May Day & Mayday. Dancing or Sinking?

GinnyNormaDGinny here. The last week of April and first week of May were swallowed up by The Vagina Monologues and V-Day Bellingham. There’s much more to come on this topic. In a nutshell though, we were sold out one night, had a great party the other night and all is well with our world. Well except for my very scary Norma Desmond turn at the Silver Reef last Thursday. Hey, it was fun!

I love May. The month was marked for this New England girl by the local pool opening the last weekend in May, by lobsters appearing in tanks at seaside markets, iced tea tinkling on the dinner table and pink cherry blossoms everywhere. My Irish grandmother helped me make a May Basket full of flowers to hang on the front door for my mother—ring the bell and run away!

To summon summer we’re definitely dancing

Now when I think of May Day, I first think of the ancient Celtic festival of Beltane celebrated to mark the turning of the seasons from spring to summer. I picture a maypole with dancers weaving ribbons of fertility for the growing season and coming harvest. The Romans celebrated Floralia, for Flora, the goddess of spring who spread flowers across the land with her warm breath. May Day traditions flourished in Britain for more than 700 years, crowning the May Queen, celebrating the antics of Morris Dancers, and bringing in the May to encourage all growing things. All these customs were pretty sexy and raucous so they were banned by the Puritans. The Maypole was one of the first customs reinstated by Charles II when he was restored to the throne in 1660. Then, within photographic memory, the maypole became a more genteel pageant for young ladies and children. Here’s a truly fabulous collection of vintage images from that era.

National-Park-Seminary-May-Day-1907Image: National Park Seminary May Day 1907 © Leet Brothers (Washington, D.C.)

To summon rescue in case we’re sinking

Here’s what the National Maritime Museum Cornwall tells us about the mayday distress signal: The mayday call sign originated in 1923 by Frederick Stanley Mockford (1897–1962), a senior radio officer at Croydon Airport in London. He was asked to think of a word that would indicate distress and would easily be understood by all pilots and ground staff in an emergency. Since much of the traffic at the time was between Croydon and Le Bourget Airport in Paris, he proposed the word ‘mayday’ from the French ‘m’aidez’. Here’s more.

800px-Lifeboat.17-31.underway.arpImage: Severn class lifeboat courtesy of Adrian Pingstone

Milk Moon, Flower Moon

Now it’s almost the middle of the Lusty Month of May and last night was the full moon, known by many names, Alewife Moon, Blossom Moon, Budding Moon, Frog Moon Lily of the Valley Moon, Mulberry Moon, New Waters Moon, Panther Moon, are just a few. This is my favorite place to find moon names.

MilkMoonAltarHere in the Pacific Northwest it was predicted to be clear (what?!!) so we could welcome the summer season under her visible light. And did we ever! Big love to Latisha Guthrie of Petal and Moss and Marybeth Bonfiglio for inviting us to participate in their first women’s circle to welcome the nourishment of this glorious full moon. You can read Latisha’s account of the evening here.

In days of yore, I used to wander the Texas Renaissance Festival with my besties singing this round. Several of our friends recognized it and it was one of the ways we howled last night.

How cool is that? Still May. Still dancing.

Chocolate

ganesh_enlargedChocolate Ganesh courtesy of chocolatedeities.com

Ginny here. Do you have an Easter basket hangover?

Spring enters with March winds, April showers, May flowers, baskets and bunnies and eggs. As the sap rises and the world turns green, our fancy turns to thoughts of….chocolate? Most definitely, and we’re not the first. The Easter basket is a tradition so familiar that it blurs the lines between popular culture and religious observance, between seasonal celebration and obsessive competition and it does it all in sculpted chocolate.

Chocolate was sacred to the Mayans who left us this prayer:

“Ixcacao, Goddess of Chocolate,
see my tears and come to my aid”

Because it always does make us feel better, doesn’t it? For good reasons both aesthetic and scientific. In the tradition of our neighbors to the south, do you prefer your chocolate sacred? If so, you can probably find it here.

Sometimes we resist and the power of chocolate is a discovery. Who can forget the brilliant Alfred Molina getting down in Chocolat? Great movie and I’ve always found this scene irresistible…chocolate AND French AND the mean guy getting his just desserts!

(and of course there’s Johnny Depp…I’m just sayin’).

I was reminded of a spoofy ritual from years ago and found a copy in my files—a hard copy, mind you, in print! But the internet did not fail me and here it is for your pleasure. What I remembered most was opening of each call to the four directions:

Mousse of the East, Fluffy One! Great prince of the Palace of Dessert! Fondue of the South,
Molten One! Great prince of the Palace of Decadence!
Cocoa of the West, Satisfying One! Great prince of the Palace of thirst!
Rocky Road of the North, Cold One! Great prince of the Palace of Crunchy!

Enjoy!

Necessaries

Ginny here. Na-CESS-are-ees. “I’ve gotta have that!” Jess and I began to talk about them when we saw the Han Solo Carbonite iPhone 5 Case posted on George Takai’s Facebook page. His comment was something like, “Shut up and take my money!” That’s the spirit of necessaries!

41m5Dvy7ZgLSometimes you’ve just gotta go for it without overthinking. We all have them, things you just don’t pass up. They can be small, spur of the moment things or they can become collections that we curate for years. Jess admits to Bellmira Herbaflor Herbal Bath (camomile, of course!) and Earl Grey De La Créme from Wonderland Tea. She’s also a sucker for used books. I know because sometimes we have to wrestle over a single $1.50 copy of a book by Charles de Lint or Simon Green or Diana Gabaldon.

BOOKSI never met a junque boutique (that’s giftier than junk shop) I didn’t like, for tarot images, ghost stories, scarves, teapots and all things Halloween. It could be worse and really strain the budget (not that it hasn’t). Could be designer shoes. Could be vintage luggage. Could be caviar and truffles.

If you’re a 30 Rock fan you can probably hear Liz Lemon saying, “I want to go to there.” Point and click and celebrate! Her must haves have made us laugh at ourselves through seven TV seasons.

Seasonal traditions and holidays give us some of the best opportunities to indulge in necessaries! Right now there’s a world of bunnies and chickens and eggs in whatever kind of chocolate makes you happy. More Star Wars? No problem.

51R8do3ATfLBaskets carry eggs in spring, sunflowers in summer, sheaves of wheat in autumn and golden orbs in winter. Yeah, that’s a palm tree on a sequined egg. I want to go to there.

I’m an Android (just a rumor!) so Han won’t fit my unfortunate phone, but that’s okay. I have the Queen Padmé Amidala cup from Taco Bell.

41UsNUw5YWLWhat are YOUR necessaries? Chocolate truffle hearts? A spicy coffee blend in the fall? Ambrosia at Thanksgiving? Sparklers for New Years? Trail mix with M&Ms for watching the August Perseid showers? Beach glass in that hard to find blue? Wassail in December? Matchbooks with place names? Old photographs or diaries? Jewelry with cats on it? Buttons or beads? Found lucky coins? Edged weapons?

Hmmm, Precious? Do tell…

The Ladies of V-Day Bellingham

Ginny here. Directing The Vagina Monologues and I’m overwhelmed by the talent in the room during last night’s rehearsal. We laughed and applauded and encouraged each other and laughed some more. We’re a group of sixteen women spanning 6 decades and it’s crazy and wonderful. Here they are!

V-DayHeadshots

 

The Journey of the Fool

Ginny here. At least I knew what I was getting into. At Equinox, when the Moonstruck hare struck me, I was amazed by the depth of the lore I found and I sank in, mesmerized. Today is the first of April, and the Fool is quite another matter. The trickster, the playful joker, the innocent wanderer is an archetype present in all cultures, in all stories. He wards off evil, bends the truth, makes us see things that aren’t there and shows us how to create a fresh start out of all beginnings. Think Court Jester, think Loki and The Joker, think Coyote and Fox, entertainment, surprises and mysteries. Think playfulness. More than anything, think…possibility.

April Fool’s Day. There are quite a few explanations of its origin but it seems certain that the break from normalcy, bringing perspective with humor, is what made it last…well, that and a new calendar in the 16th century that kept everyone guessing as to when holidays should be celebrated.

0-seekerIn the Tarot, the Fool is the card numbered zero because he is everything and nothing. He can become anything as he sets out on his journey to self-awareness. He launches himself into the void, steps off a precipice, ignores or embraces the instincts of his animal companion, and embarks on the journey of his life. In Joanna Powell Colbert’s beautiful Gaian Tarot, the Fool becomes the Seeker. The he pronoun is of course just for convenience; the Fool has no gender, just an insatiable appetite for new experience and for dispensing wisdom from humor, or simplicity, or madness. In this series of 10 articles, tarot expert Barbara Moore follows the Fool’s Journey through the Tarot.

The Fool shows up in every literary genre from Shakespeare to Science Fiction (Jayne is my favorite). in popular music from classic Beatles

to …more music, only slightly older.

C’mon, it doesn’t get any better than Sammy Davis, Jr. in 1962!

The Fool knows that to admit ignorance is the highest wisdom because that’s when you learn what you don’t know. He knows that every beginning is an opportunity. He knows that laughter keeps us moving, that taking ourselves too seriously is deadly and that a prank or two keeps us on our toes. He’s the blank slate where the answer to any question can be written. I’ve collected some images, some cards, some artwork, and a song or three that will help us along on this fool’s errand. Do you have any to add? Let’s dance! Happy April!

Announcing V-Day Bellingham

V-DAYBHAM-OBR-HEADERGinny here. The big announcement we’ve been promising? Here it is and we couldn’t be more excited! Sacred return is sponsoring V-Day Bellingham with performances of The Vagina Monologues, benefiting YWCA Bellingham!

RED, RED, RED! It’s the color of The Lusty Months and the color of everything that illustrates the huge campaign that is V-Day, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. V-Day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money, and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations. V-Day generates broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM), and sex slavery. Each year the theme of V-Day changes and the theme this year is One Billion Rising For Justice. That’s one billion women and those who love them, rising to end violence against women and girls.

There are several kinds of events that can be part of V-Day and we chose The Vagina Monologues because it can include a wonderful array of women from the Bellingham community; women of all ages and backgrounds and orientations. It’s a stunning cast and there will be bios of our awesome women for you to peruse in the coming days.THEY are excited because this will be a real theatre piece rather than a reading of the monologues—more fun to do, more fun to watch!

May5TixWe are Producing and Directing these events in support of YWCA Bellingham’s work in diversity and empowerment. Jessica has spearheaded countless communication campaigns for businesses and nonprofits around the U.S. I have directed The Vagina Monologues once before—a production in 2008 in Fort Smith, Arkansas benefitting its Crisis Center. Opportunities don’t come along much better than this to do what we love AND help with something important all at the same time!

May8TixYou’re invited! In fact, we can’t wait to see you there! Opening night is Monday, May 5—a show in the Silver Reef Theatre. The gala celebration is Thursday, May 8—a ballroom event with art, food, and a full performance in the Silver Reef Event Center.

Follow us and V-Day Bellingham via Facebook page, Facebook Event, Twitter, and get full details at the official website. We’ll also be posting regular updates right here on the Sacred Return Blog. This is the perfect time to follow us via RSS if you haven’t already. Are you as excited as we are?

Spring Equinox

800px-North_seasonEarth Seasons courtesy of Tauʻolunga.

Ginny here. Last Thursday day and night were equal, a perfect balance between light and dark. The Vernal Equinox is the hinge of the year that opens the door to spring festivities all over the world. It’s celebrated everywhere because it’s about the planet and our journey around the sun—no escaping that!

At Sacred Return, we skipped presenting a workshop for Awakening Spring because there’s a big, (and red) announcement coming this week about a project we’re immersed in that has knocked our socks off! You’ll be throwing your socks to the wind too, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, Jessica and I are celebrating Awakening Spring at home and online. Last Thursday, we attended an online meditation hosted by David Ison & Julie Krull called Rising of the Spirit. We loved it (enough that we both wished it lasted longer) and you might want to check it out and participate next time.

Then Thursday evening, we created a cozy ritual for ourselves. SpringAltarEver try the tradition of balancing an egg on end on the first day of spring?

A quick Spring Equinox query yields pictures of contemporary celebrations in Afganistan, India, Lithuania, Ireland, China, Japan, Mexico, Egypt, Finalnd, Indonesia, on and on. Some of them commemorate ancient celebrations and have been revived as history. Some never left.

There are so many fascinating and colorful celebrations but this year one image has stayed with me: the Moonstruck Hare. You can see in the pic above that we included her on our Equinox altar Thursday evening.

It’s the Easter Bunny of course, and the March Hare, the hare that mates in spring, the “boxing” female hare who runs her suitor a merry mating chase under the full moon. There’s so much mythology surrounding the Hare, who is and has always been a symbol of springtime fertility and regeneration. If you’re interested in going deeper into this myth, check out The Leaping Hare, by George Ewart Evans  and David Thomson.

TheLeapingHare

My favorite part of this whole hare-y subject is the pictures! So I collected some.

The images of that mad March Hare, dancing, courting,mesmerized by the full moon, has struck the fancy, invited the lunacy, of people for centuries. She’s playful and magical, lusty and enticing, creative and fertile. Doesn’t she make you feel like……Spring?

Erin Go Bragh!

Ginny here. It’s St. Paddy’s! I’m wearin’ the green for my Mom’s greats and grands. They came over the pond with the flood of immigrants escaping the potato famine. It’s Irish Pride Day, with parades in cities all over the world, parties, pipes and Irish whiskey (neat or in coffee), shamrocks, leprechauns, blarney, and limericks.

409px-Kilbennan_St._Benin's_Church_Window_St._Patrick_Detail_2010_09_16St. Patrick (Saint Benin’s Church, Ireland) courtesy of Andreas F. Borchert

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland who famously drove out the snakes. It’s his central legend among many and of course the “snakes” are the druids and the nature based religion that was replaced by Christianity during the Roman conquest.

The Romans were better than anybody at effectively spreading their culture. Part of their brilliance was to keep the dates of festivals that conquered people were accustomed to celebrating and slowly to morph those dates with new names and narratives. So March 17 got a new history and is forever associated with a man born in 387 A.D as Maewyn Succat. His father Calphurnius was a Roman official. In his autobiography, he recounts how he was kidnapped at age 16 and sold into slavery in Ireland. He escaped and traveled to St. Martin’s monastery in Tours, France, where he studied under Saint Germain of Auxerre and became a priest. In 431 A.D. Pope Celestine I named him Patricius and sent him on a mission to Ireland. The rest is a mixture of history and legend about the conversion of Ireland to what was then the new religion.

Okay, this gets a little crazy to follow. The Shamrock, our instant identification of St. Patrick’s Day and Ireland is a trefoil (Latin for clover), its three leaves a symbol of the trinity. But it goes back way way before that, when the trefoil was the sigil of the ancient Irish god Trefuilngid, whose feast day was March 17. One of his responsibilities was to tell the history of Ireland to the people so it would not be forgotten. The Irish hold their history dear and are famous storytellers, so I think he did his job.

Everybody’s  Irish on this day.

800px-St_Patricks_Day_Parade_Montreal

St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Montreal, Quebec, Canada courtesy of jpmpinmontreal

It’s an immersive experience and a rite of spring we share with people around the globe. Green beer, green ice cream, green pancake syrup, green milkshakes….green rivers! One of my best St. Patrick’s Day memories is a party on the River Walk in San Antonio with some of my besties, very green margaritas, and a boat parade on the dyed-green river. Great music too, to make you dance and laugh and cry. Here’s a small sampling. A quick search will yield hundreds more.

So whether you’re dancing and singing, eating and drinking, parading, or dying things green, remember to include a little spring blarney in your day just for fun! Happy St. Patrick’s Day! How will you celebrate?

 

Red. The Lusty Months!

Ginny here. Remember Chiwetel in Kinky Boots? Always one of my favorites! Burgundy must give way to RED! Just as Awakening Spring must give way to The Lusty Months—our next workshop!

This fabulous story has made it to Broadway and it’s not the first time the sentiment that pulls out all the stops on spring has echoed over the Great White Way.

Tra la, it’s May, the lusty Month of May
That lovely month when everyone goes blissfully astray
Tra la, it’s here, that shocking time of year
When tons of wicked little thoughts merrily appear…

Whence this fragrance wafting through the air?
What sweet feelings does it’s scent transmute?
Whence this perfume floating everywhere?
Don’t you know, it’s that dear forbidden fruit!
Tra la la la la, that dear forbidden fruit.

Was it ever said better? The Lusty Months! Lerner and Loewe adapted this sentiment from T.H. White’s bestselling The Once and Future King for their smash hit Camelot in 1960 (Sir Thomas Malory coined it first in the mid 1400s in Le Morte d’Arthur, but that’s another story). Julie Andrews and Robert Goulet became stars and May Day was forever altered in the modern imagination.

So was Camelot, when it became synonymous with the Kennedy administration over the next four years. It may seem counterintuitive to equate May Day and the legends of Camelot with politics, but May Day is Labour Day in many countries around the world. It’s a day to draw our attention to fair pay and conditions and to to honor the workers that keep our economies flowing. Growing. Blooming.

So what are the traditions, rituals and celebrations at this time of year? There are lots of occasions, dates on our calendars that we may or may not pay attention to. We can feel the rushing growth everywhere—the year is gaining momentum fast now and the energy is anything but sedate. May is named for Maia, the eldest of seven nymphs of the constellation Pleiades.

June is named after the Roman goddess Juno, queen of the gods, and goddess of marriage for June brides.  Hers is the story of the golden apple that led to the Trojan War. Speaking of NOT sedate.

Leis_(2)Photo, Leis, courtesy of Janine (Mililani, Hawaii, United States)

We can travel west to Hawaii where May 1 is Lei Day, Na Lei o Hawai’I, honoring the instantly recognizable symbol and still vibrant tradition that reaches back into antiquity. Other important days at this time of year are Buddha’s birthday and the Dragon Boat Festival, which spread from China in modern times as an international sport.

The colors of early spring become more robust because April showers bring May flowers. The pale greens, yellows and pinks of early spring give way to lime, saffron and fuscia—stronger colors for stronger emotions—time to dance around the Maypole! In spring we stop thinking and start feeling. It’s time to celebrate love and lust!

Maypole_in_Brentwood,_CaliforniaPhoto, Maypole in Brentwood, California, courtesy of Jengod

You may have noticed, if you were paying attention, that we skipped a workshop and a turning of early spring. We’ll have an announcement soon to explain why, and we think you’ll agree that it’s exciting for a lot of reasons! We’ll be celebrating spring here on the Blog and Facebook (and of course with our own rituals at home—and there’ll be pics) with talk and tidbits about The Ides this weekend, and St. Paddy’s on Monday. The Spring Equinox balance will launch us into spring and we’ll investigate the fools of April too!

We can’t wait for you to join us at our next workshop, The Lusty Months, where we will once again create a ritual, a celebration to connect the past with the present as we reconnect to the turning of the year. In the meantime, share and celebrate with us here on the Blog and Facebook. We’d love to know how YOU’LL be honoring this season of passion with rituals, traditions, and merry making of your own!

Women Rule!

InternationalWomensDayLogoMahatma Gandhi said, “Woman is the companion of man, gifted with equal mental capacity…If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior…If non-violence is the law of our being, the future is with women…” The UN honors this day that resonates back to our grandmothers and greats through triumph and disaster.

It’s the perfect day to let you know that there’s a surprise coming in Bellingham, an event, meaningful, historic and fun, that will benefit the venerable and vital Bellingham YWCA as it grows and changes to meet the needs of more and more women in our community. Stay tuned!