New Year

New year
slips over the old.

Often the changing
of year results in events,
that like tectonic plates
grinding across each other
precipitate upheavals,
bring havoc,
cause devastation
in its wake and reckoning.

New year
slips over the old.

Other times,
far fewer,
events occur as fog
gliding over hills,
softly altering perceptions,
enveloping all around
stillness, quietude, whispers,
differences so slight
in attitude and action
that change hardly
registers at all.

The new year
slips over the old.

What comes as the
midnight heralds sound
the fireworks explode
in cascades
of light and wonder,
will be the slow
inexorable dawning
of another day
with the sun rising
and people shaking off
the bonds of sleep
to greet unknowns
the imponderability
of future becoming
present with each
step forward
and breath taken.

New year
slips over the old.

What each one of us is granted is the opportunity to start again. To make amends. To heal breaches. To reach out. To live. To love. To become what is the best of us, of each and every one of us, when we allow the old ways, the old patterns, the old thoughts processes to slip under away, under the shadow of the old year. In this way we are able to wake to the clear bright light of our tomorrows.

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A Personal Revolution and Advolution

Okay, I never thought I would be doing this again.

Changing my diet was not in the plan. It’s not about dieting, it’s about diet. It’s about how I choose to eat. About what I choose to eat when I am in charge of what I eat. Not about how I eat when I go to someone’s home and they prepare a meal with St Hidegard’s most important ingredient – Love – and serve it to me. Not necessarily how I eat when I go out to eat, which admittedly is not very often; but how I choose to nourish my body when in my kitchen and cooking for me. Not even what I might cook when I have friends over who do not eat as I eat – I would cook for them, to present food they would enjoy.

So, what is the big change. Well, it’s partly a revolution and partly advolution: A revolution (turning back) because I was once a vegetarian: and an advolution (turning toward), because it’s nearly vegan, which is a new thing. That I could not have dreamed of a month ago, actually not even the vegetarian part either.

The whole what to eat thing has been a real issue for many years, off and on, now and then, over and over. I have learned a lot in the past year reading various blogs and other sources of information about the state of the normative western diet, which is becoming more the global norm or aspiration: Lots of meat. Meat from beasts that are fed inappropriate feed, antibiotics and on land that was once rainforest or other sensitive land. I have thought about this state of affairs and think that it is not a sustainable way of being in the world. I have thought this. I have not been pressured to think about it, and in fact have resisted for a long time because it seems to be a badge of some sort indicating spiritual superiority by some pagans. It, like paganism, can be a way or rebelling against the mainstream, and it is likely that a few folk do this, even if they might not be aware of their core motivation.

I was a vegetarian for several years in San Diego. It’s sort of something one did out there. It was partly a revulsion at the meat packing industry and partly an act of rebellion. It was the most radical thing I did as a twenty-two year old, besides stopping going to church that I did for quite a bit longer. At that time there was not enough money to make it work, but I stuck to my guns until it became untenable.

This is different. It’s part of a more general awakening for me. It’s part of a newly heightened awareness. It’s part of a deeper sensing of the life and lives around me. It isn’t necessarily a practical decision. It’s not done to show I’m a better pagan than I was three weeks ago. It’s a decision, a path I have been led to and know it’s right to follow. As all this revealed itself, I did not think about whether I was going to be a long term vegetarian. Now I know.

And it’s not going to be straightforward, which is where the vegan aspect comes in. I have turned up in the past nine months as being dairy challenged – it gives me a stomach ache when I use it, in tea sometimes it does and sometimes not, but it is not a comfortable feeling. At the local coffee morning they are now used to me asking for hot water. At friends’ I have lemon and ginger tea, which one uses and another has on hand for both of us now. At home I mostly drink hot water now, sometimes lemon and ginger or mint tea once a day. I also don’t eat wheat, but do eat spelt, rye and barley. I’m not celiac, but I do have issues with wheat. Potatoes aren’t good for me or maize, so I wouldn’t use those substitutes at home, but will eat goodies made from them (main ingredients in gluten free flour) by gluten challenged friends. Eggs are also off the menu at home.

Now the way so many animals are handled in the food chain isn’t healthy for them or us. Large operations. Much indoor living. Automated milking. How and over what distances they are transported to slaughter. As an aside it’s interesting that slaughterhouse isn’t used but abattoir, which sounds vaguely exotic for English speakers but means the same thing, though not so in your face. It has made these creatures into a commodity and I find that unacceptable. I don’t see the point of feeding cattle people food, maize to fatten them and a grain based diet, any more than making fuel out of people food. It makes no sense to me.

Do I think what I’ve chosen to do will change the world? Certainly not.

Do I want to go on campaign to make all my friends vegetarians? Of course not.

Will it change my relationship and responses to my environment and those with whom I share it? Most assuredly.

I do this because it feels right for me. And I know how right when I came home with two vegan cookery books yesterday to figure out how to get around not using eggs and dairy, and went through all the recipes I’d been saving, and never used, throwing out all the newly inappropriate ones. I still have cookery books though, which are easier to use and maybe in time I can learn to work around the new way I’ll be eating with them. They are ways to get ideas. When I might cook for non-vegetarian friends I will do so from my heart, though not necessarily a recipe.

It’s funny, odd that as I’ve been shifting to this diet over the past several weeks, using up food in my freezer, that when I cooked beef or chicken it had no taste for me. It was empty, null, void of flavour. It wasn’t really repulsive, but it was like eating nothing. I was still hungry after I ate it. With my renewed diet, I am full and satisfied. My tastes have shifted and that shifting was part of what marked the way for this change.

Preparing meals will require thought and forethought now. It will demand my attention more fully and that I take more time in planning meals and eating them. This is a good thing. It will mean learning how to make recipe for four to six servings work for only two, one for me immediately and one for the next day, if appropriate, or if not then just for one serving. It will involve maths – aaaagghhh! I’ve not had to cook with a calculator for a long time, nor with scales (except for baking).

It isn’t a path that is necessarily easier. For me though it will be better. Even if I had to rearrange my kitchen cupboards to accommodate the bags and tins that replace the food plonked in the freezer.

I consider this an adventure, a coming toward something, a way of being that feels right to and for me, not because I have felt marginalised because I was a meat eating pagan, not because it is a political statement. The something I am coming toward in the advolution, this turning toward and moving toward, is a more authentic expression of who I am in relation to the gods, the ancestors, and spirits of the land who uphold me.

A Day History is Being Made

My alarm went off at 0700 this morning, as the polling stations in Scotland were opening. It is a day history is being made.

I live in the southwest of England. I have lived in Orkney, on one of the outer islands. I have travelled though Scotland many times and spent time there. I have my own opinions about the referendum, but that is not what I have been reflecting on, nor what I woke up this morning keenly aware of looking out at the low clouds through my bedroom window.

This morning I feel the weight of history. Trained as an historian I have read a lot of the patterns of change and the alternations in the fates and trajectory of nations. What I am most aware of is the burden of change facing all of us who call at this moment the United Kingdom home. No matter what happens by this time tomorrow, or soon after, we will all know in what way the difference in all our futures will be shaping.

All of us are living through what our grandchildren and our future descendants will be reading about in their history books. I know this is true of many things happening in the world right now, the actions of Russia and its agents in the Ukraine, the Ebola epidemic in the west of Africa, the ongoing and terrifying deeds of IS in Iraq and Syria . . . all these are making tears and ripping huge gaps in the tapestry of stability as we have come to perceive, or misperceive it in the geopolitical, cultural and social maps of our world as we have tried to come to terms with it in recent times.

But the Scottish referendum is here. It is now. It is happening in our own country. What it will mean, let us be honest, neither side really knows. There are projections and modelling from both sides of the issue. What is undeniable is that it means uncertainty and dis-ease for many months and years to come. Perhaps because this vote and the journey to it have happened in such a public way, in such a disciplined and carefully argued and negotiated way that it seems unlike the chaotic and disorder way such events have occurred in the past. But there is the anxiety of chaos and disorder underneath it, there are the currents of passion and footfalls of fear sounding not far below the surface.

History is being made today. Yes or No, it is history shaping into the future very close to home. We may have been aware of it vaguely or acutely with other actions or votes or treaties before, that our movement onward would be altered, but somehow this feels different.  Perhaps it is just me and the way I perceive and sense and feel the shiftings of energies. But there is a weight today pushing down all around and even so far away from where the choice is being made it feels like there is a collective holding of breath. A sense of worry. A presence of deep unease. The palpable feeling of hope and the testing of trust.

Whatever way the vote goes, some of this feeling will be around for a very long time.

Right now I am going to get dressed and go for a walk. I am going to visit Rev’d Mother, an old oak tree of my acquaintance who has lived through much history, who is wise and insightful. I seek her out today for a sense of deep continuity to balance the disrupted energy all around me. I seek her out and the gods and ancestors for their wisdom and perspective that is far deep and broader than mine.

The world is not ending because of the referendum in Scotland. But something may do. And with such an ending at stake it is important that I seek and spend time with a being who has endured as we all shall do. We shall endure and carry on because it is what we have done. Even in the face of change, to whatever degree, it is how we have survived. It is how we have lived through the ravages of history and it is how we shall live into the future being shaped today. Each and every day we wake up to and with the potential to make what happens in all our tomorrow different. It is something that is so easy to forget, but that is one thing that the Scottish referendum has given all of us, a reminder that we have choices to make and courses to set for ourselves, doors we can open and those we may close as we write our own personal histories minute by minute, day by day.

Ah, the mist is lifting and the sun is beginning to shine.