioned how I used the seasonal card search technique with Mason and Franklin’s “Fairy Ring” Oracle, to see what this Candlemas-tide (which extends to “Old Candlemas,” aka Valentine’s Day) might bring, and how the flanking cards were the Blue Hag of Winter and Dame Habetrot, who the Oracle depicts as something of a Summer Hag. Because I was doing a personal reading, I took it as a philosophical statement related to personal growth issues. I wasn’t thinking in literal terms, but our Michigan weather has made the transition from bitter, biting cold to yesterday’s record high of 66 degrees, all within this week before Valentines, (though the Winter Hag is about to reassert herself). So, the winter to summer reading also turned out to be a weather prediction. A lot of people downplay prediction, arguing that the cards are meant for more noble meditative purposes, yet when the cards’ images manifest themselves in such a noticeable outer-world way, it is a satisfying demonstration of how the physical world can reflect the imaginal world of the Oracles.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Happy Candlemas!

Being one of the celebration-minded, I view the solar holidays as having a “tide” of about two weeks, due to all of the old European holidays that cluster around the solstices, equinoxes, and cross quarter days, as well as all of the historical calendar adjustments. Because February 14th, was known as “Old Candlemas,” we can stretch the meditative energy of Candlemas at least until Valentines’ Day.

Because “The Fairy Ring” Oracle (by Paul Mason and Anna Franklin) has eight cards representing the old pagan festivals, one of the techniques that I have demonstrated at the Triple Goddess is how to use this deck to see what sort of fairy-world energies you can experience at different times of the year. So, if you happen to own that deck, you can see what you can expect from this Candlemas-tide by shuffling, thumbing through the deck until you find the “Imbolc” card, and then looking to whichever cards are flanking it to get an idea of what late winter/early spring has in store for you.

In my own case, I got “The Blue Hag [of Winter]” on the left, and on the right, the fairy Habetrot, (who is a spinning hag, but in this deck, pictured in green and bordered with flowers). That certainly makes a statement about the transition from deep winter to the re-greening of the earth, and offers some philosophical insights into the crone energies in one’s life, and how a winter hag might make the transition into a summer hag.

Time to light a candle. If I may quote from my book of candle spells: “May this candle fair and bright, cheer us all through winter’s flight. Bless us through snow and storm and rain, until the Spring has come again” [“By Candlelight, Rites for Celebration, Blessing, and Prayer,” p. 140].