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.


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.


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!

I See the Moon and the Moon Sees Me

Full Moon 2010 by Gregory H. ReveraPhoto courtesy of Gregory H. Revera

Ginny here. When Jess sent me this article, my inner prim little history head sniffed, “why do we insist on defacing history?”. Then I thought, “to be part of it, stupid”. It will be here long after we’re not. Once I got that out of the way, it was more fun.

The Great Wall is, I seem to remember, the only human made structure visible from the moon. So how big do the graffiti tags have to be to see them too? Can we send messages? How about art? We think about the stuff we’ve left on the moon—footprints, space vehicle trash—and that can’t be any better for the moon than our trash is all over the Earth. We just have to leave stuff everywhere and then comment on it. So what does the moon think about this new development? Does the moon even like graffiti art? And who sees it, which personifications of our big bright, eternally mysterious satellite? Is it Lady Moon—the profile image? Or is it the Man in the Moon who looks to be winking at us? Will the kind of graffiti we display effect the way the moon pulls on us, lunatics all? Remember this song?

So that was just for fun, dear reader. What kind of message will you send to the moon if you get to write in the Great Wall’s graffiti zone?

Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras 2009 by InfrogmationMardi Gras 2009 courtesy of Infrogmation (talk)

Ginny here. I love Mardi Gras! The masks, the parades, the beads, the glitter! I have a serious weakness for the sparkly stuff! It more often falls in February, so I think of Mardi Gras as a winter festival. Fat Tuesday moves with the date of Easter each year, which moves with the full moon dates after the spring equinox but the festival season varies from city to city, so some traditions celebrate Carnival for the entire period between Twelfth Night (also called Epiphany or Three Kings Day) and Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Mardi Gras is the last day to celebrate, eat and drink before the fasting of Lent begins.

King Cake -Wikepedia Public DomainEpiphany is also traditionally when celebrants serve King’s Cake, a custom that began in France in the 12th century. In the early days, a coin or bean was hidden inside the cake, and whoever found the item was said to have good luck in the coming year. In Louisiana, bakers now put a small baby, representing the Christ Child, in the cake; the recipient is then expected to host the next King Cake party.

So for some, Mardi Gras is the interlude, the between time when rules don’t apply, that links the Christmas season with the Easter season. It seems likely that an even older fasting tradition might come from a time when the winter stores were running low and there was still a month or more before new growth to gather, new game to hunt, began to appear. That early fast may not have been by choice.

Carnaval Venecia 14 feb 2009Carnival comes from the Latin words carne vale, meaning “farewell to the flesh” and lots of historians see it as yet another late-winter celebration designed to welcome the coming spring. Others believe the festival represented the few days added to the lunar calendar to make it coincide with the solar calendar; since these days were “extra”, rules and customs were not obeyed. Could be! We’ve been making up ways to manipulate the calendar variations that have come down to us through history so they would all “talk to each other” as we move around the globe. Leap Day, that infamous 29th of February that only comes around every four years, is another attempt to make it all come out even.

It’s also another manifestation of time out of time, the in-between times and places that people have always found magical: marshes and beaches that are neither land nor water, dawn and dusk that are neither night nor day. These times and places have a potential to feel the imagination and Mardi Gras does that in spades! (There’s a whole card game, greater trumps kind of conversation that…..never mind, another time. Another time out of time, maybe.)

"She was stacked!" -“She was stacked!” courtesy of KellyPortfolio

What’s for sure is that the name Mardi Gras comes from the tradition of slaughtering and feasting upon a fattened calf on the last day of Carnival. This is also Shrove Tuesday (from “to shrive,” or hear confessions) and Pancake Tuesday and fetter Dienstag. The custom of making pancakes comes from the need to use up fat, eggs and dairy before the fasting and abstinence of Lent begins –and before they spoil in the warmer weather to come.

The rich, French traditions of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras include lavish feasts and balls, King Cake, parades, beads, masks and costumes, all steeped in the steamy, smoky, music-filled ambiance of the southern coast.

MardicGrascDakar - Wikepedia Public DomainOther cities famous for Mardi Gras celebrations include Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Barranquilla, Colombia; Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago; Quebec City, Canada; and Mazatlán, Sinaloa, Mexico—and there are parades and celebrations in some places you wouldn’t expect, like Binche, Belgium and Dakar, Senegal!  

So—my traditions? My winter altar this year is, shall we say, robust! How could it not be after the fabulous Deep Winter workshop last month? New friends and old. Mardi Gras flavor, alongside the Year of the Horse, Brigid’s cross, Valentines and the silver cold reminder we had last weekend that it’s still winter—a little late this year, and sparkly like Mardi Gras. I love remembering the road trips to New Orleans from Houston—6 hours door to door, our house to Maison Dupuy in the Quarter. You enter another world as soon as you cross out of Texas into the Louisiana parishes. I wonder if there’s still a bird in the lobby who says, “Here, kitty, kitty!”. And the food…don’t get me started!

Mandy Anderson Mardi GrasPhoto courtesy of Mandy Anderson

Rex, one of the oldest New Orleans Mardi Gras krewes, has been participating in parades since 1872, and established purple, gold and green as the iconic Mardi Gras colors. I’ll be wearing them. Will you?