original rituals

PSA from Thunderstorms (and a free power up ceremony)

There is nothing like a Texas thunderstorm. The hot wind knocking at oak trees and beating rain on rooftops are powerful reminders of the force of nature.

Thunderstorms can cause a great deal of destruction; knocking down trees, damaging road ways, flooding homes, and even in extreme cases taking human lives.

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However, the flip side of a storm is that it quenches a dry and thirsty earth, supplying the landscape with new life and refreshing water.

The overall message of the storm is a simple one; power can be destructive and/or it can be rejuvenating. Much like a thunderstorm, we each have the ability to do both great harm and great good in this world with our thoughts and actions.

I think that we all need to be taught (or reminded) just how magnificent we are. We need to be told from the very beginning and everyday there after that we are indeed powerful. Often we get the opposite message, we are told we are not enough, that we are at the whim of circumstance and fate. But this is a lie, no matter how the world has tried to disempower us, each of us is a remarkable being capable of moving mountains.

You are powerful. I am powerful. We are powerful. The way we think, move, and relate has an impact on the world around us.

Take a second…notice your own power. Just bring your awareness to it. Where is it in your body? In your thoughts? How does it manifest? Get to know it…please.

Because most importantly, we are not actually thunderstorms. We are conscious beings and we have choice in how we put our power to use. We can use the agency and magnificence we have how ever we like.

What will you choose? How will you take action in the world, in your own life, in your body. What ever you choose, please do it consciously from a place of truly knowing who you are and what you are capable of, because if you come at life “disempowered” you are destined to wreak havoc.

There is another way.

When we become aware of, embrace, and respect our personal power then we can (each of us) water the earth with our powerful love.


The following is a brief ceremony you can do to get in touch with your own power

POWER UP

  • read the whole ceremony before you start and make an amendments that you like

  • Start by picking the right time to do this ceremony. perhaps during a thunderstorm?

  • Make sure you dress in something that makes you feel very much like “you”.

  • Pick a space where you already feel safe and empowered. This could be in your home or workplace, just make sure you won’t be interrupted for a few minutes.

  • Gather: a candle, a lighter or matches, a piece of jewelry or a stone that you like and can wear or carry with you as needed, something sweet to eat and some favorite music of yours…perhaps a power ballad?


    dim the lights and light a candle.

    As you light the candle invite in protection and resource to guide you. You can say something like “I open to my resources and my wisdom. I am safe and protected in this space.”

    Allow your self to sit in front of the flame of the candle and look into it.

    Contemplate. Ask yourself these questions one at a time and sit quietly until you get a reply to before you move on to the next. Feel free to read the list as you go or even to briefly write the answers that come to you down in a journal.

    How am I like this light?

    What parts of me get lit up easily?

    How do I feel and think when i am lit up?

    How do I act when I am lit up?

    What holds me back from feeling lit up or empowered all the time?

    How can I lovingly move those limits out of the way for now?

    What does it feel like to be limitless?

    What would change if I could limitless all the time?

    Do I want that?

    Take the piece of jewelry or the stone and hold it over the flame as you say the following or something like “ This is mine and mine alone. I fill it now with light and resource. Let it radiate, let the heat of my own power warm it. This is mine and mine alone. May it warm me on cold days. May it remind my wandering thoughts of their own power. May it slow my actions towards wisdom. This is mine and mine alone. I am limitless.”

    Take a deep breath

    Feel the power of your own body, your thoughts, and your emotions as they are right now. Know that what ever you feel is enough and it is real.

    Feel gratitude as you put the jewelry item on or place the stone in a safe pocket to be carried with you as needed.

    Prepare to close your ceremony. Say this or something like it “I close this time in gratitude. I am safe and protected always.”

    blow the candle out.

    watch the smoke until it dissipates.


  • Afterwards and as you clean up eat something sweet or listen to some empowering music. Maybe a dance party?






The Art of Sacrament

Sacrament is traditionally explained by use of the definition given by St. Augustine of Hippo a Christian theologian who was instrumental in many of the formative ideas of the church through his writings in the 4th century. The definition is simple:

"Sacrament is an outward sign of an inward grace"

Although it was expressed in a Christian context, I feel this definition can explain why ceremony and rites of passage are so important in all human experiencing. They are the both the evidence of and the facilitators of evolution.

Last month my husband and I celebrated a wedding anniversary with a vow renewal and a party for our friends and family. As I prepared for the event, I wondered why I had decided to celebrate this way.

The details of the event had become overwhelming, food, flowers, travel, schedules, iced tea! I could not remember why we didn't just go to Cancun or something. I mean who cared that we were renewing our vows. Why did it matter to anyone except for us? Why did I feel the need to create such a public display of our private life?

I know from the inside of my marriage how much love we have put in to our partnership. It is extremely hard and beautiful work. We have changed and grown so much together over the years and I am grateful to have a partner who is just as committed to development as I am. We are not the same people or the same relationship we were ten years ago.

By inviting our community to witness and honor our development with us, it becomes a hundred times more real. We are a hundred times more accountable to it. People can see how renewed we are and confirm that yes, it is real. 

The cool thing is when they see that we have grown, they also grow. They think about their relationships, their life ten years ago, the things they have to be grateful for, the challenges yet to come. In that way, our one sacrament shared could set in motion a domino effect of growth. 

Love is meant to be shared...and so is grief, so is joy, so is truth. 

If human beings horde those inner graces (experiences) by keeping transformation and learning private, it all just ends there.

The lesson of the change sits inside the heart like a seed in the earth. We have rites, ceremonies and sacraments because the light of community must shine on that seed in order to fulfill it. 

I argue that to fully receive the grace of the change, we must invite it to be both inward and outward; to become a sacrament.

The script is simple. Stand up in front of those you trust and say; "Look at me...I am different than I was".

Thus a grace is not just confined to one soul's evolution. Everyone who sees and says "Yes, you are", also grows. 

 

 

 

Symbol in Ceremony

My favorite thing in this world might just be a good symbol. Defined by Webster, a symbol is "a thing that represents or stands for something else, especially a material object representing something abstract." 

The abstract is inherently hard to grasp, and so we humans have developed a complex language of symbols and metaphors to help us make sense of the biggest parts of our lives. I often tell the people I work with to look for the symbols, because having a symbol follow you through your experience can really enrich the meaning making. A couple that I recently had the honor of working with embodied this philosophy perfectly. 
 

Let me first say, I adore these two and working with them was an absolute pleasure. I know Sarah and Rafael through the local storytelling show Testify and so I have known for some time Sarah has found a lot of joy in and a deep connection to birds. As she and Rafael grew in love, he also grew to share her deep respect for birds of all types. Which is one of the reasons that they chose to hold their intimate wedding ceremony at a local bird sanctuary. Chaetura Canyon is located just a 25-minute drive from downtown Austin, and while the facility is only open for special events and Travis Audubon programs, I recommend that you attend one of their programs if you love natural beauty.

 

Once Sarah and Rafael made the decision to include birds in their ceremony by holding it at a bird sanctuary, my work was set. How could we build a unique ceremony that incorporated their love of birds without beating the subject over the head? The beauty of a good symbol is that it has many interpretations; many points of potential connection. By subscribing specific meaning to a symbol, you can very quickly remove all its power.

When using a symbol in your ceremony, the goal should be to offer it to the event as openly and loosely as possible so that the symbol can expand and grow right along side you.  

The task for me as their counselor/artisian/celebrant was to find out what the bird means to them and where they find personal connection to the symbol, and then to build slowly and carefully from there. We started by collecting images, songs, and words that spoke to how they felt for one another.
 

 Photo credit Lowell Bartholomee

Photo credit Lowell Bartholomee

As I listened to them, I began to get some clarity. Rafael seemed to me to be a deeply visual person -- he connected with the natural beauty of the bird, with its softness and its motion. Sarah is a writer (check out her funny and insightful blog), so she seemed to really meet the bird in its story, in its character. 

After sorting through all the media we had shared, we all landed on a short story that featured a bird and that felt right. Sarah wrote up a beautiful retelling of it and we included it as a reading in the ceremony. That was the only direct mention of birds in the whole ceremony and it (along with the beautiful setting) was just enough to honor the symbol out without pushing it in everyone's face. 
 

Much like a bird, the symbol sat quietly and peacefully in the milieu of the event. The result was a wedding ceremony beautifully tailored to fit a creative and insightful couple. It was a joy to be a part of, and I wish these two "lovebirds" tons of goodness as they build their life together.

Rituals for Pregnancy Loss

Rituals for Pregnancy Loss

There are experiences in life that change us.  A rite of passage takes a life changing experience out of the body, out of the secret, so that it can be seen clearly and moved through.

3 Reasons to Stop & Look at the Moon

ONE: This Sunday (September 27th) is the Harvest Moon, the full moon that occurs closest to the Fall equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. The term "Harvest Moon" conjures up a moon radiating a warm Autumn glow.  In China it brings the Moon Festival, a time when families gather together to eat mooncakes and watch the moon, a symbol of Harmony and Unity. In North American cultures the Harvest Moon is a time of reaping when farmers can work late into the night gathering crops by the light of the moon.

 The Harvest Moon by Sammuel Palmer

The Harvest Moon by Sammuel Palmer

 TWO: It will also be a supermoon, meaning the moon will be huge. This happens when a full moon coincides with the point at which the moon is closest to the Earth during it's elliptical orbit. Legends link supermoons to earthquakes and tsunamis. Although there is very little science supporting a link between supermoons and natural disasters, they symbolize the power of nature in our lives.

THREE: There will be a lunar eclipse visible over the sky of the Western world. If you have never taken the time out to watch an eclipse, I advise you do so. This will be the night to see it. The moon will be big, the sky should be clear. As you watch I invite you to think back on ancient humans watching in wonder as the moon slowly disappeared and reappeared. All sorts of magic was concocted to explain the mystery and we still live with the remnants of that magical thinking. We experience it in some sort of deep place in our souls a place of curiosity and wonder.

We have more in common with those ancient myth tellers than we like to admit. Maybe as you watch the moon this Sunday, something magical will happen to you; maybe you will be reminded of the seasonal renewal occurring in your own life. Perhaps just taking the time to stop and watch the moon could become it's own sort of ceremony. A ceremony to honor the passageway you find yourself in right now. 

enjoy.


Life as Craft

I have recently been spending about eighty percent of my life caring for a seven month old. He is wonderful, squirmy and full of laughter. However, it does not leave me much time for myself and I have been longing for craft, art, and ritual in my day. 

Recently, I have dedicated to focusing on my creative spirit one day a week (Thursdays) during nap time. It gives me about a two hour window, but there is no telling when the baby will wake up and I will have to stop my process. As a result, I have about a dozen half finished craft projects all around the house. The knitting is out on the rocking chair, the painting is "drying" in the TV room, and the laptop is open to my blog. 

These projects for my soul call to me as I change diapers, wipe down countertops and sing nursery songs. I am lustful for them. They remind me of my old life, the one where I could engage in a creative process on a whim. It was such a privileged existence and it feels so distant now that I have the new joys and privileges of parenthood. 

Basically, this isn't working. I can not engage in my creative projects with abandon the way I used to. I don't think I am alone in this experience, either. So many of us just don't have time to sit down and do art. Our lives are too full to dedicate the time and energy to the creative process. 

So, I wonder how I can bring the creative process to me rather than going to it. I must make mindfulness and creativity a part of every moment. When I make my coffee in the morning, I must make it with the same focus and passion I would give to a painting. The mundane must become extraordinary and I must live my life as a craft project; by experimentation, playfulness, love, and curiosity. 

I must see the beauty in everyday life and work to amplify it!

Not only will I benefit from this shift, my little boy will witness a mom who truly strives to live life fully. Because life is not mundane, diapers and all. It is a magical and mysterious craft, an art project of the grandest proportion. 

5 Reasons to Hire a Celebrant

The truth is, anyone can officiate a wedding. You could pick a favored uncle, a dear friend, or even a court appointed judge to perform the ceremony. If you aren't sure of who to pick or how to pick someone look over my list of reasons to hire a celebrant. There are definite benefits to investing the time and money into a professional service.

Reliability

Your wedding day is not a day you want to spend worrying about details. Hiring me means the ball is in my court. I will have done the prep work and show up ready to be at service. I will not have stage fright, flub my lines, or forget my cues. I have done this many times before and I know what to do and how to do it.

Community Building

When I work a wedding or any other sort of special event I am available to all the people present for counsel, support, or even just casual chit chat. I see myself as a hostess and my job is to draw people into the moment. This is a skill that many family members or friends might lack but it is essential. The ceremony is important because it is witnessed, all present should feel welcome and excited to be a part of it.

A Unique Ceremony

Imagine a ceremony that is entirely true to who you are. One that is built up of pieces of your story, culture, and beliefs. There is no limit to what a ceremony can be. It can be traditional, funky, edgy, ancient, comic, sincere, or silly. Multiple rituals can be combined and woven together. Words and poetry can be entirely your own or borrowed from anywhere and everywhere. This is YOUR ceremony it should be meaningful to YOU.

In the role of ceremony designer, I see my self as a quilter. I listen carefully to what my clients want and use my experience as a storyteller and theatre director to craft cohesive beautiful reflections of the hearts of my clients.

Meaningful Preparation

When I got married, my partner and I had pre-canna classes provided my the Catholic church. Although I am not Catholic and was not looking forward to them, I still treasure the classes and what they taught us. We had been together for nearly five years, but the pre-canna classes gave us both a chance to clarify our expectations, fears, and desires for married life. I can not over emphasize how important it is to take time before the ceremony to review what exactly you are doing and why you are doing it. It sets your next stage of life off on the right foot.

In the process I conduct, the ceremony planing is the class. As you make choices for your personalized ceremony, you will gain insight into what is important to you. Deciding what you want to say and how you want to say it will tell you so much about the ways you are growing and intend to grow. Also, ceremony planing hours will soon count as part of the Twogether in Texas program and will get you discounted marriage licence fees and privlidges!

Transition Support

My skills as a certified coach with a masters degree in expressive arts therapy are available to you as my client. You are not alone in the process of preparation. It will be a rich meaningful time for you to acknowledge and come towards your full potential. My nonjudgemental client led process is friendly and warm. In coaching sessions we enlist your own creativity and personal resources to manifest change in your life.

If you desire support beyond my expertise I am connected in the Austin counseling community and can provide you with excellent referrals. I care deeply for all my clients and desire their honest unfolding in what ever manner it comes. I do this work primarily because I love to watch people grow and transform as they move through life's passageways.

This Moment

We spend so much time planning or reminiscing. Perhaps it is time to take a breath and just be here now?
In Spring I am full of hope, longing, and excitement. I often have to remind myself that hope is not just a propelling force, but it can be a place of rest. I try to rest in my hope, to lay about in it and enjoy what it feels like to want.

As I do so, I start to wonder about the nature of hope. I believe that my potential is unlimited and that I already have all the tools I need to thrive. So, what is there to hope for?

Hope for me, is a personal thing. It is an energy that leads me towards truth, revelation, and wholeness. It is a desire for the next thing for. While I have all I need, hope tells me that I can still long for more and seek better for myself. Hope reminds me I am strong enough to face my desire and propels me forward towards the nearest unstable ground in search of riches. It is a medicine that we can use

I had an experience of hope this month as I joined with some very dear friends to bless their child and welcome him to world. Holding that baby, I was overcome with hope and I realized how great it felt to imagine all his potential in this world.

That is what Springtime is all about; new life and this very moment...brimming with hope. 

Springtime Ritual Ideas

Around the US this has been one heck of a winter and slowly but surely we are being released into Spring. This season is so often associated with rebirth in the Northern hemisphere as flowers, insects, and animals bloom and grow before our eyes. It is a perfect time to get out side and notice nature awakening.

If you feel a change in your own life at this time of year, you are not alone. Many of us have mood shifts that closely follow the seasons. It isn't just about how much sunshine you get (although that is a huge factor) it also has to do with our life patterns and emotional states reflecting the changes in the natural world. 

I invite you to use Spring as a season of rebirth to clean out what you no longer need and refresh your inner resources. It has come time to shake off that snow and start opening your heart up to the newness and possibility that awaits. 

EGGS 4 SPRINGTIME!!

Here are a few simple rituals you can do on your own or with your family to welcome in the Spring spirit.

1. Start a mini-Garden

It doesn't have to be fancy but planting a few seeds and watching them grow might be a great comfort and joy in the Spring season. Try saying your favorite poem or prayer as you plant the seeds and repeat it every time you water or adjust your little garden. The seeds will grow right along side your prayer.

2. Go for a Daily Walk

Take a spin around your neighborhood or office building once a day. If you practice going on the same path at the same time everyday you will begin to notice the changes in the world. Pick one of your favorite Spring themed pieces of music to join you on the walk. It is a time just for you to breathe clean air, be outdoors, and reflect on the new opportunities in your life.

3. Have a Spring Fling

The Spring Equinox is Thursday, March 20th. If you manage to catch that date make it a very special day. Try to do something just outside of your comfort zone; something kind of a little crazy. Please stay safe and responsible, but maybe you need to jump in Barton Springs that morning or have a bonfire at the beach. Take a risk! Maybe you will look silly or feel weird but you can call it your "Spring fling" and chalk it up to the season. Perhaps you will discover something new?

4. Clean and Sort 

Okay, this one often gets a bad rap but there is no feeling quite as wonderful as eliminating clutter. Take a day to clean out your closet and donate items you no longer need or want; or get around to sorting through that pile of papers. Eliminate some un needed stuff that has just been in your way. Then when you are done reward yourself somehow. Take a deep breath. Notice that by clearing the old you have made room for the rewarding new. 

5. Photograph the Changes

Set an intention to take at least one photograph a day of something "new". Do it for at least 15 days and see how many changes you have collected. After the 15 days are up, print the photo graphs and use them in an art project. Write a short story using each photo as a sentence, or use a big canvas and collage them into one painting, or make a photo album of Spring 2014; whatever works for you! See if you notice how these small changes add up into some bigger changes.

6. Paint or Play with Eggs

No need to celebrate Easter if that isn't your thing, but eggs are a perfect symbol of Springtime and the potential for rebirth. However you want to doit, work with eggs. Go to a farm and collect them, paint them. or turn them into cascarons and have a confetti fight! Enjoy yourself! The world is all shinny and new.

7. Make a Springtime Playlist

Making a playlist is one of my favorite Expressive Arts activities. It is a musical collage of your thoughts, hopes, feelings, and struggles that you can turn on when ever needed. Use Spottify or itunes to craft a mix of your favorite songs that you want to play for yourself this Spring. Listen to them as the mood calls you. This is your time to defrost. 

Those are just a few ideas to play with ritual at Springtime. Use them and adapt them to work for you. If you have ideas or want to share how you used these ideas comments are much obliged. Or just pass this list on to someone who you think might need a bit of meaning making in their life. Remember this Spring that "to everything there is a season, and a tme to every purpose under heaven". Live it up.

love, 

Genevieve

The Art of The Heart

Love is often not an easy topic of discussion. Valentine's day gets done up each year with flowers and boyfriends and candy. Romance,while important, is only a small portion of loving. I have wanted for a long time to do something that could bring people towards a larger understanding and appreciation of all the love in their life.

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So, this weekend I facilitated my second holiday workshop with local crafts woman, Amber Lackey. It was designed to creatively delve deeper into the themes of Valentine's Day. Hopefully allowing the participants to experience the holiday on a personal and meaning filled level. We started by discussing the heart as a sacred symbol, specially it's value in ancient cultures as the seat of wisdom and intuition. Then we held a guided movement meditation where participants had an opportunity to expand their abilities to listen to the intuition of their hearts. The meditation led to a creative experience in which we sewed together a heart for our selves. Each participant crafted a completely unique little token and packed it with symbols of love in their lives. The workshop culminated in a beautiful ending ritual, in which we passed our finished hearts to one another as a circle of support.

While the whole event was an utter joy to facilitate, the closing ritual truly moved me. I felt such responsibility as I received each heart and inspected it's tiny details. By observing the nuances and textures of the artwork I felt myself loving the artist. I learned something unexpected. This is how I love in the world. When I am actively loving I am I appreciating and giving thanks and noticing beauty.

Amber and I had worked long and hard to plan this event, but no where in my plans did I expect to learn something so valuable about myself. It was such a surprise that even as I facilitated the ritual I had tears in my eyes. I did not let myself get caught up in my own emotions, but I noticed them and allowed them to pass over me so that I could continue to do my job.

On numerous occasions when conducting certain rituals or ceremonies, I have felt tears or joy wash over me. There are moments when, as an officiant, the wedding or baby blessing, or vow renewal that you are guiding becomes personal. In those moments you step into the ceremony with the participants and you engage directly in the transformation. If handled correctly, the officiant's brief entanglement in the moment can deepen the ceremony and bring all participants closer in.

For me, it is a bonus; like receiving a tip or a great referral. I add it to my paycheck as an asset, a perk of the job. Because while facilitating and witnessing the transformation of others is quite enough, there is nothing quite like experiencing transformation yourself. I am so grateful to be able to be touched by the work I do; to be learning from teaching and growing from facilitating growth. It would be fair to say that I love my job, I love my clients, and I love being witness to the unfoldment of life's bounty.

(sorry for the cheesy fancy worded post...but hey, it is Valentine's)

Conjure Woman

I have recently realized that I love to CONJURE. every job I have ever liked has involved some sort of conjuring. My involvement in the theatre had everything to do with this love of mine. I am a teacher, conjuring students passion for creative exploration. As a therapist (therapy student...for the board), I am constantly working with clients to conjure up healing and expression. And here I am as an officiant, conjuring sacred moments...inviting the spiritual to touch this world and drawing forth presence and meaning in times of transtion.

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As a wedding officiant, I have a deep love for facilitating important moments in life and consider it an honor to hold the space for the love my client's share. One such moment that I will never forget came from a tender and loving groom. As he began his vows, he started to cry. What began as a little sniffle turned into deep sobs before he could finish what he was saying, which was something about how he felt he could always rely on his partner. His bride, with a calm smile, pulled a tissue from her bouquet and handed it to him. As he looked up and took the tissue he exclaimed "See, that is exactly what I'm talking about, babe". Everyone present turned on a dime from tears to laughter. 

It was a perfect moment and an illustration of the kinds of honest and sincere weddings I love to be a part of. The groom felt safe enough, and had done enough prep work, to allow himself to be swept into the moment. The bride followed suit and so did everyone in attendance. That wedding was alive. I can't put my finger on what exactly to call it but there are moments of pure life that can be called forth in a ceremony, if the participants are willing. That is why I do weddings. To facilitate and amplify those moments when the world stops and everything becomes beautiful.

Resolution

When I was in 7th grade my parents told me that we were going to the beach for New Years Eve and I could take one friend. If you have never been to Galveston, Tx you won't know why I was a little disapointed with this plan. It is a beautiful part of the world the ocean is tame and still on the Gulf. It is a place where I can reliably find peace. However, my 13 year old self wanted anything but peace. Those myths about New Years had already set in. New Years Eve was supposed to me raucus, wild and anything but peacful. The word that came to mind was BORING.

Anyway, I grabed my old friend Nicole and we tradged along to the calmest little peice of our worlds. When we arrived Nicole and I went to Walmart. It was the only place arround that was open with bright lights. I was despratly looking for a way to make this evening special. At Walmart Nicole and I talked about our 7th grade lives. She had a lot on her plate, I knew that. Her parents were in teh midst of a divorce and she was about to be uprooted. We had lived across the street from eachother our whole lives and both of us knew that was about to come to an end along with so much else; childhood, inocence, imaginary powers on magical abandoned islands. Soon, if not already, Nicole and I would be playing very different games.

Of course I couldn't articulate that at the time. In the midst of transition we only felt a need for something big this New Years, something memorable. I had an idea, we bought candles and returned to the house where we were staying. I don't remeber the ritual we came up with but I know it inovlved lighting a candles for what you wanted in the next year. We decided that saying what we wanted was much better than coming up with traditional resolutions, wich ussualy require judgement and sacrifice. In the midst of a vast ocean of unknowing, what we needed was a place to swim to not a thing to leave behind. We did not want to make resolutions rather we needed a resolution.

As midnight came we retreated to the loft and began our little ceremony. I still remember the way that the light looked on Nicole's face as she lit her candles and talked ernestly of what she wanted. If we went back and listened to ourselves we might even laugh at what those girls said. It wasn't brilliant or particularly well put, but it was the truth and we heard eachother say it. How powerful it can be to speak your truth and be heard, to have it rembered maybe not in content but at least in context.

This afternoon I am running the first workshop that PassageWay arts has hosted. I am runing it with another good old friend and we will be lighting candles for our intentions. I hope that those who have wondered there will find what I found that night in Galveston almost 15 years ago; a new years resolution.

Winter Traditions

(I promised another post on The Sacred Arts. That stalled me for a little bit. I promise to return to that eventually.)

Over the Christmas break I have been contemplating the winter rituals that surround this exteremly cool season. Regardless of your religious leanings it is hard to avoid the traditions associated with Christmas and Hannakah. The idea that this is a season of warmth and joy is not coincidental.

Like all of our rituals, current winter traditions have arrisen out of human need. The shorter days and cold weather draws us indoors to hearth and family. There we find Christmas and all it's trappings bringing light into a darker world. Hannakah and Kwanza are also festivals of lights, illuminating those long cold nights. It is so clear, as we plug in our Christmas lights each night and pour our warm coco, we are enaging in ancient rituals of warming the soul.

What traditions do you and your loved ones share at this time of year?

Regardless of how you do it, may your holiday season be merry and bright!

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