Thursday, May 22, 2014

Memories of Morning Glory

From a party at Farida & Conly's house, July 2006
In my view, one of the most comforting activities one can do after a loved one has passed through the veil is telling stories about the deceased.  Stories tell us who we are, where we came from, what we might become.  They are our primary teaching tools.

“We're all made of stories.  When they finally put us underground, the stories are what will go on.  Not forever, perhaps, but for a time.  It’s a kind of immortality, I suppose, bounded by limits, it’s true, but then so’s everything.”
                                                                                                        ~ Charles de Lint

One of my first memories of Morning Glory was from 1981 when we were both at the first MerryMeet gathering that accompanied CoG’s Grand Council, held at Rodeo Beach in California.  Although time has dimmed my memory, I do carry many fond ones of this, one of my first larger witchen gatherings.  (See Judy Harrow.)

At that time she and Oberon (Otter then) were members of a CoG member coven called Holy Order of Mother Earth (HOME)[1], which is one of the best names for a coven I’ve ever come across.

Decompose & Recompose

We who were there collaborated on several rituals that weekend.  My then-coven, Holy Terrors, also offered a unique ritual celebrating the Wheel of the Year; that’s fodder for another feast.  However, there was one ritual the strongest memory of which I carry is the chanting of “Decompose and recompose and decompose and recompose and decompose and recompose.”  I’m not sure if Morning Glory was the one who came up with that power chant, for that’s what it was, but I do remember her flinging her head and body up and down while she chanted that phrase with great gusto.

Medusa & the Unicorn

Another early memory is from a Samhain event in Berkeley that was either one of Gwydion Penderwen’s Witches’ Balls or the first repeat performance (i.e., second) Spiral Dance ritual.  (Since Gwydion died in 1982 and the Spiral Dance debuted in 1979, it had to have been 1980 or ’81.)  Anyone who knew Morning Glory knows that she loved to dress up.  What better occasion to strut your stuff than at Hallows?  There she was, leading a live unicorn (Lancelot, methinks) dressed as Medusa.  She wore snake skin-printed close-fitting pants and top made of some kind of shiny nylon fabric.  Her face was painted green, and if memory serves, she wore some kind of blinking eyeglasses.  Spectacles or not, her hair served as her crowning glory.  Dozens of rubber snakes adorned her head, weaving and bobbing as she moved, and making an unforgettable and powerful image.   She darted her tongue in and out a lot, and when she spoke, she hissed the esses. We didn’t have digital cameras in those days, but I hope someone got a snapshot or three.  Perhaps my writing this will cause one to resurface from someone’s archives.

Roasting a Pig

Years later my then-lover and I went to Annwfn for Beltane.  The Zells and their entourage had recently returned from an expedition to the Caribbean in search of dugongs to explore a theory about mermaids.  We were eager to here their reports and view their photos.

The plan was to feed the assembled Pagans with a pig that was being roasted buried in a pit.  It seems that often hippies have more enthusiasm than real knowledge, because although the pig had been roasting all day, when exposed we found it to be raw.  The sun was setting, stomachs were beginning to growl, and there was no pig upon which to feast.  So by this time Morning Glory, myself, and maybe one or two others had taken the pig into the yurt where we began cutting the pig into smaller pieces and cooking them fast in a skillet.

* * * * *
Let us tell our stories.  Let us celebrate our loved ones, those who are here and those who’ve gone to the Other Side.

[1]   HOME is now the name of an Elvin nature sanctuary in Indiana.  That was 1981 and this is 2014 C.E.

Friday, May 16, 2014

MIC’s Annual Interfaith Prayer Breakfast

Don Frew, Macha, Matt Whealton, Carol Hovis
What’s a Witch to do when her interfaith council’s 15th Annual Interfaith Prayer Breakfast, which occurs on the first Thursday in May, falls on Beltane?  Well, she sings up the Sun with the Berkeley Morris Dancers at dawn, then hustles across the bridge to Tiburon with her Wiccan (Gardnerian, to be specific) interfaith colleague, Don Frew, to rendezvous with Matt Whealton, a practitioner of Kemetic religion from the Temple of Ra, at his first foray into interfaith activities.

I attend this event every year.  MIC began hosting its own truly interfaith prayer breakfast on the same day that conservative Christians hold a breakfast meeting in Washington, D.C., with the President in attendance.  National Day of Prayer was established by Congress and signed into law by President Harry Truman in 1952, although it has antecedents that go back as far as the Second Continental Congress in 1775, when citizens were supposed to observe “a day of publick [sic] humiliation, fasting, and prayer”… and to bless our rightful sovereign, King George the Third...” I daresay that, considering that their 2014 theme is “Lord, hear our prayer!” the factions who created the day have not evolved to appreciate the religious diversity found in the U.S. today, in 2014 C.E. (Common Era).

MIC’s breakfast, though it is partly about and does include prayer, celebrates religious diversity.  The breakfast customarily features three different speakers from three different religious traditions speaking about that particular religion.  Three years ago Don Frew, representing Witches, spoke, along with a Buddhist and a Mormon.

* * * * *

This year we heard two other speakers, in addition to the three featured religious teachers:  Annie Reynolds, MIC Board member and Tamalpais High School Senior, announced a youth program later in the month.

* * * * *

Heidi Kühn
I was most moved by the reports of Heidi Kühn, Founder and CEO of Roots of Peace, “a nonprofit, non-religious NGO turning mines to vines – replacing minefields with bountiful vineyards and orchards worldwide.”  Heidi told us of having her home in Kabul attacked by Taliban fighters just last month.  As it turned out, the attack had been focused on the preschool next door to her home.  Cowards shooting at five-year-olds!!!  Heidi said that the Afghan forces who were supposed to be protecting them, as American peace workers, resisted the Taliban forces for an attack that lasted four and one-half hours!  Ultimately the Afghani forces succeeded and the fighting ended. 

This is not just high-minded talk.  This is real people doing real work to benefit the lives of our
fellow humans.

* * * * *

Note pentacle and Nile goddess.
Speaking on behalf of the Bahá’í faith, Darrell Metcalf of the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’í of San Rafael, explained that the religion was founded in Persia on May 23, 1844, and now claims more than seven million followers worldwide.  Darrell spoke of three core principles of oneness:  “unity of God,” “unity of religion,” and “unity of humanity.”  He said, “Like mirrors, we tend to reflect what we give attention to.”

* * * * *

Lama Palden Drolma
Third to speak was Lama Palden Drolma of the Sukhasiddi Foundation, “founded in 1996 … [to] provides a vehicle for the teaching and practice of Vajrayana Buddhism in the West. … emphasizing “the cultivation of deep realization and understanding – even in the midst of our ordinary lives – so that wisdom, compassion and loving-kindness can open and flourish within us.”

Sukhasiddhi Foundation’s Core Values

  • Honoring the feminine principles of openness, relatedness, peace, harmony, natural unfolding, embracing, nourishing, unconditional love, and wisdom;
  • Embracing the masculine principles of clarity, one-pointed concentration, grounded strength, skillful activity, organizing, discernment, and creativity;
  • Bringing the inner feminine and masculine principles into harmony, fruition, and union. Integrating spirit, psyche, and body and integrating practice with everyday life;
  • Practicing being a good world citizen by: caring for our mother earth, ourselves, and each other; honoring the equality of all being; practicing generosity towards all beings; and acting with integrity, truthfulness, and honesty;
  • Facilitating the unwinding and releasing of unhealthy habitual patterns, as well as taking responsibility for our own body, speech, and mind;
  • Developing courage, self-reliance, confidence and flexibility;
  • Facilitating the bringing to consciousness of the student’s own innate wisdom; and
  • Cultivating a conscious spiritual community within an environment of support, friendship, and mutual respect that encourages open, direct and loving communication, and enhances compassion, loving kindness, fulfillment, gratitude and joy.
* * * * *

Bill Englehart
The Rev. Bill Englehart from Unity in Marin told us that Unity, founded in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1899, was part of the New Thought movement, that also includes Christian Science, Seicho-no-Ie (in Japan), Divine Science, and other iterations.  Bill stated, “As we think, so we experience life.”  He articulated the Five Principles of Unity:

  • There is only one Presence and one Power active as the universe and as my life, God the Good.
  • Our essence is of God; therefore, we are inherently good. This God essence was fully expressed in Jesus, the Christ.
  • We are co-creators with God, creating reality through thoughts held in mind.
  • Through prayer and meditation, we align our heart-mind with God. Denials and affirmations are tools we use.
  • Through thoughts, words and actions, we live the Truth we know.

Bill stated, “Prayer is primary.  Prayer changes us.  We become like the god we worship.”

* * * * *

Some interesting facts I note is that of the composition of speakers about three different religions represented at the breakfast this year: (a) only one was Abrahamic; (b) two were monogamous; (3) two, being fewer than 250 years old, were New Religious Movements; and (4) one was non-deist.  I’m proud to be a member of an organization that welcomes and respects people of all religious persuasions and spiritual expressions.